Creating a Treasure Map for our Explorers using CANVAS Modules



Thirty years ago, my freshman Calculus professor let our class in on the closely-held secret to writing a new Calculus text and I would like to share it with you here.

  1. Secure a very lucrative advance from a publisher
  2. Place all of your free examination copies of recent Calculus texts into a box
  3. Book a month-long vacation to a Caribbean Resort
  4. Mail the box of books to the resort
  5. Fly to the resort and have a restful 3-week vacation
  6. In the final week, open each of the Calculus texts and place them around your room
  7. Over the next week, copy one chapter from each of the texts and submit your manuscript to the publisher

Fast forward to today and the secret has changed very little. The Rise of the Internet If anything, these instructions are more pertinent today. Instead of the entirety of Calculus concepts being contained across the modern textbooks of the time, the entirety of All Human Knowledge exists on the World Wide Web. Scholars continue to discover and create, but you can find the information that you need in your web browser on your phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. And so can our students. The Rise of the Professor Information they have. What learners desperately need is a subject expert to guide them through the disparate facts and artifacts as they make the individual journey through the hierarchy of data, information, knowledge, and understanding, onward toward wisdom. The textbook serves as a map along this trek, replete with its enumerated sections, chapters, examples, exercises, and reviews. In the virtual world of the online course, the textbook map is realized as CANVAS Modules. CANVASModule1 Modules as a Map Consider CANVAS Modules as chapters in a textbook. Each module can be used to introduce a new topic or a new period of time within the course. Sections and tasks within each module can be assigned a “completed” condition, such that students must view, complete, or submit work within each module before the next module is available to them, just like requiring homework from Chapter 2 to be completed before moving the class onto Chapter 3. Modules permit the students to proceed at their own pace within the module, but the order is designed by the instructor to present the information along a narrative that the instructor creates. Modules enable the instructor to create their own “textbook”. One that fits well with their own understanding of the material and teaching style. Unfortunately, no Caribbean island included.

2 replies on “Creating a Treasure Map for our Explorers using CANVAS Modules”

  1. Nice metaphor for Canvas modules and good explanation for the need to move away from the teacher-centered sage on the stage model to the student-centered guide on the side method of teaching. The learning process is much more empowering when students can investigate topics that pique their interest and do it at their own pace with a knowledgeable professor helping them along the way. Now if only you could guide me to securing that lucrative publisher advance…

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