Faculty Perspectives on Teaching a Course with Canvas Network

MOOCs: the final frontier. These are the voyages of Canvas Network. Its mission: to explore new worlds in education, to seek out new online life and new civilization, to boldly go where... well, you know.

To Boldly GoJames T. Kirk could teach a MOOC.

If the idea of teaching a MOOC sounds a little daunting—like piloting the Starship Enterprise through the Beta Quadrant, taming a hungry grizzly bear, or driving a cab in Mumbai—we’re here to reassure you. We’ve compiled tips from those fearless instructors who’ve explored Canvas Network and mastered the mighty MOOC. Like everything else in life, a little knowledge and preparation makes the unknown a lot less scary.

Wisdom from our brave Canvas Network instructors:

  1. Teaching a MOOC requires commitment and goals just like any other course. Parme Giuntini, The Modern Genius, has advice for MOOC instructors. “If you have time management problems, or you're disorganized, RUN AWAY from this project. I've taught for 18 years, and I never walk into a classroom unprepared, but this is different. We had a really clear sense of what we wanted out of this class, and why we were doing it.”
  2. Communicating with students en masse in a 100 percent online environment can be intimidating. John Lorch, instructor and course designer for Precalculus Algebra, told us, “I was worried about the large number of students; that all these people would be posting and asking questions. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. That didn’t happen.” Frequent announcements and close monitoring of the discussions with periodic guidance in those discussions works wonders.
  3. You don’t have to go it alone. Partnering with professional course designers and recruiting TAs can make a big difference. Larry Welkowitz discovered the value of the on-campus talent pool while creating the Introductory Psychology course. “This is the first time I really saw how the team is as important as the professor. The instructional designer has his expertise and the TA does her thing. There were times we’d bike over to the ice cream parlor to record a video for the course, and many times we would randomly text each other from home or across campus to solve problems.“ (Read more about Larry’s perspective on MOOC in his blog).
  4. Be the mentor that you are. When a course is designed well and you are present and active in the course, your role as a professional, an educator, and mentor shines through. Kyle Crider and Chris Freeman co-facilitated on Intro to Sustainability. They noted, “We were very pleased with the course. We didn’t know what to expect, it being our first time around. The best part was the feedback from the students, one of them telling us, ‘It’s the course that gave me the push I needed to pursue a master's program in sustainability,’ while another student wrote to say that he decided to start his own environmental consulting business.”

So, what are you waiting for? Take the advice of our faculty experts (a.k.a. MOOCfleet / MOOC tamers / MOOC drivers), and get ready for your own MOOC adventure on Canvas Network. Or as Picard would say, “Engage!”

Keep learning,
Carrie Saarinen & Katie Hocevar 

Register today for one of our upcoming courses where you can learn and do more with Canvas Network.

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