Are you trying to make a customized banner for your course but having some trouble? Pixlr.com is a simple, free, Internet tool that allows you to customize images with text and other effects to make a fitting course banner.
To start, identify an image that you would like to use as your course banner. You can use an image from the web (keeping in mind copyright) by saving it to your computer (right click on the image > Save Image As) or choose a personal photo or image from your saved image files. Navigate to Pixlr.com choose Open Pixlr Editor. Once the Editor has loaded, select Open Image from Computer and choose an image saved to your computer.
The suggested size for a banner image is anywhere between 600-800 pixels wide and about 150 pixels tall. You can specify these dimensions by clicking image (at the top) > image size.
Pixlr creates layers so you can edit the background separately from the text. The Layers menu is located on the right-hand side of the Pixlr canvas. The banner image included above has two layers – one for the background image and one for the text. The layer you are editing is highlighted in blue. To edit another layer simply click on the layer from within the Layers list.
The icon circled in red is what brings up the editing options shown below the highlighted bar. Opacity will allow you to make the background more or less transparent. This may be a helpful tool if you want your text to POP.
The image to the left is a portion of the tools bar located on the left-hand side of the screen. The A icon is the text tool that will allow you to add text on top of your picture. Once you are done, click File > Save and save your picture as a JPEG. You can refer to the blog “Welcome Back and Looking Forward: Customizing the Look of Your Course Part II” to see how to upload your new banner into your course.
Walker Teacher Resource Center
The Blackboard Mobile Learn app is now available on most mobile device (iOS, Android, Palm, and BlackBerry) and all network providers. Mobile Learn is available to all UTC students, faculty, and staff at no cost.
Blackboard’s mobile app allows for easy access to course announcements, content, and grades on the go! Stay connected with students and explore new opportunities for learning and connecting outside the classroom.
While Blackboard Mobile Learn is an excellent tool for staying connected with students and faculty, it is not recommended (or possible, in some cases) that instructors use Blackboard Mobile for course management functions (creating or grading assignments, adding content, working in the Grade Center).
Additionally, students should not rely solely on Blackboard Mobile to participant in online class activities and should avoid using the mobile app to complete any assignments or assessments.
Accessing Blackboard via a full computer browser is still necessary for both faculty and students in order to complete many online course activities.
For installation instructions and instructional recommendations, visit UTC Online’s Blackboard Mobile Learn webpage.
Senior Instructional Designer
Exciting improvements and enhancements are coming to UTC Online during 2013! From free apps to new Banner processes, the Center for Online and Distance Learning continues to work to improve online and distance learning at UTC.
Did you know that you can access your UTC courses in Blackboard using your smartphone or tablet by downloading the free Blackboard Learn Mobile application? After you download the app, you will be prompted to log in with your UTC ID and password. Once logged-in you will see a listing of all of your available courses. We recommend avoiding processes such as taking quizzes or working in the grade book while on your mobile device, but it’s a great way to stay connected to discussions and content while on the go.
Beginning Fall 2013, you will be able to search and register for online and distance courses with greater ease with more detailed search options. Additionally, students will also be able to select online programs as majors during the application process. With these changes, we hope to build a foundation for UTC’s virtual campus and eventually increase online and hybrid courses and programs offered at UTC.
Stay tuned to our tweets and blogs throughout the spring semester for tips and tricks to help you with your courses.
Happy holidays from the Center for Online and Distance Learning!
Center for Online/Distance Learning
Finals week is here and you may be wondering what your grade is in a particular course or how well to do on your final to pull of an A. A great way to get started is to view your Grades and Feedback within UTC Online.
There are two possible ways to check your grades. If your grades are in neither of the following locations, you should contact your instructor to find out whether they are posting grades and making them available within UTC Online.
1.) From within a course, click on the My Grades button in the Control Panel. This will give you your grades for this course only.
2.) To check your grades for all courses, click on My Grades located in the Tools module on the Main Page. Then select a course from the My Courses/Organizations list.
Now that you know how to get to My Grades, you can also see if your instructor has left you any feedback. If your instructor has enabled this feature you will be able to receive detailed information about how you performed on you test, quiz, or submitted assignments. Detailed feedback can be found by clicking on your grade or reviewing the Comments column.
Check out this informative video to explore My Grades and its features.
Walker Center for Teaching and Learning
Finals are approaching quickly! Here are a few tips to make the week a little less stressful.
- Get an early start
- Don’t wait until the day before to begin studying. Start preparing for your exams at least a week before.
- Check UTC Online
- Check your courses on blackboard for study guides or tips from your professors on preparing for the exam.
- Utilize your planner. Mark down each of your finals and their start times. It is also helpful to mark in your planner a study schedule (i.e. what you need to study for each day and how much time you should devote to each subject)
- Making an outline will give you a great starting place. For each subject make an outline of the key points to study. Go back and fill in the specific details.
- Make flash cards
- After you have made your outline, make flash cards with the key points on one side and the specific details for that point on the other. Keep the flashcards with you in case you have spare time to look over them.
- Get help
- Don’t be afraid to go to your professor for help. If you do not understand a topic, they are more than willing to help. Tutors are also available for assistance, as well as peers who are in your class.
- Your brain needs rest to help you pass those tests! Get at least 7 hours of sleep the night before your big test.
- Don’t rush
- Take your time during your test. Read every question carefully so you can give the best answer.
The Center for Online and Distance Learning is a new entity here at UTC. Our goal is to expand online and distance class offerings, as well as present entire programs online. In addition to Blackboard, UTC CODL is experimenting with a couple of different technologies to help faculty deliver courses online. One of the most promising is called Mediasite.
Mediasite is a lecture capture technology that records a presenter’s video with audio and the content that they are presenting, and combines them into one presentation. This content can be streamed live or can be recorded and stored so students can access the content on-demand. Mediasite also offers a level of interactivity where students can ask questions, answer polls, or visit links that the instructor has prepared beforehand. If faculty are concerned about intellectual property, the presentations can be protected behind a login so only those enrolled in the class or otherwise granted access can view the content.
Mediasite is ideal for other applications as well, such as live-streaming of events on campus, including Commencement. Some examples of how we have used it here at UTC can be found here. Appropriate for the political season that we are in, Mediasite was used recently by Marquette University to inform voters of the results of a voter attitude poll that was conducted on campus and has been used many times in the past to stream other political discussions and events.
In the near future, Mediasite will be releasing a desktop recorder version that will enable faculty to record from their work computers, home computers, or while they are teaching a live class.
It is certain the lecture capture and video will be an increasing part of higher education in the years to come. Do you think lecture capture or video could be a part of your classroom? In what ways could it expand or reinforce your teaching? Not sure? Check out this upcoming webinar for some ideas.
The Center for Online and Distance Learning offered its first Blackboard Course Development: Teaching Online Boot Camp this October. The two-week workshop was designed as a crash course in teaching online at UTC and was presented in a hybrid format (workshop materials and interactions took place online and special topics were addressed in two face-to-face meetings).
Instructors from departments all over campus quickly filled up all available spots in the workshop; all hoping to explore the possibility of taking their course online. Five instructors completed the workshop. which focused on methods and best practices for teaching online. Participating instructors were students in this Blackboard workshop, giving them first-hand experience with being an online student and the use of Blackboard’s various learning and engagement tools.
Participant Survival Guide:
- Set aside 2 hours every day (Monday-Friday) to participate in the workshop
- If you are not familiar with Blackboards tools – accessing content, submitting assignments, participating discussions, and blogging – you may need more time to work through the tutorials in the course
- Read all discussion board posts and respond to your colleagues 2-4 times throughout the week
- Visit the faculty developers in the Walker Center for Teaching and Learning (401 Hunter Hall). Training and troubleshooting available Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Lessons Learned (workshop adjustments):
- Possibly spread the workshop over a month?
- Possibly schedule department specific sessions? Would allow for specific curriculum discussions.
- Schedule open lab sessions in addition to face-to-face meetings to support Blackboard training needs and troubleshooting
We would love your feedback! Are two-weeks too short and/or too intense? Would a month with more flexibility in participation be better or is a month too long? What do you think of the hybrid format? What topics are of interest to you?
Interested in participating in the next Boot Camp? Sign-up for January’s session here.
So it’s that time of year again and all of your students have begun to ask you what their grades are in your course. Want to avoid the flood of emails coming through? Go ahead and check out what grade information your students can see…. from their point of view.
You are in control of what Grade Center data is released to your students. First make sure My Grades is not hidden to students, by clicking on the chevron button and selecting Show Link.
Next, enter your Grade Center and check to see if each of your grade columns permits students to view the grade. To do this, use the chevron button next to the grade column and click Edit Column Information. Scroll down to 3. Options and make sure Show this Column to Students is set to Yes.
Take it one step further and use your Test Student to view My Grades from a student’s perspective.
(Control Panel > Course Tools > Add a Test Student)
You can also update your Test Student password if you have forgotten the Test Student’s unique password.
*Note that the Test Student ID is the same as your UTC ID with “_s” added to the end.
For more information on mastering the Grade Center check out our UTC Online Faculty Tutorials.
Walker Center for Teaching and Learning
This fall and winter the Center for Online/Distance Learning is offering two opportunities to explore teaching and learning online in an intensive 2 week hybrid* workshop. This workshop will prepare participants to supplement their face-to-face course with online interactions and activities or design an online course. Workshop participants will test their readiness for online instruction, explore best practices in online teaching, and unpack how to create content, interaction and assessments for delivery online.
*Workshop participants will meet in-person 2 times in addition to completing activities online. Course requires approximately 16 hours total (2 hours are face-to-face along with optional face-to-face lab time). The group will meet face-to-face during the second week. Specific dates and times for face-to-face meetings will be determined by participant availability.
Join us this fall or winter:
October 8-19 (meets online*) – sign up for this session
January 28- February 8 (meets online*) – sign-up for this session
For more information contact Erin Noseworthy.
401 Hunter Hall
It is a new semester and a new start for both you and your students. While designing your online class, it is easy to get distracted by creating your syllabus, posting lecture notes, and everything else that comes along with online learning, but don’t forget the basics of welcoming your students to the class! The welcome message is the first thing students will see upon entering the class. This message will not only welcome them, but it will also act as a helpful resource in navigating the course. For this reason, as well as to avoid having the message get lost in a sea of emails, it is more beneficial to have this message appear in the course, itself as an announcement or item. Whether it is a freshman with little online learning experience or a senior with a bit more experience, more than likely this particular class is new to them and the welcome message will be their first impression of the course…make it count.
The welcome message should be informal, warm, and friendly. This message will also act as a guide for what will be expected in the course. With this in mind, the language and tone of the message should also reflect the formality of the course. The content should include information about you (the instructor), what the course will be about, and what will be expected from both you and the students throughout the course. A suggested technique to incorporate in your welcome message is to ask an open-ended question to help urge students to start a discussion (Winograd, 2002). A course café discussion forum is an easy way for students to have an open dialogue throughout the semester.
- Use a welcome message to welcome your students to the course.
- It should reflect the formality and expectations of the course (it can also be used for help with navigation throughout the online environment course).
- Try to keep it light and friendly
- Use an open-ended question to help spark a dialogue with and/or between the students.
Winograd, D. (2002). Guidelines for moderating online educational computer conferences. TechTrends , 46 (5), 53-57.
Creating an Announcement
Center for Online/Distance Learning