This post is written by Jon Kelley, bacon and coffee-loving educator in Delaware, Ohio, and 2019 Canvas National Educator of the Year. Jon is a Teaching and Learning Coach for Delaware City Schools. You can connect with Jon on Twitter @MrKelley64.
The homepage of your Canvas course is the first glimpse students and families have of your virtual classroom. What if I told you this can be a powerful tool to welcome your stakeholders into a climate and culture focused on setting students up for success?
Walking into a classroom for the first time can be a scary experience where anxiety thrives causing students to feel intimidated and unconfident. To counter this, teachers spend time creating a warm, welcoming environment by greeting the class with a smile and designing their classroom to be laid out in a way that sets students up for success. This same concept can and should be applied to the virtual classroom housed within our Canvas pages.
Embedding media to your homepage is a simple yet effective way to reduce the anxiety of your stakeholders allowing more time and energy to be spent on growing as a learner. This can also be leveraged as a form of communication to help build/improve the school-to-home relationship.
Here are 4 powerful ways to embed media on your canvas homepage
1. Video introduction of the teacher
Teachers often greet students every day as they enter the classroom to help them feel welcome. This concept can be mimicked in a Canvas course by embedding a video on the homepage of the course. This can be where you share a little bit about yourself and why you enjoy teaching. Think of this as a video format of the welcome letter teachers send home at the beginning of a new year.
2. Tour of your virtual classroom
One way to set your students up for success is to allow them to become familiar with your Canvas course. Teachers often spend time reviewing where to find material, how to submit work, and other vital information before releasing students to begin working. After all, we all have different teaching styles and systems that students need to be introduced to if they are to experience success.
Canvas is terrific in that it allows teachers’ unique style creativity to thrive; however, this can create an inconsistent user experience for students who transition between courses throughout the day. Dedicating a few moments to provide a tour of the course provides quite a bit of clarity for your stakeholders. This will empower students and families with confidence as they navigate your course. This can be done with a screencast highlighting items like where to find current material, what to do if they need help, how families and students can contact you, etc.
Adding customized buttons to your course home screen can make your course not only more eye-catching but also functional to your stakeholders. Any image can be made into a button that can link the user to an item within your course or to a resource outside of your Canvas course. I enjoy making my own buttons when I create resources for our teachers. I have found the tutorial How to Create Customized Canvas Buttons/Icons by Mallory Cameron to be quite helpful. Check out the images below to see the difference buttons can make.
No Buttons = boring
With Buttons = #fire
4. Bitmoji Classroom
Bitmoji Classrooms provide a delivery mechanism that is both fun and engaging. This can be used to create an animated experience for your students. Teachers can house announcements in the background and have buttons that lead students to course links and/or external resources.
The resources below (including 200+ ready-to-use templates) will help you create your own.
Tutorials and templates for making your own Bitmoji classroom:
- Blog post and tutorial by Shana Ramin
- Blog post and tutorial by Mandi Tolen
- TONS of virtual classroom templates from Janeyce
- Join the Bitmoji Craze for Educators Facebook group for links to TONS of resources!
How can you see yourself using embedded media on your Canvas homepage? Leave your ideas in the comments below!
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