Follow-Up: PlayPosit “Replicate and Repeat” Training

On Nov. 15, 2022, PlayPosit held a training that focused on how to replicate and repeat content in PlayPosit. These features can help create a more streamlined workflow for users that would like to reuse bulb content or share bulbs with other instructors. Some of the content covered in this training includes:

  • How to duplicate/copy a bulb
  • How to reuse an interaction (question, discussion, pause point, etc.) from a previous bulb
  • How to use PlayPosit interaction templates
  • How to save an interaction or a group of interactions as a template
  • How to share a bulb with a collaborator
  • How to send a copy of a bulb to another instructor

A recording of this training is embedded below.


As you explore PlayPosit, we encourage you to consult PlayPosit’s extensive knowledgebase of instructor guides, including this guide on building graded bulbs in Canvas. You can contact PlayPosit support directly by clicking the “Contact” link on their support site and filling out their web form. Guides on how to build a bulb, share a bulb with your students, use PlayPosit for peer review, and more, can also be found on the UWGB IT knowledgebase. 

As always, we also welcome you to request a CATL consultation if you’d like to see a demo of PlayPosit or talk through how you might use it in your course!

“Required” Reading: Guiding Students Through Your Course with Canvas Module Requirements

When provided with a task, almost invariably, some students will overlook or ignore provided instructions, skip past foundational lessons, and end up taking their own “creative” approach to completing it. While some students can find success going their own way, when a student misses instructions, they often end up making life harder for themselves and their instructor. When teaching with Canvas, you have access to tools that can help add order to how students progress through your lessons, instructions, and assignments. When you organize and present your content in modules, you gain the ability to add requirements that require each student to view and/or interact with specified course items before they can progress and access items positioned further down in the course module order. You can ensure that your students’ route to an assignment goes through the important scaffolding pages. While they are not a panacea and should be applied with careful thought so that they act as a guide and not an unnecessary obstacle for students, implementing module requirements can help prevent students from starting a task before they have engaged with preparatory lessons and activities.

Forcing top-to-bottom progression within a module

Within a single module you can use requirements to force students to progress through that module in top-to-bottom order. These requirements can help enforce that students, for example, view a page with important instructions before they can access and submit to an assignment. To set up a module with requirements that students must complete in order, click the module header’s Options icon, then click Edit to open the Edit Module Settings menu. In this menu, select + Add Requirement to begin adding your first requirement to the module and reveal additional options. Enabling the Students must move through requirements in sequential order checkbox will lock each module item until all the requirements above that item in that module have been completed. This forces students to work through the module requirements in top-to-bottom order. You then need to add requirements to the module. You will need to add one requirement for each module item students need to complete in order.

You add a requirement by selecting + Add Requirement, and then you configure a requirement by making selections in two drop-down menus. In the left drop-down menu, select the module item to which you want to add the requirement. In the right drop-down menu, select how the students must complete that requirement. Depending on the type of the module item, this second drop-down menu will show several options (click each option below to expand it and reveal suggested uses):

Only requires students to open and view the module item. This is a simple requirement well-suited for course Pages.

Requires students to open the item and then click a Mark as done button at the bottom of the page. If you use this type of requirement, make sure to provide students with instructions for marking items as done. Students can overlook the button and feel stuck if they’ve never encountered this requirement before.

Only used for Discussions and Pages that are set to allow students to make edits. Students will satisfy this requirement once they have posted a reply in the Discussion or saved an edit to the Page. Avoid picking this requirement for pages which can only be edited by Teachers, as students will not be able to complete the requirement.

Requires the student to make an Assignment submission, make a reply in a graded Discussion, or complete a Quiz attempt.

Requires students to earn at least the minimum score on the graded item, which you designate when setting up the requirement. This type of requirement works well with Quizzes that allow multiple or unlimited attempts.

Adding a requirement for each module item that contains important information or a required task will ensure students engage with the content in your intended order.

Locking a module until the previous module has been completed

Requirements can also be leveraged to lock an entire module until the student completes the requirements of one or more modules above it. Controlling module-to-module progression is done with the additional step of adding module prerequisites. You can add one or more prerequisites to a module through the same Edit Module Settings menu where you add requirements. When adding a module prerequisite, you select an entire module that appears above the module you are currently editing. Adding one or more prerequisites to a module will prevent a student from accessing all content in that module until they have completed the requirements of each module that is set as a prerequisite. Any module that is selected as a prerequisite must contain at least one requirement—Canvas needs to know the criteria for completing that module and satisfying the prerequisite. A module that is selected as a prerequisite but has no requirements will have no effect on course progression.

Screenshot of the Edit Module Settings menu: “Module 1” is selected as a prerequisite for “Module 2”
Edit Module Settings menu: “Module 1” is selected as a prerequisite for “Module 2”

Here is an example of how you can set this up in a course. Let’s say that the content in Module 1 is so fundamental to the content in Module 2 that you want to prevent students from viewing anything in Module 2 until they’ve fully engaged with the content in Module 1. Imagine that both Module 1 and Module 2 contain a Page, a Discussion, and an Assignment. Your first step in forcing students to complete Module 1 before accessing Module 2 is to edit Module 1 and add three requirements:

  1. Module 1 Page – view the item
  2. Module 1 Discussion – contribute to the page
  3. Module 1 Assignment – submit the assignment
Screenshot of the the Edit Module Settings menu with the example requirements for Module 1 set up
Edit Module Settings menu with the example requirements for Module 1 set up

Adding these requirements tells Canvas how to determine whether a student has completed Module 1: a student has completed Module 1 once they have viewed the Page, made a reply in the Discussion, and submitted to the Assignment. The next step is to edit Module 2 and add a prerequisite, selecting Module 1 as the prerequisite module. That is all that is needed to force students to complete Module 1 before accessing Module 2; it is not necessary to add any requirements to Module 2 unless you plan to use Module 2 as a prerequisite in a subsequent module. You may still want to add requirements to Module 2 just for the additional visual guidance and feedback they provide to students.

Screenshot of two example modules with requirements and prerequisites set up
Two example modules with requirements and prerequisites set up

Use Cases

There are many creative ways you can leverage module requirements and prerequisites to exercise control over the flow of your course. Here are a few illustrative use cases (click each to expand it):

You can require students to acknowledge the policies and essential information contained in your syllabus before they can access the rest of your course by creating a syllabus quiz and setting up module requirements and prerequisites. First, add a quiz to the “Introduction” module at or near the top of your Canvas course and add any number of objective questions to test your student’s knowledge of important syllabus content. Set up the quiz to allow for unlimited attempts and to keep the highest score. Next, edit your “Introduction” module to add a requirement that students score at least X points on the Syllabus Quiz. “X” can be whichever minimum score you deem good enough to allow progress through the course. Finally, edit each subsequent module of the course to add the “Introduction” module as a prerequisite. This setup requires students to take (and retake) the Syllabus Quiz until they score at least X points before they can access any of the content after the “Introduction” module.

You can set up requirements within a single module to have students complete a pretest quiz before going through the module content and then take a post-test quiz after completing the module content. This process could help you evaluate the effectiveness of your instruction and/or apply a metacognitive approach to help students gain awareness of their learning and gaps in their knowledge. To create this setup, add a pretest quiz at or near the top of a module and a post-test quiz at or near the bottom of the module and put lesson content and additional formative assessment activities in between the two quizzes. Edit the module to add a requirement to each module item (including requirements to “submit” to each of the two quizzes) and enable the Students must move through requirements in sequential order checkbox. Students will need to progress through the module in top-to-bottom order, first taking the pretest at the top of the module, then engaging with the content, and finally taking the post-test at the bottom of the module. You can set your pretest quiz to be a “Practice Quiz” so that scores are not added to the gradebook.

Even if you don’t need to force a linear progression through your course modules, adding requirements to your modules automatically adds visual feedback that helps to communicate expectations to students and helps students track their own progress through the course. Any module item that is used in a module requirement will display its requirement underneath its title within the module. This is a simple automatic piece of visual feedback that can help students keep track of their tasks. Students also see additional indicators of their progress. After a student completes a requirement, the module item is marked with a green checkmark to signal completion. If a student has started a module but has not yet completed all its requirements, that module’s header is marked with a red circle; once the student completes all of a module’s requirements, this indicator changes to a green checkmark. Instructors can monitor student progress through module requirements by clicking the View Progress button located above the first module of the course.

The visual feedback provided by module requirements adds a light element of gamification to your course, turning each module into a list of sub-missions to be completed. Requirements can be further leveraged to add game-based learning elements to your courses. Use requirements to set minimum scores on low-stakes quizzes that allow multiple attempts and unlock harder “levels” of your course once a student achieves the target score. You can further add the Canvas Badges (Badgr) integration to your course to award “achievements” for the completion of modules and (optionally) enable an anonymous leaderboard to foster competitive motivation among students.

Conclusion (Prerequisite: Read All Above Sections)

We hope this blog post has given you a sense of how and when you can use module requirements in your Canvas courses. When used thoughtfully, module requirements are an effective tool for encouraging students to move through your course in the sequence you intended. Recall from your past teaching that assignment or a module in a course where students got off-track because they somehow managed to miss vital information that was right there for them. Next time you teach that course, try employing requirements to funnel students through that important supporting content before they can start work on the assignment. If you have an idea for employing module requirements in your Canvas course and would like to discuss how to best put it together, please reach out to or request a CATL consultation to meet with a member of the CATL team!

Turnitin: Beyond Plagiarism Review

A feature highlight for Canvas this week is Turnitin. Although most instructors may be familiar with this tool as a plagiarism checker, it has additional impactful uses within the classroom. While checking for plagiarism is important to ensure academic integrity in student work, Turnitin can also function as a powerful feedback tool and as a self-assessment tool.  

According to several studies, feedback helps to further develop a learner’s cognitive abilities. Wisniewski, Zierer, and Hattie (2020) discuss how various forms of feedback have become a focus in teaching and the practice of teaching in recent years. The most impactful forms of feedback are task- and process-oriented feedback or formative feedback. Both provide students with information not only on how well they’ve met specific goals of an assignment or assessment, but also on how to improve their strategies for achieving those goals in the future.  

While feedback may not have a large impact on behavioral outcomes for learners, self-assessment and reflection activities do. Combining both feedback and self-assessment activities within an ongoing assignment opens up communication pathways within the classroom and may also help increase motivation in the learning environment. Feedback and self-assessment can also turn mistakes and errors into teaching moments for synchronous and asynchronous classes. As Terada (2020) points out both within and outside of the classroom, making and learning from errors is an integral part of the learning process. And Turnitin is one tool which can help provide those teaching moments. While we are familiar with the similarity reports produced by Turnitin, and often have used these reports for plagiarism review, studies show that Turnitin similarity reports can also be used for self-assessment. Chew, Ding, and Rowell (2013) in particular focus on how the similarity reports generated by Turnitin can be used by students to review and assess drafts of their own work or their peers’ work. With its integration in Canvas, Turnitin can be used both synchronously and asynchronously for all course modalities.  

Within the UWGB Canvas instance, Turnitin is paired with the Assignment feature and can be used in conjunction with peer review so that students can receive both a similarity report for self-assessment as well as receive formative feedback from both their peers and instructors. The Canvas SpeedGrader works with Turnitin to allow for suggestions, edits, and general comments to be provided in written, audio, or video format. For best results, a Turnitin Assignments can be paired with a Rubric, allowing students to both see the criteria for the assignment and review their drafts and feedback based on how well they met those criteria. Best practice would be to incorporate course outcomes within the rubric. This will provide transparency between instructor and students in setting and achieving overall course goals as well as expectations of the student.

To build out a Turnitin Assignment in Canvas, follow these directions.

  1. First, in your course site, navigate to the Assignments tab in the course navigation menu on the left side of the screen and click on Assignments.
  2. Next, click the + Assignment button in the upper right corner to create a new Assignment and then give the assignment a name.
  3. In the assignment Editing window, scroll down under settings and select the Online submission type, and then check the File Uploads option. This will cause a new setting option to appear called Plagiarism Review.
  4. The Plagiarism Review setting is default set to “None.” Change it to Turnitin. Turnitin is now enabled on the Assignment.
  5. To ensure draft submissions are not stored in a repository, change the setting under "Store submissions in" to Do not store the submitted papers. 
    • This setting is important for assignments that allow for multiple draft submissions. Not storing drafts into a repository means that subsequent drafts of the same assignment will not be flagged in the similarity report.
  6. Next, you can toggle on and off the different content types you want draft submissions to be compared to (student repository, website content, or periodicals, journals, and publications). 
  7. Below that, you can select what to exclude from the similarity reports generated by Turnitin. 
  8. You can also set the number of submissions to be "unlimited.”
    • This setting will allow students to resubmit drafts several times to the same assignment. For self-assessment it may be good to allow students to submit multiple drafts to review their similarity reports. Just remember to select “Do Not store the submitted papers” under the repository settings so students do not get flagged for work done on a previous draft of the same assignment.
  9. Lastly, click the button in the bottom right corner to Save and Publish your Turnitin Assignment.

Here is a general guide from Canvas discussing how to add or edit details in an assignment.

Taking the Guesswork Out of Grades: Canvas Features for Grade Transparency

If you’ve been teaching for a while, “transparency” is probably a buzzword you’re accustomed to hearing by now. In several CATL resources, we’ve highlighted the Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TiLT) framework, which is designed to help instructors clearly communicate the purpose, task, and criteria of a learning activity. In this article, however, we’ll be covering some other ways you can incorporate transparency in your course, as well as the features built into Canvas that will allow you to do so. In each section we will highlight how these features are beneficial to both you and your students. When students and instructors are on the same page regarding grades, it can alleviate a lot of potential problems and unnecessary stress.

Set Up a Grading Scheme

When you create your syllabus, one of the pieces that you need to include is a grading scale, or how you plan on correlating grade percentages with letter grades. Instructors can generally decide which percentage range to set for each letter grade as long as they use UWGB’s A-AB letter scale; however, some departments or programs may have a set grading scale.

Regardless of what scale you use, it is best practice to set up a grading scheme in Canvas that matches what you have in your syllabus. This will tell Canvas what overall letter grade to display in your Canvas gradebook when a student’s overall score falls within a certain percentage range (e.g., AB: < 92% to 89%).

The View/Edit Grading Scheme menu in Canvas; the sample grading scheme is broken down by percentage ranges and uses an A-AB pattern
An example of a potential grading scheme in Canvas

How it helps students: Setting a grading scheme will give students a better idea of what their overall letter grade in the course is at any point during the semester.

How it helps you: Establishing your grading scheme in Canvas will make it easier to see at a glance how your students are doing in your class, which is helpful for submitting Navigate progress reports. Using a Canvas grading scheme is also a necessary step if you plan on using the “sync to SIS” feature for sending final grades to SIS.

Regularly Enter Grades, Including Work Submitted Outside of Canvas

Most courses have some activities or metrics that factor into grading that don’t include an actual student submission in Canvas, such as participation points or in-class activities. To record these grades in Canvas, you will need to set up no-submission Canvas assignments, which are assignments that create a column in the Canvas gradebook where you can simply enter students’ scores. Though many instructors wait until the end of the semester to enter these scores, updating them on a weekly or biweekly basis will help keep you and your students on track. For recurring points like participation, you may wish to lump together points by week or unit (e.g., create an assignment for “Week 1 Participation,” “Week 2 Participation,” etc.).

Three weekly participation point gradebook columns in Canvas with various scores filled in
An example of how you might set up weekly participation grades in Canvas

How it helps students: Factoring these grades into your course as you go will help students get a more well-rounded picture of where they stand in your class. It also makes the importance of regular participation and attendance more evident to students.

How it helps you: Regularly entering or updating scores for things like participation will prevent the headache of entering them all at the end of the semester. It can also give you a sense if there are students that may need an intervention from a professional advisor due to poor attendance (in these cases, you can issue an hoc Navigate attendance alert for students of concern).

Enter Zeroes for Missing Work

One of the most deceptive parts about grades in Canvas is that, by default, missing work does not negatively impact a student’s overall grade in a Canvas course. When calculating the total grade of a student, Canvas ignores any assignment for which no grade has been entered, regardless of due date. The result of this is that students with missing work may see a grade in Canvas that is artificially inflated. To combat this, you can manually enter zeroes for missing work on a regular basis, but Canvas also has two features that can automate part of the process.

Set a Canvas Late Policy

You can set a late work policy in Canvas so that all missing submissions will be automatically set to “zero” after a due date has passed. If enabled during an active course, it will also retroactively apply “zeroes” to all missing work from past assignments. Note that the late policy only affects assignments in which students need to submit something in Canvas (Canvas quizzes, graded discussions, and assignments with the “online” submission type).

The Canvas gradebook settings with the "late policy" tab selected; a box is checked and the default grade for missing submissions is set to "0"
The Canvas gradebook settings menu where you can set a late policy

Set Default Score as “Zero”

For individual assignments, including “no submission” and “on paper” assignments, you can set the score of all students without a graded submission to “zero” with just two clicks by setting zero as the assignment’s default grade. This is especially important to do at the end of the semester, but you can do it throughout the semester whenever you have finished grading submissions for an assignment that is past due.

How it helps students: Students will be able to see how their missing work impacts their overall grade, preventing any “gotchas” at the end of the semester where a student finds out their actual grade is much worse than that what Canvas would have them believe.

How it helps you: Before exporting final grades to SIS at the end of the semester, it is crucial that all missing work is set to “zero” to ensure that grades are accurate. Both the “late work policy” feature and the “default grade” feature remove some of the labor of entering those zeroes manually. Using these features will also ensure more accurate midterm grades, should you choose to post them.

Other Considerations

While the suggestions above apply to nearly every instructor and course, regardless of pedagogical style or modality, the following features may or may not apply to your own courses.

If you have final grades broken down by weighted percentages in your syllabus, you can set up your gradebook to follow the same weighting scheme with a few extra steps of setup. Start by creating assignment groups and then setting those groups to be weighted based on percentage. By using weighted assignments groups, you can be confident that the way things are weighted in your syllabus matches what’s in your gradebook.

Using rubrics to assess student work is a great strategy for grading transparency because it allows students to see exactly what criteria you are assessing them with and what they are expected to do to receive a satisfactory grade. While you can add a rubric as a Word doc to an assignment or discussion description, you can also create your rubrics right in Canvas and use them for grading. You can fill out Canvas rubrics in SpeedGrader to optimize your grading workflow, plus if the rubric has points, Canvas will calculate the point total automatically.

Many online assessment tools like Canvas quizzes, PlayPosit bulbs, and textbook quizzing integrations have the option of including both auto-graded questions, like multiple-choice, and manually graded questions, like essay questions. The problem arises when a student completes an auto-graded quiz and then sees a score that is artificially lowered only because the instructor has not yet graded some questions. Besides regularly keeping up with grading these types of manually reviewed questions, it might also be helpful to include a note in the assessment description so students are aware that their quiz score will not be accurate until you have had a chance to review and update their scores. If the quiz is tied to a Canvas gradebook column, you can also choose to set the assignment's grades to be manually posted so that students do not see grades until you have had a chance to review them.


You can get 24/7 support from Canvas by live chat, phone, or email by clicking the “Help” button in the Canvas global navigation menu bar on the left side of any page in Canvas. They are the experts on all of these features in Canvas and can help walk you through the steps if you have questions.

As always, CATL is also here to help as well. If you want to discuss the features above or any other strategies for making your grading more transparent, fill out our consultation request form to schedule a meeting with a member of the CATL team.

Hypothesis for Canvas

The logo for Hypothesis (stylized as “”).

CATL is excited to announce the launch of a formal pilot of the Hypothesis social annotation tool for Canvas. Hypothesis is a digital and social take on the classic practice of physically writing in the margins of a text. It is an annotation overlay that you can add to any PDF or website reading assigned in your Canvas course. Adding an annotation to a passage is about as simple as selecting a word or phrase and then typing the annotation in the Hypothesis overlay. Students and instructors can view and reply to each other’s annotations to ask and answer questions and build upon each other’s ideas. UWGB’s pilot of Hypothesis is unlimited, so all instructors are invited participate and there is no need to sign up or make an integration request! This post contains ideas for using Hypothesis in your course and instructions for creating activities with the Hypothesis Canvas integration, which is available now in all UWGB courses.

Hypothesis Use Cases

The Hypothesis overlay being used to annotate a New York Times article on a reptile fossil.

Annotation with Hypothesis can facilitate many types of class activities. Here are a few example activities:

  • Assign a reading and ask students to leave questions as annotations on passages they find difficult. Instructors can reply to annotations to answer these questions, use the questions to inform lessons and follow-up resources, or assign students to review and answer their peers’ questions.
  • Instructors can add their own annotations to a reading before assigning it to students to create a guided reading experience that signals areas of importance and offers clarification at potential sticking points. Instructor annotations can include questions for discussion that students can reply to right “in the margins” of the reading, placing discussions in context.
  • Task students with developing a glossary layer on an assigned text by adding annotations to difficult words, passages, or allusions. Encourage students to include definitions, contextual research, and possible interpretations in their annotations.
  • Present an example of an essay, lab write-up, or proof that intentionally has errors. Ask students to identify and correct these missteps by adding annotations to the document either as a group or as an entire class.

These use cases were inspired by the post Back to School With Annotation: 10 Ways to Annotate With Students on the Hypothesis blog. Read that post and explore other posts on their blog to collect even more ideas!

Learning Hypothesis

The app overlay has a quick start guide on how to create your first annotation, highlight, or reply to another annotation, along with support links.

Hypothesis has a robust online user guide with several resources tailored specifically to helping instructors and students use Hypothesis in Canvas.

Resources for Instructors

The following guides cover the technical basics of adding Hypothesis activities to your Canvas course.

Resources for Students Everyone!

Providing these resources to your students can help them understand how to use Hypothesis and how to write quality annotations. The insights in these articles are valuable for anyone new to Hypothesis and digital annotation, so we also encourage instructors to review them!

Finding Support

Technical support for Hypothesis is available by contacting the vendor’s support team through their simple Help Request web form and additional user guides are available on Hypothesis’s Help website. As always, CATL staff are available to provide consultations to discuss how to best leverage Hypothesis in your courses! Request a CATL consultation online or email your questions to us at