Over the past three weeks, I have been working on creating an effective, well-designed and relevant module for my Classroom English course at Daegu National University of Education. After the 4th module in Edtech 522 in which we were asked to create a tutorial, I spent some time in a Google Hangout with a couple of classmates who were interested in knowing more about Google Hangouts, the subject of my tutorial. One of the classmates was Renee Phoenix who introduced me to Canvas. Know that I wanted to create a Moodle like CMS environment for my CE students but didn’t have access to hosting, Canvas seemed like the perfect fit. And it is!
Canvas is a powerful CMS that will allow me to create a digital presence unrivalled by Google sites or pbworks, two wikis I have attempted to incorporate in the past. What I like about Canvas is its layers of organization, grade book, ease of use and the overall power this free tool has to offer. Of course, I had to learn this tool from scratch. I knew basically what I wanted to do with it, but I didn’t know how to get there. In order to understand the ins and outs of Canvas, I spent quite a bit of time simply twisting the knobs so to speak. I like to figure things out. Many call me a tinkerer as I play with stuff until I understand it. Yet, there were a couple of instances where I was unable to think my way through it and turned to YouTube. After watching various tutorials, I was able to do what I set out to do.
A couple of things bother me about Canvas. For example, you can’t add to or change the navigation tabs on the left. There are a couple ways to ‘trick’ the system, but I think it would be better if they opened that element of the tool up to course designers so they can have a bit more control over personalizing the feel of the CMS. Of course, I’m using the free version. This may be an option in the pay for version. I will never know.
The greatest learning outcome of creating this module for Edtech 522 was it let me visualize my whole 15 week Classroom English course in a way that I had not yet experienced. By being able to break it into micro elements, and provide spaces for each of my lesson plans, assignments, discussions, grades etc. I feel I will be able to create my best course to date. If this process has done anything for me, it is to get me very excited about the future of my course offerings and the overall quality of delivery to come.