Preparing Your Canvas: Round Two...Fight!

*Editor's note: Northern Kentucky University just announced its official switch to the Canvas learning management system. In this blog series called "Preparing Your Canvas", instructional designer Nicholas Jones documents that transition.

I'm writing this after our second Summer Faculty Institute, which I described in Preparing Your Canvas: Starting a new LMS. All of the presenters (myself included) felt more confident and comfortable going through it again. In response to feedback we received from the first LMS (some of which you can check out in Preparing Your Canvas: In the Trenches), we tried to purposefully include more discussion of design.

I'm gratified by the interest and enthusiasm folks had toward the design discussions. During the concluding learner presentations one of the faculty said (and I will horribly misquote, bear with me):

"I used to think of this technology as just a repository. [The design topics] really created a breakthrough moment for me and opened up my thinking."

Ooh! That warms the cockles of my foolish heart. Hearing that faculty member's words gave me a lot of motivation. For designers of any kind, the craft can often feel neglected. Its a practice that ideally recipients never have to think about, so its only noticed when its missing or done poorly. We included an extra hour of demonstration about how to create graphics and implement them. We chose to do the image creation in Powerpoint as many faculty are already familiar with that software.

We also uncovered an assumption we made. We worked on the in-person component of the training (the SFI in particular) with the mindset that participants would go into Canvas 101 on their own either prior to the SFI or during the  3 days. The reality (as it often is) was different; participants can be hesitant to dive into Canvas 101 outside of when one of the instructors asks them to for an activity. Coincidentally, we also received feedback from this SFI asking for more examples of successful course design. In our next round of iterations we'll be looking for ways to murder two waterfowl with the same rock and discuss Canvas 101 itself as part of the SFI.

Finally, we are also budding off the image creation/user experience discussion into its own course for people to take. So we can add that to the set of plates we're trying to keep spinning. Fortunately, there's a lot of positivity going around. At the risk of jinxing us, I'll say things are going pretty smoothly so far.

Keep Learning,

Nicholas Jones
Instructional Designer, Northern Kentucky University