Designing Learning Activities using Canvas Collaborations

One of the tools ICT has integrated into Canvas to help students collaborate with peers is accessible through the Collaborations link in the course navigation menu. From here, both Students and Instructors have the ability to create collaborative Word Docs, Excel Spreadsheets, or PowerPoint Presentations between members of the class.

In this post we’ll provide you with a few examples of how you might design a few different learning activities and assessments that make use of this tool integration to promote social and collaborative meaning making in your class.

Collaborative Weed and Crop Profiling for Organic Weed Management Planning

Course outcomes often state that students should be able to synthesize bodies of information to make new meaning or analyses from them.

In Plant Science 234, for example, students learn to collect and analyze data to produce Crop Profiles and Weed Profiles. They use these two sets of data to then match an appropriate Organic Weed Control method to their particular crop and weed combination in the hopes of eliminating the weed and not damaging the yield of the crop.

  • Using the Collaborations integration in Canvas, you might consider splitting students into two groups; Crop Profilers and Weed Profilers.
  • Group members would use what they’d learned in previous class modules to profile either a weed or a crop common to their geographic area.
  • The instructor could provide a shared template for information needed¬† with standardized headings such as Identification, Adaptations, Cropping Considerations for the crop profilers and Identification, Adaptations, Cultural Control info for the weed profilers.
  • Each group would populate a folder of profiles in Word format. Peer reviews or commenting for revisions could be done within the groups if needed as the documents are shared within the group’s collaborative space.
  • Once the profile folders are full groups would share the folders with the other groups in the class, providing them with the second batch of data they need to complete individual weed management plans for a given geographic location.
  • The instructor could produce farm profiles for students to work from or they might choose to use their own agricultural experiences to to work from.

With this example students not only practice collecting and presenting data, but then also apply that data to showcase their understanding of it and it’s use within their industry.

Opening Night

Giving students different roles to play within a group assignment often keeps the lanes clear and avoids confusion when marking. In Drama 108 this idea relates to the roles and responsibilities of a theatre company putting on a stage production. After learning about the basic elements of theatre including the roles and responsibilities of the Director, the Costume Designer and the Scenic/Set Designer, students are put into groups to establish a mock theatre company.

  • Together they must collectively develop a vision statement and synopsis for their production.
  • The Director must then cast the production with justifications and ensure the production elements are working together by providing notes for the other company members.
  • The Scenic/Set designer must design the stage and scenic elements based on the collective vision statement and adhere to the Director’s notes.
  • The Costume designer too, must design the costumes for several main characters based on the collective vision statement and adhere to the Director’s notes.
  • In the end these groups will put all the pieces together for opening night and present their production designs (sample assignment) to the rest of the class who vote for not only the overall best productions, but best casting, costumes and sets as well.

You can see in this example how the use of various collaborative documents would be an integral part of the collaborative process for this type of group work.

There are lots of other ways to design collaborative opportunities for students to engage and work together using the OneDrive and Office 365 Collaborations within Canvas.

  • Encourage students to create study notes together in Word
  • Have students contribute lab data to an Excel spreadsheet for use in an individual analysis assignment.
  • Ask students to collaboratively create PowerPoint presentations on research topics.

The ability to edit together either synchronously or asynchronously and then share work with groups or individuals provides endless possibilities of Instructional Design possibilities.

Resources to get you started

Instructional Design Support

Contact an Instructional Designer at deu.support@usask.ca to discuss how you might make use of this Canvas Collaborative Integration in your class activities.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash