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Canvas Administration

Canvas is the Learning Management System utilized at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. All faculty, staff, and students with UTK official NetID credentials have access to the Canvas system. All courses listed by the University Registrar’s office in a given semester/term at UTK have their responding course shells in Canvas. The following are general policies and procedures regarding the administration of Canvas.

Acceptable use of Online@UT (Canvas) is governed by the general policies for acceptable use of computing facilities and other university-wide policies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources

What is a Blueprint course in Canvas, and what it is used for?

A Blueprint course is a course that houses content you want to share to any number of associated courses. Blueprint courses are typically maintained by program/course coordinators. The content and settings in the blueprint course can then be pushed out to courses that are associated with the blueprint. Content can be locked or unlocked for editing in the associated courses. 

Why would a department or program use Blueprint courses in Canvas? 

If departments or programs are looking for a way to manage multiple course sections that cover the same or similar content but with different meeting days or times, a Canvas Blueprint course may be the best option.  

If departments or programs have specific material that needs to be managed for several courses and not be edited in those associated courses, a Canvas Blueprint course may be the best option. 

Canvas Blueprint courses offer: 

  • Ability to create course content and make content updates to multiple Canvas courses via sync button on the Blueprint course 
  • Ability to adjust due dates by section within the associated sections 

Blueprints are often used by a program/course coordinator with multiple instructors using the same content to teach the same course or by an instructor who is teaching several sections of the same course. The continuity of instruction across multiple course sections enables students to more effectively navigate and participate in their courses. 

Can an instructor request a Blueprint course for their own personal needs? 

No. Only departments and programs can request Blueprint course sites.  

The OIT Teaching & Learning Technologies support group creates Canvas course sites at least two months before the start of every semester for all courses listed in the Timetable. This timeframe was established in conjunction with the Faculty Senate.  Instructors should use the Course Copy feature to develop their courses from semester to semester. Our current retention policy allows instructors access to their course sites all the way back to 2016 so that there would be no reason for a “Main” course site (that is, a permanent course site not connected to a for-credit term) for a particular class. 

 When NOT to use a Blueprint course 

  1. As an instructor’s “Main” (permanent course site not connected to a for-credit term) site: a Blueprint can be shared from one program coordinator to the next, and associated with many different sections for many different instructors to use 
  1. As a site from which instructors should Course Copy. Blueprints can only share the information they contain via the method of association 
  1. As a site that preserves how a course was delivered in a particular point in time: For-credit Canvas course sites already do that; Blueprints are always changing and updating from semester to semester 
  1. As a static storage space: OIT provides several options for instructors to store files and other materials; Canvas is not needed for long term file storage and a Blueprint course site’s files are likely always updating 
  1. For versioning of courses: unless materials used in face-to-face and distance modalities are radically different; versions of Blueprint courses for different modalities should not be necessary 
  1. As a site to be associated to a single section: Blueprints are meant to be used for cohorts of instructors teaching multiple sections 
  1. If content is built out: If you are teaching only two sections of a class and already have most of the content built before the start of the semester. In this case, it will be less of a hassle for you to copy the content into both sections individually and make a few changes to each applicable section. You will not have to deal with an additional class in Canvas and you will not have to wait for the manual sync process to discover and update changes. 

What is the Blueprint course association process? 

As previously noted, Blueprint courses are courses that are associated with multiple courses. Once content is placed in the Blueprint course, the information may be synchronized from the Blueprint course to the associated courses. The initial course association is managed by Canvas administrators in the OIT Teaching & Learning Support group. Program/course coordinators will need to submit an OIT HelpDesk ticket and request that their Blueprint course be associated with individual course sections. The Blueprint course and section numbers must be included in the request. 

Course sites are disassociated from Blueprint courses by the OIT Teaching & Learning Technologies support group at the end of each semester (after final exams have completed), and no request is needed to disassociate Blueprint courses. View our Course Access Calendar for specific disassociation dates

Does there need to be a different Blueprint course site for each semester of the academic year? 

Generally, no: a Blueprint course can provide course materials for classes offered in any semester in the academic year. However, if a Summer semester course’s design is radically different than Spring/Fall, a specialized Summer Blueprint can be created. There should almost never be a need for a separate Spring and Fall version of the same Blueprint course. 

Does there need to be a different Blueprint course site for each modality through which the course is delivered? 

Generally, no, unless the course materials provided to students are radically different between face-to-face, hybrid, and fully online modalities. 

What is the maximum number of people that should have access to each Blueprint course? 

Three. Typically, these would involve a Program Coordinator, Lead Instructor, and possibly a Designer. Any number greater than that increases the chance that the contents of a Blueprint can be disturbed, deleted, or destroyed. 

Who is responsible for adding and removing people to a Blueprint course? 

The Program/Course Coordinator. If the Program/Course Coordinator changes, they will need to enroll the new Program/Course Coordinator before their responsibilities shift. Any instructors in a Blueprint course that should no longer have access can also be removed by a current Program Coordinator. 

Can Blueprint courses be deleted? 

Yes. While a Blueprint course that has been recently and consistently active would never be purged, Canvas administrators do monitor course usage and will delete any Blueprints as needed. Program/Course Coordinators will be advised of the pending course site deletion. 

Starting with the Winter-MiniTerm 2023 and Spring 2023 semesters, Canvas course site storage quotas will be downgraded to 1GB. The increase to 4GB at the start of the pandemic was to ensure the quick transition to remote teaching encountered no issues. However, it is important that we return to pre-pandemic levels. We recommend instructors utilize OIT’s recommended options to manage their Canvas course files to remain within the set storage quota.

As of November 2022, Canvas administrators will no longer be enrolling users in past course sites when requested. In continuing to protect the privacy of our students we are asking that your past course content be exported and shared. Canvas course content can be exported into a Common Cartridge (IMSCC ZIP) file which can then be downloaded and shared with another instructor. The export file can be imported into a blank Canvas course shell. All instructors are entitled to one blank Canvas course shell called a ‘sandbox’ site.

Sharing a course via a course export file can be accomplished with the following steps:

  1. Create a course export file from the Settings page of the Canvas course you wish to share. Full instructions for this step of the process are documented in this Canvas Instructor Guide page on creating course export files.
  2. Send the course export file to the desired recipient. This step is performed outside of Canvas via the UT Vault.
  3. The recipient downloads the course export file to their computer and then imports it into their Canvas course. Course export files can be imported as a whole or specific content can be selected for import. Full instructions for this step of the process are documented in this Canvas Instructor Guide page on importing course export files.

Canvas Global Announcements are posted by Canvas Administrators and are displayed on all student and/or faculty Canvas Dashboards for a set amount of time. Global Announcements are intended to provide students and faculty timely and brief information specifically related to Canvas.

Canvas Global Announcements are not the appropriate venue for public service announcements. If you wish to post a public service announcement, please contact the Office of Communications and Marketing to seek the appropriate venue. 

Why No Student View in Proctorio? 

Proctorio detects the user’s role (test taker or exam administrator) within a Canvas course site. This determines the user experience:  

  • Exam administrators (instructors, TAs, etc.) are given the ability to set up and review quizzes.
  • Test takers (students, participants, etc.) are given the ability to take quizzes. 

Because Proctorio detects the user’s role within a Canvas course site, the ability to use the Canvas Student View feature to take the Proctorio-enabled quizzes is not available to exam administrators. There are a few reasons for this: 

  1. If an exam administrator begins a Proctorio-enabled quiz attempt in Student View, the quiz is marked on the Proctorio Gradebook as “Begun”. This forces Proctorio to lock the quiz settings, as no further settings changes can be made in Proctorio from the moment a student begins the quiz (including Test Student). 
  2. The Proctorio Gradebook saves the Test Student’s attempt and data. This information is then processed into exam analytics and behavior analysis. Since the Test Student activity can be reset, exam analytics and behavior analysis data may be skewed due to numerous quiz attempts. 

After creating a quiz and enabling Proctorio settings, exam administrators are able to view a Preview, which will show quiz questions only. Proctorio support strongly recommends that exam administrators use the built-in Preview function to review the Proctorio-enabled quiz. 

All student audit requests must be officially arranged via the Office of the University Registrar. There is a formal process to Audit a course that would result in the student automatically getting enrolled into the respective Canvas course site.

All student incompletes must be officially arranged via the Office of the University Registrar. Any time an instructor requests Canvas access for a student to complete their course work, the OIT Teaching and Learning Technologies Support group contacts the University Registrar for confirmation. Without official confirmation, no course access will be provided.

Once the incomplete is confirmed, a new section, labeled Incompletes, is created within the student’s originally registered course site. The affected student and instructor are added to the Incompletes section, which is open for a set period of time. No other students see the Incomplete section; the course site remains closed from their point of view.

Please note that due to potential FERPA violations, students with an incomplete cannot be added to a course site in which they did not register

When requesting Canvas access for an incomplete, please include:

1. The student’s name and NetID (not Student ID).

2. The course number and name in which the student was originally registered.

3. An End Date for course access (this can be weeks, months, or even a year from the original End Date of the course, based on arrangements with the University Registrar). 

Incomplete sections cannot be created without a valid End Date, as this date concludes access to the course site and section after the incomplete is finished.