Discussions or reflection? Why not let students choose?

Some days, the right idea comes along at the right time. In today’s case, that has to do with online discussions. Facilitating authentic, engaging discussions online can be tricky at the best of times. Some students participate enthusiastically, while others may prefer to lurk. Students can learn just as much by watching and reflecting on a discussion as they can by participating, regardless of the format. So the question might be, how do we facilitate engaging discussions that help our students towards the learning goals for the course? Continue reading “Discussions or reflection? Why not let students choose?”

Using Student Self-Assessment to Grade Discussions

Most online courses feature a Discussions element, and it is very common for this activity to be worth at least a portion of the student’s course grade. However, it can be challenging to assign a grade to student work in Discussions — and this is particularly true if you have Discussions frequently in your class (like a weekly thread), if you have a large class, or if you just have a particularly lively or busy Discussion board with many replies.

As an alternative to carefully reviewing and grading each Discussion post your students make, why not try Self-Assessment for online course Discussions? Self-Assessment is a great way to support student autonomy, build metacognition, and move away from rote responses on Discussion boards. Rather, you are aiming to have students think critically about why and how they are participating in the Discussions, and reflect upon how Discussion activities can enhance learning for them and their classmates.

This post will outline how to set this up in Canvas, offers a sample rubric, and presents a few things to consider when trying this approach.

Continue reading “Using Student Self-Assessment to Grade Discussions”

Hidden Gem: Canvas Student Annotation Assignment

In the May 15th Canvas release a new Assignment submission type was added. The Student Annotation Submissions allow you to upload a digital file and have students annotate the file and then submit it all within the assignment editor. This simple submission type has big potential depending on how you design the learning activity. In this post we’ll give you a few ideas of how you might use the Student Annotation Submission assignment in your class. Continue reading “Hidden Gem: Canvas Student Annotation Assignment”

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.

Continue reading “WordPress Case Study: Student Blogs for WGST 210”

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.

Continue reading “Podcasts as Assignments”

Hidden Gems – Multimedia Presentations with Microsoft Sway

Scenario

Jamie Jameson is teaching a combined 400/800 level course this term and the final project is a group presentation of their students’ work as a digital poster. In previous years Jamie’s assignment was often submitted as a PowerPoint presentation. This year they wanted to try something new, enabling students to create and curate multimedia into the presentation, as PowerPoint always made this feel clunky; as well as asking students to create something that is shareable not only in a remote learning context but is also easily shared with a broader audience.

Jamie considered continuing to use PowerPoint, but having students work in groups would sometimes result in multiple versions and led to confusion about which draft to present to the class. Sharing of the PowerPoints was also a problem. If PDFs were shared, the presentations felt static and lacked the multimedia elements that enhance the presentation. Visually rich presentations resulted in very large file sizes and could become increasingly difficulty to distribute, not to mention that viewing them on different devices could drastically alter the perception of the presentation. Jamie also considered asking their students to create a website, but concluded that their own comfort level with teaching their students the intricacies of web design could detract from the purpose of the assignment, the students’ research.

After consulting with an instructional designer about the project, Jamie settled on the final assignment submissions by way of Microsoft Sway. Their students created responsive Sway presentations of their research collaboratively online, presented it to the class, and they were also able to post their Sway projects to the class website.These presentations were brought to life with pull quotes, animations, student created video as well as YouTube videos, and images. Finally, students were able to include their work in the e-portfolio they assembled over the course of their program. Continue reading “Hidden Gems – Multimedia Presentations with Microsoft Sway”

Don’t have a Scanner? Submitting Assignments with a Mobile Device

Much of the work we produce in online classes takes the form of discussions, and assignments. Most of this is done online, using a computer (either desktop or laptop), and using applications such as Word, PowerPoint, SPSS, and more. However, there are times were we might have work to complete “off-screen” such as illustrations, graphs, charts, calculations, musical notation, etc. In these cases you might have a document or paper you’ve written on, and need to submit that work. There are a few ways you can use your mobile device to scan and submit these documents. Continue reading “Don’t have a Scanner? Submitting Assignments with a Mobile Device”

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”

The Case of the Missing Journal

One of the glaring omissions from the Canvas LMS toolkit is the Learning Journal. This tool often provided a personal space for student reflection where instructors could see evidence of learning from each student’s perspective. In Blackboard Learn there was a dedicated tool called Journals that allowed for these entries to be collected, shared and graded in a variety of configurations. We found that in situations where a discussion was not necessarily appropriate a reflective journal entry provided the evidence of learning that instructors needed to know their course design was having the desired effect.

In Canvas there is no Journal tool specific to this task and as we at the Distance Education Unit (DEU) work with instructors to migrate courses from one LMS to the other we’re beginning to find ways to recreate this activity using the available tools in Canvas. Here are a couple options to recreate a journal activity in Canvas. Continue reading “The Case of the Missing Journal”