In the spotlight: Remote Teaching Video Recordings
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This certainly hasn’t been the year we envisioned when we rang in 2020 on January 1. So much has changed since then. It’s been a unique and challenging time as the FSU community has adapted to a remote teaching and learning environment prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. From the beginning of the campus closure in mid-March, the Office of Distance Learning's primary goal has been to help instructors maintain the continuity and quality of teaching for their students. Now after six months, the Distance Up Close newsletter returns with the latest from our office.

Over the summer, our instructional development faculty designed a series of online workshops to help instructors integrate principles of quality teaching in their remote courses. In addition to this series, we delivered a variety of workshops and one-on-one Zoom consultations, reaching nearly 1,500 instructors with summer training. We offered the Quality Matters (QM) grant program, which used the nationally recognized QM Rubric. Using the QM Rubric, instructors who participated in the program conducted self-reviews in addition to internal reviews conducted by ODL. The 26 courses that were reviewed had an overall average rubric score of 97 out of a possible 100. All 20 participants successfully completed the program.

In this newsletter, you’ll read about the six online workshops that were part of the summer series and learn how you can access video recordings of each session. We’re adding new workshops to our fall schedule, including the Gradebook, Honorlock, and online course design. Our media production team is back on campus and ready to help you with media for your courses – you can come to our studio or we can come to you. And, as always, our technical support team remains ready to assist you with first-rate service. You can read below about how they hit record ticket requests in late summer.

ODL is proud of the level of support and resources we were able to provide for the campus in spring and summer, and we’re eager to continue our support this fall. To learn more about how we can help, visit our website or find us on Twitter or Facebook.

Finally, on behalf of all of ODL, we want to say how proud we are to be a part of the FSU community. We know how hard all of our university faculty and staff have worked to maintain and even increase the level of teaching quality and student support that FSU is known for. We are one tribe. One family. We will prevail – FSU forever.


Remote Teaching Recordings Now Available

Over the summer, the Office of Distance Learning hosted the Summer 2020 Remote Teaching Course Enhancement program, which included cohorts of instructors who worked to transition their face-to-face courses to an online delivery mode. Video recordings from these summer sessions have been added to our Guide to Remote Teaching page. You can access the following one-hour recordings at your convenience to learn about applying principles of quality online instruction to your remote teaching:
  • Quality Remote Teaching: The Big Picture. Use ODL’s remote teaching course template to help build your course on selected quality standards based on the nationally recognized Quality Matters Rubric.
  • Organize Your Course for Student Success. Organize your course using module-level objectives that are aligned with class materials, activities, and assessments.
  • Engage Learners with Online Activities. Become familiar with strategies such as content engagement, instructional videos, group work, and best practices for discussions.
  • Design Effective Assessments. Discover how to create, deliver, and interpret the results of exams and assignments delivered via Canvas.
  • Make Learning Inclusive with Universal Design. Learn how to make your Canvas site and digital course content accessible for all students using tools such as Bb Ally.
  • Stay Present with Canvas Communication Tools. Learn the principles of humanized online teaching, types of communication, and how to use tools to connect with your students.
To register for any of the above online workshops this fall, visit our Training & Workshops page. If you need assistance with online or remote course design, please reach out to our instructional development faculty at
The ODL Media Production team traveled to Panama City to work with Jerome Fleeman, a diving instructor at Florida State University Panama City. The team shot video for CJE4764: Underwater Crime Scene Methodology, a course that is part of the curriculum for the Underwater Crime Scene Investigation certification program at FSU-Panama City.

Media Support in Studio and on Location

The ODL Media Production team is back on campus and ready to assist instructors with their media needs, whether in the production studio or on location. Our on-campus studio, located on the second floor of the FSU Testing Center, provides tools such as the do-it-yourself One Button Studio and the interactive lightboard. The media team can also help with developing course introductions or instructional videos.

Camera Decorative ImageTo make an appointment to visit the studio, contact Media Production Administrator D.D. Garbarino at or 850-644-7574. To ensure you feel safe, the media team will be following FSU guidelines regarding face coverings and social distancing. Please remember to wear a face covering when coming to the studio. If you would like to be filmed in your office or at another location, let us know and we can come to you.
“We would be happy to help you develop quality videos to enhance your online or remote courses,” said Garbarino. “We’re scheduling now for Spring 2021 semester, so if you have any videos that you would like to have professionally shot and edited, please let us know.”
We also provide Zoom training on the Kaltura video platform, so you can register for the beginning or advanced online workshop. For more information on our services, view the Media Production webpage.

New Online Workshops Offered This Fall

The Office of Distance Learning is launching new online workshops this fall to help instructors with everything from using the Gradebook to exploring online course design:
  • Canvas Gradebook 101. This semester, instructors are encouraged to use the Canvas Gradebook for grade submission. We’ll show you how to set up your Gradebook to facilitate your course’s grading needs.
  • Remote Proctoring for High-Stakes Assessments. You’ll learn how to set up your assessments using Honorlock’s remote proctoring service, as well as how to configure Honorlock settings, set up Canvas Quizzes to work with Honorlock, and access and review exam logs. Training is also provided for individual departments. To schedule a session, contact Assistant Director of Technology Mary Eichin at
  • Teaching Online: Approaches to Pedagogy and Course Design. This workshop presents ways to develop activities, assignments, and assessments for the online environment. You’ll be encouraged to share examples of challenges and successes. Seating is limited to 25 to maximize opportunities for discussion. 
We continue to offer workshops from our Remote Teaching series, which cover course templates, module-level objectives, student engagement, assessments, universal design, and instructor presence. Additional workshops will help you manage media in your course site, promote participation with web conferencing tools, and demonstrate how to use library tools in your online courses.
Register now
You can sign up for any of these workshops on our Training & Workshops page. For more customized sessions, check out our one-on-one online consultations where we can help you with questions you may have about remote instruction.

Testing Center Open with Limited Services

The main campus Testing Center is now open and serving test takers with a limited roster of services for fall. Operating hours are Monday-Friday, 8 am to 4 pm. Careful consideration has been given to operating during COVID-19’s uncertainties, and the health and safety of our students and staff has been the guiding factor. The information below provides our updated procedures.

A&T Decorative ImageLimited capacity seating. To protect students and staff and maintain the recommended social distancing, the Testing Center will operate at 25% capacity for the Fall 2020 term. For FSU course exams, this means we are unable to accommodate entire classes. We will offer FSU course exams only to students needing special consideration, at the request of their instructor. To make this request, instructors can fill out the In-person Proctoring for Honorlock Exceptions form.


Exam development. Because we cannot accommodate all students in a course, keep in mind that the instructor may need to develop separate versions of each exam: one for students testing in the main campus Testing Center, one for remote students testing in an off-campus testing facility, and one for students testing via the online proctoring service Honorlock.
Possible closures. Please be prepared for possible Testing Center closures at any point during the semester. In the event of a closure, we will be unable to offer extended hours or staffing to make up missed exams when we reopen. It will be up to the individual instructor to offer an alternative to in-person proctored testing for affected students.
Social distancing. We will be following all guidelines for a healthy campus environment as detailed in the FSU Fall 2020 Plan. Students will be seated so that the minimum six feet of social distance is respected. For the safety of students and staff, Plexiglas barriers have been installed at all register stations, and signage and visual cues will be implemented to encourage appropriate distancing between students in waiting areas.
Sanitation. The Testing Center will be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected according to CDC recommendations using EPA-registered cleaning agents. Hand sanitizer will also be available at check-in and checkout stations. Please note that our typical turn time for seating students will be longer than usual to allow our staff time to disinfect contact surfaces between exam seatings.
Face coverings. Masks are required for all students, staff, visitors, and vendors in the Testing Center and any adjacent indoor area. Students should be reminded to bring a face covering to any scheduled exam.
Refusal of services. We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our proctors. Please advise students that the Testing Center will not provide services to any student unwilling to abide by the safety procedures outlined above.
The university will continue to offer online proctoring through Honorlock for students through the 2020-2021 academic year. Because of the inherent limitations of online proctoring, we recommend the use of alternative assessment strategies and low-stakes assessment when possible. When the needs of your course necessitate the use of online proctoring, please consult the Online Proctoring Guide for Honorlock Exams for more information.
Please let us know if you have questions about testing in the main campus Testing Center. Email us at, call 850-644-3017, or visit
Course Evaluations Continue Online for 2020-2021
Due to the unique circumstances presented by COVID-19 and the move to remote and hybrid instruction, all course evaluations for the 2020-2021 academic year will be conducted online via EvaluationKIT. For more information on online course evaluations, public access to data, and the fall evaluation timeline, see our Course Evaluations page.
As always, we encourage instructors to remind their students that their anonymous feedback matters and plays an important role in course effectiveness. You will be able to monitor response rates during the open survey window and, if needed, let your students know how important it is to you that they take a moment to complete the course surveys.  
Limited Scanning Services
The Assessment & Testing unit is offering limited form scanning services for the fall. Visit our Form Scanning page for updated information or email for assistance.

Accessibility Scores Improve with Ally Pilot

Blackboard Ally Decorative imageAfter a yearlong pilot of the accessibility tool Bb Ally, results showed that the average accessibility score of content from the pilot courses increased 40%.
In 2019, the Office of Distance Learning conducted a pilot for Bb Ally. The pilot, which ran over three semesters from January 2019 through December 2019, involved 349 courses from six colleges/departments: Social Work, Law, Information, Education, Business, and Psychology. Over 40 faculty participated in the pilot as well as information training sessions and consultations.
Scored Content. The 349 courses produced more than 2,000 pieces of content for Ally to scan and assign an accessibility score. Content scored included PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoints, images, and other files. Ally also detected instructor interactions with content that it scored, reporting more than 3,700 interactions.
Ally Scores. When initially scanned, the average accessibility score for each piece of course content was 46.73%. After Ally performed initial remediation on content and then instructors worked to improve content accessibility, the average accessibility score rose to 87.13%. On average, the content from the pilot courses saw an increase of 40.39% in accessibility.
Student Interactions
Over the course of the pilot, students were able to access alternative formats of course content. There were more than 700 downloads of alternative formatted course content including Braille, ePub, HTML, tagged PDF, and audio/MP3.

Participant Survey
At the conclusion of the pilot, participating instructors were surveyed about their experiences with the Ally accessibility tool. The overwhelming majority found the tool helpful and would recommend it to other faculty members. Potential areas of concern for instructors were the time needed and allotted to make changes to inaccessible course content, as well as locating original copies of inaccessible content such as PDFs.
Request Ally for Your Canvas Courses
The accessibility tool Bb Ally is available to all faculty and staff. Ally works within Canvas to check for accessibility issues and guides instructors on how to improve the accessibility of course content. The tool automatically generates content in alternative formats. To enable Ally in your Canvas course site, submit an Ally enrollment request.
For an overview of Ally, see our support article. We also offer training, including a one-on-one Ally accessibility consultation and a universal design webinar, which in part discusses how Ally can help make the process of course accessibility easier.

Licensure & Certification Portal Launched

In July, ODL launched the Professional Licensure & Certification portal. The portal helps the university comply with SARA and federal regulations and is populated with data from each of the colleges whose programs are designed to lead to professional licensure or certification. Students can choose a program and state and then receive information on whether the selected program meets licensing requirements in that state.
Blackboard Ally Decorative image Instructors can direct prospective students to the site,, by posting a link on their program webpage and including it in written communications. This will help ensure that FSU complies with updated regulations regarding public disclosure. We also recommend including a variation of the following text:

Before You Apply
This program is designed to lead to professional licensure or certification. Because each state has its own requirements, it is important for you to know if this program meets the licensing requirements in your home state (or state where you intend to work) before you apply. If you intend to pursue professional licensure after graduating, visit the FSU Professional Licensure & Certification webpage to determine if this program meets your state's requirements, and always contact the appropriate state licensing board for guidance. 

In addition to maintaining the database for the portal, ODL regularly generates the required written notification to students who have applied to or are currently enrolled in a program designed to lead to professional licensure. Notification provides the student's state of residence, program, applicable licenses and certifications, and whether or not the program meets state licensing requirements.

The project has been a collaborative effort across the university, enabling FSU to meet all obligations of the revised regulations by the July 1, 2020, deadline. Colleges and departments researched the educational requirements in every state so that they could provide ODL with accurate data for the public portal and notification system. FSU Admissions, The Graduate School, Institutional Research, and ITS helped provide ODL the necessary access to prospective and enrolled student data, and the Office of Compliance and Ethics helped facilitate the development of required policies to govern the notification process. ODL continues to work with colleges and departments to ensure that data are regularly updated and students receive the appropriate notifications.

For questions about disclosures for programs designed to lead to professional licensure or certification or about the Professional Licensure & Certification portal, please contact FSU's SARA liaison Amber Hernandez.


Tech Support Tackles Record Ticket Number

Tech Support Decorative ImageThe ODL Technical Support team faced busy spring and summer semesters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, closing out a record number of tickets in August 2020.

The increase in tickets submitted to ODL Technical Support began in early March when the team provided assistance to International Programs, which was one of the first FSU programs to convert to remote instruction. Once the entire university adopted remote teaching, the ticket numbers began to climb with requests involving setting up courses, creating Canvas assignments and quizzes, and managing rubrics and the Gradebook. Requests continued to be much higher than normal throughout the summer. The team hit a record number of monthly tickets in August 2020 with 2,907 requests. The number of tickets for August 2019 was 1,333 (see table below).

"Our support team has been incredible throughout the COVID pandemic and the sudden switch to remote learning," said Mary Eichin, Assistant Director of Technology. "The dedication they show to helping our instructors and students in this difficult time is exceptional."

While facing an uptick in support requests for 2020 due to the transition to remote instruction, the support team saw a decrease in overall tickets for 2019 when compared with 2018. Eichin attributes this decrease to successful support initiatives, including the publication of timely global announcements for students and faculty.

"These just-in-time dashboard messages provided information that coincided with the term calendar," explained Eichin. "For example, our team would publish first-day attendance advice in the first week of classes and then advice about grades during the final week."

This proactive approach to publishing Canvas-related reminders helped reduce the number of tickets in 2019. The team also finalized support documentation in the Canvas Support Center and continues to update articles in the searchable knowledge base.

If you need assistance with Canvas or other technologies, please contact our team at 850-644-8004 or or submit a support ticket.
ODL Technical Support Tickets, 2019-2020
Date Range                               Tickets*
March 1 – July 31, 2020**           5230
March 1 – July 31, 2019              3046
August 1 – August 31, 2020        2907
August 1 – August 31, 2019        1333
Spring Term, 2020                       3725
Spring Term, 2019                       2897

*Please note that ticket numbers represent a single submission and do not account for any follow-up responses.
**FSU began closing down operations in mid-March 2020 due to COVID-19.

Student Access of Canvas via Mobile on Rise

Student use of mobile devices to access Canvas continues to increase, according to analysis of FSU Canvas data usage.

During 2019 and 2020, there has been a steady trend of increasing mobile use to access the Canvas learning management system. In Spring 2019, mobile device use accounted for 9.86% of Canvas use. By Fall 2019, this had increased to 13.85%. Spring 2020 saw a slight drop, retreating to 13.01%, and Summer 2020 dipped to 11.14%. Most likely the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted how students engaged Canvas and other educational technologies.

At the beginning of Fall 2020, however, the use of mobile devices to access Canvas courses increased significantly. While these numbers only represent a portion of August 2020, usage rose to 16.78%. Moreover, following trends from previous semesters, accessing Canvas using the Canvas app continued to be more prevalent with 13.70% of mobile access being from the Canvas app and only 3.08% being from a web browser.

What This Means
These data are instructive because they reveal that students are not accessing course content from only a laptop or desktop computer. Due to COVD-19, some students may have limited access to a computer and rely on only a phone or tablet to access their courses in Canvas.

By being aware of this increased mobile usage, instructors can consider how best to create their course content to ensure students on mobile devices can engage with the material. Some content you've already developed may not work on mobile devices or may be difficult to engage. For example, mobile devices limit or block technologies like JavaScript and Flash that are used to make content interactive. Additionally, how you format the documents you create and distribute can affect students using mobile devices. Check to see if your students can open a Word document or easily access a scanned PDF on their mobile device.

The Next Step
If you’re interested in learning more about developing flexible content for your Canvas courses, please register for the online workshop, Make Learning Inclusive with Universal Design. This workshop will demonstrate the importance of creating course materials in multiple formats to ensure all students on any device can engage with the content.

Canvas Release Notes

The ability to delete pages in bulk is among the updated features in the August release notes from Canvas. Instructors can now delete multiple pages at one time in the Pages Index page, which allows for the quick removal of outdated content. Previously, pages could only be removed one at a time.
New Analytics is an updated feature from the September release notes. The New Analytics page includes a Reports tab where instructors can download and export filtered content in a CSV file. Reports include five types – missing assignments, late assignments, excused assignments, the class roster, and course activity.


Annotate Across the Web with Hypothesis

Hypothesis Decorative ImageThe annotation tool Hypothesis is available for use in all FSU courses for Fall 2020. This tool allows for collaborative annotation across the web. With Hypothesis, your students can annotate online course readings and webpages. This activity helps with reading comprehension and the development of critical thinking skills, as well as prompting students to engage and connect with the content.

For more information on Hypothesis, please see our support article in the Canvas Support Center. You’ll find resources on using the tool with modules and assignments, annotating with course sections, and grading student annotations in Canvas. You’ll also learn how to add links, images, and videos to your annotations.

Using Zoom in Remote & Online Classes

Zoom has become an essential tool for holding virtual office hours and delivering online course content that requires synchronous interactions. If you’re using Zoom in your remote classes this fall, check out the following tips to ensure a successful experience: For more information on Zoom and other remote teaching tools, see Facilitating Learning Remotely.

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