Creating A Welcoming Canvas Course

October 2, 2023

When Quality Matters released the Seventh Edition of the QM Higher Education Rubric in July, Clemson Online was excited to see the added focus on ensuring welcoming online courses. 

We were so excited, in fact, that we designed a presentation around it for our new faculty at our annual New Instructor Conference. Watch the full presentation

Here are some of the main takeaways: 

Clear Expectations 

We can all agree that a warm welcome and being available to answer questions are important.
But providing clear expectations in your Canvas course is equally critical.

 Clearly indicate where students should start when they log into the course for the first time. We recommend a “Get Started” button or link on your homepage that students can’t miss. Students should also be able to easily find things like course objectives, course and university policies, tech requirements, grading criteria, and communication guidelines. Making expectations clear goes a long way in easing anxiety and confusion for students. It should also lighten your load in terms of answering questions and managing misunderstandings!

Making Connections

Include a welcoming introduction. You can share information about your experience, teaching philosophy, hobbies, and a photo of yourself – maybe even one of your pets! Introductions can be done in writing, video, or both! 

Allow students the opportunity to introduce themselves via discussion board posts, videos, surveys, etc. Come up with some fun icebreaker questions. Ask them about their values, goals, and preferred names. Show an interest in getting to know them as people. 

Create spaces for learner interaction. How can students make connections and learn from each other while interacting with the course content? An online format shouldn’t mean a solitary learning experience. 

Inclusive Design

There is a lot to consider here, but let’s start with assessing: 

  • Language and images 

Can students see themselves in the images and videos used? Is the language of the course inclusive? Are stereotypes avoided? 

  • Readings 

Ensure diversity of representation in your readings by incorporating international and open access journals and including authors representing a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. 

  • Accessibility

We want to ensure that students with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, linguistic, and cognitive abilities can fully participate in our courses. Did you know that Canvas has Accessibility Checkers?

For guidelines on making your course more accessible, visit Clemson Online Accessibility.

Clemson Online is here to help! If you have questions or would like to discuss ideas on making your course more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible, schedule a one-on-one consultation with us.

Upcoming Events

Quick Hit – Course Accessibility for ScreenReaders

Thursday October 12th, 3:30-4:00 PM

Join this training to have your questions on course accessibility and screenreaders answered. Whether you have a specific question or want an accessibility topic demonstrated, this training opportunity is your time to work with our accessibility coordinator. When registering, choose whether to have a specific topic covered, enter your question, or both. 

Facilitated by Michelle Tuten, Accessibility Coordinator.   

Modality: Virtual and synchronous—an Outlook Calendar invite, with the Zoom link, will be sent.
Registration: Quick Hits: Course Accessibility for Screenreaders on October 12th 

Applying Accessibility Principles

Wednesday, October 18, 1:30-2:30 PM

Providing alternative means of accessing course materials is essential for learners who require accessibility support; they are also entitled to it under the law. Join this presentation to learn about basic principles of accessibility you can start using in your course today. This presentation will discuss the accessibility guidelines in General Standard 8 of the Quality Matters rubric.

Facilitated by Sharyn Emery, Ph.D., Digital Learning Manager

Modality: Virtual and synchronous—an Outlook Calendar invite, with the Zoom link, will be sent.
Registration: Applying Accessibility Principles October 18th .

Clemson Online Fall 2023 Events Calendar

calendar for Fall with woman fashion fall accessories.

Review our Fall 2023 Events Calendar to see what Online Instruction Development opportunities await!

We have a robust Summer lineup of topics and live training formats to support your use of Canvas and other e-learning tools. Topics cover demonstrations of using Kaltura, presentations on inclusive practices for online education, and workshops to get your Canvas site ready to teach!

All of our live training is recorded. Registrants will automatically receive a link to that day’s video after it has been processed.

Contact James Butler with any questions regarding these sessions. 

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