Take Attendance with UNC Check-In App

checkin app on phoneAre you manually taking attendance in class and keeping track of a semester’s worth of attendance on pieces of paper? Save yourself valuable class time and the trouble of potentially losing these records by using the new UNC Check-In app opens in new window.

The UNC Check-In app allows instructors to specify brief time intervals during which students mark themselves present when in proximity to Bluetooth beacons, which are now available in all General Purpose Classrooms opens in new window. More great news — you can import your class attendance directly into the Sakai Attendance tool and link it to the Gradebook.

We are very excited to release this app to campus and want to give a huge thanks to Teaching Professor in the Psychology Department, Dr. Viji Sathy, who has been instrumental in the development of this app and its continued improvements. Hear more from Dr. Sathy about the benefits to students and instructors in the ITS Annual Report opens in new window.

“When I contact students about missing [class], they’ve been surprised that I’d do so given the size of our class. They are genuinely touched that the instructor would reach out to them individually to check on them.”

— Dr. Viji Sathy

We’re also thrilled that our project team won a UNC IT Team Award opens in new window at the 2019 CTC Retreat. Thanks to Dr. Sathy and everyone who has provided feedback.

1) Getting Started

Instructor: Add your course to the UNC Check-In app system opens in new window. Your course should be added within 30 minutes.

Students: Install the UNC Check-In app on your smartphone [Google Play opens in new window | App Store opens in new window]. Allow Location access only “While Using the App.” Log into the app with your Onyen.

2) Take Attendance

Instructor: In your classroom, go to the UNC Check-In Dashboard opens in new window and manually open the 15-minute check-in window. If a student cannot check in, you can manually enter their attendance on the dashboard.

unc checkin logoStudents: On your phone, open the UNC Check-In app, select your class, and click “Check Into Class.” You must be in the classroom with the Bluetooth beacon assigned to your class to manually check yourself in. You should receive confirmation once successfully checked in.

Note on Student Privacy: Location services must be enabled only while using the app in order for your smartphone to detect the Bluetooth beacon in the classroom. Your location is never saved or shared. Students must actively check themselves in, as the app does not automatically record your attendance.

3) Review / Grade

Instructor: Access the UNC Check-In Dashboard opens in new window to manage your class attendance. On the dashboard is where you will open the check-in window, manually check-in students, make updates, and export the attendance data. The attendance data can be imported into the Sakai Attendance tool and linked to the Gradebook.

Students: You may view your “Check-In Records” on the app (hamburger menu) or through the UNC Check-In Dashboard opens in new window for the current semester. If you want to see past terms, contact us through “Support Request” from the app menu.

Get Help

We invite you to review the Instructor FAQ opens in new window and Student FAQ opens in new window to see step-by-step instructions with screenshots. Within the app hamburger menu, you can:

  • Submit a “Support Request”
  • See a quick “Tutorial” on using the app
  • “Send Feedback”

LinkedIn Learning Now Available

welcome to linkedin learningWe are excited to share that you now have access to LinkedIn Learning, the on-demand learning solution designed to help you gain new skills and advance your career! LinkedIn Learning includes all Lynda.com content and more, and is available to all UNC-CH Faculty, Staff, and Students at no cost to you.

For more details and to access UNC’s LinkedIn Learning portal opens in new window, visit:

linkedin.unc.edu opens in new window

LinkedIn Learning is available to you through Information Technology Services. See the ITS story on the upgrade opens in new window featuring one of our very own Teaching & Learning members!

What is LinkedIn Learning?

LinkedIn Learning is an award-winning industry leader in online training, with a digital library of thousands of courses covering a wide range of technical, business, software, and creative topics. It has all the features of Lynda.com but with added insights and social engagement that make learning a more personalized and data-driven experience.

With LinkedIn Learning, you get:

  • Unlimited access. Choose from more than 6,000 video tutorials covering business, creative, and technology topics
  • Personalized recommendations. Explore the most in-demand skills based on your experience
  • Expert instructors. Learn from industry leaders, all in one place
  • Convenient learning. Access courses on your schedule, from any desktop or mobile device
  • Helpful resources. Reinforce new knowledge with quizzes, exercise files, and coding practice windows

Please note that if you have a personal LinkedIn account, it will not be connected to your UNC LinkedIn Learning account.

Action Required of Lynda.com Users

If you have been using Lynda.com, you must activate your UNC LinkedIn Learning account to transfer your Lynda.com history to LinkedIn Learning. Simply log into linkedin.unc.edu opens in new windowto activate your account. This must be done by March 2020 to avoid losing your data.

Also, if you have saved any Lynda.com links outside of the Lynda.com platform, in your course syllabus or on a WordPress site for example, those links will automatically redirect through March 2020. After this time, those links will no longer work. See details on updating your links at linkedin.unc.edu opens in new window.

Happy Learning!

Graded VoiceThread Assignments

VoiceThread logoIf you are sharing media with your students, we highly encourage you to check out VoiceThread new window icon! VoiceThread transforms your media into collaborative spaces and allows you and your students to communicate on each other’s media. It brings the human component you get from face-to-face interactions back into the digital world.

You can access your UNC VoiceThread account through unc.voicethread.com new window icon.

Why Use VoiceThread?

One of the great things about VoiceThread is its flexibility. Users can privately share VoiceThreads with individuals or an entire class, moderate or turn off comments, or make VoiceThreads completely interactive and have all users add text, voice, or video comments as they please. Participants are not forced to be present at the exact same time but can contribute on their own time.

VoiceThread can be used in a number of different ways new window icon. Here are just a few examples of how you might consider using VoiceThread:

  • Upload lecture slides and record presentation over slides — great way to save valuable class time or make up snow days!
  • Share set of media and have students give their opinion on that media
  • Ask students to upload their papers into VoiceThread so that you can instantly share feedback through comments
  • Individual or group student projects around media to be shared with instructor or entire class
  • Students can recite passages for foreign language courses

Setting up VoiceThread Assignments

To make things even better, instructors now have the option of setting up graded VoiceThread Assignments in Sakai that are linked to the Gradebook! You can require students to:

  • Watch a VoiceThread
  • Add a comment on your VoiceThread
  • Create a VoiceThread

VoiceThread Assignments are set up through the Sakai Lessons tool. See our VoiceThread Assignments tutorial new window icon for step-by-step instructions on setting up your VoiceThread Assignments.

create voicethread assignmentHere are some helpful tips new window icon on VoiceThread Assignments before you get started:

  • VoiceThread Assignments are automatically worth 100 points. This can be modified in the Gradebook
  • Only add the VoiceThread tool to your site for ungraded VoiceThreads
  • VoiceThread Assignments must be created through the Lessons tool. Do not use the Assignment Builder option within the VoiceThread tool
  • Comments students add to other students’ VoiceThreads cannot be graded

Submitting VoiceThread Assignments

When students are ready to complete their VoiceThread Assignments, they will navigate to the Lessons tool you have set up and linked to the VoiceThread Assignment. Once students have completed the required task of either watching, creating, or commenting on a VoiceThread, students must click on the blue “Submit Assignment” button in order to receive credit.

Step-by-step submission instructions can be found on our VoiceThread Assignments tutorial new window icon.

submit voicethread assignmentGrading VoiceThread Assignments

As soon as the first student submits to the VoiceThread Assignment, a Gradebook Item will automatically be created. It will default to 100 points but you can change the weight in the Gradebook. You can enter scores directly in the Gradebook or through the VoiceThread Assignment interface by clicking on the Lessons link you created. Students are not required to have submitted to a VoiceThread Assignment in order for you to manually give them a score in the Gradebook. See our VoiceThread Assignments tutorial new window icon for more details on grading.

grade voicethread assignmentIf you need any assistance with setting up VoiceThread Assignments, just let us know by submitting a help request new window icon or signing up for a personal consultation new window icon. We’re here to help you!

Spring 2018 Semester in Review

Another semester has come and gone, and Summer courses are already well underway! Let’s take a moment to look back on another successful semester here at Carolina.

Before we dive into numbers, we wanted to say a quick thanks to the featured UNC students in the current photo on the Sakai gateway page!

From left to right: Patrick Buhr, Arijit Datta, Branden Pantoja, Han Wang
Photographer: Damian Walker


With Sakai being the University’s central learning management system, it’s no wonder there were over 4,000 courses in Sakai this semester!

Course sections: 4,039
Course sites: 3,216
Unique instructors: 2,273
Project sites to date: 3,587

Here are the top 10 tools in Sakai for Spring 2018:

table of top sakai tools: groups, messages, gradebook, course reserves, syllabus, announcements, gradebook classic, roster, assignments, drop boxVoiceThread

What is VoiceThread, you might ask? Think of this tool as a set of slides of images, documents, videos, PowerPoint slides, or really anything to be shared online. Your collaborators can post comments on your VoiceThreads, adding to a rich discussion around your shared media!

MonthVTs CreatedUsage in MinsTotal Comments


Do you have videos you need to share privately with your students? Consider using Warpwire, the video-streaming service available directly in your Sakai course site. You can add videos through the Warpwire tool or just use the Warpwire plug-in in the text editor to essentially stream videos in any part of your Sakai site!

MonthFiles CreatedUnique ViewersTime Watched
January2,0863,09845d 9h 54m 10s
February2853,83267d 17h 27m 42s
March3302,43138d 20h 53m 52s
April3623,14853d 23h 23m 13s
May 1-137656710d 16h 5m 37s
TOTAL3,13913,076216d 15h 44m 34s

Poll Everywhere

This semester we had 261 active instructors using Poll Everywhere, including 51 new accounts. Check out the overall usage since we’ve had Poll Everywhere available at UNC!

Instructors: 568
Participants: 45,932
Polls: 32,997
Poll Responses: 4,445,848

Thanks for a great semester!

Access Thousands of Free Tutorials on Lynda.com

Did you know you have access to thousands of video tutorials on hundreds of different subjects on Lynda.com? To make it even better, all this access is available to you for FREE. This opens up a great opportunity to develop new skills and work on your professional goals using Lynda.com.

Instructors can use Lynda.com to support a flipped classroom learning environment by assigning instructional videos to watch outside of class time and then have more time in the classroom for collaboration and mastering the concepts. Faculty and staff can stay up to date with online training, learn new leadership skills, create learning pathways for professional development, and increase productivity with custom courses taught by industry professionals. Lynda.com is available to all faculty, staff, and students at UNC.

Accessing Lynda.com

To access Lynda.com, go to the UNC Lynda.com sign-in page.

Lynda.com learning pathwaysYou may consider downloading the exercise files to go along with the instructional videos. This way you can practice and apply what you are learning from the tutorials. Some of the exercise files may include templates, self-evaluations, action plans, worksheets, and comparison charts. All exercise files are carefully crafted to sharped your skills and support teaching and learning. We highly recommend checking them out!

Lynda.com Stats: UNC Fall 2017

Take a look at the top 10 Lynda.com courses viewed at UNC-Chapel Hill in the Fall 2017 Semester!

  1. Illustrator CC 2017 Essential Training
  2. HTML Essential Training
  3. Illustrator CC 2015 Essential Training
  4. WordPress Essential Training
  5. Premiere Pro CC 2017 Essential Training: The Basics
  6. Excel 2016 Essential Training
  7. Programming Foundations: Fundamentals
  8. Project Management Simplified
  9. Excel 2013 Essential Training
  10. JavaScript Essential Training

Fall 17 lynda.com statisticsHere is the total summary for UNC for Fall 2017 (Aug 22 – Dec 17 — 117 days):

  • 64,707 videos watched
  • 4,570 hours of instructional videos watched
  • 752 certificates of completion
  • 25-minute average viewing time per login

See what courses might interest you on Lynda.com!

Blackboard Collaborate Upgrade

December 21 calendar iconOn Thursday, December 21, 2017, we will upgrade Blackboard Collaborate to Collaborate Ultra within Sakai. Collaborate Ultra is a completely redesigned version of our current Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing tool. The new mobile-friendly solution is described as “a real-time video conferencing tool that lets you add files, share applications, and use a virtual whiteboard to interact. Collaborate with the Ultra experience opens right in your browser, so you don’t have to install any software to join a session.” It is simple, fast, and more accessible.

Benefits & New Features

Collaborate Ultra still has many features you have been accustomed to using in  classic Blackboard Collaborate:

  • Share desktop, slides, whiteboards
  • Video and audio capability
  • Record sessions and MP4 conversions
  • Breakout rooms
  • Guest join links
  • Chat

The most notable difference in Collaborate Ultra is the browser-based, modern interface that makes it easy to host an online conference. Here are some of the new features in Collaborate Ultra (view feature showcase here):

  • Browser-based — no software to install!
  • Modern, adaptive interface
  • Make Captioner — assign a user to provide real-time closed captioning
  • Make Presenter — easily give students limited presenting privileges
  • Launch via Blackboard app on mobile device
  • Improved polling
  • Customized video layout
  • Network connection quality indicator

Impact to Users

Blackboard Collaborate will still be available in Sakai sites that have the tool enabled prior to the upgrade, along with access to recorded sessions. After we upgrade on December 21st, you can add Collaborate Ultra to your site through Site Info > Manage Tools.

While the overall experience in Collaborate Ultra will be a huge improvement to most users, who use it simply to screen-share, chat, and collaborate with others, we should note that some features in Blackboard Collaborate are not yet in Collaborate Ultra:

  • Support large scale webinars — Ultra currently supports 100 users (Goal: 1,000)
  • Pre-load slides to greet users as they enter webinar
  • In-session invites
  • Advanced Whiteboard options
  • Remote desktop control
  • Built-in graphing calculator, notes tool, timer
  • Print whiteboard and participant list
  • Save chat, whiteboard, participant list

Ultra Sneak Peek

Here is a sneak peek to Collaborate Ultra! You’ll find that the look and feel is modern and updated, however the functionality in terms of setting up your webinar rooms will feel  very similar to Blackboard Collaborate.

List of Sessions:

collaborate ultra session list viewCreate a Webinar Session:

view of creating collaborate ultra sessionCollaborate Ultra Tutorials & Support

We recommend checking out Collaborate Ultra’s tutorials and support documentation referenced below, but here is a quick list to get you started. Contact the ITS Service Desk to let us know if you need any assistance or want to get early access to the Collaborate Ultra Experience!

Tutorials on YouTube

Online Community

Technical Support


VoiceThread Update

voicethread logoVoiceThread is a web based application that creates a media rich collaborative space for you and your students to interact.  A VoiceThread is a collection of media, such as a presentation, video, documents, or images, and then conversations develop around each piece of media.  Members with access to the VoiceThread can comment by recording a video using their web cam, a microphone to record audio, or type a text based comment.  You can even use the Doodler to annotate your slides while commenting.  During playback, the doodles will play back in sync with your voice.

By far the greatest potential of VoiceThread lies in the creative opportunity it provides for students to tell their own stories and to contribute to or directly critique the narratives of their peers.  Educause

Click here to access VoiceThread @ UNC.

Create VoiceThreads

There are several ways to create a VoiceThread. While VoiceThreads are most commonly imported as PowerPoint (.pptx) files, some PowerPoint slides with images do not scale well once imported into VoiceThread. Because of this, we recommend first saving your PowerPoint as a series of JPEG images and then uploading those JPEG images into VoiceThread.

Video created by Penn State and available for use under Create Commons license

VoiceThread Usage

The following table compares VoiceThread usage.  The 2016 year includes data from January 1, 2016 until August 21, 2016 and the 2017 year includes data from January 1, 2017 until August 21, 2017.  Voicethread data chartThere were more comments made in 2016, but 2017 has seen an increase in media imported and VoiceThreads created.

VoiceThread Usage Total 2017 Total 2016 Daily Avg. 2017 Daily Avg. 2016
Usage in Minutes 1360935 1492635 5815.96 6351.64
Media Imported 23466 18736 100.28 79.73
VoiceThreads Created 3436 1949 14.68 8.29
All Comments 17633 19672 75.35 83.71
Text Comments 3707 3246 15.84 13.81
Audio Comments 10492 13136 44.84 55.9
Video Comments 3434 3290 14.68 14
User Comments 17611 19641 75.26 83.58


VoiceThread has been great to work with over the years. In particular, their dedication and continuous improvement to make VoiceThread more usable by all learners has led to new features.  For example, VoiceThread Universal allows individuals to hear the VoiceThreads using screen readers, and closed captions can be added to audio presentations and comments.  Download a copy of VoiceThread’s Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)

VoiceThread’s 5 methods of commenting and diverse set of media options make it the most broadly usable communications platform in the world. Users who are deaf or hard of hearing, are vision impaired, have ADD, ADHD, or dyslexia, or have any other physical and cognitive differences can participate using a recipe that they make themselves. The principles of Universal Design for Learning underpin the entire platform.

If you want to learn more about VoiceThread and using this media rich tool in your course, sign up for one on one consultations with an ITS-Teaching and Learning consultant. VoiceThread offers workshops online and includes a library of past workshops and training to be viewed at your leisure.

ITS Annual Report 2015-2016

cci_printing_mobileThe ITS Annual Report was just released last month! Find out what exciting work Teaching & Learning and all of Information Technology Services has worked on from August 2015 through July 2016.

Here is a quick rundown on facts and figures for Teaching & Learning from each of our divisions. Stats are from August 1, 2015 to July 12, 2016:

  • 8,080,696 pages printed through CCI Printers
  • 144,086 Virtual Lab sessions
  • Nearly 200,000 exams scanned July 2015 – June 2016
  • 29,000 unique Sakai users
  • 3,915 Spring 2016 courses in Sakai
  • 6,560 Classroom Hotline room checks

See more highlights from Teaching & Learning!

3-Year Classroom Upgrade Project in Home Stretch

200 classrooms have been upgraded from analog to digital equipment. With these upgrades, we are better able to support and troubleshoot devices for instructors. Often times we remotely check the classroom equipment and make sure everything is up and running before anyone even walks into the classroom. Some of the digital-upgrade classrooms also received upgraded cameras and microphones to provide a better experience for web conferencing. Check out the following video and our previous post to learn more about classroom upgrades:

Greenlaw 101 Renovation

image of faculty and staff in greenlaw 101

Another classroom that got a huge upgrade is Greenlaw 101. If you haven’t been to this room in the past year, we highly recommend taking a quick stroll to Greenlaw Hall!

Our very own Bob Henshaw led a planning group comprised of staff from ITS, the Center for Faculty Excellence, and campus administrators, who worked with over two dozen faculty members across a wide range of disciplines to identity key instructional goals for a final design. Greenlaw 101 has been transformed from a lecture hall with stadium-style seating into a classroom with a middle ramp that splits three tiers into six learning zones, populated with moveable tablet-arm seats on casters. Instructors can now easily move around and interact with individual students and groups. Several monitors also line each section of the room, which allow students to easily view content and display their devices.

CCI Printing Goes Mobile!

With 60 printers in 45 locations across campus, CCI Printing is one of the most convenient ways for students to print. The University’s official mobile app, CarolinaGO, was launched in November 2015, and it includes the CCI Printing map. The map automatically updates every 2 minutes, providing users with live updates of each printer’s status, nearest printer locations, and better support since we can easily see if a printer is low on supplies or needs technical attention.

Sakai Q&A with Jeremiah Joyner


Did you know that 70% of all instructors now use Sakai? Check out this Q&A on Sakai Stabilization with Jeremiah Joyner, Manager of the Sakai Support team.

In case you haven’t heard, we are upgrading to Sakai 11 in December, bringing even more updates and new features to the system!

You can view the full ITS Annual Report from all ITS departments, which includes stories, videos, and other stats on the services we provided to the UNC Campus.

New! Streaming Media Campus Solution

We have very exciting news!

If you have been looking for a way to share videos or have students upload recordings to share with your class, search no more. We now have a campus-wide media streaming solution! Introducing…


So what exactly is Warpwire? Think of a YouTube-like service in your Sakai site. Instead of uploading a file that each user has to download and then watch on their computer, the video will be embedded directly on the Sakai page. You and your students just click play and the video will play instantly. It’s that simple!

Why Use Warpwire?

There are many advantages to using Warpwire!

  • Upload video, audio, and image files and securely stream in Sakai
  • Record and upload media files straight to Warpwire from any mobile device or computer
  • View detailed analytics (% viewed and viewed segments)
  • Create private library collections and share with individuals or groups
  • Have students upload videos to share with classmates or privately with instructor

Getting Started

image of warpwire plugin

If you are interested in using Warpwire, just submit a request through help.unc.edu to have Warpwire added as a tool on your Sakai site. Once we add it, you will then see Warpwire as a tool in your left Tools menu on your Sakai site and as a plug-in in all the tools with the rich-text editor. Just look for the blue W!

Warpwire Help


Here are help options to assist you with using Warpwire:

Don’t forget we also offer personal consultations or you can contact us through the ITS Service Desk at help.unc.edu or 962-HELP.

Happy streaming!

Communicate More Visually with Less

ss_punchWe are less than a month away from the start of Fall Semester! Instructors, you are probably gearing up for new students, new classes, and a new semester. Now is a great time to review some of your lecture material as you do your prep work. We know many of you are using PowerPoint slides for your lectures so we wanted to bring back our presentation design series:

Communicating Visually: A PowerPoint Design Series

In this series we covered basic principles of good PowerPoint design to not just make your slides more visually appealing, but to ultimately help your students better grasp the content of your lecture and therefore improve their learning experience. We highly invite not just instructors but students and staff members to take a look at these principles and design tips to enhance your presentations!

Principle #1: Communicate More with Less

ppt_presenterIf you only change one habit in PowerPoint, make it this:

Put less stuff on each slide

Everyone has seen a slide with a list of bullet points, but students cannot be expected to attentively listen to the lecturer while frantically reading and copying a slide full of text. You may still need all the slide details, so here are two tips:

  1. Hide the slide
  2. Hide your notes

Both tips allow only you to see your slides and notes as you present instead of your entire audience. Click here to find out details on hiding this content.

Principle #2a: Communicate Visually with Imagery

Images are instrumental in connecting to the audience emotionally by enhancing a speaker’s key points and conveying more than words can describe. Images draw viewers into your story, can mark a transition point in a presentation, and serve as a mnemonic device.

For example, which slide grabs your attention?

ansp_butterfly_text          compfight_butterfly_egg

Click here for more on imagery!

Principle #2b: Communicate Visually with Infographics

Infographics visually illustrate a complex idea or system and can dramatically improve your lecture by simplifying processes you are describing, visually showing relationships between ideas, and creating another mnemonic device for your audience.

For example, you can turn this slide:

visual.ly_chickens   into this   visual.ly_chickens_infographic_crop

See more on infographics.

Principle #2c: Communicate Visually with Illustrations

Illustrations and icons can be just as useful in visually communicating your ideas to your audience. Always consider the audience prior to choosing imagery, as using an appropriate style for the clip art you choose creates support for your credibility.

For example, for a higher-ed audience, opt for clean, sophisticated clip art with a professional quality–

beaker_tableClick here to learn more about using illustrations in your presentations!

Principle #2d: Communicate Visually by Disguising Bullet Lists

Sometimes you can’t help but use a list of text. Instead of using a bullet list, disguise it through these simple text layouts, offered by Connie Malamed of “The eLearning Coach“–

  1. Organizing text into boxes
  2. Placing the content into a table
  3. Diagramming (see example below)

ppt_diagramPrinciple #3: Limit the Distractions

We understand that limiting text on slides and inserting graphics and different text layouts can be overwhelming. If you do not have the time to review your slides, consider helping your audience focus on the content you are delivering during your presentation by limiting the distractions. Here are two tips to keep in mind:

  1. You do not need an exorbitant number of slides
  2. Every slide does not have to be overly designed to be meaningful

Relying too heavily on PowerPoint during a presentation could occasionally distract your audience when they should be listening to you. Consider taking a pause from the visuals when you need to make a key point. Read more on limiting the distractions.