A Crash Course for Teaching This Fall

This post offers quick takeaways to help you be successful in your most pressing tasks before the semester begins. There are tips for brand-new instructors as well as seasoned pros. 

Canvas logo

Wondering about our transition to Canvas? In order to ensure that we are able to support a smooth adoption of Canvas at Duke, for Fall 2023, a limited number of instructors who were selected as “early adopters” are teaching in Canvas in the Fall semester. All instructors, staff, and students will be able to use Canvas in Spring 2024. There will be many opportunities throughout the Fall semester to learn more about Canvas and get training. You can follow the latest information on our transition site.

Tips to Get Your Sakai Site Ready

  1. Brand new to Sakai? You’ll need to create your own sites. If you are interested in building a highly interactive site, learn about the advanced template. The Sakai Help site can help you navigate the system and Learning Innovation offers online office hours. You can contact us at learninginnovation@duke.edu to schedule training as well. 
  2. Teaching a course again? You can import content from a previous site. Review steps to update specific tool items and consider more stylistic considerations. Save time with the Date Manager to bulk edit due dates.
  3. Seeing too many sites at once?  Clean up your navigation bar so only your favorite sites are visible. If you are ready to let go of old sites, learn how to download important content like grades, quizzes, lessons and then mark sites for deletion. Wondering about the transition to Canvas?

Tips to Develop a Student-Centered Syllabus

  1. Writing a syllabus for the first time? Check out our course planning guide and refer to this checklist for a complete syllabus.
  2. Trying to improve upon an existing syllabus? Consider how to update the tone to be student-centered or read about one professor’s approach to creating a student-centered syllabus.
  3. Concerned about building an equitable course? Update your syllabus (and slides) to meet accessibility requirements (and make them easier to read for all students). Plus think deeply about how to craft equitable policies and discussions.
  4. Looking for syllabus policies? The Office of Undergraduate Education has a helpful menu of sample policies.

Tips for Better Feedback

  1. Wondering who your students are? Try one of our survey templates to find out about them before the course begins and how to support their learning this semester.
  2. Interested in evaluating your course? Commit yourself to change and gather ongoing feedback from your students. For help from us, sign up for a midterm feedback session facilitated by Learning Innovation staff.
  3. Want to provide effective feedback to your students? Develop ways to use frequent, low-stakes assessments to make their learning transparent and deliver feedback in a timely fashion.

Tips for the Canvas Transition

If you are one of the early adopters using Canvas this Fall (meaning you participated in training with Learning Innovation in Spring or Summer 2023):

  1. Give your students a tour of your Canvas course site on FDOC to ensure they know where to find important information, resources and activities.
  2. Need help? Support is available from Canvas 24/7. Learn more about getting help with Canvas.

If you are not an early adopter, you will be able to begin using Canvas in Spring 2024. In the meantime:

  1. Understand that no immediate action is needed. Beginning in mid-September, we will provide many opportunities for you to learn how to use Canvas and begin having content migrated from Sakai in preparation to teach with Canvas in Spring 2024.
  2. Open any emails you receive from lmstransition@duke.edu. All faculty have been sent messages about the transition, so if you are faculty and have not received them, please check your spam folder and approve our email address. If you are not faculty and would like to receive email updates about Canvas, you may join the email list here.

More help

Explore the Learning Innovation website to discover much more information. For example, how to use Duke-supported learning technologies, how to address course design issues such as active learning or effective teamwork plus find resources for new faculty. Don’t see what you need? Email learninginnovation@duke.edu for help.