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Welcome to the ICD to Canvas Conversion site!

This site is meant to serve as a hub for all the information related to the replacement of Instructor Class Descriptions (ICDs) with the Canvas Course Syllabus Description.  If you don't find what you are looking for, please feel free to contact us for more information:

Quick Tips

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    What?

    The Instructor Class Description (ICD) system will be replaced by the UW's new enterprise learning management system (LMS), Canvas - more specifically, the Syllabus Description of a Canvas Course site.  

    Why?

    The technology on which ICDs are built is obsolete and must be retired.  The replacement system will:

    • Meet the same primary need as ICDs, which is to help students understand the content of specific classes at the time they are planning their registration. 

    • Address some of ICDs' drawbacks, such as inflexibility and dated content

    • Make use of an existing tool rather than create a new one

    See the "Background Tab" for more information.

    How?

    Course sites are automatically created in Canvas.  Faculty (and authorized staff) can populate their Syllabus Description in Canvas; if set to “public,” any content in the Syllabus Description – and only the Syllabus Description - will be published within MyPlan and thus available to students for registration planning. 

    See the "Process Tab" for more information.

    When?

    The replacement is targeted for Summer 2014 registration.  The current system will remain in place to support Spring 2014 registration.

    See the "Schedule Tab" for more information.

    Where?

    There are plenty of places where faculty and staff can get additional help and their questions answered! 

    See the "Links to Resources Tab" for more information.

    Wait ... WHAT?

    We've documented the answers to the most frequently asked questions that have arisen as part of this conversion under the "FAQ" tab.  If you have any additional questions, please contact Carol F. Bershad
     

    See the "FAQ Tab" for more information.

    What is an Instructor Class Description (ICD)?

    An Instructor Class Description (ICD) is a description of how a specific instructor intends to teach a specific course.   It is intended to help students understand the content of specific classes at the time they are planning their registration.  Presumably authored by the Instructor, an ICD contains - along with the Department Abbreviation, Course Number and Course Description taken from the Catalog - the following 6 items:

    1. Class Description:  A description of what the class will cover, intended to amplify the Course Description
    2. Student Learning Goals:  A statement of what students will know/understand/be able to do at the end of the class, with up to six learning goals listed
    3. General Method of Instruction
    4. Recommended preparation:  The prerequisites and background necessary for success in the class (note: these are not enforced and thus theoretically could conflict with the prerequisites printed in the Catalog, which are enforced)
    5. Class assignments and grading: General nature of assignments and the basis on which grades are assigned
    6. Class URL:  A URL to a web page where a student can find more information

    Below is an example of an ICD for GEN ST 197:  Freshmen Seminar

    Does every course have an ICD?

    No.  Historically, faculty have been encouraged but not required to create ICDs for the courses they teach.  Our analysis found that, university-wide, only 25% of all active courses have at least one ICD; further, nearly half of those ICDs have not been updated since 2009

    That said, there are pockets of heavier usage; these tend to be in departments that:

    • offer courses that largely serve students in other departments (e.g., ENGL, C LIT): students from other departments will generally be much less knowledgeable about the curriculum and its content
    • offer courses that can have considerable variability across sections, either within or across quarters, where this variation is driven by the nature of the course (e.g., special topics; GEN ST 199) and/or by the instructor teaching it (e.g., C LIT 240:  Writing in Comparative Literature; ENGL 111 Composition: Literature).
    Why are ICDs being replaced?

    The ICD system was first introduced in the mid-1990s.  The technology on which it is built is obsolete and must be retired.

    What is a Canvas Course Syllabus Description?

    Let's start with what Canvas is:  it is the UW's new feature-rich learning management system.  In 2011-12 an evaluation pilot of Canvas was undertaken as part of the Provost's 2y2d Initiative, the results of which led to its endorsement by the UW Board of Deans and the Teaching and Learning Technology Oversight Committee as the enterprise LMS for all three campuses.

    A Canvas Course "site" is created for every scheduled course every quarter.  One page of this site is the Syllabus, which consists of four parts:

    1. Description:  A description at the top of the page; rich text, images, hyperlinks, and video are all supported
    2. Assignments:  An auto-generated list of all the assignments in the course
    3. Calendar:  The course calendar, located on the right-hand sidebar. Assignment due dates and course event dates appear in bold
    4. Grading:  The course grading scheme, located on the right-hand sidebar

    It is the Syllabus Description - and not the Assignments, Calendar or Grading - that will replace ICDs.  That is, only the content in this section will be surfaced in MyPlan.

    Why did we choose the Canvas Course Syllabus as the replacement?

     In selecting a replacement, we wanted to do three things:

    1. Meet the same primary need as ICDs, which is to help students understand the content of specific classes at the time they are planning their registration
    2. Address some of ICDs'  drawbacks, such as:
      • Dated Content:  There is no 'purge' cycle, so they accrue and become quickly stale unless instructors and/or departments manually delete them
      • Inflexibility:  They are keyed to “instructor + course;” that is, an instructor can have only one ICD per course, regardless of when/how often they teach it.  This leads to a variety of problems that would be solved by instead keying to what a student actually registers for, i.e., “instructor + course + section + quarter.”
    3. Make use of an existing tool rather than create a new one

    The replacement solution meets the above criteria and allows student access to timely, relevant information about courses of interest as they plan their registration.  We hope that this will help students make more informed decisions and be more prepared – something that benefits students and faculty.



    When will the replacement take effect?

    The conversation will take effect for Summer Quarter 2014 student registration.   This means that students will access any available Canvas Course Syllabus Descriptions for the purposes of registration for Summer 2014 rather than ICDs.  The ICD system will remain in place to support Spring Quarter 2014 student registration.

    Which dates are important?

    Courses are automatically created in Canvas every quarter for the current quarter plus two future quarters.  For future quarters, the provisioning occurs once the flux of scheduling settles down and intended offerings become stable; the most reliable date for this has been determined to be after the Time Schedule Construction closes to departments.  Note, however, that in cases wherein the Time Schedule is open for three future quarters, provisioning occurs once the current quarter closes, as Canvas can only provision three quarters at a time.  As the below table shows, there is considerable variability in these dates according to campuses.  However, the date at which registration begins is common across campuses, and thus so too is when the Time Schedule is published, approximately three weeks before registration .... and ergo when any 'public' Syllabus descriptions will be visible to students.  This means that the time that faculty have to populate their Syllabus Description varies by campus.

     

     UW-SeattleUW-BothellUW-Tacoma 

    TS Published on Web2

    Public Syllabus Descriptions published in MyPlan

     Registration Begins
     TS Construction OffCanvas ProvisionedTS Construction OffCanvas ProvisionedTS Construction OffCanvas Provisioned  
    Initial:  Summer 2014Friday, 11/29/2013Monday, 1/20/20141Friday, 1/17/2014Monday, 1/20/2014Friday, 2/14/2014Monday, 2/17/2014 

    UW-Seattle, UW-Bothell:  Monday, 2/3/2014

    UW-Tacoma: Friday, 3/21/2014

     Monday, 4/14/2014
    Autumn 2014Saturday, 2/1/2014Monday, 3/25/2014Friday, 3/28/2014Monday, 3/31/2014Monday, 3/10/2014Tuesday, 3/12/2014 Friday, 4/18/2014 Friday, 5/9/2014
    Winter 2015Tuesday, 7/11/2014Wednesday, 7/14/2014Friday, 9/19/2014Monday, 9/22/2014Tuesday, 4/15/2014Wednesday, 6/17/2014 Friday, 10/17/2014 Friday, 11/7/2014
    Spring 2015Friday, 11/7/2014Monday, 11/10/2014Friday, 1/2/2015Monday, 1/5/2015Tuesday, 4/15/2014Wednesday, 8/26/2014 Friday, 1/23/2015 Friday, 2/13/2015
    1. for the purposes of the initial rollout, UW-Seattle will 'go live' with UW-Bothell; in subsequent quarters Seattle will follow its own calendar
    2. this is the target date for publishing any Syllabus Descriptions that are set to 'public' so that students can access for the purposes of registration planning
    What is a Canvas Course Syllabus Description?

    Canvas is the UW's new enterprise learning management system.  A Course "site" is created for every scheduled course every quarter.  One page of this site is the Syllabus, which consists of four parts:

    1. Description:  A description at the top of the page; rich text, images, hyperlinks, and video are all supported; it is this part of the Syllabus page that will replace ICDs.
    2. Assignments:  An auto-generated list of all the assignments in the course
    3. Calendar:  The course calendar, located on the right-hand sidebar. Assignment due dates and course event dates appear in bold
    4. Grading:  The course grading scheme, located on the right-hand sidebar

    (warning) Only the DESCRIPTION (i.e., that section labeled #1 in the image below) will be displayed to students during the registration process.  The other sections (i.e., ASSIGNMENTS, CALENDAR, and GRADING) will NOT be displayed.

    How do I create a Canvas Syllabus Description?

    For more details ...

    Icon

    Only the general steps are given here; for more details and step-by-step instructions on how to create a Syllabus Description in Canvas, see:

    Use Canvas to publicize your Course Description

    Broadly, there are three basic steps in creating a Canvas Syllabus Description:

    1. Locate your course site in Canvas
      • Course sites are automatically created in Canvas according the schedule under the 'Schedule Tab"
    2. Enter the Syllabus Description
      • You can do this by adding new content or by copying existing content from another Course
    3. Make the Syllabus "Public"
      • You do this by checking the appropriate box under Settings → Visibility

     

    (info) Note that you do NOT have to publish your Course: making your Syllabus Description publicly visible and publishing your Course are two independent steps that have different consequences. 

    • Making the Syllabus Description public:  Once you are satisfied with the Description of your Syllabus - i.e. once you feel it will inform students who are planning their registration - you can make it public by checking the appropriate box under Settings → Visibility.  By doing so, you are making this limited information about your course available to any UW student during their registration.  Even if you never Publish your course the Syllabus Description will still be available in MyPlan.

    • Publishing the Course:  Once you are satisfied with the entire content of your Course - i.e., once you feel it will inform students who are registered in your course - you can publish it by selecting the option under the Course Setup Checklist.
    How do I get authorized to create a Syllabus Description?

    You need to have the appropriate role:

    • Instructor:  If you are listed as an instructor on the course, you will be automatically authorized - all you have to do is follow the steps outlined here: Use Canvas to publicize your Course Description
    • Departmental Administrator:  Some departments prefer to grant access to an administrator who can act on the instructors' behalf.  The appropriate role to request is that of College or Department Administrator or Course Designer.  To be granted this role,  one would identify and contact the ASTRA authorizer within one’s own department.
    How will students find my Syllabus Description?

    Due to technical limitations, the Syllabus Description will not be linked to the Time Schedule as ICDs currently are; rather, they will be linked to MyPlan, the UW's new online academic planning tool. It provides students with an integrated, user-friendly way for:

    • students to search for and save courses - and, as soon as the Time Schedule is available, specific sections - of interest; create multi-quarter plans based on those courses and sections that can be shared with an adviser; run audits against their plans to further inform course selection and progress toward program requirements; and view their full academic history

    • advisers to review and comment on shared plans, as well as make term-specific course recommendations; an upcoming release will provide advisers the ability to publish sample academic plans that students can subsequently adopt and personalize. 

     Note:  Syllabus Descriptions and MyPlan are sync'ed nightly at 11:00pm; new and/or modified Syllabus Descriptions will appear in MyPlan following the sync.



    1. Students will Search for Courses

     

    2.  By selecting the Course, they can see associated Sections; if there is a public Syllabus Description for that Section, it will show as a link under the Instructor's Name.

     

    3.  By selecting the link, the Syllabus Description will open in a pop-up window,

     


     

    Canvas Links

    General

    Specific to the ICD to Canvas Conversion

    Listserv

    To receive automatic updates regarding the conversion, subscribe to listserv “icd-replace:”  http://mailman.u.washington.edu/mailman/listinfo/icd-replace/

    Q: Will the content of my existing ICDs be imported into Canvas?

    A:  NO. You will have to populate your Canvas Syllabus Description.  This can be done by either manually entering the content or - if you are a current Canvas user - by copying content from an existing Course in Canvas and modifying it as appropriate. At minimum, you can cut and paste the text from your ICD, but we hope you'll take advantage of some of the features in Canvas such as embedding images, videos and links into your description!

    (question) For more details on how to do this, see: Designing your Course: Syllabus

    What will happen to my ICDs?

    A.  After Spring Quarter 2014 registration closes, the ICD system will be decommissioned and all content purged.  If you want to save the content of your ICDs, we suggest you cut and paste the content from your ICDs into an alternate file. 

    Q. Will I have to update my Canvas Syllabus Descriptions every quarter?

    A. YES.  One of this issues with ICDs is that they are not associated with a particular quarter and thus they can become outdated.  While the use of the Canvas Syllabus Description addresses this drawback, it does require that instructors populate theirs every term by - as noted above - either manually entering the content or by copying content from an existing Course in Canvas

    (question) For more details on how to do this, see: Migrate Course Content from Canvas to copy content from an existing Course in Canvas and Designing your Course: Syllabus to add new or edit copied content.

    Q. Will the entire Syllabus be visible?

    A. NO.  Only the Description will be visible to students in MyPlan,  The other sections - Assignments, Grading and Calendar - will NOT be visible.   

    (warning) Geek Alert:  We are accessing the Canvas API and pulling data only from the Syllabus Description field and rendering it in MyPlan 

    Q. So the idea is to make my Syllabus Description available in MyPlan by the time the Time Schedule is published, Do I have to publish my entire Course site by then?

    A. NO. Making your Syllabus Description publicly visible and publishing your Course are two independent steps that have different consequences. 

    • Making the Syllabus Description public:  Once you are satisfied with the Description of your Syllabus - i.e. once you feel it will inform students who are planning their registration - you can make it public by checking the appropriate box under Settings → Visibility.  By doing so, you are making this limited information about your course available to any UW student during their registration.  Even if you never Publish your course the Syllabus Description will still be available in MyPlan.

    • Publishing the Course:  Once you are satisfied with the entire content of your Course - i.e., once you feel it will inform students who are registered in your course - you can publish it by selecting the option under the Course Setup Checklist.

    (question) For more details on how to do this, see: Use Canvas to publicize your Course Description to make you Syllabus Description public and How do I publish my Course to publish your course.

    Q. I don't use Canvas as a Learning Management System. Does this mean I have to now?

    A. NO.  If - and only if - you want to advertise your courses as part of the student registration period should you populate your Syllabus Description and set it to "Public." You do not have to use the rest of Canvas as an LMS

    Q. I use Canvas as a Learning Management System. Does this mean I have to make my Syllabus Description public?

     A. NO.  If - and only if - you want to advertise your courses as part of the student registration period should you populate your Syllabus Description and set it to "Public".  Otherwise, don't set the Syllabus Description to "Public."

    Q. How often do the data get updated? When might my changes show?

    A.  Changes to Syllabus Descriptions will not appear in MyPlan immediately but rather after the nightly (11pm) sync.  

    Q. Where can students see my Syllabus Description?

    A.  Syllabus Description will no longer be linked from the Time Schedule but rather from within MyPlan. 

    (question) For more details on this, see the "Process Tab"

     

     

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