OAT Update for 10/14/22

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Welcome to the latest issue of the OAT Update, produced by the Office of Academic Technology at CSU Stanislaus.

New Announcements


Browse all OAT Updates

New Announcements

Oct. 5 Hypothes.is Workshop Recording

On Oct. 5 OAT hosted an introductory workshop on using Hypothes.is for a variety of digital annotation activities in Canvas.  The presentation also featured a discussion by Jey Strangfeld (Sociology), Staci Scheiwiller (Art), and Kellie Cotter (Psychology) about the ways they're using the tool and students' responses to it.

Learn more about Hypothesis

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Zoom Software Update Required

Zoom is requiring all users to update their desktop/laptop meeting software to the latest version by November 5, 2022. Users who have not updated at that point will not be able to join or start a meeting. This policy is being enforced by Zoom, not Stan State.

How to Update Zoom

Updating is simple and painless.  Here are the steps to update Zoom:

  1. Launch the Zoom app on your computer
  2. Click your profile picture in the upper right to open the setting menu
  3. Click "Check for Updates"
  4. Follow the remaining prompts to download and install the latest version

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Canvas: Removing Previous Instructors from Rosters

Has your teaching assignment changed? If you are no longer listed as the instructor or a course or section in PeopleSoft, please contact oatsupport@csustan.edu and ask to be removed from the Canvas roster for the prior course. Currently, changes to the instructor-of-record field in PeopleSoft are not automatically reflected in Canvas so that any previously assigned instructors are removed from the course roster (only added). Remaining on the previous roster when courses begin means you'll receive notifications about the course, and students may also be confused about whom to contact.

Removing you from a previous course is very easy to do, but it must be requested first!

OAT and OIT have begun working on a solution to automate these removals, but there is no ETA for delivery at this time.

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Respondus Training Workshops

Stan State instructors have access to three tools made by Respondus: LockDown Browser, Monitor, and Respondus 4 Question Banks.  Free training sessions for all three tools are being offered by Respondus staff throughout September and October.

Learn more and register

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Ed Tech Tool Spotlight: VoiceThread

VoiceThread logoAn ed tech fixture on campus since 2012, VoiceThread has helped make online classes more engaging and humanized. Part discussion board, part presentation tool, VoiceThread enables students and instructors to display media files and talk about them. In Spring 2022, users spent almost 75,000 hours with the tool and recorded almost 49,000 comments!

Read more about VoiceThread at Stan State.

What is a VoiceThread?

A VoiceThread is a collection of slides (akin to a PowerPoint file), with each slide holding some kind of content, such as an image, or a series of pages from a PDF file, or a video file. Interaction comes in the form of voice and video comments that users record in the margins of each slide of the VoiceThread. While recording, users can also annotate/doodle on the slide to emphasize what they're talking about.

How can VoiceThread be used in a course?

Here are some common ways instructors have incorporated VoiceThread into their pedagogy.

From simpler to more complex:

  • Course icebreaker activity: Students introduce themselves to the class using voice or video.
  • Syllabus overview: Instructor records a page-by-page overview of the course syllabus. Students are encouraged to ask questions via the commenting tool.
  • Weekly lecture: Instructor designs a VoiceThread with slides and other media as part of course lecture. Students are encouraged to ask questions on any slide via the commenting tool.
  • Class discussion: Instructor offers 3-4 discussion prompts in a VoiceThread (one slide for each prompt). Students record posts and replies on the slide of their choosing.
  • Feedback on student submissions: Instructor assigns students to create a VoiceThread and upload a writing assignment file as the slide content. Instructor records voice comments and annotates each slide/page.
  • Individual presentation gallery: In fully online courses, instructor assigns students to design and deliver a culminating presentation using VoiceThread. Final slide contains a discussion prompt related to the topic created by the student. All students then peruse the 'gallery' of class presentations and respond to the prompt slides.
  • Group presentations: Student groups collaborate on the creation of a common VoiceThread. The link to the group VoiceThread is submitted into a Canvas assignment and also shared in a standard Canvas discussion forum. All students then peruse the links and watch the presentations.

Can VoiceThreads be graded in Canvas?

Yes! VoiceThread is an External Tool that can be connected to a Canvas assignment.  Once initiated in Canvas, there are three assignment types that VoiceThread offers.

  1. Watching: students must watch a VoiceThread and all comments. This is automatically graded upon completion.
  2. Commenting: students must make a minimum number of comments in a VoiceThread. These are manually reviewed by the instructor and assigned a grade.
  3. Creating: students upload materials to build their own VoiceThread. Optionally, these VTs can be shared in a gallery viewable by the whole class.  These are manually reviewed and assigned a grade.

Contact Glenn Pillsbury to learn more about Voicethread!

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Sharing Canvas Content

When you have decided to share content from a Canvas course with a colleague, what are your options?

Option 1: Build a course archive and share access

Sharing an entire course is best done without having to worry about student activity being revealed to unauthorized individuals. For this reason, the best option is create a blank course as a "sandbox" and use it to store your materials.  Then, add colleagues to it in the Teacher role so they have full access to the course.

Note: creating new courses should never be done for academic courses (i.e., courses with students and grades).

Option 2: Share an entire course using "Teacher's Friend" role

In some situations, it might necessary to add a colleague to the roster of an existing academic course. Because there are privacy issues with academic Canvas courses, OAT recommends adding the person in the "Teacher's Friend" role. 

Steps to add a user to the course in the Teacher's Friend role:

Note: the course must be open/available in order to add new users to it. For help with closed courses, contact oatsupport@csustan.edu.

  1. Open the People page and enter the user's campus email address.
  2. Select "Teacher's Friend" in the role drop down menu.
  3. Click "Next" and then confirm the new addition on the next screen.

» Limitations of Teacher's Friend users

Understand the following details about the Teacher's Friend role:

  • Teacher's Friend users can view course instructional content but cannot see student submissions, grades, or grade the students.
  • Teacher's Friend users cannot see the main course roster and cannot see ungraded discussions at all.  Graded discussion activities appear on the Assignments page of the course, but Teacher's Friend users cannot view any existing posts made in them.
  • Assignments in the course that use External Tools for the submission type (e.g., VoiceThread, Turnitin, Discussions Plus, textbook publishers, etc.) need to be recreated by the new user in their own course.

» Receiving a shared course

To use the shared course materials in their own Canvas shell, the user uses the standard "Import Course Content" tool on the course home page.  They can then select the donor course to import.

Option 3: Share an entire course via backup file

In this method, the instructor creates a backup file of the whole course and makes that file available to their colleague, via email attachment or some other transfer method. Backup files may be too large to email. In that case, upload and share the file via your OneDrive.  Access OneDrive.

The receiver imports that file into their own course using the "Import Course Content" tool.

Option 4: Upload your course into Canvas Commons

Canvas Commons is the shared cloud repository for Canvas materials from across the university and across worldwide Canvas users.  Sharing your course in Commons means your colleague can search for it there and pull it down into their own course.  The user does not need to be added to your course first.

» Sharing into Commons

How to share a course into Commons:

  1. Open the Settings page of your course.
  2. Click the button to "Share to Commons" on the right.
  3. Configure the sharing details. Note that sharing cannot be limited to a single individual but can be limited to users from CSU Stanislaus.

How do I share a course to Commons?

» Retrieving and importing a course from Commons

Colleagues can locate and download your course from Commons.

How do I import and view a Commons resource in Canvas?

Option 5: Share individual course items

Items that can be shared include most assignments, discussions, quizzes, documents & files, Canvas pages, and entire modules.

  1. From the Modules page or the item's home page, click the 'three dots' menu to the right of the item.
  2. Choose "Send To..." and then search for the colleague's name.
  3. Select the correct person in the list (be careful as the list includes student names)
  4. Click "Send".

Repeat these steps for other individual items.

» Sharing caveats

Assignments that use the External Tool submission type can be shared but the External Tool content (Turnitin, VoiceThread, Discussions Plus, etc) will not be included.  The receiving instructor must recreate this part of the assignment using their own accounts.

External Tools that are added as module items will not be included when an entire module has been selected for sharing.  Those items must be rebuilt by the receiving party using their own accounts.

» Receiving and using individual items

Canvas will display a badge notification on your Account menu icon when you have received a shared item. 

  1. Click your account profile picture in the main menu and click the "Shared Content" link.
  2. In the Actions column for the item, click the 'three dots' and choose "Import".
  3. On the Import screen, choose the course to import the item into. Also choose the Module within the destination course for the item to be placed into.  It will be placed at the end of the module by default.


For questions about sharing content, contact oatsupport@csustan.edu.

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2022-23 Faculty Ambassadors for Canvas

This year, OAT is again sponsoring the FAC program, which makes experienced Canvas instructors available to each college, as a supplement to OAT staff. Instructors may find it more helpful to work with other instructors in their general discipline on questions related to Canvas, and are encouraged to contact these individuals.

2022-23 Ambassadors

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Canvas How-To Tricks

Here are two cool Canvas grade book tricks that will impress your friends and frenemies alike!

1. Incorporate "choose your own adventure" assignment pathways into a course grade

With this trick, you can offer students a choice of possible activities to complete, as a way to generate the overall grade for a category of assignments in a course. Do this when you want students to choose their own pathway to demonstrating course learning objectives.  Offering students choices in how they complete course activities allows them to focus on activities that resonate most strongly with their own interests and learning style.  This makes them more engaged in the activity, which tends to result in better performance.

  1. On the Assignments homepage of the course, create assignment groups for the various activities in the course (instructions).
    • The assignment groups here should correspond to the groups/categories and independent activities that are identified in the syllabus as contributing to the overall course grade.
    • Be sure to create an assignment group to hold all of the student choice activities.
  2. Create an additional group that will hold the final grade for the student choice assignments. This is a separate group from the one that holds the activities themselves.
  3. Enable weighted assignment groups in the course and specify percentages for each group (instructions).
    • Specify 0% for the assignment group containing the student choice activities. This will allow you to grade the activities without the scores directly affecting the final course grade.
    • For the weight of the additional assignment group created in Step 2, enter the percentage given in the syllabus for the student choice activities. It is this group/weight that will contribute to the final course grade.
  4. Open a new assignment called "Pathways Final Grade" (or named something else meaningful to your class) and configure the following settings:
    • Points: the max points you will be allowing for the student choice activities.  In other words, how many points are the student choice activities going to count for?
    • Assignment Group: from the drop-down menu, place this assignment in the weighted additional assignment group created in Step 2, not in the 0% assignment group.
    • Submission Type: set this to "No Submission" since your students will not be interacting with this particular assignment directly.
    • Leave the due date and all other settings at their defaults. There is no need for a due date for this assignment placeholder.
  5. Create the rest of the course activities as normal, including the student choice activities.  Place them into the appropriate assignment groups in the settings.  The student choice activities should each have points associated with them and be placed into the 0% assignment group.  Due dates are optional.
    • You can move or reorder assignments at any time from the Assignments home page (instructions). Nothing is ever 'set in stone'.
  6. Calculate the final grades for the student choice activities:
    1. As part of normal grading, review and assess the student choice activities using SpeedGrader.  Not every student will have a grade for every choice activity.
    2. Open the Grades page of the course.
    3. Among the student choice activities, manually add up the scores for each column that a student has completed. Use a calculator to ensure accuracy.
    4. Click the cell of the Pathways Final Grade column for the student and type the total points they earned.  Press Enter to save the number.
    5. Repeat these steps for every student.

That's all there is to it!

2. Award bonus percentage points

While it's easy to create activities that are worth extra credit points, what if you want to directly increase students' overall grade percentage?  The trick is to use weighted assignment groups that total more than 100%.

  1. On the Assignments homepage of the course, create assignment groups for the various activities in the course (instructions).
    • The assignment groups should correspond to the groups/categories and independent activities that are identified in the syllabus as contributing to the overall course grade.
  2. Create an assignment group for each activity that will be worth bonus percentage points -OR- create a single assignment group for all of the bonus activities.
  3. Enable weighted assignment groups in the course and specify percentages for each group (instructions).
    • The bonus groups should be weighted at the desired percentage (1%, 2%, etc.). You do not indicate these percentages to be 'bonus' groups.
    • If using a single group for all of the bonus activities, set the weight of this group to the total bonus percentage of all the activities.
    • The total of all the weights in the course should be greater than 100%.
  4. Create new assignments or activities in the bonus group(s).
    • The activities must be worth 1 point or more.
    • Place the assignment(s) into the appropriate bonus assignment group.
    • Recommendation: If you are planning to award whole bonus points only (1%, 2%, etc.), choose "Complete/Incomplete" in the Display Grade As setting. This will prevent fractional bonus percentages from being awarded during grading. A mark of "Complete" will automatically award full points on the assignment and may be easier for the student to understand.
    • All other assignment settings are at your discretion based on the needs of the activity.
  5. Grade the bonus activities as normal, using SpeedGrader or directly entering scores in the Grades page.  Canvas will automatically use the bonus groups as part of the student's final grade calculation.

That's all there is to it!

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Accessibile PDFs

Supercharge accessibility scores for your Canvas courses! 

Now that the Fall semester is rapidly approaching, now is the perfect time to have our Document Remediation team make your PDF files accessible.

  • Were your PDFs created by scanning printed pages? 
  • Is the image quality of your PDFs less than ideal? (e.g., skewed pages, handwritten notes) 
  • Is the PDF your only copy of the content? 

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, the PDFs are a perfect fit to submit to our Document Remediation team.

  • Submit a document remediation work order: Select "Accessibility Work Request" in the Request Type drop-down menu, and "Make my document accessible for me" in the Service Type section

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Article ID: 151656
Mon 10/3/22 2:21 PM
Tue 11/15/22 9:12 AM