Pacing course content can also be done on Canvas by blocking off items within future modules / weeks and opening them up throughout the duration of the course. See the following example on how to publish / unpublish items:
A green check mark means an item has been published and is visible to students.
Selecting a green check mark turns it into an unpublished item which is invisible to students.
In practice, this would look like having all the weeks of the course and their topics visible to students but would leave supplementary material hidden until after the previous lecture has completed so as to manage students’ pacing and learning throughout the course. Pacing the course also allows for less anxiety on the part of students, as it is overwhelming to see all the supplementary materials and lectures which will be part of the course during Week 1. Previously, instructors could have everything on Canvas at the beginning of the course and they did not need to be as wary of overwhelming students because of the in-person components. Now, in confined environments with fewer opportunities to engage with friends and instructors at Schulich, managing students’ pacing will be increasingly important.
Besides controlling the pacing of the course content, sorting classes by quick topics which are easily retained and completed can help students manage their learning online and enable them to be more productive. By breaking up classes into more manageable doses, such as into specific topics / recordings, the modules allow for students to feel accomplished by completing various small tasks and minimize anxiety. Instead of seeing a long list of tasks, students will be able to engage with the same amount of content but will be less overwhelmed and more likely to do the work. Furthermore, and if possible, introducing modules and topics by way of a video, such as through Zoom or Echo360, or even through ‘mini assessments’ on Canvas, can help students get familiar with the expectations for the week which would reduce ambiguity and increase participation and engagement.
The virtual classroom presents many new challenges to previous best pedagogical practices. Distractions and anxieties will flourish in this new learning environment, but only if students feel overwhelmed. Pacing course materials as well as breaking up lectures into manageable modules will better manage students’ anxieties and ultimately lead to better learning experience in the online environment as students will be more engaged and productive.
To work directly with one of Schulich’s Student Online Course Design Consultants or Developers, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.