St. Thomas E-Learning And Research - The Intersection of Technology and Pedagogy
Canvas: Did you know...?, Technology Tools

Update to Canvas Quizzes

Since 2017, Canvas has offered two options for online quizzes:

  • Quizzes LTI (“New Quizzes”)
  • Legacy Quizzes (“Classic Quizzes”)

Prior to February 15, 2020, Classic Quizzes could be found by clicking on “Quizzes” in the course navigation menu and New Quizzes could be found by clicking on “Assignments.” However, starting on February 15, 2020, both types of quizzes will be found by clicking “Quizzes.” Faculty will no longer be able to create a quiz by clicking on “Assignments.” Canvas will eventually migrate all quizzes currently in the “Assignments” area to the “Quizzes” area, but there is no timeline for that migration.

Starting February 15, 2020, to create a quiz in Canvas, click on “Quizzes” in the course navigation menu, and then click the purple +Quiz button. You will then see this dialog box, where you will choose which type of quiz you want:

Text on the screenshot: Canvas now has two quiz engines. Please choose which you'd like to use. Classic Quizzes: For the time being, if you need security from 3rd-party tools, Speedgrader, or CSVs for student response analysis, this is the better choice. New Quizzes: This has more question types like hotspot, categorization, matching, and ordering. It also has more moderation and accommodation features.


If you use essay or short response questions in your quizzes, use the Classic Quizzes tool so you have access to the Speedgrader. This provides a much simpler and smoother grading experience.

If you’d like more information on this update, please visit the Canvas release notes.


This post was written by Karin Brown, Instructional Designer with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about what STELAR can do for you, please visit our website at or email us at

Canvas: Did you know...?, Technology Tools

New Canvas Feature: Personal Pronouns

Canvas has added a new feature that allows users to identify their personal pronounsYour chosen pronouns follow your name and show up basically anywhere your name appears within Canvas. That includes places like discussion posts, grading fields, announcements sent by instructors, groups pages, and messages. 

Why should I set up my pronouns? 

St. Thomas is excited Canvas has made this feature available and we’ve chosen to enable it for our Canvas users.  

Enabling this feature supports the university’s commitment to diversity. Identifying your pronouns helps others know how to address you (and lets you know the proper way to address others). In our increasingly digital world, knowing the proper way to address one another helps to build community. 

How denable the pronouns feature in Canvas? 

Identifying your pronouns in Canvas is an optional feature. If you wish to enable the feature and identify your pronouns, go to your User Settings and follow the instructions in the Canvas Personal Pronouns tutorial.

What if my pronouns aren’t available in the menu 

Only pronouns set by the Canvas admin will show up in the drop-down menu. If your pronouns aren’t there, let us know! Send an email to and include the pronouns you’d like added to the dropdown menu. 

Canvas 24/7 Help 

If you need assistance in setting up your pronouns, please contact Canvas’s 24/7 Help. Find your help options by clicking on the Help icon in the purple menu at the left (when logged in to Canvas).


This post was written by Nancy McGinley Myers, Instructional Designer with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about what STELAR can do for you, please visit our website at or email us at

Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks, Technology Tools

Canvas Training Services Portal

Canvas has unveiled a new, robust Training Services Portal with both live webinars and on-demand, online training. Learn all about Canvas from setting up a course, to developing assessments, grading, instructional design basics, course communication, and more.

To access Canvas Webinars and Self-Paced Training: 

  1. Log in to Canvas. 
  2. Click the Help icon in the global navigation (at the bottom of the purple menu bar at the left). 
  3. Chose Training Services Portal from the pop-up menu. 

When you are logged in to Canvas Training Services, use the Learning Library to explore on-demand self-paced trainings. Use the Training Calendar to find live webinar training. Canvas has also created a detailed tutorial on how to access and use the Training Services Portal.

For brand new users of Canvas, we recommend starting with Higher Education: First Day Ready. This course includes training in configuring your notification preferences, utilizing the dashboard, creating a home page and modules, getting started with assignments and other assessments, and grading and feedback. It’s a comprehensive training that will get you and your course ready for the first day.

First Day Ready card

This post was written by Nancy McGinley Myers, Instructional Designer with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about what STELAR can do for you, please visit our website at or email us at

Future of Higher Education, STELAR Partnerships with Faculty, Technology Tools, Upcoming Technologies

Digital Humanities Grant: Updates and Invitation for New Proposals!

Digital Humanities is a field that aims to explore traditional subjects such as language, literature, philosophy, history, music, law, politics, religion, theater and art in new ways via the use of technology. The St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences and St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) are partners in a grant program that supports and encourages this exploration by funding projects for Faculty and Grad Students in this area.

The first round of grant-supported projects are underway, with grantees engaged in projects that range from ethnographic virtual reality, an interactive StoryMap that links indigenous art and culture to geography, and machine learning Thoreau for hidden insight. On Thursday, December 5th, the Digital Humanities Grant Committee held a well-attended session to provide information on the next round of grants, along with sample projects from many disciplines. Graduate Student Scott Larkin showed off his master’s project that traced the publication and performance history of an long-forgotten poem called Shamus O’Brien, using ArcGIS StoryMaps to trace the rise and fall of its popularity across Europe and the Americas in the 19th century. Attendees also saw examples of interactive virtual museums such as John Ashbury’s Nest, maps of endangered languages and their current vitality, an “Emotional Map” of Victorian London that traced works of art linked to prominent city features: Mapping Emotions in Victorian London, and an interactive statistical analysis of art collectors in New York that explores who collected what based on a variety of socio-economic factors: Colleague Collectors.

We saw the works of  Shakespeare visualized by number of citations Visualizing Shakespeare, heard a singing artificial intelligence called Spawn interacting with human singers, Holly Herndon and Spawn, and a musical work composed entirely by AI! Attendees commented on how fascinating and inspiring the examples were.

Don’t worry if you missed the session- you can still apply! To apply for the grant, follow this link to the application form: Digital Humanities Grant Application. Note that there are two different forms, the first for Faculty and the second for Graduate Students.  There are two deadlines: a 300-word abstract is due by February 14th, 2020. The deadline for full proposals is February 28th, 2020.

You don’t need to worry about technology or detail in these documents- let your imagination run free! The DHG committee will review the applications for interest and viability, and facilitate the coordination of technology. The committee will select up to three projects for funding. More information is available on the application website. The committee is eager to see what you come up with!

This post was written by Eric Tornoe, Associate Director of Research and High-Performance Computing with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at or email us at

Accessibility, Student Systems of Support

Design Resources that are Accessible for All Learners

In this article, I introduce Strategy 3: Design resources that are accessible to all students, not just some students. This is from an Eight Strategies blog series about creating electronic orientation and success resources. New to this series? Also read about Strategy 1 and Strategy 2. 

Strategy 3: Design Resources Accessible for All  

Learn to design resources that are accessible to all learners, not just some learners. I do not know how to fully do all of this (yet), but I am committed to continuing to learn accessibility skills. Whether you are developing a digital orientation, tutoring support, employee training, or another resource in Canvas (or another learning management system), you want everyone to have access to your terrific content, right?  

Accessible for All: Our Values, Mission, and the Law 

Creating fair and equitable access for all is the right thing to do. My values and the St.Thomas Mission Statement guide my accessibility work. Advancing the common good is about the well-being and participation of everybody in our community. People need to have full access to information and learning experiences, including digital/online content, in order to be active members of a learning community.  

If values and mission are not enough to nudge and inspire, recall the many laws (Americans with Disabilities Act-ADA, the Rehabilitation Act Section 504 and 508, Minnesota Human Rights Act) that give “teeth” to these principles. The Section 508 Refresh and What It Means for Higher Education (LaGrow2017) describes Electronic Information and Communication Technology (EICT) as accessible “if it can be used as effectively by people with disabilities as it can by those without.”  As we communicate information electronically (digitally, online), ensure that our learners have equal opportunity and equivalent ease of use.   

Specific Strategies to Use Right Now 

Consider these actions as you strive to create student success sites that work for all learners!

  • Develop a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Mindset. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of research-based principles to guide lesson design and teaching. This UDL at a Glance video (4:36) effectively introduces UDL. This CAST website provides additional information on UDL. Consider following the  CAST Twitter to join this movement to expand learning opportunities for all people. 
  • Incorporate new accessibility skills into your resource design. ThUniversity of St. Thomas Faculty Development accessibility website page describes approaches to create better access for all. The University of Minnesota Accessible U site promotes six Core Skills for targeting accessibility practices into your site design:  
    • Headings and Document Structure 
    • Hyperlinks 
    • Video Captions 
    • Bullets and Numbered Lists 
    • Color and Contrast 
    • Image Alt Text 

The next revision of the University of MN Accessible U site will add a 7th core skill to the list.   

  • Use the Canvas features for accessibility designOr if you are from an organization that uses another learning management system, ask that company for their accessibility features.  
  • Keep on learning! After you learn and incorporate one new accessibility practice, pick another skill to develop. Creating accessible digital resources for all learners requires continual learning and a commitment from all of us. 

Examples in our Success Sites 

Below are some of the practices we currently use in our orientation and student success sites that are co-created with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research team (STELAR).  

  • Ensure that anything with audio is closed captioned.  
  • In addition to close captioning, also include a transcript document of the audio or video content.  
  • Use bold or italics instead of underline to emphasize a wordunderlining denotes a URL link in an online environment.  
  • Structure documents using paragraph styles or heading tags to make the documents accessible to an individual using a screen reader, and more readable for all students.  
  • When using a colored font for emphasis, use color combined with another visual indicator (bold or italics) to convey information. Someone with color blindness may not perceive the emphasis if you only use color. 

Providing an equitable and effective learning environment for all students requires that we present teaching and learning materials in ways that are accessible for all, including individuals with disabilities. When course materials are designed with this intention, ALL learners benefit. 

This post was written by Jo Montie, Online Learning Systems Facilitator with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at or email Jo at