Introduction for a Canvas Training Course

Last July, I did an online Canvas training course at my school, and when I saw that it was being offered again now, I signed up, thinking that it would be a good way to connect with other faculty members using Canvas. I was also curious to see if the course had been improved; back in July it was more of a “rough draft” as you can see from this screenshot. The course instructors (from our Center for Teaching Excellence) didn’t solicit any feedback from participants, though, so I wasn’t really sure what to think. Anyway, I signed up for the January edition of the course. It looks like it has not been changed in any way from the July version; the same click-here-click-there approach and the same rough screenshots as before.

Of course, I don’t want to actually do the training this time around (I did complete both days last summer); instead, I just want to create a post in the Introductions discussion board in order to share my Canvas experience with others… but when I logged on to the course, the discussion board was locked, even though it is the first task. The rest of the first day is unlocked; the second day is locked. I have no idea why they would want to lock people out of anything in a course like this (which is supposedly asynchronous), but in any case, locking the Introduction board must be a mistake: it’s due January 10 but “Not available until Jan 12.” You’d think Canvas would have a little check in there to alert faculty when they lock something until after the due date!

For now, I’ll just type up here the post I was going to include so that it will be ready to go and I can move on to my real work for the day:

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Hi, everybody! My name is Laura, and I teach online courses through the College of Arts & Sciences. I actually used Canvas in both of my classes last Fall, so I enrolled in this course just to connect with other faculty and to share what I learned about Canvas — and what I learned about Canvas from my students — last semester. This switch from D2L to Canvas is a big change, and it’s also such a good opportunity I think for people to share their goals as teachers, trying to find out if and how the LMS can help with those goals. I don’t use the LMS very much myself since I prefer other tools, but I’ve documented my use of Canvas in a blog, and perhaps some of the posts would be useful to others: Teaching with Canvas.

BTW I used the amazing OUCreate to set up that blog and, in my opinion, the OUCreate project is the most exciting tech event happening at OU these days — excellent web hosting that is free for both faculty and for students: OU Create.

Back to Canvas: midway through the Fall semester, I surveyed my students about their Canvas experience, and I asked them specifically about what advice they would give to faculty members who are using Canvas; you can read what the students had to say here: Students: What advice would you give to INSTRUCTORS who are setting up a Canvas course?.

Based on what I learned from them about Canvas in that mid-semester survey, I then created four Canvas tips that I knew would be useful to my students (based on the specific way I use Canvas in my classes): Student Tech Support for Canvas.

Then, for the rest of the semester, I collected their comments on those Canvas tech tips here: More Student Voices from Fall 2016.

I figure the best way to design a class, including how to use the LMS, is to ask the students what they think, so I hope the comments from my students might be useful to anybody who is switching to Canvas this spring!

And like I say in my Canvas profile, I’m always eager to brainstorm with people about teaching, especially about teaching writing. My email is laura-gibbs@ou.edu and I’m also at Twitter: @OnlineCrsLady.

Finally, I figured this would be a good graphic to share with everybody in the midst of an LMS transition: Don’t give up in the middle! I had a good experience with Canvas last Fall, and I hope it will be a good experience for all the new users this Spring. 🙂

Crossposted at OU Canvas Community.

Faculty Survey … Faculty Voices

Since I posted about student voices yesterday, it seems appropriate to post about faculty voices today: this morning we received by email a Canvas survey to fill out. I hope the results will be shared and shared widely so that we can learn from each other, especially in the open-ended comments. The ratings questions did not seem especially useful because they did not delve into which Canvas features we are using, much less WHY we are using those features, and what we have learned about those features this semester. Those are the kinds of questions I was hoping for, but at least there were open-ended questions at the end.

Here’s what I wrote in the questions which asked for our basic Canvas likes, dislikes, and other feedback; a lot of these are topics I’ve blogged about here, so that made it easy to write my comments on the survey:

LIKES:

I really value the ability to create open courses to share with others and to use as persistent online resources that do not come-and-go with each semester; open courses were not possible in D2L.
I very much like the hard/soft deadlines we can set for quizzes; that was also not possible in D2L.
I am glad that students can choose their own display name; also not possible in D2L.

DISLIKES:

Gradebook functionality is very poor: I need filtering, searching, sorting, flagging, and I need a simple text field to communicate with students via the gradebook and also to record a final letter grade. The only messaging possible from the Gradebook is single-assignment based, and that is a huge drawback for me; in D2L you could manually select students for messaging in the Gradebook, and you could also filter/search on multiple parameters. Overall, the Gradebook functionality is incredibly poor compared to D2L.
When you copy quiz content there is no way to update multiple instances of an item. Neither the question bank nor the quiz copy maintains a lasting connection between the copied items; you have to edit the copied items individually. This is a huge problem for me. In D2L, when you copied a question from quiz to quiz, D2L “knew” you had copied it and you only had to edit once.
I desperately need to be able to mass edit due dates when a course is copied from semester to semester; D2L offered that option, and it was great. I could reconfigure my course dates in D2L in a couple hours. In Canvas I am expecting to spend a solid 8 hours or so of click click click as I enter two new dates for every single quiz in both of my classes (because I use a student-choice driven system, I have hundreds of quizzes for which manual dates have to be entered, and that much tedious manual labor also results in so much potential for errors to occur also).
I don’t have comments on other features because the Gradebook and Quizzes are the only features I use.

OTHER FEEDBACK:

Lack of faculty voices in the Canvas rollout is a real problem: we are not taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from each other. We just get emails from a marketing team which do not actually feature what faculty and students have to say and news of what people are actually doing; I would really like to hear more about the creative and successful ways OU faculty and students are using Canvas, but that has not been happening in those emails. I can get a good sense of student perspective just by asking my students (and I do!), but for faculty perspective, I am depending on OU IT and CTE to provide a space where that sharing can happen from day to day. The OU Canvas Community would be one way to do that, but people from IT and CTE are not participating there, not even the Canvas Fellows; without leadership in that regard, the faculty are just going to be working in isolation, as was the case with D2L.
As one way to promote sharing of faculty voices, I hope very much that the results of this survey will be shared in time for people to learn from others. Finding out what other faculty see as most beneficial about Canvas would be extremely useful to know!

My hope is that as people look at their use of Canvas (and at the way other people are using it), more creative uses will emerge.

The creative process starts with making observations.

Crossposted at OU Canvas Community.