Canvas Enhancements & New Learn@UW Tools

Tue August 20, 2019

Enhanced syllabus options in Canvas, the Canvas Commons learning object repository and new Learn@UW tools like Pressbooks are just some of the available resources this year. The Learn@UW-Madison team provides technical and consultative support to help instructors effectively use these and the full Learn@UW suite including Canvas, AEFIS and Kaltura MediaSpace. 

Below are details on syllabus options in Canvas, Canvas Commons, new Learn@UW tools, support and training opportunities as well as some minor changes to be aware of. 

Course Syllabus & Course Summary in Canvas

Canvas users will notice two additional navigational items: Course Syllabus (AEFIS) and Course Summary.

The Course Syllabus (AEFIS) tool provides an editable syllabus template that can be accessed in both Canvas and AEFIS. The tool automatically populates information for a number of required syllabi components – such as course name, course attributes, credit hours and formally approved course learning outcomes (via Lumen Courses) – making it easier to create and use course syllabi, and ensure that all required elements are included. The template also accommodates section- and instructor-specific details and expectations. Students can view their course syllabi through the tool in Canvas and instructors are encouraged to use it as their primary course syllabus. For more information see Using the Course Syllabus (AEFIS) Tool.

Course Summary replaces the native Canvas Syllabus tool. It retains almost all of the same functionality as the native Syllabus, but is labeled to better align with its capabilities and to distinguish it from being a course syllabus. All content from the native Syllabus has been automatically moved to the new Course Summary tool. In UW-Madison courses that had set the native Syllabus as their home page, the Syllabus will still display and will contain a message alerting users that the tool is no longer supported. Instructors should consider setting a new home page. For more information see Canvas – Status of the Syllabus Tool at UW-Madison.

Canvas Commons

Introduced to the university in late spring, Canvas Commons is a learning object repository that lets instructors find and import educational content into their Canvas course as well as share learning resources with other instructors. Canvas Commons accepts learning objects from Canvas – from full courses to specific modules, quizzes, assignments, discussions, pages and documents. For more information, refer to Canvas – Getting Started with Canvas Commons or this guide on the pedagogical uses of Canvas Commons.

New Tools: Pressbooks, Atomics Assessments & Turnitin

The Learn@UW suite of learning technologies is constantly evolving to support the dynamic teaching and learning needs of our university. As part of that, Learn@UW-Madison is currently doing soft roll-outs of three tools with plans to build awareness over the coming year. 

Pressbooks for Content Authoring
Faculty, staff and students can use the content authoring and hosting platform to create eTexts, which can be viewed through a web browser, downloaded as a print-ready PDF, or exported as another digital-ready format (such as EPUB). Pressbooks can also be used to author and host Open Educational Resources. 

Atomic Assessments for Advance Quizzing
Integrated with all Canvas courses found in the UW-Madison Course Guide, the Atomic Assessments quizzing tool can be used to create and deliver assignments that require more advanced features than the Canvas Quizzes tool. Quizzes created in Atomic Assessments are seamlessly integrated within Canvas and student responses are displayed to instructors in detailed reports, providing an intuitive user experience for instructors and students. Learn whether this advanced tool would benefit your courses by reading Is Atomic Assessment for Me? 

Turnitin for Ensuring Originality of Work
Although some schools, colleges and departments  already use Turnitin to check originality of student work, a university-wide contract has recently been procured and the Learn@UW-Madison team will build up central support for the tool throughout the fall semester. The Turnitin integration with Canvas, known as the Canvas Plagiarism Framework, provides instructors with Turnitin originality reports for submitted assignments in Canvas. For details, see Getting Started with Turnitin at UW-Madison.

Support & Training Opportunities

Just-in-Time Support
With so many learning technologies available, it can be challenging to know what to use. In addition to this guide outlining centrally supported options, the Learn@UW-Madison team is available for consultations that can be requested through the DoIT Help Desk. The DoIT Help Desk also provides technical support and troubleshooting help for Canvas, Kaltura MediaSpace, AEFIS, Blackboard Collaborate (and Ultra), Pressbooks, Atomic Assessments and Turnitin. For Top Hat, contact the vendor for support at For Piazza, contact the vendor at or visit

NEW Learn@UW Training in Canvas
The Learn@UW-Madison team offers a variety of online resources including our webpages for each tool and the Learn@UW KnowledgeBase. New this fall, the Learn@UW training course in Canvas offers another opportunity for users to learn on their own. Currently, the course offers a full training module for Canvas with additional ones planned for the other Learn@UW tools. The course is open for anyone to access and doesn’t require enrollment.

Canvas Workshops & Training in August
To help instructors set up and effectively use Canvas, technical trainings and Active Teaching Labs are offered from 8/21 to 8/30. Trainings guide participants through setting up courses, managing grades and organizing files while Labs provide a venue for colleagues to share insight on creating personalized and interactive learning experiences. View the calendar and register.   

Top Hat
On Wednesday, August 28, there will be two Top Hat events open to instructors, instructional technologists, and instructional designers. Click the links below to register for each event. Attend one or both!

  • Top Hat Certification, 10:00 am to 12:15 pm. In this hands-on session, Top Hat representatives will demonstrate how to use the various Top Hat features in a teaching setting (refreshments provided).
  • Professor Panel, 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm. Come listen to a panel of four UW-Madison Professors share their experience using Top Hat in their classrooms.

Additional Updates

Kaltura Capture Replaces CaptureSpace
Over the summer, Kaltura MediaSpace ended support for CaptureSpace and UW-Madison transitioned to Kaltura’s new screen capture tool, Kaltura Capture. Check out the Learn@UW-Madison KB for more information on how to install and record videos with Kaltura Capture.

Course Dashboard Decommissioned
The UW-Madison Course Dashboard, which provided a consolidated list of all courses using the Canvas online platform, was turned off on July 30, 2019. The Course Dashboard was originally launched in February 2015 to provide students one site to access their courses no matter if their instructor used D2L, Moodle or Canvas. Now that campus has successfully transitioned to Canvas as the sole learning management system, the dashboard is no longer needed. Instructors, staff, and students can view courses by logging into Canvas at Upgraded to LinkedIn Learning
On August 14, 2019, was upgraded to LinkedIn Learning with a new interface, features and web address of All current training materials are still be available including exercise files and full transcripts, and the new interface will allow users to create custom collections of training videos that can be saved for later or shared with others. If instructors have embedded videos in Canvas courses, the links should be updated. While the materials will remain available on LinkedIn Learning, the old links will no longer work after December 31, 2019. More details are available in this news article.

Stay Updated

Each semester, the Learn@UW-Madison team updates campus on major improvements and tools. In addition, we send out a biweekly newsletter to instructional technologists and those interested in keeping current on technical changes throughout the year. You can subscribe by emailing