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Dec 08
Wall Whiteboard Alternatives When Using Our Technology-Enhanced Classrooms to Support Remote Learners

As we transition into Spring 2021 and consider how to use the new technologies being made available in our technology-enhanced classrooms, it's important to think carefully about alternatives to traditional use of a wall-mounted physical whiteboard.

Keep in mind that normal writing on a wall-mounted physical whiteboard will not be easily visible and legible to remote learners who are joining in real-time. This will likely be the case even if you are using the Owl camera in a RingCentral meeting, and it will also be the case if you are recording a RingCentral session for remote students to view at another time. For example, glare from classroom lighting may obscure writing for remote RingCentral participants even if you use the optional Meeting Owl phone app to zoom in on part of the wall-mounted physical whiteboard, while managing other technology, planned content, student feedback, and instructional time.  

There are several alternatives that you may be able to use, depending on whether you anticipate creating instructional content in real ​time by typing and using a mouse, or by drawing or writing, such as with a stylus or dry erase marker:

Options for T​yping/Mousing Content in Real TimeOptions for Drawing/Writing Content in Real Time

Classroom computer using RingCentral's screen-sharing feature.

  1. Log in and join the RingCentral meeting as shown in the Owl/multi-access classroom demo video.
  2. Turn the projector on so in-room students can see the computer's content.
  3. Begin RingCentral screen-sharing so remote students can see the computer's content (and capture it in the RingCentral recording, if you are recording the session).  
  4. Type and/or mouse content in real time in a OneDrive file such as Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, or Google Drive parallels. Note that OneNote files can include equations, shapes, and drawings.

Classroom document camera and attached small physical whiteboard.

You can view demonstrations and steps in the Owl/multi-access classroom demo video

steps to select owl and doc cam.jpg

  1. Log in and join the RingCentral meeting as shown in the Owl/multi-access classroom demo video.
  2. Turn the projector on so in-room students can see the computer's content.
  3. Use the caret next to the RingCentral video icon to select the Owl as the primary camera.
  4. Proceed in classroom discussion through videoconferencing and use the Share icon ​to share content such as PowerPoints with remote learners through RingCentral and with in-room learners through the projector.
  5. When you are ready to use the document camera, click Share in RingCentral. Click the Advanced tab. Click 2nd camera. Click Share.
  6. Use dry erase markers to write on the small whiteboard below the document camera. Erase the board when you are done.
  7. If needed, the image can be rotated through Video settings, which is located at the video camera icon in RingCentral.

Classroom computer using RingCentral's annotation feature.

  1. Log in and join the RingCentral meeting as shown in the Owl/multi-access classroom demo video.
  2. Turn the projector on so in-room students can see the computer's content.
  3. Begin RingCentral screen-sharing so remote students can see the computer's content (and capture it in the RingCentral recording, if you are recording the session).  ​ ​ 
  4. Use the Annota​tion feature that becomes available in RingCentral once you have shared your screen or a specific application. You can type text and you can use the mouse to add stamps or draw.
  5. Types of content that you can annotate in RingCentral once you have shared your screen include:
  • A Digital Whiteboard in RingCentral 
  • A blank PowerPoint slide in your slide deck or blank portions of a PowerPoint slide
  • Other files, such as Word or OneNote files that you may have stored and can open in OneDrive, or Google Drive parallels
  • Content you open in a browser (such as a database)
  • ​​Remember that you can periodically erase annotations and you can capture them as images by ​using the "Save" option in the RingCentral annotation toolbar. As with RingCentral recordings, plan to move any saved images from the classroom computer to a USB drive or cloud drive before leaving the classroom.

Your touch-screen mobile device and an HDMI adapter.

  1. Join the RingCentral meeting with this device.
  2. Connect this device to the classroom projector via the HDMI cable, using an HDMI adapter if necessary.
  3. Use the buttons on the classroom projector to show the device's content to the in-room students.
  4. Share your screen in RingCentral to show the device's content to remote students (and capture it in a recording, if you are recording the session).
  5. Use the Annotation feature that becomes available in RingCentral once you have shared your screen or a specific application.
  6. You can also log in to the RingCentral meeting on the classroom computer if you want to use the Owl camera so remote students can see those in the classroom. For instructions, see the Owl/multi-access classroom demo video.
  • Remember: the Owl camera will have no connection to your laptop. The Owl can only be used if you log in to the classroom computer. 

Collaboratively create content with students.

You can use either of the options above to collaboratively create content with students:

  • One or more students can simultaneously annotate screenshared content in RingCentral. If using PowerPoint, view, download, and edit sample slides that show ways of prompting annotation)

These collaborative approaches are an excellent way to promote student engagement. They will also help you see how students are making sense of new content and developing relevant skills. This will shift your role from delivering content to providing real-time feedback on their understanding and adapting instruction in response.

Consider having students take turns in these roles.



Aug 08
How to Customize Your Dashboard to Card View in MyCourses

​Did you know that you can customize your dashboard in MyCourses? You can create a card view like the one in Canvas. You can star courses that you are currently focusing on and then filter to only show those Starred courses.

1. To get started, click the Customize this page button in the upper right corner of the Dashboard.

Dashboard customization.jpg

2. On the right, perhaps at the bottom, look for a Course Overview block. Drag it to the top, and then to the left so it appears in the location shown above. It may take a few tries. You can also use Configure Course Overview Block to adjust weighting and location.

3. If you don't see such a block, click "Add a block" on the left at the bottom. Click Course overview. Then complete step 2.

4. In the enlarged Course overview area, select Card view if it is not already selected. This Card View will include default images for each course unless you have customized the image associated with any of your courses. For example, I had selected an image of legos for my sandbox some time ago. You can change the course image at any time by entering the course and clicking Edit settings. Then upload a different image in the Course image area.​

Card view.jpg

5. Find a course that you want to prioritize on your dashboard, click the ellipsis, and Star the course. Do this for individual courses that you are currently working in frequently. 

6. Later when you want to toggle between your Starred courses and all of your courses, or another subset of courses, click the Filter icon and make a selection.

Filter courses in dashboard.jpg

This kind of customization can be a great time saver and help you focus on courses that you are frequently working in.  

Click here to return to CAFE's website.​​

Aug 04
Where's That Setting in RingCentral Meetings?

RingCentral Meetings is a powerful and flexible videoconferencing tool for teaching, collaborative research, service, and more. You may not be aware of how many settings you can adjust to help you use this tool efficiently and effectively. ​One reason is that you can adjust settings in multiple locations. This table helps you see where you can adjust settings, with examples of common settings and functions in each area:

LocationScope of SettingsExamples of Settings That Can Be Changed in This Location
1. (login, click Settings, then click Meetings)All meetings
  • Raise hand setting ("Nonverbal feedback")
  • Who can share their screen
  • Waiting room  
  • Other global settings
2.       Gear icon on the Desktop app  All meetings
  • Touch up appearance
  • Do/do not enter full screen automatically when viewing screen shared by others
  • Where recordings are saved
  • Other global settings
3.       Dialogue box that pops up when creating a meeting via the Desktop appJust that meeting
  • Require meeting password
  • Enable join before host
4. (login, click More, then Meetings, then My Meetings).Just the meeting you choose to edit
  • Enable/disable waiting room (for just that meeting – click the Meeting, click Edit, then check/uncheck box)
  • Create a poll
5.       Dialogue box that pops up when beginning breakout rooms (may vary by app version)That instance of breakout rooms
  • Automatic duration of the breakout room
  • Duration of warning to return to main room
6.​ (login, click More, then Meetings, then Meeting Reports).Not settings but rather information
  • List of attendees and duration/times they joined each meeting

A handy reference guide listing settings, keyboard shortcuts, and uses is available at Faculty Guide to RingCentral Meetings​.​

Click here to return to CAFE's website.​​

Jul 10
RingCentral Meetings Takes Attendance For You

​Did you know that you can easily access a list of participants in each of your RingCentral Meetings?    

​Go to and log in. 

Follow the steps below to access your Meeting Reports for meetings that you have hosted. 

  1. Click More
  2. Click Meetings
  3. Click Meeting Reports
  4. Select a date range. Click Search.
  5. Click the number of participants.

meeting reports.jpg 

When you click the hyperlinked number of participants, you can see a list of all participants, the time each joined, the time each left, and the total duration of each participant's attendance during the live meeting. 

attendance data.jpg

Note that the total number of participants indicated for some of your meetings may be higher than you expect if one person left the meeting and returned. Currently, participants are not deduplicated when the totals are calculated. However, when you view the list of participants for a specific meeting on the screen above, you may see a second checkbox that allows you to "show unique users​."

Click here to return to CAFE's website.​

Apr 07
How to Stop Scrolling in Moodle

​I saw a great technique used in Moodle recently that I wish I had known about years ago. Especially when editing in Moodle, scrolling up and down can become tiresome. It can also become frustrating for students depending on how the course site is set up with or without accordions. Certainly "home" and "end" keys on your keyboard are one way around this. But you can also use jump links to individual sections to quickly jump down to a specific section. I also discovered that you can use jump links to jump back up to the top. These can help users working with various devices.

Here's how​​ I did this in a course shell. 

A​​dding Jump Links from a Section Back to the Top

  1. In a section, add a Label.
  2. Type something like "Return to top."
  3. Select that text and click the hyperlink icon. For the URL, type #section-0.
  4. If activity completion has been enabled, select "Do not indicate activity completion."
  5. Return to course.
  6. Check the functionality. When you click it, it should take you back up to the top of the page, such as where you might have a general announcements forum.
  7. Once you're sure that it takes you to the top, duplicate the label and drag it into another section. Drag it to the bottom of that section so it is the last item in the section. 
  8. Repeat for all sections. 
  9. Enjoy not scrolling when editing!Return to top.jpg

Adding Jump Links to Sections

  1. Find a suitable type of block that you can drag to the top of your course so it will always be visible. For example, I chose to try this in the Course Summary block of my sandbox. You can access this block by clicking Edit settings. The Description field populates the Course Summary block. In this block, you can enter a sentence or two summarizing the course, or even insert an image that graphically captures what the course is about.  
  2. To enter jump links to sections in a block like this, you can type something like Jump to: Module 1 2 3 4 5 etc.  
  3. Select "1" or "Module 1."  Click the hyperlink icon. For the URL, enter #section-1
  4. Repeat for the other sections (#section-2, #section-3, etc.). 
  5. If you rename a section, the link should still work. However, you'll want to align section names and the terminology you use in the block in a way that will make sense to you and your students. So if my block text refers to module 2, I would name the corresponding section "Module 2: Renaissance Music" instead of "Renaissance Music." Another approach is naming the sections Week 1, 2, 3 and in the block using "Jump to Week: 1, 2, 3. The URLs you input in this case will still be #section-1, #section-2, #section-3, etc. Remember that there is usually a section 0 that may be set up by default to contain announcements unless you change it.  
  6. If you drag sections to reorder them later, the jump links will follow the new order, not the original order.  
  7. Enjoy not scrolling when editing!

Jump to module.jpg 

Other Ways to Use Jump Links

Once you understand the principle of how to tell Moodle how to jump to a specific section, you can find other uses for this technique:​

  • In an announcement: link to the specific section in which students should be doing something or should look at something 
  • Send them back to a supporting section: "If you want a refresher on validity and reliability as you complete this assignment, take a few minutes to review my introductory presentation in Module 3" (jump link would be added there

Click here to return to CAFE's website.​


Jan 30
Create Your Next Survey with Microsoft Forms

If you're accustomed to using survey software for survey research or polling students, you may not realize that you have access to similar capabilities through Microsoft Forms. You can create and distribute Microsoft Forms for free. Multilingual forms are available.

form sample 1.jpg

Question types span a wide variety of commonly used open-ended and close-ended questions. Close-ended questions include choice questions with two or more options, including "Other" with a text field that appears upon selection. Select from single answer or multiple answer formats including radio button, drop-down box, and check box. Options can be shuffled if desired. Open-ended questions include short and long text-boxes. Responses can be restricted to numbers, including particular value ranges.

questions in Microsoft form

Simple rating questions can use a star or number format. Customizable labels can be added to the lowest and highest values. Likert scale questions can be created with fully customizable response anchors. Other question types include ranking, date entry, Net Promoter score, and file upload. Branching of questions is available and distinct sections can be created.

With Forms, you can customize the appearance of your survey through preset color schemes and photographic backgrounds. Or you can upload an image and choose a specific color background for your survey title and instructions using an HTML hex code.

Respondents can answer your questions on a computer or mobile device. You can preview how the survey will appear on each type of device. You can set up an automatic message to the respondent, such as a customized thank you message and enable respondents to access their responses. form on a phone

You can control who can access your form or survey through the sharing links that you generate. You generate distinct links to share with respondents, collaborators, and those who may want to create a similar survey to use on their own. For each of these three purposes, you can generate links that will work for anyone, just for people in your organization (log in required), or specific people. Links to collaborate enable someone to work with you in creating and editing questions, and in accessing responses. You can set start and end dates for receiving responses and be notified by email each time a response is submitted.

To get started, go to or and click the AppLauncher (tiles) in the upper left corner. Click Forms. If you don't see Forms, click All apps. Then click Forms. ​

If you have questions about using this tool in teaching or research, please contact me at

Click here to return to CAFE's website.

Dec 19
Free 24/7 Online Training from

​A great resource that you may not be aware of is online training provided by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Among the library's many databases and online resources is (LinkedIn Learning). To get started, apply for a Charlotte Mecklenburg Library card number .  If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can quickly receive a virtual library card number that will allow you to begin using the library's online resources right away.

Online training is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on topics ranging from Office suite and Google apps to web development. Other topics include design, music, business, and writing. Highly technical training on products like Dreamweaver, Sibelius, MySQL, Articulate, Photoshop, and Camtasia is readily available.

lynda example.jpg

This is a free and convenient resource to gain new technological skills for use in teaching, to help students pursue their goals, or to supplement course materials with convenient resources on fundamental topics such as presentation skills and writing. 

Click here to return to CAFE's website​.​

Dec 02
Attendance-Grading Alternatives

Among the many decisions to be made in advance of a new semester is how to factor various assessments of learning into final semester grades. As we wrap up the fall semester and plan for the spring ahead, this is a great time to revisit some longstanding practices in calculating final grades and consider alternative approaches to see if they might better support learning in our classes.  

If you regularly "grade" attendance and incorporate attendance directly into final grades, you might not be aware of some alternatives that also enable you to report a "last date of attendance" while more directly incorporating assessment of learning into final grades. Many such alternatives can collectively be described as low-stakes, in-class, academically related activities that do several things simultaneously:

  • Give you prompt insight into student learning
  • Give students formative feedback on their learning
  • Show students what is important in your class
  • Incentivize attendance
  • Allow you to produce a "last date of attendance" (e.g., for compliance with federal financial aid reporting requirements)
  • Maximize final grades' indication of student learning
  • Provide a specific activity that students can complete in advance, remotely, or later when they have university recognized absences

Some examples include low-stakes individual or small-group activities based on application of course concepts, entry or exit tickets, muddiest point, minute-papers, reading quizzes, or many of the other classroom assessment techniques discussed by Angelo and others. To meet federal reporting requirements, it is essential to record grades for each activity in a way that captures the date and a clear description of the activity.

When implementing any of these alternatives, consider automatically dropping one or more of the lowest scores in this grade category from the calculation of students' final grades, regardless of the reason for the low score(s). This can eliminate the need for discussion and documentation of "excused" versus "unexcused" absences, lateness, etc., particularly when your dropping is stated clearly in a syllabus. For example, in one of my previous classes, I established separate grade categories for reading quizzes and small group in-class activities, and in the syllabus I indicated that one lowest quiz score and two lowest small group activity scores would be dropped. Dropping one or more lowest scores within a grade category is easily accomplished in MyCourses.

Also consider including in your syllabus a statement that when students know in advance that they will be absent and they contact you in advance, you will work with them to set up alternative arrangements for them to complete the activity. This helps keep them on track with learning in your class, promotes student responsibility, and reinforces the university policy on university recognized absences.

In addition to being useful for addressing the university policy on university recognized absences, low-stakes academically related activities address attendance reporting requirements in online courses. It is important to note that "documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate academic attendance by the student" (Federal Student Aid Handbook, 2016, p. 886). According to the Federal Student Aid Handbook, acceptable indications of attendance in an online course can include:

  1. Student submission of an academic assignment
  2. Student submission of an exam
  3. Documented student participation in an interactive tutorial or computer-assisted instruction
  4. A posting by the student showing the student's participation in an online study group that is assigned by the institution
  5. A posting by the student in a discussion forum showing the student's participation in an online discussion about academic matters
  6. An email from the student or other documentation showing that the student initiated contact with a faculty member to ask a question about an academic subject studied in the course.

Many technological tools support these types of academically related activities in online courses, as well as hybrid and face-to-face courses. Tools in MyCourses include discussion Forum, Journal, Assignments, Portfolium assignments, and quizzes, among others. Other technological tools that can be linked within MyCourses include Flipgrid for video-based discussions (5), and Stream or EdPuzzle for creating short video presentations with interactive quizzes (3). 

Click here to return to CAFE's website​.​

Nov 04
Using Wakelet to Curate Online Content in Teaching, Research, and More

Recently I decided to review curation tools to identify some of the best ways to quickly gather current, helpful content on timely topics across a variety of platforms online and share those collections of content with colleagues. As I review available tools, I'll share my observations here and highlight how these tools differ from each other. I'll also highlight ways they can be incorporated in faculty work in teaching, research, and service.​

The first curation tool I tried was Wakelet. Here's a quick introduction to what kinds of items you can add, what you can do with them, how to get started, and ideas for using Wakelet as a faculty member.

A collecton of online content in Wakelet

How to add items to a collection in Wakelet

Wakelet lets you quickly create online collections of content by adding items in various ways:

  • Pasting a URL/Link
  • Typing or copying in text
  • Searching YouTube or pasting a YouTube link
  • Tweet
  • A bookmark you already created Wakelet
  • Uploading an image or searching Unsplash for one
  • Google Drive
  • Flipgrid video

Basically, if the item you want has a link, you can add it to your online collection in the cloud with Wakelet.

What can you do in your collections?

You can:

  • Add titles to collections and items
  • Reorder items
  • Display items in various views
  • Add descriptions or notes to items
  • Invite collaborators who can edit your collection with you
  • Share to let others simply view your collection.
  • Set a collection so only you can see it, so only people with the link can see it, or so everyone can see it.

Here's a sample collection in Wakelet that you can view.

Getting started

You can use the Microsoft sign-in option to log in seamlessly using your Queens credentials at Wakelet. Once you do that, then you can access Wakelet from the Office 365 AppLauncher. Check out Wakelet's ebook for educators which shows you how get started. You can also learn more about Wakelet and Accessibility.

How could you use this as a faculty member?

Among the many possible uses, consider using Wakelet to:

  • Collect concise, current online readings with multimedia that you can use to introduce more variety in your course materials, enhance their relevance for a diverse body of students, or facilitate learning in a compressed course.
  • Create a subset of models (such as models of multimedia communication) for students that you can easily deploy in multiple classes just by giving students a link to the collection.
  • Ask students to create collections during your course either individually or collaboratively, such as examples of online content where they see concepts from your class playing out. Then you can bring some of their examples into class discussion in a physical classroom or an online discussion tool.
  • Create a reading list of online content or learning list for yourself, or with colleagues.
  • Ask students to create a learning list for themselves.

If you have questions about using these tools in teaching or research, please contact me at

Click here to return to CAFE's website.


Oct 28
Top Technology Tools in 2019

​​I'm often asked by faculty for a list of technology tools. In fact, many great tools are highlighted on CAFE's website. Technology, teaching, and learning go hand in hand, and so technology tools are integrated with CAFE's practical resources for teaching. There you'll find more about tools like Adobe Spark for creating multimedia assignment submissions, Screencast-o-matic for creating instructional videos, our Portfolium eportfolio tool, the Flipgrid video-based online discussion tool, and collaboration tools like Stormboard. These technology tools for teaching are supported by curated how-to-videos, quick guides, and job aids. And you can always contact CAFE if you want individualized support or want to discuss what tool might be the best choice for what you have in mind.

In addition, we have a robust collection of devices and software available for faculty use or check-out. ​Devices and software include:​

  • Lightboard (available in the Digital Studio)
  • Camtasia software for screencast videos and editing (available in the Digital Studio workstation)
  • Green screen for use in conjunction with video or webcam recording in the Digital Studio
  • Articulate Storyline 360 (available in the Digital Studio workstation)
  • 360 degree immersive video camera
  • Portable small group video conferencing system (great for interviews and collaboration, suitable for use in the CAFÉ conference room)
  • Large group video conferencing system (available for use in the Active Learning Classroom)
  • Swivl (to record video with your mobile device)
  • Presentation technology for active learning in the Active Learning Classroom​​


If you're curious about what other education professionals are using and would like to explore a longer list, ​check out ​Jane Hart's latest compilation of Top Tools for Higher Education 2019

If you have questions about using these tools in teaching or research, please contact me at​

Click here to return to CAFE's website​.​

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About this blog
Laura Lohman, PhD, SHRM-SCP, PMP
Director, Center of the Advancement of Faculty Excellence
​Professor​ of Music
Queens University of Charlotte