Preparing Your Canvas: Stand Alone Complex

This is the fourth entry in my Preparing Your Canvas series, documenting Northern Kentucky University's transition from Blackboard to Canvas. If you want to start from the beginning, here's the rest in chronological order:

This is the week I got to run some of my first stand-alone workshops. We don't have another Summer Faculty Institute till the end of July, so it's just workshops for the next few weeks every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We intentionally avoid Mondays and Fridays because we expect low faculty attendance on those days during the summer. The other two instructional designers I work with had already ran a few sessions themselves, so I was interested to see for myself how the experience would change in this other format.

The format of the 3-day institute afforded us a lot of control that we would sacrifice in the open workshop format. We could guarantee that participants started each lesson with comparable knowledge about Canvas. With the workshops, participants could attend or skip whichever lessons they wished. We also had more flexibility with the length of lessons in SFI; its easy to let one lesson take an extra 15 minutes to accommodate participant questions, and then shave a few minutes off a couple later lessons to compensate. Finally, my prior experiences as a trainer had involved enough time where I felt like I could form a meaningful connection with participants. I didn't know the names of their children, or see all of their tattoos, but I felt like I had enough time to build a rapport with people. It would be overly dramatic to say I "struggled" with the workshops, but the lack of rapport was something to which I definitely had to adjust. 

As I've mentioned in other posts, our workshops and SFI are extracted from the Canvas 101 course we built, which is divided into 6 modules. Each module potentially contains multiple lessons within it, and each stand-alone workshop corresponds to 1 module. For 1 workshop, we combined 2 modules to give us 5 workshops total. Why? Part of the reason relates to when we do the workshops: Tuesday through Thursday. If we do 6 workshops, 1 workshop a day, and only on the same 3 days each week, we risk having faculty who will never be able to attend 2 of the workshops. By having 5 workshops, we can cycle them out of sync with the days of the week. With enough repetitions Module 1 will eventually happen on a Tuesday, then a Thursday, and finally a Wednesday.

I want to wrap up this post with a review of one of the workshops I did this past week. I developed Modules 3 and 6, so those are the ones with which I'm most familiar. However, for this week only I helped out by also delivering the Module 1 workshop "Getting Started." The point of the module is to introduce in broad terms the unique features of Canvas, contrast them to Blackboard Learn, and migrate at least one course to CanvasModule 1: Getting Started is hard. I believed it before I had to teach it, but I'm more convinced of it now. You have to manage this balancing act between introducing a new piece of software and not digging into all the specifics of how to use it (the workshop is only 2 hours long). This is complicated by the fact that the module discusses how to migrate content. Part of knowing the best way to migrate the content is to understand what Canvas is going to do with that content, and to do that you really need to just know how to use Canvas.

Keep Learning,

Nicholas Jones
Instructional Designer, Northern Kentucky University