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Breaking News

IDA will assist with the setup of remote classes in Blackboard

As you know, all summer classes will be delivered via remote learning this year. To support instructors in this effort, Instructional Design and Access has added a new service.  If you would like us to do the initial setup of your course including providing artwork, setting up graded discussion board and assignment areas, and uploading your syllabus and a few other documents, all you need to do is make a request using this form. Here is what you need to know:

  • This form will save where you are if you need to come back to it later. Always use the same link (it would be helpful if you bookmark it) and the same internet browser to access it.
  • The more information you can give us about your intentions with the class, the more we can do for you. So please wait until you know how you want your class to look and you have your syllabus ready.
  • We will set up any new remote classes or new online classes for summer, but this service can't be extended to classes that have been offered as fully online classes before due to personnel constraints. (If you have a class that was partly "remote" this spring, we can help with that setup.)
  • We are not able to upload significant content, but the template elements that we can provide will make it easier for you to organize your class and get it ready in a fast and efficient manner.
  • We will set up multiple classes for you, but unless there are multiple sections of the same class, you need to submit the form for each of the classes. You must fully complete and submit the form for one class before moving on to the next.
  • ALL forms MUST be submitted no later than two weeks before the start of the term the class is offered in. For example, if you are teaching a class in the second 4 week summer term, you have until mid June, but if you are teaching in summer pre-session, we need the form very soon.

What you need to know: Blackboard tests

Now that we have settled into remote delivery, many instructors are now delivering their tests online. We have been seeing a new and annoying problem with tests that contain images in the test questions. If you are offering a test that includes images, please read about the necessary way to upload images to guarantee that your students can see them. Have other questions about tests or want a Blackboard expert to have a quick look at your test and its settings to see if it's good to go?  Set up an appointment by emailing us at

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Honor pledge available for classes

Dr. Moriah Beck has created an honor pledge to be added to Blackboard classes before students take tests.  The pledge cites language from university policy 2.17 and asks that students read this language and then indicate they agree to the following statement, "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this exam, including the use of websites, textbooks, notes, or consultation with other people during the exam." 

If you would like IDA to set up this honor pledge in your Blackboard classes, please make that request via email to

Peer Insights

Cindy Malcom's transition to remote teaching

Welcome to "Peer Insights," a column where we print peer-to-peer advice from successful instructors around campus. This month we reached out to Cindy Malcolm from the College of Applied Studies.  Here is what she had to say about her rapid move to remote instruction this spring:

On January 21st, there were no sleepyheads at 8:00 a.m. in Room 155. We were busy with a team building exercise on making classroom connections. Looking back, January 21st seems like a long time ago and Room 155 is now quiet. There is no talking, no laughing, or no classroom connections being made.

Today, my students are taking CI 270/ Introduction to Teaching remotely and I think to myself, “Can our classroom connections continue online?”

When we had to go online, I needed help getting started.  I found help with the resources the University was providing to instructors. I reached out to IDA, and they were kind enough to give me individual attention with Zoom. Later, they responded immediately to follow up questions such as how do I prepare an online panel discussion?  In addition, I used the simple directions online about how to provide discussion topics on Blackboard to facilitate group interaction with the students. I learned almost everything I needed to know online, and that gave me confidence in my own class.

From the student comments listed below I see that classroom connections are still being made online.

  • "I think you are doing great keeping this organized for us. Zoom helps to cover the chapters, review the assignments, and due dates."
  • "I am very thankful you are handling the online instruction so well and that you are being so supportive of us. I hope to do the same for my students in the future."
  • "Happy to find a friendly email in my inbox. Nice break from the Shocker notifications and announcements about upcoming quizzes."

I give credit for the smooth transition to Wichita State’s instructional support and to the students who have been willing to adapt.  It doesn’t take a physical “classroom” to make connections, and like it says on television, we are together at home.

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Get that Zoom Pro account for free!

Did you know that you can get a Zoom Pro account for free if you have any kind of instructional role?  To make a request, simply fill out this form. You can skip filling the org/fund fields. 

Zoom whiteboard and annotation tools 

As instructors and staff have become more comfortable with the basic Zoom tools, we here in IDA have been asked about some of the more advanced ones.  A very popular set of tools, the whiteboard and annotation tools, are both covered in this short video the IDA team put together for you: 

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Please promote online tutoring

Did you know that the university continues to offer tutoring? There are currently three online tutoring centers: GEEKS (for engineering students), Math Lab, and the Writing Center. All of these online tutoring centers can be accessed by your students via Blackboard on the "My Institution," "My Courses," and "My Organizations" tabs. Please make sure your students are aware of relevant tutoring centers. 

Student Chromebooks and Mifi's info

If you have a student who doesn't have access to a computer that allows for remote learning, or if they don't have an internet connection where they are currently living, please direct them to the webpage There they will find information about what the university is providing and how to  put in a request for devices. Would you like to see what the new Chromebooks look like? Check out this "unboxing" video put together by IDA.

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Helpful hints from University Libraries

Ginger Williams, Associate Dean for Academic Engagement and Public Services, has some helpful hints for you:

On behalf of the Libraries faculty and staff, let me first say that we miss seeing you! We've been adjusting to working from home and trying to modify our services to meet online users' needs even better than before. Take a peek at our social media for a glimpse of librarians' work-from-home lifestyles… and our pets, too!

Some helpful things that you may not know we offer:

  • Your subject librarians are ready to help you with online classes! The easiest way to coordinate that is by embedding them in your class--whether it's for the whole semester or just to help you set up direct links to articles or databases. Adding them in Blackboard helps with remote communication so you can both be on the same page about what your class needs from us. Find instructions for embedding a librarian online, and if you can't make it work, I'm sure Instructional Design and Access will be happy to help you.
  • They are also willing and able to continue offering library instruction to your courses, but online!
  • Chat help is still here! Send your students our way for library research help as always. They can also email their subject librarian to schedule 1:1 appointments.
  • Our website is still the best way to get to our nearly 400 research databases. If your students don't know which to choose, send them to the Smart Search box to get started.

You may think librarians are bookish folks, but books aren't the reason we went into this field. Generally speaking, we love information science, and we want to help people connect with the information they want and need. We've really appreciated getting some positive feedback from faculty lately. Thanks from professors glad to know how to return books they've checked out, and thanks from professors who were thrilled to get their hands on some interlibrary loan books they hadn't gotten to pick up before Ablah Library had to close. We hope we are making all of our faculty happy, but if not, get in touch and let us know what you need.

Lastly, we can't be all work and no play--these days especially. If you haven't signed up for a State of Kansas Library eCard, you can email us to get one online. You'll get access to the state library's online collections, including ebooks and audiobooks. E-mail us at with your full name (including middle initial), e-mail address and date-of-birth. See all the online resources here. Take a look at the University Libraries' virtual display of movies and ebooks, too. You might even want to relax and doodle with Mo Willems, author of the Elephant and Piggie books and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! He doodles every day and teaches you how to draw his famous characters!

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Ally helps you and helps your students

Four dials -- Red, Orange, light green and dark gree, that indicate Needs work, Getting Better, Almost there, and Perfect.Many of you are getting used to Blackboard for the first time. Among other things, that means that this is your first time seeing the red, orange, and green dials on content uploads in your classes.

This is the tip of an important accessibility tool in Blackboard that is an important part of our response to accessibility.

On the student side of things, Ally is incredibly powerful.  A document that it can parse well (like a word document or accessible PDF) can be delivered to the student in a wide variety of alternative formats, including a computer-generated audio version of the document, digital braille, and mobile-optimized HTML.

As an instructor, you’re seeing the tools that are built into the instructor side of the course. That includes these dials, which give you a report of the relative accessibility of each item you have uploaded to the class. These ratings are never visible to students.

If you click on those dials, the site will provide some guidance on ways you can improve the accessibility of that document. Those tips are important as we all work towards a more inclusive Wichita State.

Find out more about Blackboard Ally:

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Where did my Microsoft controls go?

Remote instruction means you may be receiving more documents from students in digital form now than before.  Opening up documents created in older versions of Microsoft products can trigger a feature called "Compatibility Mode," and it could change how your own Microsoft controls look. To learn more about Compatibility Mode, including how to restore your "lost" controls, have a look at Ali Levine's most recent blog post in Office Bytes.

Want to hear a secret? How about 10!

You may have long suspected that Microsoft Office products seem to have secrets that other people know and you don't.  Well, it turns out that might be the case.  Ali Levine has compiled 10 Secret Key Commands in Microsoft Office.  Have a look and be in the know.