Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Dave Peterson

PetersonFamily - edited

Dave Peterson, one of Centralia College’s recognized innovators, teaches Electronics, Robotics and Industrial Automation. Dave says “this includes technical math specifically for electronics, like circuit analysis, graphing and data visualization, and trigonometry applications.”

If you know anything about Dave Peterson, you know he’s no stranger to innovation. He builds robots, for crying out loud. In addition to being one of the youngest instructors to be accepted to tenure track at Centralia College, he helped students of the college’s physics and electronics club launch a “near space vehicle”  90,000 feet into the air carrying data recording equipment during the summer of 2013.

Interestingly enough, he isn’t being recognized for his obvious innovations like those listed above. eLearning is recognizing Dave for his innovations in the classroom that engage students and help them to be even more successful.

In his own words:

The main initiative that we are working on this year is optimizing a lecture capture method tries to best re-create the classroom experience for students who are not able to attend as often. A good percentage of our students have either long commutes or full time jobs which would normally be a huge inconvenience, if not making it altogether impossible to get the training. By making our lectures available online, we can customize the schedules for each person and remove that ‘mandatory confirmation’ to our traditional day or night schedule. Since neither one works for every person.

The main kinds of things we are working on include a heavy integration of Canvas for immediate feedback and thorough description of assignments. Each homework, lab, study guide, etc is outlined in as much detail as possible. The point distribution is also made entirely clear so that time and resource management can be factored in to the right assignments (if something is worth more, they know to budget time accordingly). Also, many students are willing to work ahead as their time allows, and a through use of Canvas assignments allows them to look ahead at future assignments.

Another innovation is whiteboard capturing and recording. The Panopto platform allows simultaneous recording of the computer screen as well as a thumbnail video of the presenter (via a webcam). We use a device called a MimioTeach, which is a magnetic pen tracker that mounts to a standard 8’ whiteboard. The virtual pens are loaded with normal whiteboard markers, so the presenter uses the whiteboard as they normally would. The MimioTeach tracks all motion with a respectable degree of precision, and this is displayed on the PC. Through Panopto, every whiteboard action is recorded alongside the presenter video.

Since they are recorded as opposed to ‘live’ webcasts, the students can then watch at their own leisure, and are free to ask questions through Canvas which can be easily answered the following class period.

In addition to the whiteboard, any PC programs used through the class will also be recorded. In math classes, a heavy emphasis on problem solving through Microsoft Excel is used, including some fairly advanced functions, such as drop-down menus, conditional statements and macros. In Electronics and Robotics, computer simulation software is commonplace, and the screen recording can greatly aid in learning. The video casting features allows students to skip, pause and rewind to review these complicated concepts and try their own variations.

I am always surprised at how little extra work this requires. In the old system, Tegrity, the process allowed a presenter to record right from the desktop application and place the video right into the corresponding Canvas classroom. The same concept is still possible with the Panopto system, and also allows the videos to be either recorded onto the computer, or recorded directly onto the online server.

Students have also reported fewer issues with viewing the videos on Panopto. Since the beginning of Fall 2014, I have only encountered one instance of an incompatible browser plugin, and that was fixed quite easily by following some instructions on the Panopto site. I’m sure there are more reported, but it seems very accessible by the students.

The recordings are imitated with not much more than clicking the “start new recording’ link, providing a descriptive name for the lecture and pressing ‘record’. At the end of the recording after pressing stop, a couple clicks of the mouse sends the video directly to the Canvas page. It couldn’t be much simpler, and I am very impressed with the quality.

There are many variables that affect the performance of a particular class, perhaps nothing more significantly than just the students’ drive and motivation to succeed. But even considering those dynamics, we have observed a dramatic increase in performance through the entire class, with 100% participation and assignment completion in several classes – a landmark that has never been seen before. The students are interacting and participating much more than ever seen before, and I attribute that in large part to our innovations in bringing the classroom home to the students so they have the ability to revisit the day at school whenever they want.

This is definitely just the beginning of Dave’s innovations and we will be looking forward to the wonderful ideas that come from him and his class. Congratulations Dave!

What the What? Word has an MLA Template?

Gif of Amy Poehler saying, "What?"

“What?” Reaction Gifs. Created 25 Mar. 2013. Original video from “Parks and Recreation.”

Seriously, did you know that Word has a template for MLA and APA format? I’m not talking about it setting up your bibliography or Works Cited page for you. I mean an honest-to-goodness (I dare say) fool-proof template. I totally have to give the credit to this find to Associate Professor, Gene Shriver. I knew Word could help you set up your citations and works cited page, but this made my brain explode.

If you’re a student, this is phenomenal because now you don’t have to try and remember all those stupid rules that seem like they don’t make any sense and you won’t get docked points when you feel like the teacher should have been looking at your writing, not the dumb formatting.

If you’re a teacher, this is phenomenal because now students don’t have an excuse for not understanding the formatting rules and you don’t have to continue banging your head up against the wall because you handed them a worksheet, went over lessons, gave them TONS of references and extra help, and yet you still end up repeating yourself over and over and over.

Gif of Charlie Day experiencing a migraine from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

“Tortured” from Reactiongifs.com. Created 3 Sep. 2014. Original video from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

 

Everybody wins!

Here’s how:

In Microsoft 2013, you get this awesome prompt when you open a new Word document.

Word 2013 - New Document prompt and search window

Word 2013 – New Document Prompt and Search Window

See that cool search bar at the top? Type MLA or APA and hit enter. Then the magic happens.

MLA Template in Word

MLA Template in Word

Now, you have the wonderfulness. The template even has examples for charts, tables and Works Cited. Bloody brilliant! Goodbye headaches of formatting issues. Hello headaches of content-related issues, my old friend.

MLA Research Paper Template in Word

MLA Research Paper Template in Word

This also works with Word 2010, just a little differently. First off, when you open Word, it automatically opens a document and doesn’t ask you if you’d like to open something else. So, you have to actually go tell it you want something different. You do this by clicking on File>New. Then, it offers you choices.

Word 2010 - New Document

Word 2010 – New Document

And, it still offers you that search bar. Type in MLA (or APA, etc.) and you’ll get your template.

Warning sign

Circle-style-warning by Carelesshx, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA

The 2010 template is different than the 2013 template. The 2013 template is much more accurate and detailed.

Using Announcements in Canvas – Do Students Get These?

Large red speakers saying "Announcement" to a crowd of peole

Adapted from “Speakers” from Pixabay

Do You Use the “Announcement” Feature in Canvas?

Beware: Your Students May Not Be Getting the Messages You Think They Are

Using announcements are easy. You just click on that easy little navigation button on the left side of your class, click +Announcement and boom, you could use pictures, videos, attachments, text, etc. Then, click “Save” and you’re golden, right?…Not necessarily.

It’s entirely possible your students aren’t getting these messages or even know that they exist. The reason is because students have to go into their personal settings, click on notifications and make sure the announcements are coming to an email, phone number, Facebook, or Twitter account that they’ll actually look at. The default email is their student email account. The last statistic I heard about how many students check their student email addresses is less than 5%. Those are not good odds.

Well, does that mean you can’t use this really cool tool? No. It just means if you’re going to use it, you have to tell students to expect that you’ll use it and that they need to set up their notification preferences to get the messages they need, when they need them and where they need them. Here’s a really great tutorial on how to set notification preferences from the Canvas Guides.

And now you know…

Announce Responsibly

Ryan Gosling Approves gif

 

Winter Quarter Survival Tips

Worried male black and white cartoon, holding the sides of his face

“Worried” from openclipart

Are you surviving winter quarter?

Here are a few tips and reminders that should make things easier.

Advising – You can set up a Canvas course for your advisees. Then, you can message all your advisees at the same time in the Canvas messenger or put all the information on the classes or deadlines they need on the home page. Are there classes that are only offered every other year or only one quarter a year that students need to plan for? Do you have an academic planner that students need to fill out? Do you have goal setting activities that could work as ‘assignments’ in Canvas? Aditionally, you could use the amazing Scheduler to set up advising times in Canvas that students can sign up for themselves and get electronic reminders and notifications. If you weren’t able to get it in time for this quarter, think ahead to next quarter.

Gradebook Settings -

If I have not emphasized it enough in the past, allow me to restate. If you’re going to use Canvas for nothing else, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider using it for grades. Students are becoming much more familiar with using Canvas for all of their classes. They expect to be able to use it to check their grades. Having their grades visible and up-to-date empowers students to take control of their grades and learning (I know they won’t all do it all the time, but it gives them the opportunity to be empowered). Next, it helps you and ALL the other organizations on campus who need to track student grades for progress reports, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to sign those grade verification forms all the time? Next, having the students’ grades all in the same place makes it easier to do the things we want/need to do as a college like get up-to-date information on students to feed in to an early alert system, research for accreditation and other things. Now, if you’ve decided to use your gradebook, it is always a good idea to check it for the following issues:

  • Make sure your “Assignment” tab has all the assignments and gradebook items you expect (and none that you don’t expect)

The Assignment tab in each of your classes is the key to what is in your gradebook (and what isn’t), how grades are calculated and how assignments are grouped together (or not). So, start with your Assignment tab on the left hand navigation and check out the “Assignment Groups” that are there.

***Common Areas of trouble***
Multiple groups named “Assignment(s)” – this is incredibly confusing to students. Clarify if this is the discussion forum group, essays group, participation group, etc.- Assignment groups with no assignments in them – this is also confusing to students. They think they’re missing something. If you intentionally do this, make sure you explain (and re-explain) to students.

Duplicate assignments – (from Kathy Brooks, SPSCC) The biggest problem here is determining which of the duplicate assignments is the wrong one. Usually one column will have grades (the good assignment) and one will not (the bad assignment). But since both assignments have the same name (Homework #5) – which one should be deleted?  Here’s what I do:

Click on Assignments. Find the two assignments with the same name (Homework #5). Rename one of them – it doesn’t matter which one. I usually just add an “X” to the front of the name:  X-Homework #5.

Now return to the gradebook. Look at the column names and figure out which assignment of the two is the “bad” one. It might be the one with the “X” in the name, or the one without the “X”. Once you know the “bad” assignment, return to Assignments and delete that bad assignment. Now still in Assignments, if necessary, rename the remaining “good” assignment.

- Inconsistencies in naming, points, due dates, and dates in general – always check these every quarter, even if you’re “POSITIVE” that they’re fine or imported in. Save yourself and students a lot of stress and heartache. Just double, triple check.

Weighted categories – You can weight your assignment groups, so if you would like students grades to be something like 10% for weekly discussion forums, 20% for weekly homework, 25% for midterm, and 45% for final project, you would just create 4 assignment groups and set up the weights. To set up weighted categories, click on the gear of the assignment group (in the Assignments left hand tab) and click “edit” from the drop down menu. There you can edit the name of the Assignment group, the % of the total grade you want the category worth and it even allows you more functionality by dropping (“ignoring”) as many lowest or highest scores you want and to tell it to never drop certain assignments.

Canvas Assignment Group Edit
Extra Credit – (from Kathy Brooks, SPSCC)

Adding extra credit for a gradebook using just points
There are a couple of easy ways to do this – as long as you are NOT using percentages in your gradebook.

- Simply give a student more points than an assignment is worth. If a student turns in a fabulous paper that’s an assignment worth 10 points, just enter 11 points when you grade the paper. Or enter 12, or 25 or…

- Create a separate assignment. Set it to be worth 0 points. As you grade each individual student in this assignment, simply enter however many points you want. You can create more than one extra credit assignment too. You might name one Extra Credit Homework, Extra Credit Volunteer Work, etc.

Extra credit for a gradebook using percentages and groups
Because of the math involved in calculating percentages for assignments and assignment groups, this becomes a little tricky. However once you “get it”, it makes perfect sense!

- First, for each extra credit assignment determine in your mind, what percentage impact the extra work will have on a final grade. Is that extra paper worth 2% of their total grade? Perhaps that volunteer work is worth 1% of their total grade?

- Go to Assignments. Create a new assignment group for each extra credit assignment. In the example above I’d create two new groups – one for Extra Paper and one for Volunteer Work.  I’d set the percentages for each group as I decided above. Then I create just one assignment in each group – one assignment for the Extra Paper, and another single assignment for the Volunteer Work.  I can set the point value for each of those assignments to whatever I want, because it’s the percentage value of the group that will determine the impact on the final grade.

Using the example above, this is what the Assignments area of my course would look like.  Notice that the total percentage for my course is now 103%.

Canvas - extra credit with percentages

Canvas - extra credit with percentages - groups

Using CrocoDoc to annotate, edit and grade right within Canvas

If you haven’t discovered it yet, CrocoDoc could potentially save you a ton of time and headaches. If you have students turn in a paper, document, PowerPoint, Excel, Image, etc. in Canvas as an assignment, once they turn it in, you have the option in SpeedGrader to make notes, annotate, circle, highlight, strikeout and draw all over the document. It also allows for peer review annotations.

When you open a submission, Crocodoc will automatically save any annotations made to the submission file for one hour. You can restart a Crocodoc session at any time by refreshing the submission page or navigating to another submission. To help you avoid losing work, Canvas will generate a session expiration warning after 50 minutes.

Compatible Crocodoc Files

If a student submits a file that is not compatible with Crocodoc, the document previewer will still display the file, but Crocodoc markup and commenting will not be available.

Canvas supports .doc/.docx, .ppt/.pptx, and .pdf Crocodoc file formats (.xls/.xlsx is not available at this time).

Notes:

  • Files over 100MB and password-protected files will not be converted by Crocodoc
  • Crocodoc annotations can be viewed on Android devices in the Canvas by Instructure app
  • Crocodoc annotations cannot be viewed by screen readers; for students with accessibility concerns, please leave comments in the Assignment Comments section of the SpeedGrader sidebar

View SpeedGrader Submission

When you open the SpeedGrader™, you will see the Crocodoc preview in the submission window [1]. You can still download the original submission through the SpeedGrader™ [2], grade the submission [3], and add a comment (text, file, or media) [4].

Crocodoc Preview

If a submission includes a file that can be rendered in Crocodoc, but the submission preview is not complete, SpeedGrader™ will generate a message stating the document is still processing.

Note: Crocodoc is not available in beta, so SpeedGrader™ will always show that Crocodoc document previews are in process.

View Crocodoc Toolbar

The Crocodoc Toolbar helps you manage your student submissions with Crocodoc.

The Magnifying Glass icons [1] allow you to zoom in and out on the submission.

The Comment icon [2] allows you to add comments on the submission.

The Download icon [3] allows you to download the submission file and/or the annotated submission file.

If there are multiple pages, the Page arrow icons [4] help you advance through the submission to find the page you want to annotate.

Use Comment Tool

Use Comment Tool

To make a comment, click the Comment button [1]. The commenting menu will expand. Click the comment type menu [2] and select the type of comment you want to create.

In the Comment tool menu, you can leave comments as a Point Comment, Area Comment, or Text Comment. Each comment type is associated with an icon to help you identify the purpose of the comment.

  • The Point Comment lets you place a comment in a specific place in the document.
  • The Area Comment lets you place a comment around a specific area.
  • The Text Comment lets you place a comment within lines or paragraph of text.

Add Point Comment

To leave a Point Comment, select the Point Comment option [1]. Then click in the desired area of the submission [2]. The comment icon will appear indicating the location of the comment.

To delete a comment, hover over the comment in the sidebar and click the Delete link [3]. Crocodoc will confirm you want to delete the comment. You can also reply to student Crocodoc comments by hovering over the comment and clicking the reply link.

To move the comment, hover over the comment icon in the document. Click and drag the comment to the new area.

Add Area Comment

To leave an Area Comment, select the Area Comment option [1]. Then click and drag the rectangle around an area of the submission [2]. A red box will appear indicating the area for the comment.

To delete a comment, hover over the comment in the sidebar and click the Delete link [3]. Crocodoc will confirm you want to delete the comment. You can also reply to student Crocodoc comments by hovering over the comment and clicking the reply link.

To move the comment, hover over the red border. Click and drag the comment to the new area of the document.

Add Text Comment

To leave a Text Comment, select the Text Comment option [1]. Then click and drag to highlight text within the submission [2]. Crocodoc will highlight the text indicating the area for the comment. You can use the Highlight tool color panel [3] to change the color of the highlighted text.

To delete a comment, hover over the comment in the sidebar and click the Delete link [4]. Crocodoc will confirm you want to delete the comment. You can also reply to student Crocodoc comments by hovering over the comment and clicking the reply link.

Use Draw Tool

To make freehand drawings and annotations, you can use the Draw tool. To enable the tool, click the Draw button [1]. Free-form lines will appear indicating the drawing area. You can use the Draw tool colors panel [2] to change the color of the draw tool. When you are satisfied with you drawing, click the Complete link [3]. Otherwise, click the Cancel link and start over.

To delete a drawing at any time, hover over the outline of the drawing and click the drawing. Then click the delete/backspace key. Crocodoc will confirm you want to delete the drawing. To move a drawing, hover over the outline of the drawing, then drag and drop the drawing to to the new area of the document.

Use Highlight Tool

To highlight text within the document, you can use the Highlight Tool. To enable the tool, click the Highlight button [1]. Click and drag to highlight text within the submission. You can use the Highlight tool color panel [2] to change the color of the highlighted text.

To delete a highlight, hover over and click anywhere in the highlighted area. Then click the delete/backspace key. Crocodoc will confirm you want to delete the highlight.

Use Text Tool

To add text directly on the submission, you can use the Text tool. To enable the tool, click the Text button [1]. Click in the desired area of the submission, then type your entry. You can use the Text tool color and size panel [3] to change the color and size of the text. You can also use the transparent icon [4] to place the text box behind or in front of the document text.

To delete text, hover over the text box and click the text box. Then click the delete/backspace key. Crocodoc will confirm you want to delete the text box. To move the text, hover over the text box. Click and drag the text to the new area of the document.

Use Strikeout Text Tool

To indicate that text should be deleted, you can use the Strikeout Text tool. To enable the tool, click the Strikeout button [1]. Click and drag to strike out within the submission. A red line will appear indicating the text has been striked out.

To delete strikeout text, hover over and click anywhere in the strikeout area. Then click the delete/backspace key. Crocodoc will confirm you want to delete the strikeout text.

Download File

To download the submission, in the tool bar, click the download icon [1]. Then choose to download the original file [2], which is the original submission without your comments, or the annotated PDF file [3], which will show all your comments and/or annotations.

Note: When you download a Crocodoc file, it will be saved as doc.[file format]. For example, if a submission was myassignment.doc, the downloaded file will be doc.doc. In order to easily find the Crocodoc file in the future, you may want to rename the downloaded file on your computer.

Student View

Students see annotations by viewing the Submission Details. On the assignment page, students need to click the View Feedback button [1] to view the annotations. Students can reply [2] to comments and leave other feedback [3].

Taken from the Canvas Guides: How do I use Crocodoc in the SpeedGrader(TM)?

What Does It Look Like to Teach and Learn Now?

Changing Education Paradigms YouTube RSA Screenshot

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

You may have already seen the above video (if you haven’t, click now). Have you thought about how teaching or learning has changed since you were in school or your parents or grandparents were in school. I think we frequently take education for granted – what it looks like, how we teach, how we learn, and what it means to get an education.

At a workshop on open education, an English professor who has switched to using open resources in her classes said that switching to open resources wasn’t a huge thing around using open vs. pricey textbooks. What it really was, was part of a discussion around what teaching and learning look like now as opposed to what has been the standard.

When you close your eyes and think about getting a good education, what do you see? Most of us would say that the first things that come to mind are children sitting at desks in neat little rows with the teacher at the front of the class. Maybe the teacher asked a question and the students all raise their hand in anticipation of being called on and when the teacher calls on them, the student knows the answer. Or what if the students are older? They’re still at desks in neat rows with the teacher lecturing at the front of the class while the students quietly taking notes until the teacher asks a question.

Now, let me ask you, when you go to trainings or conferences or seminars or go to learn anything, what do you do? Sometimes, you sit in very large rooms with a lot of seats, all in neat rows where you quietly take notes while listening to a speaker. Do you remember much from those things? Do you have time to attend many of those? When do you learn the most, the best?

First off, just by asking the question, how do you learn best when considering teaching methods, is the first MAJOR switch from the way we’ve been teaching for the last 250 years

Wow. So, what are the differences?

Old School Building in black and white

Then: Schools were smaller, one room houses with neat little rows and children working quietly waiting their turns to go up to the front of the class for recitation. Then, those smaller rooms turned into factory-like buildings where the children neatly filed in to their classes and sat in neat little rows of desks, quietly listening or writing notes while the teacher lectured from the front of the classroom from a book, writing on the chalkboard or a combination of both. Talking out of turn was not allowed. Collaborating with peers was considered cheating. The teacher in the front of the room was the gate keeper to knowledge. A bell rang (like in a factory) to send you to recess, your next class or home. When you were at school, you learned about school things that had absolutely nothing to do with what you did outside of school. When you were outside of school, you preferred not to think about school. That was where school belonged. In a neat little row of desks in a square building with teachers who are the only ones with the answers.

Square concrete building with windows moving in a wave motion

Now: Schools have swelled to a point where they are bursting at the seams because the nation has realized that we want more people educated, not less. (In 1918, only about 6% of children entering elementary schools in the U.S. reached 8th grade –  http://www.multiage-education.com/russportfolio/curriculumtopics/bibliography.html#methodsco) More education is needed now to enter the workforce and some have said “today’s college degree is the equivalent of the 1950’s high school diploma…” (Aaron Clarey – Worthless: The Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major) Some of the answers to educating many more people and needing more classroom space to teach them in have led to online and hybrid learning. Now, students don’t have to worry as much if there’s space in an Econ or English 101 class, because in the virtual world there’s always space. Now, students expect to use technology in their classes, even if they’re in a face-to-face class. Now, students grades depend less on seat time and more on the work they produce. Collaboration is a mandatory part of most classes because…you know…this great big ole crazy world…it’s got lots of people in it that we encounter on a regular basis AND are supposed to know (or figure out) how to work with. School isn’t neat, straight-lined or quiet any more. It’s messy and loud and crooked. The teachers aren’t the experts. They facilitate learning and help lead the direction of learning because while instructors are subject matter experts, they don’t know everything. Students know stuff. With the instructors’ guidance, they teach each other and learn new things themselves that they never would have even thought possible by passively and quietly sitting in a neat little row just listening.

Remember when you closed your eyes and imagined yourself in a conference or training? You are the student, too. Sometimes (maybe a lot of times) you’re not neat, passive and quiet. Sometimes you’re messy and loud and you learn better by working with people.

So, all that to say, try not to think about changing things because that’s just too big. Instead, ask yourself, “how do people learn?” “How do I learn?”

Then, go forth and rock on.

Facebook Has Changed My Life and It’s Not What You Might Think

The midterm elections have just finished and it’s got me thinking about how I engage with the news and keeping up with (or not) current events. As an impestuous young adult from 10 to 15 years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to watch the news or read the newspaper and that it was all too depressing for someone who wanted to help change the world into something better, but was overwhelmed by not knowing what to do with all this “bad news.”

So, I don’t have cable, I don’t get the newspaper, I intentionally don’t get into conversations with people about politics, and while I do listen to the radio, it is usually in the car on my way to someplace – not a lot of exposure time. Essentially, I was unplugged from world events, current events, hot topics, election topics and even a lot of pop culture. I was definitely not in a position to do a whole lot to change the world into something better, that’s for sure.

In 2006, my younger college friends convinced me to change social media networks from MySpace to Facebook, which was about college affiliations at the time and a way to make friends and see relationships between people based on the college they attended. I joined this new platform and have been an active member ever since.

Unless you’ve been hiding somewhere under a rock for the last 10 years, you probably know that Facebook is all about being social, posting what you’re doing, your pictures, asking what you should make for dinner, being a philosopher with a few lines or an image, getting ads based on your mined data, blasting immense disapproval of politics or food service and other things of the sort. But what you may not be aware of is that in the last year or so, Facebook has become considerably more populated with articles from all over the internet about all kinds of things. These articles range from news stations, pop culture magazines, science articles, human interest blogs, news releases, newspaper articles and movie/tv reviews.

When I recently had to do an accounting for all the professional development I’ve done in the last year, including articles I’ve read, I realized that I read between 20 – 30 articles every week. I’m not even considered an avid or frequent Facebook user. I’m just average. A quick scroll through my news feed and I find only 3 personal posts, 7 news releases from a newspaper or news station, 6 movie/tv reviews or blog articles, 4 science articles, and 7 human interest articles. And then if I click on one of these articles, there are links to more articles. I invariably find myself on Facebook for hours reading about current events, hot topics, politics from differing perspectives, human interest stories, movie and tv reviews, news releases and pop culture (I love finding “Life Hacks” and organizational designs).

On top of that, if I find a blog writer, newspaper, article author, magazine or news station that seems to be producing good stuff, I follow them or sign up for a blog to get sent to my email and then I’m reading even more.

This is on top of working full time, being a single mommy to a preschooler and working on my master’s degree, so it’s not like I have oodles of spare time where I’m just bored. I’m the opposite. I’m riveted. Facebook has made me more connected, more informed, and more compassionate. It has even taught me to be more patient, more forgiving and practice holding my tongue better when I should. I am in a better place to change the world than I’ve ever been in. And the surprising thing is I’m not overwhelmed. I’m excited and I want to spread the disease of information and being informed and being excited to everyone I know.

Are You Surviving Fall Quarter?

Phew! We have made it past midterms (hopefully, relatively unscathed), and we are into a serious countdown to Christmas (or winter break).

Fall quarter is always a blur. There’s a HUGE build up to prep, the most new students at once all year and the largest break between quarters happens right before fall. Talk about stressful. Students are stressed out too because this may be their first quarter, they have just come off of summer break (even if they attended summer classes, there’s a lot of time in between the beginning of August and the end of September), they may have their own kids that have started school.

Plus, let’s not forget all those hollidays that make it so hard to be good and do what you’re supposed to…like work 40 hours in a week, or grade papers…or write a paper…or read all the chapters and articles you’re supposed to. Throwing Typewriter gif

Since we could…ahem..ALL use a little help maintaining the sanity to make it through the quarter, here are some tips that could make your life as an instructor easier.

  1. If you’re not using Canvas for your gradebook, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. A main benefit is providing students with more immediate access to their grades and being less dependent on you, the instructor. Students call, email or walk in to the eLearning office ALL the time with questions about why their grades aren’t in Canvas for all their classes. Another HUGE benefit of you using Canvas for your gradebook is that it’s easy to share student grades and reports with organizations on campus that need to keep track of student progress as part of eligibility in their program. If student grades are in Canvas, then we can also identify students who are at risk of dropping out or failing, so that we can intervene earlier. If you use Canvas for nothing else, use it for your gradebook. If you would like to explore how to make the Canvas gradebook work for you or would like help setting it up, call, email or come on down to the eLearning office. We’d love to help you!
  2. Be intentional about your gradebook now and don’t leave it for panic time in week 10. If you’re using Canvas, don’t rely on how you set up your modules. Check your “Assignments” in the left hand navigation. Everything listed in your Assignments will be listed in your gradebook. Alternatively, whatever you don’t see in your Assignments isn’t listed in your gradebook. Also, check for duplicate assignments, if all of your assignments are labeled correctly, or if they all have points. Read this blog post to give you more tips on the gradebook and setting up extra credit.
  3. Think about how your students are interacting with your content material. If you’re not getting the desired response from students, think about how you could make it more effective in the future. Start with the end. What result do you want? Then, work backwards from there, how could you get your students to give you the desired result? Tweak these assignments in your master class in Canvas.
  4. Do you have a master class in Canvas? A master class is an awesome place for you to tinker and tweak things, to experiment, fail miserably and then try again – without the danger of messing up your students or your grades in your live classroom. It’s also a great place for you to perfect your lessons and assignments based on student feedback throughout the quarter. Then, you simply import your material into your live class when you’re ready. You can create your own master class, as many as you’d like. For help on setting one up, contact eLearning.
  5. Finally, if you need help or your students need help, don’t hesitate to ask! Don’t suffer in silence, whether you’re struggling with technology, instructional design, student engagement, student behavior, accessiblity, etc. Ask for help and encourage your students to do the same.

Have a great rest of fall quarter!

We look forward to serving you!