Generational Diversity and Student Support

With increased online enrollment, traditional generational barriers are being greatly reduced. A person whose job or family may have stopped them from pursuing a college degree can now more easily become a college student again or for the first time. Universities are certainly happy about this because increased enrollment is usually a good thing. But are there things that higher ed may not be considering?

Senior Student

Middle-Aged Online Student

An Ed Tech Magazine story about generational differences and how they may affect tech initiatives provides some interesting insight. The article talks about the challenges of choosing ed tech initiatives that work for multiple generations.



It would be easy to make oversimplifications about how different generations of students use ed tech services… and this article does that. They talk about baby boomers being comfortable handing their computers over to IT for repair and millennials being more likely to try to fix the issues themselves. Although there may be some truth to these they should be viewed as anecdotal when searching for multi-generational ed tech solutions.
The most important thing that higher ed can do to help serve this generational diversity is ramp up and centralize student support. There is no practical way to separate student support by age but support can be given that reflects a more diverse population. Universities should think about ways to support their student population and build an inclusive presence for student support. Give the students a place to go whether it be a physical or virtual space, or perhaps both and support them in multiple ways so regardless of their generation students have a great support system.

Quality Matters Recognizes Dr. James McHale

mchaleOnline Learning and Instructional Technology Services is very pleased to announce that Dr. James McHale has received Quality Matters recognition for his online course, Introduction to Psychological Science (PSY 2012). The course received QM Certification on September 13, 2016.

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

Dr. McHales’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.

Dr. McHale’s course is the eighteenth course to receive QM Certification at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg,  the ninth course from the College of Arts & Sciences, and the fifth from the Department of Psychology.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. McHale!

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


Atomic Learning: Online Technology Tutorials for Students & Faculty

As we get further into the semester, students may find themselves in need of training on certain software programs to be able to complete major course activities and assignments such as creating presentations with Prezi or analyzing data using SPSS. When it comes to facilitating that participation and grading assignments, faculty may want a refresher on those programs or how to use certain feedback features in Canvas.

Through the USF system subscription to Atomic Learning, all members of the USF St. Petersburg community have unlimited access to online tutorials for commonly used web and software applications. These online training resources teach you “how do I do that” through a library of thousands of short, easy-to-understand tutorial movies.  Topics include Microsoft programs, Adobe programs, Apple programs, Canvas, mobile apps, and much more.

To access this resource, log into Atomic Learning using your USF NetID and password.

Once logged into the Atomic Learning site, you will be able to browse or search for specific programs.

searching atomic learning

After finding the program you wish to learn more about, click on the Series Title to view the available tutorials.


Then click on the title of the tutorial to load the video and learn more about the topic.


For more help with getting started, view this text getting started guide (PDF) or video orientation.

If you have trouble with accessing this resource, contact the USF System Help Desk at 813-974-1222 or

If you have any questions about how to best use this resource for you or integrate it within a course, contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services at 727-873-4409.



Dr. V. Mark Durand Receives Second Quality Matters Course Recognition

Durand.jpg mugPlease join us in congratulating Dr. V. Mark Durand! On Wednesday September 7, 2016, Dr. Durand received Quality Matters Certification for his online course, Autism Spectrum Disorders (DEP 4220).

This is the second course for which Dr. Durand has received QM Certification. His other online course, Abnormal Psychology (CLP 4143), was recognized in April of 2016.

The QM Certification process consists of a peer review guided by a research based rubric for high quality online and blended course design. The rubric places significant emphasis on course alignment in the areas of learning objectives, instructional materials, and assessment. When asked to share his thoughts on his experiences with QM, Dr. Durand stated,

“Meeting the Quality Matters standards can be time consuming but the OLITS staff are incredibly helpful and creative. The process challenges you to ‘up your game’ and provide the best experience for students. It would be helpful to have a parallel process for face-to-face courses.”

Dr. Durand’s course is now listed in the QM directory of certified courses from colleges and universities across the nation. Additionally, the QM Seal of Recognition, and information regarding the course quality certification, will now be displayed on the home page of his course to share his commitment to a high quality online teaching and learning experience with his students.

Contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services for more information about Quality Matters.

Need fast, free screen recording software?

Need fast, free screen recording software? Look no further! Screencast-O-Matic allows you to record your screen and webcam for up to 15 minutes completely free! You can record your entire screen, or just a portion. Recordings download as an mp4, or can be exported to youtube for easy sharing and viewing. There is no limit to how many videos you can record. It is also PC and Mac friendly.

Screencast-O-Matic is perfect for when you need to record a quick lesson for your class. It is also an easy option for students who need to record themselves presenting a project for an online class. Personally, it is my go to when I need to record quick how to videos because this tool makes it so easy to record and share.

Visit to try it out for yourself. You can also watch this video for a quick overview on how to create recordings.

For more information on using Screencast-O-Matic and other tools contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services.


Improved Outcomes on Quality Matters Certified Courses

The OLITS team here at USFSP has been working with faculty to implement the Quality Matters (QM) rubric for their online courses for over 5 years now. This commitment to quality by our faculty has resulted in a number of achievements since then.

  • 16 courses have been QM certified
  • 4 additional courses are currently in peer review with another 11 in queue to be reviewed
  • 12 faculty are certified peer reviewers and have participated in 16 national peer reviews for courses outside the USFSP catalog
  • 4 OLITS staff are certified QM facilitators for both online and face-to-face workshops

These are fantastic results, but how does the QM rubric help improve outcomes once a course is certified? This year, Florida International University (FIU) recently published a report which outlined the benefits of QM certification on their campus. FIU compared a number of measureable outcomes from 29 QM certified courses with 664 that had not been QM certified. There were significant differences across several important metrics. For example, the number of student interactions increased by 16%, student submissions increased by 19%, and the overall amount of course access by students increased by 10%.

OLITS and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) are looking forward to developing our own report in the future to help all of us understand how to improve the quality of education our students receive here at USFSP. We encourage you to read the full report from FIU and the associated interview with the investigators linked below.

For more information on how you can learn about the QM rubric, QM course certifications, and QM professional development workshops, contact Otis Wilder.

FIU – The Benefits of Quality Matters Certification: What the Analytics Reveal

Higher Retention and Better Student Success? Yes Please.

In Higher Ed we are constantly trying to find ways to help students be successful while also trying to increase enrollment and retention. With budget and time constraints it can be difficult for universities and professors to achieve these goals. Universities are trying to tackle these problems with what may seem like unconventional approaches.

Successful Students

Successful and Happy Students

An article from Inside Higher Ed chronicles the efforts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to break the “Iron Triangle”.  The triangle they are referring to is the balance of quality, cost, and access. It often seems that one of the three parts of the triangle has to be sacrificed. UNC Greensboro is challenging that assertion with a project they have been running the past two years called CRAFT.


CRAFT is short for create and curate Content, Replace lectures with Active, and Flipped, Team-based learning. Specifically the project focused on general education courses and courses with high rates of students withdrawing or receiving low marks. They have had positive results and found that this format allows for more students to be enrolled in the class as well.


This type of strategy certainly seems like it could help bring quality, cost, and access together without the need for one of them to sacrificed. This is Higher Ed, however, and nothing is quite as simple as it sounds. Developing these courses takes a lot of time and support. It would be asking a lot of a professor to use the CRAFT method on their own.


The bigger message of this article, however, is that you can serve more students, retain more students, and help lower achieving students be more successful with a focus on active learning. When students are actively involved in the learning process they are more likely to be successful. There is research to back this up as a report from the National Academy of Science shows. They examined 225 studies and found that 3500 more students would have passed if active learning was used in those courses. That is certainly compelling data.


It can seem daunting when considering how to start or increase active learning in your courses. The good news is that here at USFSP, OLITS is here to help. We offer trainings on active learning and can help you add active learning to your courses. Check the OLITS Professional Development website to see when upcoming trainings are available or schedule an on-demand training with us. If you want to learn more about active learning, check out this blog post by our very own Otis Wilder.