Instructional Design Center
Fall 2020

Welcome to this semester’s edition of Teaching with Technology, a newsletter from the Instructional Design Center. Here you will find the latest technology-related news and resources at Ramapo College. Each newsletter also features a profile on a faculty member using technology in innovative ways. This edition features Ben Neill, Professor of Music.

Faculty Development Day — October 21

Join us for Faculty Development, co-sponsored by the Instructional Design Center and the Faculty Resource Center, on Wednesday, October 21 from 1-4:30 p.m. All workshops will be virtual. To view workshop descriptions, and register for sessions, click on the links below, or visit the IDC or FRC web sites to view all the latest updates. We hope to see you there!


1 -1:55 p.m.

Option A: TBA

Option B: Webex Meetings: Breakout Sessions

2 -2:55 p.m.

Option A: TBA

Option B: Canvas/Webex Integration

3 -3:45 p.m.

Option A: TBA

Option B: Webex Events

3:45 -4:30 p.m.

Option A: Managing Faculty Stress During COVID19

Option B: Webex Teams

Faculty Profile: Ben Neill

Professor Ben Neill has had a distinguished career as an educator, performer, composer, and even inventor. With an interest in electronic music from early in his musical life, Professor Neill collaborated with Robert Moog, inventor of the first music synthesizer. The result was the Mutantrumpet, an electro-acoustic instrument that uses digital technology to enhance the sound and features of a traditional brass trumpet. Now in its fourth iteration, the Mutantrumpet has become an internationally recognized innovation in music technology. Video: Professor Ben Neill demonstrates his invention, the Mutantrumpet

Professor Neill is as exploratory in the classroom as he is with his music. When he first joined the Ramapo faculty in 2008, he began teaching the course Music Online for music majors and non-musicians alike. He discovered interactive online tools to help his students collaborate and improvise together. He also learned the virtue of patience when it comes to instructional technology. Professor Neill says, “Even though I have a lot of experience with technology, it still takes time to implement and troubleshoot. However, the results can definitely be worth it.”

Like all faculty members this semester, Professor Neill misses the opportunity to work with his students in person and the experience of interacting in a physical classroom. On the other hand, he recognizes some powerful opportunities with virtual learning. For example, he has noticed that students seem more comfortable expressing themselves in online discussion forums than raising their hand and volunteering in class. He also feels that he can get to know his students better through the personalized approach that he has developed for his virtual classes.

Since implementing Canvas in his courses last Spring, Professor Neill has harnessed the LMS in innovative ways, which other faculty can model. With Canvas Discussions, for instance, he creates a separate group for each student so that he can conduct private conversations with individuals about their work on a given topic or project. In this manner, the student treats the Discussion like a personal online journal, a dynamic tool for student expression and instructor feedback. He also employs the Peer Review tools in Canvas Assignments so that students can experience each other’s work and provide constructive feedback. Finally, Professor Neill is exploring the different apps that can be integrated into Canvas. He is particularly excited about FeedbackFruits, which enables instructors to embed discussion topics and reflection questions into videos, music, recorded lectures, and other media.

Professor Neill has some advice for successful implementation of the virtual classroom:

    1. Have a dedicated space. Create a space in your home that is ready to go for virtual instruction. That way you are always set up with your background, connections, and settings.
    2. Mix it up. Vary the kinds of activities and resources that you employ each week in a virtual class. This keeps students engaged and constantly exploring new ways of learning and communicating.
    3. Gamify your class. Look for resources that enable students to become more active in the learning experience. Our students are very immersed in digital technologies; if we can find ways to help them grow through technology, they will become better learners.

We look forward to learning more from Profesor Neill as he explores the realms of technology in his music and teaching.

Bitz’s Bytes

Quick tips and tricks for Canvas

Hiding Your Grades Until All the Students Have Been Graded

How to Get Your Web Links to Open in a New Tab

How to Add a Webex Recording to Canvas

How to Have Rubric Scores Added Automatically

How to Have Students Submit a Paper and Weblink

Webex Best Practices

Here are some best practice recommendations for a successful meeting experience:

  • Choose voice over video
    • Keeping your camera on is a best practice. However, if you have internet connectivity issues, focus on maintaining a good audio and sharing experience first.  Turn your video off by clicking the camera icon. Adding a photo to your profile provides an alternative visual.
    • If you are experiencing audio problems, you can access the meeting audio from a telephone. However, “Call Using Computer” uses the internet connection and can take up bandwidth. Instead, use the “I Will Call In” option to dial into the meeting from a cellular or landline phone.
  • WiFi
    • Use a wired ethernet connection for the fastest connection.
    • Move closer to the WiFi access point in your home for a stronger connection.
    • For weak WiFi connection: Lower your video quality or turn off your web camera. Also, share your content before the meeting begins.
    • For no Wifi connection: Use the direct dial numbers for your meeting, which you can find in the invite.
  • Close unnecessary applications
    • Audio and video compete for the same resources and under pressure will impact the quality of your collaboration experience. Webex Meetings has health indicators at the top right-hand corner (on latest versions of Webex).
  • Webex can run outside of VPN
    • Turning off VPN for Webex can lead to a better experience for audio, video, and sharing.
  • Keep yourself on Mute
    • If you are not the presenter, keep yourself on mute to avoid unnecessary background noise from interrupting the meeting.

New Webex Room Kits in Campus Classrooms

While most courses are running virtually this semester, there are some hybrid courses with an on-campus schedule. These classrooms are now equipped with Webex Room Kits which enable instructors to simultaneously teach students in the physical classroom as well as those attending virtually through Webex. As a prime example, the Nursing Program is using this technology with dynamic results. Joan Richards, Director of the Director Nursing Simulation Laboratory, says, “With our simulation classes, we use two roles – active role (participant) and observer role (participant). With this technology we can now provide an incredibly clear, panoramic view captured on the screen and it really brings the observer right into the lab and to the ‘patient’ bedside, unlike what we are able to capture with our current video system, SimView. It reminds me of being at an IMAX movie….almost.”

IDC Virtual Drop-in Office Hours

Log on with specific instructional technology questions or concerns, and we will help you problem solve. Please note that all technology related questions should go through the Help Desk,

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday: 2 – 4 p.m.

Access Virtual Office Hours Link:

IDC Virtual Workshops

Be sure to check out all of the great workshops offered by IDC this semester. Upcoming workshop topics include OER and Canvas Commons, Turnitin Assignments, Webex (basic and advanced), Cybersecurity Awareness, and Google Docs. To view the workshop schedule and register, visit our training web site. Upon registration you will receive an email with the Webex meeting information needed to join the workshop.

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