If you don't already have an account and need to create a course, visit our Try Canvas page and select the Get a Free Canvas Account button. Complete the account information fields and you’ll be on your way!
You can create a course any time after you complete registration. However, you must verify your email address per the email instructions to complete your registration before you are able to publish your course, use ePortfolios, or add and launch course External App (LTI) tools.
How do I get help with my Canvas FFT account?
The majority of your questions can be answered within the Canvas Community!
In our Q & A space, you can search to see if your question has already been asked & answered.
Use the Canvas Guides to learn about Canvas features and functionality.
In the Join Groupspage, find your user role, join a group, and collaborate with like-minded individuals! We have user role groups for instructional designers, admins, and developers, and we have interest groups such as free-for-teacher.
When should I contact Canvas Support about a FFT request?
Our Canvas Support team is able to assist you if you have one of the following four request types:
Deleting FFT Accounts
If you decide you no longer want your FFT account, you can request to delete your account. Deleting your Canvas account cannot be undone and will delete all Canvas information including courses, assignments, grades, and participation. Do not request to have your account deleted unless you are certain you absolutely no longer require any access to your prior Canvas activity.
Restoring Deleted Courses
If you've accidentally deleted a course and need to get it back, Canvas Support can help restore the course for you.
Canvas courses can be set to a specific visibility option, which includes having the course be public. By default, courses are not public in FFT accounts. Public course details are included in How do I customize visibility options for a course? and allow users to view most course content without participating in the course. If you require this option, please contact Canvas Support.
Three months ago I posted Free for Teacher Feature Options, where I described how feature options, or flags, are used in Canvas to allow institutions when to release certain changes to their own instances of Canvas. Free for Teacher, although used by many many people around the world, is effectively just a "normal" production instance of Canvas. Periodically we make decisions about which changes to enable in Canvas. Depending on how a feature is released, admins may choose to have a new change be ON, OFF, or set to ALLOW. With the last option, individual teachers can choose whether or not to turn on the given change in their course settings.
Yesterday we did another periodic review and chose to make the following changes:
ePub Exporting (ALLOW) - Enable users to generate and download course content as an ePub file.
New User Tutorial (ON) - Provide tutorial information for new users in an expandable sidebar.
New Quizzes Importing (ON) - Allow importing of QTI and Common Cartridge into New Quizzes.
Product Tours (ON) - Assist new instructors in learning about Canvas with a in-product tutorial.
RCE Auto-Save (ALLOW) - If RCE Enhancements are also enabled, the RCE will auto-save your work as you go.
RCE Enhancements (ALLOW) - Allow switching to the enhanced RCE. This one is a prerequisite for RCE Auto Save. We briefly set it to ON, and then switched it to ALLOW.
Wrap event titles in Calendar month view (ON) - Show calendar events in the month view on multiple lines if the title doesn't fit on a single line.
For those of you who are not LMS administrators, you may not be familiar with the concept of feature options in cloud software. One of the advantages of cloud software is that it is easier to keep it up to date than when software is installed on many localized servers or computers. Rather than having big updates that go out several times a year, it allows a project like Canvas to have many smaller updates pushed out much more frequently, hopefully being less disruptive to users. However, some changes may be more or less disruptive to users than others and may be more or less disruptive at certain times. When it appears that this may be the case, software companies will sometimes employ feature flags or options that let an institution or individual administrator decide when to throw the switch and turn on a given new option.
Yesterday, a small group of people at Instructure went comprehensively through all the available options for Free for Teacher and enabled about ten new things. So, if you use FFT you may now see a few new tools or options in menus. Hopefully this will improve your experience. If not, or if you have questions, please let us know.
Tl;dr Some people are abusing public courses and we need to stop that.
One of my favorite things about Canvas, when I discovered it back in 2011, was and is Free-for-Teacher (FFT went live back in 2010). For anyone not familiar, FFT is a fully-featured production instance of Canvas where anyone in the world may request to have a teacher role user account, create as many courses as they choose to that will remain open as long as the teacher chooses, and invite as many students and fellow educators to sign up and participate. FFT lets anyone try Canvas for free and brings an egalitarian element to Canvas that we think is an important element of Instructure’s DNA.
One quality of FFT is that teachers can choose to have their courses only accessible by participants, accessible to anyone who is logged into Canvas, or publicly viewable by anyone with access to the Internet (documented here). Many educators like the option to open their courses up to anyone who might want to follow along, for any reason. Other people use Public courses as a way to showcase their instructional design skills or as a kind of eportfolio. Unfortunately, some people also use public courses for more nefarious purposes including sharing pirated intellectual property, SEO/spamming content and also other content that goes against what Instructure and the Canvas Community stand for. The Instructure Security team spends a saddening amount of time cleaning up these abuses which unfortunately seem to be affecting a growing number of people reporting the abuse.
So, the question before us is how to maintain the best aspects of FFT while also making it impossible or at least much more difficult for some people to abuse what we have. Could the community play an oversight role? Are there technology solutions that could be brought to bear?What do you think?
This has happened with 5 or 6 different students now. I try to invite them to a course, but then the last stage of "Add People" where it says "users are ready to be added to the course" it will list the new invite's email address as already being associated with another student's name. There seems to be no way to correct this. Even removing both students from the class and starting over doesn't seem to help.
Has this happened to anyone else? What is the solution?
Howdy. I apologize in advance if this is the wrong place to ask this. How do I actually create content in "Free For Teachers"? I have an existing Canvas account, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to actually create content there! I know I am missing some fundamental piece of information!
My attempt to make a little "you grew up and never learned your math facts?" course ...
I dream of being able to have a practice deck -- two from this group, three from that group, two from the other... now let's scramble them! Do it again Looking for "mindful mastery" as opposed to "mindless rote..." and recognizing that it probably really honestly doesn't matter if the quiz is in a predictable order so BACK TO IT...
Still wish I could ... you know..."save and keep this copy to edit" so I could make lots of similar questions quickly. My hour combing for "where's all tha tnew stuff with quizzes they were going to unveil at the conference" ... no gold...
And good grief!!!!! To change order of questions in a quiz... I "can" grab and drag them. Oops, no I can't, if they have to go beyond a screen. I either have to click "move to" and say where it's going or ... shrink my zoom. Getting into MacGyver All Day zone ...
And no, if I pick the wrong group (I don't want the ones with pictures)... too bad so sad, you can't edit that. Do it over! Of course I can't do it over where it is -- no, I'm going to have to make a new question and then move it.
I love open but if it's going to take more time than I have then... I'll be going to other resources. I already tabled this once.
Summer's Almost Over! So! I promised myself 5 hours this week on the "facts modules" ...
And bam! Brick wall. Seven minutes to figure out how to edit my module since "edit" means changing how much it's indented on the page... no, I have to duck in and quickly, quickly!!!! find "edit" before the page moves to the "getting to 5" link that happens too automatically.
I've put Canvas on a back burner since March since we got the okay to develop a basic Math course in our LMS, D2L. (It was chosen over Canvas because our institution needed multiple-correct-answers options in multiple choice tests and at decision time that wasn't an option.) We've really only just begun but now that semester's over I'd hoped to get back and work on my "basic facts for older students" little course here.
I've missed Canvas and the community, and really looked forward to learning cool stuff (like I already did with generating random numbers and choosing from random stuff from @G_Petruzella )... code snippets and all that.
Well, one of the more critical elements in this fluency building exercises was the "leveling up" idea. As in... if you did well, you leveled up.
As in, Mastery Paths.
I had already set them up in one exercise.
I come back and find out that's not set up any more. No, somebody decided that "because it is beta" my Free For Teachers account won't let me do that.
When I asked, I got this from the "L1 Tech Support" : Thank you for contacting Canvas Support, unfortunately Mastery Paths is not available for our Free for Teachers accounts. I apologize for that. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help you with. Thank you and have a great day!
Welp, part of me wants to take my ball and go home ... but ... L1 Tech Support is not the folks I've been playing on the field with and neither are the twerds who decided to reel in what a humble teacher can do.
So... even though there are whole parts of the field I'm not allowed to play on, I'm going to scrabble under the fence and see what I can learn and create.
I just wish I'd known about this *before* I said good things about Canvas at our conference, based on how much I could do in FFT. I won't let that happen again.
When a bicyclist approaches a traffic light and passes the cars to sneak up to the front, it's called "shoaling."
Canvas Community has turned its "gamification" over and I had enough points to get 500 of 'em grandfathered in, and I'm near the top of the stack because doing "training" kinds of things grants points, as does every comment ... and calling out of people and... and...
awilliams replied to a comment and suggested I blog about being FFT and about gamification and CanvasLive etc.
The Canvas Community is very responsive ... especially since most of my questions are basic, often 'why doesn't this work?' the answer often being 'because it's Canvas! -- here's a workaround' ...
CanvasLive is a great way of getting folks sharing "in the trenches" ideas. This is how I got the scoop on "mastery paths" -- and the presenter even had my reasons for doing it in mind: to have different presentations available if you didn't "get it' the first time. THe quick availablility on YOuTube is effective (though the "fast track" links to the uncaptioned videos is less so).
THat said, the whole "popularity is what steers design" approach has inherent flaws which should be addressed. I am not comfortable with Canvas as LMS for courses for basic adult ed students.
I currently work in a tutoring center, so I get to work with students using our LMS (not Canvas) and assorted other tech. The tech designed by eager people at the cutting edge (not to mention any names, CONNECT) are a walking disaster and
seriously impede learning the content as the students have to wrestle with the stupid tech.
, NOTE TO SELF: REMEMBER: Make quizzes *in a bank* not a quiz if you want to re-use them! Otherwise you have to export the whole quiz (finding the direcitons for that), import it again, and then try to remember which quiz was which.
I'm also working on a D2L project -- where I can click "copy quiz" and voila! I have another copy to go in and play with...
I'm taking BlendKit2017 on Canvas ... and hoping to use some of the stuff I'm playing with here, there (tho' it's with my "parkland college" identity b/c I know I'll still have a job for the next five weeks).
I'm also wondering why, in the reworking of the "community," I don't seem to be following anybody any more. I'm going to just wait a while to see if it's something somebody's processing...
Going to try to embed,,, okay, don't see html possibilities in here so ... back to the lesson to try it there~
If your school has one of those very limited LMSs or just an SIS and no actual LMS, a Canvas FFT can allow you to get your students using their technology at a higher, more professional level. Tech in education should be about so much more than digitized worksheets and a digitized typewriter. If you have to use your computer to send out assignments which students may or may not receive, then you are still passing stuff out; you're just doing it digitally. If students are emailing you back pictures or pdfs of their work, then it is business as usual, but digitally.
As soon as you walk into the world of Canvas, you are able to build an online course with a rich variety of tools and tasks linked in a variety of possible hierarchies. You can add to it and change it on the fly, updating it as information in the world changes: it is all live. You are not passing out a thing that is then dead and gone from your hands. Students log on and access the live, ever-changing, ever-updating content you are building. This is a fundamental difference which frees the instructor to create explosively more dynamic courses. This is the difference between picking up a paper copy of the New York Times and logging on to a live NYT feed.
It works in the other direction as well. Work created by a student should never really be done or dead: it should be under constant revision, getting upgraded as more info (and skill) becomes available. Some things, sometimes, are done once and left behind... but not most. Few instructors want a student to consider the first draft of something to be the final draft: that is a concept literally "left over" from the days of paper and pencil... from the days when inserting new information literally meant starting all over with a fresh sheet of paper in a typewriter. And that time is gone.
Or it should be. When we lock in documents and other works that are either being delivered or collected, we've grabbed a dead snapshot. When we leave them in a live state to be accessed by all interested parties, they are under continuous construction and upgrade. They are also part of constructive (and nearly always creative) collaboration. The value of this in laying the conditions for problem-solving cannot be overstated. We become part of a cooperative think-tank with our students. Differentiation and teamwork are built in. Think about that. Those are terms traditionally viewed as being at odds with one another. But when content and student work are kept live, a symbiotic relationship is born.
This is education in the purest sense of the word. Students and Instructors of this completely connected world should settle for nothing less.
I'm trying to make a module for learning the addition facts. I work with grownups who discreetly are still counting (either on their fingers or in their heads) or using calculators for everything. My experience has been that described in this blog post by Michael Pershan Missing Factors: On Learning What You Don’t Know – Teaching With Problems in which he describes a teaching experience, and cites research showing that students w/ learning handicaps stuck to counting even with lots and lots of games for practice in basic facts. They just learned to count as fast as they could. Welp, when you get to algebra, it *really* gets in the way. I want a way out!
In the cited research, the 'solution' was to provide the answer quickly. I'm wondering whether we can't leverage technology and, in "SAMR" jargon -- get from Substitution and Augmentation up at least into Modification and lean a little into Redefinition of an educational experience. Specifically, can we integrate "concrete-representational-abstract" progressions into learning the facts?
Even more basic than that: can I build in the review into quizzes? My Orton-Gillingham training and immersion taught this skeptic the value of practicing to automaticity. I get bored with practice long before the students, especially when we're tracking progress.
was also useful (it's not just about 'administrative' stuff -- it includes the basic 'how to do it.')
My next search for Question Banks info then gets a question about somebody where the same question was repeated between 8 and 16 times out of 60 questions... on the final exam... not the end of the world for drill , tho' it's not good. The idea that randomly selected questions should be set up not to repeat a selection seems obvious would be a special feature that a person could try getting votes for? I suppose I shouldn't broach "could I pull in the questions from the assorted groups, and then... once I've got 25 questions... have it *then* randomize them all?" I know just enough to know that good Object Oriented Design would make that possible (and also enough to know what a challenge that is )
So! Back to the practical. I am thinking of making completely separate banks for each quiz and doing the "send to another quiz bank" with the individual questions. Then we'll see how it plays out. I've broken the math addition facts into 12 chunks (per https://canvas.instructure.com/files/47799716/download?download_frd=1 this excel file) and I've done the first two. Yes, it's different working without the assumption that "this has been designed to work so keep trying!" -- I have to go to "oops, that's probably glitchy... what's another way to do this, or something simpler?" That's #goopen
When school opened in August, we knew we were going to be up against one obstacle that would be a source of stress for every student, teacher, and administrator in our school: the loss of our previous LMS. We still had a district-wide SIS, and a very small and very limited LMS, but we would be without the robust LMS on which we had become dependent, one that had been financed with money from a grant which had expired.
We are a Project-Based Learning school with 1:1 technology. Among other things, this means our students use their school-issued MacBooks more like working adult professionals than like kids: Our students use their laptops to manage and assign work within their groups, to monitor and edit task boards and logs, to develop and resolve Need-To-Know lists that are cross-referenced with rubrics, to conduct-organize-apply research, collaborate in each step of the process (whether a group member is in another state or on a bus to a band competition or in the same classroom), to develop written reports of their findings, to cooperatively build digital multimedia products and coordinate formal presentations, and to publish to a community of their peers, as well as reaching out to the community.
Our students may have projects going on simultaneously in as many as eight or nine different courses, and they are graded in five variously-weighted categories for each course. Managing agendas, emails, course and group discussions and project assignments can be complex. Teachers are using a wide array of digital tools to deliver content and guide progress, and we all dive in and try new things as they appear on the horizon.
"Where do I find what's due? Where and how do I submit? How do I monitor my grades so I can catch problems before the end of a term, when it's too late?" The answers were different depending on the project, the course, the group... It was a stressful juggling act for students. Grades alone were a diversified conglomerate of data: Students needed to know how much the rubrics in 40 different categories were going to effect their GPA. "Where do I publish assignments? Where and how can I manage and grade student work? How can I see data on outcomes? How do I provide resources? How do I make differentiated material and project paths available? Where do I house flipped learning videos and Intervention material, and how do I track it, compile it, report it, archive it?" Teachers were having to patch together a wide variety of online tools, and, in many cases, print out results to enter by hand into a different platform that could not import data or files from anywhere else.
We –– students and teachers –– had used our expansive access to digital tools in ways that had transformed learning beyond anything an ordinary LMS could accommodate, and when we tried to squeeze into one, it just didn't work. We were too deep into the digital world to just ditch it all and go back to paper, or to fall back to just using technology as glorified paperwork. Once you know that massive levels of collaboration and cross-referencing are possible, you can't un-know...
We tried sample versions of a variety of LMSs aimed at both educational and business applications. Stress mounted. and then, one by one, we started using the FFT version of Canvas. Because it was the free version, there was no school-wide administrator level account and no communication with the SIS, which leaves a mountain of data entry to be done manually, but other than that, this was the one place that could accommodate almost everything we were doing more than anything else we had tried (and we'd tried them all).
I am happy to say that our district found a way to purchase the full "with-admin" version for us, for the remainder of the year. We are working on getting the bulk of our content into Canvas over the winter holiday, in hopes that our students will have been added via the SIS by the time school is back in session (or shortly after... we are prepared to just straddle multiple systems until the first progress report, if need be).
People in education technology talk about ways of achieving the highest SAMR levels: how do we use technology in the classroom as more than a digitized worksheet? The tricky part is that once you get staff and students using digital tools to access, manipulate, and create a wider variety of data than would ever have been possible on paper, once you have everyone in your learning community collaborating outside of physical, geographical, and temporal restrictions, across platforms, with a wider variety of online tools and access than would ever have been possible on paper, once everyone is using and doing all of this, corralling it all so everyone can find everything becomes monumental, which is precisely why it would "never have been possible" on paper.
Imagine going into a bricks-and-mortar library and being told that all of the books were shelved in totally random order, and then trying to find a specific book. The right LMS not only enables and promotes transformational education, but the wrong LMS or no LMS inhibits, frustrates, and truncates attempts at those higher SAMR levels, especially if you are making a school-wide effort. The right LMS removes barriers and allows teachers, students, and administrators the freedom to fly.
Back when this "service learning" course I'm wrapping up was active (it ended 12/6, but we can finalize our submissions and submit 'til 12/31) I tried to let another person peek at the Canvas course I'm mucking about with as the "extra credit" part of the course.
Seems we had to invite each other to be TA's to look at the materials.
I *think* that is because the course isn't "published." Since I'm "Free for Teachers" I have no idea what the 'administrative' ramifications of publishing are, but I figured that if the folks at the service learning course were going to be able to check it out, I'd have to do that. I logged out of the other 'puter and ... seems I could get to things at Course Modules: Math for Transportation: Introductory Lesson even if I weren't logged in.
I've spent today's hours trying to figure out which files should go where.
** That idea about letting people see what something is before they click into it would be really useful to me!!!** I can think of the best titles I can, but I don't always remember which of the 10 or so videos & lessons I'm looking at. Since breaking things into tiny chunks is an important part of my design, I need to figure out a way to manage that (which might be a low-tech 'make an annotated list of your titles, dear, and stick it on the wall!')
I'm going to be making mad revisions betwixt now and the end of the year (and beyond)...
Realized I'd forgotten one of my cute number bar images but looks like I have to go out and in to get access to it when making the quiz; it's not updating the "files" catalog on the tab I'm using to make the quiz, though it's updated in the tab where I dropped it in. (Yes, loving drag and drop, too!) ... but it worked nicely. DIdn't lose anything along the way.
So... next question: can I copy a question and edit it (since I'll have exactly the same answers to choose from, but different questions)?
I have been a 11 year-old scout leader for almost 2 years now and have been looking for an easier way to track what my scouts have accomplished along their pathway to rank advancement. I have looked at a few other tracking systems in the past, but the cost of the system, though not particularly steep, seemed to be the sticking point. We currently track our scouts by photo-copying the rank requirement pages and signing off those and then once a month we update the scout's handbook so its current. The problem we have is there is only one set of records and usually parents will contact me or the other scout leader about where their scout is and we sometimes don’t have that information handy or have to send them to the other scout leader.
Being a Canvas administrator I realized I had a great platform and mobile apps to track this information and give access to the other scout leader and possibly the scout's parents, the last part is a bit ambitious so I am focusing on tracking first then add the bells and whistles later. I logged into my FFT Canvas account and created a new course and set about devising how I could track this information.
In Utah 11 year-old scouts, (Blazers to us old enough to remember), focus on getting through the rank requirements before they turn 12. So in short order we try to get them through their Scout, Tenderfoot, Second class, and as much as or all of First Class rank requirements. Usually we try to run through all the requirements in 6 months so we can repeat the process twice a year to ensure all scouts have an opportunity to pass of the requirements. That’s a lot of information to track and coordinate in a short amount of time, and it seems like a good plan in theory but executing that plan is a challenge, so tracking is vital especially when we need to hand that information off to the 12 year-old leaders to continue helping them advance.
I weighed the different options of how to track the scouts and determined the fastest way to get started was to use complete/incomplete assignments for each requirement and organize them in assignment groups according to the rank. I wanted to have the assignment have the basic requirement information so I wanted to name them based off of the requirement number, (i.e 1a, 1b, 2), and the requirement description be the assignment description. Now I needed a way to get them into a usable format.
The Boy Scouts of America had a handy PDF of the current requirements for download so I was able to copy and paste them into a text editor to manipulate them into a format I could utilize. It took a lot of cleaning up, but I was able to get them into a readable format. I first created basic text files of each rank requirements and then set out to determine how best to get them into Canvas, to semi-quote Liam Neeson from Taken, "…what I do have are a very particular set of skills [with the Canvas API and Python]."
Creating 120+ assignments by hand and adding them to the correct assignment group was not something I was willing to do, I had already spent several hours cleaning up the text, so I turned to the Canvas APIs to create the assignments. I first created the assignment groups named after each rank and using the API got each assignment group ID for the next step. The easiest way for me to do this, would be to create a CSV file of the rank requirements split up into the assignment name, description, type, group, and point value. I would then write a Python script to take the values from the CSV file to create an assignment for each requirement and place them into the appropriate assignment group. Turning the text files to CSV did take some time but I had warmed up the regular expression part of my brain and was able to get it done much faster than the text cleanup. I ran the script for each rank and had the assignments created within a few minutes.
My next challenge was what to do about the scouts? My answer came in a sneaky hack Google added into their Gmail system. You can take any Gmail, Google apps, or Google apps for education address and before the @gmail.com or other domain put +whatever to piggy back a unique email address off your own account. So if I was Liam Neeson and had a FFT Canvas account under the Gmail address of email@example.com I could use firstname.lastname@example.org to create another user account in FFT Canvas and it would still send emails to email@example.com but still be a unique address to Canvas. Using this little hack in Canvas FFT I created accounts for each of my scouts that pointed back to my email address.
Putting It into practice
I finished it in time for our troop meeting and I logged into my FFT account using both the mobile app and SpeedGrader on my phone. From there I was able to use the attendance tool and the SpeedGrader to mark the requirements we went over that night as completed for each scout. It was very easy to use and I even got the other scout leader setup with his own account and he installed the mobile apps as well so he has access to the same information. I also accepted the invitation for each one of my scouts which allows me to use the gradebook CSV to bulk enter their requirements.
I have been sharing it with others I work with that are involved with scouts and they offered some suggestions that I am going to consider implementing. Some of the suggestions include:
• Tracking campouts, activities, service project hours, etc…
• Adding the parents as observers to their scout so they can see the progress at anytime
• Changing the default email address of the scout's account to one of their parents so I can use the communications tools in Canvas
• Turning some of the requirements into an online submission assignment where the scout has to provide evidence of their requirement completion
• Incorporating Rubrics and/or Outcomes for requirements that need demonstration of understanding
This was quite a fun project to get going and it also gave me another valuable script that I can use at work if needed. I will post the course in Commons so that anyone can use the course and feel free to make changes and improvements or if you have suggestions of your own feel free to contact me anytime.
I've got two Canvas accounts -- one associated with the college where I work and then the Free for Teachers that I've gotten through "Instructional Design Service Course: Gain Experience for Good" here on Canvas... so I'm abandoning the college one to be consistent (and because the college has nothing to do with the course -- I'm doing it on my own)...
... and having fun figuring out how to incorporate images and concepts in math...
Oh, Canvas FFT, it is all coming together beautifully...did you know?
I now have a mark book that produces a current grade average automatically...I can see who are the top performers and those that need more support and scaffolding... differentiation for class tasks and prep is now not only feasible but evidenced.
Did I mention how much I love the SpeedGrader and being able to moderate quizzes? How I've found resources in the Commons that save me time in planning? How I can email students to congratulate for being above the exceptional threshold in a test, and set resubmission assignments for those that didn't pass? How I can set and monitor cover work for when I'm home ill, like today?
Now, if only I could get them all to actually open their emails and accept the invitation to the course...
Top tip: don't give them more than they can handle. I've made the homepage Modules and the only other option is Grades; they can't get lost or confused... probably.
Like Don Bryn, I want a way to get students into a "course" so they can do things online -- before they're students, and/or independent from our "system." I anticipate the same unfamiliarity w/ Canvas and, thus, necessity for "track down to contact" measures. I work with students who want to build math & reading skills to be better prepared for college, and I"m trying to create a course for basic number sense.
I'm doing this through the exciting "Instructional Design Service Course: Gain Experience for Good" here on Canvas... I completed it last semester so I'm trying to take it to the next level this one! I've got a school "Canvas" account, but making a "Free for Teachers" one liberates me from all kinds of nonsense, though it does make for some weird log-in complications. I"m hoping it will enable me to make things REally Awesomely Open.
How does FFT inspire you to be creative in the ways you leverage Canvas?
I want to shift roles right now. Professionally, I work in higher education and my institution utilizes Canvas. However, on Monday my daughter starts the second grade at a school that doesn't even have an LMS. It is a top rated school in Florida (a state which ranks among the top in the nation for testing - which I have mixed feelings about for...reasons) and last year the principal was recognized at the White House as the principal of the year. And all of this doesn't amount to the school having very much money. They talk about things such as FTE and "seat time", and as it is a new school their library shelves are relatively barren.
This past year I sat on the School Advisory Counsel - a post which I will continue this year. I still feel like I am very new to the realm of K-5 education and was admittedly lost during much of the SAC discussions (I actually petitioned that they provide us all with a list of all the acronyms they use - a guide which turned out to be very helpful). I gave a few presentations during SAC meetings discussing the research behind pedagogy and study techniques, and really tried to connect their agenda to what we in higher education would like from our K-12 graduates.
At one point I asked about their LMS and suggested Canvas as a good tool. Initially I was met by crickets and then people tried to explain some district-sanctioned platforms and approaches. But they did not understand what an LMS was nor why it would be important.
So in my role as a SAC member, my answer to the question: How does FFT inspire you to be creative in the ways you leverage Canvas? is that right now it doesn't. But I am writing this post here because my goal for the upcoming academic year is that I really want to expose my daughter's teacher and school to the resources available in this group. There are gems here and I really think that their participation in this community will benefit FFT, and vice versa.
1. Have absolutely no plan ready when the internet fails, the motherboard on the classroom computer dies (yes, that happened right at the start of a lesson), or there is a power outage. Instead, have at least three back up lesson plans that you can use at any stage in the year regardless of where you are in the syllabus. Have the materials prepared, enough handouts, etc. and just move straight into it seamlessly - don't let them (the students) see your fear - they will feed off it!
Here are my go-to options for Economics (most are useful for Business Studies, Social Studies, Geography, etc):
Take a stack of newspapers and A3 paper - ask students to find news articles on a particular concept/topic, rank them in order of impact/importance, prepare to justify their decision and debate with classmates. They can make A3 posters afterwards for wall displays.
Use A3 paper scattered on various tables in the room and write a key topic/concept recently covered in the centre. Organise students in teams/pairs and give them pens of a certain colour per team. Invite students to go to an A3 sheet in teams/pairs and write as many linked concepts/facts/terminology/diagrams/evaluation points about each topic as possible in three minutes - they can use their folders/textbooks as you see fit. At the end of the time, they must swap to another station until all have visited each A3 sheet. At the end you can judge which team knows most about a subject to see which colour pen is most used.
2. Spend ages trying to find a particular app or tool to use in/with Canvas but only using 'classroom' or 'T&L' search parameters. One of the best tools I used this year was designed for use in conference to get audience participation - tools may be out there under different guises - look wider afield.
3. Try to fill lessons with impromptu timed essays - there is far too much marking involved, especially if they don't learn to peer- or self-assess. Get them trained from the start to judge their work and that of others: don't accept that they only want your opinion as the expert - get them ready to recognise good work from bad.
This year I'm going to have a different strategy - start gently, from the very first lesson, with an introduction to the platform. Hopefully, I'll get it right this time!
Specifically, I was looking for somewhere to host all my course materials and quizzing links. There were other websites that I could use (Socrative, Nearpod, etc.) but there was nothing that incorporated all the elements I wanted for my students. Then Canvas came within view and it was love at first sight.
How does FFT inspire you to be creative?
My students now undertake a range of assignments online and offline that, I think, were inspired by FFT. They make infomercial films; they write their own exam scripts, model answers, and mark schemes to test other students; they complete class tests by giving presentations; they engage in peer-support and teaching opportunities for younger students. In essence, I took the students' expectation that every lesson would simply teach content for and ways to answer examination questions and turned it on its head. Now, I want students to learn how to be good learners, rather than just successful test-takers. And that makes my job much more fulfilling.
I'm taking classes through Coursera to complete the Virtual Teacher specialization. For a capstone project, I'd like to create an actual course. Can the free version of Canvas can be used to do this? If so, will the course remain on the platform indefinitely?
For an graduate-level educational technology course I took in the summer of 2014, my final project requirement was to create an online unit around an educational topic, via some type of web page or other web-based presence. This project also needed to be accessible to all other members of my class, as well as the professor, for evaluation purposes.
I wanted to create a science fair project unit that I could use with my after-school science fair club when it was done, and I definitely wanted to do my building in Canvas' LMS, which my school district had just adopted a few months earlier. However, I wasn't sure I was permitted to add my non-district classmates and professor as observers to our school district's Canvas site. Hmmm.
After pondering this a bit, I suddenly remembered the Free-for-Teachers site! So I started a new course, built my unit, and added my classmates and professor to the course. In doing so, I was able to leverage all those great Canvas tools to help walk my students through the complex science fair project process. In addition, this gave me the chance to show others in my graduate class what they were missing if their own institutions were not using Canvas. (I also made sure they knew that the FFT Canvas was available to them as well.) :smileygrin:
Later, after the graduate course was over and I had received my stellar(Thanks, Canvas!) grade... I neatly packed up my unit into a downloadable file, then imported it into my school district's Canvas site for use later that fall with my science fair students. A few clicks - Easy peasy! And I've been using it with great success ever since.
Side Note: Each year, many of my students go on to our State Science Fair, and I believe some of the credit goes to the great way that Canvas makes content easily buildable for teachers, and easily accessible to students anywhere, any time.
"What ways you use Canvas Free-for-Teacher? How does FFT inspire you to be creative in the ways you leverage Canvas?"
There have been some great blogs about the benefit of free-for-teachers in Canvas, but for me the benefit of free-for-teachers somehwat echoes that of stefaniesandersFree for Teachers: Training made easy. The great thing is that it lets you try things in Canvas that your institution has perhaps not brought in yet or is not going to bring in. You can get ahead of the game in other words. All of the extra apps that are not available can then be used without risk and you can see what will be beneficial and what won't, which you can then use to formulate a business case for the addition of an app or feature to the main Canvas interface for the institution.
Sometimes we get stalled by bureaucracy or caution, free-for-teachers lets you do your own thing, which can inform decisions and bring those potential upgrades and features into the fold.
I saw that you mentioned developing some PD for your more adventurous faculty, and I just wanted to let you know that the content in the CanvasHacks course came from my local "Do Not Fear the Code" workshop that I have now run for just that purpose at my own school twice, and at another school once with another shot coming in April. I'll be happy to share more details with you if you are interested, but essentially:
It is a two hour, hands-on f2f session,
The Canvas Classroom is provided as an extra "always available" resource,
I include a style guide (the code snippets we are going to learn during the in-class time) in the Canvas classroom,
Make sure everybody has a sandbox to play in,
Give about 10 minutes of intro/overview/and examples of what can be accomplished,
Then we work through the style guide of simple starter snippets
I always spend the last 15 minutes converting an existing Canvas page to a gussied-up one using the snippets we have learned. I do this to demonstrate that they do not have to start over with their classrooms, and can easily enhance existing content:
At the end of the style guide I include the HTML code for a pre-selected page of content from on of my own courses,
I have them paste that into the HTE of a blank page in their sandboxes,
Show them what that page looks like without enhancements,
Then we start adding enhancements using that existing content.
I close with some general workflow advice.
I have attached my agenda.
I hope this helps, and you know where to find me if your need finer details.