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Multimedia is great way to provide students with additional modalities. Below are some of the ways you can get audio/visual content in your course. It is important to note that content should be optimized for the web before adding it your course and be sure to add captions to the videos you add to your course. 

Use Canvas Rich Content Editor

If your computer (at home) has webcam, you can quickly record audio or video directly in Canvas using the media comment tool in Canvas pages. 

How do I record a video using the Rich Content Editor as an instructor?  

How do I record audio using the Rich Content Editor?  

What should I do if I can't record video comments with my webcam?  

Don't Forget to Caption Your Video!

How do I add captions to an external video as an instructor? 

How do I add captions to new or uploaded videos in Canvas as an instructor? 

How do I create a caption file using the subtitle creation tool as an instructor? 

How do I view captions in a video as an instructor? 

Other Options

Your phone/tablet

If you have a smartphone, you have a camera that records static images and video. Most phones have additional features such as portrait mode, slow-motion, and photo editing features. Use a cloud based option like Dropbox and OneDrive to upload your videos to your desktop. 

This CNET video gives some good tips about shooting video with your phone. 

YouTube

YouTube channel  and recording lecture videos. His history lectures are awesome!

Other Software Options

PowerPoint/Mix - PowerPoint ships with narration tools and the ability to save the presentation in video format. You can also install Mix to gain even more recording features.

SnagIt - This software allows to you capture screen shots of the computer desktop. You can annotate the images with arrows and other interesting stamps.

Camtasia- This software allows to you capture video of the computer desktop. You can annotate the video with call-outs and captions.

SmartBoard Software - SmartBoard is hardware/software solution. The Smartboard software has screen capture and video recording options.

Educreations- This is third party application that can be integrated with Canvas. The free version can be used to record yourself writing out problems with stylus on an iPad.

What can Canvas design strategies learn from game design? How can we use what Canvas allows (Mechanics) to structure what students can do (Dynamics) in ways that encourage them to learn effectively and contribute to a course culture (Aesthetics) that values inquiry and exploration. This post lays out the framework.

 

MDA for Course Design

Hunicke, LeBlanc & Zubek's (2004) MDA framework for game design can be adapted here. They propose that game designers can approach their craft through the lens of MDA (Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics), where the Mechanics (what is possible — rules and resources) leads to Dynamics (what occurs — activity), which lead to players' Aesthetic experience (components of engagement). I apply the MDA lens to course design, where the instructor plays the role of game master — both a designer and a player, adjusting the Mechanics both before and during the actual game in order to affect the Dynamics in each class such that the desired Aesthetics are reached.

 

MDAGraphicEQ

 

Mechanics

Mechanics include the rules and resources that allow Dynamics to happen. In game design, the mechanics include everything that can affect the play of the game: rules, pieces, cards, the game board or playing field, etc. In course design, mechanics include things like: policies and rules, classroom or class space (online or face-to-face or both), assignments, lectures, videos, etc.

 

Dynamics

Dynamics are what actually happens when players interact with the Mechanics. In games, the dynamics are what the players do. In baseball, they run and throw and hit and catch and steal and bunt and foul etc.; in Poker they shuffle and deal and fan cards and sort and draw and bluff, etc. In courses, Dynamics are what the instructor and students do. For example, students listen and watch and read and raise hands and talk and move seats and flirt and take tests and cheat and text and increase the typeface to stretch their papers, etc.; whereas instructors take attendance and lecture and assign homework and quiz and test and grade and hold office hours, etc. In addition to the mundane Dynamics in a course listed above, perhaps the most sought after cognitive Dynamics are captured in Bloom's Cognitive domain (1956), or Anderson et al's revision of them (2001)

  1. Remember
  2. Understand
  3. Apply
  4. Analyze
  5. Evaluate
  6. Create

 

They are others in Krathwohl & Bloom's (1964) Affective domain (these are often ignored in course design — and instructional technology, in general)

  1. Receive: be open to accepting new information/ideas, etc. (e.g. I am aware of a rule)
  2. Respond: comply; change behavior accordingly (e.g. I will follow this rule — perhaps because I don't want to suffer negative consequences)
  3. Value: assign intrinsic worth to new information (e.g. This rule makes sense to me)
  4. Organize: relate new information within existing systems (e.g. This rule helps other beneficial things happen)
  5. Characterize: relate new information with one's identity (e.g. This rule is part of what makes me who I am)

 

Dynamics spring from models — based in theory and based on trial and error experience. Models help designers predict Dynamics, but as with most models they're not as perfect or accurate (or chaotically messy) as real life. Dynamics provide Feedback to designers, who can use it to iterate and adjust mechanics, which in turn can affect Dynamics. Game designers typically do this a lot in playtests before they publish their games. As a sort of Game Master, instructors can adjust mechanics (to some degree) on the fly by modifying assignments, spending more or less time on a topic as needed, reviewing material, grading more or less rigorously, etc. Changing the Mechanics changes the Dynamics, which affects the Aesthetics. Exercising caution must be advised here — changing the course to be responsive to student needs is often a good thing, but changing the Mechanics of a course too much often results in students feeling ungrounded, and may result in backlash against an "unorganized" instructor.

 

Aesthetics

Aesthetics are the tone or the experience. Hunicke et al shy away from describing Aesthetics as "what makes a game 'fun'?" (2004, p2) and instead suggest a taxonomy of Aesthetic components that includes: 1. Sensation (Game as sense-pleasure), 2. Fantasy (Game as make-believe), 3. Narrative (Game as drama), 4. Challenge (Game as obstacle course), 5. Fellowship (Game as social framework), 6. Discovery (Game as uncharted territory), 7. Expression (Game as self-discovery), and 8. Submission (Game as pastime).  The balance of each of these (and there are probably others) determines the aesthetics of the experience. I think of it as a sort of graphic equalizer. One adjusts the frequencies to try to get the sound one desires. MDAGraphicEQ In course design, we can even match up the eight aesthetic components that Hunicke et al list with educational ones:

  1. Sensation (Game as sense-pleasure) = Embodiment
  2. Fantasy (Game as make-believe) = Epistemic Frames
  3. Narrative (Game as drama) = Course Schedule, pacing (help me out on this one)
  4. Challenge (Game as obstacle course) = Problems
  5. Fellowship (Game as social framework) = Sociocultural Learning
  6. Discovery (Game as uncharted territory) = Research
  7. Expression (Game as self-discovery) = Personal Strengths Finding
  8. Submission (Game as pastime) = Time on Task

Unfortunately, it's not as easy to adjust the Aesthetics of the experience, whether in game design or course design, as simply moving a slider. For example, if one wants a game high in Sensation and Fellowship one must adjust the Mechanics to be more like Twister than Chess. In course design, a collaborative field research assignment might be high in the Embodiment and Sociocultural learning components, whereas reflective journaling might emphasize Personal Strengths Finding. Assigning plenty of worksheets might increase time-on-task; but not in a good way.

 

What This All Means...

So, can we use this framework for designing courses? Yes. With the following caveat. Courses are not publish-and-leave games, or books, or movies, that can be designed and left for consumption by students. Instructors and students continually interact with and affect course form long after the initial design. Recognizing that instructors are sort of Game Masters and students are active participants (and shapers) of the gameplay of courses, it's important that we design them as evolvable and emergent systems that take into account human psyche and social interactions — much more complex mechanics than dice and cards. This is where a deeper understanding of experiential and sociocultural learning (discussed throughout the rest of my writing) begin to contribute. At this point, however, it starts to get messy. The educational Aesthetic components can be achieved through a mix and match of educational Dynamics, which in turn are affected by course Mechanics. For example, a Fellowship/Sociocultural learning is hampered when there's no forum for student-to-student interaction. Likewise, Discovery/Research may be more difficult when computer browsers are locked down. Without a compelling story, learners may not enter into the Epistemic Fantasy of deeply solving an authentic problem from the perspective of a person in the field or discipline being studied.

 

Next Steps

A good next step might be to begin to map out a number of these relationships, either through stories and examples or through educational research. Both have value in this conversation.  

 

References

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., ... & Wittrock, M. C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives, abridged edition. White Plains, NY: Longman.

 

Bloom, B. S., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. Bloom, B. S. (1969).

 

Bloom, B. S. (1969). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals; Handbook. Affective Domain. McKay. Bloom, B. S. (1974).

 

Bloom, B. S. (1974). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook 1-2. Longmans: McKay. Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., & Zubek, R. (2004, July). MDA: A formal approach to game design and game research. In

 

Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., & Zubek, R. (2004, July). MDA: A formal approach to game design and game research. In Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Challenges in Game AI.

 

Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook ii: affective domain. New York: David McKay Company.Inc. ISBN 0-679-30210-7, 0-582-32385-1.

 

Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom's taxonomy: An overview. Theory into practice, 41(4), 212-218.  

Within the state of Utah we have been hosting an Instructional Design Summit for the past few years. Our blog (Instructional Design Summit) has slides and recordings from previous summits. Our most recent summit was held at the University of Utah and the topics included "Rethinking our primary teaching objective," research into multimedia and cognition, and a faculty panel on working with instructional designers.

 

I thought I would share this with the community in case anyone is looking for additional resources.

This is still something funky with the personal blog permissions, so I am posting this here, and, as always, its crossposted at my Teaching with Canvas blog, which is where you will find any updates. :-)

 

~ ~ ~

 

In my Twitter4Canvas workshop and in the CanvasLIVE Twitter Widget demo, I've mostly kept the focus on the what-and-how: what are Twitter widgets and how do you use them in Canvas? There are so many possible ways to use Twitter, and these instructions will hold true for any possible use of Twitter. My use of Twitter is very much about connected learning, so that's what I want to write about in this blog post.

Here are the ways I think about Twitter as a space for connected learning:

CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS. I use a class Twitter account to connect with my students, sharing things that I find at Twitter which I think can be useful and/or fun for them. Because I teach fully online classes, I need to find online ways to connect with my students, and Twitter is one of those ways. Every time they come to Canvas or visit one of our class web spaces (the UnTextbook, our class wiki, etc.), they are likely to see a Twitter stream in the sidebar. Sometimes what they see in the Twitter stream will be related to the content of the class, but often it is something extra: university announcements, campus events, etc. As I work with the students and get to know them, I try to find Twitter items that will appeal to them, as well as sharing Twitter items that help them learn about my own interests. When I find a Twitter item that I am sure will be of interest to a particular student, I send them an email with a link to the Twitter item: that's one of the best connections of all!

CONNECTING WITH THE WORLD. Both of the classes I teach have a big reach: World Folklore and Mythology (so, yep, that's potentially the whole world!) and Epics of Ancient India (but I certainly don't limit it to ancient India; the modern relevance of the epics is a key theme in the class). By using Twitter, I can connect my students to people in other countries, showing the living presence of the class content in people's lives today. For the Myth-Folklore class, one of the best ways to connect is with the #FolkloreThursday hashtag (it is seriously amazing, week after week), and in the Indian Epics class, I am so excited to connect with authors that we read in the class, especially Devdutt Pattanaik, a personal hero of mine. I can also connect the students with Indian musicians, like Maati Baani, who are doing beautiful fusion folk music; check out their latest video here, honoring the farmers of India: Saccha Mitra (True Friend). 
I'm curious if Jive is going to accept the Twitter embed code here; we'll see! It works great in WordPress
Alas, no luck in Jive with the Twitter widget; let me try a standard YouTube embed. ... Nope. But you can see it happily playing at Twitter, YouTube, and in my WordPress blog post. :-)

INTERNET CONNECTEDNESS. The strength of the Internet comes from linkiness, the way one thing on the Internet is connected to another and another and another. Even better are embedded links where the browser goes and fetches the linked content and displays it for you, as it does with images and videos. That's why I prefer real Twitter widgets to the Canvas Twitter app which displays no images or video. The media displays for both images and video in Twitter are really good, even in the tiny widget version. As a general rule, I only reshare that type of "connected" content at Twitter: tweets with images or video, or tweets with links... including the hashtag links that are one of Twitter's greatest strengths.

HASHTAG CONNECTIONS. Whoever invented the hashtag is an Internet genius in my opinion. The hashtag allows people to connect and find each other in the vastness of Twitter based on shared interests, like the #FolkloreThursday example that I shared above, and as in the phenomenon of Twitter chats, which teachers use so well (like in Oklahoma's own long-running #OklaEd chat every Sunday evening).

CONNECTING A CLASS NETWORK. Some people also use Twitter as a way for students to connect with other students, which is a great idea in my opinion! In my classes, the students are connecting with each other through their blog network, but if I were not teaching writing (blogs are great for writing), I would definitely consider using Twitter as a platform for building a class network. If anybody reading this blog post uses Twitter for class networking, share your story in the comments!

TWITTER AS PLN. Although my primary use of Twitter is to find and share content with my classes, I also use Twitter as a personal learning network, especially for connecting with other people at my school (I live in NC but I teach "in" Oklahoma, and Twitter is a big part of how I stay informed about what's happening on the Norman campus). So, to close out this post, I will share this fun infographic from Sylvia Duckworth about connected educators on Twitter:

 

And of course there are connected cats for that:

Laura Gibbs

Let the blogging begin!

Posted by Laura Gibbs Mar 8, 2017

Whoo-hoo! Up until now I had been blogging in Group spaces, but I was getting confused about what I had blogged where.

 

Now I will blog... HERE! And then I can share to other spaces as appropriate.

 

Thanks so much to Biray Seitz for launching the new personal blogs for those of us who are eager to contribute in this format; I learned about it this afternoon in Biray's great presentation about the new Community participation system:

Quest for Community Domination 

video: Quest for Community Domination - YouTube 

 

So, after supper I sat down with a cup of coffee and created my first post. This post.

 

Update: Well, I tried, ha ha. Something is not working about the sharing to a blog, but maybe Biray can help me figure it out; I'll just share this to Instructional Designers for now until the gremlins are sorted (I found how to post to the blog, I think, but it's greyed out and unclickable):

 

 

The blog door is now open... and I'll be back tomorrow with a proper post. :-)

 

Open the door...
and explore the unknown!

(Growth Mindset Cat)

 

growth mindset cat

Crossposted at my Teaching with Canvas blog; updates will appear there.

 

~ ~ ~

 

Students are filling out Canvas Surveys this week as part of my mid-semester evaluation process, and I'll be reporting back on that after Spring Break... one survey result popped up yesterday, though, that caught my attention because for the question soliciting "advice to instructors using Canavs" the student wrote something in all-caps:

 

The Grace Period is a term I use in my classes to refer to the difference between the soft deadline at midnight and the hard deadline at noon the next day. I really like how Canvas makes that easy to do, unlike D2L. I wrote a post about this last Fall, so I am reposting it here, prompted by my student's plea to faculty in all-caps! :-)

 

~ ~ ~


Today I want to focus on what I think is one of the best features in Canvas: there are two different "deadlines" for any assignment, not just one. Generically, these are usually referred to as "soft deadline" and "hard deadline," although I like to call it a "grace period" when explaining the system to my students.

D2L did not have a two-deadline option — not for quizzes anyway, although for reasons unfathomable to mere mortals, they did offer it in the Dropbox (which I never used). In Canvas, it's consistent across the system: if you have a due date, you can choose a soft deadline and a hard deadline, and I would urge everyone to consider taking advantage of this system. I cannot imagine teaching without it! In my classes, I use the "grace period" as an automatic emergency extension, no questions asked, so that if students are a little bit late with an assignment, they can still turn it in, no problem, no penalty. Specifically, I have assignments that are due by midnight on such-and-such a day, but there is a grace period until noon the next day, and I offer that "grace period" for every assignment in my class.

Advantages. There are several advantages to this approach.

Just practically speaking, it means that midnight does not become some kind of fetish. Sure, if I say something is due on Tuesday, I'd like for them to finish the assignment on Tuesday, but it honestly doesn't make any difference if students turn something in at 2AM as opposed to midnight. I'm not awake at 2AM, but I know that many of my students are.

This approach also respects the fact that there are all kinds of emergencies that come up in people's lives; that's only natural. Students shouldn't have to share those details of their private lives with me, and they shouldn't need me to pronounce on what is a "legitimate" emergency or not. If they consider something an emergency so that they are not able to finish an assignment on time, that's totally their decision, and they can finish up the assignment the next morning.

I also offer extra credit options to make up for assignments they miss if the grace period is not enough; I'll write about that in a separate post.

Grace period in D2L: so clunky! When I used this system in D2L — and I did, for many years — it was really clunky. D2L has only one possible deadline you can set for a quiz (which is how my students "turned in" all their assignments), so I had to make it the noon deadline of the following day. I would title each assignment based on the day it was due — "Wednesday Storytelling" for example — but that assignment would show up as due on Thursday at noon in the calendar.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-11-37-43-am

Even with that serious drawback, I did use this system in D2L, and I was really excited when I learned that this is an easy-to-design option in Canvas, something that is officially built in as part of the assignment/calendar system.

Here's how it works in Canvas:

When you set the availability dates for an assignment, you have three different dates you can enter:

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-11-44-32-am

 

  • Due: The due date is what shows up on the calendar. All my assignments are due on a specific day, and I let it default to the Canvas end-of-day time which is 11:59PM.
  • Available from: This is the earliest possible date on which students can complete an assignment. I use this option for only a few assignments. I prefer for students to work ahead whenever possible so, as a general rule, all my assignments are available starting on the first day of class, which means I leave this option blank.
  • Available until: This is when the item actually becomes unavailable to students. So, for this, I set the available until date for every assignment be noon the next day (I use 11:59AM instead of noon to parallel Canvas's default use of 11:59PM for midnight).

The grace period is that gap between the "due" date in Canvas and the "available until" date.

Gradebook highlighting. If a student turns something in during that grace period, it shows up as a red in the Gradebook, but with no penalty. To be honest, having those red highlights is not very useful. You can see the splotches of red in the Gradebook; here is a screenshot of my smushed Gradebook (more about the awful Gradebook in a separate post) that shows the pattern of grace period use in one of my classes:

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-10-47-55-am

Instead of those splotches of red, I would actually prefer a real report about students who are using the grace period a lot so that I could share that data back with students. Is that possible? I couldn't find anything like that in the Canvas documentation, and given the extremely in-flexible and un-useful Canvas Gradebook, I guess I am not surprised. If I had such a report, I could share that report with students who are struggling with time management so that they would know just how often they are using the grace period. They could then could consider making it a personal goal to use the grace period less often, but Canvas unfortunately doesn't give me any data to use in that way (at least not that I can find out).

In terms of my Canvas advice tips, I would rate this one at the very top: it really does help students! So, I would strongly urge faculty to consider using this two-deadline option in Canvas. You couldn't set a grace period with quizzes in D2L, but now with Canvas, you can!

As for procrastination: it's a proverbial problem, something that we are all struggling with: For the diligent, a week has seven days; for the slothful, seven tomorrows. I am grateful for any and every tool I can use that will help my students to manage their time in positive, successful ways.

Carpe Diem

carpe

I did this prompted by a conversation with Scott Dennis , and I've crossposted in my Teaching with Canvas blog; updates will appear there. Meanwhile, if you are interested in this kind of topic, I'm shamelessly asking people to vote up my request to create a Connected Learning group as a place to share ideas and strategies for creating connected learning environments... kind of like what we have going on here with the Community! :-)

 

~ ~ ~

 

In an earlier post, I outlined my mid-semester feedback/evaluation process, and now the mid-semester week is here. I really enjoy getting this feedback from students. When they are happy, I am happy... and when they are not happy, that gives me challenges to work on in future semesters. And there is never a shortage of challenges. But that's good: we all get to keep on learning!

On Monday, students finished up the first part of the process, which is a general Reflections post. You can see the prompt here. There's no word-count minimum or maximum; some students write a lot, others not so much. I learn things from every post, partly just from the contents of the post itself, but even more so from seeing that in the context of each student's class project, etc. 

I read the posts in Inoreader, but it's also possible to use Inroeader to share a live stream of the posts in other spaces, so I create that live stream to share with Scott Dennis here: Blog Network RSS (with Inoreader): Reflections Posts. That's a Canvas page, as you can see in this screenshot. Scott was interested in some quotes about #connectedlearning from students, so I've also highlighted some quotes below, along with a step by step for anybody who's curious about the amazing powers of Inoreader.

What follows are selected quotes about connected learning with class-as-community; as you can see, the students are writing stories every week that are inspired by the reading, and they are also reading and commenting on each other's stories. I don't want them to just be waiting for my reactions to their writing; I want them to all be reacting and learning from each other all the time: that's how massive learning happens. For a typical week's assignments, see Week 7 (the week before this one). Meanwhile, here are some student comments where they are remarking on what they learn from in each other's stories:

I think what I have enjoyed most about this class so far is reading other people’s stories and getting to enjoy such a wide range of writing styles. It has given me inspiration for my own writing, and it has been a great tool to see just how differently people might choose to interpret a story.

When reading other's stories, I love looking at the different styles and vocabulary that people use in order to get their message across. Everyone writes differently and seeing those differences manifest themselves into great stories is awesome! I enjoy seeing all the creativity. I have been receiving lots of great feedback on my stories and I have been doing my best to give the same kind of valuable feedback to other students in this class.

I love reading all the different stories and seeing all the different writing styles that we have in this class. I have also enjoyed getting to read peoples introductions, I think that these posts give people the opportunity to express themselves in a way a typical in class introduction would not let you. I have also learned so much more about my classmates through the online introductions than I feel like I ever would have learned in a classroom setting.

When I read other people's stories I often find myself amazed at how well other people can write. My skill level in writing is not the highest so it is nice to read something that is done by a better writer than myself. It helps me to study their writing style a bit and then add it to my own.

When I read other people’s stories, I am blown away. People do such an amazing job and are so experienced. The creativity in this class is honestly amazing. I think I have been so amazed I forget to be constructive so I will focus on being more constructive as well these next few weeks.

I really enjoy looking at other's blogs and reading their work. It is cool to see how someone can take the same original story I have read and interpret it in a completely different way in their own story. I also admire those in this class who are technologically gifted and have truly made their blogs a work of art.

When I look at other people's story I love how majority of them use a lot of dialogue. Dialogue is one of the things that I struggle the most with so I would love to be able to incorporate it more in my own stories.

I have been liking everyone’s stories so far. They are all so different and unique, that I get a new perspective on story writing every time I go to someone’s blog. I think that I need to use dialogue more in my stories. I read a lot of great stories where the author used dialogue really well, and that is something I struggle with.

I think one of the best ways to develop my writing skills is simply to practice, read others’ stories, and get feedback- all things we do in this class!

I saw a story one of my peers wrote and was amazed. He made me think about the different ways I could write a story for this class and the future. He spoke through to the reader breaking the 4th wall, so to speak. I felt like he really captivated the reader instantly and kept their attention. 

Each week as I read unique and wonderfully written stories, I am amazed on how people can create so many different stories from different perspectives, inspirations, and characters all derived from the same story. After reading their stories, I became more determined to enhance my storytelling, and judging by my writing since the beginning of the semester, I can honestly say that I've noticeably improved!

I really like reading others' stories simply to see the wide array of storytelling techniques and styles people have.

I think my fellow students are very talented. I like reading their work because they bring different perspectives and insights to the same readings. I have noticed that the other students have no problem making their stories short and to the point. This is something that I need to work on, so it helps for me to read their work and to understand how they think and write. I love a cliff hanger, but I definitely need to work on bringing my stories to a close without going way over the word count.

I so admire the creativity of so many of the other students in this class. I am blown away by how they have written their stories and how they have made them their own.

I love the imagery that some people have used in their stories. I feel like I am there with the character and not just reading about him or her. I am definitely working on that especially with my storybook.

When I read other peoples stories, I admire a lot of the different qualities that people use. I like the dialogue and description. I think that my stories could use more of that.

I really like everybody’s creative ideas. I’m always amazed by what everybody comes up with about the stories! We don’t all read the same ones, too, and I really like seeing what everybody else chooses to read.

I really enjoy good stories. There are so many people in class with amazing writing skills and there are some that are about average. Some people have the tendency to make their stories a huge wall of text that makes it hard to digest the story. That is something I would like to avoid in my writing. 

As far as other people, I really enjoy reading my classmates stories. I love seeing how we all interpret things differently, and how our creativity comes out in different ways as well.

I admire the variety of people in this class. We have professional writers, engineers, nurses, and a crazy active mom. Everyone is so unique in their own special way. Its great seeing the different approaches they have to writing as well.

When thinking about other people's stories, a couple things come to mind. First, there are a lot of good writers out there! At least that's what I've noticed when reading other people's stories. Some good habits that they have is their use of detail and imagery, both things that I am trying to improve upon. Second, is their grammatical errors in their stories. For the most part this doesn't really bother me, but if I'm reading along and there's a trip up in the writing, it throws off my groove and that can be a little annoying. I think that people just get excited when writing their stories and they forget to go back and edit their stories afterwards. I guess that's where feedback comes in.

One of my favorite parts of each weeks assignments is to read other peoples stories. I like to see how creative people can get. We all read the same thing each week, so it is really interesting to see how they interpreted it and how they think about the content that was assigned. Reading these stories also allows me to see what to avoid. I try to stay away from too much dialogue. I also try to stay away from really long paragraphs. When I read stories that have big chunks for paragraphs, it gets tiring and draining for the reader. Either add some pictures to divide it up or make smaller paragraphs! This class is able to allow the readers and writer to grow every week, and I really admire that!

I enjoy the weekly commenting so much more than I would've expected to. It's so interesting seeing how the same source material can end up becoming so many different things once different people start approaching it, and how sometimes you can see the interests mentioned in people's intro posts end up influencing what they do in their stories.

I think another interesting facet of this class is being able to read the other student's posts because it not only shows their creativity but helps me gain some inspiration as well! 

I have enjoyed reading my classmate's stories so far this semester and I am often inspired by their creativity and unique approaches to stories that I never would have thought of! Sometimes, I am intimidated by reading them because I feel like my stories are far inferior, but it it still enjoyable and inspiring for me.

I definitely aspire to write more like some of the people in their class. I wish I could easily write funny stories that flow well. Some of my classmates are fantastic writers.

When I look at other people's stories, I admire the details. Again, with my background in journalism and nonfiction writing, I have lost my creative mind, in my opinion. I don't feel like I have gotten back into touch with a way to create vivid details. I could do it with nonfiction/journalism, but it took a while to master that because I had to create vivid words (not details) using the actual details the source had given me. So there wasn't much leeway given to me. So I truly enjoy seeing the creativity of the students and hopefully I can force my brain into letting it be more creative.

In other people’s stories, I most admire creativity. I wonder how people came up with the storylines, and what motivates them.

Looking at writings from other students, I think the biggest thing I notice is other people's ability to write descriptively. I can often see something vividly in my head but it doesn't translate to paper like I'd like it to. So, I'm envious of others that can do it and I always aspire to improve that area of my writing.

I most admire some people innate ability to write stories that just flow perfectly. It seems like they can just think of a topic and write a story without even thinking much. That most likely isn't the case, but there are a few writers in our class who I can tell are on another level when it comes to storytelling and their posts overall.

I dread dialogue, and will do everything in my power to avoid writing it. It so happens that that is exactly what I love the most about other peoples stories. So many of my fellow classmates can write dialogue, and they are amazing at it, and it makes me envious of that ability. Conversely, I feel like they end up missing part of the stories because they focus on the dialogue so much that there is not space for descriptions or support. To much dialogue and the story feels superficial. Oh well, maybe I should stop shying away from the dreaded conversation.

~ ~ ~

The Amazing Powers of Inoreader

And if you are interested in the amazing way Inoreader makes that possible in just a few minutes, here's a quick run-down:

Subscribe to blogs. I've subscribed to my students' blogs and put those subscriptions in a folder in Inoreader. Details here

Rule. I create a rule to automatically assign a tag to incoming posts with the word "Reflections" in the title. (That's part of the assignment instructions.) You can create a rule before any posts have come in for an assignment, or you can create it after the fact and Inoreader will run the rule retroactively on the last 1000 posts in the folder:

Turn on syndication. I then turn on syndication for that tag.

HTML clippings. I then configure the HTML clippings, and I remember (!!!) to change the http to https. Thanks to Alexis for reminding me about that yesterday! (I do it automatically and sometimes I forget to mention it when I give instructions like this.)

Paste the iframe in Canvas. You see the results here: Blog Network RSS (with Inoreader): Reflections Posts.

And of course there must be a cat:

Look for patterns in the feedback.

Laura Gibbs

Flickr Albums in Canvas

Posted by Laura Gibbs Mar 6, 2017

CROSSPOSTED. Updates will appear at my CanvasLIVE Playground blog. This post explains how to embed Flickr in Canvas, and the same procedure can be used for Pinterest, as explained here:

Pinterest in Canvas 

 

~ ~ ~

 

I've got a Flickr album with my Growth Mindset cats, and you can see that album here: Growth Mindset Cats. Flickr offers an embedding option so you can insert an album slideshow. Click on the Share (arrow) icon which is on the left, below the number of photos, to share an album:

 

You can then configure how you want to embed the slideshow:

 


Now, in a plain text editor, paste in that embed code from Flickr, and save it as an .HTML file. You don't need anything else; just the embed code that you have copied from Flickr. Upload that HTML into the Files area of your Canvas course.

 

For example, I called mine GrowthCatsFlickr.html, and you can see it here: Flickr album in Canvas File.

 

In the web address for that Canvas file, you can get the Canvas domain, the course number, and the file number, and use that to fill in this iframe snippet. You'll also want to choose a width and height that will work well for your album (it's easy to adjust later).

<iframe style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://______/courses/______/files/______/download" width="___" height="___"></iframe>

So, for example, here is what I will use for my Flickr album:

<iframe style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://canvas.ou.edu/courses/56971/files/3858529/download" width="420" height="600"></iframe>

Now, I'll create a Canvas Page, and I'll paste the iframe into the HTML editing view of the page. Here is the page: Flickr Album in Canvas, with a screenshot. The left-right arrows move you through the album, and each image links back to its Flickr page; you can see the page in action here: Flickr Cats in Canvas.

 


You can also insert a Flickr album into a Discussion Board if you want students to choose images to respond to:

 

 

Laura Gibbs

Pinterest in Canvas

Posted by Laura Gibbs Mar 5, 2017

I'm a huge fan of Pinterest, one of the ways I use it for my classes is to create a Board for each class each semester where I pin the stories in my students' projects. The projects are up and running now, so here are the Boards: Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics. As you can see, I embed the Boards on the Project Directory page for each class, and in this post I'll explain how you can also embed Pinterest Boards like that in Canvas; click here for the Canvas Page:

You can create all kinds of widgets for Pinterest accounts, and the option I used here was to create a custom-sized Board. To create a widget, just click on the ... menu you see at any Board:

Then, configure your widget by filling in the blanks provided:

This will generate a custom code for your widget, plus a standard javascript snippet. These will both appear on the widget design page down towards the bottom:

Now, in a plain text editor, paste in both chunks of code, and save the text file with an HTML suffix. You don't need any other code; just the two snippets provided by Pinterest:

Then, upload it to your Canvas space. For example, I will call my file IEPinterestBoard.html, and you can see it here: Pinterest Board in Canvas File.

 

In the web address for that Canvas file, you can find the Canvas domain, the course number, and the file number, and use that to fill in this iframe snippet. You'll also want to choose a width and height that will work well for your Board (it's easy to adjust later).

 

<iframe style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://______/courses/______/files/______/download" width="___" height="___"></iframe>

 

So, for example, here is what I will use for my Pinterest Board:

 

<iframe style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://canvas.ou.edu/courses/56971/files/3995193/download" width="800" height="600"></iframe>

 

Now, I'll create a Canvas Page, and I'll paste the iframe into the HTML editing view of the page. You can also add any other page content that you want!

 

Here is the resulting Pinterest: Indian Epics. Now, as I pin new stories to the Board from my students' projects (there are new stories every week!), those pins will show up automatically inside Canvas.

 

I also have the Board embedded in our class wiki page; Pinterest Board widgets work wherever javascript is accepted.

 

I originally started participating in Canvas Community because our Canvas roll-out team set up a University of Oklahoma group, but I just recently learned that contributions made to that private group don't benefit the larger Community at all; they don't even appear in Search results. That's a bummer! (And the bigger bummer of course is that nobody is using our private group space anyway.) As a result, I've now started posting here in other spaces at the Community, but I'm often really not sure where to post, and I've been posting in different places as a result, trying to figure things out.

 

So, in the same way that I made Index Posts at my actual Teaching with Canvas blog, I'll make Index Posts here, linking to where you can find my most recent posts here at the Community. Meanwhile, to find all my blog posts, check out the blog itself: Teaching with Canvas: Confessions of an LMS Minimalist.

 

Here's what I've posted at the Community since realizing that my school's private space was a non-starter:

 

Thoughts about the Canvas Outage. I was so impressed at the steady stream of helpful updates at the Canvas status page!

 

The Sidebar Never Sleeps: Live Content 24/7. This is a guided tour of the dynamic content that my students see each time they enter my Canvas course space: motivational posters, online resources, all that good stuff.

 

Mid-Semester Evaluation and Feedback. It's the middle of the semester already, and I really depend on feedback from my students about how the courses are going. Do you collect mid-semester feedback from your students?

 

More Visible Learning, NOT More Visible Grades. Instead of looking at grades, I want to look at my students' work, at how they are learning... for me, it's about the process, not about the standardized outcome.

 

Update on New Google Sites: Happy! I was a little nervous at first, switching from the classic Google Sites to the New Google Sites. But my students are so much happier with the New Sites, so I am happy too.

 

The Power of Randomizers… Everywhere. This post explains how I use randomizers in other course spaces, not just in the daily announcements.

 

Group Request: Connected Learning. I am really hoping there can be a Connected Learning Group here at Canvas. For one thing, it would help me figure out just where I should be posting my blog posts, since Connected Learning is a label I can put on pretty much all the work I do. :-)

 

And since it is such a fabulous infographic, I'll share the Connected Learning infographic again here. I'm not really sure how best to get people excited about a Connected Learning Group here at the Community, but I'll keep trying; for me, Connected Learning is the best umbrella term to describe all the kinds of things I try to do as a teacher to help my students become self-directed, successful learners. :-)

 

Connected Learning

CROSSPOSTED. Updates will appear at Teaching with Canvas blog.  

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

I teach General Education courses in the Humanities, and that means I welcome any opportunity to share with my students the wealth of literature, art, and music that is online. I can never be sure just what will click with each student, so I'm try to expose them to a steady stream of ever-changing items. Ideally, they might see something that makes them want to click and learn more, but even if that does not happen, by the constant parade of content, I am showing them what a world of culture they can find online ... if they go looking.

The main way I do this is with my Class Announcements blog: every day there are new announcements, and then in the sidebar of the blog things are ever-changing, not just day to day but every time the page reloads. My goal is that every time they log on to Canvas, they will see something new... automatically. I'm busy doing other things (commenting on their projects), but while I am working, the power of the dynamic content in the blog is working too! 

I've written elsewhere about how I configure Canvas so make my blog the homepage, and in this post, I want to provide a quick tour of my sidebar. If you go to my class Myth.MythFolklore.net (fully open, just click and go!), you can follow along by looking at the sidebar there for yourself; there is information about each sidebar item below.

 

Text Box: On top is a text box which is static and does not change; it contains the single most important link for students who are in a rush to get to what they need for class: the Class Calendar. While I want the blog to be a fun, exploratory space, I also want students in a hurry to be able to find what they need to get to work on the class.

Email Subscription: Some students subscribe to the announcements by email, which I think is great. Blogger's Feedburner service provides really nice email presentation of the blog, so I am glad when students do choose to get the announcements by email. I'm subscribed too, so I can see the same email the students receive.

Random Cats: This is a randomizing widget of Growth Mindset Cats; the cats have turned out to be incredibly helpful in promoting a spirit of learning and also fun in my classes. If you're interested, you can snag this widget and use it too, either in a blog like this or directly in a Canvas page: Widget Warehouse: Growth Mindset Cats.

Class Twitter: I try to update the class Twitter at least twice a day; it only takes a few minutes to add new items (I just retweet), and it's always fun for me to see what's new. Here's how that works: Twitter for Class Content: My Top 5 Strategies.

Reading, Writing, Learning. This is a combination widget that randomly draws on several different widgets: Writing Inspiration, Reading Inspiration, and H.E.A.R.T. (each of those links goes to the Widget Warehouse page; these are also available for anyone else to use). Thanks to the power of random, new things appear each time the page loads!

Random Storybook. These are student projects from my class archives. I really like reminding students all the time how the projects they create will become part of future classes too. Their work matters! You can see the archive here: eStorybook Central.

Free Books Online. This is my favorite widget: it displays free books of stories and legends (I teach Mythology-Folklore and Indian Epics), drawing on the 900+ free books in my Freebookapalooza Library. I've broken that widget down by region, too, hoping that might make it more useful for others if you might also want to share free books with your students: Widget Warehouse: Freebookapalooza.

Videos. This is the playlist that I create with the videos from past class announcements; every day there is a new video in the daily announcements, and this playlist gives the students access to all the videos so far this semester. It's like a second chance in case the students didn't notice the video in yesterday's announcement. You can see the playlist directly with this link: Announcements Videos.

RSS Links. I've never been able to get my students excited about RSS (alas!), but I do include the RSS links here in my sidebar.

Suggestion Box. Finally, there is a link to a Google Form where students can provide anonymous suggestions. Since there are lots of other opportunities for feedback in the class via their blogs, the students rarely use this, but I want to make sure they know that anonymous feedback is also welcome!

Every semester I tinker with the sidebar, and it's hard to restrain myself from putting even more in there. I'm happy with the selection that I have now... but when I get some time to make more widgets this summer, I'll probably be redecorating the sidebar for classes this Fall.

CROSSPOSTED. Updates will appear at Teaching with Canvas blog. I've posted this in the Instructional Designers group, but it would be the kind of post that I would otherwise put into a Connected Learning group if we can get something like that here at Canvas. Interest? Please vote for a Connected Learning group! :-)

~ ~ ~ 

 

Next week (Week 8 of our semester) is a Review Week in my classes. The review is NOT because we have a test or exam to review for, but because reviewing and reflecting are essential for learning. Plus, I need feedback! I've written elsewhere about feedback for students (feedback, not grades), but even more important is the feedback that I get from the students about how the class is going. How else can I hope to improve? Like every learner, I need feedback too!

I am guessing other schools at at their mid-semester point right about now too, so I am curious what people are doing for mid-semester evaluations. Do you have institutional mid-semester evaluations? (My school has only end-of-semester evaluations.) In the absence of an institutional mid-semester evaluation, do you conduct your own?

Since I get a lot of value from conducting my own mid-semester evaluation, I thought I would write about it here!

So, in Week 8 of the semester, I replace the usual reading-reading-storytelling assignments that would normally occupy the first half of the week with a different set of assignments; here are all the Week 8 assignments, and these are the three assignments specifically designed for reflection and feedback:

Class Reflections. This is an open-ended blog post where the students reflect on the three types of activities they are engaged in each week: reading, writing, connecting. My hope is that this can encourage students to do some self-assessment, and I also learn a lot from hearing what they say; I read all these blog posts using Inoreader.

Growth Mindset. In this blog post, students look back on the Growth Mindset approach that they learned about back in Week 1 of the semester. Some students have done optional Growth Mindset reflection posts each week; other students have not engaged with it again since the start of the semester. I am really pleased with the chart I created to help students see mindset as a multidimensional construct, and the blog post prompts encourage them to see how their mindset might be different in different classes and in different areas of their lives.

I really enjoy these posts a lot because Growth Mindset is a topic that seems very good at shaking students free from their normal grade-seeking behavior in order to step back and think about learning instead. I usually learn more from these posts than from the Reflections post, but having the Reflection post come first is a good way for the students to get ready to write a really good Growth Mindset post.

Mid-Semester Surveys. Then, after those two posts, there are two surveys I ask the students to complete: one is about Canvas (since Canvas is new at our school), and the other is about the learning activities of the class, which is where I ask them to give me feedback specifically about how the class is going and what I could/should do differently. I used the same two surveys last semester (last semester was our first Canvas semester), and you can see the results here:

  • Canvas Survey: Week 8, Fall 2016. In the Canvas Survey, I got the best results from the questions that asked the students to give advice to other students using Canvas and advice to instructors setting up their Canvas courses. So, for this semester, I eliminated some of the other questions that did not really elicit useful or surprising responses in order to zoom in on this "advice-oriented" approach. I've also written about the students' comments on Canvas here at this blog: Student Voices about CanvasStudent Tech Support for Canvas, and More Student Voices from Fall 2016.
  • Class Survey: Week 8, Fall 2016. In this survey, there are four simple open-ended questions (favorite things, least favorite things, obstacles, things I could do differently as the instructor), plus I set up two grids: one asks the students to rate the importance of the seven different learning dimensions of the class, and the other asks the students to rate their learning in those dimensions. I found these results to be extremely useful! I didn't run any fancy statistics, but even just as a simple aggregate measure, it offered me some insight that was different from the insight I get from the open-ended questions.



Value of  the mid-semester evaluation:

Designing these activities is very helpful for me because it helps me to think clearly about the different components of my course design so that I can gather feedback about them separately. Yes, there is a holistic quality about the learning experience, but it's also true that as I work on the class to improve it, I need specific goals to work on, and the students are the ones who help me to define those goals.

This process also lets me show the students that their input really does matter to me. The end-of-semester evaluations are very pro forma and generic, and I suspect the students are (understandably) cynical about their importance. In the case of these custom mid-semester evaluations, the students can tell that the feedback matters to me. I think this also leads to better quality feedback on the end-of-semester evaluations too; because I have shown the students mid-semester that I care about their feedback, they know that I value their feedback at the end of the semester also.

I also really believe in the power of self-assessment. So much about school is focused on rushing to finish things: get the grade, and then move on to the next thing, never look back. I definitely believe in moving forward and making progress, but looking back is an important part of how we succeed in moving forward. So, by reserving part of Week 8 for reflection and feedback, I hope to encourage the students to do something similar in their other classes too, even if it is not something the instructor makes a formal part of the class.

Growth Mindset Cat says: Take some time to reflect. :-)

CROSSPOSTED. Updates will appear at Teaching with Canvas blog.

~ ~ ~

Last week I went to check to see if a student had completed some assignments from earlier in the semester, and when I clicked, I saw a new panel pop up; here's what it looks like for the Test Student:

From Chris Hofer I learned that this is a new "Student Context Card," and my school chose to turn it on (without telling us, which is odd) when it was released last week. Canvas has invested what is clearly a lot of effort and resources in order to give us this new gradebook view with information that shows me each student's latest graded items, ranking them compared to the rest of the class.

And I find this to be very depressing.

By emphasizing this "view" of students, Canvas shows us (the instructors, the students) that it really is all about the grades, ranking student against student. Not about the learning. Not about growth.

As I've documented elsewhere, I find the Canvas Gradebook to be mostly useless because I cannot include my own data fields ("Feature Request: Text Fields in the Gradebook"). In D2L, I could create little text fields to record important information about a student that I needed to remember (out with flu Weeks 3-4... needs Tuesday reminders... waiting on 2nd Portfolio story revisions... etc. etc.). Because the Canvas Gradebook refuses to let me enter information I consider important, I run my own spreadsheet outside the system. I definitely believe in analytics, but the data I need are not the grades: I need data about the whole student and about their learning process.

And that leads to my bigger concern here: by making it all about the grades, we are doing our students a huge disservice. We tell them to care about the grades as if the grades were a true representation of the learning. But we all know... if we are honest about it... that grades are a poor proxy for learning at best. And at worst, they are a huge hindrance to learning, a reward-and-punishment system that has negative consequences for many students. (Don't believe me? Read Carol Dweck.)

To learn more and to learn better, students need FEEDBACK. Lots of it. And grades are a terrible form of feedback.

I have written about this often; here are all the posts at my Teaching With Canvas blog labeled Grading, and I've also collected materials at Grading.MythFolklore.net, where you will find links and resources about the un-grading movement; see also the hashtag #TTOG (Teachers Throwing Out Grades) at Twitter.

Short version: I'm ALL-feedback and NO-grades. That has been my approach since I first started teaching online in 2002, and it works. How do I know it works? Because the students tell me it does: What Students Say About Un-Grading.

For information about what good feedback can and should be, check out my Feedback Resources at Diigo. Yep, that's an RSS feed inside a Canvas page... and RSS is just one technology we could be using to bring real evidence of student learning from their own webspaces into the Canvas space.

So, instead of a dynamic whiz-bang Gradebook view of students, we instead need a dynamic whiz-bang LEARNING view that helps students and instructors see what their learning looks like and that also allows them to connect with others based on what we are all learning together. To get a sense of the dynamics of connected, visible learning in my classes, take a look at the blog hubs for Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics. Take a look at the student projects, past and present at eStorybook Central.

I've also proposed creating a Connected Learning Group here at Canvas; if you are interested, let me know!

To help students learn more and learn better, I need to see what they are learning. To help them in their work, I need to see their work. Not quizzes, not tests. Their work.

The work, not the grades, is what matters, and I show the students that their work matters by giving them detailed feedback about it, by creating opportunities for them to share their work with others, and by saving their work in the class archives to sustain my classes in the future.

Grades penalize mistakes... feedback helps you learn from them. That's what we need: feedback, not grades.

Because I feel safe, I can learn from my mistakes.

A meme inspired by this infographic:

Crossposted at Canvas Community.

CROSSPOSTED. Updates will appear at Teaching with Canvas blog.  And no, this is not really a post about Canvas per se... it's a post about a great tool to use to fill a gap in the Canvas tool ecosystem: if you want your students to create websites, as I always do (the power of connected learning!), then I have good things to say about the new Google Sites. This might be of special interest to people who are using Google Suite at their schools.

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

This post is to report that things are going really well with the NEW Google Sites, far better than I ever expected. I need a reliable, free web publishing option to recommend to my students, and for the past seven years I've been using Google Sites (before that I used Netscape Composer and its successor, Mozilla Seamonkey, until my university abruptly stopped supporting student web spaces in 2010). If students want to use Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Tumblr, etc., that is fine with me, but I choose just one platform where I provide detailed step-by-step tech support, and for seven years that platform was Google Sites.

So, it was with considerable trepidation that I switched to the new Google Sites this semester... but now that the students' websites are up and running for the semester, I can say that I am very happy about it! The new Google Sites approach to web design is not something that would appeal to me personally, but it sure does appeal to my students. The sites look like websites are "supposed" to look!

Plus, it has proved far easier to support than the old Google Sites. With the new system, I've managed so far just to provide three support pages: Create a Site, Images, and Sections. That's all! I may or may not need to add a page to help with navigation, but so far that is going well and the students have not had any questions (as opposed to the nightmare that was the old Google Sites navigation system).

I'll have more to say about this in a few weeks as students add more and more pages to their sites! I've got 40 websites going this semester, which is about half of my students; the other half opted to just do their projects inside their existing blogs. That's about typical, but my guess is that next Fall, when the students see these nice-looking websites from the Spring, I am guessing more of them will want to try creating their own (the Google Sites of the past did not exactly inspire in that way as you can see in the archive).

It's all about peer learning: thanks to the brave pioneers of this semester, I will have student-created sites to use as examples with next semester's students!

And just to provide a glimpse, here are a few screenshots and links to some of the sites so far; as the weeks go on, each student will be adding three or four story pages to go with the current homepage and Introduction page; here's how it all works: Student Projects.

Site Homepages:

This is a project about the love life of Pegasus the flying horse:

 

This student is collecting lesson materials to use when she begins teaching school next year:

This is a project about the proverbial nine lives of cats:

 

Introduction Pages:

This is a project on Indian Epics stories retold in the American Wild West:

This student has traveled in India, so her project is a food and travel guide:

This project will be using medical urban legends from Snopes.com retold as Grey's Anatomy stories:

CROSSPOSTED. Updates will appear at Teaching with Canvas blog.  

~ ~ ~ 

One of my favorite motivational posters happened to pop up today when I checked something on my class calendar, and that prompted me to write up a post here about how I integrated a randomizer into the class calendar page last year... and now I cannot imagine doing the calendar without that. Here's a screenshot, and below I explain how it works:


So, the Class Calendar is a page at my wiki, but of course the same approach could work as a Canvas Page. There's nothing fancy as you can see: I have a table with three columns: the week, the start-stop dates, and a link to the week's assignments (I have two links since I use the same calendar page for both of my classes).

Go ahead and take a look: Class Calendar. As you can see, I list the current week at the very top, with all the future weeks below, and then at the bottom you'll also find the completed weeks. On Monday, I just move the top row of the table down to the bottom.

The randomizer comes between the top two rows and the rest of the table. The top two rows because I strongly encourage my students to work ahead, so in any given week, students are either working on the current week or the coming week. A few students are even more ahead than that, but only a few, so they can just scroll down below the graphic to get to their active week.

So, the randomizer: each time you come to the Calendar, an item pops up at random, and each item has a link where students can learn more about the item if it really grabs their attention. That is always my great hope: please be curious! please click! please go go go and learn more on the Internet following your curiosity!

But even without click-and-go, the graphic conveys something that I hope will be of value to the student. Try it yourself; you will probably see something new each time the page reloads. There are 20 items, so it's not a lot, but enough to provide a decently random experience.

That particular randomizer shows time-related items, which I thought would be appropriate for a calendar page! Here is more information about it: Time Randomizer Widget.


That widget is just one of many at my Widget Warehouse, which I built to keep track of my own widgets but also to share with others. You can grab the javascript to use in your own blog or website or wiki. You can grab the https-iframe version to use in a Canvas Page. You can grab the raw source table to adapt for your own purposes. Or you can just build your own widget with the wonderful free tool from Randy Hoyt: RotateContent.com (I am proud to say he is a former student... and genius designer of board games also!).

I need to try to write more in this blog about my use of randomizers, but this can be a start anyway. And here again is the motivational poster that prompted me to write this post. Have a wonderful day! :-)

This is a wonderful day;
I have never seen this one before.
(H.E.A.R.T. blog)