CIRT News is published 
four times a year by  the 
Center for Instruction 
and Research Technology 
at  the  University of North  Florida. 

To view past 
current events,  and more, visit  

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Featured Faculty Member: Dr. TJ Mullen

Dr. TJ Mullen in the Department of Chemistry recently worked with CIRT to fabricate a custom tool for his research lab. His interests are in creating complex surface structures with molecular-scale organization and chemical functionality for applications ranging from bioactive surfaces to nanoelectronics. The goal of Mullen's research program is to fabricate complex mesoscale surface architectures economically.

The Molecular-Ruler process is a chemical patterning technique used in biosensor arrays and nano/molecular electronics that relies upon the assembly of metal-ligated multilayers. This assembly is a resource intensive process, requiring several days of manual dipping and rinsing to complete. Completing the required sampling by hand is tedious and inefficient.  

Mullen developed plans for a robotic dipper by modifying plans found online for a camera slider, which had a similar pattern of movement. The robot dipper is composed of several components including an arm with a blade on its end for dipping, a housing for the circuitry, and an Arduino control board. He worked with CIRT to 3D print the belt guide and leg, and the housing which was then assembled with the other components. After printing several prototypes, with refinement between each, Mullen had a functioning tool that facilitated his research project. The Robot Dipper minimizes the amount of bench time required to assemble multilayers and produces the necessary quality for the research. Additionally, by using a robot dipper, Mullen and his undergraduate research students have been able to overcome a challenge with cross-contamination common to the former manual process.

Mullen's work was supported by the National Science Foundation and is in collaboration with Dr. Daniel Santavicca (UNF Physics) and Dr. Corey Cause (UNF Chemistry).

Click here to watch the robotic dipper in action.

If your work could benefit from a custom built tool with 3D printed parts, stop by to talk with us.


 Director's Message:  2016-2017 
Key Issues in Teaching and Learning
Deb Miller, Director

The Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) is a community of higher education  institutions  and o rganizations committed to the advancement of learning  through the  innovat ive application of tec hnology.  Each year, as part of its 7 Things You Should Know About...  series, it publishes a conc ise briefing on the current status of key issues in teaching and learning identified in the annual ELI survey. I thought th a t t he mos t recent edition would be of interest to faculty, so I'll highlight some of those key issues here.

Briefing Author
Big Idea
Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost, Virginia Commonwealth University
The question isn't how higher ed must change, but rather whether it should change.
Norm Vaughan, Professor, Mount Royal University
Faculty working together in communities of inquiry focused on the scholarship of teaching and learning can more easily meet the dual demands of teaching and research.
Frédéric Fovet, Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island

Universal Design has become a framework for curriculum design that provides inclusive access to a diverse population of students.
Shirley Dugdale, Dugdale Strategy LLC
The focus is on creating spaces that accommodate multiple activities and support active learning. Research on the effectiveness of learning space design is increasing.

You can view the full report briefing here. I also encourage you to explore ELI's other resources , which cover topics as varied as Robot Writers, Personalized Learning, and  Visual Literacy. You only need to create a free account to access these, as UNF is an ELI member.

The 2017 Key Issues in Teaching and Learning will be  debuted at the  ELI Annual Meeting , February 13-15 in Houston, TX.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these issues.
 Upcoming Events
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

CANVAS 1 01*
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
 Digital Thinking:Copyright Resources  for Faculty
David Wilson, Assistant Director

I assist many faculty with preparing media, typically digital video or audio files, for their LMS courses. Copyright and Fair Use are topics that come up frequently. This article will provide some suggestions and tools that may help you as you are adding media to your courses.

The most important thing to know is that we are here to help. Stephanie Weiss, the Online Learning Librarian is available to answer any questions you have about using materials in your course and copyright. She can also help you find materials to use in your courses that are already in a digital format and ready to use. The Library has video databases that include many videos covering a number of academic disciplines that are already licensed for use and can be easily linked from your course. If the media is not available through the Library it may be available for purchase or rental in digital format. Amazon, YouTube, and iTunes all have large digital video collections. Most full-length movies can be rented for under $10 or purchased for under $20. 

If you are unable to find already published digital versions of the media you would like to use, the American Library Association (ALA)  Copyright Advisory Network (CAN) is sharing a series of easy-to-use interactive tools that can help you decide if you should digitize a work, or a portion of a work, to include in your course. 

  • The Copyright Genie can help you determine if the media you are interested in using is covered by U.S. copyright, and will generate a PDF report for your records.
  • The Exceptions for Instructors eTool "guides users through the educational exceptions in U.S. copyright law, helping to explain and clarify rights and responsibilities for the performance and display of copyrighted content in traditional, distance and blended educational models."
  • The Fair Use Evaluator will "help you better understand how to determine the 'fairness' of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code." Like the Copyright Genie, it will also generate a PDF report for your records.
  • The Public Domain slider "is a tool to help determine the copyright status of a work that is first published in the United States."

These tools will help you with decisions about what media to include in your courses. If you determine that you are not able to make a digital copy of a piece of media, I still recommend that you contact Stephanie. She may be able to help to find a digital version available at no or little cost to your student, or help you request permission to digitize and use the media in your course, or find an alternative that would be just as effective. 

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at 

 Best Practices Online: Implementing E-Journals into Your Course 
Jamie Chaires, Instructional Designer

Electronic journaling, or e-journaling, enhances traditional face-to-face classrooms and distance learning courses by providing an effective means of active learning through a process of questioning, reflection, and prompt feedback from others. Journaling has been found to be a valuable strategy for checking students' understanding of core concepts, promoting reflection on the connections between theory and practice, enhancing insight, and promoting critical thinking, as well as encouraging interaction between students and faculty, increasing time on task, and respecting diverse talents and ways of learning (King & LaRocco, 2006). Many of the downsides of traditional journaling, paper journals that are collected by the instructor to be graded, are overcome or improved upon with the added use of technology. The cumbersome task of collecting, carrying, and distributing the journals, trying to read students (and instructors) handwriting, and the absence of the journals being used during the time they are collected are eliminated with the use of e-journaling. Electronic submission also provides opportunity for more timely feedback to students. 

When implementing e-journals into a course, students will need detailed directions with the instructor's expectations clearly defined. Inform students of the type of journal being requested, the number of entries required, the minimum length of entries, and the criteria for grading submissions. When considering journal writing in the academics with the goal of improving critical thinking skills, Phipps (2005) describes the following types of reflective writing as the most powerful tools:
  • Professional journals: record the growth and development of the author in his or her specific field of study
  • Interactive reading logs: provide an opportunity for recording reactions to materials being read as the learner progress through a book or article; can include imaginary conversations with the author of the material being read, even questioning the ideas presented. 
  • Theory logs: compel students to examine and interpret theoretical concepts and significant points, restating them in their own words and then recording how they are applied in practice. 

Instructors may also give students choices as to how they will submit their 
e-journals.  Canvas allows for different types of file submissions including a simple text entry box, file upload, or video/audio recordings. There are multiple ways to set up  e-journals within the Canvas  as signments tool. Two templat es have been created by the ID team in CIRT and shared in the Canvas Commo ns for download. One te mplate is designed for a recurring journal that allows for multiple submissions to the same assignmen t and communication between the instructor and student in one location. This  technique allows for a more seamless view of past and present journal entries and only creates one column in the  grade  book. In the other template, students will only submit once to the journal assignment, requiring the creat ion o f separate assignments for each journal entry but allowing for unique instructions and  additional columns in the grade book. Sample grading rubrics have also been included with these journ al templates. For help gaining access to these templates, contact an instructional designer in CIRT.    Whether the instructor should assess students' journals is debatable. Brookfield (1995) suggested that  journal entries should not be assessed, but that awarding credit for completion would suffice.

However, even if not assessing the quality of the writing, it is imperative to read the students' entries and m ake comments, otherwise, students will feel their writing is not valued and view the process as unimportant (Phipps, 2005). Prompt feedback also helps to establish a relationship between the instructor and a student, increasing student learning and satisfaction in the course. 

For more ideas on e-journals in Canvas, check out these links: 

You may also be able to find an existing journal assignments in Canvas Commons that you can import into your course.

Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

King, F. B., & LaRocco, D. J. (2006). E-Journaling: A Strategy to Support Student Reflection and Understanding. Current Issues in Education,9(4).

Phipps, J. J. (2005). E-Journaling: Achieving Interactive Education Online. Educause Quarterly, 62-65. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from
 Canvas News
Ross Bell, Assistant Director of Online Learning Support

Welcome to the start of a new year!  By now, I hope you have familiarized yourself
with Canvas; for many, the Spring 2017 is your first time teaching with Canvas. We are offering several Canvas workshops this spring, see our Events page for details. We're also always happy to meet with faculty individually.  

If Summer 2017 will be the first time you are teaching in Canvas, we recommen d attending a  Canvas 101 training.  If you wish to transfer content from a Blackboard course, visit our  Canv as Transition Website   for information on how to migrate your Blackboard content to Canvas. You can migrate it yourself, or we will migrate it for you.   

We also recommend that you bookmark the UNF Canvas Knowledge Base , and subscribe
to its News Feed

CANVAS APPS  Canvas Apps are external tools that allow faculty to integrate 3rd party tools and services into their Canvas courses.  For more information, and a full list of available apps, visit our  Canvas Apps page.  The list is continuously growing, so be sure to check it regularly.  If there is an app you would like to see added please read the How to Request an External App article which details the process. 

JOURNALS IN CANVAS  Canvas does not have a dedicated Journaling tool, but there are multiple ways that instructors can create journal assignments in their courses. See Jamie's article on eJournals in this newsletter, or read our Blog, Journal, and Wiki Assignments in Canvas article for more information.

BLACKBOARD  Blackboard will be retired on May 31st and we will no longer be able to access any course information after that date.  Stay tuned to the Canvas Transition Update emails for more information about backing up course records and content, if needed. 

For any Canvas or Blackboard questions, contact CIRT at 620-3927 or .

 New in CIRT: Jessica Harden

Please join us in welcoming Jessica Harden to CIRT as a member of the Creative Team. Jessica graduated with her Bachelors in Anthropology and Political Science in Fall 2015 from the University of North Florida. She won her first film festival at age 11 and continues to be passionate about storytelling through film. As a UNF student, she worked as a reporter and copy editor for the Spinnaker. 

This is a publication of the
at the University of North Florida.

Deb Miller, Editor

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