For my screen capture assignment I created three shots to help orient new students to the LMS (learning management system) I use for online teaching. I preferred LMS is a system called Canvas. After having used it for a couple of semesters, I find it to be quite intuitive, but students sometimes struggle with it at the start of the semester.
To help address that learning curve, I have created a series of screenshots that will help students get through the first week of class. My hope is that after they successfully get through the first week they will feel more confident about moving on their own within the Canvas site.
My first shot is designed to help students set up their Canvas accounts. This shot is important because I make note that students are required to use their UAF email addresses when setting up their Canvas accounts. Although I always include that information in my first-day-of-class email, there are inevitably a few people who ignore that rule. My hope is that by also providing a visual with directions that students will be more likely to succeed in following my instructions.
My second screenshot is intended to help orient students with their Canvas homepage. Canvas has a lot of nice features, but the number of menu options (see left side of screen) can be rather overwhelming to students. My intention with this shot is to highlight the most important options so that students can gain some confidence about navigating our LMS.
The options I chose to highlight are:
- “Assignments”- to access assignment descriptions
- “Calendar”- to see assignment due dates
- “Inbox”-to send course messages
- “Modules”- to access weekly lesson folders
- “Discussions”- to make weekly short writing posts
- “Grades”- to see grades
- “To Do”- to see upcoming assignments
I could have explained everything on the page, but I did not want to overwhelm new students. Instead I chose to highlight the options I thought they would be most likely to need in the first few weeks of class.
The third shot I did was to help students understand how to complete their first assignment. The first assignment I always do for my online courses is a short writing in which students are asked to introduce themselves to the class. I really like the way Canvas groups all of the posts together so that they read as a continuous thread (as opposed to the way Blackboard does it). However, students are sometimes confused about how to make their initial post.
I designed this screenshot to help students understand what they are seeing when they look at an assignment page on our LMS. These are the sections I chose to highlight:
- Due date
- Assignment name
- Assignment point value
- How to post (“Reply”)
- How to search posts
I also highlighted one of the assignment requirements that students often overlook- the requirement that they reply to at least two of their classmates’ posts.
As you can see from this shot, all of the regular menu items are still available in this shot, but I did not feel the need to identify any of them since they were mostly already covered in the second shot.
Before this assignment I had not considered the possibility of using screenshots to help students get oriented with a new course. Now I don’t understand why I didn’t think of it before! I am definitely going to use them in the future because I like the way they are accessible and visually appealing. I also appreciate the way they show the actual page rather than my having to explain so much in a written description.