Center for Educational Resources and Technology at DSU

Month: May 2020

Webinar: Tips for Designing “Remote-Ready” Syllabi for an Uncertain Future

Recording, slides, and resources shared on the webinar
Recording here:
Slides here.

In this webinar you’ll learn:
– How to design courses that are “remote resilient” and well suited to online delivery.
– How to identify the ‘essential objectives’ of a course and determine what components of a face-to-face course can be adapted to an online course.
– How to build community and maintain student engagement and motivation throughout the term, whether in face-to-face or an online environment.

About the Panelists:

Adam Fein, Ph.D. is VP for Digital Strategy and Innovation at the University of North Texas and an industry leader in online and innovative education with nearly 20 years of experience. He oversees digital strategy and innovation at the University of North Texas as it seeks to become a global leader in online learning experiences and educational technology. He leads the university’s key initiatives in educational technology, online, and blended learning.

Jose J. Vazquez, Ph.D. is a Clinical Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where teaches three sections of one of the largest Economics courses in the country (925 students). In addition to his role as an instructor, Dr. Vazquez is also Director of the Teaching Academy for the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a leader in the use and study of technology in higher education; in particular multimedia design. Recently, his research has been in the area of mental attention and student motivation, particularly the role of curiosity as a way to incentivize students. He has published his work in several academic journals and has presented at numerous academic conferences.


Identifying essential course objectives and selection of digital-first exercises

Mastery Learning approaches and the 2-Sigma Problemshared by Dr. Jose Vazquez in reference to focusing on the key objectives that a student should master during the scope of a course, and creating flexible structures for students to try, fail, and retry until mastery is achieved.

Summary of Dr. Adam Fein’s research on how digital intervention methods can support improved course outcomes.
University of North Texas’ research on the impact of AI-based discussion, shared by Dr. Adam Fein in today’s webinar.

Effective communication in digital-first/remote-friendly courses

Robert Mayer’s study on reducing cognitive load in communication, recommended by Dr.  Adam Fein on today’s webinar as being particularly relevant to communication in digital environments.
Mayer’s book, “Multimedia Learning”, recommended by Dr. Jose Vazquez on today’s webinar as being one of the most impactful books that shaped his teaching style.

Building a digital-first community around the course for student engagement

Stanford CEPA study showing that students exposed to (and nominated in the discussion by) highly engaged peers in online discussion perform better in class.

Garrison’s Practical Inquiry Model, outlining the cognitive processes engaged when a learner forms their own open-ended inquiries.

The Community of Inquiry Model for optimizing interaction design in an online discussion community to lead to the best metacognitive and engagement outcomes for students.

Other resources shared

Alternative assessment approaches for online environments, shared by Dr. Adam Fein

Dr. Fein, Dr. Vazquez, and Ms. Tenuta offered to be available for contact for any of today’s attendees for any questions about effective ‘resilient’ courses. Please reach out via LinkedIn to any panelist with questions.  

Introducing Blackboard Annotate!

Bb Annotate was released on June 3rd. Bb Annotate offers a more robust feature set to provide customizable feedback to students. Features include a sidebar summary view, freehand drawing tools, various color selections, and much more.

Printable guide

Bb Annotate instructor view

From either the Needs Grading page or the Grade Center within the course, access the student’s submission to provide inline grading feedback using Bb Annotate.  

Supported File Types

On the Grade Assignment page, supported file types open automatically in the browser.

You can view and annotate these document types in the browser:

  • Microsoft® Word (DOC, DOCX)
  • Microsoft® PowerPoint®(PPT, PPTX)
  • Microsoft® Excel®(XLS, XLSM, XLSX)
  • OpenOffice® Documents (ODS, ODT, ODP)
  • Digital Images (JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, BMP, TGA)
  • Medical Images (DICOM, DICM, DCM)
  • PDF
  • PSD
  • RTF
  • TXT
  • WPD

Original formatting and embedded images are preserved. If a student has uploaded an unsupported file, you’re prompted to download it.  Additionally, assignment submissions created through the editor aren’t compatible with inline grading.

Supported Browsers

Bb Annotate is supported on current versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

Bb Annotate Menu

There is a wide array of features to select from in the menu.

Sidebar View

The left Sidebar view allows you to see a thumbnail view of the submission, an outline, list of all annotations and bookmarks. You can show or hide the sidebar as well as resize it.

Document View Settings

From the view settings, it is easy to jump to a specific page, zoom in and out of the submission or adjust the view to fit the page, fit the width or select the best fit. 


  • Drawing, Brush and Eraser – The drawing and brush tools allow you to freehand draw on the document using various colors, thickness, and opacity.  You’ll have the option to either erase pieces of the freehand drawing or delete fully using the trash icon.
  • Image or Stamp – An image or stamp can be added to the document.  There are a set of pre-loaded stamps or create your own customized stamp.
  • Comment – Comments can be added to the document to provide feedback and will appear to the right of the submission. You and other graders can add additional replies to a comment. Note: to save comments click on the Reply button. The comment will receive a date & time stamp and will show the grader’s name unless anonymous grading has been selected as an assignment option.
  • Text – You can add text directly on the page.  There are additional options to move, edit and change the appearance of the text, including font, size, alignment and color.  
  • Shapes – There are 6 options for adding shapes: Line, Arrow, Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon and Polyline.  Each option has its own customization settings to change the color, width, opacity, and more.

Print or Download

You can either Print or Download the document with annotations.  When downloading, it is recommended to view annotated PDF’s in a native PDF viewer such as Adobe Acrobat.


You can quickly search through the document to find specific text.

Content Library

The content library allows you to keep a bank of re-usable comments.  You can easily add, edit, delete, or search through comments in the library.  A comment can be added directly to the page as well through the context menu. 


When directly highlighting text on a submission, an additional menu will open to allow you to highlight, strikethrough, underline, or comment.  

Student View

After you have provided a grade, students can access the annotated files but won’t be able to add annotations in their submissions. 

Mobile devices

As part of the responsive design, the menu will appear differently based on the screen size.  On medium and small screens, the Document View settings will change to display the page number being viewed, and annotation tools will be visible under the View Annotation Tools icon.  On small screens, the Content Library will be hidden.

Watch a video about Bb Annotate

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