Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

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Instructions for using the Online Syllabus Builder

EdTechBrandi Bleak
 

This post has been updated to reflect the most recent information and no longer has links to the test envirnoment

 

my.fscj Integration

As most employees are aware, we are in the middle of a transition from the Artemis and Connections portals to our unified portal, my.fscj.edu. The move requires a new data workflow, integration of multiple systems, and updates to current tools. Our development team has been working diligently to prepare one specific piece of the puzzle, the Online Syllabus Builder.  

The updated version of the Syllabus Builder is located within my.fscj.edu within the faculty tab. In general, it functions very similarly to the prior version. If this is your first time using the online syllabus builder as a member of the FSCJ faculty, you should begin by viewing the Video Introduction that is in the middle of the home page for the Online Syllabus Builder, as shown in the image above. 

Please be aware that already developed syllabi from the old Online Syllabus Builder are able to be transferred to the new Syllabus Builder Platform.

Identifying Different Sections within the Syllabus Builder

When utilizing the syllabus builder,  it can be a bit challenging to identify how courses correlate to faculty schedules in the mySchedule area of myFSCJ. This can be particularly important to understand for faculty who may teach the same course in different formats (i.e. face to face, hybrid, or fully online versions of the same content) thus requiring that unique sections have different syllabi.

The example below provides a simple explanation of how to interpret the numbers in the syllabus builder to identify different sections of the same course. 

myFSCJ schedule example.jpg

The image to the left is a sample schedule that can be accessed via the faculty tab in myFSCJ (more information about accessing schedules can be found here).

The first text column contains a letter-number combination that identifies the course number (CHM1025C), the section number (17), and the class number (4754) for this specific class meeting. 

While the course number is the same for all courses of this type throughout the college, the section and class number are unique to this course offering at this specific time with this professor.  

It is possible to correlate the section number displayed in myFSCJ to the one in the Online Syllabus Builder so that each section can be identified so that the appropriate syllabi can be uploaded. 

Looking at the image of the course dropdown menu in the Syllabus Builder below,  one can see that the course title is followed by different string of numbers to identify each specific course offering.

When using this dropdown menu, the numbers in parentheses deliver the vital identifying information about each course.

  • The first set of six numbers identifies the course number (105708)
  • The next digit identifies the course offer number (1)
  • The next four digits identify the term (2178 for the Fall term)
  • The next digit identifies the session (1)
  • The next digit identifies the section number (17)

Thus,  section number (in this case, "17"), is the common thread that can enable professors to correlate the sections on their schedule with the sections listed in the Online Syllabus Builder.

syllabus builder dropdown.jpg

FAQs, Commonly Reported Issues, and Deployed Fixes

Below is a list of the most frequently reported current issues with my.FSCJ.edu, though it is by no means an exhaustive list. Please use the list below for self-service solutions, and contact EdTech@fscj.edu if you have an issue that is not included on this list, or if the suggested solution does not resolve the problem.

 

When I try to access the online syllabus builder via the faculty tab within my.FSCJ.edu, the link does not take me anywhere and I stay on the same page.

Turning off your browser's pop-up blocker and reloading the page should resolve the issue.

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When attempting to copy a syllabus and selecting various sections to include, only some of the sections copied, while several did not come over.

This is currently being reviewed and does not yet have a final resolution. As a workaround, once working inside the syllabus, instructors can select Show Outline, then click on the sections that did not come over and need to be added. Finish by selecting Update Outline.

IT Maintenance dates are no longer added to the online syllabus builder; where can I find them if I would like to include them in my syllabi or use for planning?

There will be a convenient link or availability to these and similarly useful dates within the Faculty tab of My.fscj, however in the meantime, please visit www.fscj.edu/news-events/calendar to view a complete calendar of College events.

As an instructor, my name is displaying a middle initial or another form of my name that I would like to edit. Is that possible?

This has been resolved and should now allow for changes to be made.

Copying a previous syllabus Calendar did not copy properly, can this be addressed?

This high priority issue has been resolved.

The holiday dates the College is closed are not displayed correctly within the syllabus.

Thanksgiving closing details, along with other dates have been updated. The formatting of this area has also been improved.

Book information is not displaying within the syllabus builder.

This high priority issue has been resolved. 

In the previous system I upload a custom photo, however, this is not functioning.

We currently do not support the custom image from Artemis. There is a possibility this will be enhanced in the future and we will continue to update as progress is made.

Can office hours be added globally, or at least to multiple syllabi instead of needing to be input for each course taught? 

New feature: option to copy office hours between syllabus

In the updated version of the syllabus builder, the option to copy office hours to another syllabus will be available. 

The functionality to create global office hours has not been added at this time, but the team will be surveying users to ensure this option would be most beneficial and addressing a solution in the near future.

Could students search for an instructor's hours instead of hosting only within the online syllabus?

The site search is a great idea that will also be added to the queue to be worked on this Fall.

Can required text books pull from an instructor's book adoption request rather than the bookstore's order?

The book request needs to be handled through the Follett process, so no change will be made.

The experience of viewing a syllabus on mobile needs improving. Is that possible?

This has been addressed and will be finalized soon for a better viewing experience on mobile.

There's an issue when displaying different syllabi in same browser session. This workflow is necessary for reviewing multiple syllabi at one time. Can this be addressed? 

This has been corrected and should no longer be an issue. 

Deans have numerous courses, which at times makes it difficult to find a specific course or session. How can this be improved? 

Dean's View now has the ability to filter by sessions.


 

Reporting an Issue

If you spot any issues that are not mentioned in the list above, please use the Report Issue button that is highlighted in the graphic above to notify the development team directly. Be as descriptive as possible to assist the team with addressing the concern. Although there is a list of issues currently being worked on, don't hesitate to submit any concerns you may have.

Tools for the Millennial Student Training Materials

Workshop, EdTechRobyn Reese
 

On July 13, 2017, the Educational Technology Department worked with the Office of Training and Organizational Development to offer Tools for the Millennial Student, a look at how technology has changed the educational experience for today's students. The training provided an overview of some apps, websites, and applets that fit into the broad categories of effective learning detailed in the graphic above, drawn from the Adobe Education Creativity Study.

 

MediaSpace/CaptureSpace

For those who are interested in learning more about MediaSpace, FSCJ's media streaming service and CaptureSpace, the screencasting and recording tool, the Office of Training and Professional Development is offering a dedicated session on Wednesday, July 19th at 2:00 at the Advanced Technology Center Downtown. 

You can also view an In Focus webinar that showcased MediaSpace, produced by the Academic Technology Department, here, along with a series of tutorials that explain how to use some of the more advanced features of MediaSpace, like chaptering and video quizzing. Information about the Reach auto-captioning service for MediaSpace can be found by watching this tutorial. Remember that, as discussed in training, all academic videos should be captioned to 99% accuracy in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Blackboard Collaborate

Based upon the results of the exit survey that we administered at the end of the training, many of the participants wanted more information about the use of Blackboard Collaborate. You can find a series of webinars that detail the many features of Collaborate, along with best practices for their use, here. 

Thanks so much for attending our training! For more information about inititiatives offered through the Training and Organizational Development Office, click here to visit their website. 

Apps for Student Success Presentation from HHS Common Orientation

EdTechRobyn Reese

Thanks so much for attending our presentation, Apps for Student Success, at the Health and Human Services Common Orientation, held at North Campus on July 14th. Below is a copy of the presentation used, which includes the names of all of the recommended apps and information about how to get them. Due to high student interest, we also wanted to share some information about how to get free copies of the Microsoft 365 suite of productivity tools for your home computer. Instructions for doing so can be found here. 

Best of luck to all of you as you continue your degree program at FSCJ! It was a pleasure to meet you, and please do not hesitate to reach out to Information Technology if you ever have questions or issues with computers, Blackboard, or any other FSCJ system.

Will HEIF replace JPEG?

DMP, News, EdTechBrandi Bleak

If you’ve taken, shared, or edited a photo within the last 25 years, chances are you’ve worked with a JPEG file. This file format is the standard for all digital photos, was around before modern digital cameras were available, and every camera on the market currently is able to export photos as JPG files. Just like many other technologies, though, it looks like we could be heading toward a change in the standard file format that many of us use on a daily basis. 

During Apple’s most recent WWDC 2017 Keynote on June 5th, they introduced a file format that will give images better quality while only requiring half of the storage space on a mobile device. If you are an avid user of your mobile device's camera, you know what a needed innovation this is, as it is sometimes challenging to balance personal storage needs for apps, files, videos, and photos. This Fall, with the launch of iOS 11, iPhones and iPads will all capture and store images in HEIF, or High Efficiency Image File Format. The smaller image files will include all of the features users expect, as well as anticipating the needs of future users. 

 

If Apple has its way, the standard file format everyone is used to will be improved and JPEGs will be replaced by HEIFs.

 

The HEIF format stores images, video, image bursts, audio, and text together in one file, that can be edited without compromising the original quality of the image. When editing or cropping a file, a separate portion of the file is viewed without taking up additional storage, essentially utilizing non-destructive edits. That’s a huge improvement from the JPEG, which when an image was saved, it gave you a final image with less quality each time it was edited. 

Example files copyright © Nokia Technologies 2017

Example files copyright © Nokia Technologies 2017

View more example images

What does this mean for an average user? At this point, we will have to wait and see. If the format catches on though, consider the extent to which images are currently integrated into our everyday life and communications. Software companies will have to adapt to the change by issuing updates that will enable this new file type to be compatible with current desktop applications. Additionally, websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat where images are a core component of the service will need to support the files, and browsers will need to adjust as well. It could instigate a series of huge changes throughout all segments of technology. 

However, Apple isn’t the only one working to change our future. Google has also developed their own format for images on the web, called WebP.  it remains to be seen which of these two massive tech companies' file format will become the new standard. 

Low-Cost (Mobile) Virtual Reality Options

EdTechRobyn Reese

In a past post on this blog, we examined the highest quality virtual reality devices that are on the market right now. Currently, the best VR systems available require the use of a standalone computer with a high-powered processor and graphics card, and range in price from $500 to $800 dollars. If you are interested in acquiring one of these and have the budget to do so, click here to read our roundup of the computer-enabled VR headsets. If you just want to experiment with VR, or to incorporate it into your classroom without breaking the bank, read on! 

Lower cost VR systems rely upon the use of a mobile device to provide the processing power. These mobile device VR headsets are essentially holders or viewers that work in conjunction with specially designed mobile apps to produce an immersive experience. This experience can vary in quality, depending upon the screen resolution and power of the phone and the control mechanism and lenses of the headset being used. The first mobile VR headset to be distributed widely was the Google Cardboard, a fifteen dollar headset that was so simple that users could assemble it themselves, or even download plans to print their own. As the Cardboard gathered steam (Ten million units have been distributed since it appeared in 2014), it became apparent that there was a need for headsets with more durability, and that there was a market for competition. Here are some of the best examples of mobile VR headsets that are built to last, low in cost, and reliant on a mobile device. 

Samsung Gear VR

The Samsung Gear Mobile VR headset is currently the most widely known of this category of headsets, and is currently the best-selling unit in this category on Amazon.com. It is also currently the most expensive in this category, with a new model priced at $109. The Gear is often bundled as a giveaway with the purchase of Samsung Galaxy devices, making it more affordable if you are in the market for a new phone. The Gear is designed to be paired with Galaxy family of phones, though it can be used with other mobile devices, albeit with limited functionality. Those who are using the Gear with a Galaxy phone can take advantage of one of its most unique features, the controller, which enables you to manipulate or change the content and gaming experience on the device without removing your phone from the holder to tap the screen or the buttons. 

Reviews indicate that this feature of the Gear is one of the reasons that it is currently at the top of its market, along with the fact that it integrates with the Oculus Store. This integration means that users of the Gear must download an Oculus app that enables them to use the content. Unfortunately, though this means that some of the best games and experiences in Virtual Reality are available to users of Gear VR, it seems that many games experience glitches because the mobile phones does not have the requisite processing power to deliver the full, smooth experience. 

As mentioned above, the Gear VR headset can be used by anyone with a mobile device, however, the feature set is severely limited, based upon the type of phone being used. iOS capable devices do not have access to the Oculus Store, severely limiting the experience. Also, currently the remote control might best be described as "in development", since fewer than ten apps in the store take full advantage of it! Another mark in the negative column for the Gear is the fact that the Oculus store is mainly centered around gaming. It does not currently market a Youtube app, making it more difficult to watch 360 videos put out on that platform, which are among the best educational content for VR available today.

Google Daydream View

The Daydream is the newest (and possibly most hyped) addition to the slate of mobile-enabled VR headsets. Continuing Google's commitment to offering cutting-edge technology at a lower price point, the Daydream View offers an incredibly immersive VR experience, and a controller that is better thought-out than the Gear's, but is currently "affordably" priced at $79.00. It is consistently noted as the most comfortable VR headset on the market, constructed out of lightweight plastic with a soft fabric covering that can be removed and washed. 

The Daydream View has a lot of promise, but currently, it is designed to only be compatible with the Google Pixel mobile phone and a VERY limited list of models manufactured by competitors (an updated list of Daydream-ready phones can be found here).  Also, at this time the dedicated Daydream app store has very little content in it, though what IS there is fantastic for education, as this seems to be Google's primary targeted market for the device. Google Expeditions, the Google Arts and Culture App, and YouTube all provide wonderfully immersive experiences with a variety of informative material. 

Another main strength of the Daydream is its open developer platform, making it possible for those who are interested to create their own apps for inclusion in the Daydream store. This is in keeping with the ease of development and acceptance that characterizes the Android platform, as well as other Alphabet (Google) owned content outlets. On the flip side, it has been reported that some of the Cardboard apps that were designed for Google's lower-cost mobile VR headset do not work well in the Daydream, and can cause vertigo or motion sickness. At this time, the Daydream is very much under development, and may not be the best investment, though it does have great promise to provide the VR democratization that will bring this technology fully into the mainstream. 

Cardboard-Compatible VR Headsets

The last category to consider in mobile VR is an extremely broad category known as "cardboard compatible" headsets. Since the form factor and design of the Google Cardboard have been open since its inception, there are a wide variety of devices that mimic it, in different materials, with different price points and levels of quality. Though none of these devices offer an immersive VR experience on the level with the Gear or Daydream, they have the advantage of being device agnostic, so every user has the same experience, regardless of the type of mobile device that they put into the headset. Here are two of the best-known Cardboard-compatible headsets on the market:

Zeiss VR One: The Zeiss is manufactured by the lens company Carl Zeiss, and as such, it markets the visual experience as being one of the best on the market. You are, essentially, paying for the lenses on this headset, and with a price point just under $100, it is debatable whether it is worth the money. The visual experience in mobile VR is already limited by the resolution of your screen (hence, the complaint that Mobile VR often looks gridded or boxy), and the better lenses cannot fix this visual distortion.

Merge VR: The mobile VR dark horse is the Merge VR foam headset. It is designed to hold phones with all form factors, and stretches slightly to ensure a tight fit to protect your phone from dropping out of the headset. Lightweight and closely fitting, it features two straps for comfort when wearing the device. Though it essentially does nothing but hold your phone in the optimal position for viewing, has no buttons, and requires you to take the phone out of the holder to change apps, for the casual user (or in a classroom setting), the Merge is more durable than the traditional Google Cardboard and can be cleaned between uses. With a $40 price tag, it provides few frills, but is the most affordable of all options, while maintaining comfort, cleanliness, and functionality.

 

 

 

 

 

Get into your students' heads with Socrative!

EdTechRobyn Reese

The image above, taken from a series of French postcards published in 1899, posits a vision of an ideal twenty-first-century classroom, in which knowledge is literally transmitted into students' heads via cables and a headset. It such a system, I assume, each student would receive the same packets of knowledge in exactly the same format, and thus each student would leave the educational experience with a targeted and identical set of skills. 

This postcard helps to exemplify the fundamental problem of education, one that has clearly existed forever: how do we ensure that students receive the message that we as educators intend to send, and thereby achieve universal mastery for all students? Without an elaborate brain cabling system like the one depicted above, it can be practically impossible.

Assessment is the closest remedy that current instructors have to the problem of uneven understanding, but it is also among the most time consuming and hated features of the instructional cycle for both students and teachers. Thus, when we discovered the app Socrative earlier this year (courtesy of Kent Campus-based History Professor Dana Logan), we were amazed at the ease with which it enabled the creation, administration, and analyzation of mobile-based assessments.

This free app can be downloaded in a student and teacher version for iOS and Android, and can also be used via the web. After signing up for an account, instructors can create short or long-form quizzes that students can access via the mobile app. While the initial purpose of Socrative is for formative assessment at the end of a lesson (it even has a "quick question" feature for on the fly assessment), it allows instructors to utilize a variety of question types, as well as embed related images, figures, and exhibits into questions, making it possible to use the tool for longer form assessments, as well. Once a quiz has been created within the mobile teacher app or the web-based app, it is stored within the interface for later use or re-use.

When the teacher is ready to launch the assessment, they are provided with a number of options that can facilitate classroom and assessment management, such as scrambling questions and distractors or utilizing a teacher-managed pace. Students are able to access the quiz via the Socrative student app by entering the classroom code, a constant letter/number combination that is generated when users sign up for the app. The image to the left provides an example of the launching menu within the teacher's version of the mobile app. 

As the students complete the assessment on their mobile devices via the Socrative student app, the instructor can use either the teacher's mobile app or the web app to view the results in real time, and share them with the students, if appropriate (student names can be hidden). The image below shows an example of a sample World Geography quiz that we administered to test the app, and the results are very instructive. You can see that the color-coded chart provides guidance on concepts that may need quick reteaching, or and it makes it easy to pinpoint individual students may need more intensive remediation. For example, in the example below 80% of the students in the class answered question number one incorrectly, so clearly this content, which dealt with the diameter of the earth, needed to be retaught. Also, the second student in the chart needs additional help, because they missed three questions and are really struggling with many of the concepts. As you can see, Socrative allows you to develop plans to address misconceptions and help your strugglers, before students walk out the classroom door. After class, results can be exported as a .csv or .xls file for manipulation in Excel or uploading into the Blackboard Grade Center.

Thus, while the Ed Tech team has not yet figured out how to build the indoctrination machine that was imagined in the French postcard, Socrative comes pretty close to figuring out what is going on in our students' heads and helps us to do our best to make sure that all students leave us with the skills mastery that is the ultimate and lasting goal of education. 

Chatbots In Education: Are They Useful?

Student Content, EdTechElizabeth Rodrigue

Recently, the term "Chatbot" has come to prominence in EdTech research. What is a Chatbot? They are software that allows for a conversational or messaging style interface to simulate a human interaction. They are computer programs that do their best to act like humans. Some Chatbots have artificial intelligence and many have a database of information and responses for whatever they are asked. Many people use Chatbots on a daily basis to shop, get directions, or even schedule appointments. Some examples of Chatbots would be Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, created by Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, respectively. Increasingly, people are turning to chatbots to control huge aspects of their life, as they can be used for organization, media consumption, and even to control your home's climate!  

How can Chatbots be used in education? Many colleges have already started using or discussing the idea of Chatbots as part of the learning experience. The general idea is that a Chatbot software would make it simpler for students to navigate their classes and college life while making it easier for professors and staff by answering the repetitive questions for them and freeing up more space for more in-depth academic interactions. So, students would be able to turn to the Chatbot for class times and room numbers, when assignments are due, applying for student aid, registering for classes, and other routine queries. An example of successful implementation of a chatbot is Georgia State's AdmitHub so that their students could complete all of the typical student actions, such as signing up for housing, through a simple chat interface.

Another example of a working Chatbot in education is integrated into the foreign language learning software Duolingo. Learners can hold a text-based conversation in the language they are studying that revolves around a specific concept. the responses entered into the interface determine the direction of the conversation, which helps one to practice language organically, in  a way that is more useful for retention and more authentic to the real-world speaking and writing experience.

Chatbot technology is still relatively new so humans have to respond to and edit content on occasion.  In the future, it is a hope that chatbots will be able to "learn" organically, so that human interaction will enable them to gain more knowledge that they can then use in future interactions.  All in all Chatbots can make a significant difference in education but we still have a long way to go with the technology so that Chatbots can completely function on their own.

In Focus LIVE: Academic Reorganization Discussion

In Focus, DMP, EdTechRobyn Reese

During the first week of May, Dr. Bioteau released a President’s Message that described in broad strokes some of the changes that will be made in Academic Affairs for the 2017-2018 year. Dr. Wall asked to utilize the In Focus platform to present a more detailed account of this new organizational structure and to provide an opportunity for faculty and staff to ask questions directly. There was a specific focus on those in Academic Affairs areas. Above, you can view a recording of this live-streamed conversation between Dr. Wall and Assistant Director of Academic Technology Brandi Bleak. 

Viewers of the livestream can follow along with Dr. Wall's PowerPoint below. Towards the end of the segment, Dr. Wall promised to answer all questions that were not covered prior to the end of the stream in this space. Please continue to revisit this space over the next few weeks, as those answers are still forthcoming. Those who have questions moving forward can direct them to provost@fscj.edu.

Explore Lecture Capture

EdTechRobyn Reese

Lecture Capture is becoming a ubiquitous educational technology in higher education because it allows students to have the flexible experience that they expect in a blended or fully online class. Lecture capture can take on a number of forms, and serve several purposes depending upon the pedagogical needs of the professor.  It can be used to record lectures for students who may miss class or need a review, or can be provided in advance of class meetings to front load content that may be needed for a lab or experiential exercise.  It may involve a classic, performative lecture led by a professor, or may simply be a demonstration of a crucial skill or technique that requires repetition for retention.

The Office of the Provost asked the Academic Technology department to investigate the use of lecture capture at FSCJ, for the launching of a pilot project in the Fall of 2017.  The presentation below is a summary of the team's findings, with information about how professors and lecturers can become involved, or obtain more information.