“A journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step”

The great Chinese thinker Laozi’s words could apply perfectly to the transition from teaching in Blackboard to Canvas. As I shared last week, in Confessions of a Procrastinator, I have not yet built my course in Canvas, but this week I started and here are some tips to help you take that first step.

Start with the end in mind

It is my great honor and pleasure to teach Everyday Creativity developed by my colleague and friend, Dr. Elena Karpova. As I started to build my Canvas course, I realized that first I needed to keep the learning outcome goal in mind. For us, that is students learning and then applying creative thinking strategies to generate multiple unique ideas. To accomplish this the students complete pre-class readings and quizzes, in class individual and group activities, and out of class work that demonstrates their use of the strategies.
As you are bidding farewell to Blackboard, filter and sort through your collection of instructional materials and make decisions whether they need to be updated and/or replaced in your new course. Then as you (re)build your course in Canvas, there are three actions you can take to begin the journey of teaching in spring semester.
  1. Build your modules: Modules organize your content by weeks, units, chapters, concepts or a different organizational structure. Modules give your course a consistent look and feel and make it easy for your students to navigate it. Modules also accommodate your delivery style: use them to re-create the folder set up from your course in the previous learning management system or, better yet, use them to chunk up your instruction into smaller, independent “digestible” units to empower student cognitive processes.** A module can contain files, discussions, assignments, quizzes, and other learning materials. Learn more using the Create a Module web guide.
  2. Choose your homepage: Your homepage sets the mood for learning in your course. Canvas has different options for choosing your course’s homepage. The syllabus is a great way to introduce your course, make your expectations transparent, and keep students abreast of all course happenings. Learn more via the Setting the Course Home Page web guide.
  3. Clean up your course’s menu: Your students should only see the course-specific menu options that allow to quickly and easily navigate all course information and keep distraction to a minimum. Learn how using the Customize the Course Navigation web guide.
  4. Check your quizzes: While most of your previous quizzes will import from previous Blackboard content, some, such as such as hot spot and quiz bowl do not transfer, and matching questions that have images in the answers must be fixed. Additionally, you will want to double-check multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks, essay, matching, numerical, and formula question types before publishing your migrated quiz or survey. If a question format is not supported by Canvas, the question will become a simple text (students will not have the option to answer). The Quizzes tool in Canvas can be used for graded or practice quizzes, as well as graded and ungraded surveys and automatically creates a column in the grade book.
CELT developed this Canvas Course Building Basics YouTube video (below) and a Course Building Basics web guide on these actions that you can take to (re)build your course in Canvas.

If you have made it this far in the teaching tip, Congrats!

You probably realize this is going to be a multi-step journey. Don’t fear! CELT’s open labs will be closed Dec. 8-Jan. 2, 2018, but consultations with our instructional designers may be scheduled during that time via the appointment scheduling website. There are multiple ways to learn the Canvas learning management system, including workshops (below), recorded resources, self-paced tutorials and webinars on the ISU Canvas training and resources website.
Additionally, Canvas offers 24/7 support, listed in the “? Help” icon on the global navigation (far left of your Canvas website) or via the Canvas support line, 515-294-4000 (press 2, then 1).
Best wishes for your winter break and spring semester canvas course building,
Sara Marcketti, Interim Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT)

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: “A journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step” (December 14, 2017 – Constant Contact) website.

Print Version?

Prefer a Print version? If you would prefer to view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip December 14, 2017 (PDF)