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.

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. 

Presentation Recording: Teaching with Zoom (Aug. 24, 2021)

Resources from This Presentation

Training & Support

Other

 

Workshop: Teaching with Zoom (Aug. 19, 20, 23, 24, 27, and 30)

Need some time with a Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant from CATL as we transition into the fall semester? In addition to our virtual office hours, we’ll be holding some presentations and workshops on teaching with tools like PlayPosit, VoiceThread, and Zoom. As always, reach out about scheduling a consultation if these topics, dates, and times do not align with your schedules!

Here are the times for our Teaching with Zoom workshop:

  • Thursday, Aug. 19, 12–1 p.m. 
  • Friday, Aug. 20, 9:30–10:30 a.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 23, 2–3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 24, 10–11 a.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 27, 8–9 a.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 30, 12–1 p.m.

Join a session via Zoom

Or, watch a pre-recorded version of this session here.

Facilitating Online Student Presentations (Synchronous)

This article contains strategies for preparing your students to give awesome presentations in synchronous online classes over videoconferencing programs. While many of the fundamentals of making strong in-person presentations apply to presenting online, the online element adds an extra layer of technical competencies and media-specific best practices for your students to consider. The aim of this article is to help you prepare your students for success in their presentation projects.

Table of Contents

  1. Teaching Technical Fundamentals
    1. The Best Way to Join Video Meetings
    2. Audio and Video Settings
    3. Screen and Content Sharing
  2. Facilitating Rehearsals
  3. Managing Session Permissions
  4. Audience Engagement Strategies
  5. Appearing Professional in Online Presentations

Teaching Technical Fundamentals

Given that student presentations usually occur well into a semester, by the time these presentations are due, your students may feel some level of comfort with the video meeting program you are using for synchronous sessions, but that comfort may only extend to the program features needed to participate in, but not lead, a class. A few weeks before presentations are due, you should provide your students with resources for teaching them the best way to join a meeting as a presenter, how to ensure their audio and video settings are correct, and how to share their presentation materials over the video meeting.

The Best Way to Join Video Meetings

While video meeting programs may support multiple ways to join a meeting, not all methods are created equal. The inequality between join methods is more pronounced when the user is expected to present in the meeting, as the non-ideal join methods often have limited content sharing functionality. To ensure that student presenters have access to the widest array of meeting features, recommend that they join the meeting via the best method. For Microsoft Teams and Zoom, for example, this means downloading the app and logging in with their UWGB accounts. Joining on mobile devices can limit the features that user can access, so recommend that students join the meeting on a desktop or laptop computer (if able).

Audio and Video Settings

If a student has been camera shy and mostly participating in class via text chat, they may not be fully confident that their microphone and camera are properly set up in the software settings. Share resources with your students to help them check and test their device settings.

Screen and Content Sharing

If your presentation assignment involves the sharing of a visual aid, make sure your students know how to use the screen or content sharing features of the video meeting program you are using. Some video meeting programs provide multiple ways to share content with the audience. In both Microsoft Teams Meetings and Zoom, presenters can share content by either sharing their entire screen or uploading presentation files—most commonly PowerPoint presentations—to the meeting. Both of these sharing methods have strengths and weaknesses:

When sharing the entire screen:

  • ✅ Presenters can easily share multiple programs and documents during their presentation by opening different windows on the shared screen. If a student’s presentation has any links they wish to follow during the presentation, sharing their entire screen would be the best strategy for ensuring a smooth transition between presentation slides, website content, and other documents.
  • ❌ Unless the presenting student has multiple monitors hooked up to their computer, sharing the entire screen can leave the presenter blind to raised hands and chat messages as the meeting window will be minimized. A presenter sharing their entire screen may have to delegate chat monitoring duties to another member of their group or defer all questions to dedicated Q&A breaks where they can stop sharing and pull up the meeting window.
  • ❌ For student presenters with aging computer hardware, screen sharing will tax and slow down their computer more than the file upload sharing methods. Screen sharing also requires more internet bandwidth, so student presenters with limited internet connections may have an easier time with the file upload sharing methods.

For group presentations, the presentation may run most smoothly if one member of the group is in charge of sharing all presentation content. The flow of the presentation can be stifled if each individual student needs to start sharing content before beginning their part of the presentation.


Facilitating Rehearsals

Rehearsal is a BIG part of preparing for successful presentations, and, for online presentations, effective rehearsals extend beyond practicing in front of the bathroom mirror or a trusted friend or family member. In addition to rehearsing their presentation content, students should also rehearse working with the technology. It’s important for students to become comfortable with the logistics of sharing their content and navigating raised hands and chat messages before giving their presentation. It is easier to navigate the technology in a rehearsal setting without the pressure of the spotlight and the resulting jitters. A proper tech rehearsal will help students identify and avoid potentially derailing technical snags.

For group presentations, groups should be able to effectively rehearse together as a unit, but you could also consider pairing groups together if you wanted to incorporate peer review into the development of the final presentations. For individual presentations, consider pairing your students with a rehearsal buddy or creating a Canvas discussion for students who need to seek out a rehearsal partner. To facilitate these presentation rehearsals, you will have to help your students find or create virtual rehearsal spaces.


Managing Session Permissions

Video meeting attendees can hold different roles in the meeting, and these roles dictate how much control the user has over the meeting and whether they can share their screen or other presentation content. To ensure your student presentations go smoothly, make sure you understand what each role can do in the meeting and that you understand at least one of the two methods for assigning meeting roles to your students:

  1. You can edit the meeting settings so that students automatically join the meeting with elevated presentation privileges.
  2. During the meeting, you can manually promote individual users to the presenter role.

Audience Engagement Strategies

While presenting online, it is important to think about how to keep your audience engaged through participation opportunities. At the most basic level, this can entail building in Q&A breaks throughout the presentation, but students should give thought as to how they will handle the Q&A. Would they like the audience to type questions in the chat as they come up with them? Would they like the audience to use the raise hand feature to indicate that they have a question? To keep the audience engaged, students should consider spreading Q&A opportunities throughout the presentation instead of leaving all questions for the end. Beyond Q&A breaks, students can use their video meeting’s polling tool to survey audience knowledge and opinions.


Appearing Professional in Online Presentations

It is not uncommon to see the odd student walking down a crowded hallway of campus in business attire, looking like a shining beacon of professionalism adrift among an ocean of sweatpants. It’s a telltale sign: it must be student presentation day! Presenting online over a videoconference can carry the same expectation of formal dress as an in-person presentation (at least from the waist up), but there are a few additional online-presentation-specific tips available in this guide you can give your students to help them present themselves professionally.

Please remember that your students have different living circumstances and remote-work environments, and that an ask for students to remotely present from a professional setting may not be equitable. Express compassion and understanding for those students who may not have control over the environment from which they can attend class and give their presentation.