Final Exam “Dos” & “Don’ts”

Preparation Makes All the Difference

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Chances are no one at the University of Pennsylvania needs to be reminded that final exams start Monday, May 2nd and end Tuesday, May 10th, at least not at the Penn Libraries, where we’re seeing many students prepare for their exams. While there’s always a palpable undercurrent of anxiety involved in exam prep, it’s also true that the dedication to learning students display during this time of year is nothing short of inspirational, and it’s this positive aspect of the reading period on which I’d like to focus. Seeing students so devoted to doing their best on exams, I thought it would be useful for instructors, TAs, and staff who are prepping their finals this week to receive some tips for ensuring that everything goes smoothly when it’s exam time, hence the following final exam “dos” and “don’ts.”

DOs

  • Do ask your students to use supported browsers if they are taking the exam on their own devices. If they don’t and lose their internet connect while taking your exam, their responses won’t be backed up, as the capture mechanism for responses doesn’t work with unsupported browsers. Please share this list of supported browsers with students before they take the exam so they can see it if they need to update their browsers to a version Canvas supports: Which browsers does Canvas support?
  • Do talk to your Local Support Provider (LSP) before giving a Canvas exam in an on-campus building to make sure that the room you’re using has the technological configuration and capacity to support all of your students taking the exam at once. An LSP would know, for example, if the Wi-Fi in a building is strong enough to support multiple users accessing the exam simultaneously. If you don’t have your LSP’s contact information, please see: Faculty and Staff Support Directory
  • Do tell your students to clear the cache of whatever browser they’re using before logging into Canvas if they’re taking an exam in an on-campus computer lab, on a device borrowed through an on-campus service, or on another Canvas-user’s device (e.g., a friend’s). Please share these cache-clearing instructions with your students before they take your exam: How do I clear my browser cache on a Mac? and How do I clear my browser cache on a PC?
  • Do use the Test Student to take your exam before releasing it to students. Doing this will show you if the exam has been set up correctly and will show you how students will interact with your exam. For more information on using the Test Student, please see: What is Student View? and How do I access Student View?

DON’Ts

  • Don’t save answer keys in your Canvas site before students take the exam. If you want students to have access to an answer key, add it to Canvas after they take the exam, or share it with them through some other safe means after the exam.
  • Don’t make your “Until” availability date, if you’re using one, the same as your due date. Rather, give a 5-minute window between the due date and “Until” date (e.g., if a due date is 5/4 at 5:00pm, make the “Until” date 5/4 at 5:05pm. The times on your students’ devices might be inaccurate, so using an “Until” date that’s exactly the same as the due date might bar students who aren’t aware of this inaccuracy from submitting. To learn more about availability dates, please see: What is the difference between due dates and availability dates?
  • Don’t set up another Canvas assignment or quiz for students who are taking another version of the exam or submitting an alternative format without contacting Courseware Support (canvas@pobox.upenn.edu) first. A Canvas quiz or assignment must be completed by all students in a course, so creating an additional assignment or quiz intended for just one or a few of your students will make it so that your other students will also have to submit the assignment or take the exam; if they don’t, it will negatively affect their total grades. Courseware Support can assist you with scenarios like this.

Get Help!

Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you need assistance with any of these suggestions or if you have any questions.

Canvas Helps Student Accommodations for Final Exams

Learning from Experience

Stumped about accommodating students in Canvas? We can help!

Stumped about accommodating students in Canvas? We can help!

Over the years, Courseware Support has helped instructors accommodate their students when the standard final-exam schedule conflicts with external circumstances or conditions in a student’s life. If you’re using Canvas for final exams, then there are a few things you should know about in case you need to accommodate a student. What follows are some of the more common scenarios for which instructors have requested our help in past final-exam periods. Through these examples, we thought it’d be useful for our readers to see how they can quickly and easily accommodate their students.

A Student Needs Extra Time for an SDS-Approved Accommodation (Before Taking the Exam)

The University of Pennsylvania’s Standards for Accommodating Exams for Students with Disabilities states, “SDS (Student Disabilities Services) encourages faculty to provide exams to students approved for accommodations.” While there are many accommodations for which students may receive approval from SDS (please click on the link above for a list), Canvas lends itself particularly well to the time-extension accommodation, which grants SDS-approved students “extended time (25%) (50%) or (100%) more time for in-class tests and quizzes” (borrowed from the “Definitions of Specific Accommodations” in the above link).

If one of your students needs the time-extension accommodation, you can set up your exam in Canvas so that this student, and only this student, has extra time. For instructions on how to do this, please see the section called “Adjust Additional Options” in the following link:

“Once I publish my Quiz, how can I give my students extra attempts?” (Reminder: A Canvas “quiz” is any question-and-answer-based assessment [e.g., final exam] created and given in Canvas).

Students Needs Extra Time While Taking an Exam

In certain situations, students might request extra time on a timed-exam, or you might decide they need extra time while taking your timed-exam. If you accept this request or make this decision, you can add extra time to the exam while students take it by following these instructions:

Once I publish a timed quiz, how can I give my students extra time?

A Student Needs to Re-Take an Exam

If you have decided to let a student re-take an exam, you can do this by following these instructions:

 Once I publish my Quiz, how can I give my students extra attempts? (Same link as SDS-approved accommodations. Covers all extra-attempt scenarios)

A Student Needs to Take an Exam Early

If you are letting a student take your final exam before the standard exam time, you can do this by following these steps:

I. Add an availability date to your exam. The availability date should be the date and start time scheduled for your exam. For an explanation of availability dates and instructions on how to use them, please see:

What is the difference between due dates and availability dates?

Important: Please make sure to set the availability date before you publish the exam. If you reverse these steps, the exam will be available to all students until you set the availability date.

II. Publish the exam. Please see the section called “Publish a Quiz” in the following link for instructions:

How do I use Draft State in Quizzes?

III. Use the “Moderate This Quiz” feature to make the exam available to the student. To do this, you will use the quiz-moderating feature.  In the following link, you will see the setting you have to enable, labelled “Manually unlock the quiz for the next attempt,” in the “Adjust Additional Options” of the page:

Once I publish my Quiz, how can I give my students extra attempts?

Need Assistance?

Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions.

Canvas Production Release: April 23, 2016

Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Courseware Support posts highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content to the Canvas at Penn blog a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

4/23/16 Production Release Highlights:

  • Wrapped Assignments and Event Titles: The Calendar-Month view supports text-wrapping for events and assignment titles with long names. When this feature is enabled, a calendar item-name longer than the width of the date wraps the content to the next line. Some events may create additional white space between shorter events on the same week as days with longer events because the Calendar infrastructure enforces a table grid for the entire row. “Wrapped Assignments and Events Titles” is used in conjunction with the “Wrap Event Titles in Calendar Month View” account-level feature option, which must be enabled by an institutional admin in Account Settings.
  • Sub-account Global Announcements: Admins and sub-account admins can create global announcements at the sub-account level. This feature allows sub-account global announcements to be shown to all sub-account admins and users enrolled in courses within the sub-account. To help differentiate announcements at the account and sub-account levels, the message also indicates which account or sub-account sent the global announcement. “Managing Global Announcements” requires the “Global Announcements” account permission.
  • Gradebook Performance Updates: Gradebook content is loaded incrementally for improved performance. Some Gradebook features such as column sorting may not be available in larger courses until all students have been loaded on the page.
  •  Communication Channel Update: If a user tries to reply to a message in an unconfirmed communication channel, the error delivery message includes information about how to confirm the communication channel so replies can be sent back through Canvas. Previously the message only mentioned that the reply could not be delivered, and the majority of users were unsure how to update or confirm a communication channel.
  • Folder Clicks and Page Load: When a user repeatedly clicked folders in the left panel in “Files,” the right panel stopped loading for the last selected folder and did not display any files content. This behavior occurred in Chrome and Safari. Canvas code has been updated to remove unnecessary calls to previously selected folders and view files content.
  • Crocodoc Annotations and Group Assignments: When an instructor creates Crocodoc annotations on a group assignment, all students in the group can view the annotations.

For a complete production release update, please see:

Canvas Production Release Notes: April 23, 2016

2016-04-23 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Please click here to view the transcript for this video.

IMPORTANT: New Canvas User Interface Coming May 16, 2016

What is the New Canvas User Interface?

The new Canvas User Interface (UI) is an updated interface structure enhanced by a responsive user experience for the User Dashboard and Global Navigation menu. The Course Navigation menu also collapses on smaller screens, allowing for a more content-focused and responsive layout.

For more information please see:
https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-4368

Person jumping with the sun, mountains, and a clear, blue sky in the background.

You’ll jump for joy over the new Canvas UI!

Is any functionality changing in Canvas?

No, but Canvas will look different.

Are there are new features?

Users have the ability to add nicknames and color code their courses: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-5511

How do I use the new UI?

The first thing you will see when you log into Canvas is your User Dashboard. The User Dashboard helps you see what is happening in all your courses and allows you to figure out what to do next. To help manage Canvas activity, the User Dashboard also supports the Recent Activity Stream, which can be toggled at the top of the User Dashboard based on user preference. The recent activity stream shows activity for all your Canvas courses. To view Recent Activity, click the User Dashboard icon. The icon will switch from the left side to the right, indicating the current Dashboard view.

You can return to your User Dashboard at any time by clicking the Dashboard link in Global Navigation.

When will this change happen?

We will be making this change on Monday, May 16, 2016. This date was selected since it falls between Spring 2016 and Summer Session I to minimize disruption to Penn users.

Do I need to do anything to prepare for this change?

Nope!

Where can I learn more?

For more information, please see our video.

You can also download a PDF text-and-image adaptation of the video.

Note: The new Canvas UI will look slightly different when it appears on May 16th from what you’ll see in the video and PDF. None of the features discussed in the video and PDF will be different, however. For your reference, here is how the new Canvas UI will look when you access it on May 16th:

New Canvas UI as it will appear on May 16th.

Please note that the University of Pennsylvania logo you see in the video and PDF:

University of Pennsylvania logo in video and PDF

Will have been changed on May 16th to:

University of Pennsylvania logo in the New Canvas UI as of May 16th.

These logos function like “Home” buttons for your Canvas account. As of May 16th, you can click on the second of these logos to return to your Canvas User Dashboard.

Where can I direct questions?

Please contact Canvas Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu

Canvas Production Release: April 2, 2016

Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Courseware Support posts highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content to the Canvas at Penn blog a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

4/2/16 Production Release Highlights:

  • Course Storage Report: In Account Settings, the “Reports” tab includes the Course Storage Report. Configured by term, this report pulls the current statistics for storage space used for every course (shown in megabytes). The resulting CSV file will have one row per course and will show the course id, course sis id, course short name, course name, account id, account sis id, account name, storage used in megabytes.
  • Gradebook Individual View & Final Grade Decimal Places: In the Gradebook, Individual View shows two decimal places for a student’s final grade. This change helps improve consistency with rounding in the Gradebook.
  • Notification Preference View: In the Notification page, the notification-option menus can be changed without hovering over a communication channel column. This change improves accessibility and allows notification options to be accessed by all users. Enabled notifications are shown with a dark background. Changing a notification option applies the option immediately. Users who have enabled push notifications will still be able to manage push notifications in the “Push Notifications” column. Please note that enabling push notifications only allows notifications to be sent immediately or not at all (daily and weekly notifications are not currently supported).
  • Manually Graded Question Quiz Statistics: In addition to showing a link to SpeedGrader, quiz statistics show relative grade performance for manually graded essay and file-upload quiz question types. In quiz statistics, manually graded question types are shown in the same table format as other quiz types. A manually graded quiz type is marked as correct if it contains a student score greater than or equal to the question points possible. Grade breakdown responses are shown as the top 27%, middle 46%, and bottom 27%. The statistics also show submissions that have not yet been graded. However, if all scores are identical, a response category may show more than the percentage number of students (e.g., all students score 100%).
  • Group Submission Individual Comments View: SpeedGrader does not display individual comments made in group-submission assignments. Group-submission assignments are assignments where the instructor creates a group assignment and one submission counts for all group members. This change was made so instructors can always verify that comments are made for the entire group; SpeedGrader defaults the comments field so that it cannot be changed.
  • External Tools and Module Items: When being added as a module item, External Tools require a URL.

For a complete production release update, please see:

Canvas Production Release Notes: April 2, 2016

2016-04-02 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Please click here to view the transcript for this video.

IMPORTANT: Changes to Turnitin Coming May 17th

Changes to Turnitin

This summer we will be changing the way that Turnitin integrates with Canvas. The legacy integration we currently use will no longer be supported, and we are planning to make the change between semesters on Tuesday May 17th.  After we make this change, any previously generated Turnitin reports in Canvas will no longer be accessible.

This change will not affect assignment submissions or grading done in Canvas, only direct access to the Turnitin plagiarism reports. Reports run through Turnitin.com will also not be affected by this integration change.

Directions for downloading Turnitin reports can be downloaded as a PDF in this link:

Bid farewell to the old Turnitin and strap in as a we approach the new Turnitin!

Ongoing Academic Integrity Issues

Directions for downloading Turnitin reports can be downloaded as a PDF through this link. If you are involved in any ongoing academic integrity investigations, we recommend backing up the relevant reports prior to May 17th. It is not possible to bulk download all Turnitin reports for a specific Canvas assignment, so any report you wish to retain must be individually downloaded.

New Instructions for Turnitin

After the change to the LTI the setup process for Turnitin will also change. For instructions, please click on this link.

More Information

Please click on these links to download PDFs with more information about the new Turnitin:

Questions?

Please direct any questions about Turnitin to canvas@pobox.upenn.edu

Canvas Production Release: March 12, 2016

Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Courseware Support posts highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content to the Canvas at Penn blog a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

3/12/16 Production Release Highlights:

  • Analytics & Page Views Table: Account, course, and user analytics can be viewed in graph- or table-view. This change improves accessibility and allows keyboard users to access additional data that could previously only be viewed by hovering over the graphs. Analytics pages always default to the graph view.
  • To Do” List: For instructors, the “To Do” list indicates the number of submissions that require grading. The indicator supports up to three digits and matches the primary color of the account’s theme as set in the theme editor. This change also aligns indicators and icons when associated with long course and assignment names.
  • Instructor Quiz Previews: Instructors can only preview quizzes in Canvas. Previewing a quiz allows instructors to complete a quiz the same way that students will complete the quiz, including submitting the quiz. However, an official quiz submission is never created in Canvas. This resolves the issue where an instructor’s attempt counted as a user taking the quiz, and thus it could not be unpublished. This change does not apply in the Canvas by Instructure app.
  •  Differentiated Assignments and User Removal: Instructors can save a differentiated assignment, quiz, or graded discussion after a previously added student or section has been removed from the course. When an instructor created an assignment, and an included student or section was later removed from the course, the instructor wasn’t able to edit or save the assignment. The due-date area for the previously included student or section displayed a loading error. This behavior also affected the Gradebook, which was not able to load correctly when these users were removed from the course. Canvas code has been updated to remove the user override from an assignment if the student is removed from the course.
  • Unpublished Files and Concluded Courses: Instructors can download unpublished files in concluded courses.

For a complete production release update, please see:

Canvas Production Release Notes: March 12, 2016

2016-03-12 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Please click here to view the transcript for this video.

Turnitin Outage: 3/5/16

Stop sign

Turnitin may be intermittently unavailable on Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 10 AM to 2PM due to scheduled maintenance by the vendor. Instructors who use Turnitin are encouraged to modify assignment due dates either before or at least several hours after the scheduled maintenance window.

Canvas and all other integrated tools will be available and unaffected by this maintenance.

Please direct any questions to canvas@pobox.upenn.edu

Quick Tips: SpeedGrader Warm-Up

Man stretching before a run along a river in a city.

You wouldn’t run without stretching first, so don’t start grading without this SpeedGrader warm-up!

Grading Season Has Begun!

With the drop period ending February 19th, many instructors are in the process of collecting the first major assignments of the semester. Before rolling up your sleeves and digging into the papers or exams you need to grade, we suggest slowing down for a moment to learn a little about the Canvas SpeedGrader.

SpeedGrader is a tool that lets you comment on online assignment submissions, quizzes, and graded discussions directly in Canvas. No downloading, exporting, or other complicated processes required! So if you’ve had students submit papers, take quizzes (could be a test or an exam, too; “quiz” covers these in Canvas), or a graded discussion, and are considering using this tool, get ready for a quick SpeedGrader warm-up!

Anything I Should Know Before I Get Started with SpeedGrader?

  • Use a recent version of Google Chrome when working in SpeedGrader. We have found that Chrome is the most stable browser for this tool. While we have not receive recent reports of issues with updated versions of Safari and Internet Explorer, we have heard about issues with Firefox. Click here to learn about about Firefox-SpeedGrader issues.
  • We do not recommend keeping the SpeedGrader view of a submission open for more than 60 minutes, as there have been issues in the past where graders have lost feedback because they have kept the tool open for more than 60 minutes. Click for more information about this issue.

What Do Students See When I Use SpeedGrader?

In SpeedGrader, all content you add to a student’s assignment submission is immediately visible to that student. This content includes:

  • Any grades you enter into the “Grade” field (please see “Assign a Grade” in this link for an example of this action). This content saves after you add it and click on Enter or Return. No additional steps are necessary to save it. The grade appears in the Canvas gradebook since it is synced with SpeedGrader; any changes you make in one place appear in the other.

Click to see how students access grades and feedback.

What If I Don’t Want Students to See Their Grades Yet?

If you don’t want students to see any of your grading-and-feedback content, you can mute the assignment, which is a Canvas feature that lets instructors, TAs, and graders hide all grades and feedback for an assignment from students until it is unmuted, making all of this content visible to students. Click for instructions on how to mute and unmute Canvas assignments.

Anything Else?

Check out SpeedGrader’s other features. Email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have a question. Register for a Canvas Help appointment if you want to meet with a Canvas Specialist.

Canvas Production Release: February 20, 2016

Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Courseware Support posts highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content to the Canvas at Penn blog a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

2/20/16 Production Release Highlights:

  •  Restrict Future Enrollments in Courses List: As part of selecting the “Restrict students from accessing courses before start date checkbox,” admins have an additional option that allows them to restrict students from viewing those courses in their Courses (or enrollments) list. This checkbox option is called “Restrict students from viewing future courses in enrollment list” and only appears if the start date restriction checkbox is selected. This feature removes the name of the future enrollment course from the “Courses” list so that students do not see they are enrolled in the course. This setting can also be locked for sub-accounts. This change has not yet been applied at the course level.
  • Crocodoc Student Feedback Document Review: When an instructor adds Crocodoc annotations to a student’s submission, instructors can view if the student has viewed the feedback. This change does not affect any student behavior in Canvas.
  • Analytics Graph Enhancements: Account, course, and user analytics graphs have been improved for accessibility and readability; changes do not affect current functionality. See the full release notes for details.
  •  External Tool URL in Assignments: When an instructor created an External Tool assignment submission, previously instructors could only add an External URL by clicking the URL field. This functionality has been improved by allowing a direct URL to be entered in the link field. Instructors can still locate an External Tool by clicking the Find button.
  • Grade Sorting: When students view the Grades page, they can sort grades by due date, module, assignment title, or assignment group. By default, sorting is by due date.  If modules or assignment groups aren’t used in a course, they won’t be included as sorting options.
  • Sidebar Enhancements: Dashboard sidebar content includes more white space and enlarged font sizes for better readability. All sidebar areas include the name of the course, and assignments also include the total number of points. The “Coming Up” section includes the specific date of the assignment or event instead of the day of the week. Additionally, any assignments that have already been graded include the assignment score. For instructors, the “To Do” list assignment icons are replaced with an indicator representing the number of submissions that require grading. The indicator matches the primary color of the account’s theme as set in the theme editor.

For a complete production release update, please see:

Canvas Production Release Notes: February 20, 2016

2016-02-20 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Please click here to view the transcript for this video.