As I’ve talked about in previous blogs, Outcomes (aka standards, competencies, etc…) are the foundation for any program, course, or lesson because they identify and then center the knowledge and skills students will be asked to learn. Despite their importance K-12 state learning standards, accreditation standards in higher education, and Outcomes from other sources are not always easy for a student (or parent) to understand. They can be wordy, focus on complex relationships between concepts, and contain unfamiliar vocabulary.
For that reason, many experts such as Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer at EL Education, recommend that educators translate standards into “learning targets” for students. As he explains with co-authors Leah Rugen and Libby Woodfin in the book Leaders of Their Own Learning, “Learning Targets help students define what they are learning and why they are learning it, enabling them to monitor their progress towards the learning goal and giving them the language for and practice with metacognition” (pg. 23). Communicating Outcomes to students in this format can not only clarify performance expectations but can also improve confidence and motivation by positioning students to succeed in smaller learning tasks that are identified by breaking down standards. It can also help educators identify how they can support students through course design, instruction, and differentiation.
For all of these reasons, we thought it was important to create the ability for our users to craft friendly descriptions in Canvas.
When a friendly description is entered into Canvas, it will be the default display option for students anywhere Outcome descriptions can be viewed. Other roles will be able to view both the regular description and the friendly description. Friendly descriptions can be added to current Outcomes in Canvas, including those that have been assessed through rubric or quiz alignments.
Outcome Friendly Descriptions can currently be tried out in the Canvas Beta environment with the help of a CSM (Note - it will require the use of Improved Outcome Management). As for the future, I’ll be working with our amazing Outcomes development and design team to keep improving Outcomes in Canvas. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Beger R., Rugen L., Woodfin, L. (2014). Leaders of Their Own Learning. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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