Teaching through Disruptions

As history tells us and media are suggesting currently, we might expect increase campus demonstrations and work/class stoppages for the presidential inauguration and possibly beyond.

Remember that the Student Code of Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct acknowledges the right to “engage in peaceful and orderly protests, demonstrations, and picketing that do not disrupt functions of the university.” Obviously, there is some grey area there in terms of “disruptions” when it comes to classrooms, and while we don’t offer advice on policy or the Student Code, we do have a few suggestions in terms of teaching and learning.

Guy Fawkes Mask
Guy Fawkes Mask | Image Credit: Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix) – Wikimedia Commons

Plan Ahead
You cannot prepare for everything, but try to decide what you will do if a student disrupts your class or brings up political issues. CITL’s page on Managing Difficult Classroom Discussions can help you think ahead about how you can handle hot conversations. It can be tricky to deal with class disruptions, but planning a few strategies can help you feel more confident in the moment, rather than reacting in ways that lead more to confrontation than productive engagement.

Focus on Learning
Your approach to acknowledging or engaging a disruption will vary depending on the context, but we always encourage instructors to bring it back to learning. How does your discipline address the topics at hand, both in content and in the ways we deal with contending ideas? Put on your “teacher hat” and keep the focus on disciplinary learning and the needs of your students.

Be Consistent
Our treatment of political speech should be fair to all students in the class, so consider your own biases and leanings, and try to address any disruption in an impartial way. And if students miss class for a protest, are you treating them fairly under your attendance policy, no matter what their political stance?

When All Else Fails…
If the disruption makes it impossible to continue class or get through a planned activity, figure out a backup plan or adjusted schedule quickly and convey that to your students. If you can tie it all back to the course content somehow, fantastic, but at least acknowledge the disruption and your plan to get the class back on track.

Finally, if you have a disruption that might escalate to a physical confrontation, call IUPD. That should be a last resort, but it is important to keep your classroom and students safe. If you have more questions or concerns about dealing with classroom disruptions, contact the CITL at citl@indiana.edu.

A Tale of Two Tools: Creating Instructional Videos Just Got Easy

IU offers you quite a few options for creating various types of instructional media, but which ones are the simplest to use? Setting up each piece of software, testing what it can do for you, trying to get over that learning curve, and uploading it to an accessible location on the “interwebs” can take precious time from our already busy schedules. When it comes to creating micro lectures, demonstration videos, or other various instructional supplements, there are two clear picks: Kaltura/CaptureSpace and Zoom. And here’s why:

Kaltura is a tool that will record from your webcam and/or microphone and is built into Canvas, thereby streamlining the uploading and publishing process. Kaltura also has a little-known feature called CaptureSpace which, among other things, will record what is happening on your screen in conjunction with your webcam and microphone. Instead of recording your screen you can select a PowerPoint to work from as you provide voiceover narration. Another ability provided by Kaltura which many instructors find useful, is the ability to annotate onscreen while you are recording. It’s worth mentioning that both Kaltura and CaptureSpace have basic video editing capabilities. If this sounds interesting to you, Kaltura can be found in the left-hand navigation in your Canvas course while the CaptureSpace feature can be found by clicking on Kaltura: My Media > Add New > CaptureSpace Recording. Find more information about this tool.

Zoom (located at https://iu.zoom.us ) is relatively new to IU but offers users a quick, straightforward method of recording with a very simple layout. Built as videoconferencing tool, instructors can not only record instructional videos using Zoom but they can host the recording session for the class to attend virtually and provide feedback and ask or answer questions. Zoom also makes it easy to switch between webcam, virtual whiteboard, and PowerPoint on the fly and has an easy-to-use annotations feature as well. Once you’re finished recording and end the meeting, Zoom will create your video and save it to your computer where it is easily uploaded to Kaltura to provide to students in your Canvas course.

Did I mention both of these tools and their various features are available to students as well? These tools make it easy for students to create digital presentations and provide feedback to one another beyond text. Keep an eye out for upcoming workshops in January and February on using Kaltura and Zoom in the CITL Events page. As always, should you have any questions or want assistance with either tool, feel free to contact me.

Setting up your Canvas Gradebook to match your Syllabus

Every instructor takes time to carefully construct a syllabus that works perfectly with their teaching philosophy, the course content and structure, and that takes consideration of assessment techniques. However, sometimes translating that carefully constructed syllabus into Canvas can be a challenge.
The consultants at the CITL are happy to help you set up your Canvas courses and ensure your gradebook matches your syllabus. You can contact us to schedule an appointment time that works best for you or consider signing up for one of the 1 hour Canvas Consultation Events on January 5th or 6th. 
If you do not have time to come in for a consultation, or would like to try some of these tips on your own, below are some common questions and requests we have seen from faculty. 
Dropping Grades
  • Some faculty give multiple quizzes or homeworks and allow students to drop their lowest “n” number of scores. Canvas can help with this by setting up Assignment Groups in the Assignments tab and adding rules. 
  • To learn more about this, see this Canvas Guide or contact us to set up a consultation. 
Hide Student Grades while Grading
  • When entering scores in Canvas, often times students are notified of the grade change immediately. To ensure that all students receive their grade and feedback information at the same time, you can mute assignments. When finished with providing feedback, you can un-mute the assignment and grades will be released to all students at the same time.
  • To learn more about this, see this Canvas Guide or contact us to set up a consultation.
Adjusting the Attendance Tool
  • When using the built in attendance tool, there will automatically be a 100 point assignment added to your course. However, you can adjust the assignment to fit your grading scheme and syllabus rules by adjusting the points, changing the assignment category, and adjusting the deduction for the marking of late/absence. 
  • To learn more, see this Canvas Guide or contact us to set up a consultation. You can also learn more about the Attendance Tool and other attendance strategies by reading the “Do you need to track attendance in your classes?” post.
Adding Weighted Percentages to Assignment Groups
  • Some faculty like to create groups of assignments (i.e. quizzes, homeworks, exams, etc.) and have those groups add contribute to the final grade by weighted percentages. These weighted percentages can be added by creating the assignment groups in the Assignments tool in Canvas and then changing the assignment settings to “weight the final grade based on assignment groups.”
  • To learn more about setting up weighted assignment groups, see this Canvas Guide or contact us to set up a consultation. You can also learn more about using weighted assignment groups by reading the “I want groups of assignments to contribute to the final grade by weighted percentages” post.
Looking for more tips and information? Additional Canvas Gradebook resources can be reviewed in the CITL Canvas Grade Handout PDF

Do you need to track attendance in your class?

Canvas has an Attendance tool that you can use to indicate whether a student was present, absent or late. Some instructors use this tool to track participation in class by giving partial credit to those who are not active during a class session. You can also opt to give students partial credit if they are late.
When you start using the Attendance tool, it will automatically create an assignment called “Roll Call Attendance” and assign it 100 points. You can adjust the number of  points associated with the assignment. This Canvas guide explains how Roll Call attendance is graded. Please note that students cannot view individual entries in the tool, but can see their overall grade for attendance based on the number of times that attendance has been recorded.
One shortcoming of the tool is that you cannot drop grades so it does not accommodate excused absences. To learn more about the Attendance tool see this Knowledge Base document with tips for using the Canvas attendance tool. 
If you are already using a student response system (clickers) in your class, you can incorporate attendance tracking and participation. Student response systems (SRS) should not be used solely for attendance though, especially since there is a cost to students for using SRS. These tools have been used to actively engage students in class and encourage student participation. Learn more about taking attendance with Top Hat.
To learn more about these tools, schedule an appointment with us. We can also help ensure that your Canvas gradebook matches what you stated in your syllabus, and that grades displayed to students are accurate. Or sign up for a 1 Hour Canvas Consultations and Grading Help sessions on January 5 or 6. 

I want groups of assignments to contribute to the final grade by weighted percentages

Each instructor’s Canvas course can be as unique and as different as the various course offerings available at Indiana University. This is a great feature for customization, however can also become difficult when just trying to set your gradebook to calculate the way you had envisioned. Some instructors like to assign points to assignments based on a total point calculation for the course. If that’s you, weighting the assignment groups is not necessary and can sometimes complicate your gradebook from the student perspective.

Other instructors like to create as many assessments as they see fit without considering how the points will add up in the course overall. Rather, points in each assignment group would be added up and contribute a pre-defined percentage towards the final grade (i.e. Exams 60%, Papers 30%, Attendance/Participation 10%). Canvas can actually help you to calculate your grades based on these weighted percentages assigned to assignment groups.

16-12-30-weighted-groupsTo set up weighted percentages on assignment categories, you need to start by creating all the assignment groups in the Canvas Assignments tool. Once the assignment groups have been defined, select the gear tool in the upper right of the assignments page to adjust the settings. By checking the box “Weight final grade based on assignment groups,” you will be given the opportunity to define the weights as shown.

Be mindful of the total percentage value; the tool will allow you to finish being under as well as over 100%. For correct grade calculating, you should ensure your weighted groups always add to 100%. This Canvas Guide also provides step by step considerations for setting up your Weighted Assignment Groups.

Know a colleague who might benefit from this information? CITL encourages you to forward this information to colleagues as well. Interested in learning more about Canvas or the gradebook features? The CITL hosts many workshops that can help you become more familiar with Canvas. Explore the possibilities on the CITL website or contact our office for an individual consultation.

Take Me to Your Resource

Do you have an online resource that you ask students to frequently utilize? Many students will often bookmark these resources on their own, but it’s not something you can count on. Many instructors also place a link to the reference within assignments and instruction sheets. Some instructors have used the announcements tool to send out reminder links to the resource, but find that those messages de-value the other announcements that need to be sent. Wouldn’t it be great to just add these additional resources to your Canvas course navigation bar? You can!

16-12-07-redirectCanvas has a tool called the Redirect Tool. This tool will allow you to add any online resource to your course navigation. You can name the navigation item in a way that would be recognizable for your students and then re-order your navigation so the resource appears in a location that makes sense to you and your students.

For example, Elaine Monaghan, Professor of Practice from the Media School, lists the “NY Times” in her course navigation which directs students to a common reading resource. And Alyce Fly, Associate Professor from Applied Health Science, lists the “My Plate” nutritional guidelines and resources that students use frequently in her course.

You can also add this tool as many times as you would like; just add one for each resource you want to see listed on your navigation. For step-by-step directions on adding this resource to a Canvas course, see https://kb.iu.edu/d/besg. Students will see these resources listed on the always-visible-left-navigation in your Canvas course and will always know where to find it.

To learn more about setting up your Canvas course for the spring semester, we are offering additional one-on-one Canvas consultations all day Friday December 9th and will be available throughout exam week and the break between semesters. Still focused on wrapping up this term? We’re here to help with that as well! The CITL will be hosting several Canvas sessions in December and you can sign up for the Canvas One2One Sessions for those with specific needs/concerns. Questions in January? CITL is available to help year round, just contact us!