In a hurry to get some of your course content in Canvas but don’t know where to start? This page is for you!

Online teaching at its best is an iterative design process that relies on academic research, standards developed by professional organizations, and input from stakeholders. However, if you find yourself needing to put some of your course content online because you or your students can’t make it to a face-to-face class right now, that can be done in a relative hurry using the tools already available to all faculty through Canvas, our Learning Management System.

In trying to move course content online, it can be challenging to translate what you already do well in a face-to-face classroom into an online environment. Consider these suggestions to get you started with a predictable structure for students.

Before we get into course types, let’s cover communication!

The most important thing to consider is how to clearly communicate with students about expectations and course requirements. 

  • Use the Announcements tool for one-way communications with the whole class.
  • If you need to send messages to students that require a response, use the Inbox tool in the main Canvas Menu.

Seminars / Discussion-Based Courses

In a small seminar, students will probably read one or more resources before class, think through how the materials relate to themselves, to the major themes of the course, and to other course materials. Then, students come to class prepared to make sense of what they have read with the group. There may be a bit of lecture from the professor and a lot of discussion among the seminar participants. 

How would this class format work online? Consider this possible model as a place to start: 

Read. Reflect. Discuss.

Read.

  1. Create a Module
    1. Use the Modules tool in the course site menu to create a module based on the topic, week, day, etc. 
    2. Each module you create will contain all the materials and activities for that class session/week/topic.
    3. The Add Item function for the module will allow you to add things from the Assignments tool, Quizzes tool, Files tool, Discussions tool, Pages tool, External Links, or External Tools (Google Drive or Office 365).
  2. Add any readings or course materials as items to the module.

Reflect.

  1. Create a place for students to think and reflect through the use of Private Discussions or Assignments where students can answer prompts about the reading materials. These discussions or submissions can be for a grade in the gradebook, or you can just scan them before class to make sure students are all on the right track. Add each of these items to the module.

Discuss.

  1. Create a virtual class meeting using WebEx, Zoom, Conferences (BigBlueButton), etc. for the day and time your class normally meets. Add the link to the module.
  2. Simplify your course menu
    1. Go to Settings in your course menu
    2. Select the Navigation tab at the top of the page
    3. Drag most of the items down to the bottom section to hide them from students: Files, Assignments, Pages, Quizzes, Discussions, etc. They will access all of those items from the Modules tool.

Lectures / Larger Courses

In a lecture-based class, the instructor will typically prepare lecture slides and a handful of check-in activities with students to ensure that everyone is making sense of the content. After class, students may have practice sets or other homework to complete. Students in larger classes may also have the opportunity to attend office hours to ask questions and go over challenging material. 

How would this class format work online? Consider this possible model as a place to start: 

Lecture Video. Homework Quiz. Live Q&A Sessions.

Lecture Video

  1. Create a Module
    1. Use the Modules tool in the course site menu to create a module based on the topic, week, day, etc. 
    2. Each module you create will contain all the materials and activities for that class session/week/topic.
    3. The Add Item function for the module will allow you to add things from the Assignments tool, Quizzes tool, Files tool, Discussions tool, Pages tool, External Links, or External Tools (Google Drive or Office 365).
  2. Add any readings or course materials as items to the module.
  3. Create your lecture videos and/or presentations using the tool of your choice: WebEx, Zoom, Powerpoint, YouTube, Camtasia, etc. Add the link to the lecture to the module. Note: Breaking up a longer lecture into several videos of no more than 10 minutes long is a good idea. It is both easier for you to produce as the instructor, and easier for your students to watch. Longer videos with no breaks between are just not as effective.

Homework Quiz

  1. Create a Discussion, Quiz, or Assignment for students to answer prompts about the reading materials and/or check in and make sure that they are progressing on the homework. These discussions, assessments, or submissions can be for a grade in the gradebook, or you can just scan them before class to make sure students are all on the right track. Add each of these items to the module.

Live Q&A

  1. Create a virtual class meeting using WebEx, Zoom, Conferences (BigBlueButton), etc. for regular office hours or Q&A sessions where students can talk with you individually or in small groups. Add the link to the module.
  2. Simplify your course menu
    1. Go to Settings in your course menu
    2. Select the Navigation tab at the top of the page
    3. Drag most of the items down to the bottom section to hide them from students: Files, Assignments, Pages, Quizzes, Discussions, etc. They will access all of those items from the Modules tool.

Tips for Transitioning Online and Keeping your Sanity

  1. Keep expectations realistic. Good online courses take a long time to build, but even in the short time available, we can create a useful, short-term experience for our students. Also, students may have unreliable access to technology when not on campus, which might require some flexibility from you. There will be some bumps in the road, but we’ll work through them together.  
  2. Get help. Connect with colleagues who are faced with similar challenges or similar kinds of courses. If you have questions about any Canvas tools, you have so many support options!
    1. 24/7 Canvas Support Hotline (833-383-5792) or Live Chat
    2. WFU Service Desk
    3. ITG members
    4. Search the Canvas Community
    5. Email keepteaching@wfu.edu
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