Horse Before the Cart. Purpose first, Canvas second.

Community Coach
Community Coach
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Our Department of Education have had the foresight to acknowledge the support schools require when aiming to leverage learning through the use of digital technologies. In my new role as a Blended Learning Leader our team have the privilege of being able to provide this support to schools.

Now that the official end of our previous LMS has come to pass we will be sinking our teeth into using Canvas as a tool to enhance what we already do really well. Last term we spent a lot of time out in schools demonstrating how to use Canvas and highlighting some of the potential it has for teaching and learning.

The new school year is about to start and I am keen to see how Canvas will be used in our schools. I am genuinely excited about the support we can provide and networks we can help build while keeping in mind Creating a purpose and Don't be a slave to your LMS. Make it work for you.  

How have other coaches reached out to schools?

What sorts of support have you provided?

What cool projects have you come across?

As kelley.meeusen@cptc.edusuggested I never start with, "This is what this tech can do for you." or with "You can do this with this tech." I always start with, "What would you like to be able to do?" Then I show them how it can be done with that tech or some other tech.’

Wise words. Cart before the horse!

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13 Comments
Community Coach
Community Coach

Nice little post bobby.pedersen@education.tas.gov.au‌, and thanks for the mention!

Seems like such a simple concept, but I think too many miss it altogether. I hope you have sparked others to join in this discussion!

Kelley

Community Coach
Community Coach

Help me to spark kelley.meeusen@cptc.edu. I'm very keen to hear stories others have to tell. 

Community Member

I'm pinging my school's Canvas guru keeganlong-wheeler@ou.edu‌, because I am sure he could offer some insight about designing faculty development opportunities that are purpose-driven! 🙂

Community Coach
Community Coach

Sometimes the cart might be a bit heavy too. I just read this interesting article @Blended Learning Engagement: 5 Different Ways to Guarantee Success   

This jumped out at me. "The trick with blended learning is it takes practice to engage students and allow them to be creative." 

So too with our wonderful, patient, creative, and busy teachers - it takes practice, and time. And support. 

Community Coach
Community Coach

Even though we’ve been using Canvas for 5+ years, this semester was the first time we’ve required all adjunct (part time) faculty use Canvas. In general most of our adjuncts were already using Canvas so the ones who weren’t and needed to get trained were not the most happy or excited to be doing so. And in one case the Instructor was downright mad - he flat out told me to my face that he didn’t like Canvas, his students didn’t like Canvas, and it wasn’t good for teaching or learning.

So... how do you turn that around? You make sure (at least in my case) that they know that you aren’t there to change what is working for them or make their life harder, you’re there to support them and make their life easier. I provided real life examples of other Instructors in similar fields of study and how it was working for them and meeting their needs and their students needs. I made sure that the training was easily accessible and appropriate for their specific needs. We called it “Canvas Basic” and it covered a general Canvas overview, gradebook, and syllabus. And the biggest thing, was making sure that they understood I don’t believe in using technology for the sake of using technology. It needs to serve a need. 

And did I turn that frown upside down (as my 6 yr old would say) for the Instructor who was mad about Canvas? Yes, I’m happy to say I did. And in the same meeting! It was rough for a little bit, but through some honest dialogue about what he thought I was trying to do (make him do) and me clarifying some things about my beliefs about using technology and my main goal - making his life as a teacher easier and not trying to change how he does his grades - I won him over. 🙂

Community Coach
Community Coach

Excellent example thanks kona@richland.edu And some great pearls of wisdom.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Like kona@richland.edu‌, I work at a technical college. Our school is proud of the fact that it offers hands-on training in a real world environment, and uses that in promotional activities. Our program faculty come from industry, and they are equally proud that they teach in a hands-on environment. Unlike Kona, mine is an older story.

I was actually hired to grow online learning at our school, the refrain I heard most from our program faculty was that their were hands-on programs, and they clarified with things like, "I don't want my car repaired by someone who learned automotive technology online!" , "I don't want no nurse taking care of my dear old sainted mother by someone who learned online!" I think that most were surprised to hear that I agreed with them. In fact, the byline on my emails has read, "Perhaps not all courses can be taught online, but all courses can benefit from an online presence!" That is my philosophy, and I'm sticking to it.

So, yes they were correct and what they really wanted to do was provide their students with hands on training! And what I wanted to do was to show them how Canvas could be used to increase the time available for hands-on teaching rather than becoming a substitute for that hands-on training!

What I pointed out to our technical and professional program faculty is that all technical/professional fields require a significant "body of knowledge" that must be mastered along with the technical skills of that profession. By placing learning content for that body of knowledge online and available 24/7, their students could study that content over and over again as much as necessary and at time most convenient for them, then come into the physical classroom more prepared for the hands-on activities. And since the faculty did not need to spend hours each week lecturing about stuff because they could record those lectures, they also had more time to lead those hands-on activities.

So I showed them how the LMS could work for them and their students, instead of them and their students working for the LMS.

Even if sometimes having the horse before the cart can have it's advantages, especially if the horse is particularly gassy!

Kelley

Community Coach
Community Coach

Thanks kelley.meeusen@cptc.edunice hands on example. Saving time has got to be a selling point there also.

Gassy horse reference just for you.

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Sometimes the cart might be a bit heavy too. I just read this interesting article @Blended Learning Engagement: 5 Different Ways to Guarantee Success   

This jumped out at me. "The trick with blended learning is it takes practice to engage students and allow them to be creative." 

So too with our wonderful, patient, creative, and busy teachers - it takes practice, and time. And support. 

Community Coach
Community Coach

Any ideas Keegan?

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Great post and loved reading the string of comments. Care always needed by anyone with a strategic role in developing digital learning to keep the evangelism in check!

Whilst I agree with comments by bobby.pedersen@education.tas.gov.au and kelley.meeusen@cptc.edu , I have to confess to falling into the "This is what this tech can do for you" or with "You can do this with this tech" on more than one occasion (the digital zealot in me!) and will probably do so in future. It is sometimes very hard with such fantastic tools around..

The approach headlined by Bobby (and others) of having a discussion with that member of staff, asking questions about current practice, listening to their answers and giving them ownership of potential change is critical in establishing effective and long lasting foundations. It is important to appreciate that no two departments/faculties as regards their aspirations and the digital confidence/competence of those staff working within. It therefor vital to give staff a flexible framework to work to rather than imposing a one size fits all. 

This present huge challenges for the person co-ordinating the process and kona@richland.edu‌ great post highlighted situations that are often all too familiar.

I've written a longer post about this here - https://community.canvaslms.com/people/Gideon.Williams@britishschool.nl/blog/2018/04/12/blank-canvas...

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thanks again for this post bobby.pedersen@education.tas.gov.au‌ and great words kelley.meeusen@cptc.edu - I may have borrowed these a little shamelessly for a presentation where paraphrasing JFK:

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Brilliant! And thanks for the giggle Gideon.Williams@britishschool.nl!

About the Author
Always a learner. Love incorporating creativity and having fun with learning. Enjoy learning alongside the kids, and with my colleagues.
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