Canvas Studio & Distance Learning at Alabama Community College System


Video plays a huge role in maintaining student engagement through these times of remote learning. This was the case for four institutions in the Alabama Community College System. Each school utilized Canvas in its own unique way to maintain a level of consistency for students and teachers during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives from Coastal Alabama Community College, Enterprise State Community College (ESCC), Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC), and Trenholm State Community College got together for a conversation to share insights on how they used Canvas Studio and video integrations across their institutions.

Getting Everyone On Board

These four colleges, like many around the world, had to transition to completely online instruction very quickly. That meant introducing Canvas to instructors who may not have used the platform before.

Melissa leaned on her fellow educators at Trenholm to get everyone up and running by assigning mentors to help with questions. All four women pulled together great resources for their schools, fielding questions, and taking advantage of pre-recorded tutorials (made in Canvas Studio) that were shared broadly with Canvas newcomers. “

This whole process has brought Canvas to the forefront for our instructors; it’s essential to everyone now,” said Judith. “I’ve been very pleased with the transition and the ease with which we’ve done it.”

One Platform, Many Video Possibilities

Video learning through Canvas Studio engages and empowers learners to collaborate and interact with the content by allowing them to share, comment, and give feedback all within the video timelines. By using Studio, teachers across these four colleges were able to maintain a level of consistency with their instruction, even though it wasn’t taking place in the classroom.

“Our instructors found it very useful to have so many capabilities in one platform,” said Ann. “They can connect with students, share videos, share a screen, do demonstrations. It helped them feel relieved that they could provide small snippets of their lectures and embed the discussion.”

Students can also create and submit their own videos within Studio. NACC has seen instructors and students in career technology take advantage of this, particularly in fields that require lab work like science, engineering, and nursing.

Amy not only supported teachers and students in using Studio but also helped train staff from other departments who wanted to use the platform to maintain contact.

“We’ve had a lot of departments utilize Canvas that haven’t before,” she said. “Everyone from academic advisors to the financial aid office have used Canvas in a variety of ways, especially recording videos to communicate with their students.”

In addition to pre-recorded video options, Canvas also has a variety of live video integrations that users can take advantage of, including recent partnerships with Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts Meet.

“The addition of Microsoft Teams was a lifesaver,” said Ann. “We were using Conferences and maxing out on the number of sessions. When the integration was announced, we were able to connect that quickly and train our faculty. They are really enjoying Teams as an option as well.”

Connection Beyond Class

Transitioning completely online is no doubt a stressful process for teachers and students alike. Instructors are rolling up their sleeves and doing what they need to do to keep the learning going, but they are also taking the time to just be there for their students. A religion professor at NACC is using Microsoft Teams to host weekly wellness visits.

“It’s a chance for his students to see each other, be together and talk about what’s happening in their life,” said Judith, “He said he’s going to continue these visits even when they don’t have to happen.”

These are unprecedented times in education and, while we all look forward to returning to the classroom, many teachers in the Alabama Community College System are taking this “new normal” and translating it into meaningful experiences for their students that are not only making an impact now but will also prepare them to tackle any challenges in the future.

“It’s almost like a kid at Christmas,” said Melissa. “Our instructors didn’t realize they could do all of this with Canvas. It helps make their jobs easier and enables them to teach in a different way.”

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