Thursday, May 18, 2023

Summary of First Scottish #Canvas #Instructure Users Group. #SCUG

It was great to meet the growing user base of Canvas by Instructure at Stirling University Business Centre.  Fitting too as Stirling was 2nd institutional Canvas user in Scotland. Glasgow School of Art (GSA) being the first. 

There were attendees from both institutions and folks from 

  • Clyde College
  • Borders College 
  • City of Glasgow College 
  • Data Lab (Edinburgh University) 
  • Edinburgh Business School (Edinburgh University)
  • Heriot Watt University 
  • QM University 
The community is growing fast - really as Canvas gives us a robust and user-friendly platform with global reach. Mainly, between excellent sessions, it was an opportunity for the system admins and users to exchange some great tips and experiences of rolling out Canvas or simply running the system.

Some of the themes of day went beyond Canvas.

How for instance do we get staff and users to make the most of Artificial Intelligence that is already present in Word and PowerPoint and a range of tools. How we use AI ethically in assessment and how our assessment processes need to change. We've been thinking about that already at City of Glasgow College.

How Canvas data can potentially help shape learner pathways. The new skill sets needed by teaching staff and learners around AI prompts and lots of new tools that will support learning materials become more accessible from better automatic transcription of video, to automatically creating assessments around all kind of artefacts including video and building and creating learning materials. There was some discussion of tools that prompt you to keep on task if you have ADHD (note to self must find that one) 

Some of the talk much more hard-core Canvas 

  1. How you manage, roll out and maintain a sensible Canvas template or templates. We have one at City of Glasgow College some Universities have undergraduate and postgraduate even faculty templates. Not a path we will go down. You can catch a glimpse here. Canvas allows you to publish open courses and we will be doing more of this.
  2. Everyone is enjoying using the new Canvas Icon Maker (though important for accessibility always include an appropriate ALT tag).
  3. Some institutions like ours have clear update cycles to allow everyone to review content. Some only do this for programmes that are targeted on basis of a range of factors. 
  4.  Generally, learners love the consistency of Canvas and templates. The challenges lie in ensuring there is cross faculty adoption and that staff come to have an understanding of very basic learning design. A course should not simply be a collection of PDF documents or PowerPoints. 
  5. One way to solve some of these issues is to build in content review to a college or University quality process. In colleges that might include sampling the appropriate use of the College template in internal verification processes. 
  6. For all ensuring the accessibility of content is continuing issue. There are lots of great tools in Canvas that support this. Our centre uses Ally to take this further but ultimately staff need to take ownership and publish learning materials in an accessible format. 

We showcased how we are using Canvas Folio and how it can give a learner a portfolio for life and can be built into normal assessment processes. We talked around how we could use Canvas Credentials as open badges/ micro credentials. Canvas have made two great acquisitions in Portfolium and Badgr. 

We highlighted the opportunity that we have as Scottish Canvas users to make more use of Canvas Commons and specifically to work together and share content through a consortium on Canvas Commons. Its available if you look for it under admin consortiums. Called "Scottish Canvas Users Group" We should all be sharing content here and to the wider global community to align to UNESCO principles around Open Educational Resources. We will share our template and some of our Canvas courses here.

Also. covered our approach to ABC learning design and the range of tools our staff have access to, to embed in their Canvas courses.

Some suggestions we will take back. 

  1. Use blueprints very sparingly and only update once or twice a year. 
  2. Look at some additional links that might be useful embedded in template - so always in front of learners - how to install canvas app - where to find Canvas essential course for students. Stirling has this as a Stirling essentials course covering just about everything a learner needs to know. Would be interesting to get student feedback on this. 
  3. Perhaps have link to instructions on accessing the Canvas App on front page of template - but mainly ensure that Canvas home screen/dashboard has key links that students need.
  4. We will have a sharing session with our graphics lecturers and GSA staff. 
  5. We all agreed to sign up for an online community so we can stay in touch more regularly and we will try and have a face to face gathering every six months.



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