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Center for Geographical Analysis: GIS training

The Center for Geographic Analysis offers technical workshops in geographic information systems and curriculum support services for instructors seeking to integrate spatial concepts into their courses.

Learning from learning management systems: New ways to engage students through Canvas

Applbaum, Mayne, Robichaud

Arthur Applbaum, Adams Professor of Democratic Values, Quinton Mayne, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, and Christopher Robichaud, Lecturer in Ethics and Public Policy piloted the new University-wide learning management system, Canvas, in their spring 2015 courses at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The benefits: Digital teaching and learning tools enable new approaches and modernize existing techniques to engage students:  

Applbaum asked “three daily questions” in online discussion forums to give his students more immediate feedback and pre-seed classroom conversations.

Mayne built an integrated page for each class session to involve students in the vision, goals, and pre-work expectation of that meeting, to get them excited about the upcoming conversation, and to free up class time for in-person discussion and interaction

Robichaud captured outside-class conversations and interactions between students by creating online dialogue via blog posts, news items, chat functions, and “reflections” postings, which had the added benefit of encouraging participation by shy students.

The challenges: There is always a learning curve in the adoption of a new system, and thoughtful organization of the course site to support learning goals takes time. Some tools may not feel as intuitive as others, depending on prior experience.