My Technology-Based Learning Environments course mates and I have been busy loading our course information into the Canvas learning management system this for the past week or so. In my last blog I reported that I am about a week behind due to taking a road trip halfway across the country to see my father who is fighting cancer. As it turns out, I also ran into a bit of a side trip with my course. Because we have been asked to reflect on what we needed to revise about our courses based upon the structure of the LMS, this is a perfect time to bring it up.
For the first-quarter course submission, we had to input information which had already been thoroughly developed and peer-reviewed. The easy part was simply copying and pasting text from the design document into the LMS. Sure, some editing was necessary, but the content was the essentially same. This allowed my course mates and I to focus on the structure of the LMS thinking about the most appropriate placement of the information. For the second-quarter course submission, we are now working on adding our instruction, activities, and assessments. Because this content was not developed prior to input, we must also develop as we input. Once I started working with the various aspects of Canvas, specifically the Modules and Assignments, I saw that I needed to give more thought to the structure of my own course, specifically the sequence of activities and how that might be interpreted in Canvas. I actually returned to the design document for a major overhaul. After all, the information will be put into multiple places in Canvas, so I wanted it to be correct before input saving editing time in the future. Now that the paper overhaul is in a good place, I have begun to input it into Canvas. I cannot stress how easy it has been to get the info into Canvas after the overhaul. It is not only going so smoothly, it is actually guiding me on the development of instruction. The ideas were there, but writing them out has become such a cinch! I have a much better idea about both how long the rest of this stage of the development will take me bringing me back on track with my course mates and what my next stage will require time-wise and content-wise.
As for how the design model is working for me, I feel as though I have overcome a major hurdle and can now move forward with greater speed and efficiency. To those of you who develop online courses but are not using Canvas, it may be time to rethink that plan. I have used Moodle, Blackboard, Edmodo, and Schoology; Canvas is now my new favorite. I was concerned about how my population of younger students may receive Canvas as compared to Edmodo or Schoology, but Canvas actually allows you to develop your content more like a Word document or a website, so you can make content appear exactly the way you want. Schoology is geared more towards younger students, but it experienced a major hacker attack several months ago, and I have been cautious about using it ever since. Canvas is a great alternative.