Feb 2022 MiraCosta Faculty Online Support 💥now with weekly challenges!

February is already here! Still polishing your class design and online teaching skills? There are so many great opportunities and resources!

First I want to highlight something 💥 brand spanking new 💥 . Our MiraCosta Online Mentor faculty and instructional designer are putting together a series of weekly challenges to be held throughout this spring!

  • Each challenge will enable you to make a small but important improvement to your classes
  • Each challenge is designed to require no more than 3 hours of your time
  • You are welcome to participate as much or little as you like
  • The challenges will be based in our new MiraCosta Teaching Collaborative space in Canvas (feel free to take a peek!)
  • The first challenge will start on Feb. 7 – look for more info coming soon!

Beyond that, I invite you to check out our TIC home page which includes essential information for any MiraCosta faculty member teaching using online technologies. It now includes:

Finally, a reminder that Student Online Academic Readiness workshops are continuing this week and next – please share the schedule and signup form with your students if you’d like to encourage them to attend a one hour workshop where they will get tips on Zoom, Canvas, time management, online library resources, and all the amazing forms of support that MiraCosta provides to them online.

– Jim

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

Spring 2022 Online Teaching @ MiraCosta

Quick reminders for all faculty of important online-focused resources to help you prepare to help your students succeed this spring!

Support for You

  • Open faculty support hours during Flex Week have been added to the Flex week schedule: Wednesday night 7-9 pm, Thursday 9-11 am, and Friday 1:30-3:30 pm. Drop in for 1-1 support from online teaching expert guides with any question you might have as you prep for spring! There are still many fantastic online-focused Flex workshops coming up, too.
  • Our Canvas start-of-term checklist can help you prepare your classes.
  • The MiraCosta Online Class Quality Guidelines provides MiraCosta requirements and recommended practices for online instructors.
  • Ongoing faculty support – You can request an appointment from MiraCosta Peer Mentor Facutly and/or from our Instructional Designer anytime. Just click a link to get started. 
  • Tech Support – Canvas options include 24×7 phone and chat support. Just click the Tech Support button at lower left in Canvas! Zoom tech support for faculty is available through the MiraCosta employee help desk.
  • MiraCosta technologies supporting online teaching and learning – please see the last section of this email for an overview, with links to learn more.

Support for Your Students – Please help your students to be aware of and make use of these important services and resources!

  • Student Online Academic Readiness – In collaboration with the library, I’ll be offering about 20 workshops during the spring – see all dates and times on the TASC site and in Canvas announcements. These workshops (formerly known as Student Orientation to Online Learning) 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.
  • Online Student Support Access Points – the Student Support Hubin Canvas, accessed via the Student Support button on the left in Canvas gives 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, CARE team, and more! The Help Hut on the MiraCosta website is also a quick way for students to connect with all kinds of support services including A&R and Financial Aid. The Student Support Guide is a PDF providing an overview of all MiraCosta services.
  • Tech Support – Also at lower left in Canvas is a button for students to quickly access Tech Support options, including 24×7 phone and chat support from Canvas, and our local MiraCosta student help desk.
  • Technology Needs? – Be sure to share the CARE form for students to fill out if they need a laptop and/or hotspot to succeed this spring.

And please remember, in support of students: Class Availability in Canvas – Faculty teaching distance education (online and hybrid) classes are expected to make their classes available by mid-day on the Monday of the week in which they begin. To learn more, please see MiraCosta Distance Education Class Authentication Compliance, Start-of-Term Availability Procedures, and Recommendations.

MiraCosta’s Online Education Tools

Click the link immediately after each bullet for a detailed MiraCosta-specific overview of each item below. This is not intended as a comprehensive review of all technologies for online teaching supported by the college, but rather a quick look at the essentials available to all faculty. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about these or other resources.

  • Canvas – the #1 tool for faculty and students
  • Zoom – Many of you are again using Zoom, at least to start this spring. Please make sure you’re using a pro Zoom account through MiraCosta.
  • Canvas Studio – This great tool enables faculty and students to create videos while inside Canvas. Faculty can create interactive discussion or quiz activities based on video.
  • Pronto is an incredible mobile-friendly and Canvas-integrated messaging platform that’s ready to use in every course.
  • NEW Perusall is a social annotation tool available within Canvas that makes it easy for students to comment/discuss right on a text, document, or image.
  • NEW Lab Archives Electronic Notebook is an online notebook especially useful for translating lab manuals and student notes/work into the online environment.
  • Pope Tech  helps faculty detect and correct accessibility issues within Canvas. See also Tips for Creating Accessible Course Content.
  • Ally automatically converts content you share through Canvas into multiple formats for students, allowing for listening rather than reading and better access to content on mobile devices.
  • PlayPosit – This video interaction tool offers more complexity and options than Studio. Studio is a great place to start, but if you’re looking for more question types to add to your videos, PlayPosit is a great option. 
  • Turnitin – Many faculty use Turnitin to help students learn to properly cite sources and avoid plagiarism, as well as to assist with grading and peer review processes for written work.
  • Productivity Software, Hardware, and other resources for working from home – this AIS website includes a number of links to helpful resources for being fully equipped when teaching from your home.

Best wishes for a strong start to spring!

– Jim

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



Perusall makes it possible to have students comment, discuss, and share by annotating a document or image. Some possibilities might include:

  • annotating the textbook together (Perusall offers many common textbooks within its framework — see the catalog)
  • uploading pdf files and having students highlight and annotate
  • uploading images or videos and having students annotate

Perusall has been used independently by a number of MiraCosta faculty for several years, but starting in 2022 the college has licensed it, making it easier for all faculty to engage students in these kinds of rich, interactive learning opportunities. Perusall can be quickly added to any Canvas course. MiraCosta instructor and online mentor Lisa M. Lane has been using Perusall for some time, and has provided instructions and videos below to help faculty get started. You can also reach out to Lisa (email: llane@miracosta.edu ) to arrange for 1-1 mentoring support.

Before class starts: set up Perusall

To get started, you need to set up a site in Perusall. Perusall calls this a “course”. There are two ways to do this.

1: For Canvas courses organized around activity types

If your course materials for students are already set up by type (quizzes, lectures, readings) in Canvas, you may want to add Perusall to the menu. 

  1. Click Settings at the bottom of your course menu
  2. Click the Navigation tab
Settings, then Navigation

3. Click the gear icon to the right of Perusall

4. Select +Enable

5. Click the Save button

The Perusall link now appears in your course menu. You can click on the Persuall menu link and a new browser window will open. The first time you do this, Perusall will establish Perusall account and sync it with your Canvas account. If you already had a free Perusall account using your MiraCosta email address, Perusall will merge that account with the one being set up under MiraCosta’s institutional Perusall license.

Click on the Perusall course menu link in Canvas
A new window opens in your browser connecting your Canvas account with Perusall.  

Upon first launch (for anyone), they will be guided on a tour of the platform. If they ever need to restart the tour, they can click their profile icon in the top right corner. 

2: For Canvas courses organized in modules or units

If your course materials are organized for students to use Modules or units, you may want to use a test assignment to open the Perusall course.

  1. Add an Assignment, call it Test Perusall
  2. Don’t worry about points, instructions, and other settings
  3. Use External Tool – Find – Perusall
  4. Check the box to open in a new window
  5. Save
  6. In the assignment, click on the box “Load Test Perusall in New Window”

After doing this to connect your Canvas class and Perusall, you’ll follow the same process for setting up each Perusall assignment, and you can change this first Test Perusall assignment later to use it as an actual assignment.

The video below demonstrates both of the above methods for adding Perusall to your Canvas class.

Set up an assignment in the Perusall course

On the Get Started page: fill in boxes, but be sure that if you are not using groups, the number of students is set to your maximum

Library: choose the type of content for the first assignment and upload or put in URL

Assignments: click Add Assignment and select the content from your Library, choose your parameters for that assignment

Copy the name of the assignment exactly — it must be the name of your assignment in Canvas (that’s how Canvas knows which Perusall assignment to use).

Watch the video below for a demonstration of this:

Perusall settings and grading

Here is a video overview of the Perusall settings for a course:

One big settings choice for scoring or grading is this:

  1. Do you want the work graded as it is done, with student scores increasing as they go? or
  2. Do you want the work graded at the end by the instructor?

These are included in Settings, above. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Having grades go up as the student works can provide extrinsic motivation, but can also force the student to work to Perusall’s standards. Grading at the end means working quite a bit with the gradebook in Perusall, and it causes a problem with due dates. If the due date in Perusall matches the due date in Canvas (as it should so students cannot work past the due date), and the instructor grades after that date, Canvas will show the assignment as late. This will need to be explained to students, or manually changed in the Canvas gradebook.

Preventing problems with students going to the wrong assignment

There are two ways this can happen.

The student may go to Perusall.com trying to find the work

If a student gets locked out of the assignment, they may try to get in through Perusall.com, making an account. If they are successful, they will be able to annotate, but their grades will not be pushed back into Canvas, and they won’t get a score (you will see this with a red warning exclamation mark in the Perusall grades).

Solution: Encourage students to only enter Perusall through Canvas, through your assignment.

The student may navigate inside Perusall and click on the wrong assignment using the Library

Once inside Perusall, students, like instructors, can click on the left-hand list of both the Library and the Assignments. That means they can jump ahead to the wrong assignment or even in some cases jump back to an assignment that has already been graded, and work within it when you don’t want them to.

Solution: The best way to prevent this is to set the availability period for assignments, then make a hidden folder in the Library, and put all the Library items in there. Then make sure all Assignments have a due date. That way they can only click on an assignment, and only when it is open.

The video below discusses both of these potential issues:

During the class: Participating in annotating and discussing

Some instructors participate in the annotations as they occur. When participating, it’s good to use the @ symbol to alert particular students that you have a public question or annotation on their annotation. Perusall also allows students to upvote, and for you to upvote, particular annotations. The interactive nature of social annotation allows it to be a replacement for discussion if that’s how the instructor wants to use it.

Set up advance annotations if desired

You can set up questions, add video clips, or annotate your assignment yourself before the class begins as well as during the class. Instructor annotations are saved and can be rolled over to the next semester.

Grading assignments

It is usually not advisable to rely on Perusall’s automatic scoring algorithm.

Perusall’s algorithm attempts to analyze the depth and usefulness of a student’s comment, and that may not align with your goals. For example, an instructor who wants students to post five short superficial annotations or one long in-depth annotation will find that Perusall cannot make this distinction, and may give the student posting one long annotation a lower score.

Until you know the system is scoring like you want it to, it’s a good idea to check each student’s contributions. This can be done using the Students tab from the Course home page in Perusall:

view of student tab

Other options

Perusall is a complex program and can do many things. Scoring can be refined with multiple parameters. Student scores can be averaged and turned into a single Perusall grade rather than individual assignments. The recommendations above are designed for those who are new to Perusall.

Canvas Student View Warning

Canvas’ Student View button will not work with Perusall, since Canvas doesn’t send an email address to Perusall as part of that launch. To see what students will see once they launch into Perusall, utilize the Student View link on the left navigation bar within your Perusall course.

Perusall Faculty Support

Perusall Support for Your Students

Students should always launch Perusall from inside of Canvas


End-of-2021 Online News You Can Use

Dear MiraCosta Faculty,

As we near the much-needed winter break, here are some reminders and resources to help you reach the finish line, and perhaps, to begin spring preparation.

Canvas End of Term

After Dec. 31, your fall Canvas classes go into read-only mode for you and your students. If you wish to remove access to any of your course materials for your current students beyond this semester, you need to do so by then. Review our Canvas end-of-term guide for details. It also discusses what you need to do if you have any students who will receive Incomplete grades.

Speaking of Canvas, if you like, you can read more from Instructure about the Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage that affected Canvas last week.

MiraCosta Online Mentors and Instructional Designer Support

If you’d like help with any semester wrap-up tasks, or as you begin working on spring classes, some of our MiraCosta peer support faculty are available over break (yes, they will continue to be available in spring, hooray), and our Instructional Designer, Nadia Khan, is available as well over the break and into the spring. Click either link to make a connection!

Please also check out the helpful “five-minute fixes” and “more than five-minute fixes” videos some of our amazing Online Mentor faculty have created to inspire and support your online teaching!


We’re changing the name of what used to be the Student Orientation to Online Learning to SOAR: Student Online Academic Readiness. In partnership with librarians, we’ve already lined up 20 workshop times for the spring semester – please feel free to recommend this to your students as you build syllabi and welcome pages for your classes! As always, we’ll have Canvas announcements reminding students of sessions each week. And as always, you can check to see if your students have attended one of these workshops in order to incentivize their participation.

Upcoming Professional Learning Opportunities

  • The Online Teaching Conference. Is scheduled to take place in person this summer, June 29-July 1, in Long Beach. More details will come in 2022, but the call for proposals is open now through January 31 if you’re interested in presenting.
  • @ONE has opened registration for free spring webinars on equity, with two focused on grading practices. You can also register for a number of @ONE online teaching courses starting in early spring, and they are offering 25% discount on courses starting before April with coupon code PD4U_2022. Let me know if you’d like financial support to register for one of these. 

Spring Online Ed Flex Planning – Got Something to Share?

I’m pulling together Flex week online ed workshops around topics including student-instructor interaction, student-student interaction, accessibility, and proactive support of students through monitoring engagement and progress. I’d love to include diverse faculty voices/examples in these sessions – please let me know if you’d be interested in sharing your practices in one of these workshops!

Wishing you peace, joy, and rest for your winter break!

– Jim

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

Upcoming Online Ed Professional Learning Opportunities

Many wonderful professional learning opportunities to enhance your online instructional skills and knowledge are coming up! Please see below, and let me know if you are looking for something beyond what’s listed here!


  • Anytime: Connect with a MiraCosta peer faculty helper for any question related to online teaching, big or small!
  • Five Minute Fixes to Simplify Online Teaching – Tues. Oct. 5, 8 pm in Zoom (no registration needed)
    Want to make a quick fix that makes a difference? We’ll share ideas for how to prevent students getting lost, liven up discussion, stop spending so much time grading, and answer fewer student questions. See how you can simplify your online teaching. Presented by Laura Paciorek and Lisa M. Lane, sponsored by MiraCosta Online Mentors.
  • Faculty Show & Tell – Tues. Oct. 12 & 26, Nov. 9 & 30, 2-3 pm in Zoom (no registration needed)
    Join me, Lauren McFall, and Sean Davis for open discussion allowing us to connect with colleagues, consider new possibilities, and potentially find our next collaboration.


ASCCC OER INITIATIVE WEBINARS (Click links to register)

  •   OER for Administrators – Fri., Oct. 8, 10:30-11:30 am
    What should administrators know about OER? What do administrators want to know about OER? How do faculty advocate for OER with their administrators? Join us to discuss approaches to turning your administrators into OER supporters – and fellow advocates.
  •  OER Basics for the Less Familiar – Fri., Oct. 15, 10:30-11:30 am
    Are you interested in OER but not quite sure where to start? We can help! Join us to learn more about what OER is and what it allows you to do as well as compelling reasons to consider using OER in your teaching.
  • Remixing Spanish OER – Fri., Oct. 15, 1-2:00 pm
    Are you interested in searching for Spanish OER? What about remixing OERs? Come and learn about search options and how Spanish instructors have remixed different Spanish OERs for their courses.
  • Saddleback College: Building Zero Textbook Cost Momentum Over 5 Years – Fri., Oct. 22, 10:30-11:30 am
    The OER/ZTC movement has grown exponentially at Saddleback College. Join us for a presentation on how we started with only six OER faculty and advanced OER/ZTC on our campus to now offer 26 ZTC Degree/Certificate Pathways. Topics include: beginning stages, building relationships around campus, stipends, marketing, and data.
  •  Equity from the Start, Utilizing HEERF (Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds) for OER – Fri., Oct. 29, 10:30-11:30 am
    Looking to leverage HEERF funds to support OER at your college? Then this webinar is for you! Join faculty and staff from Contra Costa Community College District as they describe how they joined forces to transform small, independent OER efforts into a $500,000 districtwide program for student equity that is supported throughout the district. The presentation includes the program description, evolution, funding, success data, student comments, and take-aways for other colleges.


@ONE MATH-THEMED WEBINARS (Click links to register)

PLAYPOSIT (Click link to register)

  • Reimagining your Video Content with PlayPosit – Fri., Oct. 8, 12 pm – from CCC TechConnect and PlayPosit staff
    PlayPosit gives faculty the ability to add interactivity to their videos for class assignments, lectures and more. Use interactivity in videos to assess student learning by using in-video quizzes. Instructors can add a variety of questions and activities to videos that go well beyond Canvas Studio’s capabilities.

Happy learning!

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

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