Learning Systems Announcements

Put Some Tech in Your T&L

Greetings VCU Faculty,

Welcome back! We hope everyone had a wonderful summer.

As of May 31, 2021 Blackboard has been decommissioned and 100% of the VCU online courses are now being taught on the new Canvas LMS.

If for some reason you missed the opportunity to retrieve your content from Blackboard, please visit the Did you Miss the Bb Export Content Deadline? page for further instructions.

Login to Canvas

Login to Canvas by going to canvas.vcu.edu and clicking on the Rodney the Ram astronaut image. Be sure to use your eID and password.

If you have been granted a non-VCU account using your personal email, click the “Login for non-credit/other” link and use your email and the password you have created.

Course Creation and Enrollments

All courses are automatically created in Canvas and enrollments, both student and primary instructors, are automatically populated into the courses they are registered in via Banner.

If you are not the primary instructor, you will need to contact that person to request that they manually add you to the course. If your course is not in the Banner system, it will not be created. Likewise, if you are not registered for a course through records and registration, you will not be enrolled into the course.

Here are instructions on how to Manually Enroll a User in your Course.

Publishing and Unpublishing Courses

A course will not be visible to students until it has been published by the instructor.

Publishing a course means it is available to students and can now be accessed from their Canvas dashboard. Here, you can find more information on how to Publish and Unpublish a Canvas Course

Course Term Dates

By default all courses are set to open and close on a certain date. These dates will follow the term dates set by VCU. Currently, Fall 2021 courses are set to open on August 10, 2021 at 12 am and close January 5, 2022 at 12 am. This means, if you publish your course before the default open date, your students will still be unable to access the course. If you need your course to be open before Aug. 10th, email lsrequest@vcu.edu.

To maintain the integrity of all courses, requests to keep a course open beyond the end term date will not be accepted.

For incompletes, instructors should identify the student(s) before the course is concluded (i.e. closes via the end term date). Refer to the instructions for How to Set Up Incompletes.

Cross-Listing Canvas Courses

Cross-listing, previously called “merging” in Blackboard, allows you to combine individual section or course  enrollments into one course. This is helpful for instructors who teach several sections of the same course or different courses that need to be merged together (i.e. HIST course merged with an AFAM course) and only want to manage course data in one location.

Section names do not change when they are cross-listed; only the section users (not course content or submitted work) are moved to another course. Instructors can allow students to view users in other sections or limit them to only view users in the same section.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Cross-listing should be done while courses are unpublished. DO NOT cross-list after you have published your course and students have accessed it. Course work is retained within the course, not within the sections, so if a published course is cross-listed after publishing, all cross-listed enrollments will lose any associated assignment submissions and grades.

For more information, go to Cross-Listing Course Sections.

For important reasons of student privacy and consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the university does not permit students to see the information of students enrolled in other sections through the roster function.

To remain FERPA compliant faculty should do the following: FERPA Compliance.

Tools to Look Out For

Google Assignments in Canvas
With Assignments, you can distribute and grade student work, analyze student submissions for plagiarism detection, and use Google Docs and Drive with Canvas.

With Assignments in Canvas:

  • Instructors can select Google Assignments as an external tool when they create a new assignment, which enables:
    • File attachment to an assignment so each student gets their own copy to edit and submit.
    • Missed citation checks and possible plagiarism with the originality reports feature.
  • Students can submit Drive files to Canvas assignments, then instructors can grade in SpeedGrader.
  • Embed Drive files with the Canvas rich text editor.
  • Add Drive files to Canvas Modules.

For more information and documentation, go to the Assignments page located on the Collaborations Services website.

Top Hat
Now FREE for all eligible students within the VCU community, Top Hat’s active learning platform allows instructors to conduct polls, track attendance, host discussions, present slides and assessments for interactive learning. Students can submit responses using their mobile device, tablet, laptop, or SMS. Students are no longer required to purchase “clickers” or subscriptions! Students should visit https://bit.ly/vcu-tophat-students for more information.

Top Hat also integrates with Canvas, VCU’s learning management system. Instructors should visit https://support.tophat.com/s/article/Professor-LTI-Setup-Canvas for information about using Top Hat with Canvas, and how to sync grades. Additionally, visit the VCU Top Hat askIT page for more information.

Please take advantage of VoiceThread’s ongoing workshop series, which is open to anyone. Workshops cover everything from basic VoiceThread features to lesson planning strategies. These can be a great way for instructors to learn more about VoiceThread or get new ideas for using it in their courses.  You can find that series here: https://voicethread.com/workshops.

Training and Support

Panda Pro
Instructure is now offering virtual one-on-one 25 minute consultations for any interested faculty member who has questions about using Canvas features. These sessions are free of charge from now through September 30th, 2021. During these sessions, you will be paired with a Panda Pro who can assist you with Canvas topics of your choice. To sign up for a session and learn more, please visit: https://www.instructure.com/panda-pros

Teaching with Technology Survival Camp
To ensure our faculty have the support and resources needed for a successful semester, Academic Technologies has partnered with VCU Online to provide the upcoming Teaching with Technology Survival Camp.

This four-day boot camp is designed to assist faculty in preparing for online and technology enhanced courses. The boot camp, in Canvas and on Zoom, will include morning workshops and afternoon open office hours for personalized assistance with course design and technical support – Enroll here. For more information, contact Brianne Jackson at bljackson@vcu.edu.

Faculty Training Schedule
In addition, Learning Systems has put together a full schedule of training covering a variety of Canvas topics. Faculty can register for any of the scheduled training sessions throughout the entire semester. For the training schedule, registration links, and Zoom join links, please refer to the Faculty Training Schedule page. Recordings of previous trainings can be found in our Canvas Channel in Kaltura.

Open Office Hours
Faculty can also attend VCU Online’s Open Office Hours, held every Tuesday – Friday from 12pm to 1pm. You can “drop in” to get help, ask questions, or just brainstorm about topics related to Canvas, online learning, or anything else that lives in the intersection of technology and learning.

Additional Help

Everything you need to get started using Canvas can be found on the Canvas AskIT Knowledgebase pages.

If you have a question at midnight or 3:00pm, Canvas Vendor Support is available for live 24/7 support to both students and faculty. Visit Canvas Support to learn the different ways you can find assistance. 

  • Call the 24/7  Canvas support hotline at (877) 636-1744
  • Chat live with a Canvas Support Technician (Per the vendor, chat is the quickest way to get assistance)
  • Report a Problem (same as entering a ticket)

For enrollments or login issues, sandbox creations, or if you have VCU specific course-related questions, please contact Learning Systems at lsrequest@vcu.edu.

The Blackboard to Canvas Equivalencies Chart will provide more insight on Blackboard features vs. Canvas features, and how they compare. It explains how Canvas is different, where to find similar tools you are familiar with, and offers links to both text and video guides on how to use them.

Have a wonderful semester!

Thank you,
VCU Learning Systems

Categories Bb News, Beginning of Semester, Blackboard Notice, Canvas, Faculty, Online Teaching and Development, Top Hat, VCU Academic Notices, VoiceThread, Workshops and Training

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