Technology FAQs

Looking for answers or solution for technical issues? Check out our Canvas IT Support Knowledge Base index pages for students and faculty members.

About Moving from Blackboard to Canvas

With the goal of streamlining our support and providing a consistent student experience between courses, we are hoping to transition into Canvas relatively quickly, but we do not want to rush. You will keep access to Blackboard until the end of your college’s implementation window, and all courses will need to be ready to go in Canvas no later than the end of August 2021.

You’ve spent lots of time recently in our existing technical tools, and could use less change in your teaching life where possible. 

Our existing teaching tools, including Panopto and Webex, are integrated in Canvas too and work well with it, quite similar to how they worked in Blackboard.

In Fall 2020, all courses were set up to be offered in either Canvas or Blackboard.  While this caused some confusion for students, it allowed faculty the maximum flexibility at the start of the planned remote transition.  In Winter 2021, all classes will be set up in Canvas, and we will offer some select courses in Blackboard for colleges, departments, and schools who have not yet completed the implementation process.  A staggered process of transition allowed academic units to set the transition time that worked best for them and ensured that there is sufficient support for learning and technical problems for everyone. 

Blackboard courses can be accessed for archival reasons until the end of August 2021. You can transfer your course into Canvas, but it will not contain your student data. When requested, some course may be transferred by ICT. If possible, it’s recommended that you extract any information or files that you need from Blackboard well in advance of its retirement. Inquiries regarding student information for academic challenges after August 2021 should be directed to ICT. 

If you are teaching in one of the following, you should see your courses in both Blackboard and Canvas starting on Oct. 22nd, 2020: 

  • Kinesiology
  • Engineering
  • Nursing (not including the Masters of Nursing, Nurse Practitioner or MN-NP)
  • Agriculture and Bioresources
  • Dentistry
  • Education
  • Medicine 
  • Arts and Science departments:
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Studies
    • Archaeology and Anthropology
    • Linguistics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics and Statistics
    • Physics and Engineering Physics
    • Economics

Please view your courses to confirm that they are available in both learning management systems. Your local Canvas working group will help identify courses that should have been loaded but were not or courses that are not needed, and ensure the correct courses are loaded before Nov. 30th, 2020. Blackboard courses cannot be built between Dec. 15th, 2020 and Jan. 4th, 2021, so it is critical to identify possible problems early. 

  • Pharmacy and Nutrition 
  • School of Rehabilitation Science (SRS)
  • Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM)
  • Law
  • Edwards School of Business 
  • School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS)
  • Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS)
  • School of Public Health (SPH)
  • Arts and Science departments:
    • Geology
    • Biology
    • Geography and Planning
    • Indigenous Engagement
    • English
    • Art and Art History
    • History
    • Languages
    • Drama

Almost all courses will be in Canvas following their specific transition window, but there are circumstances where course durations, a course that is ceasing to exist, or an individual needs might warrant an exemption. To get an exemption, please contact the Canvas working group for your academic area. If the request meets the criteria, they can have you added to the exemptions list any time between Oct. 21st, 2020 and Nov. 30th, 2020.  Blackboard courses cannot be built between Dec. 15th, 2020 and Jan. 4th, 2021, so it is critical to identify possible problems early.  

  

Would get an exemption  

Would not get an exemption   

Course duration  

6-credit unit or more course started in Blackboard in Fall 2020   

Any course started in Winter 2021 or later, regardless of length  

Course ending  

  • Courses being offered for the final time in Winter, Spring 2021
  • Courses being offered for the final time in Summer of 2021 with additional measures

 Anything Fall 2021 or later  

Individual   

 Instructor will finish teaching at USask at the end of the Winter 2021 term (i.e. retiring)  

  • Person will be retiring soon or is on a sessional contract.  
  • There are multiple sections of the course where an individual wants an exemption.  
  • Person was on leave/away/just been hired and is pressed for time to transition.  
  • Person wants to keep current Blackboard and Canvas sections set up after the implementation window concludes.  

If your college/department has committed to move to Canvas in Winter 2021 or earlier, then you should begin using your Canvas course. If not, you may begin using your Canvas course if you like on your own. If you do choose to use your Canvas course, then we suggest signing up to be an early adopter. This will mean that you’ll receive communications from the Move to Canvas team with updates about the transition, as well as in-house professional learning and support opportunities to ensure that your first term in Canvas is as successful as possible.

Accessing Canvas

There are 2 options:

  1. Navigate directly to https://canvas.usask.ca.
  2. Click the button in the Canvas/Blackboard PAWS channel.

You can access Canvas directly by going to canvas.usask.ca. A link to Canvas will be added to PAWS as we approach August 2020, when Canvas will begin to be used in live courses.

It is not possible to move student data between Blackboard and Canvas, and as such once a course has begun it is not possible to transition partway through a term. Furthermore, we are providing a carefully designed support and learning plan to help you be as successful as possible in Canvas, and this plan begins well in advance of the first term in which you’ll begin using Canvas so that you can adequately prepare and fully leverage all the tools that Canvas has to offer.

Using Canvas

We have a separate page on https://students.usask.ca dedicated to student Canvas information and resources. Additionally, we have a blog written by a student to share interesting or useful information about using Canvas.

Please note that the Instructor for the course must Publish the course before communications will function for the course members. See our article on publishing and un-publishing in Canvas here.

View the article on sending a message using Canvas Inbox

Watch our video about using Canvas Inbox and responding to Inbox messages using your email

There is no dedicated Blog feature in Canvas. Instead of a formal blog feature, you can create a page for your students and give them permission to edit the page, allowing it to serve as a blog.

If you require a publicly accessible blog for each of your students please contact amanda.mackenzie@usask.ca to discuss your needs.

There are a number of ways to integrate open educational resources (OER) into Canvas, without concerns about copyright that normally go along with the use of commercial resources. You can:

  • Put links to OER within your course
  • Embed all or sections of an open textbook into Canvas
  • Embed other types of OER such as images, rubrics, or activities into Canvas

For more information about using OER with Canvas and potential funding to support your use of OER, please contact the Gwenna Moss Centre (gmctl@usask.ca) or Distance Education Unit (deu.support@usask.ca).

We have created a USask Default Template that you can use as a starting place as you design/build your course content. Information about this template can be found at the link below.

There are 17 different courses listed on our Supported Learning webpage. Acknowledging that it can be difficult to know the order in which to attend these sessions, we've created a helpful graphic to guide you.

Test courses are courses created for individuals to explore and use the features of Canvas for the benefit of their own learning. It is a safe place for you to try new things without having to worry about reverting the changes or otherwise unintentionally making changes you don't intend to make in a live course. Test courses are typically not used to build real content for courses, although they can be used in this way if you like.

By contrast, your actual courses will have enrollments managed automatically based on student course registration in Banner. Changes you make in those courses will be seen by students, and so you should not experiment in a live course in a way that may adversely affect student learning or have other unintended consequences.

Canvas has a useful import tool to do precisely this! Please see the Canvas documentation for copying content to learn how to do this.

Teaching Assistants (TAs) in Canvas

A USask TA Training course is available for TAs' Dashboards. Email r.campbell@usask.ca with the TAs' NSID and we'll add the them to the TA Training course.
TAs are welcome in any of the professional learning sessions run by the Move to Canvas Team. They can register on the Canvas Professional Learning registration site
You can now add people directly to your own courses in Canvas.  Start by navigating to the course you want to add someone to, then:
  1. Go to the People menu item and click the green +People button.
  2. Select Login ID and type the NSID of the person/people you want to add.
  3. Select the desired role for the person/people, then click Next.
  4. Verify the names of the person/people you are adding to your course, then click Add Users.

Using the Canvas Mobile App

Canvas has three mobile apps, all three of which are available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for Android. The Canvas Teacher app is designed for course instructors, including features that allow you to post content, review content, grade assignments, and more – all on the go. Teaching assistants are equivalent to instructors for these purposes, and they should install the Canvas Teacher app.

Students have a separate app called the Canvas Student app. This will allow students to view course content, make discussion board posts, check in on their Canvas To Do list, message their instructor, and more – all from within the app.

There is a third app – Canvas Parent. This is intended for Canvas’ K-12 customers, and isn’t used by their higher education customers, like USask. Please ignore this app, as parents will not be able to use this to get information about a student’s progress.

You can do nearly everything in the Canvas Teacher app that you can do sitting at your computer, although the physical screen size may limit how effective certain features are. Still, the app is formatted slightly differently to make better use of a smaller screen to ensure that it is still overall a pleasant experience. If there is any feature that the mobile app doesn’t have, it will open a web browser on your phone where you should be able to complete that task. Here are some examples of things you can do with the Canvas Teacher app:

  • Grade student assignments using Speed Grader and markup the assignment to give students feedback
  • Send a message to your students quickly and easily
  • Post pages in your course
  • Add files to your course
  • Read and post in your class’ discussion boards

Canvas uses a responsive design, meaning it will automatically format Pages to make the best use of the screen. To take full advantage of this, it’s best to paste content into Canvas directly whenever possible, rather than posting files as PDF or Word documents. Also, when you’re giving instructions to your students in Canvas, try not to mention specific attributes of items – for example, a button that is blue in the web version of canvas may not be blue in the app. Similarly, a button that appears in the bottom-right of a screen in the desktop version may not be in the same position in the app.

Canvas Commons

From the Canvas Community website - “Commons is a learning object repository that enables educators to find, import, and share resources. A digital library full of educational content, Commons allows Canvas users to share learning resources with other users as well as import learning resources into a Canvas course.” 

As an instructor who is a Canvas user at USask, you will be able to find materials in, and share materials to the Canvas Commons. In addition, there are institution-wide documents, such as a Canvas template available in the Canvas Commons. 

You can access Canvas Commons from within any of your courses. To search Canvas Commons, you will see a link to “Commons” in the Global Navigation menu on the far left, or on the menu in the upper right corner of the Home page of any courses where you are the instructor.

To learn how to search for and preview a resources in Canvas Commons, see the guide “How do I use Commons? 

To learn how to add a resource you find in Canvas Commons to your own Canvas course, see “How do I import and view a Commons resource in Canvas?” 

You may share any educational materials that you create in their entirety, are adaptations of openly licensed materials, or you have explicit permission to share in Canvas Commons. You may not share any copyrighted materials unless you are the sole copyright owner of the materials. This includes images, slides, photocopies of journal articles or pages in a book, or other such materials that may have been created by a commercial publisher, student, or others who have not given you permission to share the material in Canvas Commons.

To add a module, assignment, or quiz from one of your own courses in Canvas to Canvas Commons see this guide from Canvas – “How do I share a resource to Commons?” 

To add individual files, such as an image or document from one of your own courses see – “How do I share a document, image, video, or audio file to Commons?” 

You can decide who you wish to share your materials with. You can limit access to materials you put in Canvas Commons to a particular Canvas Group at USask, anyone at USask, or to the general Canvas Commons, which would allow anyone using Canvas to view your work. 

You can also decide what license you would like on those materials. You may choose for them to be copyrighted, which would allow others to see the materials, but not use them for their own purposes, or you may choose one of the open licenses. For more information about the licenses available in Canvas Commons, see What types of content licenses are available in Commons?

You can search Canvas to find resources that may be useful for your course. You may find an entire course that might have some resources you would like to use, or you there may be individual modules, assignments, or other smaller parts of a course that you’ll find useful. 

You can also share materials for others in your department, USask, or at other institutions to make use of. 

You and your colleagues can share resources developed within your unit or are openly licensed within Canvas. This may be easiest within a Group. For information on how to set up and use a Group in Canvas Commons, please see Can I share content I create in Canvas with just a small group of colleagues?
If students in your course are creating new materials such as posters, or are adapting existing open educational resources, those materials can be shared to the commons, with the permission of students. If shared with the USask in Canvas Commons, the students would have access to those materials as long as they are students at USask. If you share it with the wider Canvas Commons community, students can access the materials beyond their time as students at USask by creating a free Canvas Teacher account.

Please email movetocanvas@usask.ca with any questions or requests related to Canvas Commons or using Canvas in general.

Requests for Groups can be submitted as a General IT Request.