DYK – Nexus Library Links

Did you know that Nexus can directly link to books, journals, or articles in the University Library’s collection? This can provide students with an easy and quick way to find course readings, at no cost.

All students and instructors have access to the University’s electronic resources using their Nexus log in credentials. There is a link from Nexus to the library on the Nexus ribbon bar; look under the drop down menu from Resources.

Linking to materials in the library is done under the ReserveReading tab on the ribbon bar. Instructors fill in the form with the information on the reading, including the link, which the library staff verifies and confirms the link.

Nexus: Instructor Communication Portal

Did you know that PACE has an instructor only area on Nexus? All PACE instructors should have access to the PACE Instructor Communication Portal (reach out if you don’t). The Instructor Communication Portal acts as an instructor handbook and professional development area.

The Content tab contains folders that are much like chapters in an instructor handbook. Those sections cover off topics ranging from an overview PACE, our programs, and acronyms, to how to create your course, to how to close out your course and get paid (always a hot topic). Other sections under Content have links to recordings of all the PD sessions we held over the past year, and help files for Nexus.

New this fall is the creation of Discussion Forums where instructors can share tips and tricks, and pose questions.

If you haven’t looked at the Instructor Communication Portal, be sure to check it out!

Nexus Changes… or how to make things easier for instructors

Shrek said it best “Change is good donkey”.  

The pandemic has made (almost) everyone take a closer look at what they do, and PACE is no exception.  Looking at our course delivery, we’ve examined assessments, testing, delivery, learning outcomes, and our use of the learning management system (Nexus).  We’ve identified areas for improvement, gauging improvement in terms of the impact on students.  A large component of that has been around consistency across courses and programs.  A number of adjustments have been identified and this fall we will make some additional changes.  While the end goal is the impact on the learner, these changes do impact instructors – we hope in a positive way.  A number of the changes are intended to provide consistency, but also make things easier for instructors, particularly when looking at who is responsible for doing which task.

Specifically, PACE will:

  • create all assignment drop boxes
  • input all due dates
    • for consistency, assignments will typically be due at 11:59 p.m. the day before class
  • create all quizzes
  • set quiz dates
  • set feedback views
    • for consistency, these are typically set for the day after the quiz runs so everyone is finished before feedback is available 
  • create all grading items
  • link rubrics to drop boxes
  • Note on due dates: drop boxes and quizzes will not have an expiry date.  Instructors will have to check for overdue item flags.  This has been done to ensure feedback features are available and remove some administrative work.

Instructors are responsible to:

  • create and upload content
    • for consistency, a standard format for content layout is provided
  • create and post Zoom meeting instructions (if applicable)
    • for consistency, this is posted to the course home page as an announcement
  • create and post assignment instructions
  • create and post rubrics
    • If needed PACE can help with the posting of rubrics in the rubric tool
  • grade assignments
  • publish assignment feedback
  • create and submit to PACE quiz questions
    • PACE has guidelines available for creating quizzes and tests; the inclusion of feedback for multiple choice questions is highly recommend
  • grade quizzes
  • input any grades without associated items (example: participation grade)
  • communicate with students and provide grading information
  • export and submit grades on completion of the course
  • submit invoice

We hope that this allows instructors to focus on content and coaching, rather than administrative pieces like creating drop boxes. Over the past year, we’ve done a number of lunch and learns on many of these tools, look at the Nexus Instructor Communication Portal – PD Sessions for links to the recordings.

FIPPA and PACE Instructors

It seems like a small thing, but it’s good for PACE instructors to realize that the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FIPPA) applies in their role as contract staff for the University.   FIPPA is a provincial statute that controls how certain entities in the province collect, use and disclose personal information. FIPPA also provides a right to request copies of records retained by these entities, and in the case of records containing the personal information of the requester, a right to seek corrections.  The University is specifically named in the legislation as an ‘educational body’; employees include anyone who handles personal information in the course of providing a service to the University, which includes contract instructors. Records created by contract instructors in the course of their employment with PACE are subject to disclosure under the access to information provisions.

FIPPA details the types of personal information that are covered by the legislation.  Some of it is pretty basic: name, address, student number, but it goes beyond that to include views expressed about an individual.  Records covered by the legislation include anything written or photographed or electronically stored; that includes notes on class performance, emails to and from students, and emails about students. 

In practical terms, any notes an instructor keeps on a student, any email messages about a student, these are covered by FIPPA.  An individual student can request those records regardless of where they are stored, kept, or transmitted; a contract instructor can be asked to produce the notes they kept during a course or the emails that were exchanged about a student – even if that is sent through the instructor’s personal email account.

The University has some recommended practices for email located here: https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/privacy/records-management/email-management.html

And general information located here: https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/privacy/privacy/index.html

A recent request from a student for emails about them brought this to light as the instructor had to search their personal emails and produce them as part of the response to the FIPPA request.  Instructors may want to consider using the University email system for all communications related to teaching to help maintain privacy of records and avoiding searching personal emails should a request be received. 

Nexus Tip… Okay Nexus Reminder

You probably haven’t noticed but I try to put out a Nexus tip each month. This month, with too much sun, too many student papers, and just too much to do, I don’t have a tip. Instead, how about some reminders?

Nexus Quizzes

Nexus Quizzes have the ability to provide students with feedback. When creating questions, it can be inserted in advance to become visible after the quiz is finished. With the settings PACE uses, students see what questions they got wrong, and with the feedback feature, can also see any comments the instructor creates for that question.

It’s also good to remember that for the quiz feedback feature to work, even to show students what question they got wrong, the quiz cannot have a closing time set.

For that reason, PACE quizzes are left open with a due time. Students can write after that time, but instructors don’t have to accept late submissions (refer to our late policy for guidelines on that). Instructors will have to manually overwrite that late quiz score though.

Nexus Assignment Drop Boxes

As of this month, the Assignment Drop Box set up is also being changed to remain open. There is still a due date and time, but late submission can be put in by students. Instructors will have to review submissions that are late to determine if they meet the late policy or are not accepted.

Nexus Discussion Boards

Discussion boards can also be set with different features. This includes group settings and due dates. The due dates feature allows for the closing of discussion boards so that students stay in the current week / topic; an issue that occasionally comes up with students posting comments weeks after a topic has been covered.

With the group settings, a discussion board can be set to allow only specified groups of students access. This is particularly useful in large classes, where the same topic can be broken out into different discussion groups to provide students with an opportunity to make a post without having a thread that has 30 or 36 students responding to it!

The importance of a rubric

To steal from Ferris Bueller: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you cannot overemphasize the importance of a rubric.

This week I had a meeting with a student to discuss their assignment grade. I know what you’re thinking but no, it was not because the student felt the mark was too high, the student was “upset with the mark”, to quote their email requesting the meeting.

I had asked the student to review my comments in the assignment in advance, and to review the rubric and comments there. When the meeting came, I was not surprised that the student hadn’t done that in advance. I had a feeling that wouldn’t occur, so we went through some of the comments first to highlight where I had found areas for improvement, then we looked together at the rubric and where the student scored. The rubric had been available since the start of the course, so the student knew what was being assessed, and now we compared the submission back to it.

I could see the student nod their head as I explained how their response fit into the score I had used: analysis was incomplete, no supporting sources provided; more than 5 grammar and spelling errors; excessively long quotes (the student had quoted an entire page of bullet points into their submission).

As the meeting drew toward closing, the student shared with me that before the meeting they knew the paper was not perfect, but felt it was an 80% mark, after reviewing the rubric the student confessed they could clearly see that it was a 60% paper and my marking was fair.

A well prepared rubric is important for any assignment: it speeds up marking by instructors; it allows students to see in advance what is required; it provides feedback for improvement; and it supports marks when asked, avoiding grade appeals.

Want to know more about rubrics? Look back at some of our past blogs:

Zoom Training?

If you are looking for some tips on using Zoom in teaching, we received an email about this opportunity:

Contact North|Contact Nord webinar titled How to Use Zoom in the New (Blended) Normal: Models for Student Inclusion and Engagement. I’ll be offering it for the first time on Thursday, June 10 from 11:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). In the webinar, I’ll be discussing 7 teaching models for the phased-in return to campus this September, and how Zoom can play an integral role in all models – even in face-to-face classes. Special emphasis will be given to how you can ensure all your students are fully included and engaged whether they’re on-campus or remote. For more details about the webinar and to register, please visit  https://teachonline.ca/webinar/how-use-zoom-new-blended-normal-models-student-inclusion-and-engagement I hope you’ll be able to join me, but if you’re unable to a recording link will be published shortly after the webinar at https://teachonline.ca/webinars

Don’t know the group at all so count vouch for the training, but it is free 😉

Moving away from exams

I just finished reading this article from BC on removing exams from a first year physics course: https://bccampus.ca/2021/05/11/effectively-moving-away-from-traditional-proctored-exams-in-first-year-physics-courses/

The instructor supplemented the course assessments by having students record a video of themselves explaining concepts that are in the assignments!

Would this work at PACE? For sure!

Nexus assignment drop boxes can receive any electronic file (with the caveat that there is a size limit), and all of our full time students take Effective Oral Communication where they record themselves and upload the recordings – ie. our students know how to do this already!

The article author points out that this has NOT stopped academic misconduct, but it has prevented it, somewhat, but has had a positive impact on the course.

The article is well worth the 5 minute read and the idea would be worth exploring in your course.