Webinars: Teaching with MS Teams Meetings (May 13 & 18, 2021)

CATL recommends all summer courses use Microsoft Teams meetings if they require synchronous online sessions, as access to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra will end on June 30, 2021.

CATL is here to help instructors get ready to teach with Microsoft Teams meetings this summer! Join us for a live online training session, “Teaching With Microsoft Teams” on Thursday, May 13 from 3–4 p.m. or on Tuesday, May 18 from 11 a.m.–12 p.m.

This session will cover the following basics for using Teams meetings in your class:

  • Scheduling meetings for your synchronous class sessions
  • Configuring meeting options
  • Sharing Teams meeting links in Canvas
  • Meeting controls
  • Sharing your screen or a PowerPoint
  • Using Breakout Rooms
  • Downloading Attendance Reports
  • Recording meetings
  • Polling

The instructional portion of the session will also be recorded for those who cannot attend.

For specific questions or a quicker refresher on using Teams meetings for instruction, also feel free to drop by CATL’s end-of-semester drop-in hours or schedule a one-on-one consultation.

Click Here to Register for May 13
Click Here to Register for May 18

Didn’t register? No problem! You can also join us with the following links:

Guide: Setting Up MS Teams Meetings For Synchronous Instruction

Scheduling A Recurring Teams Meeting For Class Sessions

Scheduling A Recurring Teams Meeting For Class Sessions

Extensive documentation for scheduling Teams Meetings can be found on the UWGB KnowledgeBase (Links to an external site.). Here are the steps we recommend for setting up Teams meetings for recurring synchronous class sessions.

  1. Open Microsoft Teams and select Calendar from the app bar.
  2. Click the + New Meeting button.
  3. Give your meeting a title in the “Add title” field.
  4. The quickest method to invite all the students who are currently enrolled in your class is to use your course’s email distribution list. You can type in the name of your course distribution list in the “Add required attendees” field, then click the matching result in the search box that appears.
  5. Enter the start and end date and time for the first meeting occurrence (i.e. your first class session).
  6. To create a recurring meeting, change the selected meeting recurrence drop-down menu choice from “Does not repeat” to the desired pattern. For a class that meets multiple times in a week, choose the Custom option, set it to repeat every 1 Week, and select the desired days of the week. Set the end date to the date of your last class meeting. Click Save to add the custom recurrence pattern to your meeting.
    Setting a custom recurrence
  7. (Optional) Enter in any meeting details in the meeting body. You could include welcoming language for your students and/or expectations for student participation in this field.
  8. In the top-right of the New meeting window, click Send to create your meeting and send invitations to the students.

NOTE: Your meeting invitation will not automatically update to include/remove students who add or drop the course. After the meeting has been created, you can edit the meeting series to invite additional students or remove students from the meeting series. To edit a meeting series in Teams, click any occurrence of the meeting in your calendar once, then click Edit > Edit Series.

Configuring Meeting Options

After scheduling your Teams meeting, you can customize the meeting options. Of particular importance for a class meeting is controlling whether or not students can present (i.e. share their screen). For maximum meeting security, we recommend setting the Who can present? meeting option to “Only me.” This setting will allow students to use their mic, camera, and chat during the meeting but will prevent them from sharing their screen, starting a recording, or creating polls.

Whenever a student needs to present in a meeting, you can quickly promote an individual student to the presenter role in the meeting’s participants panel. For more information on setting user roles in a Teams meeting, please see this Microsoft Support guide.

Posting the Meeting Join Link in Canvas

A ready meeting link

Students will be able to join a Teams meeting to which they’ve been invited by finding the meeting in the calendar page of the Teams application. Joining a Teams meeting through the calendar of the Teams app is the easiest way to join a meeting, but you may also wish to post the meeting join link in a Canvas course page or event so that students can join the meeting by clicking a link within your Canvas course.

Once a Teams Meeting has been scheduled, a meeting join link is automatically added to the bottom of the body of the appointment that is added to your Teams (and Outlook) calendar. This link can be freely copied from your calendar and pasted anywhere, including a Canvas course. Each scheduled occurrence of a recurring Teams meeting will use the same join link. Consider pasting the join link for your meeting in any or all of these Canvas course locations:

  • In a page in the introduction module of your course.
  • Add the link as an External URL module item (IMPORTANT: When adding a Teams join link as a module item in Canvas, you must check the Load in a new tab option for the link to work)
  • In a Canvas course calendar event. NOTE: Canvas events do not support custom recurrence patterns; events can be only be duplicated with daily, weekly, or monthly patterns. A separate Canvas event that is duplicated weekly would have to be created for each day of the week your class meets (e.g. one for Monday meetings and one for Wednesday meetings), but you can paste the same Teams meeting join link in each Canvas event.

A broken chain

Avoiding Broken Links in Canvas

Has this happened to you? You open an email from one of your students that reads, “I can’t access the required reading file in week 3 of the Canvas course?” Concerned, you open your Canvas course. You check your week 3 module; it’s published and so is your “Required Readings” page. Strange. You open the course page and click on the link to the reading file; it downloads. Even stranger. Your student still insists that they cannot access the file. What is going on???

Instructors working in Canvas can occasionally encounter scenarios like the above where a link, image, or file in their Course works for them but does not work for their students. These errors can be very tricky to diagnose and are often caused by something sneaky going on “under the hood” in Canvas. Thankfully, Canvas has a tool that instructors can use to hunt out bad links in their course. This post introduces Canvas’s course link validator tool and explains how it can be used to proactively detect broken links in your courses. It will also provide a few tips for fixing these issues once they’ve been detected and best practices for avoiding these issues altogether.

Detecting Broken Links

Your secret weapon in this fight against broken links is the course link validator. The course link validator, which can be accessed from the Settings page of your course, scans all content in a course for links that may not work for any of several reasons. It will detect and report links to unpublished content, links to content in another course, and links to external websites that just don’t work. It’s a great idea to run the link validator right before you are ready to publish your course and run it again each time you make a large change or addition.

After running the link validator, Canvas will display a list of each piece of content in your course that contains at least one link that may need your attention. These problematic links are further sorted beneath a description of the cause of the error. In the example screenshot of link validator results below, the validator found five broken links in this course:

The results of a link validation check in Canvas.

  • One embedded image in a quiz question that will not work for students because the embedded image is stored in another course.
  • Three links within a single page that students cannot access because each link points to an object in another course. This page has a link to a page in another course, an embedded image stored in another course, and a link to a file stored in another course.
  • A link in a different page that points to an assignment in this course that has not yet been published.

These results illustrate two of the most common causes for confounding broken links in a course:

  1. Links pointing to unpublished files or other unpublished course content
  2. Links pointing to content that is in a different Canvas course

Both of these issues create links that appear to work fine for the instructor but do not work for students. Without a tool like the course link validator, it would be very difficult to detect these issues!

Defeating Broken Links

Whenever the link validator detects a broken link in your course, it’s time to spring into action and heal those links. Mending links that are broken because they point to unpublished content is straightforward: find that content in your course and publish it! Fixing links that point to content in other courses is trickier.

First, you need to remove the bad link. To do this, find the course content that contains the bad link and edit it. Then remove the bad link or embedded image:

  • For broken links, find the course content that contains the bad link, click edit, click the link in the editor, then click Remove Link.
    The Remove Link option in Canvas
  • For broken embedded images, put your text edit cursor after of the image and backspace to remove it.

Once the bad link is removed, use the Canvas editor’s tools to create a new link that points to the course file or course page, or embed the image from your course images. If that file, page, or image you are linking to doesn’t yet exist within the course, you’ll have to upload it from your computer or import it from the other course. Recreating the link in this fashion will point it at content that is contained within the same course, ensuring your students get to where they need to go!

Why Broken Links Happen

These sneakily broken links are typically the result of a teacher trying to share something with their students that their students are not allowed to access. Naturally, teachers are afforded much wider access to a course than students. The most confusing broken links commonly point to either unpublished content or content in another course. Students can’t see unpublished content or content in the teacher’s other courses, but the teacher can!

One item type in a Canvas course that can unexpectedly cause access problems with its published status is course files. Unlike most other content in a Canvas course, you typically don’t have to manually publish course files; most files you upload to a course will be published upon upload. However, files or even entire file folders can be unpublished in your course Files page. When that happens, students will receive access denied messages after attempting to click a link to that file. To resolve this issue, the course instructor must publish the file or folder in the course’s Files page.

Links to content in another Canvas course can sneak in whenever course content is manually copied from one Canvas course and then pasted into another course. The result of copying and pasting between courses creates links to files, pages, and images that point to an outside course. When students try to follow these links, Canvas sees that they are not enrolled in that course and sends an “access denied” message. To prevent this type of broken link, never copy and paste links or images from one Canvas course into another. Instead, use Canvas’s copy and import tools whenever you need to duplicate content from one course to another.

An Access Denied Error in Canvas

Try it Out!

Whether or not you have been bitten by broken links in the past, we encourage you to run the link validator in your Canvas courses. If the validator finds any issues, take a look at those pages in your course and either remake those links or publish any unpublished link targets. You can check to see if your fixes were successful by rerunning the validator and using student view to try the links as the test student. If you’re ever unsure of how to fix an issue reported by the link validator, please don’t hesitate to contact Canvas 24/7 support via the “Help” button in Canvas, email UWGB’s Canvas support team at dle@uwgb.edu, or request a CATL Consultation for one-on-one training on finding and fixing broken links!


VoiceThread allows teachers and students to upload, share, and discuss documents, presentations, images, audio files, and videos. Teachers and students can leave video, audio, and text comments and use annotation tools to mark up the presented material.

Some examples of using VoiceThread in a class are:

  • Displaying work for feedback - student work can be displayed for feedback, such as in a graphic design or art class.
  • Discussing techniques, approaches, readings - media (images, text, audio) can be posted and discussed.
  • Interacting with classmates - students can dialogue with each other in an asynchronous format.
  • Illustrating difficult topics - teachers can use VoiceThread to explore difficult concepts in more detail. They can use voice comments and the doodle tool to explain complex concepts.
  • "Live" VoiceThread examples
  • Here's a link to the VoiceThread documentation that you can peruse as you're familiarizing yourself with this new tool: https://voicethread.com/howto-categories/web-application/ 

    If you wish for all of your students to annotate the same VoiceThread, you may wish to use the Assignment Builder  option so that the VoiceThread integration can add a column to your Grades tool, and also allow you to use the Assignment Grading area in VoiceThread. Here are the steps for using the VoiceThread Assignment Builder in Canvas: https://uknowit.uwgb.edu/109504 

    Here are guides you can provide to your students so they know how to use the interface, leave comments, submit their work, etc.: https://voicethread.com/howto/canvas-2/

    Here are guides for how to grade work in VoiceThread, reuse VoiceThread projects, and share VoiceThreads with other instructors: https://voicethread.com/howto/canvas/

    Note that if you wish to use VoiceThread in a similar manner that you've used Canvas Group Discussions for in the past–there are a few different approaches for how you might do this, but none of them include creating one VoiceThread and having students only see the posts of their small group members. 

Taking steps to avoid technical difficulties

  • Provide a test VoiceThread, or make sure that the first VoiceThread assignment is low-stakes, and to be more flexible and understanding the first time around
  • Providing introductory or orientation material to the tool, such as this VoiceThread guide for students.
  • Be flexible and let students reply with text or audio comments, if they prefer.
  • DO NOT attempt to log in manually at VoiceThread.com. Instead, first access a VoiceThread from within a Canvas course to be automatically logged in. 
  • Once you have been logged into VoiceThread, you can edit or create new VoiceThreads with the full-size VoiceThread editor by going to https://voicethread.com/myvoice/. If that page asks you to log in, instead, first access a VoiceThread from Canvas to refresh your login and then go back to https://voicethread.com/myvoice .
  • Only add VoiceThreads to your Canvas courses by using the Canvas integration as described in the "Adding VT to Canvas" section of this guide. DO NOT use the "share" or "embed" links that can be obtained from within VoiceThread. Those links do not contain the necessary information for automatically logging your students into their UWGB VoiceThread accounts. VoiceThread account creation is automatic when using the Canvas integration to add or access a VoiceThread.

VoiceThread Mobile App Advisory

  • VoiceThreads added to Canvas courses do not play nicely with the Canvas Student and Canvas Teacher mobile apps. If a student must access a VoiceThread on a mobile device, they should open the Canvas course in Chrome or Safari instead of using the Canvas apps.
  • To view and contribute to VoiceThreads on a mobile device, the VoiceThread app must be first be installed on the mobile device. After installation, users should not attempt to manually log in to the VoiceThread mobile app. Instead, they should first access a VoiceThread from within a Canvas course to be automatically logged in to their UWGB VoiceThread account. Attempting to manually log in to VoiceThread or manually create a VoiceThread account can lead to duplicate accounts and other headaches.

VoiceThread versus Canvas Discussions; why use VoiceThread?

  • It is difficult to students to embed an image in Canvas discussions; students quickly run out of storage space. VoiceThread allows students to share content without running out of storage space.
  • VoiceThread includes a doodle tool, so that users can annotate the media they are discussing.
  • VoiceThead includes an option for students to leave comments by calling on their phone. Canvas discussions require audio comments be recorded and then uploaded.
  • VoiceThread allows comments to be left on each slide of the presentation, so you can have multiple threads within a single VoiceThread.

If you'd like your VoiceThread activity to be graded, it must be an Assignment. You can add a non-graded VoiceThread activity in the Home or Modules area of your course, or just make an Assignment that does not count towards the final grade. You can also embed links to VoiceThreads into Pages by using the external tool in Canvas's Rich Content Editor (i.e. text editor).

Graded VoiceThreads

  1. Navigate to the “Assignments” area of your course.
  2. Create a new assignment.
  3. Name the assignment and write a description if you choose.
  4. Under Submission Type, select “External Tool”.
  5. Click on the “Find” button.
  6. Click on “VoiceThread.
  7. Jump down to the SETTING UP YOUR VOICETHREAD LINK, below.

Non-graded VoiceThreads created in Home or Modules

  1. Navigate to the “Modules” area of your course.
  2. Find the module to which you’d like to add VoiceThread, and click the “Add Content” button.
  3. Select “External Tool” from the menu.
  4. Select “VoiceThread” from the list of tools.
  5. Jump down to the SETTING UP YOUR VOICETHREAD LINK, below.

Adding Non-graded VoiceThread links in a Canvas Page

  1. Open or create the Canvas page to which you wish to add a VoiceThread link.
  2. Click the Edit button.
  3. In the Rich Content Editor, place your text cursor where you would like to insert the VoiceThread link.
  4. Click the Apps icon in the editor's toolbar then click View All. The Apps icon looks like a power plug.
  5. Click VoiceThread.

Setting up your VoiceThread Link

After you have added VoiceThread to your course, you’ll need to indicate what type of VoiceThread activity you'd like to use. Please note, if you'd like VoiceThread integrated with your Canvas gradebook, you must select Assignment Builder, and you must be creating a Canvas External Tool Assignment.

  • Course View - Display the collection of VoiceThreads that have been shared with your course. This might be useful if you had many learning resources in VoiceThread and wanted students to be able to browse that collection of resources.
  • VT Home - Display all of a student’s VoiceThread content in a single view. This includes all VoiceThreads and all courses that belong to them. Use this if you want to create a simple portal into VoiceThread without directing students to any specific content.
  • Individual VT - Display any VoiceThread that you have created. When students click on the link, they’ll see just this one VoiceThread. This activity type would be useful for sharing lecture-like content and for ungraded discussion.
  • Assignment Builder - Create a graded assignment for students to complete. You can require them to Create a VoiceThread of their own, to Submit a Comment or comments on a VoiceThread you’ve created, or simply to Watch a VoiceThread start to finish.

When you're ready to begin grading, enter your Canvas course and click on the VoiceThread link again. This will display the grader.

Click on a student’s name on the right to see that student’s submission. You can click on each comment below his or her name individually to jump directly to it. Enter a grade on a percentage scale (0-100), and hit “Enter” on your keyboard. This grade will immediately be entered into your Canvas course gradebook.


* Note: If you have set the assignment to be worth less than 100 points, still grade it on a scale of 0-100, and the score will be adjusted accordingly in your gradebook.

If you have students who have not yet submitted their assignments, click on the “Remind” button to send them an email reminder. Click “Remind all students” to send an email to everyone who has not yet submitted.

Please note that grading VoiceThread assignments is not supported on mobile devices.

Re-using VoiceThread Assignments that you've already created

If you're copying your course to a new semester, or re-using an assignment in a similar course, you'll need to copy the Assignment in VoiceThread, in addition to having the link in Canvas to the VoiceThread Assignment.

  1. If you're re-using the Assignment in a new class, follow whichever steps are appropriate under the Adding VoiceThread to your Canvas course heading, above, but stop before the Setting up your VoiceThread Link heading.
  2. On the VoiceThread link set up page, you can choose what type of activity to do. If you'd like to do the same kind of activity (e.g. Assignment Builder), select that type of activity again.
  3. When you've selected your Activity type, instead of clicking on Create a new VoiceThread, select your pre-existing VoiceThread from the list.
  4. Once the pre-existing VoiceThread is selected, click on Make a new copy to share.
  5. Enter a new name for the Assignment in VoiceThread and select which comments in the VoiceThread to preserve. You'll likely want to select either "Include only my comments" or "Don't include any comments." Removing comments only impacts the copy of the VoiceThread Assignment, not the original in your other course.
  6. Your newly created copy will now appear on the top of your existing VoiceThread activities. Select it once again and complete the Assignment set up (entering any requirements) and click on Create Assignment.

If you're teaching a larger course, and are wondering about how you can use VoiceThread to build community into your courses, we have a few suggestions. 

Caveat: VoiceThread doesn't currently have the functionality similar to Canvas, where you can split students into smaller groups and then have them only see their group mate's responses/posts. This means that if you are grappling with this issue in a large enrolling course, you might need to do some creative maneuvering and provide very clear instructions for students if you want to limit how many student responses they'll feel the need to respond to.

Learning Outcome & Pedagogy Considerations

If you're using VoiceThread to encourage deeper discussion using different mediums, then you might want to consider these strategies to decrease the volume of student postings throughout the course–after all, you're going to have to listen/view/read all of these if it's a graded assignment:

  1. Have rotating groups or a sub-set of student "posters" so that not everyone in the class is posting at once. 
  2. Have multiple versions of slides that have student names on them directing them to the slide for which they'll be required to comment/respond.
  3. Ask a group representative to post a summary from the rest of the group members drafts from a Canvas discussion, and have this group representative rotate throughout the semester. This would be more of a summary/synthesis of group members ideas rather than representative of individual student ideas.

If you're using VoiceThread to provide some flexibility in the way students can respond to a public reflection prompt, then it may not be as important to manage how many responses a student is seeing–especially if it's not important for them to respond to one another. If this is the case, then be transparent with students that this is a large class, and that they'll end up seeing everyone else's posts. 

If you're hoping to use VoiceThread to create small-group community and to foster a sense of belonging in your courses, you'll have to be purposeful and intentional about directing students to slides where their small group members are going to be "gathering." You could do this by creating a VoiceThread with multiple versions of the same slides and then tell them which slide to look at and respond to:

  1. Use Canvas Groups to signal who's in each group;
  2. You could post a Word Document in the course with students names so that they know who's in their group;
  3. You could have your first slide in VoiceThread be a Word Document (as a picture/PDF) and then label which slides you wish students to comment on with names/group numbers; 
  4. If you don't plan to use small groups within Canvas, set a number of maximum "initial" student posts on each slide until everyone has posted once, or tell students that if they notice there are a lot of people posting on one slide, to respond to other slides.