Web Annotation With Hypothes.is In Canvas Training Session

This post is being used to document and distribute materials associated with a training I'm giving at the University of Oklahoma, which covers collaborative web annotation as a tool for engaging students.

“Writing in the margins” of books and journal articles (or any other texts) in collaboration with others is one way instructors seek to enhance learning experiences. Using collaborative web annotations, faculty on our campus are seeding their course discussions and engaging students in collaborative scholarship. Here’s an example of course that is using collaborative web annotations:

Website using hypothes.is to annotate Byron Readings

Tool Showcase

We’re going to dive deeper into collaborative web annotation as it’s one technology that’s being used across many disciplines. Here are several pieces of literature that are being annotated collaboratively by students:

If you’d like to create a Hypothes.is account and start collaboratively annotating the web, signup here.

Here’s a student blog post you can practice annotating now.

Additionally, here is what Hypothes.is looks like integrated into Canvas:

Canvas Course displaying hypothes.is content.

Discussion

  1. Why use collaborative web annotation in the classroom?
  2. What documents might be annotated by students?
  3. What does an assignment look like using web annotation? (Current ones)
  4. What other assignments could benefit from web annotation?
  5. How does feedback to student change with web annotation assignments?
  6. Why engage students in annotating materials publicly?
  7. Any other thoughts/ideas?

Resources

Perspective

Instructor Blog Post: Using Hypothes.is in the College Classroom

Technical

(Technical resources from here.)

The featured image is provided CC0 by Anastasia Zhenina via Unsplash.

To Pell Or Not To Pell, Paying The Price – Ch 3 Reflection

This chapter certainly stirred a bit of fire in me. In particular, I spent a lot of time wrestling with this ethical question about the current state of the Pell program:

Are we doing students from low-income families a service by funding part of their college expenses or a disservice by giving them false hopes? Is the Pell program a sound financial investment in the nation’s future, or is it a wasteful and ineffective program that allows students access to money–perhaps even enticing them to attend college and incur debt–without ensuring that they graduate from college? – Sara Goldrick-Rab (1)

Federal financial aid needs to be rethought. The fact that a Pell Grant only covered 23% of the cost of attendance for a public, 4-year college in 2012 suggests it’s ineffective. Attending college with this little funding is too much of a gamble. Either, federal financial aid needs increased or the whole financial aid system needs to be reimagined. To me, the best way to communicate this need to the public is to make it personal. For instance, in Paying the Price, Chloe Johnson’s story about paying for college is heartbreaking and a compelling example for why we should focus on building empathy with affected students and prioritize investing in financial aid.

Additionally, we should all be aware of the politically motivated demonization of Pell Grant recipients, which is quite upsetting I might add. (But I’m also sick of politically-motivated-anything at the moment.) First, I wholeheartedly agree with Sara that focusing on “Pell Runners” and not-supported-by-evidence “fraud” distracts from the real issues at hand. Not to mention the politicians who assert that since they were able to pay their way though college (years ago), today’s students must be “lazy.” To me, each of these perspectives dehumanizes the individuals reliant on federal financial aid and this lack of empathy is what troubles me. If our goal is to help students complete college and climb the socioeconomic ladder, we should embrace their experiences, needs, and solicit their feedback to get past these issues.

While I was brainstorming possible solutions this week I had a couple ideas. One way I’d like to see empathy spread about the experiences of Pell recipients is to provide an avenue for these students to submit feedback directly to policymakers. Whether there’s an online form or some kind of public blog to gather and share Pell recipients experiences. Alternatively, I was thinking of ways to foster relationships and gratitude between students and scholarship donors. I’m just throwing these ideas out there in their unrefined state because there may already be these programs and people pursuing such opportunities.

In any case, at the end of the day, we should be working to improve peoples lives through education with the full knowledge of this issue:

The Pell Grant clearly provides an incentive for students to attend college by discounting the price of attendance, but it comes nowhere close to making college affordable. – Sara Goldrick-Rab (2)

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think about Sara Goldrick-Rab’s question: “Are we doing students from low-income families a service by funding part of their college expenses or a disservice by giving them false hopes?”
  2. How can we promote empathy of students’ Pell experiences?

The featured image is provided CC0 by Simon Stratford via Unsplash.


  1. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price, p. 67-68.
  2. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price, p. 76-77.

eXperience Polish

If you are interested in participating in eXperience Play (XP) remotely, I am going to provide a to-do list of items each week. These to-do lists will include a variety of tasks such as playing games, reflecting, blogging, and portions of game development. If you complete all five to-do lists, you will produce an educational text-based game in five weeks. For more information on this professional development, read this blog post, visit the eXperience Play website, or contact me via Twitter or email.

This post corresponds with the fourth session of XP.

Part 1 – Game Development

1. Review the following Twine Syntaxes and guides:

Add Media (Etc.) With These Twine Syntaxes
Change Your Twine Game's Appearance with CSS
Free Images, Additional Guides, & Resources

2. Using the above syntaxes, guides, and everything you have learned in the past few weeks, continue working on your game until it’s complete.

For reference, here’s an example Twine game from a participant of XP:

Example Twine Game, units, made by an XP participant

3. Find someone to play your completed game and give you feedback. Use this opportunity to make more revisions. Again, I’d recommend getting reviews from individuals in your vicinity since your game is stored locally on your computer for now.

Part 2 – Professional Development

4. Write a blog post about your experience building your game using the following prompt:

Blog Prompt
  • Document how your game has changed from last week. I encourage you to include a screenshot of your final product.
  • Reflect and write about how peer-review and feedback has impacted your game’s design.
  • Research and define “Peer-Peer Learning” in your own words.

Get your Twine game as closed to complete as possible by October 3rd.  Share screenshots of your progress with me via Twitter or email or reach out with any questions.

The featured image is provided CC0 by John Hult via Unsplash.

eXperience Produce

If you are interested in participating in eXperience Play (XP) remotely, I am going to provide a to-do list of items each week. These to-do lists will include a variety of tasks such as playing games, reflecting, blogging, and portions of game development. If you complete all five to-do lists, you will produce an educational text-based game in five weeks. For more information on this professional development, read this blog post, visit the eXperience Play website, or contact me via Twitter or email.

This post corresponds with the third session of XP.

Part 1 – Game Development

1. Install Twine 2.0 on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.

2. View this video introduction of Twine 2.0:

3. Review these two Twine Syntaxes we’ll use to build games this week (from the Harlowe story format):

Basic Twine Syntax

Link 2 Twine Passages

Add Text Within A Twine Passage

4. Start building your game using your outline and storyboard from last week and the two Twine Syntaxes presented above.

Experiment with Twine as you are building, and realize your game will morph as you learn more. Plan on adding as much content as possible using the two outlined Twine Syntaxes. Next week, we will continue developing our games using more syntax tools, media, etc.

Here’s an example of an in-progress Twine game from XP:

 

5. Find someone to play your in-progress game and give you feedback. I’d recommend an individual in your vicinity since your game is stored locally on your computer for now.

Part 2 – Professional Development

6. Write a blog post about your experience building your game using the following prompt:

Blog Prompt
  • Document how your game looks and functions as you are building it in Twine.
  • Write about what students are creating in your courses. (Ex: projects, papers, data analysis, etc.) How are these opportunities intended to engage students creatively?
  • Reflect and write about where game design might fit into your courses? What would you want students to learn from a game design project?

Please start building your text-based game using the outlined Twine Syntaxes.  Share screenshots of your progress with me via Twitter or email or reach out with any questions.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Sven Scheuermeier via Unsplash.

10 Notable Ideas From InstructureCON 2016

I’m aware that this post is overdue since InstructureCON concluded two months ago, but I wanted to share a few ideas from the conference. If you prefer a breakdown of the sessions I attended, I recommend checking out John Stewart’s eleven posts linked in his concluding reflection.

EdCamp – InstructureCON Un-Conference

1. Canvas Mentor Professors: This idea capitalizes on transforming both the early adaptors and heavy users of Canvas into becoming mentors of other instructors across campus. The goal is to crowdsource the Canvas support system for faculty and showcase examples of ideal Canvas implementations, giving instructors context for how Canvas might be used in their own courses.

2. Student Feedback Of Courses: Have students provide anonymous feedback on the structure and design of courses to help faculty improve their designs. Too often, we make course design decisions from the perspective of an instructor rather than a student. This pragmatic approach is an opportunity to enhance our courses to best meet the needs of our students.

3. Educating Teachers & Students On OER: One of the practices I heard from other institutions, was using Canvas trainings as an opportunity to engage both faculty & students in learning more about copyright, open-educational resources (OER), and media literacy. Teaching faculty about Canvas Commons and OER in tandem aims to empower instructors to incorporate open materials into their curriculum and know what that means for their courses.

Sample Canvas Commons content, some of which is OER
Sample Canvas Commons content, some of which is OER

4. Canvas Camp Via Email: One idea with similar intentions to the Canvas Camp trainings we host was broadcasting daily Canvas challenges via email. This aims to engage faculty in learning a little more about Canvas everyday. If faculty complete all of the challenges outlined in these emails during the week, they would end up producing an entire Canvas Course. With the right amount of scaffolding (instructional videos, written guides, etc.) the reach of this type of self-directed training could be significant.

InstructureCON – Day 1

5. Student Information Systems (SIS) Are Not Always Necessary: I understand this is a heated topic, but I witnessed one person replace the functions of a SIS using Google Apps Scripts and the Canvas API. Student data was housed in Canvas and the operations of the SIS were performed using a few lines of code and Google Forms. Interestingly, this setup was both efficient and easy to use since interactions with the student data were simplified to a few forms. Feel free to explore a Canvas course that outlines how this was accomplished or read more about the session where this idea was shared.

6. Moving From API To LTI Integration Can Be Detrimental: I have to pick on TurnItIn for a second since this is a perfect example. Here was the API implementation of TurnItIn:

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.00.51 PM

What is great about this is the discreet implementation of the TurnItIn service. In other words, the API integration made it easy for instructors to enable this feature. Additionally, instructors could enable TurnItIn in conjunction with “Media Recordings,” “Website URL,” or “File Uploads” assignments through Canvas. However, the new LTI implementation looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.04.08 PM

Not only is this less accessible as a service, but it also makes Canvas less functional. For example, when the TurnItIn “External Tool” is enabled, it takes over the Submission Type. Meaning if an instructor wants to use TurnItIn for a paper in tandem with a video of a student presentation, the teacher will have to make two assignments to receive both of these pieces of content. In this case the TurnItIn LTI effectively dissuades people from using more that traditional written assignment types—another example of how educational technologies impact the design decisions in our courses.

7. Build with Accessible Tools: One irritation I had during a couple of the sessions were these beautiful courses that were build using (HTML) pages in Canvas. Design-wise they were excellent, but functionality-wise, they always seemed to ignore the mobile accessibility of their course. To me, sacrificing the mobile experience of a course does not benefit students. Not to mention the exorbitant amount of extra work this involves.

InstructureCON – Day 2

8. Live API Lowers Entry Barrier to APIs: If you have not already seen the Live API page on your instance of Canvas, you should view it now. The URL to access the Live API requires your school’s Canvas domain as follows:

[your-schools-domain].instructure.com/doc/api/live

Alternative, here’s a generic preview of the Live API:

Screen capture of Canvas LiveAPI website

9. Educating Teachers About Online Instruction: Similar to how Canvas professional development is infused with opportunities to teach instructors about OER materials, there’s room to engage faculty in what it means to teach online. This was apparent during InstructureCON, but I’ve seen evidence of this more and more. For example, I’ve witnessed a shift in organization of content in the LMS. Instead of distributing course contents by topic, instructors are now choosing to order their materials chronologically to simplify the presentation of their Canvas courses.

Bonus Idea

10. Making Internet Accessible To All Students: I have to share one idea that was presented during the Pack Light for Performance session. The presenter was in a district that used Kajeet Smartspots in conjunction with Chromebooks to give all students access to the web. This equalization of technology access meant that teachers were confident their online assignments were available to all students. Since, I’m passionate about overcoming socioeconomic barriers and am constantly explore the validity of low cost technologies in the classroom (1, 2), I was ecstatic to see the cellular hotspot approach to making internet accessible to all students!

Please Note

I wanted to take a moment and let you know that post has been difficult to complete. I started writing it during InstructureCON and intended to publish it shortly after, but family matters kept that from happening. Anyways, I just wanted to note that much of this content deserves more in-depth explanations, so if you have any questions, please let me know. I would like to revisit many topics, but at this moment, this blog post is as much a highlight of my Canvas Conference experience as it is a scar that needs to reach conclusion.