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SEED projects 2019 – A new Canvas for teaching and learning

Following the threadz in online Canvas discussions

Dr Rena Heap

Dr Rena Heap

Dr Rena Heap, Megan Clune, Damon Ellis, Dr Rebecca Jesson, Dr Mohamed Alansari, Dr Frauke Meyer, and Dr Molly Mullen (Faculty of Education and Social Work)

The patterns of interactions between students and their lecturers, and between the students themselves, provides significant illumination about the underlying structures and dynamics of a discussion-led course. Our existing means of analysing and visualising these patterns are manual, elementary and painstakingly time-consuming. In this project, we have explored the potential of an app called Threadz, developed by the University of Eastern Washington to automate, streamline and enhance the analysis of Canvas discussions. A group of six lecturers and one learning designer have looked at the innovative and purposeful uses of Threadz both in blended and fully online courses.

We have found that the content of the online discussions provides valuable information about the dynamics of a course. However, other elements of discussion dynamics are more hidden and Threadz as a tool has helped to extract this hidden information and also display it visually as network graphs and chord diagrams. We wanted to be able to identify the patterns that emerge within the course related to the activities and behaviours of individuals and groups, such as: learner isolation; non-integrated groups; instructor-centric discussions; and key integration/power users and groups.

We were then interested to use the information to address these issues, to adapt our teaching and learning practices accordingly.