Fall 2014 Faculty Showcase Series

In November and December we invited Emerson faculty with exemplary use of technology in their instruction to share their methods and impact with other members of the community.

Presenter Department Topic
Paul Mihailidis Marketing Communication Socrative, Storify
Ruth Grossman Communication Sciences & Disorders EduCanon, Whiteboards
Janet Kolodzy Journalism WordPress
Daniel Kempler Communication Sciences & Disorders Canvas
Jena Castro-Casbon Communication Sciences & Disorders Facebook

In addition to introducing the tool and sharing a little bit about how it operates, all of the presenters offered some insight into its success in their course.

Every presentation focused on a different technology, but there were a few common goals:

  • Facilitating communication to improve the classroom experience.
  • Giving students a public forum for their work to improve its quality and relevance.
  • Building learning objectives around the technology that will help to accomplish them.

Both sessions were live-streamed using Adobe Connect, which served as a digital classroom and allowed people who couldn’t attend in person to listen, ask questions and give feedback.



How well are your students understanding your lectures? How valuable would it be to know this when preparing tomorrow’s lecture? How about in the middle of class, before moving on to the next topic?


Personal whiteboards

Let’s just talk whiteboards for a moment. Of any technology in the faculty showcase series, I was most impressed with the simplicity of dry erase markers on personal whiteboards distributed to each student at the start of class. Ruth Grossman highlighted the benefits: easy to acquire, easy to use, the insight of a pop-quiz with the atmosphere of a game show.

Grossman encouraged talking about the purpose of the process and stressed 100% participation for every question. Once students adopt this platform you’ll be better able to gauge their understanding of topics as they’re presented and adjust lessons on the fly.

Whiteboards aren’t the only tool that can get a quick read on the room. If you’re familiar with clickers, a polling technology with remote controlled units, you understand that hardware and software can come together to capture the student response to questions digitally.



For a large class, Paul Mihailidis made use of Socrative, web-based polling software that allows anyone to use a mobile device to answer questions that have been prepared in advance or impromptu. He recommended it for use with sections of 60 or more students and found it to be a powerful way to guide the focus of smaller breakout groups.

This kind of data can also be useful outside of the classroom. Ruth Grossman highlighted her use of eduCanon to annotate recorded lecture materials. These videos play back just like any YouTube clip, but at predetermined time-stamps the recording will pause and present a question to the viewer that they must answer to continue watching.



Grossman got overwhelming feedback in her course that multiple choice questions were helpful when presented at the times she specified in the clips. By providing insight with the responses, the students could see the answer in the context of the lesson and also learn why other answers were incorrect.



While Grossman used eduCanon with her own recordings, the tool can be paired with any publicly visible YouTube clip. As this trend grows, it’s important for web users to be savvy about what resources they’re utilizing. To this end Paul Mihailidis challenged his students to create narratives that make use of this digital gluttony of information.



Storify is part word processor and part search engine. It lets you do your research and writing side by side so that the evidence becomes part of the story. Mihailidis uses this tool experimentally and treats it as an opportunity to help build an understanding of what makes a source credible.

In Janet Kolodzy’s courses, budding journalists face similar challenges in their research for the Survive and Thrive project. Visit surviveandthriveboston.com and you’ll find articles that were prepared using WordPress, a self-publishing platform.


surviveandthrive.com (WordPress)

Each student commits to a topic and writes their post with a shared audience in mind. They are collaborating to tell their own stories in the context of a larger one. Kolodzy appreciates WordPress for its ease-of-use and real-world application and believes that students take greater ownership in their work when publishing online.



Synchronizing a technology with course learning objectives is an art. In Jena Castro-Casbon’s Connecting Online group she crafted a meaningful tool for her graduate students that also enhanced the lives of the clients they supported through the Robbins Speech, Language and Hearing Center. This is an example of Facebook at its finest.



Castro-Casbon created a closed Facebook group that she, her students, and the clients joined to connect privately without revealing their interactions beyond the group or personal account details to one another. Over the course of the semester, the students guided the clients through the communication challenges and hesitations they had while educating them on the social customs prevalent in the platform.

With Castro-Casbon’s adminstrative oversight the students improved in their ability to support the clients. The clients, though, got a different benefit – they left feeling confident in their ability to communicate with friends and family in a previously daunting digital space. This was a successful match between the technology implemented and the educational goal.


Canvas discussion board

Daniel Kempler also made use of a digital space to improve communication. He wanted his students to be able to have professional conversations on industry topics online so that they would be able to better connect with their colleagues as they entered the professional realm. Utilizing a few key features in a Canvas course, Kempler had his students work through two assignments.

In one, he asked students to share a journal article and comment on those selected by their peers. Questions on why a treatment worked or didn’t and what could be done differently fostered thoughtful discussion from students that might have otherwise been silent in a classroom.

In his second assignment, Kempler assigned a short paper and had students break into small groups. He asked them to collaborate outside the classroom but did not designate a particular technology to facilitate the group work. Students suggested that they would have benefited more from completing this assignment during class due to the confusion around how and when students would contribute to the shared effort.

Similar to the other projects reviewed, both of these assignments generated valuable feedback and illustrated the importance of the relationship between course goals and the tools used to achieve them. The Fall 2014 Faculty Showcase highlighted just a handful of the creative ways technology can enhance education and demonstrated some of the challenges and rewards of innovation.

As always, if you have any questions about bringing a new technology into your teaching, don’t hesitate to contact ITG by emailing itg@emerson.edu or by calling 617-824-8090.

Canvas Release Notes for December

Before you all venture to food, friends and family for the Holiday break, we at ITG wanted to let you in on some Canvas functionality changes that will await you when you return to Canvas and campus. One of the major requests we have heard from all of you (faculty and staff) has been that the Files area of Canvas wasn’t very “21st Century”. Well, Instructure has heard you as well! Here is a great overview over the new look and feel of Files:

Files has been redesigned for a more improved user experience. The new files redesign allows users to view more details about their files, manage editing permissions, and preview files. In addition, Files is fully accessible for all keyboard users and screen readers.

Files is fully searchable by file name and offers quick access to add a folder or upload a file. The left panel shows all folders for quick navigation. Clicking the name of a folder displays all the contents of the folder in the right panel. For each file, users can view and sort files by name, the date the file was created and modified, the name of the person who modified the file (if modified by another user), and the size of the file. Files can also be published and unpublished within Files.


Note: Currently, files can only be published and unpublished within the Files page. If a file is placed in a Module, Modules only displays the state of the file; you cannot directly publish or unpublish files within the module itself.

Additionally, Files is built with responsive design to adjust for browser scaling. The folder navigation window, file displays, and even file names adjust to the width of the browser window.


Files can be uploaded and previewed without the use of Flash. Users can view a queue of uploaded files and their status. To upload a file, click the Upload button, or drag and drop a file from the computer desktop.

When a file is selected, Files displays the file toolbar at the top of the window. Users can download the file, edit the file name, share the file, delete the file, and move the file to another location. Users can also edit permissions for files, including setting the state of the file (published or unpublished), schedule availability dates for the files, or make files available to students who have the link. Users can also download, rename, move, or delete a file using the Settings icon for each individual file. Users can select and manage multiple files at one time.

To move a file, users can also drag and drop the file into different file folders. Files will display the icon for the file type that is being moved.


To view a file, click the file name. Files can also be previewed by clicking anywhere on the file information and clicking the View button in the toolbar. Files displays any file type that is compatible with the document previewer in Canvas. The preview displays the file and file information details, as well as a link to download the file.


The full release notes can be found on Instructure’s website and, as always, feel free to contact ITG by emailing itg@emerson.edu or calling 617-824-8090 if you have any questions about the new Files or any other Canvas feature.

New Canvas Features for November

Canvas has been just as busy as you these past few weeks. While there have been lots of little changes in the admin-side of things, two very visible features will be arriving soon to assist you in how you moderate quizzes and review student activity in your course.

Moderate Quiz Updates

The Moderate Quiz page has an updated design for a cleaner look. Additionally, the page also adds functionality for improving outstanding quiz verifications for large courses.

When a student views a timed quiz and time expires, Canvas auto-submits the quiz. However, if a student navigates away from the quiz page, the quiz submission remains outstanding. Previously instructors had to manually submit each outstanding quiz individually as indicated in the Time column as Time Up! Now, when instructors open the Moderate Quiz page, Canvas generates a warning message so instructors can manually check outstanding submissions for the entire quiz at one time.

Screen shoot of the new quiz moderation page.

User Access Report Additions

User access is now logged in the following areas of Canvas:

Course Home Page

At the course level, user access activity appears in a user’s Access Report. User access information also displays at the account level in user page views.


As always, don’t hesitate to call ITG at 617-824-8090 or email us at itg@emerson.edu if you have any questions about this update or Canvas in general. For the full release notes from Instructure, visit this link.

New Canvas Features – October

New Canvas Features for October 2014

The latest updates from Instructure to Canvas include some very popular requests that we’ve been getting from faculty since Canvas was first introduced here at Emerson. We here at ITG wanted to take some time and highlight the two biggest, new features! As always, the full feature list can be found on Instructure’s website, or by going here.

New Grading Symbol For Quizzes in Gradebook

When students complete a quiz that includes a manually graded question, the Grades page displays a Quiz icon instead of the current score, indicating that the quiz score is not yet complete. When students hover over the icon, students can view a message indicating that grading is in progress.

Student Grading Screenshot

The Quiz icon displays in the Gradebook for instructors as well, indicating that some questions in the quiz need to be graded manually. When the instructor assigns a score for the manually graded question, the icon for both the instructor and the student will be replaced with the complete quiz grade.

Screenshot of New Quiz Symbol For Instructors

Note: For instructors, the Quiz icon in the Gradebook can also mean that a Quiz score has been deleted and a new score needs to be assigned.

CC Yourself in Conversations

The Number One requested feature from Emerson faculty has finally made it into Canvas Conversations.

Users can set a new notification preference that allows them to receive a copy of all conversations they created. When enabled by the user, this feature allows users to see what conversations have been sent and how they appear in their specified communication channels.

Note: When a user creates a group message and clicks the Send Individual Messages checkbox, Canvas generates only one notification for the sent message. Notifications cannot be sent from the beta environment.

CC Conversations Screenshot

Reminder: In Conversations, sent messages appear in the Sent folder. When a message receives a reply, the message thread will appear in the Inbox. When a user creates a group message and clicks the Send Individual Messages checkbox, the Sent folder displays one message for each user, as replies are treated as individual messages.

As always, feel free to get in contact with us if you have any questions about integrating Canvas into your teaching. We can be reached via phone a 617-824-8090 or via email at itg@emerson.edu.