Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The power of HTTPS strikes again! :-)

The time has finally come to start getting ready for classes, and even though I'm not really using Canvas to do anything different, migrating all my "quizzes" (student self-reporting of grades) is a chance to rethink a lot of little details. So today I redid the basic weekly template for my classes... and I am really happy with how it turned out. You can see how far I have gotten here: Week 2.

Fun and Functional Widget

I've tried to make the workflow more clear to the students, and one way I did that was by inserting a "thought widget" that displays a random graphic about reading or writing at the split between the two halves of the week: reading and storytelling on Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, followed by the project and peer interaction at the end of the week. Here's a screenshot of how that looks: I really like how it is something fun (surprise!) and also functional, helping to reinforce the sense that the week comes in two distinct halves.

There are 60+ images in the widget, so that means students won't see a lot of repetition even if they come to this page several times each week. I clone this page for all the other weeks, tweaking it as needed for special things that pertain to any given week (changes to a specific assignment, holidays, etc.); if it is still looking good to me tomorrow, I'll put in links to the assignment pages and start building the Canvas Declarations. And then... I'll be ready to clone!

Give the page a click and see what comes up for you! The graphics all come from the three support blogs for my class — Growth Mindset, Learning by H.E.A.R.T., and Writing Laboratory — which means the students will run into them elsewhere, either in the work they do at those class blogs and/or in the class announcements where I often feature this type of motivational content. Since I had the graphics already prepared, creating the widget just took a few minutes; I use, a free tool by OU genius alum Randy Hoyt.

The Power of HTTPS

Although I've had my own domain since back in 1999 (, I did not have https until I got a domain through CreateOU. The guys at Reclaim Hosting make it so easy to set up https on a subdomain, and that is exactly what I need for widgets that will also work in the Canvas LMS environment.

So, I can put this widget in the sidebar of my announcements blog if I want (although I think I will stick with the growth mindset cats), and it will display when embedded in Canvas.

Likewise, I can create a vanilla display page at CreateOU (like this), and use that to make the widget display as a Canvas page. Here's how that looks at my Canvas Javascripts page:

Thanks to the guys at OUCreate and Reclaim Hosting for this https superpower. It is something that has quickly become essential to how I design content for my classes!

And, of course, because Blogger is so javascript-friendly, I can just pop the javascript directly into the blog post here: just reload to see another one. Enjoy!

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