VoiceThread Maintenance Scheduled for July 18th, 2015

VoiceThread will be performing system updates on Saturday, July 18 from 12:00 AM to 8:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time. VoiceThread will be unavailable from 12:00 AM to 2:00 AM, and service will be available but slow from 2:00 AM to 8:00 AM.

Date: 07/18/2015
Expected duration: 8 hours
VoiceThread unavailable: 12:00 AM – 2:00 AM EDT
VoiceThread service slow: 2:00 AM – 8:00 AM EDT

If you have any questions or experience any issues after the update, please let us know immediately by emailing edtech@mst.edu or submitting a ticket to the IT Help Desk at (573) 341-4357


Instructors: S&T connect is now used for sending Academic Alerts

S&T Connect is the new system for sending out Academic Alerts. Instead of sending out an “Alert”, you “Raise a Flag.” As before, challenged students and their academic advisors will receive a copy of your communication so that corrective actions can be identified and taken.

Here’s a quick visual tutorial to help you start using the S&T connect system.

1. Access S&T connect via the Blackboard top navigation bar.


2. Click the “Students” tab:


3. If you teach multiple sections, choose the desired section from the drop down list.


4. Place a checkmark next to the challenged student’s name and click the “Flag” button:


5. Select the appropriate type of Flag, fill in the details, and click “Save.”


That’s it!
S&T connect is your one-stop-shop for communication with challenged students and their academic advisors. For more detailed support, contact Rachel Morris in the Office of Undergraduate Studies at (573) 341-7276

LMS Update

Last year, Educational Technology supported a committee of faculty and students to evaluate our current Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard.  This LMS Review effort was part of a larger project to understand whether the portfolio of learning technologies we had implemented on campus contained the best tools to meet the needs of instructors and students on our campus.

The committee did a great job working together and asking the hard questions about teaching and learning needs on our campus.  We helped facilitate several open forums where feedback from students was gathered to help the committee understand students’ needs and desires.  In late fall the LMS Review committee decided to look at other learning management systems to better understand the entire picture of potential learning management systems’ capabilities.  According to the committee, “If we’ve never seen anything else, how do we know we are even asking the right questions?”

The committee focused in on the major LMS offerings, Desire2Learn, Canvas, Sakai, and Blackboard. A scoring guide was developed help the evaluation process.  (This scoring guide can be found on the Resources portion of the project website.)  After preliminary evaluation by the committee, the three finalist LMS vendors were invited to make campus presentations.  Following the campus visits, further hands-on evaluation of the products continued.  In March, with the evaluation of products completed, the committee unanimously recommended that Canvas would better serve the teaching and learning needs of Missouri S&T.  But what does that mean?  EdTech has never guided the campus through such a significant change in a foundational learning technology software like this before.  What were the steps?  It seemed around every corner we have found more steps that need to be taken in order to make this happen.  If our campus changes LMS, what about the other UM campuses? How might this affect the UM Course Sharing Initiative?  What about procurement?

Since S&T completed our evaluation, Columbia campus has started theirs.  MU’s timeline is to evaluate possibilities and gather information through this semester. They plan to make a recommendation by the end of the fall 2014 semester.  UMKC has indicated a desire to stay with Blackboard, but is exploring the alternative of having Blackboard, Inc. host their server.  There seems to be a lot of activity around LMS across the System!

There has also been an announcement about the evaluation of the ERP (JoeSS, finance, HR) from the President.  This is a major endeavor that affects many functional groups across the system.  Unfortunately, this appears to be the major stumbling block for further progress toward implementing a better LMS for S&T.  Upper UM System administration is asking us to wait on any decisions about the LMS until after there is a plan in place to address the needs of the ERP, latest estimate is 6-9 months.

There are always complexities in this sort of decision and implementation plan.  Some are anticipated, some are not.  EdTech and the LMS Review committee are continuing to work diligently to resolve the issues that arise in order to settle once and for all what learning management system S&T will be using.  For the time being, and through spring 2015 at least, it remains Blackboard.

I can assure you that no matter what LMS is chosen; EdTech will be here to help you.  Our goal is to do what is best to address the teaching and learning mission of our campus.  As of right now, an extended demonstration phase of Canvas is occurring where EdTech is really digging into the back-end management process and working to understand how everything works while a limited number of faculty and students continue to use Canvas for some classes.  Additional feedback from the faculty and students using Canvas this semester will help inform us and the other campuses as we move forward with the LMS discussion and decision.  We will continue to work with UM System to understand the process for making this change and what steps we need to complete.  If you have any questions about what is happening don’t hesitate to contact us.  Stayed tuned for future developments!

Back-to-School Educational Technology Workshops on August 18-21

All instructors are cordially invited to attend a series of Back-to-School Educational Technology Workshops hosted by S&T Educational Technology. Workshops will be held in Centennial Hall Room 105.

This event is an open-attendance, free-form workshop. You can come when you want, stay for as long as you want, and leave when you want.

Workshop sessions will focus on:

  • Using Learning Management Systems (e.g. Blackboard)
  • Building Student Engagement (e.g. VoiceThread, Piazza, Google Apps, Clickers, etc.)
  • Fostering Online Collaboration (e.g. Kaltura streaming media, Tegrity lecture capture, Adobe Connect, and Big Blue Button).
  • S&Tconnect Early Alert replaces the current Academic Alert system and will be hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

EdTech staff will be available to assist you with any questions you may have about using EdTech-supported technologies. Have questions? We have answers!

The workshop schedule is listed below. Attend any or all as needed! No pre-registration required!


18 Aug

19 Aug

20 Aug

21 Aug

9 – 11 a.m. S&Tconnect Early Alert
Learning Management Systems Online Collaboration Student Engagement
1 – 3 p.m. Student Engagement Online Collaboration Learning Management Systems S&Tconnect Early Alert

For more information, contact Educational Technology at edtech@mst.edu or 573-341-4131.

Zombies at Instructurecon 2014

InstructureCon-2014-249x300Last week I attended my second Instructurecon conference in beautiful Park City, Utah. While everyone at S&T was baking in the Missouri sun, I was chilling out in the mountain snow learning some really cool things that are going on in the Canvas Network.


One conference session that was particularly interesting demonstrated the use of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to develop a MOOC course at UCIrvine. Several instructors from various areas of expertise came together to create this course very quickly. At the conclusion of the course in the fall of 2013, there were around 3,000 who earned completion certificates and around 17,000 badges collected, not bad for a MOOC.

To learn more about this course or other MOOC classes available for free on the Canvas Network, visit the course description page on the Canvas Network site at the link below.


S&T Students Prefer Canvas to Blackboard for Online Testing

canvas-v-blackboardOver the last several months, many instructors on campus have come together to take a look at Blackboard and its competition. The decision was made by the faculty committee to conduct a pilot using Instructure Canvas, an open-source learning management system (LMS), which has experienced tremendous growth in the last couple of years. The faculty have recommended that the campus make the leap from Blackboard to Canvas. So, what do our students think?

As a part of that pilot, I decided to take the bull by the horns and try out the testing capabilities in Canvas. I had already given online assessments using Blackboard and Moodle at S&T and elsewhere. This spring, I provided assessments using Blackboard, Instructure Canvas, and Qualtrics, a survey tool available on campus.

At the end of the course, I surveyed my students and let’s just say that the numbers speak for themselves. Our students like Canvas as much as our instructors do!

LMS/Testing Tool Student Preference
Instructure Canvas 74%
Blackboard 14%
No Preference 9%
Qualtrics 3%

Blackboard FALL 2014 Courses Now Available

FALL 2014 courses in Blackboard have now been renumbered, using a new 4-digit re-numbering system approved and adopted by both the Faculty Senate and the Registrar.

Instructors can now access their Fall 2014 courses and begin adding course materials, either copying from existing courses or creating new content.

The Registrar and IT have worked together to create a web-based application to help you identify the new course numbers for courses you teach: Online Course Renumbering Crosswalk. This link can also be found through the Registrar’s website under the Class Offerings left-menu item.

IT, EdTech, and the Registrar are working to make this transition as smooth as possible.

The official cutover date to the new 4-digit numbering system is scheduled for August 1, 2014.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact EdTech (edtech@mst.edu or 573-341-4131), the Help Desk (help.mst.edu or 573-341-HELP) or the Registrar (registrar@mst.edu or 573-341-4181).

Missouri University of Science and Technology to Change Learning Management System Provider


In September 2013 a faculty and student committee was created to examine our current Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard, and to determine if it was the best fit for our campus.  Faculty and student surveys and open forums were held on several dates in the fall.  After careful consideration the committee recommended that alternate LMS options be reviewed.  In the late fall and early spring semesters several LMS options were closely examined by the committee and numerous LMS providers were invited to campus to speak, both in open forums and with the committee and IT professionals.

After careful consideration the committee of faculty and students unanimously decided to recommend that the Missouri S&T campus change from Blackboard to Canvas by Instructure for our LMS. This decision was based on several factors.

  • Canvas had more features that faculty and students felt were important.
  • It will allow faculty and students to optimize their time and gain efficiencies.
  • Features include:
    • Speed grading features.
    • Graphic analytics reporting.
    • Automated functionality.
    • Notification preferences.
    • Collaborative spaces for group activity.
    • Integrated multimedia for the ability to record quick and easy video and audio recordings.
    • Robust mobile apps for both Android and iOS.
  • Peer institutions (such as Michigan Technological University) have embraced Canvas.
  • Canvas has a robust user community that works to make the software better.
    • Canvas is much more intuitive and user-friendly than Blackboard.
    • Canvas works with the latest browsers.
    • Canvas’ user interface is clean, intuitive and easy to use.
    • Blackboard courses will be successfully and easily ported to Canvas.
      • Canvas is cloud-based which should reduce downtime and congestion issues.
      • Canvas works much like Amazon.
        • Canvas is open source while Blackboard is not.
        • Canvas has an open API that allows anyone to create connections and customize it for their use.
        • The user community is robust and works together to continually make the product better.
          • Support costs with canvas are likely to be much lower.
          • Canvas reacts quickly to any issue that arises and will work with local support staff to provide the help that is needed.
          • Canvas has a wide variety of help information provided on their website.

With all of this, there is also the potential for great cost savings. The committee did spend some time looking into the total cost of ownership for each of the vendors and was pleased that the vendor chosen also afforded the greatest savings for the campus.

The timeline for this change is in the process of being completed. It will be shared widely when all steps have been identified and a timeline for completion established. The campus contract with Blackboard expires in December 2015. Several instructors are piloting Canvas in their courses this semester. We will begin working on getting all of the integrations in place for a smooth transition. Our plan is to expand the pilot through the summer semester so that everyone can have the opportunity to look at Canvas. We are hoping to have Canvas in place for the fall semester for anyone who would like to use it.  EdTech will be conducting sessions introducing Canvas to campus as well as training sessions.  We plan to have all courses fully transitioned by the summer of 2015.

EdTech will be working closely with the support individuals from Canvas in order to make this a smooth transition. Current content in Blackboard will successfully and easily be moved into Canvas.  We will be scheduling activities over the next few months. Two upcoming opportunities include:

  • Thursday, March 13th 9:00 a.m. in Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Room 120, Michigan Tech faculty will be conducting a sharing session about their transition to Canvas.  This will be a pre-session for the Teaching and Learning Technology Conference.
  • Thursday, March 13th 3:40 p.m. in Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Room 120, a Canvas representative will be conducting a session as part of the Teaching and Learning Technology Conference.  All are welcome to attend even if you haven’t registered for the conference.

For more information, please contact Jeff Schramm (schrammj@mst.edu) or Angie Hammons (hammonsa@mst.edu). You can also find more information on the project website https://blackboardreview.mst.edu/.

Learning Management System Review Process – The Next Phase (Blackboard Demo)


After reviewing results from surveys and open forums, examining data on current LMS usage at Missouri S&T, and collecting input from faculty representing a range of use cases, the LMS committee reached a unanimous decision on October 30th: Blackboard may not be adequately meeting the needs of Missouri S&T faculty and students, and should be evaluated against alternative learning management systems to determine the best fit for our campus.

The committee recommended that Blackboard and 2-3 additional LMS alternatives be evaluated in an actual course environment beginning as soon as January.

Blackboard will host a presentation on Wednesday, January 22 at 10:00 a.m. in the Maramec/Gasconade Room in the Havener Center.

All faculty and students are welcome to attend!

For more information and updates about the Learning Management System review process, please visit: http://edtech.mst.edu/teach/projects/lmsreview/

Instructure Canvas Product Demo

Representatives from Instructure Canvas visited on Wednesday, December 11th to demo their LMS to S&T faculty, staff, and students and the LMS review committee.  The demo is posted below in its entirety for anyone who was unable to attend.

View the Canvas demo at Missouri S&T

For further demos of the product, please visit http://www.instructure.com/higher-education