Upgrade Details for TurningPoint Cloud

turningpoint_cloud_logo_200wThis is the second of two announcements about the upgrade the TurningPoint, which is currently planned for the Memorial Day weekend.
Registering a Turning Technologies Account
Once the upgrade occurs, everyone—faculty/staff and students—will need to register an account with Turning Technologies: https://account.turningtechnologies.com/account/user/validateEmail

For faculty and staff who teach with TurningPoint, the account will be necessary for logging into the TurningPoint Cloud desktop software.

For students, the account will be where they enter their physical clicker and/or ResponseWare license information. (It is up to the faculty or staff member teaching the course to decide if the ResponseWare app is an acceptable polling option.) Additionally, they will still need to access the Turning Technologies tool within Blackboard; doing so is what will allow your TurningPoint software to tie their polling grades to the Blackboard Grade Center.

Upgrading TurningPoint Software
By the start of the summer semester, all centrally-managed Smart Classrooms will be updated to TurningPoint Cloud. For those who are used to running TurningPoint off your USB drive or Turning Technologies clicker receiver, you will want to replace it with the new software. For those with older receivers, we have a number of new ones on hand that we can swap for your old one, if you wish; please come see Peter Gowen or Cameron Wills on the third floor of Adams Hall.

If you have registered a Turning Account, you can find the software in the Downloads section on your account page. You can also find the latest software (the version that’s installed in the Smart Classrooms), within the “Download TurningPoint Software” folder in the “TurningPoint Info” section of this Blackboard Community.

**TIP** Back up your session data before the upgrade. As with other student data, it’s always a good idea to make sure you keep a backup of your clicker session data, especially for any of it that wasn’t sent to the Blackboard Grade Center, in case of student appeals.

Requesting Clickers from the Bookstore
If you will be teaching with clickers, please remember to tell the Bookstore. They need to know roughly how many students will be buying clickers, in order to keep enough on hand for sale. Last semester, several classes weren’t listed, and there was a shortage; students had to wait for Turning Technologies to send them their clickers, which may have been disruptive for those faculty/staff who planned on using clickers during the first week of classes.

QT Clicker (1-Year Turning Account) 978-1-934931-52-3 $53.35
QT Clicker (4-Year Turning Account) 978-1-934931-75-2 $73.35
Turning Account (1-Year) 978-1-934931-71-4 $18.80
Turning Account (4-Year) 978-1-934931-73-8 $32.90

Preparing for the First Day of Class
Turning Technologies has a number of resources for the TurningPoint Cloud software, including helpful sample slides that you may want to incorporate in your lectures during the first week of classes: http://www.turningtechnologies.com/best-practices-higher-education/getting-started/turningpoint-cloud

More documentation and tutorials can be found here: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/training-documents/turningpoint-cloud

Lastly, Turning Technologies runs weekly online trainings for all aspects of their software: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/online-classes

For further information on the upgrade, please contact Benjamin West from Turning Technologies (bwest@turningtechnologies.com), or get in touch with Peter Gowen (pgowen@niu.edu) or Cameron Wills (cwills@niu.edu) at the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.


  • Q: Will my Turning Account work across institutions I attend (if I’m a student) or teach at (if I’m a professor)?
  • A: Turning Accounts will work across multiple institutions, and students will only pay to register a new Turning Account once (though they will have to pay the yearly renewal fee, for any year after the first).
  • Q: When TurningPoint is updated, will I be able to use the older software from my USB drive? Will I still be able to upload to Blackboard?
  • A: After the upgrade, the Blackboard integration will no longer be available for older versions of the software. All users on campus will need to install TurningPoint Cloud in order to upload grades to the Blackboard Grade Center and download student class lists to the TurningPoint desktop software.
  • Q: Will my students’ older devices still work with TurningPoint? Will they need to re-license them each year? How?
  • A: Yes. Come Summer 2015, once TurningPoint has been upgraded to the new “cloud” version, new devices (the ones with the single year Turning Account license “bundle”), will be sold to NIU. Any devices that students had previously bought (whether in Spring ’15 or earlier) will need to be registered with a Turning Account, which they can do for a one time fee of $20.
  • Q: After the upgrade, will students be able to sell each other their devices, if those devices are tied to a Turning Account?
  • A: Yes. The receiving student will be able to re-register it, but will have to pay the $20 registration fee to tie it to a new account.
  • Q: Will my current PowerPoint slides I built with TurningPoint still work?
  • A: Yes, you should still be able to open and edit them with the PowerPoint Polling features in TurningPoint Cloud.
  • Q: What happened to the “E-mail unregistered students” link in the Turning Technologies Tool?
  • A: The new module in Blackboard does not include this function any longer. Instead, the new TurningPoint software will display a list of unregistered students after you use the Integration to pull down a Participant List. If there are only a handful of students, you could look up their email addresses within Blackboard or within the NIU Directory, and email them directly. Otherwise, we would recommend informing your class about the necessity of registering their device, either in your face-to-face class, or through a Blackboard Announcement: students receive no credit for their submitted answers (though their data is saved for later) until they register their device.

TurningPoint Cloud to replace TurningPoint 5.3


TurningPoint is the desktop software used by faculty as part of the student response system (SRS), or “clickers”, to receive immediate feedback from students in class. The current version of TurningPoint, installed across Smart Classrooms at NIU, is 5.3.

TurningPoint will be upgraded at the end of May, after the Spring semester ends and before Summer classes begin. The new version comes with a mix of benefits and costs, which we wanted to make sure you were aware of.

The most obvious change to TurningPoint will be the requirement of registering a Turning Account. Both you and your students will need to create an account with Turning Technologies, which you can do here: https://account.turningtechnologies.com/account/user/validateEmail This will be necessary for you to access the new TurningPoint Cloud (TPC) desktop software. This will also be necessary for your students, in order for them to register their clicker device and/or ResponseWare license.

While an extra step for you and your students, the TurningPoint Account will work with the software to encrypt your clicker session data, making it secure from prying eyes. Noone else will be able to access your data, unless you choose to share it with them!

Turning Technologies is also instituting a new recurring annual fee to students. The up-front cost to students will remain the same for the clicker device at the bookstore (and will now include a license for the ResponseWare app for free, as a “bundle”): about $53. The bundle will include a one-year license for use of the clicker and the ResponseWare app. If a student needs to use either the device or the app after that first year, they will have to buy a 1-year license renewal; they can instead opt to buy a 4-year license renewal, if they anticipate needing the device or app for more than the first couple years, saving them some money over the course of their NIU career. Student financial aid will apply to both the clicker bundle and the license renewal codes at the Bookstore.

Here is a detailed breakdown of costs from the NIU Bookstore:

  • QT Clicker, 1-Year Turning Account, 978-1-934931-52-3, $53.35
  • QT Clicker, 4 Year Turning Account, 978-1-934931-75-2, $73.35
  • Turning Account – 1-Year, 978-1-934931-71-4, $18.80
  • Turning Account – 4-Year, 978-1-934931-73-8, $32.90


The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center will follow up later with information on managing the upgrade process for you and your students. If you have any questions about the upgrade, you can email Benjamin West from Turning Technologies (bwest@turningtechnologies.com) or get in touch with Peter Gowen (pgowen@niu.edu) or Cameron Wills (cwills@niu.edu) at the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

For more information on using clickers at NIU, please visit: http://niu.edu/blackboard/assess/clickers/index.shtml.

Developing and Posting Recorded Lectures with Adobe Presenter

woman watching a recorded lecture on a computerWhen preparing to teach online, one should consider how a myriad of face-to-face activities might be reconfigured. For example, in a face-to-face setting, lecturing is often a major method for distributing content. This is live or synchronous activity, where students can observe and listen to the instructor for new course concepts and ideas. One can also conduct lectures, albeit in an asynchronous manner, using tools that can match displayed content with an accompanying voice narration.

Adobe Presenter is a plug-in for PowerPoint that allows faculty to convert slide presentations, such as lectures or tutorials, into interactive videos that can be posted online. Adobe Presenter allows faculty to enrich their presentations by adding multimedia content such as text, images, audio, and video, as well as incorporating numerous interactions to better engage students.

For face-to-face classes, this technology can extend teaching opportunities beyond classroom time by making instruction available in an online setting. Faculty can also use a narrated lecture presentation to flip the classroom by asking students to view lectures online before coming to class. During face-to-face class meetings, students are ready to discuss or ask questions about the material, or engage in other learning activities. Recorded lectures can also be quite useful for courses that are primarily online, as an efficient means of distributing instructor developed content. Cynthia Paralejas, Instructional Designer for eLearning Services, reports that Adobe Presenter is one of the major tools they employ to produce audio slideshows for online courses they develop. According to Paralejas, “My overall assessment of Adobe Presenter is that it is a very helpful and intuitive tool that online courses should continue to utilize to develop quality lecture/audio slideshow presentations.”

When contemplating whether to use Adobe Presenter to create lecture presentations or brief tutorials, faculty should consider matching specific course objectives with each learning activity. For example, a possible range of learning objectives for students might include 1) being able to remember and recall specific facts and information, 2) demonstrate a deeper understanding of core course concepts, 3) or being able to apply/analyze/evaluate or create (from the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy). Depending on the nature of specific objectives, faculty might design new material, consider how they might sequence this new course material in their PowerPoint slide presentation, and perhaps incorporate relevant Adobe Presenter features. For example, faculty could ask students to temporarily halt a lecture presentation, and reflect on material just presented, before being asked to continue the presentation. Alternatively, faculty could incorporate a quick self-assessment by having students take a brief quiz on content just presented. The format of quiz items could be true/false, multiple choice, or fill in the blank. Other features might include annotating course content with audio and video materials, using a built-in video recording feature that combines slide content with faculty input, posting URL hyperlinks within slides to access content from websites that complement lecture material, or use video clips to present the content as an alternative to simple text. In addition, the transcript of the narration could be made available to students, supporting the principles of accessibility and Universal Design.

A primary benefit of this technology is its 24/7 online availability. Students can access content by logging into their Blackboard course, and viewing the presentation with a desktop or laptop computer using the pervasive ‘Flash Player’ plug-in. In addition, the current version of Adobe Presenter now allows users to view content through mobile devices not running the Flash Player.

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers specialized workshops periodically, Getting Started with Adobe Presenter (beginners), and Moving Beyond the Basics of Adobe Presenter (Intermediate Users), for faculty and staff who are interested in learning how to use this tool. In addition, one-on-one consultations are also available.

New Blackboard Features Coming in May

Learn more about what's better in BlackboardThis year’s update to Blackboard is smaller than some years, but it still has a big impact on teaching and learning. The update (planned to occur over Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, 2015) will move NIU to the April 2014 Release of Blackboard. Although there is a more recent release from October 2014, the April 2014 Release is considered to be more stable. Read on to learn about what changes you can expect.

Sample portfolio

Completely Redesigned Portfolio System

The biggest change coming is a completely redesigned and rebuilt portfolio system, although existing portfolios created with the current portfolio tool will continue to be editable and shareable. The new portfolios are easier to create, so students can focus on the most important aspect of portfolios: reflecting on their work. Students can create new artifacts by uploading or linking to files, or they can use artifacts that have been submitted and graded with the Assignment tool as part of their course work. For the latter artifact type, they can also include metadata about the artifact, including the Assignment details, the grade they received, and any feedback their instructor provided.

In addition to the new Portfolio system, the Assignment tool has been updated to include a Portfolio option. This requires that students create and submit a Portfolio to be graded, instead of uploading individual files.

Learn more about the new Portfolio System at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/upgrade/features.shtml#portfolio

SafeAssignment Integrated with the Assignment Tool

SafeAssign options integrated with the Assignment toolIn the past, Assignment and SafeAssign were distinct and separate features. Now, SafeAssign is integrated with the Assignment feature, making it easy to check student submissions for plagiriarm by clicking a checkbox when creating an Assignment. This means that many of the features of Assignments, which were not available to SafeAssignments, can now be used with plagiarism detection. For example, Group submissions can now be checked for plagiarism, multiple submissions can be enabled, and the submissions can be graded with rubrics.


New Student Preview Mode

Student Preview iconPreviously in Blackboard Learn, the Edit Mode On/Off control was the only way to approximate a student view. NIU faculty could request a student ID to view their courses, but that was not a convenient process. The new Student Preview features provides faculty with the ability to easily see the course exactly how a student would see it, including content, Assignments, Tests, Grades, and the Discussion Board. While in Student Preview mode the faculty member can interact with the course as a student, including taking quizzes/tests, submitting assignments, posting to forums, posting to blogs, and more.

Enhanced Anonymous Grading, and New Delegated Grading

Screenshot of reconciling delegated grading
Anonymous Grading provides a more useful, robust option and best practice than has been implemented previously by the “Hide User Names” capability to enable anonymous grading. This functionality meets the needs for high-stakes assessments, when you want to ensure anonymous grading to avoid bias. For Anonymously Graded Attempts, the system information that could identify a student will be replaced with a unique and anonymous identifier that can be used by the graders and instructors to identify a particular attempt for further discussion without discovering the identity of the student. If an Assignment is set to be Anonymous, the student will be informed of this when submitting the assignment, when reviewing the grade with My Grades, and on the Review Submission History page.

Delegated Grading is a new mechanism that facilitates sharing the responsibility for grading among anyone with the Instructor, Teaching Assistant, or Grader role in a given course. It promotes reliability of grading by using two or more grades from separate individuals to determine the final grade. Those teaching large courses can also use the tool to easily assign grading responsibilities to multiple TAs, whether or not multiple graders are used per student.

Significant Figures in Calculated Formula Test Questions

The Calculated Formula question type in Tests creates quantitative problem-solving test questions using a formula and variables. Questions can be dynamically generated, calculated, and scored automatically. Now, Calculated Formula questions can include specific rules for how many significant figures should be in the answer. In addition, the existing support for scientific/exponential notation has improved.

Learn More

Learn more about upcoming features at www.niu.edu/blackboard/upgrade and look for preview and tune-up workshops about the new features starting in April, 2015.

New Clicker Device on Campus

Turning Technologies' full-keyboard "QT" deviceIn Spring 2015, Turning Technologies began selling a new student response system device, their “QT” model. This QT device replaces the previous NXT model that was sold the last few years. The full keyboard on the QT makes providing text-based answers easier, useful for those times when short answer or essay questions are preferred over multiple choice or true/false questions. This makes it easier to use short answer and essay questions for higher-stakes in-class quizzes and exams using clickers.

While the device is different, the cost to students remains the same at the NIU Bookstore. The only necessary change to the existing clicker system is on the faculty side, as the older, grey radio receivers need to be replaced with newer black-and-white receivers. If you are still in need of a new receiver, please contact Peter Gowen (pgowen@niu.edu or 815-753-5882) or Cameron Wills (cwills@niu.edu or 815-753-3239) in the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, and we will get you a more up-to-date Instructor Kit.

The QT device also presages a future update to the TurningPoint desktop software used to create and run polls using the clicker system. More details will follow, as that update draws nearer.

For more information on using clickers in your classroom, please visit http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/assess/clickers/index.shtml.

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