This guide was developed to help CU Boulder faculty select and effectively use the tools that are best suited to what they want to accomplish and to their technology preferences. Choose something that’s quick, easy and does the basics, or try something more advanced that could further enhance the student learning experience. If you need assistance using any of these technologies, contact email@example.com.
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Send an email
More Info: Send an email to all of the students in a class by clicking the "Class Email" icon found in your MyCUInfo course list. If you're using D2L, access the D2L email tool through the Classlist to reach out to your entire class or to contact specific students.
Tip: In your @colorado.edu email client, create a new contact named "[Course name-semester-year]" and insert the course roster email address from MyCUInfo. This allows you to email all enrolled students without having to log into MyCUinfo or D2L each time.
Post an announcement
More Info: In D2L, students see News items when they log into your course, so posting an announcement is an effective way to notify them about something. In addition, you can encourage students to sign up for automated notifications about upcoming assignments, quizzes or new grades being posted by creating a Notification.
Tip: Did you know that you can create an announcement but withhold its release until a later date? Use the "availability" setting in the Newss tool to customize a future release date. You’ll never have to worry about reminding students about an upcoming event!
Use social media
More Info: Google+ allows you and your students to post messages, photos, and share links, reply to the posts of others, and create communities. Create a private community of Google+ users by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to request a Google Group for your course.
Make sure your syllabus is Universally Designed
More Info: Ensuring that your syllabus exhibits Universal Design shows that you care about helping all of your students be empowered as learners. Simple formatting using a Microsoft Word style sheet ensures that the document is easily navigated by a screen reader. Follow additional tips regarding the organization of content on our checklist.
Approved September 17, 2015, the policy emphasizes our moral and ethical responsibility to ensure that materials are accessible for all students and provide equitable access to students with disabilities. Our goal is to be a fully accessible campus by fiscal year 2018, and to make incremental progress “in good faith” to get there.
Tip: Use the template by copy/pasting sections of your current syllabus over, one chunk at a time, but be sure to “clear formatting” first! To help understand the Accessibility Policy and how it impacts you and your work, contact our Universal Instructional Design Consultant in the Office of Information Technology: Alaina.Beaver@Colorado.edu.
Make your documents, presentations, and student surveys fully accessible!
If you have questions about creating accessible documents, presentations or student surveys, contact our Universal Instructional Design Consultant in the Office of Information Technology: Alaina.Beaver@Colorado.edu.
Make sure your D2L course does not have any inaccessible material, especially inaccessible PDFs
More Info: In general, D2L is accessible to screen reader users. However, it can quickly become inaccessible depending on the kind of material added. PDFs are inaccessible if you cannot click and highlight text or words within it. If the screen just lights up blue or yellow, then this is a sign that a screen reader would be unable to perceive any text or content in that PDF; instead, it would simply read “image,” even if it’s really 30 pages of content! Once you know your PDF is inaccessible, you can go about fixing it. Use an optical character recognition (OCR) software such as SensusAccess to “translate” the inaccessible PDF into another format, such as an accessible PDF or even an audio file
Tip: Keep in mind that OCR is only as good as the original copy; lots of highlighting, underlining, etc. on a document will produce a bad copy of inaccurate text. This can be fixed in two ways: 1) by finding a “clean copy” with no markup of the original text, or 2) manually fixing such issues in Adobe Acrobat Pro. If you have questions regarding PDFs, contact OIT’s Universal Instructional Design Consultant: Alaina.Beaver@Colorado.edu.
Encourage active learning in the classroom
More Info: Clickers are widely used in larger face-to-face classrooms (and some small classes) to increase student engagement in active learning and assess student understanding in real time. Saved Clicker results can be reviewed as you update your classes. Check out these additional instructor resources and videos about effective use of Clickers as well as links to free question banks.
Tip: Explore ways to use Clickers in small classes in the Arts and Humanities, and review evidence that Clickers improve engagement and learning.
Hold virtual office hours or encourage students to collaborate online
More Info: Google Hangouts or Zoom can be used for online meetings with your @colorado.edu accounts. Don’t know which tool to use? Use Zoom if you’d like more than 10 participants in the video chat. Otherwise, ask your students which they’d prefer!
Tip: Use the screenshare tools in Hangouts or Zoom to share desktop content between users. The mobile apps for both Hangouts and Zoom could facilitate student participation in your event by allowing students to attend from anywhere.
Discuss a picture or video
Moderate a discussion
More Info: Providing a clear structure for online discussions increases success for your students. With both VoiceThread and D2L Discussions you can create engaging and open-ended questions and have students participate in asynchronous conversations outside of your classroom.
Tip: Add video content to D2L Discussions or VoiceThread through YouTube or Kaltura to provide additional context or foster critical thinking in your discussions.
Email large files to individuals or groups
More Info: Emailing large files can exceed quotas, be filtered as potentially harmful, and be unwelcome to mobile devices. Instead, share your files via the Large File Transfer Service and then students can download the content to their own computers. Don’t forget to adhere to copyright restrictions if you’re sharing video content.
Share a folder
More Info: All CU-Boulder users have access to Google Drive and Office 365 using their @colorado.edu account. Faculty and students have unlimited storage in GoogleDrive and 1 TB of storage within Office365.
Be sure to review OIT’s Guidelines for Storing Documents in the Cloud before transitioning to cloud file storage.
Tip: Did you know you can access the Revision History of a GoogleDoc? Select “File” > “See revision history” to see who has made recent edits or changes to a document.
Keep student grades
More Info: Use the D2L Grades tool for more than just number and letter grades. You can add text or audio comments to each graded assignment to provide feedback or more information about the grade you’ve assigned. You can also add comments to a student's grade that are visible only to instructors and TAs.
Tip: Contact email@example.com for assistance in adding extra credit grade items or performing other advanced grades functions like having D2L automatically drop the lowest item in a category of grades.
Online assignments and quizzes
More Info: Use D2L's Dropbox tool to collect all of your students’ assignments in one place so you can track them, check for plagiarism, evaluate and provide feedback, and link grades to your D2L gradebook. Give an online quiz in D2L with a variety of types of auto-graded questions as well as open-ended responses for you to evaluate.
Tip: Did you know the Turnitin’s Grademark tool will let you create rubrics and your own customized Quickmarks to provide richer and more consistent feedback on student papers? Use the D2L Dropbox tool to connect to Turnitin’s Grademark tool. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance!
Provide detailed feedback on students’ written work
More Info: In a few clicks, you can grade written assignments submitted in the D2L Dropbox tool using the Turnitin Grademark tool. There, you can create rubrics, add audio feedback and text comments onto a paper or even build your own set of customized Quickmark annotations to provide richer and more consistent feedback. Be sure to share this brief tutorial explaining how students access Turnitin Grademark feedback.
Tip: You can import and export Quickmarks and Turnitin rubrics between different courses or different semesters. Contact email@example.com for assistance!
Encourage students to share their work
More Info: D2L Discussions or Google Drive are good places for students to upload papers to share with other students.
Tip: An instructor-created rubric or guided questions allows students to provide more meaningful feedback or suggestions on rough drafts or group writing assignments.
Create peer feedback assignments around media (images, video or PPT)
More Info: Ask students to create a VoiceThread by uploading a PowerPoint presentation or media (images or short video). Students can give each other comments and critiques using text, audio, or video, and the instructor can view or join the conversation too!
Create and manage group assignments
More Info: Do you have group projects in your course? With D2L’s Group Tool you can group students into teams and create associated D2L Discussion areas for collaboration or a team Dropbox to allow them to submit group assignments. Use Release Conditions to ensure restricted access to that team.
Tip: Check for plagiarism and originality in all D2L Dropbox submissions with Turnitin’s Originality Report.