Skype In An Expert

Instead of just talking about scholars and their work, OWU students are talking to them directly with Skype.

Ohio Wesleyan professors in a variety of disciplines are using the free video-calling service to bring scholars, performers and other guests into the classroom to illuminate class discussions. This allows students to learn about the subjects they’re studying and other parts of working in that field.

History professor Ellen Arnold, for example, had students talk with a guest from Dominican University whose work they had read. They were “excited” about the opportunity to talk with him about both his scholarship and his public outreach work, she said.

“It was a productive and easy way to have someone else’s ideas and views enter the classroom,” she said.

Skype has also proven useful for dance professor Rashana Smith. She called choreographer Paige Phillips to talk with students about some of her work that was unlike much dance they had seen.

After talking with Phillips, the students better understood her work, Smith said. That first-hand knowledge made it easier for them to write about something that was new to them and broadened their views of dance.

Skype has helped students outside the classroom, too. It allowed New York-based choreographer Erik Abbott-Main, who directed a piece for this year’s Orchesis dance concert, to interact with students before and after his weeklong campus visit.

“The students not only had the opportunity to work with a New York choreographer, but they also enjoyed continuing the process with him all the way up to the concert,” Smith said. “Two-and-a-half months of exposure with someone working successfully in the field is better than just one week.”

Faculty considering using Skype in the classroom might want to test the program at different times of the day to avoid scheduling a call when the network is congested, Smith said. But overall, the program is easy to use.

The Pedagogical Case for 3D Printing

3D Printing in Botany/Microbiology

The OWU Department of Botany & Microbiology recently acquired a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer. For now, it’s being used to construct custom-made 3D pieces of equipment for research purposes.

Professor Chris Wolverton and Information Services arranged for the printer’s purchase, and Wolverton coordinates its use in his teaching lab. He calls it “a prototype builder” because it gives users a tactile appreciation of their research pieces and allows them to identify opportunities for improvement. Wolverton says the equipment his student is producing now with the 3D printer is not what Wolverton originally envisioned–it’s better.

Junior BOMI major Patrick Zmina quickly became the primary user of the printer and is happy to share what he’s picked up so far. He cautions, for example, that users can’t let the workstation go to sleep in the middle of a job, which can take several hours. If this happens, the printer still will be communicating with the computer, but it no longer will be functioning. Users could wind up with the start of a piece and a glob of plastic on top.

In addition, although many free designs are available with the software and online, Zmina has had to learn both Google SketchUp and MakerBot’s own MakerWare to build custom pieces for the labs. He knows these are marketable skills applicable to many careers, and he’s having fun.

As Wolverton described early on, he and Zmina started with a simple holder for an LED light. With that piece under their belts, they started a more significant project: “a tray that would hold a digital camera in exactly the right position to take photos of roots on a Petri dish.” And they have accomplished this, too, allowing them to precisely position not only the camera but the petri dish as well.

When building a piece, the printer first lays a thin plastic tray underneath the actual project. This is similar in purpose to the frames around model car pieces in boxed kits. The tray holds the project pieces in place and prevents them from sticking to the printing platform. A recent update to the MakerWare software has it building honeycomb patterns, more efficient than the previous squares, on the inside. This allows easier removal from the base.

Wolverton is promoting campus-wide adoption of the device, or more like it, and expects an iterative approach similar to the actual use of the printer itself.

“First, folks will have to hear about it to get them thinking about how they might use it,” he says. “Then they try it out and find what works and what doesn’t. Then they adapt that.”

Wolverton hasn’t fully explored the many educational uses for the 3D printer, but has several ideas. These include building 3D models of viral proteins to help students visualize them and to design models of their own.

Faculty interested in exploring how they might use the 3D printer are invited to contact David Soliday or Chris Wolverton for more information.

Videos Complement Classroom Experiences

Encouraging learning via technology

Watching cool videos online? It may sound like the way a college student kills time. But for Dr. Paul Dean, OWU assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, it’s an important part of the way students can learn.

Dean is one of the founders of the The Sociological Cinema, a website that compiles interesting videos for use in the sociology classroom. Rooted in the idea that pop culture and video can be useful tools for illustrating sociological concepts and theories, The Sociological Cinema is the combined effort of Dean and two of his graduate school classmates at the University of Maryland.

“We knew that video was an engaging way to communicate with students,” Dean says. “But it was time-consuming to locate relevant videos.” As a solution to that problem, The Sociological Cinema aggregates and tags videos based on their themes, making it easy for instructors to locate helpful content.

According to Dean, short videos like those featured on the The Sociological Cinema are the wave of the future when it comes to classroom media. “It used to be that feature-length films were common in the classroom, but shorter clips are more effective now,” he comments. Dean says shorter videos can serve as a supplement to lecture, rather than a replacement, and students respond well to them. “There’s aesthetic involved,” he adds. “Video taps into experiences that resonate more strongly than just hearing someone explain a concept.”

This emotional connection is especially important in the sociology classroom, Dean says. For example, in a Race and Ethnicity class, video testimonials introduce students to the experiences of different racial groups. Race is a difficult concept for many Americans to discuss, and while some students may not feel comfortable sharing their experiences in class, video is a way to tap into this part of social life. Dean also teaches a class centered on the HBO TV series The Wire, a drama focusing on the Baltimore drug scene.  “The Wire is one of the most sociological shows I’ve ever seen, and teaching through its lens is a very effective way to introduce relevant sociological ideas,” he says.

Dean’s passion for instruction through video is important, as he and two co-founders of The Sociological Cinema manage all of the content that is found on the site. “Fifty percent of the content you’ll see on the site originates with our team, and the other half is recommended to us through the site and through Facebook,” he explains.

The Sociological Cinema team doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. With several upcoming presentations (not to mention a Facebook page boasting over 36,000 likes), they are considering next steps for the site, including ways to link more faculty to videos, collaboration with other faculty, academic publications, and more. “It’s important to me to be able to leverage technology to assess and encourage learning,” Dean says. “And of course, it’s a lot of fun.”

More Authentic Assessment

Faculty Say Technology Provides More Authentic Assessment

Students today have been brought up on keyboarding, which, to some degree, has resulted in the demise of legible handwriting—and illegible writing can make grading more time-consuming and less objective.  “I want my exams to assess students’ interaction with the material, not their handwriting,” says David Eastman, Assistant Professor of Religion.

Using Extegrity Exam4, “has saved significant time and aggravation,” Eastman says. “Being unable to be read a student’s handwriting slows down the grading process and admittedly may impact how I assess their work. If I have to struggle to figure out what students are saying, I maybe less likely to give them the benefit of the doubt. Having them type their answers levels the playing field in this regard.”

Michael Flamm, Professor of History, concurs. “I like knowing that I have given the students a fair opportunity to do their best work. Exam4 also has enabled me to write better comments more quickly and turn exams into more of a learning experience for students. I appreciate having the ability to keep the exams so that later I can directly compare student performance on midterms and finals.”

Students love the software, too, Flamm says. “The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. After using the program, not a single student has indicated that he or she would prefer to return to blue books. Some have, but only because of personal computer issues.”

Eastman’s students agree. “In one class, I used it for the midterm and then gave students a choice of using it again or handwriting for the final,” he says. “Of the 20 students, 19 chose the software.

Both Flamm and Eastman recommend getting students prepared to use the program by having them participate in a lab. “I did my best to ensure that using the program did not add more stress to the test-taking experience,” Eastman said, “and discussing the format early helps significantly. Students can even take a practice test to get used to the program, and I would highly recommend it.”

To learn more about how Exam2 can enhance your testing contact David Soliday.

Embracing and Promoting Active Learning

This article from a colleague up in Oberlin was shared with our campus today, and I felt it was worth sharing here too.

Preparing the Environment for Active Learning, by Steven Volk, Professor of History and Director, Center for Teaching, Innovation, and Excellence

I feel like so much of what I do as the Instructional Technologist on campus is to promote active learning. That is ultimate goal of educational technology, but accomplishing it starts well before and goes well beyond deciding which tools to use. The question is what can educators do to best engage the attention, curiosity, intrigue, and passion of our students. The answer involves a lot more than tools, just lecturing, or predominately doing any single teaching practice. To best engage students, provide them plenty of opportunities to encounter course content in as many ways as possible. Technology enables us to reach and engage them in various ways at many times and places.The smiling 2016 Lakota Spring Break Mission Team, OWU

Blog Day

Five #blogday links…

#FWIW (while I’m still buried under the beginning of the year inundation…)

Here are five links I share with you, to sites that I find illuminating and helpful.

  1. A Blog: ProfHacker
    An official blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education, it features multiple authors and guest authors. The conversation in the comments is also good.
  2. A Facebook Group: Future Trends in Technology and Education
    Started by Bryan Alexander of NITLE, it’s a place to share and discuss ed tech topics.
  3. A Twitter Feed: EDTECH HULK
    Sometimes the best antidote to ignorance is sarcasm (and HULK SMASH!)
  4. Professional Group: Edu-ISIS
    A professional network of instructional technologists in (mostly liberal arts) higher education. It’s recently introduced the topic of changing its name…
  5. WebComic: XKCD
    For a refreshingly new perspective on anything.

Information Overload at ILiADS 2015

I was composing a list of new tools that have come up in discussion and/or are being supported this week…

When you go to a conference–or, in this case, an institute–you typically learn of new tools to try, tools that might save you time or allow you to do something special in your courses. This being an institute for project teams, there’s a lot of focus on tools and methods.

There’s also a lot of focus on collaboration and new people to meet and colleagues you haven’t seen in a while to catch up with and consortia and communication and…

This being an institute, rather than a conference, there’s also been work to do, and we’ve made considerable headway on our project. I’m learning a lot about Omeka and Neatline, tools we’re using for the project.

Then in one of the panel presentations a colleague shared something that gave me pause: Slow Scholarship.


This was much needed, and I’ve been ruminating on it (and everything else) since…

Oh, but instead of compiling a list of tools on my own, here’s a link to the “Google Doc of Google Docs”: Useful resources for ILiADS Attendees, which has a link in it to another document with a lengthy list of tools.

GLCA launching a Consortial Center for Teaching and Learning

The Great Lakes Colleges Association GLCAlogo is launching an innovative take on a center for pedagogy, funded by the Teagle Foundation. It’ll be consortial: a community of faculty and staff with demonstrated commitment to improving teaching and learning across all of GLCA’s colleges. It will rely pretty heavily on the Web and web conferencing, along with in-person events.

This is great news for us, as OWU doesn’t currently have such a center–we have a modest Teaching & Learning website–and we lost our Faculty Development Coordinator–and that was only half of her title/role on campus–several years ago.

I’m excited because sometimes I feel like this, quoted from the grant proposal:

Too often effective teaching is regarded as less important than research and publication, even in our liberal arts colleges; affiliation with a consortial teaching and learning center will help to empower advocates for teaching on each campus who are often not regarded as “prophets in their own land.”

I wouldn’t call myself a prophet, but I’ve certainly felt the frustration expressed by colleagues in similar positions at other institutions that providing training and support for faculty is worse than herding cats.

What will revolutionize education?

A colleague at Beloit College recently shared this impressive video: [This Will Revolutionize Education] The idea that technology will revolutionize education is an old myth that keeps getting new life with new tech. It’s an age old truth that education is a social experience that’s been affirmed in many ways. …and then I introduce SAMR.

A colleague at Beloit College recently shared this impressive video:

The idea that technology will revolutionize education is an old myth that keeps getting new life with new tech. It’s an age old truth that education is a social experience that’s been affirmed in my seminary Ethics classes, where I learned the primordial nature of relationship and how it precedes the development of self… (See, I can wax philosophical in a heartbeat!)

There was lively discussion of this debate–whether or not technology will revolutionize education–in the notes on the video’s YouTube page, on our edu-ISIS listserv, where another colleague, from Gettysburg College, shared his experience learning to play guitar:

When I took up guitar I taught myself via a variety of tutorial sites such as JustinGuitar, and I was able to go from complete novice to reasonable amateur. But I don’t go to them much anymore- instead I’m working with a human teacher because I’ve hit the limit of what I can learn that way. The interplay between him and I during a lesson is not going to be able to be replicated by software anytime soon- he can tell when I’m relaxed, when I’m tense or frustrated, when I’m trying to avoid doing something the hard (but correct) way and so on. I don’t expect a computer to be able to read me like that in my lifetime

Which was the perfect opening for me to mention SAMR, a model for teachers, instructional techs and IDs to evaluate how they’re incorporating technology into instructional practice.  (Click the image to watch a Common Sense Media intro video.)


The SAMR Model
Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D.


  • Substitution, such as a word processor being used instead of a typewriter.
  • Augmentation, such as the word processor’s spell-check feature or automatically formatted citations.
  • Modification, such as emailing electronic files instead of turning in printed papers.
  • Redefinition, such as posting writing assignments to the web for students at a partner institution in another country to critique, or having students submit their papers with an audio recording of their thoughts on why they composed it the way they did, or contributing suggestions to a crowd-sourced website to solve a community problem, or etc. You get the picture.

What I like about this model is that it describes innovation in education by focusing on tasks rather than tools, and educational tasks are commonly included in syllabuses, also known as assignments. They’re teachers’ bread & butter.

It’s truly about the education, which is a social enterprise, best practiced in community, as it always has been. Technology is simply tools that can be used to support it.


I’ve been thinking lately about my role on campus, or my official role, what it should be, what it could be. These thoughts often revolve around language and labels and titles. For example, what’s the difference between an Instructional Technologist and an Instructional Designer? Recollections of past conversations come to mind, like the time the new Academic Dean came to meet me and asked, “So you’re the instructional designer on campus?” I replied with enthusiasm, “That’s the kind of work I’d like to do more of.” Another memory is of a casual conversation I had with a colleague at Capital U. Her department had just created a new ID position; I expressed interest in it. She asked if I was certain–the role involved many hours working closely with faculty to effectively use online tools and, basically, redesign their courses. Yeah, I’m excited by the thought of creating engaging learning environments/exercises and facilitating that “Aha!” moment.ZoeiGifts2014

To me, it seems the difference is somewhat subtle with some overlap–a venn diagram of sorts. (Or like the difference between the two pieces of artwork my daughter did, above.) “Instructional Technologist” and my background, btw, is more about tech support, while “Instructional Designer” is more about educational consultation, crafting educational experiences. Technical training fits in there nicely with both. I had the title “Help Desk Manager and Technical Trainer” when I first started at OWU and, when I took the newly created position of OWU’s first Instructional Technologist, the second part of the title was dropped but the duties continued. I don’t have a problem with that, as technical training supports both technical support and instructional design. It just doesn’t directly get at the heart of educational course design.

My well-worn professional sense is that instructional design (ID) by an instructional technologist or anyone else in higher ed is largely about faculty development. It’s not on the front lines of teaching, but it aims to equip and empower instructors to be the best that they can be. It also aims to do the same for students, and it goes about that by making the best use of tools to accomplish excellence in teaching and learning. As the previous Academic Dean once told me, encouraging me to be a part of Teaching Circle and other faculty forums, faculty don’t always know what tools are available to them, let alone how to use them. Getting them to understand the value of good instructional design is a large part of the work, at least initially.

As more colleges like ours experiment with online offerings and embrace technology as a distinguishing feature of what they offer incoming students, the value of good instructional design will become more evident. Certainly if administrators wish to do any data analysis on learning outcomes institution-wide, they’ll need learning and teaching processes that can produce such data. Most of all, faculty who wish to excel at teaching and make a positive difference in the academic and adult life of their students should be interested in instructional design, as the professors who attend Teaching Circle are.

Lastly, these thoughts of “Designer” versus “Technologist” play on my own sense of professional identity. Am I a technocrat, as an international colleague oft referred to me? Or am I a designer of instruction, one who happens to be familiar and highly-skilled with several good instructional tools? I just learned about POD, the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, a professional association. Knowledge of this network has me intrigued; the focus is not on technology. It’s on teaching and learning. It sounds like it would be a good affiliation for me to do more faculty development, regardless of my official title.

Thoughts about flipped learning are evolving

Robert Talbert has this nice article in the Chronicle, describing how his thinking on flipped learning has changed over time:

Three evolving thoughts about flipped learning

His three points, (in his own words, my rearranging:)

  1. Pre-class activity is for generating questions, rather than mastering content-oriented instructional objectives.
  2. Accountability doesn’t have to look like a quiz.
  3. In-class instruction should focus on two things: Answering questions, and engaging students in high-level tasks – and lecture can play an important role in both.

Number two, in which he introduced me to the idea of androgogy (as opposed to pedagogy) looks a lot like internal motivation. “treating students as responsible adults rather than as children who need constant supervision and rule-setting.” They’ve got to come out of their shells sometime. A colleague pointed out that accountability doesn’t look like a quiz in the world outside the ivory tower.

I like that faculty trying this, are adapting, reflecting on what they did, how it worked, and tweaking it for the next iteration. Then their teaching gets better, their students are more engaged, and everyone learns more.


6 Transformational Questions on Innovative EdTech has a nice article, with 6 questions to determine if you’re technology rich, yet innovation poor. The questions are deeply thought-provoking and may stimulate institutional soul-searching. While the article goes into detailed explanation, the questions are copied here:

  1. Did the assignment build capacity for critical thinking on the web?
  2. Did the assignment develop new lines of inquiry?
  3. Are there opportunities for students to make their thinking visible?
  4. Are there opportunities to broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world?
  5. Is there an opportunity for students to create a contribution (purposeful work)?
  6. Does the assignment demo “best in the world” examples of content and skill?

I feel that they really get to the priority of education over technology. How is our use of technology improving our teaching and making a better learning experience for our students?


It reminds me of the book we’re reading for Teaching Circle, to discuss among the faculty and academic support staff–21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times.

Flipped Teaching brings National Championship

Little did I know, as I was watching the big OSU National Championship game with my wife and 11 year old son Monday night, that the winning Buckeyes owed much of their success to an innovative teaching style that’s growing in popularity. It’s a technique that I’ve taught and consulted with faculty to implement, known variously as flipped, blended, or hybrid teaching and learning.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 1.55.29 PM

The Wall Street Journal reports on How Urban Meyer Took the Buckeyes to School. The Secret to Ohio State’s Offensive Success: An Unorthodox Method of Teaching. The WSJ? The Ohio State Buckeyes? As Toby West, a local Delaware City Schools Data Coordinator, says, “You can totally do this!”

Keith Grabowski, a former college assistant and founder of Coaches Edge Technologies, says in the article:

“The whole idea is that if you can get players [or students] thinking about it and doing the mental work prior to being in the football facility, your time in the classroom will be that much more productive”

Meyers himself doesn’t use the term flipped classroom, but spoke instead of “on-edge” teaching, “in which players are kept on the edge of their seats during team meetings by a barrage of impromptu quizzes and individual interactions designed to keep them engaged.” This describes active, engaged teaching. And doesn’t it sound exciting? Moving the more passive, information transfer online for students to absorb on their own, at their own pace, is one practical way to make face-to-face class time more dynamic.

Is it mid-term break already?

Today is the second day of mid-semester break and the campus is pretty quiet. It’s a good time to catch up on things.

Photo by Bobby Mikul, shared at
Photo by Bobby Mikul, shared at

This fall semester has been busy. It sure seemed like classroom equipment was misbehaving or completely failing more than usual. Sure, some of it is getting old. Two SmartBoards in our Education Department both decided to stop tracking at the same time. They’re both at least 6 years old and well out of warranty. We’ve also started tracking serial numbers in our classroom equipment inventory records–still a mostly manual process. I have two new student workers helping with that and other projects. We also have a new Technical Service Specialist who started at the beginning of this month. We still have one open position for a Systems Analyst.

I presented a faculty lunch seminar last month on blended/hybrid learning. It turns out that our President suggested at the faculty meeting the day before that we consider online classes. My boss and I began providing info to our Academic Policy Committee on what our peer institutions are already doing online. Then the Transcript picked up the story and everyone’s talking about it.

The trees and leaves are beautiful changing colors, and campus is gorgeous. Happy Fall!

Updates and reruns

Our WordPress server, 15 plugins, and 8 themes have all been updated. So I’m trying out new features:

Now that’s nice! As soon as I pasted in the URL for my old YouTube video, it appeared in the post editor. Also, browsing for new plugins should be easier. Now, on to testing other sites…


The fall semester is in full swing, nearly three weeks in. Things are still quite busy here due to a position vacancy, but it feels like the faculty are settled into their teaching routines. I’ll be giving the first Faculty Noon Seminar next Wednesday on “Flipped Out! Blended / Hybrid Learning in Liberal Arts” …more to come.


Active learning yields knowledge in action

The Chronicle has a nice article reflecting on the deluge of data we’re awash in every day. Specifically, it draws attention to the failure of colleges to adequately prepare graduates for effectively working in and with this data in critical, in-depth ways:

Many employers said their fresh-from-college hires frequently lack deeper and more traditional skills in research and analysis. Instead, the new workers default to quick answers plucked from the Internet. That method might be fine for looking up a definition or updating a fact, but for many tasks, it proved superficial and incomplete.
It turns out that students are poorly trained in college to effectively navigate the Internet’s indiscriminate glut of information.
It goes on to describe what we (employers and a conscientious, civil society) look for, what we need:
While students will always need to think critically and ask the right questions, emerging in this new world is the need for a skill set we call “knowledge in action,” a kind of athletics of the mind aided by Internet-enabled devices, search engines, and pools of data from a wide variety of outlets.
I propose that this knowledge-in-action is a hallmark of a Liberal Arts education. There are several points in Cronon’s “Only Connect” essay that tie into this. “How does one recognize liberally educated people?”
  • They listen and they hear.
  • They read and they understand.
  • They can solve a wide variety of puzzles and problems.
  • They respect rigor not so much for its own sake but as a way of seeking truth.
  • They practice humility, tolerance, and self-criticism.
  • They understand how to get things done in the world.

I see our inter-disciplinary course connections and our theory-into-practice programs as good examples of directly fostering this characteristic, actually prompting students to look substantially at a subject from alternate perspectives and to question perceptions.

And I think it has a lot to do with active learning. The more students are encouraged to bring to the educational experience, the more invested they are in its outcomes, the more likely they are to develop such sophisticated yet essential skills. It’s like dynamic learning leads to dynamic living and working.
I’m also reminded of the saying that 21st century literacy is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
By Rick Doble (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rick Doble (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Learning about education from liqueur

This commercial from UK company, Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd, is making the rounds among educators. It was shown at a keynote during last week’s CLAC conference. As Carissa Peck points out in her blog post, there are many things to take away from this ad. Enjoy!

When I showed it to my family–who all liked it–I pointed out that if you cut the last 5 seconds or so from the clip, you wouldn’t know it had anything to do with alcohol.

UPDATE: the video has been made Private.

Creative collaboration spaces at my alma mater

The Methodist Theological School in Ohio has embraced educational technology. Using Sakai, all of their courses are now hybrid, offering some amount of content and interaction online. Plus, several of their teaching spaces are now rigged for collaboration. Here are pics from Gault Hall Room 150. When I was a student there (2007 grad) this classroom was simply rows of two-seater desks for students and a smart podium for the instructor, (and the podium then, with its Extron control system, was notoriously flaky.)

It’s obvious they’re going for guide on the side, facilitator pedagogy, rather than sage on the stage, lecturer style, and it’s nice to see. Many of my classes when I was a student there were discussion-based, and we did plenty of group projects.

My CLAC Lightning Presentation

Yesterday I gave my lightning presentation (limited to 10 minutes) at the 2014 CLAC conference at Denison. My topic was “Are Tech Trends Driving Better Education?” My Prezi is available here. I used PollEverywhere to ask a single question, “How do you see technology influencing education at your college?” Below are the responses in word cloud (click through for large view) and list formats. I forgot to mention that the question of technology is shifting from how to use it as a means of delivery to how to use it to enhance education.  😕

expectations of incoming students Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
More and more outside-of-the-classroom expectations Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Blended learning is pretty promising… Best of both worlds Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
enables more integrated learning – more applied learning. students are now using real world data and sources for their statistical learning Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
anytime, access to anything from anywhere Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Big impact if we nurture and support it Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Students are pushing the envelop as much as faculty Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
More hybrid classroom models Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Expanding the dialogue of what’s possible in the curriculum Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Encouraging us to think in terms of backwards design. Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Allowing students to be builders… Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
hands-on, engage, transferable skills, more faculty-student and student-student collaboration Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
It’s helping faculty develop more active assignments and students become more participatory and active learners. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Research tools for students Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Assessment of quantitative skills Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Adding cost to the curriculum Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Meeting needs in a competitive environment Text (US) June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Access to new information that use to be beyond reach due to time or distance. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Focusing clasrrom interaction on active learning Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
It’s changed everything – administrative functions, pedagogy, student expectations of response time, what happens in the classroom, library, and other spaces. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Students expect it since they have experienced it before Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
improving relationships through better information sharing Text (US) June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
A continuing refinement of the blend between in-person and online delivery/content/activities. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Digital media providing nuance to the institutional mission of creating excellent communicators. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Redesigned teaching spaces Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
A dichotomy forming between “old” and “new” styles of teaching Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Ongoing and incremental Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Increasing access to people, resources, global conversations… Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Offering greater differentiation (learning styles) Text (US) June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Digital natives expect mobile tech all the time and constantly updated Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
improving relationships through better information sharing Text (US) June 18, 2014, 03:30 PM
Allow alumni to access course conten they couldn’t access otherwise. Web June 18, 2014, 03:32 PM


Add-on tools to make Google Apps for Education even better

I just learned of a few tools, thanks to Ryan Gjerde and Jedidiah Rex, to make Google Apps easier for teachers to use for online assignments and grading.

Doctopus (document + octopus) essentially acts like a giant photocopier which can send files out to individual students, project groups or the whole class.

Goobric allows for rubric-based grading of Google Drive resources (Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Folders, etc.) created via the Doctopus Script. Luther College has experimented with these.

And then there’s Flubaroo (where do they come up with these names?) that offers similar features: quickly grade online assignments, get reporting and analysis on student performance, and email students their scores, all within Google Apps.


No administrator involvement is needed to start using these tools. Simply follow the instructions, adding them via the Add-ons menu in a Drive document. However, we’d like to know how it goes. Please share your experience with us, either via the comments below or direct communication. Thanks.

More digital scholarship at OWU

NITLE has just published a nice article on using digital scholarship in the tenure and promotion process. It’s certainly worth a look and some reflection if you’re on the Faculty Personnel Committee, one of the Academic Affairs staff, or on the Celebration of Scholarship planning team. We could use more digital scholarship here at Ohio Wesleyan, and the recent Mellon grant has encouraged it.

Photo CC-By Alan Levine
Photo by Alan Levine

Final BlendKit 2014 reading response

Chapter 5 nicely wraps up the BlendKit 2014 course with a discussion of quality assurance in blended learning. This one was particularly relevant because it talked about the institutional motivations and standards for online and blended learning, as well as evaluating teaching effectiveness. Here at OWU I am the primary advocate for blended learning and for teaching how and why to do it. I’ve also proposed for some time that effective use of technology (whether online like Blackboard or in the classroom like projectors) be incorporated into the peer review process, which has had a long standing here despite modest participation. Such campaign-like activity has slowly but surely gained traction, partly through attrition and the hiring of new, younger faculty.

“How will you know whether your teaching of the course was effective once it has concluded?” This is a fascinating question because students are active learners, and I feel it’s just as valid to ask, “How will you know if your students succeeded despite poor quality teaching?” I could stand to learn more about assessment of educational programs, models, and techniques, and this week’s reading was helpful in this regard.

One recommendation that was repeated a few times was to speak to a trusted colleague or two to discuss effective teaching of blended learning courses. Building on that, research has shown that “high quality faculty development is the cornerstone of effective blended programs” and “meaningful dialogue with other faculty about the teaching/learning process is the most effective form of faculty development.” I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being disappointed when the position of Faculty Development Coordinator was not refilled here a couple years ago. A lot of what I do is faculty development. We are a learning community.

The reading stressed that existing course standards and course review forms are likely going to be an awkward fit for blended learning courses. Taking last week’s lesson into account, how indeed do we measure the effectiveness of the integration, the blended relationship between online and face-to-face modalities? It seems that qualitative, descriptive, stories must be used. Our instructor, Kelvin Thompson, wrote his dissertation on the topic.

I question the wisdom of holding up innovation as something excellent in and of itself. Perhaps it’s the Persig fan in me (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance turned 40 years old last month) that’s quibbling, but innovation–like technology–should be a means to an end and not an end in itself. There have been many, many innovative ideas in the past that have fallen by the wayside because they weren’t as effective as something else. In other words, we don’t innovate just for the sake of innovation (or use technology just for the sake of technology,) we innovate to be better teachers and to help our students be better learners.

And, finally, I noted that online learning has been around for at least two decades. In other words, it’s fairly well established, with its own standards and assessments. There were many good tools linked in the reading to help understand that.

Honda Dream CB450
Rikita, Wikimedia Commons