Chapter 5: Exploring Special Features

Now that we have covered the basic skills required to create, build, design, and teach your Canvas course, let's look into some of the more advanced special features that Canvas has to offer. In this chapter, we will learn how to do the following:

  • Create collaborations between students that will allow them to work on documents together online
  • Set up learning outcomes
  • Create rubrics within Canvas and attach them to activities for assessment
  • Enable and view the Learning Mastery Gradebook
  • Use the Course Analytics and Course Statistics tools within Canvas to monitor your students' progress, gauge and bolster student engagement, and map interactions between users from course to course.

By the end of this chapter, you will have learned about many of the more advanced features of Canvas and will be ready to integrate them into your course. To utilize Canvas to help with collaborative activities, we will start this chapter by looking at the Collaborations feature.

Technical requirements

To complete this chapter, you will need the following:

  • A computer with internet access
  • A Canvas account (see Chapter 1, Getting Started with Canvas)
  • A Canvas course with course content created (see Chapter 2, Building Your Canvas Course, and Chapter 3, Getting Ready to Launch Your Course)

Creating Collaborations

One of the most effective means of fostering student learning and engagement is through group work. Group work empowers students to learn from one another and fosters social connections. The Collaborations feature of Canvas allows you to set up ways in which your students can work together to create documents online. Through two integrated outside web tools, collaborations allow you to set up documents that multiple users can access and edit together in real time from different locations or devices.

Some examples of situations in which you might choose to utilize the Collaborations feature of Canvas might be for planning group projects, full class note-taking, brainstorming ideas, signing up for activities, or writing a group paper to save and submit to a group assignment. In addition to teacher-created collaborations, students can use the Collaborations feature to create their own group documents as well by following the same steps described in this section.

Canvas allows you to set up group documents with Google Docs. Let's work our way through setting up a collaboration using Google Docs as an example of how you might give your students the opportunity to work together using their existing Canvas accounts.

Note

Google Docs is the default option for creating collaborations through Canvas. Your institution may have additional or alternative services configured for collaborations, which you would select from the drop-down menu next to Collaborate Using: on the Collaborations page. Most of the following steps would be the same for other services, and we will use Google Docs as the default for the purposes of this section. Also note that at this time, other Google features such as Slides or Sheets are not supported for Collaborations.

To create a collaboration, complete these steps:

  1. Click on the Collaborations tab of the left Course Navigation menu.
  2. Canvas offers a nice explanation of collaborations and how to use them on the Collaborations page, so take a moment to read the text on the main Collaborations page.
  3. As noted on the Collaborations page, collaborators will need a Google account to participate in a collaboration using Google Docs. As such, you will need to provide authorization for Canvas to access your Google Drive. To do so, click the Authorize Google Docs Access button at the bottom of the page, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.1 – Authorizing access to your Google Drive

    Figure 5.1 – Authorizing access to your Google Drive

  4. Follow the onscreen instructions to log in to your Google account and provide access for the Canvas Collaborations feature. Click Allow to proceed, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.2 – Allow Canvas to access your Google Drive

    Figure 5.2 – Allow Canvas to access your Google Drive

  5. Once you have clicked Allow, you will be taken back to the Collaborations page. At the bottom of the page, you will now see an area to enter the document name and description that you want students to see when they join the collaboration. You can enter the name and description for the collaborative document you want to create, as seen in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.3 – Document Name and Description spaces

    Figure 5.3 – Document Name and Description spaces

  6. Below the description, you will see the option to select participants to Collaborate With. You can select individual People to include, or you can select entire user Groups (which you would have previously set up from within the People tab on the left Course Navigation menu as discussed in Chapter 3, Getting Ready to Launch Your Course).
  7. To select individual People, click on their names from the list of participants on the left side. Their names will then appear on the right side, and you can remove them by clicking the X that appears when you hover over their name. In the following screenshot, you see Student, Test in the list of participants on the left-hand side and John, Ryan in the collaboration list on the right-hand side:
    Figure 5.4 – Participants in the collaboration appear on the right once added

    Figure 5.4 – Participants in the collaboration appear on the right once added

  8. To select specific groups, click on the Groups button above the participant list. You will see the list of groups that you previously created from within the People tab on the left Course Navigation menu, and you can select groups of people to include in the collaboration as pictured in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.5 – Adding participants to collaborations in Groups

    Figure 5.5 – Adding participants to collaborations in Groups

  9. When you have finished selecting participants or groups to include in the collaboration, click on the Start Collaborating button at the bottom of the screen, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.6 – Start Collaborating button

    Figure 5.6 – Start Collaborating button

  10. After that, the collaboration will be created, and the Google Doc will open in a new tab or window of your internet browser. Close the Google Doc tab and return to Canvas.
  11. Your students will receive an invitation to join the collaboration you have created for them. Canvas collaborative Google Docs can be accessed at any time by clicking on the Collaborations tab on the left Course Navigation menu. The collaborative Google Docs can also be accessed directly within the main folder of your Google Drive.
  12. Once you have created a collaboration, you can create additional collaborations by going to the Collaborations page and clicking the + Start a new collaboration button at the top of the page, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 5.7 – Start a new collaboration button

Figure 5.7 – Start a new collaboration button

Encourage your students to take advantage of the opportunity to work together using collaborations. Google Docs function in much the same way as a basic word processing document.

Editing or deleting collaborations

If you are the creator of a collaboration and you would like to edit or delete the collaboration, complete the following steps:

  1. Open the Collaboration page from the left Course Navigation menu.
  2. On the list of collaborations, find the collaboration you would like to edit or delete. To the right of the collaboration name, you will see the edit icon, which looks like a pencil, and the delete icon, which looks like a trashcan. To edit the collaboration, click on the edit icon, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.8 – Editing a collaboration

    Figure 5.8 – Editing a collaboration

  3. Within the Collaborations page, you will see the name and description of the collaboration turn into textboxes where you can make your changes. You will also see the participant list appear, which you can adjust in the same way you did to create the collaboration. When you are finished editing the collaboration, click on Update collaboration to save your changes.
  4. To delete a collaboration, click on the delete icon next to the edit icon. Since the collaboration was created as a Google Doc, you will see a pop-up window with options to Just Delete from Canvas or Also Delete from Google Docs. If you only delete the collaboration from Canvas, the document could still be accessed through Google Drive. Click the desired option, and your collaboration will be deleted.

Providing opportunities for your students to work together and combine your ideas is a way of making the content they are engaging with more meaningful and personal. As content gains meaning for your students, that meaning will hopefully begin to impact their achievement positively. In order to assess student achievement, it is helpful for you to articulate your goals for students as they work through the content of your course; one such way to do so within Canvas is to use the Outcomes feature.

Setting up Outcomes

As general educational trends have moved toward more standardized and concrete methods of assessment in recent years, Canvas has incorporated the Outcomes feature to help you design assessment tools to keep up with the demands of teaching in the 21st century. The Outcomes feature of Canvas allows you to easily create, manage, and utilize assessment outcomes. Outcomes represent the skills, traits, or information you would like your students to come away with after your course. Standardized outcomes are becoming increasingly popular in North American schools and in institutions across the globe. Many discipline-specific associations have created national standards that are comparable to the types of outcomes you would utilize in a Canvas course.

Outcomes are an excellent means of mapping your curriculum by providing you with a documentation of your learning goals. Should you choose to use your outcomes to create rubrics for assessment, you will also have documentation of the ways in which your assessments directly relate to the concepts you set out to teach. The Outcomes feature could be used to align with standards-based grading systems and approaches that are also becoming increasingly popular.

Once you have designed and created your outcomes, you will be able to quickly and easily access your outcomes when creating rubrics for assessments within your course. You can create outcomes that align to customized standards, benchmarks, and goals, or you can choose from common state and national standards that are already available through the Outcomes feature, such as the Common Core Standards. Once you have set up your outcomes, you can use them to easily create a rubric for assignments, discussions, or quizzes within your course.

You can also enable the Learning Mastery Gradebook, which we will discuss later in this chapter, to track student progress on outcomes. The outcomes you create for one course are also accessible and usable within other courses, so the hard work you put into creating outcomes for one course will come in handy if you would like to use them for another course you are teaching.

Creating outcomes

To create a new outcome, perform the following steps:

  1. Click on the Outcomes link on the left Course Navigation menu. You will see the Outcomes page, with a menu across the top, a list of outcomes on the left side (which will appear empty until you begin to add outcomes), and instructions on the right, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.9 – Outcomes page layout

    Figure 5.9 – Outcomes page layout

  2. Take a look at the instructions, which offer an excellent overview of how you might choose to use outcomes within your course. Click on the + Outcome button in the top-left corner of the menu. You will see a new Outcome template appear where the instructions were on the page.
  3. Insert the desired name of your outcome into the Name this outcome box at the top. This name might include numbers or letters that are commonly assigned to organize standards or objectives, so the next option of adding a Friendly name could help you or your students to understand the outcome more easily. You can choose a friendly name or skip that option, and then input the main body of your outcome in the Describe this outcome Rich Content Editor box. An example of a new outcome might be as follows:
    Figure 5.10 – Example outcome

    Figure 5.10 – Example outcome

  4. Once you are satisfied with the name and description of your outcome, look below the description to Criterion ratings. This section allows you to adjust how you wish to score your students' attainment of the outcome. The default criteria are shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.11 – Default Criterion ratings

    Figure 5.11 – Default Criterion ratings

  5. To edit Criterion Ratings, click on the edit icon that looks like a pencil at the bottom-right corner of each rating box next to the point value.
  6. Once you click the edit icon, you will see the name of the criterion and the point value displayed in textboxes. You can then rename or modify the title of the criterion and adjust the point value. If you would like to, you can enter a longer description of what the student needs to do in order to achieve the criterion you are describing, rather than offering only a title for the criterion. This can clarify the expectations for students and can help them better understand how to meet each criterion. This idea will also be discussed further in the following sections regarding rubrics.
  7. Click on the OK button at the bottom of the criterion box to save your criterion. You also have the option to delete the criterion by clicking on the Delete button at the bottom, as pictured in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.12 – Saving or deleting a criterion

    Figure 5.12 – Saving or deleting a criterion

  8. If you would like to add more than three criteria for your outcome, click on the Insert arrow above the lines separating the existing criteria, as pictured in the following screenshot. This will create a new criterion that you can edit and save in the same way as the other criteria:
    Figure 5.13 – Inserting additional criteria

    Figure 5.13 – Inserting additional criteria

  9. Underneath Criterion ratings, you can set the threshold for students to achieve Mastery at as a certain minimum point value for the desired outcome. The default for achieving mastery is three points, so you can adjust accordingly should you wish for the mastery threshold to be a higher or lower point average.
  10. The final option for learning outcomes is the Calculation Method drop-down, which allows you to choose various methods of calculating students' mastery of the outcome. Each option includes a description below once you select it from the drop-down menu. The options include Decaying Average, n Number of Times, Most Recent Score, and Highest Score. The following screenshot shows the calculation method of Decaying Average, along with a description of this option:
    Figure 5.14 – Decaying Average calculation method

    Figure 5.14 – Decaying Average calculation method

  11. When you have finished creating your outcome, click on Save in the bottom-right corner of the page. You will see your outcome appear on the right side of the screen where the instructions first appeared, and you will also see the Move, Edit, and Delete buttons show up underneath your new outcome. You are always able to move, edit, or delete an outcome by selecting it from the list of outcomes on the left and clicking on the desired action underneath the outcome.

Now that we have created an outcome, let's take a look at how to organize your outcomes into Outcome Groups.

Creating Outcome Groups

Once you have finished creating your first outcome, you might decide to create an Outcome Group to organize your outcomes. Examples of group labels might be by subject matter, grade level, or unit of study.

To create an Outcome Group, complete the following steps:

  1. Click on the + Group button next to the + Outcome button on the top menu of the Outcomes page.
  2. You will see a new outcome group template appear in the center of the screen with a box, Name this group:, and a Rich Content Editor textbox to describe the group. This screen is very similar to the new outcome template, but you will be describing the grouping of outcomes rather than the specific individual outcomes. The new group template is shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.15 – New outcome group template

    Figure 5.15 – New outcome group template

  3. Click on Save in the bottom-right corner of the template. You will notice that your outcome group now appears to the left as a folder on the list of outcomes.

Now that you have created an outcome and an outcome group, you can add outcomes to your outcome groups:

  1. To add an existing outcome to a newly created outcome group, click and drag the existing outcome over the name of the desired outcome group. You will see a new column appear to the right of the list of outcomes that shows the outcome you moved nested within the outcome group.
  2. To move the outcome back, simply click and drag the outcome back over to the main list of outcomes.
  3. To add a new outcome to an outcome group, click on the outcome group from the list of outcomes. When the outcome group is selected, click the + Outcome button at the top and input the information for the new outcome as usual.
  4. When you click on Save, the outcome will appear within the outcome group you selected. The following screenshot shows a new outcome entitled Chor.6.4 that was added to Sample Outcome Group:
Figure 5.16 – New outcome in Sample Outcome Group

Figure 5.16 – New outcome in Sample Outcome Group

Now that we have learned how to create and organize outcomes within Canvas, we will explore how to import existing standards from .csv or .json files that you have created or that have been provided by your institution.

Importing existing outcomes

If you would like to import outcomes from a .csv or .json file that you have created or that has been provided by your institution, complete the following steps:

  1. Click on the Import button next to the + Group button on the top menu of the Outcomes page.
  2. Locate the .csv or .json file on your computer, and then drag and drop the file onto the screen in Canvas.
  3. If you are creating a .csv file and are unsure of how to format your outcomes, you can click on Outcomes CSV Format at the bottom of the screen for detailed instructions from Canvas:
    Figure 5.17 – Uploading the outcomes option and the Outcomes CSV Format link

    Figure 5.17 – Uploading the outcomes option and the Outcomes CSV Format link

  4. Once you have imported your .csv or .json file, your outcomes will appear on the outcome list, and you will be able to modify, organize, or delete them in the same way you can with outcomes you have created directly in Canvas.

Next, let's discuss how to find existing outcomes to utilize in your courses.

Finding existing outcomes to use

As many institutions across North America and beyond have begun adopting national and state standards, Canvas has integrated the Common Core Standards for English and Mathematics within the Outcomes feature for you to quickly and easily import into your Canvas course. The Common Core Standards, which have been adopted by a large majority of the states in the United States, aim to make clear the outcomes desired for students at various grade levels.

If your institution uses specific national, state, or institutional standards and you are using an institutional Canvas account, the standards that your institution uses may also be available to import to your course through the following steps.

To access and import existing standards such as the Common Core Standards for use within your courses, complete the following steps:

  1. Open the Outcomes page from the left Course Navigation menu.
  2. Click on the Find button on the top menu of the Outcomes page.
  3. In the pop-up window that appears, you will see an outcome group called Common Core State Standards listed on the left-hand side. If you click on this group, the English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics outcome groups will appear in the column to the right, as displayed in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.18 – Common Core outcome groups

    Figure 5.18 – Common Core outcome groups

  4. Notice that once you click on the Common Core State Standards outcome group, the Import button appears in the bottom-right corner of the window. You have the option to import everything within that group, or you can click through to more specific outcome groups, such as specific grade levels of English Language Arts/Literacy or Mathematics.
  5. If you are an English or Mathematics teacher, it will be the most helpful for you to click through those outcome groups and find the specific standards for your grade level. For example, if you are a fifth grade math teacher, the selection in the following screenshot will allow you to import all of the common core state standards for fifth grade mathematics:
    Figure 5.19 – Common Core Grade 5 outcomes selection

    Figure 5.19 – Common Core Grade 5 outcomes selection

  6. When you have selected the outcome group or specific outcome you would like to utilize in your Canvas course, click on the Import button and the selected items will appear in your Outcomes page.
  7. Once the outcome groups appear on your Outcomes page, you can edit, organize, or delete the outcome groups the same way you would for an outcome group you manually created. It is important to note that you cannot edit the actual Common Core outcomes, as they are standardized in their wording and intent.

With all of our outcomes and outcome groups now created or imported, we will move on to creating rubrics for the assignments within your Canvas course. We will also cover how to utilize the outcomes you've just created to easily create a rubric as well.

Creating rubrics

Rubrics are an extremely helpful assessment tool that serve to clarify expectations for students before an activity and to provide clear, consistent feedback for students once an activity is completed. The Rubrics feature of Canvas makes it easy to create a customized rubric with your own criteria or to utilize the outcomes you've already created to quickly set up a new rubric. The rubrics you can create utilizing outcomes display the outcome followed by a grid containing the criterion ratings you created to rate students' performances. Using a rubric to assess a student's work, you will select the criterion rating that best describes the work they completed to meet the desired outcome. Based on the criterion ratings you choose and the point values associated with these ratings, Canvas determines the student's score based on the point value attained for each outcome.

With that understanding, let's look at how to create rubrics for Canvas assignments using the following steps:

  1. Click on the Rubrics page from the left Course Navigation menu.
  2. You will be taken to the Course Rubrics page. If you have not created any rubrics, this page will appear blank. In the top-right corner of this page, click on the + Add Rubric button.
  3. A new blank rubric template will appear on the Course Rubrics page, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.20 – The Rubric template

    Figure 5.20 – The Rubric template

  4. The phrase Some Rubric will appear as the default title of your rubric—to change the title of your rubric, click on the textbox where Some Rubric appears and type in the desired title.
  5. To edit the description of the blank criterion, click on the pencil-shaped edit icon that appears in the top-right corner of the criterion box. A pop-up window will open where you can edit the description of the criterion and add a longer description if desired.

    Note

    Note that creating a new criterion for a rubric is not the same as creating a new outcome, so any new criteria you create through this process will only be useable within the rubric for which they were created.

  6. There are two ratings in the default template, Full Marks with 5 points, and No Marks with 0 points. To edit the name or point value of these ratings, click on the pencil-shaped edit icon that appears in the top-right corner of the rating box you wish to edit.
  7. To add a new rating, click on the blue plus sign icon between the two default ratings. As shown in the following screenshot, a pop-up window will open that allows you to adjust the Rating Score of the new rating (the default is 3 points), set your Rating Title, and add a Rating Description:
    Figure 5.21 – New rating options

    Figure 5.21 – New rating options

  8. You can add more ratings in the same fashion by clicking on the blue plus sign icons between ratings, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.22 – Adding new ratings

    Figure 5.22 – Adding new ratings

  9. To add a new criterion to your rubric, click on the + Criterion button underneath the description of the first criterion. You will see a new criterion row appear in the rubric graph that you can edit and customize following the same steps just discussed.

Now that we have covered how to manually create a rubric with custom criteria and ratings, let's discuss how to add outcomes you have already created to your rubric:

  1. To include one of the outcomes you've created within a rubric, click on the Find Outcome link next to the + Criterion link at the bottom of your rubric. This will open a pop-up window that displays the outcome groups and outcomes you have already created or imported.
  2. Locate the outcome you would like to use within your rubric by clicking through the outcome groups.
  3. Click on the desired outcome, and then click Import in the bottom-right corner of the pop-up window. Once you click on Import, the pop-up window will close and the selected outcome will appear within your rubric.
  4. When you have adjusted all of the content within your rubric to your liking, click on the Create Rubric button in the bottom-left corner of the template. In the following screenshot, you will see a sample of the new template rubric completed with a title, a manually created criterion including an additional rating, and an imported outcome criterion:
Figure 5.23 – Sample rubric

Figure 5.23 – Sample rubric

Note

Note that if you import an outcome into a rubric and then edit that outcome within the rubric, the outcome will remain unchanged in the outcome bank on the Outcomes page. When you import an outcome into a rubric, you are creating a copy of the outcome for use within the rubric rather than linking directly to the outcome.

Next, let's learn how to add a rubric to an assignment to streamline grading and enhance the feedback you provide to students.

Adding rubrics to assignments

With your first rubric now created, you can add this rubric to Assignment or Discussion as an assessment tool. To add a rubric to an assignment and use it for grading, complete the following steps:

  1. Click on the Assignments link on the left Course Navigation menu. From the list of assignments, click on the assignment to which you would like to add your rubric.
  2. The selected assignment page will open, and at the bottom of the page, you will see a + Rubric button below the due date information for the assignment, as shown in the bottom-left corner of the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.24 – Add a rubric button

    Figure 5.24 – Add a rubric button

  3. You will see a new rubric template appear below the assignment that includes the Find a Rubric option in the top-right corner. You have the option to create a new rubric directly from this template, which will appear on the Course Rubrics page once you save it. However, if you wish to utilize the rubric you created previously, click on Find a Rubric to select the rubric from the list of course rubrics. A pop-up window will appear that will allow you to locate rubrics you have created within the course.
  4. Once you find the rubric you would like to use for the assignment, select the rubric from the list and then click on the Use This Rubric button underneath the rubric, as pictured in the bottom-left corner of the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.25 – Use This Rubric button

    Figure 5.25 – Use This Rubric button

  5. The pop-up window will close, and you will see the rubric appear under the assignment description. If you would like to edit the rubric or adjust the settings for the rubric within the assignment, click on the pencil-shaped edit icon in the top-right corner of the rubric. Note that any changes you make to the rubric within the assignment will not adjust the rubric as it appears in the Course Rubrics list.
  6. When you choose to edit the rubric from within an assignment, you have the option to edit the rubric for that assignment. In addition to the basic edit features, several checkbox options appear below the rubric. Based on how you would like to use the rubric within your course and for the chosen assignment, you may decide to check any of these options to enable you to leave more specific feedback when assessing your students or simplify grading with points. Click on Update Rubric when you have selected the desired options. The options and the Update Rubric button are shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 5.26 – In-assignment rubric options and the Update Rubric button

Figure 5.26 – In-assignment rubric options and the Update Rubric button

Note

If you check the Use this rubric for assignment grading option, the rubric will appear in SpeedGrader when you grade the assignment. A common goal of creating a rubric is to streamline the grading process, so make sure that you check this box if you wish to use the rubric for grading purposes.

Now that we have added a rubric to an assignment, let's review how to use a rubric for grading.

Using rubrics for grading

Once you have added a rubric to an assignment, you can use the rubric for grading purposes. To do so, complete the following steps:

  1. On the assignment page where you have added a rubric, scroll up to the top of the page and click on the SpeedGrader link on the right Sidebar menu. This will open SpeedGrader and you will be able to see a student's submissions for the selected assignment.
  2. On the right-hand side of SpeedGrader, you will now see an option that says View Rubric in the Assessment section at the top, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.27 – View Rubric button in SpeedGrader

    Figure 5.27 – View Rubric button in SpeedGrader

  3. Click on this button and the rubric will appear in the Assessment section, meaning you can offer the student feedback on their submission using the rubric.

    Note

    You can resize the right side of the SpeedGrader page to better view your rubric while grading. To do so, click and drag the vertical bar that separates the Assessment section from the student's submission to the left.

  4. When you are finished grading with the rubric, click on the Save button at the bottom. You will see that the completed rubric now appears on the right-hand side of SpeedGrader below the Assessment section. The student will be able to see this completed rubric as assignment feedback and gauge how they did on the assignment based on the criteria and ratings.
  5. When you have finished grading the assignment completely, you can click through to other submissions using the arrows next to the student's name at the top as usual.

Outcomes and rubrics offer you a wide range of opportunities to clarify and standardize expectations while personalizing and specifying feedback for each student in your course. As a learning tool, outcomes and rubrics can push your students to think differently about how to complete assignments for your course and improve students' overall performance.

Now that we have learned how to add outcomes to rubrics and assignments, let's explore another powerful tool connected to the Outcomes feature of Canvas, the Learning Mastery Gradebook.

Using the Learning Mastery Gradebook

The Learning Mastery Gradebook is a feature you can enable in your Canvas course that shows you a clear overview of student progress for each outcome you have added to your course. This is an outstanding tool for teachers using a standards-based grading approach, and there is a Student Learning Mastery Gradebook feature you can also enable so students can view their progress on each standard as well.

Note

The following section demonstrates the functionality of the Learning Mastery Gradebook available in a Free for Teachers Canvas account. If you are using an Institutional Canvas account, your institution may or may not have this feature enabled. If this feature is not visible in your account, you can contact your administrators or IT department to discuss enabling the feature for use in your course.

To enable the Learning Mastery Gradebook, complete the following steps.

  1. Click on the Settings page of the left Course Navigation menu.
  2. Across the top of the Settings page, you will see several tabs with various options. Click on the Feature Options tab, which will be the tab furthest on the right.
  3. You will see a page listing a variety of advanced features and options that you can enable or disable. To see a description of any option, click the arrow next to the feature name.
  4. Find the Learning Mastery Gradebook option on the list. To the right of this feature's name, you will see either a red X icon, indicating that the feature is disabled or a green checkmark icon indicating that the feature is enabled. To enable the Learning Mastery Gradebook, click on the icon you see on the right and select Enable from the drop-down menu that appears. The following screenshot shows the Learning Mastery Gradebook feature description as well as the checkmark icon to the right, indicating that the feature is enabled:
    Figure 5.28 – Learning Mastery Gradebook enabled

    Figure 5.28 – Learning Mastery Gradebook enabled

  5. Only you will be able to see the progress markers in the Learning Mastery Gradebook once the feature is enabled. If you would like to enable the same feature for students to see their own progress on outcomes, scroll down on the same page to the Student Learning Mastery Gradebook feature. To enable this feature, click on the icon to the right and select Enable from the drop-down that appears. The following screenshot shows the Student Learning Mastery Gradebook feature description as well as the checkmark icon to the right, indicating that the feature is enabled:
Figure 5.29 – Student Learning Mastery Gradebook enabled

Figure 5.29 – Student Learning Mastery Gradebook enabled

With the Learning Mastery Gradebook and Student Learning Mastery Gradebook features now enabled, we'll next learn how to view and access these features. To view the Learning Mastery Gradebook feature, complete the following steps:

  1. Click on the Grades page on the left Course Navigation menu. You will see the traditional Gradebook appear as discussed in Chapter 4, Teaching Your Canvas Course.
  2. To view the Learning Mastery Gradebook, click on the Gradebook tab in the top-left corner of the screen above the list of assignments. Next, select Learning Mastery… from the drop-down that appears, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.30 – Displaying the Learning Mastery Gradebook

    Figure 5.30 – Displaying the Learning Mastery Gradebook

  3. The Learning Mastery Gradebook will open. You will see a Gradebook-style table with each student's name in the left column and each outcome that has been added to your course along the top row. The center of the table will indicate each student's progress on each outcome you have added. Outcomes that have been assessed will appear with an average score and color-coded box indicating the student's progress on that outcome. Outcomes that have not yet been assessed will appear blank. The following screenshot shows an example of the Learning Mastery Gradebook:
    Figure 5.31 – Sample Learning Mastery Gradebook

    Figure 5.31 – Sample Learning Mastery Gradebook

  4. On the right-hand side of the Learning Mastery Gradebook page, you will see a key for the color-coded boxes that appear to indicate each student's progress. You will also see options to Hide outcomes with no results, to Hide students with no results, or to Export report from the Learning Mastery Gradebook, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.32 – Progress key and options for the Learning Mastery Gradebook

    Figure 5.32 – Progress key and options for the Learning Mastery Gradebook

  5. If you hover your cursor over any outcome listed across the top of the Learning Mastery Gradebook, you will see a pie chart indicating all students' progress on the outcome and details of how the outcome is calculated, as displayed in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.33 – Outcome progress graph

    Figure 5.33 – Outcome progress graph

  6. To return to the traditional Gradebook view, click on Learning Mastery in the top-right corner of the page, and then select Gradebook… from the drop-down that appears, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 5.34 – Returning to the traditional Gradebook view

Figure 5.34 – Returning to the traditional Gradebook view

The Student Learning Mastery Gradebook feature provides individualized information for each outcome for students when they click on the Grades page of the Course Navigation menu. When the Student Learning Mastery Gradebook is enabled for your course, the Grades page for students will display a tab for Assignments, showing their traditional number grades as well as a Learning Mastery tab showing their progress for each outcome that has been assessed. The following screenshot shows an example of the student view of the Student Learning Mastery Gradebook visible to students on the Grades page of your course:

Figure 5.35 – Student view of the Student Learning Mastery Gradebook

Figure 5.35 – Student view of the Student Learning Mastery Gradebook

Note

Remember that you can always preview features using the Student View feature on the right Sidebar menu of the Settings page or by clicking the eyeglasses icon in the top-right corner of your course's Home page.

The Learning Mastery Gradebook provides valuable insight into your students' progress, and students can track their own performance by reading detailed feedback available through the Student Learning Mastery Gradebook. In the spirit of improving students' performance and engagement, we will now discuss how to use the Course Analytics and Course Statistics features to enhance the efficacy of your instruction through Canvas.

Using Course Analytics and Course Statistics

Canvas allows you to easily view how users are participating within your course, when most assignments are being submitted, and how a class is doing as a whole based on a combination of individual grades. In addition, Canvas allows you to easily view specific elements that make up your course, such as the number of items within your course or how much file storage space your course takes up. To begin, let's check out how to view activity and achievement within your course using the Course Analytics feature.

Viewing Course Analytics

To view the Course Analytics, complete the following steps:

  1. On the home page of your course, look at the right Sidebar menu. Click on the New Analytics button, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.36 – New Analytics button

    Figure 5.36 – New Analytics button

  2. Once you click on the New Analytics button, you will see the Course Analytics page. This page contains four tabs along the top of the page that include data pertaining to your course. You can hover over any unfamiliar terms on the Course Analytics page to see a description of the term or feature. The sections are described here:

    The Course Grade tab shows a graph with the average overall grade for each assignment that has been graded in your course.

    The Weekly Online Activity tab displays a graph representing the average page views for each page within your course as well as the average participations for each page of your course. These data points are also shown in a table with a specific breakdown for each page of your course at the bottom of this tab.

    The Students tab lets you see a table with each student's grade, the percentage of assignments they have turned in on time, the last time they participated on Canvas, the last time they viewed a page, how many times they have viewed pages, and how many times they have participated on a page. Clicking on a participant's name will open a detailed report of their progress and activity within your course. This could be a great tool for progress updates or meetings with students or guardians.

    The Reports tab provides the option to generate reports showing all missing assignments, all late assignments, all excused assignments, a class roster, and your course activity.

As your course progresses while students interact with the course content, submit assignments, and receive grades, your Course Analytics will grow and change to indicate the evolution of your course from start to finish. By viewing the analytics for your course, you will have data to identify any trends in student engagement or achievement. Using this data to inform changes in your course content, teaching style, activities, or instructions can help students find greater success in your course and hone your skills as a reflective, data-driven educator.

While the Course Analytics feature allows you to track aspects of the interactions with content happening in your course, the Course Statistics feature lets you quickly and easily view a breakdown of what makes up your course.

Viewing Course Statistics

If you would like to see data regarding the makeup of activities and files that make up your course, the Course Statistics feature allows you to easily gather such information. This may be helpful to you in reflecting on your teaching practice to get a holistic view of the types of activities you have asked students to complete or the balance of features within Canvas you have utilized in your course. You can also track participant login information as well as the number of files uploaded or storage used in your course. To view Course Statistics for your course, perform the following steps:

  1. Click on the Settings link on the left Course Navigation menu.
  2. Once the Settings page is open, look at the right Sidebar menu. Click on the Course Statistics button, which appears as the third option in the following screenshot:
    Figure 5.37 – Course Statistics button

    Figure 5.37 – Course Statistics button

  3. The Course Statistics page will open, and you will be able to view the statistics by clicking through the tabs along the top of the page. The sections are described here:

    The Totals tab will show you the total number of activities and participants within your course.

    The Assignments tab will show you how many assignments of each type you have created and how many submissions have been made for each of those assignments.

    The Students tab will show you students who have recently logged in and their activity while logged in.

    The File Storage tab will show you how many files you have uploaded to your course and how much storage space those files are using up. The following screenshot displays the content of the Totals tab, with the other tabs visible along the top:

Figure 5.38 – Sample Course Statistics

Figure 5.38 – Sample Course Statistics

As users interact with your course, both the analytics and statistics features of Canvas will become more and more useful. You will be able to see what items in your course students most frequently utilize, which can help you in adjusting the types of content you choose to include in your course and in designing your next course.

Summary

In this chapter, we began by discussing the Collaborations feature of Canvas, including the use of Google Docs. Next, we covered the Outcomes feature of Canvas, including how to create individual outcomes as well as how to organize those outcomes into outcome groups. We also covered how to find and import the Common Core Standards for use within your courses. After that, we learned how to create Rubrics to use as assessment tools for grading assignments in your course and how to incorporate outcomes into your rubrics.

After that, we learned how to enable and view the Learning Mastery Gradebook and the Student Learning Mastery Gradebook to view students' progress on outcomes added to your course. Finally, we examined how Course Analytics and Course Statistics can help you monitor activity and achievements within your course and improve engagement for the future.

Now that we have discussed many of the more advanced special features of Canvas, in the next chapter, we will look into utilizing the mobile apps available for Canvas as well as integrating content-specific apps and learning tools into your Canvas course.

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