Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Tips to Help Avoid Zoom Bombing

Contributed by Sam Houston, Learning Technology Administrator

Zoom bombing refers to the unauthorized intrusion into a Zoom virtual meeting by an individual or group with the intent to disrupt the session. This can take many forms, such as using vulgar or offensive language, displaying explicit or disturbing images, and hijacking the screen to share inappropriate content. In some cases, zoom bombers might also use the opportunity to steal sensitive information, such as passwords.

Zoom bombing has become a growing concern as the use of Zoom, and other video conferencing platforms has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for virtual classes and meetings. The ease of accessing Zoom meetings and the lack of security measures have made it easier for attackers to disrupt these sessions. To protect against zoom bombing, it is important to take the necessary steps to secure your Zoom meetings, such as using passwords, waiting rooms, and enabling controls for screen sharing and file transfers.

To access Zoom in a browser window and set up a meeting, first log into, then click the Zoom tile. Below are some tips to help prevent Zoom bombing in your meetings – settings can be implemented during the meeting creation process and during the meeting.
  • Use a Waiting Room: This feature allows you to control who can join your meeting and ensures that only authorized participants enter. Note: In UHCL’s Zoom settings, the waiting room is selected by default. To avoid unwanted users joining your meeting, please do not disable the waiting room. Instead, designate someone to join your meeting simply to monitor the waiting room and to let invited participants into the meeting.
  • Enable Passcode: Requiring a passcode to join a meeting adds an extra layer of security. Make sure to share the passcode only with those who need it – Zoom automatically creates a passcode. Note: In UHCL’s Zoom settings, the passcode is selected by default. If you share the invite link, the passcode is in the link, so anyone with the link will be able to join the meeting. Make sure to send the invite link only to those users you want to join your meeting. Alternatively, share the meeting ID and passcode with those users you want to join your meeting. Below is a screenshot of what the Passcode and Waiting Room settings look like when you set up a meeting in Zoom. To prevent unwanted users, please leave both boxes checked when creating a meeting!
  • Meeting ID Automatic Generation: Instead of using your Personal Meeting ID for meetings, allow Zoom to generate an automatic meeting ID. This will prevent users from attempting to join your personal meeting at any time outside of a scheduled meeting.
  • Enable Screen Sharing Controls: You can control who can share their screen during a meeting. In a browser window, log into and click the Zoom Tile. Go to Settings > In Meeting (Advanced) > Screen Sharing and select "Host Only" to prevent unauthorized screen sharing. Additionally, the “Share Screen” settings can be edited during a meeting. At the bottom of the Zoom screen, click the up-arrow next to Share Screen > Click Advanced Sharing Options.

  • Disable File Transfer: Zoom allows you to disable the file transfer feature in settings, which can prevent the sharing of inappropriate or malicious files.
  • Use the Remove a Participant Feature or Report a User Feature: If someone starts to cause problems in your meeting, you can remove them by clicking “Remove” or "Report” from the Participants screen. To remove or report a participant, click the three dots next to their name in the Participants list and click Remove or Report and follow the popup prompts (Please see the screenshots below).

  • Educate Your Participants: Let your participants know the rules of the meeting and what is expected of them! Encourage them to report any disruptive behavior.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your Zoom meetings are secure and free from disruptive behavior.

If you have any questions about the above information, please feel free to contact the OIT Support Center at either 281-283-2828 or, and a member of our team will be in touch to assist!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Canvas Preview Tip: Using Rubrics with Canvas Discussions

Contributed by Henry Newkirk, Instructional Designer II (HSH)

What is a rubric? A Canvas rubric is an assessment tool used in the learning management system (LMS) Canvas. It allows teachers to create a set of criteria for evaluating student work and assign point values to those criteria. The rubric is then used as a guide for grading and provides a clear and consistent framework for evaluating student performance. The points are summed up to arrive at a total score, which provides a quantitative measure of the student's performance on a particular assignment or project.

Why would I use a rubric? Instructors use Canvas rubrics for several reasons:
  • Clarity and consistency: A well-designed rubric provides a clear and concise set of criteria for evaluating student work, making it easier for instructors to grade assignments and provide constructive feedback.
  • Improved communication: A Canvas rubric helps instructors communicate their expectations to students, reducing the likelihood of confusion or misunderstandings.
  • Objectivity: Using a rubric helps instructors to grade assignments objectively, reducing the influence of personal biases and ensuring that all students are evaluated according to the same standards.
  • Increased efficiency: Grading with a rubric can be faster and more efficient than grading without one. It eliminates the need for instructors to create grading criteria from scratch for each assignment, allowing them to simply refer to the rubric for guidance.
  • Student engagement: Providing students with a copy of the rubric before an assignment is due can help to improve their understanding of the assignment requirements and increase their engagement in the learning process.
For our Canvas “early birds” and “early adopters,” the following steps outline how you can add a rubric to a graded discussion in Canvas. To access these steps accompanied by screen captures, please visit our blog post of this article.

Start by clicking the Discussion link in the Canvas course menu and then click on the discussion name to which you want to add a rubric.
 The default screen after Add a Rubric prompts you to create a new one from scratch. To do so, you will enter a title for the rubric, create the rubric criteria, ratings, and points, choose your options, and click the Create Rubric button.

You can also use an existing rubric. To find an existing rubric, click the Find a Rubric link. You can find rubrics that were created in previous graded discussions as well as rubrics created in other courses where you have an instructor role. To find an existing rubric you will first need to select the course from the left column. In the second column, locate and click the name of a rubric. You can view the criteria and points in each rubric and set rubric options. To select a rubric for the graded discussion, scroll to the bottom of the rubric and click the Use This Rubric button.
For both new rubrics and using existing rubrics, the options include the following:
  • Option 1: Write free-form comments to students in SpeedGrader. With using this option, no ratings are used to assess the student, and criterion values are assigned manually.
  • Option 2: Removal of points from the rubric. You use this option to remove points from the rubric. Students can still be rated using the rubric criterion.
  • Option 3: Don’t Post to the Grade Book. Students can see rubric and outcome results in the grades and submission details pages, but results will not be posted to the Learning Mastery Gradebook.
  • Option 4: Use the Rubric for Grading. Use the SpeedGrader with the rubric to grade assignments.
  • Option 5: If you don't want students to see the score total for the rubric, select the Hide score total for assessment results. Students can still see the point values for each criterion, but the total score will not be shown at the bottom of the rubric. This option is only available if the rubric is not used for grading and only applies to students when they view rubrics from the Grades page.
In the coming months, we will explore tools in Canvas that support teaching and learning in greater detail. For more information, check out the Canvas Basic Guide by Instructure. In the meantime, if you have any Canvas-related questions, please contact OIT's Support Center. Our Support Center colleagues will create a help ticket for your request, and it will be assigned to the most appropriate member of the IDT team.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Recommended Resource: 5 Myths About Instructional Design in Higher Education

This week we're sharing an online resource from Dr. Luke Hobson, a Senior Instructional Designer and Program Manager at MIT, an Online Instructor for SNHU, and the Founder of Instructional Design Institute. In our team's newsletter, we've previously discussed what instructional designers do in higher education. In his blog post and video, Dr. Hobson describes some common misconceptions about 5 Myths About Instructional Design in Higher Education. Note that he provides the information in the following three formats:

Compare and Contrast: Canvas vs. Blackboard Terminology

Contributed by Aubrie Grass, Instructional Designer I (BUS)

While there are a lot of similarities and differences that we will all be experiencing with the Canvas transition in the upcoming months, I want to start by discussing basic terminology. In many ways, the Canvas interface is very user-friendly, and because we all are familiar with Blackboard, it is even more so as they do look very similar. With that being said, some things may look familiar, but are called something different. This can make it confusing at times when you start to practice with the new system. Below I have included commonly used terms from Canvas and their most similar counterpart from Blackboard with explanations of similarities and differences between the two. Hopefully as we begin to navigate Canvas, this can be a resource to use to help clear up some of the confusion!

There are plenty of other aspects in Canvas and Blackboard that are similar and different, but understanding the terminology can be a great first step in making the transition. If you would like a video that shows visuals of these 10 terms and a brief explanation of each, click here. As we move forward, please do not hesitate to come back to this list often and use it as you start to explore the new system.

AI Tools and Their Effect on Higher Education, Part 3

Contributed by Izaak Diefenbach, Instructional Designer I (COE)

This is the third article in my series on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in higher education. In the first article, I used an AI tool called GPT-3 to write the introduction to the article, then went on to discuss it and other similar AI tools and how their use could affect higher education. In this article, I am going to discuss one specific new tool, ChatGPT.

You may have already heard about ChatGPT. It has been all over the news since its introduction in late November. ChatGPT is a chatbot built on top of GPT-3’s language models. It has since been updated and improved with the release of GPT-3.5. I know this is a lot of technobabble, so what is it really? ChatGPT allows a user to ask questions and receive answers using natural language. Basically, this means that you can type in a question in regular, non-technical language and you will get back a response that reads like something a person would write, not a computer. It is designed to be used in areas such as customer service and technical support, where it is important to be able to provide quick and easy access to information. It can also be used in education for tutoring or research assistance, for example.

However, ChatGPT is capable of a lot more than those kinds of simple interactions. It can write poetry and song lyrics. It can write screenplays and other kinds of stories. It can even write music. It is really amazing to think about what it is capable of. But it can also be used to write essays and answer test questions, and this is why it is making the news.

One of the first questions many people ask is whether or not the answers are actually any good. The answer is yes and no. It frequently depends on what you are asking it to do. Sometimes the responses are very good; other times, they can be really bad. The important thing to note is that it is constantly being improved, and it is getting better at an astonishing rate. In education, the question most have is, “isn’t this cheating?” Maybe or maybe not. That depends on the instructor.

For now, the general reaction seems to be, yes, this is cheating. That is a natural response to new technology. It has always been like this. When I was in high school, that was the reaction from math teachers to scientific and graphing calculators. But the reality is that this technology is not going anywhere, and it will only get better, so we need to embrace it, understand it, and learn how to use it to enhance instruction.

If you are interested in trying out ChatGPT, you can find it here: If you are interested in learning more about AI tools in higher education, we will be doing an online presentation during Faculty Development Week on February 6th at 11:00 AM. Be on the lookout for more details soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Canvas Post-Announcement News (Part 2)

NOTE: The following information is also available in the IDT team's full Canvas Post-Announcement Newsletter in Sway.

Our Transition Plan

UHCL is in the very early stages of transitioning from Blackboard to Canvas. University Technology Advisory Committee (UTAC) reviewed a tentative plan in October 2022. Below is the high-level visual timeline for the UHCL transition plan. We expect to complete our transition by the end of Spring 2024.

The following additional resources outline UHCL’s tentative transition timeline and plan:
When Can I Start Using Canvas?

Instructors cannot yet teach their UHCL classes in Canvas. However, there are several opportunities for faculty to get practice in using Canvas:
  • Volunteer to be an "early adopter" or "Canvas champion." Complete and submit the online Canvas Pilot Program form for more information or to volunteer.
  • Review the IDT team's document for Canvas "early birds" to complete the following:
    • Sign up for a free Canvas account and begin learning Canvas and preparing your Blackboard courses for migration in Instructure's "public" Canvas system. NOTE: Instructors must not teach their UHCL classes from this public system. Think of it as a "sandbox" space to familiarize yourself with the new LMS, import into and edit your existing Blackboard course content in Canvas, or practice building a new course "from scratch" in the new environment.
    • Complete the Introducing Canvas course available on UHCL's LinkedIn Learning system. NOTE: We recommend that you obtain a free Canvas account and create a blank shell on their public system in which you can practice as you advance through the two-hour training.
  • Make plans to participate in the Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) team's upcoming informational and initial Canvas familiarization sessions beginning in November 2022.
“Early Adopters” and Canvas “Champions”

We recognize that UHCL faculty and staff may already have experience with, expertise in, or are simply eager to learn the Canvas LMS. Faculty have the option of volunteering to be a Canvas "early adopter," Canvas "champion," or both via our team's Canvas Pilot Program online request form.
  • "Early Adopter:" faculty member who would like to prepare their course(s) and deliver them in Canvas before the SP24 full deployment semester. Early adopters may opt to first teach in Canvas in either the SU23 or FA23 semesters.
  • Canvas "Champion:" faculty member with previous Canvas experience willing to support other instructors throughout the Canvas transition, provide regular feedback via the UTAC, and participate in Canvas informational and professional development sessions.
OIT's Instructional Design and Technology team looks forward to collaborating with all early adopters and Canvas champions throughout this exciting transition!

What Options Exist for Training/Support?

OIT's Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) team is planning a robust schedule of informational and training opportunities that will begin in late October or early November 2022. Visit the IDT team's new Canvas Faculty Support webpage for the latest resources.

This "special edition" of the IDT weekly newsletter is the first of many electronic communications to the campus to keep everyone informed over the next 18 months. Our weekly newsletter will be the primary means of electronic communication. To continue receiving those newsletters, please email to opt into the newsletter mailing list. Less frequent electronic communication may originate as emails from either or, so please keep an eye out for emails from those addresses, especially if they reference Canvas in the subject.

We invite faculty to use our "early bird" instructions document to familiarize themselves with Canvas while we finalize training and professional development opportunities. The document includes instructions for creating a free Canvas account and information about a LinkedIn Learning course that can get you acclimated to the new system.

What’s Next?

OIT is working with the University of Houston System (UHS) to secure a contract for a UHCL-specific Canvas environment. The IDT staff is continuing our documentation efforts and setting a schedule for professional development and informational sessions beginning in November 2022.

Faculty with questions currently are welcome to contact their college's University Technology Advisory Committee (UTAC) representative or contact the Support Center to request a consultation with a member of the IDT team.