Update on the Learning Management System (LMS) Review

On March 2, 2017, the Iowa State Daily published a story entitled, “Seeking more reliability, Iowa State breaks up with Blackboard.” The story reported on the Learning Management System (LMS) review update presented to the Government of the Student Body by Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Director, CELT. The original published article had multiple errors in it. Upon notification of these errors, the Daily staff quickly corrected the online article and re-titled it, “Seeking more reliability, Iowa State explores new LMS options.” In addition, the Daily staff will be providing an update to the March 3rd printed edition.

It is important for the campus community to know the following:

  • The current LMS license with Blackboard Learn ends December 2017. ISU has extended the license to accommodate the LMS transition until June 2018. All spring 2018 courses will be taught in the new LMS.

    This is stated on the LMS Review website.

  • Iowa State has not selected a new LMS.

    ISU’s Procurement Services: Request for Proposal (RFP) process provides concrete ways for Iowa State University to explore and evaluate multiple LMS options. To learn about Iowa State University’s process and access the LMS RFP visit ISU’s Procurement Services: Current Bid Solicitation.

  • The five phases of the LMS review process and timeline (organization, evaluation process, demonstration, migrations and implementation, and ongoing operations) are outlined on the LMS Review Process and Timeline website.

If you have any questions about the LMS review process contact LMS Review Co-Leads via email lmsreview@iastate.edu or contact Dr. Ann Marie VanDerZanden (vanderza@iastate.edu), Director Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), or Mike Lohrbach (mlbach@iastate.edu), Director IT Services Systems & Operations, Information Technology (IT).

If you have questions about the LMS RFP contact Eric Johnson (emj@iastate.edu) or call 515-294-4701.

Fall 2022 Public Health Guidance and Syllabus Statement (SVPP Communication, Aug. 11, 2022)

This message was shared with Iowa State faculty on August 11, 2022 by Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert. 

You can review all Required and Recommended Syllabus Statements on our website.

To:              Iowa State University Faculty

From:         Jonathan Wickert                                        
                   Senior Vice President and Provost

Subject:     Fall 2022 Public Health Guidance and Syllabus Statement

I am writing to share guidance regarding COVID-19 and public health measures for the fall semester.

Required Syllabus Statement

The statement below is required to be included in all syllabi for the Fall 2022 semester:

Public Health

If you are not feeling well, you should stay home and focus on your health. Should you miss class due to illness, it is your responsibility to work with your instructor to arrange for accommodations and to make up coursework, as consistent with the instructor’s attendance policy.

You may choose to wear a face mask and/or receive the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters, as well as other vaccines such as influenza, but those options are not required. Thielen Student Health Center will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations free-of-charge to students. The university will continue to offer free masks and COVID-19 test kits during the fall 2022 semester. Other wellbeing resources for students are available at:  https://www.cyclonehealth.iastate.edu/wellbeing-resources/

Public health information for the campus community continues to be available on Iowa State’s public health website. All public health questions should be directed to publichealthteam@iastate.edu.

This statement is included in the Canvas course syllabus template, and it is also available on the website of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

Encouraging healthy behaviors

Instructors may wear face masks themselves, and may encourage masks and vaccinations, while noting those are options and not requirements.  Masks are helpful not only for reducing the spread of COVID-19, but also reducing transmission of colds and flu, and thereby ensuring students can attend class and complete coursework as scheduled.

Please note the Thielen Student Health Center, per the Class Excuse Policy, does not provide class excuses for health issues.

Incentives and disincentives prohibited

As communicated previously, instructors may not require students to wear masks or to disclose vaccination status. In addition, instructors may not:

  • Penalize or criticize students for wearing or not wearing masks
  • Provide tangible incentives, such as extra credit or a higher grade, to students who wear masks
  • Direct students to sit in different areas of the classroom based on whether they are wearing face masks
  • Engage in actions that could reasonably be interpreted as requiring disclosure of vaccination status

I ask that department chairs share this communication with academic advisors, staff engaged in instruction, graduate student instructors, and teaching assistants.

Learn About Your Classroom (Fall 2022)

If you’re teaching in a general University classroom this fall, as you prepare your course, check to see what technology will be available to you in the room. 

Information Technology Services (ITS) has compiled resources for the audiovisual equipment available in the general classrooms across the University. If you want to check your classroom(s), ITS recommends the following:

  1. Check to see if your classroom is a Level 1 or Level 2 classroom
  2. Watch the corresponding video resource
  3. (Optional) Visit your classroom before the start of the semester to practice with the technology. 

If you have any questions, instructors should reach out to ITS directly at (515) 294-6894 or avxt@iastate.edu

If you’re looking for other resources to help you prepare for your course, CELT has you covered: 

Why don’t they attend? 12 ways to boost student participation in synchronous sessions

Why don’t they attend? (Teaching Tip)

12 ways to boost student participation in synchronous sessions

Attendance expectations continue to be challenging due to Covid-19. In the fall semester, we heard from students that they needed and appreciated the flexibility in accessing lecture material; however, they sought more in-real-time experiences. We also heard from instructors that offered many synchronous opportunities but that students sparsely attended these. We gathered the following strategies for encouraging participation and attendance from the CELT Advisory Board, CELT Staff, and colleagues across campus. 

Before each synchronous class session — connect with your students.

During the synchronous session — encourage attention.

  • Check-in with your students. Start each session with an agenda slide to know what is coming and have a moment to gather necessary materials. As they log in, ask students a question of the day via the polling function in Webex or Zoom. Or share a Word Cloud that changes shape in front of their eyes. Create a one-question survey in Qualtrics, focus the question on the content, such as one word to describe the most recent class reading or a check-in regarding their current mood. Display the word cloud results in real-time or share them during the next class session using the Engage students with a Qualtrics word cloud in your course guide.
  • Make it meaningful. Why just read class notes or review the textbook material during a live session? Provide an experience that necessitates their attendance. Perhaps this is case-based learning, small group discussions in breakout rooms, or working on challenging problems.
  • Clarify. Identify common mistakes or errors from homework problems and offer a mini-lesson with a similar situation that students can take then-and-there. This step can provide valuable feedback to both students and you as the instructor – what are they still not understanding? 
  • Motivate. Start the session with a mini quiz drawn from the last session’s material. If for points, this can provide a small incentive to attend and provide valuable information regarding their current knowledge.
  • Engage. Share a document to take collaborative notes and emphasize these notes could be used for open-book exams by all, so the more attendees, the better and more precise the notes. 
  • Invite guest speakers. Both Evrim Baran, School of Education, and Elizabeth Stegemoller, Kinesiology, invite guest speakers to the synchronous sessions to connect students with professionals working in various settings (e.g., industry, academia, schools, etc.). They both carefully aligned the speakers with the current week’s focus and activities.
  • Incentivize proactiveness. Melissa Tropf, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, taught a class with all asynchronous lectures (pre-recorded) and weekly virtual synchronous review sessions and labs. Weekly quizzes incentivized students to stay current with the asynchronous material and come prepared for the live sessions. When Tropf reached out to students who struggled in the synchronous sessions, they shared that they were behind in their asynchronous material, inhibiting their ability/willingness to engage in the synchronous sessions. Students appreciated the accountability measures.

Closing a synchronous session — share highlights.

  • Finish a session with an exit ticket. Ask students to share one thing they have a better understanding of today’s class meeting. Save the chat transcript in Webex for tracking purposes. Sharing the chat and increasing student clarity encourage other students to attend future sessions (see the Save a meeting chat guide). 
  • To record or not record? Some faculty shared that they upload a recorded version of the live synchronous session. Others stated that they synchronize sessions so engaging and tailored to the specific experience they do not record and upload. Instead, they provide a synopsis document or short video sharing content, clarifying questions, reminders, and highlighting positive trends (e.g., lots of students submitted work on time, the discussion board is very active, etc.). 

As we continue to endure the pandemic, flexibility is vital (see the Be Flexible page). However, finding ways to ensure the students are aware of the sessions, making them interactive, collaborative, and timely, can go a long way towards encouraging participation. For more ideas, tips, and strategies, check out CELT’s Engaging students online page.

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti, Director

Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Why don’t they attend? 12 ways to boost student participation in synchronous sessions (January 28, 2021 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for January 28, 2020 (PDF).

Winter Health and Wellness (Teaching Tip)

Iowa State campanile in the early stages of winter. The clock tower is feature with some trees and a light dusting of snow.

The first day of Winter is quickly approaching. As we wrap up the Fall 2021 semester and prepare to enter the Winter season, we want to remind you of the resources available to support you and your students.

  • ISU WellBeing: ISU WellBeing provides resources to help faculty and staff with a range of topics. They include mental health resources available to employees, financial well-being, and mindfulness. If you will be on campus or in the area, consider doing the Strolls for Well-Being at ISU. Keep an eye out for the upcoming Winter Strolls for Well-Being at ISU which will feature online and in-person options.
  • Student Wellness: Student Wellness supports the holistic health, wellbeing, and safety of students on campus. They provide various programs and services, including information about the Campus Food Pantry, a wellbeing assessment tool, and a myriad of other topics.
  • Student Counseling Services: Student Counseling Services offers clinical and campus-based services to help students achieve goals. As we navigate the pandemic, we have witnessed mental health needs for the entire campus community, and supporting students’ mental health is another way to support their wellbeing.
  • Campus Resources to Support Students (general): An extensive list of resources available to students and different ways of supporting your students can be found on the CELT website.

We wish you all a restful break and look forward to reconnecting for Spring 2022. Best wishes for the remainder of the Fall semester.

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Resources for Success (December 16, 2021 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print Version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for December 16, 2021 (PDF).

Important Semester Reminders

End of Semester

Grades are due by 2:15 p.m. on December 21.

Review the End of Semester Checklist and the Course Conclusion in Canvas webpage for helpful guides to wrap up your semester.

CELT will be closed the week of December 27-December 31. We will reopen January 3 with hours of 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Normal business hours resume Tuesday, January 18.

Start of Semester

Winter term runs from December 20-January 14. Grades will be due January 19 by 2:15 p.m.

Spring semester will begin Tuesday, January 18.

Review the Start of Semester Checklist for resources to help you begin your Spring course setup.

Choose your instructional tool adventure webinars

Choose your instructional tool adventure (30-minute teaching topics)

CELT’s Choose Your Instructional Tool Adventure focuses on various instructional strategies found on the CELT website and demonstrates practical ways to incorporate these tools in a Canvas course. Instructional support staff from across campus will facilitate each 30-minute byte. These 30-minutes builds on concepts covered on the CELT instructional strategies pages.


30-minute teaching topics

Series Objectives

  • Identify tools to help instructors manage a blended or online classroom.
  • Align tool usage to course objectives.
  • Implement inclusive pedagogical components into a course (e.g., inclusive examples, accessibility, and Universal Design for Learning principles).
  • Locate ISU’s teaching and learning support resources.

Individual Workshop Objectives

  • Access CELT web resources specific to online teaching and learning.
  • Identify the most appropriate tool to implement a strategy in their course.
  • Create sample content using the tool.
  • Locate proper support for the selected tool.
Find additional opportunities to review CELT’s Upcoming Events website. For support, contact CELT or your local instructional staff.

Discover features for a number of the ISU Instructional Tools via the training opportunities from ISU vendors.

Design and facilitate activities for all learning environments.

A listing with applications that have been proven to meet the ISU’s security, accessibility, and purchasing standards.

Encouraging thoughtful participation (Teaching Tip)

Teaching synchronously online poses unique challenges for encouraging thoughtful participation. The ability to foster student participation is especially true if you teach a face-to-face course simultaneously with students attending the course online. We asked ISU Faculty (and surveyed the literature) to share these strategies for engaging students.

  1. Build community. It is challenging to volunteer an idea if you do not know the others in your class. Consider icebreakers where students first discuss in smaller groups of students in online breakout rooms. Then, use collaborative signals in the large group, such as thumbs up or hands raised, to cue “I agree” or “I have a question.” (Megan Myers, World Languages and Culture).
  2. Communicate expectations. Tell students in advance that you expect them to participate in the discussion. If possible, provide the prompt before the discussion. Rather than beginning discussion within the large group, start with 5-15 minutes in smaller person breakout groups. Instruct the students to determine a recorder (i.e., a student with first name closest to the letter Z or the person with the most significant number of pets) who would then share one idea during the whole class portion of the session. (Amanda Baker, School of Education).
  3. Use collaborative notetaking tools. For large or small group exercises, create a shared notetaking tool, such as Google Docs, with the prompt and space for breakout groups to type their responses. At the end of the activity, the participants have a crowd-sourced list of ideas or notes. This action also allows the instructor to clarify any misconceptions or call on a student group to elaborate on particular items. (Idea contributed by many! Monica Lamm, Chemical and Biological Engineering and CELT Faculty Fellow, Clark Coffman, Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology and CELT Faculty Fellow, and Karen Bovenmyer, CELT).
  4. Consider not discussing! If you want to get a “pulse” on the students’ knowledge or attitude in the class, consider strategically using the chat window or a poll rather than large or small group discussions. Pose a question for the students to respond to in the chat window. Or display a problem with plausible solutions. Ask students to use the emoticons on Webex or Zoom to “vote” for the correct answer. (Lesya Hassall, CELT).
  5. Explain the why of discussing. Lastly, inform students that you value their perspectives and explain why you ask for their participation—seeing the why behind discussions can positively influence their participation.

Have an idea to share? Email it to celt@iastate.edu, and we will include it in our Instructional Strategies.

With a joy for teaching,
Sara Marcketti, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Encouraging thoughtful participation (August 28, 2020 – Constant Contact) website.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for August 28, 2020 (PDF).

Encouraging Flexibility and Spring Instruction Resources (Teaching News)

Two people wearing face protection using a laptop and a smart phone

With the Spring 2022 semester underway, we want to ensure that you have access to resources to prepare for a variety of different scenarios. Remember, you can stay up-to-date with the latest news on the COVID-19 Moving Forward webpage.

During the Spring 2022 semester, we hope these resources will help you along the way:

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching will have Canvas Open Labs. The days and times will be announced the week of January 24. These Open Labs will be available for faculty to drop by (an online option will be available) at their convenience to meet with a member of our Instructional Design team. Fill out this Qualtrics survey by January 21 and let CELT know what day(s)/time(s) work best for you! 

You can also email celt-help@iastate.edu if you need assistance with your course this semester. This will start a ServiceNow ticket and one of our team members will help you as soon as possible. 

Five factors for success in remote assessment (Teaching Tip)

As you prepare for your final exams, consider the following factors:

  1. Ask yourself: What ways can my students demonstrate what they know? How can I make it more meaningful/authentic? How can I incorporate knowledge creation?
  2. Consider the impact of proctored examsFaculty should consider other assessment strategies to adapt to our unprecedented situation, only using proctored exams when no other options work (e.g., due to accreditation rules). For these reasons, we recommend choosing a suitable remote assessment method (e.g., fact sheet, group project, non-traditional essay, Open Book, or “Take-home” Exam, etc.) on the CELT Remote Assessments page.
  3. Communicate clearly with your students. Provide an announcement that contains information about the exam, clarify essential details, using these guiding questions.
  4. Be available. Recognize that students may require your assistance during your exam/assessment period (e.g., what happens if there are technical issues?). In your communication, please provide the most reliable way for them to contact you or technical support.
  5. Remind students about the importance of academic integrity. Continue to promote academic integrity throughout your course; don’t forget to prominently place the academic integrity statement at the beginning of the assessment to emphasize responsible behavior. See examples on the Academic Integrity page.

Are you interested in discovering more remote assessment strategies? Register to attend the ISU Online Learning Community, Nov. 13 (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., via Webex form). Join us to hear Dr. Monica Lamm, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, explains “public exams” in courses while demystifying the design and development of final exams for students (see this Inside Iowa State story). We will also discuss recent Canvas updates and features to accommodate final assessments.

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Five factors for success in remote assessment (November 12, 2020 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for November 12, 2020 (PDF).