It’s that time of year, when we all begin adding materials in Canvas for our Fall courses. However, before I jumped to do a course copy from a previous semester, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my course evaluations and consider if there were areas I need to change to improve my students’ learning experiences. To do so efficiently, I turned to a generative AI tool (I used Bard, but you might also consider using Bing or ChatGPT if you want to try this yourself). I copied just the anonymous narrative portion of my course evaluations into the text window and gave Bard the following prompt:

Please summarize the top three things that the instructor did well and also the top three things that the instructor can do to improve.

The response from Bard was lightning fast and quite clear about what I might do to improve my course this time around–much faster than if I were to read through the evaluations myself and summarize the student feedback.

Top 3 things the instructor did well:

    1. The instructor provided clear instructions for the readings, assignments, and grading. This helped students stay on track and know what was expected of them.
    2. The instructor used lectures, discussions, group work, and in-class activities to keep students engaged. This helped students learn the material in different ways and made the class more enjoyable.
    3. The instructor created a welcoming and supportive learning environment where all students felt comfortable participating. 

Top 3 things the instructor could improve:

    1. The instructor could give more feedback on student work. This could help students improve their writing and understanding of the material.
    2. The instructor could make the reading quizzes more engaging. This could be improved by making the quizzes more interactive or by asking more open-ended questions.
    3. The instructor could provide more opportunities for students to share their own perspectives. This could be improved by asking more open-ended questions or by creating more opportunities for small group discussions.

Now I have a plan of where I can focus my attention on building my Fall content. I will re-think my quizzes, ensure that I have effective rubrics and other feedback mechanisms for the students, and I will build in more class time for students to share their perspectives on class topics.

I had one more question as I was thinking about my Fall course. I wanted some language to set the students’ expectations for the course. So this is what I asked:

What is some language I could include to explain that this History class will emphasize critical thinking rather than rote memorization?

This was Bard’s reply, which I will tweak and include in my Course introduction module on Canvas:

In this course, students will learn to think critically about historical events and ideas. They will be asked to analyze primary and secondary sources, identify bias, and draw their own conclusions. This course will not focus on memorizing facts or dates.

I’m curious to know if any of you are using generative AI in some way to prepare your Fall course materials?  If you are, please drop me a line and share how you’re using it. 

Here are some helpful links as you are building your Fall courses on Canvas: