Upcoming VoiceThread Trainings

Are you ready for the winter blizzard? How to keep the continuity of instruction with inclement weather? If you are wondering, here is a good training for you.

Beat the Next Snow Day with VoiceThread

When: December 6, 2016 7:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time)

Have you already had your first snow day? There will be more snow days to come, but you don’t have to lose a full day of instruction. VoiceThread lets you be there even when you’re not. In this workshop, participants will learn how to create asynchronous conversations around course content so students can continue to learn and grow even when schools are closed.

Register here 

VoiceThread also offers several basic training for faculty and student to get familiar with this handy tool that embeds multimedia into the discussion. Please check them out at: https://goo.gl/JdxdnD

If you prefer to meeting with our instructional support specialist in person, please contact us and we can arrange one-on-one training session with you.

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Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Use at NOVA

Blackboard published one case study article in their newsletter to introduce how NOVA Woodbridge campus faculty integrate Blackboard Collaborate Ultra into their teaching and faculty professional development training.

Read the article here: collaborate-case-study-northern-virginia-community-college

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a powerful communication tool in Blackboard system that can be used for conducting synchronous communication for online teaching and/or pre-recording the lecture capture.

If you are interested in using this technology, please feel free to contact us for one-on-one consultation.

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What’s New in Office 2016

Office 2016 has been installed in some of campus computers.  The training session for “What’s new in Office 2016?” will be offered through ISS.

The covered features are:

  • Improved dark theme and ribbon tab text
  • Smart Lookup, or insights from Bing
  • Tell me – natural language query
  • Quick shape formatting
  • Real-time document collaboration
  • Improved Backstage
  • Convert handwritten equations to text
  • Modern attachments in Outlook

Please contact us for the training and handouts.

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Free Data Visualization Tools

Based on the definitive guide on how to choose a more appropriate data visualization tool, Vikas Lalwani recommended 13 free data visualization tools in the Six Revisions blog. It worth reading if you want to make your data more user-friendly and attractive.

The tools listed in the article are:

Read the 13 free data visualization tools to learn more details.

Data visualization is one of our goals for the new academic year.

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Appointment slots feature for Google Calendar

If you are looking for the way to allow your students book an appointment online for the office hour or advising, here is a handy feature you can use.  Please see the attached PDF tutorial for how to set up and implement.  The URL link is a video tutorial for your reference.

PDF: How to create appointment slots in Google Calendar

YouTube video: Creating appointment slots with your school Gmail account

If you need more hands-on assistance, please feel free to contact us.

Hope you find it useful for new semester!

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Blackboard Self & Peer Assessment Feature

One of faculty sent me the following request another day: “I have students complete presentations. They evaluate their own self within the group, the group members & how much they contribute, and then everyone in the class views their presentations and evaluate them. Can this tool be used in this respect? Can students put a grade for the presentation itself and then somehow they get credit for doing this?

Blackboard Self & Peer Assessment is the tool you can use for this kind of teaching activity.

This PDF file will show you how to set it up in Bb as an instructor: https://www.ohio.edu/oit/bbsupport/howto/faculty/upload/Bb-9-1-Self-and-Peer-Assessments.pdf

And this video will show you how students use it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv3cDy9gIp0

If you need hands-on assistance, please contact us and we can set up meeting to help you design your course activities.

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 At the beginning of 2016,  the Blizzard interrupts instruction for one week long. There are many other different events that can bring instruction and learning a halt. What can be done to maintain continuity of instruction when we face the interruption? What need to be prepared and what steps do faculty members need to take? How do we inform students? What policies should be in syllabus to help students? So many questions need to be answered to help our faculty get ready for handling interruption.

This series of discussion tends to promote the continuation of teaching and learning despite circumstances for faculty with the consideration, information and resources.

Step 1: Establish a clear communication policies in the syllabus – Which way do you preferred to communicate with students? By phone? Email? Announcement in Blackboard? – Make sure your students read the syllabus and know the procedures.

Step 2: Prepare your course with backup / alternative plan in advance. – Different activities, assignment, discussion and/or test

Step 3: Help your students familiarize with your plan with the practice at the beginning of the semester.

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Week of App – Scribeasy

  Scribeasy is handy writing iPad app that allows users to add one background image, and drag and drop additional pictures onto it. The images can be moved and re-sized to create a visual story setting. Then users can write a story about the scenes they’ve created.

Scribeasy ask users to choose writing time (short, medium or large amount of time) so the writing process is timed activity.  it also provides a list of suggested words to use in the stories. The completed stories can be saved in the camera roll or in the app.

This free app could be a good tool for writing course that students write their own stories within certain time period. The faculty could guide writing by giving certain elements or rules that students need to follow.

Only for iPad users. Free

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Engagement Strategies


This article “Student Engagement Strategies for the Online Learning Environment” by Puala Bigatel is published on Faculty Focus March 14th, 2016.

The faculty development unit the author works for has collected the data from students about the meaning of engagement in online courses. The students’ comments on the meaning of engagement are very valuable. And the author also shares some teaching strategies in the article. Worth reading it.

Students believe:

  • Engagement means interaction and timely feedback. Students are looking forward to working as a team and sharing their life problem or experience so they could relate what they learned to their real life.  The strategies offered by the author is 1) present in the discussion forum asking probing questions; 2) use rubric to clarify the expectation; 3) provide good examples or models of assignment to guide students’ work in a larger class.
  • Engagement means relevance and real-world application. Again, the author suggests the faculty get to know the students through pre-course surveys and adjusting the learning objectives that will help students in the current or future workplace.
  • Engagement means motivation and interest. Making sure the content can be personalized by students so they want to know more about it. The author suggests to integrate new technologies into traditional text-based assignment and provide variety and choice to enhance interest.

Read the details and references at http://bit.ly/1QREFTn 

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Does Color matter?

Today, I’m going to share two articles regarding how color influence our brain. One article is from SHIFT’s eLearning Blog, called “The Psychology of Color: How Do Colors Influence Learning?” This article points out that colors can affect neurological pathways in the brain, which means that every color has a specific wavelength, and each of these affect our body and brain in a different way.

  1. Green is a good color for keeping long-term concentration and clarity, and people who work in green offices have higher rates of job satisfaction.
  2. Orange can be a welcoming and mood-lifting color for learners, which in turn promotes comfort and improves neural functioning.
  3. Blue is best used for learning situations which are intensely challenging.

The more details can be found in the above link.

Another article is really a news from Apple, who is going to release brand new Night Shift feature found in iOS 9.3 on March 16th. The scientific reason behind this is because blue light runs in the spectrum of light that signals the suprachiasmatic nucleus in your brain to stop producing melatonin — and that’s the hormone that regulates your sleep cycles. The following demo shows more details and how to turn on and off this feature in the devices too.


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