Category Archives: Online Teaching

Embed or Email Video Messages with EyeJot

Eyejot is a FANTASTIC and FREE tool that is super handy for online instructors. You can use Eyejoy to embed or email short (5 minutes or less) videos to your students. Check out how Jack Kinworthy is using Eyejot to introduce his macroeconomics course (I only included the first minute of his message):


Notice how we embedded Jack’s video right into the new version of Blackboard!

Using Eyejot couldn’t be easier. Just visit the site ( and create a free account. Go to the messages section and click “Compose New Message.”

Allow Eyejot to enable your webcam.

Click the red record button and start talking! You can then add email addresses by entering them in the address box and clicking “add.” Then click “send Eyejot.” If you want to embed the video in Blackboard, send it to yourself.

You (or Whoever you sent the Eyejot to) will get an Eyejot in your email. If you want to embed in Blackboard, click on the image or where it says “here.” You will then be taken to a page that will allow you to copy the embed  code. If you need more instructions from there, contact me and I’ll be happy to help!

Copy the embed code under “Embed this message.”

Instructional Technology Updates

We’ve had a lot of exciting things going on in the world of CUNE instructional technology. First and foremost, we purchased WebEx. What an amazing tool for both faculty and staff! All CUNE employees should now have access to WebEx, allowing you to virtually meet with one or more individuals using audio and/or video. You can also share your desktop, transfer files, share presentations, take control of someone else’s computer, collaborate via a whiteboard, and more. This semester, I will be using WebEx in my Empowering Teachers as Leaders course to present a panel of teacher leaders from across the U.S. I’ll also use it to meet virtually with students since they are in Omaha. Finally, I’ll use it to offer optional WordPress Q & A sessions since they will be using WordPress to create an online action research portfolio.

Speaking of WordPress, this is another tool that you now have at your disposal! While has always been free to use, we now have it installed at Concordia, so faculty, staff, and students can create an account using their CUNE username and password. WordPress is the tool that was used to create this site (which I will soon be exporting to our CUNE WordPress, so stay tuned for a new address). For faculty, this means that you can easily create your own blog or professional portfolio, and you could have your students do the same. As I mentioned earlier, my students will be using it to create an action research portfolio, with a page for their research journal, research question, literature review, data collection tools, etc. WordPress is available for faculty and staff at and for students at We plan to discuss WordPress in more detail at a future faculty seminar and, of course, training will be offered.

Finally, our last new and exciting tool is Blackboard 9.1. Yes, it’s here! No, you don’t have to use it yet. I will be taking the next couple of weeks to familiarize myself with it, and I will then offer training sessions to prepare you to use it in the spring.

As for other trainings, we have offered six introductory WebEx sessions with great participation. For those of you who missed these, click here for the recorded version. Self-paced tutorials can be found by logging into your account at and clicking on “Training.” I will periodically offer this training again; however, our next round of WebEx sessions will focus on Training Center, which is a step up from Meeting Center, allowing you to do breakout sessions and other advanced things. Stay tuned for these.

Free Videos and Documentaries

Our #1 resource for online videos at CUNE is Films on Demand (also see the update regarding Films on Demand). Nevertheless, even with its vast array of films, you may need to check additional resources to find a video that is just right for your learning activity. In this case, put Snag Learning on your list of resources. 

Snag Learning houses a database of over 1,600 documentaries, many with high quality producers such as National Geographic and PBS. Search options include:

  • Searching college-level videos;
  • Searching via subject;
  • Channel-specific searching (e.g. National Geographic, PBS, Sundance, etc.); or
  • Open-ended search – This includes a search of Snag Learning and its affiliates. If there are no matching videos, Google search results will be shown.
Videos include descriptions, and may also include recommended questions and activities. Users can share videos, embed them on their own websites, and/or comment on them. Best of all, Snag Learning is FREE!

Free Web Conferencing

If you attended the May 13 faculty seminar, I am sure you understand many of the benefits of web conferencing. I like web conferencing for both face-to-face and distance purposes. In working one-on-one in a face-to-face environment, it allows you to collaborate with another user, each with your own computer. For example, as an instructional designer, I will use it when working with an instructor on a Blackboard course. We can be sitting across from one another, but both working on the same course at the same time. A professor in my doctoral program did something similar in a meeting I had with him. He pulled up my research paper using web conferencing and, as he provided feedback, we were both able to type comments on the paper. For distance education, the possibilities are numerous: virtual office hours, tutoring, group sessions, etc.

Mikogo is a free web conferencing tool that offers all of the features you would want in a web conferencing product (i.e. desktop sharing, remote mouse control, whiteboard, session recording, etc.). With Mikogo, you can work with up to 10 participants, making it perfect for tutoring or small groups.

If you want to work with a larger group, try AnyMeeting. AnyMeeting offers many of the same features as Mikogo, but you can have up to 200 participants. Yes, 200! The catch? It is ad-supported, so users will see ads. If this doesn’t bother you, it’s a great web-based tool.

We are working on getting a campus-wide tool but, until then, try out one of these freebies and get a feel for web conferencing!

Bb Assignments: Unsubmitted, Missed, and Late


When you ask students to submit assignments electronically, you will inevitably run into the situation where Blackboard shows that an assignment has not been submitted, but the student emphatically argues that it was submitted. So, what do you do?

First, check the tracking data. From the “Teach” tab, click “Tracking” under “Instructor Tools.” This will provide you with the option of generating a student report for a specified time range. Using this report, you can actually see when a student accessed Blackboard, and whether or not an assignment was submitted (among other things). So, for example, if the student tells you he submitted the assignment on March 7, but the report doesn’t even show that he accessed Blackboard on that date, then you can stand by your missed assignment policy. Or, even if Blackboard was accessed on March 7, if it doesn’t indicate there was a submission, you can also be assured that the assignment wasn’t submitted.

Let’s say that the student did access Blackboard on the date specified, but it only shows that he read the assignment. Further complicating the issue is that there is an assignment in the assignment dropbox, but it is marked by Blackboard as “Missed.” This means the student clicked “Save as Draft” instead of “Save.” When the cutoff date is reached, Blackboard will auto-push drafts and mark them as “Missed.” “Missed” is different from “Late,” which means the assignment was submitted after the due date, but before the cutoff date.

Ultimately, when faced with a student excuse, it will be up to you to use your professional judgment when deciding how to proceed. However, don’t hesitate to use Blackboard’s tools to assist in making a decision!

Importing Test Banks

There are many publishers who offer test banks that can be imported into Blackboard. Often, instructors are confused, not about the steps for importing these test banks, but about the format that should be chosen. For example, an instructor today had to choose from the following TestGen formats:

Blackboard 5x, 6x, 7x
WebCT 3x
WebCT 4x
QT/WebCt6e, WebCTVIS

Most of our instructors would be tempted to choose Blackboard because, well, we use Blackboard! However, our version is actually a WebCT Vista version. Therefore, this instructor had to choose the last option. If a campus edition 8.0 option is unavailable, try 6 (as in this example), which usually works.

If you are unfamiliar with how to import test banks, here are the instructions:

  1. Log into your Blackboard course, click the Build tab.
  2. Select Manage Course from the Designer Tools area.
  3. Select Import.
  4. Select My Computer from the Get Files dialog box, and locate and select the .zip file.
  5. You will be given a Content Import Progress screen that will let you know when the file is imported.
  6. Click the Return button.
  7. Your imported test will be in the Assessments area from the Build tab.


Assessing Online Course Design

It is common practice to have students fill out course evaluations at the end of a course, with the primary goal being to determine the effectiveness of the instructor…. but what about the effectiveness of the course design? In an online course, the organization and layout has an enormous effect on student perceptions of that course, as well as the instructor’s ability to deliver the content in an effective manner. Ensuring that your course design is meeting the needs of your students can be extremely helpful in improving your course delivery.

I recently worked with an instructor to build a 5-week online course. Since it was the first time he had taught this course online, we had to put a lot of thought into how to present the content, foster interaction, assess participation, etc. Our goal was to lay a foundation for a solid course that, in future offerings, we could continue to build upon. Very often, novice online instructors try to do too much in their first course. Instead of attempting to throw in every bell and whistle possible, I recommend starting out with some basics. Once those are mastered, you can keep adding something new each time the course is offered. For this course, we decided that the following would serve as our foundation:

  • A “Course Information” module that would prepare students as much as possible for what to expect and how to navigate through the course;
  • User-friendly organization, including a course content area broken into learning modules, utilization of the course calendar, and weekly updates from the instructor using the announcement tool;
  • A strong library integration, including resources recommended by the reference librarian, as well as Films on Demand videos;
  • An interactive discussion board that would serve as the “participation” component for the course, and would be assessed using a Blackboard grading form (aka rubric);
  • A dedicated “Tech Support” discussion board topic to ensure efficient handling of tech questions.

So, the question becomes, did this work? Is the foundation solid enough that we can now work on adding another element to improve this online course? In order to answer this question, we asked this small class of 9 students to participate in a very brief survey, with the following results (n=6):

  • 100% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the course was well organized.
  • 83.3% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the “Course Information” module provided them with what they needed to know in order to comfortably progress through the course.
  • 100% agreed or strongly agreed that the support materials were helpful.
  • 100% agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the technical assistance they received.
  • 100% agreed or strongly agreed that Blackboard was easy to use.
  • 100% agreed or strongly agreed that the discussion board rubric was clear and understandable.

Given these responses, we feel comfortable adding another component (possibly optional synchronous meetings or narrated PowerPoint lectures) to improve the course. We also offered an opportunity for students to comment on their responses, and to answer questions regarding strengths of the course, as well as recommended improvements. Unfortunately, we did not receive any clarification as to why the “Course Information” module did not receive 100% satisfaction, so that is something we will have to evaluate further on our own.

If you would like assistance with surveying your students regarding course design, please contact Angie Wassenmiller (

A Lesson on Browsers and Blackboard


So, what is a browser? A browser is simply the application that you use to browse the Internet. Examples include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. When it comes to Blackboard, there are certain browsers that are supported, and ones that aren’t. What does this mean? It means that some browsers have been determined to be functional with Blackboard, and some have not.

If you are having a problem in Blackboard and you contact me and/or HelpDesk, one of the first questions you will probably be asked is, “What browser are you using?”

It is always recommended that you (and your students) do a “browser check” to make sure that your browser is supported and configured properly for Blackboard (click here for a tutorial).  Here is a run-down on browsers that are certified (fully tested and supported) or compatible (key applications areas tested). If your browser is not on this list, then it has not been tested and/or is not supported.

Windows XP (32-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Compatible), Firefox 3.5 (compatible)

Windows Vista (32-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Certified), Internet Explorer 7 (Compatible), Firefox 3.6 (Compatible), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Windows Vista (64-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Certified), Internet Explorer 7 (Compatible), Firefox 3.6 (Certified), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Windows 7 (32-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Certified), Firefox 3.6 (Certified), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Windows 7 (64-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Certified), Firefox 3.6 (Certified), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Mac OSX 10.5 “Leopard”
Safari 4 (Certified), Safari 3.x (Compatible), Firefox 3.6 (Compatible), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Mac OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard)
Safari 4 (Certified), Firefox 3.6 (Certified), Firefox 3.5 (Certified)

Chrome and Safari 5 users, notice that your browsers are not listed as certified or compatible. This does not mean that nothing in Blackboard will work for you, but some things might not. If you run into a problem, you will need to switch to a certified or compatible browser to see if that clears up the issue. If it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to contact me and/or HelpDesk.

Final Details:

  • Browser downloads can be found by visiting: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.
  • PC users, click here to learn how to determine what operating system you are using, and whether it is 32-bit or 64-bit.
  • Mac users, to determine your operating system, click the apple in the upper left corner of your screen and select “About This Mac.”

Troubleshooting SafeAssign

If you use SafeAssign in your course, I highly recommend placing the following troubleshooting information in Blackboard.

In order to use SafeAssign, your browser should be set to accept cookies. If you do not know how to do this, please click on the following link for instructions:

You may receive the following error message when attempting to submit an assignment:

“Sorry, we do not think you are logged in to SafeAssign. Your session may have timed out. If you have received this message in error, please contact your system administrator. “

If you receive this error message, you will need to delete your cookies and browser cache. Please visit the following link for instructions:

Films on Demand

Are you utilizing Films on Demand? In my opinion, this is one of our library’s greatest resources. Probably one of the top 5 questions I get is, “Can I show this DVD in my online class?” If you have a copyrighted DVD, it is very unlikely that we will be able to show it in an online course. However, you do have access to Films on Demand, which contains tons of educational videos in a variety of academic areas.

I was recently working with Dr. Kinworthy on his microeconomics course. He had traditionally taught this course face-to-face, and had several videos that he liked to show. In putting this course online, we needed to find alternatives to the DVDs,  so we explored Films on Demand. To Dr. Kinworthy’s great surprise, he found more videos than he could use, and actually felt that they were better and more up-to-date than his DVDs. 

Face-to-face instructors can play the videos in full screen mode and then project them. Online instructors, you will need to make sure the videos are accessible to off campus students. This means that you will need to include a proxy at the beginning of the link. See this tutorial for instructions.

If you have a DVD that is absolutely essential to your online course, and you cannot find a Films on Demand alternative, speak with Phil Hendrickson about the possibility of purchasing a downloadable version.