Part 9: Spring 2019 Labs

161 Google in Canvas – 02.28.2019

With Google integrated into most K-12 schools as well as UW-Madison, students are familiar and comfortable navigating G-Suite tools. At the February 28, 2019 Active Teaching Lab, ten participants gathered to discuss how they use Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and other Google tools. Attendees explored what’s easy and effective from both the instructor and student perspective.


  • Set students up for success by showing them how to authorize Google in Canvas and submit Google Docs for Assignments before any required Google submissions.
  • Check sharing permissions (can students view, comment, or edit?) before pushing Google Docs/Slides/Sheets/Folders out to students. Since docs are linked inside a protected LMS, allow “Anyone with the link” to participate instead of the default “UW-Madison Google Apps,” forcing some to switch to their secondary account, creating an unnecessary barrier to learning (and a stream of confused email messages to you).
  • Google integration with Canvas isn’t limited to Collaborations and Cloud Assignments. Iframes enable embedding of Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Folders for streamlined access and organization.
  • Replace the “/edit” ending of a Google Doc URL with “/copy” to create a template or worksheet that generates a new copy for students when they click the link. Try “/preview” to create a cleaner view of a Doc for embedding.
  • Use Google Docs to as a virtual “chalkboard” to foster inclusivity in the classroom. A Google Doc chalkboard allows students with visual impairments to enlarge the text, but also creates a searchable record of the semester’s board work for students. Students who require accommodations aren’t singled out to peers, and the whole class benefits. (More on this and other ideas for inclusive classrooms in these notes on accommodation and accessibility from Jennifer Gipson.)
  • Capitalize on Google functionalities to fulfill your pedagogical intention:
    • Foster collaboration and idea sharing → Make an editable Doc
    • Promote formative feedback while keeping sight of the original work → Set permissions to comment-only
    • Create a transparent, accessible course file organization schema → Embed a Google Folder system
    • Provide structure for student work → Create a copyable template
    • Show students real-time survey results → Embed a Form questionnaire as an iframe and instruct respondents to “See previous responses” at its conclusion

For more information and instructions on using Google in Canvas, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.), room 120. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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