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FAQs about the Course Management System (CMS)

CMS = Course Management System (CMS) is an online learning system that provides the management of eLearning courses. The CMS is where you "go to class" online. The class site in the CMS typically contains course documents, provides a method for communication, and houses the gradebook. The two systems discussed here are CANVAS and WAMAP.

Questions about CANVAS (as a CMS):

Questions about WAMAP (as a CMS):

Note: The Q&As below refer to WAMAP when used as a CMS, not simply as a depository for mini-lectures and examples. If your class uses WAMAP only for the latter, please see WAMAP Q&As on on the FAQs: General Info page. If your class uses WAMAP for discussions, see Q&As below.


How do I change my display name in CANVAS?

Instructions on how to change your Canvas display name are provided here: How do I update my Canvas "display name"?. Rules on what it can/should be are at Syllabus - Canvas acount name policy.

I'm having technical problem with Canvas. Where do I file a Tech Ticket with Clark Help Desk?

File a Tech Ticket via Clark's TechHub Help Desk.

How should I proceed through the class materials?

After completing every item in the "Orientation - Start Here" module in Canvas, proceed to the "Unit 1" module and work through every item listed. Each unit module has "topics". Each topic links to a specific section to "study" in the e-text, often contains videos to "watch", important "learn" links to my mini-lectures and examples in WAMAP, may include "resources", and links to WebAssign "assignment". This familiar flow continues for each topic in the unit. Below is an example, but your course might vary slightly. Also, read the Canvas "Class Announcements" (that appear above the modules) every day!

Screenshot of a module in Canvas with topic, study, watch, learn, and assignment items highlighted.

How do I insert an image in a discussion board post including "Alt Text"?

The two screenshots below describe the steps you can take to insert an image (e.g. a screenshot of a graph you prodeced electronically, a photo of a diagram you sketched) that resides on your computer into a discussion board post in Canvas. If you prefer watch Katie Palacios' Video: Embed Image in Canvas Discussion.

Screenshot of insert image tool in Canvas. Images tool allows you to upload image.

This will open the pop-up below.

Screenshot of insert image window showing steps for uploading image from computer files and including Alt Text by typing a short description of your image to aid screen reader users.

Including a short description of your image in "Alt Text" is required every time you post or share an image in class. Alt Text assists classmates who use screen reader technology. Important!

How do I use the mathematics notation editor in Canvas?

Canvas has two built-in mathematics editors (ICEE and WIRIS), but only WIRIS produces notation that is accessible to students who use screen-reader technology. Please only use the WIRIS editor!

WIRIS allows you to type nicely formatted mathematics expressions in a discussion post via a typical WYSIWYG palette of options.
To access WIRIS in a Canvas discussion board post, use this menu option:

Screenshot of Canvas discussion board post showing access to WIRIS via Insert menu, Equation option.

Why does it say "This assignment does not count toward the final grade."?

Because this assignment isn't due until a deadline late in the term, so that score doesn't get included in the running total grade until after that deadline. This is the best messaging Canvas is able to do in reminding you of that later inclusion, and it marks that grade with a circle around an explanation mark. Once that deadline occurs, your scores from all the WebAssign assignments will be graded in the "WebAssign Assignments" line item listed toward the bottom of the gradebook.

Screenshot of gradebook showing quiz that is counted and assignment that is not counted (until later in term).

If I reply to a feedback comment from the professor inside the Canvas gradebook will she see it?

No, do not write to me inside the Canvas gradebook as I will likely never see your comments there. Instead email me and I'd be happy to discuss your scores or grades.

WAMAP: Registration & Technical Support

What is WAMAP?

Online classes typically use a course management system (CMS) which is a website where the students meet online for lessons, discussions, etc. Wamap.org is an open source CMS designed specifically for mathematics online courses. WAMAP (WM) is where we will meet for asynchronous discussions.

How do I register in WAMAP?

Registration in WAMAP is free. Go to www.wamap.org/forms.php?action=newuser and complete the information per the screenshot below (unless you already have an account).

Course ID Code in class syllabus: [ 092+096 | 090+095 | 103+111 | 151-152-153 ]

Screenshot of WAMAP registration page.

Important! When registering in WAMAP you must use your Clark Student Email address (your @students.clark.edu addy) ONLY! Type it carefully please. If you use a different address in WAMAP I will BLOCK your access to class until you change it and lost points cannot be made-up.

Note: If adding class late you will need an enrollment key. Email me for key.

Where can I find the WAMAP course ID code?

The WAMAP Course ID Code is listed in your Class Syllabus linked here:
[ 092+096 | 090+095 | 103+111 | 151-152-153 ]

Why are we using WAMAP instead of a commercial product (e.g. Canvas)?

WAMAP is an open source software designed in Washington state specifically for mathematics online courses. WAMAP has, in my professional opinion, many advantages over a commercial product. In comparison to Canvas, for instance: easy to navigate threaded discussion boards, reliable user-friendly (free) math editor, built-in grapher, ability for instructor to provide personal feedback on individual posts, superiorly responsive support, tied to dozens of OER textbooks with pools of locally written problems, and ... it's completely free.

There are other reasons based on Clark's history of learning management systems, but the primary reason I choose WAMAP is because its discussion boards allow for multiple interactive discussions which enable "frequent and ongoing quality communication and collaboration" (Clark Mathematics Dept. requirement). If you are new to WAMAP give it a chance, it may not be as fancy as $100K software, but it's easy to get used to.

Does WAMAP offer any tutorials?

A brief "help" guide is available at Help Using WAMAP.

Is WAMAP ADA compliant? What accessibility features does WAMAP provide?

WAMAP runs in the browser of your choice. Math equations are displayed using MathJAX which is screen reader compatible. See WAMAP's Accessibility and Display Preferences.

Who do I contact for tech support?

WAMAP provides very little tech support to students. If you have a tech question or problem then post it to the "General Q&A" discussion board in your WAMAP class or email the instructor directly.

How do I edit my profile (name, email address, password) or add a photo to my profile?

In your WAMAP class click HOME (upper left corner) which takes you to the page you get when you first login to WAMAP. Then click on your name (upper right corner). The account settings page pops up. There you can change your name, add your Clark Student Email, add a profile photo or image, etc.

Note: Keep your profile photo academically appropriate. Do not include anything that may be inflammatory such as religious quotes/symbols, political messages, gang-related symbols, nudity, guns, drugs, etc.

screenshot of WAMAP home page and where to click your name, upper right corner, to edit your profile.

Can I set my WAMAP time-zone to Clark College time so I won't miss a DB deadline?

Yes! Great idea if you live outside Pacific time zone or will be traveling outside of that time zone. In your WAMAP class click HOME (upper left corner) which takes you to the page you get when you first login to WAMAP. Then click on your name (upper right corner).

The account settings page pops up. Scroll down and set the time zone as shown below. Then scroll down further and click "Update Info" button. Now your WAMAP account won't use your computer time, it will use Clark College time.

WAMAP: Discussion Boards

What are LQs? What are DQs?

The professor often posts mini-lessons, examples, and questions for class discussion on the discussion boards. Two such question threads are LQs and DQs. LQ stands for Lesson Question and DQ stands for Discussion Question. Both are intended to engage the class in fruitful conversation. LQs tend to be more "mathy" than DQs, perhaps collaboratively solving a problem together. DQs lend themselves to a more "wordy" response, perhaps discussing a linked article or video.

How do I change the subject line in a reply post?

When you hit "reply" to a message in a discussion thread the subject line is automatically the original subject line. If you desire to change it (e.g., to better reflect the content of your message) or you are required to change it (e.g., in a worksheet thread where the subject line must contain the problem number) then simply cut the existing text and write your own subject line text.

How do I change font colors or highlight text in a discussion board post?

The font in your discussion board post can be colored or highlighted. This is particularly useful when displaying math equations in plain text to bring attention to a specific portion of an expression as in x(x-2)+y(x-2)=(x-2)(x+y).

In the message compose window, select the text you wish to color/highlight, click the appropriate icon or drop-down arrow, a color-picker pop-up box will appear, click on the color of choice, and your text will be formatted.

Screenshot of WAMAP toolbar pointing out the font color and highlight text tools.

How do I un-highlight text in a discussion board post?

The process of "un-highlighting" text is not intuitive since there is not a "no color" choice (like most office programs) in the color picker window. Instead, select the text and highlight it white.

Am I allowed to post an attachment to a discussion board post?

NO, all work must be shown in the body of the message and not in a separate attached file. Images such as graphs, sketches, screenshots may be permitted as images embedded in the post (see What kinds of images can be posted to a DB?), but separate files attached to the post are NOT allowed. (Why? They disrupt the flow of conversation, may spread viruses, inhibit students reading the boards on mobile devices or while traveling.)

How do I insert an image/graphic in a discussion board post?

Images or graphics (in .GIF, .PNG, or .JPG format) can be embedded in the body of your message using the "insert image" tool. (No separate "attached file" graphics please.)

Screenshot of WAMAP toolbar pointing out the insert image tool.

This will take you to the "General" or "Upload" tabbed window shown below.

Next step to insert image is to upload it by browsing to your image on your computer, select it, click OK to finish.

Can I show all the threads on one page instead of having to press "next"?

The default number of threads to show at once is 20. If the number of threads on a discussion board exceeds this WAMAP separates out the next threads to a separate page and you have to press "next" to see them.

To avoid having to do this extra click, change the setting to show 100 threads all at once. Click your name to enter your WAMAP profile:

Then change the "Messages/Posts per page" setting to 100 followed by "Update Info" at bottom right corner of profile page. Hopefully we'll never exceed that number of threads in one week!

How can I see a list of just my posts?

Seeing a list of just your posts is a useful way to check how many posts you have made for the week. In the weekly forum, at the top of the page just below the search bar click "List Posts by Name".

Find your name in the list and then you can click the "+" sign to expand the post to see what you wrote. Click "Thread" to be taken to that threaded discussion. Also see How do I see what tag my post earned (S, R, Q, X)?


In regards to CPRs and graded participation, what day of the week is the end of the week?

When grading class participation a "day" is from 12:00 am to 11:59 pm and a "week" is from 12:00 am (early) Sunday morning to 11:59 am (before noon) on the following Saturday afternoon. Note the "dead zone" below.

What is the "dead zone"? Can I post during it?

CPRs are due before NOON on Saturday. The posting dead zone is on Saturday from noon to midnight.

After the CPR deadline each week there is a 12-hour period considered a "dead zone" in that posts made to the discussion boards during this period are NOT eligible for class participation, attendance, or online presence. (You can post, but the posts won't count for CPR points.) Posts made in the dead zone might not get a reply. This time is used by the professor to double-check and record class participation points for the week and update the gradebook.

NOTE: Deadlines are different during the last week of class. See class calendar for schedule, CPR deadline, dead zone times.

Why do CPRs for the week end at noon?

The primary reason for the noon deadline for CPRs (class participation points) is that when it was set at the same time as the quiz deadline a lot of people posted near that deadline and these posts tended to go unread. They were not contributing to the ongoing conversations, engaging the class as a whole, or helping anyone prepare for the quiz. So I moved that deadline a few hours up to encourage people to post while there was still time for others to respond before the end of the week. I do realize this is not the most convenient time for everyone, but after years of trying various deadlines, the noon time seems to be the best for the collaborative nature of the class as a whole.

WAMAP: Gradebook

How can I check my grade? When are grades updated? Why isn't my quiz score posted? Are the lowest two quiz scores already dropped?

Scores are posted in the gradebook in your CMS. They are updated weekly usually sometime between Saturday afternoon and Monday evening. A class announcement will be posted once the weekly grades are updated. Click "Gradebook" in your online classroom to access your current grade.

CPR scores: All posts will initially have a score of "0" shown in the "private feedback", but this is just temporary! Scores will be added when the gradebook gets updated after the week ends. See next FAQ for more.

Quiz scores will be manually transferred from MML to your CMS one week AFTER its due date (to allow for any necessary score changes from quiz review requests to occur first).

Dropped quizzes: At some point in the term your lowest two quiz scores will be dropped. You will know because a little "d" will appear next to a dropped quiz score. It may be that one score is dropped at first, then increase to two dropped later, automatically adjusted throughout the term to your two lowest scores. Those dropped quiz scores are not included in your "total" grade in the gradebook and will have no negative effect on your final course letter grade. Note: If you have a "0" quiz score, until it is dropped your "total" grade will be artificially low so you'll have to calculate it manually.

Screenshot of grades in WAMAP pointing out how to see feedback from the professor, and current course grade. Also either not counted or EC means this score is not yet included in your grade total.

How do I see what tag my post earned (S, R, Q, X)? Why are my tagged posts scored zero? Why is my CPR score zero?

As the professor reads your discussion board post she will "tag" it as "S", "R", "Q", or "X". You can see how your post is tagged via the "private feedback" feature in WAMAP (example shown in image below). To view the tags and any other feedback the professor has provided, revisit your post on the discussion board, view just your posts, or see them in the gradebook (see image above this FAQ). You can use this information to keep track of your tags for the week.

Important Note: All posts when initially tagged as "S", "R", or "Q" get scored as "0" points. Don't fret ... the "0" is just temporary!

CPR POINTS get recorded on the gradebook over the weekend when the professor "does grades". At that time "S" and "R" tagged posts get converted to points AND points get added for making 3 posts and for posting on 2 different days. That's when "S" and "R" tagged posts get actual point values (worth 3 points each). "Q" tagged posts will forever be marked at "0" points, but they count toward the 2 points for making 3 posts ("quantity") and the 2 points for posting on 2 different days ("frequency"), so you'll see those points added ("additional score") then too (up to 4 points total).

BTW, you'll know when CPR scores have been updated for the week via a class announcement, but you can also tell because the discussion board item in the gradebook will no longer be marked "EC".

See What do S, R, Q, X tags mean?

Can you explain the numeric code (3-3-2-2) given for class participation in the feedback column of the gradebook?

After the week ends, CPR scores get recorded (usually Saturday evening, but definitely by Monday night) in the WAMAP gradebook. The feedback column will contain a coded score that relates to the class participation points you earned that week. This score is comprised of four numbers and refers to the four components of the Class Participation Requirements (CPRs).

For example, if your score reads 3-3-2-0 then that means:
3 of 3 points for the "quality" component (substantive post)
3 of 3 points for the "interactivity" component (relevant reply to a fellow student)
2 of 2 points for the "frequency" component (posting on at least 2 different days)
0 of 2 points for the "quantity" component (making a total of at least 3 posts)

The maximum score is 3-3-2-2 for a total of 10 points possible each week (except in week 1 when no CPRs are required).

How can I figure out what grade I need on the final exam in order to pass the class?

After the last quiz score is posted to the gradebook use the Grade Calculation Sheet (10-week fall-winter-spring classes ONLY! Not applicable in summer term.) It describes how you can calculate the score you need on the final exam to earn a particular grade in the class.