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”

Using the LMS to Support F2F Learning

If you’re going back into the classroom this fall after several terms of remote-only instruction, don’t abandon the LMS (i.e., the Learning Management System) just yet! LMSs like Canvas have a lot to offer for your face-to-face classes. Here are some ideas for how to enhance your F2F course using the LMS and some related online learning tools and strategies.

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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”

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. Continue reading “Designing Learning Activities using Canvas Collaborations”

Office 365 and Canvas

There are a number of Office 365 integrations that can be built into the learning activities in your Canvas course, making it easier for you and your students to generate, share, and collaborate in Office 365 files, and for students to access their OneDrive cloud storage. This post will discuss how those integrations fit into our current LMS arrangement, and share a handful of links and ideas to get you started on building learning activities that take advantage of Office 365.

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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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Students publish open textbook in collaborative assignment

An exciting integration between Canvas and Pressbooks is allowing students to take their research and writing to the next level. Pressbooks is the supported open textbook publishing platform at the University of Saskatchewan, and over this past year we’ve been supporting a number of projects that bring this textbook editor into your Canvas course. Student papers and assignments have been reimagined to contribute, more collectively, to a collaborative open publication. A textbook, an encyclopedia, a peer-reviewed collection of essays, lesson plans, article reviews, or any number of collaboratively formed publications are possible in this easy to implement group learning activity. Is this post we highlight one such project that promoted active learning using Pressbooks inside of their Canvas courses. Continue reading “Students publish open textbook in collaborative assignment”