Online, in the classrooms, and behind the camera.

course dev-02

March 19, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Tips and suggestions to strengthen your syllabus

Faculty commonly update their course syllabi every term with new due dates and new content, but how often do we revise our policy statements? Below are some suggestions that can make course expectations clear to students and help faculty avoid potential problems.


If you require students to attend your course tell them and make it tied to their grade.

  • Attendance is required. If you must miss a class, make arrangements to get notes & materials from a classmate (or it is your responsibility to download material from Blackboard). If possible, notify instructor prior to absence. Beginning with the second absence, 5 points will be deducted for each absence.
  • Regular attendance is expected and activities completed in class will earn points toward your final grade. You will miss these points if you are not here to complete them.

Group Projects

If you have group projects in your course, be sure to communicate how group members will be graded. Will everyone get the same grade? Will you assign individual grades based on your observations? Will you have group members evaluate each other and assign points based on that review?

  • This course includes group projects and activities. Each group member is expected to contribute equally to the group project. Unless stated otherwise, each group member will receive the same grade for the project.
  • Students engaged in group projects will receive individual grades rather than group grades. Specific procedures for implementing this policy will be the prerogative of the instructor. Consideration for the grade will be based on a student’s individual contribution to the overall project, participation in the group activities, ability to work effectively in the team and the overall quality of the final product.

Late Assignments

The request to submit an assignment late comes up every term. Consider these sample statements to help you manage those requests.

  • Late assignments will be accepted only if you have discussed your situation with the instructor prior to the due date and an extension is given. Extensions are given only in extreme conditions. 10% of the total points will be deducted from scores on assignments received after due date. Assignments can be turned in early if needed.
  • Late assignments will not be accepted unless medical documentation is provided to account for the missed deadline.

You can also add columns in Blackboard Grade Center to help you track items like attendance, participation, etc. so student ca see that you are monitoring these items and holding them accountable.

media pro-02

March 19, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Media Pro: Submitting your video request

Spring may not be in the air yet, but returning from the mid-semester break means it must be just around the corner! For eLearning’s Media Production team, April and May mean higher workloads. We try to fulfill each video request we receive, but there are a few things you can do to make sure the process works efficiently for you.

Plan Ahead

We follow some standard procedures when we record lectures and student presentations. Other types of videos—such as departmental promotional videos and special event coverage—require more planning. Having an idea for the layout of your video before you contact us saves time and helps us efficiently strategize the timeline for completion. For more information and blank design templates, visit our Video Resources section of the LTU  website.

Fill Out the Video Request Form

The information you give us via the request form helps us make sure the end result turns out exactly how you want it. Fill out this form as early as possible to make sure we have room in our schedule for your event. We recommend submitting your request two weeks in advance – especially if your event takes place during an evening or weekend. Also include detailed information about requirements you need in the finished product. Once we have this information we will contact you by email or phone to confirm your request and to iron out additional details.

Keep Us Informed

No one can plan for everything; we understand that. If the details of your event change after you submit a request, let us know. We will do our best to accommodate any change in plans that arise.

Of course, if you ever have questions about how to start a project with the Media Production team, give us a call at 248.204.2380, or send an email to mediapro@ltu.edu.

media pro-02

March 18, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Jing: free and easy-to-use screen capture software

JingLogoeLearning has shared tips on how to create videos on phone or tablet, but this month we are taking it one step further.

How can you create a short (2 minute) step-by-step instructional video instead of sending text instructions to students? Oh, and did I say accomplish this on the “cheap” or even free?

One of our own Michigan-based companies provides a solution that will blow your socks off! TechSmith (headquartered in Okemos MI) developed Jing and it’s FREE!

You download and install Jing and it waits for you. You can capture screen shots that can saved locally and short videos that can be saved and shared with a web link.

To start, you need to download Jing (PC or MAC) and install it.

Once it’s installed you can begin creating videos that can be saved locally or published on TechSmith free (yes, also free!) web link site, Screencast.com. Upload Jing to Screencast.com with one click. Then, share your videos with audio using the link Screencast.com creates automatically send this link in an email or post in Blackboard (or Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or anywhere).

Although Screencast is a free web service, you do have to register and create an account – but it is a quick and easy process. Using the free site does limit you to 2 GB of storage space and monthly 2 GB bandwidth usage – but this is more than adequate since the quick videos are short (don’t use Jing for long or detailed videos) and can be deleted when the video has served its purpose. You can register for a Screencast account here.

Still not convinced? Check out the quick beginning tutorial.

dr larry 2-02

March 18, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Dear Dr. Larry

Dear Dr. Larry is a regular column. Faculty and students can submit questions to Dr. Larry by emailing elearning@ltu.edu. Dr. Larry will answer each month with leading-edge, witty, insightful responses.

Dear Dr. Larry,

A few of my students are turning in work that sounds vaguely familiar. I’ve been giving variations on assignments for several terms now, and have graded a lot of papers. However, there are some things I think I’ve seen before. Do I need to start comparing papers to see if students are “sharing” work? I want to make sure I’m correct before I accuse students of misconduct.



Dear Suspicious,

It is now easier than ever to Google a topic and have a wealth of resources at one’s disposal. Cutting and pasting is tempting, easy, and a growing problem. We’re seeing more reports of plagiarism than ever before. Sometimes students knowingly plagiarize material – but sometimes it’s done unintentionally. Either way, we are lucky. Here at Lawrence Tech we have several tools at our disposal to help solve our problem.

First, our student orientation and the student code of conduct both stress the consequences of plagiarism. Students know what it is and what will happen if they are caught.

Safe AssignSecond, we have access to SafeAssign. SafeAssign is an online database that compares students’ papers to other papers submitted by LTU students and students around the world. It also compares the submitted paper to internet websites. The software generates a report that flags “unoriginal” or similar content. Faculty should always carefully review these reports. Content in the paper may be flagged as “matching” even if the student uses citations properly. The report can also be used to guide conversations with students. Either way, the SafeAssign report gives you piece of mind that the great work your students submit is genuinely their own.

Below are links and tutorials on how to use SafeAssign. If you have additional questions or need more help, you can always call those nice people in eLearning Services. They are always happy to help.

Best wishes for better projects, happy students, and less suspicion!

Dr. Larry

media pro-02

February 19, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Create Quick and Easy Video Content

There are many sites where educators can find free videos to incorporate into their classes. Some of these sites include YouTube, TED, PBS, Khan Academy, and more. But sometimes it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for pertaining to your own curriculum.

That’s where you come in. You can create your own videos without having to learn how to use a bunch of fancy equipment or hire a crew. Here is a simple way to create engaging videos for your students.

If you have a smartphone or tablet, this is the quickest and easiest way to create a video. You set up the camera, hit record, and explain a concept. You can show yourself explaining a concept, capture an expert interview, or even give a video tour of a relevant location.

To get the best video – do a test first. Can you see what you need to see? Can you hear clearly? If not, adjust your scene until you’re satisfied with the outcome. You can also check out these great tips in this 3-minute video before you get started.

If you’re having trouble keeping the camera steady, you can always prop up the device on a table. If you want to get really fancy, you can buy a tripod for your device. The GorillaPod for smartphones and the Square Jellyfish Mini Tablet Tripod for tablets are both under $20.

There are also microphones, additional lens, and other accessories you can add to your smartphone or tablet if you want to take your video-making to the next level.

The most important thing to remember when making your videos is to focus more on the concept than the production value. As long as your video clearly explains your topic, it’s okay if it’s a little rough around the edges.

Need help?

If making your own videos is too daunting or if you need assistance, you can always enlist the help of the eLearning Services Media Production team. All you need to do is fill out a Video Request Form, explain what you need in the form, and leave the rest up to the team of student professionals.



February 18, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Kioumars Paryani

Using Blackboard Grade Center Color Coding

Dr. Kioumars Paryani is an adjunct professor at Lawrence Tech. He has been teaching since 1994 for the College of Management. Dr. Paryani is a dedicated professor and is open to learning and applying new technology to enhance the student learning experience and improve his role as an instructor. He has implemented the use of Blackboard Grade Center Color Coding in his online MBA 7063 Project Management Spring 2014 course.

Dr. Paryani shares the value of using Grade Center Color Coding

The MBA 7063 Project Management course includes six categories of assignments. Each category includes multiple submissions with a score provided for each assignment. Communicating with students where they are positively or negatively impacted in their overall assignment responsibilities throughout the semester is difficult, unless you are using Excel. This was an issue for me as well as for my students. Redesigning how grades are presented using Grade Center options of Weighted Grades and Color Coding helps by listing a summary of the students score for each category. Not only is the overall course grade in % automatically calculated but with color coding the performance level is visually indicated per student and per each specific assignment.

This visual tool provides ease in monitoring performance of each student over the whole semester and for each assignment category. This approach improves communication with students to address low performance and draws attention to an assignment where many students have performed lower than expected. This would serve as a feedback to me, as the instructor, to revisit the assignment and where the content and delivery may need to be strengthened. Students with outstanding performance can also be identified at a glance over the range of assignments. Students can see in which category of assignments they are doing well and the impact on their overall grade.

Providing students with a visual and timely feedback of their performance throughout the course has assisted with addressing students concerns about their grades and where they need to pay more attention.

For example: in this view of the course grade center the semester project requires weekly submissions that will be used to develop the final course project. If students are struggling with development of the weekly requirements they most likely will not have a quality final project. The first color coded column reports the overall grade for the Weekly Semester project submissions (Weekly Proj…). The next three columns (Semester Proj…) list the first three project submissions.

The color code of Orange indicates students are progressing and have room for improvement, Yellow and Red bring attention to components of the assignment that will need to be improved for the final submission, Red is a flag drawing attention to a specific student that will be contacted, Green identifies students doing well and demonstrate an understanding of the weekly course material. The White (Blank) color indicates assignment that the student has missed to submit, which is technically equivalent to Red.

kioumars grade center

Additional Information

Want to learn more about applying color coding to your Blackboard Grade Center? Check out our eHelp page.

course dev-02

February 18, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conferences

Are you interested in finding out more about upcoming Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conferences? There are opportunities for local and virtual presentations as well as available assistance to help you write and present at SOTL conferences.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

eLearning Services encourages faculty members to submit to scholarship of teaching and learning conferences and journals, especially interdisciplinary and collaborative work. SOTL conferences are venues for sharing teaching and learning research and best practices, for peer learning, and for networking. Conference attendance and proceedings may be used for faculty teaching portfolios, a springboard for faculty peer-reviewed publications, as well as for recruiting for a particular Lawrence Tech University college or program.

Upcoming Conferences

Below are some conferences that were previously attended by LTU faculty members. The conference calls for proposals usually become available approximately 4-7 months prior to the actual conference. At this time, a partial travel expense honorarium is not available; however, it may become available in the future. To save on associated costs, faculty may also consider presenting virtually or attending local conferences.

Two upcoming local conferences include:

8th Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning
Oakland University, MI: May 14-15, 2014 | Proposal Deadline: 2/17/14

14th Annual Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning
Traverse City, MI: October 16 – 19 | Proposal Deadline: 5/5/14

Other conferences with upcoming proposal deadlines include:

Sloan-C Blended Learning Conference and Workshop
Denver, CO: July 8-9, 2014 | Proposal Deadline: 2/24/14

Sloan-C 20th ALN International Conference on Online Learning
Orlando, FL: October 29-31, 2014 | Proposal Deadline: date forthcoming ~2/19

E-LEARN 2014 – World Conference on E-Learning
New Orleans, Louisiana: October 27-30, 2014 | Proposal Deadline: 5/30/14

If you would like to add an upcoming conference, please email the details to elearning@ltu.edu. To be informed of upcoming academic and professional conferences based on your research interests, you may subscribe to this free Web-based service which forwards calls for papers to your Lawrence Tech e-mail address: ConferenceAlerts.


If you would like assistance with submitting a proposal to one of these or other SOTL conferences, you may email Marija Franetovic mfranetov@ltu.edu to set up a time for an initial consultation. She is available to guide you in the process of brain-storming teaching and learning topics within your discipline, writing and presenting to a particular venue, and in the overall logistics. As an additional resource, you may refer to the New Media Consortium 2014 Horizon Report for a review of upcoming trends in teaching and learning with new media and technologies.

dr larry 2-02

February 18, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Dear Dr. Larry

Dear Dr. Larry is a regular column. Faculty and students can submit questions to Dr. Larry by emailing elearning@ltu.edu. Dr. Larry will answer each month with leading-edge, witty, insightful responses.

Dear Dr. Larry,

This has been a tough winter! It seems like I’ve been shoveling snow almost every day. Now that we’re into this semester, I have to haul handouts to my course to give to my students and then collect their assignments and haul it all back to my office to grade… and then I have to lug it back to class again. All this “paper weight” is not helping my back. Is there anything I can do to get rid of all this “paper hauling” that we faculty have to do?


Aching Back!

Dear Ache,

Put down the Motrin and say goodbye to pain – you won’t have to carry another piece of paper again. You can post all your handouts directly in Blackboard. Your students can log in, grab them and they can print them if they need to. Otherwise, the documents can be read directly from Blackboard. You can post anything – homework assignments, handouts, resources, etc. You won’t need to go near a copy machine ever again. If you have many large items that you want to share with students, consider using Google Drive. It is associated with your LTU email address and you can upload files and share them with users as needed.

Your students can also submit their work directly to you through Blackboard as well. No more collecting papers double checking that you have everyone’s assignment. Blackboard will collect and hold them till you log in and grade them. No more “lost” papers or papers with coffee stains from my cup while I’m grading.

Give these resources a try. Below are links to help you get started. If you need any help, give those nice folks over in eLearning a call. They are happy to help. Now… take care of your back!

Best wishes for better projects and happy students,

Dr. Larry


January 22, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Blackboard Grade Center: Using Color Codes

Blackboard Grade Center settings now include the option to add color indicators to quickly assess student progress in a course.

Review the Blackboard Learn tutorials for information to apply these settings.

1. Blackboard Learn : Using Grade Center Color Codes

2. Blackboard Learn Video: Color Coding the Grade Center

This graphic provides a view of this option applied to an eLearning Services test course.

Microsoft Word - Grade Center January 2014 Newsletter (1).docx


January 22, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Teaching and Learning Tips & Strategies: Creating Schedules

If you’re feeling overwhelmed managing your course and finding yourself needing more time to interact with students, here are some strategies to help you and your students manage your time more efficiently.

Microsoft Word - TandS_Time Management Schedules.docx

Be explicit, realistic and emphatic about the course time requirement for your students and yourself.

The following is text lifted from the LTU Online syllabus template, which may also be adapted to fit any syllabus:

“A three-credit course generally requires at least nine hours per week of time commitment. Here are some practical guidelines to help schedule your time commitments for this online course:

      • A 14-week semester (the Summer semester is compressed into 10 weeks) would require at least 126 hours of time commitment to successfully complete all readings, activities, assignments, and texts as described in this syllabus.
      • You should reserve at least 6 hours per week to read the required textbook chapters and resources, participate in online discussions, review presentation materials, and work through online quizzes. This effort will total at least 84 hours over the course of the semester.
      • You should organize your remaining time to roughly correspond with the point value of each major assignment.

These guidelines may not reflect the actual amount of outside time that you – as a unique individual with your own learning style – will need to complete the course requirements. The number of hours each week will vary based on assignment due dates, so please plan ahead to insure that you schedule your academic, work, and personal time effectively.”

Faculty should create a student schedule to help students remain on track and succeed in their course. Use the “learning schedule” template to create a guide for your students which gives recommendations on how to progress through each of your weeks. Then, update your syllabus with the schedule and post the recommended schedule under the Syllabus tab in Blackboard.

Use the ”learning schedule” that you created above and the “teaching schedule” template to create your own schedule. You should do this for each of your courses to help manage your time better and to be successful in teaching. Then, post the combined “teaching schedule” in your workspace and create weekly reminders in your Google Calendar.

All of these are only recommendations that you create specific to your course and your other commitments. A little bit of planning now, can save a lot of time later.

You can access the Learning and Teaching Schedule Templates under Course Development on the eLearning Services website.