Maintaining the Connection of the Staffroom

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Many teachers have now moved to teaching entirely online with the current COVID-19 situation. We've already discussed the idea of "Maintaining a Connection of the Classroom". What about our teachers who are on a rapid learning curve in the use of technology for distance learning. This article aims to cover ideas on maintaining and promoting a collaborative connection between teachers when working remotely.

The Staff Room

Many organisations are already using Web Conferencing tools for social events as well as formal meetings. If you don't already have a shared online area, one of the features that can be useful for sharing information and ideas is the Account-level Groups feature within Canvas. These can be created for specific faculties or departments within an organisation and can be used for staff briefings and notices. 

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Account-level groups include functionality for announcements, discussions, file sharing and conferences. Account-level groups can be set up by your Canvas Admin. 

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The Etiquette of Sharing

If we consider the amount of content that will have been created over the past few weeks, I can't help but wonder how many times the wheel has been reinvented?

Canvas includes some great features to help you share content with your colleagues or even across the whole community of Canvas teachers.

Let's consider sharing within your organisation, to begin with. Direct share enables you to send a resource directly to another course or teacher in your organisation.

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The resources sent between teachers can be accessed easily from your account in the global navigation.

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You can directly share item banks with other teachers in your organisation as well. One method of doing this is by creating a new item bank and sharing this with other teachers so you can collaborate together and build a pool of questions. 

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Canvas Commons is a way of sharing content within your organisation as well as outside. It's a place where you can search for resources to add to your own course from other teachers.

We should consider some form of etiquette or best practice here. When sharing publically on Commons, we should be aware that it is accessed by teachers from many levels and also may different systems across the world. Although it may take a little more time, it is good practice to fill in all details to make searching easier. We all know it's easy to cook in your own kitchen when you know where everything is. Try cooking in someone else's kitchen.

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  • Is the title a clear indication of the content? Let's consider "Chemistry Quiz" vs "Quiz - Balancing Chemical Equations". 
  • Does the description describe the content clearly? What does the resource include and how is it designed?
  • Have suitable tags been applied? Different countries use different terminology, it's good to use this to help people find resources for specific qualifications. Content will overlap countries though so we should aim to include standard transferable tags. Age range is a simple example but we can't rely solely on that label. Let's include;
    • Subject
    • Topic
    • Year Group / Grade
    • Age Range
  • Does the image represent the content appropriately? When multiple resources appear in a search let's make sure we don't lose a valuable resource by adding an image that doesn't truly represent what you are offering.

Another way to organised content in Commons is to use groups. Admins can create these and assign staff as the group manager.

I've seen over the past few weeks, under very difficult circumstances, amazing collaborations between educators all over the world. It reminded me of being asked to present at Instructurecon with a topic of "How to get the most out of Instructurecon?"

My response was simple, "Be Like Robin Hood, share the wealth"