NSF-sponsored Workshop on Digitally-Mediated Team Learning

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is sponsoring 50 Travel Stipends to a synthesis and design workshop for researchers, educators, and practitioners who are advancing technology-enhanced team learning within STEM disciplines:

  • During the two-and-a-half-day workshop, participants will be afforded opportunities to participate in a Poster Session, Keynotes, Panel Session, Breakout Technical Sessions, and Action Committees.
  • The outcome of this workshop on Digitally-Mediated Team Learning (DMTL) will be a White Paper presented at the 2019 NSF Summit on the Design of Future Digital STEM Learning Environments.

Workshop Dates:

Sunday, March 31, 2019  –  Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Orlando, FL at the main campus of the University of Central Florida

For more information, please visit the Digital Learning Teams website.

*Shared through the ATLE listserv at USF Tampa.

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 Screencast-O-Matic.com 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

Additional Due Dates in Canvas


Family emergency? Student needs to take an exam early? Did you know you can add separate due dates to existing assignments and quizzes for individual students?

It’s a common problem – life and technical glitches happen, and we often get requests to open up an exam or an assignment for a single student, but how do we do this without effecting the rest of the class?  Luckily Canvas includes a feature to add additional due dates, as well as individual lock and unlock dates, for individual students, groups of students, and course sections. Best of all, none of the other students in the class will be aware of these additional due dates – they will only see the ones that apply to them!

This quick video shows step-by-step how to add an additional due date to a Canvas assignment or quiz.



For more information on using Canvas contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services!

What is Active Learning?

Active learning 2Active learning is a term that has been tossed around quite a bit in the last few years. While active learning has gotten its share of positive press, it raises a host of questions. What is active learning? Is it an education fad? Should I use it? Can I do active learning in an online course? Let’s take a look under the hood and see what makes active learning tick.

Bonwell and Eison (1991) described active learning in which students, “do something and then reflect on the meaning of what they do.” While this simple description does get at the heart of active learning, it still really doesn’t describe how to recognize it when you see it, much less how to create active learning. Another way to describe active learning is that it is a technique of teaching in which students become active participants in the learning process, rather than passive consumers of knowledge. But, if we dig a little deeper, I think active learning can be best described by the criteria that makes students active in the learning process.

The first criterion is autonomy. Students become more participative when they have choices. Autonomy means the students feel a sense of agency in their own learning journey. Good examples are allowing students to create test questions, or allowing choices in their learning artifact for an assignment (presentation, paper, video, etc.). Autonomy supports intrinsic motivation, which in turn supports active student engagement.

The second criterion is relevance. This is where faculty really get to share their expertise and their passion for their field of research. This is your chance to show it off! Show students why what they are learning is important. Be creative at helping them connect their personal and professional goals to the content in your course. One great example comes from Nikki Stowell. She teaches a business law class and has her students post a picture they actually take to their Canvas course of what the law means to them. Relevance means students stay engaged and they tend to see content as important to them, rather than just busy work.

Our third criterion is exploration. Exploration encourages students by activating their curiosity. Curiosity can often trigger situational interest, which in turn can develop into long-term interest. One of the best ways to do this is to use problem based learning. Talk to your students about the big problems in your field and let them explore the ways in which researchers have grappled with those problems. Allowing students to explore your chosen field, with you there to guide them along the way, can be a fantastic learning experience.

The fourth, and last, criterion for active learning is reflection. We now come full circle back to our original definition. Reflection is the glue that makes learning stick. The practice of reflection is one that allows students to process their experiences in a new way by recalling the experience and sharing it with others. Reflection is most powerful when it is shared and makes for excellent discussions. Reflection allows students a freedom of expression which reactivates their experiences and creates lasting meaning.

To learn more about active learning we encourage you to attend our workshops on active learning here with OLITS and the CITL.
Bonwell, C., and J. Eison. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. AEHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No.1. Washington, US: Jossey-Bass.

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.