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It’s mid-winter here in Tasmania. Time to hunker down by the fire or brave the elements when well wrapped up. However, a brisk walk in the snow up our mountain and Dark Mofo were well worth rugging up for this past weekend. Dark Mofo numbers break records, as thousands brave Hobart's wintery weather - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corpora…  Mind you I avoided the nude swim on the shortest day!

 

It does remind me that sometimes it’s preferable to stay comfy and warm inside, but with a bit of effort and time you can still have adventures and fun. Not dissimilar to staying comfortable with a way of teaching, or a favourite tech tool, when with a wee bit of effort and time extra adventures can take place.

 

Ian Jukes (Ian Jukes - Springboard21 ) was a keynote speaker at a conference in Auckland over a decade ago.  He introduced me to TTWWADI. That’s The Way We Always Do It. And he made me push myself in all sorts of ways with my teaching, some successful and some total disasters (that I learned from - of course). I bumped into a TTWADI conundrum online today too TTWWADI | The Thinking Stick . Made me think.

 

I’m in a new role at work and have to challenge myself, rather than relying on TTWADI. It’s oh so tempting to stay snuggled up inside my own comfort zone, but I know I need to wrap up warm and step outside for an adventure. Some tried and true skills and knowledge will still be used but there's a whole lot more for me to learn and try. Bring on the new adventures! 

 

Recently my new buddy from Virginia Jeff Faust was kind enough to share some amazing work that he and his team have created to support teachers in their district. Through the wonders of our Canvas Community Jeff has been such an amazing colleague across the globe and given me food for thought and a challenge to work on. Thanks Jeff. 

 

Here's a story of how we changed our presentations as an example. Presenting with Canvas – no more power points! 

 

Have you got a case of TTWADI (That's The Way We've Always Done It) that you are battling with? 

Nicholas Jones

Freedom through Focus

Posted by Nicholas Jones May 28, 2019

I was so excited by this month's blogging challenge - and now that the school year has ended, it feels like the right time for reflecting and cleaning up. Everyone has a few beliefs or assumptions as starting points for how they design, and those beliefs will color how we answer these questions. Here are some of mine:

  • The reason we design and plan courses is to create the best possible learning experience for students.
  • The best possible student learning has students consistently applying the concepts in a course with accountability.
  • Evidence-based decisions are critical to making effective design choices.
  • Every course subject has the potential to be relevant to the life of a student.

 

With that in mind, let me try to answer these questions!

 

Share how you approach course design. How do you organize content so it’s efficient for both instructors and students? What tips and/or tools can you share?

 

I approach course design with clarity for students first and foremost. Your course only exists so that students can take it and learn. To that end, I use Modules in Canvas heavily, and I like to think about it as you would a theater. The Modules area is like the stage. It's visible to everyone. It's where the set pieces and props come out at the right time to make the magic happen. Most other parts of Canvas are "backstage." You don't want your audience to see all the actors running around, props being shuffled, and the visible nails and paint splatters. Generally, I hide as much of the course navigation as possible. I want everyone's eyes on the stage.

 

I have a couple strategies that instructors have found helpful. One strategy is to have an "instructor notes" page in each module. It is always unpublished so students can't see it. This is a place where instructors can make notes for TA's, jot down ideas for what they want to change or what didn't work - pretty much anything related to to that module. That way they aren't trying at the end of the semester to remember months of ideas. Another strategy is to build as much as possible directly in Canvas. I have seen again and again instructors get overwhelmed with multiple copies and revisions of documents they build, only to upload them into Canvas once, twice, maybe three times. Most of the time, what you're building will translate directly to a content page or the instruction box of an assignment. Save your students the extra click of downloading a file, and save yourself the headache of redundant copies of your materials.

 

Explain how you structure course flow. How do you keep content and learning experiences “tidy”? Does it make a difference for learners? If so, how?

 

I try to structure course flow to have students applying concepts as quickly as possible. I take a constructivist approach to learning, which basically means that knowledge is something we create, not something we receive. I resist the usual format of starting with first principles in a discipline because I don't think that accurately reflects how we learn. As children, we learned whole words before we learned the alphabet. It can feel chaotic, but I think its ultimately more effective at creating lasting learning.

 

This has two implications for me. First, I use a weekly module format that I keep as consistent as possible. A predictable, highly consistent course structure can enable learners to be messy and courageous in their learning by giving them a solid foundation to fallback on. Second, I obsess over the course objectives and how they get translated into module objectives. I think objectives need to be tied to specific actions you expect learners to be able to perform. If learning is an active process, we need to conceptualize what they're learning as active, too. Building the course with a laser-like focus on your learning objectives helps ground the rest of the design process. 

 

When closing a course, do you have any rituals like reflection or reorganization? How do you make sure you only “keep what brings you joy”?

 

For me, it all comes back to course objectives. I don't believe you can make strategic decisions about what is or isn't working in your course unless you clearly define for yourself what students will learn (and by learn, I mean be able to do) by taking your course. There's a saying I've heard about screenwriting for film: No line is worth the scene. That means that there is no line you could write for an actor that justifies keeping a scene that doesn't benefit the film. It could be the most poetic, sublime, incisive look into the human experience condensed into a few sentences, but if the scene it's in detracts from the rest of the movie, you need to cut it.

 

We have a tendency to be precious about our work, and course design is no different. You may have designed an inventive activity or resource. But if you have to twist your course in knots to accommodate it, you need to cut it. And this is why spending time on your objectives is so important. Those objectives are your roadmap for what you should and shouldn't keep. What brings me joy in course design is when all the parts of the course are working harmoniously together toward the same goal.

 

But, hey — that's my take. I can't wait to read what other folks think!


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You to the power of education

As the makers of Canvas, Instructure believes education is one of the world's most powerful forces for change.  This spring we're asking students, "How will a college education give you the power to achieve your dreams?"  We hope you'll answer with stories that share your dreams and ambitions.

 

What’s in it for you?

How about $10K in scholarships, the chance to see your story on stage in Long Beach, California, and—of course—the intangible greatness of bragging rights?

 

Instructions & Rules

  • Create a 30–60-second video explaining how a college education will give you the power you need to achieve your dreams and how Canvas will help on your journey. Be creative. Feel free to involve others in your video, and then use your wizard-like editing skills to polish it off!
  • Submit the video by posting it publicly to Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #powerofedu and by tagging @CanvasLMS.
  • All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MDT on June 21, 2019 or until 1,000 submissions are received.
  • All videos will be reviewed, some will be reposted by the Canvas team online, and three winners will be announced at InstructureCon 2019 in Long Beach, California, July 9–11.
  • Winners will be chosen based on creativity and vision as judged by a team at Instructure, the makers of Canvas.
  • Awards will be granted for 1st ($5K), 2nd ($3K), and 3rd ($2K) place.
  • Winners will have scholarship funds deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan education account. Students and parents/guardians must register for account.
  • Winner and one parent/guardian will be flown to Long Beach, CA for InstructureCon 2019, July 9–11.
    Official rules can be found at https://blog.canvaslms.com/blog/canvas-student-scholarship-contest

 

Read the Official Contest Rules

Share how you approach course design. How do you organize content so it’s efficient for both instructors and students? What tips and/or tools can you share?

Assignments are the fundamental building blocks in a Canvas course. They are the milestones that students can achieve.

Assignments can be big

Assignments that are placed at the end of a module, can be used to check if the student has achieved the intended learning outcomes.

Assignments can be small

Every time you ask your students to do something, you are giving them an assignment.

  • You can ask your student to read a few lines of text, and to underline some keywords.
  • You can ask your students to come up with an idea for a project.
  • You can ask your students to take a picture of their work.
  • You can ask your students to work on some exercises in a document.
  • You can ask your students to summarise what they saw in a video.

A course could in theory only contain assignments. The course would be like an online exercise workbook. An assignment could, in that case, contain one or more exercises that the students have to complete.

 

Explain how you structure course flow. How do you keep content and learning experiences “tidy”? Does it make a difference for learners? If so, how?

It's important to clearly present the content in every assignment, and to organise the different assignments in your modules, your assignment groups, your gradebook, etc.

Present the content in your assignments

An assignment should have:

  • A title: The title should be short and concise. Add an abbreviation if the assignment is part of a module (f.e. LO1)
  • Settings: Submission date, grade, submission type, etc.
  • A short description: The description should explain what the assignment is about.
  • A list with steps the student has to undertake: This could be as simple as: 1. Download a document. 2. Answer the questions in the document. 3. Submit the document.
  • Links to additional information: Frequently asked questions, agreements the student must comply with, etc.
  • A rubric: To communicate the intended learning outcomes.

 

Organise the assignment in modules

Add your assignments to modules to provide context. Adding other resources to your modules, helps your students with finding all the necessary information in one place. (more information about this is in my other blog post: Providing structure with modules.)

An alternative to adding activities (worked examples, video's,...) to modules, is to add the links to activities to the assignments description. This can be useful when you are working with a lot of smaller assignments. An extra advantage is that you can digitally handout these assignments to individual students with the 'assign to' function in Canvas. Adding all the information that students need, to the assignment itself, makes it much easier to do this, and to differentiate.

 

Gradebook 2.0 has some great functions to filter assignments by modules, sections and students. It can become a dashboard that shows you which assignments are assigned to which students, and where you have to give feedback.

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Bobby Pedersen

Canvasary

Posted by Bobby Pedersen May 10, 2019

Two years have flown by as a member of this versatile community. I can’t let this anniversary go by without taking stock on what has happened in that time for me.

Learning

One of the main reasons for joining the community was to learn how to drive Canvas. I’ve learned so much. But more importantly I’ve learned that I don’t need to know it all at once at the beginning. Instead I need to know where to find things out when I need them. Joining groups, reading blogs, joining discussions, asking questions, using the guides has helped me to slowly build my knowledge with purposeful reasons each time. 

Horse Before the Cart. Purpose first, Canvas second. 

Even though I can’t attend the many Canvas conferences that occur the learning from these is still available to everyone. Watching videos of sessions and even being able to attend remotely has been amazing.

Get Ready to Binge-Watch InstructureCarn! 

Connections

Another reason for joining was to meet other Canvas users and swap ideas. Initially I thought that would just be in Australia! APAC I’ve been so impressed with the global sharing and support available and the camaraderie amongst Canvas users. There is so much wisdom in the collective genius of the community and people are so willing to share it. Blows me away every day.

It's Better Together 

Encouragement

The support given so freely in the community has encouraged me to try new things, ponder the purpose then in turn support others.

 What does Community mean to me? 

What's on your plate? 

Improvement

Instructure does their very best to listen to us,the users, when we have ideas to improve the Canvas experience for our learners. How cool is that!

Shameless plug for an idea - Speech to Text in Rich Content Editor in Windows OS. Make it richer! 

Bonus Giggles

I have really enjoyed the banter in discussion and the shared laughs. What a fabulous group of people. 

Dad Jokes.Succeeding 

 

Thanks Team Canvas!

Share how you approach course design. How do you organize content so it’s efficient for both instructors and students? What tips and/or tools can you share?

Designing an effective course in Canvas isn't easy. There are many choices that can be made. After two years of working with teachers and support staff in our institution, I finally came up with a template that's good for most teachers.

  1. Turn modules into your home page.
  2. Hide everything in navigation except Home, Announcements, Grades and People.
  3. Add the last announcement to the top of the home page.
  4. Add an 'introductory module' with course information.

introduction module

The introductory module looks like a numbered list. This makes it easy to communicate to students where they can find the necessary information. Another advantage is that the numbered items appear at the top when you navigate to pages.

 

Add requirements (view the item, or mark the item as read) to every page of the ''introductory module''.

 

Explain how you structure course flow. How do you keep content and learning experiences “tidy”? Does it make a difference for learners? If so, how?

Add a module underneath the ''introductory module'' for every every lesson you teach. 

module

  1. Give these modules a name and a three letter abbreviation (f.e. LO1). Use this abbreviation for every item in the module. This makes it easy to find out to which lesson a quiz, assignment or page belongs to.
  2. Start with an introductory page. This page can contain learning outcomes, a short introduction, a video,...
  3. Add a page with learning activities. Add files to this page (slides, articles,...) and explain why students need them.
  4. Add interactive elements to your module (quizzes, discussions,...)
  5. End your module with an assignment so you can check if the learning outcomes are achieved. (more information about this is in my other blog post: Assignments as fundamental building blocks.)

 

Add requirements if necessary: f.e. view the page, submit the assignment, etc.

By adding requirements you tell your people what you expect. You can make content available after they completed some requirements, but this is often not necessary. Just adding the requirements, makes sure your students know what to do, and it becomes very easy for you as a teacher to track students progress.

 

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Here in Australia we are four months into the school year, the weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. Courses are now settled and hitting that nice mid-year flow, the perfect time to sit back and review where our course is at. For Canvas users in the northern hemisphere days are getting longer, the blossoms are out and the spring cleaning bug is hitting. So let’s take a breath to ‘Marie Kondo’ our Canvas courses. Here is a checklist of some of the key things you can do to review, declutter and freshen up your course:

  • Check your course structure - Take a step back and re-evaluate your navigation and course structure. Is key information easy to find? What can you change to make your course more user friendly? Some tips include:
    • Use modules to organise your content. Two successful ways I have structured course content are:
      • Grouping content by topics/units of work. This makes it easy to share resources between teachers in Commons by sharing complete modules that cover a particular topic.
      • Grouping content by terms/semesters. In Australia we have 4 terms of 10 weeks each so by grouping content in term and lesson order it is easy for students to know where they are up to and review content from missed lessons.
    • Once you are using modules, use the requirements settings on modules so students can easily track where they are up to and what they have missed.
    • Review your home page to make sure the most important information is easy to find (see tips below)
  • Review your Home Page – Do your students know where to go after they land on your home page? Some home page design tips:
    • Use your homepage as the base for accessing course content. Avoid putting everything the user needs to know on the homepage. Let them navigate to the information they require by using buttons to additional pages. 
    • Keep the layout of your homepage simple, clean and uncluttered. Simplicity and clarity = good design. I always live by the motto less is more.
    • Use ‘Call to action’ icons and buttons that stand out. If you are unable to design your own icons a site like flaticon.com has the potential to become your best friend.
    • Limit scrolling where possible.
    • Leave plenty of white space for easy viewing.
    • Chunk content into small amounts, this allows users to scan content easily, 
  • Check for broken links - like cleaning the oven it's best to do this more than once a year as links, especially to external sites, break all the time. How do I validate links in a course?
  • Check your media - Do your images convey meaning or are they just there to look pretty? Be careful not to overload your pages with unnecessary images. Users scan a page to quickly find the information they require. Images can distract from the main message they need. On the other hand, using ‘call to action’ icons on your assignments can help students scan and easily identify what they need to do. Also, links aren’t the only thing that can break or go missing. Check that your images, videos and other embedded content are still working.
  • Give it a proofread - Give your course a good proofread to check for errors and consistency. Believe me, if there’s an error in your course your students will take great joy in picking it up.
  • Check your course on the Canvas App - While instructors may spend the majority of their time viewing their course on computer or laptop monitors, students are a mobile generation who want content at their fingertips, that means using the Canvas App. Check your course on the app to make sure content responds to the small screen and is readable.
  • Do a content and file audit - When was the last time you went through your course files and pages? Some audit tips:
    • Use a folder structure that replicates your course structure. This makes finding files a lot easier.
    • Check that files are in the correct folders. When in a hurry it’s easy to just upload files and forget to allocate them to a folder. It’s a good idea to regularly check your files section to stay on top of your file management.
    • Delete any unwanted or unused files and content items (pages, assignments etc)
  • Review your course analytics and statistics to pinpoint any issues - Analytics can give you a glimpse into what’s engaging students and what might be improved in the future. It will also help you detect which students are not participating and who is falling behind. How do I view Course Analytics?, How do I view course statistics?
  • Identify areas to promote community and engagement in your course
    • Provide a help discussion where students can help answer other student’s questions. This makes students feel like they have 24/7 support and an added bonus it reduces your load if students can help each other out.
    • Add some weekly discussions on current topics to promote class chat and peer collaboration.
    • Create a Community Points Rewards system (just like this community). Give some incentive to contribute to discussions by allocating bonus points to students for each post they contribute which can tally up to receive a certain badge or other reward.
  • Lastly, view the course in student view – It will help identify unpublished content and give you a feel for the student user experience.

 

Happy spring cleaning

 

 

Learn more about the May 2019 Blogging Challenge

Read more "It's Time to Kondo" stories

 

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The Meta Community received some outstanding blogs in the Reflect and Celebrate and Share the Joy Blogging Challenges. It’s exciting that we get to collaborate once again. This is the final of the three blogging challenges currently planned for 2019. Share your stories and best practices while also learning from others!

 

 

THE CHALLENGE

Marie Kondo has sparked a decluttering obsession. (konmari.com) While Konmari focuses on the tidying of our living spaces, it’s very likely that some of Kondo’s philosophies can also be applied to our virtual learning environments. After all, for the amount of time that some of us spend in our Canvas courses, it can begin to feel like a “home” of sorts.

 

Books, Shelf, Shelving, Education

 

 

Here are a few questions to inspire you as you begin to write. You do not need to answer all of the prompts; just pick what inspires you!

  • Share how you approach instructional or course design. How do you organize content so it’s efficient for both instructors and students? What tips and/or tools can you share?
  • Explain how you structure course flow. How do you keep content and learning experiences “tidy”? Does it make a difference for learners? If so, how?
  • At the start of a new term, how do you determine what is clutter and what has been hoarded? Do you have a process that works as you sift and sort through your courses’ content?
  • When closing a course, do you have any rituals like reflection or reorganization? How do you make sure you only “keep what brings you joy”?

 

Between now and May 31st, set aside some time for some reflection and writing. To begin sharing your story, you will need to find the Meta Community Group. (If you aren’t already a member of this group, you will need to join this group in order to publish your blog post.) At the bottom of this introductory blog, you will see a button that says “Write a Blog”. After clicking, a template will be copied for you to use as you write your blog!

 

Please leave the May19 and Blogging Challenge tags intact when you publish your blog. These tags make it possible for all of the contributions for this particular blogging challenge to be found in one place, and for the blogs to be connected to one another. Also, if the tags are missing, you may not get the recognition you deserve or qualify for the rewards.

 

 

 

REWARDS

All authors who submit a blog post before May 31st will receive 250 Community points and receive an exclusive badge added to their profile in the Canvas Community.  Please be patient as this badge and reward points will be awarded manually.

 

Additional point prizes will also be rewarded:

  • 250 additional points = Top 10 posts based on likes, views, bookmarks, shares, quality of comments, and the opinions of the Canvas Community Managers + Coaches
  • 500 additional points = #1 Winner (from the Top 5) will be determined by the Community in a poll

 

 

DEADLINES

  • May 31, 2019: All posts must be published in the Meta Community Group using the template linked to the “Write a Blog” button below to be considered for the Top 5. Posts published after the deadline will be welcomed, but they will not be considered for this contest.
  • June 3, 2019: The top 5 blog posts will be announced in a poll and will be eligible for voting. Authors will have two weeks to increase the visibility and ranking of their blog. Share it, Tweet it, get people to read and rate it, comment on it, etc. to help surface your story to the top!
  • June 17, 2019: The overall winner will be announced.

 

 

 

Hello Canvas Family!

 

2019 continues to be an exciting year for all of us! As you have likely already heard, Instructure announced earlier today that it is acquiring MasteryConnect: Instructure to Acquire Partner MasteryConnect to Launch New Era of Innovative Assessment. This furthers our commitment to helping people learn and develop, from their first day of school to their last day of work.

 

Teachers in more than 14,000 school districts nationwide use a MasteryConnect product or mobile app for:

  • Formative assessment for immediate feedback, adjusting instruction in the moment with targeted interventions
  • Benchmarking to set proficiency targets and measure growth
  • Collaborative analytics that connect faculty to gain insight into learning trends and instructional approaches

For our higher education customers, MasteryConnect is a powerful assessment tool for programs anywhere along the spectrum from full-fledged CBE to developing programs with prior learning assessments, efficiently capturing and reporting students’ demonstration of skills.

 

Let’s answer a few overview questions:

What does MasteryConnect do?

  • Innovative Assessment - search, create, and launch for immediate feedback to target interventions and adjust instruction
  • Curriculum Planning - map curriculum by adding lesson plans, activities and videos aligned to standards
  • Benchmark Planning - create benchmarks using item banks, TEIs to deliver and score in the classroom to set proficiency targets and measure growth
  • Teacher Collaboration - fuel PLCs with data-driven insight into learning trends and instructional approaches

 

How does this acquisition align to the overall Canvas purpose?

This helps us to continue providing you with the latest in teaching and learning technologies by staying at the forefront of innovative assessment, integrated into the learning platform you know and trust.   

 

How does this improve the existing Canvas experience?

Seamless integration of formative and benchmark assessment tools into the Canvas Learning environment, to easily gather the insights that drive instruction, for a consistent and personalized learning experience.

 

Will the MasteryConnect offering be made available globally?

MasteryConnect is currently only available to customers in the United States.  We will be exploring the product and engineering requirements to make it available internationally over the coming months.

 

 

 

An announcement like this likely raises some questions, so please feel free to touch base with your CSM, watch for additional opportunities in Community where we will engage in conversation around MasteryConnect as well as general product integration announcements, coming in the near future.

When I was first learning how to use Canvas I discovered Collaborations. Talk about excited! So keen was I to share the joy that I wrote Collaborations – Changed my world!

I'm fortunate in my position to travel around to schools to share the magic of Canvas and at any opportunity I extol the virtues of Collaborations. BUT I've discovered a wee blip in getting started with this cool tool. It's tricky (very frustrating) for first time users. After way too many error alerts we have come to the conclusion that:

 

  • Before you make your first collaboration you MUST sign in to Office365.
  • Keep it open in another tab.
  • Then create your Collaboration. 

It should be smooth sailing from there. 

And the wonderful Canvas Doc Team have created this guide to get you started too. 

How do I create a Microsoft Office 365 collaboration?  

 

Have fun collaborating. 

Ahhh! How is March almost over?!? I have no idea where this month has gone! So as to not let my fellow Canvas Community puzzle pieces down, here's a stab at this month's challenge  

 

What does COMMUNITY mean to you?

There are so many ways to answer this question; however, as I've been pondering it (for almost a month, apparently!) a puzzle analogy keeps coming to mind. We are all unique pieces in a grand community puzzle--we each have an individual, specific purpose, yet we accomplish much more when we work together to complete the larger task/goal. ...but don't envision a normal, rectangular, 500 or 1000 piece puzzle with a well defined image that matches the picture on the box. No no, community is more akin to one of those crazy, borderless puzzles without a single correct solution (like this one of the Earth: Nervous System | Shop | Earth Puzzle ) and sometimes it's more like one of the really crazy ones with hidden and upside-down images and extra pieces that don't really fit (https://www.amazon.com/Impossible-750-Piece-Cow-Country-Puzzle/dp/B00005S0J5 ...but don't read too much into the pieces that don't really fit...I mean all analogies have to break down somewhere, right?)

Are you a part of a community (Canvas, work, or neighborhood)? 

I am part of many communities; many nested within others. To continue the puzzle analogy, at work, I am part of a small, five member office--one individual cow on the last puzzle link, above, perhaps. We are then a part of our Dean's staff (several cows?), which is a part of our College (a quadrant of the whole puzzle), which is a part of our University (the puzzle as a whole). At each level, we work together to achieve specific parts of our University's overall mission. 

 

Is there someone part of your community who you admire? 

I could list many people here--my coworkers, those of you who contribute to the greater body of Canvas knowledge, etc. Thanks to everyone! 

 

What motivates you to be an active participant in your community or group?

 I actively participate because I don't want others to have to pick up my slack, want to be a useful part of my team(s), and know that many people (be it peers or even our students) will suffer if I don't contribute as I should. 

 

Canvas Community shoutout! 

 

I'm not sure that we are using Canvas for any unique ways or for any unique purposes, but I do want to say how thankful we are for the Canvas Community as a whole. Just this morning co-workers and I were talking about how all the answers we ever need can be found quickly and easily in the Community! We are thankful for the (always updated) guides and other resources. Thanks to everyone who fulfills the role assigned to their individual puzzle pieces! 

 

 

Learn more about the March 2019 Blogging Challenge

Read more Share the Joy stories

 

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Belinda Stutzman

It's Better Together

Posted by Belinda Stutzman Mar 26, 2019

 

What does COMMUNITY mean to you?

Because I am not a person that can work alone in a silo, I seek out the power of community in all that I do.  When I have fallen on personal tough times, blogs and social media groups filled with others facing the same trials have lifted me and given me answers, hope and more resources than I could ever find alone.  When my district adopted Canvas as our LMS I became a member of the Canvas Community for these same reasons.  I wanted to gather information, find answers, and learn from others struggling with the same things I was experiencing.  For the first few years I sat in the community passively and consumed what was there and used it for my own interests.  What really made me grow the most, however, was learning that by giving of myself to the community, both personally and professionally, would increase the value of these groups more than I could ever imagine.

 

Are you a part of a community (Canvas, work, or neighborhood)? What brought you there, or how did you initially get connected?

I am a part of many communities in person and in my cyber life.  What brings me there is my thirst to learn and to be connected to others.  I have found that in order to be connected it is up to me to find the groups and to reach out to them. 

 

Is there someone part of your community who you admire? How does their involvement or their overall participation influence you?

Stefanie Sanders is someone in the Canvas Community that I admire because she is very active, but also extremely kind and complimentary.  I like how she answers questions and shares her expertise in such a positive and encouraging manner. 

 

What motivates you to be an active participant in your community or group?

I became motivated to be more of a "giver" in the Canvas community because I thought it would be fun to set a goal to be in the top 100.  What I learned in this process is that by giving my advice or expertise to others, I actually get back more in return.  I have learned so much more about using Canvas by answering other people's Canvas questions, responding to polls, reading blogs, and voting on feature ideas. 

 

 

Have you used Canvas in a way that helps you or your team reach a unique goal for your community?

I made it a personal goal to make it into the Top 100 in the community and what it would take to make that happen.  It was a fun way to get more involved and my learning of Canvas grew exponentially.

 

 

Do you or does your team utilize Canvas in a way which is innovative or customized as you serve a specific community of learners?

I enjoy helping teachers use Canvas for student voice and choice.  I have also studied the use of rubrics and outcomes to help teachers measure student learning in a standards based grading system.

 

Why do you value a project like this? How was COMMUNITY a motivating factor in this project’s completion?

Using Mastery Paths, Outcomes, Rubrics and the Learning Mastery Gradebook is a bit overwhelming and can be a daunting process.  I was able to find others in the Canvas Community trying to do the same thing and we were able to bounce ideas, successes and failures off of each other.

 

How has your involvement impacted your life?

I have become better at my job because of my involvement in the Canvas Community. 

 

What does COMMUNITY mean to you?

For me; Community means moving from a transactional state of mind to a relational state.  By this I mean moving beyond a world view where all motivation essentially falls into two categories, which are Self Interest and Caring for Others (Self vs Others).  Instead, motivation becomes 'other-ish' meaning that you realize that you can best help yourself by helping others.

 

Are you a part of a community (Canvas, work, or neighborhood)? What brought you there, or how did you initially get connected?

To a certain extent, my current occupation rose from my membership in a community of people who support teachers and learners use of technology.  What seems like a very long time ago now I was a workstudy student and then grant funded technology worker on a college campus.  My job was to help the instructors and occasionally the students be successful using classroom technology.  As part of a Title III grant we purchased and implemented a learning management system.  At first nobody on campus much knew what to do with this software platform.  I threw myself into trying to learn everything I could about it.  I scoured technical manuals, sent off emails to my contacts at the company and eventually joined a group of people who were trying to help each other via a listserv.  I'll never forget going to the first users conference and seeing three men literally kneel down in the entrance to the mens room to fire up a laptop based version of the software to test something that one had asked the others about.  They really wanted to help each other (and they helped me tremendously).  As time went on, I learned that if I took each question that went out to the listserv as a personal challenge, I usually learned more than I'm sure I helped the people asking the questions.  Eventually I was at another conference and talking with a small group of people in a breakout session.  I wasn't wearing a name tag and hadn't identified myself to this group of strangers.  A woman said to me, "Excuse me, are you Scott Dennis? ... I thought so.  I recognized your voice.  Your YouTube videos have saved my life.  Thank you."  I was flabbergasted.  I had no idea that anyone beside a narrow group of my friends had even seen them.

 

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about Openness and Community as values.  My involvement in this community began in 2010 when I discovered Canvas, Free for Teachers and the first rudimentary message boards.  I was about a week in and trying to learn everything I could when the landline in my house rang.  The man on the other end was a Canvas Admin in Plano, Texas who had read my questions in the message boards, google stalked me to find my number and called to answer all my questions.  Again, I was flabbergasted that this stranger, at no benefit to himself, would invest 90 minutes of his time helping me simply because we were using the same software.  I was hooked immediately and couldn't wait to have more such interactions.

 

Is there someone part of your community who you admire? How does their involvement or their overall participation influence you?

There are too many people in this community that I admire to mention.  Some of them I have never met and never will while some of them are dear friends I have known irl for many years.  They all have my tremendous respect.  Michael Zimmerman, JB (you know who you are), all of the Coaches, Peter Love, Alan Kinsey, Jayde Colquhoun, Hildi Pardo, Laura Gibbs, Bobby Pedersen, Rob Ditto, Sara Frizelle, Amanda Warren Marshall, Gregory Beyrer and Dallas Hulsey are just a handful of the people I am proud to be associated with in some way.

 

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What does COMMUNITY mean to you?

We all interpret the word COMMUNITY in different ways.  We all live in some type of community...whether in a small town, in a residential community, etc.  In these types of communities, we might be in the same part of the world, but we have different interests.  For me, it's having a sense of belonging...that you feel welcome.  Community is also sharing and talking about common interests...even in smaller group settings.

 

Are you a part of a community (Canvas, work, or neighborhood)? What brought you there, or how did you initially get connected?

One community that I feel very connected to is my church family.  My family moved to Fond du Lac, WI my junior year of college.  Since then, my family has all moved out of state, but I have remained in Fond du Lac.  Finding a good church "home" is important to my family, and we found that in Ascension Lutheran Church.  I've gotten to know so many great people there that will be friends for years to come.  It's much more than community for me there.  In a way, it's like having a second family saying, "Welcome!  Come on in!"

 

Over the past few years, I've taken a big interest in board games.  Though I don't get to play as often as I'd like, I am a part of a few online communities on Facebook that are centered around the board game hobby.  Some groups are more general, and different games are talked about daily.  Other groups are more specific and only discuss one particular game.  Though I don't know the majority of people in those groups (literally thousands and thousands of people), I feel comfortable asking questions in those groups when I don't understand the rules.  Most people in those communities are helpful.

 

A third community I'm part of is right here, the Canvas Community.  I first found out about the Community and started asking question in the old Community website when we partnered with Instructure about five years ago.  People were so helpful (and still are!), and I was able to learn lots just by asking questions...and eventually trying to help respond to others, too.

 

What motivates you to be an active participant in your community or group?

Plain and simple...I like helping others, and I like trying to help troubleshoot issues.  From the board game perspective, I like gathering with others to have a game night to have friendly competitions or even work together (yes, there are co-op games) to achieve a common goal.

 

Have you used Canvas in a way that helps you or your team reach a unique goal for your community?

My work team is in the process of creating a "Center for Online & Digital Learning" course in Canvas where our instructors can come to find a variety of resources such as course design info, accessibility info, links to Guides here in the Community, our newsletter archive, a calendar of training events, and much more.

 

How has your involvement impacted your life?

In both my church community and here in the Canvas Community, I've made a lot of great friends over the past several years.  I will treasure that always.

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What does COMMUNITY mean to you?

  • Belonging
  • Acceptance
  • Respect
  • Feeling welcome
  • Supporting each other 
  • Sharing stories and wisdom
  • Working together

(My favourite New Zealand Maori quote)

 

Are you a part of a community (Canvas, work, or neighbourhood)? What brought you there, or how did you initially get connected?

I've been fortunate to belong to a few communities. Some more effective and healthy than others.

  • As a young mum belonging to parenting support groups helped create little villages to raise our children. I learned so much, then felt strong enough to support others. Telling our stories helped so much.
  • As a teacher belonging to learning communities centered around specific curriculum areas or topics of focus helped me to learn from others then, in time, to nurture the learning in others. Again, sharing our stories of what works, what doesn't, and a few laughs helped also.
  • Teaching in New Zealand had an extra sparkly community with the Maori Community who so desperately wanted to share their culture and language. So many magic memories were made singing, telling stories, learning, learning, learning. This helped me to learn more about acceptance and respect. 
  • Teaching in Tasmania has introduced me to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. They are striving to show us how to make connections with the land and each other. I am new to this community but feel as though it's home and am looking forward to what I will learn alongside these wonderful people. 
  • My Blended Learning Team have become a tight knit group where we explore and create together. Then spreading our reach a little further are the great people in Curriculum Services and the amazing teachers in our schools.  
  • From day one the Canvas Community has been like coming home. First of all I was welcomed by someone across the planet - thanks Stefanie Sanders! Then another person shared how they use Canvas in different ways to what I thought it was capable of, my world opened up - thanks Laura Gibbs. Then others happily shared their stories, problem solved, told jokes, asked questions and before I knew it our little planet had become 'traversable' without getting on a plane.
  • THEN the APAC group became a mini community where teaching with a similar curriculum and in the same part of the Pacific gave us some common ground to make connections and even meet in person. 

 

Is there someone part of your community who you admire? How does their involvement or their overall participation influence you?

So many people. The people who welcome, accept, are patient when teaching, share, collaborate, and know when to share a laugh. 

 

What motivates you to be an active participant in your community or group?

  • When I need to learn something specific - ask a question.
  • When I can help someone out with a question. 
  • When I realise that others might need to hear about something.
  • When I need to collaborate with experts (that's you guys) in the Community to nut something out. 

Have you used Canvas in a way that helps you or your team reach a unique goal for your community?

Creating Canvas Staff Rooms where school staff can not only curate their resources but they can start to immerse themselves in all that Canvas can do as a collaborative and personalising tool thus creating their own community of learning. Hopefully this models how they can use it with their own classes. 

 

 

Do you or does your team utilise Canvas in a way which is innovative or customised as you serve a specific community of learners?

It never ceases to amaze me when I see all of the different ways that teachers use Canvas. It brings me great joy when people see a purpose and create courses and lessons that engage so well. 

My extended team across the whole state, teachers, school leaders and the students themselves are my learning community. AND it's early days. Imagine what it will be like a few years from now. Exciting times!

 

Why do you value a project like this? How was COMMUNITY a motivating factor in this project’s completion?

This project has value for me because it's a way for me to say thank you for the genuine welcome, support, encouragement and wisdom I receive daily from so many of you.

 

It's a way to say to others - please share your stories. 

 

How has your involvement impacted your life?

Belonging to these communities has helped make me - Me. 

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