Adding an Avatar to your Canvas Account

Featured Canvas Blog Post Image

Adding an avatar to your Canvas account is a great way to personalise any communications you send out. It’s really helpful for students too, because it helps students to recognise your messages.

It takes a couple of minutes to add a picture to your Canvas account, and you don’t need to add a picture of yourself – it can be an avatar, drawings or artwork if you prefer.

Follow the steps below to add a picture to your Canvas account.

Editing Captions / Subtitles within Planet eStream



In this tech tip for staff, I’ll show you how to edit subtitles directly within Planet eStream. This is useful to make quick edits and changes to existing captions.

Watch the video above or follow the intructions below.

  1. Navigate to your video on Planet eStream

  2. Click ‘Manage Subtitles’

    manage subtitles

  3. Click the ‘Go to Subtitle Editor’ button to open the editor

    open editor

  4. You won’t see any text to start off with. As you first need to select the subtitle track. Click select track in the top left of the editor. The track is usually labelled ‘EN’ short for English.

    select track

  5. You will now see the subtitles with each caption displayed as a time-based card. These cards have a start and end time. By default, the editor only shows cards in 30 second segments. To see cards for the whole video simply change the segment duration to entire duration. You can navigate the cards by scrolling and searching for specific content using search function.

    the subtitle editor

  6. Click to edit the text and make any changes required.
  7. Once you’re finished editing, remember to click Save.
  8. You can now use the back button in your browser to return to the main video page. You may need to refresh your browser page in order to view the changes.

    For further help with subtitling, please contact us at

Using sections on your Canvas course

In our previous tech tip, What’s the difference between Sections and Groups on Canvas?, we outlined the differences between sections and groups in Canvas, and the powerful ways you can use these tools on your course.

We’ve prepared two videos for you to start setting up sections on your course and using them to create announcements, assignments and events for specific sections on your course.

Creating Sections in Canvas

Using Sections for Announcements, Assignments and Events

If you’d like further help, please contact us at

What’s the difference between Sections and Groups on Canvas?

There is a text alternative to the information presented in the video below.


Groups are like a smaller version of your course and are used as a collaborative tool where students can work together on group projects and assignments.

As an instructor, use groups to:

  • Set up student group configurations at the course level for assignments and in-class work, both graded and ungraded.
  • Facilitate semester-long projects so that students can communicate and iterate on documents together.
  • Facilitate faculty professional development and institutional committees or activities.
  • Facilitate student-run study groups within courses or at the account level.

For more information about Groups, visit the Canvas Guides group section (Links to an external site.).


Sections in Canvas are used to segment the class list for administrative purposes, typically based on teaching fellow assignment or meeting time.

Once you create sections, you can: 

  • have varied due dates for assignments by section
  • filter the Gradebook by section
  • filter the SpeedGrader™ by section when grading student work
  • view section assignments for students on the People page
  • post announcements to individual sections
  • create calendar events unique to each group

The Canvas Guides (Links to an external site.) have answers to frequently asked questions about sections.

Canvas Syllabus and ‘To Do’ list: how to add items for students

Using the Canvas Calendar, Syllabus and To Do list is an easy way to keep students engaged with your course.

The Syllabus and student ‘To Do’ list show a summary of any course items that have a date or time assigned to them. For example an assignment will have a due date, so this will automatically appear in a student’s Syllabus and ‘To Do’ list. Items which can be given dates include assignments, pages, calendar events and quizzes.

The student 'To Do' list highlighted on a homepage
The student ‘To Do’ list

Syllabus and Course Summary

The Canvas syllabus page includes the Course Summary which shows all content with dates across your course. This is a great way for students to gain an overview of the course and what is required of them. It can be accessed from the course navigation menu or the syllabus (course dates) button if you have one on the course home page.

‘To Do’ lists are unique to the user

As a staff member your ‘To Do’ list will be different from the student’s. For example your list may show that you need to Grade an assignment, where the student’s list will show that they need to submit. If groups or individuals have different due dates these will display accordingly to the user. Staff can check the student ‘To Do’ list of a test student simply by entering student view when on the course homepage.

How to populate the ‘To Do’ list

Population of the ‘to do’ list happens automatically when you add content with dates into your course. To assign a date and time to any page in your course, when editing the page, simply tick the ‘add to student To Do’ checkbox and add a date and time before saving the page.

screen shot of the 'To Do' check box

Dates are added to other items during the setup process, for example when creating an assignment. Follow the guides below to setup these items which will then appear in the Syllabus Course Summary and ‘To Do’ lists.

For help using any of the Canvas features above, please contact us at

Gathering Feedback from your Students using an Ungraded Survey

One of the primary uses of the Canvas quiz tool at the GSA is for gathering feedback and opinions from your students. This feedback can be used to improve course design and evaluate course delivery. The best quiz type for gathering feedback and opinions from your students is an ungraded survey.



Creating an ungraded survey

To create an ungraded survey:

  1. Visit the Quizzes link in your Course Navigation menu and click on the + Quiz button
  2. Give your quiz a title and enter instructions for students in the text box below
  3. Choose Ungraded survey as your quiz type
  4. Choose whether you would like to keep responses anonymous and whether students can have multiple attempts at your survey
  5. Choose whether students should be able to review their own responses and untick ‘show students correct answers’
  6. Give your survey a due date and fill in the ‘Available from’ and ‘Until’ dates.

Adding questions to your survey

The next step is to create your questions by clicking on the questions tab at the top of your survey. questions.png  

To add a question to your survey, click on the ‘+ New Question’ button. 

Question types

There are a number of question types you can choose from. The question type you choose relates to what kind of feedback you’d like to gather. 

  • Free Text/essay:  if you have open questions, such as ‘What could be improved?’ you can use an essay question, which will provide students with a text field, where they can write as much or as little feedback as they’d like to give.
  • Likert scale questions are often used in surveys to gather more focused feedback from respondents. Likert scale questions measure the degree to which your respondents agree or disagree with a statement. Please see the table below for an example of a Likert scale question:
Strongly agree Agree Not sure Disagree Strongly disagree
Canvas has all the information I need to progress through the course week by week. X
Miro is a useful tool for mind mapping.  X

If you would like to create Likert scale type questions in an ungraded survey on Canvas, you can use the multiple dropdowns question type to do so. This question type is the most similar to Likert scale questions. For more information, please see the Canvas Instructor Guide How do I create Likert scale quiz questions? (Links to an external site.)


Viewing the results of your ungraded survey

Unlike graded quizzes and surveys, ungraded surveys do not display in the Gradebook or in Speedgrader. To view the results of your ungraded survey:

  1. Select the Quizzes item in your Course Navigation.Quizzes.PNG
  2. Click on the name of your surveyQuizname.PNG
  3.     Click on the three dots next to the Edit buttonsurvey.png
  4.   Select ‘Show student survey results’ to look at each students individual response

To download a CSV file of all responses to your survey, 

  1. Select Survey Statisticsstats.png

  Select Student Analysis to generate a CSV file with all of the responses to your surveyanalysis.png 

Please note that when you’ve reviewing the results of your survey by question, Canvas will always show one of the answers as the correct answer. However, this can be ignored, and students will not see a “correct” answer.


Help with Ungraded Surveys

If you need help setting up an ungraded survey, or with any other learning technology related query, contact us by emailing


Two Minute Tech Tip No. 20: Adding Live Automatic Captions to your Zoom Meetings

 This week’s Two Minute Tech Tip demonstrates how to add automatic, live captions to your Zoom meetings in real-time. That means your participants will be able to turn closed captions on and off during your meeting. 

There are two different methods for providing automatic, live captions in Zoom. You can use Zoom’s live transcription service or’s live transcription service. There may be errors in the captions provided by either service as they are both provided by an AI program.

Choosing between Zoom Automatic Live Transcription and Live Notes Transcription

Whether you choose to use Zoom’s live transcription service or’s live transcription service will depend on whether you are recording your Zoom meeting in order to upload it to Planet eStream or Canvas. 

Zoom Automatic Live Transcription provides automatic, live captions in-meeting. Live Notes Transcription provides live, automatic captions in-meeting. Live Notes Transcription can also be downloaded as an .srt file to upload alongside a recording of your meeting to provide closed captions.

If you’re recording your event, you’ll need to provide a closed caption file (.SRT) to upload alongside your video, as captions will not be captured in your Zoom recording. You can do this by using’s live transcription service. 

If you have used Zoom’s live transcription to provide your captions, you’ll need to upload your video to to get captions. 

Setting up closed captions with Zoom Automatic Live Transcription

Setting up closed captions with Live Notes Transcription Live Notes transcription is slightly more tricky to set up, but the benefit is that you can download closed captions to upload alongside a recording of your meeting.
Our Canvas page on Uploading content to Planet eStream provides more information about how to upload and share recordings of your Zoom meetings. For further information about using Zoom’s transcriptions options, please see the Zoom Support pages
For help with setting up live cations, or any other learning technology issues, please contact us at

Two Minute Tech Tip No.19: Adding extensions to Assignments


In this Two Minute Tech Tip we show you how to add student extensions to Assignments in Canvas.
Canvas takes care of the admin, making adding new dates easy. Extensions can be added for any number of individuals, groups and sections, each with their own unique dates. 
For further information on setting up assignments, please see this step-by-step guide on the Using Canvas for Staff course
If you are managing many assignment dates, Canvas also has a useful bulk update function. Details of this can be found on the Canvas Guides. 
For help with setting up or editing assignments, remember you can contact us at