April 2021 Newsletter

Photo credit: Ellen Kinsel

Welcome to the April CANeLearn News

Well, I guess it is welcome, and goodbye, to April all at the same time. 

Our time in April here at CANeLearn has been focused on the 18th Annual Digital Learning Symposium which concludes May 7.  I guess we have been too busy to see the month of April wash past us like the silky-smooth waters Ellen captured.  The photo reminds me of the need to be one with life’s flow, still in its presence, letting it wash past – yet absorbing it, searching for the back eddies where the flow can be stilled, enjoyed, loved, shared, and expressed.  Those back eddies are just becoming visible again.


What’s around the corner for online/blended learning?  Here to Stay for K-12?

Educators, according to Rebecca Torchia web editor for EdTech: Focus on K-12, are wondering whether schooling should return to the way it was.  According to Torchia, the pandemic altered the landscape as districts, teachers, students, and parents worked together to change, adapt, and, in many cases, improve K-12 teaching and learning experiences. “Despite overwhelming eagerness… to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, many students and their families are opting to continue with virtual school when given the chance.” Read the full article here

Students Want Online Learning Options Post-pandemic

The experience of learning remotely during the pandemic left post-secondary students with a positive attitude toward online and hybrid courses, a Digital Learning Pulse survey suggests. Fifty-seven percent of students and 58% of faculty surveyed indicated they felt more positive now about online learning than they did before the pandemic. “If the past year can open more eyes to effective online teaching and learning practices, it will be a net positive for the future of postsecondary teaching and learning environments and will allow universities to be more agile,” states Jill Buban, vice president of digital strategy and online education at Fairfield University. Read the full article here


Mark your calendar:

CANeLearn Annual Leadership Summit

Online/Virtual June 29, August 20, October 8, 2021

Details in May newsletter


Photos, unless otherwise noted, by @rlabonte, ekinsel, or Unsplash


Featured Events

Featured Events

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Mark the dates: Upcoming Events


Weekend reading

Welcome to BlendEd [UK] a new blended learning resource for teachers

What makes for great learning and teaching using digital technologies, whether in school or at home, synchronous or asynchronous? It’s a challenge that every school and teacher has had to get to grips with rapidly, and we’ve all learnt a lot, quickly. 

BlendEd is all about sharing that learning and the knowledge and expertise we’ve all built up. And, as the context keeps changing, we all keep learning. 

BlendEd is designed by teachers, for teachers and offers free bite-sized professional development and resources focused on the pedagogies of blended learning – what works, and doesn’t? – from early years through to secondary.

Access the website here


Improved Student Engagement in Higher Education’s Next Normal

For higher education amid the COVID-19 pandemic…out of necessity, teaching practices rapidly embraced technology-based prototypical teaching methods. Faculty and students actively began the largest-ever nontraditional teaching experiment. The question now is, should any of these innovations and adaptations be retained to form the “next normal” in higher education? We know that disruption historically informs innovation. Here we suggest five teaching enhancements as possible candidates for continued acceptance. All of these pandemic-introduced adaptations improve student engagement. The first four enhance student engagement during class, whereas the fifth offers engagement opportunities outside of class.

Read the full article here

Quarterly Research Clearinghouse Newsletter – Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute

A quarterly digest of of published scholarship in the area of K-12 online and blended learning. Includes links to the following articles:

  • Michigan’s K-12 Virtual Learning Effectiveness Report, 2019-2020
  • Mental distress and its relationship to to distance education students’ work and family roles
  • Key strategies for engaging students in virtual learning environments
  • A practitioner framework for blended learning classroom inquiry-based virtual reality lessons
  • Student Clickstream Data: Does Time of Day Matter?

Access the Digest and full articles here

2021 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report|Teaching and Learning Edition

This report profiles key trends and emerging technologies and practices shaping the future of teaching and learning and envisions a number of scenarios and implications for that future. It is based on the perspectives and expertise of a global panel of leaders from across the higher education landscape.

Access the report here

Photo by @felipepelaquim on Unsplash

Digital Learning Collaborative – Bits and Bytes

Some interesting findings:

  • Almost half of all US public school students were full-time remote in January
  • Nearly One-Third Of Parents May Stick With Remote Learning
  • Significant Increase in Homeschooling Rates in Fall 2020
  • Post-secondary online enrollment numbers continue to increase, slowly

Read the full article here


Virtual Student Engagement Isn’t Impossible

The challenges teachers are facing this school year are incalculable. Constant schedule changes. Social distancing regulations. Another virtual platform to learn. It can all feel so overwhelming. But one frustration sticks out the most, makes us question our belief in our teaching abilities, and makes us feel as if we no longer have an impact: Not knowing how to engage our students anymore. In the shift to virtual learning, many of the strategies that we had previously used to draw our students’ attention have fallen by the wayside. I’ve found it helpful to take a step back and remember what we already know about engaging learners. There are three types of student engagement: emotional, behavioral, and cognitive (Fredericks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). When students are engaged in all three components, they can learn at their highest capability. By examining each of these components in action within my virtual classroom, I developed the Virtual Engagement Framework.

Read the full article here

Accessibility for Teachers –
Gavin Henrick and Karen Holland  (presentation at MoodleMoot Global 2020)

While we encourage lecturers to move towards a more blended provision of their courses, we must realise they are specialists in their respective disciplines and not necessarily web or accessibility experts. Henrick and Holland look at the content they typically create and advise on how best to make it accessible.

Watch the recording here

Moodle Universal Design for Learning Guide: Mapping Moodle activities to your teaching strategies

This guide provides teachers, course developers and facilitators guidance on how to design an inclusive and accessible course using Moodle features. The guide covers the formative assessment, summative assessment, communication, collaboration, acquisition and student feedback aspects of teaching and learning with Moodle.

Access the Guide here



Classroom Activities

Online or Face-to-Face


The Cobblestone Collective – Take an Adventure with Us

The Cobblestone Collective team joined thousands of classes across Canada through a co-taught lesson series. We explored the Sustainable Development Goals, the Design Thinking Process, digital citizenship, mindfulness, and gratitude. We coded in CS First and Minecraft, looked at using PowerPoint as an art canvas, Sway as a storytelling platform, and Google Sites as our new resume! lessons are either 60 or 90 minutes. Even though they are recorded, you can still use them with your students at any time. These lessons are great whether you’re teaching in-person (project us on your screen) or virtually (send the link directly to your students)! Each YouTube video’s description provides any instructions you may need.

Access lessons here (click images in graphic)          More Cobblestone Collective info


Resources for the Digital Classroom


Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Tips to Make Your LMS Content Accessible
While focused on Moodle, the information contained in this post can be applied to any LMS.

Designing for Accessibility (PDF posters) 
Includes tips for designing content for accessibility for special needs such as autism, dyslexia, users of screen readers, low vision, physical or motor disabilities, deaf or hard of hearing, and anxiety,

From previous newsletters…

An Important Distance Learning Resource for Teachers, Students, and Parents

Wide Open School offers free learning activities for all grades. Students can browse activities related to various subjects including social studies, emotional wellbeing, reading and writing, math, arts, music, science, English language learning, digital citizenship, and more. Within each of these activities, you can search for materials by grade level or search label. You can for instance search for activities that include videos, worksheets, lessons, etc. Some of these activities offer free downloadable materials. You can also share them to Google Classroom.

Tools for Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning, or PBL, challenges students to design and engage in more authentic, extended, and complex learning. But while PBL is a trusted strategy for increasing student engagement and learning, it’s not easy to orchestrate. There are tons of moving pieces, and if you’re doing it right, students will be engaging in a variety of interest-driven projects all with various needs and on different schedules. So how do you manage it all? Tech can be a huge help. This list gathers some useful productivity and organization tools that can help both teachers and students keep track of, finish, and assess projects. There are also a few tools designed specifically for PBL, as well as plug-and-play PBL experiences. Learn about these tools here

Rough Guide for Spotting Bad Science

Being able to evaluate the evidence behind a scientific claim is important. Being able to recognize bad science reporting, or faults in scientific studies is equally important. Includes 12 points to help separate the science from the pseudoscience. Download the PDF here

ABC Learning Design 

Spreadsheet template to facilitate the collaborative design of learning scenarios. Check it out here

Common Sense Education Resources


CANeLearn’s Emergency Remote Teaching Resources, Tools, Ideas 

  • CANeLearn has published a page with a collection of resources from other organizations, emerging tools, and ideas about pivoting to remote teaching
  • Check it out here

Adventures in Archives

Check out links to past CANeLearn events

Featured Event

CANeLearn researched what K-12 school districts across Canada have offered in the way of programming and supports during the pandemic.  Check out the research project website for reports, recordings, and slide decks.

All archives here

  • mbers’ Site
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