Monday, February 28, 2011

Faculty Training Ideas

I recently got a request from Trivi Nallamshetty at Edison State College about how to train faculty. So, I thought this is a good opportunity to explain how we have done our faculty training.

Keep in mind, we have trained about 20 faculty most of them in small groups of 5 or less. So, doing this on a large scale might require an entirely different approach.

We have two different approaches, one for faculty who will be developing curriculum and another for those who are using pre-created courses focusing on how to grade using learning outcomes. The second session is as much about policy as it is about Canvas.

"How to be a Studnet" Session (usually less than an hour):

Despite Instructure's insistence that they designed Canvas to look identical for students and faculty, there are substantial differences when it comes to grading. So, I find it incredibly valuable to go through the exact same training that students go through. Here are the highlights:
  1. Login
  2. Go to Profile and add email/change preferences.
  3. Point out navigation areas including the feedback button and the calendar.
  4. Navigate to a "practice course" we have already set up with a fake assignment in it.
  5. Navigate around the course- usually done as a 5 minute self guided experience.
  6. Submit an assignment (again, usually this is done without instruction)
  7. We then do two things at once, one person will grade the assignments behind the scenes and another instructor will cover messaging and will go through the process of sending messages to each other.
  8. Students read/watch received feedback on their assignment (we use a rubric so they know how it works). They then see how to resubmit if necessary.
  9. We do not do anything with testing/quizzing, but that is where I would talk about it if we were.
"Creating a Course" Session (usually less than an hour):
Note; I've only done this once, and it was for a group of graduate students who were going to be creating an online course. I spent about 1 hour doing this training, but they picked it up quickly. I did about 15 minutes of demonstration and then they were off and running.
  1. Depending on the way your Campus is set up either the faculty have to do the "add a course" or they need a course created for them.
  2. Talk about course design, and what is going to go into the course. Discuss items such as:
    1. Home Page
    2. Assignments
    3. Testing
    4. Instruction/content pages
    5. Syllabus
    6. Files/pictures
  3. Step by step we go through the creation wizard. I prefer if the faculty are actually creating content that they will really use, so it can slow things down if they don't know what they are wanting to make.
  4. Demonstrate how to create parts of a course. My preferred instructional method is to have them watch me do it all once (no notes, and no following along, just watch). Obviously there are a lot of items that can be demonstrated, but try to keep it to just a few tasks. The tasks I cover are how to:
    1. Change the home page.
    2. Add a syllabus
    3. Add pages that contain embedded pictures and YouTube videos.
    4. Add assignments (don't get into rubrics yet)
    5. Use modules
    6. Upload files/pictures
    7. Create announcement
  5. Let faculty create these parts of their course. This can take 15-45 minutes. Usually thereare plenty of one-on-one question/answers as they try to do everything. If they don't finish in this time, tell them to work on it later.
  6. Review what they have learned to do.
"How to Teach using Canvas" session (time depends on school needs)
This is where it becomes unique for Westminster. We require that our faculty who are using this for our project-based programs grade in a specific way. There are probably a few universal items that are good to talk about. We have found it best to have a pre-populated practice course for each faculty in training. They are already enrolled in the course and the Canvas instructor is enrolled as a student who has submitted an assignment.
  1. Faculty login to Canvas and notice the various locations where they are notified about assignments that need to be graded.
  2. Grade an assignment- we use pre-populated rubrics that we require them to use.
  3. Send video feedback- this depends on the computer lab training is happening in.
  4. Two things then happen at the same time- the instructor goes into each course and responds to the grade they were given and resubmits an assignment. Meanwhile the faculty are then taken to the gradebook and shown how it works.
  5. Faculty are given the chance to re-grade the students submission and most importantly be able to distinguish in the gradebook the difference between a submitted assignment and a resubmitted assignment.
  6. Optional items that we usually don't cover are creating announcements and discussion forums.
  7. Lastly we go to the settings area and show them how to add students and look up data about each student. We also discuss how to change the navigation and pull up reports.
That is about it. I'm guessing this is a pretty ho-hum post for most people. Well, training isn't always the most glamorous, but it makes a big difference in the overall experience that faculty have. Lastly, here are some overall generic thoughts I have on the issue with training:

  • Attitude is everything. Instructors need to create a positive environment and make this as fun as possible.
  • Do not get hung up in comparing the old LMS with Canvas. It doesn't compare very well. Encourage faculty during the training to create a course from scratch and not just re-create the course that they made in the previous LMS.
  • There is never enough time for training. We usually try to keep training sessions to less than 2 hours. Faculty will not remember very much from the training session, it is important to give them an assignment to complete within the next two days and follow up with each faculty individually to see how they are doing.
  • Keep training groups small if possible. If you have to teach 30 people at a time, split them up into small groups and have them collaborate with each other. I prefer to keep groups around 5-10 faculty so that they get the individual attention they all need.
  • I don't like to give faculty manuals to use during training sessions. They end up using that instead of following along and their retention of information goes down. If you have to give them documentation do it after the session.
  • There is more information to cover than what I've listed out. We have chosen to let faculty discover them on their own, or offer advanced courses in the future. If you try to do too much at one time it becomes overwhelming (as if it isn't already).
That is it, good luck with this. I have heard that Instructure is working on getting a wiki up. I'll be sure to try to get this information posted there when it is available.


  1. Ben, thanks for the wonderful post.
    Its very informative.

  2. Ben, UEN has set up a wiki page that already has a lot of great content, you should check it out:

  3. thanks for the post, ben. it's super helpful!