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Community Champion

13. Our Coach Kona

You can see the embedded video here: Kona Jones

So, we've reached Wednesday afternoon! And the first Wednesday afternoon session that I went to was... the Canvas Community's own Kona, Coach of Coaches and all-around Canvas Guru. The room was packed, and there was so much interest and so many people who couldn't squeeze into the room, that they even scheduled a repeat performance on Thursday! The group from Tec de Monterrey had to cancel (I had planned to go to their session), so the conference organizers asked Kona to fill the gap, using the room for which the Monterrey folks had been scheduled. Perfect: that room did not go to waste on Thursday and even more people got to hear Kona's wonderful presentation.

Energize Your Class With Student-Centered Course Design

I don't need to do a detailed summary of the many (MANY) topics that Kona covered because she has already shared her slidedeck here at the Community: yay!

Energize your class with Student-Centered Course Design 

(And check out the InstructureCon18 homepage for a whole long list of posts by presenters!)

Even better, you will find a TON of links there for all kinds of resources here at the Canvas Community to support the practices that Kona talked about in her presentation. The slides link is down at the very bottom. And this is the key slide that really says it all: Connect with students. Motivate and challenge students. Promote critical thinking. Be present in my  course. (Of course I am pinging  @mpb ‌ for all of this!)


So, since you have access to Kona slides and links, I can zoom in on the items from the presentations that I connected with the most.

I love the way Kona collects and uses "stats in the wild" to make the content of the course real and immediate, showing her students who they can apply the things they are learning in class to what they might read in the paper or on Facebook, or what they might hear on the news. That sounds so fun! Just hearing about that makes me want to take her class. It sounds like a great way to engage students, and also to have the students working on things that other students will be curious to learn about too, student to student.

I really like the idea of students having to writing up one-paragraph findings that summarize their projects, while they share the whole project with Kona. Helping students learn how to do both short-form and long-form writing sounds excellent! I was also interested to learn about how she has the students on break up their big project into manageable chunks of work; that's something that is so much easier to do in a digital environment where you can share your work stage by stage, get feedback (Kona uses a lot of peer feedback it sounds like, in addition to teacher feedback) and then use that feedback as part of the whole process: timely, positive, meaningful feedback. I say yes to that!!!

My very favorite part of the presentation was Kona showing how she uses the Notes column in the Gradebook to record important information about each student so that she has an immediate reminder that a given student might be coping with something, having some kind of problem. That way, whenever she communicates with that student by sending Canvas messages she can see right there in the note the information she needs to humanize that communication. Nudges are really important, but you are going to nudge a student differently if you know they have a child with a serious illness, or that they are working a full-time night-shift job, or dealing with dyslexia etc. etc.

slide showing Notes column in Gradebook

I also really liked how Kona makes her own videos, and she said that the students really like the fact that they are spontaneous and not scripted, with Kona just talking through things as she would do in class. Those kinds of videos sound very humanizing, more so than the high-tech, "professional" videos that you might see in some kinds of  learning. Kona's videos sound like fun, and also quick and easy to make. They have ARC at her school, although she also recommends SnagIt as a good free tool. I don't use quizzes, but I really like the idea of doing a video for the quiz answer key, talking through the problems step by step.

Kona has a TON of practical advice for people who use Canvas tools like the discussion board, integrated Google Drive for assignments, etc. I'm happy with the outside-of-Canvas blog network that I use, but when I hear Kona talk about using Canvas, I realize that there are a lot of very create, student-centered ways you can use those tools too. I really liked how she set up checks for students to complete in the Modules to make sure they had completed each item ("mark as done") and were really ready to move on to the next, which also helps Kona track their progress too so that she can intervene before things get too serious. If you are interested in using mastery paths in addition to module sequencing, she has lots of advice about the best strategies for making the mastery path approach flow really smoothly for the students.

And then: DATA. She teaches statistics, so that makes sense... but the data for her outcomes when she started implementing these student-centered strategies is pretty amazing. Before, 50% of her students were getting Cs, but now it is down to just 12%. The quizzes and content are the same as before; what's different is the more student-centered approach she is using both in planning the class and then in her teaching week by week.

outcomes for Kona

One of her students summed it up like this: I feel like you sent out a safety rope to us before we realized we needed one.

How awesome is that quote.....???! Here's the actual slide:

slide with student quote

I am really glad I got to hear this session and see Kona in action. From the way she connected with us in that session, even though it was a huge room full of people, I am sure her students feel very connected in her classes, both in person and . Be sure to check out her links and slidedeck for all the details.

Thank you,  @kona ‌!!! It was WONDERFUL.

Tags (1)
5 Replies
Coach Emeritus

laurakgibbs, Wow... just wow. 

Thank you so much for the amazing summary of my session. Seriously, seeing my session through your eyes (especially since you've been an inspiration to me and a number of my changes) was phenomenal. You focused in on my main points, but still really captured everything I was trying to convey in my session. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! And keep being such an wonderful inspiration to all of us in the Community!


Community Champion

I was blissed out the whole time,  @kona ‌! And I always wonder what I would do if they lay down the law at my school someday and tell me I couldn't teach "out in the wild" but have to stay in Canvas. That would be hard for me, but seeing how you use the Canvas space to build pathways that work for your students, now I know what I would do and I understand the kinds of options I could use. I am really glad you are showing people how to use those Canvas tools in ways that really help students. And it was so cool hearing people say "Wait wait, how do you do that?!?!?" when you were going through all your Canvas tricks. Totally inspiring!

Coach Emeritus

This has so much goodness in it laurakgibbs. A definite bookmarker. 

How can we get you and  @kona n the same place again - just so I can be there! So selfish I know. 

You know there was a whole Australian contingent at InstructureCon! But I don't know about Tasmania... 🙂

 @Bobby2 , it would be pretty terrific to sit down with both of you... personally I'd love for it to be in Australia, but that's just me! 😉