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2016

What successes did they have with Canvas at the end of the year?

We have a greater use of Canvas after one year than we did with Bb after over a decade! Their comments reflect that it is just easier to use and just works!

 

What challenges did they experience with Canvas at the end of the year?

No specific challenges relates to end of year, per se...Really just expressing that is takes some time to get used to a new LMS and how to do things.  The biggest changes were the need to have an assignment for everything you want to grade in the gradebook and choosing the right settings for those assignments so students could see what they had to do and how to submit the work.

 

How did the feedback change or not change some of your resourcefulness around 'spring cleaning' and year-end-close-out in Canvas?

We have implemented a course template that is automatically copied when a new course is created via our SIS integration.  That was fantastic when we first started using Canvas because it got users to create a course with a consistent design and students had a similar design experience across courses.  BUT, now that we have been using Canvas for a full year, and faculty are copying their courses from one semester to another, the auto template is causing the faculty or the designers to have to delete duplicate content.  So, it is time to simplify the template or move it to Commons so when we need to update something everyone can be alerted that there is a change.

 

How are you going to party this summer?

Go camping and connect with nature, knowing that if I need to help someone on Canvas I can do so from my cell phone, but being confident that I likely won't need to because it just works!

 

 

 

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Even though we've been using Canvas for almost three years it's always great to get some faculty together to talk and reflect on how things are going and what could be improved! The Spring Cleaning Challenge was a great excuse to reflect on the past semester and how to prepare on the next!

 

What did you do to recruit them to your informal focus group?

I'm pretty lucky in that I'm in charge of Faculty Academy (professional development) and the Online Learning Taskforce (online learning power users) at our College. Because of this I was easily able to contact them and found the hardest part was figuring out the best time to meet.

 

When did you hold your meet-up? And how many people showed up?

Our meet-up was held the week of finals (yes, I know crazy!) and we had 6 people show up, which I didn't think was bad considering the time of year. I forgot to take a picture, so I used a picture from another faculty academy session for our cover picture at the top of the page.

 

What successes did they have with Canvas at the end of the year?

  • It just works - overall faculty were happy that Canvas seemed to be up and working with no major outages and no major tool/feature problems. Basically Canvas does what it's suppose to do without adding extra stress or burden on the faculty.
  • What-if Grades - our faculty LOVE that students can play around with their own grades at the end of the semester and figure out what they need in the course to get the grade they want (or desperately need!).
  • Rubrics - rubrics make your life and grading much easier and faster!
  • Student satisfaction - students like it when faculty use Canvas. Students like having their gradebook in Canvas and they like being able to submit their assignments in Canvas.

 

What challenges did they experience with Canvas at the end of the year?

  • Grading essay questions - grading essay questions continue to be a challenge because the grade by one question at a time doesn't really work that well. Faculty indicated that they spend a lot of unnecessary time grading essay questions and that if they could see all responses for a specific essay question on one page that would really speed things up!
  • New UI - we haven't switched to the new UI yet, so there was some trepidation about how things would work and if students (and some faculty) would get confused. They were especially not happy about names not showing up on the global navigation bar so there's no way to tell who the student is logged in as.
  • Last minute opening of assignments and quizzes - At the end of the semester many students are trying to get everything done at the last minute and often ask for extensions. This is easier because of differentiated assignments, but gets old when you have a number of assignments you're doing this for.

 

How did the feedback change or not change some of your resourcefulness around 'spring cleaning' and year-end-close-out in Canvas?

Overall when I asked faculty what they do to close their classes out at the end of the semester, most of them looked at me rather blankly and other than making sure everything is graded, they indicated that they basically jump ship and don't look back until closer to the start of the next semester! While I totally understand this (who doesn't need a break after the end of a long semester!), it's also a little scary because who knows if they will remember those tweaks they were going to make before the beginning of the semester! In the past I'd advocated for keeping a list (paper or electronic) of all the things you want/need to change in your course so that way after the end of the semester you'll remember what you need to do. I haven't brought that up recently, so I think for the next semester I'll remind faculty of ways they can make switching to a new semester easier and more efficient.

 

How are you going to party this summer?

We don't have many traditional on campus classes over the summer, so most of our faculty teach online. This allows them the freedom to party anywhere they want! Whether at their summer home in Spain, on vacation, or the comfort of their own home! As for myself, I'm not teaching this summer, but I am building a new online course for fall (yay!

 

 

 

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I have the unique role at my institution of being a teacher and a Canvas Admin. It’s a unique combination which I enjoy. It keeps me connected to both worlds of Canvas. Emily Beckman is truly the brains behind our SIS integration, and I don’t understand all of the ins and outs of officially closing terms. My emphasis is on supporting teachers and getting Canvas to do what we want it to...we complement each other well!

 

This blogging challenge was perfectly timed for us. It gave us an excuse/opportunity to have conversations with our staff about how they wrap-up things at the end of the year and learn more about their overall use of Canvas -- and the items which will need support next year!



What did you do to recruit them to your informal focus group? When did you hold your meet-up? And how many people showed up?

Throughout the school year, I sent a monthly EdTech newsletter in which I shared relevant articles, Canvas updates, cool new apps, and best practices. I initially invited people to share their ideas through email, but I did not have any responses. Because my office in our library sees a good amount of teacher traffic (there is a coffee pot in the office next door), I started interviewing people one-by-one. Although it put people on the spot, it did keep our conversations concise. It wasn’t perfect, and I would have loved to host a roundtable discussion, but I was able to gather some very helpful information.

 

Last year, at the conclusion of second semester, I hosted two hour-long sessions called Canvas Clean Up. This course was designed to provide teachers with open computer lab time while having in-house Canvas experts available for questions and guided reflections. From a Canvas Admin point of view, it was awesome to see the different ways in which one LMS was utilized. This year, we did not host such an event. However, I think teachers felt more confident with wrapping up courses. Next year, after we add Canvas Commons to the mix - more details about that later - we’ll need more Canvas Clean Up sessions at the conclusions of semesters.

 

What successes did they have with Canvas at the end of the year?

  • Familiarity. It’s the end of our fourth semester with Canvas. Knowing how to finalize grades, leave final comments for students, and to build course evaluations is not a big deal. We’re used to it!
  • Comfort. Some teachers like leaving their courses “as is” and selecting the material that they liked or felt was successful and move it next semester. They know the process and prefer to leave an active archive of a class rather than cleaning it out.
  • Instant Gratification. In files, the drag-and-drop aspect of organization makes it easier to sift and sort files.

 

What challenges did they experience with Canvas at the end of the year?

  • Patience. Several teachers wanted to move into their new Canvas Classrooms now or during the summer rather than waiting until fall. That way, ideas and reflections are fresh! However, fall courses are not ready yet.
  • Treasures. It can be daunting to go back into assignments to find student examples if the collecting didn’t occur throughout the semester. Teachers need to build their file of exemplars as the semester progresses; it’s so much easier.
  • Endurance. When the end of the semester is so close, it’s easy to take shortcuts with feedback. It’s tempting to spend more time sorting, cleaning, and dreaming of next year before class is officially completed. Multi-tasking can wait, and avoid trying to do too much at once. You never know when you move or delete something that is linked to a current module.
  • Time. I think teachers never have enough time to accomplish everything on their to-do list. The end of the year ticks away at a ridiculous pace, and being able to find adequate time to organize lesson plans and reflect about the past semester or school year is definitely a challenge.

 

How did the feedback change or not change some of your resourcefulness around 'spring cleaning' and year-end-close-out in Canvas?

As teachers close their “Canvas classrooms”, there is a lot to consider. I think we could offer more online self-paced eWorkshops. In our Staff Resources course in Canvas, we could provide short videos with more insights on various topics. (Think FastTrack Series.) Teachers don’t have a lot of extra time to invest in formal, scheduled professional development, but they do have time for quick questions and self-paced and relevant learning.

 

It has become increasingly apparent that we need to roll out Commons at our institution next year. Right now, teachers either export their entire course to their computer, network folder, or a cloud drive OR they import content from another Canvas course. It sometimes gets “messy” as teachers who teach the same classes figure out which course is theirs. By uploading to Commons, I think this process could be simplified. Teachers could also share resources and lessons. From an admin perspective, that sounds like a win-win situation.

 

How are you going to party this summer?

This summer, my “party” is a course building extravaganza! I plan to invest time into our all-student mega course and redesigning our Staff Resources course. I also want to look into ways to encourage collaboration among colleagues and explore ways to roll out Commons building-wide. Technically, I’m supposed to be off, but there’s something magical that happens when you give yourself the time and space to think, design, and revise. (...an occasional inspirational trip to get frozen yogurt doesn’t hurt either.) I think that’s more fun and it’s better than crunching all of that work into a teeny-tiny window come fall when teachers have questions.