Online News for our Online Spring 2021!

Happy new year! I hope everyone had a good break, despite the weirdness of our world!

Flex workshops launch tomorrow: Friday, Jan. 15

Flex week starts tomorrow with lots of great online ed-related workshops, including some Canvas open lab hours for anyone seeking expert Canvas support. There’s also a workshop on an awesome new communication tool called Pronto, available college-wide this semester, and a workshop to make sure you’re ready for the new Zoom that arrived over winter break. Friday ends with a workshop featuring seven MiraCosta online faculty mentors sharing some of their top tips for online teaching. And there are many more super workshops coming next week!

Online Teaching Tool Updates

  • Check out Pronto, an incredible mobile-friendly and Canvas-integrated messaging platform that’s ready to use in every course now.
  • As you’re hopefully aware, Zoom was updated over break. Many of the changes are seamless but review our updated faculty Zoom support site for details. With the new Zoom comes a new Canvas integration that’s a huge improvement on what we had previously.
  • Accessibility and Universal Design are important elements of equity and inclusion. We have a new, more powerful tool built into Canvas called Pope Tech that helps faculty detect and correct accessibility issues. (This replaces UDOIT, if you had used that.) Another tool, Ally, is here for spring. Ally automatically provides files you share through Canvas in multiple options for students. For instance, PDFs can be listened to (great for those who would prefer to listen). PPTs can be accessed as PDFs (great for those without PPT). Word documents can be viewed as HTML (great for mobile devices).
  • The big change you’ll notice in Canvas is an update to the Rich Content Editor. If that makes you nervous, be sure to attend Karen Turpin’s 10 am Flex workshop tomorrow!
  • Finally, Proctorio is no longer available at MiraCosta, as had been communicated in late fall.

Student Orientation to Online Learning Workshops

In collaboration with the library, I’ll be again offering over two dozen Student Orientation to Online Learning workshops this spring – see all dates and times on the TASC site and in Canvas announcements. These workshops help to familiarize students with the resources MiraCosta provides online to support them, as well as to adopt habits and attitudes of successful online students. Encourage your students to attend and, if you like, find out which of your students participated in order to incentivize their attendance.

Student Support Resources to Share with your Students

Campus may be closed, but our amazing array of student support services and resources are just one or two clicks away. Point your students to the Student Support Hub in Canvas. Share the link and point them to the Student Support button on the left in Canvas for quick access to online support from the library, STEM & MLC, online tutoring, writing center, counseling, career center, open computer lab staff, student help desk, health services, and more! The new Help Hut on the MiraCosta website is also a quick way for students to connect with all kinds of support services, and the tutoring hub gives access from the website to all the academic support resources found in the Student Support Hub within Canvas.

Reminder: Merging Canvas Course Sections

This was once again available to faculty starting this fall. See our guide to learn more about merged course sections in Canvas, and if you’d like to request this, see the guide to the SURF dashboard for merging course sections – be sure to do so ASAP!

Don’t forget to refer to our useful Canvas start-of-term checklist to keep you on track as you finalize your spring classes!

See you online!

Jim Julius, Ed.D.
Faculty Director, Online Education


Pronto is an app that works within and outside of Canvas to enable seamless, fun, and effective communication between faculty and students, and among students. Many California Community Colleges are now using Pronto. For spring 2021, Pronto is available in all MiraCosta courses as an expanded pilot. During the spring semester, we’ll decide if we want to keep Pronto available at MiraCosta going forward.

If you do not want Pronto to be available for any class, opt out via the Pronto Course Management tool.

What Pronto Offers

Real-time Chat

Without having to share phone numbers or other contact information, now you have real-time messaging across each class and to individuals. Send text messages, files, images, and GIFs!

Message Translation

Pronto gives everyone a voice by allowing them to send messages in their preferred language, and Pronto then automatically translates messages into the recipient’s preferred language.

Live-stream & Group Video Chat

  • Broadcast live video to your classes, and record your video sessions for replay. This may be a nice alternative to Zoom for things like office hours, group meetings, and more. Viewers interact using the chat button. It keeps the process smooth. Here is a video from Fabiola Torres of Glendale CC on how she uses the live-stream feature for class.
  • Chat via live video with up to 10 people simultaneously. Perfect for group projects!
  • Live 1:1 video chat any time for face-to-face interaction with a student. Or live-stream with a student and they can chat (they don’t have to be on camera).


Keep your entire course in the loop by sending a message to the whole class. It’s like sending a real-time announcement to your entire class. Keep everyone updated on assignments, tech glitches, emergency alerts, and any other important information you need to get out instantly.

File Sharing & Storage

Share any file type—documents, spreadsheets, slideshows, photos, videos, and more. All files stored in Pronto remain available through Pronto for easy retrieval with no storage limits. Pronto integrates with all reputable cloud storage repositories, including Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud, and Google Drive.

Task Management

Keeps students organized and accountable by assigning tasks. Tasks allows you to create reminders for yourself or others in groups—attach files, photos, or videos and assign due dates with auto-reminders for each task. Here is a video from Professor Gomez of Glendale CC demonstrating how to assign a task.

Accessibility and Privacy

Pronto is both WCAG 2.0 AA and FERPA compliant. Pronto keeps you connected to everyone without sharing personal contact information.

Where Can I Access Pronto?

Pronto is available in 3 ways:

  1. Pronto icon Directly within Canvas. If you are enrolled in any published course where Pronto is active, you will see the Pronto icon at the bottom left of Canvas, in the Global Navigation menu (you may need to scroll the menu down).
    Selecting the Pronto icon will open up Pronto to the latest chat you have had open or the course/group with which you are currently engaged.
  2. Through any web browser at .
  3. Via the mobile app, which is available for free in the Apple and Google app stores (search Pronto: Team Communication).

How Do I Get Started?

Pronto only becomes active for a course after it is published. NOTE: this doesn’t happen automatically – Pronto becomes active for a newly-published course once the next synchronization between Pronto and Canvas occurs – this happens daily at 7 pm PST. But if you want to make Pronto active immediately after publishing a course, you can manually enable Pronto in the Pronto course management tool.

The first time you use Pronto, you’ll need to provide your MiraCosta email address and then enter a code that Pronto will send to your email. If you are not yet enrolled in any course that is published and uses Pronto, you may need to wait until that occurs for this step to work.

If you can, view/attend one of the Pronto training sessions for MiraCosta led by a Pronto expert! Links below will open the Zoom meeting/recording for the training session.

To get started on your own, review the Canvas/Pronto integration guide, and/or watch the 6 minute video:

Do I have to use Pronto?

No, Pronto is available but you can ignore it. Doing so will still allow your students to use it. If you wish to turn off Pronto temporarily or permanently for a class, you can do that too. (Even if you like having Pronto on most of the time, you may wish to shut it off during an exam, for example.)

Use the Pronto Course Management tool to turn off Pronto for a particular class. Learn more about Pronto Course Management.

Technical support, tips and resources

Support for Pronto is provided via the Pronto support site or by contacting

NOTE: Students added to your Canvas class will not be able to use Pronto for the class until the next Pronto synchronization occurs. You can use the Pronto Course Management tool to manually force Pronto to synchronize with a course if necessary.

Here are some excellent additional Pronto resources:


Thanks to Fabiola Torres of Glendale CC, MiraCosta’s Tanessa Sanchez, and Matt Baugh from Pronto for resources that helped to develop this page.

Pope Tech and Canvas Accessibility

Pope Tech is an accessibility remediation tool available to instructors in Canvas. This tool (provided through the CCC Accessibility Center) gives instructors a quick but powerful way to check for and fix common accessibility concerns in Canvas content. Ensuring your Canvas courses are free of accessibility concerns helps support inclusion and equity for all students, and also is a requirement of MiraCosta policies as well as state and federal regulations.

The Pope Tech Overview (PDF) is a handy 2-page overview. You may also watch this 7-minute video for a helpful demonstration of how Pope Tech works in Canvas:

Pope Tech Detailed Guidance

Click any of the items below to view more details, including video guides, for using Pope Tech.

What Canvas elements can be tested? What does Pope Tech check for?

What Canvas elements can faculty test with Pope Tech?

Most areas where faculty use the Canvas Rich Content Editor can be tested with Pope Tech:

  • Canvas pages
  • Syllabus
  • Quiz descriptions
  • Discussion Topics
  • Assignments
  • Announcements

To test a Canvas item for accessibility concerns, activate Pope Tech by selecting the Pope Tech icon button at left of the Cancel and Save buttons while editing any of the Canvas items above. Pope Tech works even when the item is not yet published.

Pope Tech button at left of Cancel and Save buttons

What does Pope Tech check for?

  • If headers are present or skipped 
  • Flags suspicious alt text for images (contains “image of”, “image”, etc.)
  • Color contrast between text and highlighted colored-background
    (Note: doesn’t check color contrast within images)
  • If font size is readable
  • Flags non-descriptive links such as “click here”, “link”, “more”, “read more” 
  • Flags redundant links 
  • Flags tables that lack at least one header and caption.
  • Flags YouTube, Canvas embedded video and Canvas embedded audio to bring awareness media will need to be manually reviewed for captions
  • Flags potential inaccessible files that need to be manually reviewed

How do I use Pope Tech?

Using Pope Tech is simple and intuitive.

Step 1: Open Pope Tech 

To test a Canvas item for accessibility concerns, simply activate Pope Tech by selecting the icon next to the Cancel and Save buttons on the page while using the Rich Content Editor.

Pope Tech button at left of Cancel and Save buttons

Step 2: Use Pope Tech to Locate and Fix Accessibility Issues 

Once Pope Tech is activated, the Pope Tech menu will appear on the right-hand side of the screen. At the top of the interface,  the number of errors and alerts will need to be addressed. 

  • Errors are accessibility errors and should be looked at for remediation.
  • Alerts are suspicious areas. Alerts may or may not be an accessibility error. The user should review these and fix if necessary.
  • Rescan can be used once errors and alerts are fixed. This will allow the user to scan the page a second time and verify that all fixes were applied correctly.

Note: Files, videos, and audio will always be listed as alerts, as these require manual review with human eyes!   

In the example below, we have 11 errors and 4 alerts.

Pope Tech Accessibility checker interface

In the Pope Tech interface, results are organized by the following categories:

  • Images and Links
  • Text and Contrast
  • Headings
  • Tables and Lists
  • Documents and Videos 

Each of the categories can be expanded to show the errors or alerts. To view the content raising an error or alert:

  1. Select the arrow displayed next to any category name. Once you expand a category, Pope Tech will display fields grouping together issues within that category. 
  2. Click any field to view detailed results and how to fix them.
  3. Click a particular result to highlight the indicated content within the Canvas editor, enabling you to fix that content.

This quick (42 second) video demonstrates the process described above:

Video Demos: Fixing Alternative Text, Color Contrast, and Table Errors

Fixing Alternative Text

Alternative Text errors are listed in the Images and Links category of the Pope Tech tool. This video demonstrates how to fix such errors:

Fixing Color Contrast

Color Contrast errors are listed in the Text and Contrast category of the Pope Tech tool. Users can fix color contrast errors by one of two methods:

  • Adjust the color in the Canvas rich text editor.
  • Adjust the contrast by using the sliders in the Pope Tech interface until the interface displays a “Pass” message.

This video demonstrates how to fix such errors:

Fixing Table Captions and Headers

Table errors are listed in the Tables and Lists area of Pope Tech. Using Pope Tech, it is very simple to add a table caption and designate whether the first row or the first column must be the header. This video demonstrates how to fix such errors:

Accessibility Issues Explained, from PopeTech


Thanks to Tracy Schaelen of Southwestern College for originally developing content represented here, and to Liesl Boswell of the CCC Accessibility Center for some modifications and suggestions.

Teaching with Zoom at MiraCosta College

Zoom Logo

After the fall 2020 semester, Zoom Pro for MiraCostans was changed from ConferZoom to a Zoom that is controlled by MiraCosta College. Visit the Getting Started, Getting Help, and Using Zoom with Canvas page for details and technical information about Zoom at MiraCosta College.

Zoom Teaching Tips: Inclusion, Security, and more

Note that some of the following resources may refer to the version of Zoom that MiraCostans used in fall 2020 or earlier; MiraCosta Zoom is now accessed at rather than or .

MiraCosta Zoom how-to videos from faculty

Again, please note that some of the following resources may refer to the version of Zoom that MiraCostans used in fall 2020 or earlier; MiraCosta Zoom is now hosted at rather than

  • Teaching with Zoom (Fall 2020 workshop) – CSIT faculty member Rick Cassoni provides a 1-hour overview of Zoom, from the beginnings of signing up for a Zoom account, to recommended settings within your account and creation of meetings, to the basics of using Zoom for both live and recorded online instruction.
  • Connecting with Students in Zoom (Spring 2020 workshop) – Letters faculty member curry mitchell shares a few simple activities and methods for scaffolding an interactive, collaborative Zoom workshop with students.  curry also discusses flexible and compassionate practices–such as attendance policies and creating asynchronous means for participation–to ensure we’re using Zoom to help each other. (Note, this session included 10 minutes in breakout rooms but the recording was not paused, so you can skip from when that happens at around minute 39 ahead to minute 49 of the recording.)
  • Sharing your iPad screen on Zoom – Math faculty member Angela Beltran-Aguilar demonstrates in this short (under 3 minutes) video how to use an iPad as your sharing source for teaching with Zoom.
  • Capturing a separate screencast of a Zoom session – Psychology faculty member Robert Kelley demonstrates in this very short (under 2 minutes) video how to capture a portion of a Zoom session, excluding student participants, in order to be able to share the recording more widely without FERPA concerns.

Once you have the basics of using Zoom down, review a two page document from Jim Julius full of tips and techniques for using Zoom effectively for teaching.

Captioning for Zoom

  • Zoom cloud recordings auto-transcribe and caption recorded Zoom sessions within a few hours (typically) of completion of the recording. Zoom’s interface makes it easy to fix up the captions so they are fully accurate.
  • If you have a student who requires live captions and you are using Zoom, please contact MiraCosta DSPS.
    • You will need to make a one-time change in your Zoom account settings to enable live captioning, and at the start of each Zoom session with captioning, you will need to assign the captioning role to the proper person in your meeting. See directions for both.

MiraCosta Online Tech Changes coming your way

To: All Faculty, IS Deans

Some important updates and additions to the tools available for online instruction at MiraCosta are happening starting next week. Here’s a quick overview of what’s headed your way! Look for Flex workshops and follow-up emails early in the new year to learn more about all of these.

New Rich Content Editor in Canvas

The Rich Content Editor (RCE) in Canvas – the toolbar everyone uses when entering content, discussion replies, etc. in Canvas – is getting a major overhaul. The What is the New Rich Content Editor? Canvas guideis a great place to start learning about it. You may also be interested in a comparison of the old and new RCEs. This change happens next week on 12/23, but it’s possible for you to try out the new RCE now if you like. In a course where you want to try it, click Settings in the navigation menu, then click the Feature Optionstab, then toggle on the RCE Enhancementsoption. This will impact any students still active in your course, so it’s best to use a Sandbox course or one where students are done using Canvas for the term.

New Zoom, New Zoom Integration in Canvas

As you hopefully read in Anthony Ginger’s recent email, MiraCosta will soon start managing its own Zoom. If you haven’t read the email and you are a Zoom user, it’s essential that you do. Many aspects of this change will be seamless; however, a major one that faculty need to be aware of NOW is that access to current Zoom meeting reports will be lost following the change occurring Monday evening, Dec. 21. If you need to hold onto meeting reports for any reason, you’ll need to download them before the changeover. Going forward, another point is that all Zoom links for meetings and recordings will change. You MAY need to update links to meetings and recordings if you wish to use them in the future. Zoom is trying to implement a fix very soon that would seamlessly transition old Zoom links over to the new link– hopefully this will work and you will not need to do that manually. We’ll monitor how well that works and update you in the new year.

With the new implementation of Zoom will come a MUCH improved Canvas integration. For those of you that have preferred to use directly to manage your Zoom meetings, you’ll now be able to do basically everything using the new Zoom integration within Canvas. If you were using the existing Zoom-Canvas integration tool, it will be replaced next Tuesday following our Zoom account migration. If you’re interested, you may download an instructor guide for the new Zoom integration within Canvas.

Pronto: New Tool for Mobile-Friendly and Canvas-Integrated Communication

We will have an all-college pilot of Pronto this spring. Pronto is an app that integrates with Canvas and really enhances communication beyond what Canvas provides, enabling group messaging, file sharing, video chat, announcements, and more in a very mobile-friendly way. Pronto has already been adopted by dozens of CCCs, and we had a small group of faculty trying it out late this fall. More information will come when Pronto is ready for everyone to start using, but if you’d like a preview of what it looks like in Canvas, check out a 6 minute video.

New Accessibility Support Tools in Canvas: Ally and Pope Tech

Ensuring your Canvas courses are accessible and inclusive is getting easier. This spring, Ally will automatically make course files you’ve added to Canvas available to students in multiple alternative formats that are device- and user-friendly. Pope Tech is a tool available now in Canvas that will help you perform more complete accessibility checks and fixes than our current tool, UDOIT. UDOIT will be removed in the new year and we’ll encourage all faculty to make use of Pope Tech to ensure our courses are accessible to as many learners as possible.

Goodbye, Proctorio

Very few faculty were relying on Proctorio, and with the discontinuation of funding for this tool from the Chancellor’s Office, it will be removed from Canvas over winter break. If you hadn’t heard that this was a likely possibility previously and you are concerned about this tool going away, please reach out to me so we can discuss alternatives.

Now, don’t obsess about all this over break! Disconnect and enjoy some down time!

Jim Julius, Ed.D.
Faculty Director, Online Education

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