Online Teaching - Exams

Teaching Online, 101: A Guide for History Department Instructors 
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These instructions will help you set up a very basic online exam, of the sort often administered in the department in an in-person setting. They envision a timed exam with a relatively unstructured format (leaning heavily on short-identifications and essays, and less on multiple choice or other structured inputs). 

(Side note: as you may be aware, Canvas has both 'Assignments' and 'Quizzes.' The two features share a large overlap in functionality, while each also has functions the other lacks. For several reasons, we are suggesting you use Assignments to administer basic exams, and that is the approach outlined here.)

  1. Prepare your exam questions in a PDF file or Word Document. If any images are necessary for the exam, they should be included in the file as well.

  2. Decide your exam times. You need:
    • Exam start: this is when students will have access to the exam
    • Exam due: this is the cutoff when students must submit their exam in order for it to be considered on-time
    • Last accommodation: you may have students with accommodations requiring extra time. If so, then this is the time when the exam would be considered late for the student with the most extensive accommodation
    • Exam closed: this is when students will no longer be able to submit
      We suggest the exam-closed time come at least 15 minutes after the last-accommodation time. Why? Some student will invariably miss the due date by a couple of minutes and it will become a much bigger hassle if they are entirely blocked from turning it in. Don't worry, it will still be marked late.
  3. Upload your exam file to Canvas. Note that this needs to be done carefully to avoid exposing the test to students ahead of time.
    • In your Canvas course, at the lefthand side, choose Files.

      On the Files page, click the blue Upload button at the upper right, choose your file, and wait for it to finish uploading

    • Here's the tricky part: files are always published by default. But you don't want students seeing your exam.

      So, very quickly, click the green check-mark next to the file, and change its publication status from Published to Schedule Student Availability.

      In Available From put your exam-start time. In the Available Until, put your exam-closed time. Then click the blue Update button

      After changing the schedule, you should see a little calendar icon next to the file, instead of the green check mark. This means the file is locked--you can see it, but students cannot.

      Hover over the calendar and double-check the start and end times carefully--date, time, am/pm. If anything is amiss, simply click the little calendar icon again to fix the inputs.

  4. Now, on the lefthand Canvas menu, choose Assignments.
    On the Assignments page, click the blue +Assignment button at the upper-right

  5. Enter the title of the exam.
    Then in the body text of the assignment, enter some explanatory text, for example: "The exam questions and instructions are contained in the linked file: "

  6. In the pane at the right side of the screen, click the Files tab. You should see the exam file you just uploaded. 

    Click it. A link to the file should appear in the body of the assignment.
  7. Scroll down. Under Submission Type, choose Online, and check File Uploads
  8. Continue down. Optionally (if student academic conduct is a concern for you), under Plagiarism Review, you can change it from None to SimCheck. The default settings should be fine
  9. Continue down. Under Due, put your exam-due time. Under Available From, put your exam-start time. Under Available Until, put your exam-closed time
    Double-check the times carefully--date, time, am/pm
  10. At the very bottom, click Save & Publish. Note that the exam is still shielded from student access, because both the assignment and exam file are locked until the "Available From" time 

You will need to notify any students with accommodations that they are not bound by the Due time. They can continue to submit the exam up until their personal cutoff time, and although Canvas will label it as late, they will not lose any credit.

Once the exam time arrives, the exam assignment will automatically unlock and students will be able to access the file and start preparing their answers.

When the exam is over, you can retrieve student submissions as follows:

  1. On the lefthand side of the Canvas course, go to Assignments, and click on your Exam assignment
  2. On the righthand panel, look for Download Submissions.

    If you click this, all the student submission files will be packaged together in a Zip file, and downloaded to your computer via the normal browser download mechanism (the download may take a few moments to process).
    The file-names within the Zip file will include the student's name and student ID number, as well as an indication of whether the upload was late (relative to the Due date, not accounting for possible accommodations).