Student Submissions in Canvas and Speedgrader

Greetings, IL Instructors! We hope teaching in Canvas goes well. Something that was recently discovered regarding student assignment submission and Speedgrader: if students use the “textbox” to submit their assignment instead of uploading a document file, we will not be able to grade the assignment with Speedgrader.

You might wish to indicate in your New Student Welcome E-mails that assignments must be saved as documents and then uploaded. If Speedgrader isn’t working, then have the student resubmit the assignment as a document upload.

Much thanks to Jen for discovering this! And please let us know if you have questions or make similar discoveries with Canvas!

Book Review: Copyright Ninja: Rise of the Ninja

Copyright can be a dry subject, but author Thomas Tobin and a team of artists have created a comic book that explains – with clear language, striking visuals, and fun – some do’s and don’ts of copyright law within academia. At 14 pages, it’s a quick read, and there’s a handy one-page summary for someone wondering whether or not they can use copyrighted material in their class. A few takeaways:

Copyright law doesn’t prohibit linking to copyrighted material (for example, something posted to YouTube). However, for ethical reasons, we should avoid linking to online material that we think might have broken copyright law.

Many owners of content give permission for others to copy, share, or recreate their content. See if there’s a Creative Commons license agreement, or something similar, to check if you can copy it.

Fair Use is a legal defense that, while not concrete, offers some guidelines:
Purpose: Are you copying something for teaching or research, or for monetary gain?
Amount: Are you including a sample or the entirety of a work?
Nature of the work: Factual information is generally more shareable than creative works.
Economic impact: If you include this content in your course, will the copyright owner potentially lose income?

If you still aren’t sure, you might even be able to contact the copyright owner and ask him or her for permission to copy their work for your course.

Web Accessibility Course Recap Part 2

I recently shared an overview of a course I recently completed: Introduction to Web Accessibility. The course focused on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and it’s four main principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. This post will focus on Perceivable and Operable.

Perceivable relates to how users can sense or grasp the material that is being presented. For web content to be accessible, it must be able to be perceived through more than one sense; if it’s only perceptible by one sense (for example, sight), it’s inaccessible to someone with disabilities in that sense.

Vision impairments present probably the greatest challenge for web accessibility, and screen readers can help blind and low-vision users access the internet. To experience internet browsing with a screen reader, you can try out a free Chrome browser screen reader here:

You can help make online materials more perceivable by avoiding small font sizes, making sure there is sufficient visual contrast between text and background imagery, including alternate text with images (the screen reader reads to the user the alternate text to convey the picture), including captions for videos, and presenting material in a clear, easy to navigate order.

You can test color contrasts at this link:

You can use this site to create captions for videos:

Operable focuses on usability. Some users are physically unable to use both a keyboard and a mouse, but they might be proficient with one or the other. As instructors, we might not have the capabilities or access to design an online environment that isn’t dependent upon a mouse or keyboard, but we can certainly provide input during the course creation process to ensure that it’s usable for as many people as possible.

It’s worth noting that time limits can make the online environment less operable. Some people with disabilities might need more time to perceive, process, or comprehend material; this can also apply to people as they age. Do any of your courses use timed quizzes? As you design your courses, think about time limits. Why might your course need them? Why might your course not need them? Some assessments by their very nature require time limits (for example, tests that measure typing speed), but removing time limits will make your course more operable, and therefore more accessible.

When incorporating visuals or media, avoid flashes, flickers, or other visuals that can trigger seizures or physical reactions; a website isn’t operable if it’s causing physical harm.

Any thoughts on accessibility with your courses, particularly in how to make them perceivable or operable? We’d love to hear your ideas, questions, concerns, etc.

Good Practice Reminder: Archiving from D2L

I hope the transition from D2L to Canvas has gone as smoothly as possible for you. As a reminder, when we eventually lose access to D2L, we’ll also lose access to our old courses. Our current courses were migrated into Canvas, but if there are any learning materials in older versions of your courses or in courses that are no longer offered and still in your D2L account, now is a great time to go through and archive those items: essay questions, an insightful discussion post, study notes, supplementary resources, etc.

The D2L/Canvas migration timeline was scheduled so that students in D2L could complete their courses in D2L; when we receive a specific time as to when D2L will disappear, we will update you.

Web Accessibility Course Recap

I had the opportunity last month to complete a course from Ryerson University: Introduction to Web Accessibility. I’d like to share some ideas and tools from the course. People often think of accessibility in terms of helping people with disabilities, or something that’s done as a legal obligation or for good business practices, but it’s worth noting that increasing accessibility benefits everyone. For example, curb cuts – those ramps leading from streets to sidewalks – make it possible for people in wheelchairs to safely cross the street, but everyone benefits from those. It’s now easier to ride my bike, pull my kids in a wagon, etc.

The course focused on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and it’s four main principles: 

Perceivable: Can users perceive or sense what is being presented?
Operable: Is this usable?
Understandable: Can users comprehend how this works?
Robust: Will this work for a wide variety of users and assistive technologies?

I’ll be posting more about each of these principles in the near future. If you’d like more information, see the link below. It contains guidelines and techniques for each of the above principles.

The are three different levels associated with each guideline: A, AA, and AAA.
Level A guidelines focus on preventing barriers that will make content inaccessible to some people. These must be addressed.
Level AA guidelines focus on preventing barriers that will make content more difficult to access. These should be addressed to prevent unnecessary, additional effort. 
Level AAA guidelines focus on usability. These could be addressed to increase usability. 

Generally, Level AA is the recommended level to strive for when developing online environments.
More information about the course can be found here:

Good Practice Reminder: When Students Finish a Course

With the conclusion of another academic year, you might be seeing a number of students completing their IL courses right now. As a reminder, when each student completes your IL course, be sure to:

1) Grade all outstanding assignments

2) Calculate (D2L) or view (canvas) final course grade

3) Report final course grade here:

H5P Content Creation: Flashcards, and Importing into Canvas

At our most recent IL Quarterly Instructor meeting, Erin Paul-Schuetter shared instructions on how to use H5P (which offers course designers a wide variety of tools to create content) to create flash cards and import these tools directly into Canvas. A pdf of these instructions can be viewed here:

Faculty Symposium June 3-4

Interested in learning from and connecting with the extended Independent Learning community? Come to the 2019 Collaborative Online Programs Faculty Symposium at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison June 3-4. The event (along with food and accommodations) are free.

Please register using this link:

H5P Content Creation: Timeline

H5P offers course designers a wide variety of tools to create content. One of them, the timeline, allows you to make an interactive series of listings and events.

To make something like this, you first create a new account. From there, click on “My Account” on the top row of links, and then click the link to “Create New Content.” Select Timeline as the content type, and then add information for each item you’d like to add to your timeline.Here’s a sample. It contains a timeline that highlights some key performances in the history of rock and roll, with a YouTube link for each performance.

Interested in learning more about what you can create with H5P? Come to the IL Instructor Quarterly meeting this Friday at 1pm to hear more about it. You can also read previous IL posts with examples:

Accessibility Webinar

We’ve recently shared some opportunities to learn more about accessibility (LinkedIn reading group, a free course), and if you’re looking for more, you can view the webinar in the link below. This is geared towards content creators, but there are great ideas for anyone working online to think about. This webinar shares a number of tools (including some in Microsoft Office) you can use to check how accessible the material you’re working with is.