NEW A/V Feature

With the upgrades to the AV connections in the PACE classrooms, there is a nice feature added: Freeze.  The Freeze button is located on the wall switch, where you select from laptop or PC.

The freeze button freezes the view being displayed, so that the instructor can do other work on their laptop or the computer.  Basically the system creates a picture of what is currently showing and continues to display that until the freeze feature is turned off.

This allows the instructor to modify a slide, enter a password, change the view, etc..  All done without the class seeing what is happening.



SmartBoard Tip

With the introduction of Smartboards into nearly all of our PACE classrooms, we are providing instructors with the latest generation of interactive projectors.  They serve as an opportunity to enhance the lessons in the classroom and make them more beneficial for students:

– through the use of the SmartBoard app you can share the whiteboard? No app or special device is required by the receiver of the sharing request.  It can then be used interactively by everyone, and students can save a copy of the work to their device for studying later.

-SmartBoard files can be exported to a USB as  PDF file for sharing and later use

-if you don’t want to switch between a PowerPoint presentation and the SmartBoard white board, put in a blank slide.  With the SmartBoard hook up we have you can use the pens to write onto the slide and use it as a whiteboard – you can even save it after!

-the SmartBoards have a built in browser.  You can preset any web pages or videos you want to use during your lesson so that you can access them quickly without having to leave your PowerPoint.

By Monday, we will have finished our upgrades to most of our classrooms.  If you need an orientation to the new AV setup or the SmartBoards, be sure to reach out to the PACE office or the PACE Academic Program Manager.




I was listening to the Teaching in Higher Education Podcast from April 18, “Spaces and Places (and Nudges)”, the guest speaker, Jose Bowen had a lot of great ideas on how teachers can make a difference in the lives and habits of students through small design changes or ‘nudges’.  Nudges cost nothing, but are designed to adjust behaviour so people make better choices.

Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport used nudging in an attempt at improving men’s cleanliness in using urinals.  They placed a target in the urinal, a little plastic fly.  Men would aim at the fly, keeping ‘things’ in the urinal and not on the floor.  A nudge to adjust behaviour to got a positive result.

In the podcast, the suggestion was made that in education, teachers, instructors, and administrators can all use nudges to adjust their student’s behaviour to improve the students’ lives, learning, or future opportunities.

Have you ever noticed the number of students pulling an all-nighter to complete an assignment for 9 a.m.?  And then the students don’t even come to class? Or come to class and sleep on the desk in front of you?  I recently had an assignment due at 9 a.m. which was to be submitted through Nexus. This is a quite standard idea of turning an assignment in at the start of a class.  As I went to start class, I realized that 1/3 of the class was missing, and another 1/3 (or more) were actively sleeping – including a student who had pushed aside his, and his neighbour’s books to lay flat out on the table!

Going forward, if I make the assignment due at 11 p.m. the night before, it forces students to complete their work with enough time to still get a night’s sleep. A small nudge to improve their health and get their work done on time!

If you want to hear the podcast, you can listen to it here:

Nexus Tip of the Month

When uploading content to Nexus for students, it is possible to put a release time on the material so that it is not viewable until a specified date. This can help control student progress and time materials to match in class sessions.

Once you have uploaded the content, click on the toggle next to the name of the file.  Select EDIT PROPERTIES IN PLACE; then select ADD DATES AND RESTRICTIONS.

You can then add a start date, even an end date if you like.

Academic Integrity Inter-Institutional Meeting

Looking to attend this free event on academic integrity at post secondary institutions?  These event is being held on May 29 at Booth University College.  There will be faculty and teachers from all post secondary institutions in Manitoba, with an opportunity to network and discuss issues and solutions, along with taking in presentations from different perspectives.

Tickets are still available by registering here:


Exam Reviews

A contentious topic between instructors, students, and PACE administration is exam reviews.  How much is too much?  How explicit should they be?   It can be a difficult topic to deal with as students put pressure on instructors for help as they focus on grades and passing a course.

As a general guideline, PACE does not expect instructors to provide explicit questions and answers to students.  That’s a pretty easy starting point. A good method to use in answering these questions is to give students a breakdown by topic or chapter by building your exam with a blueprint.

Using a blueprint is a method to check the distribution of your content, and type of questions that you are asking.  I build mine by textbook chapter, recall questions (like remembering a definition; what is …? Or why did …?), applying the material (a thinking question;  how would you compare…?  How would you classify…?), or creating (going to a higher level of problem solving with the question; what facts support …?  What is the relationship between…? How would you improve…?):

Chapter M/C Short Answer Recall Apply Create Marks
1 1   1     1
1   1 1     1
2   1   1   2
2   1     1 4
Totals 1 3 2 1 1 8


As I create a draft of my exam, I can see how many questions I have from each chapter to ensure I’m covering all the course topics.  I can tell how many marks I’ve allocated for each area, and how many of those marks are from recalling information versus applying it.  When I’m finished, I can remove or add questions to ensure enough weight is given to the important areas, and to ensure there is an appropriate mix of question types.

In giving students a ‘heads up’ on the exam, I can tell them what chapters are covered and what percentage of the exam is from what area.  Using the above blue print:

The exam will cover chapters 1 and 2.  There is 1 multiple choice question, and 3 short answer.  50% of the questions are on chapter 1; 505 of the questions are on chapter 2.

Or I could tell the students by marks:

The exam covers chapters 1 and 2.  There is 1 multiple choice question and 3 short answer questions.  25% of the marks are on materials in Chapter 1; 75% of the marks are on the material in chapter 2.

As a student, you know that you should be putting an emphasis for studying on Chapter 2.

Here’s an actual example of one I recently posted for a course:

The exam is worth 25% of the final grade and consists of 12 multiple choice questions (worth 1 mark each) and 27 short answer questions (worth marks as indicated) for a total of 100 marks. 

The exam questions are distributed across the materials we covered as follows:

Chapter Number of Questions
1  6
2  8
3  4
4  2
5  4
6  5
7  5
8  5

Of the questions, 55% are just demonstrating your ability to recall material; 38% of them are displaying that you can apply the material given a set of facts; 5% of the questions are asking you to do something with the information supplied. 

I hope this gives an idea of how to answer students’ questions, without giving away the exact answers and questions.

Nexus Tip of the Month

Did you know that you can adjust the instructor view to show you how material looks from the student’s perspective?

In the top right hand corner, click on the icon for your name / profile.  Select STUDENT VIEW.

Nexus will return you to the home page for the course / program that you are viewing, and from there you can see the student’s view of all the materials.

To return to the instructor view, again click on the icon and hit the X beside student view.

Some miscellaneous items

A few random pieces that PACE instructors should know:

Dividers are available for quizzes

When doing in class quizzes, instructors should follow exam protocols.  Having students clear their desktops, close their notes, put their phones away, etc. help to reduce issues related to cheating.  Exam dividers can also be used, just ask Instructor Support to book them for your quiz.

Nexus Communication Portal

The PACE Nexus Communication Portal has been undergoing a review since the fall.  It’s almost completed.  Be sure to check it out and raise any ‘misses’ so that the content meets your needs.

In the Communication Portal you will find information on designing your course, your exams, best practices for delivery, and templates for invoices and exams.

Reporting Classroom Problems

We do our best to keep our building, classrooms, and related equipment in top working condition, but things do wear out or break.  If you notice an issue, be sure to let Instructor Support know so we can take care of it.

Rubric Repair

Looking for some tips on how to make your rubrics better?  Check out this episode from the Cult of Pedagogy podcast:

(There’s also a transcript there if you prefer just to read it. 😉 )

Interviewing an experienced educator and author, the episode offers five tips to use when building a rubric:

1) Measure what really matters

2) Weigh the criteria appropriately

3) Check your math

4) Can do rubrics, not can’t do

5) Models

It’s worth checking out and then having a look at your rubrics to see how they stack up to the tips offered.



Nexus Instructor Portal Updated

The Nexus Instructor Portal has been getting an update over the past few months.

Most recently we’ve added fire evacuation procedures and security information.  Take a moment to log in and review them.

If you have any topics you would like to see address in the Portal, send off an email and we’ll work on it!