Design Time: Using Rise Vision Digital Signage Software to Create Multimedia Posters

When you think of digital signage, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the large digital billboards that dot the interstate? Perhaps it’s the arrival/departure signage in the airport? Well, in any case, digital signage is no longer as expensive and elusive as it once was in the not so distant past. Today, we can find digital signage everywhere–from restaurants and hotels, to banks and stores, and even the DMV. In fact, I designed the dynamic signage below, for our lobby, using only Adobe Illustrator and Rise Vision–and, of course, a Chromebox and display.

TLT's Digital Signage
Click image above to preview live feed.


What is Rise Vision?

Rise Vision is a free, web-based application that allows users to turn any Windows, Linux, or Chrome-supported device (e.g., computer, Raspberry Pi, Chromebox, etc.), and monitor, into an interactive display. Gone are the days of static signage with limited information. What makes Rise Vision’s software so unique is that it


Creating Multimedia Posters

Digital Poster
Click image above to listen.


Other Uses

Explain and Send Screenshots Example
Google, instructional technology, Productivity, Web 2.0

Tech Tip Tuesday – Create and Annotate Screenshots on Any Computer (Free)

In the past, Skitch was my go-to app for creating annotated screenshots. Sadly, Evernote stopped supporting Skitch in 2015. As someone who uses a Mac, PC (Windows), and Chromebook, I’ve been searching for a free (or inexpensive) solution that works on all platforms. And, Explain and Send Screenshots is it!

What is Explain and Send Screenshots?

Explain and Send Screenshots is a free Google Chrome Extension. It works on any computer using the Google Chrome web browser. Unlike most extensions, Explain and Send Screenshots does not “Read and change all your data on the websites you visit”—making it a safer option.

How Does It Work?

Once you’ve added the Explain and Send Screenshots extension to Google Chrome, you can click on the extension’s icon (see image below) to take a screenshot (image) or screencast (video) of any webpage.

Explain and Send Screenshots Menu

You can also right-click on a webpage to quickly access the context menu.

Explain and Send Screenshots Right-Click Menu

No webpage, no problem. You can annotate on any image (.png or .jpeg) via the Open file… option.

What Are Its Features?

After you take your screenshot, you’ll have several annotation options: circle, square, arrow, line, draw, text, number (and text), highlight, and blur. Blur is especially useful for concealing sensitive information, like students’ names.

ESS Edit Options


Explain and Send Screenshots Example
Annotations Example


When you’re done annotating, you can copy/download/save the screenshot (image) as a .png or .jpeg (image format can be changed under options). Screenshots (image) can also be saved as .pdf using Chrome’s Print… > Save as PDF option. Screencasts (video) are saved as .webm, which can be viewed in any web browser or VLC (media player). They can also be easily uploaded to YouTube.

ESS Share Options

VideoAnt Interface
Distance Ed, Video, Web 2.0

Tech Tip Tuesday – Take Notes on YouTube Videos with VideoAnt

What is VideoAnt?


Do you host your lectures on YouTube (unlisted) or share other videos with your students? If so, you and your students can use VideoAnt to take notes or leave comments during video playback, anywhere on the video timeline. VideoAnt is a free online application created by the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. Check out the video below to learn more.

What Does an Ant Look Like?

I tested VideoAnt by uploading IT’s recent Tech Minute: Classroom Technology video. Take a look at the interface below. During playback, I quickly added two notes. Notes are flagged on the video timeline and appear on the right with corresponding timestamps.

VideoAnt Interface

Click on the image to zoom.

Exporting and Sharing Your Ants

When it comes to sharing, VideoAnt gives you and your students a few different options. First, I tested the Embed Code in OAKS. The VideoAnt interface (i.e., video and notes) displayed properly, but, unfortunately, my notes were not flagged correctly on the video timeline. Thus, I cannot recommend this method of sharing at this time.

VideoAnt Share Interface

You can also Export your notes or comments in a variety of formats. Here’s what the Text export looks like:

VideAnt Export Text

Finally, you and your students can share your VideoAnt via a link or make it Private and Add Users—similar to Google Docs.

VideoAnt Share Interface

Additional Resources

Ideas for Instructors: 

Video Tutorials:

Instructor on Computer
Distance Ed, Teaching Advice

5 Great Sites to Help You Find Open Educational Resources (OER) for Your Course(s)

What is OER?

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium–digital or otherwise–that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions” (UNESCO, 2002).


Who’s using OER?

According to a recent national survey of more than 4,000 faculty and department chairs, “for the first time, more faculty express a preference for digital material over print in the classroom” (Babson Survey Research Group, 2019). In fact, 46% of faculty surveyed reported some level of awareness of OER (+12% since 2015), with 13% requiring an OER in one or more of their courses—almost 3x the OER required in 2015 (Babson Survey Research Group, 2019).


Where can I find OER?


Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching | California State University System | ~160,000 Contributors | 84,000+ Learning Materials




Openly Available Sources Integrated Search | SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library | 88 Sources | 352,000+ Learning Materials




Open Educational Resources Commons | ISKME | 60,000+ Learning Materials

OER Commons


OPEN TEXTBOOK LIBRARY | University of Minnesota | 625 Peer-Reviewed Textbooks

Open Textbook Library


PIXABAY | 1,000,000+ Images & Videos (No Attribution Required, But Encouraged!)



Collaboration, Productivity

Guest Blog Post | ORGA: The On-Campus Resource that Makes Grant Applications and Grant Management Easier!

This post was written and submitted by the Office of Research and Grants Administration. If your office or department would like us to share updates, information, and/or resources with faculty, as part of our new holistic development focus, please contact Chris Meshanko.

We all know that applying for grants can be a real pain. We often hear that few people actually enjoy applying for grants, because they perceive that grant applications take up a lot of the time that they could spend on their projects. But, applying for grants is also an important way to get the resources you need to conduct projects. And, there are plenty of grants out there, not only for research projects, but for many other types of projects—such as curriculum development, community outreach and public service, instruction-related projects, equipment, and planning.

The Office of Research and Grants Administration (ORGA), at the College of Charleston, can help you with several steps in your grant application. ORGA assists in finding grants that are specific to your interests and offers support for preparation of your grant application, such as composing a budget and budget justification. Our staff also works to makes sure that the grant application is submitted on time.

Once a grant is awarded, ORGA staff, together with Grants Accountant staff in the Controller’s Office, help manage the grant. In general, ORGA acts as liaison with funding agencies, coordinating everything from the timely submission of financial and technical reports to applying for no-cost extensions and potential supplements. In addition, our office also handles research protections and compliance. Through education and the implementation of federal, state, local, and College of Charleston policies and procedures, ORGA promotes the responsible conduct of research.

So, if you are working on a project, developing a new curriculum, conducting research, or if you have an idea in mind and do not know where to start, come to our office and talk to us about it. We will help you find answers to your questions, and refer you to other faculty or staff who work on projects related to your interests. We are happy to meet with you and to discuss strategies for grant applications.

We also offer a variety of workshops for faculty and students on campus. In the past, we have successfully provided faculty workshops on grant proposal writing and student workshops on research protections and compliance, budgeting, and grant proposal writing. Please feel free to contact us regarding requests for grantsmanship workshops, as well as for other support.

Custom banner
Teaching Advice, TLT

Create and Upload a Custom Course Banner in OAKS (D2L)

Our recent OAKS (user interface) upgrade, Daylight, introduced several new features, including course banners. And while course banners can be a great way to generate (initial) interest in your course, they can also confuse students if the system-generated images are unrelated to your content (e.g., architecture, rainbows, mountain landscapes, etc.), as is often the case. With a custom course banner, not only can you choose the image, but you can also add your contact information, class meeting time and location, and office hours. Sure, it’s on the syllabus, but…

So, how do you create a custom course banner?

pre-design checklist 

To create your own custom banner, you will need:

  • a free Canva account.
  • a free Pixabay account. 
  • to explore and experiment with both Canva and Pixabay to learn “the basics”.

Need additional help with Canva? Check out their collection of 25+ step-by-step tutorials.

Designing your custom banner

1. Log into Canva and click Use custom dimensions (top-right corner).
Canva custom dimensions

2. Enter 2400 x 980 pixels and click Design!. This is the preferred banner size, according to D2L.
Custom size

3. Click on 2400px x 980px – Untitled Design (beside the Share button); enter a Design title (e.g., PSYC 103 OAKS Banner); and click Done. Click File > Save (top-left corner).
Design title

4. Click the BKGROUND tab (on the left) and select white. Pause your work in Canva, and open a new tab in your browser.
Background tab

5. Log into Pixabay and search for an image relevant to your subject area.
Pixabay search

6. Select an image and click Free Download. Choose the largest size (PNG) available and click Download.
Pixabay download

7. Open your “Canva” browser tab and click the UPLOADS tab (on the left). Click Upload your own images and select the Pixabay image from your Downloads folder (or other file-save location).
Upload image

8. Click on the image to add it to the banner. Move it to the left side of the banner and resize it appropriately.

9. Click the TEXT tab (on the left) and select Add subheading.

10. Click on the Add subheading textbox to change the text–adding your name, when and where your class meets, your office hours, etc. Feel free to change the font and font size, but use a dark color (preferably black) so it shows up against the banner’s gradient (visible in OAKS). Position your text on the right side of the banner, vertically centered.
Banner text

11. Although Canva periodically auto-saves your design, it’s a good idea to click File > Save before you download. Click Download; select PNG (Recommended); and click Download.
Download banner

uploading your custom banner

1. Log into OAKS, and click on your course. On the current banner, click the  (menu) button (top-right corner) > Change Image.
Change image

2. Click Upload (on the right) and select Browse under Course Image. Click My Computer; select Upload, or drag and drop your banner image into the box; and click Add > Save. Click Course Home to see your new banner. Enjoy!
Custom banner

Don’t Forget

  • When creating a banner in Canva, use custom dimensions: 2400 x 980 pixels
  • Select a white background and black (or dark) text for the best visibility
  • Keep text vertically centered on the right side of the banner
  • Use Pixabay for CC0 images

Have questions and/or need help with this project? Contact your instructional technologist or email us at

Dear TLT
Dear TLT

Dear TLT: How Do I Release Final Grades in OAKS?

Dear TLT,

This is my first semester at CofC, and a few of my students have told me that they cannot see their final grades in OAKS. How do I release their final grades? Thank you for your help.


“The Professor” Roy Hinkley

Dear Professor Hinkley,

To release final calculated/adjusted grades in OAKS, follow these eight steps:

1.  Open your course homepage and click the down arrow next to Grades.

2.  Click Grades.


3.  From the Manage Grades page, click Enter Grades.


4.  Under Final Grades, click the down arrow next to Final Calculated Grade and select Grade All.


5.  Click the empty checkbox, next to Grade (upper left), to select all students.

6.  Click Release/Unrelease, next to Email, to allow final grades to be released to all students. (Note: If you selected release Final Adjusted Grade in the Setup Wizard, the column will display Final Adjusted Grade, not Final Calculated Grade. The default setting is Final Calculated Grade.)

7.  Click Save.

8.  Click Yes to confirm the changes and exit.

Please contact your instructional technologist, if you have additional questions or concerns, and check out our upcoming training sessions at

Best regards,


Have a question for Dear TLT?  

Submit the following form to see it featured on our blog: And, don’t worry, we’ll change your name to a fictional professor in our response!

Professor Hinkley is from what 60’s television series? The first faculty member to email, with the correct answer, will receive a TLT (BPA-free) water bottle!

Dear TLT
Dear TLT

Dear TLT: What Happens to a Student’s Work in OAKS if She Drops and Later Re-Enrolls?

Dear TLT,

Two weeks ago, a student dropped one of my courses, and as expected, she was removed from my OAKS course–including all of her Dropbox submissions. Yesterday, I was notified that she would be re-enrolling in my course. Were her work and grades permanently deleted or will they be restored when she is re-enrolled in my OAKS course? Thanks for your help!


Professor Ross Geller

Dear Professor Geller,

This is a great question! OAKS archives all students’ work and grades, even if they drop or withdraw, so in a situation like yours, both will be fully restored.

Please contact your instructional technologist, if you have additional questions or concerns, and check out our upcoming training sessions at

Best regards,


Have a question for Dear TLT?  

Submit the following form to see it featured on our blog: And, don’t worry, we’ll change your name to a fictional professor in our response!

Professor Geller is from what 90’s television series? The first faculty member to email, with the correct answer, will receive a TLT (BPA-free) water bottle!

Dear TLT
Dear TLT, Productivity

Dear TLT: How do I Save a Webpage as a PDF?

Dear TLT,

A student told me that it’s possible to save a webpage as a PDF in Google Chrome; is that true?  I don’t have Adobe Acrobat on my personal computer, and this would be extremely useful.  Thanks for your help!


Professor Vivian Banks
African American Studies

Dear Professor Banks,

Your student is right!  It is possible to save a webpage as a PDF using Google Chrome’s Print… option.  To do this, go to the webpage that you want to save and press CTRL + P (Windows) or ⌘ + P (Mac) to open Chrome’s print dialog.  Next, under Destination, click Change and select Save as PDF.  To save the page, as it appears on your screen*, make sure you select Background graphics under Options and click Save.

*Please note that this works for most HTML webpages.  If the print preview doesn’t look right, try adjusting the layout, paper size and/or margins.


Please contact your instructional technologist, if you have additional questions or concerns, and check out our upcoming training sessions at

Best regards,


Have a question for Dear TLT?  

Submit the following form to see it featured on our blog:  And, don’t worry, we’ll change your name to a fictional professor in our response!

Professor Banks is from what 90’s television series? The first faculty member to email, with the correct answer, will receive a TLT (BPA-free) water bottle!

Dear TLT
Dear TLT, Web 2.0

Dear TLT: How do I Capture a Long Distance Recording of a Guest Speaker?

Dear TLT,

I would like my colleague, in Ohio, to speak to my class about his research on wormholes. Unfortunately, he’s not very tech savvy. Is there a way to record him without him having to use a computer or camcorder–perhaps over the phone? Thanks in advance.


Professor Richard “Dick” Solomon

Dear Professor Solomon,

Welcome to CofC! Rumor has it that you and your family traveled a great distance to join us 🙂 To record your colleague, over the phone, we recommend VoiceThread–a web-based, content delivery application that allows users to assemble and narrate media-rich presentations that can be easily shared with others. What sets VoiceThread apart, from other online content delivery tools, is that it permits viewers to comment on the content being shared–perfect for confirming understanding and encouraging discussion. And, not only do we have a site license for faculty and students, but VoiceThread is also integrated into OAKS.

To get started, view our detailed tutorial and contact your colleague to arrange a date and time to record him, preferably on his office landline. Next, Create a new VoiceThread presentation–be sure to add a Title and upload an image via Add Media (e.g., a wormhole). To initiate the call, Edit the VoiceThread and click on Comment. Open the commenting options (above the timeline) and click on Phone Comment (see image below).

Enter your colleague’s ten-digit phone number and click Call Me (see image below). VoiceThread will call him, within thirty seconds, and invite him to comment. When your colleague hangs up, his comments will be processed and automatically added to the slide.

Add a few discussion slides/prompts after your colleague’s comments and share the VoiceThread with your students.

Please contact your instructional technologist, if you have additional questions or concerns, and check out our upcoming training sessions at

Best regards,


Have a question for Dear TLT?  

Submit the following form to see it featured on our blog:

Professor Solomon is from what late 90’s television series? The first faculty member to email, with the correct answer, will receive a TLT (BPA-free) water bottle!