Experimenting with templating Canvas courses

This is a very preliminary experiment to look into the feasibility of combining a well-known Python templating engine (Jinja2) with calls to the Canvas API to update pages in Canvas. The idea is that we might create a template for Canvas courses at the law school. Users would then be able to enter a bunch of boilerplate text one time and that boilerplate text could be used to customize pages for the rest of the course. You could imagine a three-step process:

  1. Import a generic course from the Commons.
  2. Login to a Flask web application and enter various customizations and then apply those customizations to the course. Alternatively, one could either imagine the customizations as stored within Canvas on an unpublished page.
  3. Continue on with additional customizations of the pages and the course.

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Using “more options” to change advanced settings in Canvas

I’ve written this guide because the default Canvas settings were not appropriate for our classes. One of the initial issues that came up was that students were not able to create their own posts – they could only reply to prompts started by instructors. While this might be appropriate for K-12 classes, this generally is not appropriate for law school classes. I am told that this setting has been changed at Emory – by default, students should be able to create their own posts.

Another issue is that if students are permitted to edit or delete their posts, then any follow-up replies are left “orphaned” in the discussion chain. This is confusing and so we’ve opted to prevent students from editing or deleting their posts. Once a student posts, they can reply to their own post with any updates or corrections.

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I’m now a LFCS

logo_lftcert_sysadminSo, I’m now a Spanish-speaking, law-talking, Linux-administering guy. On Friday, I sat for the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator exam. The exam runs in the browser. On the left-hand side of the page are a set of questions and sub-questions. There are 25 questions in all and you’re allotted two hours in which to take the exam. On the right side of the page is  a terminal window that connects you to a virtual machine. You do all your work on the virtual machine. You get to choose whether to take the exam in a Redhat-like environment or in a Ubuntu/Debian style environment. Basically, you’re asked to fix or change or install or configure things and you do the assigned tasks and demonstrate that you know your way around the system.

I took the Redhat 7 version of the exam. It took every bit of the two hours to finish. I passed, but not by much. It was a really challenging exam and I was pretty wiped out by the time I finished.



Timebridge: scheduling across organizations

Timebridge (http://www.timebridge.com/) is a web-based calendar service that works in conjunction with your Exchange/Office365 or Google calendar. The nice thing about it is that it can sync with your Office 365 calendar or Google calendar without installing any additional software. It is similar to Calendly, which is what I currently use for this sort of thing, but it has an outbound meeting feature that Calendly lacks. Not surprisingly, the Timebridge folks think that their product is superior to Calendly.

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My super-old tutorial on generating random exam numbers

Law school is all about anonymity when it comes to exams. This means that each student generally needs a random exam number that is used in lieu of the student’s name on exams. A few years ago, I did a YouTube tutorial on one way to generate random exam numbers. I thought I would throw up this link to it just to make it easier for me to find in the future.

As usual, this isn’t my idea. It’s based on the excellent tutorial here — How To Sort A List Randomly In Excel.

And, in case you’re wondering, those are not real student names. They come from the lovely Fake Name Generator.