How have our academics handled the recent changes to learning and teaching and how has the movement to Canvas helped their transition? This series draws on previous interviews and invites academics to reflect on their experiences so far when it comes to both the LX Transformation and our shift to remote learning.
In 2019, when I first sat down with Peter Stubbs to explore how he engaged with the LX Transformation process, the world was a different place. Since February, academics and students alike have rapidly shifted to ‘remote’ learning, where everything from classes to support is handled online. For academics like Peter, who teach subjects that require heavy content loads paired with practical applications in-class, teaching suddenly looks incredibly different.
With this in mind, I sat down with him again to see just how much his learning and teaching environment has changed since we last spoke, and whether the LX Transformation helped prepare Peter’s subject for the unpredictable year ahead. When we spoke this time, we were much farther away and chatting from the comfort of our own makeshift home offices.
Peter Stubbs teaches two subjects in the Postgraduate Masters of Physiotherapy: Professional Practice and Sub-acute Rehabilitation. These subjects are highly demanding for both students and teaching staff, as all subjects are in this intensive two-year degree. Although well aware of the vast amounts of content that needed to be transformed into his new Canvas subject sites, Peter was just off the back of a holiday when we first met, and strikingly upbeat and enthusiastic. Just before his break, he’d faced challenges like many other academics in the approach to modularise his subject content, especially when paired with clinical workshops and various in-class engagements.
I started with the wrong structure and got all the way to lecture three before realising that it wasn’t working. You have to get the structure right before you can start doing anything with your subject. Really think about it before you get stuck in.Peter Stubbs
However, this challenging experience began to shift once he sat down with the LX.lab Learning and Design Specialists, both in the LXT workshops and during weekday drop-ins. Using their expertise and his knowledge, he had put together a clear plan of action that was set to unfold over the last few weeks of 2019. This proactive use of support and clarity in structure prevailed.
I took the ‘no-frills’ Canvas approachPeter Stubbs
Peter’s ability to pace himself in such a rapidly changing environment is evident in his current Canvas site, where he has pulled back from the gadgets and glitter to focus on clarity, and the experience of his students: a logical layout, clear progression and consistency. While appearing simple in comparison to the large-scale production of other Canvas sites, Peter’s subject is foundationally strong and provides fundamental room for growth and flexibility.
While there are no in-Canvas quizzes to be seen, Stubbs has incorporated interactive elements outside of the learning management system to engage his students. Using real time word clouds and questionnaires, Stubbs focuses his subject time on the in-class components, working with students over Zoom to encourage discussion and cultivate a classroom environment online.
Next year I’ll be in a position where, little by little, I can start integrating quizzes into the content. Because, once you’ve got the content there… the structure and how students progress, you’ll know how to frame a lesson so that students can get the most out of it.Peter Stubbs
Towards the end of our interview, Peter mused that one of the most important things in this experience is not particularly knowing where to go for support – although that is helpful – but it’s also knowing what questions to ask. When asked about using Canvas now, Peter suggested that somewhere between the monumental shift to remote learning and the methodical introduction to Canvas as part of the LX transformation, for Peter, Canvas is now “business as usual”.
Living in a pandemic puts a lot of things into perspective and we hope that with the support of the LX.lab and the wider community at UTS, Canvas can be a helping hand to engage students and elevate subjects – even when we’re all behind a screen.