Canvas July 2017 release: New duplication, sidebar features

It’s July and the Canvas team is deploying some exciting new features on the 15th. To preview these or any planned Canvas updates prior to the release date, simply log into the Macomb Canvas Beta Server with your Macomb credentials.

Canvas updates are scheduled every three weeks. Some notable updates in this release include:

  • Duplicate menu item added to the Assignments page and Pages list
  • Rich Content Editor sidebar now appears in Quiz and Assignment editing mode.

Please see the New Feature Screencast for a demonstration:

Detailed release notes are also available on the Canvas Community website.

Duplicating assignments is a quicker alternative to copying and pasting.

Duplicate assigmentBe aware that this new function is currently available only from the Assignments and Pages menus and not the Modules menu.

The Rich Content Editor sidebar, which provides easy access to links, files, and images, is now available for use on Assignments, including Quizzes.

Join the Canvas Community and receive direct updates about Canvas releases by logging in using your Macomb credentials and following the Canvas Release Notes page.

As always, contact us with any questions (ctlsupport@macomb.edu or 586.226.4774) or feel free to leave a comment below.

Tools of Engagement

Last month’s blog focused on The Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE). The survey was administered at Macomb and other community colleges nationwide. Results are being compiled and analyzed by the survey organizers. Specific results for Macomb Community College will be shared at an upcoming FDD.

That leads us to the topic of this month’s blog – Engagement.   Student engagement, whether online or on-ground, can be enhanced with polling, gamification, and videos. Let’s take a look at some of the tools available.

For an on-ground class polling is great way to query students to determine what areas of course content they have mastered and what areas may need some additional clarification. In the spirit of the election year, here are some examples of free, cloud-based polling solutions in which students can use their phones to respond:

While not limited to an on-ground course, polling may be more practical for an on-ground course. However, there are other tools that could work in an online course.

One option is to create a game to provide a quick check on student understanding. Not only does the Jeopardy Labs website have free software to create a Jeopardy game, it also provides the ability for you to create other games and practice tests/quizzes. For more information visit – https://jeopardylabs.com/

Another tool for online and on-ground courses that may be beneficial is the Future Me tool which enables students to send an email to themselves at some future date. This can be used to for reflection on past activities or a motivation message to keep the student focused. See https://www.futureme.org/ for more details.

Finally, incorporating a video into your online course can help to enhance student engagement. While not limited to use in online courses, incorporating them into an online course helps to add variety to the instructional materials and create a more personal connection to the students.

There are a couple of possibilities available. One is to stream one of 12,000 videos from the Films on Demand catalog available through the Macomb Library portal (http://www.macomb.edu/future-students/student-resources/library/find-books-videos/index.html).

Another possibility for adding a personal connection to students in your online course is to record and stream videos yourself using TechSmith Relay. Relay enables you to screen record content and then stream it from your own personal server channel. Visit their website to find out more about Relay from TechSmith. A college-wide license was purchased so there is no cost to you for this solution. Workshop information is available via the Professional Development Brochure or by contacting the CTL. You can register for training via WebAdvisor.

Remember that whether you include games or videos, both must meet accessibility standards.

Enjoy the beautiful spring weather and feel free to contact the Center for Teaching and Learning for assistance with integrating any of these technologies into your classroom.

Stay tuned for our next post when we will highlight other methods and tools that can be used to engage students.

What Is Student Engagement?

The CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement) will be administered to Macomb students between Monday, March 28 and Wednesday, April 13. The CCSSE is celebrating its fifth year in ground-breaking efforts to promote institutional transparency and reporting on student learning. We, at Macomb, are proud to be part of these studies and use the feedback we receive to examine our educational practices and continuously improve them

What are the key findings about engagement and some related questions asked of students that can help us improve our teaching and learning at Macomb?

Active and Collaborative Learning:
During the current school year, how often have you:

  • Asked questions in class or contributed to class discussions.
  • Made a class presentation.
  • Worked with other students on projects during class.
  • Worked with classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments.

Student Effort:
During the current school year, how often have you:

  • Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in.
  • Worked on a paper or project that required integrating ideas or information from various sources.
  • Come to class without completing readings or assignments.

Academic Challenge:
How much does your coursework at this college emphasize:

  • Analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience, or theory.
  • Synthesizing and organizing ideas, information, or experiences in new ways.
  • Making judgments about the value or soundness of information, arguments, or methods.

Student-Faculty Interaction
During the current school year, how often have you:

  • Used e-mail to communicate with an instructor.
  • Discussed grades or assignments with an instructor.
  • Talked about career plans with an instructor or advisor.
  • Discussed ideas from your readings or classes with instructors outside of class.

Support for Learners
How much does this college emphasize:

  • Providing the support you need to help you succeed at this college.
  • Encouraging contact among students from different economic, social, and racial or ethnic backgrounds.
  • Helping you cope with your nonacademic responsibilities (work, family, etc.).

Student engagement means motivation, curiosity, attentiveness and interest that a student has for a given class. A student who is “engaged” is a student who has invested themselves in the class beyond getting a good grade. Student engagement also refers to the methods and tools that are used by educators to reach their students and their effectiveness.

To get a sense of some of the information that CCSSE aggregates, here are a few sample questions that are asked of faculty members:

  • How often do students ask questions in class or contribute to class discussions?
  • How often do students skip your class?
  • How often do your students discuss ideas from their readings or classes with you outside of class?

Students are surveyed as well to gauge their learning experiences and these are a few of the questions that are asked of them:

  • In your experiences at this college during the current school year, about how often have you asked questions in class or contributed to class discussions?
  • About how often have you participated with other students on projects during class?
  • About how often have you worked with instructors on activities other than coursework?

CCSSE is a nationally recognized tool, which is intended to aid institutions in improving their educational practices to provide more engaging learning experiences. To learn more about CCSSE and their standards for student engagement, by visiting their website at: www.ccsse.org

For a current editorial on engagement, read the Glossary of Education Reform: www.edglossary.org/student-engagement

Be sure to check out next month’s blog post for more on student engagement!

Helping Students Belong

If you attended Faculty Development Day recently, hopefully you listened to an insightful presentation by our guest Keynote Speaker, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, from Ohio State University. The focus of Dr. Strayhorn’s talk was on the topic of strategies that will help students feel a sense of belonging in the classroom.

When a student first enters your class, they are not only there to receive an education but they want to feel like they belong there by both their peers and their professors. If a student feels alienated, either by a language barrier, economic factors, ethnicity or some other situation, the chances for a given student’s success are diminished.

After hearing Dr. Strayhorn’s talk, we thought it would be helpful to expand a little bit on his concepts or thoughts and provide a few ideas to help your students feel like they belong.

Belonging is a basic human need. When many students don’t know the culture and vocabulary of higher education, how do we help them establish a sense of belonging? Here are a couple resources you may find useful.

“Being there” for your students is as integral to their success as it is to provide challenging and engaging courses. Sometimes it may not be possible to be present after class as much as you would like, or there may be a language barrier to overcome. It’s important for your students to feel valuable to their classroom community.

This document might be helpful to your students in getting the help they need outside of your office hours:

Helping students navigate higher education – .pdf document

This document shares a number of practices, which specifically apply to the success of black male college students:

Convey high expectations, teach academic success skills, and nurture confidence – .pdf document

If you didn’t have the opportunity to see Dr. Strayhorn in person at FDD, check out this TED talk where he further discusses the concept of belonging.

Inalienable Rights: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Belonging: Terrell Strayhorn at TEDx Columbus   – YouTube Video

Canvas Student Feedback

StudentLaptop-01In the last edition of our blog we shared what your colleagues were saying since the rollout of our new learning management system, Canvas.

So far, the response has been extremely favorable from the faculty side of the class, but what about our students? How has their Canvas user experience been?

We reached out to some of our students to find out what they had to say:

Canvas Notifications

These students were particularly fond of Canvas Notifications:

“I liked that Canvas would keep me updated on what I had due and when it was due. I also liked that Canvas would mark my assignments as done. It was a mark of achievement.

– Jacquelyn (Social Psychology Student)

“I like the notifications on the sidebar about which assignments due are coming up, and I like that it shows what you’ve submitted.”

– Melissa (Phys. Ed. Student)

“I really enjoy linking my Canvas calendar with my G-Mail calendar. It really helps with reminders and notifications.”

– Fadi (Macomb Student)

submit assignment

Holly likes the organization of Canvas and the ease of submitting assignments:

“I like that all my classes and materials are in one place. I like that I can submit assignments through canvas. It saves time from having to print out assignments, plus it saves paper.”

– Holly (English, Biology Student)

Canvas Communication

The best part of Canvas is the communication methods. From what I have used, along with what I’ve learned through Canvas’s tutorial, is that the communication functions are absolutely terrific.”

– Fadi (Macomb Student)

Print Grades

“The interface and grade reports are awesome. The interface is easy on the eyes and simple to use. The grade reports show a lot of information in an easy-to-read manner.”

– LeeAnn (Biology Student)

What If Grades

“I like the “What If” feature and the Grades feature in conjunction because together they give me a grade as of that moment and a goal to shoot for on my next assignment right in front of me. It helps in watching and maintaining my grades. It’s a great tool.”

– Ashley (Macomb Student)

It seems that Canvas is being well received from both faculty and learners. We would like to thank those students that kindly allowed us to use their comments for this month’s blog.

If you still need assistance with transitioning from Angel to Canvas, or you need help getting started in Canvas, contact us at the Center for Teaching and Learning. We are always available to assist you!

Canvas Faculty Feedback

CanvasProfFeedback-01

After the first couple months of using Canvas at Macomb, faculty members are providing a great deal of positive feedback. We reached out to a number of your peers to share their thoughts.

First, we highlight which features Canvas has to offer that stood out as most beneficial. Psychology professor Edie Wakevainen had this to say:

“For in-class activities and tests, I can easily post to the Canvas Gradebook. In my online classes, Canvas makes discussion forums easy for students and for me. The SpeedGrader option allows me to read posts and post grades and comments quickly and easily using an iPad app.”

Media and Communication Arts (MACA) professor, Brian Sauriol, likes how well Canvas handles large files:

“I can literally receive a (large) file, 200 MB or more, and in minutes not hours, send them a movie back to correct any errors, or set them straight toward the project solution.”

Business Law faculty member Jennifer Gornicki also finds the SpeedGrader in Canvas a huge time-saver:

“This has worked well and has cut down the amount of time I need to spend in grading assignments.”

Francette Fey, Astronomy faculty member, really appreciates how her students have responded to Canvas:

“The greatest benefit to Canvas for me has been my student responses. They like Canvas! I haven’t had one single student complaint about Canvas. I started using Canvas this past summer and I haven’t had to field any “how do I do…” questions in canvas from my Students.”

Our faculty members also had a few remarks regarding Canvas’ ease of use and how it has helped improve the way they teach online. Edie shares her thoughts:

“I’ve also noticed some unexpected benefits of using Canvas. First, it’s so easy to comment on students’ work and for them to respond to the comments. Second, students have absolutely no trouble with Canvas. Even those new to learning management systems just get it, and that’s wonderful.”

Here are a few additional thoughts about Canvas that Brian wanted to share:

From idea inception to final project execution, Canvas is flawless, fun, and fully encompassing! Everything in Canvas is well planned, easy to access, and very easy to design new courses from the ground up. The memory allocation is off the charts! Uploads, Module organization, SpeedGrader, posts, student interaction are nearly intuitive.”

Francette says that transitioning from Angel to Canvas was extremely easy:

“I was a huge Angel fan. I loved Angel, and expected the switch to be painful. I thought it was going to take forever for me to learn to like Canvas. I feel bad, I haven’t missed Angel at all. Not even a little bit…

I hope everyone enjoys Canvas as much as I have. It’s a great platform! It’s the best I have ever used!”

Jennifer adds:

The transition this semester has been relatively easy. The courses have been running smoothly and I haven’t been asked many technical or course format questions from students. Canvas is intuitive.”

And finally, Jennifer has this advice for colleagues who are about to transition their courses to Canvas from ANGEL:

“My recommendation for teachers who need to convert their courses from ANGEL into Canvas is to start from scratch. I had moved my materials over from ANGEL and realized after two – three weeks of modifying documents, revising assignments, etc. that it would have been easier to have started fresh.”

Overall, Canvas has been well received by faculty for its intuitive qualities, ease of use and exciting new features. The Center for Teaching and Learning is here to keep you regularly updated with news about Canvas and the support you need to transition to Canvas quickly and easily.

Please share your own experiences with Canvas and let us know how we can help you make the transition from ANGEL easier.

Stay tuned to our blog next month as we highlight the Canvas experience from the student perspective!

Welcome to the Canvas Community!

CanvasCommunity-01While you were enjoying your summer vacation, you may have heard that Macomb Community College recently acquired a new Learning Management System – Canvas by Instructure. Canvas has improved functionality, an intuitive interface, more features and deeper support.

Canvas joins ANGEL in delivering online, hybrid and web-enhanced courses for the 2015FA and 2016WI terms. We will say a final farewell and thank you to Angel for nine years of faithful service in May 2016.

Wait! Before you shake your fist at us for changing everything, let us assure you that CANVAS truly is going to make managing and publishing online content quicker and easier than ever before. Plus, CANVAS was built with mobile access in mind, so you and your students can more easily connect with your course on the go via phones and tablets iOS (8.0+) and Android (4.0.3+) devices.

“But who will teach me to use this new technological marvel?” You ask. Why the friendly folks at your local Center for Teaching and Learning of course! [ctl.emacomb.com] Our instructional technologists at both Center (C-127) and South (J-211) campuses have been putting in extra time to develop training courses such as our “Canvas: Getting Started” and “Angel to Canvas” online and on-ground workshops, as well as getting intimately acquainted with the LMS so we can answer any question you may have.

Additionally, help fill any gaps in our knowledge, and keep up with ever-changing updates to Canvas, the folks at Canvas offer the Canvas Community [https://community.canvas.lms.com/welcome], Here you will find a vast repository of information, covering all aspects of Canvas functionality.

Under “Find Answers” you will find a wide array of tools to help you find…well, answers, such as “Canvas Guides”, which contain downloadable guides, streaming videos and manuals about the LMS. Or “Canvas Commons” where faculty can find, import and share content and resources with colleagues from all over the world.

The “Share Ideas” column gives you a direct line to the Canvas developers where you can submit your ideas and collaborate with other educators to help continually improve Canvas for everyone!

Finally, the “Join Groups” section, enables you to find a diverse online community to connect with so you can keep in touch and see how other educators are using Canvas for their courses, and share your own tips and ideas with them.

We know sometimes change can be scary or frustrating when all you want to do is continue to run an engaging course. That’s why the CTL and the CANVAS Community are here to make the transition as quick, easy and painless as possible. Contact the CTL any time at 586-226-4774 or email us at ctlsupport@macomb.edu and we will get you on track quickly.

And to keep informed about all of the CTL’s workshops and instructional technology initiatives, keep an eye on this blog and our monthly newsletter!