Byte-sized Canvas- No Boring Announcements!


Welcome to Byte-sized Canvas! I’m Helen Graves and today we’re talking
about how to increase the chances that your announcements are getting read. OK, gang, here’s a pop quiz. What is the fastest way to disengage
the human brain? Answer? Presenting something that is tedious or boring. The biggest mistake instructors often make
with the Canvas Announcements tool is sending out rather dull, often lengthy,
“just-the-facts-ma’am” announcements. I’m guessing the reason you take the time
to send announcements is to create connection and offer important reminders about actions
your students can take to be more successful, like studying for this week’s quiz or an
interesting tidbit you found that relates to your topic. But if students aren’t reading ‘em, your announcements can’t have the effect you want! Here’s a wild and crazy idea – think of
announcements as a marketing tool. At first blush, you may say that’s a somewhat
crass analogy but human nature is such that people typically need a reason to take action. The very goal of marketing is to get someone
to do something despite the fact that they may be reluctant or too busy or don’t even
realize it’s to their advantage to do it. Your students are human, right? C’mon, they are! So, bottom line, your class roster is comprised
of at least some, if not many, over-scheduled, action-averse or simply unaware human beings. Why not maximize your ability to influence their behavior by applying a few simple marketing principles? People who study persuasion and marketing
will tell you there are two parts to getting someone to take action. • You’ve got to get their attention
• You’ve got to show them the benefit Both of which require you to set your instructor
perspective aside and think “student-centered.” With that in mind, here are three strategies
to help make sure students are actually reading your announcements. Subject lines absolutely make a difference. If they ignore that, they’ll never
see the announcement itself. Make your subject line benefit-rich! Which one catches your eye. . .Number 1. . .or Number 2? Again, Number 1. . .or Number 2?” No one wants to read long messages so
avoid the urge to throw everything and the kitchen sink into a single announcement. Along those lines, format the announcement
for scan-ability with short paragraphs, bullet lists, even images or color for visual interest. No more big blocks of text! It’s not pandering to make your announcements
fun and engaging. It’s simply recognizing how the brain works. With so many things competing for our attention, it’s human nature to disregard the boring ones. Mix it up and use graphics, add audio, record a short (and I do mean short—less than 3 minutes, if you can) video. Include references to things you know your
students are interested in. If you’re having fun with it, your students
will too! And fun always keeps our interest. In my opinion, adding this layer to your announcements
propels you right into the exemplary category for two of the OEI Rubric items. It’s certainly a creative, student-centered
way to use the Canvas technology. And presenting what could be tedious reminders
in a way that leverages your students’ interests and extols the benefits to them absolutely counts as responsive in my book. You may ask, “Why should I go to the trouble
of making my announcements interesting? Why not just send them out the way I always
have?” I’ve noticed the vast majority of instructors
have a strong altruistic bent so one reason to spice up your announcements is simply because
you care about what’s best for your students. But it’s also true that active, engaged
students have an increased chance of completing your course successfully, and that means better
retention and completion rates and likely increased demand for your courses. Successful students, successful instructor. Sweet, huh? So before you send out that next announcement,
take off your instructor hat and channel your inner marketer. Believe it or not, it will support your students’ success! As the Car Guys would have said,
“Well, you’ve done it again! Wasted a perfectly good four and a half minutes listening to us!” But I’m glad you did. Until next time, this is Helen
wishing you a Canvalicious day!

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