Deliver course content

Your students learn most effectively when they can do something with the information they absorb.

The in-person and online activities you design should have a high failure tolerance and low stakes so that when your students practice with the information they learn, they can receive meaningful and useful feedback from you.

  • Activities that are failure-tolerant allow your students multiple attempts, so you can and provide feedback along the way.
  • Activities that are low-stakes provide opportunities for students to work within their understanding of the material with a low impact on their final grade.

In other words, the activities and assignments you design serve as the practice sessions to prepare your students for the high-stakes exams and projects. You should provide your students with ample opportunities to use the information they're learning by including at least one assignment or activity per week.

To learn more about high-stakes exams and projects, see the Assess Learning section. 

Use Canvas Assignments

Assignments and activities you create for your students should be submitted electronically to minimize close, personal contact. Canvas Assignments will be one of your primary tools for assigning and managing student work. The Assignments tool allows students to submit work (e.g., Word documents, PDFs, image and video files, websites) and can connect to external learning tools. All Assignments automatically appear in the Canvas grade book. 

Assignments should:

  • Connect to module and course objectives.
  • Situate relevance to students' lives/careers (i.e. answer the question, "Why are we doing this?").
  • Provide a clear process/task list.
  • Articulate expectations for deliverables.

Encourage reading & watching material

In most courses, reading and watching videos are the primary methods for students to receive content. You can encourage students to prepare for or follow-up after class by including a short quiz or comprehension check over the materials or lecture. Two easy-to-use tools that integrate with Canvas are Canvas Quizzes and Panopto Quizzes.

Note: Canvas Discussions could also be used to encourage reading and watching.

General guidance

  • Include at least one short quiz or comprehension check per week.
    • Assign a due date before synchronous class meetings (online or face to face) to encourage preparation.
    • Assign a due date after class meetings or at the end of the week to check for comprehension or application.
  • Focus students' attention to the most important parts of readings and videos (including your lecture videos) by asking questions connected to your course- or module-level learning outcomes.
  • Keep comprehension quizzes low-stakes:
    • Worth a few points
    • Untimed
    • With multiple attempts so students can practice

Canvas Quizzes

You will likely use Canvas Quizzes for most of your low-stakes assessments. Quizzes includes automatically graded question types (e.g., multiple-choice, true/false, matching, numeric, and fill-in-the-blank) as well as manually graded questions, such as short answer and essay (both of which can be graded in Speedgrader

  • Explicitly state that quizzes are "open book" in the Quiz Instructions. This gives students multiple exposures to the material which can aid learning (i.e., if they need to re-read a section of their text multiple times in order to answer a question, they are more likely to retain that information).
  • Shuffle answers for automatically graded questions such as multiple choice.
  • Provide automatic feedback for correct and incorrect answers where applicable.

Canvas Quizzes resources

Find Quiz help for Instructors in the Canvas Instructor Guide. 


Panopto quizzing

You can use Panopto Quizzing to insert questions into your videos or lecture recordings. The questions will help refocus students and reinforce the key points. Panopto Quizzing can be auto-graded, and if you make it an Assignment the grades will automatically appear in the Canvas Grades.

Here are some general guidelines for how often to integrate questions into a video:

  • Short videos (less than seven minutes): add one or more questions in the middle and at the end.
  • Longer videos (greater than seven minutes): add one or more questions at least every five minutes.

Note: Viewer drop-off rate is high after seven minutes, so shorter videos generally lead to more complete and repeat viewing.

Panopto quizzing resources

Return to the Fall 2020 Online Resource Guide