eLDIG News

Issue playing YouTube videos from MS Office apps in Smeal and GPC classrooms

Description: A global issue with YouTube’s integration with Microsoft Office is currently preventing links to YouTube videos from Microsoft Office applications (such as Word and Powerpoint) from playing as expected in Smeal and General Purpose classroom podium computers using any browser. When attempting to visit YouTube links from MS Office applications users are instead redirected to a message stating “Your browsers is up to date” and are unable to play the video.

There are several options to circumvent this redirect:

  1. Manually copy links from MS Office applications and paste them into browser windows.
  2. Add YouTube video links to Kaltura Media Space, then paste those links into MS Office applications.
  3. Edit the YouTube video link as follows:
    1. Copy the YouTube video URL from the browser’s address window (for example,
    2. Remove “?v=” and add a “/” after “watch”
    3. Paste the new URL into your MS Office application (

Pulling Final Grades into LionPath from Canvas

When your semester grading is complete, please consult these resources that cover how to upload your grades from Canvas to LionPATH.

Creating a Compatible Penn State Grading Scheme

In order for LionPATH to successfully pull your grades from Canvas, you first need to create a grading scheme in Canvas with these same letter grades. Then you must activate that grading scheme. If you use the default grading scheme in Canvas or any other letters (e.g., C-) in a scheme, LionPATH will not successfully pull grades from your course. Penn State has created a learning path to walk you through that process.

Preparing Your Final Grades for LionPath

Using LionPATH to import your grades from Canvas is a multi-step process that requires that your Canvas Gradebook is complete and accurate. First, prepare your grades in Canvas. Then verify the accuracy of your grades using a .csv export file. Once you have completed those steps, you have two methods for entering our final grades in to LionPATH.

Penn State has created a Knowledge Base article that describes these steps in detail.

The following video may also be helpful:

If you need any further support with this process, please tell us about your needs so we can begin a conversation!

If you need immediate support, please email


We recommend our April 9, 2020 Smeal Academy Session about Grading and Assessments for more in-depth discussion of assessment and exam strategies, including proctoring options.

Penn State Websites

Top Hat: Learn how to engage students in your course

The goal of Penn State IT’s enterprise-wide service agreement with Top Hat in September 2020 is to provide instructors with the tools to design courses that will engage students within and outside the classroom. Since its release in late fall 2020, the Top Hat vendor has been actively supporting instructors with personalized demonstrations and webinar training sessions.  

Top Hat is available for instructors to learn how to incorporate features into their spring 2021 courses. Penn State IT Learning Development is offering two upcoming Top Hat training sessions for instructors on Building Engagement Opportunities into Your Course. Register now for one of these sessions: 

  • Thursday, December 17, 2020, 10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST 
  • Tuesday, January 12, 2021, 10:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST 

Top Hat offers instructors opportunities to create more effective, interactive courses with features such as polls, live discussions, tailored assignments, and learning insights that motivate every student, from the front to the back row or via Zoom, to participate and have a voice. 

With core Top Hat features available at no cost to students, and without the purchase of a standalone clicker device, students can participate in Top Hat activities with their smartphones. Students can also login to access Top Hat via the web for added convenience.  

Top Hat’s informative learning insights track students’ progress to identify areas that may require further course review or revisit content as necessary. Students can also monitor their own participation through the Top Hat activities to gauge their progress in mastering the course material.   

No matter the class size, Top Hat’s integration with Canvas allows instructors to seamlessly synchronize rosters and grades with the Canvas gradebook, enabling the accurate recording of graded participation and attendance in large, remote courses. This type of real-time feedback from students allows instructors to assess the level of engagement in a course, particularly in remote classrooms.  

“Top Hat allows instructors to upload PowerPoint presentations and embed discussion prompts within the slides that engage students without having multiple applications open or switching between windows,” said Amanda Jones, Instructional designer at Penn State IT Learning Development. 

Active learning pedagogies that emphasize discussion and collaboration can make the virtual classroom a more inviting place, and live discussions with peers allow students to build connections with one another to create learning environments that extend beyond the traditional classroom. 

“Instructors currently using Top Hat have used the polling feature to spark class discussions, create homework and reading assignments, and used questions to check for understanding during lectures to help students master the course material,” said Jones.  

Instructors interested in prepping to use Top Hat in  the spring can start by completing this form to request a personalized demonstration with a Top Hat education technology specialist or register to attend one of the training sessions provided by Penn State ITLD.  Additional vendor supported resources and guides are also available for instructors and students.  

For more information, visit    

Canvas played integral role in Virtual Student Orientation

New Student Orientation is a vital asset for incoming students designed to prepare them for all aspects of college life – everything from setting academic goals to being a good member of their campus community. The multi-day event helps get them on the right path for their time as a Penn State student.

As senior associate director for New Student Orientation (NSO), Katie Motycki has led orientation at Penn State since 2013 and knows a thing or two about what makes it successful. When the decision was made to change NSO to an online experience because of the pandemic, she turned to learning designers in Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) to help make it happen.

Boring handouts and endless links to read? Not on her watch. Motycki wanted Virtual Student Orientation to replicate the rich in-person experience she would otherwise plan. And she wanted it in Canvas, the learning management system students use for their classes.

“Since Canvas is such a huge part of the undergraduate experience, we knew that was something we should be using,” Motycki said.

Angie Dick, Learning Design manager in TLT, said her team was up for the challenge and honored to be involved in a project impacting every new student. Still, the project work was extensive and they were facing a tight timeline.

“We made a conscientious effort to build a virtual learning space where students would feel welcome and a part of their new campus,” she said.

Amy Kuntz and Jessie Driver, learning designers on Dick’s team, stepped up to lead the work. Kuntz said they created seven standard modules for all students based on a table of contents from Motycki. Those modules covered such things as the business of being a student; dining and residence life; health and safety; preparing for academic advising; sexual misconduct education; and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Each module had learning objectives, and Kuntz and Driver used them to develop an assessment to test students’ understanding of the key concepts before they could move on to the next module.

They also created an additional module for 13 colleges and 19 campuses, with input from academic advisers in those areas. Each highlighted specific information incoming students in those locations needed to know, such as majors offered, GPA requirements, and other unique features.

“In the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, for example, they only have about 300 entering students a year,” Driver said. “They intentionally keep the classes smaller, and the faculty and advisers really get to know the students. So the module for EMS included that.”

Finally, they created a standardized parent and family module that addressed topics they needed to know to support their student, such as tuition and billing, an academic overview, health and safety resources, and more.

Kuntz said she and Driver developed guidelines for what could be submitted and the formats to use, so academic advisers had a starting point to help them pull together information.

“We worked many nights and during the weekends to get everything done in the quick turnaround time. Not only did we have to put information into the Canvas modules, but we were working with the advisers across the Commonwealth to make sure what they submitted would work and offering drop-in hours and consultations to help them,” Kuntz said.

Media Commons Consultant Nate Ulrich also was involved, taking apart an interactive musical theater show put on by Penn State theater students called “Results Will Vary*.” One performance of the show was filmed at an NSO session last year by WPSU, and Ulrich edited about 15 clips from the raw video recording to embed in one of the modules.

Ulrich said the production covered sensitive topics such as alcohol abuse and sexual harassment.

When all was said and done, more than 250 staff from across the Commonwealth were engaged in some way in contributing to deliver a successful Virtual Orientation program welcoming 17,000 new students to Penn State in 2020.

“It’s safe to say we would not have been able to deliver the high-quality program we did without IT,” Motycki said. “Sure, we could have come up with a website of information, but it wouldn’t have been in Canvas in a way that was as thoughtfully designed. When you talk about things that take a village, this was truly a University-wide effort. The collaborative spirit to make it happen was remarkable.”

A new Blended Learning Transformation cohort is forming

TLT is now accepting proposals for the 2021 BlendLT cohort. The window for proposals will remain open until May 20, 2021. Interested faculty can submit their proposal online. The program is open to all faculty members, including tenure and teaching track faculty members as well as adjunct faculty.  

Participants will have the opportunity to repurpose successful materials created for the remote teaching environment, incorporate best practices in course design, and provide justification for a course mode change to their academic unit.

“Blended courses are designed to utilize the best elements of in-person and online teaching and learning,” said Angie Dick, manager of learning design with TLT. “BlendLT gives Penn State faculty support during and after their course’s transformation to help ensure an optimal experience for everyone.”

Those who are accepted into the BlendLT program will receive support to transform their courses through the formal workshop series, the BlendLT Learning Path, and assistance in evaluating the redesigned course. 

BlendLT participants can expect to commit to up to 22 hours of professional development work. The hours will be broken into five synchronous online seminars, and two additional seminars that will last between four to six hours. The longer seminars will take place at University Park or online, depending on COVID-19 restrictions.

Additional details on the program commitment can be found on the proposal form and on the BlendLT webpage.