Interview with Janey Lew, Educational Developer, Indigenous Initiatives at the Centre for Teaching, Learning & Technology and a Sessional Instructor in the First Nations Studies Program.
How did you use a Connect in your course and what made you decide to do this?
I’ve been a sessional instructor at a number of different institutions since 2010, and each time I’ve actively used the LMS system to communicate with my class and manage course content. In the past, I always used it as a sort of “filing cabinet” — a place for me to organize and share course documents, materials, and resources. Last year was the first time I received CTLT support through the LT Hub for my course Connect. I decided to do so because I wanted more sophisticated tools for managing course assignments and providing feedback for students. I was teaching FNIS 100 (Indigenous Foundations) for the first time and wanted to explore how to use Connect to efficiently provide feedback on shorter formative writing assignments.
I wanted more sophisticated tools for managing course assignments and providing feedback for students.
What has been the result?
I set my course up using Learning Modules for the first time, which I think added some layers of organization to the course. I also had some success using the gradebook and accepting assignments electronically. Overall, I think it does help with electronic submission of assignments, but my lessons learned are that it requires a lot of commitment on the backend to set up.
I set my course up using Learning Modules for the first time, which I think added some layers of organization to the course
What are some challenges/successes in using Connect in your practice?
I wish I’d spent more time on the set-up instead of doing things as I went along. There were a few times my students were held up a bit because I was behind. The gradebook also took getting used to. I ended up overwriting some previous grades by accident because of the way the cursor moves to the next assignment automatically. This made me extra neurotic over the semester to make sure I didn’t make mistakes. Successes: At the end of term, I found it very easy to respond back to assignments using Connect.
I wish I’d spent more time on the set-up instead of doing things as I went along.
What is your advice for new users to Connect?
I think I may have tried to do too much too soon with this overhaul. I started with a very prescribed way I was used to using Connect and I tried to change a lot of things at once. Next time I would accept more help during the process and I would think a bit more about my priorities for what I can change and what I’d like to keep from my current way of doing things. By all means, try out accepting some assignments via Connect! The gradebook is also a huge time-saver but keep in mind that if you overwrite a previous grade by accident it can be hard to fix your mistakes if you’ve already returned those previous assignments. I would be mindful during the entire process of entering grades and take my time instead of rushing.
Faculty and staff looking for Connect support, please visit the Learning Technology Hub