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Resources for the new Discussion interface

As you know, the Academy’s new online discussion interface launched last semester. Lots of resources are available to help you and your students get up to speed.

  • Online Teaching Lounge
    Get some hands-on practice and ask questions of Online Education staff. If you are not enrolled in the Lounge but would like to be, please send an email with your LMS username to Jenny Michael.
  • Online Teaching Library
    Tutorials, cheat sheets, and much more! Check them out here: Discussion Navigation.
  • Online Workshops
    We are offering two online workshops: (1) a general overview and Q&A, and a workshop on (2) grading & critiquing online. Check out the schedule: Teacher Training Workshops.

A new way to critique images

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A new tool called "Notes" lets you annotate students’ images by adding callouts, along with text, audio, or video commentary. And you can do all this from your smartphone or tablet! (Or your computer, of course.)

This new tool is a first step toward replacing the existing Flash-based whiteboard, which will continue to be available in the meantime.


Now available in the Apple App Store: Academy of Art University Classes!

Click to enlarge.

Our free app enables faster, easier access to your online classes on your iPhone or iPad. The Classes app is currently only available for iOS (9.0 or above). An Android version is coming soon.

Note that there are several other Academy of Art University apps available in the App Store. The Classes app does not replace these.

  1. Visit the  Apple App Store

     to download and install Academy of Art University Classes.

  2. Log in your Academy username and password. After you have logged in, access is protected by thumbprint verification.
  3. If you have difficulties installing or using the app, please contact the Online Help Desk at 888-431-2787 or

Notifications for students

A new notifications tool lets students know when their online instructor has taken an action that affects them directly. This includes:

  • Making a new post
  • Posting a comment the student's post
  • Marking up an image the student has posted
  • Grading an assignment
  • Posting progress, midterm or final grades
  • Adding an Instructor Update to an assignment

Notifications can be viewed by clicking the bell icon on the main toolbar at the top of any page in the LMS.


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  1. Have you tried out these tools? Post a comment and let us know how they're working for you!

  2. don't take away my whiteboard markup tools!!! Overall, the LMS changes have been great otherwise. 

    1. Hi, Sarah–

      We have no intention of taking away your tools (toys:)! We won't be getting rid of the old whiteboard until the Notes application can accomplish everything the white board now does. But for some people, Notes will be enough.


  3. I've been waiting for an iPad app for ever! Exciting!

  4. hi Jennifer, this is an old grizzled veteran online instructor (2005 Spring) writing in to say FINALLY FINALLY the needle has moved. mostly i tend to ignore the posts on improvements to the LMS but i decided to open this one up. i was floored to see actual improvements to the grading structure that don't involve keeping several tabs open at one time. i'm not a user of the whiteboard as my topics are not visual in nature. mostly it's been the lack of threaded discussion and the frankly ABYSMAL grading setup that have made me quite literally LOATHE this LMS compared to others i've used. the grading page improvements definitely help move things in a more positive direction especially. the look and feel of the comments has been improved but lack of threading for me is still a head scratcher. do appreciate the extra message sorting though. especially the flagging.

    now, what would overjoy me is being able to calculate all my grades in the LMS or at the least the ability to export grades in a CSV format to any other type of grading structure. the absolute least favorite part of my semester is any grading period, as i have to have my EasyGrade Pro app open as well as the scores for each of the Assignments or Quizzes in the LMS. i get the grades for quizzes and discussions and then combine them with the assignment grades i've done. this is frankly unacceptable for the tech available to us in 2016 - i should not have to keep two separate gradebooks to calculate grades four times a semester. it's ridiculous and i suspect i am very much preaching to the choir. but perhaps this time voices of the rank and file can be heard a bit?

    1. Thanks for writing, Scott!

      The new discussion UI was developed and will continue to be updated based on instructor and student feedback. We held many meetings with faculty and students during the year of initial development, and we continue to request user input through various channels. For example, we ran a big survey this summer (instructors and students), and will be making more changes in the coming months based on that feedback, as our budget allows. The survey feedback also helps me to understand areas of confusion, so I can create appropriate training materials. We plan to run another user survey this fall, so keep an eye out for that. (Got something to say now? Send an email to

      You're right: everyone agrees that a real gradebook would be a huge enhancement to our LMS, and we hope one day to make that happen. The most recent changes to the grading interface are a step in that direction. It's an enormous and expensive project, however, so it won't happen overnight. But it's definitely on our wishlist.

  5. Not yet - but SUPER STOKED about downloading this app and trying notes. My courses are not necessarily image based, but notes allows me a fun option for grading on those few assignments which are anchored in visuals.   The interface feels very intuitive so far. Spent lots of time on it last night with no hiccups or questions or confusion.

  6. This is really cool!  I also use the whiteboard, so am glad to hear that it will eventually be evolved into the Notes program.  I will download the app to my iphone and ipad asap!  Thanks!!!!

  7. The notes tool will be useful, but the white board is critical for markups . I use the tools in the white board to draw over the students drawing, so the student will know exactly how to correct their work. I see it will continue to be available FOR NOW. But you intend to -- quote" This new tool is a first step toward replacing the existing Flash-based whiteboard," what ever you replace it with, it must have the same functions as the white board, or I will be unable to SHOW the student how to correct without downloading their work, correcting in photoshop, then reposting, which is much more time consuming. 

    1. Hopefully,some day,  the new mark up tools will have drawing tools for  art instructors who want to make  actual art corrections ( not limited to arrows and circles/vector lines)   It would be great  to draw within the interface, and avoid, ( as William has noted, ) downloading and drawing in an actual drawing tool. then re-uploading.

      It just makes sense that the premier online art school ( AAU) should be the pioneering force in creating most excellent art/draw tools for instructor feedback.


    2. That is indeed the plan, Bill! We won't get rid of the old whiteboard until the Notes tool can do everything the whiteboard does.

      1. NO NO, not the drawing capability of the whiteboard, it is awful, it needs to be more like drawing in sketchup or Photoshop or any digital 'drawing' program! I have been able to make the whiteboard drawing tool 'work' but it is like drawing with an etch-a-sketch. It needs to go beyond the clunky 2001 look of the current whiteboard.

        I agree with Kathleen on all levels " It would be great  to draw within the interface, and avoid, ( as William has noted, ) downloading and drawing in an actual drawing tool. then re-uploading."

        1. i think a Control Z option would definitely help (smile)

          1. not enough . . . to "SHOW" as Bill commented above, not going to satisfied with status quo, SHOWING requires adept tools the students and instructors deserve drawing tools that are quick,easy to use SHOW the corrections in a robust form!

  8. Where does one find the new app?

    1. Apple App Store (details in my post, above)

      1. Thanks! Got it! Turns out you can only access it from your device and not your computer.

  9. works great! I dont always have to go to the markups now, though i still love the markups (smile)

  10. Hi Jenny,

    I'm having some issues with the way the whiteboard works now.   For my classes, this is almost all I do....critique work on the white board, so I need it to be working smoothly.   It actually handled much more efficiently when it was in the old interface!

    Now, it's very cumbersome, with a lot of problems.  It constantly gets stuck, so I can't scroll to see the entire work.  When I do scroll down to see the entire photo, it often won't go back up so I can click the save or close buttons.    Sometimes it works, and sometimes the scrolling doesn't work....very frustrating!  It's causing a lot of extra time with critiquing.  (In the old interface, it just opened up showing the entire need to scroll or anything)

    I'm thinking that maybe I might use the Notes tool instead, even though I'm not able to draw on it....In that case, I'm looking forward to when the notes tool is updated to be able to draw in that interface.

    Might you or any one else have some suggestions for this problem?    I'm on a Mac and use Safari.  I've tried using firefox for this, and it's still the same problem.



    1. Sounds like an issue for the help desk, Linda. I'm sorry to know you're having this frustration, but they're the people who could actually help!

      1. Hi Jenny.....You would think the help desk could help....but no.  I've tried that.    For years the white board has worked great....but since it's been stuck in the middle of the new interface, it's can be very frustrating.   Just wanted to make you aware.   Thanks though!

        1. I haven't had anything to mark up yet, but I'm finding Chrome browser works well with the LMS. You might give that a try.

  11. New interface is confusing at first. I am sure it will get more intuitive as I work with it. For example, how to access mark up tool page now is different. REsponding and seeing comments by students seems more confusing. I will let you know how things work for me as the semester progresses. (wink) 

  12. Looks great. I've been dreaming of this app since I started teaching online. Now, fingers crossed for a speedy Android version arrival! (smile)

  13. Last semester, in the new Interface grade area, we had the abitlity to email the student and send ARC report in one area ( grade area)

    That was terrific ...because most of the students who do not deliver work probably do not read the grade comments  ( ie "Please deliver this missing assignment, It is mandatory to pass the class " kind of note)

    So I would routinely send an email, grade comment and ARC notice for every assignment that was missing  ( F  grade)

    Now.. they took away the ease of sending emails and arc reports> Or maybe I am just using the wrong browser or something ?  : (

    Can we have this functionality returned please?


    1. Hi, Kathleen –

      Ever user's name in the grading interface is a link which opens a pushdown menu with a set of tools, including the option to send the student an email or request support from ARC.  

      However, I just tried this on my iPad, and the pushdown menus are not working  for me. Is that what you were trying to do? If it's not just an iPad issue, it's probably a bug that needs to be reported to the helpdesk. Could you please confirm that this is what you were trying to do - and if you're having the same issue I am? 


      1. The link to student email , and Arc, from Grade area.. is just  buggy. frozen and will not provide consistent link to email.

        I was on PC, w many windows for classes open. Probably Chrome browser.

        1. Would you please report this to the help desk, Kathleen, so they can take a look? Thanks so much!

  14. I would like to see  the old GREEN GRADED CHECK MARK at the top level on the  student submissions to show 

    that an assignment has been GRADED.