Reflections from the 2015 Summer Technology Institute

Did you miss the 2015 Summer Technology Institute last week? Don’t worry it is not too late to find out what learning took place! We asked participants to write down some of their takeaways at different points throughout the day. Read on to see what common themes emerged for the attendees and check out the word cloud below for a visual representation of the responses.


In response to the question “What new things are you going to try?”, many participants mentioned that they’d like to try different forms of formative assessment in their courses. Some plan on using small reflection assignments that ask students how they are doing in the course so far, while others hope to use peer review and quizzes in Canvas to build in checkpoints for students to assess if they are grasping course content and important parts of the syllabus. Third-party tools for polling and feedback such as Kahoot, Padlet, PollEverywhere, and Nearpod also generated some interest as a means of engaging students and collecting formative assessment data.

Using modules in Canvas to scaffold online course materials was another new technique that participants mentioned they’d like to try. One response described how the modules feature in Canvas enhances teaching and learning in face-to-face courses by making the learning pathways more visible. Participants would like to include more features in their modules such as Canvas pages to provide weekly instructions, embedded videos and graphics, quizzes to check for understanding before students advance to the next module, and more external links to content resources.

There was also a high level of interest in getting and analyzing more data from Canvas. One attendee mention that they would design instruction with pre-tests and post-tests, so he can track learners’ prior knowledge and target instruction to topics the learner doesn’t already know. Others mentioned doing qualitative analysis of discussion board responses as a means of gauging student participation. Many also plan on looking at the analytics information available in the Canvas LMS as another way to measure student engagement.

2015 Summer Technology Institute attendees were also asked what things they plan on changing or revisiting as a result of the workshop sessions. Making Canvas courses more engaging emerged as a shared goal for many attendees. They mentioned redesigning the course home page to capture students’ attention early in the course rather than simply directing students to the syllabus. Replacing some simple assignments with collaborative discussion boards was another strategy to engage students more. The third-party presentation tool, Prezi, was noted as a more interesting way to incorporate content from readings and video for both face-to-face presentation and for online discussions. Finally, examining Canvas course and student analytics was frequently noted as another way to collect data on a course’s effectiveness rather than just looking at the course grades.

For more information about the 2015 Summer Institute, read this recent post that recaps each session. If you’d like any asisstance implementing the ideas above or learning Canvas, please contact the instructional design team at and we’ll be happy to help!