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2018 Spring Faculty Newsletter

Hello CSUSM faculty and welcome to the Spring 2018 semester. This newsletter is to update you on some of the activities that Instructional & Information Technology Services (IITS) has been undertaking over the fall break to get ready to help you with your instructional technology and other IT requirements for the new semester.  We hope you will find the time to review this update, as many of these items will touch on your use of technology in your teaching and other uses of technology.

Cougar Courses Reminders 

  • Speed up your course setup using this step-by- step set of reminders and "how-to" guides.
  • Make your courses visible when you are ready, and use the course Announcements to let the students know it is available.
  • Cougar Courses workshops are scheduled from Jan. 16 through Jan. 31View the workshop schedule and RSVP.  If you’re unable to make any instance of a workshop, and would like some one-on-one training, email  with a few days and times you’re available. 
  • Turnitin assignments – while you can now import these along with the rest of your content from previous semesters, you should modify the name of the assignment(s) from previous semesters to avoid submission and grading issues.
  • Adding students to your courseDuring Add/Drop it can take up to 24 hours for the system to add a student to your course after they submit the paperwork.  You ease their stress and help them to get off to a good start by adding them manually to your course.  

Campus App Connecting Students to CSUSM 

The CSUSM Campus App has seen a doubling of usage this past Fall, with over 201,000 unique starts of the App on mobile phones.  This was driven is large part by the addition of access to Cougar Courses, which saw 80,000 visits to the LMS via the App.  This usage has been enabled by changes in campus authentication, which now allow students to stay logged into the App for up to 7 days.  During this authenticated period, students can come and go within the LMS without the need to login every time.  Soon this capability will be added to PeopleSoft, as just last week, CSUSM completed the process to reface the entire Student Center for mobile access.  With the implementation of these pages and services, every student function can be done via the App utilizing a streamlined and mobile friendly visual presentation.  By Fall 2018, this mobile look will likely become the default for students regardless of device or browser, as they will no longer be seeing the rather dated appearance of the PeopleSoft pages. 

CSUSM Technology Strategic Planning Effort 

Throughout the Fall Semester, our campus’ technology strategic planning effort has been underway gathering faculty, staff, and student input on our technology needs, requirements, and expectations.  As this is the campus’ technology strategic plan, the effort has now received input from over 350 members of the campus community.  The process has included sessions with colleges and divisions, classroom visits, faculty & student open forums, and the Technology Policy & Advisory Committee has dedicated their entire Fall agenda to this dialog.  Unfortunately, the December fires interrupted two planned sessions, one being for CHABBS, however the team is working to reschedule and is striving to ensure all areas have an opportunity to share their perspectives.  All of the comments and prioritization data is being compiled to share with a campus level Working Group that is about to start their efforts to draft the plan.  A draft will be shared in April through various committees and the Academic Senate in order to receive further input and revisions.

Professional Development 

Our Tech Bites lunch and learn workshop series continues this spring, starting Feb. 8th.  Faculty can attend any of these stand-alone workshops, or choose from one of three themes and earn a certificate. Sessions will be live streamed via Zoom and recorded for those that cannot attend. See workshop descriptions, schedule and register.  

Accessibility for All Students

As the use of online learning management systems increases, it is vital that campuses incorporate accessibility from inception through implementation.  The Accessibility Compliance Team is available to work with individual instructors and departments to show them how to make Word, PDF, and PowerPoint files accessible for all students as well as Cougar Courses and mediaReview our resources or contact to setup an appointment. 

Teaching in University Hall or Academic Hall 

If you are teaching in either location, stop by the TRC in Kellogg 2414 to learn how you can use the touch monitor to take notes using OneNote or Word using your finger or a stylus.  Save your written notes and share them with your students through Cougar Courses.

CALM Update 

The CALM initiative continues to rack up student textbook savings with our totals as of Fall showing a total savings of $2,918,210.  In Fall alone, 82 courses were CALMed, saving 5,416 students almost $550,000.  While these are great numbers, and CSUSM is a leader in adoption regardless of campus size, we do see a slowing with only 12 new faculty last Fall and 2 this Spring.  To keep up with our initiative, please be on the lookout for the call for proposals in March.  The CALM folks would be happy to meet with individual faculty or whole departments to investigate opportunities and help them to start preparing.  If department chairs/associate deans/deans want information about the cost of the texts assigned, IDS can provide that as well as ways they can reduce the costs of their current texts.  In our continued commitment, CSUSM will be applying for an additional $50,000 in AB 798 funds. 

Share Your Teaching Gems with Others 

Instructors often ask us for examples of what others are doing in their courses.  We are interested in hearing from you about the technologies and/or pedagogical methods you have integrated in your teaching. Email with your gems! 

Enhancing Pedagogical Approaches 

A variety of pedagogical approaches are common and some strategies are more effective and appropriate than others. If you have been thinking about enhancing your approach, email us at to setup a consultation with one of our instructional developers. 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) 

Ever wondered if GIS would work for your classes? CSUSM students in a variety of departments (Liberal Studies, Sociology, History, Environmental Studies, Marketing, Public Health) have created over 8,000 GIS-related items in the past six months.  

  • Story Maps are the newest tool in GIS, combining maps, multimedia and your descriptive text into a web-based presentation – and making them is simple to learn.  Check out these examples of the kinds of story maps you and your students can make. 
  • Need help?  Visit our GIS website to learn more about using GIS in your classes.

Help Desk & Classroom Support 

Beginning this semester, if you seek help from our technology support team, you may notice a change in the Help Desk phone system. In the past, IITS maintained several different support phone extensions. Moving forward, you will only need to remember one number, x4790, to reach support staff in IITS. This will now take you to a menu of options, which will help route your call to the appropriate support area. When calling from a classroom using the "Classroom Support" button on the phone, this menu will be bypassed and calls from classroom phones will now ring on 8 phones throughout IITS simultaneously to ensure a timely response.


Technology Resource Center (TRC), in Kellogg Library 2414 

If you’re new to CSUSM, this is a faculty-only workspace where you can get help and training from Instructional Development Services (IDS), meet with a colleague or just get some work done in a quiet place. Throughout the fall we have made additional upgrades to this space, including: 

  • adding touch-screen monitors to four stations 
  • adding dual monitors to four stations 
  • Installing twelve lockers, where faculty can securely store personal items while on campus.  
  • The Mini-Hub – this is a large rolling touchscreen computer useful for brainstorming, annotation, meeting notes, and maybe a few things we haven’t thought of yet. 

 use mini-hub to teach

Teaching using the MiniHub.

Media Production Services (MPS) 

  • If you or your students need help with media-related work or checkout equipment, please contact us at 
  • The Learning Glass recording system is more popular than ever. If you need to record while diagramming or writing equations, this is the way for you. 
  • Did you know? CSUSM students watched over 36,000 hours of video on our Mediasite media delivery system. 
  • Are your students struggling to understand concepts?  Need to record a micro-lecturer while you attend a conference?  If so, you can use My Mediasite Desktop Recorder from home or our editing rooms. 

Wireless Improvements Connecting the Campus Community 

We all know that wireless connectivity is a very important service for students, as well as faculty and staff.  For the past two summers IITS has been upgrading outdoor wireless and the numbers for Fall semester are in, with over 12 Terabytes of data traveling over CSUSM' wireless network.  This is a massive increase in usage, as locations were upgraded or coverage added across the campus.  For example, a new access point outside of Markstein Hall immediately jumped to the fourth most used location on campus at just short of 1 TB of data.  The most popular wireless locations are around the USU, as they served up a combined total of 3 Terrabytes of data alone.  In case you were curious about the top wireless sites, it was Netflix at 51.5TB, followed by Youtube at 23TB, and iTunes at 8.3TB. 

Web Conferencing (Zoom) 

Did you know? CSUSM used over 1 million meeting minutes in the Fall semester! That’s across 4,400 meetings. Think of the travel savings and reduced carbon footprint. 

example of web conferencing with people in background 

A CSUSM instructor presents remotely at a conference in Hyderabad, India.