Eight Questions About Windows 8

My first experience with the Windows 8 operating system began in December 2012 when I helped friends install their new desktop computer. Windows 8 was installed on the computer and my goal was to set-up Wi-Fi and install their printer.  I thought the process would be easy, it was not. I quickly became frustrated during the installation process, because I like many others could not easily find the programs for which I had become accustomed to using, such as the Control Panel. After a few hours of mulling my way around the system, I was able to get everything successfully installed and went happily back using Windows 7. Fast forward to now… I recently began using a Surface Pro tablet, which comes with Windows 8. I really like the Surface Pro tablet and decided (this time) to explore features of the operating system more deeply.   This post is designed to share the answers to initial questions you may have about the operating system.

1.) How do I take a screen shot with Windows 8? 

Press the Windows key Apps4and the Print Screen key and the screen shot will be saved in the pictures library. If you are using a tablet device, the combination is the Windows key and the Volume Down key.

2.) Where is the Start button? 

The Start button has been replaced with the Start screen in Windows 8. The Start screen is the initial screen that you will see upon logging into the Windows 8 environment. The files and programs that were listed on the Start button are now presented as tiles on the Start screen. You can accesTiles can open desktop programs and system tools, such as, Microsoft Word and File Explorer, and Windows Store apps.

The Start Screen

Tiles on the Start screen link to programs, apps, and websites.

Windows 8 does not show you all of the tiles on your Start page. In order to see all of the tiles, scroll or swipe to the right side of your screen. As you can see, I loaded a variety of apps and programs.

The Start Screen

Access additional tiles


Comparing Retention Center with Course Signals

course-signals-web-logoUsing Blackboard’s Retention Center along with Course Signals allows instructors to see how students are currently performing in a course as well as predict student success based on current behaviors. If you would like to identify those students who are logging in much later than their peers  in the beginning of the semester, the Retention Center can identify them and allow you to send those students a message encouraging them to log in. It can also help instructor’s flag individuals so they can monitor specific students. The rule creation and editing tools help to customize and fine tune how you want to group students and which behaviors you want to watch. Instructors can select the grades they desire to monitor, how many days are acceptable to go without logging in, and if they want to be alerted when deadlines are missed. Rules can be added such as to identify high achieving students and rules can be deleted and easily activated again.

Faculty who use Retention Center are able to monitor current activity or inactivity, depending on the situation. Those who use Course Signals as well are able to predict future behavior if students continue on their projected path based on current activity. By virtue of instructors providing feedback to students via Course Signals, advisors are also able to monitor and intervene with their advises who are in courses using Course Signals. Course Signals, unlike the Retention Center, divides students into three groups, allowing for a middle group of students who are neither high performing nor low performing. This at-risk group of students, identified by the yellow signal, can be shown resources in their messages that are sent with their signal, which can help them pull themselves out of this risk area.

             Having both tools available gives instructors the ability to use whichever tool best fits their needs or even both tools. No matter the size of the course, the monitoring tools within the Retention Center can provide valuable information as to the details of your group right now. Course Signals can help determine if your students are on a path to success. Both tools, particularly when used together, give instructors a powerful resource in providing student feedback.

For additional information comparing Retention Center with Course Signals:

Using WordPress Blogs for Teaching and Learning

What are easy tools to create personal or professional blogs and portfolios online? WordPress is a ready-to-use self-hosting blogging tool with numerous plugins and themes available.

First, blogs enable both faculty and students to publish thoughts, comments, images, links to other sites and multimedia through a blog post, which consists of a title, a publication timestamp, an article body and is often tagged by one or more categories (Rollett, Lux, Strohmaier, Dösinger & Tochtermann, 2007). Blogs have frequent updates (at least once a month) and posts that are displayed in descending chronological order.

Second, why use blogs for teaching and learning? Blogs have the potential to 1) increase online social interaction (Beldarrain, 2006); 2) promote students’ analytical skills and critical thinking (Oravec, 2002); and 3) improve student-teacher relationships (Ferdig & Trammel, 2004) in both small and large classrooms.

Next, Purdue supports two blog platforms. Bb Blog is embedded within the BlackBoard Learning Management System. The other one is WordPress. Here is a detailed comparison between WordPress and Blackboard Learn Blog:

Here are some use cases of WordPress for teaching and learning on campus:

  • Students set up WordPress blogs/Portfolios to write reflections on seven cases in the class and provide comments. – Professor Abdelfattah Nour in Basic Medical Sciences 
  • Display and archive students’ projects. – Associate Professor John Lumkes in Agricultural and Biological Engineering
  • Students set up WordPress blogs/Portfolios to document scientific investigation in the discovery learning activities. - Associate Professor Kari Clase in Technology, Leadership and Innovation

Last, there are free social media monitoring tools available to track your students’ work. For example, Netvibes ( is a free portal you can personalize. All your students’ blogs could be in one page so it’s easier for instructors to keep track.

If you are interested in more information about integrating WordPress blogs into teaching and learning, please contact us at


Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139–53.

Ferdig, R. E. & Trammell, K. D. (2004). Content delivery in the ‘Blogosphere’. Technological Horizons in Education.

Oravec, J. (2002). Bookmarking the world: Weblog applications in education. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 45(7), 616-621.

Rollett, H., Lux, M., Strohmaier, M., Dösinger, G., & Tochtermann, K. (2007). The web 2.0 way of learning with technologies. International Journal of Learning Technology, 3(1), 87–107.

Wei Liu Zakharov, PhD
Educational Technologist

Qualtrics as a Quick Quiz Tool with Scoring

We often think of Qualtrics, Purdue’s online survey software, as primarily a research or data gathering tool, but it will also allow you to set up quizzes with scores and display results to students.  Though the tool is by nature anonymous, a simple solution would be to ask students to fill in their name using a text fill in the blank question, if they want the credit for a given quiz.  Results may be viewed in Qualtrics to provide the instructor with a composite view of the classes’ responses; as well as downloaded to Excel for further analysis or uploading to a grade column in Blackboard. It is not as robust as assessments in Blackboard, but if you are looking for a different kind of student self-study guide or short quiz format, this might be worth exploring.

For example, let’s review setting up a self-study quiz. To set up the quiz, create the questions in Qualtrics as you would usually do using multiple choice, ranking, fill in the blank or true/false formats.  You may also create question display mapping based on certain responses to questions.  What this means is that you may provide additional questions to a student if they had an incorrect response to an earlier question or to proceed past those extra questions, if their original response was correct. A mapping technique based on their answer choices is often useful as a self-study guide to develop mastery over course content outside of the traditional class environment.

To apply the scoring feature, while in Edit Survey mode, click on the Advanced Options button in the upper right of your screen. Then select Scoring on the lower half of the Advanced Options menu.

Qualtrics Advanced Options tab

Qualtrics Advanced Options tab

Menu item for Scoring

Menu item for Scoring





The next step is to select the correct answers by clicking on the answer choice that is right.  It will default to 1 point value.  You can click on the number 1 and type in a different value if desired. For fill in the blank questions, you may add alternative answers by clicking the plus sign to the right of the answer choice.  Note each alternative answer needs a score value entered to the left of it to be scored properly.

Example of scored question

Example of scored question

To display the score to the student at the end of each question or at the end of the survey, or both; click on scoring options in the upper right of the screen and select your choices.Score display options

The final score displayed to the student will look like the snapshot below after they click the submit button. Score displays per question may be used in addition to a final display.

Final scored display

Final scored display


If you would like to read more about scoring, use the following link or please contact one of our Ed Tech staff at