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”

The Many Hats of an Instructional Designer

In 2005,  now Emeritus Professor, Richard Schwier, Educational Technology and Design, USask and Dean Emeritus at the Faculty of Extension, U of A, Katy Campbell, along with two other authors, published a literature review of What Instructional Designer’s Do.

In this post we attempt to summarize and demystify some of those findings as they relate to the work of the Instructional Designers (ID) here at the Distance Education Unit. We’ve condensed the multitude of roles that an ID performs into 4 categories:

  1. Change agency
  2. Professional Development Facilitator/Coordinator
  3. Quality Assurance
  4. Project Coordinator

Continue reading “The Many Hats of an Instructional Designer”

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.

Continue reading “Using the LMS to Support F2F Learning”

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”