Skip to main content

Digital Support Update, August 6, 2020

Digital Support Update, August 3, 2020

Dear faculty and staff,

Greetings again from the IT Digital Support team. We have six updates this week, all for faculty who are preparing fall courses.

  1. Final summer Teaching Community of Practice Faculty Panel session is August 5th, focused on accessibility and equity (Caroline Melly, Laura Katz)
  2. Perusall now available in Moodle
  3. Slack available for course uses beginning August 10th
  4. New workshops: multimodal classroom preview; “putting it all together” integrative workshop; two new Slack offerings
  5. iPad Pro Program update
  6. Materials available from academic department chairs meeting on Fall 2020 Technology Support for courses

Details are in the corresponding numbered sections below.

As always, please submit help questions via the Request Help link on the digital support site: (Smith login required). Requests that go to individual staff members may take longer to get an initial response and may introduce delays in getting you connected to a person who can help with your specific question.

1. Teaching Community of Practice Faculty Panel August 5th

The final summer Teaching Community of Practice Faculty Panel session is August 5th, focused on accessibility and equity, featuring faculty speakers Caroline Melly and Laura Katz. To sign up, select the Sign Up For A Workshop link in the faculty section of the digital support site and find the panel listed in the pedagogical workshop category. This workshop is co-sponsored by the Sherrerd Center and the Learning, Research, and Technology group.

2. Perusall now available in Moodle

Perusall allows you to add documents and readings for collaborative annotation and markup. Some publishers make their materials available for use via Perusall as well. This tool is now available to those of you teaching fall courses. To access Perusall, log in to Moodle and browse to one of your fall courses. Then you can add Perusall as an activity or resource as an external tool type. Note that Persusall is in the early adoption phase at Smith. This means that it has been licensed for use by anyone at the college, and we are in our first term using it and understanding how to best support and enable its use broadly. We’ll provide help materials and training sessions in the coming weeks, but those of you who want to check it out right now are free to do so.

For a few more weeks, you can access the new Moodle via In late August, we will switch back to Our use of the new Moodle setup at this time is focused on formal courses being taught in the fall.

If you do not see your course or are unable to log in: You may not see what you’re looking for just yet if you are new to Smith or if your course/teaching assignment isn’t fully updated in our systems. This is not unusual during the summer as we have changes in course and instructor lists. Please contact for assistance.

3. Slack available for course uses beginning August 10th

Slack is a collaboration and communications tool that is being officially supported at Smith for the first time as of this fall. It will be available for course uses beginning August 10th. We will provide help materials in the next few days, and our workshop program now includes sessions on “Teaching with Slack” and “Slack User Essentials,” which also begin the week of August 10th. Learn more by selecting the Sign Up For A Workshop link in the faculty section of the digital support site.

We know that Slack will have many great uses on campus outside of formal courses, too. We will work on setup and support for those uses later in the fall, after we have done everything we need to do to get courses off to a good start.

4. New workshops

In addition to our existing program of workshops, we have three new offerings to highlight. To sign up, select the Sign Up for a Workshop link on the faculty section of the digital support site, and browse the workshop list to find the specific titles. We will continue to add additional workshops in the next two weeks as well.

Multimodal classroom preview (beginning week of August 3rd)
For those who want to get a sense of what it will be like to run a class with in-person and remote participants simultaneously. These short sessions will take place in Seelye 101. You may register for in-person or remote attendance; you do not need to do both. (Those who attend in person must bring a laptop, wear a mask, and adhere to classroom physical distancing guidelines.) Priority for the August 3-7 sessions are for faculty who want to sign up for the multimodal “putting it all together” workshop the week of August 10th (see item below).

Note that these are *not* sessions to learn how to use the Extron control panel. Sessions on how to use specific Smith classrooms will take place in late August after classroom assignments have been made by the registrar’s office.

“Putting it all together” integrative workshops (week of August 10th; registration available August 4th)
This three-part workshop provides an explicit scaffold and context for the range of pedagogical, planning, and practical (tools) needs in preparing fall courses. Within the larger course context, we focus on the kind of experience the faculty member wants the student to have in the course and the specific pedagogical goals to be addressed. Then we think about how to translate that larger pedagogical context into specific activities, with a particular focus on ensuring equity and accessibility in each activity. Finally, we focus on the tool(s) that can enable these goals and activities, and we plan for how to integrate those into the course in a seamless way.

There is a remote teaching version of this workshop August 10-12 and a multimodal teaching version of this workshop August 12-14. We meet for 75 minutes each of the three days. Those attending the multimodal version need to attend a multimodal classroom preview prior to August 12. All registrants will be asked to complete 30-45 minutes of advance work prior to the first workshop session.

Slack workshops (beginning week of August 10th)
As mentioned in item 2 above, we are offering two new workshops on “Slack User Essentials”, which includes an overview and hands-on practice of Slack basics; and “Teaching with Slack”, which focuses on how to use Slack as part of a course.

5. iPad Pro Program Update (for faculty teaching Fall 2020 courses)

In the last few days, we have begun responding to faculty requests to purchase or borrow an iPad Pro, as the case may be. If you haven’t heard about the status of your request, you will soon. We will let you know as soon as the equipment arrives and is ready for distribution. Keep in mind that delivery timelines have been affected by the pandemic, which is the reason for the delay. For more information, consult the program overview.

6. Materials from academic department chairs & directors meetings

Over the last couple of weeks, I have met with the academic department, program, and center directors to outline the digital support model for fall courses, answer questions, and identify items for ongoing follow up. The deck from the July 22nd meeting and a subsequent narrative version are available for viewing by anyone with a Smith login.

Thanks to those of you who have read this far, and please join me in recognizing the many staff from ITS, CATS, the Libraries, the Museum of Art, the Imaging Center, and other campus units who are key partners in our efforts to support a successful fall term. We’ll be back in touch soon with more updates.