UDL and Moving Online

I am re-blogging this post from Seanna Takacs at KPU, as I think it is very important in this world of sudden shifts from face-to-face to online.  It is not just about putting everything into D2L, but about how to engage with your students and looking at various and flexible modes for doing so.

UDL and Moving Online


Weekly Bulletin from our Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

I thought I would share some of the new CETL bulletin we are sending out to our Camosun faculty every Friday.  These tips might be useful to you, and if you have your own to share back, please add them in the Comments!

“Students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Anonymous.

 Newly highlighted teaching resources and tips:

Best Practices for recording Blackboard Collaborate sessions:

  • Tutorial for recording a session
  • Tell students up front that the session will be recorded and why.
  • Be clear about why you are recording (e.g. so that students who can’t attend or have technical issues during, can review later).
  • Tell students that the recordings are stored on a Canadian-based server.
  • Advise students up front that they should not share the recording with anyone not in the class.
  • Give students the option of participating through audio/microphones or just via the chat room, etc.
  • Finally – instructors need to know where the recordings are and tell their students how to access them.

Key links already shared:


Assignments versus Quizzes in D2L – what is best for assessment?

Many of you are struggling with how to assess students in these final few weeks of classes after the sudden move to online teaching and learning. While there are no easy answers, other than “it depends…” (because it does depend – on your course, your assessments, your students, what they need for accreditation, etc.) I wanted to take a moment to discuss two of the assessment tools in D2L and how they might support you in your final “exams”, if you have them. Note that throughout this post I link to our tutorial site , as well as to resources contained on the STLHE Teaching & Assessing (Online) site. Both these sites are being updated daily, and I highly recommend reviewing the many resources on alternative assessments on both the STLHE site and our Assessments libguide.

Assignments tool (used to be called Dropbox) is a place students can submit various kinds of assignments including WORD or PDF documents, EXCEL spreadsheets, images, audio, video (with or without using Kaltura). It can also be connected to the Grades tool in D2L. There are other things the Assignments tool can do, but I will stick to the basics.

The Assignments tool can be used for handing in assignments, but can also be used for open book exams. An assignment folder can be opened on a specific day and time, and closed at a specific time. You can attach your exam to the folder so students can download it, complete it, and submit it before the time for the exam is up. Students will need to have a word processing program to access the exam, and you will need to consider how you will handle the thought of potential cheating (and you will think about that). But, especially when you have limited time to prepare, this tool will serve you very well and probably be the less stressful of these two tools to use.

The Quizzes tool allows you to build exams using multiple choice, true/false, matching, short answer, written response (essay) questions. Quizzes can be auto-graded by D2L, except for Written Response questions, and the grades can be connected to the Grades tool. Quizzes can be timed, and questions can be shuffled or randomized.

The Quizzes tool is good for timed assessments (you can use Special Access to support student with accommodations), but I will ask you to consider that your students right now are likely stressed out, dealing with all the same personal issues you are, in addition to trying to finish off their school year, so consider carefully before creating strict time-based assessments. The trick with creating a quiz is that it takes some time to create your question bank, time you might not have when trying to figure out how to teach your students online at the same time.

Whichever tool you choose to use, I recommend creating a practice run – a practice Assignment folder or a practice Quiz – so that both you and your students can feel more comfortable with the tool(s) before a high-stakes final exam.

And perhaps neither of these tools is what you are looking for as you rethink your final assessments.  And that’s where we in eLearning are here to help you make your final online assessments happen in the best way possible for you and your students. Contact desupport@camosun.ca, or contact an instructional designer directly, for more information. If there are additional resources, or specific topics you would like me to cover on this blog, email me at schudele@camosun.ca.

Online Teaching Presence – Letting your students know you’re there!

Today I am going to repeat a post I wrote a few years ago, modified to help you as you move into teaching online when neither you nor your students signed on for this kind of delivery.

Instructor presence

… a sense of presence is “being there” and “being together” with online learners throughout the learning experience. It looks and feels as if ….the instructor is accessible to the learners and that the learners are accessible to the instructor and each other, and that the technology is transparent to the learning process.

Lehman, R.M. and Conceição, S.C.O (2010) Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching, Jossey-Bass, p. 3

Online presence is about engaging with your students in your online course .  This could be as simple as saying “hello!” or answering questions posted in a discussion forum, or posting reminders in the News tool.  Remember that while you may go into your online course frequently to read postings and grade assignments, your students can’t see you there unless you “talk” to them.  And if you don’t talk to them regularly, they will begin to think you are not there at all.

Establishing presence

While we normally talk about establishing your presence in an online classroom as part of how you design your course, I know you simply don’t have time for considering design in the way we would normally recommend.  So, in the short term,

  • Set expectations immediately (for yourself and for students), and place this information in easy-to-access locations.
  • Adjust the tone of your writing voice so you sound like you’re speaking to students.  Writing your course notes in a style that mimics how you would talk to your students in a face-to-face class will help bring you to life even without audio or video.
  • Post daily messages in the News tool in D2L – and I do mean every day, even over the weekends.  I know normally you might not check-in with students on a weekend, but they may very likely be very nervous about being abandoned in their online course.
  • Let your students know immediately where they can expect to hear from you during the course (i.e., is there an Instructor Messages forum they should be checking? Will you be using the News tool to send regular messages?), as well as how often (i.e., will you be checking the site daily? In the morning? Evening? How often will you be replying to student questions, etc.?) Once you’ve established your plan, stick to it. And if it has to change for some reason, let your students know.

In this time of Crisis

  • Integrate messages of care to your students – they are also adjusting to a life online they were not expecting, and may also be caring for children, parents, and themselves.
  • Reiterate in the News tool where they are in the course – what content should they be reviewing, what they should be doing with it, etc. and explain what is coming up
  • Set up places in the course where they can ask questions, or just post messages to each other (for example, using the Discussions tool for Course Questions and a Coffee Shop Topic)
  • Repeat expectations and keep letting them know where they can get help with technical issues, etc.
  • Let them know when they will hear from you next, and stick to your plan.  If you cannot make any deadlines yourself, make sure to tell them!

This is just the beginning – once you establish your presence, you will need to maintain it.  While I am recommending communicating with your students daily, don’t burn yourself out either.  The expectations you set should be for both them and you – it’s ok to let them know what is going on for you in your life right now as well.  We are all human in this!

For more help with ideas on how to engage with your students online, contact an instructional designer in eLearning (by emailing desupport@camosun.ca).


Strategies for supporting student assessment and maintaining academic integrity in an online environment

In this time of crisis-moving from face to face to online, especially as we are approaching the end of the term, many of you are wondering  what to do about your assessments.  We think it’s important for you to consider not sticking to the status quo, but think about how best to assess given your and your students’ mental health and stress levels right now.   So, here are some things to think about from the Camosun College Online Library & Learning Services Support during COVID-19 Libguide, as created by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (of which I am a part, in the eLearning Unit).

There is a lot of information here, so for support with your own particular situation, contact an instructional designer in eLearning (by emailing desupport@camosun.ca) for help.

Assignments and assessments

Consider your students’ mental health and the impact of a high-anxiety situation on their ability to effectively demonstrate their learning.

  • Consider removing Enforced Time Limits on online exams and quizzes.
  • Be as flexible as possible and avoid creating rigid or narrow time-based expectations for assignments, exams, or participation.

Consider your students’ access to technology and working spaces, as well as students’ (and your own) technical experience.

  • Consider that many students may only have access to a mobile device, so be mindful of how you present information (e.g. chunk information, use bulleted lists, post in PDF format).
  • Consider that many students may have children at home, be sharing working spaces with other family members, or have other similar distractions they can’t avoid and that may affect their ability to demonstrate their learning.
  • Consider that some students may not have reliable access to the Internet when they are off-campus.
  • Consider confidentially polling your students (e.g. by email) to determine what access they have to devices and internet, as well as other accessibility considerations. This will help inform some of the options that will need to be provided to students.
  • Whatever tool you are using for assessment, give your students a no-stakes practice run in the tool so they, and you, can get familiar with how it works.
  • Allow multiple attempts at online quizzes, making testing a learning experience (and to prevent technical issues on one attempt affecting students’ grades).

Consider modifying your assessment plan.

  • Use ungraded, self-check quizzes for highly technical course content to check student learning and determine whether teaching strategies should be altered.
  • Provide students with assessment options to support engagement and learning, as well as their access to, and comfort with, technology.
  • Use a variety of assessment types to allow students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge/skills in different ways (e.g. artifacts, portfolios, recorded presentations, slideshows, reflective video responses, written responses, data interpretation and analysis).
  • Use self- and peer-assessments to reduce instructor workload, improve student learning experiences, and build community.
  • Use frequent, low-stakes quizzes to reinforce facts and concepts and prepare students for larger assessments.
  • Use short-answer questions and get students to apply new concepts to specific scenarios to increase the difficulty of online assessments.

Consider providing clear and simple instructions.

  • Consider providing more context to learners for assignments and assessments that are now online to provide as much clarity as possible.
  • Break down complex or multi-part assignments into smaller components and deliver separately (allows for more frequent feedback) (e.g. a larger essay could have three graded components: a proposal, an outline and annotated bibliography, and a final submission).

Open-book and online assessment

Consider open book assessment online if you are assessing learning outcomes that involve higher-order thinking such as application of knowledge and skills, critical thinking, analysis, or evaluation. Considerations when designing open book assessment:

  • Are you assessing interpretation and application of knowledge, comprehension skills, or critical thinking skills rather than basic knowledge recall?
  • Are you designing your questions and exam / paper with the skills and knowledge as stated in the course learning outcomes?
  • Do questions require students to apply and make use of the information from their textbook or notes rather than simply require them to locate and re-write the information?
  • Consider using problem-based scenarios or real-world cases.
  • Refer specifically to course content, lectures, and materials.

Quick reads on open book assessment:

Quick reads for online assessment strategies:


  • Look for opportunities to provide feedback to the entire class – i.e. an announcement or e-mail summarizing patterns observed in student assignments.
  • Give feedback in different formats, including written, audio-recorded, or video-recorded.
  • Include some element of formative feedback, such as multiple attempts for questions, hints, full solutions, and recommendations for the future, to help students learn through doing the assessment.


  • Share detailed criteria with students in advance of the assignment in the form of rubrics or guidelines.
  • Ensure that questions, instructions, and rubrics are clear (students won’t be able to ask for clarification as readily as they can in a face-to-face environment).
  • Record synchronous meetings so that students can watch at a later time if necessary.
  • Provide a space for students to ask questions, such as a discussion board, so that all students have equal access to information.
  • Provide opportunities for students to contribute to asynchronous discussion boards or complete online quizzes at times that are most convenient to them.
  • Start with practice tests using the test-taking platform before completing a quiz on the same platform so students can become comfortable and familiar with its use.
  • Set realistic expectations for assignments/projects, bearing in mind students’ access to resources and the ability of teams to meet in person.

Academic Integrity

  • Communicate with students about what constitutes academic integrity in an online environment.
  • Ensure expectations and guidelines for assignments, assessments, and projects are clear for students, including whether activities are to be done individually or collaboratively.
  • Use tools in D2L such as question and answer randomization or shuffling questions, use of question pools, changing numbers in math questions, or blocking access to course content, to protect academic integrity on online assignments and quizzes.
  • Design questions that cannot be answered easily unless students have done previous work in the course; assign work that builds sequentially, or on prior submitted work.
  • Design different (or alter) questions for different sections of the same course.
  • Consider having students submit a short video or audio answer by phone or Kaltura in response to questions or prompts (helps ensure they have formulated arguments on their own).
  • Have students apply personal experience when answering questions, or require the incorporation of unique resources (e.g., current newspapers).
  • Include a self-reflection and/or critical thinking component in assignments and assessments.
  • Use multiple choice questions primarily for ungraded assignments or self-assessments.
  • Alternate standard assessments, such as quizzes and midterms, with case studies, portfolios, presentations, or discussions
  • Put one question per screen to reduce the use by students of “screen print” to copy the test questions.
  • Use authentic assessment (activities or projects where students demonstrate application of their learning), using rubrics where possible.


Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo. (n.d.). Encouraging Academic Integrity Online. Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/planning-courses/course-design/encouraging-academic-integrity-online

Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). Keep Teaching.ca

University of Windsor (2020). Exams and alternate assessments during disruptions. Retrieved from http://mediawikibe.uwindsor.ca/wiki/index.php/Exams_and_Alternate_Assessments_During_Disruptions

Vancouver Island University (2020). Transitioning to remote studies mid-stream: Teaching strategies for student independence and success. Retrieved from https://wordpress.viu.ca/ciel/2020/03/14/transitioning-to-remote-studies-mid-stream-teaching-strategies-for-student-independence-and-success/

Weleschuk, A., Dyjur, P. & Kelly, P. (2019). Online Assessment in higher education Taylor Institute. University of Calgary. Retrieved from https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/sites/default/files/TI%20Guides/Online%20Assessment%20Guide-2019-10-24.pdf

 Western University. (n.d.). Teachology: Evidence-informed answers to your eLearning questions at Western University. Retrieved from https://www.teachology.ca/knowledgebase/how-do-i-assess-student-learning-online/

And Chaos Reigned

Hello everyone out there.  Most of you (all of you?) are now in the thick of the mad rush to move online in the world that is COVID Crisis.

I am going to try and post something every day to support any way I can in the next few weeks.

I know many of you are creating amazing resources to support your faculty and students in this frantic chaotic rush to online learning, and I wanted today to share one of the resource sites we have set up here at Camosun.  This is our eLearning Guidance for Remote Instruction.

On this site, you will find some things to think about (and we recommend taking a moment to breathe and calm your mind first).  You will also find links to our many tutorials for Collaborate, Kaltura, and D2L – all are CC-BY licenced so you can take and adapt as you like.

I’ll leave you with this for now, and return tomorrow with some more great resources for you.  And now, enjoy some entertainment to help you get through the rest of your day:


Integrating Creative Commons Material into your Course(s).

Open Education Week 2020 iconSome of you may know that last term, I completed the Creative Commons certificate.  It was an amazing course, and I highly recommend it to everyone.  A great example of how to open assignments up so that you are meeting outcomes through a variety of assessment choices (leaving it up to the learners to decide which assessment type is good for them), as well as a great example of using various online technologies to support learners in how they interacted with the course material.

For the certificate, I completed a number of assignments, all of which are available on one of my personal blog sites, but I thought for this final Open Education Week post, I would share my final assignment with you, an online workshop entitled Integrating Creative Commons Material into your Course(s).

I will be working on revising this workshop for delivery at Camosun this spring (as an asynchronous, self-paced workshop), and would invite anyone out there to provide feedback to me.  If you have any words of wisdom or suggestions for me, please either comment on this post, or email me at Schudele@camosun.ca.

Thanks for joining me this Open Education Week 2020!  I will continue to share posts on Open with you regularly, so please keep visiting!

Open Education Week – The Student Voice

Open Education Week 2020 iconIn this world of sky-rocketing costs for students (textbooks being only one of the many budgetary items facing students), integrating Open Educational Resources (OERs) (and other no-cost resources) into your courses can go a long way towards helping students continue, and succeed in, their studies.

On the Douglas College Library Open Libguide site, you can read about and listen to some of the ways OERs are supporting students.

BCcampus has produced the OER Student Toolkit which outlines ways students can advocate for the adoption of OERs at their institutions.

Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) programs across the world have really begun to make an impact on reducing costs for students.  The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources relates some of these Impact Stories told by students in their own words.

Speaking of ZTC, you can learn more about what institutions in BC are doing by visiting the BCcampus ZTC page, or searching for individual institutions’ work, for example, the ZTC impact at Kwantlen Polytechnic.

Finally, for a discussion around the pedagogical impact on students through the use of OER, check out Christina Hendrick’s post Engaging Students with OER.

Want to know more about how creating, adapting, or adopting OER can support your students?  Email eLearning Support  to arrange to talk to an instructional designer.

Open Education Week – Open Images Galore!

Open Education Week 2020 iconSome exciting news from the creative commons (CC) licensed images front.  The Smithsonian has announced the launch of Smithsonian Open Access, which has moved 2.8 million digital images into the open.

Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images and Data into the Public Domain Using CC0 

Wondering where else you can find CC licensed images to include in your course materials?  Start by checking out the Camosun Library Libguide, specifically the section on Open Culture.   Here, you will find links to a number of repositories containing images that are either CC licensed or in the Public Domain (PD).

Wiki Commons is one of the places listed, and is a great source for PD and CC images.  Just go to Wiki Commons and search for whatever you are looking for.  Once you click on am image you are interest in, you can find the licensing information by scrolling down.  Look for either the CC licence

CC licence

Or a PD notice

Public Domain notice

And here is how you can use Google to filter your searches for CC licensed images:  go to Google Advanced Image Search and scroll down to use the “Usage Rights” option to search for copyright-free materials.

Google Advanced Search

Need more ideas and help?  Contact one of your friendly Camosun librarians, or contact eLearning Support (desupport@camosun.ca) to arrange for a consult with an instructional designer.

Open Education Week – Stories from the Ground

Open Education Week 2020 iconSo, today I thought I would share some resources and stories around how people in different disciplines have been using OERs (Open Educational Resources) to support their students.

First up, a PowerPoint presentation on  Creating Content-Based Instructional Materials for English Language Learners, Using Open Educational Resources. from the University of Arizona.  You will find some tips on what you need to think about when creating OER, how to search for existing material, as well as links to the resources created by this group.

Next, a story from a Parker Glynn-Adey, an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga.  In Math professor engages students with an open educational resource,  Glynn-Adey explains the many benefits (not just financial) to students from adopting an open textbook.

In A growing appreciation for open textbooks, Physics professor Michael Chen describes how “what started for him as a way to reduce expenses for students has since turned into an opportunity to create a resource specifically tailored to his teaching situation.”

And finally, here are some brief success stories from faculty and student co-authors at Queen’s University who have developed their own open textbooks.

Want to know more about how you could create and integrate OER into your teaching, or need help finding OER relating to your discipline?  Email desupport@camosun.ca to book an appointment with an eLearning instructional designer.