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Spring semester start technology message provides helpful information for OHIO instructors

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) recently emailed its semester start e-mail to all University instructors.   

These technology emails are sent before the beginning of every new semester, outlining updates and new additions to OHIO’s teaching and learning technologies, classroom spaces, tips for improving accessibility, and information security.

Three key areas were covered and are presented below:

  • Teaching and learning technologies
  • Classroom spaces
  • Tips to improve accessibility and keep data safe

Teaching and learning technologies

Blackboard integrations: Know the changes that impact you

Blackboard has announced that after Dec. 31, 2023, instructors will no longer be able to perform the following actions: 

  • Merge course sections
  • Add users to courses
  • Create a test course

You still have time to merge courses, add users, and create test courses on your own now. However, after Dec. 31, OIT will perform these functions for you by request. Submit a Blackboard ticket request to the IT Service Desk for assistance with any of these functions.

Check out Blackboard Integration Updates for information on these and more upcoming changes.

Canvas: Begin exploring OHIO's new learning management system (LMS)

Canvas is now available for all instructors and staff. You can familiarize yourself with Canvas or start building content now to prepare for your future courses. A course shell will be created in both Canvas and Blackboard for all Spring 2024 classes listed in Course Offerings. Faculty who are not teaching in Canvas during Phase 1 are welcome to use their Canvas course shell as a testing space to explore tools and develop content.

What can you do now?

  • Request a test course: Get comfortable using Canvas features or experiment with building courses.
  • Start with an OHIO template: Jump start your course development. These templates provide a consistent experience for students, are easy to use, and support sound pedagogical design. Make sure to apply the OHIO templates available in Canvas Commons to your courses.
  • Register for trainings: Reserve your spot in the LMS transition training sessions provided by the Office of Instructional Design. 
  • Follow these five steps: Prepare for an easy transition to Canvas if you have materials in Blackboard.
  • Visit the Canvas Implementation website: Keep an eye on the latest updates, including the timeline and FAQs.

While Canvas is open for all faculty and staff to explore, only a limited number of courses will be taught this upcoming spring as part of Phase 1. Most students will not have access to Canvas during the spring 2024 semester. 

Improve course evaluation response rates

Blue has replaced Class Climate as the preferred OHIO course evaluation tool.

Instructors can help improve response rates by:

  • Adding an evaluation link for your Blackboard course or creating a QR code to be shared in class
  • Reminding students that their feedback is anonymous
  • Informing students that course evaluations will be sent from

For a comprehensive guide, please refer to the Knowledge Base article: Getting Started with Course Evaluations: Blue (Instructors).

Classroom spaces

Sign up for classroom hardware trainings

Specialized training sessions are available before the start of spring semester classes to explore and master the latest classroom technologies. Sessions are available to help you unlock the full potential of Microsoft Teams in Irvine Hall, discover the enhanced features in Walter 235, explore active learning in Schoonover 450, and get started in traditional small/medium and large rooms.

These sessions are designed to empower you with the skills needed for a seamless and interactive teaching experience. Sign up for training.

Submit classroom help tickets effortlessly

A centralized classroom support platform is available to streamline support requests for all of your classroom needs. While we strive for an intuitive and consistent classroom experience, there may be times when you encounter technology issues, require maintenance assistance, or need help with room configurations. 

To get help, simply:

  • Scan a QR code from the classroom lectern
  • Select a help icon on the classroom computer desktop  

If you prefer, you can still contact the OIT Service Desk (740-593-1222) or Facilities Management (740-593-2911) directly by phone.

Submit a classroom help ticket to get you and your students back to teaching and learning quickly.   

Use updated hybrid spaces in Irvine Hall

Irvine classrooms 194 and 199 have been updated as Microsoft Teams enabled classrooms to support hybrid instruction as part of the Campus Space Optimization Initiative. This new technology increases instructional flexibility and enhances your ability to provide a seamless and engaging educational experience by:

  • Eliminating the need to inform OIT of your hybrid instruction plans
  • Giving you control to create and distribute your own Teams meeting links
  • Allowing you to record and share meetings 
Already scheduled to teach in Irvine 194 or 199?
  1. Create a Teams meeting in Outlook.
  2. Add the Irvine 194 or 199 room to the meeting as a participant.
  3. Set the time and date of your class.
  4. Distribute your link to participants.
Not scheduled to teach in Irvine 194 or 199 though want to hold a special event?
(ex: panels, alumni chats, student org presentations, etc.?)
  1. Reserve the space in Astra.
  2. Create a Teams meeting in Outlook.
  3. Add the Irvine 194 or 199 to the meeting as a participant.
  4. Set your meeting options.
  5. Distribute your link to participants.

Tips to improve accessibility and keep data safe

Improve your Azure Multi-Factor Authentication experience

Ohio University uses Azure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for enhanced account security and an intuitive experience. To improve your ease of use, Azure offers the option to Remember Me for 90 days, and passwordless authentication when using the Microsoft Authenticator app.

For added security, the Microsoft Authenticator app now indicates what application is sending the multi-factor authentication request. Do not accept any authentication requests that you do not recognize.

Visit our Azure MFA Knowledge Base article for tips and information on getting started. 

Stay alert for phishing messages

Phishing, an attempt to solicit personal information through fraudulent emails, is responsible for more than 90 percent of stolen data from businesses. If you receive an email that you suspect is phishing, always check the Phish Bowl  or contact the Information Security Office. 

Incorporate data security into your research 

Keeping research information safe is crucial to minimize the chances of data loss or unauthorized access. If you're a principal investigator (PI), you can find guidance on how to lower risks for participants, researchers, and the University by checking out the Information Security Office's guidelines on data security guidelines for research.

Ensure your course content is accessible

OIT is committed to supporting digital accessibility and universal design across OHIO. It might be hard to know where to begin, but the goal is "progress over perfection." Microsoft's Accessibility Checker is an easy way to make documents and presentations more consumable by a wider audience. The Accessibility Checker is easy to use and provides quick recommendations to improve access.

For a list of simple ways to integrate digital accessibility into your course materials, check out our faculty checklist for accessible course content.

January 12, 2024
Staff reports