How To Integrate Websites Into Canvas

I wanted to walkthrough one of my favorite Canvas integrations. Originally, I discovered this integration and used it in one of the early professional development courses I led for faculty transitioning (from D2L) to Canvas back in May 2016, which you can view here. My discovery of this integration was driven by the desire to replicate what Adam Croom had done with his PRPubs.us course website in D2L.

Anyways, this is the type of website integration into Canvas I’m referencing:

Mobile Blogging & Scholarship Canvas course shown with a Domain of One's Own website integrated inside the Canvas Course.
View from Canvas of an integrated website.
Canvas app on an android phone displaying the redirect tool+website integration.
View from Canvas App of the same integrated website.

What You Need

1. Website you control – If you have a DIY website through a web hosting company or use website companies like WordPress.com, then you are off to a great start. I use Reclaim Hosting for my website needs as Reclaim specializes in education. (Technically, any website can be used, but the one’s I’ve tried using have been hit or miss. Thus, I believe a website you control is ideal and should work perfectly.)

2. An encryption SSL certificate for your website – Your website will only be displayed within Canvas if the site is encrypted. In other words, your site needs to function using a https:// address (instead of http://). There are many ways to obtain an encryption certificate. I use Let’s Encrypt SSL which is offered for free by several web hosting companies (including Reclaim Hosting). Alternatively, you can use a service like Cloudflare to acquire a SSL certificate for your website.

Please note that many website companies like WordPress.com furnish https:// versions of websites to their users by default. In such case, you don’t need to acquire a SSL certificate for your website as it’s already present. If you’re unsure about whether your site meets this requirement, try visiting your website with https:// at the front of the URL (like so: https://example.com) and see if it loads normally.

3. Canvas Course – Use your institutions page to login to Canvas and create a new course or use an existing one. If you do not currently have access to Canvas, you can acquire a free account by selecting “Build It” on this page.

4. Redirect Tool – In your Canvas course, under “Settings>Apps” is the Redirect Tool (the best app!)—make sure it is available for your course. Refer to the screenshot below, under Step 1, as a guide.

Setup Steps

Step 1 – Navigate to Canvas course settings and find the Redirect Tool in the Apps Tab:

Image showing how to access the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 2 – Click “Add App” to add the Redirect Tool:

Image showing how to add the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 3 – Configure the Redirect Tool with your Website Name (will appear in Course Navigation), the https:// URL, and check “Show in Course Navigation:”

Image showing my configuration settings of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Zoomed into my configuration settings for the Redirect Tool:

Zoomed in image showing my configuration settings of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 4 – Refresh the course by clicking “Home” to see the fruits of your labor:

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 5 – Enjoy:

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Troubleshooting

If you’re experiencing any issues, they are typically caused by one of these two problems:

Problem 1 - Redirect Tool Configuration
Problem 2 - Don't have https:// URL for the Website

Integration Examples

I recently submitted proposals that included this website integration to the #Domains17 conference. As I shared then, I believe the best examples of this integration involve a course blog or research/course website.

Course Blog – The course blog in Canvas is a fantastic use case of the Redirect tool combined with the FeedWordPress plugin to bring all of the students’ posts from their own websites into Canvas. This setup is inline with the POSSE publishing model and can be utilized to bring students’ course reflections into Canvas for easier access and to promote peer-peer scholarship.

Cours Blog inside of a Canvas Course using the Redirect Tool

Research/Course Website – If you have course contents published on websites outside Canvas, you can use this trick to bring those materials into your courses. I’ve used this to bring my Canvas Camp curriculum into Canvas courses, but you could use it for course wikis, Drupal or Omeka research websites, and beyond.

Canvas Camp website displaying a lit campfire inside of a Canvas Course

Anonymous Blogging Inside of Canvas – When I ran the Mobile Blogging and Scholarship Canvas training back in May 2016, I used all of these tool in addition to the AccessPress Anonymous Post plugin to allow instructors to blog directly within Canvas. Here’s some more information of the tools I used to accomplish this course design.

Canvas course with AccessPress Plugin configured to let students blog directly within Canvas.

There are many more use cases beyond what I’ve presented here, but I hope this post gives you the guidance and inspiration to integrate websites directly into Canvas.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Corinne Kutz via Unsplash.

Academic Technology Expo 2017

Friday, January 13th was the sixth annual Academic Technology Expo (ATE) at the University of Oklahoma. ATE is one of my favorite local conferences because there’s an emphasis on instructors presenting the tools they are using in their classrooms. This helps me gage and pursue various technologies and use cases that interest faculty. Not to mention, ATE keeps me informed about many of the technology initiatives throughout OU classrooms.

This year’s ATE was especially notable between a day (Jan 12th) focused on OU’s new Innovation HUB followed by a day (Jan 13th) filled with phenomenal presentations and the wonderful Keynote speaker, Gardner Campbell!

Telling ATE Stories Through Twitter

The tweets that follow are intended to represent a snapshot of my experience at ATE. They have been curated from the #OUTechExpo stream and will include various individuals. In other words, this post also acts as a “recommended to follow these awesome people” post. Anyways, I’ll try to limit myself to ~5 tweets per session—here we go:

Drupal as a Collaborative Classroom Tool
Students Creating and Sharing Online Annotations through Hypothesis
Wiki EDU - Wikipedia Articles as Course Assignments
Keynote: An Insite-Oriented Education
Making Games for the Classroom with Twine
Students as Makers of Educational Games

Keynote

Reflection

My favorite part of ATE was presenting alongside Lauren and Julie on some of the curriculum they’ve implemented/are developing for their courses. Lauren built a text-based game with her students around the choices immigrants and asylum seekers face. This activity intended to engage Lauren’s students in both research and creative writing that could be showcased outside of the classroom. I love this project because Lauren had her students reflect on every choice they made while developing the game, Sanctuary. What an opportunity for her students to see the world through another individuals point of view and empathize with people immigrating to the United States.

Julie also has a terrific choose-your-own adventure game development activity she intends to implement in her Fall 2017 course around Spanish literature. For Julie’s students, they will practice their language skills while writing plausible, alternative ending to pieces of literature. Checkout the example Julie developed for her students, Las medias rojas, during her participation in eXperience Play. My favorite quote Julie said about why she’s pursuing this activity is that she had “fun” developing her own text-based game and wants her students to have a similar experience in her class.

Sanctuary Cover
Las medias rojas Cover

I felt spoiled at ATE since it was my second time to hear Gardner Campbell speak in the last three months (shoutout to #OpenEd16!) He was phenomenal. What resonated with me from his talk is his portrayal of the internet as a network where everyone is connected, but no one entity is in control, as well as his call to action that we should always be intentional when implementing technologies into the classroom. To me, these are two ideas that drive some of the curriculum and professional development I design. Honestly, it’s hard to put into words much of the inspiration Gardner propagates, so I will differ to the soon-to-be-released video of his talk. I highly encourage you to listen to his encouragement (when it’s posted). Thank you Gardner Campbell!

PS. Gardner Campbell invited us to his Open Learning Connectivist MOOC that starts this week. I wanted to extend the same invitation to you. 🙂

Finally, due to the threat of inclement weather, ATE possessed a high concentration of passionate educators willing to brave the potential of freezing rain. Thus, from learning about Drupal to facilitate collaborate research in the classroom, to engaging students in discussion using group annotations with Hypothes.is, and scaffolding the writing of academic papers with Wikipedia articles, ATE was comprised of some fantastic sessions. I love seeing the results of passionate instructors and the technologies they utilize. Here’s to another great year of learning alongside them.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Riley McCullough via Unsplash.

eXperience Polish

If you are interested in participating in eXperience Play (XP) remotely, I am going to provide a to-do list of items each week. These to-do lists will include a variety of tasks such as playing games, reflecting, blogging, and portions of game development. If you complete all five to-do lists, you will produce an educational text-based game in five weeks. For more information on this professional development, read this blog post, visit the eXperience Play website, or contact me via Twitter or email.

This post corresponds with the fourth session of XP.

Part 1 – Game Development

1. Review the following Twine Syntaxes and guides:

Add Media (Etc.) With These Twine Syntaxes
Change Your Twine Game's Appearance with CSS
Free Images, Additional Guides, & Resources

2. Using the above syntaxes, guides, and everything you have learned in the past few weeks, continue working on your game until it’s complete.

For reference, here’s an example Twine game from a participant of XP:

Example Twine Game, units, made by an XP participant

3. Find someone to play your completed game and give you feedback. Use this opportunity to make more revisions. Again, I’d recommend getting reviews from individuals in your vicinity since your game is stored locally on your computer for now.

Part 2 – Professional Development

4. Write a blog post about your experience building your game using the following prompt:

Blog Prompt
  • Document how your game has changed from last week. I encourage you to include a screenshot of your final product.
  • Reflect and write about how peer-review and feedback has impacted your game’s design.
  • Research and define “Peer-Peer Learning” in your own words.

Get your Twine game as closed to complete as possible by October 3rd.  Share screenshots of your progress with me via Twitter or email or reach out with any questions.

The featured image is provided CC0 by John Hult via Unsplash.

Technology Enabled Learning – GTA Seminar

Tuesday, I had the opportunity to lead a seminar at the Graduate Teaching Academy (GTA), which is a program hosted by CTE that “seeks to promote and maintain a standard of teaching excellence amongst graduate students at the University of Oklahoma.”

This seminar started with everyone brainstorming their favorite classroom activities as Paper Tweets. Together, we generated a great list of engaging and memorable learning (and teaching) experiences. From building interactive and media-rich timelines to great icebreaker activities involving toilet paper, there were many great instructional examples to contextualize the rest of our seminar.

'Accurate' portrayal of Toilet Paper Icebreaker Activity

From this point, we shifted focus to our three topics of discussion: mobile devices, choice in assignments, and crowdsourcing resources.

Seminar Discussion

Mobile Devices
Choice in Assignments
Crowdsourcing Resources

Closing

The final assignment for the participants of this seminar was to think about how to adapt one of our topics of discussion—mobile devices, choices in assignments, and crowdsourcing resources —to their favorite learning experience they outlined in their Paper Tweet.

Presenting at GTA was a great experience. If you are interested in sharing your expertise with the next generation of researchers and university instructors, please contact the Center for Teaching Excellence at teach@ou.edu and schedule a session!

Also, for those interested, here are my slides and the annotated whiteboards from this event:

IMG_20160308_181454