Canvas Insider Newsletter - Issue 1 - January 2022
Information, skills, and perspectives to improve your relationship with Instructure’s Canvas LMS.
Fabulous Canvas Tip - Bookmark your course homepage
Accessing your course might involve some mouseclicks and some visual searching in your Canvas dashboard.
Try this: Create a folder in your web browser's bookmarks bar entitled My Courses. Once you access your course homepage, save the URL as a bookmark in your My Courses folder. This should provide quicker access in the future.
Next-level tip: If you teach multiple courses in a term, right-click the My Courses folder and select Open All Bookmarks. Boom - all course homepages will load in separate tabs, ready to access course content.
Is Canvas Down?
For up-to-date info, check status.instructure.com.
Using Canvas to Enhance Student Engagement
Guest Contributor - Dr. Jen Lois, Professor of Sociology, Western Washington University
The return from remote learning has been interesting, and I've been trying to think of how I can use some of the resources I developed in the remote era to enhance student engagement as we transition back to in-person classes. In Normal Times, one of my policies (and I know this varies widely among instructors, but this is just where I fall on the continuum) is that I don't give my PowerPoint notes to anyone who misses class; they must get the notes from a classmate. This serves as an incentive to come to class as well as takes me out of the position of having to decide who has a "good" reason for missing class and who doesn't. (I do make exceptions with official documentation from the university, such as disability accommodations.)
Now that, due to COVID, I have all of my lectures recorded for all of my classes, I have wondered how to use this valuable resource. For this first quarter back (Fall 2021), while we still had some COVID protocols in place for in-person classes, I decided to make all of my lectures available for my 150-person class so that students did not feel pressured to come to class if they were sick. This started out great and students appreciated it, however, by halfway through the quarter, the same 50 students were regularly coming to class every time--which meant 100 were staying home. I don't really know how many were consistently watching the online lectures in lieu of coming to class, but my guess is that many students planned to do so, but probably didn't stay up on it. So my experiment of providing online lectures to all students all the time didn't pan out as I'd hoped. I wondered how I could possibly provide online lectures to students who had to miss a couple of classes while limiting their access to them (and still not putting me in the position to have to judge who has good reasons and who doesn't).
I decided to try creating a Canvas "quiz" that students could access 3 times in the quarter (using the setting "allow multiple attempts" = 3) for 90 minutes at a time. This quiz has no points, so I can set it as a "practice quiz" or a "survey." To get the videos in there, I made one "question" for each "day" of lecture and embedded that day's videos directly into the question. So for example, if day 4 of lecture is broken into three 20-minute videos, I embed all three videos (very clearly labeled to correspond with the syllabus so students can find what they missed) into one "question." I use Panopto to house my videos, so I was sure to adjust those settings so that a) students could not download the videos and b) they could not access them through Panopto--they have to watch the embedded videos in the "quiz," which limits them to 90 minutes per attempt. My goal with this idea is to give each student 3 freebies to miss class and still get the material. They would set aside 90 minutes and click on the quiz, which would use one of their "attempts." They scroll down to the day they missed and watch all three videos, pausing to take notes, and get 90 minutes to do so. (They could probably watch the videos at double speed and do two days' worth of work, but the point is each student has the same number of limited minutes to access whatever videos they want.) If a student, say, breaks their ankle and can't attend class, I can increase that student's "attempts" and provide however much access they need per their medical accommodation. So this is my next big experiment to hopefully make use of my recorded videos as a resource for students who miss class, but also to keep them incentivized to come to the in-person class, where we discuss and question the material.
Thanks to Dr. Jen Lois for being a guest contributor to the Canvas Insider Newsletter. You can learn more about Dr. Lois here.
Don't forget to publish your module section so students can view content. Click here for more details.
Awe-inspiring Canvas Tip - Message students before the start of the term
In order to send students in your course a message via Canvas Inbox, the course must be published. Otherwise, you won't see the students category in your Inbox when composing a message. Click here to learn more about Canvas Inbox Messaging.
Check out the Canvas Insider podcast on whatever podcast app you choose to use. Sixty episodes and counting!