Online Teaching & Technology Blog

Center for Online Learning, Research and Service @ Illinois Springfield

To PDF, or not to PDF, that is the question.

PDFs have been an important part of higher education, from a medium to share articles and book chapters, to a format to save a document file which can be opened on various platforms.  However, when we think about the accessibility needs of students, PDFs become more problematic.  For scanning a book or article, it is still a useful means for sharing the materials, but we still need to follow procedures to make the scan accessible.

For those who are writing course materials in Word or Pages, or some other word processing software and saving the file as a PDF there is a more accessible way to share that same information within Blackboard.  Create the file as you normally would.  (If in Word, run the accessibility checker.)    In Blackboard under the “build content” tab select “blank page”.  Enter a title for the page where it says “blank page”.  Then copy the material from your word processing software and paste it in the content area, scroll to the bottom and select submit.  That content is now much more accessible than in a pdf, and quicker to open regardless of platform.

Welcome back tip for accessibility

Welcome back for the Fall 2018 semester!  As we begin to greet our new students and make final changes to course materials I wanted to offer a reminder of a few tips from last year.  Please make sure you’re using the newest version of Word, which is Word 2016.  If you’re not you can download it by logging in with your UIS credentials from the UIS webstore.

And this previous post from April 2018 gives you the link to the accessible course syllabus, the link to more Word tips, and also a reminder on how to use the built in accessibility checker within Word.

Why does the first tip of the new year focus on Word?  At the end of last semester we had 4 student workers who worked on 42 classes for faculty around campus.  We received just over 1000 files, and 498 of those files were Word files.  With 50% of the files being in Word, it seems like a good place to start.

Have a great semester!

How to get a clean transcript from a caption file.

  1. If you already have a 99% accurate caption (.srt) file proceed step 6.
  2. If you have a 99% accurate captioned video in  Blackboard, goto My Media.  Next to the video, click the greyed out pencil highlighted below with the red arrow.
    Screenshot of My Media showing greyed pen to click to edit media
  3.  You will then be on a screen with 9 options below your video, one of them is captions.  Click captions.
    screenshot showing details through replace video in media edit screen
  4. You will now see the language and label for the caption file.  On the far right clicked the greyed out download icon, highlighted below with the red arrow.screenshot showing the download caption icon under the captions menu
  5. This will download your caption (.srt) file to your computer.
  6.  Goto the subtitle tools website.
  7. Click the “Choose files” button, and select the caption (.srt) file you would like to make into a transcript and then select “Extract text”
  8. Now click the “Download” icon and this will download the transcript file to your computer.

How to add an .srt captions file to media in Blackboard

To upload an .srt file in Blackboard, goto My Media.  Next to the video you would like to add captions to, click the greyed out pencil highlighted below with the red arrow.

Screenshot of My Media showing greyed pen to click to edit media

You will then be on a screen with 9 options below your video, one of them is captions.  Click captions

screenshot showing details through replace video in media edit screen

You will now see a blue button on the far left, “upload caption file”, click it.

screenshot showing upload captions button

Then a new box will pop up.  Browse for the file.  Select the language.  And give it a label.  If the language is English, “English” would be a good label.  Then click save.

screenshot showing upload a captions file

Employability and the Liberal Arts: A Career Readiness Initiative

Employability and the Liberal Arts: A Career Readiness Initiative

Professor Katherine Brown, associate professor of communication and faculty director of the Career Readiness Initiative in the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavior and Social Sciences,  describes how she helps students connect what they are learning in the classrom to planning their next steps after college by demonstrating how others can resist the tendency to portray any concern with employability as somehow anti-intellectual, or as a rejection of the ideas and traditions of liberal arts education.

Professor Brown outlines the following points relative to her initiative:

  • acknowledge how connections between skills developed in “college readiness” activities also contribute to “career readiness” and employability;
  • success is defined by many as a “fit” between our values, skills and abilities, and the goals, needs, culture, and practices of an employer;
  • over the years employers have consistently highly ranked skills of importance that are practiced daily in classrooms and other campus learning environments – verbally communicating inside and outside the organization, working in a team structure, obtaining and processing information, and  making decisions when problem solving;
  • students are provided opportunities to practice and demonstrate soft skills and  articulate connections between what is taught and how it can benefit  non-profits or for-profit organizations hiring graduates.

OER and accessibility

Perhaps you are seeing OERs or Open Education Resources mentioned more frequently at your disciplinary conferences.  Or perhaps there are initiatives on your campus to promote OERs, like at UIS.  In general OERs are materials made by other instructors, anywhere in the world, who are willing to freely share them with others.  Do you need to think about accessibility with OERs?  Yes.  However, it shouldn’t be a stumbling block in your adoption of OERs.  If you adopt OERs for your class you should check them for accessibility, as you would any other materials, and as you review them for fitting with your learning goals.  As we’ve discussed, running the accessibility checker for Word files, PowerPoints, or PDFs can tell you how accessible something is and how to fix it.

In most cases, academic materials which are termed OER are licensed under a creative commons (CC) license.  There are six different licenses.  If the license is “attribution-non-commerical-no derivs” or “attributiuon-no derivs” and the material is accessible then you can use it, but make no alterations and you must credit the license holder.

For the other four licenses you can alter the materials to make them accessible or alter and add other content to them, just remember to credit the original creator/licensor.

For those about to make a Word Document into a PDF, we advise you.

We’ve mentioned that PDFs are generally less accessible than Word files, and that making a PDF accessible takes more time.  We listed the process for making PDFs accessible in a previous post.  There are a few instances when you do have to make a Word file into a PDF.  So here are the best steps for doing so:

  1. Make sure you have Adobe Acrobat DC on your computer (we discussed downloading this in a previous post)
  2. Make sure you ran the accessibility checker in Word (we discussed this in last week’s post)
  3. With Acrobat installed on your computer you should have an ACROBAT tab in Word, select it.
  4. Select “Preferences”, it should be the second option from the left between “Create PDF” and “Create and Attach to Email”, a new window will pop up
  5. Under settings make sure “enable accessibility and reflow with tagged PDF” is checked
  6. Select “advanced settings” and another window will pop up
  7. Under general settings make sure “optimize for fast web view” is unchecked
  8. Under fonts settings (still under the advanced settings window) make sure the “subset embedded fonts when percent…” is checked.
  9. Also set it to 1%
  10. Still under the fonts settings remove all entries under the “never embed” list
  11. Now you can use the first option in the ACROBAT tab, “Create PDF”
  12. Finally, you’ll still need to run the Acrobat accessibility checker, as also linked above.

Yes, Word does have a save as PDF option.  However, when it comes to accessibility doing the above steps will reduce your work in making the final PDF accessible.

Staying accessible in Word

There is an accessible course syllabus template in Word on the Academic Affairs website.  We’ve posted several tips on accessibility and Word, as well as presented several campus wide and department level sessions on Word over the past few months.  And many of the files that the Accessibility Team has worked on thus far have been Word files.  So once we’ve used the template, worked on our files, or had the Accessibility Team work on them, we’re done?  Maybe.  It is always a good idea after making any edits or opening and saving a file on a new computer to run the accessibility checker.  Why?  Any edits we make could add a new accessibility issue to the file.  Or sometimes there are settings on one computer which will override the look of a file, which can also lead to accessibility issues.  So how do we run the accessibility checker again?

In Word 2016 for PCs select File > Check for Issues> Check Accessibility
In Word 2016 for Mac select Tools>Check Accessibility

You can run the accessibility checker when you’re creating new files, as a tool to find out issues in old files, or to make sure all your changes are still accessible.

Introducing the Accessibility Team

COLRS is happy to announce that we now have a team of four student workers who will be helping faculty make their course materials accessible.  The students began work and training the week of March 20th, and as of this week have begun working on course materials.  Each college will determine their own prioritization of courses which need accessibility help and each College Dean will share that list with Vickie Cook.  Vance Martin will then contact the faculty members from the list for instructions on how to share the materials, and once all materials are received he’ll work with the Accessibility Team to help make the materials accessible.  The Accessibility Team Members are:

 

Jalee BranerJalee Braner is in her freshman year at UIS.  She is double majoring in elementary education and English.  She is from Springfield, Illinois and plans to teach in Springfield for at least 2 years after she graduates.  She likes working out and spending time with friends and family.

 

 

JR GomollJ.R. Gomoll is in his sophomore year at UIS.  He is majoring in computer science.  He is from Richmond, Illinois.

 

 

 

 

Genesis ReyesGenesis Reyes is in her freshman year at UIS.  She is majoring in business administration and minoring in Spanish.  She is from Grayslake, Illinois.

 

 

 

 

Yuxuan Zhang, “Xuan”, is in his junior year at UIS.  He is majoring in computer science.  He is from China, and his hometown is near Shanghai.  He likes playing computer games, watching movies, and playing with drones on the weekends.

The digital world isn’t full of color for everyone

Recently I saw a post on Facebook with a blue circle, with a barely lighter blue rhino in it.  It equated intelligence with the ability to see the rhino.  It made me think of the need to keep color in mind in our instructional materials.  Around 8% of men and 1% of women of Northern European descent are color blind.  And the older we get the more difficulty we all have with certain color combinations.  So it is important to think about this for our students, if you like to use color in your documents or presentations.  Below are some known color combinations which are highly problematic.

  • Green & Red
  • Green & Brown
  • Blue & Purple
  • Green & Blue
  • Light Green & Yellow
  • Blue & Grey
  • Green & Grey
  • Green & Black

This website by Giacomo Mazzocato or by WebAIM can give you an online color checking tool.  The Paciello Group Website has a downloadable piece of software for Mac and PC which you might also find useful. If you use lots of color, please check the contrast.

Textboxes aren’t accessible, but you can have that same great look another way

Many people like to use textboxes in Word to highlight certain sections of a document, the problem is text boxes aren’t accessible.  However, if you want the same look you can modify an existing style within Word for the same effect.  Select the section of text you would like highlighted and boxed.  Goto the home tab, and in the style menu select “intense quote”.  At first this will make the text blue, italicized, and between two blue bars.  Now right click on “intense quote” in PC or control click on a Mac to modify this style. You can change the text to black, and bold, or whatever you would like.  At the bottom of the window you can select format and then select borders.  Now you can choose a box and you’ve just achieved the same look, but accessibly.   You can modify it to achieve various looks.  You can do these modifications for this document only or save for future documents.

Overconfident Students, Dubious Employers

Overconfident Students, Dubious Employers

According to results from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Class of 2018 Job Outlook Survey, college students believe they’re ready for a job, but employers disagree.  For the most part, a high percentage of students indicated in most of the eight career readiness competencies that they were proficient. The largest discrepancy was in the professionalism/work ethic competency. These findings were supported by similar research conducted in 2015 by The Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup’s higher education division adds that research definitions can vary among employers and academia.  For instance, Gallup has found that generally, an employer believes “critical thinking” is coming up with new, original thought.  But in an academic sense, it can mean picking apart ideas in depth.  Another varied definition relates to written communication.  Some students might excel at writing technical reports or papers with citations, but this type of writing is far different than writing for marketing.

Figure describes Employer vs. Student Perception of Proficiency in career Readiness Competencies, by Percentage of Respondents.  The figure is divided by three columns consisting of competency, & of employers that rated recent grads and % of students who consider themselves proficient.  the eight career competency areas consist of professionalism/work ethic, oral/written communications, ciritcal thinking/problem solving, temworkcollaboration, leadership, digital technology, career management, global/intercutural fluency.

A primer on alt-text

Alternative text (alt text) is probably the most confusing topic when thinking about accessibility.  In general, alt text is adding a description to a picture, table, graph, or any image in a Word document, PowerPoint, PDF, or Excel which can be read by a screen reader.  The key is what you put in for alt text.  It needs to be a description of what the picture, table, or graph is.  If it is a picture of Harry Truman, the alt text could be “Harry Truman.”  If it is a picture of an atom, the alt text might need to be much more descriptive of what the picture is showing.  It is important to think more critically about what images we put in documents, and what information we assume people will get out of the image.

On the COLRS website are some images, along with the alt text and captions.  The alt text will only be read by a screen reader. The captions will be read be everyone. These are all taken from an anthropology course developed by Alex Markovic, Ph.D. at UIC, who gave permission to share his materials. It is important to note that he had never taken an online class, nor taught an online class, and he was developing the first online anthropology class for UIC. The idea of alt text was new to him. The only instructions he was given were to describe the pictures by thinking about what he’d like a visually impaired student to get out of the pictures included in the class. He did a wonderful job on 100+ images in his course. Below are sample of them.

Number or bullet lists?

Lists or outlines are a perennial favorite way of organizing content.  But there are some things to keep in mind.  If something occurs in order, use a numbered list.

For this dance:

  1. Put your left foot in
  2. Put your left foot out
  3. Put your left foot in
  4. Shake it all about

If order does not matter use bullets.

Primary colors of pigment:

  • Magenta
  • Yellow
  • Cyan

And if you’re using a numbered list as an outline don’t force spacing by using extra returns, or other odd functions to force a look, go with what Word gives you or allows.  The accessibility checker can give you some odd errors if you do this, and it can take a lot of time to fix them.

Trouble with tables

In Word, tables can be problematic.  They should be used for tabular data, they are often used for page layout.  The top example below shows a table used for layout.  In this case, the Word autochecker will give you an error, and a screen reader user will have difficulty.  A screen reader sees row 1 as 5 cells merged into one and expects everything below it to also be one large merged cell.  Then it encounters row 2 and sees 1 cell and 4 cells merged into one.  To a computer, this does not compute.  What the computer wants is a header for each column with every row below that containing the same number of lined up columns.  If page layout like this is desired, using tabs for spacing may suffice.  The second example is how a table should be setup, with headers and the required information below it.  It is fine to use a table in a syllabus for listing readings and assignments.  Define the header row.  Don’t merge cells.  And it is fine to have empty cells.

Office of Civil Rights investigations, now searchable

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigates cases of discrimination, disability discrimination is a part of their caseload.  They have a policy of investigating and attempting to close cases within 180 days.  Until recently, the only way to know who was under investigation was to receive notice of investigation, or by word of mouth.  Annual numbers of total cases have been available in the OCR’s annual budget, 2017 budget ( about 4,485).    However, as of the beginning of February 2018 the OCR has made available their pending cases on a searchable website.

Audio descriptions on a Frozen winter’s day

When using videos for educational purposes, they need to have audio descriptions.  What are audio descriptions?  They are a spoken, verbal explanation of what is occurring in the video.  The audio descriptions are captioned, as well.

For an example, take 3 minutes to watch these two, almost identical 1.5 minute videos.  Close your eyes and listen to the first video.  Do the same thing and listen to the second video.  The first video probably made much less sense than the second, and hopefully illustrates the use and value of audio descriptions.

Enroll Users in Blackboard

  1. Go to the Control Panel.
  2. Click on Users and Groups, and then Users.
  3. Click on the “Find Users to Enroll” button.
  4. Next to Username, type the UIS NetID (not their email address) of the person you wish to enroll.
    • If you do not know the NetID of the person you wish to enroll, you will need to look it up. Click the “Browse” button. Search for the person by Last Name, First Name, or Email address. Check the box next to the name of the user, and click Submit.
    • If you need to enroll more than one person, separate the NetIDs with a comma only — no spaces. (E.G.: jsmit1,mgarc2,jdoe7)
    • If you have requested a guest account for a person who does not have a UIS email address, the e-mail address of the guest is used in the place of the UIS NetID.
  5. Choose role of user(s): student, instructor, teaching assistant, or course builder are the only functional roles in Blackboard at UIS.
    • Instructor and Teaching Assistant allow people to edit your class and view the Grade Center.
    • If you have a guest that you’d like to access your course materials but not the Grade Center, please use the role of “student,” as the role of “guest” will not allow them to view the course.
  6. Click Submit.

If you cannot find the person in Blackboard, s/he may already be enrolled in your course or may not yet have a NetID. Please contact COLRS for help.

Captioning

When using videos in class or online they need to have captions which are 99% accurate.  If you have created your own video and are using Kaltura within Blackboard, these directions from the ITS website can help you.  If you created your own video and are using YouTube, these directions from the COLRS website can help you.  If you are using a video on YouTube which you didn’t create and is not captioned, you can use a secondary website like Amara.  Amara allows the video to remain located at YouTube, but allows you to route the video through their site and add the captions at Amara, so there is no copyright issue.  You can even search Amara to see if your video has already been captioned there.

Assignment Submissions for Students — Spring 2018 Changes

The inline grading tool in Blackboard is not functioning. When you submit an assignment on Blackboard during Spring 2018, submitted assignments will look a bit different. Please review the instructions and images below to

  1. Click on the title of your assignment in Blackboard.
  2. You’ll notice that the submission screen remains the same. When you are ready to submit your work, please click on the Browse My Computer button to select a file.

    A screen capture of the Upload assignment page in Blackboard.

    The assignment submissions screen in Blackboard. Students click on Browse My Computer to select a file to submit for grading.

  3. Click Submit to turn in your work.
  4. The Review Submission History page appears after you submit a file. Notice the green success message displayed at the top of the page and that the title of your file appears on the page where you would have seen the first page of your document previously.

    Screen capture of the Review Submission History page after submitting a file to a Blackboard Assignment.

    The Review Submission History page shows that the submission was successful. The green bar with a success message and the title of the submitted file appear on the screen.

Grading in Blackboard without the Inline Grader Function

The inline grading tool for Blackboard Assignments is not functioning. We’ve identified two work-arounds for this issue. If you would like to continue using an inline grading function, consider creating a Turnitin Assignment to replace the current Blackboard assignment. You can also learn to grade a Turnitin Assignment. The other work-around, described below, is to download the student’s work, mark it up in Microsoft Word or other text editor, and upload the document to the course grade center.

  1. In the Grade Center of your course, locate an assignment that is ready for grading, which is denoted by the exclamation mark icon.
    Screen capture of the full grade center with one assignment submitted by one student, shown by a yellow exclamation mark icon.
  2. Hover your mouse over the Exclamation mark and click on the down arrow that appears.
  3. On the menu that appears, click on “Attempt mm/dd/yy”
    Screen capture of the Full Blackboard Grade Center, with context menu for a submitted assignment showing. Click on the Attempt option to view your student's work.
  4. Click on the Assignment title (in blue text on the right side of the page) to download the assignment. Most files will end in .doc or .docx.
    screen capture of Assignment Details page in Blackboard Grade Center. Click on the name of the file to download your student's work.
  5. Open the document and type your feedback or use Track Changes. When you’re finished grading, save it to your computer.
  6. To upload the document with your feedback, click on the blue Attempt area. In the textbox that appears, click on the small paperclip icon. Select your file and click Open.
    Screen capture of the Assignment Details pane in Blackboard Assignment grader. click on the Attach/paperclip icon to attach your edited work document to the assignment.
  7. The name of the file should appear as a link in the textbox. Enter the grade for the student and click Submit.
    Screen capture of the Assignment Detail page in Blackboard Grade Center. A link to an attached document with instructor feedback is shown in the textbook. Enter a grade for the student. Click Submit to save your work.Enter a grade for the student. Click Submit to save your work.

Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020

Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020

By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.  The United States is more educated than ever: In 1973, workers with postsecondary education held only 28 percent of jobs; by comparison, they held 59 percent of jobs in 2010 and will hold 65 percent of jobs in 2020.  Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce publication provides vital labor market information such as which fields are expected to create the most jobs, the education requirements required to gain employment in the U.S., and the skills most coveted by employers.  Key findings include:

  • STEM, Healthcare Professions, Healthcare Support, and Community Services will be the fastest growing occupations, but also will require high levels of post-secondary education.
  • Employers will seek cognitive skills such as communication and analytics from job applicants rather than physical skills traditionally associated with manufacturing.

What the Future of Work Will Mean for Jobs, Skills and Wages

What the Future of Work Will Mean for Jobs, Skills, and Wages

In an era marked by rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence, new research by McKinsey and Company, assesses the jobs lost and jobs gained under different scenarios through 2030.  A key finding is that while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030, under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging—matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.

For more information about job loss to machines, view the TED Talks video by Anthony Goldbloom titled The Jobs We’ll Lose to Machines and the Ones We Won’t (with transcript).

How Your Institution Can Stay Relevant as Automation Disrupts the Industry

How Your Institution Can Stay Relevant as Automation Disrupts the Industry

McKinsey Global Institute researchers claim 46 percent of all of the time for which people are now paid in the U.S. economy is spent in activities that could be automated based on currently available technology.  But the rise in automation doesn’t necessarily mean that postsecondary institutions are losing their value; rather, it means that colleges and universities are going to have to shift their focus and start focusing in on the humanities — developing soft skills needed for jobs of the future.  Filling gaps in the workforce and being the institution that can provide those graduates for jobs that don’t exist yet — requires a collective look into the education to career pipeline.

Focus on Employability Skills for STEM Workers

Focus on Employability Skills for STEM Workers

Employability Skills, part of the STEM 2.0 framework, are an essential skill set for 21st century employees.  Additionally, employers believe a gap exists between the required skill set and the skills that employees entering the work force possess. The STEM Innovation Task Force has taken a multi-phased approach to identify what skills lie in the gap, how those skills can be taught or imparted, and what actions employers, educators and policymakers can take to close the gap. The authors encourage educators and organizations that teach these skills to continue to prioritize employability skills and the use of career-focused experiential learning.

Could Better Teaching Have Helped?

Could Better Teaching Have Helped?

Most of the time as college instructors, we are concerned with ways of knowing.  We want to teach students about our discipline, and train them to think like scholars in our field.  But we should not neglect our duty to teach broader skills — ones that transcend the classroom and can be put into practice in the students’ lives beyond college.  By trying to help our students develop habits of mind, we are guiding them in the future, whether they continue in our disciplines or not.  The author of this article, David Gooblar writes a column on teaching for The Chronicle and runs Pedagogy Unbound, a website for college instructors who share teaching strategies.

New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology

New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology

The New Vision for Education project examines the role that technology can potentially play to improve education for the future.  In phase II, we investigated innovative ways to help students develop competencies* and character qualities broadly defined as social-emotional skills, which are critical components of 21st-century skill framework but not a core focus in today’s curriculum.  Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) will prepare today’s students for this evolving workplace, with consequent benefits for individuals, businesses, the economy and society as outlined in the World Economic Forum Report.

Image of Exhibit from the New Vision for Education Report on page 8. Exhibit contains competencies including critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration with character qualities that include social and cultural awareness, leadership, adaptabiity, persistence/grit, initiative, curiosity. The center of the exhibit contact the strategies to teach all of the skills.

Exhibit 3: A variety of general and targeted learning strategies foster social and emotional skills

The Opportunity Project: A New Social Contract for a Changing World

The Opportunity Project: A New Social Contract for a Changing World

The global economy has undergone a transformation that has shaped our lives in ways that we are only starting to understand.  As indicated in the Opportunity Project white paper developed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the traditional social contract separated the roles of employers and government in talent development, with employers investing in the training of their employed workers and government focusing on initial secondary and postsecondary education.  This traditional contract is no longer applicable because of rapid economic and technological changes, the changing nature of employment relationships, and the growing disconnect between employers’ needs and government-financed secondary and postsecondary education.  What is needed are new incentives and risk management tools and for employers to become more engaged in working with education and training providers in developing talent.

Read the article and view the video (video transcript version) about the U. S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s approach to career readiness.

How Real-World Learning Could Help People Compete with Machines

How Real-World Learning Could Help People Compete with Machines

When machines come for our jobs, we will need skills in communication, creativity, collaboration, and complex thinking to compete, says Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University.  It will take a completely different kind of education system he says — not the current one created at the height of the farm and factory economies.  He believes you can study creativity and entrepreneurship, but practice is also needed to test yourself, see where you are good and where you are not, and to determine your passion. Additionally, practice facilitates an understanding of how to work with others and allows for practicing systems thinking.

What is the “T” (T-Shaped Professionals)?

What is the “T” (T-Shaped Professionals)?

Currently, higher education is producing I-shaped graduates who focus largely on their particular knowledge and skill-set, views the workplace as a competitive environment, and works within disciplinary silos. T-shaped professionals are characterized by their deep disciplinary knowledge in at least one area, an understanding of systems, and their ability to function as “adaptive innovators” and cross the boundaries between disciplines.  Currently, many college and university graduates have been trained to be productive in one field, but employers are placing increasing importance on skills that reach beyond a single discipline or focus.

Additional information about T-Professionals can be found at the College Employment Research Institute (CERI).

Image of the letter T. the verticle bar of the "T" represents deep knowledge in at least one discipline and one system (focusing on analytic thinking and problem solving); horizontal bar represents boundary-crossing competencies (such as teamwork communication, project management) in addition to general knowledge of many disciplines and systems.

T-Shaped Professional

How to Thrive in a Multi-Generational Workplace

How to Thrive in a Multi-Generational Workplace

In days gone by, it was common for just two age groups to be represented in the workplace. There were long-serving, “dyed-in-the-wool” old-timers and ambitious newcomers. Times have changed, and now you could find yourself working with as many as five generations. Broadly speaking, each one has its own set of preferences, styles, perspectives, and experiences.  Generational diversity has great potential, however, the potential for conflict and misunderstanding is very real and intergenerational conflict within the workplace is a growing issue.  Learn more about the six strategies for thriving within a multi-generational mix.

An image of a table that shows the different age groups that are in the labor force today. It describes their traits and characteristics, and how they are frequently stereotyped beginning with the silent generation, baby boomer generation, generation X, generation Y and generatin Z.

Characteristics of Different Age Groups in the Labor Force Today

PowerPoint and the accessibility checker

Just like with Word, PowerPoint has a built in accessibility checker.  This link to Accessibility at the Microsoft website can show you how to run it for Macs or PCs.  It also lists some of the most common issues and fixes for PowerPoint.  Typically, those are alternative text and reading order.

Alternative text is what is read by a screen reader to describe an image in a presentation.  If there is no alternative text a screen reader will read there is an image and the size of it.

Reading order is the order in which a screen reader reads the information on a page.  And while it may seem intuitive to read from top to bottom and left to right, PowerPoint reads in the order which the information was added to the page originally.

Educating a New Generation of Entrepreneurial Leaders

Educating a New Generation of Entrepreneurial Leaders

There is an urgent need for young people to develop the practical skills employers are demanding.  Employers globally declare that educational institutions are not adequately preparing young people with appropriate skills for the jobs they have available, and the deficit is greatest in the area of soft skills. Fortunately, there are shining examples of schools from which we can learn—schools that take responsibility for preparing all of their students to become changemaking leaders.

10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2018

10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2018

All economic indicators show a positive view of the U.S. economy in 2018, with the majority of occupations projected to grow.  The fastest growth next year is in the healthcare, personal care, social assistance and construction sectors. Compare and contrast the previous years’ predictions (2013-2017)  that are based on hundreds of conversations with executives and workers, a series of national and global online surveys and secondary research from more than 450 different research sources, including colleges, consulting firms, non-profits, the government and trade associations.

 

Employability Skills Learning Objectives

Explore the two resources below to obtain employabiity skills topics and learning objective samples that can help generate ideas for complementary content for your courses.

  • Skillsoft – An eLearning resource that provides a wide range of business skills and leadership content including a catalog of courses with learning objectives, white papers, case studies, and analyst research reports.
  • Leadership Rating Scale (pg. 16) and 4 C’s Competencies (pg. 29),  The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Leadership Implementation Guide
    • Learning and innovation skills increasingly are being recognized as those that separate learners who are prepared and not prepared for
      complex life and work environments in the 21st century.
    • The 4C’s include creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration and are considered essential to prepare learners for the future.

National and International Associations

Incorporate industry trends and professional development opportunities within learning activities, so learners can keep abreast of industry changes by having them compare and contrast association information, identify historical changes, or predict future trends.

  • Directory of Associations – Find over 35,000+ local, regional, national and international associations.  Search by state, category, type and size.
  • CareerOneStop – Locate national professional associations by occupation or industry served. Contact associations to find professional development opportunities, and keep current on changes in your industry.  Search by industry, occupation, or association name.

Labor, Industry, and Occupation Resources

If you want your learners to have opportunities to explore the realistic aspects of the world of work and future jobs, think about ways to incorporate labor market, industry and occupational information into your learning activities.  Below are a few resources to get you started.

  • Industries at a Glance
    • Overview
    • Workforce statistics
    • Earnings and hours
    • Fatalities, injuries and illnesses
    • Workplace trends
  • CareerOneStop, Explore Careers
    • The more you know about the job market, the more you can build career resilience.
    • Research career profiles, career videos, what’s hot, compare occupations, research industries and tools such as the salary finder.
  • Career Outlook Articles
    • Provides data and information on a variety of topics including occupations, industries, pay, benefits, and more and consists of four departments:
    • Feature articles present an in-depth look at a range of career topics.
    • You’re a what? explores unusual occupations through the work of someone in that occupation.
    • Interview with a… describes, in Q & A format, a specific worker’s career path.
    • Data on Display is a graphic presentation of data on employment and other topics.
  • Industry Profiles Report
    • Explores the future of jobs and the pace of change to the global employment landscape up until the year 2020, as anticipated by the some of the world’s largest employers.
    • Provides information about employment, skills and workforce strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
    • Details drivers of change, workforce disruption, expected time of impact on employee skills and job quality, skills forecast change management and future workforce planning barriers and strategies.
    • Emerging job family in focus, country/regional, industry gender gap (pg. 71).

Learning Activity Employability Skills Tools

Listed below are tools you might consider using to enhance student engagement to facilitate connecting course content with real-world scenarios and trending information.

  • The Informatist Online Gaming Tool with lessons incorporates aspects of a complex business environment, working with others on a business problem, dealing with competition and solving problems. check out  other business simulation games
  • Global Transformation Maps is a dynamic knowledge tool to understand the issues and forces driving transformation change across economies, industries, global issues and the World Economic Forum’s system initiatives. Tip: Select Workforce and Employment (requires creating a free account to access interactive map).
  • Review MindSumo real-world company problems and use as a guide to develop simulated learning activities.
  • Skills Profiler creates a customized list of your skills and matches them to job types that use those skills; identify skills from a current or past job and connect them to new career options for consideration.

Employment Skills List Cross-Referenced with Occupations

Do you and your learners know what employers really want?  Augment your learning activities with information about which skills, abilities, and expertise employers in various fields are seeking and how to incorporate the most relevant skills and keywords in résumés, cover letters, and interviews.

Building Successful Partnerships Between Colleges and Industry

In much of the recent research to prepare learners for the 21st Century Workforce, a common recommendation is for universities to develop meaningful partnerships with employers.  Learn about best practices from others.

  • A Toolkit for Building Successful Partnerships – The toolkit includes creating a navigator for industry partners, key characteristics of productive partnerships, practical steps for building relationships between colleges and industries.
  • Creating Industry Relationships that Work – Driven by a lack of skills and knowledge that can impede the nation’s global competitiveness, a collaboration of leaders from industry, city government, the school district, higher education and non-profit youth development organizations formed a coalition to become instrumental in education innovation.

National Network: Connecting Learning and Work

The National Network’s library of tools, guides, white papers, frameworks and other resources can provide guidance to educators and other learning providers so they will know what foundational skills to emphasize.  These products can also help employers, industry leaders, learning providers and others who seek to take action and connect learning and work in their companies, communities and beyond.   Learn more about the National Network’s innovation projects.

Resources:

  • Work-and-Learn in Action Guidebook – introduces employers, educators and others to a range of options along the work-and-learn continuum to help them find an approach that works for their organization and community.
  • Common Employability Skills – a cross-industry approach to foundational skills regardless of where employees work.
  • Blueprint for Organizations to Create Standards-Based Credentials -a first step in defining the qualities that make programs valuable to consumers—employers, workers and students.
  • Attributes of the New Business-Led Work-And-Learn Models

Necessary Skills Now Project

Learn how the Necessary Skills Now teams of faculty and employers will develop a curriculum that integrates technical content and employability concepts within existing courses rather than teach stand-alone courses on employability topics in isolation from the technical content.  The project will provide opportunities to teach employability skills prioritized by industry within discipline-specific courses using authentic workplace scenarios as the context for instruction.

Project Goals:

  1. Validate broad employability skills categories; select and prepare curriculum development team members for collaboration.
  2. Using an integrated curriculum development process, develop, pilot, revise, and disseminate 12 curriculum projects (six per sector) integrating employability and technical course concepts.
  3. Provide faculty professional development resources and workshops to support implementation of integrated projects and replication of curriculum design process across other institutions and sectors.

Learn more about project deliverables, outcomes and pilot sites, or apply to become a pilot site by completing the interest form.

 

Employability in Higher Education: A Review of Practice and Strategies Around the World

Employability in Higher Education: A review of practice and strategies around the world is a literature review associated with the practice, ecosystems and strategies in place around the world that are used to improve the employability levels of students and graduates and ensure that their skills and knowledge are fit-for-purpose for the graduate labor market upon leaving Higher Education (HE).  The publication is divided into five sections:

  1. How are higher education institutions developing coherent employability programs’?
  2. Best practice methods of embedding employability skills into the curriculum, and the importance of pedagogy.
  3. What graduate employability skills to employers value?
  4. How can higher education institutions and employers build closer working relationships?
  5. How is impact measured?
  6. Directions.
Image of an employability skills wheel published in the UKCES 2009 report, figure 3.  the Employability wheel center circle begins with employability skills surrounded by criical factors, then key features, and lastly, the out circle consisting of areas that impact on the learner, employer and provider.

Figure 3. Employability Skills Wheel (UKCES, 2009, p.17)

Learn How Universities are Augmenting their Curriculum with Real-world, Career-specific Teachings

In a McGraw-Hill Education 2015 Workforce Readiness Survey, thirty-five percent of college students said college was effective in preparing them for a job while  61% wanted classes designed to help build career skills.  Additionally, in an IBM Institute Report, Pursuit of Relevance: How Higher Education Remains Viable in Today’s Dynamic World, only 43% across industry and academia believe higher education prepares students with necessary workforce skills.   If you’re seeking ideas for curriculum improvement, learn how other universities are augmenting their curriculum with real-world, career-specific teachings.

  • Learning to Work Working to Learn – a publication that showcases promising examples of business-higher education partnerships that embed career development throughout a student’s college experience and treat both students and employers as customers.

Employability Skills Rubrics

If you’ve been trying to identify employability skills’ rubrics, check out the resources below.

  • Association of American Colleges and Universities  VALUE Rubrics  – Consists of the following sixteen rubrics:
    • Intellectual and Practical Skills:  inquiry and analysis, critical thinking, creative thinking, written communication, oral communication, reading, quantitative literacy, information literacy, teamwork, and problem-solving
    • Personal and Social Responsibility:  civic engagement, intercultural knowledge and competence, ethical reasoning, foundations and skills for lifelong learning, global learning
    • Integrative and Applied Learning: integrative learning
  • Emerging EdTech 21st Century Assessments Rubric -By creating assignments that earn high scores on this rubric, you can provide opportunities for students to develop and master the skills that are increasingly necessary to excel in today’s increasingly digital world while demonstrating acquisition of the required outcomes in many different types of courses.  Criteria categories include:
    • choice, flexibility, writing required, inquiry-based learning, real-world connection, collaboration, digital literacy, entrepreneurial skills, and mastery learning.
  • ConnectEd Studios Rubrics Bank – You’ll need to establish a free account to access the rubrics bank.  Sample rubrics you might be interested in include teamwork, group skills, and digital communication to name a few.

Video Lessons, Lesson Plans, Articles, Media and Web Resources

Study.com has over 22,000 video lessons searchable by grade level, subject, and keyword with 50,000+ additional articles relative to making college and career decisions.  Preview lesson content by previewing the partial transcript to explore potential employability skills topics complementary to your courses.  Tip: Use the keyword search feature to explore content and review disciplines other than yours for complementary content (e.g.  Effective Communication in the Workplace; Philosophy – Ethics in America etc.).

If you’re wanting to identify resources by industry sector, ConnectEd is your go-to resource providing a wealth of curriculum resources including lesson plans, student handouts, and media and web resources.

Promoting Learner Professionalism

The Leadership Development Center at York College conducted a national professionalism study, which identified key professionalism components spanning across industries and occupations.  In the 2015 report, respondents ranked seven responsible parties according to how responsible they felt each should be in developing professionalism in college graduates.  Students themselves were ranked number one and were followed by faculty ranking number two.  The report also describes the qualities of professionalism and unprofessionalism.   This list of qualities could be used for developing learner expectations for your course and allow various opportunities for practice in adopting professional attitudes and behaviors prior to graduation.  Adapt ideas from this learning activity to help your learners improve in professionalism behavior and attitudes.

Image of a bar graph ranking responsible parties for developing professionalism in college. The ranking for most responsible is students themselves, faculty, Career Development office, Parents, Employers, Other College Offices, Alumni.

Leadership Development Center, 2015 National Professionalism Study

Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College

The report, Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College, details findings and recommendations that promote the kind of learning students need to meet emerging challenges in the workplace, in a diverse democracy, and in an interconnected world. The report also proposes a series of specific actions and collaborations to substantially raise the quality of student learning in college.

Image of  the Greater Expectations Report's table titled: Organizing Educational Principles from Present to the New Academy. the table is divided into three columns titled former or present, modified, present or future located in Chapter located in Chapter 5.

AAC&U Greater Expectations Report: Organizing Educational Principles from Present to the New Academy

Guidelines For Practice: Integrating Practice-based Experiences

The practice guidelines for integrating practice-based experiences were developed by Professor Stephen Billett, Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC), National Teaching Fellow.  The guidelines are intended to assist higher education faculty to make decisions about organizing and integrating student experiences in practice settings to support student development, so they will make smooth transitions to their selected occupations upon graduation. The guidelines focus on:

  1. purposes for organizing and integrating experiences;
  2. key learning outcomes;
  3. key considerations for providing practice-based experiences;
  4. different ways of providing practice experiences for students;
  5. sets of principles and practice associated with organizing those experiences within the curriculum;
  6. enriching pedagogic practices.
The report identifies and appraises curriculum and pedagogic principles and practices for integrating higher education students’ experiences across practice and university settings through three phases of activities:
  • sponsored and engaged 20 projects from a wide range of disciplines across six universities to identify principles and practices;
  • appraised the 20 projects’ principles for practice, processes and outcomes in terms of educational worth for developing the kinds of knowledge graduates need to smoothly transition into their selected occupations;
  • attempted to align particular kinds of curriculum and pedagogic practices that are associated with specific kinds of learning.

The Dialogue Forum for the ALTC National Teaching Fellowship booklet contains information pertaining to the fellowship program, project details and findings.

CCTC Programs of Study and Industry-Based Standards

The Common Career Technical Core (CCTC), Programs of Study and Industry-Based Standards were developed as a multi-step process incorporating input from approximately 3,500 individuals representing K-12 education, business and industry, and higher education from across the nation.  The standards are built upon The National Career Clusters Framework.  The standards white paper is helpful if you’re trying to identify which industries are aligned with specific programs of study and the extent to which they are aligned.

The National Career Clusters Framework

The National Career Clusters Framework consists of 16 Career Clusters, represents more than 79 Career Pathways, and includes knowledge and skills statements.  Use the framework as an organizing tool for comprehensive understanding and to guide curriculum design with the purpose of bridging secondary and postsecondary curriculum.  A new proposed sustainability/green category is also available with Green/Sustainability Knowledge and Skill Statements and tools and references to aid in the instruction of the Green and Sustainability Standards.   As a reminder, Career Ready Practices should be applied throughout the continuum of learning.

The Illinois Career Clusters, Pathways and Programs of Study complements The National Career Clusters Framework and serves as a resource in understanding Illinois’ adoption of the National Career Cluster Framework.

Image of the Illinois Career Clusters Framework outlining the five CTE secondary areas, 16 career clusters and 79 career pathways.

Illinois Career Clusters Framework

ACT WorkKeys Competencies

Explore the ACT WorkKeys Assessment information developed to measure foundational hard and soft skills relevant to any occupation, at any level, and across industries.  Each assessment has characteristics and skills divided into seven levels of difficulty.  Use the information to explore ideas for developing or enhancing learning activities.

Relevant Categories:

  • Graphic Literacy – Use charts, graphs and diagrams for identifying what information is being presented and understanding how to use it.
  • Workplace Documents – Be creative and incorporate readings that reflect real workplace documents.  Learners can gather information from the documents to make job-related decisions and solve problems. Sample documents can include messages, emails, letters, directions, signs, bulletins, policies, websites, contracts, and regulations.
  • Business Writing – Assess learning activities in the context of workplace writing needs.  Content needs to be clear and free of distractions such as poor grammar, misspellings, and extraneous information. Explain to learners how careless errors may lead the reader (e.g. customer, supervisor etc.) to believe other errors may exist in terms of facts, resulting in the writer (or employee) losing credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Workplace Observation – Provide opportunities for learners to observe, follow, understand, and evaluate processes, demonstrations, and other workplace procedures.
  • Fit – Help learners identify interests and values compatible with a work environment conducive for job success.  
  • Talent – Develop activities to increase awareness of a student’s attitude or behavior, that if demonstrated in the workplace, could lead to disciplinary action or termination.  Provide opportunities for growth and feedback.

A strong rule

In Word 2016, for Mac or PC, when using bold or italics for emphasis in a document, consider using the style “strong”.  It is in the styles group along with normal, heading 1, heading 2….  A screen reader does not add emphasis to bold or italics, but will if you use strong.  In appearance, strong is set to a default bold.  However, you can modify the styles to whatever you would like.  To learn how to modify your styles go to this page, scroll down to “to modify a link” and use the instructions to set the styles to your preferences.

As a general rule, if you add color, bold, italics, or underline for emphasis in a document, consider selecting just one method of conveying emphasis.  Around 5% of the population is color blind, and around 2.3% of the population has a visual disability.  The color can be problematic for a color blind individual, and none of those methods of emphasis are conveyed through a screen reader.

Skillsoft Books (UIS Brookens Library)

Skillsoft Books  is a new database resource provided by UIS Brookens Library. Access the complete, unabridged content of more than 20,000+ online books and 40,000+ streaming videos in a fully searchable database.

TIP:  For relevant information pertaining to employability skills and industry, search the Business Skills and Government Categories.  Select current trending workplace articles that can be used to demonstrate real-world application and connects  course concepts with skills.  Login now to explore Skillsoft Books (requires UIS Netid and password).

Competency Model Clearinghouse

 

The Competency Model Clearinghouse initiative was developed in partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration and industry partners.  The goal of the initiative is to promote an understanding of the skill sets and competencies that are essential to educate and train a globally competitive workforce.  Currently, 26 diverse industry models exist including fundamentals of health care, cybersecurity, financial services and renewable energy.

Supplemental resources for educators, businesses, and workforce professionals include:

Image of a pryamid that identifies the five tiers of the model.

Generic Building Blocks Competency Model, CareerOneStop

 

Using tools and checkers in Adobe Acrobat Pro to make PDFs accessible

PDFs can be tricky to make accessible.  Regardless of whether you are using a Mac or PC, check out the instructions on the Adobe site for making a PDF accessible by running the action wizard and full check.  An all text Pdf should be relatively easy following the instructions in the first two sections at the Adobe site.  If after running the accessibility full check as outlined in the second section there are no issues identified, then the document is accessible.
(It is possible on an all-text document that Logical Reading Order and Color Contrast will have a white question mark in a blue circle.  It is ok to “pass” the Logical Reading Order.  And if it is a white document with black text it is ok to “pass” Color Contrast.)

If there are images, charts, tables, or maps these steps become more problematic, but the instructions in the remaining sections at the Adobe site should help with issues like alternative text and tagging issues.

Contextual Teaching and Learning Theory

Contextual teaching and learning theory emphasizes the relationship of course content to real-life situations by teaching abstract subject matter within the context of how it’s applied in the workplace and everyday life.  Consider use this teaching approach that incorporates the five essential strategies of REACT:

  • Relating: Learn in the context of life experience.
  • Experiencing: Learn in the context of exploration, discovery, and invention.
  • Applying: Apply concepts and information in a useful context such as projects related to a possible career, or in an unfamiliar location such as the workplace.
  • Cooperating: Cooperate in the context of sharing, responding and communicating with other learners.
  • Transferring: Learn in the context of existing knowledge, or transferring uses and builds upon what the learner already knows.

Are you teaching contextually?  Take the Center for Occupational Research and Development’s self-test to find out.  Additional supplemental resources for contextual teaching include the toolkit which includes lesson design elements and templates, and a table comparison between a traditional and contextual course environment.

Degree Qualifications Profile

The Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) outlines a set of reference points for what students should know and be able to do upon completion of an associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees – in any field of study. The are five broad, interrelated categories of proficiencies which provide a profile of what degrees mean in terms of specific learning outcomes.

The DQP’s five categories of learning:

Image of the Degree Qualifications Profile outlining the Associate Bachelor's and Master's degree levels and the caregories of learning including specialized knowledge, broad and integrative knowledge, intellectual skills, applied and collaborative learning and civic and global learning.

  1. Specialized Knowledge
  2. Broad and Integrative Knowledge
  3. Intellectual Skills (analytic inquiry, use of information resources, engaging diverse perspectives, ethical reasoning, quantitative fluency and communicative fluency)
  4. Applied and Collaborative Learning
  5. Civic and Global Learning
Supplemental Resources:
  • Resource Kit (e.g. integrated learning frameworks, course-embedded assignments, assessment, rubrics, capstone portfolios etc.)
  • Assignment Library (browse and adapt assignments to your needs)
  • Implementation Resources
    • Tuning Impact Study: Developing Faculty Consensus to Strengthen Student Learning
    • Roadmap to Enhanced Student Learning, Implementing the DQP and Tuning
    • Tuning: A Guide for Creating Discipline Specific Frameworks to Foster Meaningful Change
    • DQP Impact Study: Framing and Connecting Initiatives to Strengthen Student Learning
    • Using the Degree Qualifications Profile
    • And more

 

P21 – 21st Century Student Outcomes

The 21st century student outcomes are the skills, knowledge and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st century.  The P21’s Framework for 21st Century Learning was developed with input from teachers, education experts, and business leaders to define and illustrate the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in work, life and citizenship, as well as the support systems necessary for 21st century learning outcomes.

The theme and skill categories below have corresponding  Student Outcomes.   Determine which outcomes you have already included in your courses, or use as a reference to consider adding to your course.

21st Century Interdisciplinary Themes:

  • Global awareness
  • Financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy
  • Civic literacy
  • Health literacy
  • Environmental literacy

 Learning and Innovation Skills:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

Information, Media and Technology Skills:

  • Information Literacy
  • Media Literacy
  • ICT Literacy

Life and Career Skills:

  • Flexibility & Adaptability
  • Initiative & Self Direction
  • Social & Cross-Cultural Skills
  • Productivity & Accountability
  • Leadership & Responsibility

OpenLearn

OpenLearn provides educational resources that can be filtered by skills, subjects, and free courses. Resource type includes articles, activities, courses, eBooks, Audios, Videos, TV & Radio and Posters & Booklets.

Skills for Work Categories:

  • Money and Finance
  • Project Planning
  • Digital
  • Communication
  • Career
  • Leadership and Management

Skills for Study Categories:

  • Reading and Finding Information
  • Writing and English
  • Maths and Data
  • Digital and Online
  • Organizational Skills
  • Critical and Analytical

Skills Commons

Explore the Skills Commons free and open digital library of workforce training resources and browse resources by industry, credentials and material type.  Examples of material type categories include:

  • online course
  • online course module
  • hybrid/blended course
  • open textbook
  • simulation

Use the Interactive Industry Wheel (accessible version) to locate materials that are:

  • developed in partnership with local industries
  • reviewed by subject matter experts
  • focused on skills businesses need today
Image of Interactive Industry Wheel for locating resources that are free and open to use.

Interactive Industry Wheel, Skills Commons

 

NC-NET Employability Skills Resource Toolkit

The North Carolina Network for Excellence in Teaching developed an Employability Skills Resource Toolkit comprised of eight modules for faculty to use for integrating employability skills across the curriculum.  Use the modules to introduce a topic or adapt for course-specific content. Each module contains instructional materials with course lessons and learning objectives, questions for reflection and discussion, student handouts, assessment rubrics, facilitator notes and annotated presentation slides.

Module Topics:

  1. Interpersonal Skills and Teamwork
  2. Communications
  3. Integrity and Professionalism
  4. Problem Solving and Decision Making
  5. Initiative and Dependability
  6. Information Processing
  7. Adaptability and Lifelong Learning
  8. Entrepreneurship

The Rigor Relevance Framework

The Rigor Relevance Framework was developed by the International Center for Leadership in Education to examine curriculum, instruction, and assessment along the two dimensions of higher standards and student achievement.  The tool can be used for both instruction and assessment.

  • The Knowledge Taxonomy (y-axis) based on Bloom’s Taxonomy
    • Six level – thinking continuum
  • Application Model  (x-axis), developed by Bill Daggett
    • Five level –  knowledge continuum
    • Includes using knowledge to solve complex, real-world problems and create projects, designs, and other works for use in real-world situations.
  • Supplemental Resource: Handbook with Instructional Activities Checklist
Image of the Rigor Relevance Framework with y-axis prepresenting the Knowledge Taxonomy based on Bloom's Taxonomy and the x-axis representing Bill Daggett's Application Model.

The Rigor Relevance Framework, International Center for Leadership in Education

Employability Skills Framework

The U.S. Department of Education’s Employability Skills Framework is comprised of nine key skills, organized in three broad categories: Applied Knowledge, Effective Relationships, and Workplace Skills.  The framework has supplemental information resources and tools to assist with informing the instruction and assessment of employability skills.

 

Image of U.S. Department of Education, Employability Skills Framework.

U.S. Department of Education, Employability Skills Framework

The Future of Work: The Augmented Workforce

Keeping abreast of current and future workforce trends provide insight and ideas for new and enhanced skill development options when updating or creating new academic course content.  According to Deloitte Insight’s, The  Future of Work article and video, the paradigm-shifting forces such as cognitive technologies and the open talent economy are reshaping the future workforce, driving many organizations to reconsider how they design jobs, organize work, and plan for future growth.  Review the figure below for a quick comparison of changing  workforce rules that need to be adopted for leading, organizing, motivating, managing, and engaging the 21st-century workforce.

Image of a two column chart that provides a comparison of old rules versus new rules as it relates to the future of work.

Quick tool for checking accessibility of PDFs with a PC

Determining whether a Pdf is accessible or not can be confusing.  You can run the built in accessibility checker in Adobe Acrobat Pro to see all the errors, but that doesn’t give a straightforward answer.  However, a European non-profit has a free piece of software , for Windows machines, which can help.  If you goto the Access for all website and fill out your name and email address you can download the software.   With a simple drag and drop the software can give you a green, yellow, or red to let you know very quickly if the document is accessible, needs some work, or needs lots of work to make it accessible.

Alt text for images in test questions

We had a faculty member ask about using alt text to describe some images in an online test.  There was an underlying concern that the alt text they provided, in conjunction with the picture might unfairly assist students who did not need the alternative text.  In our setting there are two ways we felt a student could view alt text.  With slow internet speeds in some areas a slow loading page might load the alt text before the image, or a student could inspect the page to view the alt text.  We came up with two possible solutions to this issue.

  • Add alt-text to each image which might have a specific nomenclature such as q1image1, q1image2, q1image3…. Then create a word file which links the q1image1 to the alternative text.  This file could be added to the online class and hidden.  A statement in the syllabus could reflect that students who need alternative text can contact the instructor and the instructor can share that file with the students prior to the test.
  • Create a second copy of the test with alt text added to the pictures, and hide the test.  Provide a similar statement to the syllabus and make that test available for students who need the test.  Currently our institution uses Blackboard and this option would create some gradebook issues when used.

Use headings in Word, and modify them to fit your style

When creating Word documents use the built in styles such as heading 1, heading 2, heading 3…to layout your document.  This makes a document more navigable for people using a screen reader.  And while Microsoft has odd font and color choices for their default heading styles, you can modify the styles to whatever you would like.  To learn how to modify your styles goto this page ,scroll down to “to modify a link” and use the instructions to set the styles to whatever you would prefer.

Download Adobe Acrobat Pro to edit Pdfs

In preparation for the spring semester, make sure you’re able to edit your PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Pro.  You can download it for your personal use at the webstore.  By having Acrobat Pro, you can edit PDFs, run the built in accessibility checker, and make your PDFs more accessible.

Update your version of Word

In preparation for the spring semester, make sure that your version of Word is up to date, Word 2016.  You can download it for your personal use at the webstore.  By having the most recent version of Word you can update all old Word files to the most recent version, and use the built in accessibility checker to make your Word documents more accessible.

Teaching Tips from UIS Faculty

Experienced UIS Faculty shared their teaching experiences as part of the 2017 Faculty Teaching & Learning Academy at UIS.  This program was administered by the Provost’s Office at UIS.

 

4 Strategies for Using Video More Effectively

On the Learn, Lead, Grow blog, Matt Bergman shared 4 Tips for Using Video More Effectively. These tips are easy to integrate!

Do Captions Help Students Learn?

The WCET Frontiers Blog featured Dr. Katie Linder, Oregon State University Ecampus, who discussed a national research project on student use of closed captions and transcriptions. The Oregon State University Ecampus Research unit and 3Play Media worked together to conduct a national study on student uses and perceptions of closed captions and transcriptions.

The important results show that while these resources are not yet widely available, many students, even those who may not need these resources as an accommodation, are able to use transcriptions and captions to increase their success.

Tips to Reduce & Detect Violations of Academic Integrity

Design with Integrity in Mind

  • Include academic integrity statement in course syllabus
  • Alternate assessments from term to term or class to class
  • Set up discussion board to prevent viewing of classmates’ posts before posting
  • Write test questions and activities for unique responses
  • Test settings (randomize, question pools, time limits, display questions one at a time, limit question feedback)
  • Create scaffolded assignments
  • Require presentations as part of an assignment

Plagiarism: Not citing sources, not using quotation marks

  • Turnitin can be used 
  • Use is not limited to papers – Can be used for discussion boards, essay exam questions, etc.

Reusing: Submitting the same work for more than one course

  • As more faculty at UIS use Turnitin, this can be more easily detected
  • Turnitin identifies course and semester, access to paper can be requested by original instructor

Cheating During Remote Exams

  • Respondus LockDown Browser can help, but can be easily circumvented!
  • Proctoring centers can be used, but are all of your online students getting equal testing environments?
    • Not all proctors treat proctoring equally!
  • Examity can be used to strengthen test integrity

Authenticity: Having another student take your exam for you

  • How are we ensuring that the student is the one completing the exam?
  • How are we authenticating our online students?
  • Examity can be used to provide two-factor authentication
  • Ask students to agree to an academic integrity statement before beginning a test or submitting an assignment:

“I verify I am the only one taking the exam and that no one is helping me physically or electronically. I won’t copy the exam in whole or in part. I will refrain from discussing this exam with anyone until after the due date. I will adhere to the academic integrity policy.”

Academic Integrity at UIS

Turnitin Feedback Studio Instructor Guide

In August of 2017, Turnitin will be moving to an updated user interface called “Feedback Studio.”

Turnitin Feedback Studio is designed around empowering you and your students by giving you the information and the tools needed for an efficient submission and marking process. Turnitin has made improvements to accessibility, responsiveness, and navigation, all designed to help instructors build better writers, with an emphasis on integrity.

This Instructor Guide offers video tutorials as well as written guidance for using Feedback Studio.

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

Creating Video Lectures

Narrated lectures, when properly structured and brief, can be a good tool to deliver course content to your students.

Chunk Your Content

We recommend that you “chunk” your lectures into smaller manageable pieces no longer than 5-7 minutes. Chunking accomplishes three things for you. First, by breaking the lectures into brief topics, the likelihood of being able reuse a lecture in another course increases. Second, it is easier to update or re-record a single short video than a longer video. Third, it is easier for your students to find time to sit and concentrate for less than 10 minutes.

Write a Script

Remember to write a script for your lectures. It will help keep you from using verbal fillers and keep your videos brief, but more importantly, the script gives an alternative content piece to present to students who cannot hear your lecture and for visually impaired students. It is also very easy to create captions for your lecture by using the YouTube caption editor.

Use Images & Visual Explanations

Narrated PowerPoint lectures give you the opportunity to present your materials in a visual way, and can help you reach students who are visual learners. Try to include images that enhance your lecture. Replace text descriptions with visual representations of your topic — flow charts, graphs, diagrams, photographs, artwork, maps. Visuals will add value to your lecture and help to keep you from reading every word on your slide — something that students could easily do for themselves.

Creating video lectures using PowerPoint

Voice Training

Aerobics for your voice: Tips for sounding better on-air (NPR Article)

Last Access Date in Blackboard Not Accurate

As of January 2017, the “Last Access” Column in Blackboard’s Grade Center and Performance Dashboard is not accurately reflecting student activity.

In the example below, all the students have posted to the discussion board and two have submitted quizzes, yet only two of the students have a date in the “Last Access column in the Grade Center or Performance Dashboard.

Screen capture of Grade Center with inaccurate "last access" dates.

ITS cannot install the update to fix this issue until after the Spring 2017 semester ends. Thus, for reporting the date of last attendance for students earning a grade of F, faculty will need to run a report to get accurate dates for last student access.

Retrieving Accurate Student Course Access Data

You can retrieve accurate data on your students’ course access by running the Course Activity Overview report.

In your course, go to Control Panel and click on Evaluation > Course Reports. Select the report you wish to run:

  • Course Activity Overview – gives you 2 graphs. One shows the hours of aggregated user activity by day. The second shows the number of hours each student has spent in the course; if you click on the bar for any student, it will show you the hours the student spends in the course each day and the time spent in the activities in the course.
  • Overall Summary of User Activity – gives you charts with summary data for all students on areas of access and time of day access, plus a table with the individual number of times students accessed the course each day.

View specific instructions on running course reports.

Converting Articulate Lectures to Kaltura Videos

If you have your original PowerPoint and Audio files, you can convert them to videos that can be uploaded to Kaltura.

  1. First, convert the PowerPoint and audio files to an .mp4 video using PowerPoint. If you do not have audio files outside of the PowerPoint/Articulate proprietary format, the audio files can be exported for this process.
  2. After the video file has been uploaded to Kaltura, you may add chapters to the video to mimic the table of contents feature in Articulate.
  3. The final step in any video creation for use at UIS is to be sure a transcript

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.

Grading with Rubrics

How to Grade With Rubrics

Before grading with a rubric, you need to associate it with one of the following gradable items:

  • Assignments
  • Essay, Short Answer, and File Response test questions
  • Blogs and journals
  • Wikis
  • Discussion board forums and threads

Watch a Tutorial

Double-click the video to enlarge the viewing area.

Use the following steps to grade using rubrics:

The Raw Total displays the score rounded to two decimal places.

  1. Access the gradable item in the Grade Center, on the Needs Grading page, or from the tool.
  2. Click View Rubric to review or begin grading with the associated rubric.
  3. In Grid View, click a cell to apply that point value to the grade. If a rubric with point ranges is used, select the appropriate value from the drop-down list. To change the selection, click another cell in the same row. Optionally, type Feedback to the student in the text box that appears when a cell is selected.
  4. Optionally, click List View to switch displays and select an option for each criterion to apply that point value to the grade. Optionally, select the check boxes toShow Descriptions for criteria and to Show Feedback text boxes.
  5. A running Raw Total score appears as you make point selections. Optionally, type a score in the Change the number of points box to override the selected score, and type overall Feedback to the student using the full features of the content editor.
  6. When grading is complete, click Exit to leave the rubric without saving your selections, or click Save to save the score and feedback and return to the attempt. Click Save and Next to use another associated rubric for evaluation.

Blackboard Test Feedback and Results Options

In the Show Results and Feedback to Students section, you can set which results and feedback are available to students after they complete a test or survey. You can set one or two rules using the drop-down lists. You cannot choose some rules in combination. After you select a rule in the first drop-down list, some may not appear in the second drop-down list.

If conflicts in rules occur, the most permissive settings for that user or group of users is granted. For example, students will receive the greatest number of attempts and longest availability time.

The following image shows the two default options applied to tests: After Submission and Score per Question. If you make no changes in this section, students see their overall test scores and the scores earned for each individual question after they submit their tests. Select more options to determine what else they see, such as the correct answers or your feedback.

Students can always see their overall test scores. You cannot change that option from this page. If you do not want them to see their scores yet, access the Grade Center column’s contextual menu and hide the column from students. However, when you hide a test column from students, they see nothing about the test in My Grades. When they access the test in the content area, they receive a message stating when they submitted the test. No scores appear.

The following table provides descriptions of the test and survey feedback options. Click the images to enlarge them in your browser. Use your browser’s back function to return to the topic.

Option Description
When You must make a selection. Set when appropriate test results and feedback are shown to students:

  • After Submission: This is the default option.
  • One-time View: After students submit their tests or surveys, the selected results and feedback options are in effect for students to view ONCE. However, students can always view the scores they earned unless you hide the Grade Center column from students. Immediately after a student navigates away from the test or survey, any other results and feedback are restricted. You can change the setting -OR- add another rule for a second viewing. A second rule is not combined with the one-time view rule, but is applied separately. To learn more, see One-time View for Results and Feedback.
  • On Specific Date: View results and feedback after the selected date and time.
  • After Due Date
  • After Availability and End Date
  • After Attempts are graded: After all students submit the test or survey, and all attempts are graded, results and feedback are made available to students. If one or more students do not submit an attempt, you must assign a grade of 0 so that all students can view the chosen results and feedback.
Score per Question Show the score earned for each test question. This is a default option for tests only. Clear the check box if you do not want to show scores for individual questions.
Answers You can allow students to see information about their answers:

  • All Answers: Show all answer options.
  • Correct: Show the correct answers—tests only.
  • Submitted: Show all of a student’s submitted answers.

Example 1: Show more feedback

When students access their tests, they see their overall scores, each question’s score, and all answer options. They see their submitted answers marked as correct or incorrect, and any feedback provided.

Example 2: Show less feedback to discourage cheating

If students are taking a test at different times, you can make a limited amount of feedback available until all students submit the test.

For the first rule, select After Submission in the first drop-down list and clear the check box forScore per Question. Make no other selections. After submitting their tests, students can only see their overall test scores.

For the second rule, select After Due Date, and select options to show more results and feedback. You can create an announcement to notify students that additional feedback is available to view.

Feedback Show instructor-generated feedback for each question. This option appears only for tests.
Show Incorrect Questions Show the questions a student answered incorrectly or partially incorrectly. This option appears only for tests. You might consider only showing incorrect questions when allowing multiple attempts so that students can focus their studying on those areas.

One-time View for Results and Feedback

In the Show Test Results and Feedback to Students section, you can select One-time View. After students submit their tests, the results and feedback options you selected are in effect for students to view ONCE. However, students can always view the overall test scores they earned. Immediately after a student navigates away from the test, any other options you chose are restricted. You can apply a second rule to allow students to view newly selected options at a later time. The second rule is not combined with the one-time view rule, but is applied separately.

The ability to select different options for each rule allows you to show some test results and feedback initially, and then more later.

Rule #1: Select One-time View and Show Incorrect Questions. Select no other options so that while other students are still allowed to take the test, no one can share the correct answers.

Rule #2: Select all of the following options:

  • After Due Date
  • Score per Question
  • All Answers
  • Correct
  • Submitted
  • Feedback

After the due date, students see their scores along with all answer options. They also see their submitted answers marked as correct or incorrect and any instructor feedback.

About Unavailable Tests and Surveys

You manage availability to students when a test or survey is deployed on in a content area of your course (e.g., Course Materials or Assignments), by click on the “item options” button Blackboard editi item button on the Test Options or Survey Options page.

Unavailable and deleted tests and surveys differ in the following ways:

  • Unavailable tests and surveys deployed in a content area do not appear to students. When Edit Mode is ON, instructors and course builders can see unavailable tests.
    • You can limit test and survey availability to a specific time period with the Display After and Display Until dates and times. If the link to a test or survey is available, but neither date is set, it is immediately and always available.
  • If you delete a test or survey from a content area in your course, it is removed from that location. You can deploy it again as needed. You can deploy each test and survey in one location only.
  • If you delete a test or survey from the tests or surveys tool pages, it is permanently deleted from your course. This is irreversible. You can access the tests and surveys tools in the Course Tools section of the Control Panel.

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.

Excel Accessibility Cheat Sheet

MS Excel: Accessibility Best Practices

Tables: Use Tables Titles and Avoid Blank Rows and Columns

  1. One very common mistake is leaving column A blank (because it makes it look like a margin).
  2. Place table titles in the first column (A) so screen readers can find them easily.
  3. If the table does not display the full text, merge cells and center them by selecting the Home tab, then clicking on Merge & Center. Be sure to keep the original text in the first column.
  4. It’s OK to have merged cells in titles, but do not merge cells in the data part of the table.
  5. Resize your rows and columns to provide spacing that makes the table readable (rather than using

blanks to create your spacing).

  1. If you have two or more tables on the same worksheet, leave a single blank row between each

table. You can resize the blank row to create a space that is visually appealing.

  1. Add an “End of Table” message in the row after the last row of a data table row. The text can be in white against a white background.

Table Cell Range and Header Cells: Define the Regions

  1. You can use the Names feature to name a range of cells so that screen readers voice the names of header cells along with the value of each cell.
  2. Select the top-left cell in your table. Don’t count the titles, but do count all row and column headers as part of your table.
  3. Go to the Formulas tab in the Ribbon, and choose Name Manager in the Defined Names Choose New in the top left corner.
  4. A new dialog box opens. In the Name field, type TitleRegion then put a 1 if this is the first table on your worksheet, then a period, then the range of cells in your table from top left to bottom right (with a period in between), then another period, then the worksheet number. For example, your Title code might look like this:

TitleRegion1.a2.g7.2

  1. Click OK and Close.

Images: Use Alt Text for Informative Images

  1. Insert the image, then right-click and choose Size and Properties.
  2. In the Size and Properties dialog box, choose the Alt Text Type in a brief description with

enough detail to explain the picture, then Close the dialog box.

Charts: Use Alt Text Descriptions

1.       Right-click on the chart, select Format Chart, then Alt Text.

  1. Complete the Description field (not the Title field).

Resources

http://go.illinois.edu/excel_resources

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

HTML Accessibility Cheat Sheet

HTML: Accessibility Best Practices

Headings: Use Properly Formatted Headings to Structure Page Content

Rationale: Headings help to organize content, making it easier for everyone to read. Headings are also a primary way for people using screen reading software to navigate a page of text.

Lists: Use Ordered/Unordered Lists to Group Related Items

Rationale: Logical organization of content is conveyed to all users, along with other useful information for assistive technology users about the number of items listed. Mobile users also benefit as information is presented as it is meant to be presented.

Tables: Use Tables for Tabular Data and Provide Column and/or Row Headers

Rationale: Screen readers linearize content and read tables from left to right, top to bottom, one cell at a time. If cells are split or merged, it can throw the reading order off and make the table difficult to comprehend by users who are blind and using a screen reader to navigate.

Images: Use Alt Text for Informative Images

Rationale: Alt text is read by a screen reader. It should adequately describe what is displayed and its purpose. This allows screen reader users to benefit from information conveyed by the image, even if they cannot see it.

Links: Use Meaningful Text for Links

Rationale: Headings help to organize content, making it easier for everyone to read. Headings are also a primary way for people using screen reading software to navigate a page of text.

Keyboard: Check Keyboard Access

Rationale: Users with visual and mobility impairments rely on the keyboard, rather than a mouse, to access and navigate online content. If content is not keyboard accessible, it restricts who can learn from that content.

Color: Use Sufficient Color Contrast

Rationale: Without sufficient color contrast between font and background, people who are color blind and low vision may not perceive the content. Additionally, using color alone to convey meaning (e.g., items in red indicate a deficit) excludes color blind or blind users. To check color contrast, use the Paciello Group’s Color Contrast Analyzer:  https://www.paciellogroup.com/resources/contrastanalyser/

Video/Audio: Provide Captioning for Video and Text Transcripts for Audio

Rationale: Captions are essential for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, but they also benefit non-native speakers, those unfamiliar with the vocabulary, and viewers with some learning disabilities or in a noisy environment. Audio transcripts are essential for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but also assist others who can easily read or search the transcripts.

Math: Write Math and Science Equations Accessibly

Rationale: For web pages, use an equation editor that outputs MathML, a markup language that allows equations to be stored as structured text that is compatible with many assistive technologies. With screen readers, for example, blind users can navigate and review parts of an equation, such as the top portion of a complex fraction. For more information on MathML, see the W3C Math guide: https://www.w3.org/Math/.

Resources

http://webaim.org/intro/#principles

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

PowerPoint Accessibility Cheat Sheet

MS PowerPoint: Accessibility Best Practices

Use Default Slide Layouts

  1. From the Home tab, choose the New Slide dropdown menu.
  2. Select a slide template (do not use Blank slide template).
  3. Avoid using Text Boxes to create or arrange slide content (screen readers will always read Text Boxes last).

Keep Slide Content Clear, Concise, and Readable

  • Use concise, non-figurative, and accurate language.
  • Slides should appear clean and uncluttered with adequate foreground-background color contrast.
  • Use standard fonts. For readability, sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, Verdana, and Helvetica are preferable.

Use Unique Slide Titles

  1. Create slide titles with the Title placeholder visible in default slide layouts. Do not use text boxes for titles.
  2. Use a unique slide title for each slide. If you have multiple slides that continue a topic, you can label them in the following way: “[TITLE OF SLIDE], 1 of 4,” “[TITLE OF SLIDE], 2 of 4,” etc.
  3. Check titles and document structure: from the View tab, select Presentation Views and click Outline View.

Insert Charts and Graphs with Data Tables

  1. Go Insert and select Chart. The PowerPoint datasheet view appears for you to enter your table data.
  2. Add values to the PowerPoint datasheet by selecting a cell and typing in the value. Remember to add labels for the rows and columns. Close the datasheet window by selecting ESC from your keyboard.
  3. Display the corresponding data table. For Office 2010, select the chart, select Layout from the chart tools menu, and choose Show data table from the Data Table For Office 2016, use the Add Chart Element from the Design tab to choose a layout that displays the data table with the chart (e.g., Data Table > With Legend Keys).

Keep Lists Readable

  • Avoid presenting more than six points per slide at default font size.
  • Use one line of text, ideally, and no more than two per point.

Use Alt Text for Informative Images

  1. Right click on the image, and select Format Picture, then Alt Text.
  2. Fill in the Description field (not the Title field).

Use Meaningful Text for Links

  1. Type out text that describes the link’s destination (e.g., “CITL Summer Intensive”). Avoid text like “Click here.”
  2. Select the text, right click on it, and choose Hyperlink from the menu.
  3. In the Insert Hyperlink window, enter a URL address in the Address field.
  4. Click the OK button to save the link.

Document Properties: Identify the Title and Author

  1. In Windows, click File, then expand the pull down menu for Properties to select the Summary On a Mac, click File, then select Properties, and then select the Summary tab.
  2. From the Summary tab of the Properties dialog, add or change the Title and the Author.

Resources

http://go.illinois.edu/ppt_resources

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

MS Word Accessibility Cheat Sheet

MS Word: Accessibility Best Practices

Headings: Use Styles to Provide Logical Heading Structure

  1. Select the text that you want to make into a heading.
  2. From the Home tab, choose the appropriate heading level from the Styles

Lists: Use Ordered/Unordered Lists to Group Related Items

  1. Select the text you want to make into a list.
  2. From the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, select the Bullets or Numbering

Tables: Use Tables for Tabular Data and Provide Column Headers

  1. Place the cursor in the top row of your data table and click on the Design tab under Table Tools.
  2. In the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.
  3. Under Table Tools, click the Layout
  4. In the Data group (Word 2016 – Table Design > Layout tab), click the Repeat Header Row

Images: Use Alt Text for Informative Images

  1. Right click on the image, and select Format Picture, then Alt Text.
  2. Fill in the Description field (not the Title field).

Links: Use Meaningful Text for Links

  1. Type out text that clearly describes the link’s destination (e.g., “CITL Best Practices for Creating Accessible Word Documents”). Avoid text like “Click here” or “Visit.”
  2. Select the text, right click on it, and choose Hyperlink from the menu.
  3. In the Insert Hyperlink window, enter a URL address in the Address field.
  4. Click the OK button to save the link.

Document Properties: Identify the Title and Author

  1. In Windows, click File, then expand the pull down menu for Properties to select the Summary On a Mac, click File, then select Properties, and then select the Summary tab.
  2. From the Summary tab of the Properties dialog, add or change the Title and the Author.

Color: Use Sufficient Color Contrast

  1. Download the Paciello Group’s Color Contrast Analyzer from the following URL: https://www.paciellogroup.com/resources/contrastanalyser/
  2. Open the Color Contrast Analyzer application.
  3. Click the Foreground eye dropper tool. Hover over and click your foreground color to select it.
  4. Click the Background eye dropper tool. Hover over and click your background color.
  5. If you are testing a 12-pixel or smaller font, you must get a Pass (AA). If your font is larger than 12 pixels, you must get a Pass (AA) in the Large Text field.
  6. AA standards pass is sufficient.
  7. Do not use color alone to convey information (e.g., items in red indicate a deficit).

Resources

http://go.illinois.edu/word_resources

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

PDF Accessibility Cheat Sheat

PDF: Accessibility Best Practices

Method 1: Convert MS Word to PDF

  1. Start with a well-structured Word document.
  2. In Word, click the File tab and select Save as. In the Save as type field, select PDF (*.pdf.).
  3. Enter a file name in the File name field.
  4. Click on the Options button and make sure the Document structure tags for accessibility is checked.
  5. Click OK and Save.

This will tag the document so that headings and lists are correctly interpreted by screen readers. Additional remediation using Adobe Acrobat Pro/DC may be needed to adjust reading order.

Method 2: Run Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on Scanned Document

Using Acrobat XI for OCR

  1. Open the scanned PDF file in Adobe Acrobat XI.
  2. Open the Tools panel (click Tools in top right) and click Text Recognition.
  3. Click In This File and the Recognize Text window will open.
  4. Click the Edit button to adjust OCR settings. Select English (US) for Primary OCR Language, Searchable Image for PDF Output Style and 600 dpi for Downsample To.
  5. Click OK when done.

Using Acrobat DC for OCR

  1. Open the scanned PDF file in Adobe Acrobat DC.
  2. In the Tools panel, click the Action Wizard and select Optimize Scanned Document.
  3. Use the Enhance tools to Add Document Description.
  4. Use the Enhance tools to Optimize Scanned Pages.
  5. Use the Enhance tools to Save As.

Method 3: Run Adobe Acrobat Built-in Accessibility Checker

Using the Acrobat XI Accessibility Checker

  1. Click the Tools tab to open the Accessibility panel on the right hand side. If you don’t see it, click the View menu and select Tools > Accessibility.
  2. Under Accessibility, select the Full Check The Accessibility Checker window will open.
  3. Under the Report Options, check the Create Accessibility Report
  4. Click the Start Checking
  5. The Accessibility Checker Report will display on the left pane.

Using the Acrobat DC Accessibility Checker

  1. In the Tools panel, click Accessibility to bring up the Accessibility tools.
  2. From the Accessibility tools, select the Full Check The Accessibility Checker window will open.
  3. Under the Report Options, check the Create Accessibility Report
  4. Click the Start Checking
  5. The Accessibility Checker Report will display on the left pane.

Resources

http://go.illinois.edu/pdf_resources

See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist

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.

Using JAWS Screen Reader with Blackboard

Blackboard has developed the following resources to aid users of JAWS screen readers in using Blackboard:

Navigate Blackboard Learn with JAWS

Best Practice: Using Tests with JAWS

Best Practice: Grading with JAWS

If you are a JAWS user and need additional assistance, please contact the UIS Office of Disability Services.

Wrapping Up the Semester – Tips for Teaching Online

Learn our top tips for wrapping up your online course, including the best practices for ensuring good returns on your course evaluations.

Wrapping Up the Semester Handout

Blackboard for All and Course Site Organization

Every course at UIS — on campus, blended, and online — is assigned a Blackboard course site.

Faculty who teach face-to-face may choose whether to use the site. An announcement is posted in each course site to let the students know that its use if the instructor’s prerogative.

Blackboard tutorials are available on the searchable COLRS Online Teaching and Technology Blog (the blog you are on right now). It is updated frequently.

Blackboard Course Site Overview

Blackboard is a web-based learning management system that UIS instructors use to organize course content.

Log in from UIS Homepage under Quick Links or go directly to the UIS Blackboard login page.

The general course environment

In Blackboard, you can easily navigate, provide content, edit items, and change options that affect how users interact with your course.

  1. Course menu: The access point for all course content.
  2. Control Panel: The area after the course menu is your access point for course management functions, such as course style, course tools, and users. Students don’t see the Control Panel.
  3. Student preview: You can review course content and validate course behaviors from a student’s perspective. You’re logged in with a student account—the preview user account—and enrolled in the current course.
  4. Edit Mode: When Edit Mode is ON, all the instructor functions appear, such as Build Content or the appearance of menus. When Edit Mode is OFF, all instructor functions are hidden. The Edit Mode function appears to users with a role of instructor and teaching assistant.
  5. Action bar: Rows at the top of the page that contain page-level actions such as Build Content, Search, Delete, and Upload. The functions on the action bar change based on where you are in your course. The action bar can contain multiple rows of functions such as on the main Grade Center page.
  6. Menus: An Options Menu icon appears for components with menus, such as content items, course menu links, or Grade Center columns. The options in the menu vary based on the component.

Some content from Blackboard.

Excelsior Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Excelsior Online Writing Lab (OWL)

http://owl.excelsior.edu

About

The Excelsior Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a highly-interactive, publicly-available and media-rich online writing lab designed to help students make the transition to college-level writing. In 2014, the Excelsior OWL – ESL Writing Online Workshop (WOW) won the 2013 Distance Education Award by the National University Technology Network (NUTN).

The Excelsior OWL offers videos, interactive PDFs, video games, quizzes, Prezis

Home Page and Learning Areas

From the Excelsior OWL Home Page you can access all of the learning areas, as well as “Additional Resources” found in the header, and “Acknowledgements”, found in the footer.

Each learning area has its own landing page, with access to the content, as well as the “How to Use OWL” and “Additional Resources” pages. Depending on the learning area, there may be additional options available on the landing page.

Page Navigation – How to Use the OWL

Once inside a learning area, you will see the online writing lab menu on the left side of the screen. The active learning area is highlighted, at which point all of the topics for that learning area are displayed below it.  Some of the topics have multiple sections.

Quizzes

The built-in quizzes allow students to check their understanding of a particular section of the OWL. Examples include – paraphrasing quiz, punctuation, and digital writing.

ESL-WOW

For ESL students using the ESL-WOW area of the OWL, they will learn to:

  • Generate Ideas
  • Develop a Thesis
  • Map Ideas
  • Revise, Cite
  • Edit and Polish

Ideas for using the Excelsior OWL for online or blended classes

  1. Send students to individual links within the OWL

For example, if students are to provide an annotated bibliography, provide a link to the Annotated Bibliography page.  Another example, the Literature review section, which includes a prezi.

  1. Refer students back to the OWL in your feedback

For example, if the student has provided a weak thesis statement, you may provide a link to the Thesis section, or a specific section (such as Stating your Thesis) within the Thesis section.

  1. Support student understanding of plagiarism

The Avoiding Plagiarism section of the OWL provides a thorough overview of the topic of plagiarism.  With audio, video, and supporting documentation, students will develop a keen understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it.  The pre-test and post-test provide a method for students to track their progress.

Blackboard Test and Survey Availability Options

When you deploy a test or survey to a content area, you set the availability and feedback options. To make changes to the options, access its contextual menu and click Edit the Test Options or Edit the Survey Options.

The following table provides descriptions of the test and survey availability options. Click the images to enlarge them in your browser. Use your browser’s back function to return to the topic.

Option Description
Make the Link Available You can set this to available, and then use the Display After and Display Until fields to limit the amount of time the link appears.
Add a New Announcement for this Test/Survey You can create an announcement for a test or survey. The announcement includes the date and states, “An assessment has been made available in [Course area that includes the link to the assessment].”If an announcement was previously posted using this feature, the date and time of the most recent announcement appears.
Multiple Attempts You can allow students to take a test or survey multiple times. The status of multiple attempts appears to students at the top of the test or survey. Select Allow Unlimited Attempts to allow students to take it as many times as they want. Select Number of Attempts and provide the amount of attempts.With multiple attempts for a test, you can also select which attempt’s score to use in the Grade Center from the Score attempts using drop-down list.

Image illustrating associated text

Force Completion If you select Force Completion, students must complete the test or survey when they launch it.Students may only access the test or survey ONE TIME. The Save function is available for students to save the questions as they work through them, but they may not exit and reenter the test or survey. In the instructions, Force Completion is noted and explained to students. If you do not enable Force Completion, students may save their progress, navigate away, and return to complete the test or survey.If students accidentally close their browsers, leave the test or survey page, or lose power or their internet connections, they cannot continue. They must contact you to allow them to start over with a new attempt.

You may want to reserve the Force Completion option for when students are on campus taking a proctored test and connected to an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi. If issues occur, an instructor can be available to reset the test.

Alternatively, use the Set Timer options to reduce receiving emails from panicked students who accidentally left a test or survey with Force Completion enabled.

Set Timer Set a time limit for finishing a test or survey. Type the amount of time in the hours and minutes boxes. During a timed test, the time elapsed is displayed to students. As students approach the time limit, a one-minute warning appears.When an attempt is complete, student completion time is available in the Test Informationsection.

If a student saves and exits the test, the timer continues. For example, if he begins the test on Tuesday, saves and exits it, then completes it on Thursday, his completion time will be 48 hours.

If you set the timer, turn on Auto-Submit to automatically save and submit a test or survey when time expires. Without enabling auto-submit, students have the option to continue after time expires. Tests and surveys are flagged as submitted after the timer expired. You have the option to adjust the grade based on the time.

You may find it advantageous to use the Set Timer options and not the Force Completion option. For example, if a student loses his internet connection for 10 minutes on a timed test, at least he can access the test again and continue. If you enabled the Forced Completion option, he cannot access the test again and must contact you to reset the test.

Display After Optionally, select the date and time when the test or survey will become available to students. You can control availability through the Make the Link Available option without setting specific dates.
Display Until Optionally, select the date and time the test or survey will be made unavailable to students.
Password You can require and type a password for students to use to access a test or survey. Passwords have a limit of 15 characters and are case sensitive.
Restrict Location You can require students to take the test or survey in a specific location. Students outside of this location are not able to take the test or survey.

This is based on a range of IP addresses created by your institution. If your institution has not created this range, this option does not appear.

To learn more, see Restrict Tests by Location.

Test Availability Exceptions For existing availability settings, you can make exceptions for individual students or groups. Use exceptions to provide an accommodation to a student who is disabled, or for technology and language differences.

For a test with one attempt, you can allow more attempts for a student who is blind and using screen reader technology for the first time.

Image illustrating associated text

If the settings exist for a test or survey, you can create the following exceptions:

  • Number of attempts
  • Timer
  • Availability
  • Force completion
  • Restrict location
Due Date If you use grading periods in the Grade Center, set a due date to easily include that test or survey in a grading period and on the calendar in the My Blackboard menu.

Image illustrating associated text

 

Due Date and Late Submissions

To prevent late submissions, you can select the check box for Do not allow students to start the Test/Survey if the due date has passed. Students receive a message after the due date, notifying them that the test or survey can no longer be completed.

When you allow late submissions, they are clearly marked on the following pages:

  • Needs Grading
  • View All Attempts
  • Review Test Submission
  • Grade Details

Content from Blackboard

Option Description
Include this Test in Grade Center Score Calculations You can include this test in Grade Center calculations. If the test is not included, the score does not affect any Grade Center calculations.
Hide Results for this Test Completely from Instructor and the Grade Center You can hide this test score from you and exclude it from Grade Center calculations. The display in the Grade Center will read Complete/Incomplete and N/A or zero appears on the Grade Details page. You cannot see students’ answers to questions. Students are able to view their own scores.Selecting this option makes Include this Column in Other Grade Center Calculations and Show Statistics (average and median) for this Column to Students in My Grades unavailable when editing column information in the Grade Center.

New York Public Library Makes 180,000 High-Res Images Available Online

The New York Public Library’s digital collections are vast. In early January 2016, they added more than 180,000 of its public-domain holdings to the digital collection. Visitors will find maps, posters, manuscripts, sheet music, drawings, photographs, letters, ancient texts, all available as high-resolution downloads. “These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds,” the library says in a statement.

Documents range from literary manuscripts and sheet music to maps, atlases, and stereoscopic views. The library also notes that the documents include Farm Security Administration photographs, papers from Founding Fathers, WPA-era art by African-American artists, the 16th-century Handscrolls of the Tales of Genji, and illuminated manuscripts from the Medieval Ages and the Renaissance.

The materials can be viewed and downloaded at the Digital Collections site.

Having trouble imagining what 180,000 images might look like? The NYPL also created a visualization of all the materials, sorted by date, genre, collection or even color.

Other cool projects that the NYPL has created — to fuel inspiration for others to use their open API of the collection:

  • a game based on public-domain mansion floor plans
  • a comparison of 1911 street photos with 2015 Google Street View images
  • a trip planner based on a guide to where black visitors would be welcomed in the 1930s-1960s

A sampling of the newly-available high-res images from the NYPL:

A lithograph of New Orleans, by the artist Henry Lewis and the lithographer Arnz and Co., is among the more than 180,000 public domain items now available for high-resolution download from the New York Public Library.

A lithograph of New Orleans, by the artist Henry Lewis and the lithographer Arnz and Co., is among the more than 180,000 public domain items now available for high-resolution download from the New York Public Library.

The public domain release includes more than 40,000 stereoscopic views — like this one of female prospectors in 1898.

The public domain release includes more than 40,000 stereoscopic views — like this one of female prospectors in 1898. B.W. Kilburn/New York Public Library

"Muhammad and Abu Bakr are feted by Umm Ma'badah's tribe," from a 16th-century illuminated manuscript depicting the life of the prophet Muhammad.

“Muhammad and Abu Bakr are feted by Umm Ma’badah’s tribe,” from a 16th-century illuminated manuscript depicting the life of the prophet Muhammad.

An early-20th century photo by Edwin Levick, "Uncle Sam, host. Immigrants being served a free meal at Ellis Island," is part of the NYPL's photography collection.

An early-20th century photo by Edwin Levick, “Uncle Sam, host. Immigrants being served a free meal at Ellis Island,” is part of the NYPL’s photography collection.

The NYPL's digital holdings include the papers of notable Americans: letters from Walt Whitman, journals by Nathaniel Hawthorne, receipts from Alexander Hamilton --€” and George Washington's recipe for "small beer." (http://exhibitions.nypl.org/treasures/items/show/130

The NYPL’s digital holdings include the papers of notable Americans: letters from Walt Whitman, journals by Nathaniel Hawthorne, receipts from Alexander Hamilton –€” and George Washington’s recipe for “small beer.”

(A transcription of Washington’s recipe is available here.) 

The NYPL's digital collections include a number of maps in the public domain, like this 1672 world map by Pieter Goos.

The NYPL’s digital collections include a number of maps in the public domain, like this 1672 world map by Pieter Goos.

Copy Blackboard Course Content

Though Blackboard course shells will be created with an empty template, you may wish to copy materials from your other Blackboard course sites.  Copying your Blackboard site is a multi-step process: (1) copy your Blackboard course materials, (2) clean up discussion boards, if needed, and (3) delete any empty or duplicated content areas or links, and (4) update your course content.

To Copy Content from an older course into an empty course at the start of each semester:

  1. Go to your course that contains the content you wish to copy (from a previous semester or your Gold course).
  2. Go to the Control Panel, select “Packages and Utilities” > “Course Copy”
  3. Under “Select Copy Options,” click “Browse” to display a list of all courses in which you are an instructor.
  4. Select the empty course into which you wish to copy your content (circle to the left of the course name). Click Submit.
  5. Check the boxes next to the items you wish to copy. Please consider the following:
    • Do NOT check Announcements. Copying Announcements can be confusing for students unless you intend to hide all old announcements from your new students.
    • Always check “Settings” to retain the menu colors and any banner images you use in your course.
    • If you use GRADED assignments or tests, be sure to check ALL “Content Areas,” “Grade Center Columns and Settings,” and “Tests, Surveys and Pools.”
    • If you use GRADED discussion forums, be sure to check “Discussion Board” and “Grade Center Columns and Settings.”
    • For Discussion Board, you have a choice:
      “Include starter posts for each thread in each forum (anonymized)”  – This option copies all the initial posts in the forum. When you access the new Blackboard site’s discussion board, it will let you select any user or “anonymous” for the person who posted the threads.
      OR
      “Include only the forums, with no starter posts.”  – This option means you do not need to clean up student posts inside your discussion forums.
  6. Under “File Attachments,” ALWAYS select the default “Copy links and copies of the content.” The other two options may cause broken links in your course.
  7. For “Enrollments” NEVER check “Include Enrollments in the Copy.” Copying enrollments will mix your current and former students in your new Blackboard site.
  8. Click “Submit.”
  9. You will receive an email when the copy process is complete. At times the email will arrive a few minutes before the materials are visible in your course. You may need to log out of Blackboard and log back in to see the copied content.

Clean up Copied Discussion Boards
If you copied your discussion board starter threads from an old course to your new course, be sure to click on Discussions. When you do, you’ll be prompted to select anonymous or any user in the course as the author of all copied discussion threads.

If you copied discussion threads you did not wish to keep, be sure to delete them. To delete posts quickly:

  1. Go to your course Discussion Board.
  2. Click on the name of a forum to view any threads posted to the forum.
  3. To quickly select all postings, click on the top checkbox in the gray bar.
  4. Uncheck any posts you wish to reuse. For example, some instructors post questions inside the discussion forums to which students respond.
  5. Click on the “Delete” button to remove any posts with checkmarks.
  6. Repeat with remaining discussion forums.

Creating Course Content with FREE Adobe Voice and Slate iPad Apps

Explore the new Adobe Slate and Voice iPad apps, which allow you to tell stories. Slate allows you to create scrolling stories from pictures and text. Voice helps you to create videos from text and images with background music and transitions. Beyond being attractive, these stories are mobile-friendly!

The apps are currently FREE to download. Slate is also available for use through a web browser on your desktop, though handout focuses on the iPad app only (they work in the same manner). You will need to create a free Adobe ID in order to use these tools.

Consider this tool for use in presenting course content and for student presentations. Topics included: navigating and building projects with the apps, importing photos, importing text, project privacy, making projects accessible, and including projects in Blackboard courses.

Using Adobe Slate
Using Adobe Voice

Known issues and workarounds while using TurnItIn

TurnItIn is a great tool that can assist instructors in grading, leaving feedback, and detecting plagiarism, but unfortunately we are aware of several bugs affecting users of TurnItIn.

Please note that in many cases, most bugs within TurnItIn are caused due to errors that occur during the course copy process in Blackboard. For this reason, COLRS recommends that instructors recreate new TurnItIn assignments each semester.

Issue: Students receive error messages when attempting to submit assignments.

We have determined that this usually occurs when an instructor has created a student preview user and has subsequently accessed the assignment. To fix the error, delete the preview user by following these directions (option 2).

Issue: Instructor is unable to delete a column in the Grade Center that is linked to an old TurnItIn assignment.

This issue occurs when copying course content, including TurnItIn assignments, from an old course to a new course shell in Blackboard. As a workaround, you will need to complete three steps:

  1. Click the chevron button next to the column name, and navigate to Edit Column Information.
  2. Under Options, select Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations No and Show this Column to StudentsNo, and then click Submit.
  3. Click the chevron button next to the column name, and select Hide from Instructor View.

Issue: Grades are not syncing between TurnItIn and the Grade Center.

In most cases, numerical grades you enter in TurnItIn should sync to the Grade Center, and vice versa. If this does not occur, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Course ToolsTurnItIn Assignments.
  2. Click Sync Grades next to the affected assignment.

Issue: Inline comments (using Crocodoc) made by the instructor are not saved.

This issue has affected a very small number of instructors who provide feedback to students using the inline grading feature that is integrated into TurnItIn. This is usually restricted to those using Firefox or Safari web browsers, who keep a document open longer than fifteen minutes. In most cases, switching browsers will fix the issue (we’ve recommend using Chrome if you are experiencing this issue).

Maximizing Learning, Creativity & Innovation for All: Teaching and Technology Day 2015

Jessica Phillips, MAEd, MAPsy, Instructional Designer &Universal Design and Accessibility Coordinator, Ohio State University

 

In “Maximizing Learning, Creativity and Innovation for All”, Jessica presents tips for providing learning experiences that will be meaningful to students of a wide variety of abilities,disabilities, experiences, learning preferences, and motivation through principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

 

Assess and Tweak at the Midpoint: Tips for Teaching Online

In this workshop, learn our top tips for assessing and tweaking your online course at the midpoint of the semester, as well as the process for online proctored exams and more.

Midpoint Course Checklist

50 classroom assessment techniques

Starting the Semester: Tips for Teaching Online

In this workshop, learn our top tips for starting the semester in an online course. Later this term, we’ll offer tips on the midpoint and concluding your online courses.

Checklist for Starting the Semester in your online course

 

 

 

What is the TEACH Act?

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) of 2002 is an amendment to the Copyright Act of 1976 that addresses online education. It is sometimes referred to as Section 110(2) of the copyright law.

TEACH Act resources:

What is fair use?

Fair use is the right of the public to reproduce portions of a copyrighted work without permission for purposes such as scholarly criticism, parody, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

Fair use resources:

  • Section 107 of the Copyright Act – lists the four factors that courts use when determining whether a use of a copyrighted work is fair use
  • An explanation of fair use and a checklist by Columbia University Libraries/Information Services

What is the public domain?

Public domain works have expired copyrights or were never protected by copyright law. You do not need permission to use or copy public domain works. Examples include U.S. government works, laws, and work published in the U.S. prior to 1923.

Public domain resources:

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons (CC) licenses help creators of content retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work. Creative Commons licensing works with copyright, not in place of it, when you want to grant certain rights in your copyrighted work. All CC licenses require users to attribute the original creator of a work.

Creative Commons resources:

  • Watch a video to learn more about CC licenses
  • See creativecommons.org to learn more, use a license-choosing tool for your own work, or search for creative commons work

Content provided by Blackboard.

What is Copyright?

The United States government states “Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.” Source: Copyright in General by www.copyright.gov.

Copyright law resources:

Content provided by Blackboard.

10 Tips for Creating Accessible Online Course Content

In our media-centric society, the desire and need for online learning is at an all-time high. However, as more academic content goes online, the industry is running into a stumbling block as they struggle to make their online courses accessible. With recent lawsuits in higher education and updates to Section 508 on the horizon, it is more important than ever that online learning content be made accessible to students with disabilities.

In this webinar, Janet Sylvia, Web Accessibility Group Leader and Web Accessibility Trainer, will provide you with 10 tips for making your online course material accessible.

Janet will cover:

  • The challenges of making online course content accessible
  • The legal landscape for online learning and accessibility
  • Challenges and solutions for instructors and administrators
  • Developing an accessibility statement and accessibility policies
  • 10 tips for creating accessible course content

Presenters

Janet Sylvia
Web Accessibility Trainer

Sponsored by: 3 Play Media

Download 10 Tips Handout (PDF)

Doing the Right Thing: A Focus on Accessibility in Online Programs

In today’s world of online learning, high quality course development and delivery are key components for successful online programs. Institutions follow a myriad of instructional design strategies, faculty development techniques, and student engagement activities. But in the midst of these important elements, there is one thing that is sometimes overlooked – or completely left out: Accessibility. Title 5 (which defines distance education) of the ADA makes it clear that online classes must fulfill the requirements of the Americans with Disability Act and section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

As leaders in online education, accessible design is an important component of your online program strategy and execution. Join this webinar as we discuss techniques to drive consistent compliance with Title 5 as you build out new and update existing online programs.

Presenters:

  • Darcy Hardy, Associate Vice President, Enterprise Consulting, Blackboard
  • Scott Ready, Director for Customer Relations, Enterprise Consulting, Blackboard

Online Video and the ADA: How a Landmark Case Changed the Legal Landscape of Closed Captioning

 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, before the Internet was an integral part of society. While it originally dictated accessibility requirements for physical structures and businesses, several recent legal cases have expanded the reach of the ADA to include places of online accommodation. MIT, Harvard, and Netflix (among others) have all been sued for not providing closed captioning for their online video content.

This webinar will be presented by Arlene B. Mayerson, the Directing Attorney of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF). Ms. Mayerson led the legal team that secured a historic settlement regarding application of the ADA to online commerce in National Association of the Deaf (NAD), et al. v. Netflix, which ensures 100% closed captions in Netflix’s On-Demand Streaming Content. In this webinar, she will discuss how she and the NAD brought Netflix under the ADA, as well as how the ruling has impacted the legal landscape of web accessibility and closed captioning.

This webinar will cover:

  • What constitutes a place of public accommodation under the ADA
  • How Netflix was originally brought under the ADA
  • How the scope of the ADA has changed since the Netflix ruling
  • The current legal landscape of closed captioning and web accessibility
  • How the Netflix ruling impacts online education and other industries using streaming video
  • Given recent lawsuits, who is implicated by the ADA?

About Arlene B. Mayerson
Arlene B. Mayerson is one of the nation’s leading experts in disability rights law. She has been a key advisor to both Congress and the disability community on the major disability rights legislation for the past two decades. At the request of members of Congress, Ms. Mayerson supplied expert testimony before several committees of Congress when they were debating the ADA. She filed comments on the ADA regulations for more than 500 disability rights organizations. Ms. Mayerson has devoted her career exclusively to disability rights practice, representing clients in a wide array of issues. She has provided representation, consultation to counsel, and coordination of amicus briefs on key disability rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to the Civil Rights Reviewing Authority, responsible for reviewing civil rights decisions of the Department.

Ms. Mayerson is also a John and Elizabeth Boalt Lecturer in disability law at Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall). She has published many articles on disability rights and is the author of a comprehensive three-volume treatise on the ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act Annotated-Legislative History, Regulations & Commentary (Clark Boardman Callaghan, 1994), which sets forth the legislative history and regulations for each provision of the ADA.

Presenters

Arlene B. Mayerson
Directing Attorney | Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Lily Bond (Moderator)
Marketing Manager | 3Play Media

Sponsored by 3 Play Media

UIS Disability Statement for Syllabus

As of Fall 2015, the following disability statement should be used on UIS syllabi:

If you are a student with a documented temporary or ongoing disability in need of academic accommodations, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 217-206-6666.

Disabilities may include, but are not limited to: Psychological, Health, Learning, Sensory, Mobility, ADHD, TBI and Asperger’s syndrome.  In some cases, accommodations are also available for shorter term disabling conditions such as severe medical situations.  Accommodations are based upon underlying medical and cognitive conditions and may include, but are not limited to: extended time for tests and quizzes, distraction free environment for tests and quizzes, a note taker, interpreter and FM devices.

Students who have made a request for an academic accommodation that has been reviewed and approved by the ODS will receive an accommodation letter which should be provided by the student to the instructor as soon as possible, preferably in the first week of class.

For assistance in seeking academic accommodations, please contact the UIS Office of Disability Services (ODS) in the Human Resources Building, Room 80, phone number 217-206-6666.

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