Looking at a Canvas Math MOOC

I am now enrolled or registered for 7 online courses. They are all MOOCs although a couple are less than massive. I want to take a good look at my learning and how it’s working in the online atmosphere, and will blog about the experiences I have. Here goes.

I am entering a Canvas-based course today,  CN-1507-MATH-REFRESH based on the Canvas Network, for the Canvas LMS (duh!). Second thing I notice after the 4 image-buttons on the page (pictured here), is the prominent “Drop this course” button sitting alone in the right column. It’s obvious presence seems almost an encouragement.Image

I’m writing to be critical, so here is some: I like that the link to my instructor is right at the top. The “teacher bio” page there has a simple, business-like avatar of the teacher; next to this it reads “Ways to contact (name)” which is not a link and has none of these ‘ways’. This is a Canvas issue because this is where you’re supposed to put your Twitter handle, etc. not your phone/email address, which I don’t see that you can add. There is a short personal description that says he teaches at UVU – what’s that? I wonder (Utah Valley U.). The course navigation bar is also absent from this page because it’s your system profile, outside of any particular course.

On the super-great side, there is an orientation video where the instructor and the 3 TA’s go over the course. It’s a professionally produced video, meaning there’s institutional support for this course, though I still don’t know the originating school. The video is great but, critical! the video is more of an ad and encouragement piece than providing practical guidance and expectations. That’s ok because it’s in the other areas.

Geek-alert: as soon as I got into the discussion board I got really excited – about math! I may yet know the difference between rational and irrational numbers, and that gets me, yes, pumped. The DB is so far superior to Bb in looks, function, feel, everything. I feel drawn in to read and participate. The content entry boxes have only one row of tools instead of 3 and they look better and are more clearly defined than the Bb box systems. In this particular class the instructor is doing most of the replying and he does a good job answering questions, so I think he’s a great guy already. A little weirdness in the DB: there is a little dot next to each post is that indicated read/unread posts. It toggles white to blue and I couldn’t figure out which is which. I see now that blue is unread, and it turns white whenever the post simply appears in the browser window; very interesting automation.

I am impressed that every image used is cataloged on it’s own page with full credits and citations.

The Announcements can be commented on – very cool.

The last link in the navigation bar is Chat. I thought it was blank because it took a while to load but once it did I see it’s a kind of IM where a TA logs in to be available live for a while. seems to get some use.

Canvas has a calendar like Google calendar that students can also add events to.

I took the math placement exam without cheating and got 100% and feel much better about my math abilities TFS 🙂 The grade center was easy to read.

It has a DB for Math Anxiety. I just looked into the introduction DB (810 posts) and the instructor has replied to nearly every one!

The main course content consists of math topics that link to an embedded interactive math tutorial with pre-test. I suppose the content is completely canned but for math perhaps that’s just fine. The instructor(s) seem totally engaged, kind and responsive, which I believe will engender goodwill and participation, and probably a lot of success.

I learned something today.




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