Monday, August 15, 2016

Awesome time at the 2016 Distance Teaching and Learning Conference

This year’s DTL was a high-energy journey into all things teachy, learny, and techy. Format was different this year, leading to more lively offerings that included show and tells, mini workshops, discussions, author book discussions, vendor showcases, poster sessions, alongside the traditional 45-minute information sessions. And with each offering having a different time length, things certainly got interesting for maximizing conference time.

Keynote speaker Richard Culatta
The morning keynote was provided by Richard Culatta. Richard has arguably the coolest job title ever: Chief Innovation Officer for the State of Rhode Island. His rapid-fire presentation was titled Technology as a Tool to Reimagine Learning. Among other gems of wisdom was the suggestion for creating user experience (UX) groups to assist in maximizing the user experience. UX groups are much more than focus groups or advisory panels. UX groups assist developers in creating the perfect user interface that takes into consideration both the physical as well as the holistic experience. In his follow up session, Richard suggested never having a big project rollout. Doing so sets the project up for failure as users will expect perfection and be annoyed when things don't work as they should. Rather, conduct small pilots and solicit suggestions for improvement of the product. Then gradually increase the size of the pilot while incorporating any suggested improvements.

Later that day I scored a free book! Curt Bonk (U. Indiana) and Thomas Reeves (U. Georgia) co-edited the book MOOCs and Open Education Around the World. At the discussion forum, they handed out free copies to the grateful circle of attendees. The overall message of the discussion was that MOOCs are still a globally popular method for obtaining knowledge, even though they may not be redefining higher ed as was originally predicted.

Ray Schroeder (center) receiving the Wedemeyer award
And one of the stalwarts of the educational technology field was honored at the Wednesday luncheon. Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning and Professor Emeritus of Communication at the University of Illinois-Springfield, was presented with the Mildred B. and Charles A.Wedemeyer Excellence in Distance Education Award. The award represents “distinguished contributions to the scholarship and practice of distance education”. I’ve attended Ray’s pre-conference workshops on technology innovation for several years and have yet to be disappointed. A humble, caring, and tireless champion for the cause of distance education and learning technologies. Congratulations to Ray on this much deserved honor. 

A pre-conference workshop focused on innovative learning technologies satiated my need for tech. Facilitated by staff from the Center For Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois-Springfield including Ray Schroeder, Vickie Cook, and Carrie Levin, the workshop focused on technologies for the online and on-ground classrooms. The workshop presentation is available on their DTL 2016 conference website. Some of the more interesting technologies included:
  • TodayMeet: a back channel for use in classes.
  • Zeetings: easy to use cloud-based polling site.
  • Remind: reach out to students en masse without sharing personal info.
  • Polaroid Cube: $100 wearable GoPro-style camera
  • VR Box: $10 next-gen Google cardboard
  • Ringly: ring version of the smart watch. 
  • Real Time: set of two ear plugs. Translates what you say into French, Spanish, Italian, and English. ~$150 for two ear pieces
Irish Road Reuben with fresh dipping veggies.
And the venue at the Frank Lloyd Weber-designed Monona Terrace in Madison never disappoints. And I stumbled across a new favorite eatery called the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company on King, just off the Capitol Square. Tasty burgers and brews. 

Well done once again, UW-Ex!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

2016 COLTT Conference - Highlights for Carl Kinney

Well once again I will say this conference is great conference for the price and the fact that it is held in Boulder.  Jill a co-worker commented that this year the conference didn't seem to focus on specific tools.  I have to agree that this year it seemed to take on a more holistic approach to education and learning.  I liked this approach.  It wasn't that technology was ignored at all, but it was more about how we interact with technology, and how it can be used to enhance our capabilities.  One of my biggest takeaways was how I think about technology.  I had a tendency to keep technology in a box, and go get what I needed out of the box when I needed it.  After hearing Professor Brenda J. Allen (CU Denver) give the Keynote on Optimizing Technology's Promise, I realized that technology is not something in a box.  It is something that is all around us, and keeping it in a box really could limit how we use it.  I liked how she described technology as anything that isn't part of the human body that helps increase human capability. This isn't a direct quote, but it is the message that I came away with, and I think it really opens the door to a more inclusive view of technology.  Prior to this I never considered eye-glasses technology.  
Here are some additional highlights for me from the conference:
  • Don't minimize the person.  Say a person who is blind, not a blind person.  
  • We need to consider getting more data on the user experience of our courses (both faculty and students)
  • Collaboration is critical in working with anyone on a project.  Listening and managing expectations up-front is critical.
  • Content Experts tend to want to share what they know, and Instructional Designers want to share what the student needs to know.  
  • Contemplative Learning uses all 3 forms of learning (true transformation):
    • 3rd person - authority
    • 2nd person - synergy between two or more
    • 1st person - reflective
  • MSU Denver is using Agile and a Market Driven model for instructional design.  
I am happy to talk more on all or any of the above.  Stop by and let's chat.  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Nicole's Summary: Conference on Meaningful Living and Learning in a Digital World 2016

Conference summary by: Nicole Marcisz
Instructional Designer
Instructional Design & Technology

Overall notes, tips and key take-aways

There were many themes of balancing work and life both personally and as we teach our students

To some degree everyone probably struggles with finding a balance with work, family, life, and perhaps school. The good news is that we can personally take control and formulate solutions to achieving the balance. The bad news is that sometimes the pursuit of balance itself compounds the stress! We really need to be proactive by gathering tools and seeking knowledge and information on how to accomplish balance.


  •  Learn to recognize when you are out of balance. (ideally we want this to occur before you get sick or end up in ER) DO NOT ignore the warning signs! Listen to your body.
  • Get real and assess your smart phone addiction. BreakFree is an app that acknowledges your smartphone addiction and helps you break it by recording the amount of time you spend on it.
  •  How long can you go without your smartphone? Reflect on this.
  • Research from 2015 shows that on average adults check their cell phone 46X a day. How many times in an hour do you touch your smartphone?

o   Do you suffer from FOMO? Fear of missing out
o   What about FOBO? Fear of being offline
o   Nomophobia- the fear of being separated from your smart phone!
o   Reflect on if your smart phone adds to your stress or relieves it.
o   Make a list of all the positive things about the digital world that you like
o   Make a list of all the negative things about the digital world that you don’t like

  • Work email on your personal device- is this a good thing or not so good? Pros/cons; expectations?
  • Do you have personal boundaries for using your device, social media, work email etc? It is important to make a list of boundaries for yourself and then share it with your circle of people in your life. Maybe even make a list of exceptions for certain situations. Identify non-negotiable social norms. Be honest with friends, family, co-workers, on how it makes you feel. Often times people are oblivious to how their behaviors may affect other people.  
  • Practice a digital detox every now and then. Establish offline times (for example, the phone is shut off during dinnertime, family time, 2 hours before bed, during the night, etc.
  •  Reflect and make a list of what causes stress in your life. What small changes can you make? How might you leverage your smart device to assist?

With students (as we teach)
Be conscious and thoughtful of student challenges as they try to balance work and life in a digital world. We identified a variety of challenges

  • Students sometimes have a hard time leveraging technology to their advantage
  • Engagement      
  • Managing their time
  • Discerning fact from fiction; Finding and choosing valid and reliable information,
  • Prioritizing their time
A few solutions on how we can encourage and assist students to cut down on stress and balance better
  • Strive for achievement rather than perfection
  • Assist with planning strategies- course planners/milestones/tips for success
  • Identify limitations and strategize how to overcome
  • Reminders about support avenues
  • Know your students! If you find that many of your students are working moms or single parents formulate communities. One suggestion was to have a social forum for easy meal planning, perhaps an exchange of tips and ideas.
  • The balancing of work, family and school can be challenging. We talked about tips for family such as (delegating, learn to say no, establish boundaries etc.
  •   Emphasize self-care
  •   Celebrate successes and milestones
  •  Remind students to “be true to yourself”
  • Create student social communities (perhaps at a program level) such as military family students, first generation students, older adults 50+, single parents, working moms, etc.
  • Each term, ask your students to assemble a list of what they need to do to be successful in the course. At the end of the term, have the students revisit that list and reflect. If they were to share with the next round of students what is the one thing they would advise for success. How did they overcome challenges? SHARE these with the next round of incoming students to your class. Testimonials go a long way. Especially if you have a particular task in your course that you find time and after time no matter what you tell them they just don’t grasp the purpose or meaning of why they are doing it. (of course being clear about the purpose and expected outcomes (benefits) of the assignment is critical)

What causes burnout among faculty? There are several things that may impact this.
one stressor that we talked about: giving so much to each individual student 24/7. Some solutions:

  • Give students tools for success; guide them; mentor them; DO NOT feel obligated to take on the responsibility to FIX the problem.
  • Create healthy boundaries for teaching. Communicate this with your students.
  • When there are common questions/issues that arise EVERY term consider getting assistance from your friendly instructional designers at your campus to address solutions.
  • Create FAQs that become reusable each term.

·        One idea that was generated; enable advisors to play a more active role in assisting students with challenges of school/ life balance. Or within a program/department/ have one or two set mentors ready to assist.

Leveraging digital overload to your advantage (personally)

o   CamScanner- stop carrying around business cards, receipts etc, take a quick pic and file it in Evernote.
  •  Create a personal dashboard (Google site or Evernote)
Mindfulness and Presence; Restoring Balance and Joy in the Present Moment

Basic mindfulness:
Pause quietly in the present moment; Close your eyes; Become aware of senses- what do you hear? Mentally scan body for sensations and whatever you might be feeling; do this in a non-judgmentally. (unfortunately it is human nature to always want to place judgement on everything, especially about ourselves, resist this urge and begin to practice this new way of being present in the moment); practice gratitude! You can start with simple things (ie. food, shelter, employment, family, life, etc) “In this moment I can find joy, peace and calm.” Focus on your breath if your mind becomes cluttered with thoughts

  • Schedule guided meditations at certain times of the day (or when you really need it).
  • Build in mindfulness practices in your courses for your students. Perhaps before an Exam or as the end of a course approaches.
  • Mindfulness cultivates clarity.
  • Try mindful coloring! Calm your mind, reduce stress and release your inner child.  Research backs this but honestly it is no-brainer. Just try it and see how it makes you feel.

Stop, Breathe & Think app is a simple tool to guide people of all ages and backgrounds through meditations for mindfulness and compassion.
Mindfulness Training app from Sounds True
Mindfulness: The Art of Being Human app: 2.99 also available on Android.

And of course, there’s YOGA!
Try it! Look for a local yoga center and give it a go. There are so many different kinds of varieties of yoga. There’s more to yoga than downward dog. It is a mindful practice that restores your life in more ways than you can imagine.
Regis friends and colleagues, you can attend weekly yoga right at our Coors-Life fitness center.
Our Healthy Living Coordinator, Linnea Bjorkman, will be teaching a free all-levels bilingual yoga class. WHEN: Tuesdays TIME: 10:30a.m. LOCATION: Endorphin Yoga Studio at 4995 Lowell Blvd., For more information contact Linnea Bjorkman: or 303.458.3548

Don’t want to practice in public? Don’t have time to go somewhere? Or maybe you just want to squeeze in 15 minutes of yoga right from the comfort of your office. No problem. There are TONs of resources out there on YouTube.  Here are some recommendations for office yoga from Yoga Journal.
And YES there are apps for that too so you can practice a little yoga when you need it for free!

Resources for a closer look at mindfulness:
Michel, A., Bosch, C., & Rexroth, M. (2014). Mindfulness as a cognitive–emotional segmentation strategy: An intervention promoting work–life balance. Journal Of Occupational And Organizational Psychology, 87(4), 733-754. doi:10.1111/joop.12072

The Pursuit of Happiness; Bringing the Science of Happiness to Life. Martin Seligman

The Chopra Center Newsletter: Restore Mind-body Balance.

7 Reasons Adult Coloring Books are great for your mental, emotional and intellectual health.