Your Teaching Resource


Announcing the ARC Big Read

We are happy to announce that IDA will be hosting an ARC Big Read for 2021. We will be discussing and buildng programming around Derek Bok's, Higher Expectations. Higher Expecations is filled with useful observations and debatable propositions about the direction higher education should take in the next decades.  

Our plan is to offer ARC programming, special events, and discussions on the book's topics throughout 2021, and we encourage you to acquire a copy soon and begin your journey with it.  It's available through Amazon as a paper book, a Kindle version, and as an audio book. If you would like to read a copy of it from University Libraries, you can access the ebook through the online catalog. If you would like to participate in the ARC Big Read but purchasing a copy of the book would be a financial hardship for you and you need a paper copy, please contact us at and let us know. The Media Resources Center is sponsoring us and has purchased a limited number of books we can provide at no cost to you to ensure that anyone who wants to participate can. Events will begin in January, 2021.

One Small Thing

Try Using Polls This Week

As you know, each month we suggest "one small thing" you can try in your remote class to keep it fresh and interesting for you and your students.  This month, the one small thing is simply adding polls to your Zoom-based interaction with your students. Whether you are offering a lecture, hosting a question/answer session, or simply having a social time with your students, polls can offer a fast and easy way to add some interaction and engagement in your class. If you haven't tried polls yet, we challenge you to give them a try this week.  Here's how:


Ask for "Reactions" During Your Class

Have you seen the "seance" meme comparing running a Zoom class to taking part in a seance? If you are a memeber of the ARC Facebook Group, you certainly have.... That has been our most popular posting yet! One quick and painless way you can fight Zoom issue is to ask your students to use the "Reactions" tools to interact with class in real time.  Reactions work because they put small emojis on each student's picture tile right where you naturally look as you present.

Reactions can be found at the bottom of the screen and include: clap, thumbs up, heart, laughter, wow!/surprise, and celebration. You can "assign" each of these icons a meaning in your class or let your students choose, but the key is to ask students to use them when they are moved to do so.  For example, if they "love" the point you are making, they can post a "heart" icon. If they just figured something out, they can use "celebration." Give it a try and see what you think. We have been testing this in our presentations for a couple of weeks now, and it's working for us.

Bueller...? Bueller...?

2020 has accelerated the pace of change in higher education, and as quickly as the classroom has evolved, the cheating industry has caught up. There is now a service for students to employ a "bot" to attend Zoom classes on their behalf. While IDA has no evidence that WSU students are doing this, we wanted to let you know the service exists.  At this time, we are only aware of (rememeber when we cheered truancy on the big screen?), and it appears the only thing the bot can do is login on a student's behalf and "sit there." But the service is real, and it's worth building ways to combat it in your class. The best way to see if a student is really "there" is by adding interactive elements like questions, polling, regular use of chat, and reactions!  Keep them engaged and they can't get away with being there is spirit only.


On a Mac? Check this Setting

If you are a on a Mac and have had trouble accessing Panopto inside your Blackboard classes, your "cross-tracking" may be enabled in Safari.  Turning off cross-tracking is easy: fire up Safari and go to "preferences" (found under "Safari" in the top left of your screen.) Click "privacy" and then de-select (uncheck) "prevent cross-site tracking." That should clear up your Panopto access issues in Blackboard.


Archiving Courses 

During some regular maintenance in late September, Blackboard courses from before Fall 2019 were archived, causing many people unexpected problems.  Since then, all Blackboard courses for 2019 have been restored, and you should now be seeing them when you log in.  If you need access to courses from before 2019, please send a request in through the OneStop, and IDA will work to restore them.  We need the name of the course and the semester it was taught in order to access it on the server. 

Control the Size of Your Blackboard Course

The course archive was part of an ongoing effort to help save space on Blackboard servers. Blackboard storage space isn't free, and it is important that we work to keep classes at or below 1 gigabyte whenever possible in order to keep costs manageable. In addition, courses with over a gig of data associated with them tend to have technical problems like very slow page loads, problems with students being able to access content, and general crashing issues.  Over the next year, we will be taking additional steps to try to control the size of Blackboard classes and organizations.  

Fortunately, keeping your class below a gig is usually very easy, and more that 95% of our Blackboard courses are already under that limit.  To ensure your course is as lightweight and efficient as possible, please:

  • Never upload video files directly to Blackboard. Instead, put them on a video hosting platform like Panopto or YouTube and provide links or embeds of your videos.
  • If you embed audio into PowerPoint, export your files as video files and put them on a video hosting platform like Panopto or YouTube. 
  • If you use a lot of images in your course, please work with IDA so we can ensure you are using files that are no bigger than they have to be.

If you are curious how large your current classes are or if you need technical help with the process of slimming them down, let us know at .


5 Things to Know About Hyperlinks

In her Office Bytes blog posting for October, Ali Levine shares the secret life of hyperlinks. Sure, you know how to add a hyperlink to a document, but do you know all the tricks of the trade? We bet not! And if you find this article helpful, remember that Ali is WSU's Microsoft trainer, and she has a lot more she can teach you. Look for Ali's training sessions in MyTraining in the MyWSU portal area.


Need a Text? There Might Be an OER!

According to Inside HigherEd, the pandemic and recession may be driving OER use in college classes. As you prepare for the Spring 2021 term, you may be looking for a digital version of your textbook.  Keep in mind that many Open Educational Resources are digital resources and work well inside Blackboard. Want help finding an OER?  The library has created this handy OER LibGuide for you, and together with your subject librarian you may be able to find just the resource you are looking for. 

If you discover your course's resources can be replaced with free/OER options, you should look into the Open/Alternative Textbook (OAT) initiative, which might have grant money for you as well as additional revenue for your department.

If you don't find an OER for your class, you can still help lift the financial burden of texts for your students by checking to see if the text you use is on the library's e-textbook guide. There are 73 e-texts used in 84 courses, and yours might be one of them!

For Fun

Host a Zoom-Based Murder Mystery

As we get closer to the end of the Fall 2020 term (!) you might be looking for ways to offer a party or other social event to your class, student group, or others in your department.  Have you considered hosting a Zoom-based murder mystery?  IDA has run two of these events now, and we are making all of our resources available for you to run a Zoom mystery of your own.  To find out more, watch our session from the August ARC, and access the support materials for the free mystery at our Topics and Tracks page under "Panopto, Zoom, and other Video Production Trainings." Send any questions to us at