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.

Helix Media Library: A Secure Solution for Uploading and Sharing Video

A useful new tool for securely sharing video online is now available to the NIU community, the Helix Media Library (HML). The HML is an on-campus streaming media server that allows faculty, students and staff to store media content (audio and video). Even more intriguing is that the HML is integrated with the Blackboard Learn course management system, making it easier to incorporate media into Blackboard courses by encoding and converting media so that it is optimized for streaming and able to play on most devices, including computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

In the past, faculty who wished to post media content to Blackboard, especially video, may have experienced difficulty when adding it to their course. The process was unwieldy and awkward, yielding inconsistent results because the Blackboard server was not able to optimize the streaming video.

In addition, because video files are often larger than other course content, uploading media content could quickly fill up Blackboard course quotas. As a result, faculty might have resorted to using outside services such as YouTube or Vimeo, to post and distribute content. Now, with the HML, it is much easier to post audio and video files to this on-campus server and share them within the university or publicly. The HML operates behind a firewall, with content regularly backed-up by NIU.

The HML is a Mashups tool appearing in the Text Box Editor (see below). When you click the Mashups button, you can select the Helix Media Library link to begin the process of uploading content.

HML Mashup02

This means that media content can be uploaded anywhere in Blackboard that there is access to the text box editor, by both faculty and students. For example, faculty can add video or audio as an Item in a content area, or while creating Announcements, Assignments, and posting a Discussion Board topic. Students can upload their own media for a video assignment or when collaborating on the discussion board, blogs, wikis, or journals.

Currently, every NIU faculty, staff, and student has an HML account, with 4 GB of space available. However, if you need more space, you can submit a request to DoIT (Division of Information Technology) to increase that for free in 4 GB increments. Individual files can be up to 2 GBs in size, which allows you to upload longer video segments. Since video is uploaded into HML accounts, Blackboard course quota space remains unaffected.

When a video is uploaded, the Permissions feature allows you to determine who has access to view it. If the video is uploaded from within Blackboard, the ‘Personal’ setting allows only the instructor and students enrolled in the course to view the content. Selecting ‘Protected’ makes the content available to all NIU users (i.e., faculty, staff, students). Selecting ‘Public’ opens the content to potentially all online users.

You can check out your own HML account by logging into You will be asked to authenticate with your university-assigned username and password.

To learn more about using the HML, be sure to visit the HML informational website.

In addition, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers a specialized workshop periodically, Adding Video to Your Blackboard Course Using the Helix Media Library, to train faculty and staff about how to use this tool. One-on-one consultation is also available.

Blackboard Video Everywhere: Increasing Faculty and Student Communication

It is increasingly important to engage students and foster a sense of community and connection between students and faculty. This is true in all courses, but is particularly true in online courses, where students may not have the opportunity to meet together or with faculty. Simulating face-to-face interaction may help students feel connected to a learning community and enhance students’ motivation to learn (Carr 2000). Bolliger, Supanakorn, and Boggs (2010) reported that college students in an online course who had the option of hearing their professor’s voice in a course podcast made them feel more connected to him or her, while ‘listening’ to explanations of core course concepts translated into more meaningful learning compared to only reading a textbook. This supports the perspective that technologies can assist faculty to personalize and humanize online instruction by integrating multimedia elements that attempt to engage students in active and meaningful learning activities (Lee, Tan, & Goh, 2004).
Video Everywhere Icon
The ‘Video Everywhere’ tool in Blackboard can augment communication between faculty, student, and course content. Video Everywhere, which became available at NIU following the upgrade in June, 2013, allows users to record video anywhere in Blackboard that the text box editor is available (see image, right). Faculty can use this feature for creating and posting videos of course announcements, brief lectures, clarifications, discussion board posts, and instructions for assignments. Students can also post videos as submission to assignments, blogs, journals, and discussion boards.

Video Everywhere uses a webcam, either integrated in a laptop or connected via USB. Videos can be created quickly, but it is not possible to edit the videos.

Videos recorded with the Video Everywhere tool are stored in YouTube, so faculty and students must have Google accounts to use Video Everywhere. Once the video is recorded, Blackboard posts it to YouTube as an Unlisted video. This means the videos will remain private and will not appear in YouTube searches or on a users’ YouTube page. In addition to recording videos, users can also use the Video Everywhere tool to embed videos that were previously uploaded to their YouTube channel.

Some NIU faculty and instructors have already begun to incorporate Video Everywhere for their assignments. For example, Mary Kocsis from the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders uses Video Everywhere to test her students’ receptive skills in sign language. She records herself ‘signing’ a message within a test question. When students take the test, they must interpret what she signed. Other faculty have recorded and posted a video message welcoming students to a new course at the start of the semester. This can be especially beneficial as a ‘meet and greet’ if the course is entirely online, and never meets face-to-face.

There are other applications for student uses as well.  Students might record themselves ‘signing’ a message for a sign language assignment (demonstrating expressive rather than receptive skills), speaking a foreign language for later review in a language course, or conducting  ethnographic interviews for a cultural anthropology course.

Faculty who are interested in learning more about Video Everywhere can use Blackboard’s help guide for Video Everywhere or view the following brief tutorial, which is available at


Bolliger, D.U., Supanakorn, S., & Boggs, C. (2010). Impact of podcasting on student motivation in the on line learning environment. Computers & Technology, 55, 714-722.

Carr, S. (2000). As distance education comes of age, the challenge is keeping the students. Chronicle of Higher Education, 46(23), A39. Available from

Lee, C.S., Tan, D.T.H., & Goh, W.S. (2004). The next generation of e-learning: Strategies for media rich online teaching. Journal of Distance Education Technologies, 2(4), 1-17

Integrating Multimedia in Your Course

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Multimedia Images
It is vital to keep students engaged so that they are actively learning. There are a variety of instructional strategies faculty may use in their efforts to better engage students and enhance learning opportunities.  One approach is incorporating multimedia content in course material. In describing the impact of multimedia technologies to learners, Miller (2009) writes, “Quality online multimedia can help to promote any number of pedagogical objectives, ranging from sparking student interest in subject matter to possibly encouraging intergroup respect and appreciation.  However, their most critical function in terms of cognitive learning appears to lie in their capacity to serve as representational applications for key course ideas.”  These representations can take a variety of forms, including visual and auditory types, which may support student comprehension and boost information retention.

With multimedia application, students can hear about new relevant course topics and concepts in online lectures (faculty presenting either in real time or recorded for later review), review assigned readings and lecture transcripts, and visually observe imagery either as drawings, photographs, videos, animation, or actual physical models. Students can also interact with new topics and ideas by conducting laboratory experiments through direct manual manipulation or through computer simulation.


Advances in computer technology have greatly expanded the ability of faculty to incorporate media elements.  Below are tips on using multimedia applications that may enhance student learning opportunities:

  • Consider the audience – When introducing students to a new field or discipline, they may require additional support. It may be helpful to represent new concepts in a variety of ways to meet the needs of different learning preferences. Consider orchestrating several multimedia types (audio recordings, images, video, or physical models).
  • Technology should not dictate instructional design – Although advances in computer technology have greatly facilitated the application of multimedia, it should only be used when it is supportive of course content and student learning. Used inappropriately, multimedia can distract, mislead or confuse students. Course goals and instructional objectives should drive the design of course content, not simply the availability of technology.
  • Use technology to support and not distract – Multimedia can greatly enhance learning, but it can also lead to distraction that decreases learning. For example, faculty who read word-for-word from the on-screen text of a slide lead to their students experiencing an excessive cognitive load, as they simultaneously ‘read’ and ‘listen’ to the same message. Similarly, incorporating images whose relationship to on-screen text or an accompanying narration remains unclear, can result in cognitive dissonance, causing students to struggle while they try to make sense of a perceived uncertainty.
  • Introduce media incrementally – Due to technological advancements in computer technology, it has become relatively easy to access as well as create multimedia content. Faculty should begin by incrementally adding media, experimenting with limited additions to course content. Trying to incorporate too much too quickly can overwhelm faculty who are new to multimedia. For example, one might record an audio greeting to each week’s lesson, posting the file to an appropriate content area in their Blackboard course every Monday morning. Students can play the audio file, listening to the faculty detail what to expect in the upcoming week.
  • Solicit advice from other faculty who have had success using digital multimedia content – Faculty who have had the opportunity to use and assess the value and effectiveness of multimedia material can be valuable mentors in this area. Experienced users can provide a reference point for the beginner.
  • Investigate existing multimedia sources/archives with content that is in the public domain or that use Creative Commons licensing – While it has become easier for faculty (and their students) to create multimedia content, it may still be quicker to find existing materials. Through open education resource (OER) initiatives, appropriate, accurate/credible, and vetted content is widely available. While it is essential to acknowledge and adhere to the parameters of ‘Fair Use’ when using material whose copyright does not belong to faculty, one can legally use content from the public domain or that falls within Creative Commons licensing. The expansiveness and depth of this material covers many academic disciplines and levels (K-12, undergraduate, graduate, professions).
  • Solicit feedback in the course evaluation to determine what multimedia components were successful – Students can greatly assist in identifying which multimedia items they perceived to be useful in enhancing the learning experience. By incrementally adding multimedia, it will become more manageable for students to give feedback.


Miller, M.V.  (2009). Integrating online multimedia into college course and classroom: With application to the social sciences. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 5(2), 395-423.


Tips to Reduce the Impact of Cheating in Online Assessment

Student sitting at computer

Preserving the integrity of student learning assessment is as much of a priority for online courses as it is for traditional face-to-face instruction. Although there is concern that academic dishonesty or ‘cheating’ might be more likely to happen in an online setting, studies comparing face-to-face and online settings have yielded mixed results (Grijalva, Nowell, Kerkvliet, 2006; Lanier, 2006; Stuber-McEwen, Wiseley, Hoggatt, 2009). Yet, a perception persists that challenges to preventing cheating are somewhat different in an online setting because faculty and students are physically separated from each other. This remoteness certainly makes it difficult to monitor various types of learning assessment activities.

Watson and Sottile (2010) have reported that cheating online can manifest in a number of ways including students who: (1) submit others’ work as their own, (2) receive/send answers from/to other students (by texting, using instant messaging, talking on a phone) while taking a test or quiz, (3) receive answers from a student who has already taken a test or quiz, (4) copy other students’ work without permission, (5) knowingly plagiarize from an article or book, or (6) use a term paper writing service.

Although it may be difficult to prevent cheating entirely, faculty can implement steps to reduce its impact in the student learning assessment process for online courses. The following are some practical tips to prevent or reduce cheating for two common learning assessment activities, namely testing and homework assignments.

Tips for Testing

    • Purposefully Select Assessment Methods – Use online testing, particularly objective test (i.e., multiple choice, multiple answer, true/false) for lower stakes assessment of student learning. In assessing student mastery of course goals and objectives, objective tests should be only one option considered among a spectrum of methods considered. Each type of assessment method may be designed to measure different indicators of student learning based on course goals and objectives. While an objective test can measure a student’s ability to recall or organize information, other methods can be used to assess higher order/critical thinking skills including understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating (Krathwohl, 2001).


    • Mix Objective and Subjective Questions – While online testing can include objective measures (multiple choice, multiple answer, true/false, fill in the blank, etc.), faculty can also include short answer or essay questions. This type of question is more subjective in nature and may demand a deeper understanding of the subject being tested. While mixing objective and subjective type questions may not discourage or stop sharing of information, it may limit the effect on the student’s final grade (Watson and Sottile, 2010).


    • Use Question Pools – Rather than using a fixed number of items that remain unchanged for each administration of the test, consider creating a question pool. Questions can be grouped by any number of criteria, including topic, subject matter, question type or difficulty of question. A pool will generate an assessment with randomized questions selected by the faculty member. Pools can be created from new questions or questions in existing tests or pools. Pools are most effective when there are large numbers of questions in one group. For example, one might have a pool of true/false questions, another of multiple choice and a third for fill in the blank. The faculty member could then create an assessment drawing a specific number of questions from each of the question-type pools. Faculty can also add new questions to pools each time the course is taught to expand the variability of questions. Conversely, older questions can be removed. Check the Teaching with Blackboard Question Pools web page for more details.


    • Randomize Questions – When creating a test in Blackboard, one test option allows faculty to randomize the selection of test questions as well as the order in which they appear. The result is that students are not likely to get the same questions in the same sequence when taking a test. This strategy can address the issue of students who take a test at the same time in order to share answers. This is also relevant if faculty allow students to repeat the test. Each time this occurs, a test will be made up of questions that are randomly selected and ordered.


    • Limit Feedback – Limit what types of feedback is displayed to students upon completion of a test. Available test options include test ‘Score’, ‘Submitted Answers’, ‘Correct Answers’, and ‘Feedback’. Providing test scores is important feedback that indicates how well students have performed and should be made available. However, through a process of elimination, students may be able to determine the correct answer for each test question if their submitted answers are identified as incorrect, or if the correct answer is provided. Students could lose the incentive to both prepare for testing or to seek out correct answers by reviewing lecture notes, assigned readings, or through group discussion after completing tests. Thus, faculty might reconsider whether to include ‘Submitted Answers’ as an option to be displayed to students. This is especially relevant if faculty have allowed students to repeat tests. Each time a test was taken, students could attempt a different answer for a test question that was previously graded as incorrect. Correct answers to all test questions could eventually be accumulated and passed on to other students, or to students of future classes.


    • Set Timer – Recognizing the fact that students taking an exam that is not proctored are free to use open book/notes, faculty may decide to use the ‘Set Timer’ feature in Blackboard. Students who adequately prepared for a test may be less likely to rely on open book/notes compared with students unprepared for testing. By setting a test with an expected completion time, unprepared students could have the most to lose as they spend time going over material, and risk not having sufficient time to respond to all the test questions.


    • Display Questions One At A Time – If a test has more than 5 questions, do not choose the ‘All at Once’ option for displaying all the questions on the same screen. It is quite easy for students to take a screen capture of the displayed questions and share them with other students. While students can still screen capture pages with single questions, or even type them into a document, it is more time consuming and unwieldy.


Tips for Homework Assignments

    • Create Application Assignments – Create assignments that require students to apply essential course concepts to a relevant problem. This may force students to seek relevant information beyond the assigned readings and lectures, and conduct independent research by identifying credible sources to support the development of their assignments. Students can be required to report their progress on a regular basis through email, or through the Journal feature in Blackboard. This documentation makes it easier for faculty to see the development of a student’s work from inception to completion, and possibly identify unexplained gaps that could occur if students used the work of others and claimed it as their own. Faculty can add input at any point in this process to provide guidance, and perhaps suggest new directions for students. Both documentation of progress through regular status reporting and occasional faculty input can add a greater level of scrutiny to students, making it more difficult to pass off the work of others as their own.


    • Create Group Assignments – Create group assignments that require students to interact with group members regularly. Groups can be made responsible for determining the functional roles for each member, establishing a mechanism for accountability (i.e., submitting weekly progress reports), and sharing drafts of individual progress on a group project. For a project to be truly collaborative, each group member should be familiar with everyone else’s work, and be able to describe how every group members’ contribution supports the whole group assignment. Students who are using the work of others may not be able to adequately describe the significance of their ‘own’ work, or how it integrates with the group’s overall project.


    • Create Assignments that Require Presentations – Faculty with a Blackboard course can use the web conferencing tool, Blackboard Collaborate, to conduct a synchronous online session for class presentations. Students may be asked to submit a progress report or use a Journal to reflect on what they have learned in the past week that supports work toward the presentation. To further scrutinize work on the presentation, students may be asked to include time for questions and answers. Students who have developed the presentation should be comfortable answering a range of topic-related questions. Faculty Developments offers workshops and one-on-one consultations on the use Blackboard Collaborate.


    • Check for Plagiarism using SafeAssignSafeAssign is a plagiarism prevention tool that detects matches between students’ submitted assignments and existing works by others. These works are found on a number of databases including ProQuest ABI/Inform, Institutional document archives, the Global Reference Database, as well as a comprehensive index of documents available for public access on the internet. SafeAssign can also be used to help students identify how to attribute sources properly rather than paraphrase without citing the original source. Thus, the SafeAssign feature is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool. You can learn more about SafeAssign by visiting the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center’s Teaching with Blackboard SafeAssign Web page. Faculty Development also offers workshop and one-on-one consultations to faculty and staff on using SafeAssign.


    • Use Discussion Assignments – Create a Discussion Board assignment that requires students to demonstrate critical thinking skills by responding to a relevant forum topic. Faculty may also design a rubric that is specific to the Discussion Board assignments, and develop questions that require students to respond to every rubric category. Having assignments that are very specific makes it more difficult for students to use portions of a previous term paper or other sources that may only indirectly touch on the Discussion Board topic.


    • Include Academic Integrity Policy Statement in the Course Syllabus – Faculty should consider including a policy statement regarding academic integrity in their course syllabus. In addition, faculty may want to reiterate academic policies to students taking an online course and clarifying guidelines for completing test and assignments so that students are not confused about what they can and cannot do. While this, in and of itself, may not be sufficient to change behavior, its acknowledged presence in the syllabus recognizes a commitment to honesty in the academic arena and establishes the clear expectation that academic integrity is an important principle to live by. Faculty may also choose to mention this policy using the ‘Announcements’ feature in Blackboard, or while conducting a live web conference session.


Learn More

Preserving academic integrity is an ongoing challenge for traditional face-to-face, blended, and entirely online courses. While a number of expensive technology solutions, such as retinal eye scanners and live video monitoring are being developed to prevent cheating in online courses, the practical suggestions offered above can prevent or reduce the impact of cheating on assessing student performance in online courses. For more information on this topic, readers are invited to view the archived online workshop, “Tips for Assessing Student Learning Using Blackboard.”

In addition, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers many Blackboard workshops, including those that touch on assessment. You are invited to visit the Faculty Development Web site that lists upcoming faculty and staff programs. Finally, readers are encouraged to review the following suggested readings and resources.

Suggested Readings and Resources

Grijalva, T., Nowell, C., & Kerkvliet, J. (2006). Academichonesty and online courses. College Student Journal, 40(1), 180-185.

Hi-Tech Cheating: Cell Phones and Cheating in Schools – A National Poll. Common Sense Media. Retrieved from

Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. In L.W. Anderson & D.R. Krathwohl (Eds.), A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman.

Lanier, M. (2006). Academic integrity and distance learning. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 17(2), 244-261.

Luce, A. (2012, Sept. 17). How do I know students aren’t cheating? Instructional Design & Development Blog. Retrieved from

McNett, M. (2002). Curbing academic dishonesty in online courses. Pointers and Clickers: ION’s Technology Tip of the Month. Retrieved from

Olt, M. R., (2002). Ethics and distance education: Strategies for minimizing academic dishonesty in online assessment. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 5(3), Fall 2002.

Redmann, E. (n.d.) How Technology Is Raising the Stakes In Classroom Cheating. Edudemic. Retrieved from

Stuber-McEwen, D., Wiseley, P., & Hoggatt, S. (2009). Point, click, and cheat: Frequency and type of academic dishonesty in the virtual classroom. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(3), 1-10.

Trenholm, S. (2006-2007). A review of cheating in fully asynchronous online courses: A math or fact-based course perspective. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 35(3), 281-300.

Watson, G., & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the digital age: Do students cheat more in online courses? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Retrieved from

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