Dutton Institute Blog

Using Rise 360 with Canvas

Rise 360 content shown embedded in a Canvas course


The web-based application Rise 360 is billed as a course authoring tool, but this easy-to-use technology is an excellent resource to supplement online or hybrid courses. With the help of a learning designer, you can create a quick microlesson or short practice experience to enhance your course content with Learning Science-based interactive elements that help students test their understanding.

Here’s an example of what you can do in Rise 360. This demo lesson was built effortlessly with Rise’s straightforward system of stackable, flexible blocks for content, media, and interactive elements. The responsive product can be navigated easily by students, who can practice or test their understanding as they engage in the learning process.

A particularly appealing aspect of working with Rise 360 is that you can create mobile-friendly content for phones so that students can access it on an as-needed basis. This could be used for laboratory safety instructions, for instance, that students might consult when completing lab work.

For help with Rise 360 and Canvas, contact Stevie Rocco (sxr133@psu.edu) at the Dutton Institute. 


Encouraging Reflective Practice with Feedback Exchanges

creative commons decorative image

Feedback on student work is typically, and traditionally, one-way communication from the instructor to the student. But what if, with a focus on reflective practice, you were to provide some space for interactive exchanges? What if you were to promote reflection and metacognition in order to help students help themselves?

This kind of practice takes place in Brandi Robinson’s GEOG 438w course, where students feel some safety to share and some agency, to boot.

Read more about it in this short article from the University of Central Florida’s Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository:

Disrupt the One-way Street of Feedback to Encourage Reflective Practice.


5 Reasons to Enhance Your Teaching with Microlearning

Microlearning is a concept that has been well recognized in the training and IT fields, but has yet to become a highly adopted practice in education. That said, microlearning has been steadily gaining attention in higher education due to the number of benefits it offers learners. In fact, one research study found that the use of microlearning objects increased learning and retention of course material by 18% (Mohammed, Wakil, Nawroly, 2018).

What is it?

Microlearning is the concept of providing bite-sized explanations to support and enhance student learning. This can occur in a variety of ways. For example, an instructor may choose to create a 1-2 minute screen recording explaining how to solve an equation, they might create an infographic to help students visualize a complex idea, or perhaps they might record a video to demonstrate the steps in a complex process. Regardless of the approach, the main idea is to provide information in the most concise, efficient, and meaningful way. Now let’s take a look at 5 key benefits of using microlearning in higher ed.

Reason 1: Provide On-Demand Learning

Microlearning objects allow you to provide resources to your students that can support their learning exactly when they need it. Let’s say you give a lecture in class on a complicated topic. If students miss the class or don’t completely understand the information, they won’t be able to successfully complete any assigned homework. But, if you offer a short video explanation of the concept, students can access the video and review it as many times as they need. This offers greater flexibility for the students and more personalized learning support.

Reason 2: Deepen the Learning Process

With increased access and the ability to review instructional materials multiple times, the learning process can become deeper and richer for students. The concept known as spaced repetition, which is the practice of reviewing information at several times and at various intervals, increases the brain’s ability to store that information in the long term memory.

Reason 3: Increased access to information

Microlearning is a more flexible option for delivering content to learners through various formats. Because of the concise nature of the learning objects, they can be formatted for delivery on a number of devices. This allows learners to access information anytime, anywhere. For example, students can watch short videos uploaded to YouTube while riding the bus, standing in line, or simply anytime they find themselves waiting. Time that would have been spent on Instagram or Facebook can now be used as valuable learning time.

Reason 4: Can Support Struggling Students

Not every student engages in a course with the same baseline of knowledge for a given topic or has the necessary skills to successfully complete an assignment. Microlearning can be offered as a way to support struggling students by helping them to acquire the skills or knowledge they need. It can also ensure students are receiving consistent information if the course happens to be very large and has multiple TAs offering guidance.

Reason 5: The Focus is Simple

Lastly, microcredentials are intended to be concise and focused. Because of this, the content needs to be well thought out and designed to be delivered in the most simplistic form possible. This ensures the information is easy to follow and explanations are to the point. Because unnecessary information is removed, students are able to follow the points more easily.

If you’re interested in incorporating microlearning in your face-to-face, hybrid, or online courses, contact Stevie Rocco, Director of Learning Design at sxr133@psu.edu.


Mohammed, G.S., Wakil, K., & Nawroly, S.S. (2018). The effectiveness of microlearning to improve students’ learning ability. International Journal of Educational Research Review , 3(3), 32-38. DOI: 10.24331/ijere.415824

Speed Dating with Learning Technologies

The Dutton e-Education Institute recently hosted its first Speed Dating with Learning Technologies event. This was an opportunity for faculty to get quick and easy introductions to technologies that can be used to enhance teaching in face-to-face, hybrid, and online courses. The event featured the following technologies:

  • Adobe Spark is a suite of media creation apps for graphics, videos, and web pages. This can be used for content creation and student-generated assignments.
  • Kaltura is a video creation, storage, and sharing platform. You can also turn a video into an interactive quiz!
  • Lightboard is a teaching and presentation recording tool. Available in the EMS Faculty Studio.
  • A Pen Display is a tool for creating and recording on-screen drawings and annotating complex images.
  • RShiny helps you turn data and analyses into interactive web apps that students can interact with.
  • Slack is an instant messaging platform where files, information, and messages can all be shared.
  • Snagit is a screenshot program that can capture images, video, and audio.
  • Turnitin is an online plagiarism detection service that can be used by students and instructors.
  • Zoom provides remote conferencing services - great for hosting online office hours and creating pre-recorded segments. Zoom can also be used by students to create video presentations or participate in online conversations or debate.

Visit the Speed Dating with Learning Technology website to view short (4 – 6 minute) presentations for each technology.


~ Jennifer Babb

Open Access to Smithsonian Resources

CC 0 logo

Last month, the Smithsonian launched Smithsonian Open Access, a website that provides access to millions of digital artifacts (2D & 3D images, animations, data, audio files, and more). The items are all available under a CC0 license, meaning they are in the public domain and you are free to download, reuse, remix, revise and redistribute, making them a fantastic resource for education.

Visit the Smithsonian Open Access website for more details and to start browsing for the perfect resources for use in your course.

~ Jennifer Babb

Kaltura Video Quiz

Kaltura is a cloud-based, enterprise-level multimedia platform for storing, streaming, creating and publishing video, video collections, and other media. While all of that’s useful for the work we do, it’s not what makes Kaltura a powerful tool for teaching and learning. Kaltura’s power lies within its Video Quiz feature, which allows you to use video to create active and engaging experiences for students right in Canvas. 

Kaltura is especially valuable in hybrid and flipped classrooms or anytime you need to record or replace classroom lectures. Instead of assigning a long, passive lecture video to watch, give your students a winning learning experience that’s more like what they’d get in your live class. Use Kaltura to create engagement and interaction with its four quizzing options, which can be used in combination: multiple choice, true/false, open-ended questions, and reflection points. 

Video quiz interface showing 4 options including multiple choice, true or falso, open-ended and reflection points.

The first two question types in Kaltura’s Video Quiz, multiple choice and true/false questions, can be graded and even hooked up to the gradebook, if you choose, to be used as an for assessment. 

  • Add these types of questions throughout the video to help students test their knowledge as you progress in your lecture. 
  • Be proactive and write questions that your students are prone to ask in class or that will help them summarize the content that you’ve presented. 

Open-ended questions and reflection points may augment your students’ learning experiences and can be used to scaffold certain behaviors that you want them to learn. 

  • Open-ended questions aren’t graded; however, you can review student responses from them if you choose. Use the information to identify any patterns, and then review at the start of the next class meeting, post an announcement, or send the class a message in Canvas to address any points than need clarification.     
    • Add this type of question if you want students to go beyond remembering and understanding factual knowledge. You may want to ask a student to “Apply or interpret information to ...”  or “Use the information provided to analyze …”    
  • Reflection points are neither graded nor viewable. They are used to simply stop the flow of the video to allow students to reflect on a statement or question. 
    • Reflection points can be used to help students learn active note taking. A reflection point might be, “Take a few minutes to write down the three components that make up…”  or “Take a minute to draw a concept map of the process described in detail.” 
    • Use reflection points to help students practice their metacognitive skills. Ask them to reflect on what they learned and decide on how well they feel that they understand it. Ask them to make notes on it so they can refer to them later or ask for clarification.  

There are a number of ways to learn more about Kaltura Quizzes, including:

Reviewing the IT Learning Development’s Learning Path

Registering for Live Training on Kaltura: Video Quizzes 

Using the Canvas Help button in Canvas and search for Kaltura

Contacting the Dutton Institute Learning Design Team by emailing Stevie Rocco at stevier@psu.edu

Mathpix Snip – A Tool for an Easy and Fast Way to Create Math Equations Using LaTex.

Here are some highlights of the tool:

  • Mathpix Snip is free (up to 50 snips per month)
  • Original equations can be typed or handwritten and put into applications such as Canvas and Microsoft Office
  • Mathpix Snip works with MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android
  • The goal of Mathpix Snip is to save you time
  • Setting up a Mathpix Snip account is easy and free (up to 50 equations per month)
  • Snips can be edited (if needed) before the LaTex is complete
  • LaTex can be read by screen readers for users who are visually impaired
  • Snips can also be copied as .png files

Watch this demo on YouTube to see MathPix Snip copy text from a pdf:

Watch this demo on YouTube to see the many different kinds of formats and equations it can capture.


Once you have your math equation in LaTex, simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the editor in Canvas where you want your math equation to appear (this example is in a quiz question) and click on the Insert Math editing tool. 

Insert the Math Equation in the editor

Step 2: Switch to Advanced View to paste the LaTex into the editor.

Switch to Advanced View

Step 3: Paste LaTex and click Insert Equation

Paste equation and click Insert Equation

Step 4: View Equation and add any surrounding details that are needed.

Final view of equation in editor

Contact Jane Sutterlin (jes17@psu.edu) if you want to see how we've used this tool in Dutton.

Metacognition - What is it, Anyway?

man thinking

Metacognition is one of those education buzz words we hear when folks are talking about teaching and learning, but what is it? And is this something I should be adding to my classroom?  The simple answer is yes. Metacognition, simply put, is the ability to reflect on what you know and what you don’t. Students who capitalize on metacognition are able to recognize when they don’t know something and fill in the gaps by relearning or practicing a skill to become proficient. Not all students are naturally good at reflecting on their own learning, can get frustrated with poor exam grades, and may even feel they will never be "good" at certain topics.  

There are ways we can help students by actively engaging them in our classes (see previous blog post for ideas), but a critical component of metacognition is feedback. Feedback is what allows students to know if they understand the content or not. Learning is more efficient when students are aware of what they know and what they don’t. Unfortunately, students are sometimes overconfident when they predict or assess their own understanding, especially when their go-to study strategies include re-reading lecture materials or the textbook.  

The good news is that research-backed recommendations for helping students improve their metacognition are not difficult to incorporate in your class and will not add to your current grading workload.

Here is an activity that can be added to every class and can help students improve their metacognition and their exam scores.  

After every class, ask the following questions:

  1. On a scale from 1 (very unclear) to 4 (very clear), how would you rate your overall understanding of today’s class?
  2. What are two things you learned in today’s class?
  3. One a scale from 1 (not confident) to 4 (very confident), how confident are you that the two things you just wrote down are correct?
  4. What concepts from today’s class did you find difficult to understand?
  5. Specifically, what will you do to improve your understanding of the concepts that were difficult?

Here is another activity that takes minimal effort to create but that can help students enormously. With practice, students will be able to create this kind of activity for themsleves.

After class, provide students with key objectives or essential questions they should be able to answer from the lesson.

  1. Before students write answers to the questions, have them evaluate their confidence in their ability to answer. 
    • If they know an answer, have them put a star next to the question
    • If they don’t know an answer or are unsure, have them put a question mark next to the question
  2. Have students retrieve (from memory) all the answers for the questions they identified with stars.
  3. For questions with question marks, have students refer to their notes or course content to answer.
  4. Have students return to the questions they answered from memory (the starred questions) and verify from their notes or text if their answers are correct. 

Students can use these activities spaced throughout the course. Submitting these activities for minimal points could help motivate reluctant students to participate and may also provide some insight into what areas might be challenging for them.  


Agarwal, P.K., & Bain, P.M. 2019. Powerful Teaching, Unleash the Science of Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass (available at the Penn State Library)

image credit: Pixabay.com

~ Reach out to Jane Sutterlin (jes17@psu.edu) for questions or further discussion.

Adding engagement to your classroom

To ensure that learning is engaging, find teaching methods that provide opportunities for students that are authentic, are inquiry-based, leave room for collaboration, and leverage technology to help students have the best experience. (Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, 2014). The strategies listed here are all ways to add engagement in a student-centered manner. All of these options are examples of active learning. 


Lightboard recording gives students the opportunity to self-review

Do you find yourself explaining the same thing over and over? Try recording on a lightboard. A lightboard is a clear piece of glass that faculty write on while facing the camera. Students can see both your face and the diagrams and equations you are showing them. People often ask, “Do you need to write backwards?” Nope, the image is flipped electronically.

There is a lightboard studio for EMS faculty in 4 Hosler. A media specialist at the studio will handle the technical aspects so you can focus on teaching. The video will be uploaded to Youtube or Kaltura, and from there you can pop it right into Canvas.

The EMS faculty studio is available by appointment by contacting facultystudio@e-education.psu.edu.

For more information, check out The EMS Faculty Studio webpage, or stop by 4 Hosler.

For tips, tricks and other University Park lightboard locations, visit this Using Lightboard to Create Videos page.