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Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer Class Review

I taught in Canvas for the first time this past summer.  That was interesting and fun all by itself, but what I've been thinking about was how my class actually worked.  When I move a class to a new LMS I try to rethink the structure and assignments - far too much of what a class looks like is driven by the LMS rather than pedagogy. 

Canvas is very linear - or at least the default design in Canvas is very linear.  That's okay with me as I think most people are most comfortable in a linear class.  I used the modules to organize the class - there are 4 each with the same basic structure:  intro, my notes on the content, assignments, discussion, quiz. 

What worked:  the blogs.  I asked each student to set up a blog for the class.  Every chapter had one or two thought questions for them to answer after they completed the reading.  My goal was to help them actively read the text and think about what they understood or didn't understand after completing the reading.  I treated them like journals -- I had a grading rubric, but itwasn't about right or wrong, only about depth of thought.  Originally I was going to use the RSS feature to feed the blogs into the class, but I never managed that. I will try that this semester.  Student feedback on the blogs was very positive.

What sort of worked:  the Voice Thread Assignment.  I needed better directions to make this work without the frustration of technical difficulties.  Hopefully I have fixed that for this semester.  I still think a VT assignment is good for student authentication.  Student feedback was mixed though.

What sort of worked:  The quizzes.  I like short answer quizzes where I have the answers already keyed in.  That's a problem when students have technical problems.  I can add an attempt, but there doesn't seem to be a reset button.  If a student answers one question, then has a problem they have all of the answers.  Oops.

What sort of worked:  the last assignment.  It was a problem set.  The students loved it.  I think they are boring.  What to do....

What sort of worked:  Discussions.  I have too many and I didn't participate enough.  The staggered due dates helped.  (First post due 3 days before the end of the discussion period.  Second post due 1 day early.)

What really didn't work:  The peer review assignment.  The tool doesn't work like I expected it to.  I might have it figured out now, but the rubric part isn't right. 

Got a few compliments on the lecture notes - links to videos mostly. I need to add more short videos, especially where I know students get stuck. 

I felt like those who stuck it out learned something -- my most frequent comment on my student survey was "I learned more than I expected to learn."  That might mean they set the bar very low....


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