Terence Priester’s presentation, ‘Canvas Reflections and Student Publishing,’ centered on the role of reflection in education. In addition to the utility of reflection in developing understanding for the students, it also offered a data point for better instructor feedback.
At Priester’s school, Newington College a boy’s school in Sydney, Australia, they chose to use WordPress for their blogs. Part of this choice was the ease of setting up dozens or even a hundred blogs at once. Onboarding the students was also a challenge. To help with onboarding, Priester developed the ‘Responsible Publishing With Blogs’ module in Canvas Commons. Priester and other instructors who choose to integrate blogs into their classes can integrate this module in any course they are teaching.
Part of the appeal of blogging is the accountability of writing for the public. Priester emphasizes to students, ‘You are not invisible & nothing is unGoogleable.’ Students are encourage to write in their own language. He specifically deemphasizes grammar and formalities encouraging instead whatever emoticons, memes, or whatever else they might like to use. He emphasizes for them to not put out personal information, but all student blogging is publicly available through the school’s canvas blogs.
Priester collects links for the student blogs into a table on a Canvas page (he uses the homepage) to help students read each others works. After students blog, they submit their URL for an assignment, allowing the instructor to use the Speed Grader to assess the blogs (Priester gives formative feedback rather than a counting grade). This is an interesting alternative to an aggregator site linked through the Redirect LTI or the various other WordPress solutions that someone like Keegan Long-Wheeler has written about.
Priester offered several types of blog assignments including: making thinking visible, exam review, and return to earlier material that may have been challenging. Paring a reflection with assessments at any scale helps to further tap into what students did learn and value and what challenges they faced in a form divorced from the questions that the instructors chooses.