It’s coming! – A new Canvas interface

Canvas, Clark College’s Learning Management System (LMS), will have a new look and updated functions. Updated functions will differ depending on your access (faculty or student). Please look for emails specific to your access level in the near future.

What’s new?

Global Navigation

  • Global Navigation has moved from the top of the screen to the left-hand side
  • “Logout” is now behind the Account Click on your avatar photo to access your account settings and logout.


  • Default login page replaces Activity Stream (list of announcements, discussion posts) with a grid of multi-colored course “cards”.
  • Ability to toggle between Course Cards and Activity Stream
  • The Grades link has been moved from the Global Navigation to the right side-bar on the Dashboard.

Responsive Design

  • This change will make Canvas easier to use on a wide range of screen sizes.
  • When the width of a browser winder is reduced, the left-hand course navigation will collapse in a pop-out menu (a square icon of three horizontal lines: responsive)

Watch this video to learn more about the changes.  Learn more @

You will begin seeing the new Canvas interface on Wednesday, June 22.

Washington’s Annual Canvas Conference


This year’s WACC 2016 (Washington’s Annual Canvas Conference) is focused on Pathways to Success, OER (Open Educational Resources), Accessibility, and Universal design. During this event you’ll be able to attend dozens of presentations and other opportunities to connect with colleagues.

  • Website:
  • Dates: March 24 (Thursday, 8:30a – 4:00p) and March 25 (Friday 8:30a – 4:15p), 2016
  • Location: Tacoma Community College (TCC)

Tickets are purchased through an online web app on our conference website Your ticket covers conference presentations, a continental breakfast and a buffet lunch, each day.

The WACC (Washington’s Annual Canvas Conference) is brought to you by your Washington State Board Community Technical College (SBCTC) eLearning Council (ELC)

Course eValuations

EvaluationKITThis academic year, Clark College has adopted a new strategy to make our course evaluation process more affordable and efficient by moving to a fully online solution using a product called EvaluationKIT.  eLearning has been successfully using EvaluationKIT to evaluate strictly online courses for over seven years, so this is an expansion of our use of this product to include all course types from face-to-face or web-enhanced to hybrid and online.  Unit Operations Supervisors will be setting up and managing these projects with assistance and technical support provided by eLearning Systems staff.  TechHub and eLearning Systems staff will also provide technical support for students, instructors, and administrative staff as needed.

One week prior to the survey release, those instructors with a course in an EvaluationKIT project will receive an email announcement indicating which course(s) will be evaluated.  When the project begins, students will receive email invitations with directions to participate in the confidential and anonymous course evaluation in EvaluationKIT.  The survey will be available to students between the dates specified in the announcement.  EvaluationKIT is fully integrated with our Canvas LMS, so if you are using Canvas for your courses, students can easily access the survey when they access the course.  The use of Canvas is not required, however, it does provide additional (single sign-on) access for your students and instructor access to the response rate tracker and reports from finalized projects.

If you are using Canvas, a Course Evaluation link will automatically appear for students in the left navigation sidebar of the course.  Students who have not yet completed the survey will experience pop-up reminder links whenever they access your published course.

If you are not using Canvas for your course(s), students will still receive email invitations and reminders with a link to access the survey.  If they prefer, they can also access the survey from their profile in Canvas.  The directions for students to access the survey are in this post on Smart Penguin.  For those students with Smart Phones, a free EvaluationKIT mobile app is available for iPhone and Android, which allows students to easily submit their evaluations using a unique mobile token that will be included in their initial email invitation.

Note:  Should you have special instructions for your students to follow for participating in the evaluation, such as completing the evaluation in a computer lab as a group, please share them with your students in advance.

Click here to learn how to check your response rate during the survey.  Instructors can also utilize the free EvaluationKIT mobile app to access a response rate tracker.  Your personal mobile token and the links to download the free app will be included in the announcement email.

One week after all grades are posted, you will receive an email with directions and a link to access your results.  Only those people who generally have access to student course evaluations will have access to these results.

Contact your Unit Operations Supervisor for any course corrections.  If you experience any technical difficulties with the course evaluations,  contact the eLearning Systems team right away, or file a Tech Ticket by clicking Help and Report a Problem on the Canvas site.  Please let us know if you have any questions.  We are very interested in your feedback and welcome your comments.

National Distance Learning Week

National Distance Learning Week logo


November 9 to 13, 2015 is National Distance Learning Week!

Did you know?

Over 2 million undergraduate and graduate students took at least some eLearning courses in 2013 (Trends in eLearning: Tracking the Impact of eLearning at Community Colleges 10th Anniversary Edition April 2015, Instructional Technology Council). Between 2013 and 2014 national eLearning enrollments grew over 4%, while overall college enrollments declined nearly 3% during the same time frame.

 eLearning Excellence at Clark

At Clark we’ve added 5 more courses to our list of officially recognized Quality Matters courses, for a grand total of 42 Quality Matters eLearning courses. Join us in recognizing,

  • ART 145, Digital Photography I, developed by Jamie Marie Waelchli
  • COLL 101, College Essentials: Introduction to Clark, developed by Kristin Sherwood
  • ENGL&235, Technical Writing, developed by Tobias Peterson
  • HPE 266, Mind Body Health, developed by Laura Demeri
  • MATH 090, Elementary Algebra, developed by Jennifer S Ward

Learn more this week

The United States Distance Learning Association is hosting informative webinars throughout National Distance Education week, and they’re free. See the full schedule on their website. Note: all webinar times are Eastern Time Zone.

Today is Global Collaboration Day!

On SeptemberGlobal Collaboration Day 17th…. wherever you are in the world and in your time zone… people will come together online to participate in collaborative and interactive activities designed by students, teachers, companies and organizations. We have something for everyone whether a single teacher wants to participate or a whole class. Some events will happen live; others require asynchronous participation.

The key to finding an ideal activity is to browse our calendar and event directory to find one that appeals to you. If you have specific questions about an event, contact the event host as they are running the event, not the organizers of Global Collaboration Day. Contact information is provided in each event entry. You can learn how to participate here!

November 10 – 14 is National Distance Learning Week!

National Distance Learning Week highlights the impact that distance learning (a.k.a. eLearning) has on student access to learning experiences and educational achievements.

Let’s “do the numbers” here at Clark:

  • Over 21% of Clark’s enrollments are in eLearning (fully online or hybrid) courses.
  • Clark College has 33 Quality Matters (QM) certified courses. QM is a faculty-driven, peer-review process which emphasized continuous improvement of course design.
  • Students born after 1980 are more successful in hybrid courses in comparison to traditional face-to-face courses. See page 35 of the Clark College Environmental Scan.
  • More than 900 students received technology assistance at the TechHub during the first week of Fall 2014.
  • 304 Clark faculty have completed Canvas 101: Intro to Canvas.

Check out the webinars the National Distance Learning Week organizers are offering to celebrate!

Panoptic Horizon

PanoptoLast month, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) announced its intention to replace Tegrity with Panopto as the statewide lecture capture system.  You may wish to view Panopto’s online presentation.  The final agreement, which includes Tegrity recording conversions, has just made it official!  The migration from Tegrity to Panopto will be brief and all Tegrity use by Clark College will end on June 30, 2014.  Panopto integrates well with Canvas, is easy to use, and will be available to add to your courses as an external tool sometime in May, after our new Panopto account is created.

What this means for faculty is:

  • If you make new recordings each quarter, you will only need to learn to use Panopto (trainings to be announced for those interested).
  • If you re-use Tegrity recordings, you will need to do some cleanup before your recordings are transitioned for you to the new environment.  Note that all Tegrity recordings made prior to May 8 will be automatically converted and transitioned for you into Panopto by June 30.   Videos recorded after May 8 must be downloaded by the owning faculty and imported into Panopto.

More detailed information will be made available as we learn more, in the meantime, here are some useful links to explore:

Panopto Website

Panopto Support (includes videos, forums, documentation)

Panopto Mobile Support

Showcase Video Recordings

What is possible with Panopto:

Lecture Capture

Flipped Classroom

Student Recordings

Faculty Training

Lab Demonstrations

Event Webcasting

Dynamic Duo: Canvas and Google Drive

Canvas has many nice features, such as the preview pane for document files and the HTML embed capability in the Rich Content Editor (RCE).  Google Drive makes it easy to share live or dynamic documents that can be continually updated.  Combine these two qualities and you have a dynamic duo, with live Google documents displaying in your Canvas courses.

Dynamic (aka live) documents in Canvas can be a timesaver for instructors, due to the nature of the live document and its ability to instantly display your edits.  Edit your Google Document once, such as your syllabus, and it immediately updates everywhere you have placed it in Canvas.  Canvas can also display other dynamic document types that have been created in Google, including Drawings and Presentations (slide shows), etc.  Student viewing of these documents is simplified because Google Drive provides secured site storage, so your files loading in Canvas won’t trigger the mixed content blockage with a browser security shield.  A dynamic Google Document can be linked to in a module or anywhere the RCE exists in Canvas.

Bat SignalThis dynamic duo can also come to the rescue if your Word documents, PowerPoints, or PDF files aren’t displaying well in the default Canvas preview.  You can simply upload those files to Google Drive and harness that to display your files in the Canvas preview pane instead.  Keep in mind that these uploaded document files would not be live documents like those created in Google until you edit and convert them to Google documents.

If you’d like to give this a try, click to view the document below, or use the link in the left sidebar under Canvas to access the directions.

Dynamic Google Docs in Canvas

Respondus LockDown Browser

Respondus LockDown BrowsereLearning has obtained a license for Respondus LockDown Browser for college-wide use.  LockDown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the student testing environment within Canvas and appears as an option in your course navigation settings.  When students are required to use LockDown Browser to take a quiz, they will be unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications.  Once an assessment has started, students are locked into it until it’s submitted for grading.

LockDown Browser is generally available in campus computer labs, but to be certain, you should contact IT Services (x2425) to inquire where your students will find it available.  Online students who do not wish to travel to campus labs will be required to download and install LockDown Browser (for PC or Mac) on their own computers, in order to take the assessment.  TechHub staff will be able to assist your students with downloading and installing the software.

To learn more about LockDown Browser and how to use it in your Canvas courses, consult our Respondus LockDown information in Canvas or view the directions here (also available in the left sidebar).  Additional information includes the Respondus Instructor Quick Start Guide and the short introductory video below:

For students, Respondus provides a Student Quick Start Guide and we have a post on Smart Penguin, LowDown on LockDown, to assist students as well.  Note that we do not have a license to use the add-on product, Respondus Monitor, as its use would require students to use a webcam and we do not have webcams available on Clark lab machines.

If you have questions or issues using the LockDown Browser software, direct your questions to Scott Coffie, eLearning Systems Administrator.  Our license with Respondus does not permit instructors or students to obtain support directly from Respondus, so if we are unable to solve a problem, we will contact Respondus on your behalf.

  We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity and that you find the LockDown Browser software useful.  For a complete list of features, visit the Respondus website.

March of the Penguins

Canvas by Instructure was chosen by the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges to be part of the new digital infrastructure that will provide the education technology services that our students, faculty, and staff need and expect in today’s connected world.  As part of this effort, Clark College has joined the state community colleges and universities in an LMS migration to Canvas, and we have also begun preparation as first wave adopters of the statewide ctcLink data modernization project.  In our last month of Moodle, every effort is being made to ensure the smoothest transition possible for our students and faculty.  The following are some key points.

Moodle is going away…  The time to migrate to Canvas is now!

We will no longer have access to Moodle after December 31, 2013.  This means:

  • No access for grade disputes
  • No access for incompletes

  • No access to course content (including your gradebook or anything else)

When our contract with Moodlerooms expires on December 31, no one will have access to the Clark College Moodle Production or our Faculty Development sites for any reason.  Therefore, we strongly recommend that you download a copy of your Moodle gradebooks at the end of the quarter and look through your Moodle course shells, organizations, and preshells on both of our Moodle sites to determine which have content to be migrated to Canvas.  Once you have identified the shells to keep, download an archive package of each shell and save the zipped files in a safe place.  After logging in on our Clark College Canvas site, we recommend that you create and use preshells for importing and rearranging Moodle content using the course import tool in Canvas.  Your teaching shells with student enrollments are ready and waiting for you as well.  If you need to migrate an organization, have trouble downloading a Moodle backup file, or are unable to login on Clark’s Canvas site, be sure to contact Scott right away.

The following resources can provide the details you might need…  Penguin Tracks

How to download a copy of your Moodle gradebook

How to backup your Moodle content for migration

How to login on Clark’s Canvas as an instructor

How to create a Canvas preshell

How to import Moodle content into Canvas

Need more?

Sign up for online Canvas training with SBCTC

Sign up for on-campus Canvas training with Clark College

View the Canvas Guides

Meta Physics

Moodle MosaicMeta course shells are a popular Moodle feature.  Meta is the Moodle term for a merged shell, a specially created course shell that combines the rosters from other shells.  When combined, these other shells are referred to as the child (or source) shells.  For an instructor, metas function as any other Moodle shell, with only some slight differences in how content might be brought in from a backup file.  They can be a real time-saver for busy faculty, since posting announcements or adding documents need only be done once in the meta shell.  Keep in mind, though, that students can see the other child shell enrollments, which could create a large class where employing the groups and groupings features might be a good strategy for organizing activities in Moodle.

Generally, the instructor will leave child shells unavailable to students while the meta shell is made available, so when the students login they will only see the meta course shell.  There are other uses for this specialized shell, however.  Meta shells can excel as simple resource or “commons” areas, which do not have any student activities or gradebook usage.  These may be simple content repositories that allow a variety of active courses to connect in one place.  Since instructors can assign their standard shells to their meta shells, access can be given to any of the course shells when they wish and they can be reused from quarter to quarter.

Another interesting feature of meta shells is the ability to have multiple metas linked to one or more child shells, which might complement a wide variety of applications.  They can also be used for situations with continuous enrollment, advancing students as they pass to the next phase, etc.  The possibilities are remarkable, so if you would like to try it, be sure to get your requests in early using our Shell Request Form.

Use SmarterMeasure to gauge student’s readiness to succeed in an eLearning class

The SmarterMeasure online technical readiness assessment gauges 6 different factors that correlate to student’s ability to succeed in an online and/or technology rich environment:

  • Life Factors Time, Place, Resources
  • Individual Attributes Motivation, Procrastination, Ask For Help
  • Learning Styles
  • Technical Skills & Competency
  • On-Screen Reading Rate & Recall
  • Typing Rate & Accuracy

Taking the SmarterMeasure tech readiness online assessment is a great Week 1 activity for students in your fully online courses. Clark College students can take the SmarterMeasure tech readiness assessment for free. If you incorporate this activity into your eLearning course you would want to provide the students with a list of the following steps: accessing the assessment, logging in and completing the assessment, downloading a PDF version of their individual report, and then uploading a copy of that report to a dropbox in their Moodle class shell is a great first week activity. Let them know that they must complete all 6 sections of the assessment in order to receive a full report, this will take from 30 to 45 minutes.

Once the students have completed the assessment and uploaded their reports you can quickly scan them and watch for Yellow and Red indicators. Here are a few examples of the indicators that I check for when reviewing student’s reports:

SmarterMeasure feedback regarding Procrastination

Moderate levels of procrastination should be a warning sign for student success in an online course!

SmarterMeasure Feedback about moderately low levels of Technology Use

Moderately low levels of Technology use is a definite warning sign for success in a fully online course!

SmarterMeasure indicator of Owning a Computer

We mustn't assume a student who registers for a fully online course actually owns a computer!

When I see this type of information in a student’s SmarterMeasure report I can make helpful suggestions. I have found “Technology in your Life” to be a particularly good indicator of future success or failure to succeed in a fully online course.

I encourage you to integrate SmartMeasure into your eLearning courses. See the eLearning website for log in information for Clark College students.

If You’re Not in the Cloud, You’re in the Fog

Lecture Capture in the CloudsOur multimedia production and processing facility is now available to online and hybrid teaching faculty and we welcome you to tour your new eLearning Technologies Center, or the ETC, where we have full service lecture capture capabilities providing everything from recording to cloud.

Lecture capture is very popular with students, who report they can repeat certain sections for improved comprehension and understanding.  It has also been shown to increase retention in the online course and we see it as an important aspect of Clark’s online and hybrid offerings.

Cloud delivery is the preferred method, allowing efficient streaming instead of downloads or DVDs, and bandwidth scalability when large numbers of students are viewing all at once.  After your recording is processed, we provide you with an access link which you can place directly in your course.  This helps to keep your course file size down for backup, copy, and import processes.  Streaming is also more accessible for the online student and helps to keep their costs down.

The ETC has many options for a variety of lecture captures from iPods with cameras and mics for eLearning faculty checkout, to a lab with a private recording booth, to a studio with a fully equipped Smart Classroom style podium and wall mounted cameras.  For more details, you can visit our ETC page and contact Scott for a tour, iPod checkout, or to discuss your multimedia needs.

A Tale of Two Moodles

We have two servers at our disposal with our hosting service, Moodlerooms.  The Faculty Development Server is for faculty and staff access only and functions as an online workspace for training, course development, and course content storage as well as a testing site for administrative processes, new developments, and joule product enhancements.  The Production Server is for teaching or participating in student organizations and activities and allows access for faculty, students, staff, and Quality Matters reviewers.

Each server has its own web address and must be logged into separately with separate accounts.  Even though your usernames may be the same, any changes you make to your profile or password will remain with that server.  Here are the addresses for the two servers…

Development Server:
Production Server:

To request shells on these servers, we have a page here on The eLog with two shell request forms, one for each server. The links to this page and the eLearning shell request policy will be found in the sidebar under eLearning and below…

Shell Request Policy
Shell Request Forms

Moving course content from one server to another requires a process called backup and restore where you create a backup of the shell on the Development server, which you download to your computer, and then restore that shell into a live (teaching) shell on the Production server before making it available to your enrolled students.  The link to download the document with instructions for the backup and restore process can always be found in the sidebar to the left of this post, or you may prefer to watch the backup and restore video on our Moodle Joule Tutorials page. There are many other videos there as well, including one on importing (copying) a course on the same server.

Lights, Camera, Action, ETC!

Meyer Memorial TrustAlmost everyone at Clark is aware of the LMS migration which is now underway, but few know of another ongoing project here in eLearning… the fulfillment of our grant, funded by the good folks at the Meyer Memorial Trust and other generous donors.  Although it hasn’t received much mention lately, it has required a great deal of money, time, and effort to transform our out-of-commission TV studio and its adjoining rooms into a modern digital multimedia production facility.  As the last of the new equipment and furnishings have arrived and we connect and test each of these new tools, we continue to expand our ability to produce quality online deliverables.

The MMT Grant specifically involves the creation of online course content for the Healthcare Core Curriculum, which we are now pursuing.  It incorporates the technology required for quality lecture captures, audio and video production and editing, streaming and pod/vodcasting capability, as well as screen-casting, tablet productions, and other rich media generation.  It also includes virtual meeting or “distance collaboration” capabilities to help increase access. 

ETC Recording BoothThis grant is significant for our elearning faculty because multimedia has an important future in the modern online course.  Multimedia content has been shown to improve student retention by supporting diverse learning styles, promoting student engagement, and allowing students the repetition of audio-visual content for a deeper understanding of more complex topics.  Without a doubt, this grant will help us continue to improve the quality and variety of elearning courses offered by Clark, with the additional “green” benefit of online access that we can all appreciate.

We’re calling this soon to be available facility the eLearning Technologies Center, or ETC.  Due to our limited scope during the LMS migration, priority access must be given to the Healthcare Core Curriculum faculty as we fulfill our obligations to the sponsors of the grant.  However, use of the ETC and its equipment will later be extended to all faculty teaching online or hybrid courses as staffing, scheduling and construction allows (contact Scott).  For more detailed information about the progress on the ETC and what we all have to look forward to, check out our new ETC page here on the eLog.