As Fall semester closes and the year ends, it’s a time for reflection and resolve. While I am closing out my time with my Fall semester students, I return to the Learning Objectives for my courses and consider whether I did all that I could to facilitate their fruition for my students. Additionally, I am weighing how I will re-tool these courses in the future to accomplish more. Perhaps most importantly right now, I am considering how Canvas may help me to reach my students and encourage greater engagement with course materials. Some elements of the platform that I experimented with this semester and will continue to use in the future:

1) Moderate Quiz: this screen within Canvas allows me to see all of my students in one dashboard as they are taking Canvas-based Quizzes. This allows me to see whether everyone has logged in to the Quiz, and to watch as students complete the Quiz. If needed, I can quickly add more time to specific students’ Quizzes as well.

2) Discussion Board: The Canvas Discussion Board is incredibly quick to set up and allows me to have facilitated Discussions with my students where they can easily add multimedia content or create their own video/audio posts.  I have used it before the class began to introduce key concepts, have had students weigh in on what they have learned, and have had them share links with each other through this feature.

3) Assignment Comments: When students upload an assignment to Canvas they can leave comments for me along with that upload. I have the students record in that area any problems/concerns they had with the assignment, and also add information if I’ve granted them an exception to turn in a late assignment. This saves me having to hunt for email messages about assignments, and I can also respond back directly to the students within the comments in a threaded conversation. It helps so much to have all of these details included along with the assignment rather than living in my email inbox.

A few links that you might find helpful as you are working on learning Canvas over the holiday break:

For my newsletter giveaway this month I would like to offer two useful teaching tools.  The first four instructors who send an email message to may choose one of these two items:

string ball toyKoosh Ball: I use this ball during class discussions when I am trying to seek out the thoughts of students who might be reticent to raise their hands. I give the students each 1-2 minutes to think about how they would like to reply to a question prompt, and then I toss the Koosh around the classroom to choose a student to respond. It is my experience that some students can think more clearly when their hands are occupied with holding the Koosh, and it also signals to everyone who “has the floor” so that others will not interrupt the student who is speaking.metal bar chime on wooden cradle with mallet

Bar Chime: My Co-Director, Melissa, has been using this chime in her classes. At the beginning of each session she rings the chime to signal to the students that they should leave behind the distractions of their “outside” life and focus on the course material, which she reports has been quite successful.