First Day Ready in Canvas

Instructors at WCU will be teaching in Canvas beginning in summer 2021 and beyond. 

WCU faculty will be teaching in Canvas beginning in summer 2021 and beyond. One of the major differences between Blackboard and Canvas, as far as courses go, is a feature in Canvas called Publishing.

publish course button in Canvas

Faculty will need to publish their course in order for students to access the content, and it’s a simple as clicking a button in their course. This is equivalent to making the course Available in Blackboard. When you look at your Canvas Dashboard, if the course tile has a button in the upper left corner that says Publish, then is not available to your students. Click on that button and you’ll be prompted to set a Home Page – the place your students will see first when they enter the course (equivalent to Blackboard Entry Point). Click on Choose and Publish and your students will be able to see your course. How do I publish a course?

unpublish and publish button in Canvas

Each item within your course will need to be Published as well. If there is circle with slash through it in the upper right corner of an item, it isn’t visible to your students. A green circle with a check means the item is available (visible to students). You can click on the button to toggle between Published and Unpublished (useful if you find discover you need to make an edit). How do I publish a module?

Canvas course navigation menu

The course menu (all items, top to bottom, in the left navigation menu) should only show a few links/options. This improves student navigation and what is often called ”findability.” Course resources can be Disabled (the Blackboard equivalent of made unavailable to students) in the Navigation tab under Settings. You can drag them to the bottom window on the Navigation tab or click on the three-dot menu and select Disable. Disabled items will be designated by the eye with a slash through it.

It is a best practice to be as consistent as possible in the layout of your modules. That way, as your students move through your course they know where to expect to find resources, assignments, and other activities. In fact, according to one study about online students, “findability is paramount – if they cannot find important course components, they cannot ‘use’ them; having to search for assignment instructions or a course introduction may likely result in frustration, lowered motivation, and decreased self-efficacy — all of which could impact both student learning and course attrition” (Simunich, Robins, & Kelly 2015). Take a look at the SUNY OSCQR rubric where it addresses usability in Standard 13.



Canvas Accessibility Standards

When you are in a Canvas course you will see the spectacles button in the upper right corner. Clicking on it will take you to a student’s view of your course. It is highly recommended that you check your course in the student view to make sure that the course is being presented in the way you intended. How do I view a course as a student?

Review the article “The Impact of Findability on Student Motivation, Self-Efficacy, and Perceptions of Online Course Quality” for more information about course readiness on day one.

First Day Ready-Canvas Training Services Portal-Learning PathwayThe Training Services Portal Learning Pathway: “Higher Education: First Day Ready”

This course will walk you through the process of creating a Canvas LMS course so that you can be first day ready. This course will cover how to create a Home Page, utilize Modules, and access Student View to ensure your course is “first day ready” (To access, Login to Canvas: Select “Help” from the Global menu in Canvas click “Training Services Portal”)

How does this align to Canvas training materials?

Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: Module 5: Content: How can I make, find, and use online resources?, Module 6: Structuring the Course: How do I put it all together and explain it to my students?, Module 7: Universal Design for Learning and Module 8: Accessibility: How can I help my students who use assistive technology?


Additional Resources:

  • Visit 
  • Contact the 24/7 Canvas Help if you need help with issues as you are working in Canvas. (NOTE: 24/7 Canvas Help goes away on June 30 and Help will be taken over by the WCU Helpdesk which is not manned 24/7). 
  • Canvas Migration FAQ
  • Register for one of the Zoom sessions which will be held on Thursdays and Fridays at 11:00 A.M. after reviewing the Priming the Canvas Course. This week’s sessions will cover Discussions in Canvas as well as How to release content conditionally in Canvas.

Our next article will highlight Course Analytics and Statistics in Canvasvisit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles. 

Canvas Implementation Core Integrations

One of the reasons that WCU chose Canvas was for the shift in student engagement and consumption of media using mobile devices.  The best way to design your courses is, of course, using your computer, but your students will appreciate efforts to make the course more engaging, immediate, and easy to access. 

Canvas has two apps for smart devices, the Canvas Student App, and the Canvas Teacher App. As an instructor, you will use the teacher app most of the time.  It will allow you to do many of the things that you can do in the full web-browser but will be more accessiblePilot faculty report that using the Speed-grader function on their tablets is especially convenient. With the Teacher app you can keep track of the progress of your course and interact with students. 

Most instructors will also want to download the Canvas Student App if only for the fact that when the Teacher app is accessing a common element with both Apps, it will open the student app to give the most accurate representation of the student’s view. 

At WCU, the Panopto video storage and streaming platform is also integrated into Canvas and for full video functionality both you and your students should download the Panopto app. In the same manner downloading, installing, and logging into your Microsoft Outlook App, the Microsoft Teams App, and the Microsoft OneDrive App will add even more functionality to both of your Canvas Apps. 

Canvas Teacher App

Canvas Teacher App

Canvas ToDo List

Canvas ToDo List

Settings in the Canvas App


Canvas Speedgrader on IPad or Tablet

Canvas SpeedGrader on IPad or Tablet 


App Capabilities and Limitations 

With the Canvas Teacher App, You Can:

    • View Your Course Materials 
    • Email Students 
    • Email Photos and Audio Clips to Your Students from Your Phone
    • Do basic grading of Assignments, Quizzes, Tests and Discussions 
    • Add simple text pages to existing Canvas modules 
    • Create spontaneous non-graded group discussions 

Your students can use the App to:

    • Send and reply to course messages 
    • Record and submit short audio and video clips to discussions and assignments 
    • Attach files to discussions and assignments from devices and from OneDrive (if installed) 
    • Take quizzes (low stakes – will not work with Respondus Lockdown or Monitor)

Meeting students where they live often encourages deeper engagement with subject matter.

In Canvas you can encourage the use of mobile apps to help the students:

  • Remain engaged with your course and activities 
  • Get reminders of due dates and upcoming meetings 
  • Access course material in a variety of environments 
  • Remain more organized and use their time and resources wisely 

While the basic Canvas layout and the full use of Canvas tools like the calendar, the syllabus tool, and modules will help make your Canvas course more mobile friendly, there are ways to improve it more.  A travel or experiential learning class, for example, might want to adjust all the online material in such a way that it could all be accomplished on cell phones. 

Canvas has a special guide for optimizing courses for mobile work. 

We also urge faculty to use caution when using the app to build courses.  It is best to start on a full computer browser.  The app does not allow you to create quizzes or exams, to add graded discussions, to create a module or group, or to create or modify a rubric


Download and Install the Canvas Teacher App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
Download and Install the Canvas Student App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
Download and Install the Newest Panopto App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
Download and Install the Newest MS Outlook App on Your Phone and/or TabletiPhone/iPad, Android
Download and Install the Newest Microsoft Teams App on Your Phone and/or TabletiPhone/iPad, Android

Encourage your students to download the Student App, the Panopto App, the Zoom and/or MS Teams App, and the OneDrive app for full functionality. 


There are Additional Training Courses About Mobile Apps available in the Canvas Training Services Portal which is available under the help tab in the WCU Canvas environment. 

Training Courses About Mobile Apps-Training Services Portal

Banerjee, Robert. The Effect of Mobile Apps on Academic Success. (2019, March 7). EdTech Digest

How does this align to Canvas training materials?

Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: Module 6 “Structuring the Course”


Additional Resources:

Our next article will highlight Rubrics in Canvasvisit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles. 

Engaged Scholarship Research/Creative Activities Grants Program for Faculty

Western Carolina University is an engaged member of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC). The ESC exists to work collaboratively to build strong university-community partnerships anchored in the rigor of scholarship, and designed to help build community capacity. Over the past five years our faculty (University Participants Program & Dr. Kelly Kelley), students (Student Democracy Coalition), and engaged work (mini-grant for faculty development) has been recognized nationally through the ESC.

A mini-grant ($5,000; 1-year) opportunity through the ESC to encourage engaged scholarship research/creative activities through faculty is now accepting submissions through May 7. ESC notes that conducting scholarship that is mutually beneficial for the university scholar and for the community is a topic of great interest to members of the ESC. To help facilitate this outcome for higher education faculty, ESC is accepting submissions now at:

Applications due: May 7, 2021


If you have any questions about ESC or about this grant opportunity, please reach out to Dr. Lane Perry (

Contributor: Dr. Lane Perry is Executive Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at Western Carolina University.

Rubrics in Canvas

Rubrics can be used to grade assignments, discussions and quizzes in a course. 

Rubrics can be used to as an efficient way to evaluate assignments, quizzes and discussions with more effective and valuable individual feedback and expectation for students. 


Why You Should Consider Rubrics

Rubrics help instructors:

  • Provide students with feedback that is straightforward, focused and central to learning improvement.
  • Reduce time spent on grading; Increase time spent on teaching.
  • Promote student comprehension of assignment instructions and expectations so they can easily discern what to focus on rather than guessing “what the teacher wants to see.”
  • Streamline evaluation of rubric results to make informed adjustments to course content and material based on identified thematic gaps in student learning across a class.
  • Refine consistency in evaluation of student learning throughout an entire class as well as individual students.

Rubrics help students:

  • Sharpen their efforts on completing assignments and assessments that align with clearly defined expectations.
  • Self and Peer-reflection on their own learning to make informed adjustments and improvements to accomplish learning level and mastery.

 (Adapted from UC Berkely Center for Teaching & Learning – Evaluate Course-Level Learning – Rubrics)

It is important to note that rubrics used in Blackboard may look different in Canvas depending on the criteria and settings. Review the information provided in the knowledge base article “Do my rubrics in Blackboard migrate to Canvas?” 

How does this align to Canvas training materials?

Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: Module 2: “Designing a Canvas Course” & Module 12 “Teaching in the Virtual Classroom”


Additional Resources:

Our next article will highlight Canvas Implementation Core Integrations visit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles. 

Online Equity Conference

An international body of faculty are gathering next week to share and discuss strategies for increasing equity for all learners. There will be synchronous and asynchronous pathways for everyone to share what you are doing in your classes and at your institutions.

The first-time Online Equity Conference, hosted by the Peralta Community College (CA) district, is only a week away. The conference will take place virtually from April 21 to April 23, 2021 (see the new Equity Conference website for more details). They welcome equity-minded students, educators, staff and leaders who represent colleges, universities, non-profit organizations and vendors from all around the world. Their goals are 1) to increase the visibility of all efforts to increase learning equity in higher education and 2) to bring together institutions that want to share and adopt equitable practices for all online students globally.

REGISTRATION: Please register via their online form.

Conference participation will be FREE to make it accessible for everyone. Sessions will be spread throughout the day and recorded to accommodate busy schedules and global time zones. All you need to do is sign up!

Over 370 people are registered from across the U.S., as well as Grenada, Iraq, Ireland, New Zealand and more.

The conference will include three types of activities to mirror the scaffolded learning process from Peralta’s Online Equity Training:

  • Day 1 – LEARN – Participate in live and recorded PRESENTATIONS that share an equity strategy or equity initiative.
  • Day 2 – ANALYZE – Participate in live and asynchronous DISCUSSIONS about an equity topic.
  • Day 3 – BUILD – Participate in live WORKSHOPS focused on increasing equity in your classes or at your institution.