Friday, September 8, 2017

Back to School with Canvas

It's Back-to-School time again and we couldn't be more excited to kick-off another year of learning powered by Canvas in many of our classrooms!

As the supported learning management system in ESU 8, you know that you have a support team and implementation team behind you; ready and eager to help you put Canvas to work for all your learning needs. 

On July 31, 2017 educators from K-12 districts and Higher Education institutions across Nebraska gathered at the Lifelong Learning Center for an exciting day of Canvas Learning. Dubbed the first-ever Nebraska Canvas Users Group conference, the event was well attended and supported strongly by Canvas Team representatives. 

Get a sense of the sessions shared by viewing the Session Smackdown that we helped moderate. 

But even more importantly, learn some of the new (or new-to-you) features that Canvas offers for this school year.
  1. Google integration (Similar to Google Classroom, Canvas can create an assignment from a Google Doc that you have created, distribute it to students, complete the "make a copy" and "sharing settings" automatically for each student, and collect it so that you can grade in Speed Grader. Beautiful integration and workflow if you are already a Google Apps for Education school! 
  2. Scheduler (Appointment Groups) (Set up appointment slots for your next calendar event and allow students/teachers to self-sign up based on a wide range of criteria that you decide. Once the appointment slot is filled, others will see that and get to choose another.) 
  3. Late/Missing Assignment label feature (for grade book and Speed Grader)
  4. Assignment and Pages Duplication (Settings > Duplicate) (Discussions and Quizzes are coming)
  5. On new courses, the course homepage defaults to Modules (this promotes the best practice of organizing your course by modules. You can still point to a Welcome Page/course homepage if you'd like.) 
  6. Canvas Doc Viewer automatically lets you annotate any document - highlight, comment, draw on, etc. (even more improved than Croc-a-doc feature of past!)
  7. Blueprint courses make it easy to deploy similar course shells across your department or school site. 
  8. Teacher app (Brand new Canvas Teacher app to make course administration easier on your mobile devices!)
Additionally, the following are Canvas features that teachers are re-falling in love with this fall. Just in case you forgot they were available, try out the following:
  1. Student To-Do List 
  2. Hide Navigation Elements for your course if you don't use certain Canvas features in that course - (Settings > Navigation tab) to clear unneeded clutter in students' course navigation bar.
  3. Student View - view your course as your students view it to check publish settings, etc.
  4. Speedgrader - filters, ordering, audio/video feedback, and more!
  5. Discussions & Announcements: are MORE THAN discussions and announcements! Refresh your mind with the possibilities by viewing this Wednesday Webinar from last year:

There is so much to learn with Canvas- whether features are new or have existed for a long time. Perhaps my personal favorite source of expanding my Canvas knowledge is through their "Fast Track Video Series". These videos are short and sweet-- typically 2-3 minutes-- and do a great job of walking me through one focused topic. To see what I mean, check out this Canvas Fast Track video on student journals in Canvas, a topic several teachers have successfully used this year already! 

The Canvas Community has so many resources available it is sometimes hard to know where to start. This Canvas Resources page may be just the solution. 

With more and more of Nebraska's higher education institutions adopting Canvas (the University of Nebraska system has completely switched to Canvas as its LMS), there is more reason than ever before to give our students experience with the platform/learning skills while still in high school. These are exciting times for both students and teachers, and a critical key to increasing educational success is a powerful vehicle to tie all efforts together. Canvas can be that engine, and we at ESU 8 are more than happy to partner with you for successful driving.     

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