Collaborative peer annotation tools help students actively engage with textbooks or other reading materials in a course. Instructors assign textbooks, articles, or PDFs, and students annotate these documents and respond to each other’s comments and questions.
CAEN has run a local instance of one of these tools, nb, since 2015. This local service will be discontinued for Fall 2018. Instructors who wish to continue with nb can still use the free MIT-hosted service (where nb was developed).
An alternative service called Perusall has since emerged that provides many of the same features, also adds Canvas integration, and includes the ability to purchase and use textbooks from many publishers. As with nb, instructors can upload their own PDFs to Perusall, and there is no cost for instructors or students (except when purchasing textbooks).
If you are interested in trying one of these tools, Perusall’s help and support resources provide a good starting point. You can also contact CAEN to discuss the options, and get help with any questions you may have.
While most instructors opt for pre-set schedules to make recordings using the Lecture Capture Service, the system allows for manual control in cases where live movement of the camera or impromptu starting-and-stopping of the recording is desired. Previously, using the manual control required a web browser with Adobe Flash support. Flash has been superseded by improved web technologies, and we are happy to report that this last dependency on Flash has been removed from the recording system.
The functionality and appearance is very similar to the previous version. To try it out, simply create a manual recording and choose to connect with the new control interface:
Starting Fall 2018, the old Flash-based interface will no longer be an option. Also note that we still offer M-Cam for manually controlling the recorder from an iOS device such as an iPhone or iPad.
All 50 College of Engineering (CoE) classrooms are equipped with Apple TVs to allow the presentation of slides or other content without physically plugging-in a device. The type of connection supported, called “AirPlay,” is built into Apple devices including laptops, iPhones, and iPads. You do not need to be on a particular wireless network for this to work. Apple provides some instructions on how to use AirPlay:
What if you are not using an Apple device? CAEN offers licenses for a utility called “AirParrot” to instructors using Windows-based computers and tablets in CoE classrooms. Note that it is necessary to connect to a special wireless network called “CAEN-Presenter” before AirParrot will work with any device. This network requires a password, which we can provide on request.
Why might you consider using wireless to display? One advantage is you do not need any special adapters, which may be needed to connect certain devices to the room’s HDMI or VGA cables. Also, if you have a tablet computer, wireless frees you to walk the stage and annotate in real-time, or even pass the device to a student to demonstrate a solution if desired.
What are the steps to get connected? It’s pretty simple. Just select the “Apple TV” source on the room’s touchscreen panel. Then connect your device to the AirPlay destination named for the room number, for example, “Dow 1013 Apple TV.” To ensure the connection to the display is coming from inside the classroom, a 4-digit code will be shown on the screen, and your device will prompt you for this code to enable the connection.
The big question: Is this all reliable? The wireless connection is typically very reliable, however it is possible that interference from other devices can cause a disconnection. CAEN is working to minimize this by relocating antennas and upgrading hardware as needed. If you run into any problems with wireless display, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. A backup option is to use the wired connections at the lectern, and we are available to advise on what adapters, if any, would be needed for your device.
If you would like to meet with CAEN staff in a classroom to go over the process for getting connected, or if you have any other questions about presenting over a wireless connection, contact us anytime at email@example.com.
There are a number of enhancements that have been added to the Canvas Gradebook for this term. These features are intended to help instructors easily view and enter grades for students, making grading more flexible and intuitive. Additions include Late Policies, which allow instructors to set up rules and be more efficient about grading late and missing submissions.
Other new Gradebook enhancements include:
New menus with more filtering and sorting options
Visual crosshairs to make it easier to see the current student or assignment cell
Custom color coding for assignment status (late, missing, resubmitted, dropped, or excused)
Keyboard shortcuts to improve accessibility on grade entry
Capability to drag and drop total columns
Features coming soon include:
Ability to override final grades
Defining if grades should be posted automatically or manually
For the Winter 2018 term, New Gradebook must be manually enabled at the course level under Settings >> Feature Options. In future terms, it will be enabled automatically in all courses. Until then you can revert back to the old Gradebook, except in cases where you have added a grading policy.
This term, CAEN is piloting new electronic displays outside select computer labs and College of Engineering classrooms. The displays show room availability at a glance, and allow searching for rooms based on course or event name. For CAEN computer labs, the displays show the current workstation availability. All displays will indicate when a recording is in progress using the lecture capture service.
In addition to information about the rooms, the displays show DPSS alerts for campus. Also, to aid accessibility, a two-finger swipe down the screen will speak the room’s current status. An update later this month will add building and campus maps, directions to building lost-and-found locations, and emergency information.
Displays have already been installed outside of the following classrooms:
and the CAEN computer labs in:
B505 Pierpont Commons
B507 Pierpont Commons
We value your feedback on these new displays. Feel free to send your comments and suggestions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may notice a new attachment to the cameras used for lecture recording in College of Engineering classrooms.
Each camera now has a light that will illuminate when a recording is in progress. The intent is to provide instructors a quick visual confirmation that the recorder is running.
Additionally, the light acts as a presentation timer by changing colors to indicate the time remaining in the recording. It will change from green to yellow (10 minutes remaining), and finally red (2 minutes remaining). Manually-started recordings will be indicated with a cyan (greenish-blue) color.
Any questions or feedback on the new status lights can be directed to email@example.com.
Since Canvas was adopted as the learning management system (LMS) for course sites at the University of Michigan, there have been many feature updates and additions to make teaching with Canvas easier for faculty, and enhance the learning experience for students.
Canvas Skill for Amazon Alexa
The capability to integrate voice recognition with Canvas has been added to assist both students and instructors. By using the Canvas Skill with Amazon’s Alexa service, students and instructors can verbally ask questions, perform quick tasks, and get information about their courses from any Alexa-enabled device. The Alexa voice service will respond with the relevant information according to their Canvas account. For example, students can ask about “what assignments are due,” or “what are my grades?” Instructors can ask about tasks like “what submissions still need to be graded?”
Further information about setting up Alexa with the Canvas skill, including examples of useful voice commands, can be found on the Canvas Community page.
Blueprint Courses allow sub-account admins (i.e. individuals within departments who manage Canvas course sites) to create, deploy, and maintain a course design “template” across any number of courses or instructors within the department. For example, if you have a newly-created Canvas course that has not yet been configured, you can use a Blueprint Course to automatically:
Push out content (pages, files, assignments…)
Update settings (sections, apps…)
Organize the course navigation (menu, links, redirects…)
This process can save time for instructors who have a standard way to organize their Canvas courses. It is especially useful if a course is taught each term, and the curriculum/site navigation does not vary greatly. A sub-account admin can create a Blueprint Course in Canvas and push (or sync) out a standard set of settings and features to the new course each term, so there’s no need for the instructor to set it up manually. In addition, if a department would like to have a standard navigation menu for all of the courses they offer, a Blueprint Course can be used to sync those settings to each Canvas course site within the department.
When syncing occurs, any content that has already been added or updated by the instructor will not be overwritten, and new content created in any associated course is also not affected (i.e. this is an manually additive function, and it will not overwrite what has already been added by the instructor).
More information on using Blueprint Courses as templates for Canvas course sites can be found on the Canvas Community page.
The Canvas Teacher App allows instructors to interact with their Canvas courses and data, both inside and outside the classroom, from their mobile device. This app provides quick access to the most frequently used Canvas tasks – Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes. For example, instructors can browse submissions and provide feedback to their students, post announcements, send messages, and participate in course discussions. They can also update course content such as due dates, and even publish assignments or adjust quiz options.
Canvas continues to offer a separate “Canvas by Instructure” app that students can use to access their course sites and data. The app is updated frequently to apply bug fixes and performance improvements, so students are encouraged to download the latest version. It is available at no cost to students from the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.
Guides for using each version of the Canvas by Instructure app can be found on the Canvas Community page.
Future Feature Updates & Support
ITS provides a Canvas at Michigan course site, where faculty and course instructors can sign up for announcements and updates about the service. College of Engineering faculty and instructors are also welcome to contact CAEN with any questions or problems they may have using Canvas in their courses.
CAEN is piloting new College of Engineering (CoE) classroom and CAEN computer lab entrance information displays in select locations. Data and feedback from the pilot will help guide the final version of the interface. (Click images below to enlarge)
For CoE classrooms, the entrance information displays will show:
A quick glance of the room status to see if it is available (green) or reserved (red)
Current and future scheduled classes and events
A weekly view for the classroom schedule
A list that will show classroom availability in the same building, or around the College
A feature to search the next 10 days of the schedule by class, department, or room
For CAEN computer labs, the entrance information displays will show:
Whether or not the lab is currently reserved
Any future reservations for the lab that day
Current number of open computer stations for the lab
A scrollable list of open computer stations in other CAEN computer labs
As you may already know, Canvas will replace CTools as the campus-wide learning management system (LMS) used for courses in Fall 2016. This means that those who teach or support a course at the University will no longer be able to use CTools to publish their course materials. Background about this transition is available on the main ITS Canvas project website: http://its.umich.edu/projects/canvas/
Now that we are only three months away from this campus-wide change, it is a great time to beat the rush for help with Canvas if you have not already made the transition. In collaboration with ITS, CAEN is available to assist in moving course materials from previous terms into Canvas, and can also provide support in working with the differences of this new system. College of Engineering faculty can use the following form to request assistance, and also to let us know what support resources would be most useful:
Further information about this transition, including a calendar of upcoming Canvas training workshops and walk-in Q&A sessions, has been made available at http://canvas.engin.umich.edu. Instructors should also feel free to send questions about this transition directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning in the Fall 2016 term, Canvas will replace CTools as the campus-wide learning management system (LMS) used for courses. This means that those who teach or support a course at the University will no longer be able to use CTools to publish their course content beginning in the Fall 2016 term. Background about this transition is available on the main ITS Canvas project website: http://its.umich.edu/projects/canvas/
In collaboration with ITS, CAEN is evaluating options for assisting College of Engineering instructors with transitioning CTools course site content to Canvas. In preparation for this process, we would like to capture faculty and instructor interest in obtaining assistance with this transition. Completing the following form will aid in our planning for the transition: