The "Why Didn't Someone Tell Me That?" Issue


Why Didn't Someone TELL Me?

Welcome to the "why didn't someone tell me that?" issue of Teaching Today. For this month's newsletter, IDA reached out to offices across the campus to bring you helpful information you may not already know. Things are changing so quickly in our "now normal," and it can be easy to miss something big, so read on an discover all thing things you might have missed hearing about in the last few weeks. We worked to keep these short!


Use Spotlight with Panels and Guest Speakers

If you have guest speakers or a panel presentation, you may want to ensure the speakers are the focus of your Zoom presentation.  To keep them front-and-center and not lost in the crowd, you can use Zoom's "spotlight" feature.  Simply mouse over the on-screen picture of the person, click the "three little dots" and choose "spotlight for everyone."  If you have more than one person you want to spotlight, do the same thing for each other person, and choose "add spotlight" for them.  

Update Zoom and Improve Breakout Rooms

When was the last time you upgraded Zoom? If you don't know, or if you know you have never done it, NOW is the time to do it. Why? Upgraded Zoom has better breakout rooms, reactions, and other features. It's easy to upgrade too! Go here for upgrade instructions.

Get New Zoom Backgrounds

Instructional Design and Access's own John Hammer has recently created new Zoom backgrounds as part of Wichita State's Proud to be F1rst campaign supporting first generation students. If you are a First Gen yourself, or want to show your support for this hardworking group of students, you can find these inspiring Zoom backgrounds here.

Zoom to Panopto

Zoom recordings can now be added straight to Panopto for editing, captioning, and sharing! When clicking record in your Zoom meeting, be sure to select the “Cloud” recording option. These recordings will automatically be added to your to Panopto under the “My Folder” tab, in a new sub-folder called “Meeting Recordings.”


Order "Human" Captioning for ALL Your Panopto Videos

Thanks to federal CARES Act money distributed through the Kansas program called SPARK, Wichita State can now offer captioning to ALL your classroom videos. Because video instruction is now a vital component of our COVID-19 educational planning, we have seen a huge surge in production. It is very easy to order "human" (not "machine") captioning on your Panopto videos both by folder, and by individual video. So get your video files into Panopto and have them captioned today!


Simplify Blackboard Test Creation

Wouldn't it be nice if you could create Blackboard tests in Word?  Well guess what? You CAN! Instructional Design and Access has purchased test creation software called Respondus Test Generator 4.0 (not the same product as Respondus Lockdown Browser), and it will allow you to use your PC to create tests in Word and upload them to Blackboard. Want to know more? Here is info on creating questions in Word, and here is how to create questions using Respondus 4.0 itself. Once you have your test, you can then use this information about how to create tests in Blackboard.

Never Upload Video Files Directly to Bb

Video is a great addition to any remote or online class. But it's critically important that professors and students upload videos to Panopto or YouTube rather than hosting the raw video files in Blackboard itself. Video files are huge and cause serious technical problems for all Blackboard classes, not just the ones they are added to. Also, hosting them in Blackboard is very expensive. Please help WSU improve the performance and lower the cost of Blackboard classes by making sure ALL video files for your class are in Panopto (where you can get free "human" captioning) or Youtube. Need help? Contact IDA at

Course Size Limits Coming Soon

Wichita State has over 26,000 courses and organizations currently housed on our Blackboard servers. Together, they represent just under 5 terabytes of data, and those terabytes aren't free. Thankfully, about 97.5% of our classes and organizations are under a gigabyte, keeping them manageable and within our contracted use. But about 2.5% of our classes are very large, taking up around 35% of our total storage space. These courses are both expensive to house and technically challenging to run, causing problems such as poor load times and page crashing, for themselves and all other Blackboard classes. To control these issues, IDA will be reaching out to the owners of the largest classes and organizations with the goal of reducing all classes below 2 gigabytes by spring 2021. We will help with training, technical assistance, and some course building, so don't worry too much if one of your courses is identified as being very large. Concerned about your course size? The best thing you can do to maintain a streamlined course is to move all video files to Panopto or YouTube and delete the uploaded copies from the course content area. Need help? That's what we do, so send us an email at

When do Spring Shells Populate?

As a general rule, Blackboard class shells populate 30 days before the first day of presession for the next semester. But because we have so many people who need to build classes for spring 2021 from scratch, we are going to start the process on the Monday before Thanksgiving, so expect your spring Blackboard classes by November 24. Wondering why we don't set these courses up earlier? It boils down to the Banner/Blackboard integration. Every Banner change has to be pushed to Blackboard, and each one presents the opportunity for problems. We set up courses toward the end of registration to try to limit the number of possible technical problems in your classes.

Change the Open/Close Dates for Your Class

As we get closer to the end of the semester, you may want to keep your class open a little longer to accommodate students with incompletes or for other reasons. Thankfully, it's very easy to change the open/close dates for you class. To do it, simply login to the class you would like to modify, find "customization" in the left-hand menu, and choose "properties."  Scroll down and find the "course duration" and change the close date to a different time, and hit "submit." This same process works at the start of the term. If you don't want your students in your class until the first day of the semester, simply change the "start" date to match it.  Your students will still see the link for your class in their Blackboard area, but it will not be "clickable" until the class is open.

Organize Your Personal Blackboard by Term

If your Blackboard "My Courses" area is a mess, with 2 years' worth of courses just sort of lying around, you can fix that! Login to Blackboard and then click the "My Courses" tab.  In the block that says "My Courses" you will see a small gear icon show up if you mouse over the row on the right:

My Courses Gear

Click the gear, scroll down and click the box next to "Group by Term." If you want to turn off some terms, you can do that here as well, and then click "submit." If you want to find old terms you turned off, go back to the gear and turn them on again.

Get Old Bb Classes Back, Except for 2015

In preparation for our Blackboard upgrades scheduled for December, 2020, WSU has archived several thousand Blackboard classes. You still have access to all classes from 2019 and 2020, but if you need an earlier class, simply put in a ticket with Blackboard support through the OneStop. You will need to provide the course name/number, the semester you need, and the professor's name (if you are making the request for someone else). Unfortunately, Blackboard shells from 2015 were destroyed during the archive process they went through in 2017, and they have not been available for many years.

Respondus Lockdown Browser for Chromebook

Respondus LockDown browser is now available to students using Chromebook as a beta test for Wichita State and a few other universities. If you are a professor who uses LockDown browser on your Blackboard tests and quizzes, you will need to turn this feature on for your students before it can be used. To get that done, please follow these steps:

- Go to the LockDown Browser Dashboard within Blackboard Learn

- Select “Require Respondus LockDown Browser for this exam”

- Expand “Advanced Settings” and select “Allow students to use LockDown Browser for Chromebook (beta)”

- Save the exam settings for LockDown Browser

-Provide your students information about how to get Respondus LDB for their Chromebook

Publisher Materials Need Publisher Support

Instructional Design and Access, together with Blackboard support through the OneStop call center, supports you in your Blackboard, Panopto, Respondus LDB, and Respondus Test Builder needs.  We also help set up Blackboard integrations for third party content providers like Pearson and other textbook publishers. But for most publisher material support, you will need to contact the publisher. To get to the right person, try starting with your rep. Wichita State staff do not have admin access to publisher materials, and can rarely offer substantial help in setting those up in your Blackboard classes.

You Can Archive/Save Your Own Classes!

Each year, Wichita State authorizes an archive of old Blackboard classes. At any given time, only about 2 years' worth of classes will show in Blackboard. If you would like easy access to your classes without risk of having them archived beyond your reach, you can archive them yourself to your own system.  To do this, login to the class you want to save. On the left side menu under "Course Management" (at the bottom of the menu) find "Packages and Utilities."  Click on "Export/Archive Course."  From there click "Export Package" and then click the button that says "Select All" and hit submit.  Wait about 10 minutes for average size courses (longer around the end of a semester when demand is high), and return to the "Packages and Utilities" area.  Download your archive file by clicking on it. Make sure not to unzip the file, and if you have a Mac, this might be a setting you need to change in Safari.  Save that .Zip file somewhere easy to find. The next time you teach the class, you can "rebuild" it with very little effort by using that file.

Pay Attention to Size Warnings!

If you receive an email from Blackboard or IDA telling you there are size problems with your course or organization, please take note. These are serious issues and will need to be addressed. Most faculty will never receive a warning, but if you do, please reach out to IDA immediately at

Around Campus

You Might Not Understand the Incomplete Policy

If you give a grade of incomplete to a student, that I turns into an F after one year, unless the instructor submits a change when the work is completed. If a student with an I re-enrolls in a class in hopes the new grade will replace the I, they are surprised to learn their transcript shows the F from the incomplete AND the grade they earned in the re-enrolled class. Please be aware of catalog policy on incompletes and only give incompletes when extra time is needed to complete some coursework but most of the coursework has already been completed. If you think a student should re-enroll instead, give them a grade they earned and then tell them to repeat.

There are Rules About Gifts

Chris Cavanaugh, the Director of Internal Audit, wants to remind everyone that Wichita State and the State of Kansas have rules about receiving and giving gifts in a work context. For example, it is important to avoid possible conflicts of interest and/or undue influence (or its appearance) as it relates to employees and vendors. Chris says, "Generally, any gift offered in connection to your state employment that is not given at a ceremony or public function should give you pause." Before you plan any gifts that are not simply for personal friends and paid for with personal funds, you should review this important information.

WSU Catering Offers Family Meals

Chartwells, the university's catering service, makes family meals that feed 4-6 people, and they have easy pickup right from the RSC parking lot. To learn what the seasonal offerings are and to place an order call 316-978-5863. Prefer email? They can do that too: What a great option for your own family or something to consider for those you know who might be dealing with illness during the pandemic.

We ALL Have Free Access to LinkedIn Learning Classes

You and your students (and all your friends at WSU) have FREE access to all LinkedIn Learning classes. You can use them for your personal growth and you can add them to Blackboard classes (yes, they have an integration with Blackboard!). Want to learn about social media? Done! Want to learn R? Okay! How about mindfulness, leadership, time management, positivity, communication, and more. Yep, it has that. To learn how to access LinkedIn Learning for yourself and your students, go here. The one thing to remember: use your WSU ID and password to access this free benefit.


A Week of ARC Coming in January

Instructional Design and Access will be offering ARC events the week of January 11-15, 2021.  All interested parties are invited, and that includes graduate students who hope to become GTA's, new faculty who have not yet arrived, and instructors and faculty at any other school. The events are free and online.  More information is coming, and if you want to request a session, let us know at


Control Your Mailbox Size

Since going remote, you may have found that your WSU mailbox fills up too fast, and it's hard to keep it clear.  Ali Levine has several tips to help you isolate the likely culprit: a few very large emails that are taking up most of your space. Learn how to find them and rid yourself of them here.

Microsoft Stream Makes Teams Videos

Did you know that Microsoft has a video-sharing service that you can use with Teams? Not only, but also ... it's easy, secure, and even allows you to upload videos to it.  If you use Teams at all, you need to get to know Stream.  Once again, Ali Levine has you covered with this excellent walk-through of the Stream service.