Monday, December 3, 2012

D2L Users Forum Was Good but.....

The first Colorado D2L Regional User Forum was this past Friday. Held at the Denver Downtown Sheraton, it reminded me more of a mini-Fusion than a meeting of D2L peers. The forum was complete with lanyarded name tags, programs, fancy signs, balloons, and full breakfast and lunch menus. There was even a keynote given by Barry Dahl, of late an employee of D2L responsible for communications.

I've been wanting to learn more about the D2L lecture capture solution called simply D2L Capture, and my wish was granted in the first session. Capture can be hardware-based, software-based, or limited functionality when hosted in the cloud. Best of all, it supports both Flash and HTML5 playback. A basic editor is included for removing those embarrassing sneezes or lapses in content. The hardware version allows  for scheduling of sessions. Features being rolled out in the soon-to-be-released new version include chat windows, instant publishing, and more granular access management rather than public availability.

Karen Kaemmerling discussed CCCOnline's venture into digital textbooks. Overall, they have had great success based on student feedback. One of the difficulties is in dealing with publisher support. Issues still abound, from inconsistent electronic resources, to student access codes, to ensuring ADA compliance. Karen recommends that those considering the use of electronic media meet regularly with the course development team, ensure that ADA compliance is maintained throughout, to train faculty on the use of materials, and have a support plan.

Nate Wadman discussed using D2L for administrative tasks. Pikes Peak Community College has created a D2L shell for a repository of documents related to courses. They created a single course and enrolled all instructors. The instructors then upload grade books, syllabi, and other course-specific documents. Administrators can then download the documents as needed. Slick idea. Nate mentioned that instructor training is an issue, as well as the adding of late hires and instructor removals.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Forum was the networking opportunities. It's always a pleasure talking with Kristin Rivedal of Front Range CC, and this meeting was no different. Regis has been having significant issues with D2L, including the test server housing the new version 10. We were able to share issues and possible solutions. Very beneficial.

Which brings me to my big concern about the User Forum. I'm certainly not complaining about the quality of the show: the food was great; presentations, particularly those provided by my colleagues, were exceptional; and the event was pulled off without a hitch. But there was a glaring omission in that there was little time to interact with fellow users of D2L save for the brief 10 minute breaks between formal sessions. When I think of user forum I envision an informal forum where like-minded people can gather to discuss issues, problems, and ideas for solutions and work-arounds.  This is where round-table discussions are perfect. Yes, the formal sessions are informative and provide a sharing of ideas. But what is more beneficial on a regional level is the ad hoc discussion of specific issues. You might describe this as an in-person listserv, with one person describing a problem or issue and others sharing possible solutions. Hopefully next year's User Forum can include such forum.

Monday, November 19, 2012

eLcc November Meeting

The presentation for the eLcc meeting this month was by Jeff Luftig of CU Boulder, College of Engineering and Applied Science. Jeff teaches and leads the department with their distance program. Now when you read the last sentence that describes the program as “distance” you might think you would interpret that as simply online courses. Jeff explained that the courses they offer are not simply online courses. Basically the program follows a true HyFlex model design of a program. With a hyflex model students have a choice, on a daily basis, to go to the face to face classroom, to attend live synchronously from a distance, or to watch an archive of the class session. They are very careful to include student interactions and questions that come up during the live session, including students who are at a distance. This will get captured in the recording as well.
The department has a state of the art media equipped classroom. I was really surprised at how small the room was. We were in it for our meeting and presentation. It was big enough for about 20 students. But they said they had one very large room that would fit about 100 students as well. It would depend of the class that was being offered as they have a few courses that overlap and are shared with other programs on campus. So on a typical class day, the instructor would come in to the media classroom, fire up GoToMeeting to accommodate any participants that are at a distance. Next the instructor would start Tegrity, a lecture capture system. They mentioned that although they have Echo 360 to use as a backup they have been using Tegrity for several years and it has been very dependable. They hire student workers to run the cameras and audio etc. Each course has a shell in eCollege. All students, no matter how they registered are enrolled in the one course. Jeff mentioned sometimes they have ‘extra’ people in the course as well such as student auditors and students who register but take the course for free as a continuing education deal. The distance program has been very successful and the student evaluations are rated quite high for satisfaction. They said that 80% of the students will choose to attend as “distance” rather than face to face but it depends of the class. They might have on average 75 students enrolled in a course. The whole thing was really quite impressive!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

EduCause 2012

Now THIS was a conference! Taking up the entire downtown Denver Convention Center complex, the 2012 EduCause proved it's worth among the places to be for technology events. Day One (actually the second day since I was unable to attend on Wednesday) was spent almost exclusively at the vendor fair. By the end of the day I had scored a working light saber, dancing robot, lighted pen, three t-shirts, and six bags of vanilla yogurt snack mix. Oh, and I also found solutions to several learning technology issues. Next year's conference is being held in Anaheim, home of the original Disneyland and the LA Angels.


Laptops Anytime kiosk
Laptops Anytime offers a custom-built, self service kiosk for laptops and tablets. Students needing a laptop slide their ID card and select the type of device, whether PC or Mac. The laptop pops out of the kiosk, fully charged and installed with all software. When finished, the student returns the laptop by sliding it back into the kiosk. The kiosk also charges and reimages for the next user. This has definite possibilities for our student laptop project.

One of the neatest technologies was a product called weejot, a web-based application for easy development of mobile apps. Weejot offers several templates where you can drag and drop items with no app development experience needed. There is also an app development tool for those with development experience. This may fit in nicely with an initiative for expanding our presence in the mobile world.

TechSmith has really expanded their product line over the years. I'm a long-time and devoted Jing/Camtasia user. And their Camtasia Relay appears to be a possible solution to our lecture capture needs. They recently came out with a mobile app called Coaches Eye, a $4.99 tool for evaluating motion activities. For example, a physical therapist might fire up their iPhone or iPad (it's available for Android as well) and video the movements of a patient. The therapist reviews the video, using lines for annotating correct and incorrect postures and movements. The therapist then plays the video back to the patient for instant visual feedback. A similar product for motion analysis is Dartfish.


Susan Grajek, VP for research and analytics at EduCause, featured a session on the top ten IT issues for 2012. IT directors chose the number one issue as being how to keep current with new skills and roles, and finding time for career development. Other issues mentioned included:

  • Supporting a BYOD (bring your own device) strategy; 
  • Developing an institutional cloud computing strategy;
  • Analytics and its role in decision making.
The complete article, Top Ten IT Issues, 2012, is available on the EduCause website. 

Julian Allen and Joe Horne from Georgia State discussed their iPad initiative and what they learned. GSU purchased iPads for a freshman learning community. Student assistants were used for much of the grunt work while IT focused on the inventory and storage systems. Computer carts were used for transport, storage, charging and reimaging. Interestingly, most of GSU's costs were associated with increasing network capacity rather than iPad costs. Old iPad 1's continue being used during registration, workshops and similar group activities not dependent on a robust device. They mentioned that getting faculty buy-in on such a project is key.

Edward Ayers, University of Richmond president, provided the closing keynote. He spoke of the need for using technology to it's fullest to understand the footprint that humans leave throughout history. I was a bit bored by the presentation until he displays data from Valley of the Shadow, a research project comparing Civil War from the viewpoints of Confederate and Union soldiers from specific cities. Ayers was one of two project leads during his tenure at the University of Virginia. The project provides a visual representation of big data, where the researcher can peel back layer upon layer and examine the most minute details of a project, or scale back for the big picture. He stated that humanists must continue examining technology to ensure it is being used at its full potential for the examination of the human record. The problem isn't technology but rather that researchers use too few of its capabilities.

Poster Sessions

Top Ten Things Students Do with Their Cell Phones
(excerpt from Beyond E-Textbooks: Writing Mobile Web Apps for the Liberal Arts)
Lisa B. Lewis, Ian MacInnes, Albion College
Converting Adobe Captivate Projects to Interactive Learning Units for iOS Devices
Taeyeol Park, Georgetown University

Pedagogical Benefits of Video-recorded Assessment
Rachel Drummond Sardell, University of Oregon

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nicole Ellison's Sloan C Conference Summary

Nicole Ellison's Sloan C Conference Summary
In October I attended and presented at the Sloan C Conference on Online Learning. This was my first time attending a Sloan C conference. Overall it was a good experience and I was able to collect a variety of tips, strategies and information regarding both online and blended learning. I will summarize each of the sessions that I attended and the vendor products that I think are exciting and have potential for Regis.
Terry Buxton and I actually did our presentation right at the start of the conference. Our information session was titled “Student Reflection Blogs to Communicate Lessons Learned in the Complex World of Service Learning.” Here is a link to our handout:
Terry and I plan on scheduling a day soon where we can present to the Regis Community what we are doing with reflection blogs and the Ignatian Pedagogy Model. It is exciting!

The folks at U of Florida recently did a comparison between face-to-face and online delivery when it comes to critical thinking. No doubt we all know the importance of incorporating CT into all instruction no matter what delivery mode, however, one challenge may come for instructors when evaluating CT and knowing when it is happening. The presenters suggested trying the University of Florida Critical Thinking Instrument (UFCTI) to start.
They offered these quick tips:
  • Be intentional in your CT instruction
  • Use Discussion Boards to encourage perspective taking
  • Use problem based learning activities
  • Get students to move beyond computer
  • Have students work together

  • Don’t be afraid to challenge your current pedagogy
Faculty Support and “realizable” course improvement in a rapidly changing online environment 
Colin Marlaire National University

The Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching and Technology streamlined faculty development into one online central “foundations” development course. The course is required by all faculty to take but it is self-paced and asynchronous. It is comprised of videos, captivate presentations and “recipes for success.” The recipe for success model has been a key focus for the faculty community. Instructors can write up a process from start to finish about how they incorporate a technology or technique into their course. Colin also discussed some thoughts and ideas about a cycle for course improvement. It was interesting as he talked about the Master course model briefly and mentioned some of the same challenges that we have experienced here in our college.

Social Media to Enhance Online Learning
Tanya Joosten University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Tanya has a book “Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices”
Here are just a few advantages for incorporating social media into online learning:
  • Increased communication
  • Build professional networks
  • Develop a richer learning experience
  • Avenue for creativity
Tanya talked about how we can use Twitter as a backchannel with a course. She had a video of an instructor who explained how she uses Facebook with her course. She sets up a fan page for the course itself.
I found out about similar to YouTube and TeacherTube, It is focused on education. There is a YouTube for education as well.’ll be looking into those two.
They also suggested a few twitter feeds worth following:
#edusocmedia, #edtech, #highered, #socmedia, #sechat, #edchat, and #lrnchat

Keynote speaker Sebastian Thrun, from Stanford University and Google
Democratizing Higher Education

I highly recommend that you watch the recorded video of this keynote by going to on the left side of the page you will find the link.
Sebastian talked about a MOOC(Massive Open Online Course) that he developed and was a part of Udacity ( It was amazing to listen to his experience of teaching one of the first courses that was made available through Udacity. It was an Artificial Intelligence course where he had 160K students! No that was not a typo!   He talked about how he had students from all over the world, some were actually taking a course during activity duty and overseas. He was blown away by the feedback from his students who thanked him for the opportunity to take the course and feel “empowered to learn.” They collected lots of data and feedback after the first course and used it to improve the course.
MOOC success is generally due to:
  • Adaptive learning
  • Self-paced learning
  • Personalized learning path
  • Multi-dimensional assessments
  • Affordable because it is FREE.
  • And the fact that students willingly take the classes because they have a desire to learn.

I think generally MOOC’s can be a scary topic for Universities to approach because it is so OUTSIDE and across the street from the box. MOOC’s are 100% free. It is not necessarily a revenue builder. The bottom-line is educating people and supporting the idea of “life-long learners” and it is as simple and as wonderful as that.

Renee Cicchino, Seton Hall University

This session was especially of interest to me since we are building an RN-BSN hybrid program right now. Renee mentioned that they always start with the Quality Matters standards rubric for a solid foundation for course creation. They also create templates for instructors to build courses with. The templates provide consistent design and therefore a consistent experience for students. They provide an example to faculty of an exemplar course. Come of the challenges that can hinder quality design:
  • Lack of quality assurance
  • Lack of policies
  • Lack of tech competencies (she has a checklist for instructors to fill out and indicate which areas they need help on.)
  • Release time is inadequate or absent
Renee shared her templates with me, if you are interested in seeing or using them let me know.

Monday, October 29, 2012

eLCC Professional Development Day 2012

The annual eLearning Consortium of Colorado professional development day was held in conjunction with Metropolitan State University Denver this past Friday. Once again the event was well organized and full of useful content for both faculty and course designers. This year featured a number of cloud-based applications.

Click for full size
Morning sessions began with a very animated presentation on memes, presented by Janet McClasky, Metro State University, Denver. Memes are a concept for transferring units of knowledge to others using "...writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena" (Wikipedia, 2012). Janet demonstrated the use of memes through a variety of posters created by her students. One example was a poster found on a lamp post. The title was "Have you seen this cat?" with a cat picture beneath. However, rather than a lost cat poster, the text below the picture said "..because it is AWESOME". Janet uses memes to teach critical thinking and ways of thinking outside the conventional. She recommended the site knowyourmeme to get started. Many of the examples used during her session came from the Troll Posters area of the site.

Mona Mocanasu, math faculty at Metro State, presented on the use of clickers in math courses. She provided evidence that clickers helped students pay more attention in class and stimulated more discussion than without using clickers. Students also said that clickers helped them prepare for tests and to better understand the material. Clickers were used throughout the session for feedback. Clickers embody what a good learning technology should be: simple and effective. 

Kathleen Luttenegger, Assistant Professor of teacher education at Metro State, presented on Dedoose. This is a cloud-based, subscription-based application for the tracking of qualitative and mixed methods survey data. The interface appears simple enough. Data can be imported from a variety of formats including Word, Excel, Atlas, and others. Output is highly visual with bar and pie charts, word clouds, bubble plots, and more. Kathleen demonstrated how her team collaborated on a research project using Dedoose. Pretty cool program.

Todd Reimer, secondary ed faculty at Metro State, talked of his use of self-published web magazines. Students are many times overwhelmed at determining what information is relevant to a course. Todd compared getting information from the internet to drinking from a fire hydrant. Todd began using the cloud-based program ScoopIt to create a personalized information summary for his courses. After creating a ScoopIt account, a button is created on the web browser. When an article of interest appear, he clicks the ScoopIt button. Immediately the article summary, associated image, and link to the full article, appear in his personal magazine. He then sends the magazine link to his students who read the articles and come to class prepared to discuss. The magazine demonstrated in class was called the Space Between. The use of programs such as ScoopIt can assist instructors in guiding students to relevant information. Todd mentioned other similar programs such as,,, and

Boxed lunches were quite good.
Jennifer Frahm, instructional designer at Aims Community College, presented on the electronic syllabus. Getting students to fully read a course syllabus is about as likely as lighting a match in a hurricane. Jennifer presented on methods to get students more involved with this important document. Several ideas were mentioned, from adding social media to simply awarding points.

Sherry Fuller, instructor from the School of Nursing at our very own Regis University, presented ideas on using Prezi, the cloud-based presentation application. Sherry stepped the audience through the process of creating a Prezi. She then went on to demonstrate the creation of a presentation based on a recent trip to Ethiopia. Images were imported along with text. The presentation could be displayed from any computer by logging in to the Prezi account or downloaded and saved on a local computer.

Friday, September 21, 2012

D2L Fusion 2012 Conference Summary

Guest post by Dr. Terry Buxton, Assistant Professor, RHCHP School of Nursing

This summer I had the opportunity to attend the D2L Fusion conference in San Diego, CA. This was an amazing experience to meet with other educators, Learning Technology Specialists, System Administrators, and others from around the nation. 

Education was represented from K-12 to higher education. Stories, ideas, best practices, experiences, frustrations, and emerging technologies were shared. 

D2L is launching a new version of their LMS in December. Like any new technology that is introduced, great anticipation is accompanied by great skepticism. In many cases D2L has listened to its users, faculty and students, to enhance many features. Whether they work the way they are supposed to remains to be seen. 

The challenge to faculty is to find ways to optimize this powerful learning system to enhance meaningful learning for our students the most effectively and efficiently. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Blog Post: A summary of the DTL conference

This is a guest blog post by Kelly Rinker, an instructor in the Health Services Administration.

This August I attended the 28th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning in Madison, WI.  This was my first year attending that conference and the conference started off slowly with a less than engaging opening Keynote speaker but ended with a BANG with the Keynote presentation by Judy Brown entitled “Learning in hand with mobile technology”.  Judy’s presentation provided a very good closing for the numerous sessions focused on the use of mobile technology in the learning environment and reinforced the need to continue to think outside of the classroom in our ability to reach students.
With the numerous technology choices available it is important to remember that technology does not replace the need for faculty engagement with students. One presentation that stood out from the rest at the conference was Improving the Connection with Online Students through Introductory Videos and Weekly Update Videos by Dale Suffridge of Kennesaw State University.  Dale provided a truly “outside of the box” presentation that began with a video showing a computer screen typing an introduction.  Dale was able to place the audience in the perspective of a student having to read a typed introduction.  Then he proceeded to show a very innovative Introduction video he taped while riding a roller coaster.  Needless to say, the video on the roller coaster was much more engaging than the typed introduction.
Video Introductions
Using videos for faculty introductions allows the students the opportunity to get to know you and your voice.  One introduction video can be used in all online courses and does not need to be course specific.  It provides a personal aspect to each course sets the tone for the type of experience the student may have in the class and allows them to visualize “who” is teaching.  Dale recommends the following for video introductions:
·       Focus on Personality Videos
o   Vita is of little importance here, this can be found in the faculty bio.
·       Share personal things that you are comfortable sharing
o   What do you share the first day in a F2F class?
·       Short and to the point
o   2-3 minutes should be plenty
Here are some examples of videos provided by Dale:
Dale's Intro Video:

Intro Video Example Compilation:

Dale's Low Tech Intro Video:

Weekly Update Videos
A weekly update video can be used in the place of a weekly “housekeeping” email or announcement.  It does not need to be an edited video, but just a quick natural, relaxed, conversational video that is reminiscent to the updates and reminders you would give at the beginning or end of a F2F class.  A weekly video update provides ongoing personality enforcement and allows for an opportunity to personally recognize student in front of their peers.  For example, you can complement students on their discussion responses by name.  Just make sure you mention all students at some point during the course.

Most individuals are hesitant to record videos because they are concerned about how they look or sound and concerned about the time.  Well, if you can get up in front of a class and speak then recording a video is no different – just dress and talk as you would if you were presenting in a F2F environment.  As for time, it is as simple as turning on a webcam on your computer or iPhone and uploading to a website.  Here are some Weekly Update Video Shooting Tips from Dale:
·       Length – Keep it short and to the point
·       Outline a brief script – such as reminders, names to mention for kudos
·       Sound – Make sure you can be heard by completing a brief test run and listening to it
·       Lighting – Make sure that the lighting is in front of you, not behind!

Dale recorded a weekly update video example during the presentation using his iphone.  Here is a link to that video and instructions on how to record weekly update videos with a smartphone.

Conference Weekly Update Video (shot during presentation):

How to Record Weekly Update Videos with a Smartphone:

As we become more mobile and physically distant in our communication and teaching methods, using videos provides an excellent opportunity for the students to connect with the faculty and provides an enhanced level of engagement between the faculty and students. I am currently working on my video introduction and have implemented weekly video updates in a course this term.  So far the response has been positive.  I highly encourage you to consider creating your own.  Here are some full length introduction video examples to use for inspiration.

Stacey Delacruz:

Vanessa Robinson-Dooley:

Tamara Powell (Star Trek):

Radwan Ali: