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2 Posts authored by: Tobe Baeyens

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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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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