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10 Ways to Make Online Learning More Engaging

If anyone knows how to make online learning more engaging for higher ed students, it's Dr. Sean Nufer, Director of Teaching and Learning for the TCS Education System. In his session, he shares 10 tips for creating an online course that turns passive listeners into active, engaged, successful participants.

  1. Stop lecturing.
  2. Get the students involved.
  3. Be as water, my friend (i.e. be human, present, and adaptable).
  4. Solicit feedback.
  5. Incorporate peer review
  6. Look for collaborative tools.
  7. Think outside the box.
  8. Create a watercooler (aka an "idea cafe").
  9. Make content relevant to what's going on outside the classroom (a global pandemic, for example).
  10. Fail forward.

Watch Sean's session for more information about each of these tips and practical examples of how to apply them in your teaching.

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Keynote: The Instructure Vision for Higher Education

Jared Stein is the VP of Higher Education Strategy for Canvas. Jared's entire career has centered on advancing online and blended learning. He kicks off his session by sharing the story of student teacher and Canvas user Alan Hanley, a man who turned the loss of his eyesight into a motivator for success. He compares Alan's story arc to that of educators who found themselves teaching in the dark when higher ed suddenly went remote. Jared's sage advice for educators, "get back to the basics," reflects Canvas' focuses for the future:

  • Reliability
  • Adoption
  • Student interaction
  • Centering on students
  • Tearing down barriers
  • Building up learners
  • Inspiring innovators

Watch Jared's session to learn more about how Canvas is working with higher ed institutions to address the heightened challenges of online learning.

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Teaching from Canvas: Tips for Successful Online & Hybrid Instruction

Megan Tolin, Director of Education Technology and Pedagogy and Assistant Professor at Trine University, offers some easy ways to improve the impact of your content and keep students engaged and energized, whether you're teaching in a fully online, hybrid, synchronous, or asynchronous space.

  • Get chunky (content-wise).
  • Make it personal—with video, discussion tools, and more.
  • Be intentional with your tasks and asks. Rethink the cycle of "read, post, respond, repeat."
  • Mix it up with multimedia (but beware the clicky-clicky bling-bling).
  • Anticipate students' needs with roadmaps and rests.
  • Challenge yourself—and forgive yourself.

Get detailed examples of these five practices by watching Megan's session.

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Designing for Kindness

Kona Jones, Canvas power user and Director of Online Learning at Richland Community College, explains why designing a course with kindness is so important. She also explains that kindness doesn't necessarily mean easy. Effort is a two-way street, and when students know you're putting a lot into your course, they're more likely to match your effort. Kona focuses on three topics when it comes to designing a course with kindness: 

  • Course welcome
  • Getting started information
  • Organization and instructions

Watch Kona's sessions to find out exactly how she designs these three areas of her courses with kindness in mind.

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How to Give Students Better Insights Into Their Learning Progress

Bart Corbijn, CEO of Instructure partner Drieam, outlines some of the challenges of tracking and understanding student progress amid COVID. 

  • It's more difficult to track learning progress in large groups online.
  • It's more difficult to act on individual needs.
  • Peer engagement is lagging.

But fear not: Bart then demonstrates how StudyCompass, a new LTI application that sits within Canvas and reimagines the way modules are used, can help you address these issues. StudyCompass has three key objectives:

  • Provide more insight into students' learning progress.
    • Create a visually attractive dashboard for individual learning progress.
  • Promote student self management. 
    • Allow students to compare their progress to their peers' progress.
    • Trigger peak learning.
  • Improve coaching.
    • Simplify targeting feedback.
    • Offer challenges for all levels.

To learn more, check out Bart's session.

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If you missed CanvasCon (or you just miss CanvasCon), here's a glimpse of the event: