Virtual Office Hours (for the Community, by the Community)

Community Coach
Community Coach
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“I have a question about Canvas. Do you have a sec?” said any Canvas user at some point in his/her life. 

Many of us know there are multiple ways to apply the tools and leverage the features in Canvas. Despite having almost thousands of pages of official guide documentation and 33K+ posts in Q&A, we still rely heavily on our colleagues and other community members for real-time support.

Can you spare an hour?

We initially asked this question of our Canvas Advocates. And we were overwhelmed with their initial responses! Many of them found times in their already-busy schedules to commit to future virtual office hours, free to anyone in the community. In fact, as of this posting, over 20 hours of open virtual office time have been scheduled through July 31, 2020!

Some office hours are audience-specific (i.e. for admins or teachers). Some are platform-specific, like mobile. Others are people-specific. I mean, who wouldn’t want to 'Jabber with Jenna' or talk all-things-Canvas with Beth?

We are thankful to our Canvas Advocates who are setting a great example. Click here to check out all of the upcoming virtual office hours.

Can community members host virtual office hours?

Yes. YES. YASSSS! We would love that! In fact, we welcome any hour you can provide in support of each other. Schedule your office hours when it’s most convenient for you (even if that means 5am or 10pm). We are a global community, after all.

Click for steps on hosting your CanvasLIVE event

NOTE: There are no naming conventions for ‘event title’ (but be sure to select ‘office hours’ under event type so members can easily filter by and find an event.) Title your office hours however you wish (i.e., “Bob’s Office Hours”, “Teacher Office Hours”, “Open Lab for All”) -- you get the idea!


But what if I don’t have the answers?

** News flash** We don’t always have all the answers, either!

Seriously, don’t feel like you have to duplicate Canvas support. We want you to be there to help answer questions to the best of your ability, point people to resources and guides in the community, and help users make progress towards their goals (even if that means helping them create a support ticket.)

“Answering questions and solving problems is a key to my own professional development. If I do not know the answer, I take the time to explore the possibilities during the session,” encourages professorbeyrer@gmail.com, Canvas Advocate who has already hosted over 40 virtual office hours in the Canvas community since 2017. “Through those interactions, I have discovered new ways of doing things and hopefully helped others.”

Any tips?

There isn’t a right or wrong way to host virtual office hours. But if you want to avoid being “Zoom-bombed” or ensure you don’t share the wrong screen, here are a few suggestions:

  • Use video conferencing technology with which you are most familiar. People should be able to hear and see you, clearly. Ensure that participants can join easily and securely, if possible (i.e. enable waiting room in Zoom, know how to kick people out who aren’t appropriate, etc.)
  • Stay online the entire time. Even if no one shows up, keep your event open the entire scheduled time. You never know who might show up later in the session. Multi-task if you wish, but don’t end early.
  • Share the time with a colleague. If you don’t want to go at it alone, tag-team with another colleague. At least, if no one shows up, you have some time to catch up. Smiley Wink
  • Double-book with your school. If you already host virtual office hours at your school, consider opening up one of those sessions to the wider Canvas community. (Or vice versa - if you’re hosting an event here, let your faculty know, as well.)
  • Avoid recording the session. These sessions are not meant for public consumption. People are coming to seek help in real-time (and sometimes that’s easier than articulating their question as a Q&A). Respect their privacy.

Some faculty are developing new Canvas courses. Other Canvas admins are helping schools wrap up their semesters. Sometimes all we need is to talk through our Canvas journey with a friendly face.

Keep helping each other!

Smiley Happy

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About the Author
I enjoy connecting and educating Canvas Users through virtual events!