In early 2014, my school began its mission to select an LMS. We created lists and lists of pros and cons of many LMS options. We explored product pages and scoured the internet for user reviews. However, the LMSs that allowed us to actually work in their environments were the ones that made our lives so much easier. The search committee was able to create our own opinions based on our experiences; this was priceless.
Meanwhile, I was actively working on my thesis project. For this, I developed a series of three professional development courses that could be blended with face-to-face sessions or attended completely online. When I reached the point of creating content and designing the courses, the search committee had our LMS options down three. Canvas was one of them, and I decided to dive in and really get to know its features. Free-For-Teachers made this endeavor possible, and, at the end of the semester, I was easily able to invite my university adviser and classmates to my courses for a “test-drive.” I am not sure if the outcome could have been as cohesive or successful if I relied on a different LMS.
While I chose Free-For-Teachers to simply create a better understanding of Canvas, I ended up loving it and being one of its biggest endorsers within the LMS search committee. I was able to take my knowledge of Canvas from building my thesis project and share it with colleagues, and later I was able to match my experiences within training sessions. That extra time of individual exploration was motivating, and I was then able to help others learn the platform when we officially adopted Canvas as our LMS in the Fall of 2014.
That is my experience with Free-For-Teachers, and I'm thankful I had that opportunity. However, I realize that not everyone who uses Free-For-Teachers eventually becomes part of an institution-wide LMS. I like the idea that teachers can have an individual Canvas account and put it into active use with their curriculum. Not all LMSs offer the same flexibility (trust me, I helped create the giant comparison chart from our LMS shopping...), and Free-For-Teachers encourages innovative teachers to independently get their content to their students in a way that works for them.
To those brave individuals blazing their own path through creative course design and who may be the only ones on their campus using Canvas, welcome. What encouraged you to incorporate Canvas into your classroom?
To those who used Free-For-Teachers as an introduction to Canvas, how did it shape your institution-wide adoption?
I hold an M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction - Learning Technologies from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. Teaching degree in Art Teaching from Winona State University. Currently, I have multiple roles at DeLasalle High School - Teacher & Canvas Engagement Specialist.
I teach a variety of visual arts classes, and I prioritize problem-solving and reflection within my student-centered environments. It is my goal to blend traditional studio experiences with technology applications for communication, collaboration, and organization.
In addition to teaching, I actively participate on the Technology Committee, am a Canvas Co-Admin, am the lead in-house Canvas trainer, and as the Canvas Engagement Specialist, I work with faculty to advance pedagogy and student engagement through thoughtful course design using visual design and Canvas's tools.