Carmen vs. Canvas

This year, OSU has gone through a major change with the evolution of Carmen to Canvas. As with any redesign, it is important to find out how people are responding to the changes to see what improvements, if any, need to be made. I interviewed two first-year students and two second-year students to see what they like, and dislike, about Canvas.

The second-year students generally like the old Carmen system compared to the new Canvas system. The common theme seems to be the old system was easier to navigate. Multiple people told me Canvas has too many tabs compared to Carmen, which had one main tab called the Content tab. They also said it was less challenging to view grades, look at upcoming events for classes, and turn in assignments last year in Carmen. However, they did like that Canvas separates each course so that they are independent of each other. Students can now pick a class and view the assignments for that one class individually, contrary to Carmen that combined all of the assignments from every class into one area. One friend even marveled at the usefulness of the announcements/discussions/assignments/files icons located on the front cover of every course.

My first-year friends tended to have more positive things to say about Canvas. They said the system is pretty easy to use and they haven’t had many problems learning how to navigate it. The parts they like best about Canvas are the announcements tab and the calendar. They said the announcements section is an easy way for them to find updates and important e-mails about their classes.  When I asked them what their favorite part about Canvas is, they said the calendar tab. The calendar tab shows when assignments are due throughout the week, which allows them to manage their time more efficiently. This opinion contrasts with the second-year students who said they dislike the calendar tab because it is more confusing than the upcoming events tab in Carmen. The only complaint the first-year students have about Canvas is that their teachers sometimes struggle with the system, resulting in assignments, or even whole courses, not being posted.

Since the first year students have never fully been exposed to Carmen before, it seems they have not had a hard time adjusting to the new system. Being a first-year student myself, I would pick Canvas over Carmen because that is what I am most familiar with and I can’t personally compare the pros and cons of each system. Since the second-year students have had to make the adjustment to a new system, it is understandable why they would prefer Carmen because it is what they are most comfortable with.

Both the first-years and the second-years agree that the new Canvas system is better with regard to technology. They really like the convenience of the Canvas mobile app, which the old Carmen system did not have. With continual practice, I believe everyone will adapt to the new Canvas system and see it as a positive step forward in learning technology at OSU.

Canvas: Assignment Submission Types

Canvas allows you to create many different kinds of assignments, and allows a variety of options for how to submit.  Here are some tips on the different “submission” types that are available to you:

Remember that you can create a new assignment either by going to Assignments –> “+ Assignment” or by going to Modules and clicking the “+” to the right of the Module you choose.

2016-09-062016-09-06 (7)

Note that if you create your assignment in the Modules space, you will at first just create the title of the assignment and then will need to edit the assignment to add details.  When in the “edit” view of the assignment, you will see options for submission after scrolling down:

2016-09-06 (1)

2016-09-06 (3)2016-09-06 (2)

Here, we see several options for submission type.  Below is a brief breakdown of these options:

  • No Submission– the assignment does not require students to turn anything in (either online or in-class).  This is useful for attendance or participation grades.  Read more here.
  • Online– students will turn their assignment in online– either through a drop box (for file uploads) or in a text/media-entry box.  This option also allows students to turn in a URL to a website, which is useful for courses where students will create blog posts.  More about online submissions can be found below.
  • On Paper– the assignment will be due in class or to the teacher.  You will need to create this type of assignment in your Canvas course in order to insert a column on your grade sheet.
  • External Tool– If you want to use one of the external tools in the drop-down list on Canvas Assignments, please contact your CON IT team.  Read more about this option here.

Online Submissions:

2016-09-06 (5)

There are several options for online submissions. The first thing to note is that in Canvas, there is no need to “create” a drop box for your assignments.  If you choose “file upload” as the submission method, a drop box will be created on the assignment page, and students will see a red button prompting them to submit their work.

You also have the option of limiting file types for submission. For instance, a teacher could require that submissions be .pdf files rather than the standard .doc or .docx files created in Microsoft Word.

Finally, don’t forget to save your work!  The red save button is located at the bottom of the screen.

2016-09-06 (6)


More questions about Canvas? Check out these great resources! 

Canvas Instructor Guide

ODEE Canvas Page

Previous CONTECH blog posts on Canvas



Launch your Canvas Course for Autumn 2016

Are you ready to launch your Canvas course for the autumn 16 semester?  Here are a few tips that can get you started on the right foot.

  1.  You need to publish your course so your students can view it.  The Publish button is on your course home page.  Read more about how to publish your course.
This course is unpublished.

This course is unpublished.

This course is published.

This course is published.

2.  Make sure your Module items are published as appropriate.  Gray items with a gray cloud (and an X in the cloud) are unpublished.  Green items with a green cloud (and a checkmark in the cloud) are published.  If a module is unpublished, everything in that module is unpublished, even if individual items appear published.  In other words, the unpublished status of a module overrides the status of the published item within it.  Read more about publishing modules and items within modules.

Items in red boxes are unpublished. Items in green boxes are published.

Items in red boxes are unpublished. Items in green boxes are published.

3.  View your course from the student point of view and go through each item to make sure it appears the way you intend for it to appear.  Check your links, even if (especially if) you imported them from your old Carmen course, to make sure they work.  It is particularly important to make sure your Panopto and CarmenConnect synchronous session links work and they all lead to the appropriate site.  Click on Settings > Student View to see your course as a student would.  Read more about the Student View in Canvas.

Student View button on Settings page

Student View button on Settings page

4.  If you need to add users to your course, you can do so from the Canvas landing page.

  • Go to >
  • click on the little red cog wheel to the right of your course title >
  • under Add Participants, type the name-dot-number of the user you want to add >
  • click on their name >
  • choose their role (instructor, student, etc.) >
  • work through the prompts to add and enroll the user and confirm.

Read more about adding users to your Canvas course.

Importing your Canvas Master Course to sections

For those instructors who have a Master Course set up in Canvas and need to import the material to course sections for the upcoming semester, here’s your how-to:

Once the Master Course is complete, go into your upcoming course in Canvas, and  click on “Settings” on the bottom left of your course page.
​ Then click on “Import Content into this Course” on the right hand side of the page.
2016-07-26 (2)
​ You can choose where you want your files to come from, and which course you’re copying.
2016-07-26 (1)

Then click the shiny red button and your course will be imported!

Finally, for those who like to troubleshoot on your own, follow this link to see the Canvas guide on importing courses, or go to  Canvas’s Instructor Guide. It’s a great place to go and learn about Canvas and get your questions answered.

Carmen-to-Canvas Transition

Flash Friday: Get Ready for Canvas

Find out what your first steps are to prepare for our new learning management system.

Joni Tornwall provided an update on where we are with our Canvas transition timeline and discussed how you can make your own transition to Canvas as smooth as possible. View a recording of the session to get a tour of our information page where you can find updates, workshops, and other resources, and walk through the process of exporting a course from Carmen and into Canvas.