In the spotlight: Online Graduate Programs Rank in Top 20
View this email in your browser
Greetings from ODL
In the News
Canvas FYI
Tools & Technology
Odds & Ends


The Office of Distance Learning is kicking off a new year with a new look. You may have noticed the feather logo on our social media, website, and banners. We chose the feather because of its symbolism in representing values such as strength, knowledge, and freedom – values that are also embodied in the FSU Seminole Creed. Whether learning on campus or a thousand miles away, FSU is a place where your future can take flight. We are continuing to roll out new branding. This spring look for our new faculty website, which will offer information on online design and instruction, teaching and learning technologies, training opportunities, and assessment and testing.

When you have a moment, check out, our new student website that details how to get started at FSU. Online students have numerous programs to choose from, including four graduate programs that began the new year ranked in the Top 20 nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of best online programs.

Interested in learning more about how to use technology to enhance the student learning experience? Be sure to log in to “Transforming the Teaching & Learning Environment” virtual conference from Feb. 3-14. ODL has covered the cost of registration for this event, so you can learn about online discussions, gamification, virtual reality, and more, all from the convenience of your home or office. See the article below for how to participate.

We also look forward to sharing with you some of the advancements in our media platform, Kaltura. Our media team is eager to work with you to create interactive videos that will engage students and enhance their learning experience.

You’ll also be hearing new voices in this column this year. Three of our assistant directors representing testing, technology, and instructional development will be offering their thoughts and insights on the activities of our office.


We are excited about the opportunities 2020 holds for online growth at FSU. Please let us know how we can help your online teaching and learning take flight!


Online Grad Programs Rank in Top 20

Four of Florida State University’s online graduate programs ranked in the Top 20 nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Online Programs
TheDecorative image: Online Grad Programs College of Communication and Information’s online graduate program in information technology jumped five spots to the No. 9 ranking in the category of computer information technology. The master’s degree is offered by the college’s School of Information.
The College of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s online graduate program ranked among the best in the nation at No. 8. The college offers a master’s degree in criminal justice studies.
The College of Business’s non-MBA online graduate program held steady in the No. 12 position. Students interested in this field can pursue master’s degrees in management information systems and risk management and insurance. The college’s online MBA program checked in at No. 27.
Decorative Image: Online Grad Programs 2The College of Education’s online graduate program placed in the No. 15 position. Individual graduate programs ranked among the best in the nation, with instructional systems and learning technologies (ISLT) coming in at No. 1. The remaining ranked areas included curriculum and instruction (6), educational administration and supervision (6), and special education (16).

"In ISLT, we are proud to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report for our No. 1 program," said Dr. Vanessa Dennen, Professor of Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies in the college's Department of Educational Psychology & Learning Systems. "This ranking reflects the engaging and rigorous course experiences that we provide by using interactive pedagogical strategies, the strong sense of community we develop among our faculty, students, and alumni, and the success of our graduates as leaders in the instructional design and technology field."
The College of Education offers degrees in educational leadership and policy (MS and EdD), ISLT (MS and EdD), curriculum and instruction, and educational psychology.
New this year is the ranking of online graduate programs for veterans. Four programs placed in the top 25 for veterans: education (4), criminal justice (6), information technology (6), and MBA (21).
The methodology for ranking online programs included five general categories: student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, peer reputation, and admissions selectivity.
For more information on all of FSU’s online graduate and doctoral programs, visit our Programs page.

Testing Center Updates Procedures

The FSU Testing Center would like to share policy reminders and procedural updates, from Examity to security enhancements. Please take a moment to review these updates and reminders below and contact with any questions or concerns.
Examity: Distance Only!
Decorative Image: Examity LogoThe Testing Center has updated procedures to better enforce the distance-only restriction for Examity, our online proctoring service. Instructors may contact to make Examity available for their distance students (not main campus students) after submitting the request for services. Eligible students with Examity as their designated proctor will receive an activation email to create a new Examity profile and account after their accounts are set up with us. Full student instructions are available in our Testing Center knowledge base. Please note that there will no longer be an Examity link in your course site.
Security Enhancements on Main Campus
In order to increase the ability of proctors in our main campus testing facility to monitor examinees, we will be using IP-based exam security rather than passwords in Canvas exams whenever possible. This applies to the Testing Center as well as the Office of Accessibility Services (formerly the Student Disability Resource Center) but does not currently apply to remote, off-campus testing centers. If we're able to use this approach with your exams, we will reach out to you with simple instructions.
We will also be piloting this approach with courses that combine main campus students with remote online students. We will be reaching out to instructors to discuss a method for these courses.
Policy Reminder on Missed Exams/Makeups
We continue to rely on instructors to contact us to request makeups for students with excused absences. We refer students to your published course policy when they contact us because of missed appointments or inability to sign up during the testing window. See our suggested syllabus language to help your students better understand their responsibilities.
Two-week Registration Window for Exam Appointments
We will continue to open registration for exams on main campus two weeks prior to the beginning of the examination window for any given exam. We recommend that instructors add calendar reminders for students until our new, custom registration system is implemented (target date is late 2020).
Photo of five Testing Center staff holding a plaque

Making the Grade with Test Center Certification

Congratulations to the FSU Testing Center for earning test center certification from the National College Testing Association in November 2019. The Testing Center’s management team displays the plaque, which was awarded for professionalism and quality in the administration of testing services. From left to right: Associate Director Dr. Joe Clark, Operations Lead Brittany Wyatt, Customer Service Manager Scott Bickley, Operations Lead James Endress, and Testing Coordinator Gerardo Diaz-Mendez. Not pictured are Testing Administrator Linda Etareri and Distance Learning Coordinator Fehmeena Syed.

Log on to Virtual Conference

Decorative image: 2020 Virtual Conference LogoFrom accessibility to virtual reality, the 11th annual Transforming the Teaching & Learning Environment virtual conference offers a range of individual sessions. The conference, presented by Northeastern State University, runs from February 3–14. The Office of Distance Learning is pleased to offer this opportunity to the FSU community. All faculty and staff are invited to participate.
Spanning two weeks, the conference delivers 60 one-hour sessions via Zoom (six sessions per weekday). Topics include accessibility, discussion boards, online orientations, open educational resources, quality course reviews, virtual reality, and more. Each session is live and interactive, so you’ll have the opportunity to engage with higher education professionals from around the world. All sessions will be recorded, so you can catch up on any sessions you may have missed as well as view recordings from previous conferences.
To join a session, visit the Conference Schedule page. After each session title is a "Join Session" Zoom link. At the appropriate time, choose your session and click on the Zoom link. (Note that sessions are listed in Central Standard Time.) When asked to type your name to log in, please type your first and last name, plus the name of your institution (e.g., John Smith – FSU). No additional password or code is needed.
For more information on the conference and details about the sessions, visit the Conference page.
Streetcar image with text, Kaltura Connect

Enhance Your Videos with Interactivity

The Office of Distance Learning’s media production and instructional technology staff recently attended the Kaltura Connect conference in New Orleans where they learned about the future of video in teaching and learning. Advances in interactive video and analytics were key takeaways from the meeting.
Kaltura LogoWith enhanced interactive video options, instructors can embed multiple-choice questions, hotspots, and learning paths into their course media. Multiple-choice questions can easily be added to videos. These questions require students to interact with the content, and their scores can then be passed to the Canvas Gradebook. Hotspots are in-video links to external web resources or other parts of the video and can be useful for better connecting students to media content. With learning paths, students can choose a particular route through the content, which allows them to have a unique experience while interacting with course videos. By using these interactive options, you can better engage students through video in ways that were not possible before.
ODL Media Production Administrator D.D. Garbarino, who attended the conference, is excited about the future of video and what it can mean to instructors. “We learned a lot and are eager to share what we learned with the FSU community,” said Garbarino. “We’re looking forward to assisting instructors by producing more interactive videos to enrich their courses.”
The conference highlighted Kaltura’s powerful video analytics, which provide deeper insight on course data. With enhanced analytics, you can receive details on student engagement and video usage and be able to use these data to improve your videos and student outcomes.
“We’re at the beginning of a bright new future of using instructional video in online courses,” said ODL Instructional Technology Faculty John Braswell, who attended the conference. “With Kaltura’s tools and workflow, it’s easier than ever for instructors to develop engaging, accessible videos to share with their students. Likewise, students can create media to share with instructors and their peers.”
Decorative Image: Kaltura Conference GroupOur media production team and instructional technology specialist can work with you to deploy Kaltura’s interactive tools in your online course (pictured, left to right, Media Production Administrator D.D. Garbarino, Media Specialist Jim Shaw, Instructional Technology Specialist Chuck McCann, and Media Specialist Daniela Hernandez). To schedule an individual consultation or departmental training, contact Garbarino at or 850-644-7574. For more general information on Kaltura and its capabilities, see the support articles in our knowledge base.

Livestream Critical Thinking Sessions

Decorative image: Digital Citizenship and Society SymposiumFSU’s Critical Thinking Initiatives hosts the Critical Thinking Symposium: Digital Citizenship & Society on February 24–26, 2020. This three-day event includes various sessions with perspectives on digital citizenship, an e-waste design sprint, and a featured talk by invited keynote speaker, tech ethicist David Ryan Polgar. All sessions are open to the FSU community. You can find full program details on the Critical Thinking Initiatives site.
To provide opportunities for our distance learning, study-abroad, and off-campus students, faculty, and staff, the FSU Libraries will be livestreaming several sessions and offering online activities for participation, including a watch party discussion guide, virtual poster sessions, and a collaborative digital citizenship reading list. For the schedule and livestream link, please visit the 2020 Critical Thinking Symposium Online Program.
With a focus on the intersection of technology and humanity, digital citizenship and society continuously develop norms of responsible, ethical, and positive digital experiences as content creators and content consumers. The Office of Critical Thinking Initiatives aims to empower our students, faculty, staff, and community with the values, awareness, and understanding to shape our society through critical thought and agency. The symposium will enable the FSU community to participate in technology for the common good as thoughtful and empathetic digital citizens.
For more information about the online program, please contact Lindsey Wharton, Extended Campus & Distance Services Librarian.


Canvas logo

Spring Training, from A to Z

Blackboard Ally LogoFrom A to Z (Ally to Zoom), the Office of Distance Learning has a spring lineup to meet all of your training needs. Our in-person workshops, webinars, and one-on-one consultations feature a variety of timely topics, from making your course content accessible to mastering web conferencing and techniques that enhance the Canvas learning environment:
  • Ally & Accessibility: Learn how to make your course documents accessible to all learners with the Bb Ally tool, which provides faculty with feedback on accessibility issues and how to correct them.
  • Modules & Course Design: Become familiar with best practices for uploading and organizing content into modules, including how to set dates and prerequisites to guide students through course materials.
  • Zoom Decorative Image
  • Zoom & Web Conferencing: Get an overview of Zoom and experience it from the participant and moderator point of view, including sharing files, participating in breakout rooms, and saving recorded sessions.  
See more of our sessions and register by visiting our Workshops & Appointments page.
We Come to You
Interested in customized training for your department? We’ll come to you. Contact John Braswell at 850-645-0469 to schedule.

Easily Share Individual Course Items

Canvas has released the Direct Share feature, which allows instructors to share individual assignments, discussion items, quizzes, and content pages with other instructors and also copy individual items to another course. With direct sharing, you can easily share content with other users in Canvas without having to export packages, add other users to your course sites, or use Canvas Commons as a storage area. Please note that you must have a role of teacher, TA, admin staff, or designer to use this feature in your course.
For more information on how to use this feature, check out the Canvas Direct Share feature overview. If you need additional assistance, contact ODL Technical Support at 850-644-8004 or

Opt In to Receive Canvas Notifications

A recent Canvas update allows faculty, staff, and students to receive notifications about the Global Announcements posted on the Canvas dashboard. You can choose to be notified via email or SMS when new messages are posted. These announcements are published by the ODL Technical Support team and contain important information such as service disruptions or extended technical support hours.
For more information on this feature, read the news article: New Canvas Dashboard Announcement Notification Option. If you need additional assistance, contact ODL Technical Support at 850-644-8004 or

Your Vote Can Help Improve Canvas

Decorative Image: VoteWould you like to be able to view the notification settings of your students to confirm the delivery of important course information? You can make your voice heard by voting for this feature to be integrated into the Canvas learning environment.
Canvas encourages users to submit feature ideas on ways to enhance LMS functionality. Voting for and submitting feedback on these ideas via the Canvas Community is one of the best ways to improve Canvas for the FSU community.
To make voting easier, we’ve compiled the Canvas Community Feedback mailing list. This list recommends specific feature ideas to support within the Canvas Community. You can subscribe to the list and also check out our “Vote Up” recommendations for December.
Feature ideas available for voting include:
  • Messaging a specific grade range of students from the gradebook
  • Recording an audio message directly into a quiz
  • Downloading discussion board posts from a course
  • Assigning a total quiz value and distributing the points to each question

Canvas Release Notes

The direct share option and student assignment enhancements are among the new features in the January release notes from Canvas. With direct sharing, instructors can share individual course items with other users. Student assignment enhancements (in beta only) enrich the student experience with an improved interface and submission workflow.
Updated features from the February release notes include Canvas Commons, the Gradebook, and New Quizzes. Items that are marked as favorites within Commons can be brought directly into Quizzes, Pages, Discussions, Assignments, and Modules. In New Quizzes, the button has been moved from Assignments to the Quizzes page.


Template Updates Recommended

Decorative Image: Rocketship LogoThe ODL Technical Support team is excited to share news that will save you time updating your online syllabus. We’ve recently modified the Design Tools template for the Syllabus page that you use in your Canvas courses. With this change, you can take advantage of Design Tools’ auto-update feature so you won’t have to manually update the University Policies, Exam Proctoring, and Canvas Support portions of your syllabus each semester. Each time you press the "edit" button on the Syllabus page in your Canvas site and then launch the Design Tools menu, these portions of your Syllabus will automatically refresh and display the most current information.
To use this auto-update feature, you’ll need to remove the old institutional policies block, Canvas support block, and exam proctoring block on your syllabus and then re-add them back into your syllabus. Please follow these step-by-step directions for updating the Syllabus page in your current and most recent course and development sites.
As part of the Design Tools template update, the “Start Here” page used in Canvas courses has also been modified. The page looks like this:
Screenshot of Canvas's Start Here page
The update affects the information in the Step 4: Library Information and Student Support section of the template. We have added a link to our Emergency Resources page and fixed an error in the “other services and student support options available” link.
The new text in this section reads as follows:
Visit the library website to learn what services they provide. Review this Emergency Resources page to ensure that you are familiar with specific FSU emergency resources, as well as local, state, and national emergency resources. Also check out the other services and student support options available.
For your current and most recent courses, we recommend replacing the existing text in the Step 4 section of the “Start Here” page with this new text. You can do this by copying and pasting the new text above into the Step 4 section of your “Start Here” page. Making this update in your course and development sites ensures your students will have easy access to these helpful resources.
If you would like assistance with these updates or have any questions, please call 850-644-8004, email, or create a support ticket.




Tech Support
Tech Support
Canvas Support
Canvas Support
Office of Distance Learning
University Center C-3500, 296 Champions Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306
General Phone: 850.644.4635 | Newsletter Email:
Technical Support: 850.644.8004 |
ODL website | Student website | Canvas Support Center
Twitter | Facebook
Copyright © 2020 FSU Office of Distance Learning. All rights reserved.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
FSU Office of Distance Learning · University Center, C-3500, 296 Champions Way · Tallahassee, FL 32306 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp