Gregory Beyrer

Summer of Canvas: Week 6

Blog Post created by Gregory Beyrer on Jul 2, 2017

Equity is among those topics that I want to include in my Canvas training but is not like including a session on "Discussion" or "Quizzes." I guess I could include a section called "Equity" but would rather integrate this topic within the other sessions. I figure that I am modeling instructional design, presentation skills, and an acceptance for the quirks and vicissitudes of teaching in a technology-mediated environment, so I might as well model equity as well. Culturally sensitive U.S. history is my academic field and from where I speak when demonstrating how to teach with technology, so I hope that equity is thereby infused. (Of course my participants are likely thinking of their own fields when imagining and practicing how to teach with technology and little note or care how awesome history is! )


For Canvas I did not expect to find equity explicitly mentioned in materials or in the Canvas Community, and I was not surprised to find that the equity tag popped up as "would you like to create this tag?" when I tagged this blog entry. However, I was also pleasantly surprised to find culturally sensitive instruction on the program at my first InstructureCon last year. I attended Marc Lentini's session Culturally Responsive Canvas Courses, and it was the highlight of the conference. I sing the praises of the Canvas Community every chance I get, as it so nice to be associated with a software vendor that encourages its users to share our experiences and the creative ways we use its tools.


The Online Education Initiative has equity as part of its plan, and our Online Student Equity workgroup is focused on the twin meanings of "equity" in a distance education environment. One meaning is how the students who are traditionally the focus of equity attention fare when they take online classes, and this is where the bulk of our attention is as we infuse equity principles in the other areas of the initiative. We also have been talking about online students as a whole. After all, online students usually have lower success and persistence rates than face-to-face students, and a discrepancy in success and persistence rates is how groups of students are identified to receive equity support. For the time being our efforts are on infusing traditional equity practices in all areas of the initiative. 


Back on my campus, I tried to use equity as I set my training lab for this summer's sessions. I had eleven laptops and wanted to give each a unique identifier to help with troubleshooting, etc. I could have given them numbers or letters or come up with some arbitrary code, but I wanted things to be a bit more creative. This was bubbling along on the back burner and then an equity solution came to mind. I found out from the U.S. Census Bureau what the top ten languages are that are spoken at home in my college's immediate area, and I gave each computer an Romanized number based on the order of that language's prevalence in our area. I have a total of eleven laptops and the eleventh is a bit different. Well, it was really the first as we received it to explore and make sure we liked the concept. So when I got to naming the eleventh I skipped the eleventh language in our area and instead called it "Spinal Tap."