Using Roll Call Attendance in Canvas

Canvas has a nifty feature that allows you to electronically mark attendance for your classes. If you would like to use this feature for your spring courses there are a few things you should know about Roll Call.

  • Roll Call is located in the left-hand column of Canvas and is listed simply as Attendance. This should not be confused with USF First Day Attendance. Roll Call is meant to be used throughout the semester.
  • Once you activate Roll Call Attendance, it will automatically create an assignment worth 100 points and a corresponding column in your gradebook worth 100 points. You can change the point totals to reflect the weight of attendance in your syllabus.
  • You can also adjust the value of attendance when someone is late. The default is 80% for that day.

If you would like to learn more about Roll Call, you can visit the Canvas Instructor Guides, or send me an email and I will be happy to sit down with you to show you how it works!




Students and Technology

This rather revealing infographic examines how students interact with their technology. For many of us, it can be difficult to envision how to use the technology students already possess to improve outcomes and engagement. This spring OLITS and CITL will be hosting a number of new workshops on how to effectively integrate technology in your courses. Stay tuned for our Spring 2017 Workshop Calendar.


Want more money higher ed? Offer free online courses.

I know, you’re probably thinking that offering free online courses is the opposite of what a university should do. After all, the object of most universities is to make money. I’m sure in many higher ed meetings there are discussions about offering even more paid online courses to increase revenue. But are they missing out on an easy, if not obvious, option?

Educatio Laptop with books, globe, graduation cap and diploma. 3d

Laptop with books, globe, graduation cap and diploma.

Free online courses are not new but the tides may be turning as prestigious schools such as Oxford are joining in. This Engadget article explains how Oxford is using the edX platform to offer its first free online course. The course they are offering is about understanding economic development and it will be available for anyone in the world to take for free.

So why should all of higher ed follow suit? It is simply a great way to get your university experience in the hands of people interested in becoming students. My advice to higher ed institutions would be to create a high quality online course that falls inline with the type of programs you offer. Then simply place that course on one of the many free platforms and monitor the feedback from students. Use this free course as a way to continually improve the type of courses, free or paid, you offer and hopefully drive more students to enroll in your school. If a free online course can showcase your programs, be used to continually improve your online education, and possibly increase enrollment… why not give it a try?

Streaming Feature Films in Your Online Course with Swank Digital Campus

Have you ever wanted to use a full-length feature film as instructional material for your online course, but didn’t go for it because of copyright worries?

Well, worry no more! The USF System has a subscription to Swank Digital Campus. This is a streaming film service that integrates with Canvas and allows us to rent feature films for students to view in our online courses.

The selection is vast! From classics, to foreign films, to movies just released on DVD; you name it and they’ve probably got it!

Screen shot of swank website

So this means you can stream all eight Harry Potter movies for fun, right?

harry potter saying you wish

I do wish! But understandably, no.

Here are the criteria for use of the films:

  • Priority is given to online courses
  • Student enrollment should be over 50
  • There is a maximum of 5 titles per course
  • The film(s) must be used as instructional materials for a course activity

There is some flexibility with these guidelines, so talk with your Instructional Designer about  your specific goals.

To view a list of currently available titles, visit the USF Libraries Swank Rental Listing. If the title you are looking for is not listed in the current rentals, you can search the Swank Digital Campus Catalog to see if your desired film is available for rent.

Once the tool is integrated into the course, students will be able to visit the “Course Reserves” link on the left menu of your course throughout the semester. The films you have rented will be linked there and can be viewed upon signing in with a USF NetID and Password.

Also, all of the films through this service have Closed Captioning to improve accessibility (Karla approved!).

To learn more, or to integrate this tool into your course, contact your Instructional Designer at Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services.


Quality Matters Recognizes David Snyder, J.D.

David SnyderPlease join us in congratulating Dr. David Snyder! On Friday, October 28, 2016, Dr. Snyder received Quality Matters Certification for his online course, Digital Media Law and Ethics (JOU 6708).

Dr. Snyder’s course is the first from the online M.A. program in Digital Journalism & Design, within the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at USFSP’s College of Arts & Sciences, to receive QM Certification.

The course was originally designed in Summer 2013 as a collaboration among Dr. Snyder, Dr. Deni Elliott, and Randy Carlson, Graduate Assistant. Dr. Snyder has taught it since and continues to update it to reflect current events and topics from the field.

The QM peer review is a rigorous process designed to certify quality and alignment of online course design through a rubric of research-based best practices in online learning.

Dr. Snyder’s course will soon be on the list of Quality Matters Recognized Courses from colleges and universities across the nation. Additionally, the QM Seal of Recognition will now be displayed on the homepage of his course.

To learn more about Quality Matters, contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services or attend one of our upcoming workshops.

Being student-centered to address the “skills gap”

The responsibility of colleges and universities to prepare students for their next step in life, be it grad school or the work force, has been a fairly hot topic over the last few years. Any number of politicians, including many here in Florida, have weighed in with their opinions on the matter. A recent book review from Inside Higher Ed addressed the “skills gap” issue head on. A key point raised by the authors highlights how a “diversified repertoire of skills” can help students succeed in any situation. The authors also discuss what employers were looking for in their new hires. Hora and Benbow state, “employers we spoke with described their ideal candidate as a hardworking, technically astute individual with strong problem-solving and communication skills who can work effectively as part of a team.”

All of us here at OLITS and the CITL are committed to helping our faculty create world-class learning opportunities for our students. Join the conversation and help us prepare our students to be the best of who they can be.

Is Online Education Taking Over Higher Ed?

Online education is quickly replacing the traditional higher education experience… or, maybe it isn’t. A recent Washington Post article explains that fears of online education replacing the traditional experience may be unfounded.


Rather than looking at online education as something designed to replace or take away from higher education, the focus should be on how it adds value for the students. The article talks about an online master’s degree program at Georgia Tech that found students simply wouldn’t have gotten that degree if the program didn’t exist. Findings like this are what should be driving the online learning conversation at higher education institutions. We should focus on how online education can give more options at the course and program level rather than the possibility that it is trying to replace courses or programs already in place.

This simple, yet significant, shift in thinking can be a great way to evaluate online programs at higher education institutions. Online education isn’t coming to get you, higher ed… it is coming to help you get different students and give students even more options.