How to Secure Breeden Grant Funding

The Daniel F. Breeden Endowed Grant Program supports teaching and learning projects that directly benefit the instructor, students, and Auburn University’s overall teaching program. Approximately $30,000 is available each academic year for awards.

The Breeden Grant deadline is November 12, 2018. We recently held a carousel-style workshop to help faculty begin thinking about their Breeden Grant proposals. Here’s some insights from the workshop.


Your proposal should communicate the who, what, why, and how of your project to a non-specialized audience. The Teaching Effectiveness Committee, the selection panel for this grant, recommends avoiding industry-specific jargon in your writing.


Use the SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely) framework to set and articulate the goals of your proposal. Be realistic about what you can achieve with the budget and timeline set by the grant.

To get started, what are the anticipated learning goals for students? Put another way, how will your proposal directly and/or indirectly result in better learning for Auburn students?


Your proposal should include a plan to accurately assess your goals.

The largest part of the Breen Grant rubric asks applicants to narrate the instructional merit (aka impact) of their grant. Travel proposals typically have the lowest chance of receiving funding because of how difficult it is to assess the efficacy of one faculty member attending a conference and how that will affect multiple people.

If you are submitting a travel proposal, it would be helpful to create a meaningful measure of impact on student learning that will result from the conference/event you attended. If you are submitting an instructional proposal, you should be looking for ways to either directly or indirectly assess students.

Direct assessment measures include an exam or project graded with a rubric. Indirect assessment includes asking students if they feel prepared for their career field as a result of your class.


Now is the time to explore activity options. What will be done during the grant?

If you are submitting a travel proposal, the stronger proposals might include a detailed plan of your travel. For example, specific sessions attended and how those session topics connect with student learning gaps. If you are submitting an instructional proposal, a detailed plan of what you will be doing in the classroom would be appropriate here.

Your activity options directly correlates with the narrative section of the Breeden Grant rubric. The narrative section carries the most weight, 30 out of 50 points. The objectives of your instruction or travel must have the potential to benefit teaching and learning. Points are awarded for:

– Clear impact on faculty member, students and department
– The number of students and courses involved
– Use of new/innovative instructional methods
– Potential impact of project beyond the period of the grant
– Idea has potential to be adopted by other instructors



How will you meaningfully share your findings?

While publications and presentations at conferences certainly count as dissemination efforts, faculty can also use a poster presentation at Conversations in Celebration of Teaching (CCT), presenting at their departmental meeting, or partner with the Biggio Center to present at a workshop.

Dr. Ash Curtiss (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) is a 2016-2017 Breeden Grant recipient who leveraged Breeden Grant funding to integrate undergraduate research and teaching. His winning proposal helped support long-term learning for students in follow-on courses he co-taught with Dr. Anne Gorden and became the basis of Auburn student J.P. Grundhoefer’s publication as lead author in the peer-reviewed journal Inorganica Acta (ICA).

In this video, Dr. Curtiss answers questions from faculty during our Breeden Grant Proposal design and writing workshop.

4 Policies All GTAs Must Know

As a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), you are no longer a student, but a faculty member. You will, perhaps for the first time, be in a position of power in the classroom. And of course, with that power comes responsibility. How much responsibility you have will depend on the role you play in the classroom: are you an instructor of record? A lab or recitation leader? A course facilitator, assistant, or grader?

Make sure to discuss your role in the classroom with your advisor or department administrator. After you have a more complete understanding of your role, you will need to familiarize yourself with four essential policies.


1. Academic Honesty

Auburn University’s academic honesty policy was designed by students. It’s fair and effective. It’s very important that you report instances of academic dishonesty for two reasons: students make mistakes and getting caught gives them a chance to learn to be better and not reporting cheating devalues the degree you yourself are working so hard to earn.



The key thing to know about the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is that student records (aka student grades) are confidential. You cannot share any information about a student’s grades with their parents, other students, or other peers (i.e. posting on social media, talking about how a football player or other notable student is doing in your course, etc.). Doing so can result in serious legal consequences.


3. ADA Accommodations Policy

Auburn is a big place and we have a lot of different students with different abilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) policy ensures that students receive equitable access to instruction and evaluation. Every syllabus for every class is required to contain an ADA Policy statement so that students who need accommodations learn how to request them. As a new instructor, you should become familiar with the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). As you take on the responsibility for designing your own courses, it is a best practice to adhere to UDL practices to ensure your course is engaging, equitable, and accessible for all learners.


4. Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy

As a GTA you are in a position of power over the students in your course; thus, you cannot have romantic relationships with them because of the risk of coercion. Ignoring Auburn’s Title IX policy is one of the fastest ways to lose your Assistantship. Likewise, your own advisor and professors are forbidden from engaging in romantic relationships with you while you are their student or advisee. If you are the victim of sexual or gender-based misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator, Kelly Taylor, is your ally. Reach out to her. You will not be penalized or discriminated against for standing up for your rights.


The Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning supports all Auburn University instructional staff, including GTAs. The Biggio Center offers numerous professional development opportunities and resources for graduate teachers including: workshops on teaching; an online Preparing Future Faculty course and workshop series to help graduate students prepare for careers in the academy; and feedback on teaching through course observations, online surveys, or student focus groups.

5 Steps to Professionalism as a GTA

As you contemplate your transition from student to Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), you may have several questions. One such question may revolve around how to earn your students’ trust and respect. The short answer is: professionalism. Professionalism is a catch-all term to describe the behaviors and attributes expected of you as a faculty member at Auburn University. Here we break down “professionalism” into five actionable categories.



Before you meet your class on the first day, visit the classroom so you know what to expect and what tools you will need (dry erase markers/chalk, erasers, laptop, dongles, etc.). Be sure to erase all boards before you leave each class day. Have a lesson plan prepared each day you meet your class and, if using technology, try it out before the class meets and have a back-up plan in case there are issues during class.



Remain calm and professional in both your emails to students and your in-person communication. Use formal salutations (Dear student,) and signatures (Best, Your first and last name). When a student approaches or contacts you in an excited state, take a breath and respond calmly even if the answer is “I don’t know.” Never be afraid to buy yourself time to respond to an emotional student: “I will have to look into that…”, “Give me a day to figure out a solution…” etc. This is especially important if you are frustrated, angry, or anxious. It is also important that you be timely in your communication but set boundaries: “I will respond to email on weekdays within 24 hours” for example. Finally, you need to communicate high expectations for student behavior and quality of work. Do this frequently.



Be confident! You are the expert. You have earned this position, not lucked into it. You deserve to be here and you belong. It is okay not to know all the answers. Your students won’t think you are a fraud if you don’t know the answer to a question. They will doubt you if you pretend to know the answers or devalue their questions by ignoring or disregarding them. Simply say, “That’s a good question. I’ll have to look into it. Better yet, why don’t you see if you can figure it out and share it with all of us.”



Grade all students equally. Don’t grant exceptions or special favors without consulting your department lead. Avoid informal interactions with your students. Don’t follow them or engage on social media until the course is over and grades have rolled. Do not post about your students on social media and do not socialize with your students outside of class.



Know what is appropriate for your department. Look around at what your professors and experienced GTAs are wearing. When in doubt, dress more formally. Dress in your most professional outfit on the first day you meet with your students to set the tone. This is especially important to make yourself feel empowered as a new GTA. Pro tip from an experienced GTA: If you find you are having behavior issues in a class or lab, wear a more professional looking outfit the next time you meet the class. This helps to reset the expectations and discourage disrespect or behavior issues.

Need a little more guidance on professional attire OR want to try some looks for free?

Campus Career Closet

The University Career Center launched the Campus Career Closet in 2017 as a way to provide students access to FREE professional attire appropriate for career fairs, interviews, networking events, and the workplace. Inventory includes suits, blazers, skirts, button-down shirts, and more.


The Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning supports all Auburn University instructional staff, including GTAs. The Biggio Center offers numerous professional development opportunities and resources for graduate teachers including: workshops on teaching; an online Preparing Future Faculty course and workshop series to help graduate students prepare for careers in the academy; and feedback on teaching through course observations, online surveys, or student focus groups.

Faculty Showcase Spring 2018

Incorporating instructional technologies into your course can enhance student learning. But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to select a tool(s) that works best for your goals. Below is a sampling of the faculty who participated in the Showcase Showdown of Spring 2018. We hope their innovative use of instructional technology will inspire all of us to rethink both the tools we already have and the tools emerging in academia.

Using the Zoom App for Active Learning
Kodithuwakku Indika (College of Sciences and Mathematics)

Zoom, Panopto Video

This presentation demonstrates using Zoom meetings to share the iPad screen during lectures. This allows the instructor to walk around the class and write on the screen from anywhere in the room. Zoom can be set up within a minute in any classroom with internet, without special requirements or prior preparation. Students can see what is written via their computer screen if needed, and even can participate in the class from anywhere in the world (with internet).


World Climate Simulation
Karen McNeal (College of Sciences and Mathematics)

World Climate Simulation, Panopto Video

The World Climate Simulation is a role-playing exercise of the UN climate change negotiations for groups. This interactive computer model rapidly analyzes the results of the mock negotiations during the event. This technology can be used to build climate change awareness and enable our students to experience some of the dynamics that emerge in the UN climate negotiations. All the materials and tools for World Climate are available for free at the World Climate Website and many are available in multiple languages.


Teamwork Skills Inventory
Paris Strom (College of Education)

Teamwork Skills inventory, Youtube video / playlist

This presentation will explain the purposes and process for using the Teamwork Skills Inventory to assess teamwork demonstrated by each student in a group of 4 to 6 members. The system is web-based and is being offered for use for free to Auburn University faculty to be used with their students in courses that make use of periodic team-based learning, cooperative learning, and similar approaches.

For more information, Auburn Faculty may contact Paris Strom at or read more information online at the Teamwork Skills Inventory website.



Gradebook Tips and Tricks

Course Grading Scheme

A grading scheme can be attached to your course to show your students if they received an A, B, C, D, or F. If you’re responsible for Early Alert / Midterm grades, this is crucial in sending grades from Canvas to Banner. If you have questions on setting up the gradebook in Canvas, please contact Biggio Tech.

enabling course grading scheme from settings

Auburn has provided two common grading schemes for you to use, but you’re welcome to customize it however you wish. If you feel generous, you can even change an A to 89.5!

changing the default grading scheme

Help on setting up the grading scheme


Hiding Grade Totals

If you post your grades but don’t rely on Canvas to calculate them, or if you want your students to calculate their grades on their own, you can turn off both the Assignment Group totals and the grade Total. Students will see each score for their assignment, but Canvas will not display any calculations. This is particularly handy throughout the semester if their scores won’t be completely accurate until the end. Under More Settings, you can also hide the grade distribution to prevent students from seeing the averages.

hiding the totals and distribution from students in course settings

Help on hiding your totals


Mute Assignments

Sometimes it may take a while to grade a particular assignment, and you don’t want Abigail Adams to have access before Zack Zulu. By muting the assignment, you can work on entering your grades without students receiving any notifications. All they see in their grades is an icon indicating that the instructor is working on the grades.

muting an assignment hides student notifications

Once muted, your students will see a notification that you’re working on their grade.

student view with grade totals hidden and a muted assignment

Help on muting assignments


Set Default Grade

You may have over 1000 students in a course each receiving a bonus for attending class before Spring Break. Or you have entered all your grades for an assignment and want to enter 0s for the students who missed the assignment. To help with either scenario, you can set a default grade for all students at once. Enter all your grades, then set the default grade to 0, for example, to fill in the gaps without having to go through each missing grade. Note: Ensure you do not check the “overwrite grade” box, otherwise it’ll replace every grade with 0.

setting treat ungraded as 0 in the gradebook only affects the instructor view

Help on setting a default grade


Regarding “Treat Ungraded as 0”

Related to giving students 0s: Canvas ignores an assignment until a grade is entered. A slightly misleading option is “Treat Ungraded as 0s.” Although this is accurately reflected in your gradebook, it does not affect student grades. If a student receives a 0, then you must enter a 0 manually or using the above “set default grade.”

setting a default grade of 0


Feeling Adventurous? Try Out the New Gradebook!

A new gradebook is available with features such as missing/late penalties, advanced filtering, and other enhancements. Please keep in mind this is a Beta, which means it may not work as smoothly as you hope. If you’re interested in trying out, please let us know how it works for you!


try out the new features

Although the new gradebook looks similar, it has many improvements with more coming in the future.

the new canvas gradebook beta

As always, please contact Biggio Tech if you have any questions!

21 Active Learning Strategies You Must Try

Active learning has been shown to improve student success, particularly in STEM courses. Faculty who struggle to adopt active learning techniques most often cite a lack of time and resources as barriers. One of the most common requests we get from faculty at Auburn is for low-risk, high-reward active learning ideas, i.e. activities that can be easily integrated into a course they are already teaching without having to alter the course schedule.

This “menu” contains specific activities, instructions, and suggestions to help you incorporate more active learning in your classes without having to redesign your syllabus. Although most can be assessed, all are designed around tasks with inherent value. In other words, these are designed to get students doing more of the important work of learning, not the instructor.


“Starters” are designed for the beginning of class. Their key ingredients are knowledge transfer from previous lessons or outside homework and mindset development to help students create the internal environment that is most conducive to focus, attention, and the mindset necessary for learning.

  • Focused Listing – This one minute writing task is designed to allow students to concentrate on the key ideas or concepts from a previous class or assigned homework. It primes the pump for learning by giving an opportunity for quiet focus and to recall previous class content. The value is in the doing, but you can also opt to have students submit their lists to quickly assess how much they retained or what the muddy points are.
  • Misconception/Preconception Check – A simple technique for gathering information on what students perceive they already know about a topic. Pairs well with difficult conversations, first-day activities, and explaining scientific principles that underlie or relate to familiar phenomena.
  • Think/Pair/Share – Students write a short individual response or reflect silently and use an iClicker to respond to a prompt or question then they share the discuss briefly with a peer; finally, pairs are asked to share distilled idea with the larger group or to respond to the question again using the iClicker. Use this technique to pace your teaching with student learning by assessing responses to determine whether to move on or if more time is needed on a question or idea.
  • Flipped Reading Quiz – Students (alone, in pairs, or small teams) generate a question based on the assigned homework they were asked to complete before class. These questions are traded and feedback is given by peers after they attempt to answer or solve it. For formative quizzes, process (i.e. participation) is graded rather than the product (i.e. right/wrong answers) making it ideal for large classes. Questions can be collected and used on future quizzes or tests, but let students know if this is the plan as the possibility of future value will improve their effort on the activity at hand.
  • Picture Prompt – Show students an image with no explanation and asked them a) to identify/explain/connect it with course related ideas or concept and justify their answers; or b) to label its parts using course terminology to name the processes and concepts shown. Do not give the “answer” until they have explored all options first. Using abstract or novel visual imagery complements a range of learning processes, particularly those related to recall.


“Entrees” are for the meaty-middle parts of class. Their key ingredient is complex cognitive tasks that ask students to apply new knowledge and skills in meaningful ways. Often, though not always, collaborative, these activities challenge students to perform and offer formal and informal means of assessing their performance.

  • Fishbone Diagram – Use this analysis tool to help students break down the causes that lead to a given effect. The “head” of the fish is the effect (e.x. U.S. housing crisis in 2008). The “spine” represents a continuum while “ribs” break down the problems according to logical categorizations, i.e. timeline, who, what, where (e.x. Key federal policy decisions that led to the crisis). It is a great tool to analyze complex phenomena (readings, events, ideas) to help separate cause and effect from correlation, or to teach systems thinking.
  • Midterm SWOT – SWOT is a tool for analyzing an ongoing situation both internally (Strengths and Weaknesses) and externally (Opportunities and Threats). Have students complete a SWOT analysis of their performance to conclude course units and major assessments (tests, essays, midterms, etc.) ant o prep students for improvement in the rest of the course. S: What are your strengths as a learner of this material? W: With what aspects of the course are you struggling? O: Are there resources on campus to help you improve or maintain your performance in the second half of the course? T: In what ways might you be standing in your own way of achieving your learning goals?
  • Role Playing – Creating a Team Based Learning (i.e. group work) activity. Before explaining the task, break students into team and give each teammate a role to play as they work on the learning activity. Roles give status and can help teams overcome social awkwardness or cultural barriers. Teams perform learning tasks better when they have a structure for working together. Try de Bono’s six roles: Information Specialist, Optimist, Judge, Voice of Intuition, Creative and Enforder. Adjust roles to team size by eliminating, doubling up, or creating new roles.
  • Defining Features Matrix – Identify 2 course concepts that have several similarities (World War I vs. World War II, types of metamorphic rocks, diseases with similar symptoms, etc.). List the important characteristics of both. Generate a matrix of two columns and have students put a +/- to indicate whether the characteristic applies to either, neither, or both. This task helps students categorize and prioritize information which aids in content retention and recall.
  • Slow-Motion Debate – A student-led, highly structured exploration of complex, concepts, data, beliefs, values, this activity asks students to listen, repeat, and build. Sides take turns sharing ideas but before a new point can be made, the team (or speaker) must restate the point just made by the previous side, and then state how they new point connects, contradicts, or augments the previous one. A mediator takes notes on the board to document to argument and provide a map of the conservation for future study or review. Pace is slow and deliberate.
  • Concept Maps – Replace reading comprehension quizzes by having students draw a diagram of assigned readings with central claims or thesis at the top followed by sub claims and specific examples of evidence. By reverse-engineering the argument, students gain confidence in reading comprehension skills of participate value on early, complex reading assignments. Add a technology skill component by using mind-mapping apps like Popplet or MindMeister. Visual assignments help students solidify learning while faculty benefit from the easily assesable “snapshot” of learning they provide.
  • Gallery Walk – This discussion technique allows students to be actively engages as they walk in team throughout the classroom. They work together in small groups to share ideas and respond to meaningful questions, documents, images, problem-solving situations or texts. In EASL rooms, gallery walks are usually preceded by a group discussion and documentation activity. The gallery walk then allows teams to use the glassboards to present ideas, give feedback (using different color markers), ask follow up questions, etc. In non-EASL rooms, paper or poster can be taped or arranged around the outer walls or groups of desks can be arranged to form landing stataions.
  • Diagnosis: Murder – You, the instructor, have died as a consequence of something related to course content. Teams must work to solve the mystery using knowledge and skills gained in the class. To prepare, use backward design. Identify 3-5 key skills or concepts you want to emphasize. Integrate them into a story with you as the protagonist: you wanted something, you misapplied a concept or skill from the course, you died as a consequence. Create a clue list of plot points. (Idea credit: Dr. Ameya Kolarkar)
  • Jigsaw – Team-based activity in which groups become subject matter experts in one of four (or more) topics related to the course during the first half of the activity. During the second half, teams switch members so that one person from each of the original groups is now in a mixed group. Each member takes turns teaching their subject matter. Example: groups are assigned different countries (Brazil, Ethiopia, Croatia, Iceland) and told the generate information about that country’s food, art, governance, and economy. Next, students from each group are swapped out to form groups with one person from each country. New groups have a topic focus (art, food, etc.) and experts from each country. Experts teach the others (take turns) and groups report out on their topic using the countries as examples of a global trend or pattern.
  • Forum Theater – A technique pioneers by Brazilian radical Augusto Boal wherein a play or scene is shown twice. During the replay, any member of the audience is allowed to shout “Stop!”, step forward and take the place of one of the oppressed characters, showing how they could change the situation to enable a different outcome. Several alternatives may be explored by different spectators. The other actors remain in character, improvising their responses.


“Desserts” are to be served up at the end of class. Their key ingredients are reflection, because it is only in looking back on one’s performance, or reviewing new knowledge and skills, that the learning become aware of their progress and what next steps are necessary, and connection because asking students to connect new to old has been shown to greatly increase retention, e.g. you are more likely to remember new content (these active learning strategies) when you are able to connect it to something familiar.

  • Concept Mapping – Students write keywords onto sticky notes and then organize them into a flowchart. Could be less structured by having students simply draw the connections they make between concepts.
  • Categorizing Grid – Students are presented with the 2-3 most important concepts or skills learned during the class period along with a scramble of subordinate terms, images, or other aspects of the 203 key concepts. Students have to organize the subordinate items by filling them under the appropriate key concept heading.
  • Syllabus Scramble – An application of the Categorizing Grid and perfect substitute for the common, humdrum first day practice of reading the syllabus aloud to the class. Instead, use headings from the syllabus as superordinate categories -course policies, goals and outcomes, evaluation and assessments, etc. and put into the scramble the most important things students need to be aware of. Have groups organize, present, and compare. The value of this activity is it helps the faculty identify and highlight mission critical course information while building the learning environment by having students meet each other through a low-stakes, game-based task.
  • One Minute Paper – Short writing reflection activity in which students reflect on the most important ideas from the day, document lingering questions, and connect new learning to something meaningful to them outside of the class.
  • Course Wrapper – Write the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) on posters or glassboards around the room. Put students into team and assign each team one of the outcomes. Then have teams reflect on what they did over the course of the semester and make a list of specific actions they took, knowledge they gained, or skills they learned that helped them achieve that outcome. This activity pairs well with student evaluations because students have the opportunity to think about the semester holistically and the work they have (or have not) done to meet course goals. In other words, students are better qualified to evaluate the course following this holistic reflection. Faculty benefit from more thoughtful feedback when they give students time to reflect on their own learning.
  • Bumper Sticker – Ask students to reflect on what they will remember from a specific class, unit or semester ten years from now and boil it down into the form of a bumper sticker (10 words or less). Have students share their bumper stickers on a Canvas discussion board so all can remember, reflect, and enjoy.

These activities can be paired or served a la carte. Substitutions are allowed and encouraged. We offer not a prix-fixe or set menu of things you must do, but rather an enticing selection of activities you can use to spice up your teaching. We encourage you to steal our recipes and add some of your own.

A Step by Step Guide to Customize Your Canvas Dashboard

All your current, past, and future courses appear under the Courses page (click “Courses” on left then “All Courses” within Canvas). Since Auburn has no plans to remove Canvas courses, after almost seven years, some faculty may have numerous courses. The large number of courses can make searching for a specific course difficult. To assist in quickly finding your current courses(s), you may Star individual courses so they appear on your Dashboard. Please note: Only open, non-concluded courses can be Starred for the Dashboard.

View All Courses and Customize Your Dashboard

1. Within Canvas, click on Courses on the left to expand the Courses menu, then click “All Courses”.

expanding the courses menu, then choosing all courses

2. This is your full course list, which includes current, past, and future courses. Click on the star to add a course to your dashboard– please note, only current courses may be starred. Courses with an orange star will appear on your dashboard, courses with a white star will be hidden.

Orange starred courses will appear on your dashboard

3. Click on Dashboard to return to your dashboard. Your orange-starred classes will now be displayed.

The dashboard, only the starred courses will appear

Customize Course Image

The card displayed for your course on the Dashboard can be customized to show an image that you choose. This helps students quickly find your course while adding a splash of color and interest to your course.

1. To change the image, select the course you would like to customize. Click on the course to open that course page.

expanding the courses menu, then choosing all courses

2. Scroll down and select “Settings” from the menu on the left.

expanding the courses menu, then choosing all courses

3. On the top of the Course Details page, click the “Choose Image” box.

expanding the courses menu, then choosing all courses

4. You may now select an image from your computer by dragging into into the top box, or use the search box to select an image from Flickr. The Flickr images may be used without fear of copyright as they are part of Creative Commons.

expanding the courses menu, then choosing all courses

5. Once you have selected an image, scroll down and click the “Update Course Details” button on the bottom of the page.

expanding the courses menu, then choosing all courses

6. Your image is now loaded. Your course’s custom picture will be displayed on the Canvas Dashboard for both you and your students.

expanding the courses menu, then choosing all courses

A Step by Step Guide for Using Duo

Auburn is protecting your data

To provide additional protection against phishing scams and related cybersecurity threats, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is in the process of implementing 2-factor authentication on all Auburn systems with access to sensitive data. This coverage has been expanded, and you may have noticed some AU Access applications now prompt you for a Duo Security authentication.


Why Do I Need 2-Factor to Protect My Data?

You will be prompted for a Duo login to access sensitive services

By having an additional authentication check on your login, your password alone is not enough for a criminal to gain access to your account. A device is used to verify your identity when you attempt to login. You may already use 2-factor with other services such as online banking, retail, or social media sites. With recent high-profile data breaches like Equifax, this additional security helps safeguard your sensitive information at Auburn including your gradebook, course content, tax information, bank information, and email.


How Do I Setup Duo?

Your password + proof = access

To use Duo, you will need to register a device at The most common authentication method is using a smart phone, however there are other alternatives such as a phone call, text message or a security token purchased from OIT. The Office of Information Technology has a complete guide to setting up 2-factor with Duo. If you have any questions on configuring Duo, the OIT HelpDesk at 334-844-4944 will be glad to assist you.


Canvas Adds Accessibility Checker

Canvas released an update that includes a few new features for faculty, such as a basic accessibility checker, an option to duplicate discussions, and streamlined comment viewing in DocViewer.

We’ve highlighted these new features in the post below. For the full update notes, please see the Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-10-28).


Accessibility Checker

When editing a page in the Rich Content Editor, click the “Check Accessibility” icon (the stick figure on the top right) to launch the Accessibility Checker tool. The checker will find common accessibility issues and assist you in correcting any it discovers. Be sure to click “Apply Fix” to apply any changes.

choose the accessibility checker icon to begin checking your page

The basic accessibility checker will assist with table headers, table captions, headings, alt text, and text contrast. For help building an accessible course in Canvas, please see the Accessibility Within Canvas guide.


Discussion Duplication

Many faculty have weekly discussion with similar discussion prompts; these discussions can now be duplicated in Canvas. From the Discussions page, click the settings icon (small gear) to the right of the discussion you wish to duplicate. From the drop-down menu, select “Duplicate”. An unpublished copy of your discussion will be created with the name, description and options settings from the original discussion.

navigate to your discussion, choose the settings menu for that discussion and then select duplicate

DocViewer – Expand / Collapse Link

While annotating documents in SpeedGrader, multi-line comments in DocViewer are now collapsed by default. To expand a comment, click on the ellipsis (…) – if a comment has replies, the replies will also be expanded. The delete icon for annotations is now hidden by default. To delete a comment, click the comment to select it, then click the trash can icon.

select the ellipsis to expand the comment and view the full comment and replies

Students Misuse Conversations Feature in Canvas

You may have heard of students misusing Conversations in Canvas to send offers of for-profit note-taking services. This is a violation of the “Appropriate Use” policy at Auburn University, specifically the clause that “access to Auburn University IT resources [i.e., Canvas] is for your individual activities that support the university’s mission, not for commercial purposes or personal gain.” Because these note-taking services often pay the student to submit their notes, the student is using an Auburn resource for personal gain.

Aside from the policy violation, the benefit from these third-party notes is unclear. The actual act of note-taking helps students learn and retain knowledge — downloading the notes online does not mean the student has learned the content.

As Dr. Gulley in Political Science expressed:

No student should feel that to succeed they need help beyond my teaching, their reading and studying, and their peer interactions. I’m not doing my job if they need that, and I would rather drag students kicking and screaming through my courses if for no other reason than to show them they are masters of their own success.

Although we are unable to prevent these advertisements in Canvas, we do recommend making a “caveat emptor” announcement in class (or in Canvas) to remind your students to beware of note-taking services free or otherwise (even those notes taken by colleagues in the same class).

You may also wish to take it a step further and invite students to work together outside of class to review for exams. Several large study spaces are available in the Mell Classroom @ RBD for this purpose (please login with your Auburn credentials).

Please call or e-mail if you have any questions. Also, please let us know if you’ve encountered success empowering your students to be better note-takers, and not note-bystanders.