Link a Google Doc in Blackboard

PROBLEM: Every time you make a change to a syllabus you have to delete the old syllabus in Blackboard and upload the newest version into every section.  This is very time consuming.

SOLUTION: Convert a course syllabus to a Google Doc, link to it in Blackboard.   When a Google Doc is edited it shows your changes in real time.  If you make changes to the Google Doc, it shows updates immediately wherever it is linked.

 Example: Your course syllabus is a Google Doc and you have it linked to 3 course sections in Blackboard.  When you make changes to the Google Doc (the syllabus), it is also updating in your 3 course sections all at once.


Step 1: Open your Google Docs
Step 2: Convert your syllabus to a Google Doc
Step 3: Get the URL for your Google Doc
Step 4: Create a link to your Google Doc URL in your Blackboard course
Step 5: Happy instructor :)

There will be workshop on this topic in September. Be on the lookout. Feel free to call me with any questions at ext. 7038.

Quick and easy – word clouds

Seen these around?  They’re word clouds and have been circulating digitally and in print over the past few years. What appears to be a technical and time consuming task is more easy than you think (like paste a bunch of words in a text box and click the word “Go” kind of easy).

Wordle’s one downfall – – You can’t “save” your word cloud as an image.  Once it’s generated, you  have the option to print it or add it to Wordle’s gallery.
BUT, here’s the “workaround” …take a screenshot of your wordle (using either your PrtScn key or Snagit

Try it! at


2 birds with 1 stone

“If you can both listen to (students) and accept their answers not as things to only be judged right or wrong but as pieces of information which may reveal what the (student) is thinking, you will have taken a giant step toward becoming a master teacher, rather than merely a disseminator of information.” -Easley & Zwoyer, 1975

Two of the biggest buzzwords in education: Assessment and Engagement.

We have a tendency to associate the term “assessment” with “tests”. But, it is sooooo much more. If I were to define assessment in layman terms, I would describe is as “putting your feelers out”.  While in the midst of a lesson have you ever thought to yourself, “They just aren’t getting it”? Think back to that moment. How did you know your students weren’t “getting it”? Believe it or not, the “how” in this situation is a type of assessment, properly known as Formative Assessment.

Feedback is the heart of formative assessment.  When we, the educator, are conducting a formative assessment we are ultimately asking for feedback from the student. Student feedback provides us with information to gauge where our students are in the moment versus where we want them to be.  Feedback is essential, it allows us to tweak, modify, or change our pace to ensure student success and understanding. Now– hold that thought.

Our students want to play an active role in their education.  They do not want to be passive learners, commonly called the “sit-n-get” approach.  Engaging the learners is more than being a great lecturer; the students need to interact on their level and in a way which is meaningful to them.

Making a connection

Begin every class session with a question.  Introduce your topic by polling the class on the lesson topic before the lesson. It encourages active participation from your students.  It turns the lights on inside their heads.  They are ready.  You now know where they stand.  

Make every student a participant. This where engaging the learner comes into play and can be as easy as having every student raise their hand. Better yet, put a device in their hand.

  • Clickers have made a successful debut onto higher ed campuses over the last few years.  Students can respond in a variety of formats from multiple choice to open-ended.
  • A free web application, Poll Everywhere allows student to respond to questions mobile devices and tablets into the clickers.  Students can respond with their cell phones!

Respond to their responses. You’ve asked the question and gathered the information. You know where the students stand, you have their attention. What are you going to do about it? Take this opportunity to bring in a connection from the previous lesson, start a discussion, start over, move ahead!  Their responses can now guide you in a direction that best fits the needs of your learners.

Articles on Formative Assessment and Engagement

Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and 7 principles of good feedback practice

Techniques to engage the online learner

The value of formative assessment in higher education

Clickers and Peer Instruction: A powerful way to improve student engagement and learning-but only if you do it right


Did you know…we have a website?

Yes, it’s true. CFCC has its own Instructional Technology website. This website provides faculty and staff with tons of resources for technology based-applications.


  • Workshop schedule (they are all free!)
  • Registration page for workshops
  • Do-It-Yourself Resources page that provides handouts, material, or tutorials for all Instructional Technology workshops offered here at CFCC.  If you can’t make a particular workshop and would love to learn more about it, this is the perfect place to go.
  • Web tools and applications for learning.  These tools range from online note-taking applications to creating accessible multimedia for your courses.
  • Equipment available for checkout to faculty and staff.

This is all for YOU! The Instructional Technology Unit was created to provide support and resources for the faculty/staff. We want to effectively and creatively use technology both in  instruction and the workplace at CFCC.

If you don’t know where or how to get started, have questions, need suggestions… please contact me! That is what I’m here for!

Bethanne Winzeler
phone extension: 7038