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The Study Hall

Canvas Tips and Tricks: End of Semester Wrap Up

As an online instructor I find the end of the semester to be a very busy time with a lot to do to wrap up my course in Canvas.  Over the years of teaching, I have come up with a routine that not only helps me finish up my courses but also get them ready for the next time I teach. To simplify the process I have built a checklist that breaks them down into two areas: Course Mechanics and Course Dynamics.

Canvas migration is a lot like this.
Canvas migration is a lot like this.

Course Mechanics looks at the grade book, grading, assignments, and my current use of Canvas. It also looks at any technical challenges I faced during the semester. Course Dynamics looks at the content, presentation of content, structure of assignments, and interaction with students, and student-student interactions.

My routine also includes some time for reflection about the current section, both in terms of course content, the syllabus, and how students performed.  I also look at what did and did not work and find opportunities to learn about features in Canvas I have not used before that may enhance the student experience, provide opportunities for collaboration or simply, make it easier for me to teach and manage the course.

A little reflection goes a long way.
A little reflection goes a long way.

The first thing I do is go to the grade book. I look for any ungraded assignments, checking to see if they were on time or late.  I then look for patterns of assignments missed or not turned in, especially by those I consider top students.  I also look for any unresolved communications. Perhaps I agreed to re-grade an assignment or a student has asked for help on something. The goal is to get everything graded, and take care of any loose ends before turning in final grades.

Next is time for reflection. Were there any technical challenges in the course this semester?  Are their assignments or activities that were not clear or that students really struggled with?  Was there anything that just did not work like I wanted it too? Are there tools and features in Canvas that I do not fully understand, or would like to explore more? I find it is easier to explore these items while they are fresh on my mind, rather than waiting right before the course is offered again.

Here is my Checklist:

Course Mechanics

  • Complete all grading
  • Look for students who might have missed assignments
  • Wrap up communication with students
  • If assignment groups are active, make sure assignments are in the appropriate group and that weighting is properly applied.
  • Make sure Canvas is set to treat ungraded assignments as 0
  • Submit grades to SIS
  • Download a copy of the grade book and store it away
  • Fix any mechanical and technical problems with the course content, videos, links, tool use, etc. Get the help of Canvas support staff to resolve issues

Course Dynamics

  • Were there any assignments or activities that were unclear to students or that students struggled with? If so fix, re-write, substitute, or eliminate.
  • Review course rubric data. Update rubrics as needed.
  • Add new content and activities as appropriate. Expand current content, videos, presentations etc.
  • Explore additional features of Canvas to enhance and expand the course dynamcis.
  • Find opportunities to learn what other instructors are doing in their courses.

This routine has not only helped me get grades in and the course ready for the next semester, but to also enhance the class, try something new, learn new features, and keeps the course from getting stale.

Keep Learning,

Kevin Reeve
USU Information Technology
Canvas Coach