Do these children have time to learn deeply?

Community Contributor

In a previous blog post I expressed how surprised I was that the students in my classes had not embraced Canvas in the way that I had imagined: Students who say, "just tell me what to memorise," and how to serve them

Yesterday, having spent another day enjoying the rich and varied discourse and resources in the Canvas Community, something novel occurred to me. These students may only have time and space to learn superficially.

The K-12 school where I work and use my Free-For-Teachers​ account is intensely timetabled. Students have obligations from 8am until 5:15pm Monday-Friday and 9:15am-4pm Saturday. These obligations include lessons and private study periods, but also chapel, sports, and service activities. Those that live on campus have 5:15-7pm as dinner/free time, then 7-9pm is when homework must be completed, before their final free hour before bed. The free time is when students fetch essentials from local shops, call their (often international) parents, catch up with friends, shower, go to the gym, etc. Maybe there isn't really time for 'reading around the subject' as we teachers so often insist is essential, unless we want them to forgo health, mental, as well as physical.

So, when I introduce Canvas and its wonderful elements (wonderments?!), but they don't seem enthused - maybe they are thinking, 'and how much more time is this going to take when you already set us the mandatory 1.5 hours of homework per week per subject...?'

I really like the idea of using Pinterest as highlighted here: How I integrated a pinterest board in my class . In fact, I had been looking for a collaboration space when I posed this question: Whiteboard collaboration space like a group blog​.

However, if I don't make it mandatory/graded, they won't go the extra mile. Maybe it is because of a lack of genuine passion for my subject. As I noted here:

...students have very rarely taken the subject before, but opt for it because it will lead to good job prospects. There is often little idea of what Economics is about and little interest other than, eventually, it will help them get a good career where they earn a lot of money.

So, how can I get them to really engage? I think the answer might be badges. Having done INSET training on gamification just after I discovered Canvas, I was immediately interested, but part of me was reticent - 'these children should learn for the sake of learning, not to earn points and level up!'

Now, having seen students take back marked work, ignore the comments and just look for a grade, I wonder if their busy lives mean that they don't feel that they have the (emotional) time/space to give more than the bare minimum. Maybe I do need to trick them into learning...and being able to appreciate that "not everything worth doing is graded." ( @jward ​, InstCon2015)

So, badges. I am going to spend a day trying to figure out if I can make badges that encourage engagement with the subject and Canvas, such as First Person to Start a Discussion, Completed First Quiz, Set-up Profile, Submitted Assignment at least 24hrs before Deadline...

I will be using the information below, lifted directly from  @jward 's presentation from InstCon2015​ which you can watch here:


Canvas Engagement Strategies