An Introduction to Canvas by Instructure

Let’s take a look at Canvas and the company that makes it, Instructure.

Instructure_LogoInstructure, headquartered in Salt Lake City, was launched in 2008 by two BYU graduate students. Initially they offered an LMS called “Instructure,” which was later renamed “Canvas” in 2011 (Instructure is the company, Canvas is the product). Since Canvas was released the company has grown to:

  • 200+ employees
  • 425+ clients (colleges, universities, school districts
  • Over 7 million students

Canvas has enjoyed tremendous growth in a shot amount of time. Most of this is due to the fact that many institutions are viewing it as an alternative to the closed LMS’s of the past decade (Blackboard, D2L).

So what is Canvas ?

What makes Canvas great for Maryville ?

1. Sleek/modern & user friendly interface

Canvas is extremely simple to use. The interface is easy to navigate and it looks modern.

Canvas 12. It’s web-based

Canvas does updates in a different way – there are no outages for updates, no downtime for upgrades. The version of Canvas we have is the same version EVERY OTHER campus is using. No longer will there be service updates every 4th Sunday of the month. No longer will we have to schedule Service Packs to fix bugs. Canvas installs updates every 3 weeks ! This means a quicker turnaround for new/improved features AND bug fixes. Finally, there will never again be BIG upgrades. Big upgrades in the past meant spending time learning all of the new system. Now, Canvas will roll out new features every 3 weeks. You will learn new features will using the system the SAME way you learn new features of any website as they add them.

3. Integration with Social Media

Users can get notifications from the system ANY way they want. If they want the system to send them messages at Twitter, that’s an option. If they want to receive traditional email/text message notifications, that’s an option.

4. Collaboration tools

Canvas had some great tools in addition to the regular expected ones (modules, quizzes, grades, discussions, announcements….etc).

Canvas has a tool that allows for virtual meetings. Their is a tool for students to collaborate on documents (think Google Docs). There is a Wiki tool. Students can submit assignments via Google Drive.

5. Free Mobile Apps

Canvas has two mobile apps.The Canvas App and the SppedGrader app. Both are FREE.

Canvas App: Allows users to access ALL of their courses. View content items. Read and participate in discussions. Send messages to other users.  View grades. Submit assignments. Add/edit files.

IO-Canvas-IconSpeedGrader: Allows faculty to grade assignments on the go.

These are a few reasons, among many, why Canvas will be a great LMS for Maryville.

What other cool things can Canvas do ?

Keep checking back into this blog in the coming months for additional “sneek” peaks at Canvas. For now, you can listen to this webinar, recorded in November 2013, on getting ready to use Canvas.

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More than Fish Tacos – Snapguide for Teaching, Learning and Sharing (a post by Ashlyn Cunningham, Assistant Professor Occupational Therapy)

snapPrior to my becoming a tech associate, I was resolved to be the iPad stepchild in my own home for the last 3 years. Once I achieved techie status with my new iPad, it was no surprise that my husband (i.e.Mac fanatic) would begin sharing cool apps with me. Enter Snap-guide.

“Think of it as Pinterest, only it actually tells you how to create the stuff you see” he said. I have to admit, I spent several minutes swiping through various guides on how to identify fake Ray-Ban sunglasses, make a bacon candle (i.e. Man-dle) and create the ultimate fish taco. I enjoyed the visual appeal of the guides in addition to the written step-by-step directions. Bottom line – it is downloaded on my home screen next to Pinterest and Zite.

Snapguide’s tag line is “share what you know”, which is a great teaching philosophy. As an occupational therapy (OT) educator, I know that the best way to become an expert in a topic is by teaching it to others. Why not have my students become an expert at something related to OT and share it with actual occupational therapists working in our community?

My goal was to create one innovative assignment for my Occupational Therapy Evaluations class that used technology as means and ends – I called it “There’s an App for That: Snapguide Edition”. My students had a prior community experience where they shadowed an OT, allowing the students to observe therapist/client interaction, including the use of technology within the setting. Many of these therapists now use iPads in their practice, predominantly for interventions and treatment, but not for evaluation. I wanted to show OT’s that this technology could also assist in data collection and tracking of client progress.

To begin, my students were to identify an app that could be used by their community therapist for the purposes of evaluation. The app had to directly tie to a client group that was seen by the OT and had to have a component of measurement (in order to track client progress). This element could be as simple as timing the task completion or succeeding to the next level on a performance –based “game” (Angry Birds, anyone?).Since my students went to various agencies, clinics and schools, their app selection reflected the diverse needs of their community OT’s. Some of their selections had interesting names such as Cramps, Papi Jump and Dexteria, while others were more direct: Paper Toss, Little Writer and Jig Saw Deluxe.

Once the student decided on an app, it became his/her task to create a SnapGuide to teach others how to use the app for OT evaluation purposes. Students needed to break down the instructional steps of the app used and create a guide for the OT (or anyone) to follow. One trick the students had to learn immediately was how to capture a screen shot of their app at various stages /progress points (this is done by pressing the Home Button and Power button at the same time). Another challenge encountered was the student’s ability to share the app’s applicability to patients and convince the therapist that the app was beneficial (they learned the concept as the app’s “clinical utility”). Once their guide is finished, they will contact the therapist and share the information, possibly having to educate the therapist about Snapguide as well!

As of this writing, the students are still working on their Snapguides. My plan is for them to have a 2 minute “throw down” in class to demo their guide to their peers and show how easy it is to connect technology with occupational therapy evaluation (and how beneficial it is to track progress). Criteria for winning the “throw down” is based on the coolest app and the thoroughness of the Snap Guide. What is the prize for winning? A $10 iTunes gift card of course!
– written by Ashlyn Cunningham, Assistant Professor Occupational Therapy

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Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to the iPad

Everyone knows about Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised version—-see below). If you are in need of a refresher, check out this site.

fx_Bloom_NewWhile getting caught up on some educational technology reading, I stumbled upon an article of someone who had applied Bloom’s to the iPad, and gave a listing of iPad apps that can be used for each level. For a “live” version of this wheel, with links out to iTunes for each of the apps, go here.

padagogywheel550pxThere are plenty of apps available for the iPad that can aid in serving this solid teaching pedagogy. For more information about this, please visit here.

Don’t forget, we have 21 iPad’s that can be reserved for use in the classroom! Visit our technology checkout form to reserve them !

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