Many smaller LSA courses fit this pattern, in which students are encouraged to discuss and analyze material that they read or view before class. On the face of it, that would seem to leave little to organize in Canvas, but including opportunities for pre- and post-class extensions of the discussion can result in much deeper analysis during class-time. We therefore recommend scaffolding your discussions with before and after activities like brainstorming, annotation, reflection, and synthesis.
Lively discussions can be difficult to manage through a videoconference interface or with some portion of the class remote, so this is one of the modes we encourage instructors to not attempt in hybrid format, or with a whole class in online format, unless they are prepared to learn and exercise some vigorous intervention in and guidance of the discussion. In those formats, be prepared to call on individuals directly and often, and make sure you don't skimp on the pre-discussion work! Brainstorming beforehand will help make sure no one feels caught without a response when called upon. Frequent break-outs into smaller groups to discuss a specific topic before reporting back to the whole class is another tactic that can help make hybrid or online discussions work better.
For a discussion-based course, we recommend the following basic pattern:
|Week X: [this week’s topic]
|What we are doing this week (text page)
|Readings and Materials (links, page ranges, videos, etc.)
|Pre-discussion Brainstorming (a discussion or annotation activity)
|Zoom link if online/blended/hybrid (External URL link to specific meeting)
|Post-discussion Reflection or Synthesis (a discussion activity)
By providing opportunities to reflect on the material and articulate themselves, both before and after the synchronous discussion, you will increase the effectiveness and focus of your face-to-face time. We recommend using discussion activities rather than Assignment items, so that students will be able to read each other’s thoughts, before and after. Remember that students can record on-the-spot video responses, for their discussion posts, too! LSA has a variety of discussion tools available to choose from.
If you are providing any readings in electronic format, consider adding them as a Hypothesis or Perusall assignment, rather than simply linking to the file, so that students can share their annotations, reading notes, and questions with each other there, as well.
Visit Canvas Commons to find a blank discussion-based template to import into your Canvas course.
To import a LSA Template into your Canas course:
View more detailed instructions on how to import a LSA Template into your Canvas course.
If you would like to consult with someone on the best way to use this template for your own course, contact the Learning and Teaching Technology Consultants at LSATechnologyServices@umich.edu.