Looking for Streaming Video For Your Online Course?


Do you use documentaries and films in your courses? Do you have trouble finding streaming videos students can access for free? Look no further! Through the USFSP Library you can access over 26,000 documentaries and films through Kanopy.

Kanopy provides on-demand streaming videos from PBS, BBC, Media Education Foundation and many more. Videos include documentaries, training videos, and major theatrical releases. You can search for videos on your own and add them into your course – no need to request per film or per course! Videos can be embedded directly into canvas courses for easy access.

Check out what Kanopy has for you here: https://usf.kanopystreaming.com/

With Kanopy you can:

  • Browse by topic/discipline
  • Create playlists of videos and video clips
  • Embed videos directly into Canvas
  • Watch films on any device


Watch this video to learn how to embed a kanopy video into Canvas:


For more information on using Kanopy videos in your course contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services!

Innovative Online Learning with Lightboard Technology

If you’re one of the professors who have moved some, or all, of your courses online, there is a new, innovative technology available to use at USF St. Petersburg: it’s called the Lightboard. A Lightboard is similar to a white board. The Lightboard is made of glass and the professor writes facing the audience, versus having their back towards the audience.

In an online environment, it is important to build personal connections with your students. The Lightboard is a great tool for building personal connections because students are seeing your face throughout the video.


How does it work?

No, you don’t need to worry about learning how to write backwards. Using a simple video tool in post-production, we are able to take everything written on the Lightboard and flip the content horizontally.


Above are the production and post-production images, courtesy of a Spanish professor at USFSP: The left side is the original image, while the right side is the flipped image which is done in post-production.


USFSP has used the Lightboard to film various subject matters including Spanish, French, Teaching Elementary Math, and Educational Leadership.

Best practices for filming a video using the Lightboard: 

  • Plan your talk for about five minutes or enough to fill the board.
  • Plan your lecture ahead of recording. Be prepared to write from the beginning to the end of a lecture because erasing the Lightboard takes time and will be done after the lecture is finished.
  • Wear a solid color, preferably blue or green.
  • When writing on the board, leave a space for yourself so students are able to see your face.

Watch this video created by Northwestern University as Michael Peshkin describes his usage of the Lightboard.

For scheduling a time to check out the Lightboard or record a lecture, please contact one of the Instructional Designers in the Library or email me at asmolen@mail.usf.edu.

Ignoring ed tech could be problematic for Professors and Universities

Virtual Reality Headset

Virtual Reality Headset

A blog posted on Vitae warns of the possible pitfalls for higher education if universities and faculty ignore the new frontiers in educational technology. Jonathan Rees, Professor of History at Colorado State University – Pueblo, explains how new ed tech, like Virtual Reality, is not something that should be disregarded by higher education.


While he doesn’t suggest that faculty need to learn to master things like VR, he asserts that these new technologies will influence the future of online education whether faculty and universities like it or not. Rees states, “We can control the way our own courses operate, but given a choice between a class taught entirely in a VR environment and one taught by more traditional methods, which one do you think most students would choose?” Given the increased competitive nature of online learning enrollment and retention, Universities will be smart to keep a watchful eye on ed tech trends and figure out ways to incorporate them in their online programs.


The environment of education is changing rapidly and it is important that universities and faculty members not take it as an indictment of their craft or way of doing things. Taking it personally or ignoring it won’t change the direction it’s heading. Higher Education needs to embrace the future of educational technology as a way to help them accomplish enrollment and retention goals… not as a force coming to change their way of doing things or take things away.


Read “Ignore Ed Tech at your Peril” by Jonathan Rees here.

Improving Your Course UX

We’ve all been frustrated when using an app or a website. Maybe because it seems cluttered, the information we need isn’t there, or maybe it isn’t where we expected it. The UX for that site or app fell short of expectations and therefore left you dissatisfied. We need to make sure our online courses don’t leave our students feeling the same way.

UX is an abbreviation of the phrase “user experience”. It is often studied when it comes to apps or websites and how positive the user’s experience is with interfaces. In the business world a bad user experience is synonymous with failure. Businesses hire individuals to go through their interfaces and find ways to make the experience better for their customers and/or users.

Online educators, and educators in general, should be concerned with the UX of their courses. Often a bad UX for your students will translate into negative feedback even in a good course. Looking at your course from the student’s perspective is a great way to improve the UX.

All you have to do is go into your course and click on “settings”…


Once you are in settings, click on “student view”…

From here you can see the student’s perspective. Look at the course as if you are a student and find things that may be distracting, like too much clutter in your modules or unnecessary options on your left navigation menu…

Take a moment to think from a student’s perspective about the course as a whole. If you were enrolled in a course like this, what would you think? Perhaps there is little or no variety in course materials or maybe it just looks like there are too many tests. When you take a minute to look at your course from a student’s perspective you may see things you never noticed before.

When you are finished, be sure to exit out of student mode by clicking “leave student view” in the bottom right corner…

To remove the unnecessary items from left navigation menu, click on “settings”, choose “navigation”, and drag unwanted items down…

Take time to think about the UX for your students and make improvements when possible. Have another faculty member or instructional designer look at your course from a UX perspective to give you even more ways to improve your course. Creating a better user experience for your courses can translate into happier, more successful, students.

Be Mobile with Canvas

Did you know that you can teach with your tablet? Grade papers on your cell phone? Canvas mobile apps give you the power to interact with your course from anywhere and engage your students in mobile learning online or in the classroom.

Check out the full suite of Canvas mobile apps below and contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services to discuss ideas and strategies to effectively incorporate these into your teaching and learning.

Canvas app icon

Canvas by Instructure

Canvas by Instructure

This app is the mobile instance of the Canvas LMS. Through this app you have access all of your courses at USF. You can participate in discussions, post announcements, upload files and video, and manage your Canvas inbox.

Although this app is not optimal for heavy course building, it is a great way to quickly get connected with your course and students.

Available for iPad, iPhone and Android.

speedgrader icon



This app allows you to grade assignments from all of your courses. You will be able to view submissions including text, video and audio. You can grade using points, a letter grade, and/or a rubric. You can provide feedback as comments, audio or video. Once you’ve opened an assignment, you can move between student’s submission with a swipe to the right.

Although the app does not provide the same annotation tools as the SpeedGrader in you web browser on the computer (i.e. comments and strikethrough), this is a quick way to grade quizzes or submissions that don’t need annotations.

Available for iPad and Android.

polls for canvas

Polls for Canvas

Polls for Canvas

This app allows you to instantly assess student comprehension with live, in-class polling using the students’ own smartphones or tablets. You will be able to ask the students true/false or multiple choice questions.

Because Canvas Polls integrates with Canvas courses, participation and performance data is saved for every student.

Available for iPad, iPhone and Android.

Magic marker app icon

Magic Marker

Magic Marker

This app allows you to assess students’ mastery of learning objectives in a face-to-face class. Have the app open and wander around the room during an activity. As you witness students master the objectives of the lesson, track this with the app and it will update the grade book by the time you sit back down.

This app works with the Outcomes tool in Canvas.

Available for iPad.

teacher tools app icon

Teacher Tools

Teacher Tools

This app consists of three tools to make teachers’ lives a little easier. One tool shows pictures of the students to help teachers learn their names. Another tool randomly selects students for activities. The last tool allows teachers to take notes about each student.

Available for Android.