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CIRT Newsletter Podcast

Scott Brown, Department of Art and Design
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Students in Dr. Scott Brown’s Art History Junior Seminar are expected to analyze and critically evaluate works of art, identify and interpret relevant research materials, and then communicate the process, and result, in the standard format for scholarly writing in Art History. For students in his Fall 2013 seminar, the results of that process were published using WordPress to create a supplement to an exhibit, The Art of Empathy: The Cummer Mother of Sorrows in Context, currently on display at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.

BlogThe exhibition revolves around an important 15th century painting of the Mother of Sorrows that is attributed to a German artist known as the Master of the Stötteritz Altar. The exhibition provided the starting point for UNF students’ original research on artworks featured in the exhibition. Each student researched one work in the exhibition, exploring its individual meaning, significance, and place in the history of art. The research not only culminated in the student-authored essays featured on the WordPress site, but contributed to an expanded visual and interpretive context for the Art of Empathy exhibition. The exhibition and the collaboration between the University of North Florida and the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts–Art Works, the State of Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Brown consulted with CIRT staff before embarking on the project to develop a process for the creation of a public website for this class project. Traditional web publishing methods (i.e., using Adobe Dreamweaver to build pages that would then be published on the Osprey web server) were deemed to be too labor and time intensive for the project. CIRT collaborated with Kathy Hughes, director of the new Academic Technology Department in ITS to identify possible solutions. After reviewing a variety of possible solutions, CIRT and ITS recommended that Dr. Brown use WordPress.com to build a website. WordPress is easy to use and has several pre-installed themes available. A theme provides control over the look and presentation of material on a site. Because WordPress is both a blogging service and a content management system, its structure easily accommodated the collection of student essays. ITS assisted with setting up the site and CIRT staff helped with the design and layout. Once the site was set up, Brown simply added the students’ work.

Scott Brown’s take on the experience:

Though I was initially a bit daunted by the prospect of having to learn a new program, when I finally motivated myself to tackle it, I found WordPress’s tools and interface to be astonishingly intuitive and easy to master. CIRT did a great job finding easy solutions for the very few issues that I couldn’t figure out myself, and WordPress offered just the right number of themes and options. I put together the site I envisioned without being overwhelmed by choices and complexity. The real payoff in this project was the students’ reactions. They were elated, even overwhelmed to see their work shared publicly in such a beautiful and professional-looking format. They were so proud—rightfully so—and inspired to the see their efforts dignified in this way.

The Art of Empathy: The Cummer Mother of Sorrows in Context website can be viewed at: http://arthistoryunf.wordpress.com/

If you are interested in creating a similar project, or a WordPress site please feel free to email, call, or visit us.

Deb Miller, Director deb.miller@unf.edu
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The University of North Florida is committed to ensuring that its distance learning courses and programs employ the best pedagogical practices based on the existing research literature. Course development is focused on ensuring the highest levels of student learning, interaction, and engagement. This commitment to quality is reflected in Goal 10 of the university’s Strategic Plan for Distance Learning: Implement course development and review procedures to ensure the quality of distance learning course and program offerings.

In order to meet that goal, UNF has become a Quality Matters subscriber. Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses. The rubric and course review process were developed by Maryland Online, a statewide consortium of colleges and universities, using resources from a grant provided by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in distance learning, and has more than 750 subscribers.
QM Logo

The QM Rubric is research-based and promotes best practice-based quality standards and procedures. Alignment, a central concept of the rubric, requires that critical course components—Learning Objectives, Assessment and Measurement, Instructional Materials, Learner Interaction and Engagement, and Course Technology—work together to ensure that students achieve desired learning outcomes. Beginning in the Spring 2014 semester, all distance-learning courses developed at UNF will be reviewed using the QM Rubric through either an informal, internal course review or a formal, Quality Matters-managed course review.

A QM implementation plan is currently being developed. You can expect to receive more news in the March newsletter on that plan. Your UNF QM representatives are Erin Soles and myself. Both Erin and I have completed the Institutional Representative training and begun the training required to participate in course reviews, along with several other CIRT team members. We will also be recruiting several UNF faculty members who currently teach online to participate in the Applying the Rubric and Peer Reviewer courses in order to serve as course reviewers in UNF’s internal course review process. By the end of 2014, it is anticipated that at least 10 faculty and/or staff will have successfully completed the peer reviewer training and begin facilitating UNF’s Informal Course Reviews using the Quality Matters rubric. We will also identify five distance-learning courses to submit for QM-Managed Review and national recognition. Formal course review is a rigorous process recommended for mature distance-learning courses.

I am excited about the commitment to quality the adoption of the Quality Matters process represents on the part of UNF. If you are interested in learning more about the QM process or getting involved with the Implementation Team, please contact either myself (deb.miller@unf.edu) or Erin Soles (esoles@unf.edu).



Blackboard Virtual Office Hours
Date: Second Friday of every month, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
January 10, February 14, March 14, April 11, May 9
Location:  Online
CIRT staff members hold online office hours to answer your Blackboard questions!
Join the Blackboard office hours by clicking here

Boosting Student Engagement using the Blackboard Retention Center
Date: Tuesday, January 28, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Location:  Online
The Blackboard Retention Center offers tools that assist instructors with monitoring and engaging students who fall below performance criteria (course log in, grades, activity level, due dates) in a course. This is especially useful in online courses. Instructors set these criteria and the Retention Center identifies students and allows the instructor to communicate via email to alert students and offer support resources. In this online workshop we discuss best practices for use and demonstrate tool functionality.
To request a session link click here.

New Media Consortium Webinar - Social Networks
Date: Wednesday, February 5, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Join CIRT Staff, the NMC and their panel of Social Networks thought leaders.
Location:  Building 1 Room 2002 / Graduate School Conference Room
RSVP to cirtevents@unf.edu 

Technology Petting Zoo
Date: Wednesday, February 5, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location:  Building 1 Room 1801 / CIRT
Wondering about tablets? Get your questions answered at this casual training! Tablets are growing in popularity and becoming widely available. For the purpose of providing an opportunity for faculty to explore and get hands-on with these devices, CIRT will be hosting a Technology Petting Zoo. Come explore the different devices you can check-out  from us and discuss instructional, research, and personal productivity applications with CIRT staff. Our collection includes the following devices:

  • Kindle Fire 
  • Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Google Nexus 7 
  • iPad 
  • iPad mini 

RSVP to cirtevents@unf.edu 

Flipping the Classroom Series- Creating Pre-class Content for the Flipped Classroom
Friday, February 14, 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Building 51 Room 1209
As a follow up to the 3 Easy Ways to Start Flipping Your Class workshop, this series provides an in-depth focus on the key elements of a successful flip. Key to the success of flipped models is that students gain first exposure to new material outside of class. This exposure allows for lower levels of cognitive work (gaining knowledge and comprehension) to occur prior to class and allows for focus on higher forms of cognitive work (application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation) in class, with the support of peers and instructor. First exposure can use a variety of materials, from textbook readings to lecture videos or screencasts. This session focuses on best practices for the selection or creation of pre-class content, with a particular emphasis on use of video tools, including mini-lecture and screencasts.
RSVP to cirtevents@unf.edu 

New Media Consortium Webinar - Badges/ Microcredits
Date: Wednesday, March 5, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Location:  Building 1 Room 2002 / Graduate School Conference Room
Join CIRT Staff, the NMC and their panel of Badging/Microedits thought leaders.
RSVP to cirtevents@unf.edu 

Flipping the Classroom Series- Activities to Incentivize Preparation for the Flipped Classroom
Friday, March 7, 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Building 51 Room 1209
As a follow up to the 3 Easy Ways to Start Flipping Your Class workshop, this series provides an in-depth focus on the key elements of a successful flip. This session focuses on developing tasks for students to complete prior to class related to the new material.  These tasks act to incentivize preparation so that students will be prepared to participate in activities focused on higher levels of cognition during class time. Quizzes, worksheets, and short writing assignments can all be effective to incentivize preparation. These assignments also provide an opportunity to assess learning and provide feedback. Examples of activities and tools for creation are demonstrated and discussed.
RSVP to cirtevents@unf.edu

Flipping the Classroom Series- Developing in-class activities focused on high-level cognitive skills
Friday, March 28, 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Building 51 Room 1209
As a follow up to the 3 Easy Ways to Start Flipping Your Class workshop, this series provides an in-depth focus on the key elements of a successful flip.The real power of flipped models is the active work that happens in the classroom, focused on higher forms of cognitive work (application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation) in class, with the support of peers and instructor and opportunities for feedback.  These activities vary depending on discipline and learning goals, and may include discussion, debate, data analysis, group work, or peer instruction. The key is that students are deepening their understanding and increasing their skills at using new knowledge. In this session a variety of activities are discussed along with best practices for classroom facilitation.
RSVP to cirtevents@unf.edu

New Media Consortium Webinar - Natural User Interfaces
Date: Wednesday, May 7, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Location:  Building 1 Room 2002 / Graduate School Conference Room
Join CIRT Staff, the NMC and their panel of Natural User Interface thought leaders.
RSVP to cirtevents@unf.edu 

Blackboard Upgrade - Learn More about What's Better
Date: TBD (May)
Location:  Online
In this online session, participants learn about the new features available in Blackboard SP 15 after May's maintenance period. The demonstration includes an overview of new Blackboard features.

Dave Wilson, Coordinator of Educational Media, david.wilson@unf.edu
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I recently attended a webinar hosted by the New Media Consortium. The meeting was facilitated with Google Hangouts, and was the first true Google Hangouts webinar I’ve attended. I’ve used Hangouts with friends and family and I also like to tune in to the Astronomy Cast and other live community events occasionally. I rarely catch live streams though, and typically watch recordings after an event. Based on my experience with those events, I had reservations about how Hangoutswell a Hangout would work for an academic presentation with a larger group of people. I must admit that it was probably one of the smoothest webinars I have attended. I was particularly impressed by the Q&A app. With it, participants can submit a question to the queue, where everyone can see it and then vote on if they want to see it answered. The questions with the most votes float to the top of the queue, and when the presenter is answering a question it is highlighted. Once the question is answered, it is removed from the queue.

When you live stream an event with Google Hangouts, you can have up to ten presenters, but the number of people who can watch is not capped. Live events are automatically recorded and added to the host’s YouTube channel. The recorded video can be deleted, made private, or unlisted once it is in the channel, so a recording of an event does not have to be public.

As impressed as I am with Google Hangouts for webinars, I would not recommend this tool for every online event. I still think Blackboard Collaborate is a better tool for most class uses. The biggest advantages of Google Hangouts are the streamlined interface and the fact that it works on almost every OS and device that has video capability. I definitely prefer it to Skype and would recommend it for interviews when both live streaming and recording are needed. Overall, it’s a more impressive tool than I thought and worth further exploration.

If you have any questions, or would like to try out Google Hangouts please contact me at david.wilson@unf.edu or 620.1415.

Christine Woodruffs, Course Media Developer, c.woodruff@unf.edu
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Girl ScoutsFor most of us, the mention of badges conjures images of those adorable cookie peddlers who show up at our doors each year. The badges they earn are sewn (or let’s be honest, ironed) onto their sashes and vests to signify the skills they’ve earned.

Digital badges work in the same way, but instead of attaching a medal to your clothes or hanging a certification on the wall, you’re attaching the badge to your online presence. Badges can be displayed on social network sites such as LinkedIn, or included in a resume, allowing employers and educators to easily recognize the earner’s skill set and competencies. They’re also being used increasingly in online courses to reward module completion or for exceeding expectations. Badges help to set course goals and allow students to visualize the learning progression. Badging, which is one part of the “gamification” of course design and requirements, can motivate students to produce higher quality work, and as some  reports have indicated, can lead to an improvement in learning outcomes for students.

BadgeBlackboard’s latest upgrade included the Achievements building block, a proprietary badging mechanism for Blackboard. Once you’ve turned this on in your course (under Tool Availability), you’ll need to decide how granular you want to get with it. You can set achievements for each module, along with a certificate for successful completion of the course. The Achievements building block is completely customizable. You decide whether to award a badge to everyone earning a “C” or better on an exam, or to save them for your top 10% of scorers. You can base achievement criteria on group membership, grade criteria, or review status criteria.



Here in CIRT we’ve started using badges to show user progression through our Teaching Online Faculty Development Model courses. In TOL 4100, 5100 and 6100, students will see a new badge only after successful completion of the course. These badges can be sent to a user’s Mozilla Backpack to be stored and later distributed across the user’s social media accounts, resumes, and websites. In the future, we may add module level badges to show progression through the courses. We have also considered adding special badges that can only be “unlocked” by meeting certain higher standards in the course.

Badging adds another layer of innovation and engagement to the online learning environment. More information about the new building block can be found here.




During the December 2013 maintenance window, Blackboard was upgraded to Service Pack 13 (SP13). The upgrade brought about several new enhancements and improvements.

One of the major enhancements is to Blackboard’s Inline Grading feature. Inline grading is no longer only available for Assignments, but has been added to Discussions, Blogs, Journals, and Wikis, allowing for easier grade input and additional avenues for feedback to students. Inline Grading

Blackboard’s Test Options have also been greatly improved. One of the new options, test exceptions, eliminates the need to use Adaptive Release or multiple test deployments, as instructors can now easily add specific options for specific students to test deployment. Students will also enjoy the improved test information screen that clearly informs them of all test options.

Discussion Forums have a new feature requested by UNF faculty: Post First Discussions. When creating a forum, instructors can select the “Participants must create a thread in order to view other threads in this forum” setting, which will require students to post to a discussion before they are able to see other students’ posts. Blackboard Collaborate’s schedule manager was also updated in SP13, giving the session scheduler a new user interface and simplifying the session setup process.

Not all of the benefits from December’s maintenance are in the form of new features. Also included were fixes to some of our more aggravating bugs:

  • Copy & paste functionality has been restored
  • A problem with emails sent from within Blackboard containing markup code has been resolved

For a more complete list of new features and fixes please read our Blackboard New Features: December 2013 knowledgebase article.

Looking Ahead
As we begin the new year, we are already working to fine-tune the Blackboard experience. Blackboard has announced an update to their Collaborate online collaboration tool that should involve fixes and enhancements designed to enrich the overall user experience. Upgrading Collaborate is something we will be investigating closely. Keep an eye out for more updates in future CIRT newsletters.

Catalyst Awards
The Exemplary Course Award program from Blackboard recognizes courses that represent innovative use of technology and learning. The program began in 2000 with the goal of identifying and disseminating best practices for designing online courses. Courses are evaluated using the Exemplary Course Rubric that focuses on four major areas: course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. Submitting a course for review provides you the opportunity to reflect on your own course through self-evaluation using the Exemplary Course Rubric and to receive feedback on your course from peer bbevaluators and Exemplary Course Program Directors. Exemplary Course Award winners are invited to attend the Blackboard World conference to be recognized for their accomplishment. Submissions for the 2014 Exemplary Course Award may be completed online.

In addition to the Exemplary Course Award, Blackboard Catalyst Awards also include categories for Innovation, Student Impact, Staff Development, and Innovative Blended Learning. Click here to learn more about the Blackboard Catalyst Awards. Submissions for each of the 2014 Blackboard Catalyst Awards are due February 17, 2014.


RPRemote Proctor Now is a proctoring service for distance learning students taking online exams. Proctors authenticate student identity and monitors student activity via webcam and computer screen. Built to protect exam integrity, Remote Proctor NOW authenticates the identity of the test taker and captures the entire exam session which is later reviewed by certified proctors. A report is provided to the instructor with links to the actual video of any suspicious behavior. Remote Proctor NOW makes it possible to deliver tests online without compromising exam integrity.

Remote Proctor Now works with a web-camera and microphone either built-in or attached to the computer. These devices identify the student and capture video and audio throughout the exam to upload to Software Secure servers. One video, recorded from the webcam, records the student and the surrounding room. A second video records the computer screen which includes all keyboard, mouse and navigation. Videos are maintained as long as the institution desires, and access is restricted to authorized school personnel. The cost is $10 per test and can be paid at the time of the test by the student.

Please contact Justin Lerman (j.lerman@unf.edu) in CIRT if you are interested in using this service with your class.

Reviewer, Justin Lerman, Coordinator of DL Training, j.lerman@unf.edu

In November 2013, Google released an update to the world’s most widely-used mobile operating system, Android 4.4 KitKat [1]. The release of KitKat ushered in new features and a flattened and cleaner 2D design.

Kit KatVisually, one of the biggest improvements in KitKat is that the status and system bars are now transparent instead of the traditional black, which helps to brighten the screen and provide a refined look and feel.

Another new feature that KitKat brings to the table is Active Listening. From the home screen, users can say “OK Google,” and voice search will start listening. Voice actions allow users to control their phone with voice commands, some of these actions include; sending a text messages, searching the web, locating directions, or calling your contacts. The voice control feature is extremely useful while driving.

Goodbye dialing phone numbers! The main screen of the new ‘phone’ app no longer contains a dial pad. The primary method to make phone calls will be through selecting frequently used contacts or by searching for a business (powered by Google Maps). Users can type or speak the name of a business in the search box and select a result and start the call. The functional new feature works great and saves time!

While KitKat provides many new upgrades, there is always room for improvement. The Google Hangouts app, which is the default SMS messaging (text messaging) app in KitKat, now handles Google Hangouts as well as SMS messaging. It’s fantastic that Google gave users one application that handles both of these messaging needs, however, the Google Hangouts app does not combine these two types of messaging. Instead, it creates two different conversations (i.e., one in Hangouts and one in SMS). Creating two conversations presents an issue because it’s more confusing for the user. As well, the app does not alert you when your contact is already available on hangouts.

Overall, the new KitKat operating system is a solid and substantial update. It is important to note that Android has only had a full design staff for the past few versions. I look forward to seeing what the Android team comes out with next.

[1] Mobile Majority: U.S. Smartphone Ownership Tops 60%. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2013/mobile-majority--u-s--smartphone-ownership-tops-60-.html


SPSS Upgrade to Version 22
After asking faculty for feedback, Information Technology Services upgraded SPSS to version 22 during the winter break. SPSS is a software package used for statistical analysis and is available in the General Purpose Computer Lab, Carpenter Library, classrooms, and the Virtual Lab. A list of the many added features is available here. If you would like to have SPSS installed on your UNF computer, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 904-620-4357, email helpdesk@unf.edu or submit a request online at http://help.unf.edu.

MS Office for Students
Very soon, currently enrolled students will be able to download Office Professional Plus on five devices at no cost. Office Professional Pro provides students with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Publisher, Outlook, Lync, and InfoPath. Microsoft believes this offer will help institutions improve the learning outcomes for their students by providing Microsoft’s best productivity solution at no additional licensing cost. After logging into their Office 365 account (Ospreys E-mail), they click on the “Gear” icon, select “Office 365 Settings”, then select “Software” and click “Install”. Students are able to use these applications until they graduate or leave the University. After graduation, they can continue their subscription for $99 a year. They can download these applications on Mac, PCs, iPhone, and Andriod devices (iPad is coming). An announcement will be made when this service becomes available.

Student Technology Session Material Going Online
ITS and CIRT are partnering to deliver the Student Technology Session content online so students may access it on demand. Currently the face to face, one-hour class is offered three times during the first two week of each term. The content will be chunked into small parts and delivered online. Material covered will include Ospreys Email, Blackboard, File Storage, Web Apps, Virtual Lab, and UNF Mobile App.

CIRT now offers email support during the weekend!  In order to provide outstanding support to UNF faculty CIRT expanded support hours to Saturday and Sunday from 10AM-1PM. For support during these times please email cirtlab@unf.edukb

New Blackboard Support Option
We also now have a searchable Blackboard Knowledgebase with answers to virtually all your Blackboard questions, including step-by-step directions and video options. The Blackboard Knowledgebase is available at https://unfbb.bloomfire.com/  and linked from the CIRT website in the Blackboard support area.

New Blackboard Video Platform- Sharestream
Sharestream is now available through Blackboard to allow faculty to easily upload their audio and video files directly into Blackboard without file size limitations and have it delivered smartly to students on almost any device- this includes a podcast option. The tool also provides the ability to create video assignments and collect media files from students. See the link below for more details and plan to attend an upcoming workshop:


This newsletter is a publication of the
Center for Instruction & Research Technology
at the University of North Florida.
Deb Miller, Editor

Please direct any suggestions, comments, or questions to cirtlab@unf.edu

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