Center for Educational Resources and Technology at DSU

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D2L Brightspace is Here!

By Eric Hagan, August 10, 2023

Unless you are brand new to DeSales or have been living under a rock, you are aware that DeSales decided last academic year to transition learning management systems. Blackboard is out, Brightspace is in. Thank you for your commitment to making this transition a success to the benefit of our students. 

Many courses have successfully run on Brightspace this summer. Beginning with our fall terms all courses will be taught using Brightspace. I taught an Adult Studies online course in Brightspace at the beginning of the summer. The students in the course were either returning Adult Studies students or day students taking a summer course – in other words, they were all used to Blackboard and new to Brightspace. The students barely mentioned the change, and if they did, it was a positive comment. So the good news is that the transition to Brightspace will not be a big change for students. To them, it’s just another website to navigate. If your instructions are clear, the students will be fine.  

The transition to Brightspace is more significant for the faculty. Many of us take satisfaction in setting up our course in the learning management system just the way we want it. Although all the basic content and some of the structure can be copied over from Blackboard, Brightspace has differences and new capabilities so give yourself plenty of time to set things up the way you like.  

CERT offers plenty of support to the faculty through live training sessions (https://www.desales.edu/workshops), online resource courses in Brightspace – look for the Faculty Orientation and Faculty Resources courses in Brightspace, and one-on-one staff support. D2L also offers a plethora of training videos and support documentation.  

Once you get over the hump of getting your courses up and running in Brightspace, you’ll have a chance to explore Brightspace’s benefits and enhanced functionality including: 

  • Clean, modern interface 
  • Great experience on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets 
  • Deep commitment to accessibility for students with learning challenges 
  • Useful retention support / analytics tools 
  • Integrated high-end content creation tools that make it easy to present content in a highly professional manner 
  • Ubiquitous on-the-fly video integration so you can provide quick on-the-fly video messages to student 
  • Superior integration of our 3rd party tools 
  • 24/7 support from D2L via text and business hours support through the DSU Helpdesk 

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.

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.

Recently Added Features of Respondus Monitor

Respondus Monitor builds upon the power of LockDown Browser, and uses a student’s webcam and video analytics to prevent cheating during non-proctored exams. As of February 2019, several new features have become available.

Facial detection check prior to an exam

Respondus Monitor performs a facial detection check before the start of an exam. This helps students identify problems with badly positioned webcams, poor lighting, and prevents the intentional covering of a webcam. One of the default options during the check is to prevent students from starting the exam if their face cannot be detected during the Startup Sequence.

Screenshot of Respondus facial detection step

Facial detection alerts during exam

The system alerts students during the exam when facial detection is lost for a certain length of time. A quick adjustment is usually all it takes. While the alerts only occur only once per minute, if students are permitted to use textbooks or other resources this option should be disabled to avoid having text-takers experience frequent notifications.

Pre-exam tips

A new optional step in the startup sequence helps students avoid things that trigger false “flags” within the system.

Screen describing some of the exam tips

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.   

Collaborate with the Ultra experience February 2018 Update

Starting Sunday, February 4th, 2018, Collaborate Ultra is receiving some improvements focused on digital collaboration. There are four main changes:

  • Phone only dial-in
  • Edit recording names
  • Single menu for settings, feedback and status
  • Application sharing bandwidth improvements

Phone only dial-in

With phone only dial-in, students will once again have the ability to dial into a session without first connecting to a session using a web browser or the Collaborate app. Session dial-in numbers will be available as soon as a session is created so students can be notified via email, course announcement, or calendar entry details.

Screen shot of session creation form with dial-in number & PIN

The dial-in number and PIN also appear on the session list after a session is selected.

Note: dial-in information will not be available to students until a session is active. Faculty can locate the dial-in number and PIN by looking at a session’s settings:

Screenshot of session options screen

This new dial-in option is anonymous. When you use Anonymous dial-in, your phone is not paired with your account or session avatar. You appear in the session as an anonymous caller to other attendees.

Edit recording names

Give your recordings a new name. Access Recordings from your scheduler. Find the recording you want to edit. Open the Recording options and select Edit name.

The recording name always begins with the session name. Edits to the name change the text after the backslash (/) only.

Single menu for your settings, feedback, and status

See what your network connection is at-a-glance. If your connection is poor or broken, you see an alert associated with your profile picture. You see one bar for a poor connection, three for good, and four for excellent.

Application sharing bandwidth improvements

Previously, when the browser reported a drop in available bandwidth, Collaborate would continue to prioritize the audio stream and send a lower quality application sharing stream, resulting in a blurry screen for the viewer. This usually lasted a few seconds, until the browser reported more available bandwidth. This was happening more frequently than true network capacity indicated. Now, we use additional measurements for a more accurate picture of network conditions, which greatly reduces the frequency of the blurry moments.

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

 

Panopto 5.3 update

Panopto5Logo_SmallIn mid-December, Panopto released version 5.3 of their platform. The update includes some new features, including:

  • Quizzing – questions can be added directly into Panopto recordings during the editing process. Instructors can see the results in Panopto, at both the individual student and class levels.
  • Captions – all sessions created after 12/17/16 will automatically have machine-generated captions added. The captions can then be changed during the editing process. Captions can also be manually requested for older recordings.
  • Enhanced editing – several functions previously only available in the advanced editor have been added to the standard web-based editor, including switching between multiple video feeds, adding new slides into a recording, and adding a custom image that appears prior to playing a recording.

Find more details on these new features by visiting the Faculty or Student orientations within Blackboard Learn (https://desales.blackboard.com), or watch a webinar from Panopto.

Panopto Outage

The Panopto site will be offline Saturday, December 17th, from 7:00pm to 11:00pm.

During the outage, you will not be able to access recordings on the server, and any attempts to upload new recordings will result in a “Server unable to connect” message.

Panopto 5.2 Update

Panopto5Logo_Small

Panopto 5.2 Update

The DeSales Panopto server was updated on June 25th, 2016. With this update came several new features and a few updates to the interface. New features include:

A new web-based editor

The new Panopto editor can be used in multiple browsers and does not need Silverlight for basic edits. If all you need to do is create, edit, or delete cuts to a recording, edit table of contents entries, or edit slides, stream start times, you can use the new editor to make those basic changes. The editor does also have a new look. The individual streams now have an icon in front to help you identify them, many of the tools are now highlighted in blue when in use, making it easier to determine which tool is in use, and changes will be automatically saved. Note: Changes will not be displayed to viewers unless the Publish button is selected. You can also more easily undo any changes. More information can be found on the Panopto support site at http://support.panopto.com/articles/Documentation/Basic-Editing.

*More advanced editing is available through a link found under the More… link at the top-left of the editor, but will still require Silverlight for the more advanced functions.

Automatic upload timer

When using the Panopto Recorder for Windows, a timer has been added that will automatically upload videos if the user forgets to select the Upload button.

Revised styling of embedded videos

If you embed Panopto recordings in Blackboard using the embed code available when viewing the Share options on the Panopto web site, the embedded video will look at bit different. The branding of DeSales University is more tightly integrated with the video itself, and the video will take up less room on the page.

Drop boxes renamed to Assignment folders

When allowing students to create videos for a course, when accessing the settings of a Panopto course folder, the link on the Folder Settings screen is now listed as Create Assignment Folder. The folder listed for students when they access the Recorder themselves should include the course ID & name, followed by [assignments].

Home page updates

The Panopto web site for DeSales (https://desales.hosted.panopto.com) has been redesigned. Several changes have been made, such as:

  • The left navigation bar has been removed for unauthenticated users.
  • A new grid layout has been added to all session list pages. The grid layout responsively scales to accommodate different browser sizes.
  • A “Shared with Me” view has been added which shows all sessions shared directly with the user or with a group in which the user is a member.
  • The “All Sessions” view has been renamed “Everything” in the navigation.
  • The “Folders” section has been renamed “Browse” in the navigation.

Contact DEIT regarding any questions about these changes.

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