Adding and Updating Files in Canvas

This post covers the pros and cons of different ways to upload and manage files in Canvas

As the e-learning modules in FMS are now going live, the team have been looking at ways to manage uploaded files in Canvas.

There are two main ways to add files to your module flow in Canvas:

Directly into the module flow

+ > Add File > Add Item

This method is by far the easiest and quickest way to add a file to your course, and is a great choice if the file will not require updates.

If you need to replace the file with an updated version, it is best practice to upload the new version directly to the files area and replace the original file. The file names need to be identical and uploaded to the same folder for the “replace” option to appear. Updating the file this way means any links to the file within the content will not need updated.

Upload > Replace

In the files area you also have the option to adjust the availability of files, including adding available from and until dates.

Click the green tick next to the file to open the availability options

Inserted into a page

View of options available for a file inserted into a page in Canvas

This is my preferred method for adding a file to a course. You can use ‘Link Options’ to make the file open a preview by default so the page has the appearance of a directly added file but you have the following benefits over adding the file directly:

  • Able to add notes or comments above or below the file
  • The page title does not have to be the file name
  • Any links will be directed to this page so you can update the file/page as many times as needed and links to the content will still work
  • You can create an archive at the bottom of the page for previous file versions
  • Canvas can notify students of changes to the page/file
  • You have access to the page history so you can roll back to previous versions
  • You can add multiple files to one location
  • You can add a to-do deadline to the students to do lists and calendars

If you choose to use the file availability options mentioned in the previous method you may want to add a message on the page stating when the file will be available as the message canvas provides is not very informative:

Canvas Message: The document preview is currently being processed. Please try again later.

Keeping track of your files and file names within your module helps you save time and avoid confusion later.

Additional scroll bars in canvas

Why they are there and how to get rid of them!

The Problem

I recently noticed a few pages in my content in Canvas had developed scroll bars at the bottom. The bars were greyed out and had no function.

Scroll bar visible at the bottom of the canvas page.
Scroll bar visible at the bottom of the page

I started to notice a pattern. Any content which took up the whole width of the page (100%) was triggering the scroll bars. It could be any type of content; a banner image, an embedded padlet, or like in my example progress bars.

The Fix

Canvas must have changed the HTML “overflow” settings somewhere on their end. An easy fix is to adjust any 100% width content to be 99% instead. This can be done in the HTML editor area accessed by this icon in the edit screen: </>

Canvas HTML editor showing width element.
Canvas HTML editor showing width element
Scroll bar has disappeared on the canvas page.
Scroll bar has disappeared

Solved: Screen Sharing with Presenter View

I only have 1 screen, can I view my notes while sharing my screen?

Whether you are creating a pre-recorded presentation or delivering live on zoom/teams, having only one screen can be quite limiting.

Delivering my FMS TEL webinars in the office was easy with my two monitor set up but when working from home I struggled with only my laptop. I prefer to have notes to keep me on track and to make sure I cover everything I want to say. I knew there must be a way to access my notes while presenting.

Below are step by step instructions on how I shared my presentation with my audience while viewing my notes, all done using only a laptop!

powerpoint view, slideshow button highlighted
Open PowerPoint and start your slide show
view of show presenter view menu
Click the Ellipsis menu, then
“Show Presenter View”
Show taskbar button
Click “Show Taskbar” or press the Windows key on your keyboard
Open Zoom/Teams, Click “Share Screen”. You should see 3 options from PowerPoint,
choose PowerPoint Slide Show
To open Presenter View, navigate using the Alt + Tab buttons on your keyboard,
or press the windows key and select presenter view from the Task Bar

Tips

  • Practice the steps before your session (you may want to open this post on a second device so you can access the instructions while you practice)
  • Add a blank slide or holding slide at the start of your presentation, especially if your first slide contains animations or slide transitions
  • Add a finishing slide, when your presentation ends the screen will stop sharing automatically (Zoom will display a pop up message to confirm this has happened)

Our team is growing!

Last month we welcomed Michael Hughes to the FMS TEL team, as Learning Technologies Developer.

Michael is one of six Web Developers within the team who create and maintain Web-based systems which support learning and teaching across the Faculty, University and beyond. He brings with him great enthusiasm and experience of developing innovative systems. One of his first projects is to work with the RolePlayNorth team to redevelop an old, but business-critical, system that has reached end of life. He will be co-developing this with Dan Plummer (FMS TEL systems usually have a least two developers, to help ensure nothing is one person deep!) and collaborating with the wider team in other activities.

“Coming from a manual labour background and specifically working in the Traffic management and Utilities industry for the past 8 years. Seeing a lack of development and online tools to help assist doing the job led me to learning how to code.

Industries like those are the backbone of the economy and the lack of basic tech was eye opening. Working one day I asked one of my more experienced co workers about the marker post locations (white sticks 100 meters apart on the motorway) which we used everyday to plan out roadworks. Finding out that most workers didn’t have the information where they are and if your traveling from say A69 or the A66 coming to the A1 you have no idea if you have to travel south or north to come south as to not miss your starting location for roadworks or even worse a car crash which could mean a 30 minute turn around if guessed incorrectly.

This idea pushed me to working on the project that got me the learning technologies position here at Newcastle University.”

Michael Hughes

We are excited to have Michael on the team and cannot wait to see what he will accomplish!

Case Study: Virtual Oral Presentations as a summative assessment

How do oral presentations work for 100% online modules?

Presentations helps students put across an idea while expressing their personalities, which is hard to do in an essay.

Introduction

Oral presentations are a popular choice of assessment in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, especially in our e-Learning modules. Students are asked to submit a pre-recorded presentation to Canvas and the markers watch the presentations at a time and place that suits them.

Diarmuid Coughlan, module leader for ONC8028 Practical Health Economics for Cancer, has kindly agreed to walk us through how the Virtual Oral Presentation element works on his module.

The Assessment

This year we had 14 students on the module. We asked the students to create a 15 minute presentation using either Zoom, Panopto (Recap) or PowerPoint.

We informed the students right at the start of the module that an oral presentation was part of the assessment and 4 weeks into the module we provided a formative assessment. The formative assessment allowed students to familiarise themselves with their chosen software, gain experience talking to a camera and also get some limited feedback on their presentation skills.

The submissions are double marked by 2 markers. Marking is completed separately by each marker outside of Canvas, then markers meet to discuss which marks/comments would be entered into Canvas and made visible to each student.

The Set Up

We provided 2 submission points in Canvas:

Recording Submission Point:

This area was used for the marking. It was set up as Media Recording for MP4 uploads (max of 500 mb) with a Text Entry option for Panopto users (no size limit).

We allowed students to choose which technology they were most comfortable with and provided video and written instructions for Panopto and Zoom. PowerPoint instructions were added later as an option with links to guidance provided by Microsoft.

View of instructions in Canvas

We also provided some instructions so students could crop their recordings to comply with the 15 minute time limit.

You are limited by time so remember to edit your recording so it is no longer than 15 minutes. Instructions: Windows | Mac | Panopto

Slide Submission Point:

This area had a 0 point value. It was set up as a File upload area for students to submit their slides as .ppt or .pdf, this allowed us to get a turnitin plagiarism score for each presentation as well as a reference copy of the slides, should anything be unclear in the video recordings.

How did it go?

There was a lot of fear from students initially. We encouraged students to give it a go, informing them that we were not trying to trick them. We provided clear guidance on what we expected and provided a rubric with a breakdown of points, clearly showing only a small percentage of the grade would be based on their presentation style and delivery. The content of the presentation was the most important part!

The use of technology was varied:

As markers we also had to overcome our fears of technology.

PowerPoint is easier once you know how to access recordings (you have to download the file, then click start slideshow).

Sometimes the Panopto recordings were hard to find, especially if students had experience of using the technology in Blackboard and did not follow the Canvas instructions correctly.

What are your next steps?

  • We only provided grades with a short feedback comment last year, we plan to provide more extensive feedback going forward
  • We will add more video content into the module as examples of how to create engaging slides and showcase our presentation styles – hopefully leading by example
  • We would also like to provide examples of a good presentation vs a bad presentation

Technology Showcase – UTME Study Day

This weeks post shares a session FMS TEL were asked to participate in a study day on the Utilising Technology in Medical Education (UTME) module offered by the School of Medical Education.

The FMS TEL team were asked to participate in a study day on the Utilising Technology in Medical Education (UTME) module offered by the School of Medical Education.

The module aims to raise students’ awareness of how technology enhanced learning is currently used in health care education and gives students the opportunity to explore technologies and investigate theoretical underpinnings. Based on these aims we put together a 3 part presentation.

Part 1 – Tools for Student Interaction

PowerPoint Slide: FMS TEL Interactive Content, Instant/Quick Wins

Emily introduced a number of TEL tools including; Menti, vevox and padlet. Each tool was discussed; outlining its uses, pros and cons. Current examples of content designs, interactive activities and animations used throughout the faculty were shared.

Part 2 – Collaborating and Facilitating Group Work

PowerPoint Slide: FMS TEL Collaborating with Microsoft

Michelle demonstrated how to use Microsoft 365 to co-author and co-edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets. Students were shown various features including; reviewing mode, version history and how to use Sharepoint to monitor breakout room activities.

Part 3 – Teaching Tools

PowerPoint Slide: FMS TEL Teaching Tools

Eleanor shared her experience of teaching with Zoom/Teams and tips on how to humanise online sessions. She discussed common barriers, such as awkwardness or long silences and strategies or tools to use as solutions.

Embrace the silence: the use of timers in synchronous teaching

Learn how to use timers in your PowerPoint presentations to aid questions and answers for students and yourself.

As teachers or trainers we can often feel the pressure to fill the silence when presenting. How long should you wait for an answer? Or a better question might be, how long do you think you wait?

Research suggests that at least 3 seconds can provide positive outcomes for both teachers/trainers and students (Rowe, 1972).

Each task may require different lengths of silence, you will want to think about the time the students will need to:

  • process the question
  • think of the answer
  • formulate a response
  • (if teaching virtually) unmute or type their response

The concern is to provide the period of time that will most effectively assist nearly every student to complete the cognitive tasks needed in the particular situation.

Stahl, 1994

You may find yourself counting the 10 or 15 seconds in your head, but still the silence can feel unbearable.

PowerPoint Animations to the rescue

Using a consistent slide design with an animation will not only relieve the pressure on you to keep track of the time but also provide cues that students will become familiar with as your teaching progresses.

Below are examples and instructions for 4 different types of animations you can create in PowerPoint, ranging from super easy to slightly complex. At the bottom of this post you will find a template document of all the examples shown plus a few more complicated designs which you can download and use in your own presentations.

Example 1: Stopwatch

Example stopwatch PowerPoint animation
  1. Insert a circle and style as required (holding shift will help you draw a perfect circle)
  2. Add a “Wheel” animation to the circle and adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 second)
  3. Add the stopwatch icon (Insert > Icons > search for “Stopwatch”)

Example 2: Progress Bar

Example progress bar PowerPoint animation
  1. Insert a rectangle, remove the outline and choose a fill colour
  2. Add a “Wipe” animation to the rectangle, using the effect options drop down change the direction to “From left” or “From right”. Adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 seconds)
  3. Insert a second rectangle on top of the first, remove the fill colour and style the outline as desired.

Example 3: Count Down

Example count down PowerPoint animation
  1. Create a text box for each number required, style as required
  2. Add the “Disappear” animation to all text boxes
  3. Set the first number to start “on click” with a 1 second delay
  4. Set all other numbers to start “after previous” with a 1 second delay
  5. Stack each text box on top of each other in the correct order, you may want to use the arrange menu or the selection pane to assist with this
  6. (optional) Add a text box at the back stating times up

Example 4: Scrolling counter

Example scrolling counter PowerPoint animation
  1. Insert a rectangle, with no fill and an outline of your choice
  2. Insert a text box and type in the required numbers, with a new number on each line
  3. Add the “Lines” animation to the text box, move your text box so your first number aligns with the green arrow and your final number aligns with the red arrow (further guidance). Adjust to your chosen duration (max of 59 seconds)
  4. Insert more rectangles above and below the first rectangle you created to hide the numbers as they scroll in and out

Resources

References

Rowe, M., 1986. Wait Time: Slowing Down May Be A Way of Speeding Up!. Journal of Teacher Education, 37(1), pp.43-50

Stahl, Robert J. & ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education.  1994,  Using “Think-Time” and “Wait-Time” Skillfully in the Classroom [microform] / Robert J. Stahl  Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse [Washington, D.C.]  <https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED370885>

Cropping Video: Removing the date from Screencasts

Over the last year or so most of us will have taken the plunge and recorded a lecture or tutorial to share with students. You may be considering reusing this content for years to come, however the date and time on your screencast will give the game away.

I don’t know if some students would have a problem with a video from last year being used again this year… I would prefer the date (which is visible at the bottom left of my laptop screen) to not be visible

FMS Module Leader

We can do this with video editing software such as Adobe Premier Pro or Final Cut Pro, but what if you do not have access to such software?

At this point most of us usually head to Google to find a free alternative. Trying to find a free online tool can be a little daunting and it’s always worth double-checking the usage terms and privacy policies are reasonable.

We have previously recommended ezgif.com to be used to create animated gifs for instruction and demonstrations. Ezgif don’t store your files or claim any intellectual property rights over anything you upload, and your file is removed from their servers in an hour.

This free content editing website can be used for so much more than just creating gifs. They have a designated area for editing videos, including an easy to use cropping tool.

Medicine Focused H5P Examples

As part of the FMS TEL Conference last week members of the FMS TEL Team created a few medicine focused examples of H5P content.

We have shared these examples with the University to use in course content or to clone and edit to fit specific needs. You can find all of our examples in:
All content > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Generic Content

H5P Folder structure

Example content includes:

  • Accordion: Vertically stacked expandable items
  • Agamotto: Sequence of images and explanations
  • Drag and Drop: Drag and drop task with images
  • Drag Text: Text-based drag and drop task
  • Flashcards: Stylish and modern flashcards
  • Image Hotspots: An image with info hotspots
  • Image Juxtaposition: Interactive images
  • Memory Game: Image pairing task
  • Timeline: Interactive timeline of event with multimedia

More Resources

H5P is here!!

Adding engaging and interactive content to your online course materials just got easier with H5P.  

This new online tool allows you to create custom learning resources such as branching scenarios, accordions, interactive images and videos, 360 degree virtual tours, simple formative quizzes, and so much more.   

Try it out:

Below is an example of a simple drag and drop exercise.