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We are so thrilled to be working with VEG again this year, talking about all things with online assessment. On the 22 March, our MD Tania will be presenting a webinar entitled “Designing Compliant Online Assessment”

Tania spoke at the 2017 VELG conference on online delivery and assessment and has been asked to extend this talk to other VELG members during the VELG Focus week.

The webinar will cover:
– What do students expect in an online course?
– Meeting training package requirements
– Considering AQF levels
– Which online assessment methods suit best
– Bringing it all together
– Q&A

More Details

With the arrival of digital technologies that are applied to Vocational Education and Training (VET) Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been faced with the task of keeping up. While it is true that a digital revolution has its advantages, the harsh truth is that many adapting institutions are struggling with keeping up. Too many tech tools are in development with promises to revolutionise the education sector, but many often end up staggering the progress of those for whom they are intended. Here are some ways in which having too many tools negatively affects education as a whole.

  1. Staggered efficiency

This is especially true in the case of the trainers, whose jobs are to make the most use of these technologies to better train students in real skills and the underpinning knowledge.  Trainers find it completely frustrating dealing with poorly performing tools that make it harder to carry out activities, assessments or deliver content to students. When a trainer spends more than half of their time working on the tech tools than actually training, then there is a clearly an issue.

 

  1. Time wastage

Education and Training is carried out on a specified schedule, and when the schedule is interrupted, the most obvious impact is often wastage of time. Trainers and administrators alike experience frustration in keeping up with all the available technology at their disposal and the disparity makes carrying out normal functions more time consuming that it needs to be. Administrators spend time and resources trying to manage systems when they should be focusing on their core roles. A migration to digitally enhanced learning should serve to save time, not waste it, which is what happens when there are too many tech tools in use.

 

 

  1. Poor ROI from systems in general

When any training provider is having a tough time making use of the numerous disparate tools and systems put in place for them, it thus follows that the ROI for these systems becomes greatly reduced.  There is often also a decreased rate of adoption of these tools because it is too cumbersome and time consuming to learn and make use of them, which also results in a decreased ROI for the system as a whole.

 

  1. Increased spending in IT

When the tech tools put in place for learning become difficult to use, more of the school funding ends up diverted towards IT services to help. What follows is an endless cycle of dependence on IT services that are often only temporary since the problem is the fact that there are too many systems to manage in the first place.

 

Using multiple LTS, APIs and third party plugins to LMS is at the core of this blog. Time and time again I see clients who complain about the above 4 points. The efficiency of the system, the wastage of time, the low ROI and the increased spending in IT.

 

SO, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

The solution is using a LMS that has the capability built into the core system to do what you need. Any LMS software worth its salt should focus on reducing the time spent learning the software as well as in making said software easier to use.

FORGET looking to improve your system by implementing the latest plugin or LTI. Upgrade to a system such as Canvas that allows you to build amazing content in an easy to use way.

If you are already using a system like Canvas, forget about plugins and LTIs and use the core features provided. It includes all the tech tools without needing to go outside.

 

If you want a personalised review of your online system to see how you can use the core functions in canvas better? Ask us about our annual LMS review package we offer for RTOs and Training providers.

 

Email us today:

hello@strawberrysolutions.com.au

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One of the fundamental truths about any Education system in the world is that a motivated teacher will always bring out the best in a student. This doesn’t change because the student is an adult, and this doesn’t change when the training is done using a Learning Management System (LMS).

Students of all ages tend to excel more when their teacher (or in the case of VET, the trainer) is more devoted to the task of teaching, and this is why it is important to keep staff morale high in any learning environment.
In a world where more and more learning avenues are becoming digital, it is more important than ever to make sure that satisfaction is high, even for the instructors responsible for planning and coordination of various courses.
With a platform like Canvas integrated into your RTO, you can increase your trainer satisfaction. This is because Canvas is not only a tool for students, but an LMS for instructors and trainers alike. Having been a trainer in the VET environment for many years, I can tell you the joy of working on an easy to use system like Canvas. Canvas goes an extra step in ensuring that trainers have the easiest time possible when delivering their content to their respective students. Some of the features it offers VET trainers includes:

– Simple rescheduling capability
Canvas, as a program, is nothing if not easy to use. Lesson plans can be organised and rescheduled through the simple drag and drop feature, making it easy for Trainers s to make changes to their lesson plans quickly. It also makes communication easy! With the ability for a trainer to send a mobile or social notification to their students in one click. Ensuring students stay informed on any more of these changes.

– Ease of upload of content
With a feature that makes it possible to embed audio and video clips, trainers can easily integrate outside content into their lessons, adding to the wealth of teaching material available to their students. This gives the educator freedom to customise their own lesson, making it a unique and enriching experience for the students. When I was training, we use to photocopy handouts or even overhead projector slides and save them in big folders in the staff room, this is the digital equivalent.

– An exceptional resource centre
With a well-equipped resource centre, Trainers can make use of the myriad of tools and apps that they can simply download and include in their lesson plans to make them more engaging or less time consuming. This means that materials can be adjusted and used for different student cohorts. You can have a different set of resources for CRICOS students to Domestic students. Different for blended students to trainees. The contextualisation possibilities are endless. This means you are catering to your specific group of students easily and with less effort. A sure way to keep students engaged and trainers motivated.

– Personalised support
Any well working LMS needs a capable support system for its staff, and Canvas has its trainers covered on that front very well. The capable experts and support professionals will tirelessly address any issue instructors face, making their experience while teaching all the more satisfactory.

Long gone are the countless days of frustration over issues that can now be solved through the click of a button. Very little time is wasted and an trainer can genuinely focus on what they need to do, which is to help the student learn as best as they can. It truly speaks to its ability to guarantee that trainers working within the VET system are satisfied with the service and can go on to do their best for their respective students.

If you want to know how Strawberry Solutions can help your RTO discover the benefits of Canvas for your RTO contact us on hello@strawberrysolutions.com.au

(Without any graphic design skills)

 

I started my love affair with e-learning by loving content and loving designing training programs. I later learnt this had a name, instructional design. When I learnt of this thing called instructional design, I did all I could to learn the pedagogy behind it. I complete a Diploma of Training Delivery and design and enrolled in (but sadly didn’t complete) a Graduate certificate of online education. I also choose as many online curriculum subjects I could in my Master of Education degree. I found that adapting paper based work to online platforms was fun, and I seemed to be good at it. However, one thing that I wasn’t great at was the graphic design element. This wasn’t so much of an issue in Moodle as Moodle isn’t very aesthetically appealing anyway, but when I moved to developing programs in Canvas the potential to make a course BEAUTIFUL needed some design skills.

I went and did a few day courses in HTML and coding, which helped with the functionality and some design but something was still missing. I really didn’t have the time to do more study on the design side and felt that this wasn’t really my strong point, but really wanted to design better looking courses. Then I was introduced to Canva (Thanks Amelia!)

Now when RTOs ask me for tips and hints for good design in a cost effective (mostly free) manner, this is what is suggest.

So what is Canva?

Canva is an amazing powerful design tool made for non-designers with millions of people across the world using it. You don’t have to go to graphic design school in order to use it. It is ideal for creating stunning graphics for social media and print without having to learn a complicated suite or software to do it. So, why are so many people using it? And what can it do for you?

Do you ever need graphics for social media or print? If you don’t, you may want to consider it. Something simple such as adding your image to your post can boost the heck out of your engagement a lot more than boring old text-only posts. That means tons of views, likes and comments and you will see, later on, why this is a good thing for Canvas LMS courses.

Are you tired of having to search the sizes of graphics every time you want to post one? Or just tired of having your images cropped strangely when you post to various sites? Canva makes creating graphics and documents in dozens of standard sizes a breeze. No more opening a pro tool like Photoshop just to add a watermark to an image or to create a simple quote graphic.

So, here are the vitals about Canva:

  • It is free to use
  • It is cloud-based so you don’t need to download any software
  • If you like to design on the go, there is an iPad app available and designs can be synced

Canva has pre-created design types such as: Cards, Facebook cover photo, Presentation, Blog graphic and so on. Whenever you create a design, it is automatically saved to your profile so you can access it later. Let’s quickly examine some of Canva’s features.

Layouts

Canva has hundreds of pre-designed layouts to help you get started or give some inspiration.

Image Search

The image library contains more than one million images grouped in folder collections such as: banners, speech bubbles and shapes, and so on. There’s also a search bar where you can type the name of the image you are looking for and Canva will bring up tons of results.

Text

You can either add text directly to your page or use the free pre-designed text placeholders.

Background

The Background feature allows you to add a solid colour, patterned background or a stock image.

Uploads

Canva also allows you to add your own images from your computer or social media and use them for your designs.

Examples of graphics created with Canva

 

 

My suggestions for RTOs to improve their Canvas courses using Canva

RTOs can remarkably boost the value achieved from using Canvas LMS by incorporating Canva in their courses. These are some of the things you can do when these two products are creatively used together:

  1. Brand your Canvas pages with your own logos

A well-designed logo will attract the students’ attention. This is good because the learner you want the learner to pay attention to the course content. There is also evidence suggesting that a good logo enhances reputation and builds confidence in the subject matter – in this case the course content. Therefore, the students are more likely to understand the course better.

 

  1. Add some depth to your content with various colour schemes

Instructors can creatively and artistically use different colour schemes to improve the outlook of each course. By doing this, they reduce the risk of courses becoming too bland and boring.

 

  1. Design images from scratch to improve the outlook of the course content

Just like logos, original images attract attention of the learner. Images can be placed on the introduction and completion pages as well as within the course content accordingly. They also help the students visualize concepts more easily thus improving the whole academic experience.

 

Since its launch in in 2011, Canvas has been one of the most successful Learning Management Systems (LMS) that has been revolutionising online learning across the world. With thousands of universities and various other learning institutions (such as Harvard and Yale to name a few) abandoning Moodle and other LMS, such as Blackboard, to move over to Canvas.

Canvas Launched in Australia about three years ago and is a game changer for the Education sector in Australia. Higher Education providers (such as University of Sydney), Registered Training Organisations are making the switch and even professional development companies such as Velg Training, are utilising the Canvas platform to offer courses.

Although it hasn’t been developed for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector as such, the VET sector stands to gain a lot from implementation of this program in its learning institutions, making Canvas the perfect fit.

Strawberry Solutions has been lucky enough to help many RTOs make the switch to Canvas and help adapt what has seen to be ‘boring’ content, into engaging, easy to navigate, easy to retain information. Throughout the content design and builds we have done in Canvas, we have found that Canvas and the VET sector go hand in hand for the following reasons:

  1. Ease of use and convenience for students

When it comes to student centred learning, usability is the word that should come to mind most. The Canvas user interface is clean and well organised with a layout that is very easy to navigate. No longer will students experience frustration and wastage of time when trying to find and make use of, important resources. Canvas brings the focus back to what truly matters; the actual course that needs to be learnt. You don’t even need to be on your computer to access content, because the Canvas mobile app makes it possible to continue your lesson on your phone or tablet, on the go. Open, annotate and even submit your work directly to your instructor all from the comfort of your app.

 

 

 

  1. Customisation capability for all learners

Canvas is a name that perfectly encapsulates what this program is all about. It is a canvas upon which instructors and teachers in various institutions can put together courses that are best suited to the needs of their students. The program itself has an in-built app centre from which instructors and institutions can adapt various elements into their courses from the various LTI apps available. Implementation is simple, as apps are easily installed via a single click. With such a powerful tool, content can be developed for each specific RTO in a way that best suits each learner base both domestic and international.

 

  1. Engagement and student retention

We get asked a lot the difference between Canvas and other LMS’s and the answer has to be the ability to engage and retain students. Canvas can be used for blended, face to face and online students due to its flexible nature. When it comes to online students, RTOs suffer poor completion and retention rates. NOT WITH CANVAS. Canvas ensures student engagement by focusing on the cycle of engagement; Motivation, Participation and Progression. Motivation by allowing and encouraging cooperative and social learning. Participation by a range of interactive, engaging and flexible assessment methods. Progression by having a range of features that enable learners to set goals, receive feedback and reflect on their new-found skills.

  1. Ease of Integration

With this program, it is easy to import courses and adapt or tweak them before launching to your students using Canvas Commons. It enables integration of various systems, from AXcelerate for student management to Arc for easy importation of multimedia for a more engaging learning experience. The open API makes it possible even for third party apps to fit right in and enhance the user experience for all involved.

 

RTOs stand to gain a lot from implementing a well-structured leaning management system such as Canvas, for the sole reason that it will change the face of VET across the country.

If you have any questions on how you can get started in Canvas, or Strawberry Solutions can help you move your content into Canvas you can contact us at hello@strawberrysolutions.com.au

 

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Strawberry Solutions has had a number of queries from our clients on Arc. A new feature in Canvas that essentially makes videos come to life.

What is Arc?

At the core of it, Arc brings together the most fundamental aspects of e-learning; information, interaction, inclusivity and productivity. How so? You may ask. Well, this next-generation online platform is designed to promote active collaboration of instructors and teachers through video and audio media.

When Arc as a feature of Canvas Learning Management System (LMS), both instructors and students stand to enjoy a number of benefits and conveniences. These benefits are discussed below.

Benefits of Arc

Student Engagement and Participation is Increased

What most media interfaces offer users is just a means of interaction by commenting. However, Arc’s interface goes above and beyond the conventional media platforms by providing time stamps and aligned time in the media during which the comment was made. These public comments can be used by other students for discussions or by instructors to provide insights to students.

Improved Analytics

Arc’s analytics provide per-user based information such as:

  • Popular media
  • Viewing lengths (start and stop points)

Instructors can the use this information to assess and optimize the media to ensure teaching effectiveness as well as monitor student interaction with the interface.

 

 

A New Approach to Asset Management

Instructors can organise media for each course and tag them appropriately to make it easy for the students to locate them. This comes in handy especially when the user (student) has forgotten the title of a particular media they are looking for. Also, the interface provides a section where descriptions can be provided for each media to give some sort of overview of what it entails.

 

How Can Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) Benefit from Arc in their Canvas instance?

Makes it Easy for Trainers to Assess Students’ Progress

Using the Arc feature in Canvas makes it easy to view and assess students’ behaviours and interaction with the platform in the form of the comments they provide, time they spend on different media and how often they re-visit certain articles and media. All this information makes it easy for VET trainers to assess a learner’s progress.

Increases Learning and Engagement for Digital Natives

The interactive nature of Canvas LMS and Arc interface promotes engagement with other learners as well as instructors. Since these are online platforms, digital natives will surely feel at home when using them. They allow important information and learning material to be passed on to students much faster and at the convenience of a smart phone, tablet or laptop.

Makes the Course Fun thus Improving Courses Completion Rates

The course is more fun when you get engage with fellow students through an interactive interface. For instance, the comment sections can spark fruitful discussions about certain topics related to the course among the students as well as between the students and the teachers. Also, shared media makes it easy to visualize various aspects of a course thereby making the course more fun. All these will definitely reduce dropout rates among learners.

 

Want to see more on Arc?

Views a sample of Arc at this link: https://www.arcmedia.com

 

If you want help IMAGINGING how you could use Arc and Canvas in your RTO, feel free to contact Strawberry Solutions at hello@strawberrysolutions.com.au