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Canvas User Engagement

2 Posts authored by: Kona Jones Champion

Even though Canvas is very user-friendly, I am a strong proponent for mandatory Instructor Training and Student Orientation/Training for Canvas. This is regardless of the course modality - traditional, hybrid, or online - because I think everyone can benefit from starting out with the same level of knowledge! I've written about this in a few places, but overall by making it mandatory (and doing a couple of extra things!) we've been able to increase our student retention, student success, and Instructor/Student satisfaction with Canvas.


Because I truly believe in openness and that the only way to advance is to freely share our knowledge and work, I have shared our Canvas Instructor Training course and Canvas Student Orientation course to Canvas Commons. To find these courses in Commons you can search by my name (Kona Jones) or the name of the courses. In addition, if anyone does not have access to Commons please let me know and I'll be happy to provide a link to the course file(s).


Also, because I believe in previewing before downloading things in Commons (or uploading a file), below are the public versions of both courses:


We regularly update our courses based on changes to Canvas, as well as feedback from Students and Instructors. We also appreciate hearing from those who are using the content! We can't improve what we're doing if people don't provide feedback, so please shoot me a message, I'd love to chat with you!

Even though we've been using Canvas for almost three years it's always great to get some faculty together to talk and reflect on how things are going and what could be improved! The Spring Cleaning Challenge was a great excuse to reflect on the past semester and how to prepare on the next!


What did you do to recruit them to your informal focus group?

I'm pretty lucky in that I'm in charge of Faculty Academy (professional development) and the Online Learning Taskforce (online learning power users) at our College. Because of this I was easily able to contact them and found the hardest part was figuring out the best time to meet.


When did you hold your meet-up? And how many people showed up?

Our meet-up was held the week of finals (yes, I know crazy!) and we had 6 people show up, which I didn't think was bad considering the time of year. I forgot to take a picture, so I used a picture from another faculty academy session for our cover picture at the top of the page.


What successes did they have with Canvas at the end of the year?

  • It just works - overall faculty were happy that Canvas seemed to be up and working with no major outages and no major tool/feature problems. Basically Canvas does what it's suppose to do without adding extra stress or burden on the faculty.
  • What-if Grades - our faculty LOVE that students can play around with their own grades at the end of the semester and figure out what they need in the course to get the grade they want (or desperately need!).
  • Rubrics - rubrics make your life and grading much easier and faster!
  • Student satisfaction - students like it when faculty use Canvas. Students like having their gradebook in Canvas and they like being able to submit their assignments in Canvas.


What challenges did they experience with Canvas at the end of the year?

  • Grading essay questions - grading essay questions continue to be a challenge because the grade by one question at a time doesn't really work that well. Faculty indicated that they spend a lot of unnecessary time grading essay questions and that if they could see all responses for a specific essay question on one page that would really speed things up!
  • New UI - we haven't switched to the new UI yet, so there was some trepidation about how things would work and if students (and some faculty) would get confused. They were especially not happy about names not showing up on the global navigation bar so there's no way to tell who the student is logged in as.
  • Last minute opening of assignments and quizzes - At the end of the semester many students are trying to get everything done at the last minute and often ask for extensions. This is easier because of differentiated assignments, but gets old when you have a number of assignments you're doing this for.


How did the feedback change or not change some of your resourcefulness around 'spring cleaning' and year-end-close-out in Canvas?

Overall when I asked faculty what they do to close their classes out at the end of the semester, most of them looked at me rather blankly and other than making sure everything is graded, they indicated that they basically jump ship and don't look back until closer to the start of the next semester! While I totally understand this (who doesn't need a break after the end of a long semester!), it's also a little scary because who knows if they will remember those tweaks they were going to make before the beginning of the semester! In the past I'd advocated for keeping a list (paper or electronic) of all the things you want/need to change in your course so that way after the end of the semester you'll remember what you need to do. I haven't brought that up recently, so I think for the next semester I'll remind faculty of ways they can make switching to a new semester easier and more efficient.


How are you going to party this summer?

We don't have many traditional on campus classes over the summer, so most of our faculty teach online. This allows them the freedom to party anywhere they want! Whether at their summer home in Spain, on vacation, or the comfort of their own home! As for myself, I'm not teaching this summer, but I am building a new online course for fall (yay!






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