7 Research-Based Teaching Principles – Oct.2019 Teaching Community of Practice (TCoP) Recap!

Hello Everyone!

My name is Dr. Rayna Friendly, and I am back again with a recap from SJSU’s October 2019 Teaching Community of Practice* (TCoP) Meeting. At this meeting, we once again had a guest facilitator: Dr. Mark Felton, Professor of Teacher Education and Faculty Associate Dean of Research in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education.

The topic of the meeting was 7 Research-Based Teaching Principles, based off the book How Learning Works (Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, & Norman, 2010). By the way, a FREE electronic copy of this book can be accessed HERE! 

At this meeting, Mark reviewed 5 out of the 7 principles covered in the book (listed below), as well as some fantastic, practical ideas for how to apply these principles when teaching University students. If you missed the meeting, you can view the full Zoom Recording of this session HERE! I strongly recommend viewing the recording, as many common teaching challenges were addressed in respect to how to enhance the learning experiences students receive in the classroom (as well as tips for teachers to reduce time spent on grading student work!). Mark also welcomed any questions (his email is mark.felton@sjsu.edu). 


7 Research-Based Teaching Principles:

  1. Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning
  2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know
  3. To develop mastery students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply them
  4. Goal-directed practice coupled with feedback enhances the quality of learning
  5. To be successful, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning
  6. Student Development and course climate matter for student learning
  7. Helping students to become self-directed learners


*What is the TCoP, you ask?

  • The Teaching Community of Practice (TCoP) is a group for part- and full-time SJSU faculty (of all levels, across all departments), who are interested in enhancing their respective teaching practices. The TCoP will meet regularly, according to members’ schedules, to exchange strategies, tips and resources that have led to successful (and sometimes, less-than-successful) teaching experiences. Please fill out this form if you are interested in joining this community and you will be added to the groups’ mailing list. For inquires about the TCoP, please contact me at rayna.friendly@sjsu.edu.


The 2019 ATXpo- Academic Technology Expo held at Santa Clara University on October 7, 2019 was the sixth annual ATXpo that brought together the insightful and bright minds from eight Bay Area esteemed universities that included- University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, Stanford University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University and Saint Mary’s College of California. These universities aimed to provide an exposure to the recently acquired technologies that are going to promote learning and improve the conventional methods of teaching.

This was a full day event where participants interacted with each other. The agenda included a Keynote Session, highlights on featured projects, and three sessions of IdeaLabs. These sessions were engaging and were experimented on through play .These sessions exhibited the projects and technologies that are surfacing to, promote an interactive and better learning environment. It demonstrated the new generation teaching methodologies that can be acquired by universities for more equipped classrooms and knowledge transfer experiences.

Attendees from San Jose State University left an remarkable impression and their efforts worth their weight in gold. So it’s worth taking the time to find just the right words to describe their work below.

Jennifer Redd (Director of eCampus- San Jose State University) talked in her introductory presentation about how important is it to communicate she said, “the development of a communication plan that encourages creativity is a great supplement to providing technical and instructional support.” She mentioned how eCampus proudly produces artwork catered to the campus community. The artwork creates a safe, welcoming, and inclusive atmosphere. Every month eCampus showcase one person, who has impacted the world in a positive way and illustrate them on our, ‘Person of the Month’ wall. She clearly made us all understand that, you have to find a way to communicate to cultivate the learning and knowledge.

During the second IdeaLab Session, Jennifer joined Assistant Professor of Psychology Valerie Carr as she shared how she designed a neuroanatomy lab by using augmented and virtual reality. Dr. Carr, a previous eCampus Immersive Learning Institute Participant who worked closely with eCampus Lead Instructional Designer Yingjie Liu, described how she selected and implemented the use of different AR/VR apps into the curriculum to provide students with an immersive experience on a complex topic (the brain).

ATXpo - Jennifer

Bethany Winslow (Instructional Designer at eCampus- San Jose State University) talked and demonstrated about this intriguing topic, “Tinkering in Virtual Worlds: Experiential Preparation & Networking for VR Ready Educators” She presented a demonstration of the Hypergrid Resources Library she built, that connects different virtual worlds in the OpenSim metaverse. Bethany volunteers with The Community Virtual Library, which has had a presence in virtual worlds for over a decade now. Open-source virtual worlds like the one she showcased are hosted on a distributed system of servers all over the world. She offered participants with an opportunity to try navigating an avatar on the laptop to explore the library and to Hypergrid jump to another location. Bethany shared her experiences in the last year and a half of networking and collaborating 100% in the virtual world with a global community of educators and librarians, of attending multiple virtual events, and about presenting in-world at virtual educational conferences. She urges any educators interested in integrating virtual reality with their teaching to make sure they are familiar with the long history of desktop virtual reality used for teaching and learning.

Bethany In-WorldPresenting

Bethany’s avatar in virtual world library with some of the posters she presented

Yingjie Liu (Instructional Designer at eCampus- San Jose State University) gave an impressive tour, where participants immersed in the world of augmented reality. Her topic was, “Using a Self-guided Augmented Reality Tour as a Service Learning Project that Teaches Students and Others about Campus Sustainability”

She highlighted the initiatives going on in our University and mentioned students in a Geology of California course at San Jose State University (SJSU) during the Spring’19 session, created an augmented reality sustainability tour of the campus as part of a service-learning Earth Day 2019 project. This project was designed to:

1) Teach students concrete ways to live sustainability

2) Draw attention to the sustainability practices on campus and

3) Contribute to the school’s sustainability mission.

These goals were accomplished by having students research sustainable practices, locate examples on campus, then create augmented reality (AR) tour stops that highlight and explain the sustainability examples. The students contributed to SJSU’s sustainability mission by providing an AR tour that teaches others about sustainability and encourages participation in the school’s efforts to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

She demonstrated how this project, revamped San Jose State University’s outdated online Sustainability Map and elevated the user experience by making it mobile (accessed via smartphone or tablet), and immediate (instant on-the-spot information). She concluded that by saying, “Overall, students had a positive experience creating, using, and learning from augmented reality. Students’ reflections revealed that prior to doing the project, they had little knowledge of SJSU’s sustainability practices. After having completed the project, students displayed a sense of pride for all that the school does to be environmentally sustainable. They also felt that they gained knowledge about what sustainability is, and learned something new about sustainability at SJSU.”
She encouraged people on how this example set by San Jose State University should be a motivation for thousands of such initiatives and guided on how these initiatives can take a kick start.
ATXpo- Yingjie
2. Winslow, Bethany. (2019, Oct 10). Interview type [email].
3. Liu, Yingjie. (2019, Oct 10). Interview type [email].
4. Redd Jennifer. (2019, Oct 10). Interview type [email].

Using Piazza for Class Discussions – Sep.2019 Teaching Community of Practice (TCoP) Recap!

Hi Everyone!

SJSU’s September 2019 Teaching Community of Practice* (TCoP) Meeting was on the topic of Using Piazza for Class Engagement and Discussions. We had a special guest facilitator, Krissy Connell (Lecturer in the Child and Adolescent Development Department), who shared the various ways she used Piazza in her courses.

  • NOTE: For those who were unable to attend, the Zoom RECORDING of this meeting can be found HERE.


TAKE-AWAY POINTS ABOUT PIAZZA. The following are some of the key take-aways about the usefulness of the Piazza tool, highlighting how and why you might consider using it yourself in any courses you teach:

  • Krissy mostly uses Piazza as a discussion tool, since she has found increased student participation in discussions using Piazza, as compared to using the Canvas’ “Discussion” feature. She also points out that students can use this tool while studying, since they can benefit from seeing her responses to all the questions other students ask!
  • Some of Krissy’s favorite features of this tool include:
    • Ability to organize the discussion posts by FOLDERS (e.g., can organize according to course and by each lecture/module/topic you teach. Plus you cannot accidentally forget to label your posts by folder, since you are required to publish them to one of your folders upon posting)
    • Students can post questions, as well as responses to other students’ questions, ANONYMOUSLY (Krissy says this is the Student’s most reported favorite feature and has led to more students participating in discussions)
    • With one click of a button, the instructor can label students’ questions/responses as a “GOOD QUESTION” or “GOOD RESPONSE”, respectively. Krissy said that she does this for all posts because it makes students feel good to get this feedback
    • Instructor can also post to an individual section or to multiple SECTIONS of the same course at once
    • Students can create STUDY GROUPS and you can see, and comment on, their discussions, 
    • Instructors can create a POLL within a ‘discussion post’, ‘question’, or ‘note’ to her students
    • Instructors can send REMINDERS to students to comment on a post or discussion
    • Piazza’s “CLASS AT A GLANCE” tool shows instructors a dashboard summarizing recent Piazza activity by students, such as: # unread posts, # of follow-ups, average response time, etc.
    • The STATISTICS tab shows you trends in responses (good if there’s a requirement in your syllabus for course discussion)- this also shows trends by the folders you create!
    • You can set up Piazza to EMAIL you every time there’s a post, etc.
    • PEER EDUCATORS or TEACHING ASSISTANTS for the course can also answer questions from students, and instructor can review these to ensure they are good answers
    • EXIT POLL are a very useful feature that you can add to posts, where students are given the opportunity to indicate what they were confused about, how comfortable they are with what they are learning, and any additional questions they may have. 

Questions & Comments:

  • Q: Will this add too much complexity for students, teachers?
    • This is really easy for students to set up, because Piazza’s integrated with canvas!
    • They will just have to quickly register/login at the beginning of term, and can do so right from the Canvas course!
    • Super efficient and easy to post a question, poll, etc.! The text box has the usual text editor ( you can add links, change the font, etc)
    • Krissy’s biggest set up task is to create the folders (for each module, quiz, exam, etc.) at the beginning of term (however, this too is not difficult as you can “batch-add” folders, rather than needed to add one folder at a time)
  • Q: Is Piazza ‘worth the trouble’ to implement this my classroom?
    • Krissy thinks so! She emphasized that most students say they prefer this tool to Canvas’ Discussion feature, especially because they can post anonymously
    • Krissy thinks Piazza has so many more resources/tools for her than Canvas…she even removed the ‘Discussion’ tab from Canvas’ course navigation bar so that all discussions go through Piazza
    • Folders help you organize your discussions! Important because this way students don’t need to scroll through all their announcements to find old content, etc.
  • Q: Do you have to create a new set of folders for every term you teach?
    • Yes, but this is relatively easy. Simply go to “manage class > configure class folders” and then you can bulk-add folders!
  • Q: If you copy your course Canvas shell, does it copy the Piazza layout?
    • No, you would still need to make new Piazza folders, but this is not too much work
  • Q: Can you use Piazza in-class and online? Maybe integrate with quizzes online?
    • Krissy hasn’t tried looking for any quiz features, but there are a lot of features you can add-on to Piazza, ask eCampus!
  • Q: When students enroll and are added to Canvas late, are they added to Piazza automatically?
    • As soon as they are added to Canvas, they can enroll/register with Piazza
  • Q: What are some of the common challenges that your students experience when using it?

    • Students need to make sure they click on the correct folder to see relevant posts
    • Students who are uncomfortable with technology/ not using Canvas often might not use the tool much. However, students she’s asked have mostly said they liked Piazza, especially the anonymous feature!
  • Q: Do students get notifications when you post on Piazza through their email like they do with Canvas announcements?

    • Yes! Krissy can choose when the notification goes out (can save as a draft to send later) and who it will go to (to whole sections, individual students), and can even force-send an email to students who did not sign-up for email reminders.
  • Q: Can SJSU people contact you for more information?

    • Yes! Krissy said you are welcome to email her (krissy.connell@sjsu.edu) for more information
    • You can also contact eCampus for more information



*What is the TCoP, you ask?

  • The Teaching Community of Practice (TCoP) is a group for part- and full-time SJSU faculty (of all levels, across all departments), who are interested in enhancing their respective teaching practices. The TCoP will meet regularly, according to members’ schedules, to exchange strategies, tips and resources that have led to successful (and sometimes, less-than-successful) teaching experiences. Please fill out this form if you are interested in joining this community and you will be added to the groups’ mailing list. For inquires about the TCoP, please contact me at rayna.friendly@sjsu.edu.


Posting grades on the new version of Canvas grade book

With continuous updates from Canvas on the grade book we saw a lot of confusion among the instructors and graders. This blog will talk about the recent Canvas update on the grade posting and how you can make the most of the new functionality. The change was implemented to provide more control on posting grades as now it can be posted with respect to sections and features. 

We used to have a mute feature in the previous versions of Canvas grade book where instructors used to mute the assignment, to temporarily hold any grading notifications or comments getting to the students. Instructors sometimes use this feature to hold the grades as long as they are done grading for every student in the class and then release the grades together for an assignment.

This image below shows the working in earlier version of Canvas

Previous version mute feature

On the new version of Canvas grade book, the steps to mute (now called hide/post) an assignment are as follows

  1. Go to the Course on Canvas
  2. Open grade book.
  3. Choose the Assignment you want to start grading
  4. Click on the three dots against the assignment name on the right
  5. Select Grade Posting Policy
  6. A new window appears with two options ‘Automatically’ and ‘Manually’
  7. Select Automatically if you want the students to get notified about the grades as you enter grade for the assignment for individual students.                                                                            OR
  8. Select Manually to temporarily hold any grading notifications or comments getting to the students and post it all at once when you want.
  9. After you made your choice click on ‘Save’.

Grade Posting Policy

10. You can make grade updates for students after that.

11. If you selected Manually as your option, when you are ready to post the grades please click on the three dots against the assignment and click on the Post Grades Option.

Post Grades

Post Grades Manually Working

11. A new window appears with three options- ‘Hidden’, ‘Everyone’, ‘Graded’

12. Hidden is selected by default. You have to select ‘everyone’, if you want everyone to know and see the assignment is graded or select ‘Graded’ just to post the grades to the students with graded submissions.

13. Click on Post.

You can set the entire grade book to post grades manually/automatically instead of doing that individually for every assignment. The steps for that are as follows

  1. Click on the Settings icon in the top right corner of the grade book
  2. Go to Grade posting Policy Tab and set it to Manually/ Automatically
  3. Click on Update.

Grade book setting for grade posting policy

Below are the clips

Automatically Posting grades

Automatically post grades

Manually Posting Grades

Manually Post Grades settings for entire gradebook

Canvas now also has a setting where instructor can hide already posted grades this may happen when grader has already displayed grades but suddenly decides they should be hidden to students temporarily.

Hide Grades

We can also hide grades from speed grader instead of gradebook

In SpeedGrader, the Mute icon has been replaced by the Visibility icon, and the behavior mimics the previous functionality in hiding grades to students.

In the Visibility menu, select the Hide Grades option [1]. Hiding grades displays the same three options available when hiding grades in the New Gradebook [2]. Select the preferred hidden option and click the Hide option [3].

Hiding grades via speed grader

Post Grades after you are done grading.

Posting grades via speed grader


Note: These settings will not have any effect on grades that are already posted.

To get more information on the new grade posting feature of Canvas grade book please follow the below link.



References- https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-17587-new-gradebook-and-speedgrader-muting-behavior-changes

Welcome Spartans


Welcome to the new semester, Spartans. We love to see the campus moving and buzzing again. Get ready to kick start the new semester with confidence. We know starting a new semester with new people and environment can sometimes be a little overwhelming. You are being given instructions about so many new things, applications, rules etc. and you may feel a little perplexed.

We understand.

As you take your first classes for this semester, your instructors may talk about different instructional software they will be using throughout the semester to accentuate learning and provisioning a platform for sharing class materials, discussions, teamwork and submissions.

The eCampus team is here for assistance with all the instructional software SJSU offers, like Canvas, Respondus Lockdown Browser, Turn it in, iClicker, Zoom, Qualtrics etc. We can help you if you want to know about these applications and understand how they work. We can help you if you face any issues while working on these platforms.

We also provide Adobe Creative Cloud for free to all the currently enrolled students of SJSU. You can seek assistance for getting an adobe creative on your device and use all the adobe applications.