Ken Romeo, Lecturer and Office of the Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning, Associate Director for the Stanford Language Center, Photo Credit: Kenneth Chan
Ken Romeo, Lecturer and Office of the Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning, Associate Director for the Stanford Language Center Photo Credit: Kenneth Chan

Canvas Course Profile – Ken Romeo

This Canvas Course Profile features Ken Romeo’s exemplary use of Canvas to enhance teaching and language learning. Ken shares his experience with setting up Modules to organize and structure his courses. He also shares tips for streamlining the grading process using rubrics, the mobile SpeedGrader app and Canvas Gradebook.



Canvas Course Profile

Instructor: Ken Romeo, Lecturer and Office of the Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning, Associate Director for the Stanford Language Center
Department: Language Center
Canvas Courses:

Art of Conversation
Language Policies and Practices, World Languages
Listening Comprehension
Professional English for Non-Native Speakers: Presenting in English
Professional English for Non-Native Speakers: Writing in English

What has your experience with Canvas been like so far?

Mostly positive. Compared to the transition to other LMS platforms, this has been the smoothest for me. Canvas has a number of features that are very well thought out (To Dos, rubrics, gradebook muting, etc.), but some are clunky (Scheduler, Assignment / Quiz distinction, etc.). The fact that it is constantly evolving is its saving grace.

How has Canvas helped to enhance teaching and learning in your courses?

(e.g,  facilitating assessment and feedback, supporting interactions, collaboration and engagement)

Mobile Speedgrader is really effective for checking off things that don’t need text feedback. It will also facilitate recording  audio and video feedback. The browser  version of Speedgrader could use some re-thinking, but it is a step in the right direction. Rubric grading is a welcome addition but it does take some planning. Gradebook setup is actually a bit easier than in other systems I have used and visually, just works better.

What’s your favorite thing about Canvas?

I really like the ability to set the Home Page to Course Modules. This reflects how I think about a course and how I want students to think about it. The mobile apps (Canvas app, SpeedGrader app, Polls app) are also a game-changer for formative assessment (and feedback), as is rubric grading.

Are there any challenges or areas for improvement?

Scheduler has one nice interface, but finding it is nearly impossible for a novice user. We need more control over media submissions: audio or video, and limits on recording time. The distinction between an Assignment and a Quiz needs to be clarified. In the future, it would be great if those two were combined into one tool, or if they are kept separate, they might be renamed to something a bit more descriptive. The desktop UI could be tightened up quite a bit as well since there is usually way too much white space, especially in Discussions.  Also, the ability to add an expandable text passage to a module, rather than limiting entries to a few words that can only be linked to a full Page of information, would be nice.

What are some key lessons learned from your Canvas experience?

While the system is fairly intuitive, there are some areas where better planning by the teacher can lead to  benefits later. Setting up Assignments / Quizzes / Discussions grading types to display grade as  Complete / Incomplete or adding a Rubric makes scoring them in mobile SpeedGrader work better. I also think that the To Dos are very powerful reminders for students, perhaps more than Announcements, but I am not completely sure how students see / interact with the system. Better data on that would be useful.

Do you have any advice or tips for faculty just getting started with Canvas?

Try to forget how CourseWork (or whatever other system you have used) works and approach Canvas with beginner’s mind. Also, use the mobile app and encourage students to do the same.

What are your plans for future courses in Canvas?

We are looking into ways of recreating our CourseWork resource sites in Canvas Commons, so that language instructors can share course materials. We are also looking forward to upgrades to our speaking and writing exit-test system (Simulated Oral Proficiency Interviews and Writing Proficiency Assessments), so that it integrates with Canvas for enrollment and response data.

The VPTL Canvas team is always happy to help. Please contact us if you’d like to schedule an appointment to discuss your course and get one-on-one help or check out our Stanford Canvas help resources for instructors.


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