The Summer Institute of Teaching & Learning is back after a two year COVID hiatus. We will gather together in person on May 10 & 11th in HHS 204 for sharing and conversation.
We are keeping it low key this year. Come to relax, learn something new, and enjoy good food and conversation with your peers.
The keynote speaker will be Dr. Sudhir Kaul, Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, and the 2022 UNC Board of Governor’s Teaching Award winner from WCU.
Lunch is provided on both days – registration is required.
Tuesday May 10:
9:00-9:15 am – Welcome
9:15-10:00 – Student Engagement in the Times of a Pandemic Keynote: Dr. Sudhir Kaul, Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, BOG Teaching Award Winner, 2022
10:15 am-Noon – Workshop 1 – How to Engage with Students in any Modality
Noon-1:00pm – Lunch
1:00-3:00pm – Workshop 2 – The First Steps: Instructional Design or Redesign
Do you want to design or redesign an assignment, assessment, content, part of a course, or an entire course? This interactive session will get you started with brainstorming and an action plan to get you through the summer
3 – 3:15 – Summer Beach Read
3:15 – 3:30 – Sharing and Next Steps
Wednesday May 11:
9:00-11:30am – Workshop 3 – Student Engagement through Assessment and Grading in Canvas
11:30am-12:30pm – Lunch
12:30-3:00 pm – Workshop 4 – Undergraduate Students as Research Partners
I started teaching online in 2003 for a for-profit institution. It was two years after receiving my M.Ed. in Research and Collaboration at TCU where my focus was on online asynchronous learning. I was anxious to apply my research to my own classroom!
The realities of teaching online soon became very apparent. At that time the institution did not have an LMS. I taught the course through discussion forums. My students were lines of text on the screen, as I was to them. We didn’t have Zoom or any other video meeting software so we were confined to interacting through the discussions and email.
I realized quickly that I needed to somehow become a real person to my students; a person who cared about their experience and success. So I set about recording video introductions, using video and recorded screencasts to help them learn HTML, web design and multimedia. Soon I was asking them to post an audio or video introduction instead of text, encouraging them to share photos of pets and places they loved to travel. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was humanizing my online course.
What is humanizing?
If you google this topic, you will see quite a few results. We’ve been working on this for a couple of decades, so that doesn’t surprise me. I particularly appreciate the work of Michelle Pacansky-Brock, a community college faculty member turned faculty developer who started teaching online in 2004. She created a wonderful infographic on this topic.
“Humanizing leverages learning science and culturally responsive teaching to create an inclusive, equitable online class climate for today’s diverse students.” Brock, 2020.
Humanizing your course is how you bring equity into your course design and teaching.
It also brings decades of research on instructor presence and student persistence to bear on course design and instruction. Being an excellent instructor in both the physical and online classroom in higher ed is a skill that anyone can learn. So these steps can apply to in-person courses as well.
Steps to Take to Humanize Your Course
Brock offers eight elements to use in humanizing your course:
The Liquid Syllabus: A public, mobile-friendly website that has your brief welcome video and includes “warm, non-verbal cues and hopeful language” to ease anxieties about your course and how to be successful in week one (Brock, 2020, pp107-108).
Humanized Homepage: the homepage provides a clear and friendly welcome to the course and tells the student how the course works and has a clear Start Here link to the syllabus and/or the course information module in Canvas (this is also a Quality Matters and Online Learning Consortium quality standard). Here is an example
Getting to Know You Survey: In week one, ask the students to complete a confidential survey that provides additional information about each student and helps you identify which students are going to be ‘high touch’ requiring more of your time that other students. In Canvas, you can create a survey for this purpose. If you are logged into Canvas, go to https://westerncarolina.instructure.com/accounts/1/external_tools/43?launch_type=global_navigation to see an example of questions to include.
Warm, Wise Feedback: I love this and always attempt to convey support and encouragement in my feedback to students. Brock states, “Your feedback is critical to your students’ continuous growth. But how you deliver your feedback really makes a difference, especially in an online course. To support your students’ continued development and mitigate the effects of social and psychological threats, follow the Wise feedback model (Cohen & Steele, 2002) that also supports growth mindset (Dweck, 2007). Support effort + ability + action. And deliver your message in voice or video to include verbal or nonverbal cues and minimize misinterpretation.
Self-affirming Ice Breaker: Week one of a course is full of anxiety for students and can impede their ability to start the course. Try an ice breaker that invites them to share a part of their identity. One example from the infographic is to ask them to reflect on a value that is important to them and then choose an object from their life that represents that value.
Wisdom Wall: sharing the ‘wisdom’ or advice from students who have previously taken your class. You can use a collaborative tool such as a Word file in OneDrive that students can access, or Flipgrid, which can be enabled in Canvas. You can also have studente email their success advice to you that you would add to the file, or empower students to create their own by having a link to a shared Word document by changing the edit settings to ‘Anyone with the link’. Post this link in your course to share it with your current students and then they can also add their own advice. Here is Michelle’s example of a Wisdom Wall.
Bumper Video: Short videos used throughout the course to introduce a new module or clarify a sticky concept.
Microlectures: laser-focused short videos (5 – 10 minute) that walk the students through the comprehension of complex concepts. Before you record, identify the one or two ideas you want your students to take from the video. Write a script to make sure that you are saying exactly what you want to say in the short video. Also, remember to produce closed captions for all videos. If you need help with closed captioning in Panopto, please contact the help desk firstname.lastname@example.org
All of these suggested steps are part of the best practices in online course design and teaching. They are also steps that you can take at any time during the semester.
These elements will be included in the CFC’s Online Course Design Institute offered totally online this summer. If you’d like more information about the OCDI, please contact us.
Pacansky-Brock, M. 2017. Best practices for teaching with emerging technologies. Routledge, New York, NY.
The Gradebook in Canvas and the Grade Center in Blackboard are similar in many respects.The Grades link is how you and your students access the course gradebook – just like the Grade Center in Blackboard. The gradebook is where you will view and grade student submissions and assign weights to assignment groups for Total grade calculation. Unlike Blackboard, you can’t weight a column without putting it an assignment group. Also, you can’t manually create a column in the gradebook like you could in Blackboard, so you must create an assignment for a column to be created in the gradebook, even if that is activity is not submitted through Canvas.
Enhancements to Gradebook include the options to automatically assign a zero score to missing assignments or deduct points for late submissions.
Activities can be graded by simply entering a grade, using a rubric, or using SpeedGrader in Canvas, which is similar to Blackboard’s in-line grading function.
With SpeedGrader you can:
View student submissions (text entries, website URLs, media recordings, and/or file uploads); preview supported file types in Canvas
Make annotations on supported files
Assign a grade based on your preferred assessment method (points or percentage)
View Rubric to assist with grading (if one is added to the assignment)
View comments created by you or the student about the assignment
Create text, video, and/or audio commentary for the student
Contact the 24/7 Canvas Help if you need help with issues as you are working in Canvas. (NOTE: 24/7 Canvas Help goes away on June 30 and Help will be taken over by the WCU Helpdesk which is not manned 24/7).
Register for one of the Zoom sessions which will be held on Thursdays and Fridays at 11:00 A.M. after reviewing the Priming the Canvas Course.This week’s sessions will cover Discussions in Canvas as well as How to release content conditionally in Canvas.
Our next article will highlight Mobile Apps – Student & Instructor; visitCanvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles.
Canvas provides updates to the platform every month without disruption to service. Some of them are minor fixes and others provide additional features and functionality to users. As we reach the middle of the first full semester with Canvas we thought we’d highlight for you some of the most recent updates that may make your work in the online learning environment more efficient and effective.
New Feature Details
Navigation Menus will be “Sticky”
In the past, the left-hand navigation items would scroll with the page so that users would have to scroll back up to navigate. With this change, the navigation menu will “stick”, making the menu visible at all times without having to scroll.
SpeedGrader: Ability to Edit Submission Status
The SpeedGrader sidebar now includes an Edit icon that can be used to change submission status for assignments. Status can be edited the same way as was previously only available in the Gradebook. Adjusting a status in SpeedGrader, will, of course, also update the Gradebook.
Some details about Status
Setting the status to missing will add a “missing” label. This additional signal could be used to help nudge students toward the completion of assignments.
If a late policy is enabled, setting the status to late displays the “late” label. Additionally, a text field allows the grader to enter a value for the days/hours late.
Setting the status to “excused” displays the Excused status, and the grade field displays as “EX” and is grayed-out, and will not be counted in the total for that assignment category. (The excused function will not work well if you are using total points and not using the assignment category weighting).
Setting the status to “None” removes any labels that were previously displayed for the assignment.
Figure A: SpeedGrader Status Edit Menu Examples
The Edit Status icon is not displayed in the following assignment scenarios:
Previously submitted submissions (only the most recent submission is supported)
Concluded user enrollments
Inactive student enrollments
Assignments that require moderated grading
Assignments in a closed grading period
Gradebook: Assignment Search
Another updated feature is the addition of a search field in the Gradebook that can search for assignment names. This gives instructors another way to sort and control their workflow. This allows for a search of student names as well in a separate search box.
Improved Navigation for Course Notification Customization
Canvas allows users to customize their notification preferences for their entire account and to create special notifications for specific courses. For example, an instructor might choose to create a more frequent notification schedule for a fully online course than for a course that is only offered face-to-face. In the past, making granular course level changes took going deeper into the course settings. Now course notification preferences can be customized on the main notifications page using a drop-down menu.
Please note: Students are also able to set their own notifications per course. If you are using notifications to students as a strategy for engaging them, make sure to specify how they should set their notifications for your course so they are not missing out on communication from you.
Figure B: Notifications Page screenshot
User Settings: Microsoft Immersive Reader Additional Feature Areas
To help engage students at all levels of learning and with all learning differences, we have long advised the use of the accessibility checker in the Canvas page editor. Our Microsoft 365 account and the Canvas integration now enable a new tool that allows any user to use the Microsoft Immersive Reader to use the Microsoft AI to give students more options for accessible use of content. Students will have this option visible on their screens so they can use it when they need to.
Figure C: New Immersive Reader Button
If you really want to stay up-to-date with Canvas’ new features, become an insider by subscribing to Canvas Releases in the Canvas Community.
Or Feel Free to Watch the Highlight Videos for Each of These Updates
As an instructor, your ‘teaching’ Canvas courses have 1 GB of cloud storage.
Canvas storage should be considered temporary and not for long-term curation or archiving.
Live Canvas courses (the teaching shells with students) will be maintained for two whole academic years before deletion.
Do not upload video and audio files directly into Canvas. The Panopto video authoring, storage, and streaming system are integrated into Canvas. You have unlimited video and audio storage in Panopto.
Canvas development shells are not meant for student interaction but are designed to be the “sandbox” for faculty. Your Canvas development shells will remain active as long as you are an employee of Western Carolina.
Departments and Programs can request access to a non-credit course area in Canvas where specialized master courses, template courses, and student-centers/non-credit courses will be kept.
We created the following chart to help you navigate all of your storage options.
WCU does not have a tool that will translate Word documents into Canvas Quizzes, and we do not have the resources to create or manually transcribe any assessments for instructors.
We recommend and fully support instructors authoring their tests/quizzes/exams inside of Canvas. Canvas questions are edited through the rich content editor, which allows for cut and paste actions from Word documents and other word processing files on a question-by-question basis. Below are links to several resources for creating questions in Canvas.
If an instructor would like assistance in creating an assessment, from a pedagogical perspective, they can make an appointment with one of the faculty partners at the CFC for a consultation. (https://affiliate.wcu.edu/cfc/consultations/)