Center for Educational Resources and Technology at DSU

Category: DEIT reflections Page 1 of 3

TOP SECRET! Use the Blackboard Mobile App to Infect Your Students’ Brains With Learning

BASEMENT BUNKER, DOOLING HALL. We all know students love their phones and their apps. Why not use the Blackboard mobile app to take advantage of students’ compulsion to interact with their phones? You don’t have to use the app yourself; rather, you just need to understand how what you do in Blackboard manifests itself in the phone app. Check out this video message from one of DEIT’s underground operatives or check out our 2-page help guide. Contact DEIT for further information. Codeword BB2Brain. END OF TRANSMISSION.

April 2019 Training Workshops

Salesian Virtues Are Good Teaching

Just read an article from the UK’s The Guardian titled, “What do students want most? To be treated with respect.” The anonymous author stated that the biggest takeaway from a survey of 1,000 university students was that students wondered: why don’t faculty members have more humanity? Students found faculty members lacking in empathy, compassion, kindness, integrity, and understanding.

Hopefully, in a Christian humanist institution like DeSales, our students would tell a different story. But, whether instructors or staff members, we do well to employ the Salesian “little virtues” of gentleness, patience, and humility in our dealings with our students. Not only will we be better people, but better teachers, too.


Improving your course’s look and feel

Part of the design of Blackboard courses should include a consideration of the visual nature of the material. There are several things that can be done to improve the way a course looks.

Picture formatting

When putting images into Blackboard, not only should an image description be added for accessibility purposes, but an image’s placement and appearance can be controlled.

On the Appearance tab, a sample thumbnail shows how your choices will appear.Appearance menu

  • Setting the Alignment helps control the location of the picture. The most common options are Left and Right.
  • Selecting the check box for Constrain Proportions and changing the dimensions, the image is resized without horizontal or vertical distortion.
  • Adding a value for Vertical Space moves the picture up or down in relation to the text. Adding vertical space can help center a picture on the screen.
  • Adding a value for Horizontal Space moves the picture left or right.

If you want your image to appear right or left of a block of text, type your text in the editor first. Then, move your cursor to the beginning of the text and insert your image there. After you add your image in the General tab, move to the Appearance tab to choose your alignment, dimensions, and space around the image.

Using tables to control text

Either in relation to pictures or on its own, the use of tables can add clarity to the text in a course. To begin, use the Insert/Edit table button to add a table.

Table screenshot


Each row, and cell can be controlled. For example, using the Table Row Properties button  will allow a background color to be added and the text color changed to one or more rows. The Table Cell Properties button  will do the same for any cell currently selected within a table.

Hint: using a table is also a good way to offset text. Add a table with two columns and one row. Placing all the text in one column while adding a few spaces into the other column can add white space to an item in Blackboard. Ex:

Example of whitespace


Add space to list items

Content of ordered and unordered lists can be modified by:

  1. Selecting the text in the list
  2. Clicking in the CSS button in the toolbar
  3. Switching to the Box menu
  4. Deselect the “Same for All” checkbox on the right-side list, and entering a value in the Bottom A value of 4-6 pixels work best.
  5. Deselect the checkbox for “Insert span at selection”
  6. Click on the Update button

Adding space can have a subtle but powerful effect on the ability to read the text.

Bullet spacing




Printable version of this guide

Results of IHE Survey of Faculty Attitudes Toward Technology

The trade publication Inside Higher Ed recently published the results of its 2017 Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology.

Much of the survey focused on faculty attitudes toward online classes. In my view, like “regular” classes, online or hybrid classes can be taught poorly or well. Due to the increased use of technology, in my view, faculty members need to take more of a team approach and lean on support resources such as DEIT’s instructional designers.

Some highlights from the national faculty survey:

  • 62% agree with the statement “I fully support the increased use of educational technologies.” Only 8% disagree.
  • 42% of instructors reported having taught at least only one online class (but only 21% at private institutions).
  • An increasing minority of faculty (33%) agree that student outcomes are as good or better in an online class as an in-person class (roughly equal proportions either are neutral or disagree). But among faculty members that have taught online themselves, 45% agree.
  • Faculty concerns about online classes include lack of interaction during class (86%), reaching at-risk students (79%), rigorously engaging students in course material (60%), maintaining academic integrity (60%), and delivering necessary content to meet learning objectives (51%).
  • 70% of instructors that have taught online say the experience helped their teaching. Even more say teaching online helped them learn to use multimedia content and the learning management system. About 50% say they are more comfortable using active and project-based learning techniques and better at communicating with students outside of class as a result of teaching online.

If you have ideas for incorporating instructional technology in your classes, contact DEIT to either talk things out or to get help with implementation. DEIT is here to support the faculty.

Eric J. Hagan, Ed.D.
Director, Distance Education and Instructional Technology


DEIT Humility Fail

Found on DEIT whiteboard. St. Francis would not approve.

Faculty Satisfaction Survey Results

Thank you to the 94 DeSales full-time and part-time faculty members that responded in October to the Distance Education and Instructional Technology Department’s 2017 Faculty Satisfaction Survey. DEIT conducted a similar survey in 2015, which provides a baseline for comparison.

Key findings:

  • Ninety-six percent (96%) of respondents expressed overall satisfaction with DEIT’s faculty support services (up from 90% in 2015).
  • Eighty-one percent (81%) of respondents rated DeSales’ level of instructional technology infrastructure and support as better than peer institutions (up from 65% in 2015).
  • Eighty-four percent (84%) of respondents reported that they had “a good understanding of the services DEIT offers and how these services relate to your teaching” (up from 78% in 2015).
  • Perception improved of the effectiveness of the Help Desk in handling instructional technology issues. Fifty-eight percent (58%) found the Help Desk “effective” or “very effective” while only 15% found it “ineffective” or “very ineffective” (26% were “neutral”). In 2015, more faculty found the Help Desk to be a negative than a positive.

You may access a PDF version of the survey results by clicking this link.

Please contact me if you have questions or feedback on the survey process.

Warm regards,
Eric J. Hagan, Ed.D.
Director, Distance Education and Instructional Technology

The role of instructional technology at DeSales University

By Eric Hagan, Ed.D., Director, Distance Education and Instructional Technology

DeSales University is a teaching university. It is characterized by small class sizes, the development of personal relationships, and is enlivened by the rich tradition of Salesian Christian humanism. What is the role of instructional technology in such a place?

Quoting the DeSales University website, “Interest in the human person and the positive affirmation of human life and culture which stems from faith is the hallmark of any humanism qualified as ‘Christian.’ ” A Christian humanist education is, therefore, by, for, and about human beings, human beings striving to discern God’s path for them and to find the courage to choose that path and walk it well. Students in such a Christian humanist educational system ought to be guided by human professors who not only impart content and skills but also good judgment and wisdom.

Consistent with the university’s Christian humanist philosophy, the role of instructional technology at DeSales is to facilitate relationships among faculty and students, not to replace or diminish such relationships. To this end, at DeSales we use technology to enrich and extend what occurs in the face-to-face classroom, to bring faculty and students together through time and space, to give voice to students that communicate most effectively in the virtual classroom, and to automate routine tasks to allow more time for person-to-person interactions.

Instructional technology at DeSales is a toolbox at the disposal of our faculty. It exists to allow our faculty to more fully realize their vision for their teaching and their aspirations for their students. DeSales’ instructional technology and the people that support it are here for the faculty and students, not the other way around. Because instructional technology is rightly understood to perform a supporting role to the human actors in the DeSales educational process, it is not feared and walled off in an online learning department but rather embraced and infused across the university’s many academic disciplines and our three major program areas: traditional day, ACCESS, and graduate.

Technology, however, has changed the role of the professor by making effective teaching a more collaborative endeavor. Much like a modern physician, a modern professor recognizes that he or she is the leader of a team. In the same way that an effective physician relies on medical technologists, today’s effective professor knows to call on instructional technology experts to complement the professor’s pedagogical and content expertise.

As stated in its mission statement, DeSales University enriches the human community and enhances the dignity of the individual through its educational endeavors. Instructional technology at DeSales, when employed well, supports and enhances the humanity of all those involved in the educational process.


Millennials: Our students, colleagues, and customers

This Baby-Boomer (a really late Boomer, okay) ran across a blog post describing an interesting infographic on the Millennial generation (those born roughly from the early 1980s to the early 2000s). While often mocked as “slackers” and “the trophy generation,” anyone who actually knows Millennials can attest that this generation has a large degree of variation among individuals, just like every other generation. That being said, Millennials may tend to have certain characteristics to a greater extent than previous generations. Knowing about these characteristics can help those from other generations function better as leaders, colleagues, friends and relatives.

What are the implications for our teaching practices at DeSales?

As the infographic summarizes:

“In short, many Millennials are overeducated, under-employed, heavily in debt, and looking to make a difference in the world – either working for themselves, or in a company that doesn’t just focus on profit. They also want to work in a collaborative, flexible environment that doesn’t require them to be in the office all the time and one that will allow them to utilize social media.

Any company that can adapt and accommodate these needs is going to have access to a large and talented pool of resources, who will be loyal and do great work. “

Check out the infographic. There may be some facts that surprise you!

Eric Hagan
Director, DEIT


2016 Online Learning Landscape – Infographic

DeSales University is a member of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), a non-profit dedicated to promoting quality online higher education. The OLC is just out with this infographic summarizing the scope of online higher education and the context in which it exists.

Among the highlights:

  • 5.8 million students are enrolled in online courses, a 263% increase over the past 12 years
  • 75% of undergrads are age 25 or older
  • 90% of students think online learning is the same or better than the traditional classroom experience (71% of academic leaders say the same thing)

If you are looking to do something new with technology in your course or program, let’s have a conversation!

Eric Hagan, Director, DEIT

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