The first AHSS Digital Learning Forum took place on Wednesday 27th March. This is an opportunity for staff in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty to come together to discuss and share their digital learning practices.

The topic of the first forum was the ‘Canvas Early Adopter’ Experience. Dr Nichola Booth (SSESW), Dr Denise Currie (QMS) and Dr Stephen Kelly (AEL) talked at the event about their experience of using Canvas this year with their students.

There was a lot of thought-provoking discussion on the different approaches to using Canvas in the Faculty and how to develop its use in the future. There were also a lot of handy tips and tricks being shared by the attendees, which are listed below.

Tips and Suggestions from the AHSS Digital Learning Forum

1. Help students focus on the relevant discussion forum threads.

Nichola Booth talked about how she used a lot of discussion forums in her module, but warned that the default setting in Canvas allows students to set up their own threads (which can be distracting and confusing for students, especially if the forums are assessed).  There’s a post on the Canvas blog that shows how to disable this default setting:

How can I stop students creating discussion topics?

2. Set up Appointments with Students in Canvas

Stephen Kelly talked about how he saved time this year by quickly setting up blocks of appointments for meetings with students through Canvas. In the video below, Stephen describes how he uses this feature:

You can see more of Stephen’s tips on using Canvas in his ‘Three Things‘ blog post.

You may also find the Canvas Community Guide on ‘How to set up Appointment Groups’ very helpful.

3. Turn on Chat to enable instant messaging with students

Maeve McCooey talked about how one Early Adopter turned on the Chat facility for limited periods each week so that students knew that they could send messages to their tutor (and get quick replies) during certain times. This helped the students feel supported, and also meant that the tutor had fewer emails from students.

By default, the ‘Chat’ feature isn’t enabled, the video below shows you how to enable Chat within the Course Navigation.

The Canvas Community Guide ‘How do I use Chat as an Instructor’ provides useful information on how to set up Chat.

4.Get student feedback by embedding Google Forms or using Ungraded Surveys

Eva Sweeney spoke about how she was able to gather feedback by embedding a Google Form in a Canvas Page and by using the Ungraded Survey feature (which is a type of Canvas Quiz). In the video below, she describes how to embed content (from third party websites) on Canvas.

The Canvas Community Guide ‘How to create a survey’ explains how to create an Ungraded Survey in your Canvas Course.

You can also see more tips from Dr Eva Sweeney in her ‘Three Things‘ blog post.

5. Rubric for Assessing Discussion Forum Participation

There was a lot of discussion about assessing discussion forums. I found a very effective assessment rubric for discussion forum participation in Rhona Sharpe’s book 53 Interesting Ways to Support Online Learning.

You can access the rubric below, it was developed by Dr Clive Buckley for the MSc Learning and Technology, Glyndwr University, Wales.  It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. (I would advise modifying the rubric so it fits with your discussion forum topic and context.)

Assessment rubric for forum participation

6. How to see exactly when a late submission was submitted

You can see exactly when an assignment has been submitted, through the details in the Grades page and in the Speedgrader (see video below).        

7. Turnitin Integration

There were a few mentions of the Turnitin integration feature in Canvas.  Below are a number of posts on the blog that provide useful guidance and advice for staff and students on this topic.

8. Assignment comments

There was some debate yesterday about whether it was possible to turn off the student’s ability to comment on assignment feedback.  At the moment, it is not possible to do this in the Speedgrader.

Next AHSS Digital Learning Forum

If you have any suggestions on what topics future AHSS Digital Learning Forums could look at, please contact Emma McAllister.