Some helpful tips for our switch to Canvas
Moving can be a challenge and is usually a hassle, but it is also a great opportunity to analyze all of your stuff and make some decisions about what to toss, what to keep, and what you can improve in your new home. But a successful move starts with good planning, which means that now is the time to think about ESU’s transition from Blackboard to Canvas by July 1st, not just so that it is easier to move, but so that your unpacking process can lead to an easier roll-out and a better course next semester.
To guide your move (and because I like analogies), here are some moving tips adapted from Good Housekeeping, that will “make packing and unpacking as painless as possible.”
- Create a “moving binder” to organize your process: Or for the less OCD-prone among us, simply reflect on your courses and jot down ideas as you teach, about what parts are good, bad, and ugly, and how you may like to change things in the future. Make a checklist of course components to give yourself a tangible breakdown of the “packing” process, as you review your introductory materials, content posts, assessments, and student activities in each course.
- Plan for the new house, not the old house: While the very busy Spring version of you wants to box everything up as it is, the Fall version of you will appreciate all of your extra effort so that quick decisions don’t have to be made when unpacking a “Miscellaneous” box, into an unfamiliar location, in a frenzied rush before classes start. If you know that you are restructuring a course, pack your folders and bundles of content according to this new course layout so that it will be put into place easily in the fall rush. Exploring Canvas now will help you understand its differences so that you can plan better. I.T. has already created all of ESU’s summer and fall semester courses in Canvas, so they are ready for instructors to jump in.
- Begin by packing rooms that you use the least: Don’t feel bad if you do box some things up without analyzing them. If you can’t sort through all of your courses, focus on improving your current semester’s courses while they are fresh in your mind, or think ahead to which courses you will begin with in the fall, and focus on those.
- “There is no need to pack a can of beans that expired two years ago.”: Just because it’s in your course’s “pantry” doesn’t mean that it needs to be moved to your new home. This is the best excuse you will have in a long time to go through your courses and toss out old, outdated files and content. It will make your course cleaner for you and your students, and it will take some of the work out of the move, itself. (Althouth I.T. is recommending that you export and save all grade information from the last 4 semesters in case of grade challenges.)
- “If you dust as you pack, your belongings will be clean when you unpack them.”: Take this opportunity, as you reflect on this semester’s courses, to make small improvements as you see the need for them. Fix typos, appearances of documents, bad test questions, dead hyperlinks, etc. Or make bigger changes, like adding new resources or planning different student activities.
- Do your boxes rattle?: In the packing world, a mostly-empty box means that the contents are likely to jostle and break. In our analogy, a rattling box is a lesson, unit, or whole course that is begging for more of its online potential to be met. Could students’ learning experiences benefit from the integration of online communication or collaboration activities? Are there chapter reading and response assignments that could be enhanced by students posting video discussions rather than text? If your current use of Blackboard is simply as a place to post announcements and grades, take this opportunity to see what can be improved, not for the sake of “filling the box,” but to enhance what comes out of it for your updated course.
Our I.T. department has been making the rounds to departments to discuss the move to Canvas, and there are occasional training sessions being offered, so keep an eye out for the Buzz-In announcements regarding those. If you need help with Canvas, let Sandy Valenti or me know. (For those of you who aren’t at ESU, you’ll have to find your own Sandy.) And unlike if we were helping you move furniture, you don’t have to provide pizza.