So you’ve spoken with the learning designers, attended a series of Carpe Diem workshops and engaged in a hearty debate with fellow colleagues about best practices and learning outcomes for your course. You’re all enthused about adding something interactive and innovative to your course, but how do you go about building it? What tools or software should you use?
The short answer is: whatever you’re comfortable with and matches your learning objectives, but it’s handy to know what sort of functionality the tools at your service can achieve.
Canvas should be your tool of choice for the bulk of your course. It’s easy to use, very well supported, and learning analytics are easy to access. With a small amount of time, you can create some visually appealing pages within your course by using the editing tools available.
Use Canvas for:
- The bulk of your course content
- Communication to your cohort
- Quizzes (Question types supported include multiple choice, fill in the blanks, random values, drop down and essay), assignments and the majority of assessments
- Easy video streaming, trimming and branding
- Managing grades and feedback
If you’re at all comfortable using tables, CSS and HTML, the Canvas text editor can be called on to do some amazing things. But even if these acronyms mean nothing you do, no course is ever hurt by adding a bit of colour, an image or two and adding formatting to your Canvas pages using the built in editing tools. Using these, you can easily make your Canvas course page content look very professional. The Canvas text editor also includes a basic accessibility checker so you can make sure that your layout enhancements meet accessibility standards.
A wide variety of new tools and plugins are always being researched and trialed for Canvas. If there is something you want to achieve but Canvas can’t do it yet, there’s a fair bet it’s being looked into. You can also request a feature yourself using the MyUni Feature Requests Form.
The tool of choice for most interactive presentations. All students have access to Microsoft PowerPoint, and learning modules created using the tool can be viewed on most devices. With a little bit of time, you can use PowerPoint to create visually appealing presentations complete with animations. Anything you create in PowerPoint can also be exported as a video that can be uploaded to Canvas, should you wish to embed the content in your course.
Use PowerPoint if you want your presentation to include:
- timed or clickable animations and interactions
- a full screen presentation
- audio narration
- full navigation structure
- hot spot quizzes
The University does have licenses for this software, but consider all other options before going down this route. Storyline is very powerful (at it’s core, it’s a more capable version of PowerPoint), but it can be clunky to ensure it works efficiently on all browsers and on all devices.
Use Storyline if you want your presentation to include:
- More complex interactions
- A wide variety of gradable quiz question types (remember, see if what you want to do can be done in Canvas first!)
- Fully interactive and customisable menu navigation, complete with tracking of progress and the ability to return to any section.
- A ‘PowerPoint like’ presentation or module that you want embedded into a course.
- Customised learning content with ‘variables’ (For example, you can ask students to type in their name and then refer to them by their name during the module)
Storyline files, unlike PowerPoint, can be embedded directly onto a Canvas page for full immersion.
Tips and Tricks
- This guide isn’t meant to have all the answers, but it is meant to point you down a possible path.
- ‘Innovative‘ doesn’t always have to be a new tool or software. It can also be using an existing tried and tested tool in an interesting or unexpected way. Feel free to get in touch with our learning designers or educational technologist and have a chat, or check out some of his previous blog entries.
- The University has a fantastic team of Canvas experts should you need assistance with something tricky you’re trying to achieve in Canvas. Contact MyUni Support.
- While creating something amazing can be very rewarding, complex doesn’t automatically equate to better learning outcomes for students. Try looking at the simpler options before diving head first into a complicated Storyline presentation. It makes editing the resource easier in the long run, too.
- Talk to people! It may be that someone has already created something similar to what you want and a simple modification (and permission!) will have a new learning module ready to go.
- Never let the technology or your technical skill level prevent you from designing something you think students will love. There is a lot of assistance out there.
- And don’t forget, you can always get in touch with your friendly neighbourhood learning resource developers to give you a hand or advice with anything you’re working on.
- You can also request a tool or idea be added by requesting MyUni feature.