Stanford Canvas LMS Course Profile: Jennifer Johnson

Hi. I�m Jennifer Johnson. I�m a lecturer
in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric here at Stanford. And my experience with Canvas
has been overall really positive. What I like about Canvas is its ability to facilitate
a space for more engagement with students, both instructors and students and also student
to student interaction. First and foremost I use it as a central communication
hub, if you will. Not only do students upload their assignments there but also I take attendance
there, I look at papers there, I send announcements there. So everything is done in one place.
So students know where to go look if they forgot what the announcement was. Students
know where to go look where the reading was for that week. Everything is in one place. The second thing that is really neat about
Canvas is the collaborative aspect of it. It really offers a couple different spaces:
the peer review space, the wiki page space, the SuiteC space. All of those are tools that
allows students to engage with each other as well as teachers to also participate in
that collaborative effort. And I think it�s really important especially in a writing class
to really understand your audience and to have access to that audience through various
tools outside the class. So the classroom doesn�t just end with the four walls. It
extends outside of the class. And that�s the real, real neat thing about Canvas is
creating a learning space outside the class where students continue to engage with each
others and teachers also get to be part of that process. Canvas has this really neat peer review function
when you set up an assignment. And you can create groups of students that review each
other�s work, comment on each other�s work and also teachers can then also participate
in that commenting process. So it�s kind of like a metadiscussion on top of the discussion.
And furthermore, I can review progress in students through the various drafts that they
upload. I can look at their peer review draft, their instructor review draft and a final
draft all side-by-side with different tabs open so it�s like I�ve three stacks of
papers but really I just have three tabs open. One of the features I really love about Canvas
is the SpeedGrader. So the SpeedGrader acts as like a stack of papers. Instead of flipping
through and writing comments now I can actually just flip through and type out comments – both
in-text comments as well as provide them with a reflective longer comment at the end. Students
can then respond back to me within that page. So what�s nice is that I can always refer
back to their progress. When you, you know in the old days if you used to just pass back
the drafts and we would never see them again. Now you actually get to hold onto that – hold
onto your comments – but also their reflections on your comments which I find really helpful.
So I make them do a…action plan of like OK, so now you have all these comments, what
are you going to do with…what are you going to do with all these comments? What�s your
next step? And right in that comment box they actually make their action plan right there.
So that�s a really nice feature because that keeps you engaged with the progress in
learning not just seeing each individual assignment as turned in and passed back. Well, SuiteC�s got this really neat, new
function called the Asset Library which allows both students and instructors to share external
resources, links, images and so forth inside of Canvas. So it could be on a topic that
you�re working on, a course theme or something like that but what�s neat about it is that
they can like and leave comments on it similar to kind of social media functions. And also
it provides a great gallery space for sharing student work. So students could go through
and see each other�s work, what they�re working on, their research questions, they
could like them, they could offer feedback. But this could all be done in one centralized
place across all students. So all students would have access. I have some advice for instructors just getting
started with Canvas. First you wanna kind of populate all your files. Get all your information
arranged in Files so that you can hyperlink within the assignments and within the announcements.
The overall goal of Canvas what I find really appealing is that you never actually have
to ask students to go hunt for stuff in Files. So whenever you send out an announcement,
it appears, it pops up as a PDF for them because you�ve hyperlinked it. And, similarly, when
you create an assignment it also gets hyperlinked to that assignment sheet or the reading that�s
due for example. For instructors just getting started there�s
a lot of resources and support out there for you. The one that I use quite a bit is the
Help function within Canvas. The best thing about the Canvas support here on campus is
that not only do they have Office Hours but they will come to your office and help you
hands-on, one-on-one. So if you�re just getting started make sure you make use of
all those resources here at the Stanford campus.

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