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Merging courses with similar content

Are you teaching multiple sections of the same course? Or, do you teach a course for two departments with different course codes but same content?

For multiple sections of the same course, or for a course with different course codes hosted by two or more departments, you might find it hectic to add contents, post announcements or make edits to each course shell. If you prefer to manage the course from a single shell, we can merge the courses for you. One of the course shells will be a "Parent Shell" and the other course/s will be "Child/ren Course/s". Students enrolled in all the shells will be able to see all the content in the parent shell. 

You will see students in all sessions in your Users or Grade Center pages, but every course will have their separate grade submission page on banner to submit final letter grades.

NOTE: Once course shells are merged, you cannot make any change on the child/ren course/s. 

If you want to try it, send us a request for course merger at

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Click That Dial

Most of you have probably noticed the little colored dials that now reside next to your course files in Blackboard, but did you know they have a purpose other than simply brightening up your day with some color? They are there to notify you of your file’s level of accessibility and to help you determine which files need remediation first. Every time you upload a file, Blackboard Ally will automatically check it against WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards and report the file’s level of accessibility through this dial. When you hover over the dial, you will see that red indicates a low level of accessibility, orange indicates medium, and green indicates high.

As if that wasn’t helpful enough, you can click on the dial to unleash more help! When you click on the dial, Ally will tell you exactly which accessibility issues are affecting your file’s score, including information and links on how to remediate the issue. In some cases, such as adding alternative description, Ally will allow you to make the fix directly! What could be easier? So go click that dial! (After you finish reading this informative newsletter, of course.)

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The Open/Alternative Textbook (OAT) Initiative

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). 

Apply now for Fall 2020 course designation.  Deadline:  Feb 1.  

Grant applications and Spring 2021 course designations due May 1 for AY 2020-21.

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Provision Your 2020 Course for Panopto

Spring 2020 semester is here and that means it is time to provision your new courses for Panopto! Provisioning your courses is a critical part to using Panopto and must be completed each semester to ensure your new students have access to view your videos. Be sure to review our IDA training on Provisioning Your Course for Panopto.

Linking Your Panopto Videos in Blackboard

Once you have provisioned your course to use Panopto for the new semester, it's time to check how you are linking your videos. While there are a number of ways to link your video in your Blackboard course, for the best viewing results, use the technique showcased in our IDA-created video on Sharing Your Panopto Video.

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Interdisciplinary Program Award Competition

Four finalists have been selected to present their new interdisciplinary program proposals to the campus on Friday February 14, 3:00 – 4:30 in RSC 256.  Come listen to their presentations and provide your own feedback to the award committee.

  • Minor in Science, Technology, and Society submitted by Roy Myose, Jeff Pulaski, Jeff Jarman
  • Minor in Sustainability Management submitted by Raina Rutti, Gary Brooking, Gery Markova, Kara McCluskey
  • BA in Applied Linguistics submitted by Mythili Menon, Rachel Showstack, Doug Parham, Jeff Hershfield
  • BS in Pre-Genetic Counseling submitted by Bill Hendry and Kiley Hicks

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Embed a Librarian

Want to provide library resources and research help for students in your Blackboard course shells? Add your subject librarian to your course as an “embedded librarian” and they can provide research materials and tutorials tailored to your assignments along with contact information for students seeking extra support.

Assigning the role of “Embedded Librarian” in Bb allows your librarian to add content without having access to your gradebook.  Check our link for instructions.

Important: You must take steps to RE-embed your librarian each semester so they can continue to provide up to date and accurate information for your students. Simply copying content from one semester to another leads to quickly outdated information.

Contact your librarian to get started today. See the Directory of Subject Librarians to find the librarian best suited to your course.

Tips from ITS Training

Custom PowerPoint Slide Show

Did you know that you can create custom slide shows in PowerPoint? Let’s say you have a PowerPoint document that you would like to use for two different presentations, but you have a few different slides that you would like to show for each presentation. You can easily create several custom slide shows from the same document. Learn more by reading Ali Levine's article here.

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Advice From Dr. Aaron Rife

We reached out to Dr. Aaron Rife, Assistant Professor and Program chair of Middle/Secondary History and Government Education at WSU with a question: "What advice can you offer other faculty, especially newer WSU faculty, about how to be successful in their role?"  He kindly responded with the following three things (and we have to blush and thank him for the shout out to IDA):

Why Didn’t Someone Tell me That?! Advice from Aaron

For some of the items listed, people did tell me, but because sometimes it came via email or campus news, I did not pay as much attention as I should have.  So the first of the in-your-face-but-easy-to-miss items:

  1. Read the WSU Today! I know, it comes as a list and we all got worked up when the format changed and we had to click a link to read the full blurbs.  Of course, now that I type that complaint out it really hits how shallow that grievance really is, sigh.  Not everything is going to matter to you, but there are often surprises, serendipitous events, and helpful information.  When I made it a habit, I started to notice more things going on campus and became aware of resources available. 

This point about making ourselves aware of available resources is actually the theme of my advice. When I started at WSU I found it too easy to turtle up in my department and my program.  It took me too long to begin to take advantage of campus services that would improve my teaching and my students’ experiences in class.  For example:

  1. The folks at Instructional Design and Access (IDA) have all kinds of trainings, workshops, helps for technology use as an instructor available to us, almost constantly. For starters, check out offerings for Blackboard and Panopto  I came to WSU straight out of grad school, where I had been using Blackboard as a student and as a GTA, I thought that was good enough!  Again, it took too long for me to learn that there are more and better ways to utilize the tools we have at our disposal.  There are online trainings, in-person tutorials, even helpful folks in the Ablah library’s C-Space on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1-3 pm.  Check it out! 

Improving the layout and materials in our Blackboard courses/shells is not huge—but our students have to deal with blackboard regularly, for many of our classes.  Making their online experience a bit better goes a long way. Which segues to another resource for instructors and students:

  1. WSU has access to video streaming services. I only learned about this last fall when Maria Sclafani from Ablah Library educated my class and me about WSU’s access to video.  If you follow the link, most of the sources available have documentaries and educational videos that you may want students to check out outside of class, or clips if you need to pull something into your instruction.  The last link, Swank Digital Campus (lovely name, really) is a collection of Hollywood movies, and while it does not have Casablanca, there is Rear Window, Dr. Strangelove, Citizen Cane, and Back to the Future—all films that our students probably have not seen but should at some point.

I will stop with the three, partly because I would like to watch a little Dr. Strangelove.  There are resources and people here at WSU, some obvious, some not, which can improve our own teaching and the educational experiences our students have.  I am still learning about what I have around me, if you are not already doing so, take advantage!