Checking for Students Who Are Not Engaged in Canvas

Faculty are periodically asked to check their courses for students who are not engaged with the course and report these students in Navigate so that advisors can follow-up with the student. This page outlines the main tools that can be used to check a Canvas course for students who are not engaged.

Please note that these Canvas tools are imperfect, so CATL does not recommend that they be used for grading participation in your course.

New Analytics

Instructors can use the New Analytics tool in their Canvas course to view a sortable table of student participation data that includes the last participation date, page view count, and participation count for each student. A list of what Canvas counts as participations can be found in this guide. Here is how you can view this table in your course’s New Analytics page:

  1. Click the New Analytics button that is located on the right side of the course home page or click the New Analytics link in the course navigation menu.
    Screenshot of the New Analytics button
  2. In the New Analytics page, click the Students tab to view the table of student participation data.
  3. Click on any table column’s header to sort the list of students by that column’s data.
    Screenshot of the Canvas New Analytics student table screen highlighting the Students tab and the column headers that can be clicked for sorting the table.

Students who have not engaged with the course at all will have no or very few page views counted in this table.

Instructors can look more closely at individual students by clicking their names. Please reference this Canvas guide for more information on using New Analytics to view individual student participation statistics.

Please note that data in New Analytics refreshes once every 24 hours, so this page may not reflect recent activity in the course. The date and time the data was last refreshed are visible near the top of the page under the “Average Course Grade.”

Course Access Reports

If greater detail is needed, instructors can view a list of course pages that a student has accessed by viewing that student’s course access report. Here’s how to view the course access report for a student in your course:

  1. Open the People page of the Canvas course by clicking People in the course navigation menu.
  2. In the list of students, click on the student’s name.
  3. In the sidebar that appears on the right side of the page, click on the student’s name.
  4. Click the Access Report button located on the right side of the user details page.

Screenshot of the Access Report button in Canvas

If the access report is empty, the student has not accessed the Canvas course.

People Page

The list of students on the People page in your Canvas course contains some student participation data, including the last activity date and total activity time. Students with no date listed under the last activity column have likely never accessed the course.

The reported total activity time does not track time spent viewing the course on the Canvas mobile apps and is prone to other measurement errors, so it is often an inaccurate representation of a student’s actual engagement with a course.

One point of confusion for instructors with the People page is the presence of an “inactive” tag after a student’s name. This tag indicates that the student has dropped the course in SIS; it is not an indication of disengagement from an enrolled student.

CATL Vlog: Make Your Videos Engaging

Our first blog post on videosUsing Video Responsibly, focused on some guiding best practices to consider when creating videos for your class. While the bulk of that previous post focused on ways to add low-bandwidth alternatives to your videos in order to make content accessible for students without reliable high-speed internet, the end of the post teased strategies for keeping your students actively engaged while watching the videos. We know that many of you have found ways to use video to not just share information with your students. You are using video to check comprehension, frame discussions, and support student success initiatives. Today, we’re following up on that tease and spotlighting some of the ways UW-Green Bay faculty are transforming videos from passive learning to active engagement with their students, and, to do it, we’re turning our blog into a vlog! 

Low-Tech Solutions 

The idea of adding engagement to your videos may seem daunting, but there are a few low-tech ways built right into Canvas that can make it easier. We’ll demonstrate how to use quizzes and discussion boards with video, and the CATL team would be happy to brainstorm solutions with you specific to your teaching style and course content.  

Student Success 

Another low-tech way to help your students engage with you and your videos is to teach student success skills. One of the challenges of teaching and working remotely is not seeing your students in person. It can be hard to have conversations about success strategies. But short videos on success tips specific to your class can help students engage with your course and feel supported by you, even when they are at a distance. This video specifically showcases notetaking of a video lecture, but you could build a library of short success strategy videos tailored to your class including reading and annotating texts, providing peer review feedback, posting to discussion boards, and preparing for exams. 


Medium-Tech Solutions 

Those who feel a little more adventurous and confident with technology, may want to explore two tools that integrate with Canvas. Both tools can take an existing video from your My Media library and add interactive elements to the playback experience, transforming that experience from passive to active. Instead of placing your video into an active context like a Discussion or Quiz as suggested above, these tools let you place the action into the video. The first tool we’ll demonstrate is Kaltura Video Quizzes, a simple tool built into My Media in Canvas that enables you to prompt your students with formative quiz questions in your videos. 

The next tool we are demonstrating is PlayPositPlayPosit takes the concept of in-video interactions and expands it far beyond what is capable with Kaltura Video Quizzes. It’s something of a Swiss Army knife for adding interactive elements to videos. PlayPosit introduces an in-video-player note-taking interface, in-video discussion boards, polling, attention-drawing video hotspots, and several additional quiz question types. Learn more about PlayPosit and how you can join UWGB’s pilot of the tool by watching the PlayPosit “bulb” below: 

UWGB started its PlayPosit pilot in Fall 2020, and it has already won over a couple of faculty champions. UWGB’s own Jolanda Sallmann, Associate Professor of Social Work, was kind enough to record a video testimonial about her use of PlayPosit for inclusion in our vlog. 

Going Deep 

There are A LOT of tools out there for working with video, and we want to wrap up this vlog by quickly highlighting a few more. Our last video shows two tools available for dipping your toes into the world of video editing and highlights toolthat can let your students comment on your videos with videos of their own. 

Stay in Touch!

We want to thank you again, in text-form this time, for reading and watching this vlog post. Please reach out to CATL if you have any questions about engaging uses for video in your classes. We’d love to hear about what you do with your videos to keep students engaged and what excites you the most about these strategies, so please leave a comment below, or check out the discussion boards in CATL’s Solidarity Café. 

Facilitating Online Student Presentations (Synchronous)

This article contains strategies for preparing your students to give awesome presentations in synchronous online classes over videoconferencing programs. While many of the fundamentals of making strong in-person presentations apply to presenting online, the online element adds an extra layer of technical competencies and media-specific best practices for your students to consider. The aim of this article is to help you prepare your students for success in their presentation projects.

Table of Contents

  1. Teaching Technical Fundamentals
    1. The Best Way to Join Video Meetings
    2. Audio and Video Settings
    3. Screen and Content Sharing
  2. Facilitating Rehearsals
  3. Managing Session Permissions
  4. Audience Engagement Strategies
  5. Appearing Professional in Online Presentations

Teaching Technical Fundamentals

Given that student presentations usually occur well into a semester, by the time these presentations are due, your students may feel some level of comfort with the video meeting program you are using for synchronous sessions, but that comfort may only extend to the program features needed to participate in, but not lead, a class. A few weeks before presentations are due, you should provide your students with resources for teaching them the best way to join a meeting as a presenter, how to ensure their audio and video settings are correct, and how to share their presentation materials over the video meeting.

The Best Way to Join Video Meetings

While video meeting programs may support multiple ways to join a meeting, not all methods are created equal. The inequality between join methods is more pronounced when the user is expected to present in the meeting, as the non-ideal join methods often have limited content sharing functionality. To ensure that student presenters have access to the widest array of meeting features, recommend that they join the meeting via the best method. For Microsoft Teams and Zoom, for example, this means downloading the app and logging in with their UWGB accounts. Joining on mobile devices can limit the features that user can access, so recommend that students join the meeting on a desktop or laptop computer (if able).

Audio and Video Settings

If a student has been camera shy and mostly participating in class via text chat, they may not be fully confident that their microphone and camera are properly set up in the software settings. Share resources with your students to help them check and test their device settings.

Screen and Content Sharing

If your presentation assignment involves the sharing of a visual aid, make sure your students know how to use the screen or content sharing features of the video meeting program you are using. Some video meeting programs provide multiple ways to share content with the audience. In both Microsoft Teams Meetings and Zoom, presenters can share content by either sharing their entire screen or uploading presentation files—most commonly PowerPoint presentations—to the meeting. Both of these sharing methods have strengths and weaknesses:

When sharing the entire screen:

  • ✅ Presenters can easily share multiple programs and documents during their presentation by opening different windows on the shared screen. If a student’s presentation has any links they wish to follow during the presentation, sharing their entire screen would be the best strategy for ensuring a smooth transition between presentation slides, website content, and other documents.
  • ❌ Unless the presenting student has multiple monitors hooked up to their computer, sharing the entire screen can leave the presenter blind to raised hands and chat messages as the meeting window will be minimized. A presenter sharing their entire screen may have to delegate chat monitoring duties to another member of their group or defer all questions to dedicated Q&A breaks where they can stop sharing and pull up the meeting window.
  • ❌ For student presenters with aging computer hardware, screen sharing will tax and slow down their computer more than the file upload sharing methods. Screen sharing also requires more internet bandwidth, so student presenters with limited internet connections may have an easier time with the file upload sharing methods.

For group presentations, the presentation may run most smoothly if one member of the group is in charge of sharing all presentation content. The flow of the presentation can be stifled if each individual student needs to start sharing content before beginning their part of the presentation.

Facilitating Rehearsals

Rehearsal is a BIG part of preparing for successful presentations, and, for online presentations, effective rehearsals extend beyond practicing in front of the bathroom mirror or a trusted friend or family member. In addition to rehearsing their presentation content, students should also rehearse working with the technology. It’s important for students to become comfortable with the logistics of sharing their content and navigating raised hands and chat messages before giving their presentation. It is easier to navigate the technology in a rehearsal setting without the pressure of the spotlight and the resulting jitters. A proper tech rehearsal will help students identify and avoid potentially derailing technical snags.

For group presentations, groups should be able to effectively rehearse together as a unit, but you could also consider pairing groups together if you wanted to incorporate peer review into the development of the final presentations. For individual presentations, consider pairing your students with a rehearsal buddy or creating a Canvas discussion for students who need to seek out a rehearsal partner. To facilitate these presentation rehearsals, you will have to help your students find or create virtual rehearsal spaces.

Managing Session Permissions

Video meeting attendees can hold different roles in the meeting, and these roles dictate how much control the user has over the meeting and whether they can share their screen or other presentation content. To ensure your student presentations go smoothly, make sure you understand what each role can do in the meeting and that you understand at least one of the two methods for assigning meeting roles to your students:

  1. You can edit the meeting settings so that students automatically join the meeting with elevated presentation privileges.
  2. During the meeting, you can manually promote individual users to the presenter role.

Audience Engagement Strategies

While presenting online, it is important to think about how to keep your audience engaged through participation opportunities. At the most basic level, this can entail building in Q&A breaks throughout the presentation, but students should give thought as to how they will handle the Q&A. Would they like the audience to type questions in the chat as they come up with them? Would they like the audience to use the raise hand feature to indicate that they have a question? To keep the audience engaged, students should consider spreading Q&A opportunities throughout the presentation instead of leaving all questions for the end. Beyond Q&A breaks, students can use their video meeting’s polling tool to survey audience knowledge and opinions.

Appearing Professional in Online Presentations

It is not uncommon to see the odd student walking down a crowded hallway of campus in business attire, looking like a shining beacon of professionalism adrift among an ocean of sweatpants. It’s a telltale sign: it must be student presentation day! Presenting online over a videoconference can carry the same expectation of formal dress as an in-person presentation (at least from the waist up), but there are a few additional online-presentation-specific tips available in this guide you can give your students to help them present themselves professionally.

Please remember that your students have different living circumstances and remote-work environments, and that an ask for students to remotely present from a professional setting may not be equitable. Express compassion and understanding for those students who may not have control over the environment from which they can attend class and give their presentation.