In the spotlight: Course evaluation process
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Banner: Distance Up Close, March/April 2018
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Robby FuselierThe end of the semester is around the corner and this month's newsletter is full of great tips to help you wrap up and plan for the summer. Here are a few items you'll want to keep in mind:

The ODL Testing Center will be hosting final exams in the stadium this semester with students in the main testing area and overflow in Miller Hall. The President's Office has offered the President's Skybox as a waiting and study area for students taking exams during the week. We believe this central location will be convenient for students and are looking forward to serving them during finals.

Look for our faculty and student Canvas user surveys, which will go out at the end of the semester. We will be surveying all Canvas users (not just distance) and hope to learn more about your experience with the system and how we can continue to improve our support. Faculty and instructional staff will only be surveyed annually, so don't miss this chance to share your thoughts.

Universal design and accessibility are big topics on campus and we offer a workshop and other resources to keep you informed. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities to ensure your message and course materials are available to students in a format that provides an optimal learning experience.

Finally, remember that Blackboard will no longer be available after June. Any courses, materials, or organizations you would like to keep must be migrated to a new home (Canvas, Sharepoint, etc.) before July. If you need assistance, please contact the ODL Technical Support team at 850-644-8004.
Robby Fuselier


Course evaluation process

The Office of Distance Learning announces a change to how course evaluations are ordered. Currently, instructors and department administrators log in to a website by a scheduled deadline and choose either a paper or online format for their evaluations. This process can lead to missed deadlines, incorrect format selections, and the possibility of eligible courses not being evaluated at all.

In the new process, instructors will be enrolled automatically in online evaluations. Paper will still be an option, but instructors will need to opt in. After the first week of classes, an email will be sent to the instructor of record for any eligible course. That email will list an instructor's scheduled evaluations. If no changes are needed, no further action is required.

Instructors who want paper-based evaluations may choose that option by submitting a request before the last three weeks of classes. To submit a request, instructors can follow the directions in the email sent after the first week of classes. If instructors are associated with a course they don't teach and shouldn't be evaluated for, they should contact their department administrator.

The new process is scheduled to be in place for the Summer 2018 term. This process will help ensure compliance with university and departmental regulations for administering evaluations. It also should help reduce the workload of college and departmental office staff. For more information, please contact Scanning and Evaluation Supervisor Mike Straszewski.

Canvas user surveys

Faculty, teaching support staff, and students who used Canvas in the past academic year are invited to participate in a survey that will be emailed at the end of this semester. The survey will gather data on how participants – both online and in-person – use Canvas and related support units such as the Testing Center and the Libraries.

ODL traditionally has limited its data collection to online courses. The Canvas transition has highlighted the frequency of Canvas use by both in-person and online classes. Because we support the entire campus in using Canvas, we are expanding our data collection to include all Canvas users for this and future surveys.

Additionally, the frequency of survey distribution is changing for faculty and teaching support staff, who will receive the survey annually rather than each semester. Students, however, will continue to be surveyed each semester.

Spring finals schedule

decorative imageSpring finals week is April 28–May 4, 2018. The Testing Center has added weekend testing and an additional testing site in Miller Hall (located on the third floor above the Testing Center in University Center C). The Testing Center will be open April 28–29 and May 4 from 7 am–8 pm. It will be open April 30–May 3 from 7 am–10 pm. Miller Hall will be open April 30–May 4 from 7 am–8 pm.

Students who need a place to study or relax while waiting to take their exams can visit the following areas:
  • The conference room (located on the fifth floor above the Testing Center, Room 5301) will be open April 28–29 from 7 am–7 pm.
  • The President’s Skybox (located on the seventh floor above the Testing Center) will be open April 30–May 3 from 7 am–9 pm. It will be open May 4 from 7 am–7 pm.
Staff will be onsite to let students know when the Testing Center or Miller Hall is ready to seat appointments.

To assist students needing technical help during finals week, ODL Technical Support has extended its help desk hours. For more information about finals week, contact the Testing Center at 850-644-3017.
Testing reminders for students
  • Schedule your exams in advance and make sure you receive an email confirmation. Time slots are available in RegisterBlast at least two weeks before an exam's start date.
  • Pay attention to your schedule to avoid conflicts with other exams or work commitments.
  • Plan extra time for travel and parking to arrive on time for your test.
  • Arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time.
  • Remember to bring your FSUID card.

Universal Design for Learning Guidelines

decorative image: Universal Design graphicWhen designing online courses, instructors should keep in mind the importance of complying with accessibility standards and striving toward inclusiveness. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines, developed by the education and research organization CAST, can help you create learning experiences that meet the needs of all students.

This interactive website details the three core principles of the UDL Guidelines:
  • Representation. Present content in multiple formats that best align with students’ learning strengths (e.g., audio, video, graphics).
  • Action and expression. Give your students various options to interact with the material and express what they have learned (e.g., test, group project).
  • Engagement. Provide different ways to motivate and engage students (e.g., assignments they find relatable).
For a closer look at universal design and accessibility, you can register for the workshop on April 12 at 2 pm at ODL, UCC-3500. This 90-minute session reviews how updates to accessibility laws affect course design and materials.

Accessibility Checker

Ensuring that all course content is accessible to all students regardless of any apparent or declared disability is the responsibility of all faculty. The Accessibility Checker is a tool within Canvas’s Rich Content Editor that can help you identify and correct accessibility issues. While the tool has limitations – it can check content in only a Canvas page or assignment description – it is a first step in ensuring that materials are accessible to students who use assistive technology such as screen readers or screen magnification.

The Accessibility Checker icon Check Accessibility image of man inside a circle is located on the right end of the second row of icons on the Rich Content Editor toolbar.
Image showing location of the Check Accessibility icon on the far right in Canvas's Rich Content Editor.
Example of an issue flagged by the Accessibility Checker: "Issue 1/1, Images should include and alt attribute describing the image content." Can type alt text into the text box, or check the "decorative image" boxWhen you click the icon, a sidebar appears on the right that lists issues and offers corrections for the page. For example, if an image lacks a text alternative (alt text), the checker presents the option to add alt text in the sidebar or to designate the image as decorative, which disables the alt-text field.

The checker verifies the following accessibility guidelines:
  • Large text contrast: Text larger than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1.
  • Small text contrast: Text smaller than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
  • Table captions: Tables should include a caption describing the contents.
  • Table header: Tables should include at least one header.
  • Sequential headings: Heading levels should not be skipped.
  • Heading paragraphs: Headings should not contain more than 120 characters.
  • Image alt text: Images should include an alt attribute describing the image content.
  • Image alt length: Alt attribute text should not contain more than 120 characters.
  • Adjacent links: Adjacent links with the same URL should be a single link.
ODL is researching additional tools that will help you and your graduate teaching assistants make course content accessible as required by law. We also offer workshops and webinars on accessibility at different times during the year. These sessions cover the accessibility of Canvas courses, Microsoft Office files (PC and Mac), Adobe Acrobat documents, videos, and audio recordings.

For questions about accessibility, please contact ODL, the Student Disability Resource Center, or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance in the Office of Human Resources. 

Organization migration

If you have a leader role in a Blackboard organization, now is the time to transition to Canvas. FSU’s Blackboard license ends June 30, 2018, so leaders must either move or phase out all Blackboard organizations by that time.

You can move your materials to Canvas or another platform. How well your organization will transfer to a Canvas course site depends on how you use the organization currently in Blackboard. Please consult our organization page for guidance on how to proceed:
  • Learn which type of organization will transfer easily to Canvas and discover alternative platforms that may be a better fit. 
  • Begin the transfer process by archiving and cleaning out files. Note that Canvas course sites allow only 1GB of data.
  • Complete the FSU Canvas Organization Request Form to transfer your Blackboard organization to Canvas or to create a new organization site in Canvas.
  • Sign up for a consultation with our ODL Technical Support team for assistance in transferring content or setting up a new organization site.

Tegrity videos

FSU's contract with Tegrity ends on June 30, 2018. After that date, instructors won't be able to access their Tegrity videos or use the Tegrity lecture capture tool to record classroom lectures. ODL is exploring options to replace Tegrity. In the meantime, you can download your videos from Tegrity to store on a local server or upload them into the video platform Kaltura for storage and streaming needs.


Training and support

Spring training concludes with Canvas boot camps and a universal design and accessibility workshop. For more individualized help, we offer course migration appointments, media consultations, and one-on-one technical support. To reserve your spot, visit our Registration page. 

Web address updates

We have updated Canvas and Canvas Support Center web addresses to make it easier for you to locate your Canvas account and related resources. You can access your account at (which replaces and the Canvas Support Center at (which replaces ODL Technical Support also has a new email address: Be sure and bookmark these new addresses, but note that the previous web and email addresses will remain active.

Course evaluation checklist

The Education Services department at Instructure has developed a course evaluation checklist to help you improve the quality of your Canvas courses. You can download the checklist to use as a resource when building your courses (scroll down the page to access the PDF attachment).

The checklist addresses the following areas, with an emphasis on Universal Design for Learning principles:
  • Course information
  • Course content
  • Assessment of student learning
  • Course accessibility


Canvas has released the New Gradebook, which has the following updated features to help with your grading tasks:
  • Simplified navigation. The New Gradebook navigation is separated into four categories: Gradebook, View, Actions, and the Gear icon. Under Gradebook, you can view grade history or individual grades. With the View drop-down, you can filter and sort assignments. You can export or import the Gradebook under Actions, and you can use the Gear icon to set up late policies and grade deductions.
  • Drag-and-drop organization. You have the option to reorganize the Gradebook by dragging and dropping assignment columns.
  • Submission policies. The Gradebook can accept automatic late and missing submission policies. You can automatically apply policies based on the assignment due dates, or you can can assign the status manually.
  • Color coding. Student submissions are color-coded based on the assignment status. For more information, you can review this guide for icons and colors.
"Faculty are really going to like the New Gradebook because it’s much easier to filter based on due dates, points, and modules," said ODL instructional development faculty member John Braswell. "In addition, the color coding of cells allows for easy identification of late, missing, resubmitted, and excused assignments."

Follow these instructions to activate the New Gradebook in your course. For information on using the new features, refer to these best practices.


Kaltura updates

Image of Kaltura CaptureSpace interfaceKaltura has updated its interface, with each page displaying a cleaner look. It also has updated the CaptureSpace Lite app to the full CaptureSpace app. This upgrade unlocks a Presentations & Lectures recording feature that will make it easier for you to record from a PowerPoint or document. The CaptureSpace app now supports up to three simultaneous webcam recordings. Learn more with our tutorial on how to record a presentation in Kaltura.

Support Articles

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


PIE teaching workshops

The PIE Coffee Hour & Teaching Workshop Series presents a session on how to help your students develop successful strategies for learning. The 90-minute workshop is scheduled for April 16 at 3:30 pm. To reserve your spot, visit the Registration page.

Onsite and virtual conferences


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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