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The Essentials of Effective Course Design in Canvas

Just yesterday, Canvas published the first wave of breakout sessions from InstructureCon 2016 on their YouTube Page. Today, I burned through all the posted sessions.  They were all informative but there was one that is really going to force me to rethink the way I design my course in Canvas. It was a session entitled "Canvas in Elementary? Yes, You Can" by Courtney Cohron I started watching it thinking that I'd be sharing out to the elementary educators in my PLN.  But, I think it has essentials for great course design for all educators. 

I'll embed the video of the presentation below, but I was amazed by the great resources designed in her district and her willingness to share them. In designing courses in Canvas, the district has designed a checklist to ensure effective instructional design principles across all course sites. Courtney works as a District Elementary Instructional Technology Coach for Noblesville Schools in Noblesville, Indiana.  I just love this document.  She framed it as something used at the Elementary school level.  But, I think it speaks to all students K-12.

In her presentation, Courtney also shared out some sample Canvas sites from her elementary school teachers. They can be found here.  There are great examples of course design here to navigate.  In addition, on this page you can find a link to a free iBook the district created to walk teachers through the process of setting up a Canvas course.

I had lots of takeaways from this session.  The biggest one, though was doing a better job with my home page.  My students will be 1:1 with Chromebooks this fall, so their primary experience in the classroom setting will be through the browser interface.   This means they will encounter the home page first the majority of the time they access the site. In the past for me, this would simply be the Modules page. Courtney walked through some options her district recommends for home page content. One of those was having the home page be an introduction for the day.  It would include the learning outcomes for the day and direct links to the assignment(s) for the day. It would also include links to the other assignments from previous days.

I really love this idea for a home page.  It will require a bit more upkeep, but this will defiantly help crystallize the "why" of the day's work. What I envision is a home page where I do the following:

  • State the learning outcomes tied today's work and highlight other objectives from the unit that we have been working on.
  • Include a fun YouTube clip associated with the day's work.
  • Provide direct links to the day's assignments/quizzes
  • Catalogue direct links to assignments from the week
I look forward to using the checklist Courtney provided to ensure effective design for my Canvas course.  I highly recommend watching the entire session in the video below.  Thank you so much for sharing the great work you do Courtney!

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