Academic Technology Innovation Grant Awards Spring 2018

Lesley professors Jo-Anne Hart and Matt Nash were recently awarded Lesley University Academic Technology Innovation Grants. Jo-Anne’s grant award will supplement the cost of student enrollment in a virtual exchange with students in the Middle East. Matt’s award will fund the purchase of professional audio production resources that include a sound effects library and a Mackie-controlled DAW audio mixer. 

This Spring, twenty undergraduate students enrolled in Jo-Anne Hart’s Modern Middle East History course will engage in an 8-week virtual cross-cultural exchange with English-speaking undergrad students in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Using the virtual exchange tool Soliya, each Lesley student will be enrolled into an online discussion group of about 12-15 other students. This technology platform allows students to explore how their identity impacts the way they view and approach the world, as well as how they communicate with those with different perspectives.

Screenshot of Soliya Exchange Portal

Soliya Exchange Portal from

According to Jo-Anne, the live discussion forum, as a complement to the face-to-face course sessions, will “help bring the Middle East alive in important ways for my students. I will build my syllabus around their direct, active, learning experiences. In class I will have the Lesley students report back to us about their virtual exchanges each week. Students will keep a journal and write a reflection about their experiences and I will ask my students to draw on their exchange learning as part of their analyses in their exams.” 

Matt Nash, Chair of Digital Filmmaking, was awarded a grant for the purchase of a Mackie-controlled DAW professional audio mixer and a Hollywood Sound Effects audio library. The pairing of the hardware with the audio library will provide a full set of audio resources for faculty and students at all four levels of the Digital Filmmaking and Animation and Motion Media programs. The audio libraries will be installed on all computers in the LUCAD labs and available for students to use in their projects. The mixer will be permanently installed in the sound booth or editing workstation in Lunder 017 (or, alternatively, made available as a checkout item for students through Lockup).  

If you are interested in applying for an Academic Technology Innovation Grant or you would like more information on grant qualifications, please visit the Academic Technology Innovation Grant info page or email your questions to: 

New and Improved myLesley Features

The myLesley upgrade brought with it several new and improved features designed to enhance the teaching and learning experience. These features are designed to save you time, improve efficiency and easy of use, provide a much improved mobile experience, improve accessibility of your content and Blackboard functionality, and enhance assessments and grade capabilities.

Discussion Board “Replies to Me”
A new count and filter identifies unread replies to your Discussion Board posts, allowing you to quickly and easily keep up with large Discussion forums.

screenshot of discussion board replies to me


Drag and Drop Files
Easily drag and drop files from your computer to the hot spot in the Attach Files area to upload them. Students can also drag and drop files to upload their assignments.

screenshot of dragging and dropping assignment file


Collaborate Ultra Available in Groups
You now have the ability to allow Collaborate Ultra webinar sessions to Groups pages. If allowed, students can meet online, share content and use the whiteboard, as well as record their online meetings. For more information see Group Tools or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra: Getting Started.


Improved Mobile Device Navigation 
The new myLesley theme includes navigation improvements for both the system and course menus. When you access myLesley on your mobile device, the navigation appears a hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) for persistent access from screen to screen. Within a course, the menu opens and closes more easily with fixed location action.

screenshot of mobile view


More Responsive Blogs and Journals
Blogs and Journals have been better optimized for use on mobile devices. Posts and comments will render on smaller devices and options for filtering posts or navigating groups or users will appear below currently viewed posts.

New Inline Grading Tool
The new inline grading tool, New Box View, is now available in myLesley. This streamlined grading tool accepts more file types. For more information see Grading myLesley Assignments or view the tutorial video below.


More Efficient Grade Center Cleanup
You can now easily clean up your Grade Center, including bulk deleting grade columns. Manual and calculated columns are removed completely, and columns associated with gradable items are cleared of attempt and grade data but remain in the Grade Center.

Before deleting columns, check very carefully that it’s the right column. Deleted grade columns cannot be recovered. For more information see Organize Grade Data.


Submission Receipts
Once you submit an assignment, the Review Submission History page appears with information about your submitted assignment and a success message with a confirmation number. For assignments with multiple attempts, you receive a different number for each submission. You will also receive an email with your confirmation number and details each time you submit coursework.


Improved Grading with Rubrics
When grading with rubrics, the instructor can save feedback and the content will remain saved when changing the rubric view from in-line to full screen. For more information on rubrics see myLesley Rubrics.


Missing Coursework Reminders
You can now send email reminders to your students directly from Grade Center columns to remind them about missing coursework.

Why Can’t I Change the Color of my Course Menu?

I used to be able to change the colors on my course menu, but now it’s not working. What happened?
In short, the recent myLesley upgrade introduced a new theme, or look and feel. The new theme does not allow instructors to change the course menu background color or text color.
Why the change?
The new theme brought many improvements, including increased speed, the ability to adapt to your screen/device, and improved bug fixes. Unfortunately, the downside of these improvements is that the ability to change the colors in your course menu has been lost. We had conversations with members of TL Tech and it was decided that the benefit of an improved user experience outweighed the few features that were lost.
What can I do?
While you may no longer customize the color of your course menu. You may, however, add different colored menu buttons. To add menu buttons, navigate to your course Control Panel, select Customization, and select Teaching Style.

screenshot of course control panel

Scroll down to Select Menu Style. Click Text for the default black background with white text. Or click Buttons to create colored menu buttons.
select menu style

Click Button Library to expand the button library. For Button Type you may select pattern, solid, or striped. For Button Shape you may select rounded corners, rectangular, or rounded ends. Select the button color and style you want and click Submit at the bottom of the page to save your changes.

image of button library

Please note that the menu text color will remain white. As a best practice, we recommend that you select a button color that has a good contrast with the white text for readability and accessibility.

If your menu item has a lot of text and rolls onto a second line, your second line of text will not be visible in the button. Instead, your text will appear in the black space below your button. See the “Reading and Additional Resources” menu item in the screenshot below.

Sample course menu with buttons


Can I add a banner to my course?
Definitely! You can easily add a course banner to, at a glance, differentiate between your courses. The banner will appear at the top of your course’s landing page (ex Announcements) and allows you to add a pop of color or personality to your course such as the fall leaves in our image below.

sample myLesley course with banner

To add a banner image, navigate to your course Control Panel, select Customization, and select Teaching Style.
screenshot of course control panel
Scroll down to Select Banner and click Browse My Computer to upload an image. Please note that Blackboard recommends using an image that is approximately 480 x 80 pixels for your banner image. You my create or edit an existing image using a photo editor, such as Pixlr Editor.
select banner
Once you have uploaded your image, click Submit at the bottom of the page to save your changes. The banner image will then appear on the course’s landing page.

myLesley is available!

myLesley is now on the latest version of Blackboard (Q4 2017). Most of the changes are behind the scenes to improve performance.

However, there are a few changes you should be aware of:

  • A new look using a more responsive theme that will allow you to better access myLesley regardless of your device (computer, tablet, phone).
  • Blackboard is updating its inline grading tool for grading student submitted assignments directly in myLesley to the New Box View.
  • Blackboard IM (BB IM) has been retired from myLesley. We recommend switching to Skype for Business and Collaborate Ultra.
  • Collaborate Original has been retired from myLesley and replaced with the newer and easier to use web-based Collaborate Ultra. Collaborate Original recordings will still be available through this academic year, but you will not be able to create new Original sessions.

If you have questions or concerns, please email


12 Days of Learning from Decembers Past

Oops … We’ve been busy preparing for the Blackboard upgrade and lost track of time.

This time of year we like to provide you with a little treat, The 12 Days of Learning, that we have borrowed (er, shamelessly stole) from Hoonuit (formerly Atomic Learning). Unfortunately, this year our time and energy have been focused on the upcoming Blackboard upgrade. So, in lieu of new content, here is a recap of 12 Days of Learning from Decembers past.

Have a wonderful winter break and we’ll see you again in January!