Effective Teaching Strategies Survey

ISS initiate a mini ongoing project by using Google form to collect faculty’s teaching strategies that they feel effective.  The following link is available for your access all the time. We’re looking forward to hearing from you more!


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Take Attendence in Canvas

Comparing to Blackboard system, taking attendance becomes much easier in Canvas.

Once you log into Canvas, go to the specific course, choose Settings > Navigation, and enable Attendance menu item, which is only open for instructor.

This tutorial will show you step-by-step on how to use Roll Call Attendance feature in Canvas.


If you need assistance on using this feature for your teaching, please contact ISS for individual consultation.

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Wiki Page in Canvas

Some faculty have been using wiki page feature in Blackboard. Unfortunately, Canvas doesn’t have Wiki page as a specific feature.  Here’s workaround to convert a regular page to a wiki page.

When you create a page, by default only teachers can edit the page.  But you do have option to change it to “Teachers and Students” can edit the page. In this way, the regular page has been converted to the wiki page that people who have been granted the access can edit as they need. Canvas page set up

If you need to make this wiki page as an assignment, you can create an assignment with link to the page in the content area. And then, set up the assignment as No Submission. In this way, one column is created in grade center to hold students’ grades automatically.

If you need more assistance on this feature, please contact instructional support staff.

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Where to Start? – About Modules

When the college is working on the training schedule and other logistics on the transition of Canvas, faculty are wondering where to start.  Here’s my first thought to share.

In Blackboard, by default, the Course Documents including all reading materials, PPT, supplement videos, and external website are piled in one place that students will scroll down to access.  Some faculty creates folders named as Week 1, Week 2, etc. to chunk the list.  However, Assignments and Tests are under a different menu. See the images below:

screenshot of course document lists


In Canvas you need to think how you teach in the class.

You pull out the teaching materials and share with students, and then add the activities to engage them, maybe later give a quick quiz to see whether they understand what has been taught, and finally give the assignment.  The order could be various but essential elements such as course material, discussion /hands-on activity, quiz and assignments are given in one (week) class period. So we encourage faculty to organize the course through Module in Canvas.  See the image below:

screenshot of Canvas Module list

See the differences? This is not really about Canvas feature, it’s more about thinking of course design.  Modules are a content delivery system. Content consists of pages, quizzes, assignments, discussions, files, as well as weblinks through the Pages link, Assignments link, the Quizzes link, and uploaded files.  What are Modules? 

Biose State University has some great information about the importance of using a module structure.

How to create Module in Canvas? Here’s the tutorials from Canvas official site. Please check your campus instructional technologist for the support.

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Tips for Active Learning: Be Transparent and Start with Simple Techniques

Source comes from: http://www.sonicfoundry.com/tips-for-active-learning-be-transparent-and-start-with-simple-techniques/

This article discuss about some Active Learning strategies in the classroom through the Q&A format with Associate Professor Sehoya Corner at the University of Minnesota. Those tips and insights are easily to adopted in different disciplines.

Think-pair-share: ask students to think about topic for a few minutes, and pair up students to share their thoughts. To encourage more students speaking out,  random number generator app can be used to select different students.

A thorough breakdown of the class structure:

  1. Start the class immediately with polling to find out if students recall what they learned and what they need to learn. ISS point of view on this: Technology can be used such as: Kahoo, Nearpod, Poll Everything. Please check out with ISS for technology support.
  2. Present hook to promote discussion. ISS point of view on this: We recommend the discussion could relate the learning content with real life situation, so students have a better understanding why they need to learn those content.
  3. Two or three mini-lectures (no more than 10 minutes lecture at a time) built in. Lecture could focus on a common misconception or a typical area of confusion. Following up with activities such as pair work, hands-on or problem solving.  ISS point of view on this: if you are new faculty and not sure where to start, you can chunk your content into small pieces embedding mini activities.
  4. Wrap up class with something for students to think about. ISS point of view on this: again, this could relate to real life problem and upcoming learning materials.

A couple things need to be considered:

  1. Help students understand the benefit of group work by explaining why and what are expected, grading individual quiz and group quiz to see different score, showing research result about collaborative learning, etc. ISS point of view on this: Faculty need to believe group work first, and then assign appropriate roles to the group members so everyone take certain responsibilities on part of group work, and peer review group process.
  2. Try small and simple to gain positive reinforcement.  ISS point of view on this: talk to your colleagues to get some support and help.
  3. Give up content. “If you want to learn more, check this out online.” ISS point of view on this: to make sure you have follow up assessment for those content you give up in the class time but still want students to learn.
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The First Day of Class

Five faculty, Stephanie Harm, Dr. Chris Arra, Dennis Sullivan, Susan Thompson and Megan Davies, have shared their teaching strategies about the first day of class. We hope the following two videos give you some ideas or help you organize your course. Please feel free to share your strategies through the comments.

The First Day of Class – Part I 

The First Day of Class – Part II

Professor Margaret Davies also shares her strategies in written format: 

“I am Assistant Professor Megan Davies. I teach psychology courses including Principles of Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Psychology Through the Lifespan, and Theories of Personality.

I spend the first class introducing myself, doing an ice-breaker activity, and beginning the course. I do not go over the syllabus the first class. In fact, I do not distribute the syllabus on the first day of class. I always have my syllabus on Bb. However, I give students the opportunity to earn extra credit if they print out their syllabus and bring it to class on the first day. Anyone not able to print it out for the first day can request a copy from me on the second class. Rather than spending the first day going over the syllabus, I mention the important points and have students read the syllabus themselves and ask me questions the following class. We review various requirements throughout the semester rather than overloading the students on the first day.”

Faculty Focus posted on article about the same topic: http://bit.ly/2rQPUE4  Hope you feel helpful.

Hope these information inspire you to try some new strategies and activities. Please feel free to share yours!  Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Welcome Back Fall 2018


Bauhinia outside of WS building

Working as instructional support specialist, I have been told by our faculty that they feel isolated most of time just doing on their own. Everyone wants to have some opportunity to hear from the colleagues about teaching strategies, successful stories to engaging students, challenging, frustration on classroom management, course design and all kinds of teaching related issues.

Starting from this semester, ISS will have a couple initiatives to engage faculty sharing their teaching experience:

  1. Mini-video project: we will randomly invite faculty to share their teaching strategies through recorded video, audio or maybe written text during the semester. In this way, all campus faculty will get chance to know how their colleagues teach. The topics will be given to faculty who are willing to share, and the ISS will be responsible for recording, editing and sharing. Looking forward to our first video project – The First Day of Class in the upcoming post.
  2. Bring your lunch to chat:  WAS 214 has been re-assigned as faculty professional development center. ISS will invite faculty to use lunch time getting together to share their teaching experience.
  3. Once college finalize the training schedule for new learning management system Canvas, ISS will work closely with faculty to ensure the transition goes smoothly.

If you have any suggestion for our services, please feel free to leave the comments or contact us directly. We are looking forward to working with all of you for another excellent academic year!

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Effective Practices in Hybrid Course Conversational Seminars

Due to an increasing need of hybrid courses on Woodbridge Campus, Instructional Support Services will collaborate with Extended Learning Institute (ELI) to offer four conversational seminars about effective practices in hybrid courses.

These seminars will be facilitated and shared by Dr. Hong Wang, Associate Director of Instructional Technology Training from ELI who is the lead facilitator for the Hybrid Certification online workshop; Dr. Bo Yang, Instructional Support Specialist from Learning & Technology Resources Division on Woodbridge Campus; and some faculty who have taught hybrid courses on Woodbridge Campus. The seminars are conversational format and we welcome your questions, experience and ideas.

These sessions are NOT a replacement of the Hybrid Certification training program and will only serve as peer sharing sessions to support effective practices in hybrid courses. All faculty who have taught hybrid courses and faculty who are interested or are going to teach hybrid courses are welcome to join us each month.

  • 12:30-1:30pm Feb. 22, Conversations on Effective Practices in Hybrid Courses: An Overview (WAS 230M)
  • Mar. 8, Conversations on Effective Practices in Hybrid Courses: Developing and Blending Content (TBD)
  • Mar. 22, Conversations on Effective Practices in Hybrid Courses: Developing and Blending Interaction/Collaboration (WAS 202)
  • April 26, Conversations on Effective Practices in Hybrid Courses: Developing and Blending Assignments/Assessment (WAS 202)

We’re looking forward to seeing you in these seminars! Refreshments are provided!

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Mobile Learning for Students, Faculty and Staff

With moving class to online or losing some class time, you might wonder how to engage students in different approach, saying outside the classroom. This email serves as information sharing and tutorials on Mobile Learning.

Mobile learning lets students benefit from interacting with their course content on the devices that they use to connect with every other aspect of their lives, nearly 24/7. The attached PDF file “Mobile Learning for Students” contains links to

  1. How to configure their college student email on their smartphone (iOS and Android );
  2. How to use Blackboard App for accessing announcement, participating In discussion, taking test, checking grades, joining Collaborate synchronous session in Blackboard.

 Mobile Learning for Students

Mobile learning is also beneficial for faculty, which gives instructors a quick and easy way to manage courses, interact with students, and view content. The attached PDF file “Mobile Teaching for Faculty” contains links to

  1. How to configure your college email on your smartphone (iOS and Android)
  2. How to use Blackboard Instructor app to manage your courses, preview content, create/reply to discussion, post announcement and host a Collaborate synchronous session;
  3. How to use Bb Grader to grade students work.

Mobile Teaching for Faculty

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Updates & Tutorials on Set up Grade Center in Bb (Campus Closing Support)

Dear Colleagues,

ISS has been relocated to Library WAS 230R and 230Q. There’re a couple of laptops here that you can use. Please feel free to stop by for the office space as needed.

Also, we have some iPads for faculty rolling into classroom use. Please contact me, if you need them for your teaching.

The library has a courtesy charging station for your laptop, please see the attached image. It’s located at the back of the library area. Please check with circulation desk staff for assistance.

This email also services as a tutorial for faculty to set up your Grade Center in Blackboard, so you can put all the grades online and students can track their progress. Please check out the attached PDF file for the step by step instruction.

Adding Columns to the Grade Center: There’re two ways to create columns to record the grades in Grade center: One is to use the “Create Column” option in the tool bar so you can manually enter the grades (such as exams or essays). another ways is certain types of assessments in Blackboard will automatically create their own columns in the Grade Center for you. These are: tests and quizzes created through the Test or Survey Manager; Discussion Board forums or threads (if you pick the Graded option); blogs, journals and wikis (if the grading option is selected); and Assignment or SafeAssign content types.

Weighted Total vs. Total: the two columns are created by default in every Blackboard shell. The Total column shows the number of points attained out of the total possible. The Weighted Total shows the current total as determined by the weighting scheme set in the Edit Column Informationpage. If you set up a Weighted Total, then it does not matter how many total points there are possible in the course assignments; there could be 100 points total, or 350, or 1175 for all the assignments. The final grade will be calculated proportionately according to the weighting scheme.

Calculate as Running Total: the default option is “Yes,” which means that the grade is determined based on items graded, not on all items possible. This gives a more accurate sense of where a student is at any point in the semester.

Setting up Weighted Total, you need to:

  1. Create categories;
  2. Based on your weighting scheme, set up weighted total with categories/columns; and
  3. Assign grade columns to the categories.

In this way, Blackboard system will automatically calculate the total and weighted total for you during the semester.  You can also use this approach to calculate the attendance and more.

Reference: https://www.hamilton.edu/documents/Weighting_Grades_in_Blackboard.pdf

Set up Weighted Total by Categories PDF file

Laptop Charging Station in Library
Laptop Charging Station in LIbrary

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