Ensuring Student Success in Online Courses

June 20th, 2016

by Janice Florent

students putting together puzzle pieces leading toward success as a goal

Many students enroll in online classes because of the convenience and flexibility. Some students mistakenly believe taking an online course is going to be easier than a face-to-face class. It is important that students understand online courses require greater responsibility/ownership for their own learning.

In a recent Faculty Focus article, Poonam Kumar, EdD and Marilyn Skrocki, listed a few simple strategies and techniques instructors can do at the course level to support students’ success in online classes. Those strategies and techniques are:

  • Clearly communicate expectations
  • Prepare students
  • Course organization and layout
  • Chunk the content and scaffold instruction
  • Humanize the course

Following these strategies and techniques can help students to succeed in online courses. If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in the Ensuring Student Success in Online Courses article.

A Quarter of Quiet

June 14th, 2016

Meditation Room

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development invites you to join us for a regular group meditation. We’ll meet each Thursday afternoon throughout the summer of 2016. Drop in when you can.

What to expect?

As the meditation room is located directly beneath the bell tower, we are using the bells in our meditation. They chime quarterly, so our period of silence begins at 12:30 and ends at 12:45.

But I’ve never done this before!

You needn’t have any experience with meditating; just stop by and give it a try. There’s no commitment and no pressure.

Why meditate?

Meditation has numerous well-documented benefits, including stress management, improved emotional balance, increased focus and awareness and increased responsiveness to student needs.

  • Date: June 8-August 4, 2016
  • Time: 12:30 – 12:45 PM
  • Location: Meditation Room, St. Katharine Drexel Chapel
  • Sponsor: CAT+FD

Photo credit: Bart Everson

No registration necessary; just join us when you can.

Bb Tip #158: Changes to Turnitin are Coming

June 6th, 2016

Turnitin has released a major product upgrade that will soon be available with our Blackboard integration. The new version of the service, called Turnitin Feedback Studio, offers all the functionalities of Turnitin, but with a simplified, more intuitive interface.

Turnitin Feedback Studio logo

Turnitin Feedback Studio’s simplified, more intuitive user experience brings together the grading, feedback, and similarity checking services in one view. Additionally, the contextual marking approach of the iPad app allows educators to click anywhere on the paper and leave a comment, QuickMark Comment, or text comment at any time.

Turnitin Feedback Studio will make it faster and easier than ever to promote academic integrity, provide actionable feedback, and evaluate student learning.

Our version of Turnitin is scheduled to be upgraded to Turnitin Feedback Studio in between the summer and fall semesters. Once upgraded, you can expect to see a new interface when you open up a student’s paper in Turnitin. Your students will also experience this new and improved interface when viewing Similarity Reports and receiving feedback.

Want more information?

Try out an interactive demo
Review the Feedback Studio Instructor Guide
Review the Feedback Studio Student Guide
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Bb Tip #157: VoiceThread

May 29th, 2016

VoiceThread is powerful learning tool that extends the classroom by allowing users to have conversations or discussions around audio and visual media without scheduling a specific time to meet. VoiceThread humanizes interactions in an online environment. VoiceThread can be used to enhance student engagement and online presence.

VoiceThread conversations in the cloud

VoiceThread adds a more personal element to the online experience when utilizing the features of commenting via voice. By hearing and seeing the instructor and classmates during a VoiceThread, a familiarity develops that feeds deeper participation. Utilizing VoiceThreads can give you and your students a “voice.”

What is VoiceThreading? [01:20]

With VoiceThread, instructors and students can create, share, and comment on media (e.g., images, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, videos, audio files, documents, PDFs) using a microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio-file upload.

Additionally, VoiceThread is integrated into our Blackboard system which gives us Single Sign-On authentication and Grade Center integration.

Voicethread is currently available at no cost to Xavier faculty and students.

Want more information?

Explore VoiceThread at XU
Sample VoiceThreads:
Photographs That Changed the World
Visual Thinking
VoiceThread Digital Library
How to Humanize Your Online Class with VoiceThread (free ebook)
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at help.blackboard.com.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

May 19th, 2016

by Karen Nichols

Just a quick note about Global Accessibility Awareness Day.  CAT + has posted often on the topic of accessibility and the importance of design features in our courses that benefit ALL learners.  But I think this organization has really good intentions–“The purpose of GAAD is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities” so I thought I would share the web address with you.

In 2011 blogger John Devon posted on accessibility issues, especially in technology, and his blog sparked enough interest to create GAAD.

Take a look at their site, join in some of the activities and like them on Facebook if you appreciate their efforts.  Thank you, merci, gracias (their site is not only accessible, but is multi-lingual!).

various accessibility icons

Engaging Students in eLearning

May 10th, 2016

by Janice Florent

engaging students in eLearning infographic

Engaging students in eLearning can be more challenging than in a face-to-face class. Follow the 5 do’s presented in the Engaging Students in eLearning Infographic to create an engaging online course for your students.

5 Tips To Engage Your Students in eLearning

  1. Stay Relevant – All content, heading, and subheading should be relevant to the course.
  2. Stay Organized – Keep the screen neat and clutter-free. You never want to distract the student from your content.
  3. Keep it Interesting – Both your content and your design should be interesting to the student.
  4. Remain Up-To-Date – Update your course often to ensure your content is always accurate.
  5. Add Interactions – Only add interactions that are necessary, such as links, videos, or file downloads.

Reflections on Reflection

May 5th, 2016


A special issue of the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice examines the theme of “Reflection for Learning in Higher Education.”

The journal is online and open access so anyone can read the articles at ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/

In addition to general approaches to the value of reflection in higher education and experiential learning, articles also cover the role of reflection in science, medical education, psychology, and even accounting.

Great STEM resource (and other disciplines too)!

May 5th, 2016

by Karen Nichols

At last month’s OLC Innovate Conference here in New Orleans, I attended many interesting sessions. I found the one on Brainfacts.org particularly useful and would like to share it with you.

The Brainfacts site is the brainchild of the Society for Neuroscience.  According to the presenter, Alissa Ortman, the original intent was to publish correct information in easy to understand language and dispel myths about their field.  The site, which now has numerous partners and contributors, is a safe, reliable resource for you to recommend to your students.  The contributors are all vetted and the information is presented using a variety of tools and platforms and written at about a tenth-grade level.  You can also sign up for their blog, or follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Information for Educators, the Press and Policymakers may be accessed from the top right of the homepage.  The information has been curated into 6 categories in a dropdown format which can be accessed from several different webpages.  They are:  About Neuroscience, Brain Basics, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving, Diseases & Disorders, Across the Lifespan, and In Society.

Here are a few links to give you a sample of the information and formats:

Video:  Why Does Food Make Your Mouth Water?

Podcast: Patient HM and His Missing Memories

Blog:  Zika:  10 Things to Know

I’m following Brainfacts.org on both Facebook and Twitter and I hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful too.


Going from Face-to-face to Online Teaching

May 2nd, 2016

by Janice Florent

two faces looking at each other with a series gears where the brains would be

Successfully moving courses online involves more than simply transferring what you are currently doing in your face-to-face class to the online class. If your aim is to create a meaningful online learning experience with long-lasting effects, you will have to rethink the way you teach.

In a recent Faculty Focus article, Rob Kelly quoted Professor Paul Caron who said,

If you simply take your face-to-face class and put it online and teach it electronically, you will fail miserably.

Rob goes on to list some challenges with moving your course online and ways you can overcome them. They are,

Communicate frequently. The online learning environment lacks the visual and auditory cues that instructors and students often take for granted in the face-to-face classroom. This lack of visual and auditory cues can hinder the ability to develop rapport, motivate, and engage students.

Use multimedia. Multimedia can stimulate more than one sense at a time, and in doing so, may be more attention-getting and attention-holding than just using text alone. You can build a community with audio and increase your presence with video.

Monitor “attendance.” Online courses require students to be self-directed learners. If students are not accessing the course regularly and keeping up with their course work they are less likely to be successful in the course.

Make the subject relevant. One of the challenges of teaching a core course is that students aren’t automatically interested in the subject. When students see how the course is relevant to them, they stay interested. Invite guest speakers to provide career specific examples or include “real world” examples to illustrate course content. Design assignments to be flexible and allow students to pursue interests.

Rather than trying to replicate the face-to-face classroom, online, you want to design an experience that engages students in learning in a way that fosters their interest and curiosity, and ultimately facilitates deep-level learning that comes to them by way of technology. (Parker, 2013).

If this blog post has piqued your interest, you can read more in the Faculty Focus article, From F2F to Online: Getting It Right as well as the following blog posts:

Yes, you can add service learning to online courses!

April 29th, 2016

by Karen Nichols with contributions by Jeremy Tuman

Jeremy Tuman, our faculty-in-residence for service learning, recently collaborated with me on a presentation about adding service learning to online courses. I’d like to share our presentation with you and invite you to provide any feedback you may have. Thank you!