Drawing and Whiteboarding Tools for Synchronous Online Teaching

During synchronous online teaching sessions, there are many reasons why you may wish to draw or sketch out an idea with students visually, or use a “digital whiteboard” tool to collaborate and organize thoughts during brainstorming or live discussions. You might want your class as a whole, or smaller groups within it, to build meaning with complex ideas by creating mind maps or other visual organizers. You might want students to share ideas, or media from around the web, on a collaborative bulletin board filled with “sticky notes” and hyperlinks. You also may just find it easier to communicate certain ideas, or guide students through a process, by drawing something out “by hand” — an approach that mimics many tried-and-true teaching approaches based on chalkboards in the classroom.

In this post, I’ll cover a number of digital whiteboard, drawing, or sketching tools that you might consider incorporating into your next synchronous teaching session.

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Arts & Humanities Writing on the Radio

Dr. Helen Chang, Faculty Development Lead, College of Medicine, Regina Campus, shared with us a collaborative approach to Bridging the Distance that is near and dear to our Distance Education hearts. In this post Helen describes an Arts & Humanities Writing class that brings together students from both Saskatoon and Regina, uses the discussion boards in Canvas to share work and create opportunities of peer-to-peer engagement and partners with local community RADIO to go beyond the classroom “walls” and hit the airwaves!


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Twitter as PD? How social media made me a better teacher in the pandemic

Rebekah Bennetch, a Lecturer with the School of Professional Development in the College of Engineering shared her experiences Bridging her own Distance dilemmas in a recent contest entry. In this post Rebekah describes finding an online community of educators on Twitter to help fill the professional development gaps the pandemic had left her with.

While engaging in a wealth of tweets, keynotes, and an #ungraded book club Rebekah found a great way to adapt her 15-page syllabus into a visual course map that has helped students better navigate the expectations and organization of her online course.  See a sample of the visual design and hear more about the opportunities Rebekah found to help Bridge the Distance. Continue reading “Twitter as PD? How social media made me a better teacher in the pandemic”

The Haunted Garage: Interactive Online Space using Mozilla Hubs

Chris Lambert, the Learning Resources Coordinator at the USask Language Centre (USLC), works with international students, studying remotely and F2F. As part of what she calls “Free-Range Fridays” Chris designed a Mozilla Hubs interactive space for students to learn more about the tradition of celebrating Halloween. With a mix of language students from all levels and diverse backgrounds the Free-Range Friday activities allow for mixing the students up, meeting other students who are not in their class, etc.  Keep reading to find out how Chris used Mozilla Hubs to create an interactive online space for students to explore and interact with together for a little Halloween fun!


By Chris Lambert, Learning Resources Coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan Language Centre (USLC)

I work with international students, some of whom are studying remotely and some F2F.  Each day, I meet with a different level at 10 am on specific topics.  On Fridays I hold what I call “Free Range Fridays”, in which all levels are invited to participate (mixing the students up, meeting other students who are not in their class, etc.).  In other words, not specifically planned to support the curriculum, and more interactive. Continue reading “The Haunted Garage: Interactive Online Space using Mozilla Hubs”

Adding a Little Mystery…

This week’s Bridging the Distance Contest entry comes to us from Lisa Krol at the University of Saskatchewan Language Centre (USLC). The USLC offers full and part-time EAP programs for international students at the University of Saskatchewan. Thanks, Lisa, for sharing this great learning activity!


By Lisa M. Krol, Bridging Coordinator/Instructor at the University of Saskatchewan Language Centre

I love mysteries and lots of other people do too, so I wrote a chapter story that was interspersed throughout a learning module. Students work through academic sections of the course and then practice those same language skills with a chapter of the mystery story. Continue reading “Adding a Little Mystery…”

Protecting your Development Investments with Canvas Commons

In this post we’ll look at a brief case study of a USask Department who, working in collaboration with the Distance Education Unit (DEU), invested quality time in the full instructional design process to develop a set of strategic online courses that aimed to permit several certificates and a three-year degree program to be completed entirely at a distance. We’ll look at how these courses serendipitously served the department during the emergency remote measures of 2020-2021 and how the courses are now stored, administered and maintained through a private departmental Canvas Commons group. Continue reading “Protecting your Development Investments with Canvas Commons”

Hidden Gem: Canvas Chat

The Chat tool in Canvas is a very simple and low-bandwidth real-time communication option that, if used deliberately, could provide a quick and easy-to-access way to aid communication in your class, improve your presence as an online instructor, or be a convenient way to structure engaging learning activities in your blended course. 

This post will include a brief overview of the Chat tool, and cover a few ideas for incorporating it into your online or blended teaching plans.

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Bringing Health Professions Educators Together During a Global Pandemic

In this Bridging the Distance Contest entry, Dr. Kalyani Premkumar describes the launching of the Masters of Health Professions Education program. She describes leveraging the strengths of online course delivery and collaborating with on-campus support units, the challenges of delivering courses to an international cohort of students from all around the world and showcases the use of ePoster technology and ePortfolios for online assessment. Dr. Premkumar concludes the article by outlining an impressive variety publications and presentations that resulted from their program launch and shares her lessons learned and some experience-based recommendations. Continue reading “Bringing Health Professions Educators Together During a Global Pandemic”

The Many Hats of an Instructional Designer

In 2005,  now Emeritus Professor, Richard Schwier, Educational Technology and Design, USask and Dean Emeritus at the Faculty of Extension, U of A, Katy Campbell, along with two other authors, published a literature review of What Instructional Designer’s Do.

In this post we attempt to summarize and demystify some of those findings as they relate to the work of the Instructional Designers (ID) here at the Distance Education Unit. We’ve condensed the multitude of roles that an ID performs into 4 categories:

  1. Change agency
  2. Professional Development Facilitator/Coordinator
  3. Quality Assurance
  4. Project Coordinator

Continue reading “The Many Hats of an Instructional Designer”