A Warning About Templates and Canvas Commons Updates

In previous blog posts, DEU has shared some information about Canvas Commons, and how the use of customizable course and module templates can be a great way to support quality online course design, as well as provide a consistent learning experience for students across multiple courses within a program. Many instructors have also made use of the generalized USask Canvas Course Template, and since being published to Canvas Commons in August 2020, it has since been downloaded into 714 unique Canvas courses!

We at DEU still think using Canvas Commons to create and share learning resources, including customizable module/course templates, is great. However, I’ve recently learned the hard way to watch out for a weird thing that can happen when Updates are made to Canvas Commons resources. Consider this post a warning, so that you can hopefully avoid the same mistake!

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Synchronous Session Hack: Use Your Phone as a Document Camera

There are times where a hand-drawn sketch, diagram, or solution might be the best way to illustrate something to your students, or walk with them through the steps of solving a new problem.  The ideal option for doing this in synchronous video sessions would be to connect a dedicated document camera to your computer, and switch the video feed. But, what if you don’t have access to one? This post will take you though a quick alternative “hack” in order to use your smart phone as a document camera.

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WordPress Case Study: Student Blogs for WGST 210

When designing online courses, it can be helpful to consider in which ways you, as the instructor, might make best use of the online format. What forms of assessment, types of media, or platforms for student interaction will help you and your students take advantage of the online and completely digital and distributed format? In this post, I will present a case study of how student blogs are being used in WGST 210 to increase student engagement, build interconnectivity in student work, and help students lean more fully into the internet-immersed and media-focused aspects of the course.

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Setting up Syndicated WordPress Blogs

If you are looking to facilitate writing in your courses that is more reflective, iterative, interactive, and media-rich than more traditional writing assignments (such as essays and papers), blogging can be an excellent way to go. Through the USask Sites platform, it is possible to get each student in your class set up with their own WordPress blog. This post will cover how to set these up for your students, and then arrange for syndication of student blogs into a central class blog roll.

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Podcasts as Assignments

Podcasts are a great assignment alternative to more “traditional” approaches such as written essays and research papers. They can demand an equivalent level of research and academic rigour, but give students a chance to gain effective communication skills while also building new technological skills. They also work great for capturing more spontaneous discussions, reflective of real conversations or interviews. They work well as a format for a series of small assignments or a larger capstone project, and can be used for both individual and group assignments.

In this post, I will outline some of the questions you should ask yourself while designing a podcast-based assignment, some tips and resources you can share with students to get them started, and detail some specifics on submitting audio files through Canvas.

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Writing Mathematical Expressions in Canvas Using LaTeX

An update coming to Canvas on Feb. 20th should be of interest to anybody involved in courses that use mathematical or chemical expressions, equations, and formulae. The update will enable MathJax, a JavaScript display engine that works in all modern browsers and was designed with the goal of creating a single, comprehensive, math-on-the-web platform. Continue reading “Writing Mathematical Expressions in Canvas Using LaTeX”

Exporting and Printing Content from Canvas

If you have an online/remote Canvas course, especially one with a lot of text-based content, there are a number of reasons why a student may prefer to export your course to an e-reader to study offline, or even print as much of the course content as possible. Some students struggle to read from computer screens for extended periods of time. Others like to take lots of notes or highlight any text-based content they are learning from. Others might have poor internet connections, or be planning to travel to areas where they know their connectivity will be limited. Whatever the reason, giving students the option to Export the content from Canvas will improve the accessibility of your course! Continue reading “Exporting and Printing Content from Canvas”

Peer Review in Canvas: Tool Quirks & Workarounds

In working with instructors more closely this term on implementing peer review in their new Canvas courses, we are starting to get a better sense of what issues and errors are most likely to crop up, and how to manage those. At the same time, we are learning about the quirks of the Peer Review tool in Canvas (what it works well for, and what it does not) and some situations in which going another direction might be preferable. This post will cover what we’ve learned recently, and share some tips and resources for designing peer review activities in Canvas (either with or without using the dedicated “Peer Review” tool). Continue reading “Peer Review in Canvas: Tool Quirks & Workarounds”