encrypt

We have been taking steps to make the CAT+FD site more secure. Most recently, we started serving all our content over a secure connection. From this point on, anytime you're visiting our site (including this blog) you may see "https://" at the beginning of the web address in your browser's location field. You may even see a little padlock symbol.

This varies from browser to browser, but here's how it looks on Chrome:

Secure connection (Chrome)

This means that all the content that flows back and forth between your browser and our site is encrypted, encoded, making it harder for anyone else to snoop.

Of course (unless you're CAT+FD staff) you probably aren't exchanging any sensitive data with our site. Still, it's a good idea, with increasing concern in recent years over civil liberties in an age of ubiquitous surveillance.

It might also be the wave of the future. More and more sites are supporting encryption. Google already favors secure sites in its search results.

Some browsers make it easy for you to examine a site's digital certificate. Here's how that looks in Safari:

Certificate in Safari

This shows you that we are who we claim to be. DigiCert is a third party that verifies Xavier's identity.

Sounds pretty good, right? In fact, you may wonder why all your web transactions aren't secure. Well, it's the same reason why we don't all engage in good password behavior. We know it's good in theory, but in practice we defer and delay. Some sites you visit undoubtedly do support secure transactions — but only if you ask for it. You can encrypt as much as possible by using a browser extension like the Electronic Frontier Foundations's HTTPS Everywhere, available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Android.

Thanks to ITC for helping us to implement HTTPS.

Download Conversation #59


Leyte WinfieldA conversation with Leyte Winfield of Spelman College on mentoring students.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Leyte Winfield is a teacher, scholar, and mentor. She strives to expose everyone to the beauty and versatility of chemistry and to nurture the potential of women of color interested in pursuing degrees in the field. In 1997, she received a commission in the United States Army Reserve where she obtained the rank of captain and was assigned to the Army Medical Institute of Chemical Defense before resigning her commission in September of 2009. Academically, she pursued the study of chemistry with the hope of becoming a cosmetic scientist. Her aspirations led her to obtain a B.S. in Chemistry from Dillard University and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of New Orleans. She is a synthetic organic chemist with experience in academic, industrial, and military laboratories. From these combined experiences she has gained expertise in the various aspects of medicinal drug design, instrumental methods, and synthetic techniques. Her current research interest is to understand the relationship of the structure of a molecule, particularly benzimidazoles, to its activity as a chemotherapeutic for cancers that disproportionately impact the African American community. Her efforts have been recognized by the American Association of Cancer Research and the Council for Undergraduate Research and have been funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. She holds six patents covering more than 500 unique small molecules. Her emerging interest in chemical education and broadening participation has produced two textbooks, several publications, and funding from the national science foundation.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #59: Leyte Winfield on Mentoring"

extra credit

Instructors can setup the Grade Center to calculate extra credit points. Adding an extra credit column to the Grade Center works well if you use total points to calculate grades. The information to add an extra credit column in this Blackboard tip will NOT work if you weight grades.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create an extra credit column:

  1. In the Control Panel, click on [Grade Center] and then select [Full Grade Center].
  2. Click on [Create Column].
  3. On the Create Grade Column page, enter a name for the column (e.g., Extra Credit).
  4. Select [Score] from the Primary Display menu.
  5. Enter 0 for Points Possible.
  6. Select the [Yes] radio button for Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations.
  7. Click [Submit].

NOTE: The method described above does not work with weighted grades because weighted grades are based on a 100% total. Generally, if extra credit is available in class with a weighted grade total, the extra credit must be manually calculated.

Want more information?

Extra Credit Columns
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center
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.

Download Conversation #58


Marcia ChatelainA conversation with Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown University on connecting with students.

Dr. Marcia Chatelain, previously on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma's Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College, researches a wide array of issues in African-American history. Dr. Chatelain writes and teaches about African-American migration, women's and girls' history, and race and food. Dr. Chatelain has served on the boards of the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma and the University of Missouri's Student Affairs division. Dr. Chatelain is a member of the British Council's Transatlantic Network 2020, a 2000 Harry S. Truman Scholar, an alumna and honoree of the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life, and a 2011 German Marshall Fund of the U.S. Fellow. In 2012, Dr. Chatelain was awarded an American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) and a Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her second book, which examines the relationship between communities of color and fast food, has received grants from the Duke University Libraries and the Frances E. Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama. In 2014, Dr. Chatelain created #fergusonsyllabus to encourage educators to discuss the national crisis in Ferguson, Missouri. Dr. Chatelain hosts Office Hours: A Podcast (available on I Tunes) in which she talks to students about the things most important to them.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #58: Marcia Chatelain on Connecting with Students"

zen stones

The demands of teaching an online course doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed. In an eLearning Industry article, Dr. Liz Hardy suggested a few easy steps to help replace the feeling of constant pressure with a calmer, zen-like mindset that will make teaching online easier and more enjoyable. Dr. Hardy’s suggestions are:

Define “urgent”. As you look through your To Do list, determine which items need your immediate attention and which items can be taken care of further down on the list.

Explain your standard time frames. Set expectations for your students so they know what your communications and assignment turnaround policies are.

Come out of the tunnel. When you’ve spent a long time on a task, take a moment to step away from the task at hand. This can help to rejuvenate and recharge you.

Create a sense of achievement. Your morale gets a boost when you can check items off your To Do list. These time management strategies may be able to help.

Revisit your positive feedback. Revisit compliments and positive comments that you’ve received to help lift your spirits.

For more information, read Dr. Hardy’s article Zen and the Art of Teaching Online.

Photo Credit: Zen Stones | CC0

Download Conversation #57


Kim Marie Vaz, Ph.D., LPCA conversation with Kim Vaz-Deville of Xavier's College of Arts & Sciences on enhancing the core curriculum.

Kim Marie Vaz, Ph.D., LPC, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tulane University and her doctorate in educational psychology from Indiana University in Bloomington. Currently, she is a professor of education and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana. She is the author of The ‘Baby Dolls’: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition published by Louisiana State University Press in 2013.

...continue reading "Conversation #57: Kim Vaz-Deville on Core Curriculum Enhancement"

view of typewriter keys on a manual typewriter

Are you slow at typing? Try dictating using Google’s voice typing.

Voice typing is a feature that is available in Google Docs. Voice typing is available in more than 40 languages. Although the results of the voice dictation is not 100% accurate, it can be a quick and easy way to start a rough draft.

To get started with voice typing, you need Google Chrome web browser and a functioning microphone connected to your computer. Login to your Google account and open an existing Google Doc or start a new one. In the ‘Tools’ menu, select ‘Voice typing’. A small pop-up window will appear to the left of your document with a dark microphone icon inside it. Click on the microphone icon. Once the microphone icon turns red you can start speaking. When you are done dictating, click the microphone icon again to turn off the voice typing service.

Google Docs Voice Typing

If you would like to learn more about the commands you can use with voice typing, refer to this Type with your voice help document or simply say “Voice commands help” when you are voice typing.

Photo credit: Typewriter keys | CC0

By J. Todd

One of the challenges of team-teaching is the grading. Grading is always a problem, as far as many of us are concerned, but it creates unique issues when more than one faculty member is teaching the class. When you look at the literature about better practices for team-teaching, always included is the very strong advice that grading practices and grading responsibilities be clearly agreed upon and established early on — before the class ever meets. Blackboard has made this challenge more manageable with their new Delegated Grading option. ...continue reading "Team-teaching Means Team-grading"

Download Conversation #56


Ross LouisA conversation with Ross Louis of Xavier's Communication Studies department on service learning.

Ross Louis joined the Communication Studies program at Xavier in 2003 and teaches courses from a performance studies perspective. He is the co-founder of the Performance Studies Laboratory at Xavier University of Louisiana. Recent projects include This Other World (a site-specific performance of Richard Wright’s haiku) and “Performing Presence in the Haiku Moment” (forthcoming in Text and Performance Quarterly).

...continue reading "Conversation #56: Ross Louis on the Monument Crisis"