Author Archive

What I learned at the Sloan-C Conference

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning recently and I would like to share some of the highlights. The general table talk was about MOOCS (massive open online courses) but I am not going to talk about those today. The underlying theme that I was more interested in and I agree with is that in the future higher education will not and should not look like it does now. We need to redesign our courses to take advantage of the rich resources and experiences that students have available to them outside the classroom walls. We also need to make our classrooms relevant and up to date for our students.

Faculty Development

With that being said, faculty are expected to be doing more and more so time is becoming less and less. It is important to provide relevant faculty development in a variety of ways so faculty can access it in way that suits them. I saw a great presentation by the folks at St. Petersburg College. They are choosing a theme each month that highlights some technology or technique. They start the month with a blog post that contains all the information and videos that a faculty member would need to implement that in their classroom. They also include faculty talking about their experience utilizing that technology or technique in their classroom. Next there is a workshop event for hands on instruction for the faculty. This is followed by a webinar, lunch event and open lab times for faculty. I love how the faculty have a choice as to how they receive the information and that there is a consistent schedule of activities that faculty can count on and plan for. We hope to implement a variation on this at our campuses this spring.

Online Student Orientation

The other couple presentations that were very relevant for me was about creating an effective online orientation for students. Our students come to us from so many different preparatory “places” it is important to provide them information that is useful for those that need it and not force students to do work they do not need to do. Again the advice was provide information in a variety of formats. Pdf’s with screenshots as well as screencasts were recommended. Also having students DO things in the LMS is important. Our plan is to assess them to find out where they truly are and then only make them work on the parts of the orientation they truly need.


I did learn about a new web-based technology from YouSeeU that seems useful. It allows students to do presentations online rather than in the classroom. Students video themselves and sync with their PowerPoint slides. I like it because it has some rich feedback and rubric grading options. We are looking forward to their new feature this spring which includes an asynchronous way to ask oral exam questions which will be useful in our online courses.

The reality is that students generally do not stay with the university they start with and they can take courses virtually all over the world. They expect relevant and engaging experiences that prepare them for the 21st century work force. It is time to reinvent and update.

Categories: classroom, software Tags: ,

More Cool Tools and the ASCUE Conference

June 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I am freshly back from the Association of Supporting Computer Users in Education (ASCUE) conference. It was really great and I got lots of ideas that I want to share with you.

North Myrtle Beach view from Ocean Creek

One idea I liked was using Google Sites for student e-portfolios. You can create custom templates for a program, individual, or course that the students can easily access and utilize. They can upload work and customize their portfolio. Their work is then available for job interviews and keeping a running history of their college careers. This would work in high school as well.

Here is a list of gadgets that I highly recommend checking out that were talked about at the conference:

  • Swivyl camera mount: it works with iphone, ipod touch and flip type cameras. Follows the speaker. Very cool. (
  • Finch Robot: for the physicists and computer programmers, this is a great robot to teach programming. Many programming languages can be used so this spans many grade levels. (
  • One talk recommended the Aver HVC310 HD for video conferencing on a budget. I have not checked it out so can’t say but they were pleased with it.

As for other ideas my friend Tom Marcais described his school’s process of developing video tutorials for faculty and staff. The process heavily involves students which I think is great. They write the script and produce the screen captures using Screencast-o-matic. Once they are proficient, they can create music loops for the background as well. Check out the results! (

As for this year’s cool tools here is my link to this year’s finds:

The highlights:

  • TedEd: a collection of educational cartoons that also included lesson plans and quizzes that you can use or you can “flip” a video and create your own lesson for others to take advantage of. (
  • Screenleap: instant screensharing great for support and impromptu tutoring or meetings. (
  • If This, Then That: Really cool site that lets you really maximize your productivity by connecting your various accounts. For example if you favorite a Twitter post then it sends it to your e-mail (or Evernote). Or if a post goes to a favorite RSS feed then it puts it in a certain DropBox folder. (
  • Remind 101: This site allows you to send texts to anyone who has signed up for your “class”. You don’t see their phone numbers and they don’t see yours. They can sign up using an e-mail address too. Great for sending students reminders and important notices. You can even schedule your texts in advance! (

If you find a couple of these things helpful, you need to come to next year’s ASCUE conference in North Myrtle Beach in June. ( There were many more ideas just like these. Come join the fun!

Summer Is Here, Time for New Technology!

May 20, 2012 1 comment

Summer is the perfect time to play with some new technology that you can add to your fall courses. Maybe create a small learning object or some piece of a lesson and see how it goes. Here are some ideas to get you started. clear logo The Center for Language Education and Research out of Michigan State University has come up with some amazing Rich Internet Applications that are definitely worth checking out. The one we are going to use for our Spanish online course is the Conversations app. It allows for completely asynchronous chats via a microphone and web cam. This is simply a fantastic tool for chatting with your students or them chatting with one another in a foreign language. I also see applications for business courses and interview practice. Take a look and try it out.

Google Drive

google drive image Have you been looking for a reason to use Google Drive instead of DropBox or some other cloud file service? Me too! Well I think I found at least one. It is called WeVideo. It is a cloud based video editor that integrates with Google Drive. It is pretty slick and allows for great collaboration. Students can create videos together in this collaborative environment then share them in just about any format. You can use it for your video editing as well.

Storyline by Articulate

It’s no secret that I am an Articulate fan and I have been DYING to spread the word about their new product, Storyline. I am not a programmer at all but I have great ideas for learning objects, activities, assessments and the like. This tool allows me to look like a rock star with no programming whatsoever. It can develop great looking simple things in minutes or you can unleash its power on some pretty detailed stuff. Drag and drop, show and do, branching, animations and more can be done with this great product. If you are in education be sure you check out the educational pricing. It would cost that alone to hire out for just one interaction. Now you have to the tool to do whatever you need. Try the 30 day trial and you will be hooked. Look for future posts on this product.

So take your lap top out on the deck and get techy! Now is the best time to play. Drop a comment on your newest, latest, greatest finds. Enjoy!

Categories: apps, e-learning, software Tags: , ,

Create Multiple Notes per Page with PowerPoint 2010

April 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Quick Tip
You create the best PowerPoint you have ever done and you are ready for that BIG conference presentation. Now you just need to see your notes with each slide so you can be a fabulous presenter. How frustrating is it that you can only print one slide and note per page?! Watch this easy way to print your notes and slides 3 to a page in PowerPoint 2010.

Categories: quick tip Tags: ,

Upside Down is Becoming Right Side Up

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I was honored to contribute an article in the new book, Quick Hits for Teaching with Technology: Successful Strategies by Award Winning Teachers. My article is about the inverted hybrid science classroom. I have been working on the ideal inverted hybrid classroom for probably four years now. It started with the simple inverted classroom model of having lecture outside the classroom while the homework and other hands on activities happened in the classroom. I’d like to share with you what I learned in the process some of which would not fit in the article.



The “Lecture” Concept

Let’s face it, most of us went to college and were lectured to. The only other way to gain information was from the text or a trip to the library. I guess you could get some information from the TV but not like today. We wrote notes as fast as we could and highlighted and wrote in our texts. (although my mother being a librarian kind of turned me off writing in a book.) So that is how we began our teaching careers, with a lecture. My area is physics so I combined my college notes, some of my own new notes and made some master notes that have been my teaching bible for years. After all, introductory physics doesn’t change at a rapid pace. But as more and more media came available, I realized that a video or animation was worth at least 1000 words. I also had the desire to create my own media. And I kept hearing the same old complaint: “I couldn’t do my homework so I gave up, can you go over it in class?” I always found myself behind. Some students said I lectured too fast and some said I went too slow. I had to find a better way…

The New “Lecture”

I searched and researched to find the best software to create my online “lectures”. It had to be something that was fairly easy and quick and would work with slow internet connections. It also had to be ADA compliant and have interactive capabilities. I settled on Articulate Presenter. It really fit the bill. I could start with the PowerPoints that I already had in many cases and add narration. It allowed for animation and adding web content. I could also put some practice quizzes at the end. PERFECT!

The students responded well to them…if they bothered watching them. I discovered there was no real incentive for them to do that. So I added clicker (Turning Technologies student response system) quizzes in class. Clickers allowed for me to see if they watched the lectures and to test them on the major concepts. They were allowed to use any notes they took while watching the presentations. They started taking voluminous notes! It took 5-10 minutes for the quiz to be sure they watched the presentations. I then had instant results that could then inform a short review.

Now class time is devoted to “homework”. That’s right homework. The students are in groups and work together to solve various problems. I am there if a group gets stuck but they work together first. They click in when their group agrees on an answer. This is anonymous so I can see the group’s answer but no one group looks bad. We then discuss the correct way to do the problem and move on. The students are so much more calm about facing the problems and they have immediate help to get over a tough spot rather than getting too frustrated.

The students don’t need me to be there to talk AT them. The students need me to help them learn problem solving skills and apply what is in the book and in my “lectures”. That allows me to really teach and guide them to be the best they can be.


A Day in the Life of My Ipad

January 10, 2012 3 comments

I have been debating what to put in my first post of the year. I have started 2 other posts but I have settled on this one. I thought I would take you through a day in the life of my iPad. I myself am surprised at how much I use it. I know many of my colleagues have an iPad but I never see them with it. I just don’t get it. I can’t live without mine. The iPad combined with a Kensington blue tooth keyboard is all I need.  I will warn you that I might have taken some writer’s license and combined a couple of days. But you will get the idea. While I use the iPad, I have an android phone and Windows 7 computers. I manage to have them all get along quit nicely.

Ipad in with bluetooth keyboard

7:00 am
Time to get to up. While I eat my cereal and watch the Today show, I  do a quick run through my e-mail on my iPad  to primarily delete spam. I also answer any pressing student or faculty issues.  I  take a quick turn on Words with Friends as well.

8:30 am
On the way to work I use AudioMemos to record my thoughts on an upcoming meeting. The app only records when I am talking and I can set it to ignore ambient noise. Later I can listen to my ideas and type them up in an outline.

10:10 am
Time for my class. I use TeacherPal to take attendance in my class. I can just click on their pictures and record if they are present, absent or late. I then bring up my text book  in CourseSmart so I have it to refer to for problems. I use the classroom computer for the Eno Board to record classroom notes.

11:15 am
Just got a pdf that I am supposed to print out, fill in, sign, and snail mail back. (seriously?)  I print it out, fill it in and use DocScan HD on my iPad to take a picture of it which is essentially scanning it, and I e-mail it back to the sender. I do not leave my chair.

12:30 pm
Off to a meeting. I use Drop Box to pull up the agenda that was sent to me earlier. I use Evernote to take meeting notes. When I am done, a couple clicks and I e-mail the notes to the entire group. I also look at some e-mail during the meeting and answer a couple of people with technical issues. I  look up something on the Internet that the group had a question about.

2:00 pm
At another meeting. This time I use my iPad to audio record the entire meeting. After the meeting, I send the recording  off to another person to post on the group’s website.

3:30 pm
A student sent me a question about a physics problem they were having trouble with. I use Explain Everything to record my voice and write out some hints for the solution. I can send that back to the student with a couple clicks. It appears to them as a short movie.

4:30 pm
Off to the YMCA for my workout. I use the web based workout input web site to put in my workout. During the cardio portion of my workout, I watch full episodes of DIY shows from their app.

6:00 pm
Home  and planning a tile job for the kitchen. I take some measurements but I don’t want to put them on some scrap piece of paper that I might lose. So I use Skitch on the iPad and write out my calculations. I then save that to Evernote. Now it is available on my Ipad, and phone when I go to the tile store.

7:30 pm
Time to catch up on the information of the day. I start with Flipbook on the iPad. I can quickly look over my Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader and other feeds I like to follow. It is displayed in a nice magazine type format. Then I go to Zite. Zite allows me to input topics and areas of interest and chooses articles for me to read in a newspaper like format. If I like an article, it learns what I like and gives me more of the same. In both of these apps, I can easily e-mail or retweet any of the articles I want  to my colleagues and friends.

10:00 pm
Off to bed…after another turn on Words with Friends. Better charge up  the iPad for another busy day tomorrow!

What great apps and ways do you use your Ipad? Leave suggestions in the comments!

Getting Your Message Out

November 4, 2011 Leave a comment

If you are a teacher, blogger, or anyone who wants to broadcast some information, I have some options for you to do this. Now I hate the term “lecture” so I will avoid it but sometimes you want to impart some information that you have to some other folks. Here are some options that you can consider.

One new option that has the Internet all abuzz is Knovio. It is still in Beta but I think has a ton of promise. You can upload your well designed PowerPoints and then either sync audio or video with it and you are done. They also seem very open to new suggestions and continue to develop it.

Slideshare has been around for awhile. You can just have slides or include audio. The good ones don’t have lots of bullets but use images and well placed words to make their point. It is helpful to look at popular ones to get an idea of good presentations.

Just a simple video cast can also be effective. Sit in front of your webcam or tablet camera and talk to “your people”. Don’t make it too long but it can be a personal touch for an intro to a module or a nice summary at the end of a topic. Be sure you have adequate lighting and a nice background but it does not have to be too formal. Casual and warm is sometimes better. Consider your audience and what they respond to better.

If you want more functionality with your presentations than  you all  probably know I would go with Articulate Presenter. Then you get the opportunity for attachments, notes, quizzes, web objects, etc. You can really make it a full presentation experience. But sometimes you just want something quick so that is why I present some of the alternatives.

Finally you could just screen capture your Powerpoint or document and while you talk through the document, website, or presentation. Screenr, Jing, or Screencast-o-matic can all be options for this. My favorite is Screenr.

What do you use to impart information to others online? Leave suggestions in the comments!