Fall 2020 Newsletter Holiday Presents—Grading, SP21 Course Prep, and Box

By December 11, 2020April 5th, 2024Smeal Academy Newsletter

Welcome to the Smeal Academy: Fall 2020 Resilience

The goal of the Smeal Academy is to equip everyone with best practices and strategies for teaching, learning, and technology to ensure the Smeal community is prepared to respond to the unique challenges in teaching during this time. Throughout the semester, we will be sending emails with practical tips and information, providing live sessions, and holding virtual consultations.

End-of-Semester Grading

As a reminder, final grade posting in LionPath must be completed by 12/22/20. If you are using the Canvas gradebook to manage grades this semester, consider saving time by allowing Canvas to transfer final grades directly to LionPath. Helpful resources to aid you in this process are listed below:

If you have questions or would like assistance with the grade import process please don’t hesitate to contact eLDIG via eldig@smeal.psu.edu.

Resources to Prepare for Spring

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the value of being flexible and the importance of being resilient. With that in mind, we wanted to share a few resources and a little food for thought for the Spring semester. Many who are teaching this coming Spring taught last Spring. It was more than a little bit overwhelming to transition to remote instruction with almost no warning. As you begin preparing your course(s) for next semester, it may be beneficial – whenever possible – to design the course as if you will be teaching at least a portion of your class remotely. This will ensure that you will be prepared for any eventuality. Here are five things to consider as you prepare for next semester:

  • Make the most of Canvas. Consider using one of eLDIG’s Canvas lesson templates to organize your Module content.
  • Convert your class resources to a digital format whenever possible. This includes readings, class handouts, videos that you might typically show in class, exams, and quizzes, and all homework.
  • Add a student “check-in” survey to Canvas to get a sense of your students’ well-being.
  • If attendance is part of your grading, consider using a tool like TopHat from the beginning of the semester to take attendance.
  • Consider recording your lecture content in advance and flipping your class or some of your class sessions, using class time for students to work on assignments, engage in active learning, and ask questions. This will make it easier if you need to transition to remote instruction and to support students affected by COVID because your core lecture content will be ready in advance.

We have a number of Smeal Academy session recordings available for your review as you prepare for the upcoming semester.

Current News

  • Box Migration
    Smeal’s Box migration is scheduled to take place between February 8 – 10, 2021. View this Box Migration Checklist to see what this will mean for you.
  • Wellness Days
    Spring wellness days are scheduled for 2/9 (Tues), 3/11 (Thurs), and 4/7 (Wed). Please plan your course schedule around these dates. Check out Keep Teaching’s advice about how to adjust your course and factor in wellness days into your course schedule.

Upcoming Live Sessions

  • University-Wide Faculty Coffee Break (Penn State Faculty Advisory Group Session) 
    • Date: Friday, December 18, 2020
    • Time: 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

    The Penn State Faculty Advisory Group invites all Penn State faculty to relax, debrief, and most importantly, connect! Session Info: https://keepteaching.psu.edu/webinars/university-wide-faculty-coffee-break/

  • Smeal Academy Session – Active Learning 
    • Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2021
    • Time: 11 a.m. to Noon

    Think about the last time you learned something. What was the topic? How did you learn it? What motivated you to engage in learning and stay engaged? What got you thinking critically about the knowledge you were seeking? What kind of innovation had you wished had been applied to the topic? What new tool would have been fun?

    This session will discuss active learning strategies in online learning that help faculty engage learners, and can lead to innovation in the classroom. Active learning is a teaching method that supports learning. The method uses techniques and activities that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation that guide students towards achieving learning objectives. These techniques and activities are based on ideas about how people learn and engage regardless of content discipline. Multiple strategies will be discussed in a very active session, be prepared not to sit passively for this session.

    This session will be delivered via Zoom.

NOTE:  Recordings and resources from previous sessions can be found on our eLDIG  Website.

Tips of the Week

  • Tip #1: Export Canvas Course Grades to Check Final Grade
    To ensure that your final grades that post to LionPath match your calculations, export your Canvas gradebook and check the “Final Grade” column in the .csv file. If there is a difference between the “Current Grade” and “Final Grade,” it is likely because you have not entered grades for all assignments in Canvas. You can set a default grade (example 0 for no submission) for assignments to help with this process.
  • Tip #2: Update Announcement Dates
    Remember to change the dates on your Announcements in Canvas when you copy them into a new course or previous semester announcements will be available when you publish your course(s).


Helpful Websites


Check out the eLDIG Website for more resources and support.

Contact Us

Email us at: smealtlthelp@psu.edu or fill out our Remote Teaching Support form.