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D2L excellence award badgeThe Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development (CAT+FD) at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) is proud to announce that we have received the 2024 D2L Excellence Award for our work on #LearnEverywhereXULA (LEX) and #LEX Advanced. The D2L Excellence Award recognizes leaders, educators, and trainers who have used D2L Brightspace to help further the innovation, progress, and betterment of learning experiences in their organizations.

The Challenge: Advancing Faculty Expertise Through Instructional Continuity

We were faced with the challenge of preparing faculty for effective online instruction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly because D2L Brightspace was new to us.

Our Solution: #LearnEverywhereXULA (LEX) and #LEX Advanced

To address this challenge, CAT+FD developed two innovative programs:

  • #LearnEverywhereXULA (LEX): This self-paced online course helps faculty members develop high-quality, well-designed courses in Brightspace. It is based on the eight General Standards for Higher Education set forth by Quality Matters. By completing the course, faculty gain the skills and knowledge they need to create effective online learning experiences for XULA students.
  • #LEX Advanced: This program goes beyond the basics, helping instructors explore advanced features in Brightspace. These features allow faculty to increase their presence in their courses, streamline workflows, and improve overall efficiency. Ultimately, this leads to more user-friendly, accessible, and effective online courses.

The Results: Increased Proficiency and Improved Courses

Thanks to #LEX and #LEX Advanced, XULA faculty have become more proficient in using Brightspace to deliver high-quality online instruction. This has led to increased use of the platform's tools and better alignment with Quality Matters standards.

A Note of Thanks

The CAT+FD team is grateful to D2L for recognizing our work and awarding us with the 2024 D2L Excellence Award. We would also like to acknowledge Drs. Jason S. Todd and Tiera S. Coston for their contributions and help in developing #LEX and #LEX Advanced.

For More Information

Xavier faculty who are interested can use this enrollment request form to request enrollment in the #LearnEverywhereXULA course.

We’ve included a link to D2L’s press release and the case study.

young black woman looking at a computer screen

A misconception about 21st-century students is that they are proficient with all technology, even in the absence of clear instructions. Many students know how to use online platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook for fun, but have no idea how to leverage them for academic or professional use.

In an article in the Times Higher Education, Elizabeth Losh says universities must stop presuming that all students are tech-savvy. Many educators assume that young people are digital natives and they should know how to use technology. Gen Z may be savvy about using social media personally. However, they are not as savvy about how to use tech tools academically or professionally.

I don't appreciate when professors just assume because we are young we know how to use this stuff...we are learning with y'all. - Anonymous Xavier Student

In feedback from some Xavier students, they stated that their professors assume they know how to use Brightspace when in fact they do not. To better serve our students, faculty should not assume students are digital natives. Instructors can help students learn the basics for the tools that will be used in their course by providing them links to how-to resources.

Did you know that we have a list of Brightspace how-to resources for students on our CAT FooD blog? You can find Brightspace how-to resources at the following links:

Additionally, here's an example of how you might include how-to instructions for a discussion forum in your Brightspace course:

example of a Q&A discussion forum
Example of Q&A discussion forum with instructions on how to post to the forum

In this example, instructions for the Q&A forum are provided along with instructions on how to post to the forum as well as a link to a how-to video.

Including information on how to use course tools will go a long way to helping students to be successful in your course.

Image credit: image by Aspen from Nappy

NDLW logo

November 6 – 10, 2023 is National Distance Learning Week (NDLW). This is the 16th Anniversary of NDLW.

In association with NDLW, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is offering free webinars focused on how AI is impacting the industry with respect to education and training. A few other organizations are offering free webinars during NDLW as well.

For more information on the activities and to register for the webinars visit NDLW 2023.

Often instructors are looking for images to use in their courses because images can liven up the course and help students understand the course material.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it might also be worth a thousand dollars if your school gets hit with a copyright violation claim. —Eric Curts

There are many high quality pictures that can be used without any licensing concerns. These can include images that are released under creative commons, or are in the public domain, or simply are copyright-free.

Eric Curts compiled a list of free image sites and tools for schools that you may find helpful in your search for free images.

free image sites for schools

Two sites I use often that didn't make Curt's list are Creative Commons (CC) Search and the Noun Project.

Are you looking for images of diverse people? This curated list of image collections featuring diverse people by Online Network of Educators may be of interest to you.

black students working on laptop computer

Images have the power to enhance your message or story, they can also become a big distraction when used improperly. Check out this Mistakes to Avoid When Using Photos in eLearning blog post for some common mistakes.

Additionally, you may find an image you want to use, but you would like to make changes to it. You can find free photo and image editing tools in this eLearning Industry blog post by Christopher Pappas. Just make sure the image copyright gives you permission to modify the image.

If you are looking for information on copyright and Creative Commons, our Creative Commons (CC) Wiki Resource has information about CC licenses and CC licensed works that may help.

Image credits:
Image by Eric Curts is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0
Photo by Nappy Studio from

NDLW logo

November 7 – 11, 2022 is National Distance Learning Week (NDLW). This is the 15th Anniversary of NDLW.

In association with NDLW, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is offering free webinars on a variety of topics related to online teaching and learning. A few other organizations are offering free webinars during NDLW as well.

For more information on the activities and to register for the webinars visit NDLW 2022.

hand holding pencil over a bubble answer sheet with some answers bubbled in

Traditional testing relies on multiple choice, true/false, and written response type questions. In authentic assessments, students apply concepts to real world situations by completing meaningful task-based assessments. This type of assessment engages a variety of skills and effectively measures higher levels of learning than traditional assessment.

Authentic assessments are widely viewed as pedagogically superior, yet multiple-choice assessments are often preferable to instructors and students alike.

In an Inside Higher Ed opinion piece, Eric Loepp challenges instructors to rethink the premise that multiple-choice questions cannot meet the standards of authentic assessment. He argues that there are situations where higher-order multiple-choice questions can be used for assessment. If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in his “The Benefits of Higher-Order Multiple-Choice Tests” opinion piece for more information.

Image credit: Exam by Alberto G. licensed under CC BY 2.0

clipart of iPad screen with an online assessment

A common question in online learning is “How do we keep students from cheating in online exams?” A shift from traditional means of assessment (quizzes, tests, exams) to authentic and alternative assessments is critical in virtual settings.

If faculty try to assess their students the same way they did in a face-to-face setting, they will most likely find themselves frustrated, as well as frustrating their students.

In a Faculty Focus article, Laura McLaughlin, EdD, and Joanne Ricevuto, EdD, provided some recommendations to improve the use of assessments in virtual environments and decrease concerns regarding cheating. Their recommendations are:

  1. Allow choice in assessments: Let students decide how they will demonstrate their learning.
  2. Authentic and stackable assessments: Students should be told why they are assigned a particular assessment, and why it is relevant to their learning.
  3. Trust students: Provide alternative assessments (not quizzes and tests) where the concern of cheating is off the table.
  4. Frequent feedback and communication: Provide feedback that helps learners improve their learning.

Teaching in a virtual environment creates an opportunity to rethink your practices, try something new, and embrace deeper and more engaging ways of assessing students without using lockdown browsers or worrying about students cheating.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in this Assessments in a Virtual Environment: You Won’t need that Lockdown Browser! article.

Did you miss our (Re)Thinking Exams workshop? If you want to learn about ways you can challenge your students to demonstrate what they've learned while teaching in an online environment, watch this (Re)Thinking Exams workshop recording. In this workshop, Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer and Dr. Jay Todd discussed and demonstrated ways that focused active learning activities can be used in place of more traditional methods of assessment like quizzes and tests.

The sudden shift to remote learning led to concerns about new opportunities for students to engage in unauthorized shortcuts. During spring 2021, three academic integrity and STEM professionals from the University of Maryland Global Campus, a primarily online institution, shared research on academic integrity in online courses, strategies for promoting integrity in remote learning environments, and examples of how content learning is achieved in any setting designed for online education. ICYMI, here's a link to the Proactive Approaches for Academic Integrity in Remote and Online Learning workshop recording.

Image credit: "online assessment" by jflorent is dedicated to the public domain under CC0 and is a derativie of image by coffeebeanworks and image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay



If you are unable to view the embeded Infographic, you can view it here:
How & Why to Humanize Your Online Class

Ready to learn some grammar? How's about something on optional modifiers?

OK, so maybe you're not studying grammar right now, but the point is the technique. This movie was produced by Dr. Jason Todd (English) in our Camtasia studio using our brand-new Lightboard.

How does it work? According to Dr. Todd (and I quote):

Writing big letters and wearing dark clothes is key to getting this look.

He also asserts that our Røde microphone is "awesome."

Please don't be mystified by all this technical jargon. The Lightboard is just a way of doing old-fashioned chalkboard-lectures. Except without the chalk. If you want to make a video like this, don't be shy. Get in touch. We'll help you. We're learning along with you.

  • Learn more at, and be sure to check out the section on "best practices."

Many thanks to Dean Kathleen Kennedy for making this available to Xavier faculty through the College of Pharmacy's Center of Excellence grant.

students typing on laptop keyboard

As we start this semester, you may find yourself shifting to remote teaching due to the surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant. In an Intentional College Teaching blog post, Dr. Bridget Arend suggests that if you are shifting to remote teaching, it is beneficial to do thoughtful planning about how to use the first few remote/online weeks and sessions intentionally. She provided some tips for educators who are starting the semester teaching remotely. Consider your goals for the first few days/weeks of class. What is important? What additional aspects may be necessary due to the current circumstances? Use the answers to these questions to focus your efforts.

Dr. Arend shared the following ideas for starting the semester remotely:

  • Build Community – It is important to build a community of learners in your course.
  • Set Participation/Guideline Norms – The added challenge of a new course format, new technologies, and continually changing policies, makes this aspect more necessary.
  • Get Students Excited About the Content – Perhaps you can front-load some of the more engaging or exciting aspects of the content during these first remote weeks.
  • Be Mindful About Logistics – As you develop your first weeks, keep in mind how things will change with a shift back to an on-campus or hybrid format.
  • Address Your Pedagogical Challenge – Each course has something about it that makes it challenging to teach that subject to the students in that course. Address this challenge head-on from day one, no matter what the format.
  • Take Care of Yourself – Set realistic boundaries for yourself and share these with students. Let students know you genuinely care about them and their learning, but you also need to take care of your own family, health, etc.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in her Tips for Starting the Semester Teaching Remotely blog post.

Image credit: #WOCinTech Chat / CC BY 2.0