Instructional Support and Research Support Monthly Updates

New LMS Announced: Instructure Canvas

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will begin transitioning from our current learning management system, Blackboard Learn, to Instructure Canvas. OIT will be rolling out Canvas beginning fall semester 2016. 

Blackboard Learn will remain active and fully supported until May 31, 2017. The decision comes after a yearlong evaluation of LMS options, a series of open product demonstrations, and a formal competitive bid process as required by the state. A committee composed of faculty, staff, and students evaluated the teaching and learning and technical proposals on their merit. The committee agreed that Canvas was best positioned to help us achieve our goals.

Over the last five years, faculty and students have expressed a desire for a more updated and robust "next generation" learning management system. The evaluation committee was most impressed with Canvas and thought it best met the needs of our faculty and students going forward. Canvas provides an updated user interface, ePortfolios, easy media and content management via drag and drop, an enhanced mobile experience, attendance tracking, and robust learning analytics to support instructors and students. These are just of a few of the exciting features and functions that Canvas provides.

We are committed to making this a smooth transition. We will be developing and communicating plans for the transition from Blackboard to Canvas over the next several weeks. For the transition to be successful, instructors must be confident that they can use Canvas to manage and deliver course content in an effective and engaging manner. The transition plan will describe opportunities for instructors to learn how to use Canvas, both through small-group training sessions and through individual consultations. Instructors will be able to move existing courses from Blackboard to Canvas when they are ready to start using the new LMS. Please watch your e-mail for more information about the transition; we are early in the process, and there is much to do.

Apply Now for the OIT Faculty Fellow Program

Cary StaplesThe OIT Faculty Fellow Program assists in advancing exemplary teaching and enriching the experience of students by implementing projects that enhance their department's use of instructional technologies. Faculty Fellows also promote the services available through OIT. Fellows are appointed each academic year pending budget approval. For more information, see the Faculty Fellow Responsibilities and Application Process on the OIT website. Deadline to apply is June 1, 2016.

Sebastian Dubreil The current Faculty Fellow, Professor Cary Staples, Graphic Design Program, recently collaborated with former Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor Sébastien Dubreil, in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, to enhance learning across disciplines. Their goal is creating for-credit courses using gaming as a foundation to increase foreign language learning. Staples and Dubreil recently presented at "Reimagine Education" at the Wharton School of Business, on the topic.

Join us for the Summer Accessibility Program: Only a Few Spots Left!

Summer Accessibility Program logoThe UT System recently adopted an Accessibility Policy that reiterates its commitment to providing and supporting a teaching and learning environment that is accessible to all.

  • Get Ahead of the curve!
  • Ensure your instruction and course materials are available for all students!
  • Learn more about accessibility from the students perspective!

Join us for the Summer Accessibility Program, a hands-on workshop for instructional faculty. Over the course of 12 hours (three half-days), you will engage with students, collaborate with accessibility experts, and learn more about the tools and methods used to convert course materials to meet accessibility standards.

Register Now! Workshop sessions are being offered twice. The first week, June 6-8, is already full. Only a few spots are still open for June 14-16.

1st Session FULL: June 6, 7, 8

2nd Session still available: June 14, 15, 16
Time: 8:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.
Location: 406 Greve Hall



Day 1:
  • Understand the end-user experience
  • Hear from students with disabilities and the Office of Disability Services staff
  • Experience tools that will help you determine if materials are accessible
Day 2:
  • Learn how to create accessible documents: Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDFs
  • Get hands-on time to make your course syllabus accessible
Day 3:
  • Create accessible course assignments
  • Create a course introduction video, including captioning
  • Wrap up
Sessions will be facilitated by staff from ODS (Office of Disability Services), OIT, TennTLC (Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center), and Online Programs.

You will receive Adobe Acrobat Pro (one-year subscription) or equivalent assistance to help you create accessible course materials.

You must register to reserve a spot as there is limited seating.

For questions, contact either Jennifer Gramling at or Jean Derco at

For more information about accessibility, go to UT's Accessible Information, Materials & Technology website.

Microsoft Office for Windows Accessibility Checker: How Does it Work?

Microsoft Accessibility Checker - ScreenshotThe Microsoft Accessibility Checker in Windows, displays an error when content makes a file very difficult or impossible to read when using assistive devices. The checker tests for the following rules that improve the accessibility of a file:

  • All objects have alternate text
  • Tables specify column header information
  • All slides have titles
  • Long documents use styles to provide structure

These rules check to ensure readers with assistive devices, such as screen readers, are able to easily navigate and understand the content in the document. Some rules, such as using styles to provide structure, also make it easier for everyone to read your document because it keeps your document looking consistent and helps you save time in formatting the document.

For more information about the Microsoft Accessibility checker, read Microsoft’s article.

New Qualtrics Insight Platform has Arrived

Qualitrics logoQualtrics moved all users to their new interface, Qualtrics Insight Platform, May 1. The Qualtrics Insight Platform has an improved layout and design, as well as many new features to help you simplify and streamline your workflow. Additionally, the new user interface lays the foundation for an exciting new way of managing your projects through Qualtrics.

Until May 23, users will be able to toggle between the new and old interface by selecting the Profile icon or the gray button with your name on it, located in the upper right. Surveys (now called "projects") and data will be unaffected by the interface change. Reports, on the other hand, have been greatly improved. Reports created in the Reporting tab in the old interface will be available in the new interface under the Printed Reports tab. Initial Reports, which are a default set of reports, now appear under the Reports tab. One thing to note: any changes made to reports in the new interface will be lost if you toggle back to the old interface. Data and surveys will remain unaffected.

You can check out the key changes and additions Qualtrics has made to each part of the platform. OIT will soon be offering “What’s New in Qualtrics” workshops over the summer that will help make transitioning to the new interface easier. You can also request a one-on-one overview of the new Qualtrics interface by contacting the OIT HelpDesk online or by phone at 865-974-9900.

Mathematica Version 10.4

Wolfram Mathimatica 10Over the past few years, Mathematica’s popularity on campus has increased substantially and the recent release of the software will help provide additional functionality to fields outside of mathematics. In addition, Wolfram’s Mathematica Version 10.4 will provide speed increases to popular data management functions along with an experimental user interface for creating interactive applications using the new AskFunction.
Mathematica 10.4 will include the following features that many people on campus may find useful:

  • Support for pattern-matching algorithms
  • Speed increases for any operation involving sorting, selecting, appending, and managing datasets
  • New CloudExpression for representation of an expression whose value is persistently stored in the cloud
  • New textual computation and data functionality for spell checking and word-frequency analysis
  • Experimental ClusterClassify to generate a ClassifierFunction based on clusters found in numerical, textual, and image data, as well as dates and times
  • Expanded support for Quantity data in probability and statistics, including the new function, QuantityDistribution
  • New DynamicImage interactive image viewer for panning and zooming in large images and dramatically expanded HighlightImage functionality for highlighting specified regions of interest
  • API connectivity via ServiceConnect to seven more external services, including Google Analytics, FRED, and PubMed for data retrieval and analysis

The full patch notes can be found on the Mathematica 10.4 features site.

OIT’s Research Computing Support group can help you utilize Mathematica. For assistance, contact the OIT HelpDesk online or by phone at 865-974-9900 or stop by our walk-in area in Greve 517. View our walk-in support schedule.

UTK Adobe Update

Adobe logo Our current enterprise Adobe contract expires on May 20th and the UT System Office has been finalizing our next enterprise agreement. The target start date of the new contract is May 21. While we will continue to finalize the specifics of distribution and management, we wanted to get the word out about a few significant differences that will affect UTK faculty and staff. First, we are unable to split out Acrobat DC into a separate purchase. To get Acrobat, you will need to purchase the Creative Cloud suite. Second, the cost model is changing to an annual billing plan:

  • Creative Cloud - $50/annually; once purchased, you will be entitled to install the software on two devices, one of which MUST be a UT owned machine. Individual copies will need to be purchased for a lab environment
  • Captivate - $349/annually
  • Presenter - $149/annually

As in the past, these prices are heavily discounted from retail. Since we are unable to break out Acrobat, the Creative Cloud price is even more heavily discounted to allow those who need Acrobat DC to purchase at an affordable price.

If you need to purchase Creative Cloud now, VolTECH will sell it for $50/year, and you will be compliant under the new agreement until May 21, 2017.

If you purchased and installed Creative Cloud or Acrobat from our current contract, you will need to plan to purchase Creative Cloud (or a substitute). After purchasing under the new contract, you will need to uninstall your current version and install the new version under the new contract. If you continue to use software purchased under the original enterprise agreement after May 20, you will be in violation of the license agreement. If you are no longer using your Adobe software, please remove it from your computer to avoid a violation of the license agreement.

The costs above apply only to the UT Knoxville departmental purchases. If you have questions for another UT unit including UT System Administration, Institute of Agriculture, Institute for Public Service, Health Science Center, Chattanooga, and Martin, please contact your unit’s Chief Information Officer.

If you have any questions or need assistance, contact the OIT HelpDesk online or call 865-974-9900.

Changes to UTK Wireless coming in July

WirelessThis summer, OIT will be reducing the number of UTK wireless networks from four to two in order to increase the throughput of the wireless network. Starting on July 25th, the broadcasted networks for connecting to wireless will be ut-open and eduroam.
UT-open: The unsecured network available to faculty, staff, students, and visitors. A new portal will be put in place to manage network registration and visitor access.
Eduroam: The secure network available to faculty, staff, and students. Eduroam will replace the ut-wpa2 network and offers all of the existing functionality. In addition to wireless access at UT, faculty, staff, and students will be able to obtain Internet connectivity when visiting other participating eduroam institutions.
What do you need to do now?

  • If you are connected to ut-open, you will not need to take any action.
  • If you are connected to ut-wpa2, we recommend that you start connecting to eduroam. The eduroam network is already available and allows secure access to services like T-Storage and the Microsoft Licensing Server. Instructions for getting connected with eduroam are available in the OIT Knowledge Base.

More information about eduroam, including a list of participating institutions, is available at the eduroam website.
If you have any questions about this change or would like assistance connecting to eduroam, please contact the OIT HelpDesk online or call (865) 974-9900.

OIT highlights
Did You Miss the Clicker Training?

ClickerAll classes using clickers must use the new TurningPoint Cloud (6) beginning in fall 2016. Turning Technologies representatives came to campus in April to do face-to-face training. If you missed out on this training, Turning will be offering online training as well. Turning Technologies and OIT are providing on-campus and online training for TurningPoint Cloud (6) through fall 2016, for instructors teaching in fall and spring. Check out the links below for training information.

Training information:

Please visit our Personal Response Systems website for more information on the TurningPoint Cloud (6) training and upgrade options impacting UTK. If you'd like departmental online training, contact Julia Howard at or call 330-531-7731.

This summer, UTK will continue using TurningPoint 5 and ResponseWare integrated with Blackboard as-is.

April 2016 Uptime:
Blackboard Learn 100%
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