Skip to content

This is a guest post from Dr. Renée Akbar.

Dr. Renée Akbar
Dr. Renée Akbar is an associate professor in Educational Leadership at Xavier University of Louisiana, in the Division of Education and Counseling.

When the university was closed for Katrina, many of us continued, online. For the Division of Education and Counseling (DOEC), this is what kept our Division alive. We were forced to connect with and teach the graduate students, who were displaced to every corner of the Unites States. We maintained our graduate program online and not one of us had online teaching experience; so, we improvised. The online platform was suspended when the university returned to campus.

Fast forward to 2016. DOEC faculty designed an online Ed. D. program, but could not fully adopt the “online philosophy” of do-it-yourself learning. Instead, we preferred to stay connected with our students as you do in a face-to-face environment. Sometimes the Ed. D. faculty hold a 3-hour lecture for a class, via Zoom. Sometimes we have virtual discussions where we view and discuss projects or work in small groups. We call this virtual teaching or teaching online. And, that is different than online teaching.

Currently we are all called to virtual teachers. So I am sharing some of my Lessons Learned:

  • Time has to be spent orienting the students to the online format and your style of virtual teaching.
  • Be specific as to where you post what is needed for class on Brightspace.
    Know that the students will actually use Brightspace.
  • Just like a face-to-face lecture, a virtual lecture can also be non-engaging.
  • You can be just as engaging, virtually, as you are face-to-face.
  • Don’t use a large (e.g., three-hour) block just for lecture.
  • To cover a large block of class time (e.g., three-hour), combine different modes of learning available in Brightspace and/or Zoom—Discussion Board; Quizzes; Videos; Breakrooms for small group instruction, to name a few.
  • Expectations should be clear and nonconfusing.

As we prepare to teach remotely, please know that CAT+FD is here for you. We have compiled suggestions, tips, best practices, and resources in one handy place, on our wiki at: catwiki.xula.edu/KeepTeachingXULA

person with their fingers typing on a computer keyboard

Virtual classrooms and virtual office hours are a great way to keep teaching and learning during a disruption.

Instructors have two options for virtual meetings that are integrated into our Brightspace system. One option is the Brightspace Virtual Classroom and the other option is Zoom Web Conferencing. Instructors should choose whichever tool will meet their needs. To help you choose, I've provided an explanation of these two systems.

Brightspace Virtual Classroom

We have the free version of the Brightspace Virtual Classroom tool. Not all features of this tool is available in the free version. Refer to this Brightspace Virtual Classroom features chart to see if this tool will meet your needs.

IMPORTANT CHANGE TO BRIGHTSPACE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM:
New as of April 2020, limits for the maximum number of participants, session duration, and session recording availability are being adjusted. Here is an overview of the new limits, compared to the previous limits.

New limit in Free version
(in effect April 2020)
Previous limit in Free version
Maximum # of participants 50 100
Session recording availability 14 days 4 months
Session duration 60 minutes 90 minutes

Refer to this Virtual Classroom Knowledge Base for more information on this web conferencing tool.

Zoom Web Conferencing

Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop client and a mobile app that allows users to meet online, with or without video. Zoom users can choose to record sessions, collaborate on projects, and share or annotate on one another's screens, all with one easy-to-use platform. Zoom is integrated into our Brightspace system and is Xavier’s alternative to the Brightspace Virtual Classroom tool.

The Professional Training team at Zoom will be hosting a 45 minute Zoom Meetings for Education Webinar on Monday, March 16th. The webinar starts at 9 am central time. It will focus on the following topics:

  • How to download the Zoom applications and join a Zoom meeting
  • How to schedule a meeting and send out invitations
  • Overview of In-meeting controls and Virtual Classroom tools

You can register for the Zoom Meetings for Education webinar at this link.

Additionally, here’s a list of Zoom resources that you may find helpful:

*NOTE: This document was created by another institution. Steps #1 and #2 are not applicable to our configuration. The information in the remainder of the document is applicable to how Zoom works in our integration.

Want more information?

#KeepTeachingXULA wiki resource
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by JaneMarySnyder from Pixabay

man at desk with his hands grasping his head

If you are teaching a face-to-face class, you may be thinking about how can you put some of your course materials online in a hurry in case of an unplanned event. The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University developed a resource with suggestions on how you can go about putting some of your course content online when you are in a hurry. The resource includes some Brightspace specific examples to give you ideas on how to move some of your course components online.

We have a series of Brightspace workshops planned over the next few weeks. Visit our events page to sign up for an upcoming Brightspace workshop.

Want more information?

Put Contents Online in Case of an Unplanned Event
Check out our Instructional Continuity Wiki
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by lukasbieri from Pixabay

laptop computer

A common assignment given in an online class is for students to participate in a discussion forum. Most discussion forums are setup so that students are asked to respond to a prompt and reply to posts from their classmates. Do you want to setup your online discussion forums to encourage substantive discussions among your students?

In a recent Inside Higher Ed blog post, Dr. Steven Mintz (Senior Adviser to the President of Hunter College for Student Success and Strategic Initiatives) writes,

We don’t simply want our students to respond to a question, but, rather to engage with the course material and take part in a genuine dialogue.

In his blog post, he goes on to give strategies for better ways to embed dialogue and interaction into asynchronous online classes. The strategies he suggests are:

Provide Better Prompts – Prompts that involve higher-order thinking skills and require the students to apply, analyze, compare and contrast, critique, evaluate, explain, infer, predict, propose, solve, and synthesize.

Ask Students to Do Something – Ask students to solve a problem, analyze a case study, take part in a debate, adopt a role or relate the topic to a current event.

Raise the Stakes – Ask students to rate individual posts. Nothing focuses the online student’s mind better than a sense that their writing is being evaluated anonymously by their classmates. You can also raise the stakes by limiting the number of students who participate in each discussion and asking the rest of the class to provide feedback on the discussion as a whole (not on individual postings).

Reimagine How Online Conversations Are Displayed – Help students better visualize the discussion by displaying networks of comments or use word clouds to underscore the key issues that have arisen.

Adopt a Different Model – Perhaps it’s a mistake to transpose a mode of communication that works well in face-to-face, synchronous or one-on-one contexts into the asynchronous realm. There are other ways to create a sense of community, promote collaboration and elicit meaningful ideas and debate.

If this has piqued your interest, you should read Dr. Mintz's, Beyond the Discussion Board, blog post.

ICYMI, read my Improve Online Discussions Using ABCs blog post for suggestions on giving feedback that impacts student performance.

If you are new to using discussions in Brightspace, you can find how-to resources for discussion forums on our blog.

Image credit: image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

Instructors can provide feedback directly in submitted assignments using the Annotations tool. Previously the only option for annotating assignments was by using the Assignment Grader app on your mobile device.

Features available in the Annotations Toolbar are:

  • Text Highlighting
  • Freehand Drawing
  • Text Annotation
  • Note Annotation

The ability to annotate on assignment submissions will assist instructors in providing valuable feedback to students.

Instructors will see the Annotations toolbar within the Assignments Evaluation Submission screen.

Example of an assignment with annotations made by the instructor
Example of an assignment with annotations
Annotations Toolbar
Annotations Toolbar

NOTE: The following file types are supported by the Annotations tool:

  • .doc
  • .docx
  • .rtf
  • .odt
  • .ppt
  • .pps
  • .pptx
  • .ppsx
  • .odp
  • .xls
  • .xlsx
  • .txt
  • .jpg
  • .jpeg
  • .png
  • .tif
  • .tiff
  • .gif (once converted to a PDF, only the first frame of the .gif displays)
  • .pdf

Students have to submit their assignments in one of the supported file types in order for the instructor to use the built-in Annotations tool.

ICYMI, read my blog post on how you can simplify assignment collection by using the Assignments tool.

Want More Information?

Instructor Annotations for Brightspace Assignments (pdf)
Using Annotations for Instructor Feedback (video)
Add Feedback and Evaluations to Assignments
Simply Assignment Collection
Assignments Tool Training Recap
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Continuous Delivery release notes
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

1

Use the Assignments tool to help you set and manage deadlines, unclutter your inbox, and save trees.

email inbox showing there are 6763 unread messages

The Assignments tool is an efficient way to manage and collect your student's individual and group assignments digitally. Brightspace's Assignments Tool allows instructors to create a secure location for students to submit class assignments.

The Assignments tool allows instructors to set up a place for students to submit their assignments digitally, with the ability to:

  • Control the window for submission
  • Facilitate individual submissions or group submissions (provided the groups have been set up using the Groups tool first)
  • Collect and assess submissions (with a connection to the Grades tool, if needed)
  • Enable plagiarism detection through Turnitin

Follow these steps to do it.

To create an assignment submission folder:

  1. On the NavBar (of the course you want to create a submission folder), click Activities and then choose Assignments from the drop-down menu.
  2. Click New Submission Folder.
  3. Enter a Name for your submission folder.
  4. Select a Folder Type.
  5. Do any of the following:
    • Select a Category or click New Category to organize your assignment submission folders.
    • Select a Grade Item, or click New Grade Item.
    • To assign a score, enter a value in the Out Of field.
    • To associate a rubric to the folder, click Add Rubric, or Create Rubric in New Window.
    • Enter instructions in the Instructions field.
    • Add attachments in the Attached Files area.
    • Expand Show Submission Options and select the appropriate settings.
    • Enter your email address in the Notification Email field to receive an email message when a new submission is uploaded to this folder.
    • Choose the option to hide student names during assessment, if appropriate.
  6. Click Save.

Note: You can add the Turnitin plagiarism detection feature to the assignment submission folder using the options in the Turnitin tab. Follow these instructions to enable Turnitin for the assignment submission folder.

Want More Information?

Assignments:
Turnitin:

Assignments Tool Training Recap
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Continuous Delivery release notes
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by gabrielle_cc from Pixabay

The #1 Brightspace complaint we hear from students is that faculty don't post their grades online. When students don’t receive meaningful and timely feedback about their coursework, they are unable to make the necessary adjustments to improve their performance.

keep calm and let's recap

Last semester's "Grade Book and College Readiness" training session focused on 1) why using the Grade Book to provide students with their standing in the course is important and 2) how to setup and enter grades in the Grade Book.

in case you missed it

In case you missed the training session or if you attended the training session and want to recap what was covered, you can review these resources:

update

D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model gives us regular monthly updates allowing for incremental and easily integrated changes with no downtime required for our Brightspace system.

Our Continuous Delivery update occurs on the 4th Thursday of each month. D2L provides release notes to help users stay up-to-date with the changes.

Here are a few updates in the February 2020/20.20.2 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Assignments - Streamlined access to inline feedback

To streamline access to assignment feedback, learners can now immediately access inline feedback from User Progress, Grades, and Assignments. From these tools, the View Inline Feedback link takes the learner directly to the annotations view (or Turnitin viewer, if that is the tool used to provide feedback). The inline feedback also includes a link to the file for the assignment, so learners know which document contains the feedback. Previously, the View Inline Feedback link took the learner to the Assignment feedback summary page, where they had to click a second link to view the feedback.

Class Progress view for instructors and learners displaying the View Inline Feedback link
Class Progress view for instructors and learners displaying the View Inline Feedback link, which now opens directly in the annotation view
Grades view for learners displaying the View Inline Feedback link
Grades view for learners displaying the View Inline Feedback link, which now opens directly in the annotation view

Assignments view for learners displaying the View Inline Feedback link
Assignments view for learners displaying the View Inline Feedback link, which now opens directly in the annotation view

2) EXIF data warning appears when uploading images

In some instances, when users upload .jpg files in any file upload area across Brightspace Learning Environment, an EXIF (exchangeable image file) data warning appears informing the user that the file may contain geolocation data.

3) Course Administration - Course Reset

Course Reset is a new tool that enables a course administrator to reset a course back to an empty shell. Course Reset permanently deletes course content, activities, associated files, user grades, user progress records, and interaction data from the course in a single bulk process. Users can optionally choose to include course groups, and/or course widgets, navbars, and homepages as part of the course reset process, or leave them in the course.

The Course Reset process does not affect user enrollments, sections and section enrollment, course associations, course paths associated to the course, user progress in linked SCORM objects, LOR objectsin Brightspace Learning Repository, portfolio objects saved to a users' Portfolio or ePortfolio, ePortfolio sharing groups or forms, email/instant messages sent to or from users in the course, LTI tool provider information, and Activity Feed posts.

Course Reset permanently deletes the course data and it will not appear in any reporting or data sets after the course reset process is complete. After performing a course reset, an Audit Log maintains a record of the course reset action, including the date and time of the course reset, the data that was selected for deletion, the user who performed the course reset, and any errors that occur during the course reset process.

4) Grades – Tab delimited import into Gradebook

Users can now import tab separated value (.tsv) files into Gradebook. Previously, users could only import comma delimited files into Gradebook, which created a usability issue in some international regions.

5) Quick Eval - Course level filtering

When opening Quick Eval within a course, only the list of activities and submissions related to that course display. This helps instructors easily view and evaluate submissions on a course-by-course basis. If an instructor wants to view all submissions across all their courses, they can still use the More Options menu to see the Multi-Course Quick Eval, or open Quick Eval from outside of a course.

6) Quick Eval - Dismiss activities until next submission

Instructors can now remove items from their Quick Eval list until a new submission is received for the activity. The removed activity appears on the Dismissed Activities list and can be restored at any time. Once a new submission arrives to the Quick Eval list, the previously dismissed activity reappears there.

Previously, instructors could only select a specific date or forever when dismissing an activity. This new option provides instructors with an additional option to manage the submissions on their Quick Eval list.

7) Video Note – Automatic Closed Captioning

To improve accessibility, video notes now provide automatic closed captioning for newly created videos and the ability to manually add or update closed captioning for all previously recorded videos. After video processing, users can view closed captions using video player controls.

In addition, users can now download a transcript and the closed caption file associated with a video independent of Video Notes.

Localized closed captioning is available for the following languages:

  • US English (en-US)
  • British English (en-GB)
  • Canadian French (fr-CA)
  • German (de-DE)
  • Brazilian Portuguese (pt-BR)
  • Korean (ko-KR)
  • Italian (it-IT)
  • Spanish (es-US)
  • Modern Standard Arabic (ar-SA)
  • Russian (ru-RU)
  • Japanese (ja-JP)
  • Turkish (tr-TR)
  • Dutch (nl-NL)
  • Chinese Mandarin (zh-CN)

Notes:

  • Canadian English is not available for closed captioning and defaults to en-US.
  • Chinese Traditional (zh-TW) closed captions are not currently available and defaults to zh-CN.
  • Mexican Spanish (es-MX) closed captions may not be available and defaults to US Spanish (es-US)
  • Swedish closed captions are not available.

A video with closed captions
A video with closed captions

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the February Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform February 2020/20.20.2 Release Notes.

Additionally, refer to the Brightspace Release Notes for Continuous Delivery Releases, for details about current, past, and to preview upcoming continuous delivery updates.

Want more information?

View current, past, and preview upcoming Continuous Delivery release notes
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

A conversation between Emily McIntire, Roxane Chan, and Bart Everson on teaching, learning, and simulating poverty to stimulate compassion.

Emily McIntire has a master’s degree in nursing with a focus on nursing education and is the director of the simulation laboratory at Michigan State University. She is working toward her PhD in Nursing Science to research best educational practices in nursing education design and delivery.

Roxane Raffin Chan received her PhD from the University of Michigan and is a board-certified advanced holistic nurse. She researches using mindfulness interventions for persons with chronic disease.

Both Roxane and Emily are recipients of the Billie Diane Gamble Undergraduate Faculty Teaching Excellence/Enrichment Award.

Bart Everson is a media artist and creative generalist at Xavier University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development. His recent work draws on integrative learning, activism, critical perspectives on technology, and Earth-based spiritual paths.

Links for this episode:

  • The Community Action Poverty Simulation was created by Missouri Community Action Network
  • Check out the original research that started Roxane and Emily on the contemplative pathway in the college of nursing:
    Participatory action inquiry using baccalaureate nursing students: The inclusion of integrative health care modalities in nursing core curriculum. Nurse Educ Pract. 2017 Jan;22:66-72. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2016.12.003. Epub 2016 Dec [link]

Transcript:

Coming soon!

CC icons and share your ideas

I have written a few blog posts about the importance of using appropriately licensed materials in your courses and for your digital projects. Finding quality images, audio, video, etc. can be daunting. When you find something that you want to use, you must make sure the license allows you to do so.

I recently completed the Creative Commons (CC) Certificate course. The Certificate is an in-depth course about CC licenses, open practices and the ethos of the Commons. I was excited when the opportunity to take this 10-week Certificate course came about. I felt knowing more about Creative Commons would help me to better understand and use CC licensed works appropriately. Also, I wanted to be able to apply CC licenses to my own work. While I knew some things about Creative Commons before starting the course, I realized as I got into the course that there was a lot I didn’t know about CC licenses.

I’m writing this blog post to share information and resources that may help you understand more about CC licenses.

What is a Creative Commons (CC) license? A CC license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work". A CC license is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they (the author) have created.

copyright spectrum

All rights are reserved with copyright. Re-use requires permission from the copyright owner. Whereas, some rights are reserved with CC licenses. Re-use is permitted under the specification shared in the Creative Commons license. The image above describes how CC licenses relate to traditional copyright and the public domain.

If this has this piqued your interest, check out our Creative Commons (CC) Wiki Resource for additional information about CC licenses and CC licensed works.

Image credits:
"Share your ideas" by Nassim Tiachachat is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
"the spectrum of rights" by Michelle Pacansky-Brock is licensed under CC-BY