I feel unwittingly framed by Canvas developers! Here’s my insight into avoiding Pitfall #2: Letting a course management system drive thinking.
The problem: Developers of platforms like Canvas create an environment for specific users. They build features based on potential use cases (i.e., the possible situations in which a platform like Canvas will be used). Ultimately, these developers also create choice architectures, which nudge users, provide them options, and help them avoid bad situations. Unfortunately, these choice architectures can also frame users’ thinking about other options.
The menus, buttons, and options in Canvas are like sidewalks built through a wild area. Most users, without thinking, will stick to these pre-determined sidewalks rather than wander off path. In other words, the Canvas menus, buttons, and options frame users’ thinking. Hence, Pitfall #2, where the course management system (environment) drives thinking.
The solution? Aside from contacting Canvas developers with suggestions for building more pathways to accommodate creative wandering (um, guilty!), awareness seems like a good first step.
For me, I’m wary of populating all menu categories. I’m also learning to use Canvas as a temporary wrapper to course content by using the HTML editor. Finally, I’m trying not to let Canvas’s menus and buttons drive my thinking.
Awareness is definitely the first step! Perhaps thinking about creative uses of the modules or files features could help prevent users from getting in ruts of clicking through the content in one way. It’s a fine line of not letting the LMS do the thinking while also keeping the content organized and useful. It’s a great line of thinking – if you have an good insights, please share with us!