Bringing Health Professions Educators Together During a Global Pandemic

In this Bridging the Distance Contest entry, Dr. Kalyani Premkumar describes the launching of the Masters of Health Professions Education program. She describes leveraging the strengths of online course delivery and collaborating with on-campus support units, the challenges of delivering courses to an international cohort of students from all around the world and showcases the use of ePoster technology and ePortfolios for online assessment. Dr. Premkumar concludes the article by outlining an impressive variety publications and presentations that resulted from their program launch and shares her lessons learned and some experience-based recommendations. Continue reading “Bringing Health Professions Educators Together During a Global Pandemic”

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”

Considerations for Concurrent Hybrid Teaching

Teaching in a concurrent hybrid (or, possibly more accurately, a concurrent hyflex) classroom is when you teach both in-person and remote students at the same time, usually by physically being present in the same classroom space as the in-person students. While this teaching modality has certainly been used more widely during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also an interesting one to consider for a variety of situations in which students might require additional freedom and/or flexibility to choose either an in-person or remote learning experience. The possibilities of concurrent hybrid/hyflex teaching to increase the accessibility of courses and degree programs are the key part of why they are being considered more and more in higher education settings.

However, the challenges of concurrent hybrid teaching are real. For many instructors and students, this is an unfamiliar way of teaching and learning, and it is a unique approach that requires unique teaching solutions. While simply setting up a camera feed so that virtual students can “tune in” to the in-person event is a start, there is a lot more to consider with regards to the technical setup and, importantly, the instructional design of a high-quality concurrent hybrid course. The goal is to ensure that the remote students do not experience an inequity of teaching attention or a compromised quality of instruction. With that in mind, here are some things to consider in taking hybrid teaching beyond simply livestreaming a lecture.

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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.

Continue reading “Effective Feedback in Online Courses”

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 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.

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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”