Online, in the classrooms, and behind the camera.


April 29, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Quality Matters and how it relates to Lawrence Tech

Quality Matters (QM) is a nonprofit organization focusing on quality course design in online and blended learning. The Quality Matters Program is a nationally recognized and widely used standard of excellence. Colleges and universities submit courses to Quality Matters for peer review and evaluation. The process provides feedback for continuous improvement and faculty development. The Quality Matters Program is used by over 700 colleges and universities around the country.

In eLearning Services, Quality Matters is just one of the frameworks being used to evaluate online courses for quality improvement. Dr. Richard Bush is pushing for the implementation of quality improvement on both a programmatic and course design level within Lawrence Tech’s online courses.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) looks for evidence during accreditation visits that schools are incorporating quality standards into their everyday practices. Quality Matters is one of the frameworks that they look for – in addition to Sloan-C Quality Framework and Scorecard.

During the QM Process, courses are evaluated using the QM Rubric. This research-based, time-tested, and continuously improving evaluation tool helps bring courses into alignment with set quality standards. The QM Rubric looks at eight key areas, including:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Learner Interaction and Engagement
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility

The QM review process is completed by a team consisting of three or more reviewers. At least one the reviewers must be a subject matter expert in the discipline being reviewed, and at least one reviewer must be from a different school. All of the reviewers need to have taught an online course within the last eighteen months. Both Marija Franetovic and Lynn Miller-Wietecha recently completed QM training. They are reviewing ways in which our online courses can better align with QM standards.

Right now eLearning Services is focusing on three key areas of improvement for all of our online courses. These areas are course overview and introduction, learner support, and accessibility. QM standards will be incorporated into these key areas in the coming months. In the future, course developers will work directly with faculty to address other QM standards on an individual course level. The ultimate goal is to submit courses to the Quality Matters Program for evaluation.

eLearning Services is actively looking for ways to engage colleges, departments, and individual faculty members in implementing QM standards within Lawrence Tech courses. To get involved, please contact eLearning Services at elearning@ltu.edu.

eval and assess

April 23, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Student evaluations: The value of student feedback

At the end of each semester, students evaluate the courses they are taking and the faculty that teach them. Some may wonder what the university does with all of this data.

eLearning Services reviews online faculty student evaluation surveys at the end of each semester to identify opportunities to improve course material and teaching effectiveness. In partnership with online faculty, course developers interpret feedback to view the situation through students’ eyes, university teaching requirements, and opportunities for continuous improvement.

Jones (2012) completed a study to determine if students’ response to student evaluation for online courses can be used to identify improvements in teaching and course value. The results of the study indicate data provided by students support faculty and higher education administrators to identify actions for improving overall student satisfaction (Jones, 2012). The biggest action items increasing student satisfaction, included well developed and organized courses, and providing students with engaging learning experiences. Another action with positive impact was strong presence of faculty facilitating the class and engagement with students.

As the semester comes to a close encourage students to complete their end-of-term student evaluation survey. Share with them the value of the information provided from the midterm survey results. Let them know you and the university are listening to and value their feedback.

Remember, as student satisfaction increases, it can have a positive impact on student retention, enrollment, and graduation rates.

Jones, S. J. (2012). Reading between the lines of online course evaluations: Identifiable actions that improve student perceptions of teaching effectiveness and core value. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(1), 49-58.


April 23, 2014
by eLearning Staff
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Who is the online learner?

The online learner is an ambitious and disciplined individual seeking to achieve an education through non-traditional avenues. This allows them to continue to keep their busy life schedule. The online learner could be married with children and have a career. The online learner could also be a young adult who is working two jobs and going to school full-time. The diversity of the online learner is endless, but the reason for seeking online education is very similar.

Online Learners seek an education that balances all aspects of their life including distance, time constraints, family commitments, job schedules, and the pressures of an advancing career. For the online learner, pursuing an online education is a great opportunity for them to advance themselves educationally and yet not be restrained by everyday life events and commitments.

The online learner is self-motivated, organized, collaborative, and savvy with technology. Self-motivation gives the online learner the ability to succeed and complete an online course and/or an online degree program. Organization gives the online learner the ability to set a schedule to meet the deliverables of an online course with consistency – regardless of everyday schedules. The opportunity to collaborate gives the online learner the ability to use real-world experiences in the classroom and to bring value to the course.

Online Learners are individuals who embrace changing technologies that enhance the overall learning objectives and outcomes. The online learner is the new face of those who pursue higher education. They are also the generation who will change the culture of education and learning.

dr larry 2-02

April 23, 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,

My course is jam-packed. I have so many things I want to talk about with my students, but I’m finding it difficult to fit everything into the 16-week semester. How can I get more content into the term?


Trying to pack it all in

Dear Packed,

We have such great courses and we want to offer so much to our students that it’s hard to decide what our “need to know” content is versus our “nice to know” content. I’m always looking for new ways to maximize every minute of time with my students.

One thing I do now is record my first day content and post that for students to watch outside of class. I’m no longer wasting valuable class time reviewing the syllabus, assignments, expectations, etc. About a week before the semester begins, I open my syllabus, and then using either Jing or Panopto, I record myself going through the document. I post it in Blackboard and email a link to the recording to all of my students to review BEFORE the semester starts. On the first day of class I dive right into the course content. I’ve picked up an entire extra class session this way.

I even include a short, 10-question quiz (also in Blackboard) to make sure students watch the video and understand the course expectations. Now when a student says he didn’t know there was a group project in the course, I can bring up the Blackboard quiz and say, “Well, you indicated you have read the assignments section of the syllabus and understood what is expected of you.” That doesn’t happen often, but I LIKE having the documentation if I need it, and I LOVE having the extra class session.

Below are some links to examples and resources to help you do this. If you need more assistance, call those nice people in eLearning. They are happy to help.

Best wishes for better projects, happy students, and more time in class!

Dr. Larry

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.