Learner Support Block

Improvements have been made to the Learner Support block, which appears in all Moodle courses. These enhancements are user-focused, providing more information in a targeted layout for students. For faculty teaching hybrid and online course sections, these improvements help those instructors to better align with the Quality Matters (QM) standards for Learner Support. Finally, the enhancements enable better alignment with information on new UL Lafayette supported websites.

The topics included in the Learner Support are: Tech Support, Moodle Help, Academic Support, Student Services and Resources, Distance Learning Library Resources, and Accessibility.

If you have instructions or activities to access information in the Learner Support block in your Moodle course, you might need to update those instructions and/or links so they match the Learner Support block names and information. Consider adding a statement in your syllabus that introduces the Learner Support block, such as:

The Learner Support block is available in all Moodle courses. Students should explore these links to find services for technical, academic, student, and disability support. This block provides links to the following resources:

  • Tech Support: This page includes links and information about IT Helpdesk, University Computing Services (UCS) Account, LMS Support, Proctored Exam Technical Requirements, and Web Conferencing System Requirements.
  • Moodle Help: The page includes a knowledge base search with information about accessing Moodle, viewing courses, uploading a file, viewing grades, a Moodle 2.7 Student User Guide, and more.
  • Academic Support: This page includes links and information about Online Orientation, Registration, Tutoring, and Library Resources for Distance Learners.
  • Student Services and Resources: This page provides links to university resources such as the Academic Success Center, Cajun Card Services, Career Services, Counseling & Testing Center, Multicultural Services, Veteran Services, and more!
  • Distance Learning Library Resources: This page introduces students to the university’s Distance Learning librarian as well as the services available for Distance Learning students, including reference and research assistance, access to the library’s online holdings,
  • Accessibility: This page provides detailed information about the university’s accessibility policy as well as the services provided by the Office of Disability Services.

In preparation for the start of the semester, you are reminded to check all external links in your course designs to ensure each one works.

Please email distancelearning@louisiana.edu with any suggestions, concerns, or comments.

University Continues Examity Agreement with Expanded Proctoring Options

The Office of Distance Learning is proud to announce the renewal of the institutional agreement with Examity. Examity is one of two online virtual proctoring services that University faculty members have access to use. This service is fully integrated in Moodle, the University’s learning management system.

Examity offers five different levels of FairExam® service depending on instructor needs. A new service level is being introduced called Level AA. Level AA stands for Auto-Authentication. Level AA is ideal for those instances when a quick, easy and inexpensive method is needed to authenticate a student before access is given to an assignment or quiz. Level AA enables students to snap pictures of their ID and face and to verify a unique code in order to access to the exam.

Proctoring services help the University achieve authentication standards across all online and hybrid courses. The passage of the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008 led regional accrediting agencies to place greater emphasis on preventing potential fraud in online programs.  Thus, these regional accrediting agencies began to mandate its member colleges and universities institute processes for authenticating that a person enrolled to take an online course is actually the person submitting work for that course. UL Lafayette’s accreditor, SACS-COC, requires that “at minimum, a secure login and pass code or proctored exam and, as they become available and widely accepted, new identification technologies and practices”  be used to identify each student’s identity. The integrity of academic programs at UL Lafayette depends on the institution’s ability to authenticate the identity of online students. Examity is also fully ADA-compliant, so all students may take advantage of the service.

To learn more about using Examity proctoring in your courses, visit our EduTools webpage.

Faculty Perspective: My Course Design Practicum Experience

Dr. James Kimball is a Senior Instructor and the Director of Freshman Mathematics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. During the summer 2014, he participated in the Office of Distance Learning’s Course Design Practicum (CDP) online experience in preparation for designing and teaching Elementary Statistics online. A year removed from the experience and having taught online, Dr. Kimball shares his experiences as a Guest Blogger and includes a video about his course design.

The purpose of this post is to highlight my experiences in the Office of Distance Learning Course Design Practicum (CDP).  Although I had already completed my Quality Matters (QM) certification before beginning the CDP course, I did not have a well-developed idea of the look and feel of the online course that I wanted to create.  My original thoughts were to simply create a Moodle page for the course, provide links to the textbook, post the homework assignments, and record a few short videos on the topics I considered most difficult.  I even said to myself, “Not a big deal. I know what the students need to learn. I’m just communicating online rather than face-to-face.”  While the latter part of this statement is true, I can safely say that I would not have been able to create and develop an online course as effectively and efficiently without the CDP experience.

Let me begin by saying that 1Course Design Practicum is NOT a 10 week repeat of the QM certification course.  That is, 10 weeks of reading about what I must do in my online course or what I cannot do in my online course.  While CDP does incorporate and highlight certain things from QM, the majority of the course centers around the design of an online course and the tools and technology available to create a satisfying online experience for both instructors and students.  CDP helped me to, in a short amount of time, make a firm decision about the content and outcomes for my online course and efficiently find the technology tools that would allow me to accomplish those outcomes.

In addition to learning about different ways for me to interact with students and for students to interact with each other, the process of completing CDP was beneficial because I had never taken a course online.  As I completed the assignments and exercises, I would quickly decide what I liked, what I did not like, what I could use in my own course, and what would not work in my course or for my teaching style.   For example, one of the CDP activities was to post a VoiceThread, which is similar to a video post to an online forum.  I see how this activity would be beneficial to students in many courses, but I did not consider it to be a useful tool in the online statistics course I was designing.  However, there were many different virtual whiteboard tools that I liked and incorporated into my course.

I think CDP was beneficial to me because it allowed me to accomplish my task of creating a fully functional online course for my department within a very short time period.  Like many courses in college, I came to fully appreciate Course Design Practicum only after it was over.

You can watch a short six minute video about my course design at this link (click here).

Dr. James Kimball, Senior Instructor and Director of Freshman Mathematics

Get the Most from the IT Help Desk

The staff in the Office of Distance Learning has a unique opportunity of working with faculty across many departments and colleges. This vantage point allows us to observe common challenges being experienced by faculty in all disciplines and modes of teaching. One consistently observed challenge involves interactions with our university IT Help Desk as members of our learning community report technical issues and request assistance. In full disclosure, the Office of Distance Learning is an investor in the IT Help Desk, through financing of after hours and weekend tech support. Thus, it benefits our investment when faculty use the resource. This post about helping faculty understand how to get the most from the IT Help Desk also applies to students and staff as well.

IT support professionals rely on specific, detailed information in their interactions with their customer base (students, faculty, staff, staff, and administrators). Reporting that “Moodle is broken!” or “The server is down!” does not provide the depth of information needed to resolve the issue. Below, we are empowering you with information in order to have a more meaningful IT Help experience and to discover a resolution more quickly. When reporting an information technology issue, answer these questions:

  • Who? Provide your name and course (number and section) in which you are experiencing the problem.
  • What? Provide a detailed description of the incident. Please include screenshots if possible as these may reveal exact error messages and lead to quicker resolution.

Screenshot Tips

    • (Windows) You can easily create screen shots using the snipping tool if you have a Windows operating system or a whole screenshot by pressing CTRL + Print Screen.
    • (Mac) Use the keyboard keys: Command + Shift + 4 (then click and drag the crosshairs across the specific area for the snapshot). Picture appears on your desktop.
    • (iOS) Take a screenshot by tapping the home button and the Sleep/Wake button (top right of iPad) simultaneously. The screen will flash, you’ll hear a sound. Screenshot will be in the Photos app.
    • (Android) Android 4.0 and newer. To take a screenshot on your device, press the Volume Down and Power keys at the same time. The screen will flash, you’ll hear a sound, and you’ll see a framed image appear and fade into the notification bar. The “Saving screenshot” notification will appear.
  • When? When did the problem(s) happen (time of day)? Report every time you face an issue.
  • Where?
    • Identify your location (particular building if on campus)
    • Identify if you are using a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone when experiencing the problem.
    • Identify your computer’s operating system: Windows (OS 7-9), Mac (OS 10.6-10.10), Linux, iOS (7 or 8), Android (version number).
    • Identify the software applications you are using (for example: web browser name and Moodle).
  • Why?
    • Identify how are you connecting to the Internet (Wireless or Ethernet).
    • Identify your Internet browser and version of that browser (On the Mac computer look to the top left and click on the web browser name you have active, then select About…, here you will see the browser version number)

IT Help is committed to serving faculty, staff and students in the IT needs. If you have not had an optimal experience and stopped reporting issues, we urge you to consider reporting again using the quick tips above. When this “complete” information is provided to IT Help, we observe a quicker resolution to an issue and a higher degree of faculty satisfaction with the service received.

Instructional Tools and Resources for Online Teaching

The Office of Distance Learning wants you to know about a number of instructional technologies (EDUTools), resources, and support services to assist you in teaching your hybrid and online courses. Please take some time to go through the links provided below, and contact our office for any questions you may have.

To view the latest updates and announcements throughout the semester, please connect with us:

We hope you will consider using some of these resources and tools to deliver your high quality electronic course to students.

Learning Management System – Moodle 2

A number of helpful short videos and resource sites for faculty, staff, and students on uses for Moodle 2 can be found on the left hand side of the Moodle homepage in the Faculty and Student Blocks at http://moodle2.louisiana.edu.

  • The “Learn How to Use Moodle” link on the Faculty Block houses all the Moodle teacher resources.
  • The Students Block on the Moodle 2 home page features a Student User Guide and helpful videos on using common Moodle features (e.g. forums).

Additionally, the Learner Support block (created last year to provide students with quick links to university resources and services) was reorganized and updated to be more user-focused and better aligned with Quality Matters (QM) standards for Learner Support. Please take a moment to read the Office of Distance Learning’s blog post which outlines the improvements to the Learner Support block.

Web-Conferencing Platform – Adobe Connect

If you want to host synchronous virtual meetings or class sessions with your online students, you have free use of the University’s virtual classrooms hosted by Adobe Connect. In these virtual classrooms (not physical rooms, but rooms on the Internet), you can deliver a PowerPoint presentation or show a video, use the whiteboard to work problems, engage students through voice and chat features, share documents, poll students, and/or record your live online class session(s). For more information about Adobe Connect, click here. If you are interested in obtaining a license to host your own sessions, please email us at distancelearning@louisiana.edu with the email subject line: “Adobe Connect Account.”

Lecture Capture – Panopto

Panopto, a lecture capture and recording software, is available by request for download to the desktop for every faculty member teaching a hybrid or online course. Panopto is now integrated with the UL Moodle, so accounts are generated when you add the Panopto Focus Block to a course. Links to your videos are automatically generated and accessed only by students enrolled in the courses you integrate with Panopto. You can learn more about how to record and provide your lecture videos to students by viewing the resources available here.

Academic Integrity – TurnItIn

The University’s license with Turnitin, a plagiarism detection and grading software, has been renewed for two years based on faculty usage statistics as well as student and faculty satisfaction surveys. Consider using this product to receive and grade written assignments. You can learn more about the OriginalityCheck and GradeMark features that are integrated into Moodle by viewing the resources available here. If you have not used TurnItIn, but are ready to begin, please email us with the subject line: “TurnItIn Account”.

Academic Integrity – ProctorU

If your online course assessment strategy includes high stakes tests or exams, you are encouraged to consider using ProctorU, an online proctoring service, for your high stakes exams (Mid-Terms and/or Finals). There is an additional cost(s) that is assumed by the student. The prices can be located on the second page of the Student Handout. You are encouraged to read both the Student and Faculty Handouts as well as watch the demonstration video. If you are a returning user of ProctorU, a separate email with more information about ProctorU will be sent to you soon.

Academic Integrity – Examity

This past summer, we offered another option for online proctoring and student authentication. Examity is integrated with the UL Lafayette’s Moodle, and,once activated for your course, will import your exam names and date/times for scheduling. Instructors can choose from 4 levels of service and charges. Students register for exam appointments and initiate exams through a link in Moodle as well. The Examity Portal website allows instructors to see when students register for and complete exams, incident reports, and the upper 3 levels of exam monitoring are recorded for instructor review. For more information about using Examity, please click here.


Tired of text-only discussion forums? VoiceThread is a video-based sharing and collaboration tool that allows you to post video for students to view and add their own comments and notes. The comments can be in the form of video, audio, text, or graphics. VoiceThread is also now integrated with Moodle, so videos can be accessed directly from your course with no additional login. To request a license, please email distancelearning@louisiana.edu with the email subject line: “VoiceThread Account.” Additional information is available here.

Managing Your Online Course: What to do? When to do it?

These steps explore what to do at different points before, during, and after you design / deliver an online course.

Several Weeks Before Your Class Begins

  1. Review Best Practices and Expectations for Online Teaching
  2. Make a new copy of your Moodle course (ie: import your sandbox or previous semester into the appropriate course section for the “live” semester).
  3. Review your course content and click each link to make sure that all internal (within Moodle) and external (outside of Moodle) links are working and connect to current information. Fix any broken hyperlinks, images, etc. and update information as necessary.
  4. Update your syllabus and any other instructor-specific course materials.
  5. Update your course calendar. Many faculty use the Moodle “Calendar” tool to help students see important due dates. Others prefer to include that information on their syllabus or on Moodle page. Regardless of location, busy students appreciate having this information updated and accurate! Keep your calendar in no more than two places (e.g. PDF and Moodle calendar) to reduce opportunity for an old document to be posted.
  6. Reactivate your Library Reserves (if applicable). Contact the Distance Learning Librarian for questions about LibGuides for students and educators, as well as for questions about electronic journals and resources.
  7. Set up your Moodle Gradebook: For more information, visit the IT Help Desk’s Managing Grades page
  8. Make sure the course is coded HY (hybrid) or OL (online); your department head will handle course coding.

One Week Before the Class Starts

A standard practice for online courses is to give students an “orientation period” — access to the class one or two days before it officially begins. This practice enables distance learners to try out their UL Lafayette CLID and to familiarize themselves with the class environment so that they will be comfortable and ready to learn on the first day of class.

  1. By default, a new class section is not visible to students, meaning that registered students will not be able to see it when they log in to Moodle. As the instructor of record, you are responsible for making the course available so students can access it. NOTE: Students are automatically enrolled into a Moodle course upon registration.
  2. Make the course “available” so that the link to the course will be visible to students
  3. Hide any course materials you do not wish the students to view yet. If there are any materials that you are not ready to have students view, it is possible to “hide” materials in Moodle by closing the “eye” icon on an entire section or a specific resource.
  4. Provide formal orientation materials (Getting Started / Welcome) to help your students get used to your class and the class environment. This should include a “Welcome” announcement for your students (ideally go wherever you think your students will “land” when they first enter your course). Many faculty like to use the “News Forum” in Moodle for this purpose, but others create a video or upload a welcome letter.
    • Need help? See “How do I send email to my students?” Note that all announcements will show up in your course and also will be emailed to students.
    • Things to include in the welcome announcement might be:
      • The URL/location of the syllabus and course calendar
      • The official start date of the course
      • What materials they need to purchase and where they can get them
      • Who to contact if they need technical assistance (Students should access the IT Help Desk)
      • Explain course prerequisites
      • Notify them of any required synchronous web-based events (and any associated fees, equipment, software, and Internet speed connection requirements)
      • Notify them if proctoring will be used (and any associated fees, equipment, software, and Internet speed connection requirements)

During the First Week of Class

Most courses begin by asking students to post a self-introduction to a class discussion forum as a way to break the ice and begin to build a sense of community. This is also a great way for the instructor to get a feel for who the students are and what experience and expectations they bring to the course.

  1. Make your own “personal introduction” post to the class to get the ball rolling. In your post, tell students what information you would like them to include in their own introductions.
  2. Review the personal introductions that your students post to the class discussion forum and respond to each, or to the entire class in a single note, as a way of welcome.
  3. Summarize the postings for your class by posting a note to the appropriate discussion forum or send an e-mail to all students, sharing what you’ve learned about the class make-up and addressing their class expectations (e.g., “Several of you stated that you hoped to learn more about XYZ in this class. While we won’t be covering XYZ specifically, we will address the more general issue of…”)
  4. Contact students who have not yet accessed your Moodle site. In Moodle, you can view the logs and participant list to see who has, and has not, accessed your course. If a student hasn’t accessed the course yet, there may be a problem that needs your attention.

This information was modified from information provided here:  http://facdev.e-education.psu.edu/teach/manage

Faculty Perspective: Establishing Social Presence

The guest blogger for this post is Mr. Johan Adendorff. He is a Master Instructor in the Health Promotion and Wellness online degree program in the School of Kinesiology housed within the College of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Learn more about Mr. Adendorff by clicking here. This is a guest blog; the opinions presented here do no reflect the Office of Distance Learning or the University.

Increased social presence in an online teaching environment is an evolving process as instructors continually explore new avenues to improve the online learning experience. Research clearly indicates that social presence in the traditional classroom setting (face-to-face) enhances instructional delivery and the classroom experience (Brandi Scollins, Mantha, 2008). It is important to define “social presence” as it relates to the online experience: Social presence is multifaceted and must have specific intent.

Defining Social Presence

Existing definitions are readily available, but few simple definitions can actually capture how involved online social presence really is. A simple definition includes being connected or engaged with others in some form of exchange or collaboration, the sense of being connected with others through computer mediated communication, the combined focus on a specific discovery (topic/production), an interactive exchange of ideas and thoughts creating a culture where participants feel connected and challenged, yet safe to participate without fear of ridicule and embarrassment (Facebook, in my opinion, does not provide this desired safety and security).

Basic Tools

In the search for better and more advanced technology to enhance collaboration and to develop a culture of social connectedness, there are practical primary Internet tools available which are often overlooked. Examples would include e-mail, instant messaging and virtual chat rooms (office hours), forum posts and discussions boards, Question and Answer forums, video posting and prompt assignment feedback. These are tools that are readily available through Moodle and similar delivery systems.

Despite successes when optimal use of these older tools are implemented, we seek new horizons, new methods to meet the same goals more efficiently and more effectively. New avenues may be Facebook, Twitter, and Slide share, Adobe Connect, and so on and so forth. It seems the ultimate goal is to have a Face-to-Face online educational experience. In my estimation, that is probably where we will end up. Though I am open to new ideas and new tools, I still hold the philosophy that not all that is new is necessarily better. Keeping an open mind, though, is imperative if you do not want to be limited to the tools of the past. Now, let me share with you my experiences with social presence and connectedness using the older aforementioned tools available.

Tools of My Trade: Staying Socially Connected

  • Setting the Stage Using a Forum Discussion: Posting a detailed explanation of expectations, letting students know what to expect from you (be consistent!), as well as what you expect from them. Students can identify with this. This is my initial contact with my students in both my Environmental Health and Stress Management class.
  • Instructor/Student Bio’s Using Forum Posts: Requiring all students to participate by posting a bio and responding to a minimum of five peer bio’s posted. Students can use a power point, YouTube, Prezi, etc., presentation and must post a picture of themselves (authentication). Responses must be three sentences or more and must focus on the presentations posted. It is important, if not imperative, that the instructor participates in the discussion by posting a personal bio as well (a short video is excellent). Instructors must respond to each student in a meaningful and positive way to identify with each student. Look for something positive, even if it is hard to find. In my stress class I encourage each student to list the five major stressors in their lives and my comments will then focus on identifying with one or more of their struggles. This makes me human when I show vulnerability. In my environmental health class I focus on the five top environmental concerns they may have (opening the door for meaningful discussion later on). This is a two week process, but a very fun way to connect with students. We must remember that social presence is both vertical (teacher to student) and horizontal (student to student). This is a prime platform to connect students with similar interests to work together on future assignments.
  • E-mail:  Responses to student emails should be within 24 hours and must always have a positive conclusion. This is sometimes difficult, but if a positive culture is desired, instructors must lead the charge. Nip negative e-mails with a swift response, not a swift reaction. Reactive replies create a negative social environment. E-mails can often sound cold, impatient, rude and accusatory. Give students the benefit of the doubt, but still address your concern with the involved party. For example, “I know you did not intend for it to sound negative, but…”. Students are quick to apologize. Thank them and make them allies in your attempt to perpetuate the positive social culture you desire. Be available, but set the boundary.
  • Virtual Office Hours: Virtual office hours can be quite a lonely time for an instructor because students have lives too. Twice a semester, using either Moodle or Skype, I have mandatory office hour participation. I provide three time slots and only allow 8 students to sign up for each time slot. Cameras are optional but microphones are strongly encouraged. Students come prepared with one question or concern and one or more positive experiences in the class to share with their peers. This is usually a fun time and lasts no longer than 45 minutes. I look forward to this event, because I get to see some of my students.
  • Question and Answer Forums: These forum types are mainly used for horizontal communication (student to student collaboration). Sometimes I intervene, but for the most part, I simply monitor the activity on this forum. Students enjoy the peer teaching and help on these forums. I always have a presence to ensure a positive culture and to protect students from incorrect information sharing.
  • Course Announcements: Using the Moodle News Forum, these announcements are done once a week or as needed. This activity serves as a simple reminder that the instructor is aware of due dates and times. Students appreciate these reminders.
  • Assignment Feedback: In my experience, assignment feedback provides the best opportunity for student feedback or response. My goal is to have assignments graded and grades posted with constructive feedback within 3-5 business days of the assignment due date (I sometimes succeed). I am still amazed at responses I receive about feedback appreciation. Students who do exceptional work love to be affirmed and students who deliver mediocre productions love the encouragement when it is constructive yet positive. I find this avenue to be the best to spur students to social interaction and participation. This practice of affirming the unaffirmed is a powerful tool to promote a positive social culture (Conrad Barrs, M.D. 1975). Major student productions, such as semester projects, are posted on discussion forums for peer review and peer feedback. Generally, peers must comment on a project different from the one they selected.
  • Instructor Role in Facilitating Discussion: An instructor’s role in the discussion board is varied; they must offer information, provide feedback and corrections, and ask questions. Instructors must also manage the socio-emotional side of the classroom by quenching any flames, drawing out lurkers, and toning down more loud participants (Rovai, 2001). I couldn’t have said it better myself.
  • Synchronous Web-Conferencing:   Adobe Connect is a tool I will experiment with this summer. I look forward to new innovations, but will not readily discard older yet effective, tools of the trade.

Finally, using humor can be effective in diffusing volatile online tensions. Just as humor works to diffuse tense situations in face-to-face contexts, humor can be used in the online classroom to foster social presence. Humor “reduces social distance and conveys goodwill” by offering students something to share in (Aragon, 2003, p. 65). Humor has also been tied to improving learning outcomes (Woods & Ebersole, 2003).

New tools to promote social presence often come with a learning curve and at times instructors are reluctant to implement new innovations because of the time commitment “new” requires. Yet, faculty can embrace an appropriate amount of new without being pushed over the virtual electronic cliff.

Faculty Perspective: Journey to Lecture Capture

Like most of the faculty out there, I am always looking for ways to improve my efficiency.  As I worked through my training to teach and design courses online, I was introduced to so many tools to assist me that I was a bit overwhelmed.  Did I need a Prezi?  Could I use Screenr?  Could a Voki avatar get my point across?  Would GoAnimate bring my workplace scenarios to life?  There are hundreds of tools at my disposal, but how could I simply deliver a lecture to my students in a way that was simple for me, and effective for them?  The Office of Distance Learning offered a user-friendly answer: Panopto.

I know you might be thinking—What is Panopto?  I don’t have time to learn new software!  In the beginning, I had the same doubts.  Now here I am, encouraging you to take advantage of this wonderful resource.  In the interest of efficiency, here are some key points:

What is Panopto and how do I get it?  Panopto is a lecture capture software available to all faculty teaching hybrid and online courses at UL Lafayette.  If you are interested in trying the software, contact the Office of Distance Learning via email at distancelearning@louisiana.edu.  You will need a webcam if you plan to record video of yourself and a microphone if you want to record audio. These may already be built into your computer or you can add an inexpensive one that will be of good enough quality for lecture capture. An E-Learning Media Specialist in the Office of Distance Learning will provide instructions on how to download the software.

Will I have to go through training to use it?  Panopto does offer training videos, but you don’t even have to watch them to get started.  As the Panopto website claims, “Push the big red button, and go.”  Take a look at this screenshot:

As you can see on the left, you choose whether or not to record video, and then specify whether you’d like to capture a PowerPoint presentation, or your primary screen.  Now you are ready to click the big red button, and start your lecture.  It is so easy!


Once I have finished recording, how to I share it with my students?  Will they need special software?

No, studentswon’t need any special software.  The output options are one of my favorite features of the Panopto software.  You can share a public link to your lecture with your students (which can be viewed in any web browser), download it as a video podcast, or download it as an audio podcast.  All of these options can be accomplished in about three mouse clicks.

How will my students benefit?

Students can play lectures back at their convenience, as many times as needed.  They can locate specific content in the lecture, and skip around to the sections that are most helpful.  My students have been very pleased with my Panopto lectures, and enjoy the ability to focus in on what they need the most.  They can also adjust the playback speed so that they can listen to the lecture in less time without noticeably changing the audio.

How do I know if my students are watching my videos?

Panopto provides statistics for each lecture.  You can see how many times your lecture was reviewed by date, and also by video time.  I found it very helpful to know that not only were my students watching the videos, but they were also watching them all the way through.

Am I going to need a lot of technical support?

Absolutely not!  I have been using this product for about a year, and have found it easy to record and share lectures.  My students have never had a problem viewing my lectures.

Can I only record lectures while I am on campus?

No.  Lectures can be recorded and viewed anywhere.  I have recorded lectures at home, on my tablet, in hotel rooms—just about anywhere – as long as you have the software installed and a camera/sound input device on the computer or tablet you plan to use to record.

What are other advantages of using Panopto for faculty?

I have used it mostly in my online classes to record my weekly PowerPoint lectures.  I also use it in one of my face-to-face technology courses.  On the day I introduce new software, I use the screen capture feature.  If a student gets a little lost during the lecture they can later view the recorded lecture and focus in on the point where they got confused.  They love it!  I also use it to record lectures when I am not able to attend a face-to-face class.  I have found the flexibility and convenience very helpful.

We have a great network of Panopto users here on campus.  If you do have questions, odds are someone else has already figured it out and is willing to share.  The Office of Distance Learning staff is very helpful and supportive as well.  If you need to record lectures in your course—I encourage you to give Panopto a try.

Learn more about Panopto by logging onto this link (click here).

About the Author: Mrs. Lisa Delhomme, MHA, RHIA, is a Senior Instructor of Health Information Management in the College of Nursing and Allied Health. She is a ULearn Certified Online Teacher and Course Designer. Senior Instructor Delhomme teaches online courses in Health Information and Health Services Administration.

MOOCs as Faculty Professional Development


The Office of Distance Learning recently reached two important milestones. First, over 100 faculty members have been certified to teach or design online courses. Second, the Sloan Consortium recently awarded their 2013 Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching to UL Lafayette. Distance Learning staff have pondered how to get the next generation of faculty at the university to embrace hybrid and online teaching and learning. Two observations are consistent, faculty want to see  models of online teaching and learning and faculty need authentic experiences as online students because they typically have neither at their disposal. This installment of the blog considers MOOCS as a possible way to meet both faculty needs.

A MOOC Made Me Believe

by Dr. Lise Anne Slatten, Assistant Professor, Department of Management

Distance Learning (DL) has become more than a hot topic in education; it has become a part of the strategic plan for educational institutions and a method for creating and sustaining competitive advantage.

While attending a teaching conference earlier this year, I realized the world really is rapidly changing and the change is being driven by technology.  I was introduced to a whole new set of terms and alphabet-soup-abbreviations at the conference:  MOOCs, cloud-based technologies to offer robust learning for online students, FIGs, flipped classrooms, cooperative learning and collaborative learning.  I left the conference determined to gain competency in this emerging delivery model.

My first step was to take an online course myself, so I enrolled in a course offered by Coursera (www.coursera.org) over the summer.  The experience did not go well.  I could not figure out how to get information from the course website about the assignments, and the due dates were unclear.  There was further confusion around how to submit my work, what videos to watch each week, how to find the TED talks, how to access the required readings, when to write a paper vs. when to comment via a blog…it was hopelessly disorganized and I, frustrated, did not complete the course.

A few weeks later, Coursera sent me information on another course that was just about to begin.  The course was exactly the course I am currently teaching.  Now my belief that DL could not be applied to my teaching context was being challenged.  The six-week course was taught by a well known scholar in the field of strategic management at the University of Virginia.  The moment of truth was here, and I enrolled.

It took 5-6 hours per week to complete the required course work.  I read every article, I watched every video and took each weekly quiz.  Due to the time involved, I opted not to complete a final project, but I learned something new each week about content delivery.  Here are the top three takeaways:

  1. Online delivery methods can be interesting, creative, and engaging.  I enjoyed the video lectures and was able to clearly understand the concepts being presented.  The readings perfectly aligned with the videos and provided additional information to further explain and support the material in the lectures.
  2. The course was a rigorous and challenging educational experience.  The quizzes were comprised of thoughtful questions that required application of the knowledge from the readings and the video lectures to develop answers.  The case discussions were on relevant topics and involved complex industries and well known companies.
  3. The experience has made me a better teacher.  My class covers the same six topics that were taught in the Coursera course.  By seeing how an accomplished professor delivers course content, I was able to pick up some finesse tips on how to introduce concepts, explain important topics and help students better develop their own skills in analysis and critical thinking.

This experience re-enforced my belief that one must keep abreast of innovation in one’s field in order to maintain competency and excellence.  While I still need to learn more before I would be able to teach online myself, this experience was an effective demonstration how I could use this delivery method, which is significantly impacting higher education’s content delivery paradigm.

Addressing Student Authentication through Proctoring

UL Lafayette’s University Council adopted a set of policies and procedures to guide the development and expansion of distance learning at the beginning of the Fall 2010 semester. The entire set of adopted policies and procedures are web-published and can be easily accessed at this link – Distance Learning Policies and Procedures. Today’s post focuses on the topic of Student Authentication and discusses proctoring, which is one way for faculty teaching online courses to address this issue.

What is student authentication? Why is it important?

As a result of new regulations stemming from the federal reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 2008, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has requested its member institutions to address student authentication for all distance and correspondence courses. The regulation requires an institution accredited by an accrediting body that is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education to “demonstrate that the student who registers in a distance or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit by verifying the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework.”

What does UL Lafayette policy require?

UL Lafayette policy about student authentication requires that faculty authenticate students using additional measures:

  • The syllabus prepared for hybrid and online courses will identify additional student authentication measures.
  • Additional authentication measures must be implemented by course instructors and professors.

One additional authentication measure you might explore is the use of exam proctoring. A number of faculty teaching online are strategically implementing proctored events throughout the course. To assist you with discerning among proctoring strategies, a task force of faculty helped create the Faculty Guidelines for Proctoring in Distance Learning Courses. The purpose of the guidelines is to outline different approaches to proctoring – virtual, on campus, and off site.

Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty Teaching Online

Am I required to give proctored exams if I teach an online course at UL?

No. You are required to implement additional measures, but not necessarily select proctoring.

If I select proctoring, am I required to proctor every test, exam, and/or quiz? 

No. You can strategically select how often you implement proctoring. You are encouraged to proctor high stakes tests or exams (mid-terms or finals) or periodically proctor to verify identity and ensure academic integrity.

Can I implement more than one proctoring method? 

Yes. One best practice uncovered by a faculty member teaching a course with over 100 students enrolled each semester involves the use of dual proctoring approaches.  Through Moodle, students are given a choice to come to campus and take the exam on one night or they may sign up for a virtual proctoring session for an additional fee. About 60% of the students select the face-to-face option with the remaining 40% opting for the virtual proctoring option.