Laura Gibbs

Using Tools Beyond Canvas: The Students Approve

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Jan 23, 2019

cat and computer:

With effort, I can develop new skills.


Last week was the "Orientation Week" in my classes, and one of the assignments the students complete at the end of the week is a blog post with their thoughts about the kinds of technology tools they will be using in my classes (everybody blogs, everybody builds a website, and there are lots of other tools that students can choose to learn about and use if they want), along with information about the web spaces where they will find the class content (none of the content is in Canvas). Overwhelmingly, the students are in favor of having a technology adventure! Out of 90 students, there was 1 student who would prefer instead to have everything in Canvas, 1 student who is reserving judgment until she learns more, and 88 students who are already on board and ready to experiment. You can see all their tech-tools blog posts displayed here, and I've pulled some highlight quotes below.


This assignment is really helpful to me in all kinds of ways. I don't comment on the posts, but I do read through them. That lets me know which student(s) might need some extra encouragement and reassurance about the technology in the class (like the one student who is reluctant about going outside Canvas), and it also lets me know what kinds of additional tools people are most interested in so that I can develop good support materials (for example, I've been developing support materials for Twine because of student interest). My all-purpose course design mantra is ASK THE STUDENTS, and then I really do listen to what they say.


So, yes, I am a devoted blogger myself (as you can see from my Canvas Community blog, ha ha), but if my students actually were not into blogging, I would find some other way to build our class network. As it turns out, though, they are intrigued about blogging, and even in 2019, it's still something new and exciting for them. I dream of a day when students will show up for class and their first question will be: "How do you want us to configure our blogs for this class?" But that day is probably a long ways off, and in part because of the assumption — this mistaken assumption — that students just want to use the LMS as their only online learning tool.


Sure, if you ask them in the abstract a question like "Do you want to use Canvas only or lots of tools for your online course?" many students, maybe even most students, will choose the known for the unknown, they will play it safe, they will go with their strength.


But if instead you can show them what other tools are out there, how those tools are useful, and give them the support they need in using those tools, that changes everything. As you can see from their comments below, they want to learn tools that will be of use in their professional lives (Canvas is not that tool). At the same time, they want to make sure that they will get the support they need in learning something new, and after the first week in my classes, they know I will give them that support. I also really appreciate the way that they see how the use of these technology tools connects up with the creative spirit I want to foster in my classes! Canvas is not something that is really about creativity, but I've chosen the tools for my classes so that the students can create all kinds of content and then share what they create.


So, if teachers don't have the time or experience or motivation to work with students on learning about tools beyond Canvas, by all means, just use Canvas. It works. But at the same time, when there are teachers like me who are really enthusiastic about teaching students how to use more/different tools, don't tell me that students only want to use Canvas. It's not true. Ask the students; they will tell you.


(And that mantra applies to everything about a course, not just technology tools...)


And as promised above, here are some highlights from those blog posts:


Technology tools will probably be the most difficult part of this course for me. But, I think it's great that we will have the opportunity to learn technology tools through this course. I also love the fact that we won't be using Canvas as much, it makes sense to start learning new tech tools and websites outside of Canvas. In reality, Canvas is such a small part of our college experience. There are so many new online resources that I can take from this course into the real world. I am unfamiliar with majority of these tools, but looking forward to learning how to use them. This website environment is a lot different than all my other classes I have ever taken. However, just because something is different, doesn't mean it's a bad thing!


Most of the tech tools mentioned weren't new to me, but the "Twine" one was! How cool is it to have open-ended, interactive stories?! It kinda reminds me of RPG games. I will definitely have to learn how to utilize that nifty little thing this semester. This online class and environment differs in that it allows for awesome, intuitive tools these these to be used. I cannot remember the most recent time that a traditional course had us explore and expand the boundaries of our technical knowledge.


Technology is definitely not my forte. For example, I struggled getting started on Blogger the first week of class. What I love about it though is how easy it makes my life once I get the hang of it!


I would say that the two tools that have peaked my interest and would like to further explore would be image editing and graphics creation. Since those two skills are completely out of my comfort zone, I think that it would be a great accomplishment and web skill to obtain by the end of the semester.


I think there are a lot of resources and I am excited to learn about how to create my own graphics, blog more, as well as creating my own website. I've heard of the program Canva before, but could never figure out how to use it on my phone, so hopefully I can learn how to use it on my laptop. So overall, I am not very familiar with the technology tools, but I am definitely looking to work on making graphics and working on becoming more creative this semester. I'm looking forward to learning new skills that I can use in the future.


I am really looking forward to learning how to use and create more complex and fun blogs, as I am really enjoying the course blog so far! I took this course for my love of mythology, but I think I will take away a better grasp of technology, a new learning style, and a new perspective on grading in general, as I've never taken a course set up in a manner such as this.


I'm excited to be working with the resources covered in the technology assignment. Not only have I never had a class utilize technology in the way this course has so far, but I've also always been curious as to how other ran blogs or created websites like Wix (I've seen ads but never looked into them). So, I'm definitely looking forward to learning how to use these resources.


One thing I appreciate from the technology aspect of this class is the use of different platforms for our blogs. I think it allows students to use whatever website is easier for them and suits their style more. Google Blogger thus far has been awesome, and really friendly to someone, like me, who has never blogged before.


Prior to this course, I barely had any technological experience. I have always desired to begin a blog, but never had the push to create one. This class gave me the push I needed and an opportunity to be creative and motivated. As we dive deeper into this class, I further expand my love for blogging and having this as a creative outlet. I am extremely eager to work through the ins and outs of establishing a website, editing images, and creating graphics. I always see people make super funky and cool graphics. I know I will be able to put all the skills I acquire from the technology tools to use outside of this course. I am very enthusiastic to add things to my blog that represent me as a person.


Ever since I could remember, I have been relatively tech savvy. I started playing games like Reader Rabbit on our family's personal computer when I was 2 or 3 years old. I remember watching and learning from my cousin, to whom I am quite close, as he built and programmed websites in the early 2000's using html. However, I have never blogged or published my own website. I look forward to developing those skills because I believe they will be rather useful as I progress into my own professional career.


I really appreciate our instructor's consideration for skills we will need in the future. In many of my classes, I have learned things I will either never need in the future or have already forgotten because they did not seem important enough to me at the time. With the skills we are learning in this course, I know I will use them at some point in my professional career as technology is infused in almost everything we do.


I'm slowly becoming familiar with blogging, but do not have extensive experience with picture editing and website design. These are things I would never research on my own, but I'm excited to do it now that I have a reason to lol. I think these are cool skills that could definitely be applicable to a wide variety of careers. I've actually been wanting to make a slideshow on our tv at the gym I work at with nutrition tips and recipes for our members. Hopefully this will help with that.


Having this class on a separate site from the traditional OU Canvas website is nice because it puts my technology skills to the test in a non-threatening way–especially knowing that help is only a call and an email away. Another neat thing about the technology use in this course is the freedom we have to choose websites and applications based on our individual preference. The way in which this course was designed is very user-friendly, and that helps make the experience of the class feel more personal and fun.


As a young adult, I am supposed to know my way around a computer. However, I have always felt like I don't know enough. I am familiar with the most popular social media sites, I am good at finding things on Google or Youtube, and I know how to navigate my iPhone. Despite knowing these basic skills, I still feel like I am supposed to know more about computer technology and tools. Thus, I am excited to learn more about these things throughout this semester.


I found this lesson very helpful. I am excited to start using these different tools and sites. I've obviously heard of some of the sites before, like Google Docs, but the tools are unfamiliar to me. This semester I'd like to brush up on my technology skills in general, but there is not one particular tool I want to use. I think this class will be a great place for me to practice!


One appeal I have noticed in learning about these tools is from an angle of self-marketing. As a musician, social media is an essential part of getting your name out into the world. There are also some platforms useful for keeping video records of performances, which is useful for grad-school auditions and for personal storage (things are often lost when kept on a smart phone). Additionally, I know of many performers that have their own websites to inform potential employers. I really enjoy that this course allows people to explore their preferences and choose what appeals to them best, both for the course and for continued academic/professional use.


I have never blogged before, so this process has taken some getting used too. I am glad Blogger is user friendly, helps me out a lot. I think I am going to be a pro Blogger in a few weeks.


Technology is a scary thing for me. I am not tech savvy at all, but I am excited to gain new technology tools as I continue this course. I know at some point in life I will probably need some, if not all, of these new skills, so I am ready to embrace this journey. This is my first class to not be solely dependant on Canvas. I am nervous about all this new technology, however, I am delighted to be learning new skills that will only help me in the future.


The modules of this first week has made me more comfortable with using Blogger and customizing my blog theme. It is refreshing how most of this online class takes place outside of Canvas; it makes it feel less like schoolwork and more like a hobby. Also, never having to physically meet anyone in this class also helps me feel more freedom to be honest about my thoughts and post geeky memes (and hopefully entertain other people too!).


This class is definitely unlike any other online course I have taken, but I am looking forward to challenging myself as a student. At the moment, I am really enjoying the blogging and am considering starting a personal blog.


One tool that really interested me, as a reader anyway, was the twine. I read and interacted with the Flood Myths: Utnapishtim, and absolutely LOVED it. I am not sure how they did it, surely they followed some preplanned steps. Hopefully it will not be as difficult as it looks. Well, everything looks a little difficult. But had someone asked me to create a Blog before this class, I would have felt the same way, but look at me now! I have a Blog. So, there ya go, I am learning technology already.


Technology progresses at such a rate that the likelihood that acquired technical knowledge will be obsolete before it can be fully utilized. As such, I don't have any technological skills that I want to develop. However, acclimating to new technologies can be considered a skill in and of itself; if there is any web skill I want to build, it would be that one.


I'm interested to use the website publishing and graphics creation. The use of the internet and using it outside the bounds of regular class work is awesome and nothing like any of my other traditional class set ups.


My first impressions on the assignment about technology is that it seems a little complicated. It seems like there is a lot to look into and learn. I think that once I get into working on it, it will become easy. Just like how I thought that blogging was going to be very difficult, but it really isn't.


This online environment is surprisingly a lot easier than my other classes. It shows organization, new things to increase our knowledge on how we use technology, and plenty of fun! Unlike my other classes who tend to just use canvas for everything, using more websites and creating more activities has helped me be more engaged in the class. Not only that, but the wanting to be engaged as well. Some of the web skills that I am really wanting to work on is mastering all of the new sites and tools so I do not have to go back and look at the instructions. I want to be able to completely do it on my own. Not just with the regular basic tools but with more in depth tools as well.


I have been using computers since my parents let me when I was six. They have been a part of almost of my whole life. This is unlike any other class I have been in-- blended, online, or in person. At first I could not find anything, but I learned quickly. I'm excited because I will never use canvas or connect ever again so the reasoning is understandable. I don't know what I will use. The internet changes so quickly, I don't even know if it has been created yet.


This course is set up in a way quite unlike my other classes. I usually do not like when professors deviate from using Canvas, but this course is effectively organized and laid out in a way that is easy enough to navigate. By making the switch over fairly easy, I do not mind the change from the standard setup for a course. The more I dive into this class's contents, the more I discover new and interesting tools that I have noticed before but never spent the time to learn how to use.


I can already tell that a majority of the links in the assignment posts are useful and full of intriguing information about topics that make me think. I have thought about making a website or blog before, but now I will have the steps to actually implement and create my own. This is exciting for me because I do not normally have extra time to dedicate towards learning fun skills like these.


I’ve definitely used most of these technology tools before, but rarely in a class context — most of my classes have been limited to basic word processing or lower-level scientific computing environments. It should be fun to apply my experience with these tools to something completely different, and in a more creative way, and I’m sure along the way I’ll learn and figure out all kinds of things about them I never knew before.


Technology and I have always had an interesting relationship. While I really enjoy using tools on the internet to explore and create, I sometimes struggle to keep my online presence organized. The fact that all the details of this class are so clearly laid out on different websites is very helpful, because I always know where to find assignments and course information.


While I've read some blogs created by friends off and on through college, this is my first time to ever publish one myself, or really share my thoughts with an audience of any sort, other than a few in class presentations I've given in other courses. I'm thankful that Blogger has been pretty simple to use, and I'm getting more and more comfortable with every post.


As far as the course environments goes, this isn't my first online class. I've taken three online classes prior to this one while I've been at OU, and I am in 4 total online classes this semester. However, this is by far the most complex of all the online courses I've taken. I'm looking forward to getting more and more comfortable with the setup and design of this class, and becoming more technologically literate in general.


When I first found out that this class would require me to get and write a blog I was kind of unsure about this. I had never gotten a blog, written a post, or really read people's blog posts. However, after using it this first week I realized it is not that bad and that I can do this! On top of this I never knew I would be creating a website with my stories on it either. It is all so new to me.


This class is definitely going to increase my ability to use different technology tools. For someone who is 20 years old, I am really behind the curve in my knowledge of technology. I do not know how to create a website, but I will by the end of the semester. This will be an great skill that I can use later on in my life. One day I plan to be a dentist. A dentist needs a well organized website that patients can visit to find information about the practice.


The variety of different websites and tools we will be using this semester make this course different from other courses. I usually don't use many other sites for a class beyond Canvas, even for other online courses. I am excited to be learning more about new sites and tools this semester that I can use in the future as well.


First, blogger is an amazing tool that I am learning to love to use. At first I was scared it was going to be a little difficult to get used to, but now blogging on blogger is not bad at all. However, I am the type of person who struggles with technology. It takes me a little longer to understand how to use technology, but eventually I learn how to use various programs. I have never created a website before, so I think it will be a fun experience using Google sites or Tumblr. 


This is the first, and probably will be the only, class where the majority of the assignments are through blogging. I greatly prefer this over turning in papers. It is a little more informal and a lot more interactive than traditional papers, and I think it fits the style of an online class much better.


I will be learning a lot this semester and I am excited! This will be a great learning opportunity that I know I will be able to use in the future. I hope to be able to become well-versed in creating these websites so I can use them in the future as needed for the health field.


The online environment is, so far, very relaxed and comfortable for me in comparison with the other classes I have taken on campus. I like that I can edit my blog and have the freedom to craft posts the way I want to while still having clear guidelines on what needs to be included for the assignment to be complete. I am enjoying the creativity that we are allowed to have on our blogs and am looking forward to starting the readings and storytelling!


I am excited to learn how to make a website, while exploring all the different options. I am glad we are using our skills towards technology we can use in our everyday lives.


Of course, anything unfamiliar sounds scary, but that's where the learning can happen. I do think this class will be the most involved with multiple sites and programs than any of the other classes I've taken. I'm just keeping the idea in the back of my mind that every time I stepped out of my comfort zone I only learned some more.


There are some tech mentioned that I know, some that I have heard of, some I had not heard of, and some I am stocked to try in this semester. I think today in the modern age, technology is a huge and essential part of our world. It is a good and useful tool. I think learning to use these tools will be a great way learn and will be useful as I progress in a highly technological world.