Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grading D2L Dropbox Submissions on an iPad

This post is in response to a question about how to grade documents submitted to the D2L dropbox on an iPad using iAnnotate, so here's a run down of what I think is the easiest way. Suggestions welcomed.

First, I learned that students do not need to submit PDFs to the dropbox but iAnnotate needs to be "registered" to convert doc to PDF which means you need to create an account for it if you haven't already (yes, another account. I was really excited about that). That saves a step for the students anyway.

Using the Safari browser to access D2L, I was able to click on a .docx file in the dropbox and had the option to open it in iAnnotate which then converted it to a PDF (after registering my iAnnotate account). The option to open in iAnnotate should appear when you touch the document, on the top right. Mine first wanted me to use Pages, but there were more options just to the right of that if you tap "Open In".

The odd thing is that when the document opens, it replaces the D2L window you were just viewing. You can use the back button to return to D2L.

The next step would be to do whatever annotating you need to do and save it. iAnnotate is a pretty robust program.

Getting the annotated PDF out of iAnnotate and back to the student is the next step. I generally don't recommend emailing students their grading feedback for multiple reasons, but that is the easiest way because you can just go to Email and send it off. If using D2L for grading (which the students prefer, surveys have found), you'll need to go into D2L and add a grade and a note that you emailed the document.

If you want to reupload it to the D2L dropbox rather than emailing, you'll need to do so on a computer. First connect iAnnotate with a storage solution such as Google Drive or and then save the files there, go to them on a computer, and reupload to the dropbox. That is a lot of work! Don't do more work than the students!

Another option that involves no annotation but allows you to be more specific would be to request for the students to number their paragraphs in the document. Then, you can leave text or audio feedback in the D2L dropbox, yet clearly indicate which area of the paper you are referring to.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

LucidChart Educator Accounts

LucidChart is a relatively intuitive concept mapping program that is available online for free. I like it because adding items is just "drag and drop."

The confusing part is choosing the best account. Below is a screenshot of the registration page.

If you'll be using it quite a bit with students, you (the professor) can request an educational upgrade for the class on this page. Make sure you are using your edu email account though. The educational account is the equivalent of a Team account (see screenshot below). The professor first has to sign up for LucidChart and login. The request is sent and you will get an email from that contains a URL to give the students to sign up. You could just forward the email or post the URL in D2L.

There is free account to use without having to request anything, but the functionality is limited. If LucidChart will be used for just one or two basic assignments, the free account is probably ok but when I made one complex chart I filled up my account.

Be careful to avoid accidentally signing up for the free trial of one of the other accounts.

It is possible to sign in with Google or Yahoo to avoid creating an additional account just for LucidChart.

We tried to get an account for the whole university so anyone with a account would automatically get the upgrade but, unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. If the university has Google Apps for Education, integrating is possible so students don't need additional accounts. From what I understand, simultaneous/collaborative editing is only available if Google Apps is integrated (meaning, multiple people cannot work on the same LucidChart from different computers at the same time). We do not have Google Apps for Education at UWEC, but some UWs do.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Publishing and Uploading Adobe Presenter to D2L

This is part 2 in a series of posts about Adobe Presenter but I have not written part 1 yet! This post assumes you have already designed a beautiful PowerPoint and added audio via Presenter (NOT via PowerPoint itself). I'll update this when part 1 is done :)


Click Publish at the top in the Adobe Presenter tab.

Choose where to save it. It will try to save on a folder in your H drive (if you work for UWEC) so if you ever can't find one, it is probably on your H drive. These files are not gigantic, so you may be able to actually save it there. Click Choose to save elsewhere if you would like.

This is important: if you save it somewhere else, make a folder (or sub-folder)  for all this stuff to go into and select it to save in there. Call it something similar or the same as your PPT file. If you don't do this, it's not the end of the world or anything but you'll have a whole bunch of rogue files and moving around files afterward is a pain.

The screenshot above shows that I chose to save this on my P drive in the "PowerPoint Design Tips" folder which I created just for this. The title of my PowerPoint is also PowerPoint Design Tips.

You can change the settings if you want to do different things but we're not getting into that here. Click Publish. When it's done, it will play the presentation.

Uploading to D2L

Now you'll need to find the folder where you saved the published presentation. Here's mine:

If you open it, you'll see a whole bunch of stuff. You don't really need to understand what these all are, at least not right now. Get out of there!

Now zip this folder. Zipping allows you to keep all these files together, because they need eachother to play the presentation. To zip, right click on the folder and choose "send to" and then "compressed (zipped) folder."

It will make another folder with the same name, but .zip will be after it and the icon will look different.

Now go to D2L. You'll need to be in Manage Files. Click on Table of Contents, then Related Tools, then Manage Files.

This is the "behind the scenes" area where all of your content files live.

Click Upload and search for the zip file. This process varies slightly depending on your browser.

Unzip the file by clicking the blue drop down on the right side and choosing unzip.

Now click on the newly unipped folder to enter. Click the drop down next to the file that says "index.htm" and choose "Add Content Topic" on the bottom. 

On the next screen, choose the appropriate module on the top left (or create one if necessary) and enter a descriptive name. It will automatically pull in a title. Short title is not required.

Click Add and go to the content page and test it. Pat yourself on the back if it works. Let me know if it doesn't or if you're totally frustrated and want help.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Getting Started with Camtasia for Windows

Here are basic instructions on how to get started with Camtasia on Windows.

What is Camtasia?

A “screencasting” program that allows you to record whatever is on your computer screen with audio.  Good for software demos, how-to videos, recording PowerPoint presentations, and much more!

How to Install Camtasia on UWEC computers 

(not available on personal computers)
* UWEC users should contact the Help Desk if you have problems 36-5711

  1. Using Internet Explorer (required) go to 
  2. Search for Camtasia (the search box is on the top right and you may have to scroll over to find it). 
  3. Click the Install button on the bottom right. 
  1. Open the Self Service app (I just search for it in the spotlight)
  2. It doesn’t matter if you login or not. 
  3. Camtasia should be listed. Click install.
    1. Note that Camtasia for Mac is very different from the Windows version. This post focuses on Windows. 

Planning for your first video

  • Get a decent microphone and a quiet place to work since you will need to record audio. (We hope to have a recording studio in Old Library later in 2014!) Avoid using the built in mic, in most cases, because they are usually not high quality and they will pick up a lot of room noise. Here is a blog post with tips on recording audio. 
  • Figure out where you are going to store your footage. The files can be large. 
    • The projects drive is good for temporary storage (up to a year). Staff and faculty can create personal projects folders by going to and logging in. 
    • UWEC people can get an archive drive by contacting the Help Desk. 
    • I rarely save my working files, unless I have made lots of edits. It is possible to get the files back out of YouTube and edit some aspects if necessary. 
  • Figure out where you are going to put the video when you are done. YouTube, Vimeo, V-Brick, - here is more info on that aspect. Instructors have no requirements; staff should check with others in their department to see if they already have a YouTube account, for instance.
  • Figure out what you're going to say and do! Don't go into this blind! I usually have bullet points or steps. I rarely use a script because I find reading while recording difficult and listening to a conversational voice is more engaging (rather than a voice that sounds like it's reading). I know people have different preferences though and some people have to use a script. If you want to be fancy, you can make a script, record video, then record the audio. I am not that fancy! 
  • Practice. I practice while recording just in case I get it right on the first try, or it's a low stakes video that can have a few mistakes (or editable mistakes). Getting used to recording yourself takes a while. Expect your first videos to be very time consuming. It gets easier though. And try to get over hating the sound of your own voice! Pretty much everyone hates the sound of their own voice. 

The Process

Here is a video from the Camtasia website that shows the recording process. My only suggestion contrary to this video is to not record in full screen, unless you know you are definitely going to zoom later, because it reduces your available space and adds distractions to the video, such as the programs you have in your task bar, the time, etc.

1. To Start Recording, Open Camtasia Recorder. This is either in your start menu or you can search for it. You can record many ways, but I recommend recording in 1280x720. This is a widescreen format that looks good on YouTube. If you're putting your video somewhere else you may want to do a test in this size to verify it's good.

      2. Size the window(s) you are recording to fit with the 1280x720 Camtasia window.
       What I mean is adjust whatever you're recording so it fits in the Camtasia recording area. Below is my whole computer screen. I have a nice big monitor, but I only want to record the Google Chrome window so I made it smaller. You can record multiple programs, so make sure they are all sized to get going. 
    1. 3. Make sure your mic is picking up audio and record a test. You should see green in the audio area like below. It's really frustrating to record a whole video without audio. I recommend recording a test of just a few seconds of talking at a normal volume to make sure it is using the correct mic. 
    2. 4. Record! Once you know how to edit you can edit out mistakes afterward. 
    3. 5. Preview what you recorded. Then probably record again because the first time wasn't very good. If it's good, celebrate. 
    4. 6. Either Save and Edit, or Produce. If it's good as-is, you can produce right from this screen. 
    5. Produce means make it into a format that people without Camtasia can view, like MP4, or put it on YouTube. I send it right to YouTube. 
    1. Either way you have to save what you just recorded. This is called a .camrec file. These files can be very large, so find a good place to save them like the Projects drive. (I rarely save them once I'm all done and it's up on YouTube - decide whether you will ever need to edit the raw footage again). 
If you chose Save and Edit, I recommend choosing YouTube & Screencast (16:9) for your editing dimensions (see below). This means it will be HD on YouTube. It will be crisp and clear. (I also vary from the Camtasia tutorials in this regard. Trust me here :) 

This video from the Camtasia website gives an excellent overview of the editing area.

When/if you make edits, Camtasia creates a .camproj file for them. This file consists of JUST the edits you have made and requires the .camrec file to function. TIP: Use a consistent naming strategy and store all files in the same folder. Here is a video showing how to save. 

If you're having fun, learn how to edit. I cannot recommend the TechSmith website enough - they have some fantastic tutorials. Here are a few that I highly recommend:

  • How to edit out mistakes (they call it "cutting unwanted media") - the only thing I would add is a recommendation to back up the play head and watch it to make sure it did what you want. 
  • How to add callouts - callouts are great ways to call attention to certain aspects of the video. This tutorial shows how to add arrows, text, blur spots, etc. 
If you're totally overwhelmed at this point, you may want to look at a simpler program that accomplishes the same thing called Screencast-o-matic. No download is required (but it does need Java which can be a pain) and when you're done it just prompts you to publish it. There's just one file. No editing is available in the free version. 

Video Streaming Site Options

It's a good idea to put instructional videos somewhere online where students can view them, rather than uploading them directly to D2L. This is called "streaming." The main reason to do it is because streaming video works better for students and we want to make it as easy as possible for students to obtain course content. Here are the main options that I recommend to UWEC faculty, based on what you want/need to do. They change, so I'll update this post periodically.

This post focuses on instructor-created videos. If you want to stream a video that is copyright-protected (movies/DVDs), that needs to occur through the Video Department so it is behind a password protected site. We are also working on building a repository of these videos.

These sites all function pretty similarly. The main difference is permissions: who can view/find videos. The University Server differs from the others the most because it is managed by the university and linked with your UWEC account, whereas the other sites are not associated with the university and are managed by you. If portability is a concern, for instance if you intend on using the videos for teaching at another school, it is probably a better idea to use a site other than the university server or to put your videos on both.


I am a big fan of YouTube; check out this post for the reasons. This is my #1 recommended option for faculty who want to upload and manage their own videos. A Google account is required, which is not affiliated with your UWEC account. Remember you can have multiple Google accounts if you want to separate your work and personal information.

  • Many people like the "unlisted" option which means only people who have the link can view the video. Of course people can share the link with others so it is not secure but it won't be suggested or come up in a search. 
  • The default is public which means anyone can search for it and it may be suggested. 
  • There is also a private option in which you'd need to invite specific people to view the video. This is not a good way to share course content. 


I use Vimeo for most of my personal videos, to create a little work/personal separation and to gain experience with it.

I recommended YouTube first because Vimeo Basic (free) has a limit total storage space and how many videos you can upload per week, whereas there are no limits on the university server or YouTube (well, there's a 15 minute limit but you can verify your account to get around that).

I like Vimeo better in some ways because it's a prettier site than YouTube with less junk all over and videos automatically are viewable in a larger window. Videos on Vimeo Basic used to be inaccessible on mobile devices, but that's changed. Yay!

Vimeo on the left, YouTube on the right. Same video. You can make the YouTube video bigger, of course; this is just what automatically comes up. I find the suggestions on the top in Vimeo much easier to ignore, but maybe that's just me.
  • Vimeo has a cool setting where you can put a password on a video. That is not available on YouTube or the University Server. Of course, people could share the password so it's not very secure but it adds a little bit of security, kind of like the "unlisted" function in YouTube. 
  • The other options are anyone, only me, only people I follow, and only people I choose.
  • Videos are not very findable here. I left a video set to public and didn't share it with anyone specific, and it only has the one hit that I caused (i.e., nobody found it). I could have set it to "only me" because I just wanted to make sure I saved it but turns out it doesn't matter. 
  • There are also less stupid comments on vimeo, maybe just because it's used less. 

I like because it is associated with the Techsmith products such as Camtasia so there's a "share to" function in Camtasia. Also, it is the only place that streams Camtasia videos with quizzing in them. 

There is a limit on storage space and monthly bandwidth. I know some faculty who use YouTube for almost everything and then for Camtasia videos with quizzes. You can attach a file to a video here, like you also can on the university server. 

  • There is no way to search this site, so random people won't be coming here to find stuff. 
  • This site is the weirdest one for permissions because they are set on folders rather than individual videos. Individual videos that are not within folders are automatically public and cannot be changed individually. 
  • A person's user page is public so any videos not in restricted folders would appear publicly, but I don't know how anyone would find it unless they had the link. 
  • The privacy options for folders are 
    • Public: viewable on your page and other items within the folder are viewable to people who get in to see one thing
    • Hidden: people need the URL and they won't be able to see other things in the folder 
    • Password: people need the URL and a password
    • Authenticated: people need to login to
  • Here's more info. 

The University Server (V-Brick)

This site is located at and requires a UWEC username and password to access. A positive is that no additional accounts are required since it is integrated with UWEC accounts. Right now, only the Video Department staff can upload videos; individual instructors cannot. This should change in the summer of 2014.

  • The default setting requires people to login with their UWEC username and password to view videos when provided with the direct link. 
  • Permissions can be restricted so that only certain people (such as a class list) have access. Right now, the Video Department needs to set up those permissions. They would need to be changed each semester with a new class. 
  • Videos that are not locked down will be available via search and may come up as suggestions when watching other related videos. So, unless restricted, videos are "public" within UWEC. 
    • There is no "unlisted" option like there is in YouTube where anyone with the link can access it but it won't come up in searches.