New features

If you haven’t seen the latest in Canvas as of the end of January, then take a quick look at this video.  Some of the new features include:

A quick snapshot of a student’s activity and performance with what are called Context Cards.  Simply select a name from the people tab and see their snapshot.

Another useful option is the recurring calendar event.  In this update you can limit the number of times that a repeating event occurs.

The student’s to-do list for assignments only populates with assignments that are NOT past due.  Once an assignment is past-due, the student will not see that assignment in their to-do list.  This feature provides less late entries and more accountability.

There are some more features that you may find useful so check out the video at:


Wouldn’t it be nice to access all Canvas assignment parameters from a single spreadsheet? Well…

You can!  I had an instructor want to remove deadlines from all assignments and they didn’t want to have to do it one assignment at a time.  The process to get this single-access-spreadsheet function set up is a little detailed, but once in place, you can quickly access ALL assignment parameters in one spreadsheet.  If you make a change to a quiz name on the spreadsheet, it changes on Canvas.  Change a due date on the spreadsheet and it’s done on Canvas.  Want to quickly change a set of due dates?  It’s all there on one page.  Nice right!  Check it out and see if you could benefit from this function.

A little video spice is nice…

Do you like to have fun with your videos?  If you do then you might like this.  How to add elements to your videos and make them move.  If you have iMovie, Final Cut or similar video programs then give this video tutorial a peep.

Question banks

Do you have some questions that might be good for some later assessments but don’t want to make a quiz right now?  Check out this video so that you can capture some quick assessment inspiration without the perspiration of making an assessment right now.

Education Event in AZ: TechTalks 2017 at SCC

Todd and I have attended this, and he actually gave a legendary talk there on the topic of “Easy” which included Gallagher-inspired splatter. This year Jared and I are going, and if you decide a day in the valley with all kinds of Maricopa teachers and designers sounds like fun, please register and let us know if you want to car pool


Scottsdale Community College’s TechTalks 2017 is an event where people interested in educational technology can gather to enjoy a series of live, 18-minute presentations about technology and the learning/teaching process. The end result is a morning of inspiring, entertaining, and touching stories with the power to change student success outcomes.

TechTalks 2017 will be held in a format similar to the highly acclaimed TED Talks. It promises to be an intense day of talking, listening, sharing, learning and networking. You won’t want to miss it!

Friday, January 27, 2016, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts Center
9000 E. Chaparral Rd., Scottsdale

Making the Most of Images by Using Alt-Text

Adding images to your course content can make it more visually-appealing, engaging to visual learners and allow you to represent information in other ways.

Sample Canvas Course Front Page

What is important to remember is that if you use images, that two best practices are followed:

  1. Add alternate text (Alt-Text) to describe images as briefly as possible. If the image is purely used as a decoration, no Alt-Text is needed.
  2. If important information is communicated using images, provide a text description or explanation to enforce learning, make the content universally accessible (UDL Principle 1)

Add Alternate Text in Canvas

Adding Alt-Text to images is a somewhat simple process in Canvas, whether you are adding it to existing images or new ones. Alt-Text is important because if the user is using any type of text-to-speech tool or a screen reader, the necessary information will be there to understand and navigate content.

In edit mode, click on the image to select it and then click on the Embed Image icon in the Rich Text Editor to open the Attributes Window.

Canvas embed image icon in the Rich Text Editor

By default, Canvas enters the image name, for example, “course banner.jpg”. Replace the image name and extension (jpg, jpeg, png, gif, etc.) with a brief description of the image. This is especially important if there are words in the image, then they should be part of the description. Once edited, click on the Update button to save changes.

Image attributes window

Add Alternate Text in MS Office Documents

There are a few short steps to add Alt-Text to images in MS Office. The process is very similar in both PC and Mac environments.

  • On any image in a Word, PowerPoint, or Excel documents, right-click or (Control-click on Mac) to open the context menu.
  • In the Windows environment, select Size and Position then the Alt-Text section. Depending whether the image is a picture or a shape, the window that opens will have a heading of Format Picture or Format Shape.image-context-menu-pc        alt-text-in-ms-office-pc
  • In the Mac environment, select Format Picture, then the Alt-Text sectionimage-context-menu       alt-text-image-option-in-ms-office

Alt-Text in Google Docs

You can also add Alt-Text in Google Docs via the short process:

  • Select the image
  • Click on the Help menu and search for Alt. Click on Alt text…

  • Enter the short description and click OK

Blog Post, Session 10

How can curriculum mapping assist you?  Do you have one?  Does your school/district curriculum map?  Where would/will you start in creating a useful curriculum map for your classroom? 

 I would love to do curriculum mapping, but we don't have that as part of our school. As I said on the webinar last week, as a student I got a lot out of my History/Literature curriculum map as a Junior. It truly makes sense for a Junior English class to blend with a U.S. History course as the crux of Junior English is based on American Literature. (I guess since Arizona dropped AIMS, it's no longer required but I still do it.) When I taught at AAEC, I tried to get the U.S. History teacher to curriculum-map with me and it didn't go well --he wasn't remotely interested in working with me, probably because he didn't want to have to adjust his curriculum to work in a team. It was kind of a bad experience so I've been a little gun-shy about asking at a new school, but it's something to look forward to.

Another subject I've been thinking about working with is the science department: they have been requiring essays recently and my students have been asking me to proofread for them. I don't mind doing this, of course, but many of the questions center around MLA8, so I've been thinking about setting up a Moodle page just to have MLA resources available to all teachers who may use that citation method. This would help all Humanities courses, of course, but if the science teachers accept MLA rather than APA (as I understand they do at our school), this would help cut back on many of the questions they field so they can focus more on answering questions with regard to critical thinking. That's the plan --now to have the time to work on it ;)