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Open/Alternative Textbook (OAT) Initiative to Reduce Student Expenses

The Open / Alternative Textbook (OAT) initiative is designed to promote, incentivize, and grow the use of freely-available resources in WSU classes to reduce the economic impact of textbook costs on the student body.

The project has two elements:

  1. OAT Course Designation: Provides an incentive to faculty based on a $10/student course fee, which will be applied to an approved course that is using Open / Alternative textbooks that have no cost to the students. This money is split between the department offering the course (60%) and the Open / Alternative Textbook grant program (40%).
  2. OAT Grant Program: Provides $2,000-5,000 grants to faculty who apply for the grant to redesign a course with no-cost resources, or to write or contribute to an open educational resource, or other alternative text that can be provided to the students free of charge. These grants are funded by the course fees.

The OAT Initiative will be managed by Academic Affairs. OAT Course Designations and Grant Applications will be submitted via web form and reviewed by a panel be made up of: Two faculty members (appointed by Faculty Senate), a representative from University Libraries , a representative from Instructional Design and Access, at least one student (appointed by SGA), and the Associate Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management (ex officio).

The deadline for Fall 2020 course designations will be Feb 1. Grant applications will be due by May 1 for AY 2020-21.

In-Person Training for Instructors on 1/15

On January 15, 2020, Instructional Design will be partnering with the MRC Web Team and others to bring instructors several training opportunities in an in-person format. All trainings will be held at the RSC. Topics will include:

  • The Exceptions Procedure (This counts as the mandatory accessibility training for 2019-20)
  • Creating Video
  • Manipulating Images for Classroom Use
  • Applying Quality Matters Rubric

IDA and the Web Team will also be hosting come-and-go Blackboard and Accessibility lab times in the morning from 9:00am-noon and afternoon from 1:00pm-3:45 in RSC 261. Staff will be available to answer your Blackboard and class accessibility questions all day, and Web staff will be able to help you with PDF accessibility questions for the Web during the afternoon session. Just stop by, get some help, and pick up a few dry erase markers for the new semester!

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Harvard Settles with National Association of the Deaf

After 3+ years of fighting, Harvard settled with the National Association of the Deaf over the captioning of their free, publically-available content including recorded lectures and podcasts. According to the terms of the settlement, Harvard will caption materials created and posted after December 1, 2019 and will create a captioned version of any material posted before that date within 5-days of the request. Harvard also agreed to pay the plaintiffs' attorney fees, which totalled over $1.5 million.

From the FYS Team

Demonstrating Care

First-Year Seminar Faculty Coordinator, Aaron Rife discusses care and teaching in his article, "Demonstrating Care." He provides moving commentary and excellent suggestions for showcasing care in teaching each semester. Rife states, "Whether you consider teaching an art or a science, it is a deeply personal and human endeavor. The transmission of knowledge and skills from one group to the next, often between generations, is old—we have been doing it as long as there has been a human 'we.'"

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Time to Roll Your Classes for Spring

It's that time of year again, don't hesitate or procrastinate; avoid the rush. Spring 2020 Blackboard course shells are available and ready for you to get rolling! Each semester, IDA fields a number of last minute calls and emails requesting help in rolling over content to the new semester or for assistance with a content roll-over that has gone awry. We are happy to provide training and assistance as soon as we are able; and the sooner you make your request, the sooner we will be able to address your need. Please note, as the semester gets closer, our response times will inevitably slow down as our project lists and the requests for support increase. If you need training on rolling over your content to the new semester, check out Blackboard's step-by-step training on how to Copy a Course and remember to select "copy to an existing course" when prompted. If you have experienced a roll-over gone awry, please submit a ticket through OneStop so you can be connected to the best resource for a resolution.

Some Bb Things Need to Be Set Up Before Your Class Launches


SafeAssign is a plagiarism prevention tool on Blackboard. It compares assignments submitted by students against academic papers from global database to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works.

If you want to use SafeAssign to check the originality of your students’ work, you SHOULD set SafeAssign before students make the submission. This is because the tool notifies students that their work will be compared on global database to identify overlap and they should consent their work to go through the process.

You can set up SafeAssign after students submit their work but any work submitted prior to the setup cannot be checked for plagiarism; only submissions after the set will run through the process. Hence, if you want student work to be checked for plagiarism, SET SafeAssign when you make the assignment open for submission.

Editing/Deleting Test Items

Before you make a test/quiz available for students, go through every item in the quiz and make edits as needed. If a test item needs to be deleted, you have to do it before you make the test available. Once students submit or start an attempt, changes cannot be made without risking technical problems with grading. Make sure all changes are made before an attempt is done.

Gradable Discussion Board

Discussion boards can be set up as a gradable or not gradable activity in a course. If you want to grade your discussion board, you should choose the “Grade Discussion Forum” option on the setting before students post threads on the discussion. Once students post threads, even if you set the discussion board to be gradable, it is not going to have a grade column in the gradebook nor would it show in the "Needs Grading" area for grading.

NOTE: While you set SafeAssign, and make edits to your test items, and set your gradable discussion forums before attempts are submitted/started, you need to WAIT for the class to start and have all your students get enrolled to create GROUPS automatically on Blackboard.

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Give Better Feedback with Technology (Even in Your F2F Classes!)

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent series of advice articles for instructors. If you haven't seen their advice area, check it out here. The most recent article details how to use technology to give better feedback to students, even if they are taking a face-to-face class with you. Some of their advice includes:

  • Use digital rubrics available through your LMS. Our LMS at Wichita State is Blackboard, and it has an easy-to-use rubric tool.
  • Take advantage of automatic feedback tools in your LMS. Our version of Blackboard allows professors to include feedback for right or wrong answers in the quiz/test tool. You can choose to show this information to students immediately or once all submissions have been graded.
  • Create formative surveys to get a sense how your class is going and what might need to be changed or emphasized. The survey tool in Blackboard is very similar to the testing tool, but surveys are anonymous.

If you are unsure how to use Blackboard tools for your class, whether it is face-to-face or online, help is available! Come to IDA's Blackboard and accessibility lab any Tuesday or Wednesday any time between 1:00-3:00pm, and an instructional designer will help get you on your feet!

What CMS Does for YOU

Campus Media Services provides multimedia support and resources to support success in the classroom. From the first day of classes through finals, faculty may receive on-demand training, access to media, technology consultation, on-call trouble-shooting, maintenance reporting and at at-cost cables or adapters

The CMS team provides multimedia equipment for checkout to faculty, staff, and students. In addition, multimedia equipment and staffing is available for on-campus or off-campus events. CMS can also assist your department with media equipment purchases and installation. Please contact their helpful team members for pricing.

Please call 316.978.3588 or fill out the Media/Technology Request Form.

Hours: Mon. – Thurs.: 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. | Fri. & Sat.: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Librarians ♥ OER

Faculty colleagues, did you know that academic librarians are your natural allies in the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER)? We support access to information and the democracy of ideas. These are some of our core values!

How can we help you? Contact your subject librarian to ask their advice on incorporating the Libraries' content into your course in lieu of a textbook. Browse our OER guide or ask for our help finding OER repostitories that suit your discipline.

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Yes, You CAN Get Adobe Creative Cloud

Wichita State provides employees with many software applications you might not yet be using but would like. If you are interested in getting Adobe Creative Cloud (a set of applications you need to have if you plan to attend any IDA trainings on image manipulation), you can get that free! For more information on Creative Cloud, check out this handy reference from ITS Training.

Microsoft PowerUp!

Are you curious about new features and updates in Microsoft Office 365? PowerUp with knowledge at a quick informational session in January with Microsoft Certified Trainer Ali Levine. Artificial Intelligence, time saving tips, new accessibility settings, creative inspiration, and even a couple extras for fun… this will be an action packed hour. The PowerUp sessions will be offered twice in January: January 8 from 2:00pm-3:00pm, and January 15 from 10:00am-11am in Jabara 127. Sign up in myTraining and ITS Training will save you a spot and a free guide.

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Innovative Online Programs

Executive Director of Online Learning, Dr. Mark Porcaro, is back to discuss Innovative Online Programs in part two of his article on The Future of Online Learning. "Last month, I wrote about what I think the future of online learning could be at WSU. Besides reframing the conversation about who is a WSU student, I think we have the capacity to reaching more students through innovative program development. What can WSU do that will set us apart in the era of online learning?" [Follow the link to read the full article.]

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Accessibility in the Mountains

In mid-November, Eric Wilson and John Jones made the trip to Denver, Colorado for the annual Accessing Higher Ground conference.

Accessing Higher Ground is a national conference for accessibility in higher education. Like it’s parent organization, AHEAD, it draws professionals from all parts of the higher ed landscape, with a strong focus on efforts to make our campuses accessible.

Wilson found the conference a very positive experience. "There were instructional designers, faculty, administrators and service providers there to support and empower us to make changes that improve access to all students," Wilson said.

Eric Wilson and John Jones will share insights and ideas from Accessing Higher Ground at 2:30 p.m. January 15, 2020, in RSC 142 (light refreshments provided).