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:

And this video will show you how students use it:

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 

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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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Bb Student

Bb Student App

Bb Student is Blackboard’s newest mobile solution that specifically to enable students to have a robust course experience on mobile devices. Students are encouraged to use Bb Student in place of Mobile Learn to have the best mobile experience.

App Installation

Student can follow these steps to download and install the Bb Student app.

  1. From your device, access the appropriate online store.
  2. Search for Bb Student.
  3. Install the app on your mobile device.
  4. Open Bb Student and search for the full name of your institution.
  5. Log in with your Blackboard Learn username and password. These are typically the same credentials you use to access your Blackboard courses on a computer.


  • View a chronological stream of course activity in the following categories: Important, Upcoming, Today, Recent.
  • See previous, current, and future semesters.
  • Due Dates shows students a long-term view of upcoming assignments and tests across all of their courses. Work is color coded by course and grouped by day and week to provide a clear understanding of what’s due.
  • View and take assignments, tests, and quizzes in the course outline.
  • Review previously submitted assignments, tests, and quizzes.
  • See course grades.
  • See assignment and test grades.
  • Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive support. You can use your cloud-connected accounts to submit documents for class assignments.
  • Collaborate with the Ultra experience for iOS and Android. Real-time video conferencing allows you to share files, chat, and use an interactive whiteboard.
  • Open the following content items in the course outline:
    • iOS supports:
      • PDFs
      • Multiple video and audio formats
      • All major image formats
      • All Apple Office file types
      • All MS Office file types
    • Windows supports:
      • PDFs
      • Multiple video and audio formats
      • All major image formats
      • All MS Office file types
    • Android defaults to letting the user select an app to view a particular file type, using a preselected app, or using O365/Office Mobile if installed.
      • A web browser opens to whatever page it was on before and the file downloads to your tray. There is no notification other than smallDownloading… text at the bottom. Users must look in their trays by swiping down to notifications.
      • Opening an unsupported file type displays an error message stating that the file is currently not supported.
  • Users can click Give us feedback to report problems with Bb Student.
  • Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) Cache Expiration. Bb Student contains data caching for portions of the application. Cache expiration times are as follows:
    • 30 second expiration on course timeline, course outline, and activity stream. This is user specific.
    • 120 minutes on basic course information such as course id, name, and description; system-wide.
    • 120 minutes on school search with MLCS; system-wide.

The more details can be reviewed at Blackboard Release Notes here.

Source from: Blackboard Help

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This animation is created by PowToon, an easy use application to craft your story and turn it into an exciting Powerful animation to inspire and engage your audience.

What you can do with PowToon? Here are some ideas:

  • Advertise your course with fun animation
  • Explain some difficult topics to students with fun animation
  • Add your own voice to the presentation

Want to learn how to use this powerful tool? Here is the tutorials:

Tutorial page:

Still needs some assistance? Please contact us for your individual consultation.

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Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative

Here is an exciting news about OER initiative for community college faculty and students.

After VCCS 23 Zero-Degree OER initiative, Achieving the Dream announced today that over the next three years, the Open Educational Resources Degree initiative will be adopted national wide and even beyond US borders. Two year public higher education institutions and systems in the U.S. and Canada can apply for this three-year grants to support the creation of new OER Degree program.

The details can be read at:

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.  Its website is: 

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Visions of Education Futures by Jackie Gerstein


Jakie Gerstein gives her vision of the future education inspired by new technologies and social culture as below:

  • Information is abundant and education will become more evenly distributed.
  • Social based and networked learning
  • Personalized learning with the help of new technology
  • Holographic Meetings
  • Augmented and virtual reality simulations replace textbook and lectures
  • Project Based Learning and DIY (do it yourself) will replace drill and kill instruction
  • Interest and passion-based learning groups will replace old classroom concept with mixed ages and genders
  • Global stewardship will permeate all aspects of education

To read the details, please click the above link to access the blog article.

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