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Canvas User Engagement

6 Posts authored by: Bobby Pedersen

Over the years when working with anything to do with computers I’ve found that I learn best when I 'do the doing'. Having an expert at the front demonstrating without letting me have a go just doesn’t work for me. Nor does having someone reach over to fix mistakes I’ve made. No learning happens, it just doesn’t go in.


Surely I’m not alone.


I’ve made a rule for myself when supporting teachers with developing their blended learning skills, or when they are problem solving – Sit On Your Hands Bobby! They must 'do the doing' themselves.


It’s so very tempting to reach over and grab the controls, or leap in and say what the next step is, when sometimes a bit of wait time ensures they figure out the next step on their own.


Another avenue to explore when supporting teachers is to show them how to problem solve, and where to go for help. Keep this up your sleeve for a giggle


Time spent on these may seem like eternity, but it is time well spent. I encourage you all to sit on your hands at least once this week! Then tell us how it goes.

Bobby Pedersen

What's on your plate?

Posted by Bobby Pedersen Aug 9, 2018

Teachers are such busy people. We get pulled in so many different directions during the course of a school day/week/year.


Sometimes engaging already busy teachers with Canvas can be a real challenge.


Perhaps a way to encourage teachers to use Canvas could be by first looking at and acknowledging what is on their plates then looking at the different ways that Canvas can support them in dealing with some of the things that are piling up.


Here are a few examples:



Assessment and the Little People  

What assignment types can I create in a course? 


Communication in Canvas  


Laura Gibbs is the Queen of curation. Check her out here in the Community.

Just one example here. Feedback Resources Padlet in Canvas 


Differentiation and Personalised Learning 

Student well being

Smiling Mind  


Sean Nufer is also a great person to follow in the Community. Here are some of his ideas. 

Embedding Content in Canvas, or: How I Learned to Stop Being Bland and Make My Content Amazing

How I Learned to Stop Being Bland and Make My Content Amazing  


Solution Fluency Activity Planner  

Invigorating English 

Invigorating English – Encouraging Writing Within Canvas K-6 

Time to learn new things

Horse Before the Cart. Purpose first, Canvas second. 

Too many meetings!

Perhaps consider using Collaborations to set agendas, keep minutes, or conducts the meeting in. 

How do I use the Collaborations Index Page? 

or Collaborations – Changed my world!  


When pondering what’s on teachers plates and considering what can be done to support them it doesn’t have to be all about Canvas. Perhaps look at tools that improve:


The 12 Best Pomodoro Timer Apps to Boost Your Productivity  


22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques & Activities For Adults (+ PDF's)  


I’m sure I’ve missed a few. What ideas can you offer to help people with what is on their plates?





Canvas Community what a gold mine! It's so nice to know that we are lucky enough to have access to all sorts of information, tips 'n tricks, and real live people to chat to about all sorts - sharing ideas, problem solving, making connections across the world, and having a good old laugh.


Once a newbie to the Canvas Community has got their bearings they can join groups, read blogs, participate in discussions, and ask questions  etc. I've only recently discovered how to access what's new in the Community. Do people know how to access the Canvas 'News'? It took me a little while to discover this gem. Gideon made an excellent point in a discussion following Questions about ePortfolios.


So here are some hastily cobbled together instructions to change your preferences to gain access to what's new in questions, discussions, blogs...

Click on your profile picture then click on 'preferences'

Then make a decision about where you want to land when you click the Canvas icon

Then when you log in to the Canvas Community you have this banner

Click the Canvas icon to access your preference. I've set mine to 'News'. It's not there to look pretty!


Enjoy all of the recent goodies.

Bobby Pedersen

Ready, steady, Canvas!

Posted by Bobby Pedersen Apr 12, 2018

I love working with teachers as they learn how to use Canvas. Hearing their relief as they realise it's easier than our previous LMS and listening to ideas floating around the room of different ways it could be used makes my job so much fun. 


Sometimes though there is a sense of people being overwhelmed. That's natural. I really feel for them, and can remember so well that sensation when trying to get my head around new technologies.


When teachers leave training sessions with a purpose in mind then it's comforting to know they are on track. But when they leave knowing the basics of putting pages and modules together but without a real purpose in mind it's demoralising for everyone.


Ideally I'd love to be able to have everyone leave with at least one idea they can 'use tomorrow'. eg. announcements, discussions, quizzes. What ideas/challenges do other trainers have up their sleeves for teachers to action the next day? K-12 Priority Services K-12 do you have some nifty ideas to share? 



Our Department of Education have had the foresight to acknowledge the support schools require when aiming to leverage learning through the use of digital technologies. In my new role as a Blended Learning Leader our team have the privilege of being able to provide this support to schools.


Now that the official end of our previous LMS has come to pass we will be sinking our teeth into using Canvas as a tool to enhance what we already do really well. Last term we spent a lot of time out in schools demonstrating how to use Canvas and highlighting some of the potential it has for teaching and learning.


The new school year is about to start and I am keen to see how Canvas will be used in our schools. I am genuinely excited about the support we can provide and networks we can help build while keeping in mind Creating a purpose and Don't be a slave to your LMS. Make it work for you.  


How have other coaches reached out to schools?

What sorts of support have you provided?

What cool projects have you come across?


As Kelley suggested I never start with, "This is what this tech can do for you." or with "You can do this with this tech." I always start with, "What would you like to be able to do?" Then I show them how it can be done with that tech or some other tech.’


Wise words. Cart before the horse!




I remember my first introduction to an LMS (not Canvas!) as a primary school teacher. Not only did the product appear to be clunky but I found it difficult to see the purpose of using it. Much time was spent wrestling with it and making a dogs breakfast of it all. It wasn’t until I finally shared the product of my hours of frustration with the class that the real purpose started to evolve. They wanted to use it, offered suggestions to improve it, demanded updates and got their families involved. It was then I realised that I wasn’t going to be the slave of the LMS, it was going to work for me – and for the kids.


Each new year I would begin with a clean slate and rebuild my LMS space. The students were encouraged to share ideas on what could be included. I became braver with what was tackled and the students kept demanding more and more until the LMS naturally became a living extension of our classroom, extending to the students homes and beyond. Laura has many way that she personalises her LMS space and makes it hum. Check her out some time.


Now the Canvas adventure has begun in our state and a new wave of teachers will be going through the same process of discovering their purpose of using this more intuitive LMS. I only hope they use it to work for them and don’t feel they have to be a slave to the technology. I am particularly keen to see how K-12 and K-6 will be using Canvas to work for them.