This is the first year I’ve thoroughly used a learning management system alongside my teaching. In years past, I’ve only used LMS’s as a depository for the course syllabus and relevant course material (such as handouts in class). This year I took my time and really set up the Canvas page for my two courses so that the LMS would be an important part of the class flow.
One of the features I’m trying to make good use of is the comment feature when grading assignments. This may seem like a minuscule goal (or even a “duh!” kind of thing), but it feels quite empowering to give students feedback in this manner when grading the assignments. I’m not sure why this feels different than writing feedback directly on an assignment using a pen or pencil. Maybe it’s because of the digital context; sending a message through the comments feature aligns with the way many people communicate with each other today (through text messages, emails, and social media posts). I also can write longer forms of feedback in this way. For some reason, when I physically wrote feedback on assignments last year, I didn’t feel as empowered and often kept the feedback very short. This may also just be a byproduct of me personally almost always using type and text to communicate to others as opposed to handwriting.
Either way, after years of being around various LMS’s but remaining hesitant about their value-add for teaching, I’m sold. It just takes careful design and pre-planning beforehand to take advantage.