We're developing a "Best Practices" document that will ultimately be used both as a beginning of the term checklist for instructors, but also as a course auditing tool for myself as the Instructional Tech Coordinator and for Department Chairs when working with their constituent faculty. I was curious if anyone out here in the Canvas Community might provide feedback for the current draft. I realize that some of the material is specific to our institution (we are K-12 private - about 1000 Canvas users 5th-12th grade), but please insert your own wisdom and best practices for your schools. We tried to make the document as open-ended as possible, recognizing that faculty are varied in their style, but also in their level of Canvas knowledge. At the very least, this exercise will uncover key targets for training moving forward. It also opens up the interesting conversation of "require vs. recommend," which can get messy in a private school. The document is attached as a PDF.
Let me know what you think and please share how you approach training and course auditing with your own faculty.
Hey @brueckert ,
This is an amazing resource! Thank you so much for sharing. A few thoughts (I'm not sure if this is a procedural or instructional document):
This is a very thorough document. Would examples and/or visuals be presented? I appreciate you using this as a tool to offer additional support. This is similar to the expectations we hold in our online courses. Very nicely done.
Thank you @stephanie_pope
At this point, the document is just a draft. Ultimately I'd like to have an instructional version for faculty, with additional screenshots and examples of a good course; as well as a procedural version for those responsible for doing course audits.
Thank you for the feedback! Regarding your point on Modules: I feel like we're in a strange place right now, caught between "recommend" and "require" when it comes to certain features of Canvas. Modules are one aspect I'd like to see expanded usage of, but teachers have differing opinions on the best way to present content to students in a blended environment. In my first draft, I was more strict that Modules were the way to go, but I received some pushback on it - hence the expanded options in the Course Organization section of the document.
To what level do you require usage of certain features of Canvas at your school?
I think what you have planned sounds great for teacher and ed tech support.
We have our brick and mortar campus and our online school. Our brick and mortar teachers also use both views: assignments and modules. Our online school is much for structured to "walk our students through" the modules view. The online school prefers the modules view because we can arrange by units- clear and by date. We use the syllabus view as the homepage for students to view their running list of assignments. Our main campus teachers tend to do what they want. Our ed tech department is looking to build templates for a more cohesive look and flow for the main campus students. Because it's the kids who suffer from all of the various ways our teachers present the information. At the initial roll out, the goal was for teachers to just use Canvas. Now, it will be a collective effort to support the teachers as we make a transition to "tidy" things up.
I think we have very similar situations.
I totally prefer the sales pitch approach, how Canvas can save you time, make grading easier, get students to turn in their assignments on time, etc. Admin like to set requirements, but we've got those at a bare minimum at this point - Syllabus with contact information included. I hope to avoid expanding the requirements by sharing with admin what are teachers are doing, maybe using something based on this audit form. So I go the recommend route! If you insist they will resist.
In Allen, we prefer the sales pitch of how Canvas makes a teacher's life easier!:) We also say that using Canvas is a college ready skill--as our student alumni have thanked us for Canvas!
We had to think through and develop a system for usage across 600 7-12 teachers, 9000 students and their parents. Our community wants consistency and one-stop shopping for digital learning. We do use a module approach, as our focus is blended learning, and our curriculum documents are in units. Modules seems to make sense. Our focus in on interactivity in Canvas , so we have Canvas Essentials. The Essentials are used as a self-assessment of a teacher's Canvas usage, and a self ranking of 1, 2, 3, 4. One is high. The Essentials ask teachers to determine the best instructional usage of a discussion, quiz, electronic submission, etc. for each nine weeks. Then, usage of announcements/messages, Canvas at school and home are also included. We have instructional specialists who are available for on-going professional learning and support. We're having good success with these ideas!:)
Thank you, Brian! This will be very useful and just in time. Like Stephanie's school, we rolled out Canvas recently and insisted only that teachers have "a presence" in Canvas. I'm about to offer an in-service course emphasizing course organization, appropriate use of Canvas tools, etc. I'd like to use a modified version of your course audit form as a "peer review" tool for my faculty course participants.
I wholeheartedly agree with Janetta and Lisa about the soft sell approach too ("If you insist, they will resist!" -- I love it!). On the other hand, while there certainly are advantages to the teacher, many teachers will respond to their students' plight with the lack of consistency in course organization. I agree with Stephanie that it's the kids who suffer. Here's the argument I'm using in my training course:
"One of Canvas's strengths is its uniform structure across all courses. The familiar menu bar at the top, the left hand menu pane, and the names of menu items: modules, announcements, etc. While this might seem limiting to teachers, that uniformity makes it much easier for all students to access and complete their work.
Think about this. A typical Greeley student takes seven courses at a time and navigate through all seven courses on Canvas nearly every day. If you customize the basic menu structure of your Canvas course — or never organize it at all — your students must spend time learning to navigate your course materials. Wouldn't you rather they spend that time focused on your course goals?"
Did I mention that I sell cars in the summer?
I just discovered that students can assess assignments from the gradebook view even if modules are unpublished. Where there is a will there is a way, right? Anyone have a fix for this?