CMS 2.0: Using Canvas to Learn Canvas

As you may recall, I created a simple formative assessment that could be used to see where teachers were in regards to using discussion boards in the CMS Canvas (dubbed CMS 1.0).  I took the suggestions of one of my classmates to try and improve it.

Catching You Up

In case you haven’t read the last post, the purpose of this particular assessment is to determine where teachers are in their understanding of utilizing Discussions through the Canvas CMS.  They will do this in two ways.  The first is to explore a variety of resources ranging in complexity from basic to advanced and then give some takeaways that they and their fellow teachers can benefit from.  They then take a short quiz where they reflect on what they know and where they feel like they need support.  I will use that feedback to create a Professional Development plan for them that will help them increase their knowledge and usage of Discussions in Canvas.


Rubric 4.0:  How Does it Stack Up

Transfer of Knowledge – Teachers will need to take what they learn about the Discussion Boards and then apply that to their particular subject.  The information is generic, which will require the teachers to move from generalized instruction to specific usage.

Assesses Critical Thinking and Problem Solving – As mentioned above, teachers need to determine the best way that they can use Discussions.  Part of this thinking will be seen clearly in the Discussion portion of the assessment.  The teachers will determine how they can use this and share it with their colleagues.

Provides Benchmarks Along the Way – The assessment itself is a benchmark of a larger process.  Teachers will be asked to revisit this to re-calibrate where they think they are in Discussion usage after they have been given the support that they request in the quiz.

Provides Actionable Feedback – This will come in discussions with me as I respond to the discussion portion of the assessment.  I will give them feedback on the three ways they think that Discussions can be used in their particular context.  That feedback will focus primarily on how they can turn the idea into action.


Student Self Assessment – The assessment is actually a form of self assessment.  While I will use their answers to see where they are, the teachers will be looking at their own practice through the lens of the materials to determine where they are and what the next step for them should be.

Clearly Defined Goals and Objectives – The assessment has the clear goal of increasing the use of Discussion Boards in Canvas.

Student Choice – Students will be choosing the resources that they read based off of their assessment of their usage of Canvas.

Assessment is Linked to Learning Objectives – This one is less clear.  I technically don’t teach a curriculum to the teachers.  However, my learning objective (the teachers learn how to and utilize Discussion Boards) is clear, and the assessment clearly revolves around that particular objective.


Student’s Special Needs are Accounted For – This typically would refer to students with IEPs, 504s, or LEPs.  I expand that though because I believe all students have special needs that need to be accounted for.  In this case, the design of the assessment allows for the fact that all of the teachers are at different places and provides a way forward for all of them.

Utilizes 21st Century Skills – It contains collaborative discussions.  Additionally, it obviously includes career skills including self-direction.

How do the Teachers Show What They Know?

This happens in two places.  First, within the discussion board, they show what they learned from the readings in terms of how they can use them in the confines of their class in a public forum.  They are then asked to provide specific ways that it can be used in their class as part of the quiz.  They will further this when I sit to meet with them about their responses.

The inevitable question is where will they be doing this work?  Teachers are notoriously reticent to do extra work that they don’t personally see value in (much like any other student).  I would propose that the teachers choose one of three ways based off of their personal comfort level.  The first choice would be to make a discussion (or whichever area they select) in their actual course and make it live for students to use.  This is the most authentic of the options, because the teachers will see how it works and how students take to it.  However, there are a number of teachers that would prefer to not jump in feet first.  For those teachers, I would offer the option of creating the discussion board (or otherwise) and not publishing it.  I could then sit down with them and talk about what they have created before they publish it to give them a layer of comfort level.  The final option would be to create a separate course where they try their hands at the areas they most want to use, and then we can talk through the different pieces and revise it before we import it into one of the classes.  This would allow the teachers to do small things on their real Canvas while they are experimenting in their “sandbox.”  The decision would be completely with the teacher.

What’s the Point?

The entire purpose of this exercise is for me to gain a snapshot of where individual teachers are in their usage of Discussions in their particular context.  I will then use that information to inform one on one sessions with each teacher so that I can give them further assistance in their particular next step goal.  This could be an example that they can blatantly steal and use.  It could be a resource for how other teachers have used it.  The talk will be determined based off of the answers they provide in the Discussion board and the Quiz.

The quiz has two questions on it that will help me with this.  There is this one:


and the question five above.  These two questions, as well as what I see them put into the Discussion board, will help me determine what they feel they need, how they want the information delivered to them, and potentially what they actually need.  I will use that information to create an individualized plan that will help them to be successful as they implement Discussion boards with their classes on Canvas.

Canvas on Canvas

All of this leads to the inevitable question why use the tool to teach the tool.  It always helps to see an example of what you are being asked to do.  If I can use Canvas in a way that teachers see it and think that it is useful, then they are much more likely to use it in their own classes.  That’s why using Canvas was the best way to teach this information to the teachers.

Bringing it Together

Below, you will find a screencast where I show the assessment and talk about how it will be used with the teachers at my school.

One thought on “CMS 2.0: Using Canvas to Learn Canvas

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