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I recently saw a post from 3 years ago Last Stand of the Late Adopters that discussed how it is hard to effectively connect with our colleagues who are coming late to the tech party. How do we get them up to speed effectively through professional development on to how best use an LMS? The topic is still a very real one for many schools in the K-12 scene. It seems like this group of late comers wants everything to be magical...even supernatural...think The Jetsons meets Disney World meets the Wizard of Oz. And then at the first sign of trouble...a broken link, a misplaced file...spotty WiFi and they are all out of sorts proclaiming the advent of the apocalypse at the hands of Skynet. 


So the challenge becomes how to best support this group of johnny come latelys. For what its worth, my approach has always been to show them how my life is easier because of the technology I employ!" And to help them start small!  I mean that is the definition of technology after all to make life easier. The concept of a flipped classroom can really be a break for your vocal chords. So many times I find myself up in front of my class like I'm David Blaine or some vaudevillian road act...and that can be stressful and fatiguing. As we get older it can be harder to always have some inspirational Dead Poets Society moment up our sleeve. The advantage of learning how to integrate digital media into our classrooms is that it gives you a break from the antiquated and overrated 'sage on a stage' philosophy. Now we can switch gears and get a much deserved rest from being up on stage all day every day and instead spend our time collaborating and providing individualized feedback through online quizzes and surveys or even commenting in real time on live Google Docs. We can also supplement in modules to help them become independent learners through webquests and wiki trails!.


The best work I see from my students is when I create a vision of "why" we are studying any given topic and then I let them create the "what" and the "how" we achieve it!...something I was inspired to think more closely about after watching Simon Sinek's  classic TED talk on "How great leaders inspire action" as well as Angela Lee Duckworth's talk on "Grit: the power of passion and perseverance" and lastly Christopher Emdin's "Teaching teachers magic"


Our kids deserve better and we deserve a more effective way to teach while not wearing ourselves out! Let's save our energy and make sure we can endure, because our students need educators like us in their lives. We have work to do!


So in closing, If you build it (and maintain it)...they will come: colleagues and students alike! 

Bobby Pedersen

ctrl K - you rock!

Posted by Bobby Pedersen Champion Feb 24, 2018

Recently a colleague introduced me to ctrl K in Canvas. The magic it can do is pretty cool.

How did we get anything done without it?


For example, a friend I was working with was annoyed with how the links they had put in to their Canvas page were taking them out of Canvas. This was not the end of the world as the back arrow brought them back again BUT if they needed to fill in fields in the new site then this information would be lost on the return back to Canvas. With ctrl K we highlighted the link within the page and made the ‘Target’ become a ‘new window’. Hey presto Canvas stays where it is and the link takes the user to a new window.


Then another colleague knew that their page was way too long and required a lot of scrolling. Using ctrl K they could link to heading bookmarks on the page or create ‘top’ ‘bottom’ of page links.


This might come in handy to have it explained better. @Use Ctrl+K to insert/modify a hyperlink (instead of code) - Meta Stack Exchange 


Has anyone else got a different trick for using ctrl K?

Thank you Tina ctrl K Queen!

Jonathan Yoder

The Unknown...

Posted by Jonathan Yoder Champion Feb 20, 2018

   Complacency can really stunt our students' growth. As teachers we try to help our students stay engaged and operating within a growth mindset. However, we don't always take that same advice. A system like Canvas can really be a thorn in many teachers' sides because we as educators often get complacent with teaching the same courses year after year. There is comfort in the known... the material is well prepared and rehearsed, but we need to be sure to stay current with changing trends and the implementation of a LMS and technology is part of that new trend in education.

   It can be very scary to think about changing your own personal "culture", but it can also be quite rewarding. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you don't need to conquer the world. Just try one new thing and really dive into it. Maybe its using the calendar options to help keep your students and parents informed of upcoming assignments and tests even if those assignments and tests are not done online. 

   Those of us who are reading this are probably among the top users at our respective institutions and as a result we have an obligation to help our colleagues who really struggle with this shift in our school culture. Canvas is great in that it really allows for true collaboration on every level! So as you evolve your courses and create new items in your courses don't forget to share that material! Your initiative will inspire your colleagues to try something new. Ultimately the goal is to spread the Canvas love and to make the unknown, known. 

Jonathan Yoder

File vs. Module

Posted by Jonathan Yoder Champion Feb 17, 2018

   A module can be defined in several ways depending upon the context, if I were a NASA engineer it would be part of a spacecraft or if I were a scientist it might be a unit of measurement. A file on the other hand is best described as either a set of papers or data points usually found within folders. Seems quite simple really.

   However, I was recently in a town hall-style faculty meeting with my colleagues at our public high school in which we were diving deeper into our new LMS of Canvas. And since we had not been properly using our old LMS, the question came up several times throughout the day...What exactly is a file vs. a module? 


   And as I wanted to fire back with a direct response like a heat seeking missile, I fell short for a moment as I myself pondered what the heck a module was in this educational context. And then it hit me, a module is a learning opportunity. Now that could be the opportunity to gain knowledge through notes or information from the web or even from a textbook or video clip. It could also be an opportunity to show or demonstrate learning such as in a discussion posts, blog entries or even cat memes with inspirational Latin phrases and it can also be an opportunity to assess learning in a long or short term setting such as quizzes, tests, midterms and finals.


   So although a file can be a module, a module certainly is not just a file, but so much more. It's an opportunity to know more than you did before you showed up! And that is something worth investing in for our students as well as for ourselves!

The new school year has started in Australia, and the calendar is already one of the favourite features for our new high school students and parents. It has helped them get organised, understand what to bring and know what they are doing in class in advance. Flipped learning at its most basic, however very important all the same. Surprisingly, some (not many) of our students are not on social media yet and use the calendar, announcements, and Canvas messaging as their form of communication and information sources. 

It is also helping staff stay organised and communicate with colleagues as to where they are up to with lessons if they share classes.

Yet, some of the best feedback has come from parents of students with special needs - knowing what is going on prior to class helps reduce anxiety! Especially at the beginning of the year! Simple, effective and organised!

callaghancollegewallsendcampus David SUMMERVILLE

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