Top 10 Technology Tips & Time-Savers

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In an effort to help instructors in their work, CATL brainstormed some of the best technology time-savers and tips we have to share with you. Here’s our “Top 10” list. We encourage you to save it for future reference and use.

  1. Have end-of-semester questions about Canvas, such as how to send grades to SIS or give a student extended access to a course for an Incomplete? Consult our End-of-Semester Canvas Survival Guide for answers to these and other frequently asked questions.
  2. Work smarter and not harder by copying over your Canvas materials the next time you teach a course. Besides doing a full course import, did you know that you can also quickly copy a single module or module item to another course or share one with another instructor? You can even reuse imported course announcements by using the delay posting option to schedule them to post at a future date and time.
  3. Speed up your grading and boost transparency by setting up rubrics in Canvas. Once you’ve added a rubric to an assignment or a graded discussion and checked the box to use it for grading, Canvas will calculate the point total automatically when you use it to grade. Plus, rubrics can also be directly tied to your course’s outcomes in Canvas.
  4. Encourage or re-engage specific groups of students using the analytics and inbox features. Check out the weekly student activity trend data available in New Analytics to see which students may need a little prodding or use the “message students who” feature in the Canvas gradebook to give reminders and/or praise for an assignment.
  5. Want to fine tune the pacing of your course? You can add requirements to a module to force students to work through its contents in order. Once you have requirements set up, prerequisites can also be added which require a student to meet the requirements of a previous module before accessing the next.
  6. Consider using Kaltura (My Media) for the most streamlined audio/video experience in Canvas. You can upload and store your audio and video files in Kaltura, which has much greater storage capacity than many other options, and then easily embed your media in Canvas or provide a share link.
  7. Even if you’ve used Kaltura Capture before, you may not be familiar with all the different options for recording, such as the ability to choose a source for each output and toggle your webcam, screen recording, and audio on/off. In Windows, you can even enable system audio to capture audio from videos playing on your computer.
  8. With PlayPosit, you can enhance course videos in minutes by adding interactions for learners to engage with, such as polls or free-response questions. If you create a graded bulb, students’ grades also sync with Canvas automatically.
  9. If you are using Zoom for synchronous online classes or office hours, remember that you can schedule meetings through the Canvas Zoom integration. If you record your meetings, you can also publish these recordings for students to access in Canvas through the Zoom integration.
  10. If you’re looking for ways to add more engagement to your synchronous online lectures, try preparing in-class quizzes or polls for your Zoom meetings. Polls and quizzes can be added to Zoom meetings through the Zoom web portal and then pushed out to students during the meeting. Want to try something similar in an in-person class? Consider exploring PlayPosit’s Broadcast feature.

Overlapping Evidence-Based Practices Using Growth Mindset, Trauma-Informed, and Inclusive Teaching

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In Spring 2022 we had talks from three nationally recognized speakers on the following topics: inclusive teaching, promoting growth mindset, and trauma-informed education. Here are the descriptions of and links to each talk.

  • Growth Mindset: As Dr. Angie Bauer argued, we promote learning and resilience and reduce equity gaps when instructors and students embrace the idea that abilities can be changed and developed (Yeager & Dweck, 2020).
  • Inclusive Teaching: Dr. Addy’s IDI keynote shared more about inclusive teaching as “being responsive to the diversity our class and designing learning environments that include all of our students” (Addy, 2021).
  • Trauma-Informed Education: Dr. Mays Imad asserted that learning is promoted through class environments characterized by security or predictability, transparent communication, peer support, shared decisions, promoting student strengths, recognizing diversity and identity, and a sense of purpose (Imad, 2020).

Applying all three approaches to your work may seem daunting, but there are common, evidence-based teaching strategies that achieve all at once. We list them below, along with how they “fit” each category and linked resources.

Pre-Semester or Early in the Semester

Use positive, student-centered syllabus language.

Gather info to learn about students & build rapport.

Align learning outcomes with what you teach & assess.

  • Growth mindset: Provides outcomes clearly; students can self-assess growth 
  • Inclusive: Sets transparent goals for all and links assessment to them 
  • Trauma-informed: Promotes security with transparent communication 
  • Tools & ideas:

Discuss growth mindset and its impacts with students.

During the Semester

Publish rubrics in advance and use them for grading.

Use active and problem-based learning.

Collect and respond to exam wrapper or mid-term feedback.

  • Growth mindset: Models growth mindset as you show openness to change. 
  • Inclusive: Respects all student voices and promotes reflection 
  • Trauma-informed: Promotes reflection on strengths and shared decisions 
  • Tools & ideas:

Use multiple methods of assessment.

Late in Semester or Post-Semester

Consider authentic assessments vs. “final exams."

 

Collect and reflect upon student feedback.

VoiceThread Contract Ending: Alternatives and Solutions

On June 1, 2022, UWGB faculty, staff, and students will lose access to VoiceThread. After this date, you will no longer be able to create new VoiceThreads or access and reuse old VoiceThread projects in Canvas or on the VoiceThread site. You can, however, download and store past projects in a different application or format before June 1 (see instructions below).

We feel confident about moving forward and being able to help you meet your teaching and learning goals. Instructors have used VoiceThread for several purposes, but we think those same instructional goals can be met with other tools. Please consult the list below to find your particular use(s) of VoiceThread and read about alternative tools or strategies. Still, this blog post is intended only as a reference document. Before you begin modifying your course or activities, we would encourage you to reach out to CATL for a brief consultation about your specific situation, rather than simply reading this information. You can reach us by email (CATL@uwgb.edu), phone (920-465-2541), or by filling out our consultation request form.

Alternatives to VoiceThread by Activity Type

Discussions or Critiques Using Audio or Video Recordings

The most common use for VoiceThread is to facilitate discussions that incorporate audio and video recordings, such as having online students record introduction videos and respond to those of their peers. The good news is that you can still have discussions this way using two tools you are likely already familiar with: Kaltura and Canvas discussion boards. Click the case below for more details.

Use a Canvas discussion board with Kaltura (My Media) audio/video embeds

  1. Set up a Canvas discussion board.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the discussion board description:

Narrated Presentations or Lecture Videos

Some instructors used VoiceThread to record lectures that permit students to add comments on slides. You can instead, however, provide opportunities for student interaction with a pre-recorded lecture by turning your video into a PlayPosit bulb (see this article for a few easy ideas). If you’re simply looking for a lecture recording tool, Kaltura Capture and PowerPoint are great options. Click on the use cases in the accordion below to learn more. You can also read more about recording with Kaltura and PowerPoint in this guide.

Use PowerPoint & Kaltura (My Media)

  1. Record narrations in PowerPoint.
  2. Export the presentation as a .MP4 file with recorded timings and narrations.
  3. Upload the .MP4 file to Kaltura (My Media) in Canvas.
  4. Embed the Kaltura video on a page in Canvas.

Use Kaltura Capture & Kaltura (My Media)

  1. Record your lecture using Kaltura Capture; you can record your webcam footage and your computer screen at the same time.
  2. Once you are finished recording, click Save & Upload in Kaltura Capture to upload the recording to Kaltura (My Media).
  3. Embed the Kaltura video on a page in Canvas.

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & PlayPosit

  1. Record your lecture with PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture and upload to Kaltura (My Media) in Canvas.
  2. For ungraded PlayPosit activities, create a bulb on a Canvas page in the Rich Content Editor. For graded PlayPosit activities, create a Canvas assignment with “External Tool” as the submission type and then create the bulb through the External Tool pop-up window.
  3. On the page or in the Canvas assignment description with the PlayPosit bulb, include instructions on how to interact with the bulb and leave comments in the bulb’s discussion; this PlayPosit student guide is an excellent resource to link.

Student-Created Narrated Presentations

Recorded student presentations are a common method to assess learning, especially in asynchronous online classes. Depending on your assignment learning outcomes, a video link submission to a Canvas assignment may be all you need, however, if you would like students to view and/or comment on peers’ presentations, there are ways to accomplish this using Canvas discussions or PlayPosit peer review assignments.

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a Canvas assignment

  1. Set up a Canvas online submission assignment with “Website URL” checked as the online entry option.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the assignment description:

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a Canvas discussion board

  1. Set up a Canvas discussion.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the discussion description:

Use Canvas Groups, Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a PlayPosit peer review assignment

  1. Set up Groups in Canvas; students will have to review the presentations of the other members in their group, so use that information to determine an appropriate group size.
  2. Create a Canvas assignment with “external tool” as the submission type.
  3. Set up the PlayPosit peer review assignment in the External Tool pop-up window.
  4. Provide instructions on the following in the Canvas assignment description:
    • How to record a video with Kaltura Capture and upload it to Kaltura (My Media) (most PlayPosit assignments will use Kaltura videos, though you can also use YouTube or Vimeo video links).
    • How to submit a PlayPosit peer review assignment, how to view and assess peers’ submissions, and how to view peer and/or instructor feedback on your own submission; this PlayPosit peer review guide for students is an excellent resource to link.

Exporting & Saving VoiceThreads for Future Use

Considerations Before Exporting

VoiceThread, by design, is meant to foster student engagement and discussion. If you are thinking about exporting a VoiceThread to reuse in a future course, first reflect on the purpose of the VoiceThread activity and whether the recorded video version would accomplish the same goals as the original activity. What modifications would you need to make for the video to still be an effective learning experience? Will the video be embedded in a PlayPosit bulb or Canvas discussion to allow for student interaction? Would it be better to redesign the activity and adapt it for another tool entirely?

If you are able to give sound pedagogical reasoning to support exporting and reusing a video of a VoiceThread, or perhaps would just like to keep them for archival purposes, read on.

Guidelines for Exporting VoiceThreads

VoiceThreads can be exported as video files (.mov) that include all slides and comments played in sequence. You can export as many threads as you wish, but it will take an investment of time.

If you used VoiceThread simply to present your own content (e.g., lectures), your downloaded exports can be uploaded to your Kaltura My Media library and shared with students in future classes. As a bonus, machine-generated English captions will be added automatically when you upload the video to Kaltura.

If you have a VoiceThread that includes student comments and you wish to reuse it as a video presentation in a future class, before exporting it, you should first create a copy of the VoiceThread that includes no comments or only instructor comments. Export that “clean” copy to comply with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) law. By law, you cannot share student comments from one class (not even the identities of those students) with another class in the same or future semesters.

Please refer to this knowledgebase article on exporting VoiceThreads and downloading those exports. Note that UWGB’s license includes an unlimited amount of “export credits.”

TIP: To quickly access your personal VoiceThread home page and see your library of threads, first launch any VoiceThread in Canvas, then navigate to voicethread.com/myvoice.

Please export any VoiceThread content you wish to keep a copy of before June 1, 2022.

Questions?

Please remember that CATL is here to help! If you would like help adapting your VoiceThread activities and assignments, we encourage you to request a consultation, email CATL@uwgb.edu, or call us (465-2541). A CATL team member would be happy to assist you.

Approaching the Spring 2022 Semester & Mitigating COVID Disruptions

We know you may have questions or concerns about the upcoming semester and the possibility that you will have to temporarily adapt the way you teach or share information with students based on your own or numerous student illnesses. While we hope that doesn’t happen, know the resources below are available if it does.

We also know you may be tempted to improvise in the moment (e.g., using a cell phone to record a live class and post it to Canvas), but these sorts of solutions may create their own problems. A lecture recorded with a cell phone, for example, may present issues for remote learners—are the audio and video quality good enough for learners to understand and absorb the lecture? Can they see what’s on the whiteboard and monitors at the front of the classroom? What about participating in-class group work or discussions? 

Some more sustainable, equitable options could be: 

  • creating a formal note-taking buddy system among students 
  • modifying assessments with online submissions or flexible submission dates 
  • moving group presentations to a virtual, recorded format, such as Zoom, VoiceThread or PlayPosit, that students can comment on in Canvas 
  • “flipping” a course by recording lectures so students can watch them on their own time and devoting in-person class time to review/group work/collaboration 
  • reworking elements of your course to be asynchronous 
  • offering alternative options to in-class participation, like online discussions, journaling, or reflection 

Remember, CATL is always here to help with generating strategies to assist quarantined learners and instructors. 

Who To Contact About What

Your Chair, Dean, and others mentioned in the Chancellor’s 1/14/22 campus email can help with:

  • Questions about policies related to temporary pivots in instruction modality, special accommodations in your teaching, and any other class decisions related to COVID-19
  • You may also reach out to the COVID Response Team (covidresponse@uwgb.edu) and/or Associate Provost Courtney Sherman with policy and COVID-related questions

The CATL Team (CATL@uwgb.edu – teaching; DLE@uwgb.edu – teaching technology) will assist with: 

  • Teaching and learning (e.g., course design, assignment options, equity-based instruction) 
  • Using technology in course instruction (e.g., holding office hours in Zoom, having students use Microsoft Teams for group work, using the Canvas Zoom integration, recording videos for asynchronous instruction using Kaltura tools) 
  • Strategies to keep quarantined learners engaged and/or how to modify assignments or assessments to accommodate 

The GBIT Service Desk (GBIT@uwgb.edu) is your resource for:  

  • All other technical software or hardware questions, as well as technological support in campus classrooms (e.g., login issues, Office 365 and Sharepoint, non-teaching Zoom & Teams use, classroom projectors) 

Specific Vendor Support Services (varies by service – see links below under the appropriate tool) 

  • We have direct vendor support for many technological teaching tools. Although CATL can and will help with best practices, most purely technical questions are best answered by the support line for that software.  
  • Canvas support is available to instructors 24/7 
  • Vendor support is also available for Zoom, PlayPosit, and VoiceThread (see below) 

Resources for Specific Tools

Click on one of the headings below to expand the accordion and see the related guides.

Canvas

Learning management system. Allows instructors to post learning materials (readings, videos), create assessments (assignments, discussions, quizzes), and grade assessments. Also allows students to interact with course materials, submit assessments, and view their grades. 

Kaltura

Video recording, hosting, and sharing platform. Integrates with Canvas. Sometimes referred to as “My Media” within Canvas. 

Zoom 

Web conferencing application with features like chat, polling, and breakout rooms. Integrates with Canvas.

Microsoft Teams

Web conferencing application and file sharing platform. Best for courses centered around group projects and collaboration. 

PlayPosit

Platform for building and viewing interactive video content; can be used to create formative assessments during video playback. Integrates with Canvas and uses videos uploaded to Kaltura (My Media), YouTube, and Vimeo. 

VoiceThread 

Platform for conducting asynchronous discussion around a presentation or other media. Discussion takes the form of text, audio, and video comments. 

End-of-Semester Canvas Survival Guide

We know instructors and students are both tired at this point in the semester. We at CATL want to provide as much help and support as we can as you work to finish up both teaching and grading. One thing we can offer is a list of resources about Canvas that may make the grading process a bit easier or even show you things that you didn’t know you could do. Click on one of the suggestions below to expand the accordion and see the related guides.

Quizzes and Assignments

Assigning Alternate Assignment Due Dates to Specific Students – Do you need to grant an extension on an assignment or quiz to a specific student or students? This guide shows you how to set up alternate student-specific due dates and availability dates.

Using Quiz Moderation (Classic Quizzes) - Are you giving a final exam in Canvas? This guide explains how to use the quiz moderation page to view student attempts, grant additional time to a specific student, and allow additional attempts for a specific student. 

Using Quiz Moderation (New Quizzes) - Have you already made the switch to using “New Quizzes” in Canvas? Use this guide to learn about the New Quizzes moderation page to view attempts and allow additional time or attempts to individual students. 

Regrading Quiz Questions (Classic Quizzes) - If you find an issue with a multiple choice, true/false, or multiple answer quiz question after students have taken a quiz, this guide explains how you can use the regrade option to change a question’s correct answer and automatically award points for the question to some or all students. 

Regrading Quiz Questions (New Quizzes) - If you’ve already made the switch to using “New Quizzes” in Canvas, this guide explains the regrade options in the new tool. 

Finalizing Grades 

Create Grade Columns for Non-Submission Assignments - Non-submission assignments are useful for providing grades for work outside of Canvas. Creating a non-submission assignment adds a column to the Canvas gradebook for you to enter these grades. 

Awarding Extra Credit in Canvas - Canvas has a few methods for handling extra credit. You might award “bonus” points by creating an assignment worth 0 points, or by adding extra points to a regular assignment or quiz in SpeedGrader, for example. 

Total Grade Calculation with Missing Assignments – This guide explains how Canvas calculates final grades and the importance of regularly entering zeroes for missing work in the Canvas gradebook.

Sending Final Grades to SIS - This guide explains how to use the time-saving grade sync feature that allows you to quickly send final grades from Canvas to SIS. 

Student Course Access 

Course Dates and Access FAQ and Information - Read this guide to learn about how term dates and course dates work in Canvas and how you can allow or restrict your students’ ability to view the Canvas course after its conclusion. 

Extend Student Access Tool - Do you have a student taking an “Incomplete in your course? This guide shows you how to use the “Extend Student Access” tool to give an individual student more time to access and finish work in the Canvas course. 

Other Canvas Tips

Using "Undelete" to Recover Deleted Items - If you accidentally deleted something in your course while cleaning it up and need to get it back, this guide explains how to access your course’s “undelete” page to restore deleted content. 

Where to Get Help 

You can get 24/7 support from Canvas by live chat, phone, or email by clicking the “Help” button in the Canvas global navigation menu bar on the left side of any page in Canvas. 

As always, CATL is also here to help you design your course, set up your assignments, and work through the process of grading. Fill out our consultation request form to schedule a meeting with a member of the CATL team.