Facilitating Student Engagement in Online Classes

Tips for maintaining instructor presence in an online course:

  • Login and monitor the course activity regularly.
  • Post news items on a regular basis. Topics may include reminders, course updates, an upcoming event, a weekly class recap, comments on any recent news relevant to the course topic, or even a picture from a trip to a conference.
  • Participate in student discussions. Students do want to hear your voice and need your guidance, just like in a regular classroom. Even something quick like ‘good comment, {{firstname}},’ followed by a question that shows you read their comment or to continue the conversation.
  • Post a weekly recap message or video as a way to provide a weekly review of the course and give group feedback to the class. When I am teaching, I will often make notes about the discussion and then send these out to the class in an email at the end of the week, with my own thoughts about their discussion, making different connections or encouraging the class to consider a different view. I try to use student’s names in these recaps so they know I was following the entire discussion even if I did not want to insert my views directly (sometimes when the instructor speaks, the students view this as the ‘answer’ and stop discussing prematurely).
  • Offer online office hours – through WebEx.
  • ADVANCED strategy – Change your homepage layout weekly. Create new widgets and move the news items around. Insert stuff such as a relevant YouTube video. I make dramatic changes to my homepage so students know I was there.
    • Post online presentations by innovative or controversial thinkers in the field shared on YouTube, iTunesU, TEDPBSNPR podcasts, video, and guest speakers in your class.
  • For more ideas take a look at this video for tips from experienced UA colleagues:
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Assignment Grader Tips

A lot has changed since our last post about Desire2Learn’s (D2L) Assignment Grader app. For those unfamiliar, Assignment Grader is an iPad app created by D2L to enable grading dropbox assignments away from your computer. It synchronizes with Springboard and provides mobile, offline, access to dropbox submissions. Learn more by reading the previous post; “Using Desire2Learn Assignment Grader with Springboard”.

Since 2014, D2L has released a number of updates to the app in recent months to address some major stability and connectivity issues along with some minor optimizations to the user interface. These updates make a huge difference in usefulness of the app for faculty using Springboard.

Update Problems

After going almost a year and a half without a single update, it is great to see D2L put some much needed work into updating Assignment Grader but, those updates come with a price. Installing each update will remove any data that hadn’t been synchronized with Springboard. This is especially problematic when your iPad is set to automatically install updates. A number of people were caught by this “bug” in the Spring and, lost a lot of work and student grades when an update was installed without their knowledge.

Eliminating Update Issues

With a simple change to your App Store settings, you can remove this downfall to your successful use of Assignment Grader.

  1. Start by opening your Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to the iTunes & App Store section.
  3. Turn off Automatic Downloads for app Updates.
    • The toggle should be to the left, with a white background. If the toggle is to the right, with a green background, then Updates are on. Tap on it to turn updates off.

Make sure automatic app updates are turned off.

Note: this will impact updates to all of your apps. You will need to manually update apps by visiting the App Store on your device.

Best Practices

Assuming you have turned off automatic downloads for app updates, as outlined above, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of Assignment Grader. If you are just getting started with Assignment Grader, you may want to refer to our first post to learn how to connect to EduDentity, log into Springboard and, make use of the various tools.

Use EduDentity

As outlined in our previous post, in order to take full advantage of all of the features of Assignment Grader, you will need to use a free EduDentity account. Remember, you can use any email address you want when setting up EduDentity since it is completely independent from your university account.

Always Add Feedback

Unlike the standard web-interface, Assignment Grader requires you to add feedback to graded assignments. If you only provide a score and/or annotate a document, Assignment Grader will not sync the score with Springboard. You must provide some written feedback, as little as a single character.

Optimize your Grader Settings

Once you are logged into your EduDentity account and connected to Springboard, you may want to explore the new settings screen. D2L has made some minor changes the the available settings.


We recommend turning on the option to Auto-Submit Feedback. Assuming you are connected to a network, this will automatically upload your feedback to Springboard as you move from student to student. This is a good way to make sure you don’t lose any data.

Turn on the option to Auto-Ssubmit Feedback

Test and Verify

As some users in the past have discovered, the Assignment Grader app can sometimes “break”. There are time, after an update, in which the app will no longer sync data with Springboard. This is another reason to turn off automatic app updates. In case there is a connection issues, we recommend grading a single student’s assignment first, then verifying that your feedback was synced with Springboard. A quick test will catch any problems before you grade your entire class, only to discover that the app isn’t syncing with Springboard.

Hide Old Items

A good way to simplify that amount of content displayed in Assignment Grader is to turn off, or hide, old content. Assignment Grader allows you to hide a number of items. If you have a lot of courses or assignments, we recommend the following settings:

  • Hide Graded Dropboxes
  • Hide Courses Past Their End Date
  • Hide Inactive Courses

Hide graded items and old courses to simplify your view.

Posted in Apps, Diving Deeper, iPads, Springboard, Tips | Comments Off on Assignment Grader Tips

Jumpstart Your Semester with Binder

BinderStudying on the go? No WiFi where you’re going?
Binder provides full access to all of your Springboard courses when and where you need them. With Binder, you are able to download all of your course materials
for offline viewing. Then, view, and annotate all of your courses’ material, without the need for WiFi. Binder allows you to easily find and organize course materials how you prefer. Binder is available for free on iPad, Windows, Android and, the web.

Go to http://binder.desire2learn.com to learn more and get started. Check out,
the Guide To Binder to get connected to Springboard and to start using Binder.

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Guide To Binder

After downloading the Binder app, this guide will show you how to start using Binder.
Step-by-step directions are easy to follow, helping you locate, explain, and use the options available to you. Use the directions below to help you connect your Binder to your Springboard courses and get a great jumpstart on your semester.

Table of Contents

Signing In and Accessing Springboard

  1. Sign in with your Facebook account is the most convenient way to log in. If you are unable to gain access with Facebook, you are able to make a free EduDentity account.
  2. Tap on Fetch to get started.Fetch
  3. Tap the + to add a new Connection.+-Connections
  4. Select Learning Environment to gain access to courses on Springboard.
    In the Web Address field, enter springboard.uakron.edu and then tap ConnectEntering-springboard.uakron.eduEntered-springboard.uakron.edu-
  5. Log into your Springboard account.Signing-into-SpringBoard
  6. You now have all of your Springboard courses available to you.SpringBoard-Courses

Adding Documents To My Binder

  1. Tap on Fetch to add content to My Binder.
  2. Tap on the course you would like to access.
  3. Your instructor may have organized the material into Modules. Tap the module you want to obtain a document from.Course-Modules
  4. Opening a module provides access to Topics. Each topic is a document or presentation available to you for viewing and downloading.Topics-within-Modules
  5. Selecting a topic opens a preview of that document or presentation. This is where
    you’ll see the Add To Binder button. Tap on Add To Binder to save the document to your binder.Course-Schedule
  6. To view content you have added, go to My Binder.
  7. My Binder is where your documents will be collected. Recently added documents appear as unread, indicated by a purple edge. Documents in My Binder are saved directly to your device, making them available to you at any time with, or without, access to WiFi or Internet.Binder-page-notification

Organizing Documents In My Binder

  1. Documents in your binder are organized by Tags based on where the document
    is coming from (course or module) and, what the document is. Tags are completely customizable and allow you to organize your content however you like. By grabbing and swiping left on your documents, you reveal a Down Arrow next to each document. The down arrow provides more options to organize your documents. Binder-page-arrowDocument-options
  2. You can Read/Unread a document with the Dot button. Whenever an
    unread document is in your My Binder you will have a notification above it.Read_Unread
  3. Favorite a document with the Star button.Favorite
  4. You can Archive a document with the Filing Box archive box-01. Doing this places the
    document into your archive and can only be viewed in the archive, until unarchived.Archived-document
  5. Delete a document with the Trash Can button.Deleting-document
  6. Selecting the Tag button opens a window for quickly applying and removing
    multiple tags to a document.Tag button arrowTag-options
  7. You can completely Delete a Tag by selecting the Edit button, right of the Search Bar.
    Hit the Removal button, then confirm by tapping the Delete button. Tap Done, where Edit was previously located, when you have finished editing your tags.Organizing-Tags

Annotation In My Binder Documents

  1. Tap on the document you would like to view.
  2. There are several tools to efficiently view and make notes on your document.View-opening
  3. The Dot marks the document as Read/Unread.View-read_unread
  4. The Star allows you to Favorite the current document.View-favorite
  5. Search Bar allows you to search for a word or phrase within that current view.View-search
  6. Cover Flow, next to the Search icon, lifts the page and reveals all your binder documents. You are able to switch between, or even delete, documents on the fly.Skirt
  7. The Export icon opens a menu for Open In another application, Print, or
    Email the document. The options to include your annotations and the ability
    to edit them are available.View-share
  8. Tap the Annotation icon to show or hide your annotations.View-on_off-annotations
  9. The Bookmark icon marks that page and adds it to your bookmark collection,
    for quick reference. Marked pages are indicated by a purple banner in the upper right.
    Bookmarked page
  10. The Left Arrow Tab contain a table of contents, annotations, and bookmarks.
  11. Table of Contents shows you specific pages to jump to, within the document.View-table-of-contents
  12. Annotations list all of your annotations, what page they are on, and what type it is.View-annotations
  13. Bookmarks is a list of the various pages you have marked for quick reference.View-bookmarks
  14. The Right Arrow Tab reveals the Notation Wheel. This allows you to
    add a note, highlight text, draw, underline, and put a strikethrough content.Right-arrow-wheel
  15. Located at the top of the wheel, a Note can be placed anywhere on a document.Note-placement
  16. Tap on the note to edit contents. Hide notes by tapping on minimize.Note-content
  17. The Highlight Tool is the second from the top of the wheel. You are able
    to change the color and scroll through the document for rapid highlighting.Highlight-menu
  18. The Draw Tool is in the middle of the wheel.Draw-menu
  19. Color palette gives you the ability to change color, opacity, and line weight.Draw-images
  20. Changes to color, opacity, and line weight can be made any time.Draw-changes
  21. Underline is located under the Draw Tool. You are able to change the color
    and scroll through the document for rapid underlining.Underline-menu
  22. Strikethrough, on the bottom of the wheel, strikes out text and gives you
    the option of adding a note to that strikethrough.Strike-through-note
Posted in Apps, Diving Deeper, iPads, Resources, Software, Springboard, Students, Technology Solutions, Technology Training, Tips | Comments Off on Guide To Binder

DDS Wheel of Fortune – See What Faculty and Staff Are Doing With WebEx

For the next few weeks, DDS will feature how faculty and staff are using WebEx. This week, we feature someone from the School of Law. Here’s what he has to say:

“We have used WebEx for a broad array of activities. From an interview that we conducted with a potential candidate from Japan, to hosting multi-school faculty scholarship presentations, to using it for continuing education for our area alumni and friends, it has been very stable and well accepted throughout.”

Who is he?

Did you solve the puzzle?

~ Graduate Assistant, DDS

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Panopto will be upgraded to version 4.8 on May 12th

On Tuesday, May 12th, we will be upgrading to Panopto 4.8. We scheduled this upgrade after finals week to have the lowest impact on students who are viewing recordings. There are many new features and enhancements that will make things easier for both instructors and students.

The most exciting new features and enhancements are as follows:

    • Videos and webcasts will no longer require the Microsoft Silverlight plugin. The video streams will now use Flash or the functionality of HTML5 in the web browser.
    • Sessions recorded in the new version can be viewed on-demand in a multi-bitrate stream for smoother playback regardless of network speed.
    • Sessions can be viewed at slower or faster speeds.
    • Sessions can now be copied or moved in a bulk operation so it will be easier to add them to a new Springboard site.
    • Integration with Springboard will be enhanced.

You will need to upgrade to the newest version of the Panopto Recorder and should be prompted to do so if you launch the previous version. We will be updating the documentation and resources on our site following the upgrade.


Please contact me if you have any questions.

Jamie Newhall



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DDS Wheel of Fortune – See What Faculty and Staff Are Doing With WebEx.

For the next few weeks, DDS will feature how faculty and staff are using WebEx. This week, we feature someone from the department of Hardware & Operations Systems Services. Here’s what she has to say:

“I used WebEx to meet with other students in my class as a group to go over assignments.”

Who is she?

Did you solve the puzzle?

~ Graduate Assistant, DDS

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DDS Wheel of Fortune – See What Faculty and Staff Are Doing With WebEx.

For the next few weeks, DDS will feature how faculty and staff are using WebEx. This week, we feature someone from the department of Curriculum & Instructions Studies. Here’s what he has to say:

“I use it to host guest speakers from around the state in my Educational Technology course and also to model what online & blended learning could look like in the K-12 classroom for my pre-service teachers.”

Who is he?

Did you solve the puzzle?

~ Graduate Assistant, DDS

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Building Digital Credential Value | Thoughts from SXSWedu


One of the big topics of conversation this year at SXSWedu in Austin, Texas was digital credentials. You may not have heard of “digital credentials” before, at least not in formal terms. However, you’ve most likely seem them. Anyone who uses LinkedIn knows a little bit about this. Remember that “Top Skills” list?

What I'm good at?

What I’m good at?

The idea is that your professional connections “endorse” what they think you’re good at. The problem is… how do they know? I could certainly put something like “Rocket Science” on my list of skills, but how can people verify that I’m actually good at launching rockets?

Before the digital revolution took hold, we may have seen the concept of credentialing or the certification of skills in something like boy scout / girl scout badges. Anyone who has been in the scouts knows that you don’t earn a badge unless you really can perform the task at hand. These badges don’t expire. Once you know how to swim, you know how to swim.

FEMA - 44431 - Boy scouts Place Flags at Tennesse National Memorial Cemetery

Badges have been associated with the demonstration of skills for a very long time.

Thus, a conversation has started about how we catalog these skills / credentials. Many organizations and web sites have started to come up with standardized ways of displaying these badges and providing a vetting process for their attainment.

Here are some good sites to check out:

Ok, so badges seem nice, but how does this apply to my students in a college classroom?

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

At SXSWedu, Michael Shawn Cordero, of the Urban Arts Partnership mentioned the importance of “showing students a visual trajectory of where they’re going.” The notion is that “you can put whatever you want on a resume, but digital badging allows you to see evidence of these skills.

That’s the key point here. Skills that are supported with evidence provide a much better picture of what someone can actually do. In addition, you can see the inter-relationships of how these skills fit together. Let’s think about it. When you are going through an academic program, you are provided with a syllabus, which most likely has learning objectives in it. “By the end of this class, you should be able to do A, B, and C.” Great! We also get prerequisites to know what skills I should already have prior to enrolling in this particular course. However, that’s often where it stops. The course is just one of many in a series, and I don’t necessarily have to take these courses in any particular order.

The problem is that students often can’t see the big picture of what they’re learning. How do all these courses and objectives fit together to make me a proficient in this field?


There are so many pieces on the table. How do they all fit together?

Jonathan Finkelstein from Credly.com noted why it so crucial to “… not just build a badge, but to connect the dots to help them [students] see the value.”

Some good questions to consider are: Do we start badging everything? Who should be allowed to issue badges? Should badges be monetized?

Tracy Petrillo, Chief Learning Officer for Educause, had a good insight. “Badging platforms were meant to be open and free. This is not a threat to the certification industry. Badging is a complement.” In addition, “[It] helps us to think in smaller segments. You get more people to believe they’re good students.”

I think Tracy is right on. We shouldn’t badge absolutely everything, but rather, think about how we deliver content to our students and what they are expected to demonstrate back to us. We start off slow, providing a visual recognition of skills they’ve begun demonstrating in the course. This builds confidence. “Look! I’ve earned some beginner badges!” The next step is to help students build on those foundation skills, and through providing evidence, move them along from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced. We’re not charging for badges, we’re merely showing them that they have in fact learned a new skill.

As an example, in our Designing and Developing your Online Course Workshop, we provide badges for our faculty members when they demonstrate that they are able to complete or follow along on a specific task.


These badges are really about basic proficiency, but in the future, we plan on introducing a more rigorous, evidence-based, application-level of badges. These badges could then be tracked over a lifetime and displayed on the faculty member’s online profile of choice.

Our end goal is to show our students (and our faculty) that the process of lifelong learning never stops. It’s not about seat time. It’s about the application of skills and their inter-connectivity that really empowers (and informs) what they can do.

– Steve K.

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Final DDS Family Feud!

Name one way WebEx has benefited faculty and staff.

Survey says…

Survey says 77% of the respondents find WebEx convenient. It saves travel cost and time for 60% and 57% of the respondents respectively. 46% of the respondents reported WebEx increases productivity while 14 % reported it enhances teaching experience.

You can learn more about WebEx here: http://www.uakron.edu/it/instructional_services/dds/services/technology/webex.dot

~ Graduate Assistant, DDS

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