Online Teaching & Technology Blog

Center for Online Learning, Research and Service @ Illinois Springfield

Author: John Freml

FSI is an affordable way to present and collaborate

The Faculty Summer Institute is accepting proposals for presentations on topics related to teaching, learning, and technology. Scheduled for May 17-18, 2022, at the I Hotel in Champaign, FSI attracts higher education professionals from across the state and the region. It is a great opportunity to meet and collaborate with colleagues, exchange ideas, and learn about new developments in pedagogy and technology. With an early bird rate estimated to be $59, this is also an affordable opportunity to present your work and receive friendly feedback from peers across the region.

Information about the conference theme, proposals, and more can be found here. Please note that the deadline for proposals is Friday, March 4, 2022.

Proctoring Options at UIS

As the semester draws to a close, COLRS wishes to remind faculty of several proctoring options available to use, especially on higher stakes exams such as finals:

Respondus actually offers two proctoring solutions, depending on faculty need. Respondus LockDown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Canvas. When enabled for a quiz in Canvas, students cannot print, copy, access other applications, or search the internet during the online exam. (Instructors can still include links to external webpages, spreadsheets, audio or video files, etc. in the exam.) Because LockDown Browser does not prevent students from using secondary devices such as iPads or cell phones, this is best used in a live testing environment, in which the instructor or a designated proctor can monitor students in a classroom or lab setting. LockDown Browser should already be installed in most on-campus classrooms and labs with computers. To confirm that LockDown Browser is installed in a specific room, contact ITS at 217-206-6000 or techsupport@uis.edu.

Respondus Monitor is a fully-automated proctoring solution that builds upon LockDown Browser and may be appropriate for online or remote students who are unable to come to campus to take an exam. Students use a webcam to record themselves during an online exam. Afterwards, flagged events and proctoring results are available to the instructor for further review. Respondus Monitor can be used on most devices (Windows, Mac, Chromebook, and iPads), and there’s no need to schedule a proctoring session in advance. Read more about Respondus.

The UIS Testing Center is open to in-person testing by appointment at no charge for UIS students, during the day Monday-Friday, and many evenings until 7:00 PM. The Testing Center also continues to offer remote testing via Zoom. (Students will need a laptop with webcam to test remotely; Chromebooks and phones are not allowed.) Students can schedule test appointments by emailing testingservices@uis.edu. Current hours are available on the Testing Center website.

Finally, for Illinois students who need an in-person proctor but are unable to come to campus, students may visit a local community college, usually for a nominal fee. To locate a testing service in the United States, the U.S. Territories, England, Singapore, Canada, or Puerto Rico, try the National College Testing Association. Read more about in-person proctoring options.

To discuss your particular test proctoring needs, please contact COLRS at colrs@uis.edu or 217-206-7317.

Use Canvas to Generate Seating Charts

As we prepare for the Spring 2022 semester, Provost Papini has requested that all instructors teaching on-ground courses develop seating charts for those classes, should contact tracing be necessary. Word templates are available to develop seating charts on the COLRS blog, although some faculty may find it more convenient to generate seating charts using the Canvas Attendance feature.

 For assistance using the Attendance tool, including creating and editing seating charts, please call COLRS at 217-206-7317, email colrs@uis.edubook a one-on-one appointment, or visit our open office hours on Zoom daily at 10 AM and 2 PM.

Surveys in Canvas

Surveys can be a great way to ask students questions that do not necessarily have right or wrong answers. The quiz tool in Canvas allows you to set up graded or ungraded surveys and can even be set to collect anonymous responses. This provides a great way to solicit anonymous feedback from students about your course mid-semester, to get feedback about a specific assignment, or even just to get to know your students better.

Here are some important points to consider when designing and implementing surveys in your Canvas courses:

  • Surveys may only be created using the “Classic Quizzes” engine, rather than “New Quizzes.” (More information about how to select “Classic Quizzes” can be found in the instructions linked below.)
  • Use the “graded survey” option if you want it to appear in the Syllabus area, the Gradebook, the Calendar, and the To Do Lists. You may make graded surveys worth zero points.
  • Student Analysis for surveys must be downloaded as a CSV file, which can be opened in a spreadsheet program such as Excel. Item Analysis is not available for surveys.

Canvas Community provides detailed instructions for creating surveys, which are almost identical to quizzes. Additionally, there are instructions on how to view survey results, which become available after at least one student has completed the survey. (Note: If you have chosen to make results anonymous, you may wish to wait until all or a majority of students have taken the survey before viewing any results.)

Considerations When Prepping Courses for Winter Intersession

Are you interested in teaching a condensed five-week course during the upcoming winter intersession? Since the winter intersession is more condensed than the standard semester, there are additional considerations to be made when preparing your courses for this shorter session:

  • If you use weekly modules, consider that 3-4 weeks of content during a normal semester must be taught in a single week during winter intersession.
  • Determine which assignments meet essential course objectives and outcomes, and consider revising or eliminating other assignments that could be difficult for students to complete in a condensed timeframe.
  • Time management and clear deadlines are crucial for both you and your students!
  • Group work may be more difficult to manage in a condensed timeframe, as students may not have enough time to build rapport and create quality collaborative work.
  • As the winter intersession spans many holidays, and students will likely travel during this time, consider an exclusively asynchronous format to promote student participation. Additionally, provide enough time for students to submit exams and projects.
  • Consider that various student and faculty support services may be more limited during this time, particularly around December 25 and January 1.

For more ideas about condensed course formats, please see these tips from the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at UIUC. Or to have a conversation with COLRS, contact us at 217-206-7317 or colrs@uis.edu, come to open office hours, or book an appointment today.

In Case You Missed It…

In case you missed any COLRS teaching tips over the summer, here are the highlights:

For even more teaching tips, Canvas tutorials, and additional resources, check out the COLRS blog.


Additionally, COLRS has expanded our Open Office Hours for the Fall 2021 semester. Faculty are invited to drop-in with any questions regarding remote, online, or blended teaching at UIS; Canvas; accessibility; or multimedia Monday – Friday from 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM and 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM.  Additional support for multimedia and video recording will be available on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and for accessibility on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.


Finally, COLRS staff remains available as always via phone, email, or appointment. Book yours today!

Student Access to Courses with Incompletes

COLRS and ITS have implemented a new procedure for students with incompletes, designed to make the process simpler for students and faculty alike. Beginning with incompletes from Summer 2021, and moving forward, students who have been assigned an incomplete in Enterprise will automatically be granted extended access to the corresponding Canvas course, for a period of one year. For example, all students who earned an incomplete in Summer 2021 already have access to the corresponding course in Canvas until August 2022, in order to give them time to complete all coursework before their provisional grades become permanentNo action is required on the part of the instructor to grant this extended access, other than timely submission of grades in Enterprise.
What’s not changing:

  • Instructors should still communicate their expectations regarding the completion of the course with any students who have received an incomplete.
  • Instructors should still submit incompletes and provisional grades in Enterprise by the Registrar’s due date each semester.
  • Instructors should still submit grade changes to the Registrar according to the current procedures when students have successfully completed a course.
  • Students who did not receive an incomplete will still lose access to the course the week before the start of the following semester.

In case a student with an incomplete finishes their work before the year is up, and you wish to remove student access to your course, please contact COLRS for assistance.

Find “My Media” in Your Canvas Account Tab

Kaltura integration with Canvas was recently enhanced to allow access to the “My Media” gallery outside of Canvas courses. This means that all faculty, staff, and students can now access Kaltura through Canvas, even if they are not currently enrolled in any Canvas courses.

To get started, simply click on the “Account” tab in the Canvas global navigation menu. Then, select “My Media.”

A screenshot of the Global Navigation menu, showing where to click ("Account" and "My Media")

The old link to Kaltura MediaSpace that previously existed in the “More” tab has been discontinued. The “My Media” link within existing Canvas courses remains unchanged.

For questions or tips on best practices using media clips in your courses, or to schedule a consultation with the COLRS Multimedia Specialist, please contact COLRS via email at colrs@uis.edu, phone at 217-206-7317, or book your one-on-one appointment today.

Google Security Updates May Impact Your Files and YouTube Videos

Last month Google announced security updates for Google Drive and YouTube that will make sharing files and videos more secure. Your Canvas courses may be impacted by the change if any of the following apply to you:

  • You use the “Collaborations” feature with Google Docs
  • You share files in your Canvas courses that are hosted in Google Drive
  • You share or embed older unlisted YouTube videos with your students (YouTube videos that are publicly listed, and YouTube videos uploaded after January 1, 2017, are unaffected)

If any of these apply to you, the update will cause Google Drive links to change and may lead to new file access requests from students. Additionally, any unlisted YouTube videos uploaded before January 1, 2017, have already been changed to private. To check and see which of your Google Drive files are impacted, visit drive.google.com/drive/my-drive, find the security update banner on the top, and click See files.

In most cases, COLRS recommends updating your Canvas links so that they comply with Google’s new security standards after September 13, 2021, when the update is applied automatically. If you wish to update the security settings for your files before that time, you can do so by following these directions. In some cases, you may wish to opt of the security update. Doing so will retain all existing links as they exist today. Instructions for removing the security update are also available.

Additionally, COLRS also encourages all instructors to check that YouTube videos linked or embedded in your Canvas courses still work. If you find broken YouTube links, you may need to change your privacy settings for the video back to unlisted. If you are not the owner of the video, you may need to contact the original owner or find an alternate resource.

For technical support with Google Drive or YouTube, please contact ITS at techsupport@uis.edu or 217-206-6000.

Using “Thinking Aloud” Strategies to Create Equity in Distance Learning

The increase in online, hybrid, and remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic has, in many ways, required all of us at UIS to think more about new tools and teaching strategies to reduce barriers and increase access for all our students, especially those who come from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds. In our continual efforts to bring equity and justice to our students, and to help in their academic success, one potentially useful pedagogical strategy is called think aloud.

“Think aloud is a strategy that enhances student’s comprehension and intellectual growth by removing … barriers. By expressing one’s thoughts while reading, students develop their reading skills because they can acquire information from what they read, add to their knowledge, enlarge their way of thinking and reasoning to advance toward academic excellence. In addition, this strategy provides a better way to assess students’ learning.” Read more at Academic Impressions.

An illustration demonstrating the difference between status quo (don't acknowledge barriers; don't acknowledge inequitable access), equality (acknowledge the need for more resources; distribute the same to everyone), equity (distribute resources fairly to overcome barriers), and justice (remove the systemic barrier that led to inequitable access).

Through UIS’s institutional membership with Academic Impressions, UIS faculty can access this article and more simply by logging in or creating a new Academic Impressions account with a UIS email address.

More tips for recording at home

By Scott Moomaw, COLRS Multimedia Communications Specialist

If you read our earlier post on making your Zoom sessions and home recordings look their best, you already know some of the technical details for making quality videos from your home office. You know about lighting, backgrounds, and camera angles.

But what about other, more practical things you can do?

One thing that often gets overlooked is the clothes you wear. Of course, we all know what it means to wear professional attire. But even then, certain colors or patterns are better avoided. Bright white shirts or blouses, because of how they reflect light, can overwhelm the rest of the screen, sometimes even giving you a ghostly outer glow that could distract or disengage the viewer.

Depending on where the video will be hosted or how broad its reach is expected to be, certain shades of green should also be left in the closet. Most chroma effects rely on green screen technology to create their backgrounds. In a studio setting, a green shirt, or even a necktie, can cause you to literally disappear in the background. In other settings, wearing green can merely invite online mischief.

A photo of Queen Elizabeth in a bright green outfit, followed by the same photo of Queen Elizabeth with the green replaced by pictures of kittens on a white background.
Certain shades of green can cause disastrous results — either by accident or as the result of online mischief. (Mashable.com)

You should also try to avoid prints and patterns. Ornate patterns and plaids, because of the way they move with you and reflect light, can sometimes “trick” the photo receptors in a video camera (particularly the webcam on your computer, which is not a higher-grade receptor), resulting in a flicker effect that will again be distracting to the viewer.

Increase Engagement with Kaltura Video Quizzing

Kaltura offers the option for instructors to integrate low-stakes objective quizzes on videos that are used in courses. Paired with shorter videos (around 5-10 minutes), the quizzing option offers the possibility for increased student engagement and encourages students to watch videos all the way through. To get started, go to My Media inside any of your Canvas courses. Then:

  1. Click Add New and then select Video Quiz.
    video quiz button
  2. You will be taken to the Editor / Media Selection page, where you can either select an existing video or upload a new one.
  • To upload a new one, click the Upload Media button.
    upload media button
  • To use an existing video, scroll through the list and click Select next to the one you want to use for the quiz.
    select button
  1. From here, a window will open within your current tab where you can create your quiz questions. The quiz tool will allow you to insert questions into the video at specific intervals using the highlighted timeline tool and edit description and grading information for the quiz. This help document from Kaltura details the quiz creation and editing process, including screenshots.
  2. When you are finished adding quiz questions and updating the settings, click Done. The video quiz will now be available in My Media and can be added to a Canvas course, just like any other video hosted in Kaltura.
    done button
  3. If you wish to integrate your Kaltura video quiz into the Canvas gradebook, you will need to create a new Canvas assignment in a module or on your Assignments page in your course.
  4. For Submission Type, select External Tool.
    external tool selection
  5. Click the Find button.
    find button
  6. Scroll down until you see Kaltura Video Quizzing, and select it.
    Kaltura video quizzing selection
  7. Your My Media page will load in a small window within the tab, and a list of your available video quizzes will appear. Select a video quiz to use. This will take you back to the Configure External Tool page. Click Select to confirm your choice.
    select button
  8. Scroll to the Points field. Enter the total point value for your Kaltura Quiz.
  9. Click Save & Publish to make the assignment available to your students.

points field

There are several important points to keep in mind:

  • As a best practice, COLRS does not recommend this tool for high-stakes exams.
  • This feature is not compatible with Respondus Monitor or Examity.
  • Only objective (true/false or multiple choice) questions are gradable. Open questions and reflection points are not considered gradable and will not be counted in your students’ scores.
  • Kaltura treats each gradable question (true/false or multiple choice) as equal in value and will divide the total point value for the quiz by the number of gradable questions. For example, in a 10-point quiz with 2 gradable questions, each question will be worth 5 points.

Congratulations, faculty!

The Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service is proud to present the 2021 Online Graduate Salute​ in honor of our amazing online program graduates. COLRS also wishes to congratulate you, our amazing faculty, on your efforts to help our students reach their goals. Our graduates relied on your patience, compassion, and dedication to their success. Thank you!

Below you will find the names of your graduating online students listed in the appropriate college, congratulatory notes from your deans and colleagues, and videos from our hard-working online program coordinators. We are proud of our graduates and everyone who helped them get across the finish line! 

Incorporating Anti-Racism and Anti-Bias in Your Teaching

As increasing emphasis in higher ed is placed on learning outcomes, assessment, accreditation, and accessibility, it might feel burdensome or overwhelming for some instructors to be asked to incorporate anything else into their teaching practices. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! In our student-centered approach to education, we must take into account how our existing practices and teaching tools may incorporate unconscious bias that could disadvantage certain students.

Here are some places to begin thinking about how you might want to incorporate anti-racism and anti-bias in your courses:

  1. Incorporate diverse voices. Do the authors and creators of your primary texts and other learning materials reflect the diversity that exists in our student population and in our world? There are subject matter experts of color in practically every academic field. How do you use their voices in your courses? One way to ensure a greater diversity of voices and a reduction in barriers to access is to use open educational resources.
  2. Be mindful of the tech tools you use in your courses. What are your expectations for student use of these tools? For example, do you require students to keep their cameras on during synchronous Zoom sessions? “That involves a lot of assumptions around wifi and broadband access, but also an assumption about how comfortable a student feels inviting their entire class into their learning space.”
  3. Recognize your own implicit biases and racial illiteracy. Do your subjective evaluations allow for unconscious bias against students of color or other marginalized students? Do you sometimes expect students of color to speak for entire racial or ethnic groups in class? Do policies related to testing, late work, and grading potentially disadvantage certain students who have varying personal struggles and life situations?
  4. Use rubrics to evaluate student work. Recent evidence suggests that “evaluation rubrics may be a powerful tool in mitigating bias and improving fairness in the way we measure student learning.”
  5. Practice empathy. It is important to understand your students’ perspectives, life experiences, and emotions. This can be accomplished through open lines of communication that allow students to feel comfortable asking for help when they need it. Recognize that students have higher rates of success when they feel supported.

Anti-racism and anti-bias work cannot begin and end in the classroom. Recognizing that each of us work within a larger organization, ask yourself: How are you working towards and advocating for institutional change? COLRS invites you to review these additional resources from the Center for Faculty Excellence for further ideas:

Student issues with Respondus LockDown Browser

COLRS has recently received several reports of students experiencing issues when attempting to take a Canvas quiz using Respondus LockDown Browser. Recent security updates on Mac and Windows may be the cause of most common issues with LockDown Browser, and are explained in greater detail below:

When LockDown Browser starts, it must be permitted to access this server: static-public-downloads-cloud.respondus.com

LockDown Browser accesses this server in order to check if an update has been issued by Respondus. If your computer and/or network is blocking access to this server, the LockDown Browser session will not be permitted to continue.

It’s possible that your computer’s security settings are blocking access, or you possibly have a firewall or anti-virus software running on your computer or network that is causing the block.

When this issue occurs, students may encounter Error Code a4 or the following warning: “Update server is not supplying information, or the connection to update server is blocked.” Information on how students can resolve this issue can be found in the Respondus Knowledgebase for Mac users and Windows users. Please share these resources with your students if you receive any reports of issues.

If students are experiencing other problems while using Respondus, such as the lack of the required webcam, Information Technology Services may be able to help by allowing students to borrow hardware. Students should contact ITS Client Services at 217-206-6000 or techsupport@uis.edu for more information on this program and hardware availability.

Are you running out of storage in Canvas?

As we approach the one-year anniversary of launching Canvas at UIS, COLRS staff has noticed that file storage in some courses is quickly filling up – and in a few cases, faculty are running into limits. Canvas restricts each course to approximately one half of one gigabyte, or 500 megabytes. While this is more than enough for the vast majority of courses at UIS, you may run up against this limit if you are uploading many larger files directly into Canvas, including video files, high resolution images, and narrated PowerPoints with embedded audio. When a course runs out of space, faculty and students may be unable to add additional files.

(To check how much storage each of your courses is using, simply select that course from the Canvas dashboard and click the “Files” link in the left-hand navigation panel. Your storage used is displayed towards the bottom of the screen.)  

To avoid this issue, COLRS recommends using Kaltura to host all media files and Box to host all or most course documents. There are several advantages to this approach:

  • Files hosted in Kaltura and Box do not count against your Canvas storage allocation, and both services include unlimited storage.
  • Kaltura has extra accessibility features not included with the built-in Canvas media player, including closed captioning. State and federal regulations require us to ensure that all media files provided to students are accessible.
  • Box allows you to quickly make changes to your documents directly through a web browser, without needing to download and re-upload files. Changes made to your files in Box are available immediately when those files are embedded in your courses in Canvas.

To get started using Kaltura, please review our Kaltura Media overview and instructions for adding Kaltura Media videos to Canvas courses. COLRS also provides instructions that instructors can copy and paste into their Canvas courses to use for assignments in which students must submit a video.

ITS provides more information on using Box, and COLRS has also created a video tutorial demonstrating how to embed Kaltura and Box files into your courses.

Let us help you make your readings accessible!

Do you teach a readings course or other upper division or graduate course that makes extensive use of scanned PDFs and Word docs? COLRS has noticed an increase in this type of document storage in Canvas​. Unfortunately, many scanned PDFs do not adhere to accessibility requirements.

The Digital Accessibility Remediation Team (DART) stands ready to help make sure all of your electronic documents are fully accessible to students who require the use of screen readers or other assistive technology. Recognizing that your time is valuable, DART is equipped to remediate your electronic resources in Canvas with little or no intervention on your part. Just let us know what you need, and we’ll get to work! To get started, reach out to our accessibility coordinator at jgomo3@uis.edu.

How to Use the Canvas Dashboard

The dashboard is the first thing you will see when you log into Canvas. It helps you see what is happening in all your current courses, and it gives access to unpublished courses that have not started yet. If you have not favorited any courses, by default the dashboard will automatically display up to 20 courses alphabetically. Any courses you have with an instructor role will be listed first, followed by TA or course designer roles. Your courses with student roles are listed last.

When a term closes on Canvas, those courses will automatically disappear from your dashboard – but you can still access them from the blue Global Navigation menu on the left-hand side of Canvas.

To access all of your Canvas courses, including those from past semesters, click the “Courses” link in the Global Navigation menu, and then click “All Courses.” In this view, you may choose certain courses as favorites by clicking on each star next to the course name. If you favorite certain courses, only those courses will appear on the dashboard.

How To Activate Your Canvas Account

If you are new to UIS, or you are an employee who has never accessed Canvas before, you will need to activate your Canvas account before you can begin working in Canvas.

Step 1

Visit the Canvas login page at go.uis.edu/canvas.

Step 2

Log in with your UIS NetID and password. Important: A NetID is required to access Canvas.

Step 3

Once you have logged in to Canvas, your account has been activated. If you are a student who needs access to an orientation or advising course, you should contact your program coordinator or advisor to let them know that your account has been activated and to request access to the course in Canvas.

Special considerations

  • Academic advisors and online program coordinators: Please share these instructions with newly admitted students who are not yet active in Canvas, whom you wish to enroll in your advising or orientation courses. You will not be able to manually add these students until they activate their Canvas accounts.
  • Committees and departments: UIS employees who have never accessed Canvas must manually activate their Canvas accounts before they can be added to committee and department courses in Canvas.
  • Guest accounts: Instructors who wish to grant guest access to their courses will need to sponsor a guest NetID. Alternately, if you were planning on simply using Canvas to share documents and resources with your guest, consider using Box instead.

How to Combine Course Sections in Canvas

Please note: This guide replaces the Course Combination Request Form that was formerly used for Blackboard courses.


WATCH A VIDEO TUTORIAL ON HOW TO COMBINE CANVAS COURSES.


Cross-listing allows you to move enrollments from individual courses and combine them into one course. This feature is helpful for instructors who teach several sections of the same course, or whose courses are cross-listed in several different departments, and only want to manage course data in one location. Instructors can allow students to view users in other sections or limit them to only view users in the same section.

WARNING: Cross-listing should only be done at the beginning of a semester or before a semester has begun. Student progress, including assignment and quiz submissions, will not move with the section enrollments. If you cross-list your course after students have begun working on their coursework, their progress (including grades) will be lost.

Step 1: Determine your primary course.

Your primary course is the course where you will manage your course materials, assignments, and grades. Student enrollments in all other Canvas sections will be moved to your primary course.

Step 2: Find your SIS ID.

  • Enter your primary course in Canvas.
  • Click on Settings > Course Details.
  • Copy the SIS ID.
Screenshot of settings, course details, and SIS ID circled in red.

Click the image to enlarge.

Step 3: Merge your sections into your primary course.

  • Enter one of the sections you wish to merge into the primary course.
  • Click on Settings > Sections.
  • Click on the title of the section under the Course Sections header.
Screenshot with settings, sections, and the course section name circled in red

Click the image to enlarge.

  • Click on Cross-List this Section.
Screenshot with "Cross-list this Section" circled in red.

Click the image to enlarge.

  • Paste the SIS ID of your primary course in the Search for Course field, and select the course name when it appears.
  • Confirm that the selected course is correct, and then click Cross-List This Section.
Screenshot with the "Search for Course" field and the "Crosslist this Section" button circled in red.

Click the image to enlarge.

Step 4: Repeat step 3 for any additional courses you wish to merge into your primary course.


NOTE: If you accidentally merge the wrong section, and you need to de-cross-list it, contact COLRS at colrs@uis.edu. Student progress in your course, including assignment submissions and grades, are not preserved in the cross-listing and de-cross-listing process, so this should only be done before your course has begun.

The Citrix Virtual Desktop

The Citrix Virtual Desktop allows students, faculty, and staff (whether on or off campus) to access a virtual computer that runs all software for which UIS has licensing. To access Citrix, visit https://uiscitrix.uis.edu and log in with your NetID and password. You can then use a Windows desktop with course-related software installed and ready to use.

Do Use Citrix For…

  • Access to software that you cannot install on your personal computer at home. ITS maintains a list of software available through Citrix.
  • Access to university systems that normally cannot be accessed from off-campus, such as mapped network drives or TEM. (Please note: mapped drives will need to be re-mapped every time you join a Citrix session.)

Don’t Use Citrix For…

  • Casual web browsing. Instead, use the browser on your personal device.
  • Access to Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Powerpoint, or Excel. Instead, download these apps for free through Office 365 or use the online versions.
  • Access to Adobe products, including photo and video editing tools. Instead, these are available for free to faculty, staff, and students through the UIS Webstore.
  • Saving files. Instead, upload your files to Box.

Tips for Connecting to Campus

If you’re traveling out of town, or just need to connect to campus from home, we have some tips for keeping connected with ease. 

  1. Download and install the UIS VPN client from vpn.uis.edu.
    The university Virtual Private Network (VPN) is free for anyone with a NetID and enables individuals to secure their Internet connection back to the university while using public Wi-Fi such as coffee shops or at conferences. By using the VPN, you are securing yourself from misconfigurations on these public networks and malicious behavior by others on that same wireless network.
  2. Once you install VPN, be sure to set up your on-campus computer for remote access, too!
  3. Move the files you’re working on to Box for easy access from any location. Download Box Sync to make the process quick and easy. 

For additional help with the VPN client, remote desktop access, or Box, contact ITS.

Writing learning outcomes and course objectives

Various scholars and researchers have summarized how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide to writing measurable and effective learning outcomes. This is important when designing an online class, because without a clear idea of what you want your students to have mastered at the end of the class, it is difficult to design assessments and activities that will help your students achieve the intended outcome.

Bloom's Taxonomy Wheel

Click to enlarge

From Arizona State University:

  1. Identify the noun, or thing you want students to learn.
    • Example: seven steps of the research process
  2. Identify the level of knowledge you want. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are six levels of learning. It’s important to choose the appropriate level of learning, because this directly influences the type of assessment you choose to measure your students’ learning.
    • Example: to know the seven steps of the research process (comprehension level)
  3. Select a verb that is observable to describe the behavior at the appropriate level of learning. A tool we use for choosing appropriate verbs corresponding to selected levels is the RadioJames Objectives Builder.
    • Example: Describe these steps
  4. Add additional criteria to indicate how or when the outcome will be observable to add context for the student.
    • Describe the seven steps of the research process when writing a paper.

From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library:

You can use Bloom’s taxonomy to identify verbs to describe student learning. Examples of learning outcomes verbs for library instruction include:

  • Knowledge/Remembering: define, list, recognize
  • Comprehension/Understanding:characterize, describe, explain, identify, locate, recognize, sort
  • Application/Applying: choose, demonstrate, implement, perform
  • Analysis/Analyzing: analyze, categorize, compare, differentiate
  • Evaluation/Evaluating: assess, critique, evaluate, rank, rate
  • Synthesis/Creating: construct, design, formulate, organize, synthesize

There are some verbs to avoid when writing learning outcomes. These verbs are vague and often not observable or measurable. For example, how would you measure whether someone has “become familiar with” a particular tool? Use a more specific verb. If you want students to “understand” something, think more closely about what you want them to be able to do or produce as a result of their “understanding.”

Verbs to avoid:

  • Understand
  • Appreciate
  • Know about
  • Become familiar with
  • Learn about
  • Become aware of

From the University of Arkansas:

How Bloom’s works with course level and lesson level objectives:

  • Course level objectives are broad. You may only have 3-5 course level objectives. They would be difficult to measure directly because they overarch the topics of your entire course.
  • Lesson level objectives are what we use to demonstrate that a student has mastery of the course level objectives. We do this by building lesson level objectives that build toward the course level objective. For example, a student might need to demonstrate mastery of 8 lesson level objectives in order to demonstrate mastery of one course level objective.
  • Because the lesson level objectives directly support the course level objectives, they need to build up the Bloom’s taxonomy to help your students reach mastery of the course level objectives. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to to make sure that the verbs you choose for your lesson level objectives build up to the level of the verb that is in the course level objective. The lesson level verbs can be below or equal to the course level verb, but they CANNOT be higher in level. For example, your course level verb might be an Applying level verb, “illustrate.” Your lesson level verbs can be from any Bloom’s level that is equal or below this level (applying, understanding, or remembering).

Steps towards writing effective learning objectives:

  1. Make sure there is one measurable verb in each objective.
  2. Each objective needs one verb. Either a student can master the objective, or they fail to master it. If an objective has two verbs (say, define and apply), what happens if a student can define, but not apply? Are they demonstrating mastery?
  3. Ensure that the verbs in the course level objective are at least at the highest Bloom’s Taxonomy as the highest lesson level objectives that support it. (Because we can’t verify they can evaluate, if our lessons only taught them (and assessed) to define.)
  4. Strive to keep all your learning objectives measurable, clear and concise.

Online Teaching Considerations

If you are getting ready to teach online for the first time, there are several critical items to consider:

  • What are my learning outcomes or intended course objectives?
    While there are several theories or models of online instruction that may be helpful as you begin to conceptualize and design your online course, many instructors find it helpful to begin with backward design, in which you first consider the learning goals of your course (i.e. what you want your students to have learned when they finish your course). Only after you have determined what your goals are, should you begin to think about assignments and activities that help students achieve those goals. Objectives and outcomes should be measurable and aligned to professional standards in your field.
  • Who are my students?
    Universities serve an increasingly diverse array of students from the traditional college aged, to adult learners who come back to school to advance in their professions by acquiring new skills and knowledge. As you consider your audience, think about how you might develop assignments and activities that encourage self-determined learning (i.e. a heutagogical approach).
  • How can I make sure my course materials are accessible to all students?
    Employing principles of universal accessibility and design means that your course content will be accessible to all student who might enroll in your course, including students with visual, auditory, or other impairments. Additionally, it means that you have taken the extra step to ensure that your content reaches students with a variety of different learning styles; this means using varying formats and methods to impart knowledge.

While this may seem like a challenge, COLRS staff is ready to assist. Please contact your individual liaison for individual consultation, or contact our main office for any further assistance you may need:

Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Phone: 217-206-7317
Email: colrs@uis.edu

Liaison to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Carrie Levin, 217-206-8499, levin.carrie@uis.edu

Liaison to the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Public Affairs and Administration: Emily Boles, 217-206-8311, boles.emily@uis.edu

Liaison to the College of Business and Management: Michele Gribbins, 217-206-8251, mgribbin@uis.edu

Explore Further

How the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil could change the way we use iPads

For a while now, we’ve seen tablet/stylus combinations that are clumsy and difficult to use, and whose usefulness in an education setting is not always immediately clear. Apple, however, is attempting to change that with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil uses much more advanced technology than a traditional stylus, that allows apps to go beyond basic stylus circling and selecting, and actually do precise document editing and advanced inking, drawing, shading, and calligraphy. Developers who integrate their apps with Apple Pencil, such as Autodesk, Abode, and Microsoft, have the ability to implement a vast array of possibilities that have, until now, been inaccessible to many educators.

For example, integration with the Microsoft Office suite for iPad allows for easier and more precise highlighting of text, adding side notes, and drawing rough polygons that snap into sharp shapes. Explain Everything has recently incorporated use of the Apple Pencil, as well, and is useful in creating visual, animated and voice-narrated presentations for demonstrations and explanations.

One particularly interesting app that may be of interest to architecture, design, and art students is Color Splash: The app basically strips out all the color from any photographs that you import into the app, and then, using the Apple Pencil, you can restore the color to particular objects or people in the photos for dramatic effect. The app even allows for easy correction with the Apple Pencil if you accidentally color outside the lines.

Biology, anatomy, and nursing students might be interested 3D4Medical, an app that allows users the ability to produce digital anatomical markups and cut flesh virtually, using the Apple Pencil.

Users of the Apple Pencil say that it feels “extremely natural, whether sketching or shading as a pencil held at an angle, laying down wet ink with a brush, or using a digital ruler to sketch a precisely measured straight line or to mask the ink of a wide marker. Even when used as an eraser, it changes its destruction size depending on how hard you’re pressing.”

The iPad Pro with Apple Pencil is one of the technologies used by some of our Faculty Fellows! For more information about this program, including the application procedure and applicable deadlines, please visit our homepage.

Box Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts Overview

  • Box Keyboard shortcuts are case-insensitive.
  • Modifiers such as shift are explicitly indicated for applicable shortcuts.
  • When a shortcut contains more than one key, we indicate the sequence as follows:
    • key then key — Issue the keys in sequence.
    • key and key — Hold down the first key when you enter the second key.

Box Web Application Shortcuts

Box provides keyboard alternatives to quickly navigate our web application. For actions related to an item, select the item before pressing the shortcut.

Keyboard    Shortcut

Description

Explicitly check the small white box on the right side of each item to use these shortcuts. Use x to select an item.
c Activate the Copy File pop-up for the selected file.
d Download the selected item.
m Activate the Move File pop-up for the selected file.
s Send a shared link for the item.
t Activate the Edit Tags pop-up for the selected file.
Use these shortcuts without selecting any item.
b Activate the New Bookmark pop-up.
j Move selection up.
k Move selection down.
n Activate the Create New Folder pop-up.
o Open the folder or file to preview.
x Select an item.
shift and ? View the shortcut menu.
shift and v Toggle the display to thumbnail view of list view.
* then a Select all items in the current folder.
* then n Do not select any item in the current folder.
g then a Go to the Box Application Services page.
then c Go to your Box Collaborators page.
then f Go to your Box All Files page.
g then p Go to your Box Profile page.
g then s Go to your Box Account Settings page.
then u Go to your Box Updates page.
] Go to the next page (obvious only when you have a folder with more than one page of items)
[ Go to the previous page (obvious only when you have a folder with more than one page of items)
/ Use the search field (cursor is placed in the Search field when you type this shortcut.

Box Preview Shortcuts

The following shortcuts are supported when previewing files:

Keyboard      Shortcut
Description
d Download the file being previewed.
u Upload new file version.
e Edit the file being previewed using Box Edit.
j Preview the previous file.
k Preview the next file.
s Get a shared link for the file being previewed.
p Print the file being previewed if it is a .pdf, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .docx, .xlsx, or .pptx document.
space Toggle play/pause for media files.
shift and + Zoom into the file being previewed.
shift and Zoom out of the file being previewed.
shift and enter Preview in full screen mode.
shift and ? View the shortcut menu.
] Next page.
[ Previous page.

Box Notes Shortcuts

To open a list of available keyboard shortcuts in Box Notes: 

On a Mac, press Command and ?
On a PC, press Control and ?

Accessibility when using Box

At present, the most accessible way to use Box is via the a.box.com website. This site contains many key Box features, and works well on mobile devices. It also contains a link to the standard Box site.

What are the available features for a.box.com?

a.Box.com supports the primary features of Box, and provides access to all features available in the m.Box.com website. Some of the primary features include preview and download access to files and folders, sharing and configuring links to files and folders, adding and managing collaborators, viewing and making comments, and managing files and folders.

a.Box addresses accessibility as a core requirement for each feature.

What are the supported browsers for Box applications? How does a.Box deal with browsers without JavaScript or CSS?  

Box recommends using the most current version of web browsers (see the list of officially supported browsers at Box). The a.Box.com site degrades depending on your browser’s support for JavaScript and CSS, but continues to display the basic information required to view files and folders.

Does a.Box support screen readers?

a.Box is intended to work with the leading screen reading technology providers, including VoiceOver. Screen readers attempt to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen and convey that information via text-to-speech to users who are visually impaired.

Does a.box.com provide keyboard access?

a.Box.com provides keyboard accessibility, which enables you to use your keyboard exclusively (with no mouse) for improved interactions with the Box UI.

a.Box.com helps enable keyboard accessibility through the following additional features:

  • Removal of all menu items that are enabled via mouse ‘hovering’.
  • Re-ordering of all menu structures to maintain a logical reading order.
  • Enabling of visible focus, which helps people with visual or other print-related disabilities have a clear indicator of where they are on a page.
  • Providing a short-cut that enables a user to immediately ‘skip to content’ they are trying to view, letting them bypass repeated menu elements.

Does a.Box provide low vision color contrast?

a.Box.com is designed with low vision and color-blind user needs in mind. a.Box.com allows for text resizing, with up to 200% magnification. The site has also been tested for color contrast, with contrast ratios set at a minimum of 4.5:1.

How can I get more information about accessibility at Box?

Contact Box User Services to receive additional information or to provide feedback.

Content provided by Box.

How to convert scanned PDFs and photos to text

Sometimes it can be difficult to avoid sharing a scanned PDF or photo with your students. For instance, you might want them to read an out-of-print manuscript that’s not available in any other format. The unfortunate down side, however, is that these types of files are not accessible to students who rely on screen readers or other technology to assist them when completing assigned readings.

Luckily, as UIS faculty, you have access to free tools that allow you to quickly and accurately convert PDFs and photo files to text, which is essential in making your course content accessible to all students. This can be accomplished through optical character recognition in Google Drive. (All UIS staff, faculty, and students have access to Google products with their existing UIS NetID and password through our educational license with Google; for more information, visit go.uis.edu/google.)

To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Go to drive.google.com.
  2. Sign in with your UIS NetID and password.
  3. Upload your PDF or image file. (instructions)
  4. Hover over the file in Google Drive, right-click, and select Open with > Google Docs.

The image file will then be converted to a Google Doc, and any text that was recognized in the image will appear below the original image within the Google Doc. (For multi-page PDFs, each page will appear as a separate image, with the text underneath.)

Once doing this, it is important to scan the new text for accuracy, and correct any errors that you find. Most of the time, formatting (bold, italics, etc.) will be retained.

Please also keep this in mind:

  • Only these file types are currently supported: JPEG, PNG, GIF, and PDF
  • Text should be right-side up. If your image or PDF is facing the wrong way, you must rotate it before uploading it to Google Drive.
  • The maximum file size supported by Google at this time for optical character recognition is 2MB. This means that larger, multi-page PDFs may need to be separated into several different files before starting.
  • Tables, columns, footnotes, etc. are not likely to be detected.
  • For the best accuracy:
    • Text should be at least 10 pixels in height.
    • Common fonts like Arial or Times New Roman work best.
    • Try to avoid uneven lighting or blurry photos.

Adding captions to videos hosted on YouTube

In a previous post, we explained two options supported by the university for hosting video content in your online courses: Kaltura and YouTube. Today, we will explain how to make sure your YouTube videos are fully accessible using YouTube’s built-in closed captioning feature.

To get started, you’ll need to upload a video using a computer, Android device, iPhone, or iPad. Next, select the option below that fits your situation:

Option 1: I already have a transcript.

By far the quickest and easiest way to make sure your videos are accessible is to prepare a script in advance before you record. In addition to assuring that you will not forget to cover any critical material, a script will also ensure that you stay on track and avoid tangents while recording. Once you’ve prepared your script and uploaded your video, follow these steps:

  1. Save your script as a plain text file (.txt). If you are using Microsoft Word, a settings pop-up will appear with file conversion options; be sure to select the option to “Allow character substitution.” You may leave all other settings at their default value. (If you do not select character substitution, YouTube may read common punctuation incorrectly, such as apostrophes or quotation marks.)Plain Text file
  2. When you are signed in to your YouTube account, navigate to your video and click the CC button directly underneath the video player.YouTube video options
  3. Click the blue button, Add new subtitles or CC, and select your language (usually English).
  4. Select the option to Upload a file.
  5. For file type, select transcript.
  6. Click Choose File, and find the plain text file that you created in step 1. Click Upload.
  7. Your transcript should then appear in the text box. You may watch your video once more and double-check your transcript for accuracy, or if you are confident with what you have uploaded, simply click the blue Set timings button.
  8. That’s it! YouTube will automatically scan your video and text, and create accurate, correctly-timed closed captions.

Option 2: I need to create a transcript for an existing recording.

Depending on the length and complexity of your video and the content, creating transcripts can be a time-consuming process. YouTube does have several powerful features to make it a bit easier, though:

  • YouTube auto-captions
    YouTube’s auto-captioning feature is surely not perfect, but it is getting more accurate as time goes on and Google is able to harvest more and more voice data. Auto-captions are created automatically after you upload a video, usually within several hours after uploading. (Sometimes, it may take up to one day before auto-captions will appear. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed this process up; all you can do is keep checking after you’ve uploaded a video to see if they are ready.)To check if auto-captions are ready for your video, go to your video’s closed-captioning settings using the directions in step 2 above. Once they have been created, they will appear like this:YouTube auto captionsClick on the captions, usually titled “English (Automatic)“, and then click the blue Edit button.Editing YouTube auto captionsYou can then play the video and jump from caption to caption to edit for accuracy. Once you are finished, simply click the blue Publish edits button.
  • Create a transcript from scratch
    This option is the most time and labor intensive option, but usually produces the best results (if you didn’t use a script).To use YouTube’s built-in transcription feature, simply follow steps 2 and 3 above (go to your video’s closed caption settings, and select the option to “Add new subtitles or CC.”) However, instead of uploading a file, you’ll select the option to Transcribe and auto-sync.On the following page, you may play your video and begin typing what is spoken into the text box. YouTube will pause the video while you are typing automatically, making it easier to type what you hear, as you hear it, without falling too far behind. When you have finished typing what is spoken in your video, click the blue Set timings button. After several minutes, YouTube will have automatically timed the text to the video, creating accurately timed closed captions.Transcribe and auto sync

This is overwhelming. HELP!

We get it – you are busy, and it takes time to make sure your content is accessible. The technology behind accessibility can also feel overwhelming at times. We’re here to help you, though!

Any of the professionals at COLRS are available for one-on-one tutorials or departmental workshops in which we can teach you, face to face, how to use this technology and ensure your content is accessible to all students. To set something up, or if you just need some help along the way as you try this yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Creating accessible videos for online courses

UIS offers instructors two options for posting accessible videos with captioning in online courses: Kaltura and YouTube. In this post, we’ll explain the differences between both options, and when it’s better to use one over the other.

Kaltura

Kaltura is a premium video service supported by ITS that provides instructors with several advantages:

Kaltura also has several disadvantages:

  • Increasing storage costs for the university as video uploads increase

YouTube

All faculty, staff, and students at UIS have access to individual YouTube accounts through our Google Apps for Education license. This means that practically anyone affiliated with the university has access to most Google products, including YouTube, with their existing UIS NetID and password.

Many instructors are moving from Kaltura to YouTube to host accessible videos with captioning. Some advantages of YouTube include:

  • Unlimited individual video storage and video retention
  • Better mobile support
  • An increasingly-accurate auto-captioning service that automatically creates captions for any video that you upload, in dozens of different languages
  • A user-friendly integrated transcription feature
  • The ability to upload closed-captions (.srt files) and pre-existing plain-text transcripts
  • An auto-timing feature that easily converts transcriptions to closed-captions

Disadvantages of YouTube include:

  • Privacy concerns: While individuals have full control over whether their videos may appear in public searches, anyone with a link to a video that is not “private” will be able to watch it or embed it on other websites
  • Advertising: Because YouTube is an ad-supported service, students may be subjected to ads that you do not control, unless they pay for a premium YouTube subscription
  • More limited analytics that are restricted to video views

Accessibility for Videos

Regardless of the video platform you choose to use, you should ensure that your content is accessible, and that you have proper copyright permissions if you use anything that you did not produce yourself. Learn how to use YouTube to make closed-captions. Please feel free to contact COLRS anytime to further discuss Kaltura, YouTube, captioning, and accessibility.

How to create a Google Site for your online class, a presentation, an e-portfolio, and more

Because ITS subscribes to Google Apps, we have a plethora of free Google tools at our disposal that we can use to enhance online education and research. The best part is that everyone with a UIS NetID has access to all that Google has to offer, without having to register for a new account! One of these tools is Google Sites.

There are a variety of ways that you can use Google Sites right now in your online classes, or for professional development or research purposes: You can use Google Sites to create an e-portfolio, to showcase your CV, or even as a more accessible alternative to PowerPoint.

To get started, just sign in to Google Apps for Education:

Click Login.

  • Sign in with your regular NetID and password.
  • Next, click the Apps button at the top of your screen, to the left of your email address. Select Sites.

Click the Apps button, and then select Sites.

  • Click Create.

Click Create.

 

  • You will now be directed to a page where you will be able to choose different details about your site. First, you may choose a template for your site based on its purpose. To view more templates, choose “Browse the gallery for more,” which will give you the option to choose the best template for your site.
    Note: For faculty completing online professional development through COLRS, search for “Online Faculty Development ePortfolio.” Select this as your template.

    Or choose “Blank template” to start a site from scratch.
  • After selecting a template, you will name your site and complete the URL at which your site will be located.
  • There are also two optional menus that can be expanded: Click on “Select a theme” to choose a color scheme for your site, and click on “More options” to enter site categories and a short description of your site. Most people do not change anything here and leave them blank.
  • Once you are done choosing your template, naming your site, and typing a short URL, click Create at the top of the page.

Screenshot4

  •  You will now be at the homepage of your site!

What to do next

You are now ready to begin adding content, including additional pages, images, documents, videos, and more!

Google provides quite a bit of documentation on how to manage your site. Please explore the links below for the most up to date information on how to accomplish various tasks within Google Sites:

We are always available to assist you in brainstorming ideas on how you might implement Google Sites in your courses, or to help you set up a Google Site before a big presentation at a conference. We can also provide guidance with the Online Faculty Development ePortfolio template.

If you need additional tech support, contact ITS at 206-6000, or techsupport@uis.edu.