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.
Guides for using each version of the Canvas Teacher app can be found on the Canvas Community page.
Updated Canvas App for Students
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.