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      The 12 (Online Learning) Days of Xmas with Canvas

      As many of us look forward to the xmas holidays we are also looking ‘back’ and are judging 2020 as being a ‘tricky’ year. It reminded me about this quote from Kennedy.

      “There is a Chinese curse which says “May he live in interesting times.” Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.” Robert F. Kennedy - 1966

      The origin of the quote may be in question, but what is clear is that the “interesting” times we continue to experience during this global pandemic have been incredibly difficult but have also had a lasting effect on education and the role of technology in supporting our students and educators.

      So I thought I would combine my love of all things Christmas with my love of Canvas and highlight my favorite ‘12 (online learning) days’ elements and how they support the fully online, blended, hybrid models we see today and will which will certainly continue into the near future.

      1. COURSE NOTIFICATIONS/ANNOUNCEMENTS: Students have to log on to even have a chance of being engaged

      Students (and educators) can now manage their notifications on a Course by Course basis to keep themselves best informed of what is happening and what is due in Canvas. Course Announcements allow you to release weekly messages, supported by video, media and rich content which can be set to the home page for clear access, timed release or planned in advance. Notifications are still one of the most powerful ways to reach out into your students' lives and help them understand what to do, when & how - to be successful.


      2. INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN: ‘Distance’ Learning is ‘different’ from wholly face-to-face - so your course should be too!

      The ability to make small changes that make a big difference to your students is vital and consistency in Course Design is definitely a strong way to ensure you keep students on track and engaged. Originally part of our summer Livestream series (remember the summer!), this video on Using Templates in Canvas will help make sure you are maximising your Template potential. We also hosted a webinar back in June with online learning experts iheed on Creating an achievable online structure for faculty and student success which you can access here.

      3. CONFERENCES: 2020 - the year of the ‘virtual conference’ where we all saw each others living rooms

      Whether you are a Zoom-er, love BBB or are a Teams-Fan make sure you keep up to date with the exciting developments in how Canvas & Microsoft are working together on tight integrations. We announced this here and we hope to have the first developments live in early 2021.

      4. MOBILE APPS: For some students, the Canvas Apps were their main learning tool for months at a time

      We developed QR codes in the first few weeks of the move to online learning back in April as a way to support the millions of Canvas students accessing the Apps, sometimes for the first time. We all know that equitable access can be even more challenging when students are forced to study remotely, so our mobile first design strategy really showed its strength this year.


      5. TWO-WAY (OR EVEN THREE-WAY!) FEEDBACK: Personalised, authentic feedback is hugely powerful

      The SpeedGrader tool allows for feedback between teachers and their students in audio, video & text. When you combine this with the one-click Peer Review functionality you can create powerful points of learning & understanding.


      6. NEW RCE: A condensed and more intuitive editor, packed full of powerful functionality

      With the new RCE you have a great reason to revisit your content to make sure it is Accessible, engaging & that the ‘flow’ of your course is Icon driven. You can use images, icons & headers to make your content easier to navigate.


      7. ACTIVE LEARNING WITH VIDEO: Teachers can turn content into conversation with Canvas Studio

      You may already know that Studio is our next-generation video platform. It’s easy to create engaging video and upload content from a smartphone, add video or screencast from RCE, easily embed quizzes, add comments and replies directly in the video timeline, plus you can add closed captions to further improve accessibility. Our Webinar on Engaging Students with Active Learning using Studio had the highest views of any webinar this year. 


      8. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: How do we support YOU to support your students

      Our learning consultants here at Instructure are fabulous, many of the team are former customers and LMS administrators so they really understand your pain points. Our new Enhanced Webinars are a cost effective and valuable way to review and maybe even rethink the way you deliver teaching & learning using Canvas. They help you take a deeper dive into Canvas tools, functionality, and best practices to help increase student engagement.


      9. COURSE CATALOG: Deliver CPD with Canvas & drive new revenue streams

      Another popular webinar right at the end of the year was on how to Deliver CPD & promote courses publicly with a marketing & logistics hub. As institutions are increasingly looking at ways to manage the effects of Covid on their core offering they are increasingly asking us to support them in new ways of working. Find out more about Catalog and all the information from the webinar here.


      10. CANVAS DATA & ANALYTICS: Put actionable data at the centre of your decision making

      We hosted a popular webinar back in October on how to use analytics effectively to drive engagement. You can access the webinar recording and resources here. There were lots of tips & tricks about our New Analytics features, but also a plan to expand that with Three ways to supercharge your use of Canvas Data - find out more here about the 3 steps:

      • Step 1: Our Enhanced Webinar on Using Data in a perfect way to start the journey
      • Step 2: Once you know the possibilities, our Reporting Library gives you access to a range of reports you can start to use to make data-driven decisions.
      • Step 3: For those who are using Data extensively you may make good use of our Managed Data Service.


      11. MODULES & BADGR: Create a Learner Journey with Gamification

      When you use Modules with Pre-requisites & Requirements you are not only helping to create a great learner journey experience you are also setting the stage for adding auto-generated Badges dependent on the completion of those modules. If you are new to gamification why not take a Canvas Network Course in how to Gamify Your Canvas Course with Badgr Open Badges.


      12. STUDENT SUCCESS TOOLS: Empower students to drive their own success & align with institutional success

      Lastly, but of course, most importantly - Student Success. You will be hearing a lot more in 2021 about how we plan to help you align student success, employability & institutional success using Canvas Folios & Canvas Pathways. For a sneaky peek watch the video here.

      About the Author

      Sam is Senior Director of Education Sales for Instructure. Sam has worked within educational technology for 16 years across a wide range of sectors including schools, colleges, universities & training organisations. In her role at Instructure she gets to work in partnership with organisations exploring the role of technology in achieving their strategic goals
. Sam has a particular interest in student success and how organisations can use technology to improve access to high quality education & careers.

      Profile Photo of Sam Blyth