Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2015 Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium

I appreciate the opportunity I had to attend this one day conference. The fact that is free, is icing on the cake.  I wanted to share some of the highlights and takeaways from the sessions that I attended.

Just-In-Time Teaching A Strategy For Success

Opening Panel: Arlene Sgoutas, MSU Denver: Jeff Loats, MSU Denver; Courtney Rocheleau, MSU Denver; Randi Smith, MSU Denver 


  • Helps ensure students prepare for class. 
  • Increases Engagement 
  • 70% of students admitted that sometimes they don't purchase the textbook in one study
  • Pre-Class assignments are called Warm-Ups.
  • Instructor has to read through responses prior to class and taylor the class to the responses. 

Takeaways: I think we all have heard a lot on this, and I think it is something that does make a positive difference in student learning. This was a pretty basic presentation but still good. It requires extra effort on the part of the faculty for this to be successful.     

Enhancing Student's Achievement by Interactive Virtual Learning Environment

Presenter: Mohammed Khojah, University of Colorado


  • Research in progress, no results yet. Online Education, and Interactive Learning, Computer related courses. 
  • A VLE  allows interaction and knowledge sharing while expanding boundaries.
  • Skills Assessment Manager (SAM) is a software to help with student learning, engagement, perceived learning, academic achievement.
Takeaways: Presentation was given very much from the standpoint of a researcher. A little disjointed. Slides were so small they were hard to read, and very text intensive. I think the results of the research will be very valuable.  

Zap! (tion) Making Video Valuable

Presenter: Cory Pavicich, University of Colorado (Learning Experience Designer)


  • There are one button studios, and everyone is using videos, but we don't know what we can do with video.  
  • Zaption allows you to make all videos interactive by adding text, quizzes, comments/discussions. You can draw on the video. It integrates with an LMS, with Canvas grades can be pushed straight to the gradebook, this doesn't work so well in D2L. Integrates with Kaltura.  
Takeaways: I find his job title interesting. Best presentation so far. I think this might be something worth researching to see if we think the cost is worth the value add. There is a free version.

Toolbox Tips for Innovative Online Engagement: The Online Instructor as Social Director 

Presenter: Jequita McDaniel, Naropa University, DeVry University


  •  Group Brainstormed:
    • Challenges - technology issues, getting to know the students, creating community, retention
    • Successes - learn technology, focus on outcomes, hear from all students, equity in the classroom.
  • Model - Community of Inquiry is worth looking at. 
  • Social Director - getting students engaged. She addresses good nutrition, have a stress ball, door hanger to say do not disturb, spend an allotted amount of time, paddle ball to unfocus on computer screen. 
Takeaways: I think it is more than being a social director. I think that is important, but also need to be actively involved in the learning aspect and should be a value add on the content.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015 TLTS Conference Takeaways

I had the opportunity to attend several engaging and thought provoking sessions at this year's TLTS conference. Below are a few sessions that were particularly interesting and my takeaways from each. 

Empowering Student's Self-Management Behaviors Online
This session focused on a discussion about how to help students manage themselves when working in an online course. It was interesting to hear what other programs were doing and the primary idea that stuck with me was simply putting the responsibility back on the students to consider their own strategies.


  • Engage students online in a discussion about their strategies for success.
  • Create accountability teams in the online environment to help students stick to their study plan or goals for any given week.
  • Encourage students to use a goal app on their phone to keep them on task.
Talking About Taboo Topics in Online Courses 
Our courses are designed to push students to learn about new ideas and topics and sometimes include topics that are traditionally seen as taboo in mainstream society like gender, politics, sexual orientation, religion, etc. This session focused on how to have these types of discussions online in a constructive and safe way. 

  • Set boundaries for a safe environment.
  • Allow multiple viewpoints or sides of a story to be shared for additional perspective.
  • Use videos and animations in the course.
  • Encourage students to take an issues centered approach.
  • Provide glossary of terms that will be used in the course.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Applied Archaeology and Social Media

Consider a job description this specific: skinny scientists with caving and climbing experience who could fit in a space spanning 18 cm, with no claustrophobia, don’t panic easily, work cooperatively under difficult situations, with experience in archaeology, paleoanthropology, physical anthropology, ophiology, or evolutionary bio mechanics who can be ready to travel to South Africa within the next 3 weeks. Describes half the population of any major university. Right?
The writer of the job description, Professor Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa figured there might be 100 people in the world who could approach the qualifications, but how to get the message of need into their hands? In this particular case the intended audience was already connected Berger as members of his Facebook page. Social media has created avenues of connect that us with people of like interests. In Berger’s world his Facebook page isn’t used for sharing family pics or cat videos, it’s dedicated to forwarding the science of Anthropology and as a rock star in the world of rock research, he already had the people he needed. He just needed them to come forward.
Within 10 days of posting the position 57 people applied, within a week of that he had 6 people, all women, hired and heading to South Africa. The specific task was to access a chamber some 90 meters down a cave that contained thousands of bones which turned out to be a previously unidentified species fitting somewhere in the early hominid category.
The story is fascinating and can be watched at . As a fan of science I love this stuff, but being the technology field what struck me as most fascinating is the way this expedition utilized social media like Skype and Facebook to keep the rest of the community up to date on the project.  Live reports were shared directly to classrooms around the world as this wondrous new discovery unfolded. An opportunity for students and teachers not able to be there to participate in the experience to learn right along with the onsite scientists. How can you innovate technology in your teaching today?