Multi-Access Delivery Models for Uncertain Times

With President Stoicheff’s announcement that “we will see a significant increase to in-person, on-campus instruction for Fall 2021”, many faculty and instructional staff are beginning to think about how best to design their fall courses. With uncertainty still lingering in all our minds, we may all be looking for some flexible options for teaching and learning design that not only provide autonomy and flexibility for students, but provide a little insurance against emergency measures as well.

Blended, HyFlex, and Multi-access design models all leverage face-to-face (F2F), synchronous and asynchronous activities to deliver flexible learning options for students. But how do we implement these designs in our classes and what are the considerations we must look at when increasing the flexibility in our course designs?

In this post we’ll compare these different designs and show you how you can leverage both your F2F teaching and your remote course materials to create flexible delivery options for you and your students this fall. Continue reading “Multi-Access Delivery Models for Uncertain Times”

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!

Continue reading “A Warning About Templates and Canvas Commons Updates”

Creating a Custom Course Template: A Canvas Commons Case Study

Program administrators often desire a feeling of commonality and a cohesiveness of the learning experience across the various courses of their program. However, when each course might be designed, developed, and taught by a different instructor, this can be tricky to achieve. This post will offer an example of how Canvas Commons can be used for building shared elements across the different courses of a program, and how even entire online courses might be built in a similar manner through this tool. Continue reading “Creating a Custom Course Template: A Canvas Commons Case Study”

Offline Activities in an Online Class

For many students, a completely online fall term will be a major change. Aside from the obvious challenges of getting comfortable with the learning technologies they’ll be presented in each of their classes, students will be challenged further with screen fatigue. Taking a full load of courses online is not a common strategy for most students and the amount of time they’ll be in front of their computers will undoubtedly be a little draining.

But does everything we design for an online course need to be online? The simple answer is no. Many of the online courses developed at the Distance Education Unit at the University of Saskatchewan include active learning opportunities away from the screen from observational data collection to kitchen supply science experiments to interviews and photo assignments there are many ways we can help get students offline and learning on their feet. Let’s look at a few things you might consider when designing your remote and online courses for this fall. Continue reading “Offline Activities in an Online Class”

How Much Should I Assign? Estimating Workload in Asynchronous Classes

Over nearly ten years of designing and developing online classes at different Higher Education Institutions in Canada, one question I have found consistently in all contexts is, “how much content should I include in my online class?” Now that we are looking at remote teaching in the fall, that question has become a lot more frequent, so let’s take a deeper look at the question and hopefully provide some useful resources. Continue reading “How Much Should I Assign? Estimating Workload in Asynchronous Classes”

Why Asynchronous Modules?

As you consider how to deliver your course remotely for the fall term you may be weighing the pros and cons of synchronous vs. asynchronous content. In this post we hope to persuade you towards a mostly asynchronous course design that will help ensure equitable access to materials and a more flexible environment for students to work with. After all, remote learning is not only new for faculty and instructors, but many of our students as well. Continue reading “Why Asynchronous Modules?”

The New LMS is here! The New LMS is here!

It’s official! USask is moving away from the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) to Canvas by Instructure! But what’s the hubbub? Why did the University choose to make this change to the Learning Technology ecosystem? In the 10 years since Blackboard was first launched at USask, university teaching and learning has evolved, and so too has the learning technology marketplace. Institutional research, institutional priorities in learning and teaching, and feedback from faculty, instructors and students indicated that Blackboard was not meeting our needs. The decision to begin a review process was also prompted by our current contract with Blackboard being up for renewal. The version of Blackboard we are currently using was almost at the end of its life cycle, and replacement was necessary. You can visit the Learning Management System Renewal project pages for more details on how and why the LMS review took place at USask on your own time, but for now, let’s take a look at some of the major upgrades this LMS has to offer under the hood! Continue reading “The New LMS is here! The New LMS is here!”

Get up to speed fast with the new Canvas LMS

The new Learning Management System (LMS) is reason to celebrate. But transitioning to new learning technologies can also be a little daunting. Although DEU, GMCTL, and ICT will be working hard to develop professional learning plans that merge teaching and learning practices with technical skills, and will be designed to support a change in either or both within the new LMS, you may want to take some time on your own to orient yourself with the LMS update. USask training will take place throughout the summer for early adopters and into the fall and beyond for those transitioning for winter term. Keep an eye out on https://training.usask.ca/ for these and other opportunities as they come available.

In this post, however, the Instructional Design Team at the Distance Education Unit has curated a few resources from Canvas to get you familiar and even, up and running in Canvas, quickly and easily. Continue reading “Get up to speed fast with the new Canvas LMS”

Remote Teaching with Video

Keeping your course fresh and interesting throughout the term can be challenging in an online environment. Especially if you’ve had to rush to prepare a remote teaching version of an otherwise live course. One of the many ways we can keep things interesting is with the use of video. Students will appreciate the opportunity to break-up their readings with some media.

Here’s a few creative ways you might use video in your remote or online class yet this term. Continue reading “Remote Teaching with Video”

Organizing Course Materials for Online Delivery

To avoid dumping your course materials into a virtual shoe box and having students sift through the materials, struggling to infer context and connections you may consider this quick guide to how we at the Distance Education Unit typically organize our materials within the Learning Management System. Templates, samples and checklists for these processes are linked to below the video. Continue reading “Organizing Course Materials for Online Delivery”