Canvas + Ted Talks = Magic

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

October Teacher Appreciation Event: Canvas + Ted Talks = Magic

What’s Included in This Post?
• About our event
• Ted Talks and Resources Galore!

Shout out to my fellow Instructional Designers who contributed to this blog post, @kimberly_ellis@rosina_marie, @shalon_farris@mirandamcintosh@tiffany_foster@Laurie_Norris, and @Jennifer_Leimer. We have loads of Canvas expertise and are passionate about design, pedagogy, and best practices. Let us share how to elevate your fully-online, hybrid/blended and face-to-face courses for learners ranging from preschool through post-secondary and everything in between.

Why Are We Hosting This Event?

We utilize the Canvas Community on a regular basis to position instructional design resources! We understand the impact and power of the Instructional Designers' space within the Community and want to give back. We are excited to collaborate and share tips and tricks about our Canvas Design Best Practices.   

About This Month's Event

I love inspirational Ted Talks and thought I’d share a few of my top educational ones with you as well as Canvas features that support some pretty great ideas… “Ideas worth spreading.”

Ted Talk #1

Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education | TED Talk

Listening to Daphne Koller’s Ted Talk opened my eyes and mind to the idea that there are more effective ways to assess student learning. For instance, “It turns out that peer grading is a surprisingly effective strategy.” I’m a bit of a nerd/data-lover, so seeing the correlation (at the 11:00 minute mark) between the student grade and teacher grade warmed my researcher’s heart. And even more heart-warming was the data shown at the 11:30 minute mark (check it out for yourself, but there is a strong correlation between Self Grade, Peer Grade, and Teacher Grade.) How can this be implemented in a Canvas course? Easily! Peer review assignments are, in my opinion, one of the most underutilized tools in Canvas. 

Daphne also advocates the option for videos to be played, then paused for student assessment. At this part of the lecture, Daphne points out the advantages of an online course versus a face-to-face course. In a face-to-face setting, Daphne reminds us that not everyone has a chance to answer. She suggests that 80% are scribbling down the last thing she said, 15% are zoned out on Facebook (probably Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or other social media platforms now… this was broadcast at TEDGlobal 2012), and of course, there are the smarty pants students who blurt out the answer before anyone else has a chance to respond. In a face-to-face setting, the lecturer often moves on with most of the students not even aware that a question was posed. Isn’t it beautiful that Studio has video quizzing as part of the built-in functionality? 

Although there are plenty in this Ted Talk, the last point I’ll make is the ability to connect students throughout the world. Students often answer their peer’s questions if a discussion is set up to accommodate this endeavor. Daphne reports that the median response time on the Q&A forum was 22 minutes. That’s certainly more responsive than I can guarantee for my students. Students also formed study groups on their own (some in-person based on location, other groups formed based on language and/or culture lines, yet others met virtually and were intentionally geographically diverse). 

Watch the rest of the Ted Talk to learn more about personalized feedback, how we can use data to inform subsequent iterations of courses, and Bloom’s 2-sigma problem (Daphne poses a suggestion of how to teach so that 98% of our students are above average) and active learning (which improves attendance, engagement, and learning). Daphne ends the Ted Talk wondering what would happen if we offered the best education to everyone worldwide. She posits the following: 

  • It would establish education as a fundamental right.
  • It would enable lifelong learning.
  • It would open the door to a wave of innovation “because amazing talent could be found anywhere.”
Ted Talk #2

Sal Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education | Ted Talk

I hope everyone is familiar with Sal Khan. If not, you’re in for a real treat, especially if you’re joining the FREE InstructureCon 2020. (But don’t worry, if you didn’t register, check back on October 16, 2020, to access sessions on demand.) What started in 2005 as tutoring lessons with his cousins has evolved into over 20,000 free educational videos found at and Sal’s goal is to make learning accessible for everyone, everywhere. His videos are viewed by 40 million students and 2 million teachers every month. Teachers often utilize the videos to “flip the classroom” -- assigning videos as lectures to watch at home and then using class time to work together on what has traditionally been homework. Teachers can easily bring in Khan Academy videos into their Canvas courses by adding videos (I’ve found it easiest to use the embed via YouTube).

Ted Talk #3

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen | Ted Talk

Julian begins his TEDGlobal 2013 talk by listing “7 deadly sins” of speaking. In summary, if you feel like you’re talking but no one is listening, avoid the following:

  1. Gossip (speaking ill about people who aren’t present, and probably saying nasty things about the listener later)
  2. Judging (judging the person you are speaking to, and finding them wanting)
  3. Negativity (negative outlook)
  4. Complaining (achieves nothing) rather than spreading sunshine and lightness into the world
  5. Excuses (passing problems of the world on to everyone else)
  6. Lying/Exaggeration
  7. Dogmatism (mixing up facts and opinion)

However, there are 4 positive, powerful ways to improve your conversation style – summarised as HAIL (which serendipitously means to greet or acclaim enthusiastically).

  1. Honesty – be true and clear with what you mean
  2. Authenticity – be yourself, stand in your own truth
  3. Integrity – do what you say, be trustworthy
  4. Love – wish people well

How does this apply to Canvas courses? Imagine if your students opted to use HAIL instead of the 7 deadly sins of speaking? I would love to see this Ted talk incorporated into Canvas courses as part of establishing norms and expectations within Canvas discussions, perhaps even included as rubric criterion in a graded discussion

Ted Talk #4

Angela Lee Duckworth: Grit: The power of passion and perseverance | TED Talk

This TED talk was shared with me by my 11-year-old daughter, who listened to it during her 6th-grade class. The most compelling takeaway for me was that it’s not social intelligence, IQ, good looks, or physical health that leads to success; it’s grit. Grit is living life as if it’s a marathon, not a sprint. How do we, as educators, help build grit in kids? The honest answer, from Angela Lee Duckworth, is that we don’t know. But one of the things that we can do is help develop a “Growth Mindset” in our students. Growth mindset students don’t believe failure is a permanent condition.

How can Canvas courses create an environment for students to exercise their growth mindset? 

  • MasteryPaths allows you to customize learning experiences for students based on performance 
  • Allow students to have multiple attempts with quizzes
  • Utilize UDL (Universal Design for Learning) principles with your homework assignments - provide multiple ways to students to represent their understanding
Ted Talk #5

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

I would be remiss if I omitted an amazing Ted Talk by one of my personal heroes. Brené  Brown has transformed many lives by sharing her research on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, empathy, and shame. Five of her books have been #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead. 

There are so many ways we can incorporate Brené’s work into our own lives. Whether you’re a teacher, parent, student, administrator, or course designer, let’s remember, we’re all in this together. “Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into ‘those who offer help’ and ‘those who need help.’ The truth is that we are both.” So glad to be part of the Canvas family and community, known for helping where we can and getting help when needed. 

Final Thoughts


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