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2019 Fall Faculty Newsletter

Hello CSUSM faculty and welcome to the fall 2019 semester. This newsletter is to update you on some of the activities that Instructional & Information Technology Services (IITS) has been working on to support your use of technology for teaching, research, student advising,and other work tasks. We hope you will find the time to review this update.

Cougar Courses Reminders

  • Cougar Courses has been updated with a more modern and intuitive interface. Workflows for creating and structuring content are optimized to save instructors time. A personalized dashboard makes it easier to track due dates, messages, activity and assignments needing grading across all your courses. Get more information about the updates. 16 August release date. 
  • Teaching Online? Our online course template incorporates best practices and saves you time setting up your online course.   Email us at should you need assistance. 
  • Cougar Courses workshops are scheduled from August 20 through September 10. New this year are workshops on PollEverywhere and Ally.  View 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 dates and times you’re available.
  • View our Introduction to Cougar Courses video series.

Inspiration Studios

Faculty and students at CSUSM are requesting capabilities to explore new technologies that require spaces and equipment that are incompatible with standard classrooms and their uses – more akin to lab and studio spaces in the Arts and Sciences. After receiving input from instructors across campus from a variety of disciplines, we spent the summer redesigning our Media Production Studios. We now have a dedicated photography studio, learning glass studio, and two upgraded production studios for video and AR/VR as well as new carpet and paint throughout. This reimagined use of space has been rebranded as Inspiration Studios. We invite you to contact us to discuss how you and your students can be inspired and experience these emerging technologies.

hallway before paint
Before paint & carpet

hallway after paint
After paint & carpet

photography equipment
Photography Studio

Some examples of new frontiers we're helping to explore:

  • Extended Reality (XR) is a blend of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality that has become very popular over the past decade. We've seen depictions of XR in movies and television shows for many years, but recently the consumerization of these technologies has moved them from the exclusivity of expensive government labs to the living room. Around the world millions of people don headsets and experience virtual worlds every day.
  • 3D scanning, modeling, printing and motion capture - allows the design and creation of three-dimensional objects as well as tracking them in space and time.
  • Immersive video recording - the Insta360 One X allows recording 360-degree video that places the viewer in the middle of the action and create virtual experiences for the XR systems. 

Contact us at to schedule a tour. Keep an eye out for our grand opening invitation and our Dell AR/VR day in September! 

Professional Development

apple with bite missing

The Tech Bites lunch and learn workshop series for AY 19-20 starts September 12th. Based on your feedback, we’re including a wider range of topics focused on these themes: 

  • Using Media to enhance learning
  • Data collection, curation and visualization in ArcGIS
  • Managing the learning environment
  • Tools for document management and sharing 

Faculty can attend any of these stand-alone workshops or attend five and earn a certificate.  See workshop descriptions, schedule and register.

Universal Design for Learning & Blackboard Ally 

Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. Thanks to advances in educational technology, we are seeing an increased demand for more options and more flexibility when it comes to how students learn. Instructional materials that students can access easily, and in a format they prefer, is one key to academic student success. Blackboard Ally is a tool in Cougar Courses that helps instructors build a more inclusive learning environment and improve the student experience. Learn how to use the new Ally tool, strategies for creating more accessible course materials, address the common issues identified by the Ally tool, and increase the accessibility of your course by attending one of our Tech Bites workshops or email to setup an individual consultation.

Student Response System

As of fall 2019 the iclicker receivers will become obsolete. Anyone who uses iclickers will want to start using Poll Everywhere. Poll Everywhere is a great engagement tool that works much like iclickers? It is free to students! The automatic gradebook sync feature and student iclicker registration in Cougar Courses will no longer be available. Please come to one of our Poll Everywhere training sessions to learn more about it, or contact if you have any questions. The RSVP form is right on the page. 

CALM Update 

The Cougars Affordable Learning Materials (CALM) initiative helps faculty find lower-cost alternatives to costly textbooks by using high-quality Open Educational Resources (OER). In academic year 2018/19 15 faculty, teaching a combined 118 course sections, participated in CALM. These sections contained 9,181 students, with an average savings of $119 per student. The total textbook savings for students is $1,092,539, and the total savings between 2013 and 2019 is over $4.4 million dollars. We are still accepting applications for the CALM professional development opportunity for AY 2019/20.

Multifactor Authentication

As part of a systemwide initiative, CSUSM also began the initial deployment of multifactor authentication for individuals who have elevated or sensitive levels of access into CSUSM systems. Beginning in the fall of 2018, CSUSM implemented the Duo multifactor authentication software into applications that store or process “Level 1” confidential information. Similar to other products, DUO uses a smart phone to validate access for individual users.  This added protection has proven to be a minor inconvenience for staff in exchange for much greater security.  Implementation for all faculty and staff will continue through 2019-20 with the eventual deployment to students. 


Perusall is a collaborative reading annotation tool. In addition to uploading URLs and PDFs, you can now add Word and Excel documents. For instructors of computer science or statistics, where students work with source code, you can also upload source code files in most major languages to your course. Perusall automatically adds syntax highlighting to the code and students can discuss it like any other reading. This video offers a good brief overview.

If you'd like help getting Perusall setup, contact

perusall example

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Story Maps 

Desktop GIS applications 

  • As GIS technology and software evolve, so do our offerings.  IITS is now providing access to ArcGIS Pro and QGIS along with continued access and support for ArcMap desktop software. 
  • ArcMap, ArcGIS Pro and QGIS have been installed locally on the computers in the GIS Lab (SBSB 1108).  Check the lab schedule for open lab time when classes are not scheduled. 
  • All three applications are available via CougarApps.  This means they are also available via the Start Menu on all computer lab computers. 

Online GIS Applications 

  • ArcGIS Online CSUSM is one of the top 20 university campuses in the world in usage of ArcGIS Online!  Contact IITS’ GIS Specialist Allen Risley ( to get an ArcGIS Online account for yourself or your class and for consultation on how to integrate GIS into your curriculum. 
  • Community Analyst/Business Analyst – These online tools can help you create color-coded data maps or demographic/market research reports and infographics in just a few clicks.  Available as part of your ArcGIS Online account. 
  • Survey123 – This online data collection tool lets you automatically attach location information to data that you enter in an online form using your smartphone.  Easy-to-learn web authoring interface. 

Want to know more about GIS or get GIS help?  Contact Allen Risley ( for help adding a GIS component to your class or using GIS in your research.

Extended Learning Building Instructor Station

Every classroom in the new Extended Learning Building classrooms has an instructor station that has a large Dell Canvas interactive tabletop display paired with height-adjustable table. Instructors can use it as a traditional desk or a fully interactive tool. If you would like to see our original prototype, and provide feedback, visit the Technology Resource Center (TRC) in Kellogg 2414. Our team of instructional designers will be happy to give you a demo and discuss how you can use OneDrive and OneNote to engage your students.

el desk

Refresh Computers

It take a village... a village of IITS staff and students pulling together to unload, unpack, tag, and store 1,000 computers (our largest number of units) that are used for the annual computer refresh program. This year we accomplished this task in roughly 3 hours. There is still work ahead as we work to make sure you get your new equipment on time and ready to go.

IITS Staff and Students

CSUSM Technology Projects 

If you want to know more about the projects that IITS is involved with, or want to know how to partner with IITS, visit our project tracking website that shows progress on IT projects and how the projects align to the needs of the campus community. Visit the Instructional and Information Technology Services website to learn more about our teams, services, and campus IT strategic plan.

Degree Planner

Advising Tool for Faculty 

  • Reduce misadvising by allowing the Degree Planner to display the correct requirements based on students’ GE Catalog Rights and Major/Minor Catalog Rights. 
  • Students wanting to “Crash” your class?  Use Degree Planner to conduct real-time analysis for a student’s progress toward his/her degree. 

Schedule Build Tool for Faculty 

  • Degree Planner provides the data for the Course Need Report given to College Deans and Associate Deans every semester.  (September 18, 2019) 
  • Students are directed to update their Planners to tell us what requirements they plan on fulfilling the following term right after Add/Drop. (Over 95% of undergraduates use the Degree Planner.) 

Class Advertising Tool 

  • Degree Planner can provide the list of students ready and needing to take a course next semester.  This way you can direct student communications to market your new courses, topics courses and/or newly opened class sections.  Submit a Data Request for a list of students.  

Register now for for one of our TechBites workshops and learn more.