This week was like a buffet. There was so much food (technology) I wanted to try, BUT I had to constantly remind myself not to fill up too quickly by trying everything. Otherwise, I would become too full too fast, miserable, and walk away swearing to never go to a buffet again. That being said…I might have eaten a bit too much, but I left heartily satisfied.
I should say I like Canvas and I do not plan to use something else (like notebowl, which looked really cool, or my own website). For me, I see a value in teaching my student demographic how to navigate Canvas and here’s why; just two weeks ago a graduate from our program came back to visit and said her graphic design instructor on the main campus has his own website and requires the students to use it, and two other tools like blogs, instead of Canvas. Apparently most of the class dislikes this arrangement. When I asked why they felt this way, she said most of them were still struggling to find everything in Canvas for all of their other classes, so learning three new websites/systems for his one class was overwhelming and it was too easy to miss an assignment. I’m not against instructors doing this. I don’t think an LMS works for every instructor or every class and students should be challenged to learn other and different things. For myself, though, I work with students who often are returning to school from a long educational gap and who also, typically, have very limited computer skills. Providing them with a working knowledge of Canvas, the most widely used system for the school, will help those students to be more successful in our program and beyond, should they choose to transition to credit.
The tool I explored was Arc. Let me tell you about it before I explain how it connects to my pedagogical philosophy. It’s a fairly new tool in Canvas, and when I learned about it during FLEX week, I was really excited to use it. Arc allows both instructors and students to record video within Canvas. The video can be from the webcam or it can be a screencast. An outside program, like screen-cast-o-matic, is not required. The videos can be closed captioned as well (yay accessibility!). There are two things I especially like about Arc. First, instructors and students can comment on specific parts of a video — imagine at the 1.13 mark there is a key point most students miss, an instructor can comment on that moment and call attention to its importance and then students can reply! Second, there are built-analytics that allow instructors to “quickly and easily analyze the media students are viewing, how long they are viewing, and when they stop viewing” (What is arc?). I could imagine this being very helpful if I had recorded a lesson and wanted to ensure my students were actually finishing it. While YouTube has similar analytics, you cannot see results for individual viewers, but in Arc you can see this information per student. While all of this feels a bit Big Brother, what else would we expect from an LMS? Data, data, data. I am still thinking a lot about how and when I might deploy Arc…which gets to my pedagogical philosophy. Wornock and many others talk extensively about an instructor’s online presence. Based on my student evaluations and numerous emails from my former online students, one of my strengths teaching in an online environment is making the class feel like a community rather than a disconnected experience they had been warned about! One way I did this was to post YouTube videos pretty regularly, participate regularly in the online discussions, and email people individually to check in an say hello. Arc intrigues me because it is a tool that allows the students to dialogue back and forth on those same videos AND record their own and post them. Now I haven’t used it much yet, but all of this sure sounds like an incredible way to build online community, develop/re-enforce your online presence, and get to know your students in more authentic ways!!
This post is already insanely long, so I will just finish by giving three shout outs…
- I loved the emphasis this week — remember your pedagogy first. Then use the technology to deliver it. I feel invigorated!
- The charts on. p. 20-21 were golden! I made xerox copies and pinned them to my wall! This chapter was a good reminder for anyone considering teaching online to think about the WHY before the WHAT.
- Bioshock is amazing. I miss it. I also highly recommend the soundtrack (see YouTube).