Active Teaching Lab Recap: Embedding Digital Lab Manuals in Canvas

Fri April 27, 2018

In the April 27, 2018 Active Teaching Lab, Tom Bryan and Tim Lindstrom from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies discussed embedding effectiveness in Canvas. They shared how their students access lab manuals via an embedded Box folder in Canvas. Once completed, students are asked to upload the manual back to Canvas for SpeedGrading.  Embedding content in Google Drive or Box can improve access and reduce clutter in your Canvas course design. For details on the embedding process in Canvas, check out the presenters’ slides and the session’s activity sheet. See an example embedding-friendly lab document here

Takeaways

  • Embedding the lab worksheets reduced the physical load TAs had to carry (25 pages x 120 students each week).
  • Turning Word docs into PDFs with fillable fields made digital completion of the labs more streamlined. Fillable text boxes can be created in Google Docs, as well.
  • Tom encountered formatting problems when embedding PowerPoint files in Box. To avoid these issues and preserve formatting, export PowerPoints as PDF/XPS documents, not just PDFs.  
  • Canvas Inbox is the recommended medium for communication, which greatly cuts down on email flooding.
  • Hyperlinking in lab manuals changes the students’ ability to access content.
  • In Adobe Acrobat, selecting all text fields and editing their properties for the whole document saves time. A recommended setting is to choose “multiline” for longer answers to prevent student responses from getting truncated upon submission.  

Video

Active Teaching Labs are held Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in room 120, Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.) as well as some Wednesdays from 12:30-1:30pm in room 302 Middleton Building. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs.

Similar to the Active Teaching Labs, Active Teaching Exchanges feature instructors sharing their teaching experiences with tools and techniques, but provide more time for discussion without the hands-on investigation time. Exchanges are are held Thursdays from 1-2pm in room 120, Middleton Building. See the full calendar of both events. Stay informed about upcoming Labs and Exchanges by signing up for regular announcements by sending an email to join-activeteaching@lists.wisc.edu.