Quick Start Guide

This guide provides guidance on a number of core topics including the use of Canvas VLE and Microsoft Teams and signposts to additional resources available to support you. It will be especially helpful for new members of academic staff to Queen’s University or those returning from an extended period of leave. You might also find it useful to read our Top Tips for Teaching Online before you refer to the content below.”

What is Canvas VLE?

  • Canvas is the virtual learning environment (VLE) at Queen’s University Belfast used by staff and students to access and manage online course learning materials, connecting various digital tools in one easy place.
  • It provides a variety of customisable course creation and management tools, course and user analytics and statistics, and various communication tools.
  • The easiest way to access Canvas is to use the link provided via Queens Online or bookmark the URL: https://canvas.qub.ac.uk
  • Access to Canvas modules is managed by your school admin staff, via Qsis. If you find you do not have access to a Canvas course or have been assigned an incorrect role (e.g. Teacher role, Teaching Assistant (TA) role, etc.) please contact your school admin.

Useful Training & Support Resources

Where to Get Help:

  • ❓  For ‘how do I’ type questions or technical queries, Canvas Tier 1 can be reached 24x7x365 via the ‘Help’ menu in Canvas.
  • 📅  Link to the following page for the complete list of Canvas Training available at this time.

What is MS Teams?

  • Microsoft Teams is a powerful communication and collaboration tool that provides a simple and easy-to-use app for staff and students to work together and share information via a common space, in real time.  It can be used to facilitate teaching, seminars, tutorials, video meetings, Chat communications, sharing of files and other Office 365 applications.

What can I do with MS Teams?

  • Schedule, attend or record online meetings such as; lectures, tutorials, seminars, team meetings, conferences etc.
  • Use features such as Breakout Rooms to bring students into smaller groups for more focused project activities, collaborations and communication.
  • Add external users / guests to Queen’s Teams and Teams Meeting, for example a guest lecturer who is not a QUB staff member.
  • Use Microsoft Teams for a quick and easy way to capture audio, video, and screen sharing activity for the purpose of asynchronous learning.  A recording will be saved directly into your Office 365 Microsoft Stream account. Closed captions are automatically generated on all video recordings for accessibility purposes, which you can then review and edit if required.
  • Because Teams is built on Office 365, you also benefit from integration with familiar Office 365  apps and services such as Word, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Exchange etc.

Useful Training & Support Resources

  • 💻 Training and Support delivered by Information Services
    • Office 365 Training & SupportAccess to the live training schedule and a variety of rich training resources (videos & guides) to help support you in the use of O365 (including MS Teams)

Where to Get Help:

  • ❓ The IT Service Desk is the central point of contact for staff and students seeking advice and support for all IT related services such as MS Teams, MS Stream Office 365 etc. Full details of how to contact the IT service Desk can be found on the Need Help page.

Getting Started with Video Recording

  • There are a number of tools available at Queen’s to allow you to record a video. Microsoft Teams is the quickest and easiest way for you to record a video. Other supported tools at Queen’s such as  Powerpoint or Mediasite will allow you to screencast but if you are looking for a very quick way to get started with screencasting, MS Teams is currently the recommended solution.
  • There are two main approaches to record video content: a screencast, which is a recording of your computer screen combined with an audio narration or a talking head video which focuses on the presenter rather than on a screen being shared or a presentation (also referred to as a ‘piece to camera’).

Important Considerations

  • Talking Head videos are best suited to addressing an audience directly and discussing areas that do not require visual representation on screen. Examples could include; introduction to a course, sharing thoughts on a subject or discussion topic, giving feedback on a piece of work a learner has created, general feedback to the class, making a course announcement or providing reassurance on a particular issue.
  • Keep it brief and to the point (under 5 mins). By nature a talking head video is not dynamic, as the video shot does not change. It will therefore be more challenging to keep the audience engaged.
  • Screencasts work best when videos are short (15 mins max) and to the point, directing the learner to further information or introducing them to concepts that they can then gain a fuller understanding of through additional reading and research.
  • Please DO NOT try to replicate a long lecture using video as this is likely to exceed your learners attention span and they are unlikely to fully engage  for the duration of the video. Instead, focus on explaining key concepts in short bitesize sessions with accompanying links to resources for further research on the topic.
  • It is really important to ensure your videos are made accessible for learner variability and are fully compliant in terms of accessibility.
  • Always provide a transcript of your video. For audio or video that is not hosted on MS Stream, you can use Microsoft Word to create a transcript.

Useful Training & Support Resources

Where to Get Help:

  • ❓  The IT Service Desk is the central point of contact for staff and students seeking advice and support for all IT related services including use of video. Full details of how to contact the IT service Desk can be found on the Need Help page of the Digital Learning @ Queen’s blog.
  • 💬  Book a 1-2-1 consultation session with a support representative from your Faculty/School or the VLE Pedagogy Support Team for advice and support with recording video!

Why is Accessibility Important?

  • Accessibility promotes equality, diversity and inclusion. Accessibility is not the responsibility of any one department, school, team or directorate, but involves a combined whole institution approach, where everyone strives to be more accessible.
  • The UK Digital Accessibility Regulations came into force in September 2018 which means that we have a legal obligation to make any material presented online fully accessible. Not only is it morally and ethically the right thing to do, it is required by law.
  • For Digital Accessibility, think THRIVES a useful acronym to help you to easily remember key accessibility considerations which help to comply with UK digital accessibility legislation. THRIVES has seven basics to get you started on your accessibility journey and is an easy way to recall the fundamentals of accessibility.

How do I cater for Accessibility?

  • Plan, design and develop online content (e.g. word documents, powerpoints, video, visuals etc.) in a more inclusive and accessible way for your students.
  • The Accessibility Toolkit is an online course which will guide you in the design of accessible content for learner variability and show you how to use the two main accessibility checker tools:
    • The Canvas Accessibility Checker – available within the Rich Content Editor of Canvas Pages, Announcements, Discussions, Quizzes and Assignments.
    • Blackboard Ally -a tool that integrates seamlessly with Canvas to gauge the accessibility of your digital content and provides step-by-step guidance on how to fix any accessibility issues.
  • You can also refer to the Accessibility Checklist when developing content as it incorporates a full list of accessible design practices.

Useful Training & Support Resources

Where to Get Help:

  • ❓ For accessibility related queries on any of the Microsoft platforms (i.e. MS Teams, MS Stream, Office365 etc) or Mediasite, the IT Service Desk is the central point of contact.
  • ❓  For accessibility-related questions when working in Canvas, contact Canvas Tier 1 via the ‘Help’ menu in Canvas (available 24x7x365).
  • 📅 For training in the use of Blackboard Ally, check the following Canvas Training schedule for sessions available at this time.
  • 💬  Disability Services provide students and staff with appropriate information relating to disability issues. They can be contacted at: disability.office@qub.ac.uk

QUB Assessment Handbook

The guidance within the Handbook outlines the preferred Assessment practices of the University and draws upon the regulatory framework of the University. It provides an essential reference point for programme and module leaders, particularly in relation to assessment planning and design. The Handbook should be read and consulted by all staff who engage with student learning. The guidance will provide clarity around areas of our practice to ensure a transparent and consistent experience for our students. The Handbook is also made available to students.

🔗 QUB Handbook of Assessment Guidance and Support 2020-21

Useful Training & Support Resources

Where to Get Help:

  • ❓  There is lots of support available for Assessment, depending on your specific needs:
    • Canvas Tier 1 can be reached 24x7x365 via the ‘Help’ menu in Canvas, for ‘how do I’ type questions related to assessment in Canvas or any technical queries
    • Quality Assurance and Regulations (QAR) Team in Academic Affairs provide regulatory support and can be contacted at: qar@qub.ac.uk
    • Examinations Office can be contacted with exam related queries at the following address: exams@qub.ac.uk
    • Centre for Educational Development (CED) provides support for assessment and can be contacted at: CED@qub.ac.uk
    • Disability Services provide students and staff with appropriate information relating to disability issues. They can be contacted at: office@qub.ac.uk
  • 📅  Link to the following page for the complete list of Canvas Training available at this time.
  • 💬  Book a 1-2-1 consultation sessions with a support representative from your Faculty/School or the VLE Pedagogy Support Team for advice and support with assessment.

Supporting Students

  • There are various resources available to support Students during their time at Queen’s.  Below you will find a number of key resources which are helpful when directing students towards appropriate support available for use of Canvas, MS Teams as well as more general support for Digital Learning at Queen’s.  A wealth of student information on studying and life at Queen’s can also be found on the My Queens website.

Useful Training & Support Resources

Where Can Students Get Help?

  • ❓  For ‘how do I’ type questions or technical queries, Canvas Tier 1 can be reached by all Students 24x7x365 via the ‘Help’ menu in Canvas.
  • ❓ The IT Service Desk is the central point of contact for students seeking advice and support for all IT related services such as MS Teams, MS Stream Office 365 etc. Students can find details of how to contact the IT service Desk on the Need Help page.
  • 👩‍🎓  Student Digital Champions are available to help and support fellow students in the use of Canvas, MS Teams or with any other aspect of Digital Learning. To get in touch with the team email: studentdigitalchampions@qub.ac.uk
  • 💬  Student Support Services are available at all levels of the student journey. For more information about each service and for contact details please see Support Services on the My Queen’s website.