In this section, we will discuss learning management systems (LMS) and how you can use them to enhance learning. The way you deliver course content on your LMS is important. You want the students to spend less time with technology and more time immersed in learning the content. I will use Canvas examples since we are using this LMS at UNMC. I happen to think Canvas is one of the best LMS’s for easy delivery.
- When designing a course, you will want to structure the course for student success. This course is structured as a one-stop shop. I use the module page as a homepage, and everything you need to read, watch, and do is all in one place. So each week you get to log in, see your modules, and know that everything is in one place. Clean up the left navigation by removing the items that you do not have access to or need to see.
- Start your course with a start here folder. This gives you a place to add all the important information that students need. The start here module that you see in this course is one that I designed for the College of Public Health where I am the Canvas Administrator. We have placed information in the module that meets instructor presence best practices (welcome video & instructor info), course information that can be easily found and accessed throughout the course (textbook info & syllabus), helpful Canvas information (notifications and video overview), and UNMC technology tools and support help information.
- The course should be consistent from week 1 to the last week of class. By using the same font, font size, layout, font colors, etc. throughout each week/module, you give the course a clean, organized look. For this course. Add text headers (Learning Materials, Assignments, and Discussions) to help differentiate tasks and give the modules a look and flow that is consistent.
- Check and recheck your course for broken links often. Canvas offers a link check in the setting section, and you should check your links often. Check them when you design the space and right before you release a module. However, once in a while, one breaks after you check it and you may get student emails during the course.
- If you are copying your course from one semester to another, make sure you adjust your dates and clean the content before the first day of class. If you have copied the same content for 2 or more semesters, take some time to go through it and update your content. When using Canvas, you can update content easily if your course space is well designed and includes open/close dates and due dates. Canvas has a tool when copying the course content that allows you to adjust dates from one semester to another.
- Learn as much as possible about the LMS, so you not only understand how it works for you, but you understand how it works for students. It can be frustrating when your professors can not help you troubleshoot.
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If you are having issues or need to know how to use a Canvas tool, you can check out the Canvas Instructor Guides at https://guides.instructure.com/m/4152