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2015

I was first introduced to Canvas somewhat jet lagged on my way back from a conference in Europe, being told by my supervisor (whom I didn't know was on the flight) at 3am somewhere that we would be using it for the class starting the next day. In my jet lagged state I had the course running my the mid-morning, and then with a small revision I had it looking a bit better a few days later when I had caught up a bit, the result of which is here Creating a "button" oriented syllabus page. Our course was a part of the pre-release of about 10 courses, part of the advanced users group as we called ourselves, each from very different disciplines of the University, and me being the most junior person in the room. I did not have the benefit of the training the others had received before going it, but I soon caught up and was finding new ways to use Canvas. One of which resulted in a way to manage the lecture recording links that we use iframes (UoA Lecture Recordings).

 

Before long, whether by nagging, luck, or skill, I was offered a part-time position as a Canvas Facilitator for the University, helping to train the staff at the University of Auckland in the use of Canvas. I ended up just focusing in the Faculty of Arts due to my PhD and teaching commitments. I have posted other blogs about some of the challenges I have encountered while doing this job; Paper Pumpkin - Moving marking online, the uphill battle and You can lead a horse to water..., but for the most part the result of the training sessions have been interesting to see. What the other facilitators and myself are seeing is people taking the LMS on board and using it in new and innovative ways. Some people are playing more with the html editor, while others are salivating about all the ways they can improve their teaching styles. This is all in contrast to our old LMS, which while it was state-of-the-art when we got it many many years ago, is now tired and needed replacing. What is exciting is to see what people can do with Canvas and what they will continue to do with it as they are introduced to it, hopefully without the jet lag.

We are now well into teaching Canvas to all the staff in preparation for next year at my institution. In my Faculty, the overwhelming response has been positive to the switch to Canvas, with people getting very excited about what they will be able to do with their courses in Canvas. But, and yes you knew there was a "but" coming, this is not always the case. Some staff simply do not want to put any more effort into their courses than what they currently do, which is to upload a few pdf's and maybe some power-points and call it a day. This response mostly comes from tired and jaded staff, but also surprisingly from some people who you would assume would be excited. To them, the prospect of putting in a bit of extra time to set up their courses is unthinkable. I have tried to sell it to them as an investment of time, if they put it in now to make an awesome course, it can be copied over to the next time they teach it, but that line only works about half the time.

 

Along with Canvas, my institution is introducing Talis Aspire to help manage our copyrighted content, which again brings a collective groan from those same staff. In one case, a staff member suggested that they may retire instead of deal with adding the copyright to all of their 30,000 images that they have. Whether or not they use all 30,000 images in their course I never did ascertain.

 

I was a bit disheartened at some of these responses, I couldn't see why people would not want to make their courses a bit better, which is part of their jobs after all. While my initial response to these negative attitudes was that of disappointment, I have come to see the situation another way. The people who don't want to learn Canvas or put in any time at all, probably weren't doing it in the first place with our old LMS. I have done my job and tried to get them enthusiastic about Canvas and what it can do, but at the end of the day I can't do much more than that. All I can do is help those people who want it to make their courses as good as they can be.

 

You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it drink.

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