TEL project updates: Canvas

This is the first of our TEL project updates from our team meeting yesterday.


​Module clean up

There are currently over 6000 modules that have been brought in to Canvas which we think are legacy modules and are no longer being used. May of them are not attached to programmes in AIS and therefore are just sitting in the root of our infrastructure with no home to go to.

We are undertaking a massive clear out of these modules at our end and we are chasing up Faculty teams to remove any modules from AIS that they are not actually delivering.

This is no easy task for either the TEL team or the Faculty staff, but it is a necessary one as we should have better data as we move forwards with our new systes like Canvas and SITS.


Permissions clean up

In addition to the tidy up of modules in Canvas, we have begun to devolve permissions from the original “System Admins” who had full access to everything. Good systems management practice means having only a small number of people with full system access and then managing the permissions appropriately for people to allow them the access they need.

The rationale for this is that we should have permission sets for people according to their job role and responsibility level, not necessarily their skill set.


Infrastructure management​

We have now got a successful heirarchy in Canvas which mirrors the new Faculty and School Structure. Canvas now pulls modules into the correct School from AIS when it imports.

To better support administration staff, we can now add administrators and Student Hub teams at Faculty level so that they can “see” all of the courses in their Faculty wihtou having to enrol themselves on every course. This will cut out the problem of people being enrolled in over 100+ courses and experinecing poor Canvas performance issues.

We have put a call out to the Faculties through the ADs for Education for lists of admiinistrative staff who need adding at this level.

If you feel you should have this access, please get in touch with your senior Administrator or AD and request they put your name forwards.


External Examiners

Lastly, we are working closely with the LEAP team, HR and ICTD to ensure that your External Examiners are getting access to Canvas.

Remember, for an EE to get access to Canvas, they
must be registered with HR and on iTrent, AND you
must add them to a module in AIS in an EE role. Only when both conditions are met will the integration pull them in to Canvas with a valid account.

If you require any assistance with this process please email for any technical queries, or for any administrative queries.


Send three and fourpence we are going to a dance…

I know some people won’t have a clue what I’m talking about with that title…

There are variations on the story of where ‘send three and fourpence we are going to a dance’ originates.  It was supposed to have been a relayed radio message from the first world war that should have read ‘send reinforcement – we are going to advance’  Three and fourpence was about 19p (yes I am that old that I can work it out having lived with the ‘old’ money until my early teens…) It’s also  played out in the children’s game ‘broken telephone’  where a message starts with one child, gets passed round a circle by being whispered and then you see what it comes out as, often with hilarious results!

I’ve been finding in the project that I’m linking into training needs and analysis, underpinning pedagogies and the technical requirements of the systems, how they talk to each other and integrate with other Uni systems.

it’s like talking three languages at once and yes occasionally things do go wrong (oh and Canvas is US based so occasional emails have things like ‘just reach out to me’ in them – how can I reach out you’re in Utah!  I can email but my short little arms will never reach that far!) so I suppose add American English in there as another language.

What I am learning as the project goes on, is that you need to check, assume nothing and check everything and that sometimes emails just don’t work.  I need to talk, to ask questions that what I think I understand I actually do understand well enough that I can relay the message.

And when I get it goes wrong I buy the biscuits.

Bourbons or custard creams? (with chocolate Hobnobs reserved for when I really get it wrong!)


What’s in a name?

What are we going to call Canvas?

This was a question  asked in a recent steering group meeting.  The TEL team had talked once or twice recently about what we should call Canvas, but this was the first time that it had been asked in a more formal forum.

I found the question interesting in that it was almost rhetorical, what are we going to call something that we are already calling by name?

I like the name Canvas, when I think of a canvas I think of a blank canvas waiting to be filled.  I love some of the old Norther Renaissance artists, but those wonderful masterpieces started off life (well mostly, I know some got painted over…) as blank canvases.

I looked on the Canvas Community site ( and blow me, if the first question on the page wasn’t about where did the name Canvas come from?  It would appear the name is about the VLE being a blank canvas and that a canvas does its job by displaying the painting, but the not getting in the way of you looking at the painting.  Bit like a VLE should be…

I still like the name Canvas

What do you think?