We are the Program for Online Teaching, a group of volunteer faculty helping other faculty teach better online.

Our focus is on pedagogy as the guiding force for using technologies for teaching.

Many of us are from MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California. MiraCostans may access the Teaching/Technology Innovations Center for technical help, resources, news and more.

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The POT Network

  • POT Diigo group
    (see tutorial on how to save bookmarks)
  • POT Facebook group
  • POT Vimeo Channel (workshops)
  • POT YouTube Channel
  • Twittter (please use hashtag #potcomm)


POT Online: Show and Tell

pathescopeJoin our online sessions in Spring as MiraCosta’s online profs show and talk about their classes, with time for questions. We will meet online from 7-8:20 pm Pacific Time on the Third Thursday of each month to tour through a class or two, emphasizing the goals and creativity of the course’s creator. You may come to just one session or all four: January 19, February 16, March 16, April 20.

January 19: with Rica French and Curry Mitchell
The recording is here.

February 16: with Joanne Carrubba and Laura Paciorek
The recording is here.

March 16: with Pilar Hernández and Sean Davis
The recording is here.

April 20: with Robert Kelley and Lisa M Lane
The recording is here.

For each session, the Zoom room will open at 6:30 for preparations, but the session will begin at 7 pm.

Lisa’s Top 10 Tips for Canvas

Now that I’ve experienced conversion (including full immersion if not a blinding experience of insight), I offer my tips:

1) Use the calendar, even if just for you

The calendar is drag and drop. You can leave everything without a due date, then set them in the Calendar by opening up the “undated” items menu on the right, and drag them in. Default due time is 11:59 pm, but you can change it.

Also, adding events to the Calendar makes it possible to put ungraded things on the schedule. The most important of these for me is “Begin Week x” so that students know each week starts on Monday after Sunday deadlines.

Notice that everything with a deadline is listed on the syllabus page – this makes a good check once you’ve done the calendar.

You can also export the calendar to Google Calendar and other programs.

2) Use the modules, even if just for you

Modules can organize content, but they also make every item look like it’s of equal weight, so I make it invisible in the menu. But I use it to:

a. lock each week until I want it to open
b. make sure that students complete every item for the week
c. import from a “base course” I set up on the free Canvas – the assignments I have that every class does are created there as modules, which I then import and adjust to the class using the Modules page

3) Don’t embed much

Canvas allows embedding if your page is https, but it doesn’t like to do it and it may look awful. Although I love embedding, it’s actually better to link out even though that grey button is so ugly.p

The exception would be web pages you’ve made yourself, that reside on a secure server, and that don’t have width or height settings. My Help page is one of these, so I embed it.

4) Use small nicknames for graded items

The gradebook is not good yet (they’re working on it). You may only view graded items in order of due date, or type of assignment. If you have a lot of assignments, the gradebook scrolls out of sight pretty quickly. If you use short names at the beginning for each assignment (“WAI Writing Assignment I”), then you can drag the columns smaller and see the big picture much better.

5) Use an “end page” for each module

If you are using Modules (whether or not the student can see them), the last item in a module with always have a “Next” button going to the next page, the first page of the next Module. Students won’t realize they’re done with the module unless you put a page that says something like, “Congratulations for finishing Week 2! If you click Next, you’ll go to Week 3.”

6) Put Announcements at the top

Yes, they get emailed to students and can be accessed through the “Announcements” link on the menu. I get rid of this link, and use the new Setting for the course to have the Announcements show at the top of the Home page.

7) Use rubrics

Although Speed Grader isn’t speedy, it handles rubrics well, and can speed up grading. The trick is to make sure to edit your rubric after you’ve made it, so that you can set each assignment to be graded using the rubric.

8) Let students know how to see comments and rubrics

This is not intuitive. They get assignment submission comments sent to them, but can easily miss them. Similarly, the rubric is available when they do an assignment, but they can miss that too. They are usually interested only when they’ve got a grade, so show them how to access comments and the rubric from their Grades.

9) Think a bit about mobile

I don’t always follow this myself – I do tell them they should only use mobile to check grades and assignments, but not to submit things. However, when creating Pages, consider using percentages instead of absolute width and height to make sure the content will shrink to be seen on a phone.

10) Understand the Syllabus page

It has on it a place at the top to add your syllabus (I embed mine as pdf), but the other two elements you can’t remove are the list of all assignments, and the list of weights for each assignment category. This means that you don’t need to add these yourself to your own syllabus.

Special thanks to Robert Kelley and Sean Davis – I learned about the calendar and end page idea from them!

Embedding Diigo Outliner in Canvas

So let’s say you’ve created a dynamic list of resources for students using Diigo Outliner (see tutorial here). How could you post that in Canvas?

Diigo Outliner

Diigo’s new Outliner feature allows you to create pages of bookmarks. Here Lisa does so for student resources:

POT workshop Wednesday, January 18: Teaching and Learning in Canvas

Wednesday, January 18
1:30-4:20 pm
Oceanside campus room 1201 (in the Library)

Facilitators: Robert Kelley and Sean Davis

This hands-on workshop will introduce participants to the perspectives of learning and teaching using the Canvas learning management system. Participants will learn how the system works through a series of practice activities, and explore how to facilitate contact with students, communicate expectations, encourage active learning, design assignments, and create good navigation. Additionally, participants will be introduced to basic LMS design principles tailored to Canvas.

POT Camp starts October 3

potcampbadge2The Program for Online Teaching presents our professional development camp running six weeks starting October 3, celebrating the joy of teaching online.

Each week we’ll explore a topic through reading, take a short quiz, discuss an issue, and create something cool.

The theme for our 2016 Camp is The Context of Online Teaching: Education and Technology.

All faculty who teach online, or want to teach online, are welcome to join!

We’ll be camping out in our Canvas tent. Self-enroll at https://canvas.instructure.com/enroll/APJCWL.

For more information, contact one of our camp counselors: Lisa M Lane, Jim Sullivan, Laura Paciorek, or Joanne Carrubba.

Video: How Video is Failing, and How We Can Fix it (making video interactive)

Julian Ridden, from Instructurecon 2016

Fall 2016 workshops

For fall flex week (our Fall semester POT Camp is coming soon!)

POTonlineThe Dark Side of OEI
Tuesday, August 16 — 8 pm PT Online

Workshop description: The Online Education Initiative promises to bring all California community colleges together into a common LMS, common rubrics and common goals for online teaching. In doing so, however, some important aspects of creativity may be sacrificed, including joyful complexity, pedagogical independence, tolerance in leadership, and alternative visions. Critiquing such a system is the point of this presentation. A Program for Online Teaching workshop with Jim Sullivan and Lisa M Lane.

Join us at CCCConfer: http://www.cccconfer.org/GoToMeeting?SeriesID=d2950d7b-689b-408b-9ce0-34ae921da6ab

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

Recording is available here.

POTsmgraphiconlyCreative Online Teaching Forum
Thursday, Aug 18 10-11:20 am SAN campus 407 and Online 

Workshop description: Ideas and thoughts for making your online classes less canned and more interesting for you and your students. What can instructors do to work within and outside of a LMS to create interesting, creative, and interactive online learning environments? The conversation here will cover grading, student curation of learning, and many other techniques, and will engage with the POT discussion from the Spring of 2016 on creativity in online teaching as a means to expand pedagogy. A Program for Online Teaching workshop with Lisa M. Lane and Joanne Carrubba.

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

Join us in CCCConfer: http://www.cccconfer.org/GoToMeeting?SeriesID=47ece4ed-e947-414f-8b94-5c1497c6da6c  The new system ConferNow (Zoom) at https://zoom.us/j/542895826 .

The slides for this session, including the links, are here.

Recording is available here. Chat record is here.

POTsmgraphiconlyPedagogy and the new LMS: Painting on the Canvas
Thursday, Aug 18  12:30-1:50  pm OC campus 3608

Workshop description: Starting Spring 2017, MiraCosta College is adopting Canvas as one of the supported CMSs.  For a year and a half, Canvas will run parallel with Bb and Moodle, after which there will only be Canvas.  What are some of the potential pedagogical upsides (and downsides) of Canvas, that are worthwhile considering for when you move your course to Canvas?  This is not a “how to” workshop – but rather a structured conversation among peers, providing examples and emphasizing dialogue. A Program for Online Teaching workshop with Robert Kelley.

POT Chat: Creative Online Teaching begins Monday, April 11



  • What do we create as instructors to help our students learn?
  • What do we have our students create to show their learning?

Join the POT community starting April 10 for six weeks of reading, viewing and discussing creativity in online teaching. Each week will focus on a particular topic, and we’ll explore ideas and practices, share what works and what doesn’t, examine some current research, and engage in a community of practice. To participate, faculty should join the POT Facebook Group. Come for one week, or all six! 

April 11 – Topic 1 – Teaching online as a creative process

April 18 – Topic 2 – Creativity in Content  

April 25 – Topic 3 – Creativity and Class Discussion/Student Interaction

May 2 – Topic 4 – Creative Approaches and Assessment

May 9 – Topic 5 – Creativity in Materials

May 16 – Topic 6 – Inspiring creative online teaching

May 23 – wrap up

What’s needed to participate?

  1. Join the POT Facebook Group. There is no need to friend anyone – just send a request to join. You will be added within 48 hours.
  2. Get a Hypothes.is account, and join the POT Chat group. With this you will be able to annotate the readings with other participants. (See tutorial)
  3. Optional: Join Twitter. Hashtag for this activity and POT’s community  is #potcomm.
  4. If you’re MiraCosta faculty, be sure to keep track of your own flex hours – this is not a formal workshop.

For flex – All MiraCosta College faculty participating in POT Chat may claim flex hours via My Flex by selecting Other Activities, then Collaboration. You may claim up to 3 hours per week/topic. For documentation, you may submit Facebook screenshots or the text of your status updates in the POT Facebook group. For participants from other colleges, please check with the professional development guidelines at your school.

Please note that the POT Facebook Group and this activity may be joined by faculty and online educators from colleges around the world.

You can see the F.A.Q. here.


POT does not offer an online teaching certificate at this time. If you would like certification, try: