Coachable Moments in an LMS Orientation


The Office of Information Technology (OIT) released the DSU Student Canvas Orientation inside Canvas at the start of the semester to foster student satisfaction by preparing them to become competent users of the campus learning management system (LMS). The course does not offer academic credit, but students can earn a Certificate of Completion as well as digital badges. To date, nearly 120 students have enrolled and 30 students earned their certificates in the first week and 45 earned theirs so far this week. Most of the students are from Mississippi, but come from as far away as Canada, Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia.

The course was updated to reflect new technical requirements and place greater emphasis on student support and satisfaction by creating more interactive course components including wikis, Vokis, and bulbs. Early indicators show that students in the course meet the technical requirements for Canvas and are highly competent in various assignment submissions and tool use (eg. Rich Content Editor, Quizzes, Discussions). In addition, Outcomes were used to assess course goals to prepare students to submit assignments (efficiency), participate in discussions (community-building), and to connect with University administration (connectivity). The integration of Canvas’ Outcomes tool with specific course activities has proven helpful in identifying students’ strengths and areas for support.

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In one assignment called “Where’s LaForge?” students are tasked to find information on the President and his role in the community and campus. Students contributed videos, pictures, and commentary to demonstrate 100% competency in knowing who the President is as well as his role with the University. This activity reinforces institutional commitment by the student which is a contributing factor to student persistence. Gathering information on the President can improve student confidence in the school and shape their perception of the campus environment which facilitates satisfaction with their institutional choice (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; Tinto, 1993–to name a couple).

Students shared some of their findings about the President hosting Fireside Chats, love of green ties, political involvement, and his interest in students. Some observations were quite impressive including this comment below (Disclaimer: The submission below is an actual submission by a real DSU student; however, the student pictured is NOT a student at DSU and the student name has been omitted from the submission to protect his/her privacy):

As the course facilitator, I prescribe to the George Kuh “school of coaching” and will use the outcome findings to identify opportunities for re-shaping content to reinforce learning. For example, outcome results demonstrate that a third of students who took the Activity 4 “Managing My Grades” assessment had a poor understanding of how to manage their grades in Canvas. In the assessment (which was aligned to the understanding grades outcome), I learned from the most missed question that students needed better guidance in understanding that changing their grade display to view only graded activities will mislead them about their actual course standing.

Consequently, I removed my Blubbr from last year thus making the content for that particular concept less interactive and more text-heavy. In the future, information for this “heavier concept” will be converted back to a more engaging format. I will also note that mastery for that task was set at 80% (20/25) which is high. However, given the importance of the content it is a reasonable goal. On the other hand, 98% of students achieved mastery in the prior Activity 3 for navigating to and accessing their grades in both Canvas gradebooks. (See sample graphic below). In all, this experience was a coachable moment for me as well. I had never used outcomes with an LMS orientation in this way before. Canvas’ easy access to course analytics provided the visual graphics and meaningful data to enlighten me. As I was viewing the living data, I began to see the course through an academic lens where pedagogical strategies needed to be applied to reinforce “real” learning. The use of outcomes were not only needed to guide students in practical learning activities, but they were also crucial to informing course curricular revisions that promote student critical thinking skills and develop their problem-solving ability. Furthermore, activity alignment in this “mini Mooc” demands a constructivist approach that shifts accountability and ownership if students are ever to master the LMS. There’s just no way the egg came before the chicken…

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