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How Student Video Presentations Can Build Community in an Online Course

Robert Talbert, a STEM professor at Grand Valley State University, decided to integrate online student presentations into his online Calculus I class. He mentioned that teaching an online course came with a few challenges including setting up student presentations when the class never actually met face-to-face.

Talbert would give students one week to prepare for their presentations. The main rules were that students had to show their face, voice and own handwriting at all times in the video to ensure that they are in fact the ones doing the work. Students had to pass three video presentations to get an A, in the class and at least one to pass the class.

The professor informed all the students that he would provide any equipment that they would need to make the presentations, but all the students were able to manage on their own. Some students used basic filming tools such as their laptops or phones, while some who didn’t have whiteboards used large sheets of paper and taped them to her wall.

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(Photo credit: Chronicle.com)

These video presentations posed a number of positive impacts to the online class. Students were able to see each other’s work and use the videos to study for tests or see the different approaches to a problem. In addition, it created a slight difference from most online courses as students were able to see who else was in their class, instead of just “entries in a spreadsheet or avatars on a discussion board.”

Talbert says that “these video presentations were one of the biggest successes I’ve had as a teacher”

To view some of the presentations, visit the main article here.

In Sign of the Times for Teaching, More Colleges Set Up Video-Recording Studios


In an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education, Meg Bernhard examines how many colleges are starting studio rooms in order to support experiments in online and hybrid teaching. Harvard University is one example of a college setting up television stations, equipping green screens, multiple cameras, and microphones for students and professors to use. Whereas other universities are setting up low-key quiet rooms with a video camera and proper back-lighting.

This is due to the growth and need for online and hybrid courses. These on-campus resources can help assist both students in learning and professors in teaching online and hybrid courses. This is all due to the growth of the accessibility of technology, such as iPads, tablets, Smart phones, etc.

This equipment is also fairly inexpensive and very accessible to students and professors. Students and professors can simply insert a flash drive and their video is saved and ready to be edited from their own technology. This increase in production rooms is also due to the use of technology in the classroom. Professors can allow students to create higher quality projects because the university is offering a resource that most students would have to pay tons of money to obtain.

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Curriculum Must Adapt to Technological Advances

In an article on Educause Review, Randy S. Tritz highlights the change of curriculum and classroom based learning as technology has advanced over time. This adaption has transformed from instructor to learner-based education that forces a relationship between educators and technologists. In this connection, educators and technologists must work together for the overall entire institution’s success.

Curriculum must adapt and embrace learner-based environments since the way institutions teach students has changed with the use of technology. Educators that don’t adapt are more likely to teach students incorrectly, however with the advancement of technology, failure is plausible. If there is a lack of collaboration between educators and technologists, there could be inconsistency, operation difficulties, and some programs might not meet the educator’s expectations. If there is a collaboration, introducing technology into a learner-based environment can produce overwhelming success.

A traditional instructor-led classroom is a row of students and an educator facing them, whereas a learner-based classroom has students put together with an instructor in the middle to allow collaboration between students and let the instructor to intervene when needed. This allows the instructor and learner to foster learning together.


For more information on this topic visit the link above.

Canvas Tips to Start the Year Off Right!

Want help with learning technologies, digital media, assignment/course design, or hybrid/online learning? Go to our LT website to book time with us or ask us a question!



Did you know? You can send a private message to your professor or classmates through Canvas. All you need to do is click on Inbox in the top right hand corner of your Canvas window. Click on compose a new message, then select your course and the professor/classmate you want to communicate with. This tool is incredibly useful for asking your professor or classmates questions, or even talking to members in your group.



Did you know? You don’t always need to log in to MyUW in order to access Canvas. All you need to do is type in canvas.uw.edu and you will automatically be taken to the login page for Canvas. No need to navigate through your MyUW page to find the Canvas link.



Did you know?  You can change what courses and groups appear under the Courses and Groups tab on your Canvas Homepage. All you need to do is hover over the Courses and Groups tab, then click on View all or Customize


in the top right hand corner. From there you can star which courses you want to appear on the dropdown menu. This can save you the time of searching for your course every time you need to access it.


Did you know? You will always have access on Canvas to the courses you have taken, long after the course is completed. You can look at assignments you turned in, grades you received, files and readings you were assigned, and much more! You can use previous courses as a resource for courses you will take in the future.




There is a known issue in the Canvas system that sometimes causes a discrepancy between students who are enrolled through MyUW and those who show up as enrolled in your Canvas course. To resolve this issue, send an email to HELP@UW.EDU with the course title and quarter and request that they update your Canvas course enrollments.



Remember that you can build your course in Canvas before the quarter without the students seeing all of the changes. Once you are prepared for students to interact with your Canvas course site, you must make sure to publish it. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your Canvas course and click Home
  2. At the top of the page under the heading THIS COURSE IS UNPUBLISHED click the link published.
  3. Finally, click the Publish Course button that shows up near the bottom of the page.


To reduce confusion for your students, we recommend that you remove links in the course navigation that you are not using. For example, you might remove the Outcomes, Conferences, and Collaborations links in the navigation, if those tools are not being used in your course. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Click Settings in your course navigation
  2. Click the Navigation tab in Settings, near the top of the page
  3. Now drag and drop items that are not needed below the line that reads Drag items here to hide them from students.
  4. Click Save at the bottom of the page.


Note: removing the links means that students will not see them. However, as an instructor, you will still see the grayed out links, and you are still able to access them.


Recently, UW implemented the Canvas Draft State feature. Draft State allows content in Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, Pages, and Modules to exist in an unpublished (draft) state. By default, any newly created content remains in an unpublished (draft state) that is not visible to students until you publish them. For more details on Draft State for the individual content areas, view the Canvas Lessons:


For more Canvas tutorials – check out the Learning Tech Canvas website!

24 Hour Tech Studio

The University of Utah will open a new building in 2016 that will provide a space for college students to connect and collaborate using high-tech tools. Many students commented that they needed a space to connect with students to help better their projects/ideas. Other students simply needed a place that would allow them to work 24 hours on-campus that provided the high tech equipment they need. The university took action to construct a building that would bring all 400 student entrepreneurs together under one roof, which will open in the fall of 2016. A game designer from Utah University stated that the best people to test our new video game idea’s he’s developing are incoming freshman. The new building will provide students with the opportunity to develop their products as well as build a community within their school.

Students will have access to helpful tools such as 3D printers, milling machines and saws, as well as high-tech modeling software. The building will also have open floor plans to give students more opportunities to work together and connect with each other.

Other universities such as the University of Michigan opened the 450-room building in 2010, which includes a residential space and an academic tower. The hall also includes a dining area. The goal of this building is to blur the line between academic life and residential life. Indiana University also has a  building that aims to create a space where students can use all forms of technology. Both technology and building design play a crucial role in creating a space where students can collaborate with their peers and gain new skills.

The University of Utah plans to help foster and build student businesses that will launch from their new tech building. Utah University plans to have a building that will help students use any form of new technology as well as accommodate future innovations.

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