What is “Chunking”? Why Does it Matter for Online Course Design?

“Chunks” might sound more like a way to describe your favourite chocolate bar than a useful learning strategy, but it actually relates to an important process in cognitive psychology. By taking complex materials and breaking them into smaller but related and well-organized elements (i.e., more “bite-sized” and “palatable”), you can design online course materials for more efficient application of your learners’ working memory, and improve the learning experience in your online class. In this post, I’ll cover a basic overview of what “chunking” is all about, and some ways we apply this strategy to online course design.

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Announcing a New OER – Universal Design for Learning (UDL): One Small Step

We know that learners bring a wide range of knowledge, skills, backgrounds, and experiences into the classroom. As educators, we can expect to find variability in our classroom. The USask Learning Charter lists, as one of the Educator Commitments and Responsibilities, to Strive for Excellence in Teaching. This commitment means that educators work to develop respectful and inclusive learning environments that support student learning. Honouring this commitment requires that educators co-create with students a shared space for learning in which all participants feel respected, valued, and empowered to contribute as they achieve their goals and share the gifts of their identities in relationship with one another. This approach is also part of the work that comes to embody the word manacihtowin (Cree) / manachihitoohk (Michif) (i.e., respect of all individuals). When we don’t respond to the variability in our classrooms, we make our educational experiences exclusive. 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a powerful set of approaches that allows you to make sure the greatest range of students can access and engage in learning – not just certain students. A new open educational resource (OER), authored by a collaborative team of TLSE staff members, is available for USask educators to learn more about UDL: Universal Design for Learning: One Small Step 

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Administering Written Exams via Canvas

Both the Canvas Assignments tool and the Canvas Quiz tool can be used for replicating a “take-home” style of exam, or a written exam, in an online or remote course setting. This post will discuss how to decide if this is the right approach for your course, how to set it up in Canvas, and some details for administering it to ensure a smooth launch come exam time. Continue reading “Administering Written Exams via Canvas”

Create a Button and Dialog Box in Canvas Pages with this HTML Trick

Have you ever wanted to include a simple knowledge check or self-check question in Canvas pages that would give you an easy way to build-in immediate feedback to the learner? One quick way to do this on your Canvas pages, with just a bit of HTML code, is to insert a button with a “popup” dialog box. This post will show you how (and give you the HTML code snippets to try it yourself!).

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Using Poll Everywhere in an Asynchronous Online Course

Poll Everywhere is a web-based polling tool now available at USask. It allows for group engagement, feedback, and interaction through live online polling, surveys, Q&As, quizzes, word clouds, and more. Poll Everywhere is also a fairly flexible tool, and can be used for teaching and learning in face-to-face synchronous, online synchronous (i.e., Zoom), and online asynchronous situations. This post will focus on providing some tips and ideas for using Poll Everywhere in your asynchronous online courses, including instructions for how to embed the activity into a Canvas page.

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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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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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