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!).


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

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 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 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!

Bb Tip #156: End of Semester Tasks

April 26th, 2016

image showing almost there in cutout letters

As we approach the end of the semester there are a few things you can do in Blackboard to wrap up for the semester.

Download your gradebook

Student access to courses is removed two weeks after the end of a semester. During this process all grade book records are deleted. You should download your gradebook to your local computer after you submit your final grades.

Create a master copy of your course

Courses remain on the Blackboard system for three semesters before they are removed. You can request a Master Course Shell that you can use to develop and maintain your course materials. Master Course Shells will not be removed from the Blackboard system.

Hide old courses from view

When you login to Blackboard you will see your courses for previous semesters listed along with the courses you are currently teaching on the Xavier University and Courses tabs. If you do not want to see older courses in the list, you can hide them from view.

Follow these steps to do it.

Instructions are available in previous Bb tips for downloading your grade book, requesting master course shells, and hiding old courses from view.

Want more information?

Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Check out help for instructors at
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.

Conversation #45: Calvin Mackie on STEM

April 19th, 2016

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Download Conversation #45

Calvin Mackie

A conversation with Dr. Calvin Mackie of STEM NOLA on teaching, learning, and service learning.

Dr. Calvin Mackie is one of the nation’s most prolific young STEM and Educational Motivational Speakers and Leaders. He is an award winning mentor, an international renowned motivational speaker, and a successful entrepreneur. His message as a mentor, speaker, entrepreneur and former engineering professor continues to transcend race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and time. His passion and talent is totally devoted to helping people unleash their greatness and transcend personal and societal barriers. Operating under the premise that exposure and experience are two important parameters of success, he utilizes unique strategies and methodologies to motivate and inspire. Calvin Mackie has lectured widely throughout the United States, helping people change the way they think about achieving their lifelong dreams through education in general, and STEM specifically.

Links for this episode:

Spectacular Displays of Questionable Judgment

April 7th, 2016

Some profs in Australia have started a blog to collect selfies and stories of what academics are wearing and why.

With this experiment, we hope to tease out the ethical and political implications of the practice of selfieing in an academic context. We are especially curious about intersections of race, class, feminist and queer politics.

They also want to hear from precarious/adjunct/marginalized academics, but all academic stories and selfies are welcome, including anonymous submissions.

See for yourself: Spectacular Displays of Questionable Judgment

[Spectacular Flyer]

Daphanie Teo writes, “If you think you’d like to submit please do! We’d love to hear your story. Help us use selfies to think through these issues.”

See also: #ilooklikeaprofessor

Conversation #44: Eileen Doll on Service Learning

April 5th, 2016

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Eileen Doll

A conversation with Dr. Eileen Doll of Loyola University on teaching, learning, and service learning.

Eileen J. Doll received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Purdue University in 1986, specializing in Spanish 20th-century literature and the 20th-century theater of Europe. She has published numerous articles on various contemporary dramatists of Spain, and early 20th-century playwrights, in the journals Estreno, Gestos, Anales de la Literatura Española Contemporánea, Hispania, Signa, La Ratonera, Crítica Hispánica, South Central Review, and Discurso Literario, as well as in collections of essays.

Eileen Doll teaches all areas of Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture, as well as introductory, intermediate, and advanced Spanish language classes at Loyola University New Orleans. In May 2008, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences.

Links for this episode: