10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions (Guest Post: Edwige Simon via EDUCAUSE)

These tips can help educators ensure that online discussions are engaging and beneficial for college students.

View the full post here.

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Coming December 15th – Panopto 6.0

Panopto icon A new version of Panopto is being released the evening of December 15th. While most of the updates are administrative there are two changes that could affect faculty and students.
  • A new user interface. The Panopto web site (https://desales.hosted.panopto.com) will be getting a new look. It features a new collapsible navigation bar and resizable folder and system settings trays to improve site browsing and navigation.
  • A recycle bin. Administrators will have access to a recycle bin so deleted videos will be able to be restored. Note: to take advantage of this feature please contact the DeSales Help Desk (helpdesk@desales.edu or 610-282-1100 x4357).

Panopto will need to be taken offline temporarily to roll out the changes. On December 15th from 7:00 PM until approximately 11:00 PM Panopto is going to be unavailable . During this time recordings will not be available and new recordings will not upload. Note: recordings can still be made offline and uploaded after the outage ends.

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Upcoming Practice Maintenance Event

Maintenance is being performed on the Practice platform on Sunday, December 8th with an 8 hour maintenance window starting at 3:00 AM ET / 8:00 AM UTC. During this time, users will not be able to access or interact with Practice.

The purpose of this event is to significantly upgrade the technology stack supporting Practice. This upgrade will make the service more stable and performant and allow our engineering and professional services teams to innovate upon, extend, and customize the product to better meet customer needs.

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How DEIT Can Help

This post provides an overview of the services offered by the Distance Education and Instructional Technology department (DEIT). Even if you think you know us, you may wish to scan the major headings in case there is something that’s new to you.

Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu or visit us in Dooling Hall, Room 40.

About DEIT

DEIT is an academic administrative department under the auspices of the Provost. The purpose of the department is to support the faculty in their teaching mission, particularly regarding the integration of technology.

DEIT is led by Director Eric Hagan. The department has nine employees (eight full-time and one part-time). DEIT serves all faculty members whether they teach in the day, in ACCESS, or in graduate programs.

The main DEIT office suite is in Dooling Hall, Room 40. The office is staffed during the day, in the evening and on Saturday morning.

Smart Classroom Support

Under the leadership of Instructional Media Engineer Mike Yorgey, supported by Tom Cobb and Justin Bronstein, DEIT designs and maintains the smart classroom technology on all three campuses, including the classroom auditoriums. The smart classroom technology encompasses the audiovisual systems including the projectors/screens or smartboards, the Blu-ray players, the document cameras, the speakers, the cabling to connect laptops and other external devices, any webcams, the control panels, and all the equipment in the classroom podiums that make everything work.

If you encounter a classroom emergency that affects your ability to teach, contact the Help Desk at x4357 and they will dispatch a DEIT staff member to your location. For less urgent matters, submit a Help Desk ticket.

Blackboard and Other Teaching and Learning Software Systems

DEIT is responsible for managing the university’s learning management system, Blackboard Learn. DEIT’s primary Blackboard system administrator is Brother Harry Schneider, OSFS. Simple Blackboard “how-to” questions can often be answered by the Help Desk. More complicated questions or requests will be escalated by the Help Desk to DEIT or you may contact DEIT directly.

DEIT is also responsible for other general-purpose teaching and learning technologies such as:

  • Panopto (lecture recording and hosting system)
  • Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom (systems for live web-based meetings)
  • Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor (systems for deterring cheating online tests)
  • SafeAssign (plagiarism detection tool)

Instructional Design

DEIT includes four instructional designers and technologists (Jim Holton, Chris Hewatt, Jen Walz, and Ted Schmittel) who can help you design effective courses, particularly courses that have an online or technology component. Whether it’s simply improving your course’s look and feel, configuring the gradebook properly, using the model course template effectively, or thinking more deeply about course design and pedagogical issues, DEIT staff are available to help you be more effective in the virtual or traditional classroom.

One way to use DEIT to improve your course is through our Course Makeover Program.

As part of the university’s quality control processes, DEIT staff review online and hybrid courses using a rubric based on best practices. Feedback is provided directly to faculty, often including recommendations for improvement and an invitation to partner with DEIT staff to make it happen.

Faculty Training

Before teaching an online or hybrid course for the first time, all instructors are required to complete the DEIT faculty onboarding process. DEIT’s faculty onboarding process focuses on course design and effective use of technology tools. In addition, DEIT host regularly scheduled training workshops for any faculty member that is looking to enhance their skills. The current workshop schedule is available at http://www.desales.edu/workshops. One-on-one or small group training sessions for members of a specific department are also available.

Video and Media Services

DEIT can help you create, edit, convert and host media for use in your courses. Services include:

  • Converting DVDs or VHS tapes or other media to a web-based format so they can be accessed with a web link via our streaming media server for easy playback. Request form here (login required).
  • Videography services (video recording instructor introductions, events, interviews, or local field trips for use in courses). Request form here (login required).
  • Streaming of existing media files.
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November 5th-9th: National Distance Learning Week!

NDLW Banner

The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) will be holding 10 virtual sessions throughout the week highlighting the best practices within the digital/distance learning community.

Many of the sessions are going to be showing in the DEIT office in Dooling 40-1. Feel free to stop by and join the conversation. You can also register for sessions and watch from your office/home. Information and registration options are available on this page – https://www.usdla.org/2018-ndlw-2018/.

A printable version of the session list is also available: https://content.usdla.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ndlw2018_program.pdf.

The topics this year are:

Monday, November 5th – Engagement

Tuesday, November 6th – Feedback and Support

Wednesday, November 7th – Credentials and Efficiencies

Thursday, November 8th – Quality of Learning and Accessibility

Friday, November 9th – Content and Feedback

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Volunteers needed – content creation testing

The DEIT team is looking for faculty members willing to help us test some tools that can be used to create interactive content. Options range from interactive PowerPoint presentations to fully online modules similar to what you may have experienced taking the Active Shooter Preparedness (ALICE) training. As part of the testing you’ll be paired with a member of the DEIT team. Faculty will provide the content of the module. The DEIT staff will be responsible for suggesting the correct tool and creating the learning object.

Among the tools being considered are:

We’re hoping to start creating content in November. To volunteer, please contact DEIT by emailing deit@desales.edu or calling 610-282-1100 x2290.

Jim Holton – DeSales DEIT

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New look coming to the Blackboard menu

The DEIT team has been talking with students and faculty about the left-hand navigation menu in Blackboard. Based on feedback, we’re going to switch any courses to a new textual navigation menu rather than using buttons. An example is below:

Blackboard course navigation menu












The design is based on the DeSales color schemes – the grey is used by DeSales Athletics and some branded items. The blue and red also are the DeSales colors from the DeSales style guide.

The new menu will be used for classes created on Blackboard after October 8th, 2018. If you would like to update the look of a current course:

  1. Click on Customization and choose Teaching Style.
  2. Change the Style from Buttons to Text
  3. Click on the drop-down menu for Background Color and type in a value of C3C4C5 and hit Apply
  4. Click on the drop-down menu for Text Color and type in a value of 002855 and hit Apply
  5. Click Submit at the bottom-right corner of the page

Please contact DEIT (deit@desales.edu or 610-282-1100 x2290) with any questions.

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October Workshops!

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Blackboard New Features – September 17 at 3 pm!


Join DEIT on Monday, September 17 at 3 pm (Dooling 40) to learn all about Blackboard’s new features! For a detailed list of the new features, click here.

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What DEIT Did Last Summer

Blackboard Deployment Upgraded to SaaS

Blackboard Inc. logoIn late July, DEIT switched Blackboard from “managed hosting” to SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) deployment. This was mostly a behind-the-scenes change, but in the process we updated to the latest version of Blackboard which added some new features.

What this means to you: From now on, Blackboard will be seamlessly upgraded to new versions with no need for scheduled outages.

Tenure, Promotion, Extended Contract and Sabbatical Application Process Goes Paperless

For the first time, Blackboard is being used for the submission and review of faculty applications for tenure, promotion, extended contract and sabbatical leave. Faculty with questions about using Blackboard for this purpose may contact DEIT. For process and procedure questions, contact the Academic Affairs Office or your rep on the Rank & Tenure Committee.

What this means to you: A secure and paperless submission and review process.

Kender/Danko A/V Upgrades

DEIT’s Mike Yorgey worked his magic to upgrade the audiovisual system in the Kender/Danko rooms in Dorothy Day Student Center. Nick Luchko was so pleased that DEIT got special shirts to wear on freshman move-in day.

What this means to you: Plug in your laptop or other device for a world-class experience.

Compliance and Safety Training Deployed Using Blackboard

Both the ALICE active shooter preparedness training for faculty and staff and the Title IX, Alcohol, and Respect training for incoming students were deployed using Blackboard. Contact Pete Rautzhan for the whys and wherefores.

What this means to you: An even safer and more civil campus.

Labuda, We Hardly Knew Ya … But Now We Do!

The Labuda Performing Arts Center was enhanced with smart classroom technology in the Dance Studio and work in the Studio Theatre is in process. On the drawing board are enhancements to Brisson Dance Studio.

What this means to you: Even better actors, dancers, and other performing artists since they can more easily view video and instructional material to enhance their craft.

For I once was blind…in Gambet Classrooms

If you teach in the Gambet Center, you and your students are now enjoying new and brighter projectors in the classrooms. As one faculty member said, “The students are less likely to fall asleep now that I don’t have to dim the lights for them to see the smartboard.”

What this means to you: Research says that brighter projectors = brighter students (don’t ask us for the cite).

Flex Classes Brought to Scale, Rooms Outfitted

After trial runs last year, this fall, virtually all main campus ACCESS hybrid classes are delivered in the innovative Flex format. The MBA and MACJ programs are also running Flex pilots. While each program has its variations, with Flex, students can choose to experience a live class either on campus in the traditional classroom or live online through the Zoom web conferencing system. To assure that the online students are fully part of the live class, DEIT installed additional video displays and other technology in Gambet 206, 210, 228, and 232 as well as Dooling 051 (you’ll never find Area 51).

What this means to you: If you love teaching a live class, Flex is a way to preserve that option for adult students and instructors, while also catering to the increasing student preference for online classes.

Dooling Hall 2nd Floor A/V Upgrades (Rooms 204-209)

DEIT replaced the DVD/VCRs with BluRay players (which also play standard DVDs). We also did a full digital upgrade of the guts of the equipment in the instructor podium.  If you have still been using VHS tapes in the classroom (you know who you are), please note that DEIT offers services to transfer and digitize your VHS material to DVD and cloud-based streaming solutions.

What this means to you: Just part of our normal maintenance schedule to keep all of our smart classrooms up-to-date. We got you covered.

Billera Centaur Room Goes High Tech

Before there was the Bulldog, there was the Centaur. We’re not sure why a violent, drunken man-horse wasn’t considered a fitting mascot for a Catholic university, but the legacy of the Centaur lives on through the Centaur Room in Billera Hall.  Primarily used to develop top secret athletic strategies, it is now equipped with a new digital projector, full sound system (wired and Bluetooth audio), and the ability to tie any digital HDMI-equipped device into this A/V setup.

What this means to you: An additional .05 points per game. And remember, hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.

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