Canvas Tips & Tricks – Series 1

To help you maximize the new features in Canvas, Instructional Consulting office will post a series of Canvas Tips & Tricks. The first series includes three tips to get you going.  More tips are forthcoming.

Tip 1: Notifications:
Canvas will automatically notify students about activity in your course. Students can receive updates to announcements, discussion topics, grades, replies to email or other activities.  Students can select whether to receive notifications immediately, daily, weekly, or never, and they can choose to be notified via email, SMS text message, Facebook, Twitter, and other web services.

To set your personal notifications go to
Canvas Guide of Notification
Video guide of Notification Preferences

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To get to the Notifications page, click Your Name at the top of the Canvas page.

Tip 2: Speed Grader:
You can use SpeedGrader to grade assignments and provide feedback through Canvas. Comments and editing marks can be applied directly to submitted documents without downloading. You also can save time and provide audio and video comments.

For more detailed instruction with this link
Canvas Guide of Speed Grader

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Tip 3: Collaboration:
Students can collaborate on a group document in real time. Instructors can choose to have students use Google Docs or Etherpad. Etherpad is similar to Google Docs and built right into Canvas. Students can use Google Docs but must have a Google account. Otherwise, students can use Etherpad, which does not require signing-up for an account.

For more detailed instruction with this link
Canvas Guide of Collaboration

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If you have any questions or would like help setting up your Canvas course, feel free to visit Instructional Consulting Office (room 2002) or email us at ic@indiana.edu.

Say ‘Hello’ to Canvas

You should know by now that IU has selected Canvas tCanvas newso be the successor to Oncourse. Canvas will be IU’s official learning management system going forward. There will be a two-year transition period and Oncourse will be retired summer 2016. While many features are similar to Oncourse, there are some things that you will need to do differently to manage your classes in Canvas, but our first impressions as an office are that Canvas is very good!  This post will highlight just a few of the new features we like, but we strongly urge anyone interested in learning more about Canvas to stop by the Office of Instructional Consulting for one-on-one consultation with one of our friendly consultants. Additionally, the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) will be offering introductory Canvas workshops throughout the summer and fall, and we highly recommend attending a session.

Beginning summer 2014, the registrar is auto-populating courses into both Canvas and Oncourse. In other words, you can use Canvas starting right now for your summer classes if you wish! However, it may be best to familiarize yourself with the tool before switching. We highly encourage all instructors to log into Canvas and get familiar with it. To log in, go to canvas.iu.edu and log in with your existing IU username and passphrase. Feel free to make changes, add tools, etc., as the site will not be visible to your students until you actually publish the site. This allows you to experiment, create practice sites, or even create new sites for research groups as a way to familiarize yourself with Canvas before teaching your first class. For a very brief video about some of the features of Canvas, from our IC QuickTips podcast, check out the following video:

As shown in the video, there are many similarities between Canvas and Oncourse.  Each course taught has its own ‘course’ page and each course can have a unique set of tools, similar to Oncourse. Syllabus, Assignments, Grades, Discussions (more on this in a bit), etc., are just some of the main tools that will likely be used for your classes and that are set up similarly to Oncourse. However, there are some new features you should know about in Canvas. One of the key features of Canvas is that there are several universal features available as part of the dashboard. Canvas BannerThe dashboard appears at the top of your screen and is the same for all courses. On the far right-hand side of the toolbar, you can access your profile information (for uploading a picture or bio information), an ‘Inbox’ where you can manage all incoming and outgoing messages sent to students, a ‘Settings’ tab for changing notification and other settings, a ‘Logout’ button, and finally a ‘Help’ tab. On the left-hand side, there is a series of drop-downs menu items.  The first is for your ‘Courses.’ The universal ‘Assignments,’ ‘Grades,’ and ‘Calendar’ menu items are among our favorite new features of Canvas.  From these drop-down menus, students and instructors can quickly see what assignments they have due for all of their classes, as well as a quick view of their grades.  For instructors, this will even help you track upcoming assignments that you will need to grade. Finally, the calendar can show all events from your many courses. As Canvas Callong as assignments are given a due date when they are created, they will automatically populate in the calendar. This is going to be very handy for students and instructors as well.

There are many more features that we know that instructors and students will enjoy, such as the ability to record video or audio directly to discussion forums, and integrating third-party apps such as GoogleDocs or YouTube videos directly into your class, and we would love for you to stop by so that we can help you with your individual needs. We are here all summer long and would love to help out to make sure that this transition to Canvas goes smoothly. If you need any assistance or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at ic@indiana.edu or just stop by our office.

Justin Whiting

Office of Instructional Consulting

School of Education Classroom Renovation: Survey Results

It’s been several months since the School of Education completed its most recent classroom renovation project. Thirteen classrooms were recarpeted, repainted, refurnished, and equipped with new technology. The IC office has administered two surveys to collect feedback from instructors and students on their experience of the renovated classrooms. In both surveys, we asked questions about use, perception, and satisfaction. Overall, both instructors and students indicated their satisfaction with the renovated classrooms. One student’s comment: “Clean environments with maximum outlets for technology have been beneficial to all students.

 

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Nearly all of the instructors we surveyed told us that they frequently used whiteboards and mobile podiums. Fewer had used the Smartboards and Apple TVs, but those who had told us that they appreciated the affordances of these technologies. About Apple TV, one instructor wrote: “It helped me display YouTube videos through Apple TV!” Instructors indicated high levels of satisfaction with whiteboards (89%), mobile podiums (79%), and chairs (79%) and tables with rollers (72%) (both of which are on rollers to allow instructors to easily reconfigure the classrooms).

 

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One instructor provided the following comment on the new furniture: “In a limited amount of time, I was able to transform the room to suit many configurations. I even found myself creating new activities because I knew it would be efficient to move the classroom around. I REALLY like the mobility of the new furniture!”

 

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Students indicated that they frequently used Smartboards and whiteboards. Like their instructors, students used Apple TV far less frequently. Students were quite satisfied with whiteboards (85%), the instructor stool (79%), and the chair with rollers (77%). One student evaluated the furniture thusly: “Group collaboration is made easier through the increased mobility of the seats!”

 

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We in the IC office were pleased to see high levels of satisfaction regarding the renovated classrooms, but we would like to see technologies like Apple TV and Smartboard used more frequently. If you teach in one of the recently renovated classrooms and you’d like to try the Apple TV, the Smartboard, or any other classroom technology in your teaching, please send us an email at ic@indiana.edu or stop by our office (room 2002).

Faculty showcase: Dr. Barbara Dennis

BDThe School of Education is piloting Apple TVs in 12 classrooms (1004, 1235, 2271, 2275, 3009, 3015, 3017, 3025, 3105, 3115, 3125, and 3275) this school year. Apple TV allows students and instructors to project their MacBook and iPad screens wirelessly with the classroom projector wirelessly. This semester, Dr. Barbara Dennis, who teaches inquiry methodology in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at Indiana University, has been among the most active users of this new technology.

Dr. Dennis started using the Apple TV by coincidence. She happened to attend a new-classroom open-house session at the beginning of the semester, as she was assigned to teach a class (Y612-Critical Qualitative Inquiry I) in one of the SoE’s newly renovated rooms. She decided to make full use of the opportunity to learn about the various types of new classroom technology in hopes of expanding her teaching repertoire.

Dr. Dennis says that Apple TV is particularly useful for displaying group members’ work. She uses a wide range of in-class activities in her teaching. One activity requires pairs of students to take photographs of buildings and explain various aspects of the photos to the rest of the class. Using the Apple TV and iPads, students were able to share and discuss their work without having to spend time figuring out the complex combinations of cables and adaptors normally required to connect to the classroom projector.

Teaching qualitative inquiry methodology often involves collecting and sharing a large volume of data. iPads make collection easier, and the online file-storage-and-sharing system Box (box.iu.edu) makes it easier to store and protect sensitive files. Together, these technologies can also drastically reduce the use of paper, which Dr. Dennis says is one of her goals for technology use.

Dr. Dennis says that she has not faced significant challenges with the Apple TV or iPads, but there are always technical glitches, and Apple TVs only work with other Apple products, which she says is a limitation. For other faculty members and instructors who would like to try Apple TVs in the classroom, she offers the following simple advice: Learning takes time, and you need to embrace trial-and-error when exploring new technologies. It also helps, Dr. Dennis says, to have highly skilled students who can help you use these technologies and are open to innovation.

If you are interested in learning more about Apple TV, stop by the Office of Instructional Consulting (room 2002) or schedule an appointment (ic@indiana.edu).

General tips for choosing technology in a classroom

picture1We see new educational technology resources all the time, whether they are websites, hardware, mobile devices or apps. Trying to decide which of these technology resources are best in your own courses can be a challenge. But how can one decide what technology to use? As an instructor, it is important to evaluate technology for educational purposes. Many school districts or universities have technology coordinators or instructional consulting offices with established criteria to identify resources and technologies for your classroom. Seeking the help of others is a great place to start, but here are some general tips for you to consider when selecting technology to be used in your own courses.

How does the technology support teaching and learning?

Think about how technology can be used for teaching and learning in your classroom. For instance, will technology support new ways of students’ learning? How will technology improve instruction? It is important to consider your instructional objectives and then to find technology that will help you achieve those goals.  Technology does not automatically enhance teaching and learning, but when aligned with your overall instructional goals, it can be very beneficial.

What are others doing to meet the instructional goals?

One of the best ways to successfully integrate technology is to ask your peers and become part of a professional learning network.  Social media networks, blogs, and other websites are great ways to learn about new tools and get first-hand accounts of what other teachers are using.  Look around and encourage other teachers to share their own success stories and failures of what worked or didn’t work.  Ask your colleagues what technology tools they have tried in their courses. Sometimes you need to try a couple of different ways to use a technology before you find a good way to use it.

How does the technology enhance interactivity?

Many technologies enhance interactivity between an instructor and students. They, for instance, may offer the ability for feedback reporting and tracking that can be very helpful to an instructor. Other benefits of interactivity include use in group work and across subject areas.

How easy is it for you and your students to use technology?

Think about user-friendliness, speed, user interface, and training and support. Technology tools and software may not always need to be simple, but consider the amount of support that may be available to you and your students if you get stuck.

How accessible is the technology to you and your students?

Consider whether this technology is accessible for all the students in a classroom. For example, if you would like to use apps for handheld devices in a class, then those devices should be accessible for all the students.

Is the technology cost-effective?

While there are many free resources available, it is always important to consider the monetary costs, the time to learn and use, and any support that may be involved.  Although there are many excellent, free resources available, they might offer limited access, or have intrusive advertising that may not be appropriate for your classroom.  Sometimes getting a paid version offers more stability and support than a free version.

Does the technology protect the privacy and security of you and your students?

The issues of privacy and security should be considered in using technology in a classroom. Using technology should not violate students’ privacy and security. For instance, does this tool gather students’ personal data? Does it expose students to people outside of the class? Make sure to check your school’s policy before implementing new technologies.

Is the technology compatible with existing tools?

Think about whether the new technology is compatible with existing technology. You may need to update the technology with the latest version or purchase extra equipment in order to use the technology.

Overall there are many ways that technology can be used in education.  Picking the right technology can be a challenge, but there are many resources available to help out.  Look around, think critically about the technology, and look for options that will best suit you and your classroom.

References:

  1. http://www.thethinkingstick.com/evaluating-technology-use-in-the-classroom/
  2. http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/educational_technology/evaluation/
  3. http://www.nsba.org/sbot/toolkit/teie.html
  4. http://davidwees.com/content/how-can-we-evaluate-our-use-educational-technology
  5. http://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt-shaping-tech-for-classroom

Image Sources from:

  1. http://schoolimprovementnetwork.blogspot.com/2012/03/five-ways-to-integrate-technology-into.html

Augmented Reality in Education

What is Augmented Reality?

AR_image1The term, augmented reality (AR) is referred to as “a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data”. AR is thought of as a variation of virtual realities or environments. Technically speaking, AR combines the physical reality with the digital world. Virtual reality cannot show the real world, but it creates a completely virtual one, as with video games, or a virtual reality helmet. Augmented Reality, on the other hand, enables users to see the real world with virtual objects, places, and contexts. Thus, AR does not replace the reality, but augment it.

AR_image2Why is AR an interesting topic? Does AR have use in education and in the classroom? AR enhances the perceptions and interactions with the real world so that users can be immersed in a real situation. Enhancing the fidelity of reality, for instance, can make students more immersed in a learning situation by helping better understand the real-world contexts. For example, in medical education, AR can provide a learning activity which is almost identical to the real surgeon for interns by increasing medical visualization.

Use of augmented reality in the classroom

AR_image3Along with the benefits of it, AR has a lot of potentials to promote learning. First, AR can support experiential learning in a classroom by providing contextual clues or information on learning in AR. Second, AR can promote deeper understanding between a real world and a virtual world by associating learning information with the reality. Finally, AR enables students to lead active learning by constructing and manipulating 3-D objects or clues in person. Here are some examples of using AR in a classroom.

1. Providing cues or directions in a classroom

Teachers can produce ‘markers,’ which include information about a topic or content and post them on the board, walls, or anywhere in the classroom. Then, students can scan the markers or QR code (IC Quick Tips) with mobile devices to get additional information. Teachers could engage in classroom discussions about alternative forms of energy with interactive 3D wind turbines or solar panels found at http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/augmented_reality.

Imagine students creating a textbook with 3-D, interactive AR. Students can conduct class projects or homework assignments using AR software or applications with a tablet or mobile device. Students actively engage in learning activities with AR and are expected to accomplish them more successfully.  All of this provides more options for different students and different ways to present information.

2. Promoting student collaboration in a classroom

One possibility of AR is to promote collaboration through social interaction among students in the AR environment because multiple students can share virtual objects provided by AR. This kind of virtual objects can be a means to communicate with students. Or remote collaboration is also available in the AR environment.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Augmented Reality

As always, the introduction of new technology has benefits and disadvantages. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of AR. There are four benefits of AR: (a) multi-sensory immersion, (b) transitional interface, (c) tangible user interface, and (d) synergy with mobile devices.

1. Multi-sensory immersion: AR leads sensory immersion about information or knowledge by augmenting human perceptions with 3-D objects or materials.

2. Transitional interface: AR provides a seamless transitional interface between a real world and a virtual world.

3. Tangible user interface: AR offers tangible user interface with which digital objects or information can be touchable in AR.

4. Synergy with mobile devices: As mobile devices and its applications are advancing, mobile users can experience with more gesture and touch.

There are three drawbacks of AR: (a) high level of reliance on digital information, (b) privacy concerns, and (c) a need of extra wearable devices.

1. High level of reliance on digital information: Too much reliance on digital information may cause the decrease of working memory in the brain which in turn hinders the development of brain functions.

2. Privacy concerns: As AR software and applications are developing, it will become easy to gather information on AR stuff from social network services (SNS) and post them and thereby an unwelcome situation such as private information will occur.

3. A need of extra wearable devices: Since users may want to feel more authenticity in AR, wearable devices such as Google Glass (ABC news on Google Glass) and Apple’s iWatch (Wearable Tech And Augmented Reality – NPR OnPoint) may be provided for users in order to offer authentic experiences in more convenient yet expansive way.

AR Apps Links

References:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality
  2. http://beforeitsnews.com/opinion-conservative/2013/01/augmented-reality-in-the-classroom-aurasma-2569560.html
  3. http://resourcelinkbce.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/bringing-augmented-reality-to-life-in-the-classroom-and-the-workplace/
  4. http://thedigitalshift.wikispaces.com/Augmented+Reality+In+The+Classroom
  5. http://www.fractuslearning.com/2012/10/24/augmented-reality-classroom/

Image Sources from:

  1. Use of AR in Scanning Printed Stuff: http://www.intomobile.com/2010/05/03/the-first-augmented-reality-flashmob-organized-for-layar-users-in-amsterdam-netherlands/
  2. Use of AR in Medical Education: http://3dvis.optics.arizona.edu/research/TUI_AR.html
  3. Use of AR in a classroom: http://resourcelinkbce.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/bringing-augmented-reality-to-life-in-the-classroom-and-the-workplace/

Clickers in the classroom: A powerful tool for engaging students

ImageInstructors from a wide variety of disciplines are using clickers in the classroom. The proponents of clickers claim that clickers are innovative, interactive, and useful. But before we look at potential benefits, let’s talk about what clicker systems are. Clicker systems, also known as classroom response systems, personal response systems, and electronic response systems, are designed to collect students’ responses to questions during lectures. Each student generally uses a remote device—a clicker—to participate in a range of class activities, such as lecture questions, pop-quizzes, and attendance checks.

Clickers offer several potential benefits. Clickers are an easy-to-adopt technology that can enhance the learning experience. Clickers can help instructors maintain an appropriate pace by collecting immediate feedback from students, which makes it possible to identify learning gaps, difficult concepts, and areas for improvement. Students can actively participate in discussions about controversial topics without disclosing their names. In this way, a passive lecture can turn into a very interactive lecture. This can also prevent a few students from dominating classroom discussion. Many instructors have reported that students find that using clickers is fun and engaging.

ImageHere is a case of an instructor who uses clickers in his classroom. Dr. Smith is an instructor at a higher education institution who is teaching Biology 101, Introduction to Biology. He enters the lecture room and settles down along with 200 students. He begins his lecture with a short review of an important concept that every student needs to be familiar with for the upcoming exam. The projector displays questions on the screen, and students are allowed 30 seconds for each question. After students responded to the questions with their clickers, Dr. Smith shows a bar chart that illustrates student performance. Students are surprised, as their answers to the questions are mostly incorrect. Dr. Smith intentionally asked questions that are often misinterpreted. Now he has students’ attention. A teachable moment comes.

This is an authentic example that shows a way to use clickers. It seems engaging, participatory, and effective. However, clicker systems have their downsides. For example, the cost. A basic system can cost over thousands dollars. Furthermore, given that the systems are often used in the large classrooms, one might need on-site technicians with a high level of knowledge to optimize and maintain a clicker system during classes.  Also, developing well-designed questions is important. Some institutions are frequently understaffed, unable to support this type of technology, and this leads to ineffective clicker use.

Researchers and practitioners are looking for the best ways to use clicker systems. And there is great potential. Clicker technology can provide more effective, more efficient, and more engaging education.

To assist instructors here at Indiana University, the Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning has developed several documents to assist with the use of clickers (see resources below). Furthermore, the center also offers individual consulting for instructors who are interested in using this type of instructional technology.  If you would like to know more about clicker systems, please contact us at ic@indiana.edu.

Helpful Resources:

Images from:

  1. http://www.timesdelphic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/clicker.jpg
  2. http://56wrtg1150.wikidot.com/clickers