Email Communications

Email communications to NIU faculty, teaching staff, and graduate teaching assistants from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Spring 2021

Vendor Demonstrations Scheduled for Learning Management System Review - 2/15/2021New

Department Chairs and School Directors:

As we've shared previously, NIU is in the midst of a review of learning management systems. Since our last email to you, review criteria have been established along with a weighted scoring system that the technical team will use to evaluate vendors against the criteria. The review executive committee has also met with each vendor and the review technical committee is beginning their work reviewing the technical specifics of each platform.

A critical aspect of the review process is inviting vendors to provide demonstrations to our campus community. With "Blackboard Original" gradually being phased out, we have the opportunity to compare "Blackboard Ultra" with other platforms. Our goal is to provide everyone with an opportunity to see the capabilities and provide feedback as to which systems offer the functionality and user experience desired moving forward.

We have reached out to vendors of the leading higher education LMS platforms to learn more about their offerings: Blackboard (Learn Ultra), D2L (Brightspace), and Instructure (Canvas) and have scheduled demonstrations, available to all NIU faculty, staff, and students. Each vendor is providing two virtual demonstrations on the functionality of their system for teaching and learning. Demonstrations will be conducted online via Zoom and recorded for those who may be unable to join live. All demonstration participants will be asked to complete a follow-up survey to rate the system’s functionality.

View Campus Demonstration Schedule

Demonstration schedule details can also be found in the NIU Calendar.

We’re also asking each vendor to provide a separate virtual demonstration of shopping cart features for outside learners and external programming. Participants of these separate demonstrations will likewise complete follow-up surveys on shopping cart system functionality.

We hope you'll mark your calendar and be able to join the demonstrations or view the recordings to see the features available and product roadmaps and to share your important feedback. We've sent the above details to all faculty, instructors, and TAs.

Sincerely,

Jason Rhode
Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Matthew Parks
Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Division of Information Technology

Mark Your Calendar for Learning Management System Demonstrations - 2/15/2021New

Dear Faculty Members and Graduate Teaching Assistants,

As you may have seen, NIU is in the midst of a review of learning management systems. A critical aspect of the review process is inviting vendors to provide demonstrations to our campus community of the leading learning management systems in higher education today. With "Blackboard Original" gradually being phased out, we have the opportunity to compare "Blackboard Ultra" with other vendors’ latest generation of their platforms. Our goal is to provide everyone with an opportunity to see the capabilities and provide feedback as to which systems offer the functionality and user experience desired moving forward.

We have reached out to vendors of the leading higher education LMS platforms to learn more about their offerings: Blackboard (Learn Ultra), D2L (Brightspace), and Instructure (Canvas) and have scheduled demonstrations, available to all NIU faculty, staff, and students. Each vendor is providing two virtual demonstrations on the functionality of their system for teaching and learning. Demonstrations will be conducted online via Zoom and recorded for those who may be unable to join live. All demonstration participants will be asked to complete a follow-up survey to rate the system’s functionality.

View Campus Demonstration Schedule

Demonstration schedule details can also be found in the NIU Calendar.

We hope you'll mark your calendar and be able to join the demonstrations or view the recordings to see the features available and product roadmaps and to share your important feedback. In the meantime, if you have further questions or comments, you can email them to lms-review@niu.edu.

Sincerely,

Jason Rhode
Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Matthew Parks
Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Division of Information Technology

Automatic Captions (Live Transcripts) in Zoom - 2/2/2021

Greetings,

If you are using Zoom in your teaching this semester, I wanted to make sure you were aware of a new feature in Zoom that allows for live auto-captioning (aka: “Live Transcription”) of Zoom sessions. It takes just a few steps for you to enable.

This does not replace having a human captioner for students who have a documented disability. There are advantages, however, to having the ability to provide captions for everyone, regardless of disability.

Make Automatic Captions Available in Zoom

To make auto-captions available for Zoom sessions you schedule:

  1. Login at niu-edu.zoom.us
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Go to In Meetings (Advanced)
  4. Click the toggle to enable Closed Captioning
  5. Click the checkbox to enable live transcription

After live transcription is enabled for your account, you can turn on auto-captions within a specific Zoom session that you schedule.

Enable Automatic Captions within a Zoom Session

To enable auto-captions within a session:

  1. Click the Live Transcription button in the toolbar at the bottom of the session (if you don’t see a button there, make sure you have enabled them in your account settings)
  2. Click the button to Enable Live-Transcription

Captions will automatically appear for the host and participants. Individual users can hide them by clicking the Live Transcription (the host should click the arrow in the Live Transcription button) and choosing Hide Transcription. From the same menu, you can also view the full transcript, which opens a side panel where you can download the transcript.

You and your students can also find these details on the DoIT Zoom support page at go.niu.edu/zoom.

Enjoy your day,

Jason Rhode
Executive Director

Excellence in Online Teaching Award - 1/29/2021

Dear Colleague:

I’m excited to announce a new institutional award to encourage and honor outstanding online and hybrid teaching at NIU. The Excellence in Online Teaching Award recognizes NIU faculty and instructors whose performance exemplifies a commitment to excellence in online teaching, course development and student engagement.

All those who teach online or hybrid courses (tenured and tenure-track faculty, instructors, and teaching staff) are eligible. There is no limit as to the number of nominees from any department/program or college. Self-nominations are allowed and encouraged.

Recipient(s) of this award will receive a plaque and a $2,000 one-time stipend.

This year’s nomination deadline is Friday, March 5th and more details are available at go.niu.edu/online-teaching-award

If you have any questions about the award or nomination process, please let me know. We look forward to recognizing the outstanding online educators amongst our Huskie community!

Enjoy your day,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Call for Nominations for Outstanding TA Awards 2021 - 1/27/2021

Department Chairs and School Directors:

This is to announce the Call for Nominations for Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards for 2021. You can find the details and submission guidelines at go.niu.edu/outstanding-ta-award and please forward this email to your Director of Graduate Studies.

Each academic or academic support unit that employs graduate TAs for teaching and related activities is invited to nominate two (2) outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants, one at the master’s level and the other at the doctoral level, from its department/school for the awards.

Nominations can be submitted to the department chair/school director or designee. Nominators must complete the nomination form (Word doc) for each nominee and email it with any supporting documents by Friday, March 5, 2021 to citl@niu.edu with the subject line “Nomination for 2021 Outstanding TA Awards”.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

New faculty learning communities launching for spring 2021 - 1/25/2021

Department Chairs and School Directors:

Just wanted to make sure you were aware that we’ve announced the launch of 5 new faculty learning communities (FLCs) available to faculty and instructors for spring 2021.

FLCs are small groups of faculty and instructors who meet regularly throughout the semester or year about a specific topic related to teaching and learning. They provide the opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the university by engaging in active, collaborative discussions about teaching and learning in a supportive environment. FLC members will learn about and implement innovative techniques that may even result in collaborative scholarship or research related to teaching and learning.

We are offering 5 FLCs for the spring 2021 semester:

  • Student Engagement: Creating a sense of community in an online course
  • In-Person Teaching During COVID: Flexible teaching, physical distancing and live streaming
  • Book Club: Small Teaching Online by Flower Darby and James Lang
  • Teaching Synchronous Online Courses
  • Teaching with Microsoft Teams

What to Expect

Each FLC will meet online 3-4 times during the spring 2021 semester (dates and times will be determined based on the availability of those who are participating). The communities will have a maximum of 12 members to allow for active conversations.

Registration Information

Anyone interested is asked to please register by January 29, 2021 at citl.niu.edu/flc-registration. The faculty learning communities are open to all NIU faculty, instructors, and teaching staff. Unfortunately, FLCs are not open to graduate teaching assistants at this time.

If you are aware of interest amongst your faculty for deeper conversation with colleagues among any of these topics, please remind them of this opportunity to going a FLC for spring.

Thanks,
Jason Rhode

Connect with colleagues in a new faculty learning community - 1/22/2021

We are excited to announce the launch of 5 NEW faculty learning communities (FLCs)!

FLCs are small groups of faculty and instructors who meet regularly throughout the semester or year about a specific topic related to teaching and learning. They provide the opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the university by engaging in active, collaborative discussions about teaching and learning in a supportive environment. FLC members will learn about and implement innovative techniques that may even result in collaborative scholarship or research related to teaching and learning.

We are offering 5 FLCs for the Spring 2021 semester:

  • Student Engagement: Creating a sense of community in an online course
  • In-Person Teaching During COVID: Flexible teaching, physical distancing and live streaming
  • Book Club: Small Teaching Online by Flower Darby and James Lang
  • Teaching Synchronous Online Courses
  • Teaching with Microsoft Teams

Learn More and Register!

What to Expect

Each FLC will meet online 3-4 times during the spring 2021 semester (dates and times will be determined based on the availability of those who are interested in participating). The communities will have a maximum of 12 members to allow for active conversations.

Registration Information

Please register by January 29, 2021 at citl.niu.edu/flc-registration. The faculty learning communities are open to all NIU faculty, instructors, and teaching staff. Unfortunately, FLCs are not open to graduate teaching assistants at this time

How to print CITL / Faculty Development program attendance report - 1/20/2021

As someone who has registered for at least one program this past year sponsored by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL), formerly Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, you are able to login and print on demand an attendance report of the institutes, workshops, and other programs you’ve attended. If you ever need to generate a listing of the events you’ve attended, perhaps for a service report or award nomination, follow these steps:

  • Go to go.niu.edu/citl-programs
  • Log in with your NIU Account ID and password
  • Click the Print Attendance Report button
  • View/print the list of workshops attended

Steps for how to print an attendance report

For further assistance or answers to questions regarding attendance at Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning events, call 815-797-2477 or email citl@niu.edu.

Zoom integration with Blackboard; Breakout Rooms in Teams - 1/9/2021

Dear Colleague,

If you plan to use Zoom in your teaching this spring semester, you can now manage all your class Zoom sessions (and students can easily access your Zoom sessions) directly from your Blackboard course. This new Zoom integration in Blackboard includes separate links for faculty and students to access the Zoom scheduler. Be sure that you are using the correct link; faculty will receive an error if they try to access the student link.

This new Zoom integration is available in both Blackboard Original and Blackboard Ultra courses. You can find more details in the new Managing Class Sessions in Blackboard guide available at go.niu.edu/zoom-blackboard

If you are instead using Microsoft Teams for online meetings, be aware that you can now use breakout rooms in Teams for small group class discussions, more at go.niu.edu/teams-breakout-rooms

Have a great semester!

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Meeting Owl Pro - 1/8/2021

Greetings!

Since the end of the fall semester, DOIT has been working in classrooms to make updates and improvements to better support live-streaming. Most of these will be invisible to you, but there is a notable change we would like to highlight.

Many classrooms have been outfitted with a Meeting Owl Pro. The Meeting Owl Pro contains an array of cameras and microphones to provide intelligent 360-degree video and audio. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Meeting Owl Pro uses its microphones to keep presenters in the view of the camera and provides panoramic view of the entire room. The Meeting Owl Pro also includes a high-quality speaker that can be used to provide sound in the classroom.

You can view the list of rooms that already have or are scheduled to receive a Meeting Owl Pro on the new guide to using a Meeting Owl Pro in a Hybrid/Streaming classroom. If you will be using the Meeting Owl Pro to live-stream your class for remote students, you may need to configure the microphone, camera, and speaker selections within the web conferencing tool you will be using (such as Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom). Instructions for configuring each of these tools are available on the same guide.

As always, let me or any of our CITL staff know if we can be of any further assistance to you in your teaching and teaching-related activities.

Have a great semester!

Jason Rhode, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Engaging your students in the spring semester ahead - 1/8/2021

Colleagues,

Reflecting on the events of the past week and the challenges of 2020, now, more than ever, we recognize the importance of developing students and providing opportunities for engagement that facilitate civic responsibility and personal growth. In the fall semester, many of our students expressed a strong desire to connect with peers within the NIU community. This was particularly true of our new freshmen who were just beginning their college journey.

As we enter the spring semester, we want to bring to your attention the many co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities available to help facilitate building community and enhancing critical thinking, civic and social responsibility. It is our hope that you will find ways to tie planned events to content in your courses. We hope you’ll consider including these activities in your syllabi to encourage students to connect both in and out of your classroom on topics that may align with what you are covering in class.

Thank you for the many ways in which you have sought to engage students through your courses thus far. As you continue to look for ways to promote increased engagement in your hybrid and online courses, we hope you’ll find these recommended course delivery practices shared by fellow NIU faculty and staff helpful.

Wishing you a wonderful semester.

Sincerely,


Renique Kersh, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Provost for Student Engagement and Success

Kelly Wesener Michael, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs

Jason Rhode, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Recommendations to increase student engagement in online courses - 1/6/2021

Department Chairs and School Directors:

I hope you enjoyed a refreshing holiday break. As you prepare for the spring semester ahead and will be meeting with your faculty, I wanted to make sure you are aware of a new resource that you can share with your faculty, instructors, and TAs with recommendations to increase student engagement in online courses, available at go.niu.edu/online-engagement

These suggestions have been shared by NIU faculty and staff as examples of highly recommended practices for promoting increased engagement in online courses and include the following:

1. Set Expectations and Model Engagement
  • Reach out to students prior to the start of the course
  • Clearly identify assignment due dates
  • Make the course available early in Blackboard
  • Set office hours and share them early
  • Post expectations and course policies in the syllabus and in the online course
2. Build Engagement and Motivation with Course Content and Activities
  • Provide students with a variety of content
  • Create a short introduction to each module
  • Provide clear guidance for completing course activities and gaining deeper understanding of course content
  • Send out homework due date reminders for each assignment
  • Encourage your students to ask questions
  • Allow students to share reflections on their learning
  • Support students’ ability to explore, edit and create
3. Initiate Interaction and Create Faculty Presence
  • Post information about yourself
  • Develop a communication plan
  • Provide frequent and interactive feedback on student work
  • Host virtual office hours
  • Use Teams to facilitate one-on-one text chats with students
  • Identify students who may be struggle or disengaged, and then act
  • Allow for flexibility and leniency
4. Foster Interaction between Students and Create a Learning Community
  • Encourage critical and reflective discussion
  • Use team projects
  • Set up help teams
  • Launch breakout rooms during synchronous sessions
  • Connect course content to campus activities, workshops, events, etc.
  • Propose the use of social media to create peer connections
5. Create an Inclusive Environment
  • Get to know your students
  • Highlight students’ individual experiences
  • Recognize the different life experiences of your students
  • Check your assumptions
  • Be conscious of accessibility concerns

Additional tips and resources for designing and developing courses that can be successfully in any mode of delivery are available niu.edu/flexteaching. Let me or any of my team at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) know if we can be of any further assistance as you and your faculty, instructors, and TAs prepare for the spring semester ahead.

Best,

Jason Rhode, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Fall 2020

Support for faculty teaching in the classroom with lecture capture or live-streaming - 12/22/2021

Dear Department Chairs / School Directors:

As we all count down the final days to the much-needed holiday break, we are also looking ahead to the spring semester. We know that there are faculty who are scheduled to teach in the classroom this spring that may not have taught any in-person courses in the fall and are going to need support for their teaching. We will be emailing all faculty scheduled to teach in-person on January 4 with information about available support, but I wanted to make you aware before the break of our planned support in case you receive any questions from faculty about classroom technology leading up to or during break.

Classroom Details and On-Demand Resources
The DoIT classrooms webpage at go.niu.edu/classrooms continues to be the best resource on the technology available in each classroom to support lecture capture and livestreaming. We are working with the Division of IT to ensure that information is up-to-date and reflects ongoing work by DoIT to improve classroom technology. Faculty can use the “Find My Classroom” tool available to lookup the technology capabilities and status for the room(s) they will be teaching in. In addition, the site includes on-demand tutorials and guides for using the classroom technology.

Open Houses
Faculty can drop in to an open house session during the week before classes begin to try out the technology. Staff from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) will be available for brief demonstrations and to answer questions about the equipment and software for lecture capture and two-way streaming:

Traditional classrooms (Retrofit and Extron rooms)

  • Tuesday, January 5, 10:00 am - 11:00 am, DuSable Hall Room 340
  • Tuesday, January 5, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm, Cole Hall Room 100
  • Wednesday, January 6, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm, Stevens Building Room 170AC
  • Thursday, January 7, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm, Barsema Hall Room 301

Interactive Flat Panel (BenQ or similar touch-screen monitor)

  • Wednesday, January 6, 9:00 am - 10:00 am, Anderson Hall Room 245
  • Thursday, January 7, 9:00 am - 10:00 am, Anderson Hall Room 245

The open houses will also be livestreamed for faculty who cannot attend in person at go.niu.edu/classroom-tech-open-house

Workshops and Consultations
We have two recorded workshops that can help faculty prepare for teaching in classrooms with physical distancing and remote students: Teaching Face-to-Face with Physical Distance and Remote Students and Introduction to Live Streaming and Lecture Capture. Faculty can schedule a one-on-one consultation for Classroom and Hybrid Teaching support at citl.niu.edu/conversations to meet with one of our staff. We have also introduced a new partnership model of ongoing consultation for faculty who are teaching in-person, where the faculty member and CITL partner meet on a regular basis to discuss their teaching. We have a limited number of partnerships available because they are very time-intensive, so interested faculty should request one soon at citl.niu.edu/partnership.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to share these with your faculty now; as I mentioned, we will be sharing these with all faculty who are scheduled to teach an in-person course on January 4.

Happy Holidays!

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Fall survey on teaching with technology and support - 12/15/2020

Deans and Associate Deans:

Before we head into the holiday break I wanted to pass along a summary of a survey that we conducted just before Thanksgiving of instructors of record and TAs on their experience teaching with technology and available support for this fall semester. Our focus was primarily to learn what services and supports faculty found most helpful and what we can do to better support faculty, instructional staff, and TAs in their teaching as we head into spring. We also sought to get a sense of which of the synchronous online meeting tools are being used most.

A total of 2,420 individuals received an invitation to the survey and 359 responded. While this only represents 15% of all instructional staff this fall, there were a few interesting takeaways:

  • 94% were aware of the available resources and services offered by CITL in supporting their teaching
  • 70% attended workshops, seminars, institutes, or other training offered by CITL prior to fall, 32% attended training during the semester
  • 79% felt equipped and supported in teaching hybrid or online courses this fall
  • For 42%, their personal laptop computer was their primary device for teaching; 29% said their university-issued laptop
  • 77% felt they had sufficient computer hardware (ie: computer or laptop) for teaching
  • 95% used Blackboard
  • 72% felt they were able to sufficiently engaged with their students using the available technology
  • Blackboard Collaborate was reported as the most widely used online meeting tool for teaching (41%), followed by Zoom (28%) and Teams (26%)
  • When asked about synchronous technology plans for spring, there was little change: Blackboard Collaborate (41%), Zoom (24%), Teams (20%)

We’ve put together a disaggregated summary of the results with filters by college and classification where you can drill down further if you wish to see a summary by college and/or classification.

Best,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Importing/exporting Blackboard calendars and recommendations for engaging students online - 12/15/2020

Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) Committee:

Following-up on a question raised in the last SEM Committee about whether students can import their Blackboard course calendars into their Outlook or other calendar app of choice, this is most certainly possible and actually quite simple for students to do so! We’ve added the steps along with other tips for using the Blackboard calendar for students in our Blackboard help site, both for Blackboard Original and Blackboard Ultra, and also added to the Keep Learning website.

Additionally, we’ve updated our Blackboard calendar guide for faculty to include these details and in January we’ll be working on communications to students and faculty featuring the calendar export/import options and steps. In our communications with faculty, we plan to include other non-technical suggestions for clearly communicating course due dates to students.

Finally, we are in the process of compiling recommendations for increasing student engagement in online courses and have an initial draft prepared as we continue to receive input from our faculty and staff. We will be finalizing and sharing these recommendations more broadly in January.

Enjoy your break ahead,
Jason Rhode

End of semester reminders for Blackboard - 12/8/2020

Dear Department Chairs/School Directors:

Please forward this to all your faculty, teaching staff, and TAs who are in charge of their own courses and may need some help on wrapping-up the semester teaching with Blackboard.

As the semester draws to a close, there are some final tasks you can take care of in Blackboard, to make your courses end successfully and prepare yourself for the next semester.

1. Calculate final grades
If you have been recording grades in the Blackboard Grade Center, you can use it to calculate the final grades for your students. Remember to check that zeroes are entered for any missing assignments or tests, so that the calculations are accurate (or use automatic zeroes in Ultra Course View). If you are using a Weighted Total, make sure that your categories are assigned correctly - you can do so quickly in Original Course View by going to Manage > Column Organization. In Ultra Course View, you can edit the columns to view the category or you can search for the category in the grid view of the Gradebook.

2. Automatically assign letter grades in Blackboard
The Blackboard Grade Center uses a default grading schema to assign letters grades, with pluses and minuses. In the Original Course View, you can verify that the schema matches yours, and modify it if necessary, by going to Manage > Grading Schemas. To automatically assign letter grades, edit the Total or Weighted Total column (or create a new Calculated Column), and set Letter as the Primary Display option. You can use a Score or Percentage as a secondary display, which you will be able to see in the same column of the Grade Center. If you would prefer to enter letter grades manually, you can create a new column and set the Primary Display to Text.

In the Ultra Course View, you access the grade schema by clicking the gear icon in the Gradebook. To modify the overall grade, edit that item and assign weights to items or categories.

3. Send grades from Blackboard to MyNIU
The Grade Submission tool can automatically transfer your grades from Blackboard to MyNIU, so that you don’t need to enter grades in MyNIU using the drop down menus (although you will still need to use MyNIU to enter last attendance dates, approve the grades, and post them). This is particularly useful for large classes or when you have combined multiple Blackboard course sections.

In the Original Course View, you need a column of letter grades that is set as the External Grade column (there will be a green checkmark next to the column name). Use the Grade Submission tool in the Control Panel, under Course Tools, to send the grades to MyNIU.

In the Ultra Course View, the Overall Grade is permanently set as the external grade; once you have checked the overall grade calculation for accuracy, you will submit grades by clicking Books & Tools in the Details and Actions panel and selecting Grade Submission Ultra.

The Grade Submission tool is available until an hour before grades are due; after that you may only enter grades manually in MyNIU. Review our page on the Grade Submission tool for more information or check out the Grade Submission Quick Guide for Original Course View or Ultra Course View.

4. Export the grades for safekeeping
While Blackboard is backed up regularly, it is a good idea to download your Grade Center as an Excel file for you to keep on your office computer. To download grades in the Original Course View, go to the Grade Center and click Work Offline > Download. In the Ultra Course View, click the download icon at the top left of the Gradebook.

5. Request your course(s) for next semester
Get a head start on developing your upcoming Blackboard courses now! You can request courses up to 100 days prior to the start of the course. You can review how to do it in these tutorials: Request a Course or Request a Master Course (for combining two or more sections). Tip: Check the course availability date carefully when requesting your courses, as this is the date that the course will open to your students. You can select a different date or turn off the auto-availability feature, if you wish.

Once you have requested your course, consider using the Ultra Course View for a more modern look and feel, and request a consultation if you would like one-on-one assistance as you get started. Get a head start on setting up your new course by using one of our course templates, as well.

Get Help
Staff of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning are available to assist you if you have any questions about calculating final grades or finishing your semester. You can book an individual consultation to meet with one of our team individually, either virtually or over the phone. You can also submit your question via our Ask a Question form for a response via email, or call or text us at 815-797-2477.

Stephanie Richter
Director of Faculty Development and Instructional Support

One Button Video Studio - 11/22/2020

Dear Department Chairs and School Directors:

I wanted to be sure you were aware of a new resource for faculty and instructors to easily record professional-looking videos for their courses. In our new One Button Video Studio, you simply plug in a flash drive, choose from a few configuration options, and press a single button to begin recording. The studio does the rest of the work for you, and you leave with a finished video that requires no editing. This 1-minute video demonstrates how easy it is to use: https://mediaspace.niu.edu/media/1_8txtpa0w

The One Button Video Studio (OBVS) is an excellent tool for recording short lectures, practicing or pre-recoding conference presentations or speeches, or recording over a green screen. You can also integrate PowerPoint slides, an NIU logo, and/or one of several pre-configured backgrounds.

The studio is designed to run with minimal configuration and requires no prior experience with lighting, sound, or video production. With physical distancing a priority right now, it is reassuring that the OBVS is also intended to be used with minimal interaction with our staff, outside of a short orientation the first time you use the studio.

The studio must be reserved in advance by emailing us at citl@niu.edu to request a 30-60 minute One Button Video Studio session at least 2 business days in advance, including the date/time preferred, a brief description of the project type, and any special needs. The hours of operation for the studio are currently 8am-4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

Please share this information with your faculty and instructors and let me know if you have any questions.

Regards,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Expansion of course design support services - 10/22/2020

Department Chairs and School Directors:

Since March, we have seen record-breaking participation in the programs and services provided by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) by faculty, instructors, and graduate teaching assistants. This includes over 300 participants in our Online Course Design Academy from April through August and over 900 consultations in August (nearly 4 times as many as August 2019). As we look ahead to continue to support flexible teaching in any modality, we are pleased to announce an upcoming program and an expansion of one of our services. Please share the offerings below with your faculty and instructors.

Online Course Design Academy

We will offer another session of our popular Online Course Design Academy (OCDA) from November 2-22. This asynchronous online course introduces the practices and principles of effective online course design and guides faculty through designing and beginning to develop an online course. Faculty and instructors can learn more and register at citl.niu.edu/ocda

Course Design Partnerships

The Academy is ideal for beginners, and we recognize the need for more advanced support. We are expanding our typical individualized instructional support to offer extended Course Design Partnerships. These were the most popular part of our April and May offerings of the Academy, and we are offering them now to a wider audience.

Partnerships are an ongoing collaboration between a faculty member or instructor and a member of the CITL team. There are three basic versions that can be customized to the individual’s needs:

  • Designing an In-Person, Hybrid, or Staggered Attendance Course – focused on teaching an in-person or blended course, utilizing livestream and lecture capture, or teaching to remote and in-person students simultaneously
  • Building an Online Course – focused on initial design and development of an online course
  • Improving an Online Course – focused on revising and improving an online course you have previously taught or are taking over from someone else

Learn more about partnerships and submit a request at citl.niu.edu/partnership

As always, please feel free to reach out if you have specific needs for support or suggestions for our services.

Regards,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Support for transition to online delivery - 9/13/2020

Greetings,

Given the recent temporary shift to online delivery for all undergraduate courses, I wanted to write you to remind you of the resources available through the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.

Our Flexible Teaching site has numerous guides on resilient teaching in any modality, including one on Course Delivery. You will also find resources on key strategies and technologies to support your transition to online delivery, including online meetings and assessments.

Also, remember that the staff of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) are available to meet individually with you to help you brainstorm strategies, learn a new technology, or answer any questions you may have. The easiest way to schedule an appointment is to use our online booking system at citl.niu.edu/conversations. You can also reach us via email at citl@niu.edu or call or text at 815-797-2477.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out for any support you need during this transition!

Best,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

More opportunities to test out new classroom technology - 8/29/2020

Dear Colleagues:

I hope the first week of your semester has gone well! The Division of IT has been hard at work this week to complete the installation of technology and to troubleshoot classrooms as the equipment has been put to the test.

I wanted to invite you to additional Classroom Technology Open House sessions that will be offered next week. This is a great opportunity for you to get started with the technology, if you have been meeting online for the first week, or to ask questions that may have arisen for you this week. You can drop in at your convenience in person or online to test out the technology that will be available for lecture capture and live streaming. Staff from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning will be available for brief demonstrations and to answer questions about the equipment and software for lecture capture, one-way streaming, and two-way streaming. You can choose from any of the following sessions, by room type:

Extron

Retrofit

  • Monday, August 31, 9:00 – 10:00 am, DuSable Hall Room 204
  • Tuesday, September 1, 2:00 – 3:00 pm, Wirtz Hall Room 101
  • Wednesday, September 2, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, Barsema Hall Room 300
  • Thursday, September 3, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Stevens Building Room 170AC

Interactive Flat Panel Cart

PC and Art Cart

Can’t attend in person? Join virtually to see the rooms at the same time and have your questions answered at go.niu.edu/classroom-tech-open-house

Also, as you continue checking the DoIT classrooms page and classroom installation dashboard for the installation status of the additional technology for your classroom installation, you may find these backup plans for classroom streaming helpful if technology is not yet installed.

Forward together,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Supporting students as they begin the semester - 8/26/2020

Dear Colleagues:

Thank you for all that you have done to prepare for the fall semester. As we make our way through the first week of classes, we have been tracking some of the challenges that students have been having as they are navigating their classes. We’d like to share this with you and provide you with some tips to consider.

  • Many students are struggling to navigate Blackboard, particularly first-year students. If you are using Blackboard, consider posting the Blackboard Learn: For Students video help playlist and directing students to NIU’s Blackboard Help For Students resources, perhaps by posting in your announcements or emailing to your class.

  • Many students are nervous or anxious about the semester and could use some extra encouragement and support. Consider hosting office hours to give students a space to check in this week or send out a quick survey to see how students are doing or how they are navigating the course.

  • Students are eager to hear from you, but some may be less comfortable reaching out. Consider sending weekly announcements or updates and encourage students to reach out to you via email if they have concerns.

  • Similar to many of you, some students are starting school along with their own children or balancing multiple circumstances. Be flexible, particularly this week, as students adjust to this new academic world.

  • Students are interested in finding ways to create study groups or connect with one another. Consider creating meeting rooms or discussion boards for students to connect virtually through your Blackboard course or identify whether there are co-curricular programs being offered across campus that may align with the topics covered in your course and encourage students to “meet up” at these events. Check out the NIU Calendar for posted events.

We are looking forward to a great semester. Thank you for all that you are doing to help our students continue on their academic journey.

Best,

Renique Kersh, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Provost for Student Engagement and Success
Faculty Associate, Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
rkersh@niu.edu

Jason Rhode, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning
Associate Professor, Educational Technology, Research and Assessment
jrhode@niu.edu

Audio cutting out of Teams in some retrofit classrooms - 8/23/2020

Dear Colleagues:

While outfitting classrooms designated as “Retofit”, DoIT had to design creative solutions to address a myriad of compatibility issues, often sourcing obscure hardware to ensure functionality. This resulted in an issue due to the way that Microsoft Teams filters out background noise.

While the Teams technology is exceptional and provides for a better user experience, the older equipment we are utilizing for now in the retrofit rooms performs with intermittent results. Namely audio can cut in and out on calls. The DoIT classroom tech team has identified a solution that needs to be tested a bit more before rolling out as quickly as possible to the retrofit rooms.

In the interim when teaching in a retrofit classroom, if you need to stream your class session, please use an alternative software such as Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom. We will send a communication as soon as we’ve addressed this audio quality issue.

Best,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Classroom technology open houses - 8/20/2020

Dear Colleagues:

As your prepare for classes to begin and continue planning for how you will make use of available classroom technology, I wanted to make sure that you received an invitation to Classroom Technology Open House sessions being offered on Friday, August 21st. You can drop in at your convenience in person or online to test out the technology that will be available for lecture capture and live streaming. Staff from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning will be available for brief demonstrations and to answer questions about the equipment and software for lecture capture, one-way streaming, and two-way streaming. You can choose from any of the following sessions, by room type:

Extron and Retrofit

Interactive Flat Panel Cart

  • Friday, August 20, 10:00-10:50am, Music Building Room 171 (MB171, max capacity 21)
  • Friday, August 20, 2-2:50 pm, Music Building Room 171 (MB171, max capacity 21)

PC and Art Cart

  • Friday, August 20, 11-11:50 am, Stevens Building Room 163 (SB163, max capacity 6)
  • Friday, August 20, 3-3:50 pm, Stevens Building Room 163 (SB163, max capacity 6)

Can’t attend in person? Join virtually to see the rooms at the same time and have your questions answered at go.niu.edu/classroom-tech-open-house

Also, as you continue checking the DoIT classrooms page and classroom installation dashboard for the installation status of the additional technology for your classroom installation, you may find these backup plans for classroom streaming helpful if technology is not yet installed.

Forward together,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Teaching resources to begin the semester - 8/17/2020

Dear New Faculty Colleagues:

It was great to see you all at the New Faculty Welcome earlier today and as promised, I’m following-up with information and links to a few of the resources that will be most helpful to you this week as you prepare to teach your first semester. You can find these and much more at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) website – citl.niu.edu

New to Teaching at NIU
Find course policies, teaching policies, and teaching-related resources to help you start your teaching career at NIU successfully!
https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/teaching-at-niu.shtml

Syllabus Checklist
Design a course syllabus to best meet your teaching style, course content, activities, and departmental requirements. Consider creating a learner-centered syllabus that targets student learning and success!
https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/syllabus-checklist.shtml

Strategies for Starting the Semester Well
This list of strategies you can use the first day and into the first weeks of the semester that will help you create an engaging, motivating, and organized classroom environment.
https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/starting-the-semester.shtml

Support Units for New Faculty
Many support units are available at NIU to assist new faculty in their teaching, research, scholarship and artistry. This guide provides a quick overview and contact information to the support units that new faculty often connect with for support.
https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/support-units.shtml

Flexible Teaching Guides
Flexible Teaching is an approach to course design and delivery that helps students learn and succeed in any mode: face-to-face, online, or hybrid. Gain tips for designing courses that can be successful in any mode of delivery.
https://flexteaching.niu.edu

Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Faculty Toolkit
Resources for culturally responsive teaching, navigating classroom dynamics, and bias in the classroom, and more.
https://www.niu.edu/diversity/resources/toolkit

Learning Technologies at NIU
Catalog of available and institutionally supported software and web tools to promote collaboration, enhance communication, share multimedia, teach online and more.
https://citl.niu.edu/learning-technologies

Tips for Starting the Semester with Blackboard
Answers to frequently asked questions new faculty, teaching staff, and TAs may have, as they request course space and get ready to develop their courses in Blackboard
https://www.niu.edu/blackboard/resources/semesterstart.shtml

Blackboard Ultra Course View
Faculty have the option to adopt the Blackboard Ultra Course View which includes a cleaner, more modern design, easy-to-use workflows, and powerful new tools. All courses will continue to use the Original view by default, and faculty can choose whether to enable the Ultra Course View on one or more of their courses.
https://www.niu.edu/blackboard/ultra

Classrooms at NIU
Technology upgrades to classrooms are being implemented for fall 2020 that enable lecture-capture, two-way collaboration between faculty/instructor and in-person/remote students, and live-streaming of lectures to remote students.
https://doit.niu.edu/doit/services/desktop/classrooms

Our Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) is here to support you as you teach either in-person, hybrid, or online. If you ever have any questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally or anyone on our team. You can contact us by phone or text 815-797-2477, email citl@niu.edu. or schedule an appointment with a member of our team. We look forward to serving you!

Go Huskies!

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Classroom technology upgrades for fall - 8/16/2020

Dear Colleague:

As I’m sure you are busy preparing for the start of fall semester, the Division of IT has also been hard at work planning for and installing technology upgrades to classrooms for fall. These upgrades are needed in order to create a flexible teaching and learning environment that supports both in-person and remote learning capabilities in response to the pandemic and will enable options for lecture capture, two-way collaboration between faculty/instructor and in-person/remote students, and live-streaming of lectures to remote students (depending on your room’s capability).

As someone who is assigned to teach in an on-campus classroom this fall, I wanted to point you toward the new classrooms section on the DoIT website with the latest updates regarding classroom technology upgrades and related training and support for this fall, available at go.niu.edu/classrooms

On this site you can easily search to “Find My Classroom” that you are teaching in for fall to see the technology upgrades being planned, view training and support materials available, as well as check the installation status by viewing the new DoIT classroom technology status dashboard that is prominently featured. Additionally, classroom capabilities are described in simple, non-technical language and currently available training videos, quick guides, FAQs, and additional resources are organized in a single location to make it as easy as possible for you to locate by your classroom type.

Please bookmark this site and check back often, as it will be the most up-to-date source for training and support information as classroom technology installation continues this week. There you can also find more information on online workshops being offered this week on teaching using new streaming technologies available for fall, which include “Overview of Live Streaming and Lecture Capture” on Tuesday, August 18th from 12-1pm and “Teaching Face-to-Face with Physical Distancing and Remote Students” on Thursday, August 20th from 12-1pm.

Our team in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) is committed to helping you create the most resilient, effective courses possible and we stand ready to assist as you design and develop courses that can be successful in any mode of delivery. If you’d like assistance in deciding which approach(es) to utilize for best reaching your remote students based on the available capabilities of your classroom, you can reach us by phone or text 815-797-2477, email citl@niu.edu, or schedule an appointment with a member of our team. We look forward to serving you!

Forward together,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Classroom upgrades info and training - go.niu.edu/classrooms - 8/16/2020

Deans and Associate Deans,

The classrooms section of the DoIT website has been completely redesigned with the latest updates regarding classroom technology upgrades and related training for this fall, available at go.niu.edu/classrooms

On this site faculty can now easily search to “Find My Classroom” that they are teaching in for fall to see the technology upgrades being planned, view training and support materials available, as well as check the install status by viewing the available DoIT classroom technology status dashboard that is prominently featured.

Classroom configurations are also described in simple, non-technical language and currently available training videos, quick guides, FAQs, and additional resources are organized and easy for faculty to locate by room type.

Later this morning, instructors of record who are assigned to teach in a classroom this fall will receive an email communication pointing them toward this new training and support information available. Chairs/directors as well as distributed IT will be included as well.

Please remind faculty at your meetings this coming week to be checking this classroom upgrades site regularly, as it will be the most up-to-date source for training and support information as classroom technology installation continues this week. There faculty can also find information on workshops being offered this week, topics including “Teaching Face-to-Face with Physical Distancing and Remote Students” and “Overview of Live Streaming and Lecture Capture”.

Thanks,

Jason Rhode, Executive Director
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-797-2477
Email: citl@niu.edu

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