From Written to Digital: Getting Started

Board game with a piece on the start spotOur faculty members reflected on how they began incorporating digital media assignments into their curriculum. Although some of them have been doing this type of assignment for several years, they had some advice to offer those who’d like to dip their toes into the digital assignment water.

Start with a small assignment. With this bit of advice, you can begin by keeping the assignment workload manageable. Don’t start with huge projects like thirty-minute documentaries but instead start with finished assignments that last no longer than 5 minutes.

Schedule in-class time to cover the software. Professor Dede Garrison of Literature, Writing, and Rhetoric says to not be fooled by your students’ technical proficiency. Students may be astute at using familiar technology but when it comes to these assignments, it’s wise to schedule some in-class time to cover the software as per Dr. Don Unger’s suggestion.

Utilize the Digital Media Center. You don’t need to have sole expertise in creating digital content because the Digital Media Center has individuals who can help you and your students.  They can assist with forming the assignment as well as coming into your classroom and teaching your students how to create successful digital media projects.

Learn to use the software yourself. That being said, many of our faculty recommend learning to use the software yourself. You can start by using the software for your own projects as Professor Heath of Journalism and Digital Media did. She stresses that this will help provide a frame of reference for your students on how long these projects should be taking.

Look to your faculty colleagues for templates. You may be surprised to find faculty in your department who are already doing these types of assignments. If you ask, you might find someone who is willing to share what they’ve learned with you.

Now that we’ve discussed a bit of how to get started, let’s examine how we can ensure our students’ success with these projects.

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From Written to Digital: Student Success

bunch of fists bumping in a circleThere’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, our faculty have advice on ensuring your students’ success in these projects.

Emphasize time management is crucial to a successful digital project. In terms of creating a video project, for every minute you’re asking your students to create, that represents an hour of editing–and that’s not even including conducting research, recording footage, script writing, etc. So have a discussion with your students emphasizing that the best projects take time.

Discuss accountability and/or assign roles in group projects. The dreaded group project can be an excellent tool for your digital assignment. Students can become responsible for logistics, script writing, recording, and editing. By discussing how these roles should fill out, the more technically savvy can assign themselves in roles where they can be the most useful and let others stay in more familiar roles.

plan on a white boardHave students create a project plan. Having them figure out what they are recording, who they are interviewing, down to what equipment they will need. Not only will this help them create purposeful projects but it will also reinforce the previous point regarding time management. If your students may feel a need to skip this step, have them present as Dr. Mitchell requires for his Issue Film project.

Record audio right the first time. With the progression of technology, it’s often believed that we can fix everything after we record it. And although this might be true to a certain extent, many of us do not have the time nor the expertise to fix it. Although your students may want the ambient noise of Jo’s Coffee, have them record their interview in a quiet location. The students can then add sounds to the audio/video project when they are editing their videos. As Professor Heath stated, “audio can only be edited so much in the end.” The Digital Media Center offers a whisper room for audio recording.

Raise the stakes by making the viewing audience beyond the faculty member. Dr. Mitchell concludes that by having his students share their projects with each other, the quality of the assignment was higher. It made students want to put forth their very best. As a result, students spent more time on task.

Schedule in-class project editing time. In Dr. Unger’s class, this tactic became especially important as all the videos crafted for Austin Free-Net must have the same look and feel. He could then address any concerns while students were in class. If you’re not feeling particularly savvy, you can have someone from the Digital Media Center on hand to assist your class.

And although this is by no means a comprehensive list of how to ensure student success, you can always drop an email to one of our instructional designers to begin a conversation. Otherwise, let’s move on to how do we actually grade these projects.

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From Written to Digital: Managing Grading

You’re probably thinking that it’s all well and good that we receive support in teaching how to use the technology. But what about the grading aspect? Although you may not feel like an expert or even a budding amateur at this very moment, our faculty members share their experiences to help quell any misgivings you have.

You already know how to grade the content component of a digital media assignment. Is the argument sound? Did the student support their argument with reliable sources? Was a thesis clearly stated? These types of questions should already be familiar to you and will make grading the content a breeze. But what about the technical aspect of the video?

Try learning to use the software with your own projects. Both Professor Heath and Mitchell had the same piece of advice to share. If you recall, this was also a piece of advice in our getting started section. That’s because this can inform so much of what you’re asking your students to produce in their digital media assignments. In grading, it can shed light on what’s possible and not possible.

Ask fellow faculty colleagues for rubrics. Perhaps the most useful piece of advice is that you don’t have to start from scratch. Looking over different rubrics can help you hone in on the areas you want to focus on grading. Here Professors Heath, Mitchell, and Unger have graciously granted us the ability to share their rubrics with you.

  • 1. Introduction/story hook (What is the hook for the story? (25 Points)

    • Does your voice-over contain a hook in the first fifteen seconds?

    2. Script audio/voice-over: (25 Points)

    • Is the interviewee properly identified?
    • Does the voice-over script allow you to build to your main point?
    • Does the voice-over script provide adequate transitions?
    • Does the voice-over script reflect research and knowledge of the subject area?
    • Are you able to leverage operative words —the who, what, when, where, how?
    • Did you upload the script to the blog w/the SoundCloud link?

    3. Audio levels and pacing (25 Points)

    • Are the audio levels consistent?
    • Do you as the interviewer allow space for responses — no talking over your interviewer?

    4. The Edit (25 Points)

    • Does the edited final audio story meet the minimum length requirements?
    • Does it tie the voice-over and interview audio together in a package?
    • Is the audio quality clear? Is the volume level acceptable — not too low or too high?

    Total: /100
  • Credits – 20 points

    • Includes opening credits with title that fits with instructional video series (formatting, naming, etc.)
    • Includes main title image and music
    • Includes closing titles that are formatted correctly and contain accurate information

    Instructions – 40 points

    • Introduction sets up video as part of series and addresses video contents>/li>
    • Body provides step by step instructions without inundating user with extraneous information
    • Conclusion points toward troubleshooting resources and next video in series

    Screencast – 40 points

    • Corresponds to steps in instructions
    • No lengthy pauses or sound flubs
    • Narration is well-paced and clear

    Total: /100 points
  • Content Introduction – 10%

    • Film introduced creatively with examples

    Content – 40%

    • Good variety of interviewees
    • Narration clear and designed to help audience understand issue(s) & perspectives expressed
    • Perspectives expressed creatively illustrated

    Content Conclusion – 15%

    • Narration clearly articulates group perspective and/or summary of points of view expressed

    Form/Editing – 20%

    • Film clearly organized/structured
    • Precise and smooth editing and transitions
    • Editing well-paced and designed to tell a story
    • Sound edits clean and levels balanced throughout film

    Timing – 15%

    • Film length requirement (5-6 minutes) met
    • Film link sent to Instructor prior to class of showing

    Total: /100
  • Your Name: ______________
    Group: __________________

    Rate each member of your group in the following areas related to their group participation. Use a separate sheet for each member of your group. Circle the appropriate number to indicate your rating for each area. Then, total the ratings, divide by 3, and multiply by 10 to get a total score on a 100 point scale.

    Note: This form is between you and your instructor. Your group members will not see this form. They will only receive their average participation score. Using “across-the-board” grades for group members will result in a 50% deduction from your Peer Critique points.

    Group Member's Name: _______
    Total Points: _______________

    Task Functions:

    On a scale of 1-10, rate: how effective was the group member in performing their duties and responsibilities as required?


    Social Maintenance Function:

    On a scale of 1-10, rate: How effective was the group member in contributing to a positive socio-emotional climate? (e.g. showed concern for others’ ideas, openly shared ideas with the group…)


    Group Process:

    On a scale of 1-10, rate: How effective was the group member in contributing to the smooth functioning of the group? (e.g. attendance at meetings, promptness, accepting leadership and/or other functional group roles.)


And that concludes our event writeup, From Written to Digital. Be sure to look out for new events where we discuss digital pedagogy.

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You Too Can Youtube!

Want a great way to reach your students in and out of the classroom? Create your own video content. Creating your own video content can help stimulate interest in subject material and reinforce what is being taught in the classroom. Instructors are able to share videos with future classes, reuse captured video material with other video projects, and make content available so students can have access to videos even after they have completed the course.

Creating video content has never been easier. With smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices readily available that have the ability to record HD quality videos, you can quickly create and share video content directly to the web. Youtube offers a free browser-based video editor that allows users to edit video clips with several options that are commonly found in video editing software. The Youtube editor has plenty of features that allow users to create videos and has been updated to allow more precise editing. Some of the key features are:

  • splitting/trimming video clips
  • editing audio
  • adding an audio track
  • adding titles with backgrounds
  • adding annotations

Below is an overview of some of the major features available in the Youtube Editor:


Once you log in to your Youtube account, click on the “upload” button located next to the search bar. The “upload” page will appear giving you several options to create videos. You can select video files located on your computer, record a video using your webcam, create a photo slideshow, broadcast a Google+ Hangout session or use the video editor. We will be focusing on the video editor features for this article.

Video Editor Interface

The video editor allows users to view the video clips that they have uploaded to Youtube (up to 55 clips) and edit them individually or together on a timeline. The main interface allows users to insert titles, edit clips together, add transitions and an audio track. Users will also be able to publish their edited video from this interface.

Quick Fix

When a video clip is selected, users have the option to apply quick fixes to their video. Users can apply an auto-fix that automatically adjusts color, brightness and contrast. Users can also manually adjust brightness and contrast as well. Another great feature is the ability to stabilize the video clip. This helps remove the “shaky camera” effect when users are recording video without a tripod.


Users can apply several different filter effects on their video clips to alter the look of their video. These filters adjust color saturation and can give your video a new style or look.



Text can be added over video clips or as title bumpers before a video clip. Users can adjust fonts, position, size, style, color and alignment.


Titles can be applied before clips and transitions. Users can create titles by simply dragging a title style from the title tool directly to the timeline.



Users can also apply transitions between clips, images or titles. These effects will help transition between titles and clips.

Audio Track

Another great new feature is the audio track tool. YouTube now offers a free audio library that has a collection of music tracks that users can download and feature as background music in their videos.


Here is a sample video that was created with an iPad and edited using the Youtube video editor.

Demo: SEU Campus Tour


Here are some other helpful resources on ways to use videos in education. Feel free to contact us here at the Faculty Resource Center if you have any questions regarding video production for your classroom. Good luck.

20 Ways to Use Video in the Classroom

6 Simple Ways To Use Video In Education

Different Types of Videos Used for Education

Youtube Video Editor Support

Free music for your videos in Audio Library

Want to Get Text Messages Whenever Announcements or Grades Are Posted in Blackboard?

Students can sign up via Rave Alerts to receive text or email messages from their Blackboard classes whenever a new announcement, grade or assignment is posted. It’s simple and faculty don’t need to do anything to enable this feature. By default all text and email alerts from Blackboard are turned off so students must opt in.

Rave Alerts are scheduled for delivery every 10 minutes, so if an instructor posts an announcement at 10:30 that class is cancelled for today, students who have signed up for text alerts should receive that message by 10:40.

How to Sign Up?

  1. Log into Blackboard

  2. Click on the Rave link in the Tools menu

  3. You will be automatically logged into Rave.  If you have previously configured your Rave account with a cell phone number you can go ahead and select the classes and alerts you wish to receive.  If you need to add your cell phone number to Rave see the instructions at Signing Up for Topper Text.  If  you have configured your Rave account you can go ahead and select the classes and areas from which to receive texts or emails.

  4. By default all text and email alerts are turned off.    You can choose Default Settings that will automatically be applied to all Blackboard classes. Remember that every announcement, grade, assignment or calendar entry will automatically generate a text message.  You may not want to get that many text messages for every Blackboard class.

  5. You can also choose to only get text or email from specific classes and specific areas.  Click in the boxes in the column under Announcements, Calendar items, Assignments or Grades to enable text messages.

Course Availability in Blackboard

As a new semester begins I wanted to remind students and faculty about the availability of Blackboard classes.  All classes from the official course catalog  are automatically loaded into Blackboard with a status of unavailable. Those courses are immediately available to faculty; however, students will not see those courses in Blackboard until faculty make their courses available.

Steps for faculty to use to make a course available to students:

  1. Go to the Control Panel for the Class
  2. Click on Customization
  3. Click on Properties
  4. Select Yes in the Set Availability section
  5. Click on Submit

You will receive an onscreen receipt confirmation. Now your course is accessible to your students.

Note that classes in Blackboard will automatically be made unavailable to students on the 12th class day of the next semester.

Blackboard Tips

Blackboard Tips: Grade Center

A Calculated Column gathers data from multiple Grade Center columns and performs a calculation such as an average grade for a set of assignments. New courses and restored courses contain two Calculated columns by default: a Total Points column and a Weighted Grade column. To create a new calculated column, select a type such as “average column” from the “Create Calculated Column” list. On the following page enter a column name and set other options, such as whether to display the column to students. Click submit when you are finished.

Blackboard Tips: Make Your Course Available

To make a course available in Blackboard, go into your course’s homepage on Blackboard. On the Control Panel on the left side of the screen, click ‘Customization,’ and then under ‘Customization,’ select ‘Properties.’ This will take you to the Properties window. Under ‘Set Availability’ check ‘Yes’ to make the course available, then click ‘Submit’ at the bottom of the page.

Blackboard Tips: Edit Mode in Blackboard

When you are in Blackboard, if you find that you cannot edit your content, look at the edit mode button in the top right corner of the page. If the edit button is switched to the off position then click it and it will switch on. You should now be able to edit your content. The purpose of having the edit mode button is to allow you to see your Blackboard course from a student perspective. It can be useful to check your edits with the edit mode off when you are done.

Blackboard Tips: How to ensure that your students can reply to your Blackboard announcement e-mails

When you create an announcement in Blackboard, you will be presented with the option “E-mail Announcement” to send the announcement to your students via email. If you want your students to be able to respond to you directly, be sure that you check the “Send a copy of this announcement immediately” box. Otherwise, Blackboard will send the email from a generic IT address and any responses from your students will be directed to IT rather than back to you. To ensure that the email is sent from your address, make sure to check the box to the right of “E-mail Announcement.”

Blackboard Tips: Creating a Turnitin Assignment

The process for creating an assignment in Turnitin is different than creating a normal assignment. To do this go to your blackboard homepage click the “Assignments” link in the course menu. Mouse over “create assessment” and select “Turnitin Assignment” form the drop down menu. Select the type of assignment you wish to create from the three options presented. Enter an assignment title, a point value, and the start, due and post dates. Once you are finished click “submit”. Your Turnitin assignment will appear under Assignments.

Blackboard Tips: Course Reports

Faculty can use the Course Reports area to generate reports on course usage and activity. Faculty can view a specific student’s usage to determine if students are actively using course materials. The report appears in the form of graphical charts. Course reports provide different ways to view information about student activity and content usage. To run a new report, select a course you are teaching and open the course Control Panel, click on Evaluation and then Course Reports. Choose your desired options and run the report.

Blackboard Tips: Clearing Attempts in Turnitin

If you need to clear a student’s attempt in Turnitin, go to the Full Grade Center and find the cell that corresponds to the student’s attempt that you would like to clear. Then click the double arrow box to the right of the cell and select the third option “Attempt” from the menu. In the Modify Grade window, select the “Clear attempt” button. Click submit to save changes.

Blackboard Tips: Course Reports

Faculty can use the Course Reports area to generate reports on course usage and activity. Faculty can view a specific student’s usage to determine if students are actively using course materials. The report appears in the form of graphical charts. Course reports provide different ways to view information about student activity and content usage. To run a new report, select a course you are teaching and open the course Control Panel, click on Evaluation and then Course Reports. Choose your desired options and run the report.

Blackboard Tips: Reordering Items in a Content Area or Menu Bar

In order to move items in a content area, mouse over the top right corner of the item box (or the double pronged arrow to the right of the box in the case of the menu bar items) until the cursor changes into the four pronged arrow. Now simply click and drag the item to where you want it to be.

Blackboard Tips: Downloading Assignments from Grade Center

To download assignment files that students have submitted, go to Grade Center and click on the double arrow to the right of the assignment that you would like to download. Select “Assignment File Download” from the drop-down list. On the next page you can choose to download all files or just the files from selected students. Click “submit” once you have selected which files to download, and then click the “Download Assignments Now” link. Save the .zip file to your drive and open it to view the files.

Blackboard Tips: Copying Files from One Course to Another

If there is a file that already exists in one course that you wish to make available in another course you must first locate the file and click the double down arrow on the right side of the file’s name. From the drop down menu, select the “Copy” option. Then select the course and folder in which you wish the file to appear. Finally, click “Submit.” Your file should now be available in both courses. To move a file from one course to another, simply follow the same procedure as above but instead of selecting the “Copy” option from the drop-down menu, you will select the “Move” option.

Maintenance Tip: Storing and Backing Up your Files and Documents

Storing and Organizing Files

Properly storing and organizing your digital documents will go a long way towards making your files easy to find and reference later. However, often the biggest issue is creating and maintaining a consistent system that will not leave you wondering where you saved a crucial document.

Both PCs and Mac computers feature a “Documents” folder for containing your documents and files you create or download from the web. Typically, Microsoft Office applications will want to save documents in this folder by default. In this “Documents” folder, you may create additional folders for categorizing the types of files you collect. Should your computer need repair in the future, the St. Edward’s Computer HelpDesk or an outside company will assume that the majority of the files you want saved will be located in this folder.

Creating File Folders on a PC and Mac

On a Mac, double click on the “Macintosh HD” icon on the desktop and click on “Documents,” listed on the left navigation bar. The top of the window will now say “Documents” with a folder icon next to it. This is where you can create folders and save documents. To create a new folder, right-click on your mouse or control-click and choose “New Folder”. Name the untitled folder and press the Return key.

Give your folders descriptive names, such as “Cyber Security Awareness Month,” which is better than an acronym like “CSAM” because over time you may not remember all of the acronyms you created. You may also create folders within folders for ones that contain several sub-groups of documents, such as folders for different years or versions of files. Most people develop their own unique file system method that depends on the types of files they have.

Reserve your desktop for short-term storage of files you are currently working on. Once you no longer need immediate access to that document, put it in the appropriate folder you created in “Documents”.

Backing up Files

Now with a file system in place within your “Documents” folder, it is time to create a backup of your files. IT recommends backing your files in multiple places in the event of a virus infection or computer crash. Should your hard drive fail, your files may not be recoverable.

We recommend backing up your files by making copies and saving them on an external hard drive (available in any electronics department or store), USB drives or your EdShare account. You may also want to burn your files to writable CDs and store them in a safe place.