Course Overview – AMS 3316.0W1 with Dr. Lynn Winstead

Our post this week comes from Dr. Lynn Winstead, a lecturer at UTD’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Her online course AMS 3316.0W1 explores interpersonal communication, which she explains below.

“Interpersonal communication is about the lost art of communicating between individuals, in this day of virtual everything. AMS 3316 focuses on relationships, and some of the intricate communication dynamics in different types of relationships. This course is designed to examine different communication situations and different ways of communicating on different levels and in varying types of relationships. Students learn about these interpersonal communication issues through video lectures, assigned readings, film/video screenings and writing assignments.  The primary objectives of this course is to improve and/or begin to develop an effective interpersonal communication style that is simple, natural, and direct.”

AMS 3316.0W1 will be offered for the Fall 2018 semester.


Dr. Winstead’s Biography


Dr. E. Lynn Winstead is a part-time adjunct lecturer at UT Dallas for the School of Interdisciplinary Studies where she teaches Interpersonal Communication, Crisis Communication, The Culture of Bullying in America and Professional Communication as online classes. She is the Assistant Director of the Employee Assistance Program at EY (Ernst & Young, LLP). She was a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice working with law enforcement officers and their families in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for over 20 years. Dr. Winstead worked for the Dallas Police Department and has worked as a crisis management consultant across the country for many years. Dr. Winstead resides in Dallas, Texas and enjoys spending time with her children, friends and family, reading and exercising in her free time.


How to Organize Your Online Course

A course’s structure can play a big role in determining a course’s success. Instructors and students alike need to be able to navigate through a course with as little effort as possible so that the focus can be on the course’s content, not hunting for it. This post will go over ways instructors can organize key areas of their online course.

Create Your Content Areas

The first step in course organization is to break your content up into logical segments. The sidebar on the left-hand side of your course is a great way to do this. Instead of uploading all your items to a single content area, you can add them to different content areas for easier navigation. The following image is an example of how this in action.


In this example, the instructor has created different logical content areas for the students to easily access. All homework assignments can be found or submitted in the Homework content area. Exams can be found in the Exams content area. With different content areas, students have a better idea about where certain items are located.

Note: If you want to add new areas to your course, you can do so by clicking the plus button on the top left-hand part of the sidebar, then selecting Content Area.


Arrange Your Content

Once you have created your areas, you can start adding content to them. Just like with the sidebar, the content you add to the areas will also need to be organized. The following image is an example for a Learning Modules area.

Learning Modules

For each Learning Module, the instructor has created a folder. Anything relevant to a module (videos, readings, etc.) goes in that module’s respective folder. When a student opens the folder for Module 1, for example, they only see the content relevant for that module. Showing them only what’s necessary for each module prevents confusion as to what needs to be done for which week.

Clean Up Your Content Collection

Each course comes with a Content Collection, a space where instructors can upload files such as documents, images, and lecture videos. This space is limited only to instructors, so you don’t need to worry about students having access to any of the uploaded files unless you choose to deploy them.

By default, the Content Collection doesn’t sort anything you upload into folders, so uploading many files can make this space cluttered and difficult to navigate. That’s why it’s important to organize your Content Collection with appropriate folders, as demonstrated by the following image.

Content Collection

All of your course documents can be stored in a Documents folder. Your lectures videos can be stored in a Videos folder. You can name the folders however you like, and you can create as many as you need.

If this course has been taught several times over the years, you can also use this time to clean up your Content Collection and remove and old files (such as past syllabi) that you no longer use. While your students won’t ever see this Content Collection, organizing this storage space can help you easily find the files you need.

Email us at with your questions or comments.

Creating Group Smart Views

Smart Views allow instructors to focus on specific information in a course’s Grade Center. When you open a Smart View, eLearning will only display the information as defined by the Smart View. You can tailor Smart Views for various purposes, but this post will go over setting up Group Smart Views, which filter the Grade Center to only show the grades of students in a specific group.

There are two methods available for creating a Group Smart View.

Method 1:

  1. From the Groups page, click the check-boxes besides the group you would like to have a Smart View.New Group 1
  2. At the bottom of the page, select Bulk Actions, then click Create Smart View for Group.New Groups 2
  3. Click the gray arrow beside the name of one of the selected group and select Open Smart View. This will open the Grade Center and focus only on the group you selected.New Group 3

Method 2:

  1. From the Grade Center, hover over Manage and select Smart Views.Manage
  2. Select Create Smart View.
  3. Give the Smart View a name.
  4. Select Custom in the Type of View
  5. Edit the criteria in the Select Criteria section to fit your needs.
    • Example: You can create a Group criteria and Grade on Assignment criteria, as seen below.Selection
  6. When done editing, click Submit at the bottom.

Note: You can also select Smart Views to show up as Favorites in the Grade Center section on the left sidebar. To do this, return to the Smart View section as detailed in Method 2, then select the star under the Add as Favorite column. After you click OK at the bottom, you should now see the new favorite beneath Full Grade Center in the sidebar.

You can learn more about Smart Views on Blackboard’s website. If you would like training on groups and Smart Views, please contact our eLearning training team. You can also contact with your questions and comments.

Turnitin Maintenance Outage – July 10, 10am-6pm

Turnitin has scheduled a maintenance outage for Tuesday, July 10th, from 10am through 6pm.  This time will be used for hardware updates and performance improvements. Users will be unable to submit and grade during this maintenance window, so Turnitin recommends that any submission deadlines be adjusted to fall outside this maintenance window.


PLEASE NOTE: This DOES NOT impact the regular eLearning assignment tool.


Please contact if you have any questions.  Thanks.

Best Practices – Backwards Design

Many UTD instructors are hard at work developing their online courses for the upcoming semester. Whether you’re experienced in online course development or just starting out, eLearning wants to provide faculty with practices to help make your course the best it can be. This post will highlight the practice of backwards design.

The concept of backwards design in education was introduced by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins in the late ‘90s. When utilizing backwards design, instructors and course designers start the course design process by focusing on the desired results of the course. They then build the course to match these desired results. With backwards design, the end is decided first, and the course design process is about building towards that end.

Backwards design is usually broken up into the following three major steps:

  1. Identify the desired results.
  2. Determine acceptable levels of evidence.
  3. Design/build activities based on desired results.

1) Identify the Desired Results

Start the course design process by determining the ideal or expected results of the course upon completion. For example, if you are teaching a course on marketing, a possible outcome would be for your students to successfully create a marketing plan for a company. This result can serve as an endpoint for your design process and guide you in your development.

2) Determine Acceptable Levels of Evidence

After you identify your desired results, decide what you would need to see from your students throughout the course to ensure that the desired results are met. What assessments and activities will they do during the semester to show proficiency of course objectives and desired results? What does the aforementioned marketing plan need to look like for you to determine proficiency in the course? Make sure you understand why each assessment and activity is in your course and how they help students reach the desired results you set out in the beginning of the design process.

3) Design/Build Activities Based on Desired Results

Finally, once you have both the results and the level of evidence identified, create relevant activities for students to demonstrate understanding of course topics and objectives. These activities can be weekly quizzes, essays, group projects, or anything you feel will help students learn and exhibit desired results. Having an end goal in mind allows you to specifically tailor each activity to better help students reach desired results.

Your course lectures should also be part of this step. What you teach (and how you teach it) will help determine whether or not students will gain the necessary knowledge/skills to achieve the desired results.

There are many in-depth resources available for you to learn more about backwards design. Here are some links for you to explore:

Contact us at with your questions or comments.

How to Hard Reset a Clicker to Its Original ID

Clickers have become important in-class tools for many professors and students at UTD. While they are relatively simple to set up out of the box, certain issues can still arise for some users.

For example, students who purchase used clickers might find that their device already has pre-programmed settings. This can cause connection issues when setting the device up. The solution for this issue is to reset the clicker to its original ID.

To reset the clicker to its original ID, follow these instructions:

  1. Press the Channel button.
  2. Press the Question Mark button.
  3. Press 0 six times.
  4. Press the Question Mark button again.
  5. Press the Channel button again.
  6. If the sequence was successful, the clicker will shine a green light.

Note: For people using a clicker with the Go button, they need to use the Go button instead of the Channel button, and the instructor will need to create a dummy survey to pull up the device ID.

If your students run into difficulties with their clickers, they can contact the Turning Help Desk at 866-588-3015.

If you would like to learn more about clickers, you can request training from our eLearning team. For general eLearning questions or comments, please email

eLearning Outage Scheduled – June 28 (11pm) – June 29 (5am)

Blackboard (UTD’s eLearning vendor) will perform maintenance to the datacenter from 11pm CST, June 28 (Thu) through 5am, June 29 (Fri). During this window, Blackboard will make every effort to minimize downtime; however, users should plan on intermittent service interruptions during this 6-hour maintenance window.  It is strongly recommended that users plan not to use eLearning during this time.  If you have any questions, please contact