In the spotlight: Bye-bye, Blackboard
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Robby FuselierThe time has come to retire Blackboard, which has served as Florida State’s LMS for 20 years. As we bid farewell, be sure to mark June 30th on your calendar – that’s your final chance to move content from Blackboard before it shuts down at midnight. We can help you download your data, so register now for an individual consultation.

We’re always looking for new ways to enhance teaching and learning. This summer, we’ll begin piloting the accessibility tool Ally, which will help instructors develop course content in a range of formats. This will improve content accessibility for all students.

Are you teaching online in the fall? You can add the finishing touch to your course with an introduction video. This short video provides a snapshot of your course and is a great way to connect with your students. Contact our media team today to book your slot!

As always, we look forward to serving you in any way we can, so please give us a call at 850-644-4635, find us on Twitter or Facebook, or visit our website. Have a fun and relaxing summer!
Robby Fuselier


Bye-bye, Blackboard: Pack up courses

As Blackboard’s 20-year run comes to a close on June 30, 2018, instructors should make sure they have moved their courses or organizations to a new home by that time.

decorative imageODL can work with you individually to migrate your content from Blackboard to Canvas. We can help you extract course materials and archive files such as Word documents, PDFs, and PowerPoint presentations. We can also help you move tests and test pools, announcements and text citations, prompts, descriptions, and instructions. Visit our registration page to sign up for a course migration appointment.

If you have a leader role in a Blackboard organization, you’ll need to move your materials from Blackboard to Canvas (or an alternative platform such as SharePoint). Explore your options on our organization page
Training heats up this summer
In addition to course migration consultations, we offer training sessions this summer to help you enhance your Canvas course sites. Topics include modules, assignments, testing, universal design, communication tools, Turnitin, organizations, and Libraries integration. Join us for boot camps where we can help you build your course framework and work with templates, design, and accessibility. To reserve your spot for one of these in-person workshops or noon webinars, visit our registration page.

ODL awarded technology funding

ODL was awarded funding recently from the FSU Student Technology Fee Advisory Committee to pilot an accessibility tool and purchase a see-through “whiteboard.”

The annual Student Technology Fee proposals give departments a chance to obtain funding for instructional technology projects. For the 2017–2018 award cycle, the committee awarded $1.3 million for instructional technology-enhancing projects.

decorative image: Blackboard Ally logoODL received $18,000 in funding to conduct a one-year pilot installation of the accessibility tool Ally. The tool, which is integrated into Canvas, focuses on ADA compliance of course materials and will help faculty and staff create course content in a variety of formats, increasing content accessibility for all students.

Ally provides these benefits:
  • feedback to faculty on content accessibility issues and how to correct them
  • immediate access for students to use alternative accessible formats generated automatically by the Ally system
  • institutional compliance reports that can help departments and colleges track their progress toward ADA compliance
The Ally pilot program is scheduled to begin this June with a select group of colleges and departments.

ODL also received $1,500 in funding for the purchase of a lightboard, which is a see-through “whiteboard” for instructional video. The lightboard allows instructors to produce video lectures where they can interact with notes and diagrams while facing their audience.

The lightboard is constructed from a sheet of glass edged with LED lights. The scattering of light within the clear material makes any markings appear as if illuminated. The instructor is visible through the clear sheet while writing, drawing, and speaking. The recorded image is then flipped or mirrored in post-production.

The lightboard enhances instructor presence and connection with students and promotes greater engagement in the online classroom. Traditional whiteboards require the speaker to face away from the audience, but with the lightboard, the speaker can maintain eye contact while presenting in a natural way. The tool will be particularly useful for engineering and mathematics courses that involve complex equations, formulas, and diagrams.

Elizabeth Jakubowski, an associate professor in the FSU College of Education, shares the benefits of lightboard use. “Using a lightboard in lecturing for my online classes has allowed me to face the learner while I am writing or drawing on the board,” she said. “It adds another dimension of instructor contact with the learners while modeling a tool that has educational uses.”
The lightboard will be available for use by online instructional faculty later this summer.
decorative image of Ally lightboard
Lightboard creator Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University

Improve your course with intro video

Summer is the perfect time for instructors to prepare media for their fall courses. The ODL Media Team can help you create course introduction videos or use the do-it-yourself One Button Studio.

decorative imageAn introduction video, which provides instructor information and a course overview, is an effective way for students to connect with you and the course content. 

If you have a current introduction video that mentions Blackboard, we can help you update it to reflect our Canvas LMS. If you have a new course, we can work with you to develop an introduction video.

The process is simple: call us for a consultation and we’ll discuss your needs and have you fill out a questionnaire, from which we’ll write your script. Most of the questions align with Quality Matters, a rubric for online course design. Next, you can visit our media studio to record your video, which typically takes around 30 minutes for a two- to five-minute video. We encourage the use of visuals such as photographs, textbook images, and course screen shots. If needed, we can shoot on location at your office.

If you prefer the DIY route, you can schedule time in the One Button Studio, a setup that requires no video experience. You can produce videos with the push of a button, including course introductions and instructor lectures. 

“It’s important that instructors who want to develop course introduction videos for the fall do so now,” said D.D. Garbarino, ODL Media Production Administrator. “Instructors should contact us and we’ll be happy to work with them to make sure they’re prepared for the fall semester.”

To schedule an individual consultation or an appointment for the One Button Studio, contact D.D. Garbarino at 850-644-7574.

ODL: The Next Generation

From designing logos to creating storyboards in Canvas, the younger generation displayed their skills at the Office of Distance Learning’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in April.
decorative imageThirteen children, ranging in age from 9 to 14, participated in the event, which was organized by ODL employees Kerry Burner, Laurita Jones, Lisa Meeks, and Liying Miao.  

The kids explored their creativity during the morning activities, which began with designing ODL logos and creating buttons. They then logged into Canvas for a storyboard activity where they populated a blank layout with scenes, characters, and text. “I liked the character stuff,” said KJ Jones, son of Assistant Director of Finance Laurita Jones. “I made my own storyboard with different characters. I also enjoyed making the buttons.”
decorative imageThrough this digital storytelling activity, the children learned about announcements, modules, and discussion boards and how students and instructors might experience Canvas. “I like what they do here with branching out and how they use technology to help people learn,” said Ellie Houghton, daughter of Business Analyst Kim Houghton.

For their final assignment of the morning, the kids posted comments in a discussion board about how they enjoyed using themes and characters to tell a tale. The storyboard was “fun and amazing” and “a great way to express creativity.”
Midday the group toured the ODL offices and the campus around the University Center for a scavenger hunt. For lunch, they got a taste of college cuisine at the Seminole Cafe, with several youngsters citing the pizza as a particular favorite.

decorative imageThe day ended in the ODL media studio with Media Specialist Jim Shaw behind the camera, asking the children to share their hobbies and thoughts about the workplace. Hobbies ranged from music (singing, guitar) to sports (tennis, basketball, baseball), with chess, crafts, and video games mixed in. The highlights of the day were the storyboard activity and strolling around the campus, experiencing life at Florida State University.


Opt-in mailing list subscriptions

ODL offers three opt-in mailing lists to keep instructors in the know about Canvas and distance news.
decorative imageCanvas Support Center news and announcement alerts inform you of new features added to Canvas or service disruptions affecting our Canvas system. You’ll also be the first to know when technical issues have been resolved. Each time we post a news item or make an announcement, we'll send you an email notification. These items are posted under the “Recent News” section of our Canvas Support Center homepage. Visit the news and announcements page to subscribe to the list.

Through the Canvas Support Center community feedback list, instructors can vote for feature ideas that will help improve Canvas for the FSU community. Canvas takes an inclusive approach to product feedback and feature development: users create, comment, and vote on feature ideas in the Canvas Community website. We’ll recommend and create the feature ideas we think will be most beneficial, so all you do is click a link and vote. Here are our recommendations to get you started. To subscribe to the list, visit the community feedback page.

“These news and announcement alerts, along with the feedback recommendations, are a great way to receive the latest Canvas information, while also helping improve the system,” said Camilla Fincham, ODL Technical Support Lead. “The biggest benefit to subscribers is convenience. Rather than having to check our Canvas Support Center website periodically or having to sift through a ton of feature ideas in the Canvas Community to find the good stuff, subscribers will instead receive pertinent information right in their email inboxes. These mailing list subscriptions are time-savers and simplify participation in the Canvas Community website.”

A third option is the instructor-centered Distance Up Close newsletter, which provides updates on Canvas training and technical support, online course and program development, assessment and testing, and more. Visit the newsletter page to subscribe.



SpeedGrader is the inline grading feature in Canvas that allows instructors to view and grade student assignment submissions in one place. “Instructors are loving the SpeedGrader tool in Canvas because they no longer have to download and then re-upload papers to provide feedback,” said ODL instructional development faculty member John Braswell.

With SpeedGrader, instructors can mark up students’ work using highlights, strike-throughs, and text boxes, much like using the track changes function in Microsoft Word. In addition, instructors can use text file attachments, audio/video, and rubrics to convey feedback. By clicking on an individual cell in the Gradebook, instructors can quickly access the feedback provided on assignments.

For a detailed look at how to use SpeedGrader to view, grade, and comment on assignments, see this video


Tegrity video access

Instructors who have videos in Tegrity that they want to keep should download them to store on a local server before access to the lecture capture tool ends on June 30, 2018. Another option is to upload the videos into Kaltura for storage and streaming needs.

Support Articles

Check out the most recent articles from our Canvas Support Center:


We are eager to receive your feedback on what you would like to see in future issues of the newsletter, so please send us your suggestions about ways ODL can better serve you.


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