Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Notes on 2014 eLCC conference

Guest Blogger: Sally Cordrey
Academic Technology Specialist
Information Technology Services

What is eLCC? The eLearning Consortium of Colorado (eLCC)
The eLearning Consortium of Colorado (formerly Colorado TELECOOP) is a non-profit organization based in Colorado. The membership consists of a coalition of public and private colleges, universities, K-12 education, and private sector business dedicated to the enhancement of educational opportunities through eLearning since 1986.
Annual Conference – The 25th anniversary conference for the eLearning Consortium of Colorado conference was April 16-18, of 2014. This year’s conference was packed with practical tips and techniques to help faculty teach, facilitate, and coach online, blended, and technology-enhanced courses.
The highlight of the conference was that I was nominated for the eLCC four-year institution co-chair position. This was quite an honor and I am humbled to have been nominated. The co-chair position was won by Paul Novak, DU Senior Instructional Designer. He asked me to lend a hand on the board.
My presentation
Build Your Own TEDTalks: Record a Class Guest Speaker, Sally Cordrey, Academic Technology Specialist, Regis University
Whether online or in a classroom, there are a variety of ways to use video technology to capture a guest speaker, edit video and share with colleagues. Use again in future classes. Build a video library of experts (your own TEDTalks) and have them available to use in the classroom again or online.
I presented to 25 faculty and faculty support people from various institutions. I reviewed the technology requirements, easy and free tools, and showed examples of videos created here at Regis. The audience was engaged and asked good questions. My hope is that they were able to take away some good ideas and ready-made strategies to create their own guest speaker videos. Presentation found at:

Sessions I attended

Building Community Across Groups using Evernote, Elizabeth Kleinfeld, Writing Center Director, Metropolitan State University of Denver
The MSUD Writing Center uses Evernote, a notetaking app that can be used on PCs, tablets, and smartphones to save, tag, and search text, webpages, and files. Explore Evernote to collaborate with multiple groups, including Writing Center staff, students, and the larger writing community.
 They have a wide age range 18-60s, level of expertise and technology comfort. Share notes, videos, articles, assignments, PowerPoint, templates. Evernote allows shared “notebooks”. Each person creates their own account, notebooks are categorized, share presentation, templates so that everyone is on the same page. Evernote can tag searchable terms.

From Ho-Hum to That Was Fun! Sharon McPherson, Mathematics Faculty, Pikes Peak
Community College
Tired of speaking to a deadpan sea of faces or more and more empty seats? Explore ideas to convert your lecture to an interactive learning environment through the use of technology and engagement techniques. Presenter uses Mimeo Studio which is similar to BrightLink. Using a whiteboard and the tools, she created colorful ways to interact with the content by drawing and typing onto the board. Files can be saved. She uses it for math equations, Venn diagrams, able to drag and drop numbers. She also shared an activity using clickers.

A Cloud of Documents,  Nate Wadman, Pikes Peak Community College
Ever wondered what the big deal about Google Docs and SkyDrive is? Find the advantages, tools and pitfalls of using cloud-based documents. Nate created his presentation in OneDrive, Microsoft’s version of Google Docs. Also has Excel, Word, OneNote, file hosting service, collaboration. Free. Access files anywhere. Don’t have to log in to OneNote, can use for sharing notes with students. Works for large file sizes, zip files.

Tricking Out Our Course Proposal Design Process, Debra Warren, Lead Instructional Designer, Nik Hunnicutt, Media Production Manager, CU Boulder
The new course proposal and development processes were working against us rather than for us. Learn how we approached this problem, made changes, what we did to make the new process work for several different programs and how we tricked some faculty into creating better courses. When you have processes in place, you get more done! Word spreads, they find you! Be ready, be prepared for anyone who walks in the door, calls you, or emails you. Have the documentation ready for the meeting with information of what your department does and a guide of the process. This clarification helps define job duties and adjust faculty expectations speeds up the process so that the meeting is 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. The key is to have them send their syllabus ahead of time and have them go through the Community Faculty Course D2L course first. Everyone is on the same page when meeting.
They shared an organizational guide, proposal form. All is tracked by project manager. IDs teach faculty how to teach online.

Lunch Presentation: John Sener, author “Seven Futures of American Education – Improving Learning and Teaching in a Screen-Captured World”
Good speaker with a message reminding us to focus on making things better beyond status quo, beyond effectiveness; deal with change, shift to producing results, performance-based; openness wins.

Just in Time Teaching–A 21st Century Teaching Technique, Jeff Loats, Associate Professor, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Just in Time Teaching is an effective, evidence-based teaching technique using internet tools for face-to-face courses. Students and instructors are better prepared for class, allowing for better use of their time together. Explore the “Why should I?” discussion that should surround any new teaching technique. Presenter uses clickers to quickly engage students and gauge students on apprehension of lesson. Also asks for “Warm Up” questions to be answered and turned in before class, instructor reads them and plans class lesson accordingly based on responses. These are graded questions. Value to the instructor, “I know what they are already thinking!” Self-reporting gives a measure on how things are going. Value to the students, “I have a concrete vision of what we will cover in class, I am prepared!” Students are more engaged in class, compare themselves with their classmates.

Student Perceptions of Great Online Courses, Eric Salahub, Online Instructional Coach/Philosophy Faculty, Front Range Community College
Front Range Community College had 90 student nominations for Online Master Teacher for AY 12/13. An analysis of the nominations found overwhelming consensus that faculty engagement was the most important aspect of a great online course. Dig into the data and consider a new model of course quality. The guidelines were 1. Instructor-generated content; 2. Quality feedback from the instructor to students; 3. Instructor presence in the online discussions. Great to see the quotes from students promoting the faculty who are showing engaging presence, variety of teaching techniques, and timely feedback on assignments. Presenter has details on his blog:

Using Google+ Hangouts for Online Classes (F2F Classes, too!) Larry Giddings,Writing Center Director/CCR Faculty, Pikes Peak Community College
Get real-time practice with Google+ Hangouts (free download) to enhance online teaching and online tutoring. Explore Hangouts for office hours and teacher-student conferencing and tools including screen sharing, application sharing, chat, and video/audio. You should preload free software at and establish Google+ accounts as well. This presentation was somewhat chaotic but I came away with some tips on how we could help faculty use this free tool with their students and possibly bring a panel discussion into the classroom.

I will add to the documents I saved from this conference in a folder on the W shared drive. Feel free to ask me to expand on these notes.

Monday, April 21, 2014

eLCC 2014 Conference

I have recently returned from the E Learning Consortium of Colorado Conference. This is an excellent local conference that celebrated its 25th year as an organization. Perhaps its most endearing quality is that the same faces keep returning and strong local relationships are forged. These relationships help to address common issues and look for common solutions.
A good example of cooperatively working common issues pertains to the LMS. A large number of Colorado Institutions use Desire2Learn and even though implementation is very different, many of the problems are shared. At this conference I co-chaired a roundtable discussion of LMS Managers and Administrators. This was the second meeting of this group whose goal is to share knowledge and information about updates and changes to the LMS configuration. Discussions resulted in some solutions or strategies for addressing problems, awareness of issues that are still to come, and some common agreements to voice disapproval of design changes to the LMS that seem defy common sense. 
I presented for the first time at a conference on the topic of Designing New Student Orientations with retention in mind. My key points were that higher education enrollments have been and are continuing to decline over time and that retention is the job of everyone on campus. My main presentation outline included:
  •  Importance of finding departments on campus that were crucially involved with retention and work with them to identify what users needed.
  •  Keep the content focused and start with the end in mind.
  •   How to manage users and the importance of facilitated orientations.
  • Provide good directions
  • Seek user feedback and implement their suggestions to improve.
  • How to orient to upcoming LMS upgrades
There was another session I attended titled Strategies for Designing Effective Online Student Orientations. This was complimentary to my own presentation and I came away with several new strategies for evaluating the New Student Orientations currently used at Regis.

I highly recommend that you consider attending either next year’s ELCC or the upcoming COLTT conference on CU campus in August. These two small conferences pack a large value. Contact if you would like to find out more about these conferences. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Incorporating Physical Activity Bursts into the Classroom

Guest Blog Post by Erika Nelson-Wong, PT, DPT, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Physical Therapy

Teacher-Scholar Forum

March 14, 2014
Incorporating Physical Activity Bursts into the Classroom

Presented by: Michelle Tollefson, MD, Carol Jensen, RN, MEd. and Emily Matuszewicz, DC
Engaging Learners: 21st Century Pedagogies

Do you find your students are nodding off by the end of class or seem to be lacking in energy/enthusiasm? Are they stressed or overwhelmed? This session, presented at the MSU-Denver Teacher-Scholar Forum, offered some strong evidence for the benefits of including movement and mindfulness activities during classroom sessions.
I won’t go into the complete neurophysiology (it is out there for those who wish to read about it in more depth), but several studies have shown that acute bouts of exercise (even very short activity bursts) result in increased concentration, attention, ability to filter out distractions, and elevated activity in critical parts of the brain for learning and memory formation. Benefits of chronic exercise include increased learning potential, elevated BDNF (a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with learning), higher levels of reasoning ability, better formation of long term memories, as well as things we usually associate with exercise such as improved motivation and mood. One exciting thing is that these benefits can be achieved with only a few minutes of activity – or short exercise bursts.
These are all things that we would like to see in our students, right? What if we could draw on the power of movement/exercise by including it in our classroom activities?
Seven ideas were presented for how to include movement in the classroom setting, I will briefly describe these here and add some of my own reflections:

  •  Utilize Your Students – have students rotate through leading a brief (2-3 minute) activity in class. Many students have formal movement training (certified yoga instructors or personal trainers) – and it helps students to take ownership and learn to instruct others.
  • Do Something Silly and Novel – Look up ‘Multiple Player Massive Thumb Wrestling an example of a silly, fun, physically and mentally challenging activity that takes very little time. In the session we also did a 4 minute exercise program from the Activity Bursts Everywhere website was comprehensive, funny and worked pretty much every part of the body with exercises designed to be performed at a desk (not such a bad idea for us desk workers either!)
  • Involve Multiple Senses – difficult concepts can be made more meaningful, and deeper memories can be formed, if multisensory systems are included. One suggestion was to have students close their ideas and imagine points on a power point slide while manipulating an object that gets passed around the class. Research linking the sense of smell to memory was also presented.

  • Cross the Midline – throw a beanbag from hand to hand while summarizing an important concept just covered in class, then pass it along to another student to summarize the next concept.

  • Get the Head Below the Heart – this is good for relaxation and calming stress. Have students lower their head below their hearts by bending forward in sitting or standing, relaxing the neck muscles by nodding yes and no, then returning to upright one vertebra at a time.

  • Guided Meditation – the presenters said their students frequently mention this one as a class favorite. Take a couple of minutes at the start of class to practice deep breathing exercises and try to calm inner mental chatter as preparation for learning or exams.

  • Make Activities Relevant to Curriculum – connect to what you are teaching as much as possible. If you are teaching a lesson in chemistry, have students close their eyes and visualize a chemical reaction. Pass around an object that is representative of a historical figure while discussing content related to that place/person/event.

As someone who teaches in the physical therapy and exercise science curricula, these ideas resonated with me and I realized I was already using some of them to demonstrate concepts in class. Since attending the workshop I have been more intentional with it – even to the point of having students simply stand up and do 10 jumping jacks (being mindful not to hit each other with flying arms and legs!) as fast as possible when I sense them starting to fade. Students enjoy it, and the energy in the classroom is always improved following some activity.
I hope you now have some ideas for incorporating physical movement in your classes as the benefits are real and immediate!

Erika Nelson-Wong, PT, DPT, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Physical Therapy