Discover new tools to help you teach in an online environment.

Technology Tools Currently Integrated with Blackboard

At EdPlus, our philosophy is that technology can provide instructors and students with the means to succeed in their online courses and meet their career goals.

In the past, we shared a comprehensive list of third-party tools used in ASU Online courses. In this post, we will share the technology tools that are deeply integrated with Blackboard and you can start using today. We will also discuss tools that we are currently piloting and planning on integrating in the near future.  Continue reading

Incorporating RefWorks into your Online Course

We have entered a generation in which technology has enabled students to have 24-hour access to information at their fingertips.  With this ease of access also comes the opportunity for students to be able to quickly grab information from various sources, websites, and databases.  This has caused the task of citation dictation to become difficult and more confusing than ever before.  In most online courses, students will be required at some point to submit a writing assignment in which they are instructed to use a specified style of writing to properly cite their references.  How can instructors more effectively assist their students with this daunting task and make the process of citation dictation effortless?

Refworks logo

RefWorks!  What is it and how does it work?

RefWorks is a “web-based bibliography and database manager that allows you to create your own personal database by importing references from text files or online databases and other various sources.”  In conjunction with the use of RefWorks, students can use databases such as PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane, and search engines such as Google Scholar to locate and import articles or journals directly to their RefWorks account.  RefWorks also aligns with Write-n-Cite for in-text citations and acts as another method to create a bibliography.

How to Incorporate RefWorks into your online Course

As a best practice, it is encouraged to begin by providing students with information pertaining to the basics of research and citation style guides (ex: Purdue OWL: Online Writing Lab; 6th edition of the Publication Manual of American Psychological Association).  Once students identify and understand the style required by their instructor, they can proceed by accessing their RefWorks account and begin adding articles, journals, and much more to their database.

To help get students started, course instructors should include clear directions and information on how to set up a RefWorks account for new student users and a link to the RefWorks login page for existing student users.  If students have more detailed questions that are specific to their research, use of certain databases, or the import of articles and journals into their RefWorks accounts, instructors can direct students to contact their ASU Subject Librarian or send an email to

Helpful Resources


  1. What Is RefWorks? (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2015, from
  2. Welcome to the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab). (n.d.). Retrieved July 9, 2015, from

Co-written by Obiageli Sneed and Jessica Cole

Four Instructor Tips for Incorporating New Technologies into your Online Course

Finding unique ways to implement and deliver student activities within an online course can be quite challenging to many instructors.  Most of the difficulty revolves around the concepts of translating on-ground course activities to the online environment and how to revitalize an old activity with new technologies.  This article provides four essential tips that will help to shed light on these common instructor dilemmas and provide effective ways on how to incorporate new and innovative technologies into your online course.

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Using Common Blackboard Tools in Non-Traditional Ways

The Blackboard Learning Management system offers a variety of tools that help instructors manage the process of delivering instruction within an online course.  Some of these functions are more commonly used such as discussion boards, groups, and the assignment feature, but what about the rest?  What other functionality do some of the other Blackboard tools offer and what are some ways it which they can be used?  Within this article we will explore the use of one of these tools, the Journal tool, and offer a few ways in which it can be used within your online course in non-traditional ways. Continue reading

Five ways to utilize ASU Libraries in online courses

1. Provide a Back-Up Plan For Books That Ship Late

Have you come across the student who ordered a textbook, and through no fault of his own did not receive it in time to complete the first assigned reading? This is an unfortunate way for students to begin a course, and it can usually be avoided. Utilize the library’s reserve services to make the first chapter of a book available electronically. Generally, the library can digitize one chapter or 10% of a book for your course. To learn more about which materials are eligible and to find the online request form, see Reserve Service Guidelines.

2. Introduce Students to Resources to Help Them Succeed

ASU provides services that help students succeed, and the library is just one of them. With thousands of electronic resources available to students from any location, the library is a rich source of information for online students. Research guides on various topics, such as History and Nutrition are available. There are also research guides for specific courses, such as ENG 102/105/108 First-Year Composition. You can explore different guides by topic here. Did you know there is also a library page devoted to ASU Online students?

The 2015 Horizon report identifies “improving digital literacy” as a significant but solvable challenge. “With the proliferation of the Internet, mobile devices, and other technologies that are now pervasive in education, the traditional view of literacy as the ability to read and write has expanded to encompass understanding digital tools and information.”[1] Even in courses without research requirements or another obvious need for library services, introducing students to these resources is a nice way to support their overall academic endeavors. Work with your Instructional Designer to add the library link to a course menu, or consider mentioning it in your course introduction.

3. Embed Videos

Videos are a nice addition to other course materials in an online environment. ASU Libraries provide access to streaming videos through Academic Video Online Premium (aka Alexander Street Press) and Films on Demand. If your favorite YouTube or Vimeo content is no longer available, remember the library provides access to thousands of educational videos students can view online. For help adding videos to Blackboard, contact your Instructional Designer, or see Linking Videos in Course Management Shells.

4. Provide Instructional Materials on Citation Styles

Students are often required to use a citation style, such as APA or MLA, when writing course papers. Many first-year students are using a citation style for their first time, and the extra amount of time formatting takes can initially come as a big surprise. There is a growing consensus that online students need more self-discipline to succeed than those in on-ground courses.[2] Help students early on with a tip: if this is their first time using a style guide, they should allow themselves time to learn about the citation style before writing the paper. Supply links to the library’s resources, such as the Citation Styles guide, which includes examples of various citation styles, plus links to additional help resources.  If you prefer that students consult use a full, official style guide but are conscious of textbook expenses, the Chicago Manual of Style eBook is available fully online through ASU Libraries!

5. Fully Utilize ASU’s Resources to Promote Critical Thinking Skills

Findings of a recent study in which students and faculty ranked student preparedness on 58 e-learning competencies suggest that “while students may be reasonably prepared to deal with the technology of e-learning, for activities such as reading and writing, being clear and concise in responses, synthesizing ideas, planning strategies, making arguments, and working with others, students are not well prepared.”[3] Librarians are knowledgeable about resources and teaching strategies that promote critical thinking skills, and they have ideas to share that are especially helpful for courses with a research component. They can direct you to tutorials to add to your course, or they may suggest collaborating to create new ones. Identify your subject librarian!


  1. Johnson L, Adams Becker S, Estrada V, Freeman A. NMC horizon report: 2015 higher education edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. 2015. Accessed April 24, 2015.
  2. Allen IE, Seaman J. Grade Change: Tracking online education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC. 2014. Accessed April 23, 2015.
  3. Parkes M, Stein S, Reading C. Student preparedness for university e-learning environments. Internet and Higher Education. 2015, 25, 1–10.

Six Google Drive Add-ons to Enhance your Teaching Experience

Arizona State University offers Google Apps for Education to all students, faculty and staff. Google Apps for Education is a suite of free, secure tools which include Gmail, Calendar, Documents and Sites. Recently, Google launched the “Add-ons” feature which brings very useful Apps Script based extensions to Docs and Sheets. Add-ons are very easy to discover and install and they become available across both Docs and Sheets after installation.
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3 Technologies You Can Use Today to Improve Academic Integrity In Your Online Course

Two in every three students admit to having cheated in their courses, and students in online courses are more likely to cheat than in students in face-to-face courses. Academic integrity is an issue in education and besides pedagogical and community building solutions, instructors may use technology tools built to check and prevent academic integrity violations in online courses. In this post I will briefly introduce three technologies you can use today to improve academic integrity in your online course.

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