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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Effective Feedback in Online Courses

Feedback is one of the most powerful ways in which instructors engage with their learners, and integral to the simple basis of formative assessment — i.e., provide opportunities for students to practice applying their skills and knowledge, give them feedback on how they’ve done, and then provide subsequent opportunities for them to show their enhanced performance and further their achievement. Because it can have such an impact on student learning, it’s valuable to consider how and where feedback is incorporated into your courses.

In this post, we’ll look at 3 broad approaches to providing feedback in an online course situation, and some tools that Canvas provides to enable effective feedback. I’ll also highlight some lesser-known Canvas tools, like leaving video comments on assignments or using the comment library to make giving feedback faster.

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Canvas Tip: Reset Groups After a Course Copy

If you are now a few terms into using Canvas at USask, you might have recently completed a “course copy” or “rollover” in order to take content you used in a previous term, and copy it into an empty course for a new term. (See more on this process at How do I copy content from another Canvas course using the Course Import tool?). If you use the Groups tool in your Canvas courses, there is a quirk of the Course Import function that you should know about.

During a Course Import, all Group-associated Assignments and Discussions are assigned by default to a single Group Set called “Project Groups”. No previous Group Sets are retained in the import.

How to fix this and reset your Groups will depend on whether your course had only one Group Set, or if you were using multiple Group Sets. 

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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?”

Adding a bit of hierarchy to Canvas discussions

If you make use of the Canvas discussion forums, you might have noticed that busy discussions can become a bit unwieldy to read. Canvas does have an option for threaded discussions, indicating a new thread and replies by slightly indenting posts, but once a discussion is active it can be difficult to keep track of the layout and hierarchy of the conversation(s). One option is to use the collapse threads button and explore each thread individually.

A screen shot of a Canvas LMS discussion forum with the threads collapsed.
A Canvas discussion forum with the threads collapsed.

The collapse threads feature can be useful, making students’ names and the number of posts in each thread visible. Unfortunately, the discussion text itself is still quite small, and now we would have to click into each thread to expand it. Continue reading “Adding a bit of hierarchy to Canvas discussions”