Spring Prep Checklist

Screenshot 2019-12-16 11.41.59The Spring 2020 semester is quickly approaching, so if you intend to use your course Canvas shell, now is the time to create or modify your course. Every CBU class comes with a Canvas shell. Whether you are teaching fully online, hybrid or a traditional course — your digital course space is there for you!

Consider this Spring Prep Check List to make sure your Canvas classroom is ready to receive students:

  1. Make sure you’ve updated your online classroom for the new term. Import what needs to be there. Our Instructional Design team created this short video to show you exactly how to import your content! Clean up what doesn’t need to be present. The new term begins on January 4th and tidying up your online classroom while the students are in it can be confusing for all involved!
  2. Publish your course. Make sure you publish the contents of each module, as well as each module. A green circle with a checkmark in it means it is published and visible to the students. If you don’t want students working ahead, you can limit access by controlling the dates of accessibility. Always check the “Student View” by choosing that perspective in the upper right side menu. If you can’t see it in Student View, then it’s not been published.
  3. If you run into a problem creating a quiz or discussion, check out our helpful Canvas Job Aids. They are all available here by description.
  4. If you’re teaching a fully online or hybrid course, include this Canvas Student Orientation course in your class. This 30-minute tutorial will make the transition to using Canvas easier for your students. Consider making it a graded assignment to encourage participation. Here is the link: https://cbu.instructure.com/courses/4870
  5. Plan to expand your use of Canvas, our LMS. You may have just used it as a repository for lecture notes or as a means of giving a quiz in your on-campus class. Did you know that you can use Canvas to take attendance? It’s really easy. Give it a shot. Learn something new. Try the gradebook. Click this video to learn how to create a screen capture video for your course!
  6. If you’re teaching a fully online or hybrid course, run it by our Online Course Checklist. It will help ensure that all the elements are in place to make your course is easily navigable and prepared for students.

Although our office is closed during the break, Canvas Support is available – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just call Canvas Support at (901) 318-3024 to speak with a knowledgable, helpful person or chat with a representative by clicking on the Help button in the main sidebar menu inside Canvas. They’ll even send you a transcript of your conversation for reference! Our Instructional Design team returns to campus on January 2nd and will be refreshed and ready to assist you – OLET@cbu.edu or (901) 321-4004.

How Organizing Modules, Using Course Template Can Help Students

Screenshot 2019-12-10 09.28.23By Tyler Isbell 

Believe it or not, the organization of your online course makes a major impact on the success of your students’ learning.

Online courses are a shared experience that requires careful planning and guidance, so that students can reach the learning goals successfully.

Without the proper organization and facilitation, an “online course” is little more than a shared cloud space. Furthermore, students lacking the immediacy of the face-to-face classroom become disoriented, unmotivated, and even anxious if there isn’t some clear and consistent organizational structure in place. The organization of your course should serve as a pathway for students to follow so they know what to do, when to do it, how it all fits together, and why it is important.

Modules          

Begin by thinking through the structure of your course. What is the teaching sequence?  How might you group the content? The grouping of content or modules may represent one week at a time or longer periods of time centered on a specific concept, theme, or topic (such as a unit or chapter).

While the inclusion of instructional content, assignments, and assessments within a module is obvious, it is also important to include an introduction, conclusion, and other activities as well. The use of overviews, to-do lists, wrap ups, and similar pages within your modules provide ‘trail markers’ to guide students through the course content. Students will feel better supported and more motivated to work within your course when they know where to go and what to do.

The creation of these “extra” pages for each module might be overwhelming. Luckily, there is a tool provided within each Canvas course at CBU to reduce the time required to create these pages – The course template.

What It Might Look Like: The Course Template    

Regardless of your content area or audience, the template provides a shortcut to the course planning, designing, and building process. Instructors are able to modify and customize features within the template to create a new course rather than starting completely from scratch. The template includes:

  • A generic module-based navigational layout, easily adapted for weekly, topical, or chapter-based units. 
  • A customizable course home page, instructor page, course overview, and online learning orientation to strengthen social, cognitive, and teaching presence. 
  • Pre-built pages designed with Universal Design in Learning (UDL) and adult learning best practices in mind.  This includes the necessary pages needed to guide students through the content within each module: An introduction, to-do list, sample student activities/assessments, and conclusion. 

Check Out the Template

Open any of your future production shells to get started OR follow this link for a read-only example: https://cbu.instructure.com/courses/4087

Want More Information on Online Teaching?

Did you know the OLET team offers a completely online training related to teaching an online course?  Our Online Faculty Training (OFT) course dives into:

  • How to navigate the online classroom, both as a student and as an instructor.
  • How to create a community of inquiry among online students.
  • How to have an effective teaching and human presence in an online classroom.
  • How to create courses in our Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas.

Instructors complete OFT with the first module of their new course completed and reviewed.  Participants that finish OFT and teach their course online also receive a stipend!

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Tyler Isbell is an Instructional Designer and Trainer for the Center for Digital Instruction at Christian Brothers University. He holds an Educational Technology Master’s Degree from Boise State University and masters-level certification in Technology Integration and Online Teaching. Before coming to CBU, Tyler was a trainer and instructional specialist in secondary education. 

 

The Duality of the Holiday Season

Screenshot 2019-12-05 09.40.32By Dale Hale

It’s the simple things that make the season, but if we’re realistic, we must also acknowledge the busyness of this time of year.

In academia, we look forward to the long winters’ naps during the break, but we understand it also comes with preparations for the Spring!

Before slipping into holiday mode, consider checking on a few things so both you and your students can experience a more pleasant re-entry into the Spring 2020 semester.

  1. Make sure you’ve updated your online classroom for the new term. Import what needs to be there. Our Instructional Design team created this short video to show you exactly how to import your content! Clean up what doesn’t need to be present. Get everything ready. The new term begins on January 4th and tidying up your online classroom while the students are in it can be confusing for all involved!
  2. Publish your course. Make sure you publish the contents of each module, as well as each module. A green circle with a checkmark in it means it is published and visible to the students. If you don’t want students working ahead, you can limit access by controlling the dates of accessibility. Always check the “Student View” by choosing that perspective in the upper right side menu. If you can’t see it in Student View, then it’s not been published. Contact our Instructional Designers if you need help with any of this. Contact us at olet@cbu.edu or (902) 321-4004
  3. Plan to expand your use of Canvas, our LMS. You may have just used it as a repository for lecture notes or as a means of giving a quiz in your on-campus class. Did you know that you can use Canvas to take attendance? It’s really easy. Give it a shot. Learn something new. Try the gradebook. If you don’t know how to do something, contact us. I promise you, we will do all we can to help you accomplish what you want.
  4. Our Instructional Design team is ready and enthusiastic to help right up to the semester break. Although our office is closed during the break, the Canvas Support is available – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just call Canvas Support at (901) 318-3024 or chat with a representative by clicking on the Help button in the main sidebar menu inside Canvas. They’ll even send you a helpful transcript of your conversation for reference!

With all of this done — classroom ready, new skills learned and new practices begun — it’s the perfect way to embrace and share the warmth that seems to happen more this time of year than any other. It’s a time for all of us to feel rejuvenated and prepared to start the new year fresh.

I also want to take this opportunity to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

During this time of hustle and bustle, it is easy to get amped up with frustration. I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. It’s crazy out there. So, take a few minutes to breathe.

The holidays are a time to remember. Remember your heritage. Remember your family. Remember your other loved ones, those not related by blood but are perhaps as close as a blood relative. This is a time when you tell the stories, both humorous and touching, that seem to bind you even closer together.

The holidays are also a time of generosity. We give, sometimes until it hurts. The Salvation Army bell ringers are out in force. I did that one season many years ago. I stood in the cold, ringing a bell while wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Standing there in that frigid cold, watching the temperature dip below 20 degrees, I was even the recipient of generosity. Someone saw and took pity on me, bringing a hot cup of coffee. I didn’t even like coffee then, but I drank it with pleasure at the soothing warmth it brought me. What a simple but wonderful and generous gift!

So, take some time to remember and enjoy all of the things this season brings.

St. John Baptist De La Salle once said, “To touch the hearts of your students is the greatest miracle you can perform.” After all, that’s why we are here – to make a difference in the hearts and minds of our students. We bless them by our work. In the immortal words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, everyone!”

Screenshot 2019-12-10 13.20.16

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Dale Hale is the Director of CBU’s Office of Online Learning & Educational Technology (OLET). He holds a PhD in Education Policy Studies and Evaluation from the University of Kentucky. Previously, Dale was the Director of Distributed Learning at Asbury Theological Seminary where he was in charge of all aspects of the institution’s distance education program.