⏰ It’s that time: Back-to-school is here

Welcome back from the winter break. The new semester always brings a fresh start and, of course, a flurry of activity to prepare for classes. As I ready my online course, I will also begin something new. For this spring semester, Dr. Jennifer Redd, eCampus Director, has invited me as a guest faculty blogger to share my experiences teaching with technology. Are you interested in redesigning your course to fully online or introducing technology into your in-person classroom? If so, I invite you to join me as I explore leveraging technology to enhance teaching and support Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. 

Teaching with Technology

Fall 2017, I began teaching fully online. However, my journey of using technology in the classroom began in 2014 – I created a Canvas course page for my in-person course; that was it. I did not input grades in Canvas much less use Canvas features such as quizzes. Not even one announcement post. But, I had a Canvas page and felt a bit tech-savvy incorporating edtech for “digital native” learners. Then, as I switched to the flipped pedagogy, I heavily integrated Canvas LMS functionalities into my curriculum – modules, quizzes, and publisher content. Fast forward a few years, and I marvel at the ways technology can be used to enhance learning anywhere, anyplace, any pedagogy. 

Universal Design for Learning framework

Ok, so what is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)? According to the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), it is a “framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.” Further, this framework guides the design of instructional objectives, assessments, and materials to meet individual learner needs. There are three overarching principles – multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression. 

Image Source: CAST UDL Guidelines, http://udlguidelines.cast.org

The full list of UDL principles and guidelines can be found on the CAST website. Also, the SJSU Center for Faculty Development has a resource page on UDL.

This spring 2020, monthly posts will share best practices, tools, and resources on how technology can be incorporated to support one of the UDL guiding principles, geared more towards fully online courses.

Getting Started: Are you tech-ready for the semester?

Last semester’s faculty-in-residence blogger, Dr. Rayna Friendly, shared her guide for preparing courses for the beginning of the term and it includes great tips and resources. As always, it’s best to start with your syllabus and learning objectives. Here, I’ll offer a few suggestions on how technology can be used in the classroom as you begin the semester. Yes, it’s already the first week of classes, but the benefit of technology allows you to (fairly) easily include some quick additions to your course using Canvas LMS functionalities.


  • Schedule a consultation with an eCampus instructional designer to learn about the Canvas LMS, university-supported edtech tools, and effective techniques to meet your curriculum needs.
  • Utilize your Canvas course site – every instructor automatically has a Canvas site each semester.

Instructure Canvas log-in image

URL: https://sjsu.instructure.com
Username : SJSU 9-digit ID
Password : SJSUOne Password

    • Set up a Canvas Course Homepage and include your contact info, office hours, short bio, and a course introduction.
      • NOTE: You first need to create a Canvas “Page” with your content. Then, set that “Page” as your “Front Page” so that it will display as the course homepage.
    • Upload a copy of your syllabus to your Canvas course site and save time, paper, and money.

When logged in to your Canvas course site, click “Syllabus” on the left-hand navigation bar

Image Source: Canvas LMS Community, https://community.canvaslms.com/

Click on the “Files” tab on the upper right side of the screen

Image Source: Canvas LMS Community, https://community.canvaslms.com/

Select “Upload a New File”

Click “Update Syllabus”

  • Utilize the Canvas Calendar and add important dates so that students are aware of key deadlines and high-stakes assessments.

Hybrid or Flipped

  • Include a “Welcome to the Course” message via Canvas Announcements. If you’re feeling ambitious, create a short video using Canvas, Zoom, or Camtasia.
    • Most easily, you can use the Canvas Rich Content Editor to record a video. Canvas only provides basic recording and editing while Camtasia offers more robust functionalities (and a steeper learning curve!). A 3-4 minute welcome video is ideal where you can introduce yourself and tell a bit about the course. And, make sure to include closed captioning!
  • Set up the Canvas Gradebook to include all assessment scores whether conducted in-person or online.
  • Incorporate online activities or assessments using Canvas discussions and quizzes, publisher test bank, and/or LinkedIn Learning.


  • Send a “Welcome to the Course” email to enrolled students before the first day of instruction.
  • Create a Class Introductions Discussion for the first week of class.
  • Include a low-stakes Orientation quiz in Canvas that assesses students’ readiness to navigate and access online course materials.

That’s it for now. Looking forward to sharing learner engagement strategies using technology in the next post.

Generous Thinking: Farewell Semester – Hello Summer Reading!

On the heels of my last post about Open Digital Pedagogy & FERPA and in line with a previous post, Live-Tweeting as Public Engagement, I would like to conclude my semester of guest-blogging for eCampus with a turn towards a summer read:

Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University by Kathleen Fitzpatrick (@kfitz on Twitter).

Fitzpatrick’s previous book, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology and the Future of the Academy, was built on her earlier blog of the same name, a blog that established not only a public representation of her work, but also a community of early academic bloggers who were struggling with the same ideas. With Generous Thinking, Fitzpatrick implores academia to expand outwards, to work in public, to work with the Public. And, for us, that means modeling this for our students in addition to bringing them along for the ride through our research, teaching them through active learning engagement, and articulating the value of education as more than a vocation.

Fitzpatrick queries:

“So it’s important for us to ask ourselves: Do we understand the people who are not on campus to be an audience–a passive group that merely takes in information that the university provides? Do we understand them to be a public, a self-activated and actualized group capable not only of participating in multidirectional exchanges both with the university and among its members, but also of acting on its own behalf? Or even more, do we consider them to be a complex collection of communities–not just groups who interact with one another and with us, but groups of which we are in fact a part? How can we shape this understanding in a way that might begin to create a richer, more interactive, more generous sense not just of ‘them’ but of the larger ‘us’ that we together form?” (8)

As we embark upon graduation season and watch many of our students ascend the stage, shake hands with various truly proud and enthusiastic representatives of SJSU, look out into the wide crowd of cheers, accept that marker of their success, and proceed out into the world —  have we given them the intellectual understandings to do the very thing that Fitzpatrick is asking of us in academia?

Those of you who have been participating in the eCampus professional development seminars, sessions, and lunch n’learn over the past year are taking up this challenge to teach through active learning strategies in such a way that students become life-long learners and the leaders within this larger community of “us” that Fitzpatrick implores us to embrace.

All of this community building is situated within values — what do we value in a master’s granting public university? What do you value?

I’ve learned a lot about my colleagues and shared values over my career here at SJSU, but what I didn’t realize is that we don’t all need to share the same values. We do, however, need to work towards respecting each other’s values. That point came clearly from Dr. Beronda Montgomery (“Mapping a Mentoring Roadmap and Developing a Supportive Network Strategic Career Advancement”), who I met at the HumetricsHSS workshop back in October 2017. Dr. Montgomery’s plant metaphors (see “From Deficits to Possibilities: Mentoring Lessons from Plants on Cultivating Individual Growth through Environmental Assessment and Optimization“) articulated the way in which I’ve been governing my career. At that workshop, groups were tasked with creating a set of values for “measuring” Humanities work. My group took Dr. Montgomery’s mentoring analogies to heart and created a plant that grows with the sun:

We struggled to articulate this messy non-linear visualization of values, but in the end, determined that they were all intertwined and propelled by “public good” — the very value that is the foundation of our state-funded, public university.

With all of the recent outcries about education failing our next generations, I counter with the recognition that on Monday mornings, people are busy searching the Internet to discuss plot development, character assassination, CGI dragons, Medieval tortures, monarchies, wartime strategies, and an 8-year long epic drama. Or, the excitement over the most recent solar eclipse witnessed with special glasses here in San Jose. Or the ethical dilemma with uses of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Or, the study of California’s devastating wild fires. All of this is discussed and studied here, on our campus. We are creating these conversations among faculty, among students, among the Public by the very virtue of being a public university graduating under-served communities, first-generation college students, among several other valuable and valued communities.

I’m a little far afield from digital pedagogy today in this final post. But, our pedagogical strategies rely upon our values and our passion in continuing to teach at this public institution. Digital pedagogy, flipped classrooms, active learning, high impact practices all allow for an inquisitive fascination with the evolution of the world.

“By finding ways to connect with readers and writers beyond our usual circles of experts, in a range of different registers, and in ways that move beyond enabling them to listen to us to instead allow for meaningful dialogue and collaboration, we can create the possibilities for far more substantial public participations in and engagement with a wide range of kinds of academic work” (135).

As we work publicly through all of these pedagogical practices, we model for our students how to engender this “larger ‘us’ that we together form.” Join me in congratulating them this week for their successful navigation of higher education and their continuing journey as that “larger ‘us.'”

Open Digital Pedagogy & FERPA

In these posts this semester, I’ve covered some big, sweeping topics — and continued that conversation in the Digital Pedagogy Workshop last month. As the semester begins to wrap up, there’s one or two final elements to using Digital Pedagogy that we haven’t covered. As we ask students to engage with High Impact Practices, participate in our RSCA activities, represent the public face of SJSU, we also need to consider the boundaries of openness.

What follows are a series of responses that the 3 authors of the introduction to Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities have discussed or experienced in our long journey towards completing this project.

[from DRAFT “Introduction” of Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities, authored by Rebecca Frost Davis, Matthew K. Gold, and Katherine D. Harris. Reference to draft version of May 1, 2019 — due for final digital, open access completion in 2019 on a searchable & user-friendly digital platform]

Continue Reading…

Digital Pedagogy Workshop @ SJSU – Video + Slides

Thanks to Jennifer Redd, eCampus hosted a Digital Pedagogy Workshop on April 9 for ~25 engaged faculty from a variety of departments and disciplines all over San Jose State University. Because the attendees were guaranteed to hail from a variety ofDigital Pedagogy expertise levels, I ran the workshop with multiple points of intervention and input captured with Session Notes in Google Docs. The primary purpose of the workshop focused on theorizing Digital Pedagogy instead of teaching to the tools. We eventually get around to that, but first we spent a lot of time theorizing about the uses of Digital Pedagogy.

Much of the definitions on these slides come from the in-progress draft Introduction for Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities (currently openly available in GitHub in its post-peer review and pre-user-friendly digital platform phase). The project is scheduled to be finalized with a brand new digital platform that will allow for users to save pedagogical artifacts and keywords to a private account along with being able to search and utilize tags (e.g., beginner, intermediate, advanced levels of Digital Pedagogy; assignments; syllabi, etc.). The final platform, being built by our publisher, the Modern Language Association, is due to be finalized along with the entire project and the editors’ introduction during Summer 2019. With 4 editors, 84 curators, ~700 artifact creators, the project provides a wide array of pedagogical materials for use in many disciplines, even those outside of the Humanities.

Digital Pedagogy Workshop from eCampus on Vimeo.

The slides are available on Google Presention.

The Lunch n’Learn gatherings are a terrific way to 1) meet faculty from across campus; and 2) enjoy a delicious lunch provided by eCampus. For other videos of lectures and engaging articles, check out the eCampus Resources page.

Now that we’ve met, what would you like to read about in the remaining 2 blog posts on Digital Pedagogy this semester? Leave a comment or email me directly: katherine[dot]harris[at]sjsu[dot]edu

For those interested in more about Digital Pedagogy throughout the California State University system, consider attending the Student Success Conference being held at SJSU April 15, 2019 (registration required), especially these panels:

Session S1C: Using Technology to Improve Student Success Poster Session

Location: Room 3B – Jennifer Redd, Moderator – Presentations  

  • Comparing three strategies for providing feedback on a research assignment, Amy D’Andrade  
  • Exploring the impact of optional Canvas modules in course design, Michael Vallerga  
  • Integrating Canvas in student teaching: A strategy for coherence and support, Dean Sexton  
  • Digital Storytelling in Asian American History, Apryl Berney and Soma de Bourbon

Session S3C: Flipping as a Pedagogy in STEM Classes

Location: Room 3B – Poster Session – Ravisha Mathur, Moderator – Presentations:  

  • How flipped learning meets the diverse learning need in a first programming class, ChrisTseng  
  • Flipping a General Physics class using Mastering Physics, Ranko Heindl  
  • Defining Student Performance Expectations for Engineering Mechanics of Materials, Kurt McMullin  
  • Observations from a Flipped Section of CE 95 – Statics, Steven Vukavich  
  • On the Road to Flipping, Raji Lukkor

Session S4C: eCampus Student Success Programs

Poster Session – Location: Room 3B – Jennifer Redd, Moderator – Presentations  

  • Exploring the impact of a flipped course redesign, Krissy Connell  
  • Incorporating a point-of-care instrument into existing laboratory exercises to expand and diversify exposure to laboratory tools, John Geing  
  • Investigating interventions to determine if stress levels among students can be reduced, Pamela Wells  
  • Beyond SOTEs: Exploring formative and summative assessment in a GE college classroom, Mei-Yan Lu  
  • Evaluating undergraduate nursing students confidence and anxiety speaking with patients. Sheri Rickman Patrick  
  • Including robots in class to increase student-instructor interaction and provide hands-on experiences, Wencen Wu  
  • Student engagement: A key to success in the classroom, Linda Mitchell and Amber Sylva  
  • Providing hands-on field/laboratory experiences using drones, Kimberly Blisniuk, Emmanuel Gabet, and Hollianne McClure

Session S5B: Innovations in Teaching

Poster Presentations – Location: Room 3A – Mark Van Selst, Moderator – Presentations  

  • Epidemiology in Action: Applied Research in the Classroom, Miranda Worthen  
  • Leveraging Technology and Design Thinking in Social Entrepreneurship: Course Re-design Project in BUS4 188, Yu Chen  
  • How can Business Simulation Games Enhance Student Learning in Revenue Management? Yinghua Huang  
  • Promising Results from massive FYE course model and Intrusive Student Success Interventions, Michael Randle

5:00 pm Flipped Workshop

Location: Room 4A – This is a ticketed event and is limited to 200 attendees