National Distance Learning Week: #NDLW2017

Longwood’s Distance Education program is continually growing since its inception. While there is currently only one degree program available fully online, Master of Business Administration, there are many courses across most departments that are either fully online or hybrid.

The Digital Education Collaborative (DEC) provides faculty and students with support and professional development to help them be successful with online teaching and learning. Faculty and students can come to the DEC in person, contact us by telephone or chat to receive assistance and support as well as checkout equipment.

Instructors for Longwood are required to take the Longwood Online Teaching Initiative (LOTI) course, which is an eight week online course in quality online instruction in order to be qualified to teach online for the university. This training introduces technology and course design fundamentals selected by Longwood University to meet regional and state accreditation requirements for online and hybrid course instruction.  We will use the Quality Matters rubric as a baseline for all course design elements.  The emphasis will be on the design of the course, not the delivery of the course.  However, some training time will be devoted to discussing best practices in online and hybrid class administration and pedagogy.

The Quality Matters (QM) is a non-profit, quality assurance organization that was developed by a group of higher-education faculty members and instructors with the goal of providing a system to help instructors and designers deliver on the promise of well-conceived, well-designed, and well-presented courses and program through review, improvement, and certification of quality.

QM is celebrating NDLW2017 by offering a keynote webinar and some workshops to support our distance learning efforts and creating accessible materials for our students. The webinar can be accessed at  on 11/6 at noon. There are short and interactive workshops, one hour in length, that offer takeaways and resources instructors can use in their courses right away. They are offering one each day at 11:00am on 11/7, 11/8 and 11/9.  The fee for the workshops is $75 if you register through Longwood and the DEC will cover this cost for our faculty members. Contact us if you would like to take advantage of this. They are all offered live and not recorded for later viewing.

In addition, the United States Distance Learning Association is providing a series of webinars throughout this week that can be accessed here:

*This post was drafted by Dr. Julie Mersiowsky, Director of the Digital Education Collaborative

#TechTipThursday: Canvas Teacher App

Canvas recently unveiled a new app that will allow instructors to do work on the go. This app allows you to do the three basic tasks that we all do rather frequently – grading, communicating, and updating things such as assignments, announcements, and grades. The Canvas Teacher app is available for iOS and Android devices.


Checking for Updates
To ensure that you are using the most current version of the app, users can find the latest version  by clicking on the Profile tab at the bottom of the screen.  You will see the latest version shown as indicated by the blue rectangle. 

Getting Canvas Support in the App
To submit a help ticket, search for frequently asked questions in the Canvas Guides, and view the Terms of Use, you can navigate to the profile tab at the bottom of the screen as mentioned previously and choose the gear icon in the top left corner. You can also log out of the app in the top right corner of the profile menu.

Sending Messages
To send messages, navigate to  your inbox by choosing the option highlighted in redOnce the inbox is open, you will see a list of messages, if you have any, and a “+” icon in the top right corner as shown in blue below. Choose this to begin composing a message. Once you fill out the necessary information for the Canvas message, choose “send” in the top right corner.

Editing Your Course Dashboard
An instructor can change the visibility of the course tiles on the courses page by going to the top right corner of the home screen and clicking on the edit button as shown in red. Once the edit screen appears, you will be able to show or hide the courses you want. Courses are shown when the star is black and hidden when the star is clear.  

Editing a Course
Users can edit their course name and set their course’s home page directly from the Canvas Teacher app. Navigate to the course you want to change and click on the cog wheel beside the course’s name on the top left corner of the screen. This opens up a window where users can make those edits. Be sure to choose “done” when you are satisfied with your changes. 

Taking Attendance
Users are able to take attendance using the Canvas Teacher app.  Students can be marked as present, late, or absent. The attendance feature and the weights of the attendance grade are set up within the web version of Canvas. To record attendance in the app, navigate to the course on the app and click on the “attendance” option that will appear if it has been enabled previously.

Clearing App Data
At times, clearing the app data can help increase the functionality of any app. Users are able to clear the Teacher App data by logging out of the app as shown earlier in this post, deleting the app (refer to your mobile devices instructions on deleting apps), and then reinstalling the app on their chosen device. App data will clear and users can log back in. Users must logout of the app before deleting it. Failing to logout of the app will not clear the data and users will be automatically logged into their previous app data settings. Once the user gets to the login screen, a question mark will appear in the top left corner of the screen and can be used = to report a problem, request a feature, and locate your school before entering login credentials.

*This post was drafted by Dr. Julie Mersiowsky, Director of the Digital Education Collaborative

#TechTipThursday: Nearpod

Engaging learners inside the classroom can present numerous challenges, many of which seem to grow exponentially more difficult when attempting to engage learners outside of the classroom. With the help of Nearpod instructors can bring interaction to the classroom by enhancing tools that may already be in use, such a PowerPoint, PDFs, or document types. Nearpod not only increases student interaction but it lets teachers monitor engagement which, in turn, can inform course revision process.

Overview of Nearpod
Nearpod is an interactive tool, mainly used in classroom settings, which facilitates personalized learning customized to each student’s perceptions and learning speeds. Individual teachers can create accounts with Nearpod for instruction, or entire schools and districts can sign up to incorporate Nearpod institution-wide. To use this tool, each student in the class (whether face-to-face or remote) will need a separate device logged in using a code provided by their instructor.

Once students have entered the lesson, many different possibilities of lesson content are available. Some of the different interactive capabilities of Nearpod include slideshows, VR field trips, and polls.

As an instructor, setting up various lesson types is as easy as creating an account.

Creating a Nearpod
When you select “Create a FREE account,” you have the option to either log in using a new username and password, or sign up using a Google account, a Mail app, or Office 365. There are also two options: to create the account as a teacher or as a student. Upon logging in as a teacher, you will be asked what grade(s) you teach and what subject(s) you teach. Your response determines the free lessons you’ll see as available for download.

From the home page, instructors have the option to view their lesson library, explore to find new lessons, join a current lesson, create a new lesson, and view reports from previous lessons.

Creating a new lesson includes uploading PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, or Google slides and then adding an interactive spin to them using any of Nearpod’s options (e.g., open-ended questions, supplemental videos, etc.). This tutorial found on Nearpod’s website walks through step-by-step on how to create a Nearpod lesson.

When opening a new, blank lesson and selecting ‘Add Content’, there are many options available, such as searching for images or videos from the internet or uploading PDFs.

After you select or create a new lesson, a code will be given to the instructor. This access code must then be provided to the students; within a classroom setting, they can all start the lesson at the same time. Nearpod can also be used for homework, allowing instructors to monitor home progress remotely using the lesson reports feature built into Nearpod.

Nearpod can also be integrated into a Canvas course! If you would like to learn more about Nearpod and how it can enhance the academic environment at Longwood, please visit the Digital Education Collaborative (136 Ruffner Hall) or contact us directly if you have questions or issue duplicating the steps outlined in this post.

*This post was drafted by Kayla, an Instructional Technology Collaborator 

#TechTipThursday: Ricoh Theta 360° Camera

The Digital Education Collaborative may be synonymous with Canvas support but has so much more to offer the Longwood University community!  We have a variety of instructional technologies, such as our new 360° cameras, that can help foster a positive and stimulating learning environment. The Ricoh Theta 360° uses dual lenses to capture a full spherical image or video of the surrounding area. Much like most hand held devices the Theta is portable and easy to use. You can also download the accompanying app to your mobile device which enables you to control the camera or save images and videos directly. The DEC currently has the Ricoh Theta S and the Ricoh Theta SC in our inventory. The Theta SC allows for still images and videos, while the Theta S has the added functionality of live streaming in 360° video.

To capture images you can either use the controls directly on the camera or you can download the accompanying app (free) as a wireless remote to capture images or record video. The biggest advantage when using the app to control the camera is that you can capture an unobtrusive image. For instance, if you were to hold the camera in your hand when capturing an image it will also capture you as it is recording a full 360° view of the area.

To view the image in true 360° you will need software that supports 360° images. Both Android and iOS devices support 360° images which is especially useful as you can create a virtual reality immersive experience by inserting the device in Google Cardboard. For desktops, there are many free software programs that support 360° images; additionally, Ricoh Theta has its own 360° image viewer. 

Advantages of 360° imaging in education:

  • Create Virtual Tours of places that students cannot visit;
  • Creating 360° images with hotspot software to create interactive instructional content;
  • Live casting from classroom or other locations;
  • Fully immersive instructional videos.

Check out this cool video we shot using the 360° camera! To learn more about 360° cameras and how to integrate them in your teaching and/or learning experiences at Longwood, please contact us directly.

#TechTipThursday: Using the Canvas App

As we are settling into the fall semester the Digital Education Collaborative wants to offer students a reminder of the free and handy way to manage academic deadlines and communicate with professors. Taking Canvas on-the-go with the Canvas app, by Instructure, can be easy and convenient! Students are able to receive notifications, reply to messages, and participate in their courses through the app just as they would online. This post provides a brief video tutorial on navigating, as well as tips for using, the Canvas app. You are welcome to follow along and can find the app for download in Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

Canvas: Mobile web browser vs app
There’s a difference between using the Canvas app and pulling up Canvas on a browser on your mobile device. Accessing Canvas through a browser on your mobile device will pull up the Canvas you are familiar with on a computer – same login and general format – and can be used the same way. Be advised that Canvas is not supported on mobile web browsers. Users are encouraged to use the app when accessing Canvas on a mobile device. With the Canvas app you are able to utilize Canvas through a more mobile-friendly display and the app will remain logged in even when you close out of the app window.

Clearing cookies and cache in the app
To clear cookies and cache you will need to sign out of the app, then delete and reinstall it on your chosen device.

What not to do in the Canvas App
The Canvas app is very user friendly and provides similar capabilities as students can find online. There are, however, certain functions we do not suggest users complete in the app. Through the app, students are able to take quizzes, submit assignments, respond to messages and discussion boards. However, the DEC recommends against using these functions as we are limited in our ability to provide support for difficulties with the Canvas app. For a smoother experience we recommend using the mobile app as a means to check notifications and respond to messages and using a computer to participate in, and submit to, the course.

Canvas offers a more in depth look into the iOS version of the app as well as the Android version. You may contact us directly if you have questions or concerns with your use of the Canvas app. If you experience difficulty while using the Canvas app, please stop by the Digital Education Collaborative (136 Ruffner Hall) with your mobile device.

   *This post was drafted by Emmy, an Instructional Technology Collaborator.

#TechTipThursday: PodBean

Podcasts have been available for several years but are becoming increasingly popular in educational settings. Instead of listening to the same few songs on the radio you can enjoy a podcast for entertainment or to gain new knowledge on a plethora of topics. PodBean not only provides a platform for you to listen to your favorite podcasts, it also simplifies the steps required for you to create your own. This post will focus on using the PodBean app on Apple devices, but it can be downloaded on Android devices. To begin you will need to download the app on your device and then the podcasting possibilities are yours!

The app will first prompt you to sign in. On this screen you can choose if you want to authenticate through an existing Facebook or Google account, or sign up with an email address.

Once you are signed in you can select different topics. PodBean will make suggestions on the next screen based on the choices you select on the screen below. Don’t worry, you are not limited to these options; the app allows you to search for various podcasts. 

In addition to seeing popular podcasts, you will notice four option icons at the top of your screen (refer to the red rectangle below). Each option icon’s description precedes its screenshot, below The first icon, appearing in black, is where you see popular podcasts and recommendations. 

The second icon is where you can find a list of episodes that you have downloaded, “liked”, or added to a playlist; this screen also gives you the option to search for podcasts. 

The third option icon is the app’s search tool that you will use to search available podcasts, specific episodes, or keywords. 

Tap on the person/avatar icon, on the far right-hand side, to start having fun; this is where you can become famous! PodBean allows you to create a 90-minute podcast right from your phone or tablet using the red microphone on the screen below.

After clicking on the microphone you can begin to record. You will notice that PodBean gives you the option to add music to your podcast. Don’t like what’s there? No problem! You can import you own audio using the three dots located in the top right of the screen (highlighted in blue, below). 

While recording, you can tap on the red microphone to pause the recording; this is also used when ending a recording. At the bottom of your screen you will notice the four options highlighted in red. This is where you can play, re-record, edit, and save your recording. Once you tap on the option to save, a box will pop up that allows you to rename your recording; it will default to the date and time the session was recorded. 

Your recordings will automatically save to the “My Drafts” folder located in your settings. Tap on the desired draft’s title to add a description and you are ready to publish. 

If you’re new to the world of podcasts, PodBean makes the process easy and convenient. If you would like to learn more about podcasting and how it can enhance the academic environment, stop by the Digital Education Collaborative (136 Ruffner Hall) or contact us directly if you have questions or issue duplicating the steps outlined in this post.

The DIGILab Comes to Longwood

The Digital Education Collaborative and Greenwood Library are happy to announce that the DIGILab will be opening September 11, 2017! The name DIGILab was selected by campus vote of student suggested names that took place in the Fall of 2016. You can find the DIGILab on the first floor of the Greenwood Library, where the Mac Lab and green screen were formerly located. Look for directional signage to direct you to the space or ask any member of the library staff.


What is in the DIGILab?
The DIGILab is a makerspace. Makerspaces are designed to allow users to experience different technologies and tools that they might not have access to normally. This can include anything! The DIGILab has: sewing machines, 3D printers (coming soon!), Sphero robots, Arduinos,and more! Don’t think this is all the DIGILab will have, however! We’re striving to be a user-focused makerspace and are looking to you, our users, for suggestions for what to have in the DIGILab in the future.   

What do I need to know before I come to the DIGILab?
Nothing! The DIGILab is designed to be a self-guided learning experience for technology that you are unfamiliar with. Each piece of equipment will have written instructions and/or a video set of instructions that you can use to learn to operate the technology. Before you’re able to use each piece independently, you’ll need to complete a DIGILab orientation and show a staff member that you are confident in terms of operating the equipment and are knowledgeable about the safety standards associated with the DIGILab.

When is the DIGILab open?
The DIGILab opens on Monday, September 11th. The hours are:

Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
 1PM-3PM  Closed  9AM-11AM  2PM-4PM  By appointment only

Does the DIGILab cost anything?
Usage of the equipment in the DIGILab is free! They only thing you’ll need to bring is specific fabric you’d like to use for your sewing project or the vinyl/paper you’d like to use for your vinyl/paper cutting project. If you’d just like to learn how to sew, we do have some scrap fabric you can use.

Stop by the Amelia Room for the Lancer Tech Expo on September 12th from 10AM – 2PM and see our presentation to learn more about the DIGILab (Longwood’s own MakerSpace), a joint effort between the Digital Education Collaborative and the Greenwood Library. Learn more about what will be in the DIGILab, how you can use the DIGILab, and more! Questions about the DIGILab can be sent to Ashlyn Honor at

*This post was drafted by Ashlyn, an Instructional Technology Specialist

#TechTipThursday: If This Then That

If This Then That (IFTTT) is a free service which allows users to create “applets” that automatically complete certain tasks. These applets work together with many different services including Google Drive, YouTube, Slack, and even smartphones. A full list of services which work with IFTTT can be found here. IFTTT is available for download on iOS and Android devices.

Ready-Made Applets
Users have the option to access a list of applets that IFTTT has already created. Once you find an applet that you want to use, simply select it and “turn on” the applet.

IFTTT will ask for permission to access the appropriate services on your device. Here, you have the choice to accept those terms or decline.

Manually Created Applets
Don’t see anything that you’re interested in? IFTTT allows users to create their own applets. To begin, navigate to the “My Applets” tab at the top of the page that appears once you have signed in. To the right, the option for “new applet” will appear. Click on this to begin designing your personalized applet!

You will start by choosing a trigger, event which cause the program to run, for your applet. Choose the light blue “this” on your screen.

Next, select the service from which the trigger will come. For example, if you want to create an applet that runs every time you save a file to a specific folder in Dropbox, your trigger will come from Dropbox. You will be asked to sign in to the trigger service if you have not done so already.

Select the trigger which matches your identified goal, then input any information you’re prompted for. In the case of our example, you would be prompted to input the name of the folder for your trigger.

You will be redirected back to the “if this then that” page once you select “Create trigger”. This time, you will see the icon for the trigger service before the word “this”. Select the light blue “that”.

On the next page, choose your action service. This is the service which will be changed or targeted when your trigger occurs. For example, if you would like to send yourself an email every time you save a file to a particular DropBox folder, you can select Gmail. You will be asked to sign into the action service if you have not already.

Choose the action which matches identified goal, then input any information you’re prompted for. In the case of our example, you would be prompted to enter a subject, body, and file attachment. These items can be left on their default settings or changed.

Select “Create action” and you will be shown your applet’s contents. Review these to ensure that the applet is accomplishing your identified goal. If so, select finish.

IFTTT and the Teaching and Learning Environment
IFTTT makes organization a little easier with an applet that adds tasks with due dates  to your Google Calendar. If you receive an email, IFTTT has an applet that allows you to “star” it and that same message is copied to Evernote.  If you’re looking to enhance your vocabulary for writing or speaking, this applet will send a weekly vocabulary list to your email.

If This Then That offers unlimited opportunities to streamline the processes you complete every day. IFTTT integrates with many services that you may already be using for course content including WordPress, Dropbox, Fitbit, and LinkedIn. You can also use it to post content from news sources to a feed, which may be very useful in classes which address current events.

If you have any questions, or difficulty duplicating the steps detailed in this post, please contact us directly.

*This post was drafted by Paige, an Instructional Technology Collaborator.


#TechTipThursday: What is Canvas?

Welcome to the start of a new academic year! As you enjoy all we have to offer in support of an individualized Longwood experience, do not forget that the Digital Education Collaborative partners with you to support use of learning technologies. We provide the support and structure behind the University’s commitment to academic success and pedagogical excellence through the effective application of instructional technology. Though we support a variety of solutions, Longwood’s learning management system is, by far, our most supported technology. This post provides a brief video introduction to use of and navigation in Canvas.

Introduction to Canvas

Paths to Access Canvas

Canvas can be accessed through a web browser or an app that can be downloaded when you are on the go. The app is available for iOS and Android devices. Note the DEC is limited in its ability to troubleshoot difficulties with the app. Accordingly, you may want to use the most recent version of Google Chrome on a computer to guarantee full functionality of Canvas and its features; Canvas is not supported on mobile web browsers.

Instructors, Canvas also allows you to work on-the-go with their SpeedGrader app for Apple and Android devices. This allows for easy grading and providing student feedback.

Other Helpful Resources

Canvas has a great community that you can search when needing to find answers. In addition, our office is located in Ruffner 136 and we are available for phone and walk-in support Monday-Thursday, 8AM to 8PM and Fridays, 8AM to 5PM. Feel free to contact us directly as additional questions or concerns arise.

*Videos* from 2nd Semi-Annual Student Tech Showcase

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 2.03.14 PMWe held our second, semi-annual, Student Tech Showcase earlier this week. 
Four (4) members of the Instructional Technology Collaborator team spent approximately 15 minutes, each, connecting a DEC-supported technology to the teaching and/or learning experience. These presentations were part of the 4th tier of the ITC Badging Program and serve as the implementation component of a 3rd tier badge, Presentation Design. Each of the 4 ITCs spent the fall 2016 semester designing these presentations, working with DEC professional staff for feedback. Intended to serve as an introduction, Longwood instructors are welcome to work with the Digital Education Collaborative for further assistance on any of the technologies presented.

Videos are linked below and follow the description for the corresponding presentation. Unfortunately, we do not have a recording of Kyle’s “3D Printing in Education” session. Kyle, and Paige, will return to the team in the fall 2017 semester and can be available to work with instructors as a follow up to their sessions. Though Kristin and Michael are graduating, other ITCs will be available and are trained to assist instructors with Kahoot! and the Google Apps for Education suite.

A Kahoot! and a Half!
Kahoot! is a free, web-based platform that makes learning fun for students through its use of games. Players can join a Kahoot! game from any internet-enabled device. Professors can capitalize on existing games, or create their own, to customize the learning experience to meet specific learning objectives. Kahoot! games provide students the opportunity to interact with course content, each other, and the instructor in ways that enrich the learning environment by enhancing engagement across all domains.

Presented by: Kristin, Instructional Technology Collaborator
To view Kristin’s presentation, click here.

3D Printing in Education
Due in part to its broad applicability, 3D printing has been on the forefront of innovation in a variety of realms. This presentation will review and demonstrate the basics of 3D printing, as well as showcase sample prints previously created. Examples of 3D printing projects supporting the student learning outcomes will be provided and attendees will be encouraged to brainstorm disciplinary-specific connections.

Presented by: Kyle, Instructional Technology Collaborator
Watch Link: not available

Collaborate with Google
This session will highlight the benefits of using Google Docs as a tool for assisting collaboration on group projects as well as for individual projects that require feedback and revisions.  Topics such as how to help students create documents that are shared with other classmates as well as the instructor, in addition to the particular advantages Google Docs provides for projects that require some collaboration, will be addressed.

Presented by: Michael, Instructional Technology Collaborator
To view Michael’s presentation, click here.

Getting the most out of Canvas
Canvas has a number of built-in options to enhance the online learning environment. While these built-in options remain available to instructors, many may not know that additional options are available through Canvas apps. Working with our campus Canvas administrators, instructors are able to identify and implement pedagogically sound applications within their Canvas course(s). This session will discuss how instructors can connect an app to identified student learning outcomes, thus qualifying as pedagogically sound, ways apps can enhance the teaching and learning experience, and how to gain access to implement an app. 

Presented by: Paige, Instructional Technology Collaborator
To view Paige’s presentation, click here.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns as a follow up to what was covered at the Student Tech Showcase.