As we approach the one-year
anniversary of launching Canvas at UIS, COLRS staff has noticed that file
storage in some courses is quickly filling up – and in a few cases, faculty are
running into limits. Canvas restricts each course to approximately one half of
one gigabyte, or 500 megabytes. While this is more than enough for the vast
majority of courses at UIS, you may run up against this limit if you are
uploading many larger files directly into Canvas, including video files, high
resolution images, and narrated PowerPoints with embedded audio. When a
course runs out of space, faculty and students may be unable to
add additional files.
(To check how much storage each of
your courses is using, simply select that course from the Canvas dashboard and
click the “Files” link in the left-hand navigation panel. Your storage used is
displayed towards the bottom of the screen.)
To avoid this issue, COLRS
recommends using Kaltura to host all media files and Box to host
all or most course documents. There are several advantages to this approach:
hosted in Kaltura and Box do not count against your Canvas storage
allocation, and both services include unlimited storage.
has extra accessibility features not included with the built-in Canvas
media player, including closed captioning. State and federal regulations
require us to ensure that all media files provided to students are
allows you to quickly make changes to your documents directly through a web
browser, without needing to download and re-upload files. Changes made to
your files in Box are available immediately when those files are embedded
in your courses in Canvas.
Do you teach a readings course or
other upper division or graduate course that makes extensive use of scanned
PDFs and Word docs? COLRS has noticed an increase in this type of document
storage in Canvas. Unfortunately, many
scanned PDFs do not adhere to accessibility requirements.
The Digital Accessibility
Remediation Team (DART) stands ready to help make sure all of your electronic
documents are fully accessible to students who require the use of screen
readers or other assistive technology. Recognizing that your time is valuable,
DART is equipped to remediate your electronic resources in Canvas with little
or no intervention on your part. Just let us know what you need, and we’ll
get to work! To get started, reach out to our accessibility coordinator at email@example.com.
Canvas is a web-based course management learning system that instructors can use to organize course content. Instructors can manage the content to provide students with supplemental materials in a blended course format or full-course activities organized in Modules for ease of student learning. Canvas contains a multitude of tools, such as collaborations, assignments, and pages for an online class. There are many tools such as the discussions, chat, Zoom, Kaltura video management, and peer reviews, which allow for increased communication and collaboration.
Canvas has a simple file upload process that requires no knowledge of HTML coding. UIS also has the Design Plus tool to enable faculty to create visually appealing and well organized courses to guide users through their coursework.
Canvas has an easy to navigate interface for students on the web and via a mobile app.
Canvas allows faculty members 24/7 access to their course for instructional updates and design.
Most often, infographics are presented as images. For
image-based infographics, the main concerns are alternative text and color
contrast. You may be familiar with alternative text, which describes the content
of an image to someone using a screen reader. For infographics, alt text
involves fully providing the information described by the graphic. Where this
should be included depends on where the infographic is being presented.
If it’s in a Word or PowerPoint document, you can right click on the image and choose Edit Alt Text (if you’re in 365 or 2019) or choose Format Picture and find the alt text box in the Layout and Properties tab of the Format menu (For Office 2016).
If you’re including the image as part of an email, and
you’re using Outlook, you can include alt text the same way, by right clicking
and choosing Edit Alt Text. If you aren’t using Outlook or another client that
allows for the inclusion of alt text when inserting images, you should include
the text alternative in the email itself, add a link to the alt text, or add it
as an attachment.
If you’re posting it on a webpage, you can include the alt
text in the image tag as seen below:
src="infographic.png" alt="description of the infographic's
When writing the alt text itself, describe in the logical
reading order of the graphic the data described by each element. The form of
the element may be omitted if it isn’t important to understanding the image.
For example, here is an infographic describing student
demographics at UIS and its alt text:
Example ALT Text:
Infographic, Snapshot of the UIS Student Body (Fall 2019): UIS has 4275 total students, 66.1 percent of which are onground students, and 33.9 percent are online students. 17.2 percent are transfer students, 62.5 percent are undergrad students, and 37.5 percent are graduate students. 30.9 percent live in college housing. 44.6 percent are part time students and 55.4 percent are full time students.
51.6 percent of students are female and 48.4 percent are male.
Residency: 76.6 percent of students are Illinois residents; 14.6 percent are Non-Illinois residents; and 8.7 percent are International students.
620 students are under 19.
662 students are aged 20 to 21.
827 students are aged 22 to 24.
715 students are aged 25 to 29.
515 students are aged 30 to 34.
366 students are aged 35 to 39.
359 students are aged 40 to 49.
193 students are aged 50 to 64.
18 students are 65 or older.
2611 students are White.
557 students are Black or African American.
373 students are Non Resident Alien.
348 students are Hispanic or Latino.
197 students are Asian.
134 students are Two or More Races.
47 students are unknown.
6 students are American Indian or Alaskan Native.
2 students are Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
Here, none of the visual elements provided to make the image
more engaging to the eye are included, as they are superfluous and are not used
in a way to further convey the data expressed. Instead, the statistics are
simply described in text, with an effort to make the format they are read in
understandable to a listener. If any visual elements are important to the
understanding of the infographic, be sure to include those. An example might be
if one of the bars of the histogram was colored differently to highlight a
certain data value.
In terms of accuracy, try to provide the original statistics
if possible. I was able to include specific numbers for the charts at the
bottom of the graphic because I had access to the original data that formed
this document. If you don’t have such access, approximations are acceptable,
but note that you’re providing approximations rather than the actual values in
The colors used in your infographic should also have
significant contrast between them to ensure that sighted individuals with
visual impairments can still read the graphic. There are a number of tools that
allow you to check the contrast of a foreground and background color like this WCAG color contrast checker, or apply
filters to see what an image looks like with different forms of color blindness,
If the infographic is instead a document like a PDF or
PowerPoint that is made up of individual elements, there are other
considerations beyond those listed above. Primarily, the elements should read
in an order that is not confusing and complements the content.
The accessibility checker in Office programs is located under File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility. You can use this to see if there are other issues with the document than are listed here. When you select an issue, there is a description at the bottom of the pane of why the issue occurred and how to fix it.
In PowerPoint, you can see the reading order by opening the Selection Pane (Home > Arrange > Selection Pane). The elements will be read from the bottom to the top of the selection pane. Drag and drop elements within this pane to reorder the way they will read.
For elements like charts, that have data integrated, they will read the data in a tabular format, and don’t require special considerations. Text items should be added in a content block rather than a text box, because text boxes can sometimes have issues with not being read properly. To add more content blocks, open the Slide Master (View > Slide Master) copy a content block on the current layout, and paste it in for as many elements as you need to add.
You can then reapply the layout by choosing it from the Layout dropdown in the Home tab, and add your elements into the content blocks.
Graphical items should have alternate text that describes
their content, and if they’re decorative, you can check the “Mark as
Decorative” box in the alt text pane.
Checking accessibility in PDF is a little more complicated
than other filetypes. There are two tools that you may need to use to ensure an
accessible PDF. First, use the Accessibility Check option from the
Accessibility tool. The issues will be displayed in the left pane. You can
right click and choose Explain, and it will open the Adobe help page explaining
the error and how you might fix it.
If you get an issue for Untagged PDF, you need to run the Make Accessible wizard from the Action Center tool. Follow the dialog boxes to complete the wizard. When it asks for the document information, all of the fields are optional except for Title. It will ask if you would like to scan for form fields and the default option is to do so. Don’t choose this option; choose No, Skip this Step. You will likely have a point where it presents you with boxes to add alt text to any images it recognizes. I suggest just choosing Save and Close here, ensuring the reading order is correct, and then going back to alt text at the end by right clicking on one of the alt text issues and choosing Fix.
Similar to PowerPoint, reading order is the most important accessibility concern in PDFs. The easiest way to categorize elements and change their reading order is in the Order panel. You can right click on the left toolbar and choose Order if it isn’t shown already.
Here, each element will have a box around it labeled with a number in the order that they will read aloud to a screen reader. Each element is also listed in order in the left side pane. You can reorder elements within that pane. To regroup elements or change an element’s tag, open the menu at the top of the pane and choose “Show Reading Order Panel”.
This will open a dialog, and you will now be able to drag a box on the document to select elements. You can also click on an existing tagged element to select it as a whole. After you’ve selected what you want to tag, click the corresponding button in the dialog box. One thing to note is this will affect the layering order in the PDF, so an element that reads earlier will be above an element that reads later. If something is decorative and sitting in front of another element, you can tag it as background/artifact and adjust its visual ordering by using the Arrange options in the Edit PDF tool.
This is an example of an accessible PDF infographic. You can see the reading order given by the numbers next to each element. Most of this graphic was simply text, and so didn’t need special considerations beyond ensuring that they read in a logical manner. Each of the pictures has alt text, and the bars of the bar graph are also alt texted with their value, so the bar graph would read the label and then the corresponding value. Note that none of the decorative elements are included in the reading order because their presence is not necessary to understand the information presented.
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) defines online courses as those in which all or the majority (75% or more) of the instruction and interaction occurs via electronic communication or equivalent mechanisms, with the faculty and students physically separated from each other. UIS defines online learning as sections delivered online and asynchronously. The Department of Education describes regular and substantive interaction between instructor and students as an essential element of an online course. Failure to comply with the Department of Education’s regular and substantive interaction regulation can have a negative impact on student financial assistance.
The four main criteria of “regular and substantive
Interaction must be initiated by the
instructor. This arose from the original intent to differentiate
distance and correspondence education. It also clashed with excellent teaching
models that made extensive use of other forms of interaction.
Interaction must be “regular” and probably
somewhat frequent. Interaction should be predictable (e.g., on
Monday and Wednesday, once a week) or scheduled (e.g., specific dates in the
Interaction must be “substantive” – of an
academic nature. “Substantive” activities tend to be those that further
learning or assess that learning. Interactions of an organizational, procedural,
or informal nature do not count.
Interaction must be with an instructor that meets accrediting agency standards. Interaction is provided by institutional staff who meet accrediting agency standards for providing instruction in the subject matter being discussed.
UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education. With our institutional membership to UPCEA, you have access to several resources that may be of interest to you including:
Regular and substantive feedback on student work encourages academic growth and improvement. It is an important communication channel with your students. In the post below, we will discuss the general structure of grading and feedback in Canvas, as well as link to Canvas documentation on feedback and grading.
When you set up your Canvas Grades (Gradebook) and provide feedback to students, you will be working in three distinct areas of Canvas.
The Assignments area of the Canvas lists every graded item in Canvas — assignments, quizzes, and graded discussions. Assignment Groups organize assignments and are used for weighted grades, if required.
This area exactly reflects the Grades (Gradebook) columns.
The Grades (Gradebook) area of Canvas displays individual student grades, instructor feedback, and calculates total grades. The Grades (Gradebook) area has many features for entering, modifying and overriding grades, posting/hiding columns, calculating late work deductions, and messaging students based on grading criteria.
The SpeedGrader is the grading interface for online assignments, quizzes, and discussions. The SpeedGrader layout displays student work, any grading rubrics, and feedback options (including annotations, written, audio, or video feedback).
Students access instructor feedback entered in the SpeedGrader through their view of Grades.
Many faculty members have contacted us about how to “unpublish” courses from last semester to manage the courses that appear on their Canvas Dashboard screen.
Courses cannot be unpublished after students have submitted work, but you can customize which active courses you want to show in your Course list and Dashboard. Courses you want to show in the Courses menu are called favorite courses. You can favorite any active course that appears on the course list page.
When no courses are favorited, the courses list automatically
displays up to 20 courses alphabetically in the drop-down menu. However,
once you have selected at least one course as a favorite, only your
favorite courses will appear in the Courses list.
Note: Courses are always listed alphabetically; you cannot reorder your courses manually.
In the blue Global Navigation on the left side of Canvas, click the Courses link , then click the All Courses link .
To favorite a course, click the star next to a course . Courses with filled stars show the course is a favorite .
In the Dashboard, any courses you have with an instructor role will
be listed first, followed by TA roles and any other custom
instructor-based roles. Your courses with student roles are listed last.
Note: When you favorite at least one course, the
Dashboard will only display favorited courses. Canvas will also continue
to automatically favorite new course enrollments.
View Unpublished Courses
Unpublished courses can be identified by a gray background  and
the Published column . You can favorite unpublished courses.
View Past Enrollments
Depending on course configuration, you may still be able to view
your past enrollments after courses have concluded. However, favorited
courses are not automatically removed as a favorite. If a past
enrollment course still shows as a favorite, users can unfavorite the
course by toggling the star icon.
To copy content from one Canvas site into another (e.g. your fall course into spring) begin by going to the Home page of the empty course and clicking on “Import Existing Content” from the panel in the upper right:
From the dropdown menu, choose “Copy a Canvas Course”
In the search bar, find the course you would like to copy. You may search by department/course number (e.g. EDL508) or by the course name.
Next, you may choose to import all content or specific content. If you choose specific content, Canvas will ask you to identify the content you’d like to import prior to beginning the import process.
You may also select “adjust events and due dates” which will adjust due dates based on the start and end date of the class, or remove due dates altogether.
Once you’ve selected your content click “Import.” Canvas will let you know when the importing process has been completed.
Update ALL the home page links to the modules in your course. Edit the home page, highlight the module link and/or click on the linked image, click on the Links button > Choose Course Links > Modules > click on the module. the new link to your module. Save the page.
If you delete the links and insert them again, the button styling will be deleted. Each <a> will need a class style (class=”btn”) added to it again. The link should look be added is below. Canvas will insert all of the link, except the class.
To set a page as the “Front Page” of your course, go to the Page, click on the kebab menu for your selected home page option, and then choose “Use as Front page.” Next, go to the Home link in your course menu, click on the “Choose Home Page” button, and choose “Pages as Front Page.” Be sure to click “Save.”
You may delete the page and image(s) that you do not need for your course.
The images on Home Page Option 2 may not appear properly on people using the browser Safari (version 13. 1 or later).
Canvas, the preferred name will appear in place of the legal first name. In
Banner, both the legal first name and preferred first name will appear.
preferred first name may take several days to roll out to all systems.
Rice University has developed a nice workload estimator that you might consider using for your course. It is available at https://cte.rice.edu/workload.
From the Center for Teaching Excellence at Rice: Somewhat surprisingly, there is very little research about the amount of time it takes the average college student to complete common academic tasks. We have self-reported estimates of how much total time they spend on academic work outside of class (12-15 hours), but we don’t know much about the quality and quantity of the work that is produced in that time frame (let alone how the time is allocated to different tasks). We also know quite a bit about how students tackle common academic tasks, but those studies rarely ask students to report on how long it takes them to complete the task (whether reading a book, writing a paper, or studying for an exam). The testing literature provides some clues (because valid instrument design depends on data about the average speed of test takers), but it’s tough to generalize from the experience of taking high-stakes, timed tests to the experience of working on an assignment in the comfort of your dorm. And while there is a sizable literature on reading, the nature and purpose of the reading tasks in these experiments are also quite different from what students typically encounter in college.
If you wish to use Examity as a proctoring choice in your class, please contact COLRS at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Go to Modules.
Click on the + (Add) button for a Module.
In the “Add” drop down list, select “External Tool.”
Click on “Examity Sign In” from the list of tools, and then check the box for “Load in new tab.”
Click on “Add item” to add the Examity Sign In tool to your module.
Access Canvas Dashboard
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
5. Reaching Examity Support
Support is available 24 hours a day.
Call: 1-(855)-392-6489 or 1-(855)-EXAMITY
Live Chat: Click the tab on the bottom of your screen
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.
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.
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
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.
Canvas users, including UIS faculty and staff, can “vote up” new features and feature changes in Canvas.
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.
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
Click on “Assignments” from the course navigation.
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:)
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.
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.
In Course Navigation, click the Grades link.
Open Assignments Menu
Hover over the assignment column header and click the Options icon.
Click the Message Students Who link.
Select Message Category
By default, Canvas will show names from the Haven’t submitted yet category.
In the drop-down menu:
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
 You can also remove students from the message by clicking the Remove icon. Canvas will also generate a subject line based on the category
 You can edit the subject line if needed.
 Type a message to the students in the message field.
 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
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
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
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
Under Import Content, select your content type (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:
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.
Using “Student View” in Canvas and Managing Course Navigation
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, click on the Student View icon on the upper right:
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:
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:
CANNOT be seen by students. To enable links for
students, follow these steps:
Click on Settings at the bottom of your Course Menu:
Find the 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” –
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.
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.
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.
Click on the My Media button to view all your videos uploaded to Kaltura Media.
Click on one of your videos to open it.
Click on Actions, and then Caption and Enrich.
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.
To edit, click in the text of the caption to make edits.
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.
To publish the captions and make them visible, click on the back button so that you viewing the video again.
Click Actions, and then Edit.
Beneath the preview of the video, click on the Captions tab.
Next to the English captions line, look for the button on the far right to “Show on Player.”
Once this button is clicked, your students will be able to turn captions on and off by using the CC button the video player.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The dropdown menu will expand with several options, select caption and enrich as shown below.
You will then see the existing requests and status completed. To the right of status is a grey pencil to edit, select it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
To finish your message enter a Subject, type your message, and click the blue Send button.
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
Please record your session and as soon as possible after the session has ended upload it to Kaltura within Canvas.
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.
We will have a banner (image below) across all videos which reads, “If captions of this video are required, please contact captions@UIS.edu.”
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.
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).
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.]
Click on Import/Download on the right side of the screen.
Check the boxes for any courses into which you wish to import the module
Click “Import into Course.”
The materials are also accessible through the “More” menu in Canvas. Click on the “Remote Learning Orientation” to view the materials.
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).
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.
Note: If you are adding multiple users at the same time, all users inherit the same role and section.
Add Existing Users
If Canvas finds an existing user, you can confirm the user before adding the user to the course .
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 .
If Canvas did not find your intended user, you can click the Start Over button .
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.
May 24, 2020 / mgribbin / Comments Off on 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:
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).
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 CurriculumBasic 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.
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:
Click on the link to join the Zoom session.
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.
Your desktop Zoom client will open.
Click Sign In with SSO.
Enter your company domain (uis). You can also click on I don’t know the company domain, then enter your UIS email address.
Click Continue. You will be redirected to the UIS single sign-on provider to sign in.
After signing in, you will be redirected back to the Zoom Desktop Client. Click Launch Zoom.
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.
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.
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 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
Examples of authentic assessments you can use in online
learning environment include:
Problem Based Learning
Interpretation of charts/graphs
Have students design assessments
Require answer justification (why is the answer
Peer evaluation of reflections/essays
Experimental interpretation- analysis of research
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.
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.
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?
April 3, 2020 / mgribbin / Comments Off on 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 about potential project ideas, please e-mail email@example.com. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Post the rules of netiquette and behavior
expectations at the start of class.
Encourage students to introduce themselves and
meet one another to form a learning community where they will feel safe to
share and discuss.
Develop discussion questions that allow the
student to critically reflect on the material and synthesize it with their own
Encourage students to participate early and
Create their presence in the classroom but not
interfere with the flow of the discussion.
Intervene when the discussion is veering off
in the wrong direction and help move the discussion back on track.
Ensure that the discussion forum is a safe
Promote further thinking and reflection by
posing more thoughtful and engaging questions within any given discussion.
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.
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.
Click the image to enlarge.
Click on Cross-List this Section.
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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 Specialist. The Digital Accessibility Remediation Team is able to help you make your digital content accessible remotely.
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:
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.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While we are scrambling to transition face-to-face courses
to remote teaching, we’d like to remind everyone that perfection isn’t
In the spirit of not letting the perfect
be the enemy of the good, we offer the following ideas for your consideration.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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
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.
Remind students that they can call in to listen and
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
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.
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
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
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.
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 Examitywhich 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 proctoring. Respondus 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
new COVID-19 guide has been
created to keep all pertinent Library information together in one place to best
serve faculty and patrons.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
January 24, 2020 / vmart02s / Comments Off on 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You will then see the analytics for the video.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Identify the noun, or thing you want students to learn.
Example: seven steps of the research process
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)
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
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.
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.”
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:
Make sure there is one measurable verb in each objective.
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?
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.)
Strive to keep all your learning objectives measurable, clear and concise.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Knowledge involves active cognizing by the individual.
Knowledge is adaptive, facilitating individual and social efficacy.
Knowledge is subjective and self-organized, not objective.
Knowledge acquisition involves both sociocultural and individual processes.
These four assumptions have led, indirectly, to eight primary pedagogical recommendations:
Learning should take place in authentic and real-world environments.
Learning should involve social negotiation and mediation.
Content and skills should be made relevant to the learner.
Content and skills should be understood within the framework of the learner’s prior knowledge.
Students should be assessed formatively, serving to inform future learning experiences.
Students should be encouraged to become self-regulatory, self-mediated, and self-aware.
Teachers serve primarily as guides and facilitators of learning, not instructors.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scroll down to the first section and you will see a choose your platform button. Click the 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.
You will then have a new window which will allow you to download for Windows or Mac, for this walkthrough are selecting Windows.
Since Chrome is the browser the file has downloaded to the bottom left hand corner, the EquatioIO.exe file.
When you select the file, a new screen will pop up asking you to accept and install, click accept and install.
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.
This will take you to the final screen where you can enter your NetID and password.
Equatio is now installed. Please check out the Equatio website for more on how to use the software.
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.
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:
919 total files
files – 2,018 total pages
files – 4,921 total pages
PowerPoint files – 2,376 total slides
56 Videos –
16:14:08 total run time
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:
840 total files
files – 5,256 total pages
files – 683 total pages
PowerPoint files – 5,168 total pages
119 Videos –
58:17:15 total run time
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.
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:
Open those files in Word on a PC, run the accessibility checker, and fix them.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Copy the embed code from the video website.
Go to your Canvas course.
Edit the page in which you wish to add the video or create a new page.
Below the rich content editor (text box), click on the HTML button — “<>” — to view the code.
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.
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 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.
J.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.
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 Canvas. Create the file as you normally would. (If in Word, run the accessibility checker.) In Canvas, under the “Pages” select “+ Page”. Enter a title for the 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 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.
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.
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.
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.