Center for Educational Resources and Technology at DSU

Category: tech matters Page 1 of 6

Good webcam view

Look and Sound Good Online

With the rise in virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype, and other platforms, looking and sounding professional while online has become increasingly important.  Those of us who’ve been at this for a while, CERT for example, know how to accomplish this to the best of our abilities.  But for those of you who might be new to the game, so to speak, this might be an unfamiliar concept.  The negative impact of looking and sounding terrible during your Zoom meetings and classes really shouldn’t be understated.  It can be distracting, annoying, and at its worst it can shut things down completely. 

So, how can you look good on a webcam and sound good too?  Obviously, you can throw money at it and purchase the best webcams, microphones, headsets, and more, but you don’t necessarily have to.  That will only get you so far anyway.  Plus, some of those items might be tough to get right now due to shortages thanks to current demand. 

There’s good news though!  There are quite a few ways in which you can make the most with what you’ve got.  I highly recommend checking out Ultimate webcam tips: How to look and sound great online from Brian Cooley and CNET.  Brian does an extraordinary job explaining many of the concepts involved in making one look and sound their best during virtual meetings.  Concepts discussed include eye level, eye line, quality sound, monitor light, avoiding silhouettes, checking your background, and more (bonus points at the end).  His article is an easy read, but if you’re more of a visual learner like me, he also includes a highly entertaining and educational video.  You can find it in the article or check it out at this link – You Have to Look Good on a Webcam Today!  Watch, learn, enjoy and stay safe! 

For copy/paste links to the article and video, check the references below.  I’ve also included a link to the best webcams available in 2020 provided by Lifewire, in case any of you are in the market for a new one.  I realize many of these have gone up in price or are currently out of stock, but at least you can familiarize yourself with what’s out there. 

References: 

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/ultimate-webcam-tips-how-to-look-sound-great-online/

https://www.cnet.com/videos/you-have-to-look-good-on-a-webcam-today/

https://www.lifewire.com/best-webcams-to-buy-4065141

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.

Transition from Collaborate to Zoom

DeSales University recently executed a multi-year agreement with Zoom Communications, Inc. to provide web conferencing services to the university community. We are phasing out use of our other web conferencing platform, Blackboard Collaborate, between now and June 2019.

Collaborate-to-Zoom Transition Table
ProgramMAY use Collaborate through the end ofMUST switch to Zoom by the beginning of
Traditional DaySpring Semester 2019Fall Semester 2019
ACCESSACCESS Session 4ACCESS Session 5
DPT, M.Ed, MFA, MSPASSpring Term 2019Summer Term 2019
DNP, MACJ, MBA, MSIS, MSNWinter Term 2019Spring Term 2019

 What you need to know:

  • Both Collaborate and Zoom are available for use through June 15. However, DEIT encourages switching to Zoom as soon as possible since Zoom is our platform moving forward. The table above describes when your program needs to be completely cut over to Zoom.
  • Collaborate recordings will NOT be available in Collaborate after June 15. If you need to save a recorded Collaborate session, download it as an mp4 file and save it elsewhere. (The steps to locate and download recordings are available online – https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Get_Started/Record_Sessions) Recommended locations to store downloaded mp4 files include the DeSales media server or Panopto. Storing media files in Blackboard is not recommended. Contact DEIT for assistance.
  • Zoom is great! Try it. You can use Zoom both in and outside of Blackboard. Instructors can create a Zoom account by clicking the Zoom menu in a Blackboard course. Anyone in the university community (faculty, staff, students) can create a Zoom account by visiting http://desales.zoom.us. You may use Zoom for both university-related and private communications, subject to the university’s Computing Use and Internet Policy.
  • Documentation for Zoom can be found at http://support.zoom.us or, for instructors, within the DEIT Faculty Community in Blackboard.
  • Group and one-on-one Zoom training is available from DEIT.

Questions? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu.

Internet Explorer and Blackboard, not so perfect together

Internet Explorer logo with no symbolA number of issues have been identified with Blackboard Learn when using the Internet Explorer browser. Recent issues include:

  • Problems with hyperlinks in Blackboard Portfolios
  • Intermittent issues with the inline grading tool
  • Images and fonts change in Modules when using the Back button
  • Problems uploading files to assignments

The DEIT team would like to remind everyone that Internet Explorer is not a supported browser when using Blackboard (support ended in Q4, 2018). Please use a different browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge.

Additional information

Microsoft is no longer actively developing Internet Explorer and has recommended it not be your default web browser – https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Windows-IT-Pro-Blog/The-perils-of-using-Internet-Explorer-as-your-default-browser/ba-p/331732.

A security exploit was found in March 2019 with Internet Explorer that “allows hackers to spy on you and steal personal data from your PC” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2019/04/15/warning-internet-explorer-just-became-a-silent-but-serious-threat-to-every-windows-user/#7c4c9cb886d8)

Unless needed for a specific site, it may be best to remove Internet Explorer from your computer. The steps outlined by Microsoft to remove Internet Explorer are below.

  • Press the Windows logo key+R to open the Run box.
  • Type appwiz.cpl, and then select OK.
  • In the the Programs and Features item, select Turn Window features on or off.
  • In the Windows Features dialog box, locate the entry for the installed version of Internet Explorer. For example, locate the Internet Explorer 11 entry. Then, clear the check box.
  • Select OK to commit the change.
  • Restart the computer.

The end of Flash as we know it…

Adobe Flash logoWhat we now know as Adobe Flash was previously a dominant platform for online multimedia content, however, it is slowly being abandoned as Adobe favors a transition to HTML5 due to inherent security flaws and the significant resources required to maintain the Flash platform. In fact, Adobe plans on ending their support of Flash at the end of 2020.

Apple has already restricted the use of Flash on its iOS devices, and major web browser companies are reacting to the announcement. Firefox (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Plugins/Roadmap), Google (https://www.chromium.org/flash-roadmap), and Microsoft Edge (https://blogs.windows.com/msedgedev/2017/07/25/flash-on-windows-timeline/) indicate Flash will be disabled by default by the middle of 2019 (but there will be an option to enable it), and all support for Flash will end in 2020.

What does this mean for DeSales? The DEIT team has already reviewed most of the major educational platforms in use. Blackboard, Panopto, Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, and the DeSales streaming media server do not require Adobe Flash to function. The remaining issues could be with other third-party content from textbook publishers, external websites, and any locally stored material.

The main recommendation coming from DEIT is to review the multimedia you use in courses. If you have local media files that end in either .FLV or .SWF you will need to find alternate means of showing the content once Flash is disabled. The DEIT team can help with the conversion of .FLV files.

The other step faculty should take in the near future is to see if a prompt to activate the Flash plugin is received when clicking on web links in Blackboard. (These prompts typically come up with video links or other interactive multimedia content)

Prompt message to activate Flash

Please contact DEIT with any questions or if you suspect some Flash content is in a course. DEIT can help determine if an alternate method of providing the material is available.

March 2019 Training Workshops

Blackboard Quizzes and Exams: Force Completion and Respondus LockDown Browser Password

When administering a quiz or test online via Blackboard, the Distance Education and Instructional Technology (DEIT) department suggests that the Force Completion test option not be selected.

With Force Completion selected, any exit from the quiz or test counts as the student’s attempt – this applies even in the instance of a device malfunction or loss of Internet connectivity (using a wireless internet connection can have common, brief breaks in connectivity). In these instances, students are unable to recover any work they’ve completed on the exam (quizzes and tests cannot be reopened where the student left off). This often leads to a lot of laborious workarounds to get one or two students caught up for a technical error.

Instead, DEIT recommends using the Timer function along with turning the Auto Submit feature ON.

With this setup, a student has exactly as long as you allow from the time they start the exam (the clock is dependent upon the Blackboard server, so if a student starts a test at 1PM with a time limit of 60 minutes, they only have until 2PM to finish – they cannot exit at 1:20PM and then still have 40 minutes to use whenever they so choose). This provides students an opportunity to recover from potential system glitches or loss of Internet.

If you also want to ensure that students cannot close out of the test to check other resources, please activate the Respondus LockDown Browser for quizzes and exams.

*All students have access to the LockDown Browser tab on the navigation menu in each course, which will walk them through the process of downloading, installing, and testing the functionality of the LockDown Browser software prior to attempting a graded assessment with this tool.

If the LockDown Browser is activated for a quiz or exam, Respondus creates a unique string of letters and numbers in the Password field under Test Options to connect to that assessment.

 

 

This password should not be modified or removed (if students are properly using the LockDown Browser, they will not be prompted for it).

In the instance that the password is modified or removed, students will receive a message stating that there is a problem with the test settings and to contact the instructor. To fix the problem, go back to the Respondus LockDown Browser Dashboard (under Course Tools > Respondus LockDown Browser) and click on the Fix It button, which will be located to the right of the quiz/test name.

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the Force Completion test option or the password that’s created with the use of the Respondus LockDown Browser, please contact DEIT at deit@desales.edu (or by phone at 610-282-1100 ext. 2290).

DEIT Winter Classroom Projects 

DEIT completed several projects over the Christmas break, including the addition of “Flex class” capability in Dooling Hall rooms 204 and 209, audiovisual system upgrades on the first floor in Dooling rooms 104 through 109, and enhancements to the Trexler Technology Center (TTC) audiovisual system.  

Flex Classrooms: Dooling 204 and 209 

Two video displays have been added in Dooling Hall rooms 204 and 209, one on the back wall and one on the side wall. A PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera has also been added on the rear wall. At the podium there is a digital tablet that acts as a control. 

The new technology is used for evening Flex classes for our ACCESS and graduate programs. With a Flex class, students have the option of attending either in the traditional classroom or live online. The extra classroom displays show the remote students “Hollywood Squares” or “Brady Bunch” style (if anyone has an updated cultural reference, let us know).  

DeSales can now has seven specially-configured Flex classrooms: Gambet 206, 210, 228 and 232; and Dooling 051, 204, and 209. Flex classes may also be run using our three mobile carts and the distance learning classrooms in Campbell Hall and on the Bethlehem Area and Lansdale campuses.  

Dooling 104 through 109 Classrooms: Improved Reliability 

To improve the reliability of the audiovisual systems in the first floor Dooling Hall classrooms, DEIT staff upgraded the Crestron processors in the podiums and the Elmo document cameras. The systems are now simplified with all digital equipment and connections, which will increase reliability. 

 

Trexler Technology Center (TTC)

The systems now have all digital connections, which will increase reliability.  Also, the old screens have been upgraded to new widescreens and have been centered for both the left and right sections of student seating. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions or comments? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu.   

Inclement Weather? Run an Online Class!

With the possibility of winter weather just around the corner, consider hosting an online class session to keep your course’s schedule on track!

All faculty at DeSales now have access to the Inclement Weather? Run an Online Class! course within Blackboard. The course contains step-by-step instructions on how to set up a temporary online learning environment through the Zoom meeting software when inclement weather, a personal emergency, or any other situation interferes with normal class scheduling.

To access the Inclement Weather? Run an Online Class! course, navigate to your course listings and click on the bb-ZOOM-online-class: Inclement Weather? Run an Online Class! link.

*If you have questions concerning Zoom and how to run an online class session, contact the Distance Education and Instructional Technology (DEIT) department via deit@desales.edu or by phone at 610-282-1100 ext. 2290.

Instructors: Deter Cheating with Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor

Respondus LockDown Browser is DeSales University’s official tool for deterring cheating on online exams. Follow the links below to register directly with Respondus. There are sessions covering both basic and more advanced topics.

Questions? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu.

Instructor Training: LockDown Browser Advanced Settings

This in-depth training for LockDown Browser will focus on advanced settings and features – such as how to use external websites, spreadsheets and online calculators with LockDown Browser. The session will also include how students can use LockDown Browser on different devices, such as an iPad, and briefly review the add-on functionality that prevents cheating during non-proctored exams. The webinar will include a Q&A period at the end.

Wednesday, January 23rd at 3 pm ET (12 pm PT)

Thursday, February 14 at 2 pm ET (11 am PT)

Instructor Training for LockDown Browser & Respondus Monitor: Prevent Cheating During Online Exams

This comprehensive training webinar is intended for instructors who plan to use LockDown Browser and/or Respondus Monitor with online exams. The session provides a detailed demonstration of both applications, including new enhancements that make Respondus Monitor even more effective and easy to use.

Wednesday, January 30th at 3 pm ET (12 pm PT)

Thursday, February 7th at 1 pm ET (10 am PT)

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