Tag Archives: Canvas

Zoom Video Conferencing Best Practices

As the use of opens in a new windowZoom has exploded in ICCSD and around the country, here are some best practices to implement in order to ensure that your Zoom meetings run effectively and securely.  

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a Zoom alternative, you should check out opens in a new windowCanvas Video Conferencing or opens in a new windowGoogle Meet.  

1. Do not post Zoom links publicly

Share Zoom meeting URLs by email, Canvas site, shared document, or another form of direct or secured communication.  

2. Create meeting-specific URLs, rather than using your personal meeting room

If you use your personal meeting room, you run a greater risk of the URL being exposed than when using a one-time or meeting-specific URL.  

3. Ensure that you (and your students) are using an ICCSD Zoom account

4. Consider using secure options for your meetings

These options include: 

 

CANVAS IN EDU: EPISODE 05

Episode 05: Personalization for Students

🔀 Strand: Differentiation 🔀

We facilitate learning for a wide range of learners. Canvas has built-in features that allow us to personalize the content to better meet the diverse needs of the learners we support.

👀 Check it out below 👇

Missed a previous episode? Check them all out here.

Let’s Collaborate

If you are looking to partner with an IDS: Innovation team member and explore how you might implement the strategy from Episode 03 or collaborate on additional ways to enhance instruction with Canvas, please contact Andrew Fenstermaker at fenstermaker.andrew@iowacityschools.org or use the form below.

Are my teachers spying on me?

Answer: Only the good ones are.  But don’t worry, we’re only talking about making good use of our classroom student data.  Part of effective teaching is having an adaptive classroom that adjusts to meet students where they are at in order to maximize the time they spend in the zone of proximal development. But as anyone who has spent time as a classroom teacher knows, finding the time to really dig into the data can seem daunting, if not impossible.

Fortunately, Canvas provides some built in options for a mid to high level view of classroom data in real time. This won’t be a replacement for analysis of individual student responses on formative assessments. But it can be used to identify patterns in student performance over time. Read More »

CANVAS IN EDU: EPISODE 04

Episode 04: Top 5 Tips

📂 Strand: Organization 📂

A quick Google Search for Canvas tips results in an overwhelming number of posts. In exploring these posts, I have narrowed them down into My Top 5 for Canvas Organization.

👀 Check it out below 👇

Missed a previous episode? Check them all out here.

Let’s Collaborate

If you are looking to partner with an IDS: Innovation team member and explore how you might implement the strategy from Episode 03 or collaborate on additional ways to enhance instruction with Canvas, please contact Andrew Fenstermaker at fenstermaker.andrew@iowacityschools.org or use the form below.

CANVAS IN EDU: EPISODE 03

📂 Strand: Organization 📂

Episode 03: Course Layout

There are a few different strategies for laying out your Canvas course. You can use pages or modules to orgnize content such as assignments, quizzes and discussions. In this episode, we briefly highlight the different approaches for each layout option.

👀 Check it out below 👇

Missed a previous episode? Check them all out here.

Let’s Collaborate

If you are looking to partner with an IDS: Innovation team member and explore how you might implement the strategy from Episode 03 or collaborate on additional ways to enhance instruction with Canvas, please contact Andrew Fenstermaker at fenstermaker.andrew@iowacityschools.org or use the form below.

Canvas in EDU: Episode 02

Last week we announced the launch of a short, weekly video series where we will be providing some short tips and strategies for enhancing your instructional practices with Canvas. We are continuing with Episode 02 where we highlight strategies for setting up your homepage within your Canvas courses.


📂 Strand: Organization 📂

Episode 02: Homepage Setup

All Canvas courses have a home page. However, personalizing your home page can customize the experience for students. Let’s take a look at a few strategies for designing your home page.

👀 Check it out below 👇

Let’s Collaborate

If you are looking to partner with an IDS: Innovation team member and explore how you might implement the strategy from Episode 02 or collaborate on additional ways to enhance instruction with Canvas, please contact Andrew Fenstermaker at fenstermaker.andrew@iowacityschools.org or use the form below.

New: Canvas Video Series

Last week we shared some metrics on usage of Canvas within the district and how it has changed since implementing it back in the Spring of 2017. In addition to providing some metrics, we also wanted to provide some short tips and strategies for enhancing your instructional practices with Canvas.


🆕 Canvas in EDU 🆕

Canvas in EDU will be a weekly video series spread out over the remainder of the school year. The video series has been divided into five strands.

  1. Organization
  2. Differentiation/Personalization
  3. Collaboration
  4. Google Integration
  5. Assessment

Each strand will feature a varying number of topics and strategies that focus on enhancing instruction within Canvas. Some videos might provide new insights while others might reinforce the powerful things you are already doing. We hope you find value in these short, weekly videos.

📂 Organization 📂

Episode 01: Embedding Agendas using Google Slides

Daily agendas can provide a clear understanding for students and the objectives they will be exploring during class. Embedding a Google Slideshow into your Canvas course is a streamlined solution for sharing a daily agenda

👀 Check it out below 👇

Let’s Collaborate

If you are looking to partner with an IDS: Innovation team member and explore how you might implement the strategy from Episode 01 or collaborate on additional ways to enhance instruction with Canvas, please contact Andrew Fenstermaker at fenstermaker.andrew@iowacityschools.org or use the form below.

Canvas info overload!

Canvas is an incredibly powerful learning management system (LMS). The amount of customization available for courses is incredible and the basic functionality of the system is fairly intuitive. But sometimes having all this choice and information thrown at you can feel kind of overwhelming. For this reason, the Technology and Innovation Department is going to publish a series of Canvas info guides and how-to’s in an effort to help make sense of the feast of options we have available in Canvas, but don’t always know what to do with.

We have data about how we, as a district, use Canvas. While that information isn’t always relevant to a teacher’s or staff member’s day-to-day routine, perhaps knowing a little more of the big picture will help put your own usage into a larger context.

Since Canvas was first introduced at ICCSD in the Spring of 2017, we have seen its use at the secondary level increase exponentially. This can be measured by several different metrics including number of courses in which Canvas is used, number of teachers or students using it, number of assignments or discussion topics within all courses, and even number of files uploaded to the system. However, the most relevant statistic to overall activity within Canvas is the number of page views. Counting page views gives us a sense of the number of users, frequency of use, length of use, and depth of use all rolled into one number.  The patterns that arise in the numbers of page views can give us insight on Canvas usage from year to year or even from day to day.

Take Canvas use at West High School, for example. Here is a graph of daily page views at West between Oct. 14 and Nov. 15 of this school year. Can you spot the weekends?

This regular pattern emerged over time but didn’t exist at the onset. At the beginning of our Canvas implementation, between May 18th and June 2nd 2017 there were approximately 2000 page views total at West. This isn’t a high number, which makes sense. It was the end of the year when this new system came online. 7 teachers, teaching 196 students, decided to dip their toe in the water and created a handful of assignments in Canvas.  Each of those students clicked on a page about 10 times over the course of 2 weeks. Everyone was just trying this out.

At the beginning of the 2017-2018 more teachers at West were ready to hit the ground running. Starting on Aug. 23, for the first two weeks, the school averaged about 30,000 page views a day. The activity tapered off a bit after that as some teachers, having tried Canvas, decided to go with a more traditional content organization format. But by the end of the 1st Trimester the school had racked up 1.6 million page views across several categories including content pages, assignments, quizzes, files, grades, announcements, collaborations, conferences, groups, and other general pages.

The 1st Trimester the following year, 2018-2019, West saw about the same amount of Canvas usage as the previous T1, approximately 1.6 million page views. It looked like there was saturation and that perhaps this was the most use the school was going to get out of the system. But as the year went on the Canvas usage grew steadily. In the first full week of the 2019-2020 school year, the page views at West exceeded 60,000 for 3 consecutive days. It was clear that the school had entered a new phase of its Canvas implementation.

This was also apparent by the fact that the Helpdesk was getting inundated with requests for help with Canvas like never before. It was somewhat perplexing until we took a look at the data and realized that the Canvas usage across the district was much higher than it previously had been. This put all the help requests into a new context. It was good that people were needing help. It meant that there were more new users working to implement Canvas in their classrooms.

By the end of the T1 this year West High School alone had clocked in at over 2.8 million page views, a 75% increase from the previous T1. Given approximately the same number of students, this represents an increase of about 800 additional page views per student over the course of the trimester. This pattern is consistent with usage at the other high schools in the district, including significantly increased usage at the Junior High level as well.

There are multiple factors that contribute to this odd pattern of usage stagnation and then explosive growth. One interesting factor is something that is happening behind the scenes which we can tease out by looking at our data on manually created courses. These are Canvas courses that are created by teachers and students (yes, student created content!) rather than being imported through PowerSchool. These include ‘sandboxes’ where teachers try out new features and functions before implementing them in their classes, PLC courses where teachers and coaches are teaching and learning about Canvas or other teaching tools, and even some courses created specifically for student collaboration. The graph below represents district wide page views of manually created courses between August of 2017 and now.

During the first year, as a district, we averaged about 2,000 page views a week for courses of this type. In the second year that doubled to about 4,000 page views a week. And in the third year, this year, it tripled to approximately 12,000 page views a week! The amount of teacher and staff learning about Canvas and through Canvas has been increasing dramatically. This shows that even during times when it seems like there is stagnation in usage, teachers are still collaborating and developing their Canvas skills, which then serves to launch our Canvas community to the next level during the following academic cycle.

So regardless of whether you are just starting out on your Canvas journey and aren’t sure where to start or you are a veteran, daily Canvas user, you are part of a vibrant and growing community of users at ICCSD. There are many opportunities for collaboration and to receive assistance whether its from the Helpdesk, a neighboring teacher, or an instructional coach. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

 

Canvas Trimester Transition

One of the challenges we’ve faced in terms of implementing Canvas over the past year has been trimester transitions.  We are confident that we’ve now ironed out issues that have impacted students and teachers during previous transition periods, such that teachers should continue to have access to course materials and the Canvas grading system through the weekend following the trimester transition.  

In order to ensure a smooth experience for teachers submitting their first trimester grades, we will be pausing the PowerSchool/Canvas sync for enrollment data from Thursday, November 15th until Sunday, November 18th. During this time, the most current enrollments for your second trimester courses will not change and new student enrollments will not appear in Canvas until Monday morning (when the sync has been resumed).

You will still be able to sync your grades from Canvas to Powerschool during that time, however, when the sync resumes at 11:00 PM on Sunday (November 18th), you will no longer be able to sync your first trimester grades from Canvas. You will still be able to enter the grades manually into PowerSchool. While this may seem unusual, this is made necessary by a technical limitation in Canvas that does not allow us to have two trimesters syncing with PowerSchool at the same time.

Course Cross-Listing Reminder

As a reminder, if you are planning on cross-listing your second trimester courses, you will want to make sure that is done before you start syncing your gradebook. Directions for cross-listing courses are available here.

Data Interoperability?

No, no, no … you’ve gotta say it like, “data interoperability!”

Over the past several days, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with district leaders from around the country as we learn together about a fantastically riveting topic: data interoperability! (see, I said it right)

So what is data interoperability? 

In a nutshell, data interoperability relates to the ability of systems that create, store, or consume data to seamlessly talk to one another.  Once the systems can speak to one another, data can be pulled – generally in real time – for analysis, regardless of what system the data originally resides in.

Read More »