Category Archives: MOOC

LMS or VLE? Don’t matter to me! Canvas? Let’s see.


If you guessed: “Aladdin”, you are right. Aladdin Shopkeeper picture via Pinterest

Come on down, stop on by, and today we’ll decide, an LMS to tryyyyyyyy!

Guess the reference and forever have the song stuck in your head for this blog post.

Decisions, decisions

In determining which learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE) to try out, I immediately tried to establish my criteria for determining which LMS best fits my ideologies. The LMS should:

  1. Be free, support open content and allow for my course to become publicly available. Reflecting on the creation of MOOCs and open content in the short history of educational technology helped remind me of this.
  2. Allow for easy posting/sharing of videos, images, notes, and updates.
  3. Have a user-friendly interface for students that remains available to them at the conclusion of the course (kind of a continuance on my first point. Audrey Watters, hackeducation, addressed the problem that, in some courses,  “students would lose access at the end of class“, so I want it to be a priority that the content, discussions, and sharing would always be available.
  4. Bonus: does it have any cool additional features/apps that set it apart from others?

Upon doing some additional (beyond-class) research and observing the list of mediums presented in class, I decided to go with Canvas. It’s important to note, however, that I have a hard time segregating one LMS from another as most share the same basic functionality (assignments, discussion, assessment, etc.), ultimately the content and learning within the course is our focus. The LMS is the wrapping, not the present. Whether we are talking assignment submission and distribution of modules, these concepts should be included, so it’s not really a knock on other LMS when it is the foundation of their design.

Exploring Canvas (Instructure)canvas-by-instructure

To begin, I got lost finding out where to actually go to get a class started. The fortunate side of this, was that I ended up exploring more of the depth of Canvas as a whole.

It offers MOOCs!

That being said, the amount of MOOCs are quite limited… I was hoping to find one on music, but came up with online one clear-cut music one: Open Mic Songwriting, and many of you know, I can already write a song.

Arc was another function that allowed for the sharing of videos within the course, keeping track of who had watched the video, how long, and allowed them to comment and discuss (a feature that could likely be completed if you simply embedded a YouTube video as well).

Bridge was another function that is apparently “stops yawning” and is “engaging” but I got lost in several paragraphs of marketing/promotion that I couldn’t track down what it actually was.

I can make my courses public! One of my requirements is apparently confirmed and I would be able to publish my course upon completion or when I felt it was ready. Additionally, as I poked around with assessment and assignments, I can import and export marks and data as needed into the system which may even lead to easy transfer of using formative assessment sites like Socrative and Kahoot (which export excel files), all I would need to do is convert the file to a .csv and fiddle with some student-name/assignment name work!

canvas public domain.png


The website appears to be very user-friendly and includes many of the requirements I would typically have for assignments, group work, and due dates that I would attempt to achieve in a regular class. Uploading of assignments, tracking of attendance, quiz-delivery all seem readily accessible and usable for an educator, with support and tips abundant throughout the course development process.

Final Grades
Open-Source and Availability of Content  4.5/5
I removed some marks due to the fact that it tries to create almost a dependence on its own apps like Bridge and Arc. It does have easy overlap with Creative Commons which lends itself to better and easier open sourcing of content.

Functionality 4.5/5
Has all basic functions I would have expected to see in an LMS.

User-Friendly 4/5
There were initial hiccups in the start-up that slowed me down, but I imagine after working with the students briefly the classroom would function easily.

Additional Features 3/5
There doesn’t appear to be anything too mind-bending or revolutionary for Canvas in comparison what I’ve seen from other learning management systems. Arc and Bridge appear to tell you how great they are, but my understanding of them seem pretty straight-forward and achievable through other avenues.

Closing Thoughts
If I were to use a specific learning management system, and not the hybrid I have in mind for my project, I would actively consider using Canvas. It combines a lot of the ideologies I referenced above in a satisfactory manner and I felt very comfortable using it once I got started!

What learning management systems do you suggest?
Note: After my ECI834 classmates provide some reviews I’ll be sure to update this blog with their reviews of other LMS, so you can compare between each!

Was my evaluation of Canvas on the mark?

Share in the comments!

– Logan Petlak

My Learning, Accomplishment, Challenges, and Goals

Part I: Nutrition Fads, Diets, and Exercise

scale-403585_1920For the last week of my MOOC, we got to delve into 4 major themes. These included: questioning whether diets work, which ones are most effective, your genes being linked to obesity and the importance of exercise. I think they saved the best for last as I found this to be the most engaging, relevant content for me because I have been on many diets before. This project has basically been an undiet diet, and more about eating the rainbow of foods with an awareness of portions.

1. Do Diets Work?: There was a large response in the comments section to this question, and there were lots of opinions on this one to sift through! Too often you hear of how easy it is to gain weight but really difficult to lose it. That’s why dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry. People are looking for that magic bullet solution, which these diet companies offer. The truth is that there is no clear solution and diets are usually one big lie with false hopes and weight gain shortly after the diet is over. The biggest links to failure in diets are hunger, restriction of food choices and poor planning. Essentially, I learned that you need to expend more energy than you consume, and although a calorie is a calorie from a thermodynamics point of view, research suggests that diets that are 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 30% fat should be followed for successful appetite control during dieting. This segment also took it a step further by saying that we need to make the calories that we’re consuming count by picking nutrient dense foods, but it’s ok if you treat yourself too! For me, this approach has definitely been working during my learning project because this has been the longest that I’ve ever committed to eating well. In fact, I feel like I have built a healthier relationship towards food because I haven’t been overly restrictive yet feel satisfied. Check out these absolutely ridiculous diet fads (eating cotton balls and tapeworms?).  

2. Your Genes: Although we tend to blame the environment, there is ample research to suggest that obesity has a genetic component. However, knowing to what extent can be hard to quantify. The best estimates come from studying identical twins because they have identical genes, which shows a genetic contribution of 70%. Obesity is one of the most heritable phenotypes that we have. You may ask, what are the benefits of knowing what genes cause obesity? It allows us to understand how fat is regulated in humans and if there is some understanding of its process then research can start looking at prevention and reversal.

3. Exercise: I think we all know that exercise has been linked to a reduction in various kinds of diseases and condition. Couple that with eating well, and you’re looking at a much longer life expectancy. But the problem is that many people think that exercise means going to the gym and it’s overwhelming for many. That’s why I liked this segment in my week’s course because it debunked some myths that even I had every time I even hear this word. It’s not just about going to the gym or the intensity of the workout. It’s about being active daily that elevates your heart rate, sustaining at least 10 minutes of an activity that total about 2.5 hours a week for an adult. So if you like to garden, clean, go for walks all of that is part of living a more active life. Watch these 7 myths below:

Part II: My Accomplishment

The time has come! I have reached the end of my MOOC, Nutrition and Well-being. I decided to record myself doing the post-assessment to not only demonstrate my learning in a public space but to see how much you know. I ended up with an 89% so I’m happy with that. How did you do?

And with this, I received a certificate of completion/participation below:
Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 10.13.33 PM


Part III: The Challenges and Guilt


CCO public domain

Don’t be fooled! Although I am showing you the accomplishments and my new learning from my MOOC, I also faced a series of challenges and dilemmas that I am still trying to figure out. Yes, I’ve zoned in on nutrition as I feel that is the foundation for living a healthy life; but I’m also trying to live, create, and share a more healthy lifestyle, too. I’m trying to do that in a more public way through social media channels, which has really held me accountable and to stay relatively motivated–that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I would love some feedback from you, the reader, so I can get unstuck:  

1. Eating: I did NOT do well this week. I counted 5 meals that were imbalanced portions and low in nutritional value (high fat, high sodium, high carbohydrates and little to no micronutrients) and that’s not to mention all of the chocolate eggs that were around the school and my family’s house. No, it’s not the end of the world, but my stomach has been paying for it. This had a lot to do with the fact that I was not planned, which I stated above is important! Therefore, this solidifies the fact that it’s imperative that I commit to being planned or else I fall apart in my eating. But should I consider joining another community to help with this aspect like Chalyn is doing? I ditched the MyFitnessPal app a long time ago because I didn’t like the constant tracking and counting of everything. It was inconvenient, my MOOC was teaching me a lot about the importance of eating a rainbow of foods, and my 21-day fix through Beachbody portioned all of my food with the 30% fat, 30 protein, and 40% carbs anyway.


IMG_52712. Exercising: Although I have done a good job of staying active this week with 4 walks around the lake, managing to place in the top 3 in my Fitbit community, participate in challenges, and even added my principal to really put me to task (he’s the definition of active), I only did 2 as opposed to the 7 workouts from my 21 day fix that I officially started last Sunday. I am starting to question if I am trying to do too much with walking and this 21-day workout. I’m seeing results in what I’m wearing from doing what I have been doing (my clothes are my measurement at this point as I’m waiting to do a final measurement in two more weeks). Not to mention that I much prefer to be outside than inside. I have to find some intrinsic motivation because that has definitely been lacking.


3. Instagram: I created an Instagram account (my widget is to the right of this blog page) related to my health journey about a month ago. I now follow 20 individuals who demonstrate a healthy lifestyle and are active posters from whom I can learn. No, it’s not a lot but it’s a start, and I’ve been trying to be selective in who I am adding. I try to post healthy food creations by using a variety of hashtags along with using #21dayfix for my program, hoping to gather more followers. However, I have not succeeded in that. I only have 4! I am not too sure what I am not doing, but I suppose that I’ll have to think about this some more as I move into the week.

Part IV: My Goals for Next Week

  1. Get myself planned for meals again this week!
  2. Keep up with my Fitbit community and join Workweek Hustles for some friendly competition.
  3. Given this isn’t just a project with an end date but something that I am committing to well after the class is over, perhaps I’ll join another MOOC on fitness. Maybe that will get me inspired to do more with the 21-day fix. I’ll see what’s available and what piques my interest.
  4. Follow/Add more Instagrammers but needing to figure out HOW to gain more followers. But one thing that I have to commit to this week regardless of followers is creating more posts!  

Science – the “Mother” Subject?

Pre, During, Post reading strategies.  I bet there isn’t one of us in #eci831 that does not know or has not employed these strategies in their classes…. Well, as a science teacher I had used them, but I am quickly learning that I had not been using these strategies properly.  In the second MOOC session of Reading to Learn in Science we are studying these strategies and breaking them down further in regards to employing them within the science classroom.

I am very biased when it comes to “mother subjects” as I would tend to think that we all are.  In my mind, science is the mother subject – the subject that takes other subjects and links them all together into one cohesive unit.  Let me explain further (and keep in mind, I teach high school sciences):

  • in science we use the math skills that students obtained from math class and apply those skills to science.  For example, we use SOA CAH TOA to solve vectors in physics 30 (without the math skills how would a pilot ever fly a plane, or a captain sail a ship, etc.), we use conversion factors for all classes of science, we use quadratic equations for physical science classes, we collect and analyze data quantitatively…. so thank you math teachers.
  • in science we use the physical activity skills learned in phys ed and demonstrate how those skills would not be possible without Health Science understandings… we also use those skills in completing some laboratory activities and demonstrations.
  • in science we rely on historical understandings to propel further research into current or new areas.  We learn from others and build upon their discoveries.  For example, the new Biology 30 curriculum is based around genetics and evolution….need I say more?
  • in science we READ, collecting data qualitatively….thank you ELA teachers :)

Now, some may be thinking, but I teach subjects that are not mentioned…well, science is related to those as well.  And many will argue (as you should) that your subject is the one in which all others are linked to…I happen to think that my subject does the best at amalgamating all other subjects into one. But there is one other subject which science may rely on the most in order to make this amalgamation happen; reading!

Major activities of science info graphic

This infographic represents the 5 major activities of science which we call literate modalities:  Doing (designing experiments, assembling apparatuses, collecting and analyzing data), Representing (creating figures, tables, diagrams,charts), Talking (presenting to others and the public), Writing (peer reviewing: theories, research design, findings, implications), and finally Reading (integral to all other major activities within science – without reading there would be NO science).  In order to teach science effectively, teachers must have a clear understanding of the objective that they are teaching.  The objective needs to be:

  1. performance orientated
  2. engaging students in 2 or more literate modalities
  3. must target specific content

In order to successfully achieve the objective:  pre, during, and post reading strategies are used to engage students in the text that they are reading.

Pre reading strategies are used to:

  1. Elicit prior knowledge
  2.  Connect new and old ideas together
  3. Identify misconceptions
  4. Make predictions

Examples of pre reading strategies include picture walks, anticipation guides, and the Frayer model. Anticipation Guide - blank This MOOC session really concentrated on the use of anticipation guides as a pre and post reading strategy.  It is important the the teacher does not copy down the claims word for word from the text as this will activate prior knowledge from the students (allowing the teacher to gather data on the amount of retention that the students have) as well as eliciting inferences about the text.  Another important piece to remember with anticipation guides, is that not all claims are to be true – placing false claims in is beneficial, especially during class discussions.  Once all claims have be completed by the students individually, ask the students to break up into small groups or as a class have a discussion about each claim and what the students initially thought of each.  DO NOT ALLOW THE STUDENTS TO CHANGE THEIR ANSWERS, I have posted an example of an anticipation guide from the session – however, I would change this guide a bit and add another column in to allow students to write down information gathered from class discussions.Anticipation Guide - class discussion column

During reading strategies are used:

  1. Used during the actual reading process
  2. Forces slow, close, reflective reading
  3. Helps students monitor comprehension metacognitivelyDART

The example strategy that was taught during this session was DART (Directed Activity Related to Text) in which students selectively highlighted text used to slow down the reader and to force the reader to think about what they are reading, and to promote reflection and rereading.  Highlighting is done using different colours to categorize content (see screenshot).


Post reading strategies include:

  1. Anticipation guide – ask students to re-read each claim and now answer the columns “What the Text Tells Me” and what “Evidence” is given to support or debunk this claim.
  2. Frayer Model18246392682 is a graphic organizer which helps the students gain a more thorough understanding of a concept and it’s applications.  The Frayer model is good at helping students organize and summarize information, correcting misconceptions that the students may have, and helps the student to incorporation prior knowledge into the objective.




The Pre, During and Post Strategies are helpful to identify student misconceptions, give students practice in citing evidence but they do require careful planning on the teachers behalf.

So, in the end, Science may rely on the students ability to read, but I still believe that it is the one subject amalgamates all other subject into.  After all, if you are going to read, why not read scientifically!


Mainpoint noted – Get to know the MOOC.

MOOC-Massive Open Online Course.

Sounds exciting. Different from the traditional school training and personal studies. Draw together by the same interesting, and start an learning events. Everybody can make contributions and benifits form each other. Learning started and driven by inquiry and communication, and done through this exploring process. That learning no longer boring and tedious is really cool, based on digital context.


Five success steps to a MOOC according to Dave: Orient, Delare, Network, Cluster, Focus.

Taking a MOOC should be active. Start in the course rather than out the course. The learning achievements lies in how much you have contributed and participated.