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 elearning@utdallas.edu 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 eLearning@utdallas.edu 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@utdallas.edu.

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 elearning@utdallas.edu.

Fall 2018 Courses; Add TA/Other Users; Early Access

Fall 2018 Courses – Fall courses are now available to instructors in eLearning.  Students will be loaded one month prior to the semester start.  Fall courses, however, will not become visible to students until the first day of class (August 20th).

REMINDER: Adding Users to Your eLearning Course

Below are forms to have users added to your eLearning courses. We strongly recommend that all requests be submitted before the Fall 2018 semester begins.

INSTRUCTIONS: How to Add a TA to your eLearning Course

– Request submitted by the Instructor-Of-Record via Orion

– TA must have already completed FERPA training to be added your eLearning course.

FORM: Add a User (Other than a TA) to Your eLearning Course

– submitted by the Instructor-of-Record or Department Head
– requires justification

– will be submitted to Registrar for consideration for approval

Merged Courses

– Courses that are combined in Orion will be automatically merged in eLearning on Friday, June 22nd.

– The Merge Course Tool is not yet available for Fall 2018 courses.  The LMS Tech group will turn on the tool for F18 courses by July 20th.

Opening an eLearning Course Early – If you are interested in making your Fall 2018 eLearning course available/accessible to your students prior to the first day of the semester, please complete/submit an ELEARNING COURSE EARLY ACCESS FORM.

PLEASE NOTE: Courses can be opened up to one month prior to the semester start.  So the earliest date for courses to be opened is July 20th.   

Create a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session for Students

We wrote in our previous post about the communication tools eLearning offers to faculty. As a follow-up, our Training team developed quick instructions to help faculty get started using the Collaborate Ultra web conferencing tool, available in eLearning. Below are instructions on how to create a session for students and provide roles within Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

  1. In the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool, click Create Session.
  2. Name the students’ session.
  3. Under Event Details, give the session a start date and no end (open session).
  4. Under Session Settings, change the starting Default Attendee Roles.
    1. Choosing Moderator allows students to record their sessions and share materials.
    2. Choosing Presenter only allows students to upload and share materials.
  5. Click Save.

Note: If you change the Attendee status while students are in a session, their status might not update. Students may have to rejoin the session, or you will have to join the session and update their roles.

If you would like to learn more about eLearning and its tools (including Blackboard Collaborate Ultra), you can request training from our eLearning team. For general eLearning questions or comments, please email eLearning@utdallas.edu.

Communicating with Students in eLearning

With the Summer ’18 semester in full swing, the eLearning team wanted to provide UTD faculty and staff with tips on some of the valuable and helpful tools eLearning has to offer for all your communication needs.




eLearning provides a robust email tool that makes it easy and simple for faculty to communicate with students and other members of the course. You can see in the above image that the tool offers options to email students, teaching assistants, groups, and specific users right from the eLearning system.


Discussion Board


The Discussion Board is a public forum where students can interact with each other and with the course’s faculty. You can create various forums for specific purposes such as questions and answers, discussions for homework assignments, and even a student lounge. The Discussion Board provides your students a centralized place for in-class communication.




The Announcements tool is a great way to provide students with important alerts about the course (e.g. exams are graded, an assignment is due). The Announcements are also saved in the Announcements section of the course for easy access and reference.


Web Conferencing


eLearning offers the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool for web conferencing. Instructors can use Collaborate Ultra to schedule web conference sessions with one person or with the entire class. Moderators are also able to enhance the conference with features like file additions, screen sharing, and more. Visit Blackboard’s website for more information on the many features of Collaborate Ultra.


Course Messages

Course Messages

Users can use the Course Messages function to send messages to other members of the course. You can also BCC recipients and upload attachments to the message just like you would with email. Unlike email, however, Course Messages are only accessible within the eLearning system.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to us at eLearning@utdallas.edu.