Creating A Syllabus

Dear Colleagues,

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an excellent guide to creating effective course syllabi.

As you transition to Canvas, take the time to upgrade your syllabus using some of these ideas.

Let us know how we can assist you.

Comments? Questions?

Jim O’Connor

Additional Canvas Training

I wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of the fact that the TCUS Canvas Team have added more Canvas training session to their Canvas training calendar.  To see the training topics and when these sessions are offered, go to the main Touro Canvas website at and click on the TRAINING CALENDAR button (the direct link is:  Some of the topics that have been listed include:
  • General Canvas Training Sessions
  • Canvas Course Usability Testing
  • Canvas Rubrics
  • Turn-it-in plagiarism checker
Additional sessions will be added.  Remember that all sessions are offered via Zoom.
Previous topics have included:
  • Discussion Forums
  • Assignments and the Gradebook
  • Quizzes, and Question Banks
  • Canvas Outcomes
  • Student Group Assignments
  • Peer Review Assignments
Finally, a reminder that the transition website for the Western Division and TUC is available at  This site contains a variety of items, including how to videos and hand-outs for both faculty and students.  We are adding to these faculty and student resources every few days.
As always, if you have any questions please let Jim or myself know.
Michael K. Barbour

Canvas Tech Tip of the Week! Finding Dead Links

Dead links can be a nuisance to end users of your course. To avoid this, you should validate your links about once a week.

1.       Open your course, go down to Settings on the Course Menu.

2.       On the right-hand side, you will see a button

3.       Once you open this page, click on Start Link Validation

4.       You will be returned a list of any broken links within the content of your course. Go to the page indicated and correct the broken link.

5.       Run the Link Validator again. Continue this process until you get the message below.

Debbie Millican

Classroom Discussions

Dear Colleagues,

It is heartening to know that many of you are integrating classroom discussions into your course in order to enhance more active student learning.

The Yale Center for Teaching and Learning’s website is an excellent resource for those of you who want to use more classroom discussions.

Some basic recommendations from this website include:

  • Prepare a structure – Because class discussion can be less controlled, instructors should have clear expectations for themselves and for students about topics to cover. Instructors might develop several key big-picture questions to ask at the beginning of class and have groups answer by the end of class. Part of a solid discussion structure also includes explicit details defining participation and grading.
  • Regulate the discussion – Instructors should feel free to insert themselves into conversation in order to keep conversation on track. Students especially appreciate this tactic when a few students monopolize conversation. After ensuring that groups are functioning well, instructors can invite especially talkative students to continue conversation after class or in office hours.
  • Address inequity in participation – Instructors should be aware when students of particular gender, race, class, or abilities are systematically marginalized in class. Instructors can refer to inclusive class climate for strategies to ensure that all students are enable to participate. To this end, instructors can set ground rules for discussion in the syllabus, or invite students to help formulate class rules.
  • Give quieter students time to answer questions – Instructors can consider strategies for ensuring that students have time to formulate answers, and that quieter students have alternative opportunities to enter discussion. In class, instructors can allocate a few minutes for students to think about their answers to a question, and then have them discuss with a partner (see think-pair-share above). Additionally, instructors can email out a worksheet with key ideas which students should be prepared to define or explain in class, or a list of conceptual terms and ideas for students to chew on before and after class.
  • Model active listening – The behavior of an instructor plays a huge role in the tone of a class. Instructors should regularly show appreciation for student comments, substantively responding to them by fleshing out good ideas and pushing back on flawed arguments. Additionally, instructors can encourage students to build on each other’s ideas.

There are excellent links on Yale’s website including:, which is Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation.

This website has a particularly good overview of the types of questions to ask during discussions.

If we can assist you with implementing discussions in your class, please feel free to contact me to meet with you by appointment.

Questions or comments?

Jim O’Connor

Canvas Tech Tip of the Week! Using iCal Feed

Would you like to add your Canvas calendar events to a calendar in another web email application such as Google or Outlook? Go to your Calendars in Canvas (found on your global menu) and select the calendar you would like to feed into another application. (see below)

Once the calendar is selected, click on Calendar Feed.

Select and Copy the URL.

Open your Google Calendar. You can do the same with your web-based Outlook. Click on Add a Friend’s Calendar. Select from URL.

Paste the URL as shown below. Do not select the box to make the calendar public.

Click on Add Calendar. You will now see your Canvas event in your Google Calendar.

Debbie Millican

Attachment: Using-iCal-Feed.pdf

Tips for starting the year: Suggestions from CILT

Dear Colleagues,

I found some great suggestions from Stanford’s Teaching Commons website about starting off the year on the “right foot”.

There are some excellent tips in this article including:

  • Learning your students’ names.
  • Diligently vetting your classroom space
  • Arriving early to class
  • Greeting each student as they arrive to class
  • Getting students invested in your topic
  • Setting expectations for students
  • Teaching something important and interesting on the first day
  • Making your class memorable

Please read the article for details.

Questions or comments?

Why are we here? Our students!

Have a great academic year. Let me know how I can assist you in improving your teaching.

Jim O’Connor Ph.D.
Professor and Founding Dean Emeritus of the College of Education and Health Sciences
Director of the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching, Western Division
Touro University California
1310 Club Drive
Vallejo, CA 94592

Know your LMS – Canvas (Creating a Sign-up Sheet)

You are invited to the following Canvas training session tomorrow at 11:00 AM. Click on the link below to join the Zoom meeting.

Session 2 (Tuesday, July 31 11:00 AM)
How to Create a Sign-up Sheet using the Scheduler (30 minutes)

  • This session will cover using the Calendar Scheduler feature to create a sign-up sheet for students in Canvas.

Debbie Millican

Canvas Training Via Zoom

Over the next two weeks, we will be offering Canvas training sessions in Zoom.  Please see the times and registration links below (note that advanced registration is required).

Tuesday, July 31 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
– Register at

Wednesday, August 1 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
– Register at

Thursday, August 2 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
– Register at

Monday, August 6 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
– Register at

Wednesday, August 8 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
– Register at

Thursday, August 9 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
– Register at

–> Introduction to Designing Course Content – An overview of the main functions needed to be able to design course content in Canvas. Functions include creating pages, uploading files, adding links, embedding Kaltura videos, etc..

Michael Barbour


Dear Faculty Colleagues

The Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching of Touro’s Western Division is pleased to announce that we are offering an online ACUE (Association of College and University Educators) Course in Effective Teaching Practices designed to enhance our campus commitment to faculty and student success. A limited group of (33) faculty participants will be selected to complete the nationally-recognized Certificate in Effective College Instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE).  The cost to participate in the program will be funded by the Provosts’ Offices at both Touro University Nevada (TUN) and Touro University California (TUC) with no cost to you or your department.

The Course consists of 25 modules that will be completed online with a cohort of other faculty and guided by facilitators from TUC and TUN. The modules include five units of study: Designing an Effective Course and Class, Establishing a Productive Learning Environment, Using Active Learning Techniques, Promoting Higher Order Thinking, and Assessing to Inform Instruction and Promote Learning.  You can learn more about the Course and the content of each module here:

Attached and below is a tentative schedule for the ACUE Course at Touro Western Division. ACUE will kick off the program with an in-person Course Launch on Friday, August 3rd  from which participants will complete their first module. The Course will begin on August 6, 2018 and go through April 21, 2019 with coursetakers completing approximately one online module each week.  There will be four face-to-face sessions, each following a course block.
Participants will need to spend approximately two to three hours for each unit, which will be presented using Canvas. It is important that you are willing to make a commitment to completing this course, as there are others who are on a waiting list.

The Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching (CILT) enthusiastically supports this initiative and looks forward to recognizing participants at the end of the course via a pinning ceremony.

Participants will also receive a check for $500 upon completion of the course and a certificate in Effective College Instruction.

There may be some openings available for interested faculty.

If you are interested, please email me immediately so we can place you on a wait list.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

Here is the current tentative schedule:

Touro University – Nevada and California
ACUE Course in Effective Teaching Practices
Proposed Course Sequence, 2018-19

Timeframe       Module  Unit    Meeting Topic
Aug 3, 1 – 4 p.m.        Course Launch – Motivating Your Students        2d      Orientation
BLOCK 1: Establishing a Productive Learning Environment
Aug 6 – Aug 12  Connecting with Your Students   2c      Supportive Learning Environments
Aug 13 – Aug 19 Promoting a Civil Learning Environment  2b
Aug 20 – Aug 26 Engaging Underprepared Students 2e
Aug 27 – Sep 2  Helping Students Persist in Their Studies       2f
Sep 3 – Sep 9   Embracing Diversity in the Classroom     2g
Sept 10 – Oct 7 Break or Makeup Weeks
BLOCK 2: Engaging Learners
Oct 8 – Oct 14  Planning an Effective Class Session     1e      Active Learning
Oct 15 – Oct 21 Delivering an Effective Lecture 3c
Oct 22 – Oct 28 Using Active Learning Techniques        3a, 3b
Oct 29 – Nov 11
(two weeks)     Planning and Facilitating Effective Class Discussions   3d, 3e
Nov 12 – Nov 18
Developing Self-Directed Learners       4e
Nov 19 – Dec 9  Break or Makeup Weeks           Celebrate!
BLOCK 3: Promoting Higher Order Thinking & Assessing Learning
Jan 14 – Jan 27 Leading the First Day of Class  2a      Higher Order Thinking
Jan 28 – Feb 3  Using Advanced Questioning Techniques   4a
Feb 4 – Feb 10  Using Concept Maps and Other Visualization Tools        4b
Feb 11 – Feb 17 Checking for Understanding      5d      Assessing Learning
Feb 18 – Feb 24 Providing Useful Feedback       5c
Feb 25 – Mar 3  Using Student Achievement and Feedback to Improve Your Teaching 5e
Mar 4 – 10      Break or Makeup Weeks
BLOCK 4: Designing Courses
Mar 11- Mar 24  Establishing Powerful Learning Outcomes 1a      Backward Design
Aligning Assessments with Course Outcomes       1b
Aligning Activities and Assignments with Course Outcomes        1c
Mar 25 – Apr 7  Preparing an Effective Syllabus 1d      Syllabus and Course Policies
Developing Fair, Consistent and Transparent Grading Practices    5a
Developing and Using Rubrics and Checklists      5b
Apr 8 – Apr 21  Makeup Weeks
TBD     Pinning Ceremony                Celebrate!
Course Ends – All reflections due by Apr 21

Thank you,

Yvonne M. Randall
Interim Associate Dean
College of Health and Human Services, Touro University Nevada


Jim O’Connor Ph.D.
Director, CILT

Attachment: ACUE-Course-ScheduleTouro_SuggestedCourseSequence_2018-19-3.docx

Canvas Tip of the Week! Analytics

There is some great information about course participation available at your fingertips in Canvas. Open a course in Canvas and on the right you will see:

Click on View Course Analytics and view great information for the users in your course. (See below)

Have a great weekend! I will try to send a Tech Tip for Canvas every Friday.

Debbie Millican