Video Conferencing Gets a Face Lift

We will be updating the Canvas *video conferencing tool to the sleek, easy to use interface (please see the note at the bottom of this post). One of the biggest advantages to faculty and students is the new interface no longer requires the Java “launcher” download and installation. Instead, it will work directly in any web browser, though Google Chrome is recommended.

To see the full list of changes, click on the image below.

Image. Blackboard Collaborate Classic v Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
Image from the University of Northern Idaho. More information can be found here

Video conferencing is directly integrated into every Canvas course making access to a set of synchronous tools simple to setup. Faculty at Keene State have used video conferencing in a variety of ways including inviting guest experts to class, using it to support students in a blended or online course, office hours, and even using it during unexpected interruptions such as illness or poor weather.

Here is a 2-minute 40-second overview but if you’d like to work with us to learn more about video conference best practices or would like some assistance getting set up, let us know!

Getting started guide

Using the tools

*Note – the name of the tool is Blackboard Collaborate, not to be confused with the Blackboard learning management system. In Canvas it is labeled as “video conferencing”. Do not be surprised to see help documentation referred to as Blackboard Collaborate (old interface) or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (new interface).

Office 2013 and OneDrive

<modified on 10/23/2015>

Office 2013 and OneDrive
Office 2013 is available to faculty/staff who would like to upgrade from Office 2010. Office 2013 in collaboration with Office 365 provides One Drive cloud storage allowing you to securely store your documents in the cloud and edit them from anywhere. Microsoft Office web apps and mobile apps are also available. The IT Group will be moving users to Office 2013 in the months ahead, but are giving you the option to be an early adopter. If you are interested, please contact the HelpDesk at 358-2532 or email for instructions. For more information please visit ITG
news and announcements: 

Tools for Scheduling Appointments

This time of year faculty often ask about options for digitally scheduling advising sessions. Tired of paper signup sheets, many faculty want a quick and simple way for advisees to schedule a block of time to meet, low-cost-no-cost, straightforward, and removes time-blocks once someone has signed up.

Here are four tools including pros and cons for each but if we’ve missed one that you can vouch for let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Technology Pros and Cons
Canvas Scheduler

Scheduler is part of the Canvas calendar and creates appointment groups (collection of individual appointments) for sign up.

Instructor setup:

Student signup:

Pros: straightforward setup for instructors, easy signup for students

Cons: scheduler is designed to be used for students in an existing course.

Tip: there is an iCal calendar feed that can be imported into Outlook or Google Calendar.


People can book sessions with you all by themselves using the booking page that comes free with every Setmore account. You can enable your students to schedule appointments with you. Schedule appointments on the go with the free Android and iOS apps.

Thank you to Lisa Prospert for the recommendation.

 Pros: elegant interface, sends email reminders to schedule owner and recipients, easily integrates with Outlook and Google Calendar, free, mobile friendly.



Signup Genius

You can monitor the sign up list as it is filled and students can quickly see which time blocks are already taken.

Pros: slick and does what you’d expect a digital signup tool to do, free, easy for students to signup

Cons: contains ads

Canvas Pages

Pages is an editable wiki and can be setup so that students can add content. Instructors can add a table of dates and times and ask students to signup for time blocks.

How do I create a page:

Pros: straightforward setup

Cons: since anyone can add content to the wiki anyone can also accidentally delete content so it’s important to use clear instructions.

Tip: use the notify users that this content has changed to stay on top of any edits.

Google Doc

Google Docs are similar to Canvas Pages but are part of the larger Google suite of tools and are designed for collaboration.

Google share settings:

Pros: straightforward setup, can be used independent of Canvas

Cons: since anyone can add content to the wiki anyone can also accidentally delete content so it’s important to have clear instructions.

Tip: instructors need a Google account but students do not. Use the share options so that anyone with a link can edit the document.