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By Dr. Tiffani Riggers-Piehl, Assistant Professor of Higher Education; Educational Leadership, Policy, & Foundations

“I started teaching at UMKC in 2017, having previously taught as an adjunct professor and worked in faculty development at Baylor University. Baylor had recently transitioned to Canvas (also from Blackboard) when I arrived there and so I was able to be on the ground floor of learning Canvas and working with faculty to identify how it could be used to best support student learning. However, the courses I taught there were face-to-face, so I was still a novice at executing an engaging online course when I came to UMKC. At UMKC, I started teaching in Blackboard in the fall of 2017 and participated in the Canvas pilot test in spring 2018. During spring 2018, I taught two classes – one in each LMS – and so I was able to get a feel for how things in Canvas might be different than Blackboard. That semester reminded me how much I enjoyed the Canvas platform – in many ways, it is cleaner and feels smoother than Blackboard and my students seemed to find it easier to navigate. My Canvas-based course was blended, so I interacted with my students online as well as in class.

In my spring semester Canvas-based class, I asked students to interact with each other regularly via discussion board posts. I also created groups in canvas for their group projects and encouraged them to use the group platform in Canvas to work together. I communicated with each group using that function in Canvas and it was a really easy process. To make the online platform generally more engaging and interesting in upcoming semesters, I’m planning to increase student-student and student-instructor interaction in a number of ways. First, I’m planning to host synchronous discussions via Zoom on the weeks when we are not meeting in person, and second, I’m planning to have students use the integrated Panopto application in Canvas to create introduction videos and project presentations. Having previously taught mostly face-to-face, learning to host dynamic and engaging classes online has been a process – but doing so has been rewarding for me and my students as I find that we all enjoy the class more when the assignments and activities are more interactive.”