Some Tips for How to Work Collaboratively Online

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

This lesson was designed as a part of the MiddCORE summer 2020 and winter 2021 online cohorts. The program has always involved extensive collaborative group work, however doing this work completely online and across multiple time zones posed a new challenge. As many educators have pointed out, it is essential to provide some scaffolding and support when beginning any group-work. Too often we assume that people know how to collaborate and what we expect of them in our group work challenges. These assumptions become even more problematic when we are not physically in the same space to hear and see challenges that might be presenting themselves as groups collaborate in real time. The lesson below was designed to help support this process and give students a window into the process of “teaming online”.

The Set Up

We began this work with a reflective task that asked students to consider the way in which they prefer to work, strengths that they will bring to the group, and other information that team members should know about them. 

In Class (live) Activity

MiddCORE is still largely built on students meeting synchronously via Zoom, so the team invited me to work with the group on learning how to “team online”. Prior to the session all students were asked to complete the reflective task and bring it with them to the session. 

At the beginning of the session I introduced myself and explained my experience with working as a part of a remote team and the impact of the pandemic on our work processes. I worked to frame the discussion as not just occurring because of the pandemic, but that the impacts were definitely amplified because of our current situation. One of my goals was to make the connection that in a globalized society, it will only become more and more common for remote teams to need to learn how to work together effectively and efficiently.

Next I explained several “learnings” that I had accumulated over my time working as a part of a remote team. These considerations/topics included:

(You can click on each item to view a brief video overview of the topic.)

Some of these points directly connect to the reflective task students were asked to complete, so before breaking into groups I referred to these connections and the importance of recognizing and owning your own needs, strengths, quirks, etc. when attempting to work as a part of a team. (See point #2 in this article “Create an equitable distribution of labor and assure students that you, not they, are responsible for this aspect of the collaboration”)

The Task

I then explained that students were going to work together in their teams to establish a team agreement that would guide their work. In order to establish a successful team agreement students needed to ensure that all voices were heard in their meeting and I encouraged them to share info from their reflections to determine the best way for them to work together based on all of their individual needs and preferences. 

Before breaking into break out rooms I paused to ask for any questions, and then explained the time limit for the break out rooms, the expectation for what would be completed during that time, and how could they ask for help if they needed it. 

The Wrap Up

With 5 – 10 minutes left of class, all students returned to the main room so that we could recap how things went. We discussed general questions and whether any group felt stuck or significantly challenged in setting up their team agreement. Students were reminded they could also touch base with the faculty member or program managers if they felt like they needed additional assistance with their group. It’s important for students to know that there is help if things are really not going well in their group.

Learn more – here are some articles and resources that inspired the structure of this lesson:

How do I make my announcements appear on the home page in Canvas?

man holding a megaphone
Photo by Pressmaster on

Many faculty use the announcements feature of Canvas to let their students know about recent updates, reminders, upcoming due dates, etc. However, there is a setting you must adjust to ensure that your announcements will appear on the home page of your course. Luckily, Instructure provides step-by-step instructions for how to adjust this setting to meet your needs.

Announcements may be just one component of the communication plan that you devise for your course. (Virtual office hours might be a part of this plan too!) Like all of the pieces of your course it’s important to be transparent and intentional in your use and explanation of these plans to ensure that students follow the unique guidance and expectations that you have for your course and your virtual course space.

Problem: My syllabus is REALLY long. How do I create hyperlinks to different sections of the content in my Canvas page so it’s easier to navigate quickly?

Picture of many pages of books with lots of words.
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

It’s important to include a LOT of information in a syllabus so that students can access a variety of information about your course as well as support services available to them. However, it’s also important to make this content easy to navigate on your course site. Although you can perform this function by using HTML anchor tags, the easier and faster method for doing this is by using some new options available in our DesignPlus Tools in Canvas.

To learn more about how to access DesignPlus tools and support materials you can sign up for a flipped learning session on the tool on the DLINQ web site. In addition, if you can’t attend – check out this support doc. (You will need to login with your Middlebury credentials.)

The tool that works best for this functionality is the Accordion/Expander/Tab tool. The video below demonstrates both how this tool functions and how to add it to a page in Canvas using the DesignPlus Tools interface.

Problem: The formatting on my Canvas page is messed up!

Picture of mixed up magnet letters on a whiteboard.
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash –

This can often happen when you are copying and pasting content from one location to another. In most instances utilizing the clear formatting option in the menu bar (large italic T followed by a small subscript X) will resolve this issue. Sometimes you may need to reapply a style after clearing the formatting. You can do this by using the drop down menu bar item where formatting styles are listed (paragraph, heading 1, etc.).

>>Learn more about options available in the Rich Text Editor in Canvas.

Developing a Troubleshooting Mindset

As we all begin to navigate a new normal I’ve been noticing how significant the development of a troubleshooting mindset is for growing a sense of confidence, ability, and autonomy when using different tool sets.

I’m going to use a few Panopto trouble examples that came up this week to demonstrate this. First of all, from the start many people have already shown that they were starting to develop a troubleshooting mindset simply by asking the question:

“Can these tools handle this sudden increased load?”

-Everyone right now

It’s a good question and one that is only going to be answered as time passes for several reasons including: tech changes over time, the need to rapidly scale up vs a more gradual climb which would allow more time for testing, etc. Part of developing a troubleshooting mindset is recognizing that you will not always be able to control or fix problems, but that you should be aware that they can occur and have an idea of how to mitigate for that.

Panopto experienced two incidents so far this week. During these incidents users may have experienced problems viewing, recording, sharing, etc. If we use these incidents as an example here is the troubleshooting pathway I would suggest for people having trouble with Panopto. These are the same steps that I walk through in my helper role as an instructional designer. I’m sharing them in the hopes that they can provide a bit of a roadmap into some methods others can start to use too.

Step 1 – Check the System Status

ITS has a web page that allows you to view all system status links in one place. Bookmark this page. This will tell you whether the problem is on Panopto’s end. If that’s the case – the resolution is to wait until the system is back functioning and try again to see if the problem persists. If it does – move on to step 2. There’s a screenshot below of what Panopto’s status page looks like.

Notice that even though Panopto is now operational – you can still see details about past incidents with time ranges to help you determine if that might be the problem.

Step 2 – Specifically identify the problem

Are you having trouble doing something as the faculty member? If so – what problem are you having? Be as specific as you can be. Consult the online documentation to see if there are already instructions for resolving your issue. Middlebury has it’s own help wiki page for Panopto where staff have been working to document troubleshooting steps for common problems we are seeing. You might also take a look at Panopto’s documentation directly (which is linked to from the wiki) to ensure you are following the correct steps in the process you are trying to complete. Still stuck? Move on to step 3.

Is a student having a problem? If this is the case there are some additional steps you can take as a faculty member to further troubleshoot the problem. Please see step 4.

Step 3 – I’m still stuck

This is where your identification of a problem becomes extremely important. We need to know if your problem is:

Step 4 – My student is stuck

First, you can do a little troubleshooting ahead of time.

If your video is embedded through Canvas, first check to be sure the student can and has accessed your Canvas site. You can do this by clicking on the People tab from within your Canvas course. This will show you the last time the student accessed the course and the length of time they had that window open. You can also click on the student name to view more details. Based on what you find here you may wish to reach out to the student to have a phone conversation to discuss issues they might be experiencing (technical and/or personal).

In Panopto, check to be sure your video is shared with the right class (it should reside in a course folder). You can also access the stats for a video to see if other students have successfully been able to view the video. This will tell you whether the problem is class-wide, more wide-spread in the class, or might be more directly related to a students’ individual set up/internet connectivity.

I think the problem is my student’s individual tech set up. First – to mitigate internet connectivity issues you can share this checklist of tips to maximize your internet connection and ask the student if any of these items help. Also – providing slides separately from the text or transcript of your lecture might help. Panopto offers a way to provide audio podcasts of your recordings that might help supplement the slides. Contact DLINQ so we can set up a consultation to walk you through this process.

Helping Your Students to Share Pre-recorded Presentations

A popular request from faculty has been how do I set up a way for students to:

  1. Create recorded presentations
  2. Share them with their classmates

This post will explain how to do this using Panopto and Canvas. However it is important to note that you can allow flexibility for how your students record their presentations based on what they are most familiar with. It is good to have a method for them to use (along with documentation & help) in case they don’t know where to start – but you don’t necessarily have to require them to do their recording this way if they have an idea that would work better for them.

Step 1: Create a Panopto Project Folder for Students to Share their Work

This step will create a location where students are able to upload and share videos with their class. If you have not already created a Panopto resource for your course through the course hub, you should complete that step first. As a refresher, below is a video to demonstrate how to do this.

Step 1A Create a class folder in Panopto

Step 1B Create a Sub folder within the class folder that gives students access to create items in that folder

Communicate to students, either through your course site, or another communication method information about the assignment along with instructions for how students can upload their recordings to your course Panopto – Share folder. We’ve included a video tutorial below to demonstrate this.

Step 2: One option for how students can record their presentations – Panopto

Once the students are familiar with your assignment & its guidelines give them the option to create the recording in any way that they feel most familiar. This will serve to give your students agency to use knowledge that they are already have, and only learn a new workflow if they do not know how to complete the assignment.

Be sure students understand that they all will need to try to share videos using the method described above.

For those who are not sure how to proceed, offer the following steps as a college-supported method that is available for all students for recording virtual presentations.

2A. Download & Install Panopto

Students also have access to download and use the Panopto video recorder. To do this they should:

  1. Open a web browser
  2. Navigate to
  3. Log in with their Middlebury credentials
  4. Select to “Download Panopto”. This option will display in the upper left hand corner of your screen.
  5. Follow the prompts to download and install the application on your computer.

2B. Open and Record in Panopto

  1. Once the application is downloaded students should open the Panopto application on their computer.
  2. Then open the presentation or display window that they plan to record and situate it on the screen to suit their needs. (For example, if they plan to move between different tabs in a browser, pre-load the tabs with the content they plan to use, if they plan to walk through a slide presentation open the file in present mode.
  3. Open the Panopto application and select either their web cam or none in the primary window. In the Secondary window option select the screen they wish to display.
  4. The default location for their recording will be in their My Folder location in Panopto. Ask students to select the project folder that you created and shared in step 1b above.

Below is a video tutorial demo of this process.

Step 3: Upload your Audio/Video File to Panopto (Only needed if recording was not done in Panopto)

Note: Students will only need to complete this step if they did NOT use Panopto to create their recording.

In this step students would need to have their audio or video file saved on their computer. To move it quickly from a mobile device to their computer they may choose to email it to themselves if the file is not too large. (This is another reason to keep recordings short – moving them around gets more difficult the larger they are. )

  1. As a first step students should open a web browser and navigate to and log in with their Middlebury credentials.
  2. Click on the button at the top of the screen labeled “Create”.
  3. Select Upload Media.
  4. A dialog box will open that allows students to select the folder they wish to save the file into (identified by their faculty member) and a selector box where they may drag and drop or select the file they wish to upload.
  5. Depending on the size of the file and the internet connection it could take some time to upload. Be sure to remain connected to the internet during this step. If your internet connection is unstable be sure to share this information with your faculty member so they are aware and can make adjustments as necessary.

Step 4: Sharing a Panopto Recording in Canvas (for Students)

This step will go over how students can embed a Panopto video into a Canvas Assignment or Discussion forum. Both of these items allow students to write in the Rich Text Editor window. For assignments, faculty should just be sure to request the “Text Entry” option to give students that editing functionality. The video tutorial below demonstrates what this would look like from a student perspective. (Updated 12/13/20 with new RCE editor functionality.)

Embedding Panopto Lecture Videos into Your Canvas Site

This is a workflow that many faculty are using to share lectures with their students. However, it involves multiple steps and utilizing two different platforms so this is my attempt to break that process down a bit into manageable steps.

This post is a work in progress. Please send any suggestions & feedback to for updates. – Thanks!

Step 1: Create a Panopto Folder Via the Course Hub

Why do I need to do this?

Creating a Panopto folder via the course hub enables you to create one location where you can place videos where access is linked directly to your course roster. Consider this a “behind the scenes” maneuver for your students. Although they will see this folder in the course hub and could navigate through your videos for the course here, the ultimate goal is just streamlining access control for your videos.

What does this look like?

Step 2: Install Panopto & Record Your Video in Panopto

Install Panopto

To do this step you need to have installed the Panopto client (or app) on your computer. If you have not already done this you can by completing the following steps:

  1. Open a web browser and go to
  2. Log in using your Middlebury credentials
  3. Look for an option in the upper right hand corner of your screen that says “Download Panopto”. Click on this option and follow the prompts to download and install the application.

Record in Panopto

See the video demonstrations below to learn how to record in Panopto. Note: When you start recording you need to select the course folder that you created in step 1. But if you select the wrong folder (like I did in this video) you can move your upload after the fact. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how.

Mac Version

PC Version

Step 3: Embed Panopto Video in a Canvas Page/Assignment/Discussion

This step requires that you have already created a Canvas site for your course through the course hub.

Why do I do this?

By embedding your Panopto video into a Canvas page you are creating a one-stop-shop for your students. If students know that they can find all the information for your course in one location it helps to limit complexity …at least a bit.

How do I do this?

Navigate to your Canvas site (you can do this by visiting the course hub, or going directly to Canvas, logging in using your Middlebury credentials, and using the dashboard to view your sites).

In the example video below I am embedding a Panopto video into a Canvas page, however you can do this in any location where the rich text editor is available (assignments, discussions, quizzes, etc.).

Fixing Problems

I need to move my Panopto recording into a different folder.

The default location for Panopto recording uploads is your “My Folder” location. Unless you change this when you first start recording you will need to move the video once it is done uploading. (I’ve done this multiple times by mistake just while creating this series of tutorials – it happens.) Luckily – it’s easy to fix.

Translating Ideals to Behaviors

Photo by Heather Stafford

In Dare to Lead, Brené Brown writes,

“One reason we roll our eyes when people start talking about values is that everyone talks a big values game but very few people actually practice one. It can be infuriating, and it’s not just individuals who fall short of the talk. In our experience, only about 10 percent of organizations have operationalized their values into teachable and observable behaviors that are used to train their employees and hold people accountable.

Ten percent.

If you’re not going to take the time to translate values from ideals to behaviors—if you’re not going to teach people the skills they need to show up in a way that’s aligned with those values and then create a culture in which you hold one another accountable for staying aligned with the values—it’s better not to profess any values at all. They become a joke. A cat poster. Total BS.”

Brene Brown, Dare to Lead

This is my attempt to operationalize the Office of Digital Learning and Inquiry’s goal to advance digital fluency and critical engagement at Middlebury. I’m going to try to walk the walk by looking at a common scenario and dissecting it in relation to a specific tool that has gained in popularity in education circles. As you’ll see, being critical of tools also means making conversations more complicated. It means examining our assumptions and calling out problems even with the shiny-est of new objects. I’ll attempt to identify pros and cons as well as concerns regarding student privacy, agency, and access. It won’t be a short post – but it will be a full one — so let’s get started.

The tool – FlipGrid

The tool I decided to start with is FlipGrid. I chose it because I found out numerous faculty had already started to use the tool in coordination with Canvas. Since that time the Office of Digital Learning has implemented a whitelisting process whereby Canvas integrations are evaluated for privacy and security concerns.

After examining some documentation I found that FlipGrid is intentionally designed to be integrated at a course level.

“***Please note, Flipgrid does not support a system-wide integration or admin-level setup. Instead, teachers must individually do this for each course they want to use Flipgrid with.”

From: FlipGrid Help

A perceived pro for this is that it allows for faculty flexibility, however after digging into the FlipGrid and the power that a grid owner has – you can see that within an academic context it is very easy for this “feature” to result in former students having orphaned video work stored on a server that is impossible to remove. (More on that later.) It also loads the majority of responsibility for privacy concerns on the grid owner.

The Docs 

Let’s start with the documents that teachers need to confirm they have read before creating an account. They consist of:

First – a pro – these docs are all available and fore-fronted for teachers to review. A con – they took me well over an hour to wade through in their entirety. In addition, in the Parental Consent Form there is no opt out option listed. This design highlights the power of defaults. The appearance of only one option is a bit of a power move that does not favor student or parent agency.

“The power of defaults to guide people’s choices has made them an extremely popular way for policymakers and marketers alike to nudge people toward a particular decision. But it has also raised questions about how to ensure that defaults are used ethically and responsibly.” 

Ruth Pogacar and Mary Steffel and Elanor Williams, Fast Company, 4/9/2017

How to fix this → write your own Parental Consent Form and include AND DISCUSS an opt-out option.

Digging Deeper

The United States Department of Education offers some tools to help practitioners and administrators who are tasked with considering student privacy & security. One of the tools is a model terms of service. While the model has not been updated since 2016, I found that it hit on many of the most concerning points related to student privacy. As a test, I ran FlipGrid through a quick assessment that you can view via a Google Sheet. Items in red designate that they fall within the warning category defined by the model.

Extending the Classroom 

In the terms of service in section 2.1 the option to share grids outside of the school population is mentioned, however only later in the section is it stated that:

“If Grid Owners invite unaffiliated guests (e.g., featured speakers) to participate on their Grids, they are solely responsible for (a) obtaining parental consent for sharing Student information with any guests; and (b) obtaining clearance to use the guests’ content. Flipgrid has no responsibility for Grid Owner guest activity.

See Also: FERPA Anyone who enters your class and is not a registered student or faculty member should be aware of their responsibilities as a guest in an academic space. And as the person responsible for upholding FERPA and protecting the classroom space, you must be willing to be fully responsible for their actions. In the Do’s and Don’t’s document provided by FlipGrid this behavior is listed as a don’t:

“Don’t share student information outside the classroom or the school community.”

Do’s and Don’ts from FlipGrid

How to fix this → read up on your FERPA related responsibilities. Have questions? Check in with the Registrar’s office to clarify what is ok and not ok to do.

The Scary Language You Need to Pay Attention To

Some quotes from the ToS that raised concerns for me:

“grant us a nonexclusive license to view, download, reproduce, modify, create derivative works of, distribute, and display any information provided by or collected from a Student solely for the purposes discussed in these Terms.

“Flipgrid does not guarantee any confidentiality with respect to your User Content.”

How to fix this → my take → in some ways not fixable — As a user of tech (and a parent), this is where I stopped and ruled this tool out as a viable option. Part of my determination was that video is a potentially more problematic medium than writing because it is usually less planned and more spur of the moment. This means that there is a higher chance that a student could potentially record something that they did not think out fully or that – in retrospect – they regret or feel silly about posting. It’s one thing when that happens within the four actual walls of a classroom. It’s something completely different when it’s one screen capture away from Snapchat infamy.

The only suggestion I have is to make use of this tool optional and focused solely on team building within the group for no stakes community building interactions. Make students aware of how the tool works and the policies governing its use BEFORE they use it.

Student Agency – Deletion & Tracking

In the Privacy Section the major issues returned to the concept of student agency. If we are fully in support of championing student agency over their work and likeness then they should be learning in systems in which they have control over deletion of their content. FlipGrid puts this power firmly in the Grid Owners hands. For example:

“1.2 Depending on the Grid Owner’s privacy settings for the Grid, other Users may view and share Student content.“

In addition, the privacy policy tells us a fair amount of tracking is taking place:

“Info collected from users: device type, the device identifier (UDID), the Open Device Identification Number (ODIN), date/time stamps for each visit, browser type, operating system, Internet Protocol (IP) address, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, clickstream data, and domain name are all collected for purposes of administering, tracking usage of, and improving the Service. We may store this information in log files.

“Cookies & Web Beacons: The Service may include web beacons and cookies from third-party service providers.“

“Companies that deliver content, such as videos a Grid Owner links to or embed, place cookies on their own. These companies use the data they process in accordance with their privacy policies, which may enable these companies to collect and combine information about your activities across websites, apps, or online services.”

A positive in this section is that FlipGrid notifies users that they have the ability to block some of these technologies…

“Each User has a variety of tools to control cookies, web beacons, and similar technologies, including browser controls to block and delete cookies and controls from some third-party analytics service providers to opt out of data collection through web beacons and similar technologies.”

However, they also let you know it might mess with your ability to use FlipGrid:

“User browser settings and other choices may impact the functionality of the Service. “

Another negative against student agency becomes apparent when we dig into a student’s ability to delete their own content. (This is the orphaned content I mentioned way back in the introduction.) They can’t. They are reliant on the Grid Owner to do this or must contact FlipGrid directly:

“Users can contact us at and request that such videos be removed. However, we will only be able to remove the video if (a) the User provided their email address when posting the video and (b) the User sends the email request to us using that same email address. Otherwise, we may not be able to remove a posted video. Deletion of a video removes it from the Grid. “

Unfortunately, once a student graduates or a teacher leaves a school they typically lose access to the email account that would be associated with this video and consequently – would lose all control over removing the video.

How to fix this → Delete your FlipGrids and all associated videos at the end of the semester. Also – be aware that you are being tracked and make sure that students understand this. Let them ask questions and interrogate the classes’ use of the tool. Allow them to opt out if they choose to.

Flipgrid also tells the user that they do not respond to “do not track signals”:

12.2 How We Respond to Do Not Track Signals

“We do not currently respond to “do not track” signals or other mechanisms that might enable consumers to opt out of tracking on our website.”

So What? Who Cares?

Well – actually – I’m kind of hoping YOU do! We are too quickly trading away power over our own data and choices for ease of use and that’s a BIG problem. It becomes an even bigger problem when we act as agents of an educational institution and make decisions for our students without fully examining the future consequences of our decisions. Finally – whenever we choose an option that makes it difficult (or potentially impossible) for students to access and control their data or for future college employees to help do this after we or the students leave, we have taken away our students’ ability to control their digital life and traded understanding and respect for digital fluency in for ease of use. 

Let’s not shy away from these complicated conversations. We all need to be more transparent and honest about how things work and how they can potentially impact everyone. We don’t have to rule out a tool – but we should not require it either. Students deserve options and we shouldn’t hide behind the power of defaults to obscure the fact that they have the right to make those decisions for themselves.

What’s Next?

Do you have a tool that you are interested in using with your class but would like some feedback from DLINQ? Let me know at

You can also check out these other resources for additional critical examinations of tech tools:

Teaching Resource: The Decoding the Disciplines Paradigm: Seven Steps to Increased Student Learning by David Pace

Picture of stairs through a garden
Photo by Slawek K on Unsplash

I’m not sure where I first heard about this text, but the paradigm’s focus on disciplinary bottlenecks intrigued me and seemed reflective of a great deal of interest at Middlebury in connection to helping students to think like a …. scientist, historian, educator, economist, etc. The decoding paradigm relies on three assumptions:

  1. Learning is focused on disciplinary processes
  2. We must concentrate on what students need to be able to do
  3. Experts are not always able to identify the basic necessary tasks in a disciplinary field because those processes have become automatic to them

The decoding process is broken up into seven steps:

“Identify a bottleneck

Define the mental operations needed to get past the bottleneck

Model these tasks explicitly

Give students practice and feedback

Motivate the students and deal with potential emotional blocks

Assess how well students are mastering the mental operations

Share what you have learned about your students’ learning”

(Pace, D., 2017, p. 6)

A lot of what is covered in this texts reflects what we already know to be effective practices to improve student learning, however I found the chapters on identifying bottlenecks and dealing with students’ emotional blocks to provide some of the most transformative material.


Bottlenecks are those process areas where professors can predict that a majority of their students’ will get stuck. Pace makes the argument that:

“The mistakes that students make in our courses become gifts that can serve to increase our understanding of how to better teach our disciplines and even illuminate the deeper nature of those disciplines”

(Pace, D., 2017, p. 26).

A key to identifying bottlenecks is focusing on what students need to be able to do, or the mental operations that a student must perform to complete a task within the discipline. These bottlenecks can be difficult for experts to identify, and Pace suggests decoding interviews to help hone in on the core of the difficulty that students are experiencing. The interview can begin with asking professors how they would get past the bottleneck that stumps their students. The interviewer will focus on breaking down the answer into a specific set of steps by asking follow up questions. 

Pace notes that bottleneck patterns that have emerged in multiple fields include: 

“Procedural problems

Missing steps

Transferring processes

Moving back and forth from models to concrete situations

Integration of details

Issues of scale

Procedures for knowledge generation”

(Pace, D., 2017, p. 24 – 25).


This chapter seemed particularly relevant given our current polarized political climate. It offered a great deal of guidance and suggestions to help professors be proactive in their management of student emotions to ensure that students are familiar with a process for objective engagement with content before they engage with information that may evoke an emotional and personal reaction.

“…what students learn in a college classroom may disrupt the once harmonious flow of opinions around the family dinner table. In some cases what they are studying may even be perceived as a betrayal of the family and the culture within which they have been raised”

(Pace, D., 2017, p. 84 – 85)

In addition, students’ preconceived notions of how they believe a college classroom will function, and the ways in which they will need to study to be successful may come in direct conflict with the disciplinary ways of thinking that students need to acquire. Here again, a proactive approach to teaching students methods and practices that will benefit them in your class is a good way to head off or, at least dampen this reaction before it can occur. A great way to do this is by asking students to share with future students what they need to do to be successful in the class and including this content as a part of your syllabus for subsequent cohorts. 
Pace also emphasizes that professors should not dismiss either of these types of misconceptions. Instead, professors should help students to see these prior understandings as building blocks to new levels of learning.


This is a great read for any teacher who is very interested in developing disciplinary ways of thinking in their students. The text provides many examples and practical suggestions that break big ideas down into actionable steps. There is also a web site that compiles and summarizes much of the material into easily accessible chunks. 

Canvas Tip – Why should I use the inbox in Canvas?

Photo by Mark John Raymundo on Unsplash

Perhaps you have noticed the little mail icon labeled Inbox on the blue menu bar on the left hand bar of your screen and though “just what I need – ANOTHER inbox”. This brief post will outline a few ways in which this option (called Conversations in Canvas-speak) might offer you some benefits.

To begin, here’s a video introduction of how Conversations work in Canvas.

Benefits of using the Canvas Inbox:

  • All course related messages are grouped together (not intermingled with other emails)
  • You can filter your messages by course to view conversations only related to that course
  • Students (and faculty) can still set their notifications to receive email messages when they receive messages in their Canvas inbox if they find that helpful

Things to consider: 

  • Using right click (or option+click) functionality you can open the Canvas mailbox in another tab to keep this feature handy while you are doing other work in Canvas
  • Once a course has concluded the messaging function in Canvas can no longer be used for that course.