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Instructure Unveils New Teacher Professional Development Service, Canvas Practice

By Henry Kronk
March 20, 2019

Facing a combination of teacher shortages and high attrition rates across the country, many leaders are turning to teacher professional development as a means to correct the current course. On March 19th, Instructure announced the launch of a new professional development service, Canvas Practice.

Canvas Practice

The remote, asynchronous video lessons imparted by Canvas Practice relate to a few fundamentals of the teaching profession. Instead of any content relating to subject matter or pedagogy, the service instead focuses on helping teachers build confidence, manage classrooms, and allows them to test things out in a low-risk environment. Participants also receive feedback from other teachers.

The technology comes from Practice, the video-based microlearning company Instructure acquired in 2017. Instructure has revamped it for use in professional development and released it via Canvas in the academic space and Bridge for corporate learning.

“Canvas Practice can help our teachers use video to demonstrate real-world skills and receive feedback from peers, improving the teaching experience,” said Amanda Montileone, blended learning specialist, Springfield Public Schools. “We are thrilled to be using Practice to further the professional learning offered in our system and create a more engaging, relevant, and personal experience for staff.”

“Canvas Practice is a powerful tool for schools,” said Chris Lehmann, founding principal, Science Leadership Academy. “We use it to help students learn presentation skills and get feedback from peers as they prepare to present their ideas to a wider audience. Learning to communicate meaningful ideas is essential for students today, and Canvas Practice is an important tool to help students develop that skill.”

While branded with Instructure’s two LMSs, one does not need to have access to either Canvas or Bridge to use Practice. It operates independently of the learning management systems. It is also licensed separately.

Results from a Recent Survey on Teacher Professional Development

The launch of Practice also corresponds with the publication of a recent survey of teacher needs commissioned by Instructure and conducted by the Harris Panel. 

The surveyors reached 1,000 teachers in the U.S. Many respondents (39%) indicated that they were not entirely satisfied with the professional development to which they had access in their districts. A majority also recognized the need for quality pd (85%).

While most teachers indicated that they had access to positive professional development opportunities, they also described a patchy system that could be improved. 

Among respondents, 60% said they “sometimes” receive actionable pd. Most (86%) said they had no opportunities to observe experienced teachers at work, 85% report not receiving feedback from their mentors, and 91% feel they’re unable to observe themselves in such a way that will allow them to improve.

“Given the magnitude of the teacher attrition problem we have today, it is more important than ever to provide meaningful professional development,” said Hilary Scharton, VP of Canvas K–12 product strategy. “Our recent survey makes it clear teachers are feeling that much of the career development training available today isn’t actionable or sustained over time. It simply isn’t giving them what they need to improve teaching and learning, and that’s why we launched Canvas Practice.”

Featured Image: Jerry Wang, Unsplash.