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Best of InstructureCon 2015: Episode I

ComicCon just wrapped up last weekend in San Diego.  Millions of dollars were poured into this convention.  The ultimate goal of was to promote multimedia properties and get consumers to spend their money when these properties are released and on products at the show.  Yes, it is a”show”.  The sessions at Comic Con are highly attended and pirated versions occasionally pop up on the internet to the chagrin of the studios, who financed those "one-and-done" presentations, and fans who attended those sessions.

Little bits of media flow out to the lowly masses. My favorite is the one below.

A very different type of convention occurred in Park City, Utah a month ago. 

 InstructureCon is not a place where Hollywood celebrities go to build hype their latest film.  At InstructureCon, the stars are the educators and designers who are on the cutting edge of learning management system (LMS) integration in education.  The specific LMS they are discussing is Canvas.  Unlike Comic Con, the sessions at InstructureCon are made available to the public for viewing on YouTube.

Instructure has posted over 120 videos from this year's convention to their YouTube channel.  As a teacher in a Canvas district, I am always looking to learn how others are integrating Canvas into their classrooms to increase engagement and performance.  So, I’ve been watching these great sessions this year to better my use of Canvas.  Although some sessions may cover a similar topic.  No two are alike.
I’ve only watched 37 sessions so far (that’s about 18 hours worth), but I’d like to highlight some of my favorites.

From Blah to Aha! Canvas Headers with Impact

In this session, Jenn Steplowski taught me the basics of designing clean and effective headers.  It’s something I had never considered doing before because it looked daunting.  But introducing me to Canva. I feel much more confident about designing a simple but elegant design for my course.  She does a great job of covering the elements and principles of design so even a newbie could understand.  In fact I’m redesigning my blog page because of it.  

How to Succeed With Badges Without Really Trying

There were several sessions on badges, but this was my favorite.  Jessie Ward covers the what, why and how of badges in Cavnvas.  I had tried using them last year, but didn’t really know how best to integrate them into my course work.  I have a much better idea now.  

Canvas & Google Apps - The Dynamic Duo

As a teacher in a GAFE district, I’ve been trying to find the most powerful ways to integrate Google Apps into the Canvas experience.  Diane Woodward and Jan Segerstrom provided the perfect menu of options for me.  The session that I’ll probably borrow the most from.

Verifying Student Learning with Outcomes

Robert Anderson’s session was of particular interest for me because I plan on using outcomes and the learning mastery grade book with my students this year.  I’m familiar with it.  But, it was great to hear from a teacher who has used it in practice.

Sharing Stories: Student Blogging, Journaling, and Wikis

In this session, Heather Haseley and Michael Dice, Jr. introduced me to innovative uses of the discussion function in Canvas.  Personally, I have never used this feature before.  Now that I have seen that it can be used as a blogging and journaling tool, I see the power it holds.  A great session by two great presenters.

Cool Tools for Canvas

I always love these catch all sessions where the presenters roll out a bunch of great apps.  This one does not fail to disappoint.  Janet Hurn, Julie Straub, and Tom Mays present great ideas.  My favorites are a Module 0 for learning how to use Canvas and the posting of flipped videos on YouTube to use closed captioning to increase student accessibility.

IGNiTE-ing Innovative Classrooms

This was a great session lead by Nichole Lemmon a Canvas wizard. She presents the great way her district provided PD for their teachers in Canvas.  Also, she has a great gallery of buttons to use.

Module Madness

As a teacher who uses modules as my course set up option, Tracey DeLillo’s session had quite a bit to teach me.  It has something for everyone from the module phobic to the module pro. It gets a little crazy by the end, but in the best possible way!

Well, I’ve made it through about ⅓ of the videos.  I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with some more favorites.

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