Center for Educational Resources and Technology at DSU

Category: Teaching and pedagogy Page 2 of 3

June 2018 Workshops

4th Annual Instructor Roundtable and Dinner June 13 Trexler Library

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.


Guest Post: Strategies for Creating a Successful Online Classroom (Faculty Focus)

Check out this blog post from! This post discusses different ways to have a successful online class such as reaching out to students, giving instructions on how to get started, giving feedback, and more!

To read the full article, click here.

Thanks for sharing the article with us, Fr. X!

Video and Blackboard, So Happy Together – Online Workshop Tonight 3/5 at 7

Join “Swami Jim” Holton online tonight at 7 pm for:

Bb Specialty Topic: Video and Blackboard, So Happy Together


Questions or more info: 610-282-1100 x2290 or

Guest Post: How to Deepen Online Dialog (Rebecca Zambrano, Faculty Focus)

Many faculty members express concern that discussion in their online courses is shallow or sparse. What is it that makes meaningful dialogue so elusive in online courses? Some practices in online course design and discussion facilitation can actually encourage superficial dialogue. Faculty grading and feedback that require too much formality of language can scare students into virtual silence, sticking to exactly what the text says or saying what they think the professor wants to hear. Focusing on lower-level writing issues, such as grammar, APA style, or academic language, takes students away from content issues toward format issues. Although faculty might expect students to use formal academic language in their essays and research papers, it is not ideal for discussion. (Summary from UPCEA blog).

Read the full post here. 

ApprenNet. Incorporate interactive video posts into your class.

If you are looking for an alternative to text-based discussion boards, for a way to build community in an online course, or want to improve student’s presentation skills, ApprenNet may be for you!

Questions? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or Or check out the resources in the DEIT Faculty Community in Blackboard.

To view a recording of an online training session on ApprenNet led by DEIT Director and ApprenNet user Eric Hagan, click on the graphic below or this link

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

Harness the Power of Emotions to Help Your Students Learn (Guest Post, Flower Darby, Faculty Focus)

In a post for Faculty Focus, instructional designer Flower Darby from Northern Arizona University describes the power of emotions in learning. An excerpt:

We connect, understand, and remember things much more deeply when our emotions are involved. Just think about the impact of seeing a photo of a wounded refugee child, as opposed to reading a fact-filled analysis of the crisis itself.

So, if emotions have this much ability to affect our understanding, why try to keep them out of our classrooms? It just doesn’t make sense.

Read the full post, including a reference to a book-length treatment of the subject at

Synchronous Online Classes: 10 Tips for Engaging Students (Guest Post by Marie Norman, Faculty Focus)

If your online course holds synchronous (live) sessions, here’s how to increase engagement, participation, and accountability. And the video the article links to at the beginning is hilarious!

See the full post here.

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