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Online teaching (and Canvas) in 40 days

ACT-20 program makes a mostly online fall term a reality.

By Matt Griswold, Ed.D.

July 30, 2020

ACT-20 program logoThe Center for Teaching, Learning and Design’s primary role is to provide professional-development and training opportunities for faculty, but the team has never delivered such a large endeavor (in such a short time) as it has with the Advanced Canvas Training 2020 program. The live workshops, tutorials, FAQs and drop-in individual support that’s meant to prepare all instructors to facilitate online courses and use Canvas is likely the largest volunteer training program in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s history. So far, more than 1,100 individuals are registered to complete 12,000 unique sessions over roughly 40 days.

As the Instructional Design and Instructional Accessibility Groups work with instructors to put the trainings into practice, the University wanted to celebrate our progress through the words of those who completed trainings (all quotes approved for use by the individual):

Faculty feedback

Affiliate faculty member

“I wanted to thank you and your team for outstanding ACT-20 training on Canvas and working tips on teaching remotely. I am a very new adjunct (started this summer), and I also teach at four other universities. The training and support for CTLD at MSU Denver is exemplary, far better than any other university I have worked with. The staff leading the online live training and the producers are exceptional. I was astounded and so pleasantly surprised with the drop-in support – SUPER helpful. Again, this well-organized support is so helpful when transitioning (as a new faculty and a new LMS platform). Please extend a sincere thank-you to your staff, as the team’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.”

Kathy Heyl, chair, Nutrition

“The entire training has been incredible. I attended nine trainings last week, and I am a tough critic when it comes to presentation styles. I was blown away at how well all of the trainers have done. They are so knowledgeable and nimble to answer questions that may even be off-topic but handle them quickly and professionally.”

Affiliate faculty member

“(Several other regional institutions) use Canvas, but the best training I have ever had has been from the ACT-20 program. Actually, from the other universities, I had almost no training … although they are trying to help, it did not seem as effective as the ACT-20 program. To summarize, what I learned the most with ACT-20 is not only how to use Canvas better but also why we use it the way shown in trainings vis-à-vis the educational purposes.”

Pamela I. Ansburg, professor, Psychological Sciences

“I wanted to thank you and the CTLD staff for creating such terrific resources to help faculty transition to Canvas. I’ve already attended nine workshops, and they have all been extremely informative, well-organized and well-implemented. I have also spent a lot of time looking through the tutorial videos, and they are great too. All of my interactions with the folks in the drop-in help sessions have been wonderful. It is evident that your team invested a huge amount of effort in a short amount of time to create these excellent resources. I wanted to let you and your team know how much the work is appreciated.”

Instructor self-reflections

Additionally, faculty members have shared what they have learned. At the end of the ACT-20 program, instructors are asked to reflect on each workshop they attended.

From Workshop 3A: Communication Tools in Canvas

“This session was so helpful for learning in general about how to communicate using best practices in the online environment, and then of course learning which tools in Canvas would facilitate those best practices. As a first-time online teacher, this is great info to have! Everything from frequency, methods, Canvas tools, etc. – this session taught me a lot.”

From Workshop 5A: Accessible Pages, Assessments and Quizzes

“I will be replacing many of my all-caps areas to bolded and italicized to indicate emphasis. I will use the man-in-the-circle icon for accessibility checking my content.”

From Workshop: Workshop 6A: Creating Discussion in Canvas

“In this workshop, I learned how to set up discussions in Canvas; but more importantly, I had a great discussion and feedback on how to make engaging and meaningful discussion prompts, and how to organize students to self-grade.”

From Workshop: Workshop 6B: Using MS Teams for Synchronous Communications

“I was really inspired by this workshop. As stated before, I was concerned about planning for the group work I always prefer at the end of each class to cement the module’s concepts. I was re-energized with how robust TEAMS can be – particularly with using the channels feature. I will also definitely be separating out my required office hours into blocks for each of my classes and setting the calendar accordingly! Yay for this workshop!”

Highlighted in these comments, MSU Denver is taking the lead in grappling with the pandemic response in higher education. Faced with a spectrum of online courses offered by a huge range of institutions, MSU Denver can assure students that our instructors are not just passionate and engaged but are also more prepared to create standout online learning experiences than those offered at nearly any institution in the country.

Topics: Academics, Center for Teaching, Learning and Design, Technology

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