As I get ready for the semester to start, there are several things I’m thankful that I did the last time I taught this class. However, I am frustrated with my ‘past-self’ for not being very kind to my ‘future self’ in one particular instance.
When I taught this class before, I created graphics that looked like event tickets, which repeated across all eight of the modules. Only problem? On the left-hand side of the ticket I had put AUG-DEC, 2020.
I had to then recreate all the graphics to avoid the semester-specific information and vowed not to do that again. Below is my advice for seven ways to future-proof your courses in Canvas.
- Avoid typing dates whenever possible (on graphics, in text, etc.). Canvas does a lot of the heavy lifting around time-bound things, such as having a place where you can enter your class session-specific information (Canvas calendar) and automatically adding assignment due dates to the calendar. More info: Calendar
- Link to file locations (stored on your OneDrive or in other cloud services) vs. uploading files in Canvas. That way, when you make changes to your file, you don’t have to re-upload it. More info: Link to files on OneDrive
- Keep a consistent structure across all assignments. I include the following for each assignment in my classes: WHAT (a brief description of the assignment); WHY (how does it relate to the learning outcomes for the course or why is it otherwise crucial for the class); and HOW (a brief description of what they will be doing for the assignment and how they will turn it in). More info: Entering text via the Rich Content Editor (which is available when creating an assignment in Canvas)
- Use startup and shutdown checklists for each class session. I sometimes forget to enter attendance information in Qwickly (since I don’t typically use the auto-check-in feature of Qwickly). Adding Qwickly to my shutdown (after class) checklist helps me have a better chance of remembering. I can refine these checklists over time as I think of additional items I want to be sure to remember to do before or after class. Sample: Startup and shutdown checklists
- Manage rubrics to avoid duplicates or inadvertently using the wrong one. This is one I need to get better at, I’m realizing as I type these words. Be sure that when you want to revise a rubric, you update the one associated with a particular assignment and don’t make a new one. More info: Managing rubrics
- Develop a ‘run of show’ / lesson plan for each class session. Sample: Flexible course run of show template More info: Flexible course run of show examples
- Save announcements you send throughout the semester, so that they can be reused in the future. You can save announcements inside of Canvas and carry them across for the next time you teach the class. Announcements can also be pre-populated and scheduled to send on a specific day/time. I tend to keep announcement template text outside of Canvas, but I do try to have a list of messages I’ve sent in the past available to repurpose in future classes. Pre-scheduling a series of announcements is especially helpful when assigning large projects that will go smoother with that type of ongoing communication. More info: Canvas announcements