Category: Instructional Technology News

Instructional Tech News – Oct. 19

Engaging Students Online

Looking to increase student engagement and collaboration in your Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate environment? Visit the CIT YouTube Channel to see Jennifer Roth-Burnette, Director of Academic Support at the Capstone Center for Student Success, share advice for engaging students online. Dr. Roth-Burnette provides simple tactics you can implement in your courses to increase participation and interaction.

Texthelp Change

UA’s enterprise license agreement for the Texthelp suite of tools will not be renewed in FY21.  After conversations with campus partners, we determined that we did not have a user basis to justify an enterprise-level agreement for the product. However, Texthelp offers free premium subscriptions of Read&Write and EquatIO for educators on the Texthelp website. Additionally, one alternative to the Texthelp suite of tools are the Learning Tools offered by Microsoft 365. If you, or users in your area, have any need beyond the scope of the free tools, please let us know.

Gradescope Usage Survey

UA is evaluating if the license for Gradescope should be renewed for FY21. If you are a current Gradescope user, please complete a quick survey about your use of this tool and your opinion about its renewal. We will keep you updated on survey feedback and our next steps.

VoiceThread New Assignments

Exciting news, VoiceThread has a new assignments feature! Starting today, instructors can start opting their courses in to the new assignment features. VoiceThread assignments provide a major overhaul and redesign of the entire user experience with many new features and streamlined workflows. Instructors are not required to update to the new assignments features. Courses can be updated individually, giving instructors the opportunity to test out new features on a small scale.

Check out the VoiceThread website for detailed instructions on how to enable the new assignment feature. Once the new assignments feature have been activated, visit the VoiceThread site again for step-by-step user guides.

Reach Out for Help

As always, we’re here to help. Book an appointment to meet with CIT. It’s not too early for us to help you prep for final exams!

Instructional Tech News – Oct. 12

Testing Tips

We receive many questions from instructors regarding how to best secure tests in Blackboard. Blackboard offers settings that can easily be enabled to increase the security of online exams. Check out our Testing Tips for Instructors video to learn how to implement random answers and questions, timers, test availability and more.

Respondus Lockdown Browser – Troubleshooting Tips

A reliable internet connection is key to success with Respondus Lockdown Browser. Wired internet connections are available in most on-campus residences. If students are connected via WIFI and experience issues with Respondus Lockdown Browser, we have a few troubleshooting tips available on our website.

Respondus Virtual Training

Respondus is hosting several upcoming virtual webinars free for all instructors. Sessions will provide detailed demonstrations of both Respondus and Respondus Monitor, including recent enhancements that make Respondus Monitor even more effective and easy to use. Learn more, and register, on the Respondus website.

Encourage Engagement with Virtual Office Hours

Instructors have reported an increase of students attending virtual office hours. Additionally, students have shared with us that they enjoy the opportunity to chat online with their instructors. Keep up the classroom engagement and conversations with students via virtual office hours through Blackboard CollaborateZoom or Microsoft Teams.

Technology Need Application

Please remember that loaner hotspots, web cams and laptops are available for students in need. Students may submit a Technology Need Application on the Student Care and Well-Being website.

Meet with CIT

Book an appointment for a virtual meeting with CIT. Visit our website, and click “Virtual Help Session” to book an appointment. Select the technology you’d like to discuss, pick your date and time, then add it to your calendar! We’ll see you then.

Instructional Tech News – Oct. 6

Midterm grade reminders, student technology needs, and a new way to book an appointment with CIT.

Midterm Grade Reminder

Can you believe it’s already October? Time to enter midterm grades! Remember we have helpful resources on the CIT website, including instructions for entering Midterm Grades in Blackboard Grade Center. We also have guidance on importing Midterm Grades from Blackboard into MyBama.

Technology Need Application

The Division of Student Life, Office of Information Technology and University Libraries are partnering to provide students with necessary technology tools. Hotspots, web cameras and laptops are available for lease to students in need. Students may submit a Technology Need Application on the Student Care and Well-Being website.

UA Libraries Respondus-Ready Computers

Many computers in UA Libraries are equipped with Respondus LockDown Browser and web cameras for Respondus Monitor. Students may reserve a Respondus-ready computer through the UA Libraries website.

Book an Appointment with CIT

You can now book an appointment for a virtual meeting with CIT. Select the technology you’d like to discuss, pick your date and time, then add it to your calendar! We’re also available to meet with instructors for Blackboard settings check. Visit our website, and click “Virtual Help Session” to book an appointment.

Instructional Tech News – Sept. 28

Gradescope Workshop

Looking for a tool to streamline your grading process? Join us tomorrow, Sept. 29 at 1pm for a virtual workshop hosted by Gradescope. Gradescope is a feedback and assessment tool that streamlines grading while providing grading consistency. You can find details, and a link to register, on the CIT website.

Blackboard Calendar

Juggling competing assignments and due dates can be a challenge. The Blackboard Calendar can help students keep track of upcoming assignments, events and other due dates. Instructors can add due dates to gradable items in Blackboard. Learn more about capabilities of Blackboard Calendar in our latest YouTube Video.

Zoom Features

Along with midterm testing, many courses feature the opportunity for student presentations. If you’re hosting student presentations in your course, check out these new Zoom features including multi-spotlight, multi-pin and video recording.

Settings Checks

Did you know that CIT can offer guidance by reviewing your Blackboard settings? Before offering an exam, invite us to take a look at your course and exam settings to optimize your exam for effective functionality.

We’re here to help – both students and instructors. Please remind students that they can click the red “Support ?” button at the top of Blackboard for tech help 24/7.

Instructional Technology News – Sept. 21, 2020

A new Blackboard Learn feature, tips for student engagement, and a Zoom change reminder.

Blackboard Learn Help Tips

Notice a few new help messages in Blackboard Learn? Those are from us! We’ve integrated a new tool to be able to provide guidance and helpful tips as students and instructors navigate Blackboard. Our team recently added tips for instructors as you prepare to enter midterm exam grades. We’ve also included tips for students that link to the Capstone Center for Student Success for tutoring and coaching. We hope you, and your students, finds these tips helpful. If you have a suggestion for a tip, let us know!

Student Engagement

Teaching virtually has its perks, but it also comes with challenges. Keeping students engaged in classes can be difficult without face-to-face interactions. We’ve put together a few tips for instructors to keep students engaged, virtually. Hint – regular communication is key.

Zoom Security Changes

Reminder – beginning Sept. 27, Zoom will require that all meetings have a passcode or a waiting room enabled. Meetings that do not have a passcode or waiting room enabled will automatically be applied a waiting room.  Waiting rooms can be customized to fit the need and audience for your meeting. For more information, visit the Zoom Support website.

As always, we’re here to help. Give us a call at 205-348-3532 or email us –

Instructional Technology News – Sept. 15, 2020

An upcoming security change, a few maintenance items, and tech reminders to share this week.

Zoom Security Changes

Beginning Sept. 27, Zoom will require that all meetings have a passcode or a waiting room enabled. Meetings that do not have a passcode or waiting room enabled will automatically be applied a waiting room.  Waiting rooms can be customized to fit the need and audience for your meeting. For more information, visit the Zoom Support website.

VoiceThread Maintenance

VoiceThread will be performing a database upgrade and maintenance on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 4am – 5am. VoiceThread will not be offline, but tools may be slow to load during this maintenance window.

myBama Maintenance

myBama will be also undergo a database upgrade Saturday, Sept. 19 from 6am until 1pm. myBama will be unavailable during the maintenance window; however, Blackboard Learn will continue to be available by direct access –

Virtual Learning Spaces

If students need a space away from their residence to attend an online class, encourage them to visit one of UA’s 60+ virtual learning spaces. These spaces are designated areas where students can attend online class meetings while on campus.

Lockdown Browser Info for Students

Lockdown Browser is a tool new to many UA students. Consider sharing CIT’s Lockdown Browser Information with your students. A few reminders for students:

  • Download the UA version of Lockdown browser, not just any version of Lockdown Browser found on the web.
  • Choose Blackboard Learn from the server list.
  • Use a hard-wire ethernet connection when possible.
  • Restart the computer and shut down other programs on the computer before beginning Lockdown Browser.

Follow CIT on YouTube

In recent weeks we’ve added several tutorial videos to our YouTube channel. Check out Testing Tips for Instructors, as well as Blackboard Basics for Students.

Instructional Technology News – September 2, 2020

September is here – time to start planning for your first course assessment of the semester! The CIT has prepared content for each course delivery mode regarding best practices for online exams and assessments. Meet our tools that can help you as you prepare your first assessment.

Testing Tools:

Blackboard Tests

Instructors can use Blackboard Learn to create, administer, and grade exams and quizzes, all online. Visit for detailed tutorials.

Respondus Lockdown Browser

Respondus Lockdown Browser allows instructors to require students use a pared-down, secure web browser to take an exam (not available for Chromebooks). Students can download Lockdown Browser from the My Institution page in Blackboard or on the OIT software page. Instructors must enable Lockdown Browser from the Course Tools menu.

Respondus Monitor

The Respondus Monitor option in Lockdown Browser uses a student’s webcam to automatically scan for irregular or suspicious test-taking activity and flag possible issues for instructors to review. Think of Respondus as a virtual alternative to an in-person testing monitor.

Exam Accommodations

If you have students who receive ODS accommodations that include extended time on tests, these steps from Blackboard walk you through adding test exceptions. Additionally, the Office of Disability Services provides information on testing accommodations at UA. Check out for more information.

Testing Tips

Tests aren’t new, but taking tests online can be new territory for many students. Share our Testing Tips with your students.

Additional Learning Space/Tech News:

Virtual Learning Spaces

UA has designated more than 60 classrooms and meeting rooms as virtual learning spaces – areas where students can attend online class meetings while on campus. Please share this with your students as an alternative location to attend an online class.

Student WIFI Connectivity

OIT is performing upgrades in several residence halls to improve wireless connectivity. If you encounter a student experiencing WIFI connectivity issues in their on-campus residence, please direct them to the IT Service Desk (205-348-5555 or *Note – the IT Service Desk is separate from the CIT. However, each are units within the Office of Information Technology.

Instructional Technology News – Aug. 27, 2020

We’re one week in to our new methods of teaching. CIT has a few resources to share as you continue to develop best practices for your course.

Contingency Planning

As we saw this week with a Zoom web server issue, outages occur. Although we strive to do everything in our power to prevent outages, please know that alternative technologies are available! For example, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is an ideal tool to host a class meeting if Zoom is unavailable. Review all of our technologies, and see what they can do, in our Tool Comparison Chart.

Along with technology backups, consider having an instructor backup. Are your course materials available so that someone else could pick them up and teach your class? Consider having a backup instructor available with access to your course materials.

Blackboard Learn Basics for Students and Instructors

Students and instructors are depending on Blackboard Learn now more than ever before. Blackboard Learn serves as your course home page for most necessary materials.  Review the CIT YouTube channel to see Blackboard best practices for both students and instructors. Learn how navigate and use Blackboard like a pro.

Check the CIT website for Common Tips

For example, if you use Panopto in the Safari browser, you may have noticed a login redirect loop. We’ve got a work-around that can help.

As always, we’re here to help. Contact us at, and remember, all UA instructors can contact Panopto Supportdirectly for help with Panopto,

Instructional Technology News – August 17, 2020

Welcome to the fall 2020 semester at The University of Alabama! Your colleagues in the Center for Instructional Technology are available to help with your instructional technology and accessibility needs.

Flexible Modes of Instruction

We’ve developed several resources to help with flexible teaching methods. Review the CIT website to see tips and best practices for Face-to-Face, Hybrid, Online/Internet and Interactive Audio/Video courses. Make an appointment for your virtual consultation today by emailing If courses show as “not currently available” in the instructor’s course list, edit course availability in Blackboard course properties.

Classroom Technology
Our colleagues in Audio/Visual Solutions have installed web cameras on adjustable mounts in over 400 instructional spaces across campus to allow instructors to livestream and record lectures. This will facilitate equitable learning opportunities for both face-to-face and remote learners. Additionally, disposable microphone covers are being delivered to academic departments this week.  They are packaged for faculty scheduled to teach in eligible classrooms.  To find out more, visit AVS online

Extended Support

Great news! We’ve expanded support offerings for both Panopto and Blackboard Learn. Now, anyone from UA can get direct support from Panopto and Blackboard Learn support will be available on nights and weekends. Visit and to view our instructional technology and accessibility support offerings.

Build Your Online Presence

Did you know that CIT supports a web development tool for UA faculty and graduate students to build professional, portfolio websites? Visit to learn more and request a website.

Stay in Touch

To check on the status of our technologies, visit our news page. While you’re there, subscribe to receive updates from CIT.

This semester may look different than previous years, but please know, our team is ready to serve you as we have each year before. Please contact us at 205-348-3532 to request help with instructional technology anytime throughout the semester.

Instructional Technology News – July 22, 2020

Tegrity Out, Panopto In

It’s been a long breakup, but the end is finally here. Tegrity is now officially no longer available in Blackboard. We’ve received great feedback on its replacement, Panopto, from both students and instructors. In an informal poll, students named Panopto as their favorite tool during the spring transition to remote learning. If you have not yet used Panopto, I encourage you to watch our Record Your Video from Home How-To tutorial video, and learn more about Panopto on the CIT website.

Collaborate Original Out, Collaborate Ultra In

Effective Aug. 8, Blackboard Collaborate Original will no longer be available in Blackboard. Its replacement, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, is available now! Collaborate Ultra provides a more user-friendly and modern virtual meeting experience. Blackboard Collaborate is an ideal tool for leading virtual classes, office hours, tutoring and mentoring sessions, departmental meetings and more. Many existing features have been improved and modernized. Here is an overview of some of the tools that you can expect:

  • Browser-based web conferencing
  • Simple, fast file sharing
  • Recordings
  • Breakout Groups
  • Polling
  • Attendance Reporting

Get started with Collaborate Ultra today.

myBama + Banner Database Upgrades this Weekend

OIT will be performing database upgrades on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s work will affect myBama, Sunday’s work will affect Banner, DegreeWorks and a few additional services. Details about the database upgrades and outage times is available on the OIT Status Page. During both outages, Blackboard Learn will be available directly at

Reminder – Upcoming Blackboard Learn Outage

Blackboard Learn will undergo required maintenance and upgrades Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 4pm until Saturday, Aug. 8 at 2pm. We’ll be in touch in the coming weeks with more details about the upgrade.

Have questions?