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Student Systems of Support, Technology Tools

Tommie Tech and Online Learning for Students: Also a Resource for Faculty and Staff!

This article describes the Tommie Tech and Online (Remote) Learning Canvas resource for students, and how faculty and staff can use this resource to support student success.  

What is Tommie Tech?                                                                                         

All current St. Thomas students have access to a Canvas site called Tommie Tech, an orientation to St. Thomas technologies and online learning resources. There is both an undergraduate and a graduate student version. Now more than ever, students need equitable digital access to resources to enhance participation in virtual spaces. 

Tommie Tech invites students to:

  • learn about key tech systems such as Canvas, Zoom, Murphy, Office 365, and OneStThomas;
  • set up their devices including free apps to download;
  • practice with technology tools; and
  • locate additional resources while learning online.

Tommie Tech includes videos, tutorials, and optional activities so that students start their classes knowing how to upload assignments, set their notifications, find 24/7 help, and more. Tommie Tech Site Facilitators are available (daily) to participate in discussion and respond to questions.

This resource complements (yet does not replace) the more specific college/department level orientation provided to students, and also complement the course-specific student prep module that instructors may include in their courses.

How do students access Tommie Tech?

Initially, all students are automatically enrolled in Tommie Tech to ensure equitable access. All current and upcoming students have been in the site since March 28; starting May 4 there will be a daily enrollment feed into the graduate and undergraduate student sites to ensure that students are not missed. After students are given access to the site, if they do not want to be in the site, they can request being removed at any point (see the home page for unenroll option).

Tommie Tech is especially pertinent for newer students, students who have had less access to or comfort with technology or academics, and/or students unfamiliar with St. Thomas technologies. However, students get to decide if the site is helpful for them.

Students find Tommie Tech on their St. Thomas Canvas dashboard. If they have trouble finding this site, please contact the

How can faculty and staff access Tommie Tech?

St. Thomas instructors and staff are invited to self-enroll into the Tommie Tech Sample Sites:

Try out the activities and share your feedback on ways to further improve the resource.

How might instructors, advisors, and program leaders use Tommie Tech with students?

Professors, advisors, program leaders, student service team members hold a special role to help students to find and use this resource. A few ideas to consider:

  • Instructors could point out this resource to students on your course site home page or in announcements. Prior to a new semester or course start, include a message in your pre-class or week 1 note such as “All students are enrolled in a Canvas site called Tommie Tech and Online Learning. Please explore the resources in this site and try the suggested activities by or before the first week of class.”
  • You are welcome to include the student course URL in your current course or student communications.
    • The links only work for students already enrolled in the course (from May 4, 2020, on, that should include any student); students must use their St. Thomas username and password to log in.
    • The undergraduate student course link is
    • The graduate student course link is
  • There is an option in both sites for students to receive a St. Thomas Tommie Tech certificate if you would like students to document a certain level of engagement with the content. Work with Tommie Tech Facilitator Jo Montie to further connect your program with Tommie Tech.
  • Advisors, Counselors, or Disability Services team members – If you see a student having technology challenges or needs, ask them if they know about the Tommie Tech site. If not, help them find this course on their Canvas dashboard.
  • In your advising notes, say “For additional technology support, explore the Tommie Tech Canvas site-there for you, 24/7. If new to St. Thomas, we suggest completing practice activities in the site too.”
  • If a student has unresolved tech needs, point them to the for one-on-one support. Also, if you would like a student to have personalized attention in Tommie Tech, connect that student to one of the Tommie Tech Site Facilitators.

Where did Tommie Tech and Online Learning come from?

These sites combine ideas from both the Orientation to Online Learning site (in operation since Summer 2018) and the fall 2019 Tommie Tech sites. The earlier versions of both sites had a lot of student, faculty, and staff input that guided us on what to include in this current site. We will continue to learn from students (and you!) in this new version of the site.

Who are the Tommie Tech Site Facilitators?

Facilitators in the Undergraduate Tommie Tech Site include ITS (Tech) Team members Mark Weinlaeder, Anna Ewart, Katie Nelson, Sarah Larson, and Jo Montie; Jesse Langer (Student Life/Student Affairs); Amy Kadrmas (DFC); Brian Matthews (Academic Advising); Erica Thompson (Residence Life), Ann Zawistoski (Library), and students Lauren Infante (Center for Well Being and Student Government), Maggie Martin (ITS/media) and Sophia G. Becker (ITS/media).

Facilitators in the Graduate Tommie Tech Site include ITS Tech team members Anna Ewart, Andrew Sosinski, Mark Weinlaeder,  Jo Montie; Rayni Shin (Data Science grad student and ITS student employee) and John Heintz (Library Services).

Additional Site Facilitators are welcome!

In Summary

We are grateful for your teamwork to keep these resources relevant! For feedback or questions about Tommie Tech Online/Remote Learning site, please contact any of these Site Facilitators or Jo Montie at

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 us at

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

New Rich Content Editor in Canvas

You might not know what it’s called, but you have used the Rich Content Editor multiple times. It’s the ribbon of tools at the top of the frame when you edit pages, discussions, assignments, etc. in Canvas.

St. Thomas is enabling the new Rich Content Editor on January 5th, 2021. However, faculty can switch over to the new editor at any point. Keep in mind that when you switch to the new editor, all users in that class (including students) will be switched over, too. Read more below to learn about the new features and how to try it out.

The original Rich Content Editor featured two rows of editing tools and a sidebar for accessing Links, Files, and Images.

Original Rich Content Editor

The new Rich Content Editor is much more compact and eliminates the right side-bar menu:

New Rich Content Editor

Advantages of the New Rich Content Editor:

  • one hour of auto save (no more losing your work when your browser crashes or you accidentally click Cancel instead of Save)
  • more space on the screen for your work
  • less scrolling when you building quizzes and syllabi

Where did Everything Go?

All the items currently in the menus at the right side of your screen have been split into different icons in the new Rich Content Editor:

  • Course Links (A)
  • Course Images (B)
  • Course Media (C)
  • Course Files (D)

External tools (including Panopto, YouTube, and library materials) are now in the “plug” icon. (E)

The Accessibility Checker (F) and HTML/Text Editor toggle (G) are on the bottom right.

Note: You can also use the menu (H) to do your editing. Click each of the menus to find some additional functionality, such as: undo/redo, inserting a horizontal line as a visual break, additional options for formatting text, and more.

see Canvas tutorials for accessible images of new rich content editor



Can’t find what you’re looking for? Canvas has updated tutorials for faculty and students. Plus, Canvas Support is available 24/7 to help you.

How to Get the New Rich Content Editor

The new Rich Content Editor is available now, but it’s optional. The New Rich Content Editor will be enabled for all users on January 5th, 2021.

Want a sneak peek or to take advantage of the auto-save feature? Enable the New Rich Content Editor in your course(s) by Going into Settings > Feature Options and turning on RCE Enhancements.

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 STELAR’s website or email us at

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