The Academic Technology Assist Program (ATAP) is designed to pair faculty with AT Scholars as both consultants early in the design process and a source of feedback on near-complete courses. Depending on where you are in the design process your assigned AT Scholar can offer various types of assistance.
Understanding the Canvas LMS
The fall semester marks the first semester in which faculty are required to migrate courses from Blackboard to Canvas. Though transitioning to a new Learning Management System (LMS) is a difficult and annoying process, at this point it is no longer avoidable. Blackboard will not be supported beginning in the fall. If you consider yourself new to Canvas and the tools integrated into the LMS, you are not alone. Even many of the AT Scholars had no experience working with Canvas at the beginning of the program (including myself). Northeastern University has assembled a variety of training tools for faculty new to Canvas, during your first ATAP consult I can direct you to any resources of interest.
Applying successful online teaching strategies
Learning online is a fundamentally different experience from sitting in a classroom; it follows that teaching online must also differ. However, the grand majority of differences are related to how students interact with information and how a sense of community is fostered. Canvas is an optimal LMS for online learning, in part because of the module structure and in part resulting from the flexibility offered by the library of integrated tools. Bring your planned course to ah ATAP consult and I can help determine options to implement your ideas using the tools and technology in Canvas. Alternatively, if this is your first time teaching a course online we can discuss the differences between designing an online vs. in-person course.
Designing a module template on Canvas
Canvas structures courses as a collection of modules that break up material to improve accessibility. Unlike Blackboard, which could be compared to the documents folder on your computer, Canvas has a linear course structure. Students will work through modules in order, either organized chronologically or by topic. Support pages such as a course home page or the syllabus connect to the modules to auto-populate assignment lists, meeting calendars, and assignment due dates. For a teacher designing a course this means that once you have decided the structure of your course (format of materials, assignments, introductions and conclusions for modules, etc.) you can create a single module then duplicate it and Canvas will add the new information automatically. I can work with you to construct the first module and decide on a template, as well as how to organize the course to best leverage the automatic features in Canvas.
Reviewing a nearly finished course
Evaluating an online course from the student perspective is a massive undertaking. Considering the quantity of material normally presented over a full semester, one can easily see that a detailed review of the entire course would require weeks. Furthermore, issues related to course navigation, technical requirements, and accessibility can be difficult to catch from the perspective of the course designed. You have spent weeks creating content; naturally you know where to find every video and assignment, but a student seeing the course for the first time may have a very different experience. Even if you are experienced with online learning a second pair of eyes can be useful for finding trouble spots in a newly designed course.
Wherever you find yourself in your preparations for the fall semester, I encourage you to participate in the Academic Technology Assist Program. The AT Scholar training was deliberately designed to apply to the entire course design process, and if I am unable to answer your questions, I will certainly direct you resources that can.