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Posts tagged ‘Canvas’

27
Mar

Okay, All Your Students are Online. Now What?

I still chuckle when I think about every teacher I work with is now doing some form of remote or online teaching. I know it’s not a laughing matter, but I can’t help it. After spending four years as eCourses coordinator at the college, I know the reality of that statement. I’m sure everyone is doing their best. However, I can’t help but think about that select few who wanted to teach online because they thought it would be easy. Well, it’s not so easy after all, especially when you only get two weeks to do it.

It’s easy to post content (documents) online, and most LMS’s make it easy to record video and audio. But the hardest part is engaging students. How do you even know they are watching, listening or reading what you put online? I hope I’m not freaking people out, but trust me, they’re not watching, listening and reading all that stuff you just put in Canvas. They are just looking for the stuff the “counts.” I know I sound pessimistic, but I speak from experience. When I first started teaching online over 15 years ago, the first thing I noticed was that if there was no point value attached, it got ignored. That included textbook chapters, handouts, content pages in Canvas, and yes, even YouTube videos. I was shocked. They don’t like my videos? Did anyone even watch them?

I couldn’t really tell if students were engaging or not with my content, but they were missing huge gaps in knowledge that would have come from engaging with that content. I constantly found myself asking in my feedback, “Did you watch the video?” or “Did you read the handout?” It was definitely frustrating especially since I made a ton of videos. Once I got fed up with that I decided to change the design of my courses. I now have several different formats depending on the course. I made a couple of videos showing how I changed things up that you can watch below, but I’ll summarize here first.

For my ENH114 African American literature class where reading is crucial (Duh!), I changed the course so that every reading is an assignment. Yes, you read that right. Every single reading is an assignment. I call them lessons, and each lesson either has reading handouts, video or audio and then something for students to do. For example, in Lesson 1.1.1 Origins of African American Language, students watch a YouTube video and then write a summary about what they learned. Simple. I create this by using Assignments in Canvas, embed the video, write my instructions and then set the assignment to accept text and uploads for submission. The best part is I didn’t have to make the video. Thank you internet and YouTube.

Another example from the ENH114 class is a lecture I wanted students to read. Again, I made it a lesson: Lesson 1.2.1 Importance of Negro Spirituals that included a recording of me reading the lecture as well as the text of the lecture, and then asks students to answer a question about the content. I use rubrics so the students know what I’m looking for, and it makes it easier for me to grade. The idea that everything I want students to do is graded in some way can be daunting, but using rubrics makes quick work of it. I’ll demonstrate more ways that I engage students in this class in the video below.

For my freshman comp classes, I have a slightly different approach. Not everything I want for them to read and do is made into a lesson, but I do wish that would work. However, I do consistently make some of the content into lessons. You really need to have something for students to engage with on a weekly basis. If you don’t, students get in the habit of “skipping” weeks. Having assignments with weekly due dates draws them into the course. They don’t have to be much, just something that says, “Hey, remember you have this English class over here.” You can see more from these courses in the video below. You can find the YouTube Series I mention here: Crash Course Navigating Digital Information.

Lastly, I teach a hybrid (used to teach a hybrid) JRN203: Writing for Online Media course. Luckily for me, I design all my courses as online courses, so I only had to make a few adjustments in this course to transition to online. The biggest change was adding more online discussions. Oh, I know. That sounds so boring, especially since students hate online discussions. But these discussions are fun. I use FlipGrid. It’s a social learning platform that allows educators to ask a question, then the students respond in a video. Students are then able to respond to one another, creating a “web” of video discussion. They’re fun and students really like these discussions. Some are a little shy at first, but they quickly get over it. I got permission from my students to show a discussion they are working on currently in class. See below.

The reality of the situation is I didn’t create all of this in two weeks. These are things I’ve added as I’ve taught over the years. For many faculty out there now rushing to move content online, my best advice is to pick one thing you can add now to help engage students, and as the semester continues on, consider what else you might be able to add. You can’t do it all now, but just one thing might prove helpful.

Engaging Students in JRN203 with FlipGrid
ENH114 Course Using Canvas, Softchalk, and FlipGrid
ENG101 Composition Course Using Canvas,
McGraw-Hill Connect & YouTube
18
Feb

Is There Value in Having Students Do Collaborative Group Projects?

Collaborative group projects in online and hybrid classes – Is there value in having students do them?

I go back and forth with whether I should dump it or keep it. Students hate it, but I think there is value, and it’s a lesson students need to experience. Things don’t always go the way they should, and students can learn a lot from having to deal with this adversity.

I’ve been using a group project in my ENG102 hybrid course for about two years now, and I think it teaches students a lot about collaborating, working in a team, and sharing in the learning process with others. In the video below, I’ll share my process with you, as well as a few tools in Canvas that you may or may not be familiar with: Collaborations, Groups, Perusall and NoodleTools. 

Purpose: The purpose of the project is to teach students the process of writing an argumentative research paper. In groups of four the work through the whole process in four weeks. The only thing they don’t do is the actual research. I provide that for them. Let’s take a look, and I’ll show the tools as they are integrated into the process. 

Collaborative Group Projects in Canvas
27
Aug

Pre-Sabbatical InstructureCarn – Summer 2018

I was checking in on my timeline I presented in my sabbatical proposal and remembered that my FPG travel in July was part of my sabbatical. My plan for Summer 2018 included attending the annual Canvas conference, InstructureCarn, which was held in late July in Colorado. I used FPG funds for this conference travel. At the conference I made some connections with more schools that are using Canvas Data Portal that I can hopefully connect with later during my sabbatical. 

Carnival TentThe conference had a carnival theme and a ton of sessions on Canvas Data, so I had a nice lineup to choose from. Most of the session presenters were actual data scientists, so a lot of what they talked about was over my head – very technical. It will be nice to go back and watch a few of the sessions again once Instructure posts the recordings online and I know little more about the technical side. For instance, the first session I sat in was Concept-Based Data Analysis: A New Method for Organizing and Visualizing Data Using Course Design Principles. Fascinating stuff, but I had no idea how to get to where they were. The presentation explained that by combining sound pedagogical principles with new methods of data collection from Canvas, there’s a method for visualizing classroom data to evaluate the effectiveness of course material, highlight concepts that call for improvement, and present this data to students, faculty, and administrators in a holistic format. Yes, please!

The next session I attended made a lot more sense to me, a novice, and was geared more to what I imagine I could possible persuade our campus to set up. The presentation, Determining Student Activity in Canvas Data, showed how you can efficiently clean and use the data in Canvas Data to build a database and determine student activity and grades from just a few tables. The one thing I’m learning about all these great data projects is that it takes a team to develop them. They get buy-in from admin, IT, Student Services, Faculty and Data Scientist before they create anything. That could end up being a challenge for me.

Candied ApplesOverall, I attended 10 sessions that had something to do with Canvas Data or Analytics. Luckily for me Instructure had a lot of planned fun carnival activities built into the day and evening because my brain hurt after some of those sessions. But it was nice to unwind in the evening with colleagues and friends. We actually attended a carnival with all kinds of different street food, rides and games. I mean, who could pass up a table full of candied apples. We couldn’t!

I think Beth may have had too much sugar.

And yes, I did eat the whole thing. We even got little panda bears and all kinds of other swag.

All in all it was time well spent, both in the conference sessions and all the fun in between. I will say my biggest disappointment was a session I was looking forward to disappeared off the program and no longer existed. It was the perfect session for me: A Non-Programmers Guide to Using the Canvas Data Portal. Yes! Sign me up. Nope. Gone. 🙁  They enticed me with: “The Canvas Data Portal is a great tool, but can be intimidating for non-technical or non-programming professionals. In this session, I will go through my personal journey learning and utilizing the Canvas Data Portal as well as provide tutorials, tips, and strategies for non-technical or non-programming individuals so they can fully utilize the Canvas Data Portal in their Canvas Instance.” But then they didn’t show up. No “personal journey.” No “tutorials, tips, and strategies.” I should track them down.

 

28
Oct

Defending Modules in Online and Hybrid Courses

I just recently returned from a conference and was intrigued to find that a presenter didn’t particularly like the idea of using modules in his hybrid course. In fact, he said that “all that extra junk” was confusing to students. I was assuming all the “extra junk” was referring to some of the standards Quality Matters suggests we add to our course in order to have quality. I often find that many online courses don’t bother to list course objectives or link them to the learning, something many students couldn’t care less about. But even if there is just one student who wants to know why they are doing a particular assignment, we should make the effort to tie it all together for him/her.

Basically this instructor had a problem with the modules option in Canvas and avoided setting up a modules page in lieu of a front page with links to weekly pages. In the weekly pages, which could be considered mini modules, he posted everything the students would do for that week. I failed to see how that was better than using the modules. In fact, you can create the same effect in modules.

Module 1

The whole concept behind using modules is it benefits students; first by providing consistency. “By incorporating the same types of components in each course module, students quickly pick up on the course’s rhythms and patterns and have a better idea of what to expect than if the course were designed using a varying structure,” says  in his article in Faculty Focus titled “A Modular Course Design Benefits Online Instructor and Students.” He goes on to quote Andrea Henne, dean of online and distributed learning in the San Diego Community College District, who said,  “Often online students get a little bit lost, and they don’t understand what they’re expected to do. But if the course follows a format that’s recognizable and comfortable, then the second week and subsequent weeks are consistent.”

For me, I use the end of a module to trigger major assessments like an essay and/or a module quiz. I want to evaluate students to see if they are ready to move on to the next sequence or module. I have smaller assessment in each week (assignments) to keep student actively learning and building skills for the larger assessments. But when my students move to the next module, they can expect the same pattern, smaller assessments, lessons, discussion, major assessments (quiz and essay) at the end. Take a deep breath and move on to the next.

Consistency should follow through within the week pages as well. For my class, Read moreRead more

19
Feb

Conducting Peer Review Assignments in Canvas

At GCC we have another option for conducting online peer review assignments in the composition course. I previously posted about the option I use in Connect Composition, but today I want to share with you a 2nd way that a few of our faculty are using.  Below is the method that Gary Lawrence uses. I posted previously about his heads up about this process, but this post will give a few more details on how it all works. He even shared a video below that he made for students to show them the peer review process.

It’s not a perfect process, but it works well enough if you don’t have access to Connect Composition. It requires that students have MS Word to be able to “track changes” and leave comments on the documents. There are work arounds for that, but it might further complicate the process. Below is an image Gary created for students to explain the peer review process to them. Read moreRead more

11
Feb

A Heads Up for Creating Peer Review Writing Assignments in Canvas

Below is a guest post from Gary Lawrence, adjunct English faculty member teaching online and hybrid at GCC. He shares his experience with doing peer reviews using Canvas and points out one minor flaw in Canvas that everyone should be aware of to help out this process. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll pass them on to Gary.

This is the way the peer review process works in Canvas: As part of a draft assignment, I usually let Canvas assign the peer reviews automatically. The cleanest way to do that, I think, is to “lock” submissions, so you don’t have a bunch of late contenders to deal with.  So under the draft assignment, I give a due date, and then  I select “more options” (shown in blue box below) and check “require peer reviews,” “automatically assign peer reviews,” pick the number of reviews per student, tell Canvas when to assign the peer reviews (default = assignment due date), and then “lock submits after (date)” to keep it clean.    I also happen to restrict inputs to .doc or .docx files so students can use “track changes” features of MS Word for line comments.

CanvasPeerReview

Read moreRead more

8
Jan

Apps & Browsers, Oh My!

I’ve been sharing with my students this semester that they can use apps on their smartphone to help them stay connected with their courses in Canvas. These are the links to the apps:

All you need is your MEID and password to get it set up. The course URL you need to set it up is: maricopa.instructure.com. I’ve tried it both on my iTouch and my Android phone. It works pretty good for checking in on the courses. I also shared with them the apps for Piazza since we’ll be using that too.

11-27-2012 5-07-25 PM.pngThen there are browsers. So what’s the best browser to use with Canvas? I’d say Firefox. I’ve been telling students to download and install Mozilla Firefox. I warn them if they decide to use Google Chrome, they will need to give permission to view some content, like some videos. If you only see a black box or don’t see a video that is supposed to be there, you must be using the Chrome browser. For all flash content you have to give it permission in Chrome. Just click the shield up in the address box and choose Load anyway –>

I end by telling them to please stay away from Internet Explorer, although that’s a hold over warning from when we used Blackboard. I might just have to give IE 8, or whatever number they’re up to, a try.

3
Jan

What Annoys Me Most About Canvas #30in30

I have to begin by saying that most of these annoyances are probably from user error and/or ignorance, so feel free to educate me in the comments below. Then other annoyances probably have more to do with our (MCCCD) administration of Canvas than with Canvas itself. Canvas is by far the best LMS I’ve used, BUT nothing is perfect and somethings just drive me crazy. Anyway, with that disclaimer, here we go.

First off, Canvas is making me think I’m senile. I will spend a couple of hours making little changes here and there to content pages, and sometimes when I go back the next day or a few hours later, some of the changes are gone. Cue the Twilight Zone music. This has happened on more than one occasion. “I know I changed that,” I say. “I’m not crazy!” It happens enough that I don’t even trust it or me any more, so I have to add an extra step to “check” my work later.

canvas logoI’m all for change, but sometimes I miss the “old” way things were in Canvas. You can never get too attached to anything in Canvas because it can disappear just like that. One day you have a colored yellow quiz icon and the next you don’t. Little things you never thought you’d miss are just gone. Please come back yellow quiz icon. They even changed their logo. But of course with change bring progress and growth, so I’ll never really complain about this one. Just kidding.

Another annoyance I experienced this past semester was with the surveys. Read moreRead more

2
Jan

It’s Really Time to Start Using Those Smartphones in the Classroom #30in30

What is everyone waiting for? Just about every students who walks through your classroom door is carrying a powerful computer in his/her pocket. We need to start using them and stop just talking about mobile learning. And we don’t have to make it all fit in the classroom. Put those phones to use outside the classroom too. I’ve surveyed my students for the last 3 years and look at how many have cell phones. Only 1% (3 students) didn’t have one.

Survey of ENG102 students for past 3 years.

Survey of ENG102 students for past 3 years.

textsmsNinety-one percent of my students have text messaging on their phones and indicated that I may contact them via text with important information. Yet, I didn’t take advantage of that. No, I haven’t sent one important information text message to my students in 3 years. However, they’ve undoubtedly received text messages in regards to my classes. How is that you may ask. Well, let me tell you. Many of the educational tools many of us use today, including our LMS have built in tools that allow for students to set up text alerts. For instance in Canvas, students have the option to add their phone number to receive SMS notifications. And in Canvas there are a ton of notifications that can be set up. We just have to tell them about it and encourage them to use it. Read moreRead more

1
Jan

Technology I Loved in 2012 – #30in30

tech

Photo by me using my Nexus 7 tablet

2012 was not a very big technology year for me, at least not for new technology. This is probably good since a really good year would certainly mean I spent way too much money. I’ll share what little I did use in this post and then follow up later with more substantive posts on each technology then. Look in the Tech I Love category for these new posts. I’ve broken technology into two categories: web tools/software and hardware. Let’s start with the web tools/software. This list could be longer, but I only want to focus on the tools I actually used in my classes with students.

The most significant tool I used, and one that everyone in Maricopa will be using next fall is our new LMS – Canvas. I’m an early adopter, so I started teaching in the free version of Canvas last spring (2012). And this fall I taught in the official Maricopa version. I’m really surprised I haven’t blogged more about it, but I really like this LMS, and Instructure sure knows how to throw a party; I mean conference. Next up is Google+. We don’t have G+ turned on for our students yet in MCCCD, but a few faculty have been using it with students via personal Gmail accounts. We had our learning community students use it for blogging and sharing content for the past two semesters, and it’s worked really well. We created a circle for the class and had students posting twice weekly. Students on their own turned it into a way to communicate with each other as well. Read moreRead more