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08/18/2020: Canvas User Profile Availability

We previously communicated that Canvas user profiles would be deactivated at the start of the Fall 2020 semester. However, this is no longer the case - the Canvas user profile feature will remain available for use by both faculty and students. We still recommend that instructors include their profile information directly within their Canvas courses as a best practice using either one or both of the methods detailed below. In this time of remote teaching, making this information as accessible to students as possible and encouraging students to share a little about themselves helps foster a sense of community within the remote learning environment.

Adding profile information to the Start Here page

The Start Here page template includes space for an instructor bio at the top and then outlines a standardized guide for getting started in the course: links to syllabus and course schedule, purchasing course materials, ensuring Canvas settings are adjusted correctly, making the student aware of library and other support services, and beginning the first part of the course content.

Here is an example of what the Start Here page template looks like:
(Click image to enlarge it)

decorative image of Start Here page

If you do not already have a Start Here page in your course, there are two options for creating one:

  1. Import the ODL remote teaching shell into your course.
    This shell comes with a Syllabus template in addition to a Start Here page and some other items.

    Important note: We only recommend this option if you have not already started to customize your course Syllabus page. Your previous syllabus will be overwritten when you import the remote teaching shell, so any changes that you had previously made will need to be made to the Syllabus page again after you import the remote teaching shell.

  2. Create a Start Here page directly within your course site.
    This will not have any impact on your course syllabus. Once you have created your Start Here page, you can add a link to it in your Syllabus, in a “welcome to the class!” course announcement, or on your course homepage. Simply follow the directions in our Design Tools Template resource.

Putting profile information in a Canvas Discussion

We recommend using the Canvas Discussions tool to facilitate an introductory discussion thread in which you and your students can share the same information that would be found in the Canvas profile feature. This approach offers some great benefits for your course, particularly during this remote teaching period. The discussion thread allows you and your students to interact with each other, helping to build community within your course from the outset. In addition, you can opt to use this introductory discussion as a first day attendance activity, so it can meet multiple course needs simultaneously. If you plan to use the Discussions tool later on in the course for graded work, using it for this introductory purpose is a great way to help your students to get used to it ahead of those later discussion assignments.

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