Data, Instructional Design, Culture And Anonymous Teaching? CanvasCon Highlights

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CanvasCon is the name of the conferences taking place around the world that gather educators, instructional designers and users of the Canvas LMS. While Instructure, the company that develops Canvas, helds InstructureCon, CanvasCon is less focused on promotion and marketing and more on institutional educational solutions and pedagogy.

WIRIS

Recently the Canvas LMS community portal made available some of the presentations taking place at CanvasCon Sydney last August. Here are some interesting bits of insight and thought-provoking suggestions to try out in your learning.

Anonymous teaching

In what seems to have increased student willingness to speak frankly and chose topics of debate or dissertation more exciting to them, but to which otherwise they would feel ashamed of choosing; the Department of Education Tasmania enabled anonymous online teaching and assessment. The outcomes are preliminary but worth considering. After all, other experimental settings in social science deem blind and double-blind trials essential to remove biases from research.


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Feels like doing no training at all

Some people want their LMS to look as little as an LMS as possible. So what happens when people want their training to look as little as training as possible? A sensitive design, keen use of gamification features, and a persistent focus on the end goal —namely, higher sales bonuses— made of Volkswagen Learning Hub, the LMS of the company’s Australian group catering some 2,000 people in sales, aftersales and technical positions an informed, less resistant to change staff. Further developments will show whether the Hub keeps the direction of turning compliance requirements into opportunities to foster a true learning culture.

The rise of data-savvy instructional design boutique shops

With one more year of learning analytics on the rise, the expectation of learning organizations —large universities in particular— to recruit data scientists and set up some kind of “student insights” department or team heightens; while incredulity also grows more widespread.

Loree is an example of an alternative path. An instructional design consultancy that either guides educators into data-aware content creation, or develops custom tools to make the job of teaching while gathering user input and feedback streamlined and more effective. We have documented this rise before, as it finds on open source technologies a powerful ally for customization and analytics. One of Loree’s assets is, in fact, H5P. The ease of use and data prowess makes the open source interactivity standard one of the sharpest blades in Loree’s set.

Buy-in to branch-out (beyond the digital learning environment)

It’s a tale as old as eLearning but it bears repeating. The efforts in making the LMS understood and culturally yield more rewards than focusing exclusively on making the technology better. Nowhere failure to learn this hits more painfully than when teaching teachers, of in this case, coaches. What do you possibly have to teach the staff behind the world’s number 2 triathlon team? As it turns out, with the proper buy-in there is no limit to who you can upskill.

Harder, better, faster, more frequent and multi-modal feedback

Why isn’t the purpose of the LMS to become a feedback-giving machine? And why isn’t behavioral and performance insights put in the hands of students as quickly and actionable as possible? After all, feedback is a consistent and evidence-based element of successful learning approaches. There is also an arguable qualitative game changer at work: By “meaningfully reacting” to online learning actions, ideally with a mix of automated and human-initiated responses, the student’s idea of the LMS as a “lifeless” interface begins to crumble.

The ‘FEU’ model for stakeholder-approved innovation

What happens when the LMS grows stale? It might by time to update it. But what and where depends on who answers yes. “Foundations – Enhancement – Uplift” is an example of a model that lets you localize the areas deserving of an upgrade, as well as the stakeholders most eagerly awaiting one. In general terms, the more technically involved want innovations that lead to performance and reliability, while the end users want more dazzling, still highly functional experience. The former seek improvement with minimal disruption while the latter could stomach a bug here and there if it means they are getting a cutting-edge feature.


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