Wacky Wednesday: Escape Room Challenge (May 8, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.)

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) welcomes faculty and staff to join us for our last Wacky Wednesday of the semester: Escape Room Challenge on May 8 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. This isn’t just any Wacky Wednesday – it is a call to action! Our CATL Team is “locked” in the conference room, and only your wits can help free us!

Join us for a unique, hands-on experience that will not only test your problem-solving skills but also provide you with the knowledge and inspiration to bring the world of escape rooms into your own classroom. In addition to participating in this activity, you’ll hear from instructors who have created both virtual and physical escape rooms by incorporating their own course content and you’ll walk away with a list of resources to help you get started creating your own escape room activity.

Escape rooms can be used to create engaging learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom, so all faculty and staff are welcome to attend. Whether you are looking to fully immerse yourself in the escape room or just pop in to see what the buzz is about, there’s no need to register – just show up ready for fun and learning at the CATL conference room (CL 405C) or join us virtually. If you would like an Outlook Calendar invitation to this event, send us an email!

If you have questions or need accommodations for this event, email CATL (CATL@uwgb.edu).

Apply to Present at the 2024 Instructional Development Institute (Applications Due Monday, Nov. 6; IDI is Jan. 9, 2024)

Welcome to the UW-Green Bay Instructional Development Institute (IDI) Call for Proposals page!

The Instructional Development Institute takes place each January and is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) and the Instructional Development Council. Part of what contributes to the excitement surrounding the IDI is the active involvement and collaboration from UWGB faculty, staff, and community partners as conference presenters. Every fall, CATL and the Instructional Development Council (IDC) invite UWGB faculty and staff to submit proposals for the IDI, encouraging them to share their experiences, research, and instructional approaches with the broader educational community.

Introduction to IDI Theme

Higher education has witnessed substantial challenges in recent years. Instructors and students faced COVID-19, the ensuing dramatic shift to pandemic pedagogy, and all that came with it. Institutions confronted budget, enrollment, and political pressures, and they are now grappling with emerging generative AI technologies and their impact on education. Amid such disruptions, it can be easy to approach our work with a mentality of survival. This year’s Instructional Development Institute instead challenges you to consider what it would mean not simply to survive, but to thrive in higher education. While there are no easy answers, we can work together as educators to set goals, support one another, surmount obstacles, and achieve at a high level, similar to the expectations we have for our students. Join your colleagues and keynote speaker Dr. Kevin Gannon, author of the book Radical Hope, as we reflect on ways to thrive as educators and help students to do the same.

Call for Proposals

CATL and the Instructional Development Council at UW-Green Bay are now accepting applications for the all-virtual Instructional Development Institute (IDI) on January 9, 2024. This year’s theme is “Thriving in Higher Education.” We encourage submissions highlighting creative educational strategies and practices that correspond with the conference theme, such as supporting student access; teaching effectively with technology; using innovative pedagogies; building learning communities; promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion; managing instructor bandwidth, and more.

There are different ways to participate, so please apply for the session format that you believe is best for your proposed session. Collaborators from other institutions are welcome to join UW-Green Bay employees as proposal co-authors. Although the primary audience for session proposals should be fellow UWGB faculty and staff members, keep in mind that we will also open conference registration to other UW System schools and to all educators. We are pleased and fortunate that our keynote speaker, Dr. Kevin Gannon, will be leading two distinct workshops in addition to the keynote address. As a result, there will be fewer presentation slots available compared to previous years.

The Call for Proposals Closed on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.


If you have questions about proposals, submissions, or the IDI in general, please reach out to us at CATL@uwgb.edu!

Bringing Your Canvas Course Forward into the New Term

Creating a Canvas course from scratch is a lot of work. That is true whether you are teaching fully online or using your Canvas course to supplement in-person instruction. Thank goodness, then, that Canvas courses don’t have to be one-time use! When you teach a course with Canvas for the second (or third, or fourth…) time, you can easily import your previous course’s content into the new term’s course to reap the benefits of your past hard work. Of course, the continuous iterative improvement you’ll strive to make in the new version of the course will still be important hard work, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from celebrating the ability to reuse content and work smarter. While importing content from a past course is easy, there are enough fine points and useful tricks that are worth knowing about to warrant a guide (like this) that can help you most efficiently bring your content forward and prepare it for the start of the new term. Even seasoned Canvas instructors may learn a few new tips for speeding up their semesterly workflow! Read on to learn the best ways to bring your course forward and get it ready for your new class.

Table of Contents

Importing Your Content

When you want to import most of the content from a past course into your new Canvas course, Canvas’s Course Import tool makes the job quick and easy. It may be tempting to do so, but you should never manually copy and paste content from one Canvas course to another—copying and pasting between courses commonly results in images and links that seem to work for you but will be broken for your students. Always use the Course Import tool (instructions below) or Canvas’s “Copy To…” feature to copy content between courses.

While researching for this article, we discovered an excellentvideo tutorial on importing Canvas content and preparing it in the new course produced by Chapman University. This video truly hits all the major points we want to make with this article, so we highly recommend it for anyone who prefers to watch a video over working through text-based instructions and for anyone who’d like to reinforce what they have read on this page.

Course Import Tool Instructions

To begin importing content into your new course with the Course Import tool, navigate to the home page of your new (blank) Canvas course and select the  Import Existing Content button, which can be found in the stack of buttons on the right side of the page.

Screenshot of a Canvas course home page with the Import Existing Content button highlighted

On the  Import Content screen, perform the following steps:

  1. In the “Content Type” drop-down menu, select  Copy a Canvas Course.
  2. In the “Select a course” drop-down menu, select the course that is the source of the content you want to copy.
    • To help ensure you are making the correct selection in this menu, pay attention to the term under which the course is listed.
    • If you have trouble distinguishing between similarly named courses, try renaming a course from its Settings page to make it more distinguishable.
  3. Next to “Content,” choose between  All content or Select specific content. We strongly recommend choosing the  Select specific content option. In most cases, your past course will contain some content that you should not bring forward—things like announcements and calendar events. The next section of this article contains tips for selecting which content to import.
  4. If you would like to have the Course Import tool automatically adjust the dates on events and assignments, enable the Adjust events and due dates checkbox and then configure the options that appear below it. The  Canvas Instructor Guide on adjusting dates during content imports explains how each option works. Shifting dates during import will rarely yield perfect results, but it can set the dates close to where you want them and help you make fine-tuning adjustments later—learn more about that in the section on adjusting dates below. If you have the automatic missing submission policy enabled in your past course’s gradebook, shifting or removing dates during import can also help prevent that policy from prematurely grading assignments.
  5. Select the  Import button.

Screenshot of the Import Content menu of a Canvas course. The positions of steps detailed in the list above are labeled by number.

Selecting Specific Content During the Import

If you followed our recommendation and chose the  Select specific content  option, Canvas is now waiting for you to make your content selection (if you instead chose  All content  the import process begins running immediately). Carefully selecting which content to copy during the import process can save you time in the long run because it is easier to omit content during the import than it is to individually track down and delete unwanted items in your course later. To choose which content to import, select the  Select Content  button found next to the top item in the Current Jobs list. This button opens a menu where you can make your selections.

Screenshot of the Current Jobs list found in the Import Content menu of a Canvas course with the Select Content button highlighted.

You can select entire content types to import or expand each content type to select items individually. Use the checkboxes to select the content types and individual items for import.

Screenshot of the Select Content menu in a Canvas course with checkboxes for a content type and individual content items highlighted. The Select Content button is also highlighted.

Here are a few things to consider while selecting content:

  • Announcements: In many cases, you will not want to import announcements from your old course as they are often specific to the moment in time and group of students for which they were made. If you do have announcements to reuse, you can import them and then use the delay posting feature to schedule them to post at a future date.
  • Modules: If you use a student resource module that you copied from a CATL or program-specific template, you may want to skip importing that module (and its contents) from your old course and instead recopy it from the original source. Doing that will ensure you get all updates made to that module’s resources since you last copied it.
  • Calendar Events: Most of the time it is best to leave these behind in the old course and not import them. If you use the Zoom integration to schedule online class meetings, take special care to not import the calendar events for the old, expired Zoom meetings into your new course.
  • Files: If you import a content item or a module that contains a link to a course file, Canvas will automatically import that file along with it regardless of the selection here. If all of your files are shared with students through links and modules, deselecting the Files content type during an import is a trick that can help you leave behind any unused files and images that were cluttering up your past course.
  • General Tip: If you want to import most items from a content type while making a few omissions, try first selecting the checkbox for the entire content type, then expand that type and deselect the few individual items you don’t want to import.

Once you’ve checked the boxes of all the content you want to import, select the  Select Content  button to start the import. Most import jobs finish within a few minutes.

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Getting Your Course Ready

Now that you have a new course full of content from the past term, here are the next steps for getting that course ready to launch:

Adjusting Dates

The most important thing to take care of after your import is adjusting the dates of the assignments, events, and to-do list items copied over from your previous course. Canvas has two great tools to help you adjust dates quickly.

Update Assignment Dates Fast!

Screenshot of the Edit Assignment Dates page in a Canvas course

An extremely useful tool for adjusting course due dates hides within the options menu of the  Assignments Index  page of your course. Select  Assignments in your course navigation menu and then select the three-dots  Options  icon and  Edit Assignment Dates  to open a page that shows a list of all assignments with fields for adjusting each assignment’s due date and availability dates. You can adjust dates for all your assignments on this single page and then select the  Save button to apply the changes. This page also has a  Batch Edit  button with which you can quickly shift the dates of all or a subset of selected assignments forward or back any number of days. To find out more, read the  Canvas Instructor Guide page on batch editing assignment dates.

One Slick Calendar Trick

Screenshot of a Canvas course home page with the Import Existing Content button highlightedYour course’s calendar is another place where you can quickly adjust due dates for assignments and to-do dates for pages, ungraded assignments, and calendar events. This method is great if you like to work with a visual representation of your course’s schedule. A quick way to open your Canvas calendar with only a single course’s items shown is to select the  View Calendar  link that can be found next to “Coming Up” in the right-hand sidebar of that course’s home page.

In the monthly calendar view you can drag and drop an item from one day to another to change its due date (for assignments) or its to-do date (for ungraded items). If you want to adjust the time of day of a due or to-do date or change the date itself without dragging and dropping, select it on your calendar and then select the Edit button in the pop-up window to reveal a menu where you can quickly make those adjustments.

Screenshot of the Canvas Calendar with an pop-up window for a discussion assignment expanded and the Edit button highlighted

When changing assignment due dates from the calendar, keep in mind that dragging and dropping an assignment only changes its due date and it does not also adjust the availability dates. If you try to drag and drop an assignment to a date that falls outside of its availability dates, Canvas won’t accept the change and will show an error message which references “locked dates.” When working with assignments that use availability dates, we recommend that you make the date edits from the batch edit page or while editing assignments individually.

Updating Typed-in Dates and Files

After you have edited the due and to-do dates, we recommend that you skim through your course content to check for any dates that you have manually typed in pages and assignment instructions. If you uploaded your syllabus or any activity instructions as a file, replace those files with updated versions. Deleting a previously imported file from your new course does not also delete that file form its original course, so you can keep your course tidy by deleting outdated files while still having the peace of mind that the old files are safely backed up in your past course. While reviewing your course page by page may be the most thorough way to scan it for written dates and other outdated content, searching for prior years or months (or month abbreviations) with the  Search tool may speed up your ability to identify content that needs updating.

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Quick Considerations

Checking for Broken Links

Run the  course link validator  from your course settings page to check for any links that may have broken during your course import or while you were replacing files. We recommend running the validator each time you make a significant change to a course.

Prepping Reused Announcements

If you imported announcements from your previous course, edit them and enable the delay posting feature to schedule them to post at a future date. Using the delay posting feature with imported announcements is important because it ensures students receive a notification for the announcement. For students to get a notification for an announcement, you need to pick a delayed posting date that will fall sometime after you publish the course.

Managing External Tool Content

Check any external tool assignments and links in your course to make sure that they imported properly and are working as intended in the new course. Most tools support being copied from course to course with the Canvas Course Import tool, but exactly how each tool handles being copied will differ.

If you schedule Zoom meetings in your course, those meetings do not copy from course to course, so you will need to schedule new Zoom meetings in the new course. If you pasted any Zoom join links in a page in an introductory module, make sure to replace those links after scheduling the new meetings.

Releasing Modules Gradually

If you prefer to prevent students from working too far ahead by only having a few modules available at the start of the course and then releasing additional modules as the course progresses, you can add “lock until” dates to your modules to schedule the release of course content. Keep in mind that, while both features control student access to course content, module locking works separately from publishing and unpublishing content items. For the “lock until” date setting on a module to release content as intended, you must keep the module and its module items published.

If you prefer to release content manually instead of scheduling it by date, you can unpublish the later modules of your course and then manually publish them as you go. If you choose to keep modules unpublished and then publish them gradually as you go, we recommend keeping the module items within those modules published. This technique makes sure that while students won’t be able to access those items, they will still be able to see the due and to-do dates for those items on the course calendar, which will help them plan for upcoming weeks.

Readying the Gradebook

Before publishing your Canvas course, we recommend quickly checking your assignments and gradebook to make sure the following settings are configured as you need them:

  • Review your Assignments Index page to make sure that your assignments are all categorized into the correct assignment groups and that your assignments groups are weighted according to your syllabus (if you use weighted grading).
  • In your gradebook, confirm you have set your preferred grade posting policy (automatic or manual) at both the course level and for individual assignments.
  • In your gradebook, determine whether you want to use automatic grading policies for missing and/or late submissions, and make sure to configure that before publishing the course.

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Fit to Publish!

We hope this guide helps you go from a blank course to being publish-ready more quickly each term. If you get stuck while working on any steps in this guide, reaching out to Canvas 24/7 support is often the fastest way to get immediate help and overcome technical obstacles. Spending less time on these term-to-term Canvas housekeeping tasks can free up more of your time to work on improvements and new ideas for your instruction. If you need a partner in thinking through the design of your courses, CATL is here to help, and we encourage you to  sign up for a consultation or to send us an email at  catl@uwgb.edu.

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Guides and Resources

Making Impactful Use of Canvas Analytics in Your Course

Like many websites, Canvas collects data from users as they navigate their courses. Thankfully, unlike many websites, Canvas collects this data not for the purpose of selling it to advertisers but for the purpose of presenting it to instructors. Canvas presents collected student activity data in a course page titled “New Analytics,” which contains charts and tables designed to help instructors make use of this data. While New Analytics contains well-organized representations of course data, it does not prescribe specific actions or provide a formula for making use of the data. In this post, we summarize the data available in New Analytics and recommend ways you can interpret it to take actions in your course that can help improve student outcomes. 

Detecting Course Trends 

New Analytics Window

New Analytics can help reveal trends in student achievement from assignment to assignment and student engagement from week to week. After launching New Analytics from the course navigation menu or the button on the right side of the course Home page, you’ll see a series of tabs across the top of the page. The first two tabs, “Course Grade” and “Weekly Online Activity” have data views that can help you identify course trends. The Course Grade tab has a chart which shows the average grade for each assignment in your course. Each assignment in your course will be represented by a dot on this chart. The dot’s position on the y-axis represents the average grade for that assignment. A quick glance at this chart can help you identify the assignments where the class atypically excelled or struggled and help you confirm—or refute—suspicions you developed about performance trends while grading assignments. Thinking critically about why the class might have been more or less successful on a particular assignment can lead to ideas for course design improvements. A close look at a successful assignment may lead to insights on what works well in a course; a close look at a less successful assignment may reveal a need to incorporate scaffolding assignments and additional support. Clicking on an assignment’s dot on the chart will reveal additional statistics, including a grade distribution chart and the number of missing and late submissions. 

Clicking the Weekly Online Activity tab will show a chart of the average page views and course participation actions during each week of the course. Viewing this chart can help you identify whether engagement with your Canvas course is waning, holding steady, or growing. Beneath the chart is a table of course resources which shows how many students have viewed each item, how many overall views it’s received, and how many times a student has participated (a list of the actions Canvas counts as a “participation” can be found in this Canvas guide). You can sort this table by any of its columns to identify which elements of your course get the most and least engagement. If an important resource in your course isn’t garnering as many views as you’d like it to, ask yourself “why?” and consider ways to either guide your students to that resource or phase it out and incorporate its key content into the resources your students are reliably viewing (Clum, 2021). Look at the resources that have gotten the most views and participation and check for commonalities to gain insight on what captures your students’ attention. You can click on any data point in the Weekly Online Activity chart to open a panel that shows activity data filtered for that specific week. The data in this panel can give you an idea of whether students are keeping up with the pace of your course or whether they are still working through older resources. 

Checking on Individual Students 

New Analytics can also help you identify students who may benefit from an intervention from a professional adviser because they have disengaged with your course or never engaged at all. The Students tab of the New Analytics page shows a table with the following statistics for each student: 

  • Current grade 
  • Percentage of assignment submissions made on time 
  • Last date of a participation action 
  • Last date the student viewed any page in your course 
  • Count of total page views 
  • Count of total participation actions 

You can click any column header on this table to sort the table by that column. Looking at this table during the first few weeks of a term and sorting it by “Page Views” can help you quickly identify students who have not engaged with the Canvas course. Students with no or very low page view counts have not engaged with your course. You can issue an ad-hoc alert in EAB Navigate to request that UW-Green Bay’s professional advising team reach out and help set a student on a path to academic success. 

Clicking on a student’s name in this table will open a student-specific data view that shows that particular student’s assignment grades and weekly activity over time. If you’ve noticed a downturn in a student’s performance or engagement, this view can help back up your observations with data. Comparing a student’s assignment grades or activity with the class average can help you contextualize any trends you see. You can view an individual student’s data alongside the class average on the same chart by adding that student to the filter field above the chart on the Course Grade or Weekly Online Activity tabs.

Sending Smart Messages 

Sending Smart Messages in Canvas

New Analytics also makes it easy to send messages to students who fit certain performance or activity criteria. As you explore the Analytics tool in your course, keep an eye out for the message icon that can be found on most of the tabs and panels. Clicking this icon will begin composing a Canvas Inbox message which you can send to students that meet a customizable criterion related to an assignment grade, weekly activity, or engagement with a specific resource. Here are a few examples of the types of messages you can target through New Analytics: 

  • Check-in with students who haven’t yet viewed the course this week 
  • Send congratulations to the students who did well on an assignment 
  • Encourage a growth mindset for students who struggled with an assignment and point them to helpful resources 
  • Remind students who have missing assignments to make a submission 

These quick instructor encouragements and interventions can help your students stay engaged with the course and on-target to reach their goals (Bostwick & Becker-Blease, 2018). Especially in online asynchronous courses, sending these targeted check-in messages can help establish your presence and ensure that students know you care about their success. 

Try It Out!

Coupling the data in Canvas New Analytics with the observations you make while teaching can help you make accurate judgments about what works well and not so well in your course. It can also help you identify when a student needs some additional support, and the incorporated messaging tool makes it easy to follow-up. We encourage you to open the New Analytics page in your Canvas courses, explore the data within, and ask yourself whether what you see aligns with your assumptions of how students experience your course. Try sending a congratulatory message to the students that excelled on an assignment and a friendly reminder message to the students who owe you work. We’d love to hear about your experience exploring and interpreting the data! Please feel free to reach out to us at CATL@uwgb.edu to tell us your story, ask a question, or request a consultation!


  • Bostwick, K. C. P., & Becker-Blease, K. A. (2018). Quick, Easy Mindset Intervention Can Boost Academic Achievement in Large Introductory Psychology Classes. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 17(2), 177–193. https://doi.org/10.1177/1475725718766426 
  • Clum, K. (2021, May 14). Using canvas analytics to support student success. KatieClum.org. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://katieclum.org/2021/05/14/using-canvas-analytics-to-support-student-success/ 

Evidence-Based Approaches to Promoting Academic Honesty

Academic honesty has always been a concern in higher education, but the proliferation of technology has changed the scope and nature of the problem. Students have access to more electronic means to cheat, including AI-generated papers and websites that provide access to test bank questions and answers. Meanwhile, professors can deploy competing technologies designed to search automatically for plagiarized content, lock down browsers during exams, or remotely proctor test-taking.

It should come as no surprise that there are ethical concerns about both academic dishonesty itself and the privacy and intellectual property issues raised by technologies intended to detect or prevent it. In fact, one Canadian professor recently taught an academic course on cheating, and he is a co-investigator on a large-scale study of college student motivations to pay others to do their work.

The SoTL literature on this topic often lags behind the technological advances, but there are some recent studies instructors may find helpful. Duncan and Joyner (2022) surveyed students and TAs about digital proctoring, and although their sample was not representative, their resulting article is definitely worth a read. They provide a nice overview of costs of benefits of the practice, and they also effectively summarize the literature on alternative assessment strategies faculty can employ. Another recent addition to the body of knowledge on academic honesty is a study of six relatively low-tech and brief methods to reduce cheating, such as allowing students to withdraw assignments. Again, there are some methodological issues with the research, but instructors may find the techniques and review of past research on them illuminating.

The issue of academic integrity is complex, multi-faceted, and rapidly evolving given its intersection with emerging technology. Additional examples of relevant SoTL research on the topic are included below. CATL will update this list as we are able. Feel free to contact us with suggested resources as well.

Additional Resources