Friday, May 20, 2016

Going to Canvas!

The selection process is complete and the decision to adopt Canvas as the learning management system for Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges has been made by both academic senates and numerous committees. Check your email for the announcement that went out Friday if you haven't seen this. Now it is time to look at how we're going to make this happen.

We have 2 years to go from Blackboard to Canvas. Let's do this together!

Cuyamaca College is a one of the most harmonious learning communities I've ever had the honor to be part of and we can leverage our community for this transition from Blackboard to Canvas. Almost everyone on campus including students, faculty, staff, and administrators will need to make this transition. We can help each other along the way.

I am committed to facilitating this journey for Cuyamaca College. To start things off, I will be facilitating the first of many cohorts that will take part in a 4-week "Introduction to Teaching with Canvas" online course. This cohort will run from July 11 to August 4. It will be fully online, so you can participate from all the exotic places you may be vacationing this summer.

If you would like to be part of the pioneering cohort of adventurers that will hop on this train first, please sign up for this course at There will be no sage on the stage here; we will all learn Canvas together, sharing what we learn with each other along the way.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Want to teach online?

If you have thought about teaching online and are wondering how to get started, @ONE is offering a new course just for you!

Find out more and sign up for the class offered this summer at

Friday, February 19, 2016

Free Canvas Training Next Week

Canvas is offering free webinars next week. If you would like to know more about Canvas, this is a great opportunity to learn.

The two most useful workshops for faculty brand new to Canvas are on Friday, February 26th:
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM PSTPart 1 - Canvas Fundamentals Higher Ed
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM PSTPart 2 - Canvas Fundamentals Higher Ed 

Register by clicking the links above.

You can get a free Canvas account by going to and clicking the Build It link.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Questions from Blackboard and Canvas Side by Side Workshop

I promised to find answers to questions from the two Side by Side workshops that I gave last week. Here they are!

1. Will Canvas integrate with my publisher's content?
This is one of the most important questions we need to be asking right now. In Blackboard, publishers create "building blocks" to integrate their content. Canvas uses the LTI standard which allows publishers to create one tool that can be used in multiple learning management systems.
The Edu App Center provides an index of LTI tools that are compatible with Canvas. Check their site to see if your publisher is listed. If it is not, contact your publisher and ask if they support Canvas.
2. How do I create hotspot questions in Canvas?
Hotspot questions ask the student to click on a certain region of an image to get the answer right. Canvas doesn't have this question type, however images can be annotated in an image editor with numbered or lettered regions for students to choose from. Adam Williams posted this example to the Canvas feature request as a workaround.

3.  How does one sign up for the OEI group in the Canvas Community?
The OEI (CCC Online Education Initiative) has created a Canvas Community group so we can ask questions and share what we learn with each other. It is best to create a Canvas account before following the steps below.
To join this group, go to the Canvas Community page and search for california community colleges. Click the link in the Places section on the search results page for CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGES.
Once on the CCC group page, click the Join group button in the upper right. It may prompt you to create a community account, then give you an opportunity to log in with your Canvas account.

 4. What happens if we don't sign up for Canvas?
We will not be able to participate in the online course exchange. 47 California community colleges have already signed up for Canvas and those colleges will be able to participate in the exchange. We need to ask ourselves if we will be able to effectively compete for students without being part of this exchange.
In addition, Blackboard has created a new interface called "Blackboard Ultra." At some point we anticipate Blackboard will force us to move to this new interface, so if we stay with Blackboard, there will be a steep learning curve ahead.
 5. What kind of support does Canvas offer?
Canvas provides 24/7 online and telephone support for students and faculty as part of the contract. It also provides comprehensive help via the Canvas Guides
 6. What about plagiarism checking?
Since Canvas does not have plagiarism checking built into their product, we will need to subscribe to Turnitin software to get this functionality. Turnitin and SafeAssign are comparable products. The cost for Turnitin will be approximately $5,200 for Cuyamaca College and $12,000 for Grossmont College. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Flex Week Workshops

All my Flex Week workshops have been moved to room E-210!

Here is a list of the workshops I am offering next week:

Tuesday, January 19
1-2:30 pm - How to Make Word Documents Accessible
3-4:30 pm - Blackboard & Canvas Side by Side

Wednesday, January 20
5:30-7 pm - Blackboard I: Getting Started
7-8 pm - Blackboard II: Course Menu and Adding Items

Thursday, January 21
1:30-3:30 pm - Editing Websites with Cascade Server – preregistration required
3:30-4:30 pm - Creating & Maintaining Faculty Websites – preregistration required

Friday, January 22
11 am-12:20 pm  at Grossmont College (room 55-532), Blackboard & Canvas Side by Side

I hope to see you there!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blackboard and Canvas Side by Side

I’ll be offering two workshops during Flex Week called, “Blackboard and Canvas Side by Side.” The first one will be at Cuyamaca College, room E-204, on Tuesday, January 19, from 3pm to 4:30pm. The second will be at Grossmont College on Friday, January 22 from 11am to 12:20pm (room unknown at this time).

As you have probably heard, the state Chancellor’s office, through the Online Education Initiative (OEI), selected Canvas as the common course management system for colleges participating in the OEI course exchange. Please view the LMS Selection Information website for more information on this. Academic Senates at both colleges will vote for which LMS to go with in March, 2016.

Get Started with Canvas

Canvas offers free accounts to let faculty begin using and evaluate their product.

Katie Palacios (from SDCCD) created a great video on how to create a Canvas account that illustrates these steps:

1. Go to
(this is where we will access Canvas for testing)

2. Click the “Need a Canvas Account?” link

3. Click the blue button labeled, “I’m a Teacher.”

4.Fill out the form and Submit.

Note: in some cases you will need to click “Build It” before seeing the form.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

End of Semester Wrap-Up

There are a few things to do before you tie the fall semester in a neat bow and head off to enjoy the holidays.

  • Double-check your Grade Center total column to make sure it is calculating correctly
  • Check to make sure you haven't hidden any students that have actually been in the class  (Grade Center > Manage > Row Visibility)
  • Download the Grade Center to your hard drive for safekeeping
  • Archive (backup) your course

Wishing everyone very happy holidays and a wonderful new year! See you during flex week!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Office 365 Reply All

You may have noticed that when accessing email on the web using Office 365, it defaults to "Reply All" instead of just "Reply." This can play havoc with campus communications, so here are instructions for how to change this default setting.

1.      Settings
2.      Options


3.      Mail
4.      Automatic Processing
5.      Reply Settings

6.      Reply
7.      Save

Friday, October 2, 2015

Online Student Readiness Tutorials

A new resource to help students prepare for taking online courses has been developed by the CCC Online Education Initiative (OEI). They developed eleven interactive modules covering topics that will help students understand whether or not online courses are right for them and introduce students to the skills and strategies that will help them be successful in online courses. Please assign some or all of these videos for your students to watch at the beginning of each semester. 

Interactive Tutorials

01-Introduction to Online Learning View
02-Getting Tech Ready View
03-Organizing for Online Success View
04-Online Study Skills and Managing Time View
05-Communication Skills for Online Learning View
06-Online Reading Strategies View
07-Career Planning View
08-Educational Planning View
09-Instructional Support View
10-Personal Support View
11-Financial Planning View

Interactive Tools

Monday, August 17, 2015

Record an Intro Video for Your Students

"When you’re teaching an online or hybrid class, you want to connect with your students and make the experience as personable as possible. Introducing yourself to your students through a video is a great way to begin your online class. They’ll love being able to see your face, hear your voice, and get to know your personality from the start."

Read more from the Techsmith blog at

You can also create a video using a webcam and/or screen capture software to show your students around your Blackboard course using the free software from

For $15/year you can buy the full version of screencast-o-matic's software that allows you to record only the webcam and use scripts to record/caption your videos.

No matter how you record the video, when you're done, upload the video to YouTube and link to it or embed it in your Blackboard container.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

YouTube API Changes Causing Issues with YouTube Mashup and Video Everywhere

The following is a bulletin from Blackboard. This issue is unrelated to the recent upgrade and would have happened whether we upgraded or not.

Date Published: Jun 11,2015
Category: Product:Content Management,Extensions; Version:9.1,SaaS
Article No.: 000040643                                                                                                                                                      
Bulletin/Advisory Information: The YouTube Mashup and Video Everywhere tools in the Blackboard Learn software, which allow instructors to integrate videos directly into their lessons and courses from YouTube, is not functioning properly due to Google’s planned retirement of the YouTube Data API (v2).

The result of this is that users are unable to play existing YouTube Mashup links or upload/embed YouTube videos using YouTube Mashup or Video Everywhere. While the uploaded video can still be found on, searching for it in the respective course will direct users to

It is our top software maintenance priority to restore this functionality, and has been for several months. Our product teams have been working diligently to update our software to work with the YouTube Data API (v3).  We plan on releasing patches as soon as development is completed and patches have passed quality assurance. We estimate that these patches will be available within the next 30 days.

Until software patches are made available, the following workarounds are available.

Workaround #1 - For Existing Links

Access the link by opening it in a new tab within your browser.

Workaround #2 - For Adding New Videos

Instructors who have lost access, and/or are unable to upload and embed YouTube videos using the YouTube Mashup or Video Everywhere tools may go to and upload the video(s) via these instructions:
(note: this section modified from Blackboard's original instructions to be clearer)

  • Navigate to and search for the video you want
  • Copy the URL
  • In Blackboard, select an Assignments/Content area from your menu
  • Create a new item in this content area by selecting Build Content > Item
  • Enter a Name
  • On the content editor toolbar, click the Insert/Edit Embedded Media icon
    (it will bring up a new window)
  • Change the Type to iFrame
  • Paste the URL into File/URL
  • Click Insert
  • Submit your new item

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Close of Spring Semester Reminders

Below are some reminders to wrap up your spring courses before taking off for destinations far and wide.

  • Double-check your Grade Center Total column to make sure it is calculating correctly.
  • Check to make sure you haven't hidden any students that have actually been in the class.  (Grade Center > Manage > Row Visibility)
  • Download the Grade Center to your hard drive
  • Archive (backup) your course.


Friday, May 15, 2015

SafeAssign Integration with Regular Assignments

On June 5th and 6th, 2015, we are upgrading to a new version of Blackboard. The biggest change in this new version is that SafeAssignments will be integrated into regular assignments.

SafeAssignments are Blackboard assignments that are checked for plagiarism. Currently, to add an assignment to a content area you hover over the Assessments button and have to choose between an Assignment or a SafeAssignment.

The new integration between SafeAssignments and regular Assignments means there will be only one type of Assignment to choose.

The advantage of this integration is that almost all the features of a regular Assignment are now available for assignments checked for plagiarism. This includes the ability to attach a file, inline grading, and rubrics.

SafeAssignments that already exist in containers prior to this upgrade will still work without any problems at all. You will still access them through Course Tools > SafeAssign. They will not be automatically converted to these new integrated assignments. 

This is not a problem, however, you may prefer to use the new integrated assignments to take advantage of the advanced features. There are a couple of different ways to get your old SafeAssignments converted to the new integrated assignments once the upgrade is complete.

  1. Recreate the SafeAssignments by hand.

    To do this, go into a content area, hover over Assessments, and choose Assignment from the drop-down as seen in the image above. Fill out the fields as usual and in the Submission Details section, put check marks next to "Check submissions for plagiarism using SafeAssign" and "Allow students to view SafeAssign originality report for their attempts".
  2. Wait until after the upgrade to do a Course Copy.

    If you wait to copy your course until after the upgrade is complete, your assignments will be automatically converted. If you are not teaching a course this summer, and haven't already copied courses for fall, I'd really recommend you choose this option and wait to copy your courses until after the upgrade is complete on June 7th.
  3. Just wait until the next time you copy your course.

    The next time you copy the course after the upgrade, SafeAssignments will automatically be converted to the new integrated assignments. There is no problem leaving SafeAssignments as they are. You just won't have the advanced features available to regular assignments. Even if you've already copied courses for the summer and/or fall, there's no harm in leaving SafeAssignments as they are until the next time you copy your course.
To find out more about SafeAssign and the new integrated assignments, watch the video at

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Improve Presentations with "Resonate"

Nancy Duarte is a communication expert and the creator of some of the most influential visual messages of our times. Her fabulous book, "Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences," is now available FREE online in multimedia format. This is an extraordinarily well done compilation of techniques for improving presentations.

The free version is available at

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fix for Firefox Copy/Paste Blackboard Bug

You may recognize this situation: using Firefox, you copy some text from Blackboard or some other website, then you try to paste it into a Blackboard content editor by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-v. But nothing gets pasted! You look at your fingers and the screen in disbelief, mutter a few choice words, then end up trying to find another way to get that text typed in.

If you've been having this problem, there are three options to solve this problem:

  • Option 1: Paste the text into another program, like a text editor, then copy it again from that program and paste it into the Content Editor.
  • Option 2: Use the Chrome browser instead of Firefox.
  • Option 3: Make changes to the advanced configuration in Firefox. Warning - this option is not for the faint of heart or tech challenged.
    1. Open Firefox
    2. Type about:config in the address bar (where you would normally type the URL of a website)
    3. Click the button that says "I'll be careful, I promise!"
    4. Type dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled in the search box just above "Preference Name"
    5. Double click the search result item to toggle value from "true" to "false"
    6. Close Firefox
    7. Open Firefox again and login to Blackboard
    8. Test copy/pasting
Please note, you still need to use Ctrl-v to paste instead of right-clicking and this fix has no effect on copy/pasting from Word or programs other than Firefox. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Change the Time Blackboard Assignments and Tests Are Due

If you have Blackboard tests and assignments that are due at 11:55 pm or 11:59 pm, please consider changing the due and availability times to 11:00 pm or earlier. 

Blackboard periodically needs to take their servers down for maintenance or emergency repair and they usually do this at 11 pm. If your assignments are due later than 11 pm, some students may find it difficult to submit their tests and papers. We try to give enough notice through Blackboard announcements prior to any maintenance, but I know how easy it is for both students and faculty to just skip past these announcements to go to the course they want to work on.

Changing the due and availability times to 11 pm will make it less disruptive for students when Blackboard maintenance is performed. The Date Management tool is a great way to do this for many assignments and tests all in one place. Just select "List all dates for review" to get started.

Please remember to change the time assignments are due on September 4th to 11 pm because we will definitely be down for about 4 hours that night to do a minor Blackboard update.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Snapshot Runs Per Day

District IS listened to our request from last semester and they are now running Snapshot twice per day to transfer information from WebAdvisor to Blackboard.  Below is the new schedule.

A quick summary is:
  • If a student enrolls between 1:00am and 11:45am today, they will have access to Blackboard about 4:30pm today
  • If a student enrolls between 11:45am today and 1:00am tomorrow, they will have access to Blackboard about 7:30am tomorrow
1st Run 2nd Run
IS data process starts 1:00am 11:45am
Data files on ftp server
(times will vary according to length of process)
2:30am 1:30pm
Blackboard picks up files 4:45am 1:45pm
Blackboard starts Snapshot process 5:00am 2:00pm
Snapshot updates completed
(times will vary according to number of updates)
7:30am 4:30pm
Updates the data entered between 11:45am previous day-
1:00am current day
1:00am-11:45am current day

Note: If the previous Snapshot process is still running, the next one will be aborted

Thanks go to Brian Nath and Debbi Smith for implementing this so our students can access their online classes sooner after adding!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Online Teaching Conference Virtual Sessions

The Online Teaching Conference on June 20 & 21 is sold out, but if you don't already have tickets, you can still attend virtually and it's free! You can sign up for the virtual conference at

They've released many of the virtual presentations already so everyone can get a head start on the conference. These videos can be viewed at

Update: I tried viewing a few of the YouTube videos that have been released, however they don't include links posted to the chat window and screen sharing from the presenter. Instead of using the link above, go to and type OTC14 into the Content search box, then click Find Archives. On the search result page, click the blue Archive link next to a video you want to watch.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Guest Access to Blackboard Courses

At the beginning of each semester you may want to allow some students access to your course before their add is processed in both WebAdvisor and Blackboard. Turn on guest access to do this.
  1. Make the course available
    Customization > Properties > Make Course Available = Yes
  2. Allow Guest Access
    Customization > Guest and Observer Access > Allow Guests = Yes
  3. Choose the areas guests can access
    Customization > Tool Availability > Check the “Visible to Guests” column for item types you want to show, such as Announcements and Content Area
After doing the above steps you will see a choice on the course menu for items you selected in step 3 to Permit or Deny Guests. 
  1. Click the options arrow next to the menu item

  2. Choose Permit Guests.