Category Archives: How-to

Canvas Tips & Tricks – Series 3

To help you maximize the new features in Canvas, the Instructional Consulting office will post a series of Canvas Tips & Tricks. These tips are to help you make use of all the great features of Canvas.

Tip 1: Echo360 Video Tool

Echo360 is the lecture capture and personal capture tool. Echo360 captures audio, video, and computer content in classrooms or on personal computers, and distributes that content on the web or via direct download links.

Using Echo360 instructors can record their lecture and/or slides. It also provides a simple video editing tool. In addition, Echo360 offers a variety of analysis tools. functions. Students and instructors can have a direct access to Echo360 recordings from within Canvas.

Echo360 Video Capture at Indiana University

Echo360 Video Capture at Indiana University

Any user with an IU account can log into Echo360 to view recordings provided by instructors. To request an Echo360 Classroom Capture recording of a class you teach, fill out and submit the Request a Classroom Lecture Recording form

For more information on how to use Echo360, see the Echo360 Guide

Tip 2: Scheduler Tool

Scheduler is part of the calendar and allows you to create appointment groups (collection of individual appointments) that students can sign up for.

To access the Scheduler tool, open Calendar in global navigation.

Global Navigation Menu

Global Navigation Menu

Open Scheduler by clicking on ‘Scheduler’

Open Scheduler

Open Scheduler

Create an Appointment Group using the button on the right side of the screen.

Create an appointment group

Create an appointment group

Edit Appointment Group by adding information for your appointments.

Edit Appointment Group

Edit Appointment Group

For more information on how to use Scheduler, see the Canvas Scheduler Guide.

Tip 3: Anonymous Polling

An ungraded survey allows you to get opinions or other information from your students. You can use ungraded surveys for anonymous polling.

Ungraded Quiz can be used as an anonymous survey tool

An ungraded quiz can be used as an anonymous survey tool

For more information on how to use Quiz tool for survey, see the Canvas Survey Guide.


There is a (portable) app for that!

Heading off to teach and not sure whether particular software is installed on the classroom computer? Tired of going to a conference and lumbering your laptop through airport security? How about plugging in your USB flash drive and having your software, bookmarks, and settings available to you!

Using a computer on which you do not have administrative access to install software can lead to situations where particular programs are unavailable to you and certain files don’t work (e.g., video, audio). Both circumstances can be frustrating when standing in front of an audience and result in significant scrambling on your part. But now there is a simple and free way to bring along your favorite computer programs with all of your bookmarks, settings, email as well as a range of popular programs. Portable apps allow you to install and run programs directly from a storage device, such as an USB flash drive or an iPod. This way, you do not have to install any software on the computer and, moreover, do not leave any personal data behind.

What is it? How does it work?
Portable apps (short for applications) are open source programs that can be installed and run on portable storage devices; therefore, avoiding the necessity to install software on the actual computer. This is particularly helpful when you need to work with many machines and you do not have permission to make permanent changes to a desktop’s configuration (e.g., teaching in different university classrooms). All one needs to do before entering the classroom is to download and install the app using a computer where one has administrative rights.

What is it not?
Be careful not to confuse portable apps with apps distributed by Apple or Android for their respective mobile devices. Although similar in concept, portable apps do not need to be installed on devices that house their own processing power (e.g., smart phones, iPads). Instead portable apps can run on so-capped dumb devices, such as storage drives. Furthermore, portable apps are free and open source for anyone to download.

What apps are available? currently lists more than 100 apps including popular software such as Skype, VLC Multimedia Player, or Open Office. On the website, one can find apps listed in categories such as accessibility, development, education, games, music & video, Internet, and more. Unfortunately, these apps can currently be used only on Windows machines.

Where to find more info?
For a list and description of available apps visit (  or feel free to visit the Office of Instructional Consulting (

The semester is over! What now?

moving box

Archiving your Course

The final exams are scored, papers are graded, and you are ready to enjoy your well-earned break…

Well, before you head out, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you will have to return and teach the same or a similar course again. Considering the time you spent developing the class, it might be a shame to let all your work be forgotten by shelving it in some place that nobody knows about. Instead, think about archiving the course.

If you think there is even the slightest chance that you might teach the course again, the archived version provides ideas and resources for any future installment. Instead of starting from scratch, one has something that is already developed and potentially reusable. Additionally, many universities are now making teaching portfolios a critical component of degree program or tenure requirements. So, why not take a course that is already finished, spend a little time polishing it, and—voilà—completing a significant chunk of a teaching portfolio! Also, if the course is important for accreditation, documenting any experiences now can prevent potential headaches when it is time to assemble a report. Finally, although you might not be teaching the course again, be a good colleague and offer your course materials and any respective insights to the next instructors. People will remember good deeds when you need to call in a favor!

So, instead of “set it and forget it,” here are a few steps that you can do NOW with your course (including potential technologies):

1. Save it!

Review the course resources (e.g., readings, assignments, video clips, tests) and save any electronic files in a permanent storage location (e.g., server, hard drive). Although Course Management Systems (CMS), such as Oncourse, generally keep courses accessible for longer than the duration of the semester, this doesn’t mean resources   are kept for an eternity. When saving course materials, make sure you have access to the files and organize them for easy management in the future.

If you use public websites (e.g., WordPress) for your course, you might want to consider whether you want to make them private now that the semester is over.

Potential Technologies:

  • For files: Portable hard drive, server, CMS, Oncourse Practice Site
  • For URLs: delicious, diigo, Endnote

2. Document your experiences!

When archiving your course, it is a good idea to note your experiences while teaching this course. What worked? What didn’t work? How did students react to various lessons and activities? This kind of reflection is extremely valuable when re-designing a class, but it is hard to remember at a later point in time. Whether you take a few minutes to scribble down notes or compose a full-fledged journal, document your memories.

Potential Technologies:

  • Text editors:      MS Word, Open Office, Google Docs
  • For URLs:             delicious, diigo, Endnote (allow to add notes to URLs)

3. Ask students for permission!

Are you thinking about using your course as part of a teaching portfolio? In order to demonstrate learning among your students, student artifacts are a powerful and helpful resource (especially when combining them with any feedback you provided during the course). Whenever sharing those artifacts with outsiders, ask students for their written permission to address any privacy concerns.

Potential Technologies:

  • Email
  • Signed note

4. Schedule time for updates!

In your course, some topics might require more updating than others. And even if you don’t need to update the content, there are still areas in your course where you might want to adjust or try something else. While memories are still fresh in your mind, schedule some time to explore new ideas, such as courses from other universities. Look for new inspiration while you can, because the next semester (and its commitments) is already looming on the horizon.

Potential Technologies:

  • University courses:         MIT Opencourseware, Open Yale
  • Resources:                          Open Educational Resources (OER), National Repository of Online Courses (NORC), Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT)

For more information and possibilities on archiving and updating your course, check out Dr. Bonk’s video on Ending & Archiving Online Courses or visit the Office of Instructional Consulting.

Screencasting Software Recommendations

Have you wondered how you can effectively demonstrate a certain procedure performed on a computer to your students instead of explaining via textual directions? How about recording your comments about a student’s work as you grade his/ her assignment, especially for an online course? All this and more can be done through screencasting or video screen capture, which is a digital recording of the activities on your computer screen in various software such as Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, and etc.

Screencasts are especially useful teaching tools that can be utilized in many ways such as:

  • presenting video lectures along with narration;
  • demonstrating how a certain task is performed using specific software;
  • teaching how to use computers or a specific software;
  • providing student visual and narrated feedback on assignments or projects (a useful and eff ective method of feedback for online courses).

There is a range of screencasting software available in the market and online capable of various levels of screencasting. Some of these are more useful than others with regards to functionality and being user-friendly. In this post, we recommend and provide a brief review of 4 screencasting softaware we have found most useful for educational use for our IU faculty and students: CamStudio, ScreenToaster, and Screencast-O-Matic, and Adobe Captivate. Of course, these are only four of many good screencasting software and are selected based on their flexibility in system compatibility, functionality and cost.

Screen Toaster is a free web-based program that allows you to capture your computer screen including audio and webcam images in real time. It also allows you to share videos online with other users. It is compatible with Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS, and Linux and can run on Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera 9, and Safari. While there are no limitations in duration of the screencasts, ScreenToaster recommends the size of the recordings to be 20MB maximum for “optimized performance”. You have the option to download your recordings in MOV and SWF formats and in the beta version, you have the option for download in MP4 format after publishing. The positive aspect of it being a web-based product is that there is no need for download and if you are using small portable notebooks with lower memory, this would be an ideal way to create a screencast. However, the site requires you to register to use the product and you need Internet access. Outside of these shortcomings, it is a great venue to create presentations, tutorials, and videos to share and embed in blogs, webpages, or simple email. For more information about this product, go to: or visit our Quick Tip.

Screencast-O-Matic is another free web-based video recording software that allows you to create screencasts of various activities on your desktop from full-screen to specific regions. You have the ability to record audio and add notes to your screencast at different times. It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7, Mas OS X , and Ubuntu and can run on Firefox and Safari. There is no need for installation and you can screencast up to 15 minutes and host your recording on SOM, YouTube or export it to flash, quicktime, or windows media.  One of the nicer features about this product is that it also allows you to export your screencast to as an MP4 to iMovie or as AVI to Windows Movie Maker. If you need to create a longer recording, you have the option to upgrade to a Pro account for a small fee to record up to 1 hour of recording. Check out their website for more detail on this product

According to the creators of CamStudio, this software is capable of recording all screen and audio activities on the computer and creating “industry-standard AVI video files and using its built-in SWF Producer can turn those AVIs into lean, mean, bandwidth-friendly Streaming Flash videos (SWFs).” There is no limitation on the length of recording. Like the above-mentioned software, CamStudio is free. However, unlike Screen Toaster and Screncast-O-Matic, it is not a web-based software so you can download it and uses it without Internet connection; however, it is only compatible with Windows operating systems. There are extra features such as the option of adding high-quality, anti-aliased screen captions to make your video and audio smoother and crisp. With CamStudio you have control over output of your video with regards to size and quality for emailing, burning onto CD/DVD, and posting on the web. Another nice feature about CamStudio is the Lossless Codec that produces clear results with smaller file sizes. Lossless Codec is released under GPL; there are no royalties to pay but if you intend to use the product for commercial purposes, there are some details on the licensure. You can go to for more information about this product.

Finally, the most recommended software for IU faculty and students to use for high quality multimedia video and screencasting as well as other productions is Adobe Captivate 5. Commercially priced $799, Adobe Captivate along with other Adobe products, are available for free download to IU students and faculty and for a small fee on a CD. Like CamStudio, Adobe Captivate needs to be installed on your computer and registered.

Adobe Captivate 5 is said to be the “godfather” of all screencasting programs in its ability to easily create interactive presentations with multiple screen recording options, extremely powerful editing capabilities and full integration with other Adobe suit products. It is important to note that Adobe Activate does not actually record the screen but the activities on your screen. It is a great post-production product with a PowerPoint plug-in that allows you to interact with the recording and edit it in many ways. According to Adobe, this product “is not a quick and dirty screencasting program, its intention is to create best-in-class multimedia video and e-learning experiences and it does that very well.” For more information visit and to download the software from IU, go to IUware website

Happy screencasting!

Sony DCR-SX60: Importing & Editing – what works and what doesn’t…

Recently, the School of Education purchased the Sony DCR-SX60 camcorder for faculty to use in their instruction. As we have seen increased popularity of this product, we have noted several ways that allow for successful importing and editing of footage. Please take the time to review the summary of our findings by operating system:

MAC 10.6 Snow Leopard:

  • camcorder saves video as mpg (mpg2)
  • mounts as USB drive and one can drag/copy mpg video directly off of camcorder onto a computer; however, when using this method the video will not play using Quicktime 10 or 7, but VLC will successfully play the video.

iMovie 08 & 09:

  • recognizes camcorder for importing video directly from camera.  During import, it converts it to .mov files and stores it in the iMove events folder.
  • video editing and sharing all worked fine, and the resulting .m4v video plays in everything on Mac.

iMovie HD6:

  • will not recognize the camcorder, and fails to import mpg videos that were directly copied on to the hard drive from the camcorder. If one really wants to use iMovie HD6, the solution would be to import-export the video through iMovie 09!


PC Windows Vista:

  • camcorder saves video as mpg (mpg2)
  • mounts as USB drive and one can drag/copy mpg video directly off of camcorder onto a computer; plays in VLC and in Windows Media Player (might require additional codec)

Windows Movie Maker:

  • editing with Windows Movie Maker:  Does not import correctly into Movie Maker (audio only)
  • camera Import with Movie Maker:  Movie Maker does not recognize the camcorder for importing!
  • Note: to edit with Windows Movie Maker, use a converter (like Any Video Converter) to convert mpg2 to avi and then work from the .avi file.

Sony Vegas Movie Studio 8:

  • editing and playing worked well in Sony Vegas, Vegas successfully imports and edits the mpg2 files from the drag & drop method.
  • camcorder import with Sony Vegas Studio:  Vegas will not recognize the Camcorder for importing! To import, drag/copy mpg video directly off of camcorder onto computer before importing to Sony Vegas.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8:

  • plays and imports successfully with Premiere Elements 8!

For a step-by-step video tutorial on how to import files from the Sony DCR-SX60 on a Mac, check out our IC Quicktip. If you like check out the Sony DCR-SX60 or additional equipment for instructional use at Indiana University, go to the SoE Instructional Technology Equipment Loan website.

Store and share any file with Google Docs…

Are you Google Docs Upload buttonworking on multiple computers and tired of hauling an external hard drive with all your files? Looking for a way to easily share your files with other users?

Recently, Google Docs ( added the new feature to upload and store your files online either for your own backup or to share with other people. In addition to collaborating on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with multiple users, one can now use Google Docs as a regular file storage system similar to external hard drive or flash drive. Moreover, one can now easily share these files with other users.

One can upload any type of files (e.g., PDF, mp4, mp3, ppt) as long as a file size is less than 100MB. Overall, the free version of Google Docs limits users to a storage quota of 1 GB but additional space can be bought for $0.25/GB.

While you can simply upload and store file in Google Docs, users can also choose to convert some filetypes (e.g., word, powerpoint, excel) to Google Docs format for later online editing. For details on file formats and sizes that can be converted, click here (

To upload a file, simply click on the Upload button on the Docs list homepage (see image).

Potential Use:

This might be an alternative to Oncourse Resources to store and share files with a group of people (e.g., students).

Screen Sharing using Skype

screensharingThe latest version of the video conferencing software Skype (4.1 for Windows, 2.8 for Mac) gives users the ability to share their screens remotely – and for free! Although audio and video are great for communication, they are often insufficient to explain step-by-step procedures, such as inserting a video into PowerPoint 2007. Skype’s new feature allows users to share their desktops instead of using their webcams while continue to talk.

Potential applications for this new feature could be: demonstrating procedures, presenting documents, sharing videos, trouble shooting, etc.  

How to share your screen

Simply call a contact and click Share –> Share Your Screen in the IM toolbar (Windows) or Share –> Share Screen (Mac). If desired, one can either share the complete desktop or just a selection.

For more information, visit