Reaching the “ME” Generation

Me Generation

In recent years, the “ME Generation” that has descended upon our classrooms is noticeably different than that of past generations. This group has grown up with a perpetual (and almost instantaneous) connection to their peers, helicopter parents hovering overhead, and standardized test scores defining their perception of success; resulting in a group of students with strong self images, an intolerance for criticism, and the perception that everything (including the classroom) can be customized to meet their individual needs.

So, how do we connect with this new type of student, without compromising the standards, rigor, and principles that are necessary for their success?

Read more on the Cengage Learning blog.

LearnCanvas LIVE! December 2012 – Gradebook! (follow-up)

Last week Canvas held another Webinar. The topic was about the Gradebook in Canvas. For those of you who were unable to join us, take a look at some follow-up information that was sent. You can also see a recording of the Webinar below. Keep in mind though that the file is quite large and might take a few minutes to load. Also, be sure to check back for future Webinars about Canvas!

LearnCanvas LIVE! Gradebook! December 2012

This was a lively and engaging session! Thank you to everyone who registered for and participated in the webinar. Our discussion included many different perspectives on Gradebook – we heard use cases and questions from Canvas users across the country.Thank you for joining in, sharing, and being a part of the Canvas Community.

In this email, find links to resources (including video archive) and responses to a few topics in the chat worth sharing:

Essential Gradebook Tools: Hyperlink to Help Page

Hot topics in the chat

Q:  End of semester: “I am using Canvas now and I am wondering if there is anything we need to do to close out the gradebook at the end of the semester.”
A: At the end of the term, instructors should be encouraged to: Make sure all assignments have a graded value. For example, a score of 0 or default grades for all ungraded assignments. Also: You may download .csv gradebook for backup. Read more on our Guide: What should I encourage instructors to do at the beginning and end of each term?

Q: What are Grading Rules? (Assignments)
A: Grading rules are a feature in Assignment Groups. It gives you a way to, for example, easily drop the lowest score from an Assignment Group. An attendee noted that “Grading rules are applied when all assignments in the group have been graded”, so keep that in mind.
Read more on our Guide: How do I add Assignment Groups?

Discussion on Hiding and Filtering students in the Gradebook

  • “Once you have hidden student names (main gradebook tool menu; top left corner) you can narrow it to one student by searching for single student using the search field (located at the top right corner of Gradebook).”

Discussion on Grading with 0’s  (default grades and marking as zero)

  • “The default option in the GB is only calculating graded items, correct? As a best practice should we tell faculty to enter zero for unscored or is it okay to leave items blank?”
  • “I use “set default grade” to make unsubmitted assignments a 0. Otherwise, students are graded on what they’ve done and it doesn’t reflect an accurate grade if a student aced the first assignment and skipped the next ten.”

Discussion on“What if” grades (student view)

  • “I wonder why the “what if” function was created.  It seems to be a tool that serves the students to know what grades to “negotiate” rather than a self help function.” Guide: What are What-If grades?

Attendees rallied around this feature, sharing use cases:

  • “I know of one instructor who uses “What if” to help students understand that all hope isn’t lost (yet).”
  • “What if” has helped students figure out if they can recover and get the needed grade for a course, or if they should withdraw without penalty.”
  • “I see the what if as letting students understand that even “lower” points add up and these smaller “projects” are important overall”

Thank you all for participating! Hope to see you again soon. Look for more LearnCanvas LIVE! events at We will be posting Spring 2013 events very soon.

HIGHER ED Video archive: In case you missed it (or want to see it again) (large file – be patient)

How Are We Supporting Our Online Learners?

Universities Academic Support Services invest significant amounts of money each year to support students on campus. As online programs continue to expand the question is being raised, are these same support services the right kind of support for our online learners? Do the online students use those services? Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)  Steven Sachs, vice president for instructional and information technology at NOVA, addressed this topic in his talk at Educause 2012, “Engagement Beyond the LMS.” Are online students getting counseling for financial aid? Do they have access to tutoring? Are supports in place to help online students get jobs at the end of their program? Do they know how to get advice about graduation? Do online students who are falling behind get encouragement and support?MP900444155

NOVA discovered that support services on campus were not meeting the needs of the online learner and invested $2 million in the “Next Level Initiative,” a project designed to recognize the needs of the online learner and provide support to them. Read more about the project at Inside Higher Ed, Calling In Web Support.

Creating PowerPoints for Recording and Accessibility

Are you creating or updating PowerPoint presentations to be recorded as part of your lecture and shared online with students?

PowerPoints that work well in other settings may need some ‘tweaking’ for online purposes. Your PowerPoints will be shrunken down and harder to read when recorded and put online and students with disabilities who take your course may be using Assistive Technology to access the presentation.

Follow the 10 easy steps listed in the PowerPoint linked below. This will ensure that the PowerPoint Presentations you create are accessible and optimized for recording in the DL Studio or using recording software on your own computer.

Tips for PowerPoints (PPTX)

Online Classes Mean No Dorm, Gym or Debt

Numerous articles and commentaries from inside and outside of academia are raising the alarm that American public higher education faces an unprecedented financial crisis.

For years, state legislatures have been disinvesting in public colleges and universities, leaving campus administrators to struggle with how to make do with less. The result: rising debt, deferred maintenance for aging facilities, reductions in programs and course offerings, dismissals, elimination of many student and faculty services, and loss of talented faculty — many of whom haven’t received pay increases in years — to private universities.

To try to offset some of these challenges, universities are raising tuition and fees to historically high levels. The cost of tuition alone has soared from 23 percent of median annual earnings in 2001 to 38 percent in 2010.

Given the pressing demands on state budgets, it is unlikely that funding for higher education will return to pre-2007 levels anytime soon. In fact, analysts predict just the opposite: Financing levels will continue to decrease in the years ahead to the point where a number of colleges and universities may be forced to close.

In some states, campuses are being consolidated. In others, enrollments have been capped. With the average cost of providing one year of on-campus education at a public university now topping $32,000 and the average tuition covering only 20 percent of that, the problem is real and it isn’t going away.


Upcoming features available now on Canvas BETA

Two new features that are going to make many of you very happy are available now for testing in the Canvas BETA area.

Attendance Tracking
This is a 3rd party integration with a product called RollCall.  Unfortunately at this time there is no documentation, no references with a Google search on this product and no ETA for it’s release.

One Question at a Time
This feature will be included in the 12-22-12 Production release.
Instructors will now have the option in Quiz Settings to choose one quiz question at a time for all types of quizzes and surveys. This checkbox is cleverly titled “Show one question at a time” in the quiz setup. Instructors can also choose to restrict students from going back to questions they have already answered using the new checkbox titled “Lock questions after answering”.
Lock Question After Answering is only available if One Question at a Time is selected. These settings are created on a quiz by quiz basis. There are no global settings that apply to these features yet.
Students will be warned in several ways about these new features.  If Lock Question After Answering is chosen for a quiz, the student will be notified when they first take or resume the quiz that once they have submitted an answer they will not be able to go back and view or change that answer later.  The student is given a warning if the current question is blank and they attempt to move to the next question.  The warning will notify them that they can’t return to answer the blank question.
Students also won’t be able to use the back button in the browser or leave the quiz in hopes of coming back in to access a previous question.
This has been a highly requested feature in the Canvas forums and it is the first part of several Quiz Tool refactoring steps being taken over the next few releases to build out a more robust Quiz Tool.
One of the major strengths of Canvas is balancing the simplicity of the user experience with pedagogical flexibility. This new quiz feature, along with several other features in the coming months, supports that theme.