Download Conversation #55

Follow the ArrowA change from our ordinary conversational format, this episode features a montage of commentary recorded in the spring of 2015 under the auspices of Dr. Megan Osterbur. We asked two questions: What does sustainability means to you? What can Xavier do to be more sustainable? Answers come mainly from students and staff. The closing thought comes from Dr. Kimberly Chandler.

keep calm it's a known issue

After our recent Blackboard system upgrade, instructors began to receive an "Access Denied" error message when attempting to access an unavailable discussion board forum. If an instructor choses the option to make the discussion board unavailable and/or once the display until date/time has past, the instructor will receive an “Access Denied” error message when attempting to access the discussion board.

This is a known issue and will be corrected with the next Blackboard system upgrade. Upgrades to our Blackboard system are normally done between semesters because the system has to be taken down to do the upgrade. Our next upgrade is scheduled to happen in between the spring and summer semesters.

In the meantime, you can use the following workaround if you use discussion boards AND set them up with availability restrictions. The assumption for applying date/time restrictions is that after a certain day and time, the instructor does not want the students to have access to the discussion board. If this your goal, then the workaround to add a link to the discussion board forum and set the availability restrictions on the link should work for you.

Note: Locking discussion threads will let students read posts once the date restriction has past but not be able to submit new posts. The assumption for locking discussion threads is that the discussion board is setup so that students cannot create new threads. The instructor creates the forum and the threads and then students reply to the threads. If you think this may be an option for you, read my blog post for more information on how to lock discussion threads.

Follow these steps to do it.

To add a link to a discussion board forum in a content area:

  1. Turn Edit Mode ON.
  2. Access the content area that you want to add the discussion board forum link to.
  3. On the menu bar, roll your mouse over [Tools] then click on [Discussion Board].
  4. Click on the “Select a Discussion Board Forum” radio button and then select the discussion board forum from the list.
  5. Click [Next].
  6. Enter assignment instructions and select your availability options for the link.
  7. Click [Submit].

Note: The steps above set restrictions on the link to the discussion board forum, not the discussion board forum itself. The discussion board forum that you are linking to should be made available with no date/time restrictions. Therefore, you must remove the availability restrictions from the discussion board forum in order for this workaround to work. The restrictions set in the forum link will determine when students see the link to the discussion board forum. It also determines whether they see the discussion board forum when they access the discussions tool.

Want more information?

Add Discussion Board Forum Link to Content Area (PDF)
Lock Discussion Threads
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.

According to Robert Porter, a faculty member's first grant is often the most difficult one to get funding. "When they are new to the grant game," says Porter, "even scholars with fine publishing records can struggle with proposal writing." To address this often overlooked challenge, in 2015, thanks to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Xavier's Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development began a new program called "Support for First-Time Grant Writing," as a means of providing Xavier faculty who have never served as the Principal Investigator on a grant the time to develop a strong proposal for an external grant to fund a scholarly project. According to Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer, Director of CAT+FD, "By providing release time for faculty to work on and submit that first grant proposal, this program will help faculty members sustain their research and scholarship even in the face of a heavy teaching load."

...continue reading "Grant Writing Success"

Download Conversation #54

Saundra McGuire

A conversation with Saundra McGuire on teaching, learning, and teaching students to learn.

Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire is the Director Emerita of the Center for Academic Success and retired Assistant Vice Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry at Louisiana State University. Prior to joining LSU, she spent eleven years at Cornell University, where she received the coveted Clark Distinguished Teaching Award. She has delivered keynote addresses or presented workshops at over 250 institutions in 43 states and eight countries. Her latest book, Teach Students How to Learn, was released in October 2015 and is now in its ninth printing. The most recent of her numerous awards is the 2017 American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students to Pursue Careers in the Chemical Sciences (ACS). She also received the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Lifetime Mentor Award and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. She is an elected Fellow of the ACS, the AAAS and the Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations (CLADEA). In November 2007 the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring was presented to her in a White House Oval Office Ceremony. She received her B.S. degree, magna cum laude, from Southern, her Master’s from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, where she received the Chancellors Citation for Exceptional Professional Promise. She is married to Dr. Stephen C. McGuire, a professor of physics at Southern. They are the parents of Dr. Carla McGuire Davis and Dr. Stephanie McGuire, and the doting grandparents of Joshua, Ruth, Daniel, and Joseph Davis.

Links for this episode:


Last fall, Xavier faculty member Dr. Mark Gstohl, of the Department of Theology, led an interesting service-learning project in partnership with A Studio in the Woods, a nonprofit artist retreat and learning center located in New Orleans. Working with artist Jacqueline Ehle Inglefield as part of a residency series called "Flint and Steel: Cross-disciplinary Combustion," the two built a shrine to the bottomland hardwood forrest, the purpose of which was to "reignite a reverence for nature." To link thematically with Dr. Gstohl's Comparative Religion class, the shrine referenced religious scriptures and past spiritual practices. The shire was meant to "encourage contemplation of the global impact of habitual consumption and waste and how our spiritual relationship with the natural world may influence our individual acts and determine our collective impact on our environment."

For their part, Dr. Gstohl's students created handouts and posters detailing how various religions approach environmental issues, and presented their research at A Studio in the Woods' "Forestival" last November. The shrine also was displayed at Xavier's Art Village. Thus, this project engaged students with the community on several levels, artistic and environmental, fostered awareness of environmental issues in the community, and contributed to the creation of public art, which nourishes the spirit of the community. The project provided an invaluable cultural experience for the students, introducing them to intersections of art, public space, and environmental justice, while immersing them in theological history, demonstrating the ability of service-learning to achieve unique academic and civic outcomes.


The "Flint and Steel" residencies, designed by Tulane, who manages A Studio in the Woods, seek to link artists with invested academic partners to "inspire each other in the development of new work, to excite the public, and to fuel social change. creative discourse." The residencies align with the larger purpose of A Studio in the Woods to pair "land preservation with intimate artist residencies centered on environmental challenges and connecting artists to the local community." Originally purchased in 1968, the site, in a remote wooded area in the very eastern corner of New Orleans' "west bank" of the Mississippi River, evolved organically from a site of wetlands preservation to a tranquil artist retreat, where "artists can reconnect with universal creative energy and work uninterrupted within this natural sanctuary."


Dr. Gstohl serves as Head of Xavier's Department of Theology, and has served previously as Faculty-in-Residence for service-learning, and as Fellow in Xavier's Freshman Seminar program, where his passion for social justice and commitment to Xavier's mission have greatly benefitted the Xavier and New Orleans communities, as exhibited through service-learning projects such as this one.

-Jeremy Tuman

*Quoted text is from materials published by A Studio in the Woods and by Dr. Gstohl.

As we start this new semester students will have a lot of questions. I'm a big fan of setting up your Blackboard course to minimize student questions. A lot of student questions are asked via email. I provided some tips on how you can manage student emails in previous CAT FooD blog post.

For those times when students do need to send email to you, you can give them a one click solution to make it easy for them to send you email from inside your Blackboard course.

Here’s a Bb ninja trick to do the job.

ninja star embedded in a tree

Follow these steps to do it.

To add an “Email the Professor” link to your course menu:

  1. From the [Add Course Menu] option, choose [Course Link].
  2. Click on [Browse] in the Add Course Link window.
  3. Choose [All Instructor Users] from the pop-up window. This can be found in the Tools area under Send Email.
  4. Change the name field to “Email the Professor” and make sure the Available to Users box is checked. Click Submit.

Note: The Tools link must be in your course menu for these instructions to work. Refer to the step-by-step instructions if you need to add the Tools link to your course menu.

Want more information?

Step-by-step instructions are available [Email the Professor (PDF)]
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.


by Karen Nichols

Campus has been quite lonely without the students, but they'll be back next Monday.  You'll see many of them plugged in, texting, posting on SnapChat and participating in various social media.  But do you talk to your students about their digital footprints?

digital footprint

Dawn McGuckin wrote an article for the December 5, 2016 issue of Faculty Focus--"Teaching Students about Their Digital Footprints."  She gives presentations around the country to educators so that they can in turn help their students realize the lasting effects of their social media posts and how their actions can impact their future, especially when they enter the job market or are applying to graduate school.

She gives several suggestions for having this conversation such as showing students examples of people who have been fired for what they posted on such sites as Facebook.  Of course, employers are suspicious of people who have no internet presence, so just staying away from social media may also be detrimental.

Having students Google themselves is another way for them to see that anyone can easily obtain information about them.  Once they see what can be found, they may be more open to your suggestions of setting strict privacy limits, or in some cases, completely deleting certain accounts with questionable photos or tweets.

In addition to talking to your students about the negative impact of their digital footprints, also offer them some positive ways that would make them attractive to future employers or graduate school programs.  For example, have your students set up a LinkedIn account in order to start making good connections now.  Dawn even has her students link to her so that she can be one of their first professional contacts.

Please share with us the results if you do have this conversation with your students.  And, have you Googled yourself lately?  You may just want to make sure nothing negative about you is out there for your students or others to see!


CAT+FD Online Teaching Resources logo

In a US News and World Report article, Ian Quillen identified six signs of a bad online instructor. The list included things like a syllabus that is unclear, no set timetable for responding to emails, and simply converting print resources used in the face-to-face class. Ian’s article was intended to help students access the quality of an online class and be able to withdraw if necessary. However, this list can also be used to help online/hybrid instructors recognize where their course may be in need of improvement.

Additionally, we have developed an online teaching resource to help faculty develop or improve their online and hybrid courses. Check out our new CAT+FD Online Teaching Resources and let us know what you think.

A crowd of faculty joined us back in November for Dr. Suzanne Goodney Lea's fascinating workshop on "Engaging Students in Research: Lessons from Collecting Police Use of Deadly Force Data," presented by CAT+FD in partnership with the Center for Undergraduate Research.

If you missed the workshop, or if you'd like to review it, you're in luck, because it's one of the first presentations we've recorded with our shiny new Swivl.


What's that, you ask. Why, it's the latest rotating robotic lecture-capture wonder-gizmo. It's truly slick, and must be seen in action to be fully appreciated.

We don't have the fancy Swivl Pro account which would allow embedding the video right here in our blog, but never fear! It's just a click away:

Note: There were some audio recording problems. We are not sure why the audio recording level dropped midway through. It is still audible but you may need to adjust your speakers. Our stalwart Technology Coordinator is in the process of contacting Swivl Tech Support to find out what they think may have gone wrong.

Many thanks to Dr. Lea for giving her permission to be our guinea pig.

By all means, let us know what you think!


As you prepare for the start of the semester, it is a good time to get started setting up your Blackboard courses. Blackboard courses are automatically created using the course information in Banner a few weeks before the start of the semester. You can post your syllabus, course documents, and announcements to your Blackboard courses. You can also customize your course menu and/or add a course banner.

If you teach a course that is cross listed you will have a Blackboard course for each cross listing. You can combine the cross listed courses into one Blackboard course so that you can post course materials and grades to one combined Blackboard course. Combining courses may also work for you if you are teaching different sections of the same course and would like to have the different sections combined into one Blackboard course so that you can post course documents and grades in the one combined course. The beginning of the semester is the best time to combine your Blackboard courses before you add course material or grades to the courses.

NOTE: Currently, the section merge tool is no longer available. A system administrator will have to merge your courses. Send an email to Yamlak Tsega ( if you want to merge courses. You should include the course ID (including CRN) for all the courses you want merged together. The course merge process requires that a brand new empty Blackboard course be created that will serve as the primary course for all the merged sections. If you have any course content that needs to be retained in one of the courses to be merged, it will have to be exported and then imported into the newly created combined course. Please include that information with your request to merge courses.

Follow these steps to do it.

Listed below are links with instructions for

Want more information?

Attend a drop-in session to get one-on-one help.
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.