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Canvas Admin Blog

jessjones
Instructure
Instructure

The end of the school year is in sight, we can almost see it, just beyond that final assessment period!  Amidst the current context of COVID-19, where we are utilising online tools to enable teaching and learning more than ever,  we may need to take a different route to get there to the one we had planned.

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ctitmus
Community Team
Community Team
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jcapps
Community Participant

What they are and how to use them.

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jperry4
Instructure
Instructure

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.

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rmurchshafer
Community Coach
Community Coach

343644_Contingency Plan.png

Ok this is a really short post but might be helpful for some of you who have multiple adults and/or kids all doing Zoom meetings in the house and you keep hearing and being distracted by all of the other conversations. 

Turn on some White Noise

White noise is basically any sort of non-specific sound.  The idea is that you don't notice it much, but it helps drown out other noises coming from your housemates who are also in meetings (or playing FortNite with friends).  If you don't have a White Noise device there are a ton of apps for iOS and Android, and if you have a smart speaker try just yelling out "Alexa, play some white noise", or "Hey Google, play some white noise".  If you accidentally say "Play some white snake, well that might be a little more distracting.  Amazon has a whole selection of devices you can order and bathroom fans also can do the trick. 

I didn't do this, but in my house both of our Echo Dots are currently playing White Noise as well as fans running in both bathrooms. 

I guess I must be too loud?  

#KeepTeaching

The Rickster

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afoote
Community Team
Community Team

You can start and join Zoom meetings in Canvas.

 

Notes:

  • You must have accounts for both Canvas and Zoom.
  • For more information about using Zoom in Canvas, visit the Zoom in Canvas document.
  • For help with Zoom, visit the Zoom Help Center.

 

Using Zoom with Canvas

 

How do I add Zoom to a Canvas course?

You must add the Zoom integration to each Canvas course you want to use with Zoom.

Note: Contact your Canvas administrator if you have questions about adding Zoom to your course.

 

  1. Log into your Zoom account.
  2. In the same browser, log into your Canvas account.
  3. In Canvas, open the course where you want to add Zoom.
  4. In Course Navigation, click the Settings link.
  5. Click the Navigation tab.
  6. In the list of course navigation menu options, select the Zoom option.
  7. Click the Options icon and select the Enable option.
  8. Click the Save button. View the Zoom link in Course Navigation. Note: When accessing Zoom for the first time in the course navigation, you may need to click the Authorize button to proceed.

 

 

How do I schedule a Zoom video meeting?

You can schedule meetings from the Zoom desktop client or mobile app, Zoom web portal, or Zoom plugins for Chrome, Outlook, and Firefox.

 

Once Zoom is added to a Canvas course, you can access Zoom from Course Navigation. 

  1. In Course Navigation, click the Zoom link. 
  2. Click the Schedule a New Meeting button. To learn more about scheduling meetings, visit the Scheduling Meetings guide in the Zoom Help Center.
  3. To schedule a recurring meeting, click the Recurring Meeting checkbox. You can set how often the meeting recurs, the number of meeting occurrences, and the date for the final occurrence. Note: When scheduling a recurring meeting, each occurrence is created as an independent event. To modify all recurring meetings, you must edit each meeting individually.

 

 

How do I invite others to join a meeting?

You can invite others to Zoom meetings via email, contacts, URL, a web portal invitation, or application invitation. In the Zoom Help Center, learn more about inviting others to join a meeting.

 

How do I start a meeting?

As the meeting host, depending on how you create your meeting, you can start the meeting from the Zoom desktop client, Zoom mobile app, web browser, or room system.

 

Once Zoom is added to a Canvas course, you can access Zoom from Course Navigation. 

  1. In Course Navigation, click the Zoom link.
  2. Click the Upcoming Meetings button.
  3. Locate the Meeting ID you want to begin and click the Start button.

 

How do I record a meeting?

You may be able to record your Zoom meetings. In the Zoom Help Center, learn more about cloud recordings and frequently asked questions about local and cloud recording.

 

Meeting recordings can be downloaded to a computer or streamed from a browser.

 

Note: Cloud recording is automatically enabled for paid subscriptions.

 

 

How do I know if students have joined the meeting?

As the host, the number of participants displays in the number icon on the Manage Participants button. You can also manage participants in a meeting.

 

How do I mute and unmute all participants?

As the host, you can manage participants, including muting or unmuting all participants. In the Zoom Help Center, learn more about audio controls

  1. Click the Manage Participants icon.
  2. Click the Mute All or Unmute All button.
  3. To mute all current and new participants, click the Continue button. To allow participants to unmute themselves, click the Allow participants to unmute themselves checkbox.

 

How do I turn my camera on and off and use the Zoom controls?

Hosts have access to these features:

  • Join Audio: Open the options to join the audio portion of the meeting.
  • Invite: Invite by copying the invitation, the join link, or by phone or room system (if available for your account).
  • Manage: View the participants list and manage participants.
  • Record: Start a cloud recording.
  • Leave Meeting: Leave the meeting. If you leave the meeting without designating another host, the meeting will end.

Learn more about meeting controls in the Zoom web client.

 

Participants have access to these features:

  • Mute / Unmute: Mute and unmute your microphone.
  • Start Video / Stop Video: Turns your camera on or off.
  • Invite: Invite others to join your meeting. Learn more.
  • Participants: See who's currently in the meeting.
  • Chat: Access the chat window to chat with the participants. 
  • Leave Meeting: Leave the meeting while it continues for the other participants. Only the host can end the meeting.

 

How do I share my screen?

Zoom allows for screen sharing on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices running Zoom.

 

The host and attendee can screen share by clicking the Share Screen icon.

 

How do I manage and share the recording?

Local Recording saves your recording files on your computer. It is not possible to upload a local recording to the Zoom cloud. To store a video on Zoom's cloud, you must use cloud recording.

 

However, you can share your local recording with others by uploading it to third-party cloud storage, content/learning management, or video streaming services such as Google Drive, YouTube, or Vimeo.

 

Zoom Storage

Is there a limit for storage?

Cloud Recording Storage Capacity is limited. 

 

Where can I access my recordings?

In Zoom, to view your recordings, click the Cloud Recordings tab.

 

Will I have access to my recordings forever?

You will have access to your cloud recordings as long as you have a Zoom subscription. To save your Zoom meeting recordings, download them to your computer.

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rmurchshafer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Bob the BuilderHow many of you have seen the show "Bob the Builder"?  One of Bob's mantras is to use the right tool for the job.  This holds true for so many things in life and is not just limited to building things.  It's something we should definitely try to do as much as possible in academic technology as well.  

Over the last month or so hundreds of thousands of educators are trying to get up to speed with how to conduct their classes in remote learning mode.  There are lots of tools available and in many cases a lot of overlap from tools meant to do very different things.  I want to focus here on video and using the right video tool for the job whenever possible.  

I like to break down the creation of video into three main categories:

  • Solo recorded video: such as a lecture done for people to view on their own time
  • Video Conferencing: a live synchronous event which may or may not be recorded for playback later
  • Group recorded video: a recording that needs to be made by more than one person who are not together.

What I've been hearing a lot recently is "I want to just use one tool for everything" meaning all 3 categories listed above.  And on the surface I agree with that statement, the fewer different tools the better.  And the tools that will do all three of those typically are Video Conferencing tools such as Zoom, Adobe Connect, or Big Blue Button (the conferencing tool built in to Canvas).  But for the first category of Solo Recorded Video, using a video conferencing tool can be overkill pulling resources away from others who need it for synchronous activities, and in some cases providing undesirable results.  

There are various tools which can be used for solo recorded video, some for screen capture and some for just plain video.  Examples include VidGrid, Canvas Studio, Screencast-o-matic, Camtasia and even the built in Canvas video recorder or your mobile phone/table.  When you use a tool like these virtually all of the "work" is being done by your device.  Only when the recording is done is it sent over the interwebs to a system to be hosted for viewing.

When you use a tool like Zoom to just make a solo recording, (especially a cloud recording) it is having to connect through the internet to Zoom servers to do the work.  That connection is like hopping on the highway with your car AND needing to maintain a speed of at least 45 miles per hour.  If you run into a traffic jam, (network congestion), the recording can suffer because not all of the data can get to Zoom in that constant minimum stream (bitrate).  Plus, just being out on the highway you are causing more congestion for everyone who might be holding a synchronous event. The other issue with some systems such as Zoom when using the Canvas integration; the cloud recordings are made available to your students as soon as they are processed. 

In comparison, when a solo recorded video gets sent up to a server over the interwebs, there is no need to maintain a minimum speed.  During times of congestion it may take 30 minutes instead of 10 to upload, but again that is not a problem because the recording has already been made. It just needs to get all of the data to the server eventually so the server can assemble them into a video presentation to be accessed by people on their own schedule. 

So obviously there are no hard and fast rules. Do I use Zoom sometimes to make solo recordings?  Yes. Does everyone have multiple tools available? No. So by all means use what you have available.  But if you are in a case where there are multiple tools available to you through your school, consider what the best tool is for the job. In these times of exponential increase of usage of various products, keep these things in mind and know that picking the best tool for the job can help improve your results, and impact work that others are doing as well.

#KeepTeaching

The Rickster

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jessjones
Instructure
Instructure

With the education landscape rapidly changing, many of us are exploring ways to enable online teaching and learning opportunities to an increasing cohort of students.  This blog will explore best practices to consider when teaching large Courses within Canvas.

Sections 

Sections are a great way to subdivide students within a Course.  Using sections can enable easier facilitation of teaching, communication, and grading processes, as well as the opportunity to provide differentiated content and due dates for students. 

Assignments, Quizzes and Graded Discussions

When creating Assignments, Quizzes or Graded Discussions, they can be assigned to a specific section so that only students in that section will be able to access the activity.  This can be a great way to provide differentiated learning activities should you choose to create sections based on student ability. 

It is also possible to set an activity for the entire Course, but with different availability and due dates for different sections - a great solution when sections are created for students who usually have class at different times.  Keep in mind that students will only see the dates that you have set for them, so they will not know that other students in the course may have different due dates.

342593_1 Assignments.png

Announcements 

Announcements are a simple way to provide targeted communication to specific sections, meaning students will only receive the information that is relevant to them. Using the ‘Post to’ box, Announcements can be sent to individual or multiple sections.  Combining this with the ‘Delay posting’ option and links to relevant Course content can be another way to streamline admin time, with the added benefit of supporting students to engage with course content.

342594_2. Announcements .png

Gradebook and Speedgrader 

Using sections as a filter in the Gradebook can allow teachers to more easily monitor student engagement and progress within an individual section.

342595_3. Gradebook.png

Filtering by Section within the Speedgrader can be another way to streamline the grading process by completing grading one section at a time.  If you have multiple graders within a Course, consider creating Sections based on grader allocation again for ease of filtering.

342596_4. Speedgrader.png

Creating Sections

It is possible for teachers to create sections and enroll students to those sections within Courses.  However for large Courses, using a SIS import for section creation and enrollment is a far more time efficient workflow.  Reach out to your institutions Canvas Admin to action this, and the below guides provide further detail on how to create sections via either of these methods:

 

A few additional considerations for sections:

Groups

Groups provide collaboration opportunities for students to work together.  In large Courses, Groups can provide students with a smaller circle of peers to interact with, which may be more engaging and manageable than interaction across the entire cohort.

Group Area 

Groups are given sub areas within the Course, where students have space to independently interact with each other.  In Groups, students can facilitate their own Discussions, create content with Pages and Collaborations, share resources with Files, communicate with Announcements, submit Group Assignments, and even host online meetings with Conferences.  Groups can therefore be an efficient way to allow for peer-to-peer interaction, as well as student-led learning, even within large Courses.

342597_5. Group Area.png

Group Discussions

Another way to facilitate interaction is to use the Group Discussion tool. With just one additional click, teachers can create identical Discussion topics for each group of students.  When students reply to the Discussion, they do so within their Group environment, allowing simultaneous Discussions on the same topic to be held across all Groups.

342598_6. Group.png

Creating Groups

There are many options for creating Groups depending on your teaching preference - allowing students to create their own groups, to self sign-up, asking Canvas to automatically create Groups, or manually assigning Groups as the teacher.  Full guides on these different options can be found in the links below, however there are a two key things to consider with this process:

  • For students to be able to sign up to or create their own Groups, they need to be able to access the People tab in the navigation menu of your Course.  If you would like to allow self sign up, make sure the People tab is visible - it can be adjusted in the Navigation menu of the Course Settings.
  • Placing students into a Group adds a tab to the Global Navigation Menu, allowing them to navigate Groups without needing to be in the Course first.  Using a naming convention that identifies the Group as belonging to a specific Course will make it a lot easier (and more likely!) for your students to navigate in to.  

342599_7. Group Areas.png

Large Courses Considerations

Canvas courses are optimised for 3,000 - 5,000 enrollments, and will remain performant with these numbers.  As will all online tools, there are implications to be aware of when dealing with larger volumes, particularly with regards to load times and navigation.  It is important to be aware of this, and really consider whether reaching the upper limits of student numbers is necessary in your context, or if other solutions could be found.  Areas in particular to be aware of include:

  • Gradebook - using Sections, Modules, or Groups as filters will help  

  • Discussions - navigation can become suboptimal when thousands of topics are in use, though the search and sort options can be of assistance here

  • Analytics - large student numbers will extend load times, but only up to a minute so hang in there!

These are just a few suggestions of best practices for facilitating manageable teaching and engaging learning opportunities within large Courses. We’d love to hear from you - what are your thoughts about these ideas? What are your tips for managing large Courses?

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rmurchshafer
Community Coach
Community Coach

I've been making some recordings recently on the theme of dealing with with coronavirus shutdowns that so many schools have been experiencing.  I posted one of my episodes earlier dealing specifically with using Zoom to remote proctor a written exam (Using Zoom to remote proctor an exam) but thought I'd create another post to contain all of my recordings and keeping adding to it.  The focus of the recordings is more around questions we are getting asked right now at my school, so if they don't seem well organized and linear, that is why.  But, I figured some people might still appreciate them.

Episode 1: Hardware considerations for Zoom and Recording

Episode 2: Scheduling Meetings in Zoom

Episode 3: Notifying students in Canvas about Zoom Meetings

Episode 4: Proctoring a written exam using Canvas and Zoom

            Addendum to Episode 4: Using CamScan and Canvas Student to submit a paper assignment or exam

Episode 5: Embedding Simulations in Canvas (Science type stuff)

Episode 6: Using the Canvas / Zoom Integration to Schedule Zoom class meetings

The Rickster

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scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

Earlier today, Phil Hill said in a blog post that as teachers respond to mass school closures the initial phase we are seeing is a lot of people wanting to move from synchronous face to face education to synchronous online video conferencing.  Phil theorized that as people begin to become aware of some of the inequalities of relying on video conferencing technology that requires all students to have “high speed internet,” and as teachers become more familiar with the online environment, a second main phase will focus more on asynchronous content delivery. 

If you are familiar with finding good content online, and adding it to your Canvas course, where do you go to find it?  Canvas Commons is a global online learning object repository (LOR) with content shared by Canvas users from around the world, designed to let you copy content directly from Commons into your Canvas course.  Not all institutions elect to link their instances of Canvas to Commons but it is available in Free-for-Teacher Canvas.

Another place instructors frequently turn to find materials for their courses is the world of Open Educational ResourcesOER Commons  is one example of public digital library of open educational resources.  Educause also has an excellent listing of other OER repositories.  Lumen has an amazing resource site as well. 

There are many educationally focused video resource collections to choose from, including Khan Academy (which has a whole section dedicated to homeschooling), or Teachertube.

If you know your way around instructional design and course building where do you typically go to find good course content?

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devlin
Community Member

342085_Contingency Plan.png

During COVID-19, all online educational platforms have a responsibility to our teachers and students. I co-founded Instructure in 2008, and I recently co-founded the Derivita online math system with Ryan Brown. As you can imagine, the education community is incredibly close to my heart.

Many of you have already felt COVID-19’s impact on your classrooms. If you’re already using Canvas, the change from teaching in a classroom to fully online will be a bit easier.  But teaching math remotely without an online math system can still be incredibly tricky.

To aid you in this transition, we are offering the Derivita math homework system for free, Spring and Summer semesters. We will also install it on your Canvas course in under 24 hours, so the disruption you are already feeling will be minimal.

See my post introducing Derivita New Math Engine for Canvas 

Email us at info@derivita.com, and we will do everything we can to provide you with guidance. 

You can also find us at derivita.com, where you will learn how students around the world use our online system to learn math from their own homes. An online classroom does not need to be a lost learning moment for your math students.

We are privileged to serve the wonderful education community. We care about you, and we’re here to help.

Sincerely,

Devlin Daley, CEO at Derivita, Co-founder of Instructure

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emily_allen
Community Team
Community Team

If you would like to connect with students using Zoom as your conferencing tool, you have the ability to add a Zoom Meeting to your Canvas Course, Course Announcement, Module, or via Calendar. The Zoom sessions will start when you join, and will run until you end the meeting. You do not have to update the link to start a new session. When you're ready for your next class to start, the same link allows the next group of students to join.

Note - Zoom will launch in a new tab, and if students are on a mobile device they will need the Zoom app, or can call in to participate via phone. 

Please view Zoom Meetings in Canvas to view or download a copy of the instructions below.

If you need to configure your Canvas instance with the Zoom LTI, please view the LTI Pro for Canvas document from the Zoom Help Center.

Add a Zoom Meeting in Announcements

Add a Zoom Meeting in Modules

Add a Zoom Meeting in Course Navigation

Add a Zoom Meeting in Calendar

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emily_allen
Community Team
Community Team

If you would like to connect with students using Zoom as your conferencing tool, you have the ability to add a Zoom Meeting to your Canvas Course, Course Announcement, Module, or via Calendar. 

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emily_allen
Community Team
Community Team

If you would like to connect with students using Google Hangouts Meet as your conferencing tool, you have the ability to add a Hangout to your Canvas Course, Course Announcement, Module or via Calendar. The Google Meet will start when you join and will run until all users leave. You do not have to update the link to start a new session. When you’re ready for your next class to start, the same link will create a new Google Meet.

Please see Google Hangouts Meet  for more information. 

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llettie
Community Member

Hi Fellow Admins,

Hope you are all making though this crisis. Have any of you come across this when using Respondus Lockdown Browser.

I have been able to hack the browser and allow it to open new tabs. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRBgN-1EbA8

The vendor is blaming it on Slow Internet. 

Thank you 

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rmurchshafer
Community Coach
Community Coach

341515_Contingency Plan.png

I've had a case come where an instructor wants to be able to remotely proctor exams for a calculus course.  Being Calculus, it doesn't lend itself so well being an online exam because they need to do things like draw and write things out to solve problems.  These are things that really work best on paper (or computer equipment that most students don't own).  We license Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor which will do the proctoring for a Canvas Quiz, but the nature of Lockdown Browser prevents students from uploading an exam file, even when using the File Upload question type in Canvas.  Plus, the instructor really wants real time proctoring to mimic as close as possible how the class has been running.  This isn't an online course; it's a face to face course making teaching adjustments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

What we came up with is using a combination of Zoom for remote live proctoring of a synchronous exam, combined with a Canvas Quiz to deliver the questions, an app named CamScanner to convert the written answers to PDF and then having students submit the exam using the Canvas Student app.  Below are links to videos showing the initial set up in Zoom and Canvas, and then a 2nd video showing students how to use CamScanner to upload the completed exam.  I'm still polishing the exact process and instruction but I feel like the concept is solid.  Comments and suggestions are welcome and I'll try to get the written instructions added to this post soon.

Proctoring a written Exam using Canvas and Zoom

https://use.vg/DI3ryD 

Using CamScan to create PDF and Submit to Canvas

https://use.vg/zULrGl 

KeepTeaching‌

Rick

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erin_keefe_1
Instructure
Instructure

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You need to move some of your schooling online quickly, but you’re not sure where to start with teachers to help them feel comfortable? The Learning Services Team at Instructure has created this list of 5 Things to Easily Get Your Canvas Class Going! 

Thing 1: Know How to Connect with Students 

  • Provide updates and information through Announcements. Canvas Guide | Video 
  • Send individual messages to students through Conversations in the Canvas Inbox Canvas Guide 
  • Give feedback and grade student work through the SpeedGrader Canvas Guide | Video
  • Use Conferences to setup live video sessions with students Canvas Guide | Video

Thing 2: Use Modules

  • Modules are going to be your main organizational tool. Use a Daily Module structure or a Weekly Module structure and include everything you want students to see/do in there! Mad About Modules Resource | Canvas Guide | Video

Thing 3: Have Students Submit Online Through Canvas

  • Discussions will allow students to respond to you and one another Canvas Guide | Video
  • Quizzes can be used for quick checks, homework assignments, quizzes and even tests Canvas Guide | Video
  • Assignments can be used for anything you dream up. Use the Submission type of “Online.” Canvas Guide | Video

Thing 4: Limit the Course Navigation

Limiting the course navigation in your course so it’s easy for your students to find what they need!  Canvas Guide 
Our suggestion is only enable the following to start:

  • Home
  • Announcements
  • Modules
  • Grades

Add Conferences, if you plan to have live video sessions with students.

Thing 5: Set Modules as Your Home Page

Set your Home Page to Modules. It’s probably already set this way. That is the easiest for students to manage at first. Canvas Guide Some other things to consider:

Huge thanks goes to the awesome members of the Learning and Strategy Consulting team who brainstormed this list:  @bfirestone ‌,  @lauren_fox ‌, and  @mlattke ‌!

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erin_keefe_1
Instructure
Instructure

341404_Contingency Plan.png

Growing with Canvas is the teacher training course provided free in the Canvas Commons by the Learning Services Team at Instructure. Institutions can download or import it into their instance, customize it to fit their needs, and use it to help train their teachers how to use Canvas. To date, it’s been downloaded or imported over 5,500 times. 

 

We think it’s a great starting point. But, if you are trying to shift to remote learning rapidly due to school closures, it might be a little too much information for you right now. So here are some tips for how to slim it down - what I’m affectionately calling Growing with Canvas Lite. (There is an accompanying Google Sheet that lists every piece of the course and whether or not you should publish it - keep reading). 

 

Ready? Here we go!

 

Tip 1: Set the Home Page to Modules. We’re going for fewer clicks here! 


Tip 2: Remove the requirements from the Modules. Currently the course is optimized for asynchronous individual learning, meaning it forces a path for the learner. Take off the requirements and let the teachers pick from the list of the topics they need or want to learn in the order they want or need to learn it.

 

Tip 3: Don’t worry about the Introduction Module. It’s some stage-setting that’s nice to have in a full course, but we’re not focused on that right now, so let’s not publish it.

 

Tip 4: Consider not publishing the pieces the teachers have to submit. Throughout the course there are chances for teachers to apply what they are learning - a variety of Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes. It’s a nice-to-have when you have more time. For now? Consider skipping them.

 

Tip 5: Don’t worry about Module 5: Harvesting or Module 6: Completed Growing with Canvas. Module 5 has some of the higher-level Canvas concepts that your teachers probably don’t need right now, things like Groups, Commons, and importing/copying, while Module 6 is the course wrap-up. If you’re looking for quickest and most important, save these Modules for later. It’s possible you might need the concepts in Module 5...but unpublish for now.

 

Tip 6: Don’t worry about the Badges. This course is built to award them, but you don’t have to use any of that for now.

 

Tip 7: Don’t delete anything from the course. Just unpublish it, in case you want to use it later!

 

Tip 8: There’s no wrong way to customize this course. Publish the pieces that are important to you and your teachers. 

 

For an easy sheet that details what is Essential/Important/Optional in the course, check this out - Growing with Canvas Lite. Using this info you can take the course from 53 items to 20, and not lose any critical content. 

 

If you have any questions or concerns, we’re here to help. Just reply below!

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SkyVKing
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

341374_Contingency Plan.png

Instructional designers and other learning professionals were quick to collaborate and share best practices. One awesome person (Daniel Stanford) started a Google Doc listing contingency plans, world-wide. Got so busy on the editable copy that he moved it to this static worksheet/document.

To facilitate the ease of adding resources, use this Google Form to add your own institution's academic continuity plans. We'll get through this, together.

Stay healthy & happy,

Sky V.

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jperry4
Instructure
Instructure

340865_Contingency Plan.png

So the classroom is a space where students can interact socially in a comfortable and predictable way. Situations such as with the Covid-19 virus arise and our learning platforms go some way to enable us to maintain teaching and learning outside of the traditional brick buildings we are used to. The aim of this blog is to cover some key questions that appear when a situation has arisen that requires students to interact in the platform in ways they may be unaccustomed to. Although this blog has been brought about by the current issues, the topics ring true to everyday teaching aiming to connect the learning within the classroom to that outside.

Questions

  1. How do I maintain the social connectedness of the classroom and maintain visible teacher presence?
  2. How do I ensure students understanding of learning tasks given?
  3. How do I assess and clarify the understanding of students in terms of knowledge?

We'll cover this by looking at some of the tools available to us and consider simple methods of using them. I'm hoping to cover the questions raised above from a high level.

Conferences

The obvious way to maintain visibility and engage with the class is to host your scheduled class in a conference. Various web conferencing tools can integrate with Canvas through LTI. As standard, you can use Big Blue Button to create a conference within your course. Consider that the conferences include the following tools to promote engagement in the virtual classroom.

  • Webcams to give the personal touch.
  • Chat allowing you to field questions at the whole group or for an individual student. It could also be used as a Q+A whilst students are working on other Canvas activities.
  • Break Out Rooms can be used for smaller group activities and discussions.
  • Polls can be created on the fly to assess understanding of particular concepts or you can use them for students to respond to questions you have embedded in your uploaded presentation.
  • Multi-User White Board includes annotation tools for illustrating ideas and explaining processes.

Simple navigation to the online classroom is also important. Make sure the 'Conferences' link is visible in your course navigation. You can also create calendar events for your sessions. Naming your conference is important and it is a good idea to add the date and time into the title if running as a one-off lesson. 

It's also good to note that conferences will open up in a new tab allowing your students to complete other activities in your Canvas course whilst taking part in your virtual classroom.

Discussions

A fantastic way to get students working with each other and sharing ideas but they can be used for more than simply asking for an opinion. Discussions can be used for group work solving real-world or multi-stage problems. They can be used for students to present videos of themselves and receive feedback.

 

If you're using this asynchronously consider the clarity of your instructions and expectations. Additional clarification of the task can be given by recording audio or video instructions through the rich content editor. This feature can also be used by students to verbally participate in the discussion.

Screen shot demonstrating record upload media function in the rich content editor

You can also use standard text to reinforce participation across all your course discussions.

"Once you've crafted and posted your response, read the responses of your classmates. For at least two other posts, give constructive feedback and ask relevant questions."

It's worth putting the resources into the discussion using the Rich Content Editor so the students can review them whilst formulating and crafting their responses. As a teacher also consider your engagement in these discussions. What clarifying questions can you ask? Which other posts can you guide students to?

Assignments

You've probably used Canvas already for the submission of written tasks. When we're lacking the opportunity to sit down with the student and talk we can use assignment tools to assess understanding with students presenting to us in a variety of ways. These can also be assigned to individual students or groups of students to allow the personalised learning opportunities you would normally deliver in the classroom. 

Screen Shot of online submission options within an assignment

Using the text entry online submission will give students the option to present ideas and work in a variety of ways. They can include text, files and media all within the same submission. This gives opportunities to assess verbal skills along with written skills.

Group and Peer Review assignments can also be used to create the social interactions between your students whilst they are not physically together. 

Collaborations and Group Work

Group spaces allow students to create their own discussions, collaborations and share files. Collaborations can be created using your institution's tools such as Google and O365. A simple idea would be to collaborate on a presentation that can be delivered in a virtual classroom using Big Blue Button.

Feedback

Within the classroom, we have the opportunity to create a dialogue of feedback with the student. We can see each other's facial expressions such as the smile of recognition or the raised eyebrow when we don't truly understand.  Using the Canvas Speedgrader you could consider the format you provide your feedback in. 

340871_Screenshot 2020-03-05 at 16.24.15.png

The assignment comments field allows you to provide audio and video feedback to your students helping to improve the comprehension of the feedback being delivered. Students also have the opportunity to respond to this feedback.

Analytics

When you can't walk around the classroom or lecture theatre, and monitor what's students are doing, how do we monitor engagement? New Analytics allows you to view the activity report of your students. You are also able to send messages directly from the analytics view based on engagement criteria. For example, messages can be sent to students who have not viewed a specific learning resource.

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more ideas I've included this video from Kona Jones

Energize Your Class With Student-Centered Course Design

We'd love to hear any specific examples you have around maintaining social connectedness whilst teaching online and also any feedback or questions you have around the ideas above. 

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