And Then Help Others

Do you remember how I had to learn new things this month? Remember all the technical writing skills I studied? And what I didn’t mention is how I’ve learned excellent online course design techniques. Our university’s course management system, Canvas, allows you create a great course for your students.

It’s easy to use Canvas (it’s like a website that houses all your course material, grade book, attendance, etc.). It’s easy after a while that is, but at first it’s scary. The shame comes. Nothing makes sense. It’s a whole new vocabulary and a whole new way of thinking. You feel old.

But little by little you learn. You take your time, and you learn how to design online quizzes, how to make intuitive learning modules, how to post discussions and link to videos, and how to upload your files in an organized way. You learn all about assessments and course narratives and learning outcomes. You talk to colleagues and ask to see their Canvas sites. You steal all their great ideas with their permission! You run your course by your teen daughters to see what they think.

You then find that you’ve made this beautiful website to serve students well. (And yes, every learning module mentions something about verbs. I’ve built a brand I must uphold!) So I did it.

But you have to learn it. You didn’t know it at first, and now you do.

And then? Here’s what’s so lovely. A friend calls in distress today because her school is transitioning to use Canvas, and she knows nothing about it. I remember the same fear and confusion. Can you help me? she cries. Help me!

I know that sound. It’s the sound of frustration, fear, and confusion. It’s the sound of hopelessness that you’ll never understand. And it’s also a sound of resistance to even wanting to learn things. Can I help? Yes! I know where you are and where you will be soon.

Yes! I learned. And now I can help you.

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