Enhancing Teaching with Panopto and Blackboard Ally at GVSU

With 5 weeks into the Fall semester, this post provides a few highlights around the use of Panopto and Blackboard Ally in teaching and learning at GVSU. Deployed this past summer, these technologies are available now to all faculty, staff, and students at Grand Valley State University to enhance education and support student success.


Panopto

Panopto replaced Ensemble and TechSmith Relay in the summer of 2018, with the migration of content being completed on June 30. GVSU adopted Panopto to increase the capabilities to best leverage media-rich content in teaching. In addition to more powerful tools such as searching, embedded video quizzes, and discussions, creating closed captions was made easier for faculty.

Ally connects to the GVSU 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.

Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

Inclusiveness/Access – Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.  Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.

 

Here are a few usage stats of Panopto as of August 1, 2018:

  • 2371 videos have been created
  • Approximately 98 assignment folders have been established, allowing students the ability to easily submit a video for an assessment
  • 99 hours of video (on average) is being viewed per day
  • There has been a total of 7968 viewing / usage hours
  • 9710 total users on Panopto with 1056 faculty accounts and 8654 student accounts
  • 103 faculty and staff have installed Panopto on their Windows 10 PC or laptop
  • Training sessions: 7 sessions in the Spring, 7 sessions in the Fall, with additional support offered to faculty in Drop-Ins, eLearning Open Office Hours, Big Byte and Faculty Learning Communities as well as individual consultations.

Panopto has been a success at GVSU in providing a unique and engaging way for faculty to deliver high quality instructional content. Further, it extends the capabilities available to faculty while enabling closed captions to be added for accessibility.

“I jumped right in to using Panopto because I had a Spring online course to prep. I am thrilled to report it is easy to use. I can make videos and upload them for near immediate use – a great improvement over the old system. Editing videos is easier, and I particularly like the feature that allows me to add quiz questions. Especially, teaching online, being able to add a couple questions to incentivize students to watch the whole video, and check they understood it, is a great bonus pedagogically. I also find the viewership metrics incredibly handy. They provide real insight into students’ work habits.” – Jeff Rothstein, Sociology


Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally was put into production and made available to all students, faculty, and staff on June 21. Ally was adopted at GVSU to increase awareness of the importance of accessibility and ADA compliance, build the capacity of faculty in creating accessible content, and to offer greater insight at the institutional level.

Ally connects to the GVSU 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.

Inclusiveness/Access – Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.  Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.

Since June 11, and overall, 107 faculty have fixed 406 files in 129 courses and students have downloaded 2862 alternative formats from 786 courses. Usage stats of Ally as of August 27 (semester start) to October 18, 2018 include the following:

Graphs of Total Courses (3,672), Total Content (160,344), and Overall Accessibility Score (62%) from Blackboard Ally

Since deploying Blackboard Ally, the Overall Accessibility Score reported by the institutional dashboard shows an increase of 16 percentage points.

Graph showing Blackboard Ally accessibility score increasing with 62%, up from 46% the previous semester.

For courses in the Fall 2018 (since August 27) semester:

  • 3,724 courses include content
  • There have been over 209,000 total content items created and scanned by Ally
  • 62% is the “Overall Accessibility Score” (58% without Ally) indicating improvements made through Ally’s alternative formats.
  • Top 3 most common accessibility concerns include:
    • Contrast Issues
    • Missing Document Headers
    • Images without Alternative Descriptions
  • Most severe accessibility concern:
    • Non-OCRed Documents
  • Training sessions: 1 session in Spring included UDL, 2 in Fall with additional support offered to faculty in Drop-Ins, eLearning Open Office Hours, Big Byte and Faculty Learning Communities as well as individual consultations
  • 125 files have been manually fixed by faculty in 38 courses
  • The most popular alternative format is PDF, followed by HTML

Graph of the numbers of access of alternative file types showing 1,584 accessed of PDF files, 959 accesses of HTML, 111 accesses of ePub, 108 accesses of OCR PDFs, 69 accesses of audio, and 5 of braille.

Overall, from June 11 until October 2, in Blackboard Ally:

  • 406 files have been fixed by 107 faculty in 129 courses
  • 2,862 alternative files have been downloaded by students in 786 courses (5,205 total views of the alternative file format screen)
  • 1,000 courses have 2,558 registered clicks of Ally dials by faculty

In addition, Jeff Sykes, Assistive Technology Coordinator in  Disability Support Resources, has demonstrated how to access alternate formats in Blackboard while meeting with students who use alternate format books. In the Fall 2018 semester, 40 students are using alternative format books as an accommodation.  The “Ally feature is benefiting any of those students who have a course that uses inaccessible documents posted to Blackboard.”

“Ally documents evidence of my efforts as faculty to make my teaching more accessible.

Through incremental changes Ally guides me step by step to adjust course files.  As I’m learning how to use Word better, all other file formats are generated in my course automatically.

Ally uses gamification to indicate my progress in making files student-friendly.  Getting to 100% is an emotional rush!”

– Szymon Machajewski, CIS Affiliate Professor, teaching CIS150 in the School of Computing and Information Systems and recipient of the Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States.

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