Categories
Canvas Course Design

Set the Course Navigation

The first thing you should do before publishing the course is to edit the Course Navigation. Unlike Blackboard, the instructor control of the Canvas Course Navigation is a bit more restrictive.

Course Navigation items include:

  • Home (Required)
  • Announcements
  • Assignments
  • Attendance (Hidden unless made available)
  • Chat (Hidden unless made available)
  • Collaborations
  • Conferences
  • Discussions
  • Files
  • Grades
  • Modules
  • Outcomes
  • People
  • Pages
  • Quizzes
  • Syllabus
  • Settings (Visible to Instructors and TAs)

Instructors can reorder the tabs and even hide some of them. Tabs cannot be renamed. The purpose of this restriction is to attempt to streamline and simplify the menu options presented to students.

Course Navigation Tutorials

Categories
Canvas Course Design

About Conferences

Canvas has integrated a web conferencing tool called Big Blue Button to extend the learning environment to the virtual space enabling synchronous (real-time) online meetings. Conferences allows users to

  • broadcast live audio and video
  • demo applications on your desktop
  • share presentation slides
  • demo any online resources

Conferences have a number of potential uses for both traditional face-to-face as well as distributed learning situations. Some possible use cases include virtual:

  • lectures
  • office hours
  • student group meetings
  • study groups

Students can even create their own conferences if they have:

  • Access to the Conferences menu item within a course
  • Have been placed within Groups
    The Conferences tool is a standard tool available to Student Groups in Canvas.

To learn more about Conferences in Canvas, feel free to view the Conferences Overview Video and the Conference Tutorials on this page.

Conference Tutorials


Questions?

For questions about how these features might be implemented into a course design/course activities, please contact Geisel Instructional Technology Staff to schedule a one-on-one session to discuss these tools.

Categories
Canvas Course Design

What are Collaborations

Canvas integrates Google Docs to allow multiple users to collaboratively edit documents. Since the Google Docs and EtherPad document changes are saved in real-time, changes made by any of the documents multiple editors are immediately visible to everyone with access to the document.

Google Docs

To learn more about the Collaboration tools in Canvas, feel free to review the Collaboration Overview Video and the Collaboration Tutorials linked to from this page.

Collaboration Tutorials


Questions?

For questions about how these features might be implemented into a course design/course activities, please contact Geisel Instructional Technology Staff to schedule a one-on-one session to discuss these tools.

Categories
Canvas Course Design

About Groups

With the Groups feature in Canvas, instructors can organize the students into groups so they can work together on group projects and assignments: a paper, a presentation, etc. A Canvas group will provide students with a collaborative workspace where they can work in that small group to share files, hold video conferences, or work on group assignments created within the course.

Within Groups, instructors can:

  • Create a new group set and create subgroups automatically or manually
  • Assign students to subgroups automatically or manually
  • Allow students to sign up for their own groups
  • Expand and collapse subgroups
  • Move students into different subgroups
  • Create group collaborations
  • View all activity within all the groups within a course
  • View all created groups within the course
  • Edit or delete group sets

To learn more about groups, feel free to watch the Groups Management Video and the Groups Tutorials listed below.

Group Assessment Tutorials

More Group Tutorials


Questions?

For questions about how these features might be implemented into a course design/course activities, please contact Geisel Instructional Technology Staff to schedule a one-on-one session to discuss these tools.

Categories
Course Accessability

PDF Accessibility

Most PDF files are created from within other applications such as Word or PowerPoint to name just a few. As such, it is very important to ensure the original files are designed with accessibility in mind. If the original document is not accessible, the PDF file will not be accessible either.

The following content contains some tips for properly creating PDF files from Word and PowerPoint as well as how to check PDF accessibility within Adobe Acrobat.

PDF from Word

Assuming your Word document has been designed to be accessible, saving the document as a PDF should also result in an accessible PDF. You should still run the accessibility checker within Adobe Acrobat to make sure.

To save the Word document as a PDF:

  1. Select File > Save As.
  2. In the Save As field, enter the file name.
  3. In the Where field, select the location to which the file should be saved.
  4. In the Format field, select PDF.
    Note: Some versions of Word have a Save As PDF option that replaces 2 – 4.
  5. Click Save.

PDF from PowerPoint

Assuming your PowerPoint has been designed to be accessible, saving the document as a PDF should also result in an accessible PDF. The process is the same as that outlined in PDF from Word; however, saving the Notes or Outline as a PDF can only be accomplished from the File > Print option.

To print PowerPoint Notes or Outlines to a PDF:

  1. Select File > Print.
  2. In the Print What field, select Notes or Outline.
  3. At the bottom of the screen, select PDF.
  4. Click Save.
This does not guarantee the PDF will be accessible as the Alt Tags on images may not transfer to the PDF.

Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Check

Even if your Word or PowerPoint files are designed as accessible, they may not necessarily create a fully accessible PDF.  The following instructions outline how to run Accessibility Checker on a PDF using Adobe Acrobat Professional.

To run Accessibility Checker on a PDF:

  1. Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Professional.
  2. From the Tools menu, select Accessibility.
  3. From Accessibility, select Full Check.
  4. Accept the default selections in the Accessibility Checker Options prompt.
  5. Click Start Checking.

Fixing Accessibility Errors in a PDF

It is possible that not all image Alt Tags will be transferred to the PDF. Adobe PDF also requires the PDF to be properly tagged, titled, and have a set read order none of which can be set or predicted within the original. These are the most likely issues that will result in the Accessibility Check. The following is a quick overview of how to address the issues.

To resolve failed items:

  1. Right click the item marked as failed.
  2. From the resulting menu, select Fix.
  3. Depending on the item to be fixed a different prompt will appear. See examples below.

Resources

Categories
Course Accessability

Accessibility of PowerPoints

There are a few things that document creators can do within PowerPoint to help ensure accessibility. Keep in mind that the content covered in the previous tabs in this Guide should be considered when designing a PowerPoint presentation. This page outlines a few basic tools in PowerPoint that will allow users to create accessible presentations.

Presentation Design Themes

Microsoft provides users with a variety of presentation Themes. These Themes are designed to allow users to create attractive presentations without having to spend hours choosing slide backgrounds, font colors, etc.

For the most part, these Themes also take accessibility into consideration. It is highly recommended that users select one of the preset themes for their presentation and not try to create your own. Additional Themes can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website.

Slide Layouts

For each Theme, Microsoft also provides a set of slide layouts. When building a presentation and adding new slides, it is recommended users select from the preset layouts. These layouts are designed to ensure that the content on the slides can be identified by a screenreader. It is suggested that users avoid the Title Only and the Blank slide options. It is too tempting to want to add additional text boxes on these slides and doing so would negate the accessibility of those slides.

Note: Unfortunately, data tables added to PowerPoint slides are not accessible.

Outline and Notes

Outline Panel

Clicking on the Outline tab in the Slide panel will reveal a text outline of the slides. If the preset slide layouts are used, any text within the slides will appear within the outline. Images and SmartArt will not appear in the outline but can be made accessible by adding Alt descriptions.

Notes Panel

PowerPoint provides a Notes panel allowing users to enter presentation notes designed to guide the presenter. These notes are not typically read by screenreaders, so adding important content for student use is not recommended. It is possible, however, to save the slide notes out in PDF format to distribute to students. A screenreader should be able to read the text from the PDF.

Resources

  • PowerPoint Accessibility This webpage outlines the tools available within Microsoft PowerPoint that when used ensure the document is accessible.
Categories
Course Accessability

Accessibility in Word Documents

There are a few things that document creators can do within Word to help ensure accessibility. Keep in mind that the content covered in the previous tabs in this Guide should be considered when designing a Word document. This page outlines a few basic Word tools that will allow users to identify images, format text, and format tables.

Image Identification

Microsoft Word allows you to add alt text to tables, diagrams, images, and other visual objects. The following illustrates how to accomplish this task.

To add Alt Text to an image:

  1. Add the image to the document.
  2. Select the image.
  3. From the Word menu, select Format > Picture.
  4. From the resulting prompt, click on Alt Text..
  5. Enter the Alt Text into the Description field.
    Note: Do not enter the Alt Text into the Title field.
  6. Click [OK].

Formatting Text

Microsoft Word contains a number of tools that can help users make text accessible. The following instructions outline how to create headers and lists.

Text Headings

To properly format text headings:

  1. Select the text that should be a header.
  2. From the Styles pane on the Home tab, select the appropriate Heading format.

Lists

To properly format numbered or bulleted lists:

  1. Select the text that should be made into a list.
  2. From the Paragraph pane on the Home tab, select either the Numbered or Bulleted list icon.
  3. To indent list items, select the Indent icon.

Formatting Tables

Microsoft Word allows you to add alt text to describe the table and to indicate whether the first row is a header. The following instructions illustrate how to accomplish these tasks.

Table Headers

To identify the first row of a table as a header row:

  1. Select the table.
  2. From the Table menu item, select Heading Rows Repeat.

Table Alt Text

To add Alt Text to a table:

  1. Select the table.
  2. Click on Table in the top menu.
  3. From the Table menu, select Table Properties.
  4. If not already selected, click the Alt Text tab.
  5. Enter the alternative text for the table into the Description field.
    Note: Do not add the alt text to the Title field.
  6. Click [OK].

Resources

Categories
Course Accessability

Formatting Documents

This section contains information on document formatting for

When each of the above applications is used properly, the likelihood that the resulting documents will be accessible is high.

Each page will address how to create accessible documents using the tools built directly into the programs.

Categories
Course Accessability

Image Identification

There is one (1) guideline for images presented in a digital context:

  • Images should be accompanied by an “alt” attribute.

The “alt” attribute allows you to enter a short textual description of the image that tells the user more about the content or function of the image. The “alt” attribute serves to provide a textual description of the images that :

  • can be read by screen readers used by individuals with visual or cognitive disabilities.
  • appear within a browser in the event the images do not load on the page.
  • can be identified by search engines that can help a user find content online.

Below are a few scenarios and examples.

Empty Alt Tag

If the text or narrative in the vicinity of the image conveys the content of the image, it is acceptable to leave an empty alt attribute.

Example:

“The placement of the emojis on the brain image are not necessarily representative of where the emotional response and associated language development actually occur.”

Alt = ” “

Canvas Empty Alt Example

When adding an image to a page in Canvas, the Alt text field in the Attributes section can be left blank when the surrounding text properly conveys the content of the image.

Descriptive Alt Tag

If the text or narrative relates to the image but does not directly describe the image the “alt” attribute should provide a description of the image.

Example:

a brain composed of emojis

“The effect of emoji use in text messaging and other digital communications on emotional development and language expression are as yet unknown.”

Alt = “a brain composed of emojis”

Canvas Descriptive Alt Example

When adding an image to a page in Canvas, the Alt text field in the Attributes section should be completed when the text or narrative does not directly describe the content of the image.

Images as Links Alt Tag

When an image is also used as a link or button, the “alt” attribute should reflect the function of the image.

Example:

Huffington Post Article on Emojis and Language Development"
This image is being used as a link to an article; as such, the "alt" text indicates that this image links to the article.

“A recent article in the Huffington Post outlines the effect of emojis use on language development in children.”

Alt = “Huffington Post Article on Emojis and Language Development”
This image is being used as a link to an article; as such, the “alt” text indicates that this image links to the article.

Canvas Functional Alt Example

When adding an image to a page in Canvas that is also a link to a URL or other resource, the Alt text field in the Attributes section should be completed with text that describes the function or purpose of the image.

Resources

  • Alternative Text This webpage outlines the role of “alt” tags in properly identifying images in digital content.
Categories
Course Accessability

Formatting Tables

The following four(4) guidelines pertain to formatting tables for digital content:

  • Tables should only be used to present data; they should not be used to control page layout.
  • The row containing the column headings should be identified as a header row.
  • Use the simplest possible table configuration. Avoid extra rows or columns for spacing. Avoid nesting tables and keep cell merges to a minimum.
  • Ensure table size is controlled by percentages not pixels.

Table Use

The purpose of a table is to present data not to format document or page layout.

Good Example:

Pet TypeAgeGender
dog2 yearsFemale
cat10 monthsMale

Bad Example:

Available Pets
Bloomers 2 years old female loves to playpicture of a yellow lab
picture of a kittenRascal 10 months old male loves bird watching

Table Headings

Without the designation of column header or just heading, the content in the first row of a table is just data. It is important that the first row of the table be formatted as a heading row. This calls out the type of content the user should expect to find within the cells in that column.

Good Example:

Pet TypeAgeGender
dog2 yearsFemale
cat10 monthsMale

Bad Example:

Pet TypeAgeGender
dog2 yearsFemale
cat10 monthsMale

Adding Table Headers in Canvas

Thankfully, Canvas has a very functional table editor. Unfortunately, the editor does not automatically recognize the first row of a table as a header row. The following are instructions for how to identify the first row of a table as a header row.

  1. Select the first row of the table.
  2. From the table formatting icon, select Row.
  3. From the row options, select Row Properties.
  4. From the General Tab, select Header from Row Type.
  5. Click [OK].

Table Configuration

Tables should be simple and straight forward avoiding empty rows/columns, merging cells, and other actions that may be construed as trying to control the layout of content.

Good Example

Pet TypeAgeGender
dog2 yearsFemale
cat10 monthsMale

Bad Example

Available Pets
DogsCats
2 yearsFemale10 monthsMale
loves to playContact us to adopt.loves bird watching

Setting Table Width in Canvas

Setting the table width to calculate as a percentage rather than a specified pixel count allows the table to more easily reformat for various screen sizes. While 100% would be the most desired table width, the design of Canvas necessitates the table width to be set to 95% instead. This width is already set in the Geisel Templates, but if you are adding additional tables you can set the table width as follows:

  1. Select the table.
  2. From the Table icon, select Table Properties.
  3. From Table Properties, enter 95% in the Width field. (There is no need to set table height.)
  4. Enter 1 into the Border field to add lines around the table and the cells. (Optional, but it looks nice.)
  5. Click [OK].

Resources