Canvas Early Adopter interviews – Kerin Elsum and Nat Bates

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Midway through 2017, RMIT took nominations for a small group of people to use Canvas in the second semester and to report any issues and ideas back to the teams working to set up Canvas for the whole university to use in 2018. As this group of Early Adopters prepared to start teaching their courses, a quality assurance framework was sent out requiring compliance before the Early Adopters could “go live”. This caused the number of people to experience Canvas as Early Adopters to reduce. Those who did go live have now nearly finished teaching a full semester, so we’re attempting to record their experiences in a way that might be useful for those about to use Canvas in 2018.

Kerin Elsum – Professional Practice (Master of Advertising)

Kerin Elsum used Canvas to manage teaching the Professional Practice course in the Masters of Advertising program. The course requires students to have access to it before enrolment, so Kerin set up and maintains a Google site equivalent for this early and ongoing access requirement. Kerin also makes use of Google+ in the course, to enhance the communications in and around the course.

The key things that Kerin recommends:

  1. Allow at least 20 hours to work out Canvas and structure your course in it.
  2. Have your course set up in something like Google Drive or a website before hand, to help you think through its structure and presentation.
  3. While Canvas is more visually appealing than Blackboard, it is still very much a learning management system and nothing like what we’ve come to expect with setting up and managing a website. Allow time to work that out.
  4. Canvas is good for managing assessment, more efficient than Blackboard.

Nat Bates – Implement Sound Designs

Nat Bates teaches Implement Sound Design in the School of Media and Communication. Being a national unit of competency, Nat would prefer to use Canvas that brings together units of competency in a program or discipline of study, rather than separating out each unit as though it was its own course. But in this Early Adopter phase, RMIT was unable to establish a systematic way to enable that, so Nat continued with teaching the unit as a course.

The key things Nat recommends:

  1. Allow between 10-20 hours of time to understand and begin using the system.
  2. Get hold of RMIT’s “14 Elements to Canvas Success” to guide how to use Canvas, as it is being used in a quality assurance process. Here’s RMIT Studios explaining these elements and their role in a quality assurance process.
  3. Using Canvas Calendar to list all events in the course and link in the relevant content to that event can be a simple way to approach teaching with Canvas. The Schedule tool in Canvas was useful for his management of consultations with students.
  4. Implementing Canvas in first semester of 2018 carries a substantial risk, given the usual problems with enrolment and access, adding a new learning management system in the mix as well. Plan contingencies, such as having all content in Google Drive.
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