Online Teaching & Technology Blog

Center for Online Learning, Research and Service @ Illinois Springfield

Examity Quick-Guide for Faculty

Download the UIS Examity Quick Guide for Faculty.

If you wish to use Examity as a proctoring choice in your class, please contact COLRS at colrs@uis.edu and provide your course department, number, and section. We will contact Examity and have them add your course. Your course must be published for it to be added to Examity.

1. Using Examity® with Canvas

You will access Examity® through Canvas. All of the data relevant to your exams will be imported automatically daily into Examity®, and Examity® will not change anything about the way you currently use Canvas.

Add Examity Link to Course

To use Examity in your class, you must first link to the Examity tool in your Canvas Modules page.

  1. Go to Modules.
  2. Click on the + (Add) button for a Module.
  3. In the “Add” drop down list, select “External Tool.”
  4. Click on “Examity Sign In” from the list of tools, and then check the box for “Load in new tab.”
  5. Click on “Add item” to add the Examity Sign In tool to your module.
Canvas External Tool

Access Canvas Dashboard

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To get to your Examity® Dashboard, click on the “Examity® Sign In” link. You will see a screen that says “click here to login”—by clicking that button, you log into Examity® with your Blackboard user infor­mation.

Once you click it, you will be taken directly to your Examity® Instructor Dashboard. You may be prompted to login as an Exam Instructor or Student.  Select Exam Instructor.

Please note: there may be a one-day delay in seeing your dashboard after enabling the Examity tool for your class, as the data link between Blackboard and Examity refreshes once per day.

2. Viewing the Examity® Dashboard

You can get to all four areas of Examity® from your dashboard by clicking on either the links at the top of the navigation bar or the icons you see when you log in.

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Clicking on the EXAM STATUS button will enable you to see the status of your students’ exams (scheduled, pending at auditor, approved/rejected by auditor, or cancelled/incomplete). This is the button to click if you want to review videos once they have been approved by our auditing team.

Clicking on STUDENT enables you to search for individual students.  If a student needs special accommodations for an exam, such as double time for the exam, that information may be entered here.

Clicking on the REPORTS button displays all the exams that are associated with you. You can filter by class, or student name, and download Excel and PDF versions of these reports to help you keep track of your students.

Clicking on COURSES/EXAMS takes you to a list of all your classes. You can edit courses here.

Please Note: The first time you visit Examity, you will need to set up your profile.  It is important for you to set up your correct time zone so that Examity knows from what time zone you are teaching.

3. Setting Up an Exam & Adding Customized Rules

The first step in setting up an exam with Examity is to make sure the exam is published in Canvas. The exam should also have a password. Exams that are published will be directly imported into our system.

Once an exam has been imported, you can enter the Examity dashboard and edit the settings of each course and exam by clicking the pencil icon under the “Action” tab. Click the arrow left of the course name to find and edit each exam for that course.

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The first part of the box asks you to fill in several items:

  • Exam Name: Midterm, Quiz 1, etc.
  • FairExam Level: this is the desired level of proctoring service required. Examity offers four levels of service.  As the instructor, you can select which level of service you want for your exam.
    • Level 0 – authenticate & record all tests
    • Level 1 – authenticate & record all tests, review a random sample of tests
    • Level 2 – authenticate & record all tests, review all tests
    • Level 3 – authenticate & record all tests, live proctor monitors & reviews all tests
  • Duration of the Exam: the length of time students get to complete the exam (1 hour)
  • Link to Access the Exam: In most cases, this will be bb.uis.edu
  • Exam Start Date: the first day in which the student can take the exam
  • Exam End Date: the last day in which the student can take the exam
  • Upload a File: If you need to provide your students with a document for their exam, such as a supplemental case study or a formula sheet, you may upload it here
  • Exam Password: If your Blackboard exam has a password, you may share the password with the proctor here.  He/she will enter the password for the student on Blackboard.
  • Extended Time/Special Accommodations: If you have a student who needs special accommodations for the exam, select Yes.  Please note: after setting up your exam, you will need to select the student(s) who needs special accommodations in the Student section of the Dashboard and enter the details of the student’s accommodation.
  • Student Upload File: If your students need to upload a file when they finish their exam, select yes.

The second part of the box establishes the rules for the exam environment. You can add special instructions here.

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Examity provides standard rules, as listed above.  To insert customized rules, such as the test is open book or that students are permitted to use a calculator, you may add them here by clicking the checkbox. Additional rules and special instructions may be inserted in the text box (click save after entering).  Click Save Exam to finalize the exam’s arrangements with Examity.

Once you have added an exam, you can see the arrangements and make changes by clicking on the arrow next to the course in your Courses/Exam section of your Examity Dashboard.

examity16

Once an exam has been arranged with Examity, students may begin scheduling their exams directly with Examity.  A sample letter for faculty to send to students about the scheduling their exam with Examity can be found on the COLRS’ website at go.uis.edu/examityemail .

**Please note: Exams will be pulled in automatically within 24 hours once the “Make the Link Available” link in Blackboard is marked to yes.  To prevent students from seeing the exam before the exam date, set the Display After and Display Until dates for the testing period.

4. Tracking Exam Status

The Exam Status section of the Examity Dashboard allows instructors to view whether students have scheduled their exams and when those exams will take place.  If a student has completed an exam, the status of the exam will indicate what stage the exam is currently in (in progress, pending at auditor, approved by auditor).

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If the exam has been approved by the auditor, you will see at least two alert flags.

  • Green flags indicate no violations.  If a student is authenticated and completes the exam with no violations, he/she will have two green alert flags.
  • Yellow flags indicate possible violations.  These suggest that a violation of the rules has occurred, but the student was likely not cheating.  For example, if the students’ young child runs into the room during the exam session, the auditor will flag the violation with a yellow flag.
  • Red flags indicate violation. A violation of the exam rules has occurred. When a student receives a red flag violation, the instructor will also receive an e-mail about the incident.

Instructors can view details of the alerts and watch the exam video by clicking on the View link next to the students’ flag alerts.  Videos will remain available for 30 days, after which it is deleted from the Examity system.

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5. Reaching Examity Support

Support is available 24 hours a day.

Call: 1-(855)-392-6489 or 1-(855)-EXAMITY

Email: support@examity.com

Live Chat: Click the tab on the bottom of your screen

Make a Canvas Course Available

By default, courses for upcoming semesters are set to Unpublished.

Any students enrolled in the course site will not have a Canvas Card for a course on their Dashboard until the instructor “Publishes” the course site.

  • Instructors can add other Instructors, TAs or Course Designers to the site and they will be able to access an unpublished course site.
  • Instructors cannot message the students through Canvas Inbox if the course site is unpublished.
  • Course Announcement emails will not be sent from an unpublished course site

To publish a Canvas course site:

  1. Go to the course Home Page.
  2. Under Course Status, click Publish.
  3. Publishing your course gives your students immediate access to the course site. Note: This is a change from Summer and Fall 2020 course settings.
course status in canvas
Course Status is located on the Home Page of Canvas courses.

Once you Publish a Canvas course site, you do not have to publish it again if you add new content. You only have to Publish the site once.

You can Unpublish the course by going to the Home page and clicking Unpublish. This will remove the Dashboard Card link from all student accounts.

To Allow Student Early Access to a Canvas Course

  1. Go to the Course.
  2. Click on Settings.
  3. Click on the Course Details Tab.
  4. Uncheck the box for “Restrict students from viewing this course before start date.”
  5. Click Update Course Details.

Note: Once you have graded a student assessment, you can no longer Unpublish the course site.

Thanks for the memories

Exactly three years ago tomorrow I began as the Campus Accessibility Specialist at UIS. As an alum I was very excited to be at UIS, and to work with a great team in COLRS. I began making my way across campus and met each department. I remember many of the encounters. After hearing faculty concerns, we began helping faculty by hiring student workers to work on the files for classes. We held workshops and FDOs. We expanded our focus by working on files for offices and the website.

We have worked on thousands of files for over 200 classes at UIS, and expanded our team of 4 student workers to 7. We have worked with hundreds of faculty at UIS to help them raise the bar on accessibility.

And it is here that I leave you, to move to a new accessibility position with the UI System office. This does not mean that I won’t be around, just less frequently. As part of my new position I will still be working with UIS as well as UIC and UIUC. And the student workers are left in good hands. One of the original student workers Alana Gomoll, who graduated in May 2020 will be leading the team of student workers.

So good bye, and keep up the great work at UIS!

Voting Up New Feature Ideas in the Canvas Community

Canvas New Feature Ideas allow all Canvas users to suggest ideas and rate ideas for new and existing features and fixing bugs in Canvas. Canvas use New Feature Ideas to prioritize work. They have some great pages about starting idea conversations and the Canvas development process.

Who can start an idea?

Any registered user! Your UIS Canvas account allows you to create new ideas and rate or comment on existing ideas. Rating the is the “voting” mechanism that Canvas uses to measure support for an idea.

How do I rate a conversation?

Rating is how you demonstrate just how important an idea conversation is to you.

To rate an idea conversation, click on the “Log in to participate” button in the red banner at the top of the page. Click on the number of stars you wish to rate it, with 1 being low and 5 being the highest importance.

Notes: You must be logged into the Community to rate. Also, you cannot rate your own idea.

Canvas Ideas that we think UIS faculty and staff may wish to rate and move up in the development pipeline:

What do the stages for Canvas Ideas mean?

  • Initial Stage: Canvas is reviewing your idea
  • Moderating: An idea conversation starter that is incomplete or needs clarification may be placed into Moderating status.
  • Open for Conversation: Ideas that are open for conversation allow any Community member to rate or comment on the idea.
  • In Development: In Development ideas conversations are currently being worked on or will commence work within the next six months.
  • On Beta: On Beta idea conversations have features available in the Beta account of your Canvas environment. Visit How do I access the Canvas beta environment?
  • Archived/Not Currently Planned: Archived idea conversations include a comment and provide clear reasons for why the conversation was archived.
  • Complete: Complete ideas have features that are implemented and deployed to Canvas.

Scoring of Matching, Ordering, and Multiple Answer Questions in Canvas Quizzes

In Canvas’s New Quizzes tool, partial credit is not available on Matching, Ordering, and Multiple Answer Questions. To adjust student scores for these questions, you can use “fudge points” in the Canvas SpeedGrader. You can also manually override the grade, by entering the correct grade in the total points for the quiz.

Partial credit is given in the Canvas Classic Quizzes tool for these question types.

New quizzes in Canvas have a solid green spaceship logo. Classic quizzes have an outlined spaceship logo.

New quizzes in Canvas have a solid green spaceship logo. Classic quizzes have an outlined spaceship logo.

Canvas users, including UIS faculty and staff, can “vote up” new features and feature changes in Canvas.

Copy and Paste Resources for Faculty Use in Canvas Assessments

If you are developing Canvas assignments that require your students to create and post videos, the following copy and paste resources may be helpful.

Student: How to to Record a Video in Kaltura Media

Students can follow the instructions for recording a video with Kaltura Media from UIS ITS. Be sure that you have My Media enabled in your course menu (under Settings > Navigation), so that students can record their videos.

Student: How to Upload a Video in Kaltura Media

  1. Go to UIS Canvas.
  2. Go to a Canvas Course and click on “My Media.”
  3. Click on “Add New” and then select “Media Upload.”
  4. Click “Choose a file to upload” and select your file.
  5. Your video will upload automatically. Depending on the size, this may take a while.
  6. After your video uploads, edit the name, description, tags (key words), and privacy settings.
  7. Click “Save”  to complete the upload process.

Student: How to Submit a Video Link to a Canvas Assignment

kaltura-share-button
Kaltura “Share” button
  1. Find the link to your Kaltura Media video.
    • Click on My Media.
    • Click on the title of the video you want to share.
    • Under the video, click on Actions > Edit.
    • Along the bottom of the video player, click on the share button (see image on right).
    • Copy the top link to submit to your assignment. It will begin something like this:
      https://cdnapisec.kaltura.com/[…]
  2. Navigate to the assignment on UIS Canvas (usually in Assignments or Modules).
  3. Click on the assignment name.
  4. Click on “Submit Assignment.”
  5. Click on the “Website URL” tab.
  6. Paste the URL into the “Website URL” textbox. Enter any comments.
  7. Click “Submit Assignment.”
submit Website URL to Canvas Assignment
Submit “Website URL” assignment.

Student: How to Embed a Video in Canvas Assignment

Apppl Embed Kaltura Media
Click on Apps, then Embed Kaltura Media.
  1. Navigate to the assignment on UIS Canvas (usually in Assignments or Modules).
  2. Click on the assignment name.
  3. Click on “Submit Assignment.”
  4. Click on the “Text Entry” tab.
  5. Click on the Apps button, then Embed Kaltura Media.
    or click on the Tools menu > Apps > Embed Kaltura Media.
  6. Click on the “Select” button next to the video you wish to submit.
  7. Enter any comments.
  8. Click “Submit Assignment.”
Canvas assignment Text Entry submission

Student: How to Submit a Video Link to a Canvas Discussion Post

  1. Find the link to your Kaltura Media video.
    • Click on My Media.
    • Click on the title of the video you want to share.
    • Under the video, click on Actions > Edit.
    • Along the bottom of the video player, click on the share button (see image on right).
    • Copy the top link to submit to your assignment. It will begin something like this:
      https://cdnapisec.kaltura.com/[…]
  2. Navigate to the discussion on UIS Canvas (usually in Discussion or Modules).
  3. Click on the discussion name.
  4. Click on “Reply” to add your post.
  5. Type the title of your video, highlight the text, and then click on the “Link” button in the Canvas content editor.
  6. Paste the video URL into the Link text box and click Done.
  7. Click “Post Reply.”
add link button
Link button in Canvas text editor.
insert link in canvas
Paste the video URL into the Link text box.

Student: How to Embed a Video in a Canvas Discussion Post

  1. Navigate to the assignment on UIS Canvas (usually in Assignments or Modules).
  2. Click on the discussion name.
  3. Click on “Reply” to add your post.
  4. Click on the Apps button, then Embed Kaltura Media.
    or click on the Tools menu > Apps > Embed Kaltura Media.
  5. Click on the “Select” button next to the video you wish to submit.
  6. Click “Post Reply.”
Apps Embed Kaltura Media
Click on Apps, Embed Kaltura Media

Student-Created Video Presentation Assignments and Submissions

Assignments that ask students to create video presentations can be excellent methods to assess synthesis of course materials or to present original research. Below you will find best practices for setting up student video presentation assignments in Canvas, including some instructions that you can copy and paste to include in your assignment instructions.

But, first, a word about what NOT to do.

No Media Recording uploads to Canvas Assignments
Media Recording uploads to Canvas Assignments are NOT recommended.

Please do not create a Canvas assignment with a submission type of “online” and “Media Recordings” upload. This type of assignment will have the students upload video files directly to Canvas, which will quickly cause your course size to reach its storage limit. After your course meets its storage limit, you will not be able to upload any additional files to your course.

Best Practices for Student Video Submissions

Students have access to record and share videos through Kaltura Media, the UIS video creation and storage solution. Student video projects can be created in Kaltura Media or created else and uploaded to Kaltura Media. Students may share the videos by (1) submitting a URL (web link) to the video to a Canvas Assignment, (2) embedding their video in a text box, or (3) adding a link to the video or embedding the video in a Canvas Discussion.

Create a Canvas Assignment for Student Video Submission

  1. Click on “Assignments” from the course navigation.
  2. Click “+Assignment” at the top right corner.
  3. Name your assignment.
  4. Enter a description or assignment details in the rich content editor. Be sure to include instructions for how your students can embed or link to their Kaltura Media video to submit their assignment.
  5. Points – Set the number of points the assignment is worth. If ungraded, enter “0”.
  6. Assignment Group – Select an assignment group if any have been created.
  7. Display Grade As – Select the type of grade that shows up in the gradebook and on the students’ view.
    • Percentage
    • Complete/Incomplete
    • Points
    • Letter Grade – Uses the grading scheme
    • GPA Scale – Uses the grading scheme
    • Not Graded – If the assignment has no submission AND is ungraded
  8. “Do not count this assignment towards the final grade” – Check this box if the assignment has a submission BUT is ungraded.
  9. Submission Type – Set the submission type to “Online” and check the box for either:
    • Text Box – choose if you want students to embed their Kaltura video for you to view. This submission method doesn’t involve extra steps for your students to locate the Kaltura URL.
    • Website URL – choose this option if you want students provide a URL to video on Kaltura, YouTube, or other video sharing platforms.
  10. Group Assignment – Select to designate the assignment as a group assignment.
  11. Peer Reviews – Select to have students review their peers’ work provide feedback.
  12. Assign – Select who and when will see the assignment, as well set the due date.
  13. Click “Save & Publish” to allow student submissions or just “Save” to keep it hidden from students.

Video Submissions to Canvas Discussion Board

By default, students will be able to embed Kaltura Media videos in a discussion post. Follow these directions to create a Canvas Discussion. Be sure to include instructions for how your students can embed or link to their Kaltura Media video in their post.

How to use the Total Column in the Canvas Gradebook

You can customize the Total column in your Gradebook. The Total column can be moved to the front of the Gradebook or sorted to display grades in an ascending or descending order.

You can switch your students’ total grades from a percentage to a point value in the Gradebook.

By default, total grades are shown as a percentage with two decimal places.

Notes:

Viewing total grades as a point value is available only if you use unweighted assignment groups in your course. When assignment groups are weighted, points cannot be displayed for the total grade.

Open Grades

"Grades" item in the course menu

In Course Navigation, click the Grades link.

Open Total Column Menu

Hover over the Total column header and click the More Options menu.

total column

Sort Total Column

sort total column

To sort the Gradebook by ascending or descending total grades, click the Sort by link [1], then select the Grade – Low to High or Grade – High to Low option [2].

Switch to Points

display as points

By default, total grades are shown as a percentage with two decimal places.

If your course uses unweighted assignment groups, you can view your students’ total grades as points. Click the Display as Points link.

warning

Canvas confirms you want to switch the total grade view. If you do not want to see this warning message for your course again, click the Don’t show… checkbox [1].

Click the Continue button [2].

Switch to Percentages

display as percentages

You can switch back to percentages by clicking the Total menu icon and selecting Display as Percentage.

Move Total Column

move to front

To move the Total column to the front of the Gradebook, click the Move to Front link.

Canvas Tips for Faculty: My Links Don’t Work!

Many faculty who have imported course content from Blackboard have founds links that appear to be active don’t work. Here are common issues with imported links, and the steps you can take to fix your links.

Problem #1: When I or my students click on the link, we receive an error message which says the content is insecure. I know it is a good link to a safe website. What can I do?

Explanation: When a link has been created for a site that does not use the https: (secure) protocol, Canvas will return a message about “insecure content,” because Canvas is a secure (https:) site.

Solutions:

  1. When including the link in a module, set the link to open in a new tab.
  2. Create a new link in a Canvas “page”

Problem #2: My link shows as “broken” but I know it works. What can I do?

Explanation: Canvas uses “iframes” to display webpages. There are many websites (including the UIS website) that do not allow pages to be displayed as iframes for security purposes, and this can make the links appear broken in Canvas. These links, when imported from Blackboard, are often listed in a module, but as unpublished. This helpful feature helps us to remember to check how these links will display to students.

Solutions:

  1. When including the link in a module, set the link to open in a new tab.
  2. Create a new link in a Canvas “page”

Problem #3: My imported Kaltura links no longer work, but I know my videos are still there. What can I do?

Explanation: If you Kaltura media links have “BBLEARN” included in the link, they are linking to the My Media area in Blackboard. Students will not be able to view them.

Solution: Follow the steps in this video to add Kaltura media links to your Canvas course.

Canvas Teaching Tip: Sending Messages to Students from the Gradebook

An easy way to communicate with students about their performance in your class is by sending messages to a subset of students using the Gradebook. You can use the Gradebook to send messages to select students based on their status or performance on a specific assignment:

  • Haven’t submitted yet—email students who haven’t submitted the assignment, even if they have been manually awarded a grade.
  • Haven’t been graded—email students whose assignments have not yet been graded (submitted or unsubmitted).
  • Scored less than [point value]—email students who earned a grade on their assignment less than X number of points.
  • Scored more than [point value]—email students who earned a grade on their assignment more than X number of points.  

Although one message can be sent to multiple students at the same time, each student will receive an individual message. You can also message students individually in the Gradebook by using the student context card.

Open Gradebook

In Course Navigation, click the Grades link.

"Grades" item in the course menu

Open Assignments Menu

arrow pointing to assignments menu

Hover over the assignment column header and click the Options icon.

Message Students

"message students who" highlighted

Click the Message Students Who link.

Select Message Category

select message category indicated by arrows

By default, Canvas will show names from the Haven’t submitted yet category.

In the drop-down menu:

[1] Select the category of students you want to message. Based on real-time data, Canvas will show the names of the students who fall in the category you selected 

[2] You can also remove students from the message by clicking the Remove icon. Canvas will also generate a subject line based on the category 

[3] You can edit the subject line if needed.

Send Message

Message students who feature highlighting message box

[1] Type a message to the students in the message field.

[2] Click the Send Message button.

Note: Although one message most likely will be sent to multiple students at the same time, each student will receive an individual message.

Importing Course Content from Blackboard into Canvas

Course content created in Blackboard can be imported in Canvas by following these steps:

Remove Excess Grading Categories from your Blackboard Grade Center

Open the full Blackboard Grade Center

Go to Manage and choose Categories

Select Categories

You may see several empty grading categories. These appear and multiply each time you copy Blackboard content from one semester to the next. While these categories do not affect Blackboard, they can cause serious issues with the Gradebook and Assignments page in Canvas and, therefore, must be removed.

To remove the excess grading categories, click “show all” at the bottom of the page

choose "show all"

Next, click on the box to the left of the word “title” (this will “select” all empty grading categories) and click delete to remove excess grading categories.

arrows pointing to box and delete

Here is a video demonstration of this process.

Create Export Package

Once you’ve deleted the excess grading categories, you’ll need to create an Export Package (zip file) with your course content that can be imported into Canvas.

First, go to your Blackboard Control Panel and click on Packages and Utilities:

Arrow points to Packages and Utilities in Blackboard

Choose “Export/Archive Course” and click on “Export Package.”

From there, choose the content you would like to import into Canvas. You may select “all” or choose individual content areas and tools:

Content areas in Blackboard shown

Click “submit.”

When your Export Package is ready, you will receive an email message in your UIS email which tells you “the operation has been completed.”

When you go back to Packages and Utilities > Export/Archive course, you will see the Export Package ready to download.

Export Package in Blackboard ready to download

Click on the link to save it to your downloads.

Import Your Content to Canvas

Open your Canvas course.

On the right side of the home page, you will see a button called Import Existing Content:

import existing content button on canvas home page indicated

Under Import Content, select your content type (Blackboard 6/7/8/9) from the dropdown menu:

Arrow pointing to Blackboard 6/7/8/9 from the dropdown menu

Under “source,” choose the Blackboard Export File from your downloads. Choose “all content” or “select specific content” and then click “import.”

You’ll see a green indicator when the process has completed:

green indicator that importing process in complete

You’ll then be able to begin creating, rearranging, and updating your Canvas modules with your newly imported content.

Note: Canvas courses have a size limit of 500 MB. Export packages larger than 500 MB will not import properly. If your course exceeds the size limits, you may need to upload videos to Kaltura and/or move files to Box which can be shared to Canvas.

Here is a video demonstration of the export/import process.

Canvas Tip: What Do My Students See?

Using “Student View” in Canvas and Managing Course Navigation

Student View

To see the student’s perspective on Canvas, use Student View to view the course, post and reply to discussions, submit assignments, view grades, view people, view pages, view the syllabus, view quizzes, view the calendar, etc. Enabling Student View creates a Test Student in your course. You can also activate Student View in your Course Settings.

To access Student View through your course home page, find Student View on the right:

student view in canvas

You can now view the course as a student user would see it. For example, students cannot see the Settings navigation link like instructors can.

You will know if you are in Student View because of the persistent box on the bottom of the screen indicating you are logged into Student View.

Click Leave Student View to return to your instructor view:

Leave Student View Button

Course Navigation

As an instructor, you can control which links appear to your students in your course menu. Canvas includes a set of default Course Navigation links that cannot be renamed.

All menu items with this icon:

Canvas menu icon: Eye with line

CANNOT be seen by students. To enable links for students, follow these steps:

Click on Settings at the bottom of your Course Menu:

Canvas course menu; arrow pointing to Settings

Find the Course Navigation tab:

course navigation tab

From the Navigation Page, you can re-order menu items using the drag-and-drop interface.

You can also “enable” a menu item, by clicking on the “kebab” (three dots) associated with the menu item and choosing “enable” –

the "kebab" icon with the Enable option highlighted

Be sure to click “Save” at the bottom of the page to save your changes.

NOTE: Some navigation areas, such as Announcements, can be enabled, but show the “hidden” icon when there is no content. Adding content will enable students to see the menu item.

Moderating Quizzes in Canvas

One question that we are anticipating coming up as we move to Canvas, is how to “moderate” student quizzes. Often, faculty need to give students “special” access to quizzes for a variety of reasons.

Examples of “special access”:

Student needs an extra attempt
Student needs extra time

To “Moderate” a quiz in Canvas:

1. Go into your Canvas course and select “Quizzes” from the navigation bar.

2. Locate the quiz you wish to “moderate” and select the name of it.

3. This will take you to the information for that quiz. Locate the “Moderate This Quiz” button in the upper right and select it.

moderate this quiz

4. This will take you the “Moderate Quiz” screen. You will have a list of all of your students and the following information will be provided.

  • Name of Student
  • Number of attempts available
  • Time it took student to take quiz
  • Number of attempts left
  • Score
  • Edit/Moderate pencil icon

To give your student extra time and/or an extra attempt, select the “pencil” icon.

pencil icon

5. A dialogue box will appear where you can give this student:

  • Extra Attempts
  • Extra Time on Every Attempt

If the quiz is locked, choose to” Manually unlock the quiz for the next attempt.”

Quiz extensions

Please note: When adding extra time for a student, include only the additional time they should have in completing the test.

How to Use the Canvas Dashboard

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

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

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

Captioning in Kaltura Media through Canvas

Transcript for Viewing and editing captions in Kaltura Media in Canvas

Note: All new videos uploaded to Kaltura automatically have captions requested. You do not need to request machine captions. However, the captions do not automatically show on your video. To show your captions, you will need to review and edit them, and then select the button that says Show on Player. See below for instructions.

  1. Go to Canvas at UIS and go into one of your Canvas courses.
  2. Click on the My Media button to view all your videos uploaded to Kaltura Media.
  3. Click on one of your videos to open it.
  4. Click on Actions, and then Caption and Enrich.
  5. Scroll down to locate the captions. Click on the Pencil icon to edit. The caption editor will show up in the browser next to your video so that you can view them simultaneously.
  6. To edit, click in the text of the caption to make edits.
  7. When you are finished reviewing and editing your captions, click on the Save button. This allows you to come back and finish editing later. At this point, your captions still do not show on your video.
  8. To publish the captions and make them visible, click on the back button so that you viewing the video again.
  9. Click Actions, and then Edit.
  10. Beneath the preview of the video, click on the Captions tab.
  11. Next to the English captions line, look for the button on the far right to “Show on Player.”
  12. Once this button is clicked, your students will be able to turn captions on and off by using the CC button the video player.
Click on the "Show on Player" button (with box around it in image) to show the captions for your students.
Click on the “Show on Player” button (with box around it in image) to show the captions for your students.

Editing and Captioning videos in Canvas

This summer we have had several improvements to videos. Videos are hosted in Kaltura, though most of you probably thought of the videos as “living” in Blackboard. They now “live” in Canvas, but still on Kaltura. We’ve also changed some of the back-end so that auto captioning is even more accurate. This will save you some time fixing those few things the computer was unable to parse out.

When you login to Canvas and select your course you have the option “My Media” If you click on that you will be able to see all your videos already in Kaltura, as shown in the photo below. At the top near right there is an option to “add new”. If you select that you can upload any video files you have.

Screen capture showing main My Media page in Canvas

Once you have selected “add new” you will see the screen below. You are given the option to either drag and drop your file or choose the file on your computer.

Screen capture showing the upload media page in Kaltura within Canvas

Once you have uploaded a video you will see the screen below. You can also access this screen when you first login to My Media. On the far right of the screen by each video there is a small grey graph, pencil, and trashcan. Selecting the pencil which is the edit screen will also take you to this screen. From this screen you have the option to “Launch Editor”. This editor will allow you to do some light editing to the video

Screen shot showing the video uploaded and the Launch Editor button on the far right in Kaltura within Canvas

When you select “Launch Editor” you will see a screen like the one below. It will give you time codes and you can goto a spot to to split the video or delete sections. This can be useful if you had a few “oops” moments.

Screen shot of the video editor in Kaltura within Canvas

After you are happy with your video you can then work on captions. Captions will be auto generated using an AI. They will come out at around 90% accuracy. Then you need to edit them. Once processed you can goto My Media and click on the video. You will then see the screen below. Below the video is a dropdown menu called actions, select it.

Screen shot showing the video editing page with the dropdown for actions in Kaltura within Canvas

The dropdown menu will expand with several options, select caption and enrich as shown below.

Screen shot showing the expanded dropdown actions menu with the option to caption and enrich in Kaltura within Canvas

You will then see the existing requests and status completed. To the right of status is a grey pencil to edit, select it.

Screen shot showing the existing requests for caption in Kalutra within Canvas

Now you will be in the captions editor. You can correct anything the AI was unable to catch and add proper punctuation. You can also add speakers if you had an interview or several speakers in the video. Once you are done, remember to select save. You can come back and edit captions later.

Screen shot showing caption editor with spot for adding a speaker and the save button

A final thing to check is to goto My Media and then select the grey edit button on the far right. Under the video there is an option for captions, select it. You will then see the caption file or .srt. On the far right of action you want to make sure that “show on player is selected. It is the furthest option on the right. If you do not select this, your captions will not show up when you embed your video.

Screen shot showing where captions are located under video and to enable the show captions in player in Kaltura within Canvas

Kaltura Media Overview

Kaltura Media is the video management solution at UIS. Faculty and students may upload video from other sources (MS Lync, camcorders or phones) or record web cam and/or screen capture videos through Kaltura Personal Capture. A fantastic feature of Kaltura is the statistics for video use. It will tell you the percentage of your video that each student watch, how many times it was access, and the average view time. Across UIS, the average view time for a video is 7 minutes and 35 seconds, which is on the longer side of the recommended 5-7 minute length for video lectures.

For detailed videos on how to use Kaltura, please see the Kaltura Company’s training videos on Kaltura and Personal Capture.

UIS Kaltura Resources

Access and Upload Videos to Kaltura Media

Faculty and students access Kaltura Media through Canvas.

  1. Go to UIS Canvas.
  2. Go to a Canvas Course and click on “My Media.”
  3. Click on “Add New” and then select “Media Upload.”
  4. Click “Choose a file to upload” and select your file.
  5. Your video will upload automatically. Depending on the size, this may take a while.
  6. After your video uploads, edit the name, description, tags (key words), and privacy settings.
  7. Click “Save”  to complete the upload process.
  8. Follow the steps in this post to add your video a Canvas course.

Captioning

When using videos in class or online they need to have captions which are 99% accurate. 

If you have created your own video using Kaltura Media within Canvas, these directions 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.

Student Resources for Group Effectiveness

The following resources may be worth sharing with your students as they prepare to work as a member of an online group.  Please share others that you use as a comment.

Group Norms: A Tool for Decreasing Online Group Conflict

Each member of an online group will have his or her own expectations of how the project should be completed and how it develops.  Students might find it worthwhile for their group to establish a set of norms, or common expectations, early in the group work so that each group member has a similar understanding of issues.  Some considerations include:

  • How will the group function?  Will someone serve as the group leader or will everyone be responsible for keeping the group moving forward?
  • When will the group meet?  Will the group meet asynchronously, synchronously or a combination?
  • What technology will the group use to support the decision making process of the group (e.g., E-mail, Canvas Group Tools, Zoom, Telephone Conference Calls)?
  • What technology will the group use to support the resource-sharing process of the group (e.g., using a collaboration tool like GoogleDocs, e-mailing resources as attachments, posting resources as attachments to the Canvas Group space, posting resources to a wiki)?
  • What technology will the group use to support the creation of the group paper (e.g., e-mailing versions of the paper as attachments, posting versions of the paper as attachments to the Canvas Group space, hosting the paper online using GoogleDocs)?
  • When will tasks be completed? Will the group stagger the completion of the various tasks or will it all be completed at once?
  • Who will complete various tasks?  Will individuals be assigned to different tasks or will the group work collectively on all tasks?

Instructors can encourage groups to develop these norms early in the group project by making it a required activity after the groups are formed.

Collaborative tools could be used for the members to collectively develop the norms.

Reducing Social Loafing in Group Work

One common problem groups experience among team members is the  “free-rider” or social-loafing team member.  Wikibooks identifies several causes of social loafing.  Some things faculty can do to reduce social loafing from occurring within a group include:

  • Create appropriate group sizes for the project.
  • Make individual contributions meaningful; create task interdependence among group members.
  • Promote the use of tools that capture individual contributions to make each student’s contributions more visible (e.g., Google Docs)
  • Encourage groups to have a progress-checker, to hold members accountable for contributions and to remind them of deadlines and expectations. 

Unfortunately, group conflicts sometimes aren’t revealed to the instructor until the end of the project. Encouraging or requiring progress reports or feedback from students at specific intervals may help you to identify trouble spots.

For semester-long projects, a mid-semester feedback form is useful. In “Online Groups and Social Loafing: Understanding Student-Group Interactions,” Piezon and Donaldson suggest including multiple evaluation points so that “group members are aware that their contributions are salient and being observed by others. Members who are performing poorly are given several opportunities to increase their performance.”

Another strategy is to prevent conflicts by keeping the groups on track and on task by requiring small deliverables for the project throughout the semester.

Assessing Individual Contributions to Group Work

How do I assess individual contributions?

Use technology. Promote the use of tools that capture individual contributions through versioning. Examples of tools provided by UIS:

Implement peer evaluation. Allow group members to evaluation one another and themselves and incorporate this evaluation into the final grades for the group project.

Obtain Email Addresses for Students in Your Course

Instructions to access students enrolled in courses using Self-service (Enterprise): 

  1. Go to the Enterprise Self-Service system.
  2. Click on UIS.
  3. Login with your UIS NetID and Password. 
  4. Click on the Faculty & Advisor Services tab across the top of the page.
  5. Click on the Faculty Services link.
  6. Click on Class List – Summary to view your class roster in a condensed format. 
  7. Click “Display E-mail Addresses” at the bottom of the page.

How to Contact Your Students Before the Semester Begins

With all the uncertainty that we all have for this Fall, our students definitely feel these stresses. One way that we can reduce this uncertainty is by contacting our students early to let them know what we are planning for our Fall classes. This includes whether or not there will be face-to-face sessions planned and/or synchronous online sessions via Zoom and dates/times if you have them already.

Even though our Canvas courses aren’t populated yet, you can get a list of student emails from Enterprise following the instructions below and contact them before they are added to your Canvas course. Students will be populated into Canvas on August 17. After this you can message them directly through Canvas. (More on this topic can be found in the COLRS Teaching Blog)

Instructions to access students enrolled in courses using Self-service (Enterprise): 

1. Go to the Enterprise Self-Service system. (https://apps.uillinois.edu/selfservice/ )

2 Click on UIS.

3. Login with your UIS NetID and Password. 

4. Click on the Faculty & Advisor Services tab across the top of the page.

5. Click on the Faculty Services link.

6. Click on Class List – Summary to view your class roster in a condensed format. 

7. Click “Display E-mail Addresses” at the bottom of the page.

Using the Inbox Messages in Canvas

What can I do in Canvas Inbox?

  • Send a message to someone in your course
  • Reply to messages from others in your course
  • Filter conversations by course or type (read, unread, starred)
  • View and reply to assignment submission comments

In the Inbox, you can send a message to one user or multiple users in a course. You course must be published to send messages to currently enrolled students. If students have not yet been added to your course, you can obtain a list of emails for your students in Self-Service and send a message through UIS Webmail.

How do I use Canvas Inbox?

If your recipient list contains more than 100 users, your message will automatically be sent as individual messages to each user. As the sender, you will also be included in the total recipient count.

Notes:

  • Currently you cannot send a single message users in multiple courses. You would need to send one message for each course.
  • You can also send a message to yourself, but messages can only be viewed in the Sent messages folder.
  • You cannot send messages to users in concluded courses.

Open Canvas Inbox

Open Inbox by click on “Inbox” in the blue menu on the left side of the screen in Canvas.

Blue Canvas universal menu with Inbox selected
Inbox in Canvas Menu

Create a New Canvas Message

Click on the Compose button (a square icon with a pencil on top). A new Canvas Message box will appear.

compose message button for Canvas Inbox
Compose message button

Choose Recipients

Next to Course, click on the Select Course dropdown menu. If you click on Favorite Courses, you should see your currently active courses in the list.

Compose Message in Canvas Inbox
Compose Message in Canvas Inbox

In the “To” line, click on the Address Book graphic to select your recipients. You can select from

  • All in the course
  • Teachers (once you click on Teacher, you may select either All Teachers or specific teachers)
  • Students (once you click on Students, you may select either either All Students or specific students)
Click on the Address book button after the "To" line to select your recipients
Click on the Address book button after the “To” line to select your recipients

To finish your message enter a Subject, type your message, and click the blue Send button.

Live zoom sessions and captioning for Fall 2020

Fall 2020 will be unlike any Fall semester any of us has known. Coming off a remote learning Spring and still in the middle of a pandemic, many courses will be taught using zoom this Fall. For those who will be using zoom for live sessions here are the recommendations from COLRS

  1. Please record your session and as soon as possible after the session has ended upload it to Kaltura within Canvas.
  2. Campus IT has enabled autocaptioning of uploaded videos. This means that after your zoom session (or other recorded media) is uploaded an AI engine will create captions for the video. The accuracy will be somewhere near the 90% mark.
  3. We will have a banner (image below) across all videos which reads, “If captions of this video are required, please contact captions@UIS.edu.”
  4. For those students who require captions at the higher 99% accuracy COLRS will monitor this email and be working to help provide those captions in a timely manner.

Add “Remote Learning at UIS” Orientation to a Canvas Course

In order to prepare students for remote learning this fall, COLRS has create a short orientation module that can be imported into any UIS Canvas course site. The materials have been reviewed by UIS faculty and posted to Canvas Commons for easy inclusion in your course(s).

  1. Log in to Canvas with your NetID and password.
  2. Click on Commons in the blue Canvas menu.
  3. Search the Commons for “Remote Learning at UIS” and click on the green MODULE (for a version that will not hide navigation links in your course) or click on this direct link to the Remote Learning at UIS content.
    [Note: the blue course import that will appear during this search will hide your navigation links upon import. We apologize for the work that has caused some faculty. We have created this modules version to prevent that issue. The content is the same.]
  4. Click on Import/Download on the right side of the screen.
  5. Check the boxes for any courses into which you wish to import the module
  6. Click “Import into Course.”
Canvas Commons screen capture showing the Remote Learning at UIS module.
Click on “Commons” in the blue Canvas menu. Search for “Remote Learning at UIS.” Click on the graphic to begin the import process.

The materials are also accessible through the “More” menu in Canvas. Click on the “Remote Learning Orientation” to view the materials.

Using Messages within Canvas

By Layne Morsch, FDRO Faculty Associate

While email is one of the main modes of communication for most of us faculty, many of our students don’t regularly check their email no matter how much it is recommended. Canvas has a good solution with the Canvas Inbox. There are several reasons the Canvas Inbox is superior to regular email:

  • Students are used to having to check Canvas (LMS) for class information.
  • Students using the Canvas app get a notice when they have a new message.
  • Students can add a mobile number to receive text notifications.
  • Students can send emails to other students in class without having to share personal email addresses.
  • Faculty using the Canvas app get a notice when they have a new message.
  • It organizes all communications for each course and keeps them out of your email inbox (though you can choose to get an email each time you get a message in Canvas, or daily, weekly or no notifications).
  • Canvas Inbox is FERPA compliant.

View this post to learn how to send messages using the Canvas Inbox.

Measuring Student Learning Outcomes

Lucinda Parmer from Southeastern Oklahoma State University has provided Alternatives to the Traditional Exam as Measures of Student Learning Outcomes​.  The article proposes many alternative means of assessing students including:

  • Collaborative testing
  • Student Portfolios
  • Performance Tests
  • Summaries
  • Briefing Reports
  • Presentations
  • Reflective Papers
  • Student-Proposed Projects
  • Experiential-Learning Activities
  • Poster Sessions
  • Fact Sheets
  • Gamification and Game-Based Learning
  • Service-Learning


Blended Learning Resources

Blended Learning Toolkit from UCF

Blended Content and Assignments

Blended Interactions

Blended Course Implementation Checklist

Evaluation Framework for Blended Learning Courses

Implementation of a Blended Course

Evaluating Blended Learning: Bringing the Elements Together

EdX: Syllabus and Class Structure Guide for Blended Learning

Blended Learning Innovations: 10 Major Trends

iNACOL Blended Learning Teacher Competency Framework

HyFlex Model Resources

HyFlex Option for Instruction if Campuses Open This Fall

7 Things You Should Know About the HyFlex Course Model

Guest Accounts in Canvas

Guest accounts cannot be created for Canvas. All users must have a NetID to have access to UIS Canvas.

If an instructor or unit needs to provide access to a person who does not have a NetID, the unit may request an External Affiliate UIN and NetID.

An External Affiliate is typically a person who is not an employee, student, or faculty member that requires a UIN and NetID. This could be a visiting scholar, guest, etc. This is not to be confused with a person requiring only WiFi access, which can be provided by other methods. A new request for an External Affiliate status will typically pertain to three types of people

  • A person who has an active NetID on any campus, this implies a UIN has previously been assigned.
  • A person who previously had an active NetID and/or UIN on any campus, e.g. a graduate 10 years previous, who is now a guest instructor or vendor.
  • A person who has never had a relationship with any University of Illinois campus, a new UIN will be required.  

A sponsor will have been assigned to assist the requester before this request is initiated. The sponsor must be a university employee that will assist in the submission of the new request and is the point of contact for any questions during the process. The employment status of of the sponsor will be validated at submission time.  

The unit sponsor will complete this External Affiliate request form. This form must be completed on campus or while connect to campus by VPN.

The sponsor will be required to provide this information for the affiliate who needs a NetID:

  1. First Name (Required by i-Card)
  2. Last Name (Required by i-Card)
  3. Date of Birth (Required by i-Card)
  4. Gender (Required by i-Card)
  5. Personal email address for the affiliate (Utilized for status notifications or for additional information follow-up)
  6. University email address of sponsor

Optional information

  1. Middle Name
  2. UIN (If known from current or previous University relationship) 
  3. NetID (If known from current or previous University relationship)

If a NetID and UIN from a current or previous university relationship is entered, this will expedite the approval process. Otherwise, the iCard office will search for a previously utilized UIN/NetID.

Add People to Canvas Courses

Search by Login ID

To add a user by NetID, select the login ID button [1].

In the text field [2], enter the NetID for the user. You can copy and paste multiple NetIDs at one time by placing a comma or line break between login IDs.

Select User Details

Enter User Information

In the Role drop-down menu [1], assign the user(s) a role for the course based on available course roles.

In the Section drop-down menu [2], assign the user(s) a section in the course.

If you want to limit the user(s) to only interact with other users in their section, click the Can interact… checkbox [3].

Click the Next button [4].

Note: If you are adding multiple users at the same time, all users inherit the same role and section.

Add Existing Users

Add Existing Users

If Canvas finds an existing user, you can confirm the user before adding the user to the course [1].

The user’s name displays in the page along with the user’s information you used in the user search. Although Canvas may display additional search columns, existing information in a user’s account will not be displayed.

When you are ready, click the Add Users button [2].

If Canvas did not find your intended user, you can click the Start Over button [3].

If you cannot locate a user, they may not yet have a Canvas Account. Please have the user log in to Canvas, which will automatically create their UIS Canvas account.

Close a Canvas Course

Your Canvas course will become unavailable to students on the Friday before the next term begins. Instructors do not need to take any steps to close their courses.

Development Opportunities for Online, Blended & Remote Teaching

As you take a moment to reflect on your experiences teaching during the Spring 2020 semester, COLRS encourages faculty to discuss your teaching experiences and further develop your skills in teaching in an online or blended environment. Upcoming opportunities include: 

COLRS Workshops

Throughout the summer, COLRS will be offering workshops on Technology Tools for Remote Delivery, Blended Learning Best Practices, and HyFlex Teaching. Check the COLRS Workshop calendar for dates and Zoom connection links. These workshops are free and available to all UIS faculty and staff (full or part-time). 

Self-Paced Options

COLRS Building Digital Community Course on CanvasThis self-paced faculty development course meets the requirements of the Higher Learning Commission for required faculty training in online instruction​.  It consists of six modules: Foundations of Online Learning, Accessibility, Instructional Design, Learning Theories, Facilitating Online Learning, Putting it Together. This course is free and available to all UIS faculty and staff (full or part-time). COLRS Canvas Migration Resources on CanvasThis Canvas site is a central location for support, materials, and resources to help you migrate your course to Canvas.​ These resources are publicly available.

Illinois Online Network (ION) Course Options

ION offers several non-credit courses including Overview of Online Courses, Blended Learning Design & Instruction, Instructional Design, Student Assessment, and many more. See the ION schedule​ for all upcoming course offerings. These courses are free for UIS faculty and staff (use code DV412 during registration). 

For-Credit Course Offerings

UIS offers relevant for-credit courses.​ Please contact Human Resources for tuition reimbursement possibilities. 

EDL 515 – Online Teaching and Learning. ​This course will introduce students to online and blended teaching and learning. Major concepts and issues, research in the field, and emerging technologies are covered, as well as practical strategies for designing and teaching online, which students actually get to practice in the course.

EDL 555 – Foundation for Technology in the Curriculum​Basic technology skills and knowledge necessary for today’s education professionals. Computer operation, electronic communication, and computer applications with emphasis on the tools most applicable to the classroom setting. 

Logging in with Zoom SSO

UIS has configured single sign-on (SSO) for our Zoom account, you need to use SSO to login on the web and with the Zoom client. Some meetings, like COLRS training workshops, will also require you to login with the SSO to access the Zoom session.

To access a Zoom session that requires you to be logged in with your UIS account:

  1. Click on the link to join the Zoom session.
  2. Your computer will prompt you to choose an application. Select zoom.us and click on Open Link. If nothing happens, click on the Download and Run Zoom link on the browser window.
  3. Your desktop Zoom client will open.
  4. Click Sign In with SSO.
  5. Enter your company domain (uis).
    You can also click on I don’t know the company domain, then enter your UIS email address.
  6. Click Continue.
    You will be redirected to the UIS single sign-on provider to sign in.
  7. After signing in, you will be redirected back to the Zoom Desktop Client. Click Launch Zoom.
Zoom Desktop App. Click on Sign In with SSO

How To Activate Your Canvas Account

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

Step 1

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

Step 2

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

Step 3

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

Special considerations

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

Accessibility Remediation Service

As we near the end of this semester, we are getting closer to moving our classes from Blackboard to Canvas.  From an accessibility standpoint this is a GREAT time to do several things.  The first is to clean up and remove any files from Blackboard that you don’t use anymore.  The second is to take the opportunity to make sure the files you are using are accessible.  To help with this, the digital accessibility remediation team of student workers will be working over the summer.  If you would like them to help make your files accessible please contact COLRS

Authentic Assessment

Remote Teaching Tip: Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessments require students to apply concepts they have learned to real world situations by having them complete meaningful task-based assessments. This type of assessment engages a variety of skills, and measures higher levels of learning than traditional assessments. Authentic assessment helps students practice creative thinking and problem-solving, and allows for multiple paths to demonstrate knowledge.

Most authentic assessments involve complex questions and tasks that do not have straightforward solutions; students must research, brainstorm, practice, draft, and refine solutions in order to complete the assignment.

Examples of authentic assessments you can use in online learning environment include:

  • Peer Review
  • Self-Assessment
  • Problem Based Learning
  • Online Journaling
  • Interpretation of charts/graphs
  • Have students design assessments
  • Require answer justification (why is the answer correct?)
  • Peer evaluation of reflections/essays
  • Experimental interpretation- analysis of research based findings

For more reading on authentic assessment:

Inside Higher Ed: Q&A Toward Better Assessments in Online Courses

Authentic Assessment in the Online Classroom

IU Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning: Authentic Assessment

Final Exam Preparation & Proctoring Options

If you rely on a paper-based final exam for your face-to-face courses, Blackboard can be used to administer your exam remotely. The COLRS blog has instructions on creating exams and posting exams in Blackboard. If your exam currently existing in Word or another software program, you’ll need to convert it into a Blackboard exam. Depending on the length of your exam, the simplest and fastest approach to convert your exam to Blackboard may be to copy and paste your questions from Word into a Blackboard test. Respondus can be used to convert more lengthy exams for Blackboard. Formatting an exam for Respondus can take time, so you’ll want to consider whether its use is worth the time to download and use it.  COLRS can help you determine which approach may be easier for your course.

As Provost Papini mentioned in his e-mail to faculty yesterday, UIS recommends two proctoring solutions for remote courses. The first solution is Respondus Monitor with LockDown Browser . Respondus Monitor is a fully- automated tool that uses a student’s webcam to record the exam session.  Suspicious testing behavior is automatically flagged by the software, and instructors are alerted to preview the alert flags. Respondus Monitor is free for faculty and students to use and it is integrated with Blackboard.  LockDown Browser must be used to use Respondus Monitor.  To use Respondus Monitor, follow the directions for preparing a test for LockDown browser.  After selecting Respondus LockDown browser,  also select the Respondus Monitor option. Students will be required to download and use LockDown browser for the exam. 

The second proctoring solution is Examity Online Proctoring. Through the student’s webcam, Examity uses live proctors to observe and record the exam session. There is a fee for students to use Examity. Unfortunately, Examity’s proctoring facility has been shutdown because of COVID-19. Presently, they expect to be closed for a couple more weeks. If you hope to use Examity, you must e-mail COLRS to let us know the course that will have a proctored exam. Examity provides us with weekly updates on when they expect live, online proctoring to resume. We are hoping they will be resuming live, online proctoring by finals week, but there is a chance that might not be the case.  In the event that live, online proctoring will not be available in time, COLRS will work with you to move to Respondus Monitor.

Reducing “Zoom Exhaustion”

As our classes and meetings turn to synchronous, online options, you may be finding yourself more exhausted than normal. We have heard from both faculty and staff that online, synchronous video conversations are more tiring than their face-to-face equivalents.  Dr. Steven Hickman, UC San Diego Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine & Public Health, provides these tips for managing Zoom exhaustion:

  • ​Before starting a Zoom session, take a few moments to settle and ground your attention. 
  • After starting the session, greet each new participant with your full attention.
  • Select Speaker View to focus on whoever is speaking at the time.
  • Reduce multitasking during the session.

Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, NIU Professor of Counseling and Higher Education, provides additional tips in reducing Zoom fatigue:

  • ​​​​Rather than always using your computer, occasionally use your phone to call into some Zoom sessions​
  • During Zoom sessions, consider taking notes on paper instead of on a computer
  • Schedule breaks between sessions

Despite the downside of Zoom exhaustion, COLRS staff appreciate having the ability to see and connect with UIS faculty and staff using Zoom during the last few weeks.  Although it does not replace the face-to-face connections that we miss, we hope that you are finding Zoom useful in connecting with your students and colleagues.

Online Learning Q&A Universal Design Part 1 b

Online Learning Q&A Universal Design Part II b

Q&A Universal Design Part III b

Reach Out to Your Students

Now that we have completed two weeks of remote teaching, it is the ideal time to have a “how’s it going” conversation with your students.  This personal outreach can be beneficial in seeing how each one of your students is adapting to their new learning environment and if they are experiencing any new personal, family, or work-related changes that may be impacting their learning.  While some students who are struggling will reach out to you on their own, others may not share any challenges they are experiencing until they are asked. 

Some faculty have found value in having a phone call or Zoom session with each student.  Others have reached out using a personalized e-mail to each student. No matter what your preference may be, you may consider asking your students questions such as:

  • How can I help you?
  • How are you adapting to the changes in your life? 
  • How are you adapting to the changes in our class?
  • Is my communication with the class working for you?
  • Have the videos or presentations I created been helpful?
  • Are you able to understand assignment instructions and due dates?
  • ​Is there something else I should know that is making learning hard for you at this time?

When reconnecting with your students, they may express issues or concerns that expand beyond your course. The Keep Learning – Guide to Remote Learning at UIS may direct you to campus resources that may be of assistance in helping them. ​​The Counseling Center can provide ​remote sessions for students. TeleHealth appointments can be requested from Health Services​. Other Student Affairs Offices and Centers can be reached via e-mail or via voice message.  

The Teacher-Scholar: Interdisciplinary Research on Remote Teaching

​​As emphasized as a value in the UIS Strategic Compass, the UIS community seeks to understand the world around us through the pursuit of scholarship that is challenging and significant.  In the past couple of weeks, COLRS has been approached by UIS faculty who would like to discuss research possibilities relating to the campus-wide transition to remote teaching. If you are interested in participating in an initial discussion ab​out potential project ideas, please e-mail colrs@uis.edu. In your e-mail, please share any immediate areas of interest that you would like to raise in the discussion. COLRS will coordinate the scheduling of a Zoom session in the upcoming weeks for those who show an interest.

Discussion Board Best Practices

For the next couple of weeks, COLRS will be sending out a Teaching Remotely Tip of the Day that comes from the most frequently asked questions by faculty.  All Remote Teaching Tips are archived on the COLRS blog. The Teaching Remotely at UIS website is another starting point for faculty who are converting their courses to alternative formats.  This week, open Office Hours will be hosted by COLRS staff daily at 10 am for faculty to ask pedagogy-related questions.  In addition, you may call COLRS at 217-206-7317 or e-mail colrs@uis.edu to schedule a one-to-one meeting with any COLRS staff member.  

In online courses, and now with “remote delivery” of previously face-to-face courses, discussion forums provide a place for student-to-student and instructor-to-student interaction. Within discussion forums, students share thoughts and review the ideas of others modeled through collegial, dialogic exchanges. Research shows the benefits of discussions for student engagement and learning.

To help alleviate discussion board burn-out, here are some recommendations and resources that will help us keep our discussions fresh and prevent excessive workload:

  1. Post the rules of netiquette and behavior expectations at the start of class.
  2. Encourage students to introduce themselves and meet one another to form a learning community where they will feel safe to share and discuss.
  3. Develop discussion questions that allow the student to critically reflect on the material and synthesize it with their own experiences.
  4. Encourage students to participate early and often.
  5. Create their presence in the classroom but not interfere with the flow of the discussion.
  6. Intervene when the discussion is veering off in the wrong direction and help move the discussion back on track.
  7. Ensure that the discussion forum is a safe learning environment.
  8. Promote further thinking and reflection by posing more thoughtful and engaging questions within any given discussion.

Additional resources:

Successful Strategies for Creating Online Discussion Prompts.  

CREST+ Model: Writing Effective Online Discussion Questions by Lynn Akin and Diane Neal.

Peer Assessment. A Module Lesson .

Student Peer Assessment by Louise Lutze-Mann

How to Combine Course Sections in Canvas

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


WATCH A VIDEO TUTORIAL ON HOW TO COMBINE CANVAS COURSES.


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

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

Step 1: Determine your primary course.

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

Step 2: Find your SIS ID.

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

Click the image to enlarge.

Step 3: Merge your sections into your primary course.

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

Click the image to enlarge.

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

Click the image to enlarge.

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

Click the image to enlarge.

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


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

Basic Accessibility Tips

If you already have a student with a documented disability with the Office of Disability Services, please consider their unique learning needs as you adapt to a virtual classroom.  However, twenty-five percent of the population has some form of physical, learning, or cognitive disability so you may have a student with a need and you are unaware of it.  A virtual classroom environment may create learning challenges for students who may not have those challenges in a face-to-face environment.  COLRS has accessibility resources and a searchable accessibility blog that provides guidance on improving the accessibility of digital content.

As you prepare your course for teaching remotely, here are some basic accessibility tips

  • If you have the choice between sharing a Word document and a PDF, choose Word.
  • If you have the choice between sharing a PowerPoint and a PDF, choose PowerPoint.
  • If you are creating new Word or PowerPoint files open the accessibility checker.  You can then see if there are any issues, see directions on how to correct the issues, and correct them as you go.
  • If you are creating a video, speak slowly and keep the video short.  Speaking slowly can improve the accuracy of the auto captioning in Kaltura.  Directions on how to correct Kaltura captions

For additional assistance in improving the accessibility of your virtual classroom, please contact the COLRS Campus Accessibility SpecialistThe Digital Accessibility Remediation Team is able to help you make your digital content accessible remotely.

Finally, UIS employees and students are able to download and use JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion for free on their home computer through June 30.  These products provide screen reading, screen magnification, and/or visual enhancement capabilities.​

Prevent Zoombombing in Your Classes

What is Zoombombing?

Zoombombing is a new form of Internet trolling in which a participant uses Zoom’s screensharing features to interrupt and disrupt meetings and classes.​  Many Zoom sessions, including several universities classes, have experienced Zoombombers this week.

How Can You Prevent Zoombombing in Your Classes?

You can use your meeting and host settings to prevent students from distracting other students in your class session, as well as preventing unwanted participants from joining your class session. Some suggestions include:

  • Schedule your Class Session through Blackboard – ​Faculty can create, schedule, and launch Zoom sessions from within Blackboard, and students can easily join those sessions without the link URL being shared.
  • Do​n’t Use Your Personal Meeting ID for Class Sessions – Your Personal Meeting ID is one continuous meeting that can be used by anyone who has access to it.  Scheduling your class session through Blackboard​ is more secure. 
  • Use a Password – You can require your students to enter a password to enter the meeting. 
  • ​Use the Zoom Waiting Room – The Waiting Room feature allows you to control when a participant joins the meeting. 
  • Remove Unwanted Participants – If an unwanted participant joins your Zoom session, you can remove them from the session by hovering over their name in Participants menu.  
  • Lock Your Meeting – Once your class is in session using Zoom, you can lock your meeting.  By locking your meeting, no additional participants are able to enter your class. (Keep in mind that this can be a disservice for students who experience connectivity challenges or other disruptions that prevented them from joining on time.)
  • Disable a Participant’s Video – ​Zoom hosts can disable unwanted or distracting videos of students.
  • Mute Participants – Zoom hosts can block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate noises by muting individual or all students. You can also enable Mute Upon Entry in your Zoom settings.
  • Manage Screen Sharing – You can prevent students from screen sharing during a class session by using the host controls at the bottom of the meeting window.  Click the arrow next to Share Screen, then click Advanced Sharing Options. Choose Host Only under the Who can share? setting.
  • Disable Chat – Zoom has in-meeting chat, which allows students to message the entire class or specific individuals within the class privately. You can restrict students’ ability to chat with other individuals while your class is going on.  Keep in mind that preventing students from chatting with the entire class will prevent them from asking questions without using their microphone.​
  • Disable File Transfer – File transfer allows people to share files through the in-meeting chat​. If File Transfer is not needed for your class session, you can disable the File Transfer option in the Meeting tab. 
  • Disable Annotation – With Zoom’s annotation feature, students can mark up content during screen share. You can disable the annotation feature in your Zoom settings to prevent people from writing all over the screens.

Despite the possible challenges associated with Zoombombers, Zoom continues to be a valuable learning tool that allows your students to maintain a sense of connectivity with you and their classmates.  You don’t need to use all of these preventive measures.  Choose one or two that allows you to use the Zoom to meet the needs of your class.  If you need help talking about which feature might be the best in your particular class, please contact COLRS at colrs@uis.edu


UIS Zoom Resources:

ITS Zoom Support Page at UIS
Consideration for Using Zoom as a Remote Classroom​

The Citrix Virtual Desktop

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

Do Use Citrix For…

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

Don’t Use Citrix For…

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

COVID 19 Online Learning & Accessibility Concerns Q&A Part II

COVID 19 Online Learning & Accessibility Concerns Q&A, Part I

Scheduling a Recurring Meeting in Zoom

Recurring meetings in Zoom

Zoom allows you to schedule meetings with multiple occurrences, so that each occurrence uses the same meeting ID and settings. You can schedule these meetings in daily, weekly, and monthly increments. You can also set a recurring meeting to be used at any time. Meeting IDs for recurring meetings expire 365 days after the meeting was last started.

check "recurring meeting" box in Zoom scheduler
  • Edit the recurrence
edit the recurrence of the meeting
  • If registration is required and the meeting is recurring, specify one of the following options
check box if registration is required
  • Click Save and Add to Calendar
add recurring meeting to calendar
  • Finish selecting the meeting options and click Schedule

For more tips on using Zoom, check out these Zoom Task Cards.

Sending Announcements in Blackboard

Blackboard Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to student success. Add announcements to your Blackboard for these types of course activities:

  • Due dates for assignments and projects
  • Changes to your syllabus
  • Corrections/clarifications of materials
  • Exam schedules
  • Links to Zoom sessions

You can also use your announcements to offer encouragement and reassurance for navigating these challenging times.

Announcements can be sent immediately to students via email. When creating your announcement in Blackboard, simply check “send copy of this announcement immediately” and each student will receive a copy in email right away. They will also see the announcement when they log into Blackboard.

For more information about creating and sending announcements in Blackboard, please check out the COLRS blog.

Perfection is Not Necessary, Part II

While we are scrambling to transition face-to-face courses to remote teaching, we’d like to remind everyone that perfection isn’t necessary.

In the spirit of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, we offer the following ideas regarding assessments for your consideration.

  • Consider one consistent day and time each week when work is due. Make an updated course calendar for students.
  • Be creative about assessment. Think about assessing in ways that are appropriate for what you want students to learn. Do you assessments match your higher-level learning objectives?
  • Instead of a big exam with 100 question, consider breaking assessments into smaller chunks – quizzes or more focused activities. Many smaller assessments are less stressful for students.
  • When you do give exams, provide longer windows during which students can take the exam, rather than just during your normal class time. For example, allow students 2 days to choose an hour to take a test. Allowing a cushion of time for connectivity issues will make your life easier.
  • One of the principles of universal design for learning is that what is good for one student is good for all. Captioning, sharing lecture notes and presentations, and creating videos are good practices that help your students with documented disabilities as well as everyone else in your class.
  • Rely on those with experience and expertise – the Remote Teaching Faculty Champions and COLRS/ITS staff are here to support your transition. Have conversations and learn some strategies and tools to keep learning going this semester.

Resources:

Everybody Ready for the Big Migration to Online College? Actually, No by Kevin Carey, NYT TheUpshot

Keep Calm and Keep Teaching by Jody Greene

Please do a bad job of putting your course online by Rebecca Barrett-Fox

Perfection is not necessary, Part I

While we are scrambling to transition face-to-face courses to remote teaching, we’d like to remind everyone that perfection isn’t necessary.

Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in. Anthem by Leonard Cohen

In the spirit of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, we offer the following ideas for your consideration.

  • Flexibility is vital right now. You didn’t sign up for a mid-semester move to remote teaching. Your students didn’t register for an online class. Students are looking to you for guidance and support. Are you treating you students as you would want to be treated in this situation?
  • Students likely do not have great internet connections. A large number are doing remote learning on cell phones. Students may be experiencing loss of income, ill family members, and stress about the uncertainty of this situation.
  • Let go of teaching your class as you always have. Take a step back and think about your learning objectives. How can you accomplish your learning objectives in this new situation?
  • Make the tools you have work to your advantage. Elaborate isn’t necessary.
  • Expecting all students to log into Zoom at a particular time is a challenging requirement, at best. Record any live sessions (save recordings to your computer, rather than the cloud; it gives you faster access to the recordings). Upload recordings to Kaltura or YouTube and provide the links to the recordings for students who could not attend. UIS has asked that all synchronous sessions to take place at normal class times to avoid conflicts among classes for students.
  • Asynchronous learning has some advantages in fluid, crisis situations. It allows students to work on their classes when their new schedule allows. Consider providing students material to read and then summarize, create an info graphic, find current events articles related to the subject, etc. Engagement sometimes looks different in an online environment, and it can be meaningful and rich. Check out this video from a theater instructor for why asynchronous learning might be your best bet.
  • Reconsider creating narrated PowerPoint or talking head videos for three hours a week. Long videos take a lot of bandwidth. Consider short videos (5 minutes or less). Post content in Word or PowerPoint files, too. Reserve synchronous Zoom sessions for discussion and student questions.

Remember, perfection is not necessary. Communicate with students. Simplify where possible. Ask for help when you need it.

Resources:

Everybody Ready for the Big Migration to Online College? Actually, No by Kevin Carey, NYT TheUpshot

Keep Calm and Keep Teaching by Jody Greene

Please do a bad job of putting your course online by Rebecca Barrett-Fox

The Importance of Communication

As your students adjust to the many changes that are impacting their lives and education, lessening any uncertainty through your interactions and communications with them becomes ever important.  If you haven’t already reached out to your students, it is critical that you do so within the next few days.  These initial communications should orient your students to their new learning environment and any tools that will be used.  If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with where to start, the Quality Matters Emergency Remote Instruction Checklist​ provides useful tips and actionable strategies for adapting to these changes.  Some highlights from the checklist include:

  • ​​Provide explicit directions clearly identifying where students can find course components.
    • Ideas: compare the structure of the online version with the face-to-face version, identify where to go to get started
  • ​​Directly identify any relevant changes to any course and institutional policies.
    • Ideas: share changes to course schedule, due dates, and structure of assignments
  • Address communication and interaction expectations.
    • Ideas: share how should students contact you, how often students should log-on, guidelines for communicating with classmates, what technologies/tools they will need, and days when students should log-on for synchronous activities during your scheduled class time (if applicable)
  • Tell learners what to expect from you and when to expect it.
    • Ideas: share how quickly you will respond to emailed questions, how quickly students should expect assignment grades to be provided
  • ​Provide instructions on how learners can access their grades.
    • ​Ideas: share how students can view grades and feedback, share rubrics that you might use
  • Remind students of academic and student services support available to them.

COLRS continues to be available when you need us.  Don’t forget that the Teaching Remotely Faculty Champions are also willing to help with questions you may have.  And when ​you need a short break, check out the “I Will Survive, Coronavirus version for teachers going online.”

Remote teaching and accessibility: things to think about

In the last week we have seen immense change to our daily lives, and change which continues or of which we are reminded with every email, from every possible source down to how your gas station perks program is handling the virus. From a teaching and learning standpoint there have been varied reactions as veteran online educators and those who have never taught online are now required to teach remotely. So one let me say, to myself and you, relax we will get through this. And two let’s remember accessibility as we make these remote changes.

Accessibility? Yes, accessibility. About 25% of the population has some form of disability, physical, learning, or cognitive. Typically, about 10% of our students register with their office of disability services regarding one of these disabilities. This means as we move to remote teaching, many of these students will experience issues related to accessibility which they may not have in our face to face classes. So thinking about accessibility as we make these changes will not only help these students, but all students who are making this move.

So here are a few things to think about.

  1. Don’t use or limit use of pdfs. Typically in higher education we see 2 types of pdf usage, items “saved as” pdf and article scans. If it is a Word or PowerPoint file, do not save as pdf, just post the doc or ppt. If it is an article scan, see if you can find an .html version of the article or contact someone at your university to see about making this accessible (if possible).
  2. If you are creating new PowerPoint or Word files, open the accessibility checker as you are creating them to see any issues and correct them as you go, eventually you will probably not make any issues as you go. The biggest culprits will be improper hyperlinks (www.something instead of these nice blue, underlined links describing the link) or merged table cells in a Word doc. In a PowerPoint it will probably be missing alternative text.
  3. If you are creating a video, speak slowly and make the video short. Speaking slowly will help all listeners understand better. You will need to caption your video and provide a transcript. Or you can write a script and record your video from it. In most instances this will involve leveraging some sort of AI such as that used by YouTube or the one in Kaltura. This autocaptioning is about 85% accurate, the rest needs to be done by a human. A video with clear, slow speaking will autocaption with a higher accuracy rate, and a shorter video takes less time to caption overall. Equally, as I’ve discussed before students in an online class or newly exposed to remote learning are not going to watch a long video.
  4. For UIS faculty in Math, remember we have Equatio, which is helpful for accessibility, but also very useful for doing math, remotely. And for those in math and science this writeup and link to the NWEA Image Description Guidelines for Assessments may be useful for thinking about how to write alt text.

Finally, I know this adds an extra layer of things to think about, however I think we can all agree that making something as clear for our students to understand the first time makes it easier on all of us. I’ll close with a link to something I wrote a few weeks ago about how students expect a certain behavior from their digital files, a user experience, and when they don’t encounter that it is very frustrating.

Dealing with Slow Internet

As millions of people around the world shift to working from home, the unprecedented transformation of our behavior has put a large strain on internet infrastructure which can lead to slow internet speeds.

Here are some ideas to help us address this challenge:

The following companies are offering free or low-cost internet service during the crisis:

  1. Comcast, Charter, Cox, Google Fiber, Spring, Verizon, and T-Mobile will not disconnect anyone for the next 60 days. They participated in the “Keep Americans Connected” Pledge.
  2. Comcast is offering an Internet Essentials package for free for 60 days during the coronavirus outbreak.
  3. Charter Communication announced it will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a subscription. 

Those using Zoom web conferencing to connect with students, may find that Zoom uses significant bandwidth, especially for video calls. To address this concern:

  1. You and your students can connect to a Zoom meeting via telephone.
  2. You may choose to mute audio when not speaking and ask your students to do the same.
  3. You may choose to turn off your webcam unless necessary.
  4. Zoom has offered a set of instructions for those experiencing WIFI connection issues.
  5. Upload your Zoom recordings and other lectures to Kaltura or YouTube, rather than Box, for ease of streaming over slower connections.

Considerations for Using Zoom as a Remote Classroom

From discussion boards in Blackboard to group work, journaling, web conferences, and collaborative group projects, we have many strategies to engage our students and keep our classroom communities connected.

As announced on Monday, March 16, 2020, ITS has secured a UIS site license for Zoom, which means that all faculty, staff, and students will have access to this web conferencing platform. Zoom is a robust web conferencing platform for instructors and staff to engage with students and one another.

Zoom is integrated with Blackboard. Faculty can create, schedule, and launch Zoom sessions from within Blackboard, and students can easily join those sessions. Here is a quick video showing how to add the Zoom integration into your Blackboard courses.

Synchronous class meetings for remote teaching should be held during normal on campus meeting times.

Zoom as a Classroom Tool

Zoom can be an excellent platform for delivering lectures, holding class discussions, supporting group work and class debates, and enabling student presentations.

Zoom Usability for Students with Slow or Intermittent Internet Access

Zoom is designed to work on multiple platforms (Mac and Windows, plus mobile devices). Zoom also compresses audio and video feeds to make them work on slower internet connections. Below are some strategies for providing support for students with slow, unreliable, or intermittent internet access, or other circumstances that prevent joining a synchronous session held during normal class meeting times. Being flexible and forgiving will be key to helping all our students continuing their learning.

  1. Remind students that they can call in to listen and participate.
    If they don’t have internet access, they are not excluded from class. Each Zoom meeting will have a phone number and meeting ID that allows participants to call in.
  2. Upload all PowerPoint slides, shared resources, and websites to Blackboard.
    This can be helpful for students who are calling in. They can download and/or print resources before the synchronous meeting time.
  3. Record the session and post it to Kaltura or YouTube.
    When the recording is uploaded, post it to your Blackboard course to provide alternative viewing modes for students who cannot meet at the normal, scheduled class time. Learn about Zoom recordings and uploading to Kaltura.
  4. Provide a “muddiest point” discussion forum for the synchronous session.
    The Muddiest Point is a simple classroom assessment technique to help assess where students are having difficulties. Ask each student to post a quick response to the question: “What was the muddiest point in [synchronous meeting, lecture, discussion, assignment, etc.]?” You might replace “muddiest” with “most unclear” or “most confusing.” This technique also allows students who view the recording later to participate with the rest of the class. Learn more about Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs).

Zoom Accessibility Considerations

If you have a student with accommodations in your course, the UIS Office of Disability Services will continue working with the student and all their instructors. Zoom can support live captioning, if required.

Links in this post:

All COLRS Remote Teaching Tips: http://blogs.uis.edu/colrs/category/emergency-remote-teaching/

Zoom at UIS: https://www.uis.edu/informationtechnologyservices/connect/zoom/

Zoom Live captioning: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/207279736-Getting-started-with-closed-captioning

Classroom Assessment Techniques: http://blogs.uis.edu/colrs/files/2015/10/50CATS.pdf

Uploading media files to Kaltura: https://blogs.uis.edu/colrs/2014/07/01/kaltura-media-overview/

Create Discussion Forums in Blackboard: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Interact/Discussions/Create_Discussions/Create_Forums

Remote Teaching Tip – Test Integrity Solutions

We understand that test integrity is critical.  We offer these suggestions for considering testing options. 

1. Instead of a test, you might consider alternative assessments such as a project, paper, or other type of assessment.  Vanderbilt University has a nice website on Classroom Assessment Techniques that you might find helpful as you think through your curriculum.  COLRS staff is also available to assist in thinking about alternative assessments for your courses.

2. Respondus Monitor is a good solution for low-stakes tests.  UIS has a contract with Respondus that includes both Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor, a fully-automated proctoring solution for online tests that builds on Respondus LockDown Browser.  This option does not cost the student any additional fees.  When possible, please use this option to improve affordability for our students.  Using the student’s webcam, Respondus Monitor records the exam session.  Suspicious behavior is flagged automatically.  To use Respondus Monitor, follow the directions for using Respondus LockDown Browser and then select the Respondus Monitor option.

3. Examity is the preferred solution for all high-stakes tests.  Remember that students pay an extra fee based on the level of proctoring that you, the faculty member, choose.  This may cause hardships for students who may be effected significantly through loss of work or dealing with healthcare issues because of COVID-19.  You should always share the cost of Examity which ranges from $10 – $17 per hour with your students so that they are never surprised by being asked to provide a credit or debit card for a test proctoringRespondus Monitor is free to use for students. 

As we move forward in responding to this difficult and challenging time, please remember that COLRS staff will do everything we can to assist you in the important and very difficult work that you are all undertaking to finish this semester.  

Continuation of Brookens Library Services

Our friends at the Brookens Library, share the following message with UIS faculty.

In these unprecedented times and in an ever-evolving situation, faculty and staff of Brookens Library are available to provide remote services for you and your students. Library Faculty are available to assist you in finding materials that can be accessed online at no cost to your students.

  • Open Educational Resources (OER) are being recommended as a resource for your classes as access to these materials are free to use, or adapt and customize. Consult our OER guide or contact library faculty for assistance. Scholarly EBook collections that we have purchased or subscribe to that are research and discipline related, are accessible online and can be used  for classes and coursework. Leisure books for relaxing or entertainment can be searched and read through the Cloud Library Collection.
  • A new streaming media guide with links to our video resources that we currently subscribe to, as well as materials that vendors are providing free at this time.
  • If you currently have materials checked out from our library or any of the I-Share libraries, IGNORE DUE DATES! If you can no longer renew materials online, keep them anyway. The CARLI consortia libraries are working together to serve our patrons across Illinois. Many I-Share libraries that are usually open to patrons from I-Share member libraries are closed due to spring breaks or in response to the virus so please check their web sites or call ahead before visiting any libraries.
  • A new COVID-19 guide has been created to keep all pertinent Library information together in one place to best serve faculty and patrons.
  • Instant messaging chat services are being offered as many library faculty will be working remotely and not in their offices. You can also email library staff as needed for assistance. Contact the Library’s Main Desk at 217.206.6605

Discipline-Specific Resources for Teaching Remotely

In response to COVID-19, the larger educational community has been active in curating virtual resources for educators needing to quickly convert on-ground courses to alternative formats. As COLRS discovers resources that may be useful, we will share them here in this blog post.

Humanities

Digital Humanities from MLA

Multiple Disciplines

Merlot Materials (can be filtered by discipline)

Math

Interactive Simulations for Science and Math

Sciences

A spreadsheet of online resources organized by science subject (curated at large)

Merlot Collection of Virtual Labs

A link to a document of online animations, videos, simulations, & demos (curated by Chemistry Professor at the University of Miami Ohio)

LabXchange Foundational Concepts and Techniques in Biotechnology

Interactive Simulations for Science and Math

Online Lab Toolkit (Office of Digital Learning at Penn State University)

Theatre

Digital Theatre+ Access Resources for Remote Learning

Teaching Theatre Online: A Shift in Pedagogy Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

L.A. Theatre Works Offering 25 Audio Recordings of Stage Plays for Educators

Tips for Connecting to Campus

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

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

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

How to Add Files to a Content Area in Blackboard

Files can be uploaded from a local drive or the course itself, and can be documents, spreadsheets, Powerpoints, etc.

  1. Choose the Course Area to which you would like to add a file and click on it. (For example, Course Materials.)
  2. Click Build Content.
  3. Choose Item from the drop down menu.
  4. Enter a name for the file and and explanatory text as desired.
  5. Under Attachments, click Browse in order to attach a file.
  6. Once the file is selected, you will see it listed under Attached files. You can add additional documents by clicking on Browse for more items.
  7. Select the Options as desired:
    • Select Permit Users to View this Content if you want students to see the file immediately once it is uploaded.
    • Optionally select dates and times the document will appear to students.
  8. Click Submit.

How to Create an Announcement in Blackboard

Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to course success. Add announcements for these types of course activities:

  • Due dates for assignments and projects
  • Changes to your syllabus
  • Corrections/clarifications of materials
  • Exam schedules

You can add, edit, and delete announcements from the Announcements page. When you add an announcement, you can also send it as an email to students in your course. Students receive the announcement even if they don’t log into your course.

Announcements appear in the order you post them. The most recent announcement appears first.

  1. In your course, click on Announcements.
  2. Select Create Announcement.
  3. Type a Subject, which appears as the title of the announcement on the Announcements page.
  4. Type your message.
  5. In the Web Announcements Options section, you can choose to restrict the announcement by date:
    • If you choose Not Date Restricted, the announcement is visible until you remove it.
    • If you choose Date Restricted, select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Provide the date and time restriction settings. To display an announcement from a date forward, select the Display After check box and provide a date and time, but don’t select the Display Until check box.
  6. Select the Email Announcement check box to send students an email with the announcement.The email is sent to all students, even those who chose not to receive announcement notifications through email. Note: This option doesn’t work if you chose to post the announcement in the future. You’ll receive an error.
  7. Optionally, in the Course Link section, select Browse to link to a course area, tool, or item. Note: A course link won’t appear in the email announcement if you choose to send one.
  8. Select Submit.

This post contains content adapted from Blackboard Help.

Update on Office 365 v Office 2016

About a month ago, I posted about an issue with the accessibility checker within Office 365 v the one in Office 2016. After a few weeks of meetings and testing we’ve come up with a path forward, currently for UIS, and this can be applied within the UI system.

Office 365 by default has some of the accessibility checker functions disabled. However, they can be enabled. Most of those who are currently using 365 at UIS are doing so on their own laptops or at home. For these individuals we recommend doing final accessibility checking on an Office 2016 machine. If it is your laptop, IT can help you install a registry key which will enable the 2016 level of checking in 365.

IT will ensure this is enabled on new machines which receive Office 2019 which are maintained by them. It is possible to do a global push of these settings, but this is not currently what we will do at UIS since most of the machines with 365 are not university owned.

The benefits of making content accessible for UDL and UX

I have a wonderful team of student workers who do remediation of documents and video captioning. Recently two examples of their angst as students, highlighted the benefits of thinking about user experience and universal design for learning by making content accessible.

One of my students has a second job, and at that job she is allowed to quietly do online homework. This means she can watch captioned videos only. For one class, she was required to watch around 20 hours of video, however it didn’t have captions, not even auto generated captions. For a student who has personally captioned several hundred hours of video, she was more than a little upset with her professor. She is just trying to make the most of her time, and do her assignments, not having captions impeded that.

Another student, sent me a message the other day that she could not highlight some text in a pdf to copy to her notes. She’s working on a paper and thought a few sentences from the required reading really nailed the point. I knew that the pdf had not had any accessibility work done, so I told her to download it, go through the first few steps of making it accessible, and then copy the required quote, which worked.

In both these cases the students don’t need the files to be accessible because they have a a physical, learning or cognitive disability. They are used to files working a certain way because they do this work at least 20 hours a week, and they are busy people. In their attempts to do their real work, as students, they were inhibited from learning. Yes, accessibility certainly benefits students who may have a hearing or visual impairment. However, if we make content accessible, universally design our classes for all learners, and think about the user experience it will benefit all our students.

Office 365 v Office 2016: When it comes to accessibility let’s stick with 2016, for now.

I have a team of student workers who remediate a lot of files in Word, PowerPoint, PDF, and videos. Many of these files come from faculty as we work on their classes, but we’re working on a growing number of files from campus offices. I too, work on some specific, special cases.

Recently, I’ve had several instances where a file had known issues, but the faculty member or office staff swore that they had used the accessibility checker and there were no issues. With some very low level sleuthing I figured out that everyone with these issues was using office 365. This led me to copying or recreating some of these issues, checking them in Word or PowerPoint 2016 and Office 365. Sure enough the issues were not caught in 365, but they were caught in 2016. I used NVDA to read these test documents, and as expected they were still issues. I contacted several colleagues and they too noted that these were issues.

Since most people are not experts in accessibility, and using the built in checkers is the safe guard that many faculty and office staff are learning and using, it is my recommendation for faculty and staff at UIS and within the UI system, to do their final accessibility checking in Word or PowerPoint 2016.

I am confident that Microsoft will remedy this in Office 365 in the future, but until that date, for accessibility, let’s stick with 2016.

For 2020 let’s reduce weariness and increase accessibility

Currently, I am finishing the book Haben, by Haben Girma. She is the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law. The book ties her story growing up deaf-blind in the US with the heritage and struggles of her parents coming from Eritrea, in eastern Africa. For me, this work merges with several other works I’ve read this year on empires, oppression, race in America, religion in America, and several LGBTQ biographies. And the theme that emerges from these works is weariness.

Weariness, really? Yes, weariness.  Imagine, that on a daily basis you were judged not by the content of your character, but by the color of your skin, the way you practiced religion, the person you were attracted to, or your physical abilities.  Because of this you had to constantly be on guard, to watch how you acted in case you were judged more harshly than others.  And frequently you were asked to share your experiences with others, to explain how you felt, so they might be able to get a sense of what you experience.  But too often your own experiences were questioned, discounted, deemed invalid.  With all of that you still need to go to school, work, be involved in family and organizations. That is the level of weariness which I see.

So for 2020, I’d like to think about reducing this weariness.  I encourage people to read books on similar topics, and believe the author’s experiences.  Do your own research to determine the struggles others have.  And from an accessibility standpoint think about the power you have to make your corner of the world more accessible.  Use Word documents instead of PDFs.  Run the accessibility checker within Word.  Run the accessibility checker in PowerPoint.  Provide captions and transcripts for your videos.  Think about how you can leverage your position to make a larger corner of your world accessible.  Can you contact the textbook publishers, and check on the accessibility of their software?  Can you ask for help in determining whether websites are accessible?  Can you contact people to make the websites accessible?  Do you know what software you use on a daily basis, and is it accessible?  Are you in a position to question people about improving the accessibility of that software, or finding accessible software?

Decree, or not decree, captioning is the question.

Over the weekend Harvard’s lawyers finally came to a decision over the almost five year issue of captions, they have a consent decree. What does the decree say? In the matter of violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Harvard denies the allegations. However, Harvard agrees to caption any video or audio content created by Harvard or posted on their sites after Dec 1, 2019. And for any audio or video content produced before that date, they are willing to provide captions if they receive a specific request by an individual with a disability.

This was one of several cases brought by the National Association of the Deaf. Previous agreements were reached with Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix all during or prior to 2016. So why is this case important? It has dragged on for almost five years, and been seen as a test case. As Harvard goes, so goes the nation. So while Harvard is able to deny the allegations, the end result is the same, they will caption their new audio and video content. With the recent Dominoes case, businesses and educational institutions will be very concerned about their website accessibility. With this consent decree, schools with smaller budgets will be more concerned about making their video content accessible. Harvard has presumably dodged a very large or expensive bullet, not having to immediately caption any of the large catalog of videos they were sitting on prior to December 1. However, this is a win for accessibility. One of the oldest, and most storied institutions of higher education in the United States is now complying with accessibility laws, whether they deny it or not.

Using slide layout in PowerPoint: for accessibility and time savings

Over the past two years the student workers at UIS have worked on a little over 400 PowerPoint files with over 10,000 slides in those files. PowerPoints account for about 17% of the files we work on overall. In that time I have posted on how to use the accessibility checker in PowerPoint, proper use of lists, checking for color issues, a primer on alt text, and specifically alt text for math and science. In many cases, such as adding alt text, making the file accessible can add time overall. However, using proper slide layout can not only help make a PowerPoint more accessible, it can help save you time in the long run.

I must confess when I began using PowerPoint about 19 years ago, I would right click on a slide and paste an image, then resize it. I believe back then I could also right click and create a textbox to add a title or content, and resize it as well, let’s call this the “outdated method” . With many of the PowerPoints we see today I think that same thing is occurring. However, let me introduce you to using layouts.

In PowerPoint 2016 for PC you can access this feature on the insert tab, on the far left there is a new slide option with a drop down menu. This will give you about 9 different options for slide layouts. My guess is the two most commonly used are the “title and content” or the “two content” options.

In PowerPoint 2016 for Mac you can access this from the home tab, on the near left there is a new slide drop down menu. From there you will have the same options as for the PC.

If you select the title and content, you have a pre-made box which you can enter the title of the slide. You also have a content box, which will allow you to enter text, a table, a graph, smart art, a picture, or a video, just by clicking in the box for text, or clicking on the corresponding icon within the content box.

By using this layout you have solved one of the common accessibility problems, reading order. This means that a screen reader can intuit, from your use of the pre-made layouts that you would like the title read first, and the content text, image alt text, or table read next. If you use a two content layout it will know which order to read as well, title, content box one, and content box two. If you create slides using the outdated method, a screen reader will not be able to read the content in a necessarily logical order. As an added bonus if you use the layout features and need to convert the PowerPoint to an outline format, the titles and content text will transfer. If you use the outdated method, none of the content will transfer over.

What about slides where you just want a large picture, or you cut and past the same title over and over, perhaps “Civil War”? From a universal design standpoint, a unique title per slide will allow students to reference the slide on discussion boards, in class, or with classmates. Referencing the “Pickett’s Charge” slide is more precise, and helpful, than referencing that “Civil War slide, in the middle somewhere”.

And I promised this would save time, right? Using slides that already have these title and content boxes built in will save you several extra clicks per slide. If we think about 2 clicks per slide for the 10,000 slides we’ve worked on (estimating 1 second per click), that would save about 2 hours and 45 minutes, enough to enjoy a film in the theater.

And finally, if you use the layouts, and decide that you would like to change the design or look of the slides, using the built in layout will allow that to occur more fluidly, with less resizing and moving on your part. An image placed on a blank slide with “insert picture” will not move based on slide design, one placed in the content box will move with different design templates.

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

Evidence based video lengths

Time is the commodity, which none of us seems to have enough of. For those who make their own class videos, I’d like to save you some time. Based on most cloud based video services, the average watch time of a video is 2:03. When we’re thinking about educational videos I like to think of this as the maximum per video in an introductory or 100 level course, perhaps adding about 2 minutes per course level maxing out at around 10 minutes. However, different disciplines may have different student demographics, and for those faculty I’d like to show you a way to check out how much your students are watching.

When you first login to BlackBoard, on the left, usually at the top is the My Media option, click on it.

Blackboard login screen My Media in upper right corner

You will then see a list of your media you use in your class, select one of the videos to click on. Either click on the video or the video title.

Video title Intro of Vance Martin with corner of video image showing you can select either

Below the video on the right is a back button and an actions drop down menu, select the actions drop down menu and select analytics.

actions dropdown menu, analytics is third option

You will then see the analytics for the video.

general metrics showing 29 visits, 24 views, 38% dropoff rate, average view time 10:43

There is some interesting data about the video, which is about 27 minutes. It has been visited 29 times, and played 24 times. To protect student information I am not showing that on the right of the analytics screen you can see which students played the video, and the number of times they did so. Several students played the video a few times.

I think the most useful piece of information here is that the students stop watching about 38% of the way through the video, at 10:43. About 16 minutes of the video is unviewed. So how can I use this data to improve my videos, and help my students learn more? I can do one of two things:

  • I can edit and split this video into three smaller videos of about nine minutes each which should be lower than the 10:43 overall. Then next semester see if the average view time overall for the three videos has increased.
  • I can see what I am covering in the video, and rerecord it in one smaller segment or several smaller segments aiming for each to be under 10:43. Then next semester see if the average view time overall for those videos has increased.

So where does the time savings come in? If we know the average overall time our students are watching our videos and we make them within that range, then can save that time to create a shorter, better video they will be more likely to watch entirely.

And to bring this back to accessibility I’d like to point out two things:

  • If you’re reshooting your videos, please think about adding audio descriptions to the video. In practice this means if you’re using images, , talking through a PowerPoint, or walking through something on your computer in the video describe what you are doing.
  • It usually takes around three times the runtime of a video to accurately caption it. So a ten minute video takes about thirty minutes to caption, an hour video, three hours. If we make more succinct videos the captioning time overall is decreased.

A final note. On the analytics screen in the upper right there is a dropdown menu which should default to 30 days. You can choose the amount of time the analytics cover. So if you are looking back on a Fall video, select Last 365 days, if you’ve used it for several years use the custom setting and go back as far as you want.

Last days drop down menu, 7, 30, 120, 365 or custom options

Script it and forget it.

This is my 37th blog post, and my 8th on videos. I have talked about evidence based video lengths, correcting captions on YouTube videos you don’t control, audio descriptions, captioning, and getting a clean transcript from a caption file. Today I’d like to write about how to improve the overall quality of a video, and the answer is scripting.

I have worked on, and sat through many videos which are, to a certain extent, improv. This means that the creator sat down cold, and began recording all in one sitting. The video portion could have a talking head, or a PowerPoint, a screen recording, a drawing, or even show some sort of event or chemical reaction. In a video like this there could be a lot of filler words like um, ah, ok, a… Or perhaps there are interjections based on occurrences during the recording such as running out of ink, trying to find the proper tab for a function in the software, or yelling at someone in the house that the laundry is upstairs. For the student this can be distracting. And for those of us who don’t like hearing our own voices in a recording, it can make us cringe even more to hear, in our own voice, “someone let the dog out, um ah, where was I?”

An effective way to decrease these instances is to write a script for the video. Take the time to write down what you plan to say. Edit it a few times. And then read the script during the recording. Depending on your setup, you may want to print it out or have it displayed on an extra monitor. I recommend increasing the font size so it is easier to read as well. Doing this will decrease the ums, ahs, and oks. It cannot prevent a barking dog, but it can allow you to scrap the recording with the barking dog, and not worry about where you were to say what you meant to say. It will also give you an initial transcript of the video. Depending on how you are captioning your videos, you might also be able to upload the transcript and allow your video hosting platform to sync it.

Avoid the Noid

In the 1980’s, Dominoes created a mascot called the Noid (pictured above), a super-villianesque character clad in a red jumpsuit. His goal was to ensure your pizza wasn’t hot or delicious. Today the company that gave us the Noid is in the news over an accessibility lawsuit.

Three years ago a blind customer wanted to order a pizza online, and was unable to do so using screen reading software. This customer filed a claim against Dominoes under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Over the last three years this case made its way to federal court. The federal court decided that customers could bring suits against companies for inaccessible websites and mobile aps. Dominoes appealed the case to the Supreme Court, who decided yesterday not to hear the case, which means the federal court ruling stands. For accessibility rights this is a win. For many large companies this will be a major concern.

However, it shouldn’t be. According to the court documents Dominoes could have made the website accessible for $38,000, their revenue last year was $3.5 billion. It is probable that the legal fees for Dominoes were higher than the $38,000. The lesson for other companies and educational institutions should be, it is cheaper to make content accessible in the long run. A greater lesson is that universally designing websites, videos, and documents is not only in the best interest of the consumer, but of the company. By designing in this way, we can all avoid the Noid of inaccessibility.

Alt-text for math, science, and tests

Alternative text or alt-text, is a tough issue for some people to wrap their heads around. In general, it is a description of a picture, table, or graph in a webpage, Word doc, PowerPoint, or PDF. In the past I wrote a primer on alt-text. When we think about math or science, alt-text can become more difficult as sometimes the equations themselves are the image, and need to be described in mathematical or scientific language. Last spring I wrote about the site wide license we acquired for Equatio which can help with some of these issues.

However, I still receive questions, often from people in math and science, about how to write alt-text for an exam when the alt-text might be the correct answer for the question. Sometimes the solution is revamping the question to cover the same idea, but in a slightly different manner. Other times, the solution is more difficult. The NWEA Image Description Guidelines for Assessments should help in these instances. This 116 page guide covers many typical charts, diagrams, and equations used in Math and Science exams, and how to develop good alt-text which will not give away the answer.

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

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.

View Your Class List

The official system of record for your class list is the Enterprise Self-Service system. This is also the system where students register and drop courses and instructors enter midterm and final grades.

To Enter Grades in the Enterprise system:

  1. Go to the Enterprise Self-Service system.
  2. Click on UIS.
  3. Login with your UIS NetID and Password. This is the same information that you use to log into UIS Webmail.
  4. Click on the Faculty & Advisor Services tab across the top of the page.
  5. Then click on the Faculty Services link.
  6. Click on Class List – Summary to view your class roster in a condensed format.
  7. Select the desired Term from the drop down menu and click Submit.
  8. Select the desired CRN (course reference number) from the drop down menu and click Submit.
  9. To view a class list for another section that you are teaching, click on Select a Term & CRN or Select a CRN from the bottom of the page.

PDFs gone wild

I have taught online classes since 2003, and back then we were often told to make our content into a PDF. That way it could be read by anyone, no matter what type of system they had. That advice has been handed down over the years and become canon, thou shalt post things as a PDF.

However, when it comes to document accessibility, we should not follow canon. PDFs are highly problematic for screen reader users. Some PDFs, like a scanned document, are not initially accessible to screen readers. Remediation can be done to these files, but it takes training and time. When training my student workers it takes about 35 hours to fully train them on PDF remediation. Documents initially written in Word and saved as a PDF have a higher probability of being read by a screen reader, but without some remediation it will still be difficult. For instance a user may have to listen to the whole document to get to the last page, rather than navigating there by using headers.

So what is the answer? If you are posting content in an LMS or on a webpage the best thing to do is post the content as html or as a page within the LMS. The next best thing to do would be to post the content as a Word file, attached or linked. Of course use the accessibility checker to make sure everything is accessible in the Word file. At this point in workshops I am often asked a few questions. The first is what about scans. Scans can be made accessible, my suggestion is to work with the library and they can put your scan on e-reserve and make it accessible for you. The second is, anybody can open a PDF, that’s not true with Word, is it? If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat you have to download Acrobat Reader. If someone doesn’t have Word they can download doc viewer from Microsoft. (Or PowerPoint viewer or Excel viewer) And for students on our campus, they all have access to Office 365. The third is, I don’t want anyone to edit my file, and they can’t with PDF, right? Actually they can edit your PDF, everyone on campus has access to Acrobat and if someone wanted to edit your PDF they could. But, you can lock your Word file to mostly achieve the same intended end. You can follow the directions from Microsoft on locking a Word file.

There is still a small place for PDFs. However, in most instances all of the same information can be shared in a webpage or a Word file.

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

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

Constructivism

The following is from Constructivism and Online Education by Doolittle:

Constructivism is a theory of knowledge acquisition, not a theory of pedagogy; thus, the nexus of constructivism and online education is tentative, at best. Constructivism posits that knowledge acquisition occurs amid four assumptions:

  1. Knowledge involves active cognizing by the individual.
  2. Knowledge is adaptive, facilitating individual and social efficacy.
  3. Knowledge is subjective and self-organized, not objective.
  4. Knowledge acquisition involves both sociocultural and individual processes.

These four assumptions have led, indirectly, to eight primary pedagogical recommendations:

  1. Learning should take place in authentic and real-world environments.
  2. Learning should involve social negotiation and mediation.
  3. Content and skills should be made relevant to the learner.
  4. Content and skills should be understood within the framework of the learner’s prior knowledge.
  5. Students should be assessed formatively, serving to inform future learning experiences.
  6. Students should be encouraged to become self-regulatory, self-mediated, and self-aware.
  7. Teachers serve primarily as guides and facilitators of learning, not instructors.
  8. Teachers should provide for and encourage multiple perspectives and representations of content.

The question then arises, can an online medium support this pedagogy that is based on the constructivist assumptions?

More on Constructivism

Correcting captions on YouTube videos which you don’t control

An issue we frequently have is that a faculty member has a great video on YouTube which they use for class, but the captions aren’t anywhere near the necessary 99% accuracy they need.

Now you can use DIY Captions. Once you goto the page scroll down to the second search box which allows you to enter a URL.

Screenshot of header "Quickly turn YouTube's automatic captions into clean transcripts" from website with search box for video under it

Paste in a link to a public YouTube video which has captions, and hit enter. Depending on the length of the video it could take a few seconds to a few minutes. You will then see a screen which looks like this with the video, an editable box, and the transcript on the right.

screen shot showing youtube video, editor, and full transcript

You will be able to play the video, and see the transcript. The captions appear one line at a time which allows you to quickly edit them, or hit tab to continue if, or once they are correct. Once you are done you can select the dropdown menu to download the caption file.

The time tagged file (.srt) is the caption file, and the the plain text (.txt) right above it is the transcript file. You should download both, and upload the transcript near where you link to the video. If you select the Open Video in Amara from the dropdown menu it will open the video in
Amara , and you can upload the caption file. The video is hosted through YouTube and displayed through Amara with the accurate captions. You will need to use the Amara URL when you link to it in your classes.

Captions for a live presentation?

For those who would like to make their conference presentations more accessible or understandable, Microsoft has recently released an add-in for PowerPoint. By following the hyperlink you’ll find the first item on the page is “presentation Translator for PowerPoint” Download Now.  Click Download.  You’ll then be taken to a new page with a dropdown menu for your language, and next to it another download button.  At this point there are 10 language options.  Select your language, click Download.  This will now download the add-in, once it has downloaded, select it from your browser’s download area to begin the install.  Depending upon your current configuration you may be required to download a few extra Microsoft-add ins as well.  Then you can open your PowerPoint, and under the Slide Show tab you should have a new option on the far right, “start subtitles”.  Click it.

You can now select what language you will be speaking and the language you would like for subtitles.  At this point if you select that you are speaking German and would like German subtitles, you will get German subtitles.  You are able to do this for any of the 10 language options.

If you select you are speaking Chinese and would like English subtitles you will get English subtitles.  You are able to convert Chinese to English and English to Chinese only at this point in the live subtitles.

However, once the PowerPoint opens you will have a QR code which you can share with your audience.  By using the QR code your audience can follow the presentation on their device seeing a live translation into any of the other 8 languages. So if you are speaking in German, with German subtitles, the audience can view the translation on their mobile device or laptop in English.  The audience is also able to ask questions via their device in their language and have the question translated.

At this point the software only works on the PC version of PowerPoint, and you must have an internet connection, and a microphone.  The subtitling is done by an AI engine and is about 80-85% accurate.  It will become more accurate the more you use it, if you continually use the same device.  This should not be used for making recorded course videos as the captions cannot be corrected to 99% accuracy nor turned off.  This is an excellent tool for live presentations, or presentations with different language speakers.

Effective Online Teaching Practices

Technology is secondary.

COLRS Teaching and Technology blog: http://blogs.uis.edu/colrs/

UIS Information Technology Services: http://www.uis.edu/informationtechnologyservices/

Communication is key.

Keep students informed.

Be clear.

Syllabus is the center of your course.

Course Calendar – Keep dates in one location.

Make your course materials accessible.

Be present.

Discussion Board

Writing discussion questions.

CREST+ Model: Writing Effective Online Discussion Questions

UW Oshkosh Discussion Tips and Pointers

Announcements

Email

Be consistent.

Create a consistent day and time for deadlines.

Create a consistent format for your course.

Give feedback within established parameters.

Ask for and provide feedback.

Rubrics

Rubric Evaluation Reports

Two Sample Blackboard Rubrics

Blackboard Rubrics Workshop

Grading Rubrics in Blackboard written info

Graded Assignments Workshop Recording

Turnitin Assignment

Discussion Grader

Announcements

NetID-Authenticated anonymous feedback tool

 

Specifics for UIS

Check roster in Faculty Self Service. Blackboard is not the system of record.

Enter Grades in Faculty Self-Service

End-of-course Evaluations

Strategies for increasing response rates

Evaluations at UIS

Student -drop emails from ITS – Hiding and Removing Students from your course

Disability Services

Stay informed.

Faculty Focus is an excellent resource to locate the latest trends in online education. See recent articles and sign-up for email or RSS updates when new articles are posted.

University of Central Florida’s Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository

 

New digital math aid for UIS faculty and students

Over spring break we acquired a site wide license for digital math software Equatio. This means any faculty, staff or students with UIS email can download the software. This gives you a two and half minute overview of the software. The software is designed for STEM fields which use equations allowing input by typing, writing, or dictating equations. The software can also read out equations in a paused video, a PDF, Word form, or almost any digital format. In the coming weeks we’ll talk about ways to use this software to help with accessibility as well. This week I’d just like to let you know how to download it.

First goto the Equatio website.

Scroll down to the first section and you will see a choose your platform button. Click the button

first section with the choose your platform button

When you click on the choose your platform button you will have four options: Windows, Mac OS, Chrome, and a webapp. Select the version you would like to install then click the install button. For this walk through we are selecting windows.

screenshot of the choose your platform button on the equatio website

You will then have a new window which will allow you to download for Windows or Mac, for this walkthrough are selecting Windows.

new page which allows you to download windows or mac

Since Chrome is the browser the file has downloaded to the bottom left hand corner, the EquatioIO.exe file.

shows that the file has downloaded above the system tray in chrome on windows

When you select the file, a new screen will pop up asking you to accept and install, click accept and install.

accept and install screen

Another screen will popup asking you how you would like to authorize your account. For UIS you can click either Microsoft or Google. On the screen which pops up, not shown, please enter your UIS email address.

options to use existing logins with google, microsoft, twitter, facebook, and linkedin

This will take you to the final screen where you can enter your NetID and password.

uis netiid authorization screen

Equatio is now installed. Please check out the Equatio website for more on how to use the software.

The fruits of the student accessibility workers’ labors

Recently I presented at the 44th annual ICCHE conference on the work of our student accessibility workers, and it seems fitting to share some of the results of this work with UIS faculty and staff.  UIS made a bold statement by hiring a team of student workers to assist my office with the task of institutional accessibility in February 2018. By mid-March four students were hired, and began their training. The student worker team launched the accessibility work in late March. 

In Spring 2018, College Deans provided priority class lists for accessibility work. Faculty received communication through my office regarding how to submit files and students began work. After much monitoring, shuffling, and training on the spot for difficult files, together, we all learned ways to more fully provide accessibility services to all of our students.  Many faculty worked with me to build opportunities for future students to have accessible files. Most of our work focused on making Word, PowerPoint, and PDFs accessible for screen reader users. We also provided captions for videos. Over this semester the Accessibility Team was able to complete:

  • 42 classes
  • 919 total files
    • 498 Word files – 2,018 total pages
    • 228 PDF files – 4,921 total pages
    • 94 PowerPoint files – 2,376 total slides
    • 56 Videos – 16:14:08 total run time
    • 43 assorted files

Over the summer faculty continued to work on accessibility issues, and the library expanded their accessibility work with our office, as well. As I mentioned at the end of last semester the library began making their scanned course reserves accessible. This has been a major move as it allows faculty to have one place to contact to get their materials scanned, made accessible, and posted for online access.

In Fall 2018, we brought 2 new student workers on board which required additional training. We also were able to add to our service offerings a bit. As discussed last year, audio descriptions are required for videos. We are now adding audio descriptions where possible, and making notes of the need for audio descriptions when not possible. The Team is also providing transcripts along with the caption files. Over this semester The Accessibility Team was able to complete:

  • 50 classes
  • 840 total files
    • 325 PDF files – 5,256 total pages
    • 209 Word files – 683 total pages
    • 183 PowerPoint files – 5,168 total pages
    • 119 Videos – 58:17:15 total run time
    • 4 assorted files

We had a substantial decrease in the Word files received which is credited to all of the faculty who attended workshops, reached out, or came to COLRS for one-on-one consultations with the Accessibility office within the last year.  To faculty who are making accessibility of digital documents for their students a priority, thank you! 

And in this semester, along with continuing work on courses, we’ve been doing work for some of the OER fellows to make the materials they are adopting or writing accessible for all users. These efforts have pushed the skills of the student workers to a new level.  The Accessibility Team has now made an entire textbook accessible for one of the OER faculty fellows teams. So thanks for the excellent effort: Alana, Brandon, Daniela, and Kayla.

Table Accessibility in Word: Mac v PC

In the past we have looked at how to use the accessibility checker built into Word.  It highlights issues and explains how to fix them.  We’ve also looked at how tables should be laid out properly.  A common issue with tables – that PC users of Word using the accessibility checker will see – is that the table must have alternative text and a specified header row in order to be considered accessible. Alternative text for a table should usually list the items in the header row.  With a syllabus, for example, this might be something like week, reading, and due date.  It gives a screen reader user an idea of what is in the table.  Specifying the header row allows a screen reader user to know that the top row lists the type of information which will appear in the following rows. For example: One, Two, and Three corresponding to Week One, Week Two, and Week Three.

However, if you are creating Word files on a Mac, these issues will not be highlighted.  So, if you are a Mac user and have tables in your Word documents there are two things you could do:

  1. Open those files in Word on a PC, run the accessibility checker, and fix them.
  2. On the Mac you can “control-click” on the table and open the table properties.  In table properties, click on the Row tab and make sure “repeat as header row at the top of each page” is checked.  Then click on the Alt-text tab, enter the alt-text in the description box, and finally, click “ok”.  (For PC users, follow these same steps, but right click on the table to get to table properties)

Respondus Monitor

Respondus Monitor is a new tool available to faculty at UIS who want to enhance the integrity of low-stakes exams in online classes.  While Examity remains the recommended option for high-stakes exams like midterms and final exams because of its ability to provide live, real-time proctoring, Respondus Monitor is a good option for faculty members who want to improve the integrity of low-stakes exams like weekly quizzes.

It uses a student’s webcam to record the testing environment.  Suspicious testing behavior is automatically flagged by the software, and instructors are alerted to preview the alert flags.  Respondus Monitor is free for faculty and students to use and it is integrated with Blackboard.  Respondus LockDown Browser must be used to use Respondus Monitor.  To use Respondus Monitor, follow the directions for using Respondus LockDown browser.  After selecting Respondus LockDown browser,  also select the Respondus Monitor option.

To learn more about how to protect the integrity of low-stakes online exams, please visit Respondus Monitor’s Instructor Resources website.

 

Preparing for the New Term and Accessibility

As the Fall semester is ending, I’m sure some of us are thinking about the holidays and winter break.  But, spring semester is right around the corner!

For instructors who know that you will need to scan book chapters or articles, please take advantage of Course eReserves through Brookens Library to plan for your spring needs.

It’s an easy request: Fill out the course reserve form. Then the library produces some very fine scans of those materials and makes them accessible.

The Brookens Library staff began making all Course eReserves accessible for the Fall 2018 semester. This added service does add some time to the process, which is why I encourage you to think about those materials for next term now.

Feedback from Accessibility Survey

Recently we conducted a survey of department chairs concerning accessibility.  The greatest number of respondents were interested in handouts on how to make specific file types accessible.  The handouts below cover the most common file types in courses at UIS.

The second highest number of respondents were interested in workshops, and in mid-October we held a three day workshop attended by 18 faculty and staff to help them learn more about accessibility. Departments may schedule workshops on specific accessibility topics (or other teaching and technology topics) for their faculty. Of course, faculty are welcome to schedule individual consultations at any time.

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.

Adobe Spark Videos and Webpages

Including Video in an Online Course

Videos can enhance your course by offering examples, explanations of concepts, and can be a visual for your students to refer to when learning new content.

There are several ways to add video to your course:

Hollywood movies or documentaries (copyrighted)

Brookens Library has many films freely available through film collections to which the campus subscribes. If you find a video you would like to include, contact the library for help linking to it in your Blackboard site.

If the film you wish to show is not available in these collections, it may be available in the library’s film collection or available for purchase. The library can work with you to find obtain copyright clearance for the film.

You can also request that your students find a film at a local library or video store. Contact your Brookens Library Liaison for help teaching your students to use the WorldCat database to find films at their local library.

Free videos from the Web

YouTube and Ted.com are just two of many great sites for free video on the Web. The embed codes provided by sites like these make it easy to add the videos to Blackboard. The Library of Congress created a National Screening Room collection of American films from 1890 to 1999.

To embed a video player from Ted.com or YouTube.com in your Blackboard course site:

  1. Copy the embed code from the video website.
  2. Go to your Canvas course.
  3. Edit the page in which you wish to add the video or create a new page.
  4. Below the rich content editor (text box), click on the HTML button — “<>” — to view the code.
  5. Paste the embed code you previously copied.
  6. Click Save or Save and Publish.

Create your own video

Check out a digital video camera from ITS or record your screen using Camtasia Relay. Once you have created your video, you need to put up for your students to see it.

Please upload the video to Kaltura Media through Canvas. Learn more about Kaltura Media here.

Hints about videos in online courses

  • Remember that large files can take a long time to download if a student has dial up internet service. Please be careful not to upload videos directly into your Blackboard course. Always link from an outside source as stated above.
  • Videos should supplement content. Use videos to explain text book content more in depth, create examples of concepts, and extend the learning environment with outside curriculum resources.
  • Other purposes for video in your course might be:
    • Introduce yourself to students
    • Student presentations
    • Specific examples of past projects
    • Feedback on assignments

Introducing the Fall Accessibility Team

COLRS is happy to announce the Fall 2018 team of student workers who will be helping faculty make their course materials accessible.  The students began work September 10, and as of this week have completed work on fifteen classes.  Each college will determine their own prioritization of courses which need accessibility help, and each college dean will share that list with Dr. Vickie Cook, Executive Director of COLRS.  Dr. Vance Martin, Campus Accessibility Specialist,  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:

 

 Daniela Arizmendi is from Waukegan, IL. She is majoring in English and minoring in Secondary Education. She plans to attend Graduate school to pursue a Masters in Education. She loves food, movies, and makeup.

 

 

Kayla Thomas

Kayla Thomas is a transfer student from Richland Community College. She is majoring in English with double minors in Communications and Global Studies. She is also the co-managing editor of the Alchemist Review and has been accepted into the National Honors Society of Leadership and Success. She has one dog and four cats who take up all of her free time!

 

Yuxuan Zhang, “Xuan”, is in his senior 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 weekend .  This is his second year working for COLRS.

 

JR GomollJ.R. Gomoll is in his junior year at UIS.  He is majoring in computer science.  He is from Richmond, Illinois.  This is his second year working for COLRS.

Sharing PDF Documents on Blackboard – Accessibility

PDFs have been used in a variety of ways in higher education: from a medium to share articles and book chapters, to a format for saving document files 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, creating a PDF 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.

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.

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.
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