Thursday, August 20, 2020

LXD: Learning Experience Design

Turns out that LXD (Learning Experience Design) is a lot like UDL (Universal Design for Learning), from first glance at Connie Malamed's timely (re)introduction of the term

cartoon illustration of man drawing

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Staying Home Doesn't Mean Going It Alone

A timely piece from Pearson, Staying Home Doesn't Mean Going It Alone highlights the need for human connection and ways that we can use technology to bring our learners closer to us rather than letting it create further distance, especially in these times of mandatory isolation and constant uncertainty.

cartoon illustration of two people collaborating with technology

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

School of the Future

Although the film addresses a lot of educational issues from the K-12 perspective, it's a good watch for anyone invested in education today. These children are the ones we will be teaching in a few years (and our current students were these children a few years ago). Will we be ready for them?

From PBS' Nova series page:
In a new age of information, rapid innovation, and globalization, how can we prepare our children to compete? Once the envy of the world, American schools are now in trouble. Test scores show our kids lag far behind their peers from other industrialized countries, and as the divide between rich and poor grows wider, the goal of getting all kids ready for college and the workforce gets harder by the day. How can the latest research help us fix education in America? Can the science of learning—including new insights from neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators—reveal how kids’ brains work and tell us which techniques are most likely to engage and inspire growing minds? What role should technology play in the classroom? Teachers, students, parents, and scientists take center stage as NOVA explores a new vision for the “School of the Future.”
"We're not trying to reduce educator time, we're trying to improve the value of their time." 

The full documentary is available on PBS' Nova Series.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 6: Sing Gently

Please watch this (in full screen and with great sound!) and be reminded that technology's greatest power is to unite and heal us, rather than divide and isolate us. Let us know how we can help you achieve your goals using technology!

Friday, June 5, 2020

We need your vote!

Did you know that you can suggest and upvote features for Canvas? The new Direct Share feature that allows you to send elements built in Canvas directly to friends or colleagues is great, but only works on individual item basis. You can't share a whole module! 

But the Canvas Community has already started a suggestion to include modules, and you can help make it a reality by upvoting it! You need a Canvas Community login to upvote, but what better time to create one than now?

The Canvas Community is welcoming, knowledgeable community of educators just like you who support and teach each other! Join us! (And please, UPVOTE for DIRECT SHARING MODULES!)

man giving an envelope to a dove to be delivered (like direct share)

Monday, May 4, 2020

5 Myths About Remote Teaching in the Covid-19 Crisis

This crisis has also brought academics together. New communities of teachers have been built online, virtually overnight, for peer mentoring and resource sharing. Important conversations about how teaching has changed, and how it should change, are happening right now. It’s not an end; it’s a beginning.

Lee Skallerup Bessette, Nancy Chick, and Jennifer C. Friberg

Monday, April 27, 2020

Supporting Students During Uncertainty

Wesch: Supporting Students During Uncertainty from ACUE on Vimeo.

Summer QEPO Support Schedule

Starting last week and until the middle of August, we'll be hosting group QEPO support sessions on Zoom weekly. To avoid Zoombombing, we'll NOT post the details here but you can get them by emailing with "Summer QEPO Schedule" in the subject line from a UAH email address, and we'll send them to you with the option of your receiving a calendar invite blocking your calendar and weekly reminders to boot! Be sure to let us know if you'd like that calendar invitation & reminder in your email!

cartoon illustration showing 4 different people in Zoom windows conferencing together

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Got the jitters over academic continuity?

[UPDATE: ETL Instructional Continuity Guide] added to this post 3/19/20

Among fears about weather emergencies and virus pandemics, many faculty are concerned about how to maintain academic continuity (ongoing teaching and learning) through a crisis. If you haven't already got your academic continuity plan worked out, you should know that ETL has you covered!

Tools that support academic continuity (and what you need to know about each) may include:
  • Zoom (web conferencing, face-to-face supporting up to 100 connections)
    There is a handy guide to getting started with Zoom that's best to breeze through NOW as it can't be used effectively unless set up in advance. Note that you must have created the account and logged in at least once through SSO (Single Sign On) before it can be upgraded to a PRO account in advance, which you can do by emailing Don't forget to RECORD and POST your Zoom sessions in Canvas for any who were not able to attend at the time they are held.
  • Screencast-o-Matic (also requires advance orientation and account set up)
    If you haven't already joined the nearly 150 faculty and staff using Screencast-o-Matic, feel free to sign up for our next orientation on Friday, April 17th. They occur the first Friday of each month throughout Fall and Spring semesters, and are offered nearly weekly throughout the summer.
  • Canvas (Learning Management System or LMS; great news—you're already set up there and can access through SSO or Single Sign-On!)
    If you're not already using the Canvas LMS, there's no time like now to get started
Stay tuned for more information in coming days! Check out each technology and their getting started guides on the ETL resources webpage!

Corona Virus alert graphic

Friday, February 28, 2020

Assessment in 2025: Here are 5 Key Features (free download!)

Straight from Stephen's Web OLWeekly:
This report (a very brisk 28 page PDF that feels a lot shorter) outlines five major principles of future assessment (quoted):
  • Authentic—Assessments designed to prepare students for what they do next, using technology they will use in their careers
  • Accessible—Assessments designed with an accessibility-first principle
  • Appropriately automated—A balance found of automated and human marking to deliver maximum benefit to students
  • Continuous—Assessment data used to explore opportunities for continuous assessment to improve the learning experience
  • Secure—Authoring detection and biometric authentication adopted for identification and remote proctoring.
The sections themselves contain some brief discussion of each of the five items and links to companies or projects working on that particular topic. The report sometimes reads as a fairly progressive look at assessment, but the last section (which deals with plagiarism and 'contract cheating') brings us back to earth.
futuristic illustration of person at computer with bright vibes

Thursday, February 27, 2020

ATTN: ONLINERS Respondus Monitor Student Support goes 24/7

illustration of a webcam
From an email from Respondus:
"Last July we introduced live chat support for our Respondus Monitor application. The service was in 'beta' as we ramped up staff and evaluated usage levels. We are removing the 'beta' moniker from the 24/7 student live chat service and formally announcing there will be no additional cost to use it. Institutions with a Respondus Monitor license  ... will have access to it. A few additional details are included below.  
How do students initiate a live chat with Respondus Support?
Most technical issues are encountered during the pre-exam 'Startup Sequence' of Respondus Monitor – which is where the webcam/microphone check occurs. There is already a powerful 'It’s not working' feature in Respondus Monitor that helps students find the right solution. But if students are unable to solve the issue by the last step, a 'Chat now' prompt appears. The live chat functionality can also be accessed through the 'Help Center' in Respondus Monitor.   
Which Respondus products have support available via live chat?
At the current time, 24/7 live chat support is available to students using Respondus Monitor, which is the online proctoring service available for LockDown Browser.   
Is live chat covered by the Terms of Use for Respondus Monitor?
Yes, the current Terms of Use (which is accepted each time a student uses Respondus Monitor) covers the live chat service.   
If you have any questions, please submit a support ticket."

Friday, January 24, 2020

Video for Learning: 15 Things The Research Says—and prepare to be shocked!

The author's title, not mine nor Stephen's! 

From the venerable Stephen Downes, who always cuts to the chase: (emphasis mine)
I'm not a fan of the clickbait title of this post ... and I also question some of the 'research' behind the suggestions. But overall this is a pretty good post and contains a lot of things to think about, even if you don't follow them. This is especially the case for the bits about working memory and cognitive load. But there's a general message here—that video is more about perception and feelings than it is about content and remembering—that is important. Video helps you learn because it shakes your perceptions and has you asking questions, not because it gives you stuff to memorize.
Regarding: Video for Learning—15 Things the Research Says (Some May Shock You)

Person working with old fashioned video camera on tripod and working on a project

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

5 Stock Photo Sites That Will Make Your Content More Inclusive & Diverse

We have lots of options for searching for free and open license stock photos and illustrations on ETL's LOR/OER/CC* resource page. (If you know great resources that aren't listed, please share them with us so that we can add them!)

Here is a list of five stock photo sites (most free) that offer photos that include a broader spectrum of human diversity than many stock photo sites currently do.

If you need help making your course content more engaging visually, please send an email to with the subject line "Course design request" and we'll help you review your options and get you started!

two people--one caucasian, one brown skinned, working together with technology

*LOR/OER/CC stands for Learning Object Repositories, Open Educational Resources, and Creative Commons. This type of course content has no copyright nor cost! To learn more, email

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Wayback Machine Internet Archive

What better way to start the New Year than with a look back at how far we've come? Check out UAH's very first website on the Wayback Machine Internet Archive. Besides being a great way to spend a rainy Sunday looking back in time at various websites, it's a fantastic resource for faculty and students. The tool has a feature that lets you "cement" a web reference in time, ensuring that it will never expire in a course you've developed, or in citations used for research. You can even build your own archives with no technical expertise! The Internet Archive offers extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari as well as mobile apps for both iOS and Android.

This tool needs to be on the top layer of your digital toolbox! I found this fantastic scale/change management tutorial from 2008 that has long since left the pages of the current Web and had left no trace in search results.

If you're interested in developing or taking your on-ground, hybrid, or online course to the next level, it's not too late to sign up for QEPO 2020! We have options for everyone from face-to-face sessions to completely online.

Happy New Year!

Cartoon illustration of man looking in VR glasses (presumably at the past)
Looking back can be fun!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Master Courses: They're all the rage!

Are you developing content for courses in  Canvas yet? It's never too early to start, even if you're not aiming to go all-online quite yet. Master courses are useful for classes delivered in on-ground or hybrid delivery modalities as well. If you need a master course for course development, email for assistance.

Monday, December 23, 2019

ETL Closed for Winter Holiday

ETL and its Online Learning, Academic Technologies, and Center for Collaborative Learning are closed for business Monday, December 23 through Wednesday, January 1, 2020. We will reopen Thursday, January 2nd ready to assist faculty with spring semester preparation.

If you need help over the holidays, please use these contacts for timely support:

Canvas Support is now available 24/7 at 844-219-5802.
For any other requests, please contact the OIT Help Desk at 256­-824-­3333.
Automatically create a help ticket by emailing

People with a big 404 page missing code

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

QEPO 2020: A graphic syllabus

Graphic syllabi can be sleek or funky—graphic design can engage learners! Check out this QEPO 2020 graphic syllabus (text alternative) and think about how you can make the "birds eye view" of your course more engaging. For help, email

Thursday, December 12, 2019

EDUCAUSE 2019 Faculty & Student Technology Reports

EDUCAUSE has posted 2019 reports for both faculty and student technology perspectives. The findings are insightful for stakeholders from many different perspectives, whether strategically planning support unit staffing, or developing a course as a faculty member addressing student needs. The infographic (PDF document) highlights key findings!

guy considering tech tools

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

New Canvas Gradebook arrives at UAH January 2020!

This is your friendly reminder that Canvas has developed a New Gradebook and it will become the global default in January 2020. The New Gradebook has a lot of exciting new features that will be helpful for instructors and students alike. Learn more by viewing video tutorials, FAQs, a feature comparison chart, and other reference materials.

Woman sitting with laptop on floor typing and organizing

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Why go digital?

In addition to the obvious benefits of going digital right here at UAH, Amazon is moving toward even greater incentives for faculty to author, design, and develop their own digital course content: there's an open market coming! Imagine being able to duplicate that killer module on cell mutation or incredible interactive budget spreadsheet you developed for your business course—and sell it on an open market among peers (infinite copies with no additional cost or investment!) on an a la carte or course package basis.

We're registering now for QEPO 2020 ... we'll show you how to create academically robust, graphically beautiful, and perhaps even marketable course content! Amazon is working in K-12 now, but there's already a market growing for higher education as well. Will you be ready?

man sitting at laptop with thought bubbles of him building something on computer

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

QEPO 2020: Come join the fun!

Interested in designing a course for online delivery but don't have much time to devote to the whole training and course development process?

Illustration cartoon of guy drawing on computer screen

Consider enrolling in QEPO 2020 before the deadlines are assigned, and we'll help you take your face-to-face, on-ground course to technology enhanced, hybrid (at least 51% online), and eventually completely online, on your schedule!

If you register for QEPO 2020, you may choose to take it all online or in hybrid options which offer face-to-face training and support in the FRC computer lab in completely customizable schedule that fits to yours! Faculty who attend group sessions are benefited by having staff members on-hand who can help you design an accessible course that can be taught in ANY modality from one semester to the next! Check out the QEPO 2020 program brochure for dates, details, and registration link.

Please join us!

Register, Learn & Develop, Preflight, Teach & Adjust, Final Review, & Continuous Improvement

Writing SMART Student Learning Outcomes

One of the most challenging tasks during the development of any curriculum is writing SMART learning objectives. (SMART being the acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound—a tall order!)

Check out the Learning Outcome Generator tool in this UCDavis online teaching course! (Thanks to Christy Stanley for the research!)

Learning taxonomy diagram including human dimension, integration, application, foundational knowledge, learning how to learn, caring, and significant learning

YES! Writing Assignment Samples

For those unfamiliar with YES! Magazine:
YES! Media is a nonprofit, independent publisher of solutions journalism. 
Through rigorous reporting on the positive ways communities are responding to social problems and insightful commentary that sparks constructive discourse, YES! Media inspires people to build a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world.
The publication is both ad-free and operates without a paywall, so all online content is open and free. They even produce educational content around some of the difficult topics it tackles editorially. I receive both the print version and email updates to online content. The Death Issue is a "Let's Talk About It" edition and includes stellar writing assignments around rather complex but highly relevant topics like:
  • Three Things That Matter Most
  • Border (In)Security
  • Feeding Ourselves, Feeding Our Revolution
  • Letters of Hope
  • Less Stuff, More Heart
  • Standing up for Our Neighbors
  • Gender Pronouns
  • Why Bother to Vote?
  • What We Fear
  • Your Sacred Place
  • Justice for All
  • Every Girl's Right
Each writing lesson includes access to a YES! article to introduce the topic and elicit responses, as well as writing prompts and samples of essays for inspiration.

Learn more about YES! Magazine and check out their discussion guides on other tough topics.

And don't miss the YES! National Student Writing Competition!

Road sign with arrow and words Assignment Writing

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Discussion boards lackluster?

According to Quality Matters,
Discussion forums are a significant part of online courses, but only 66% of respondents say that forums are engaging, highlighting an opportunity for improvement.           (Learning House, 2019)
Most of us have been there both as student and instructor. How do you ignite a cold discussion board so that it invites all attendees to not just participate, but genuinely and with authenticity?

A circle of people icons, each with its own unique speech bubble, also using icons like hearts and light bulbs

This discussion board grading rubric has proven helpful in multiple disciplines and academic fields. The benefits of this linear rubric are:
  • It invites timeliness, often lacking in traditional discussion assignments. Late participation makes engagement nearly impossible. The early bird gets the worm!
  • Even latecomers can score points, but they have to work for them. In order to add to the discussion, one has to have done the reading as well as processed all posts to date. There's lots of cognition built into that analytic process of determining what they can add or ask.
  • It's simple to understand and a breeze to use while grading.
  • It transforms a collection of traditional soliloquy or monologue-style discussion posts into interactive discussions more likely to prepare students for professional discussions around meetings or conferences. 
Feel to adapt or adopt as is! You can also find it in the UAH Canvas Commons, all ready for import into your course!

If you have questions about making your discussions more engaging, please send an email to for assistance. Please specify if your course is on-ground, hybrid, or online for the most appropriate and fastest response.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

SURVEY RESULTS: Faculty Acceptance of Online Learning from Inside Higher Ed

In Professors' Slow, Steady Acceptance of Online Learning: A Survey, Inside Higher Ed dives deeply into the data. Sometimes revolution feel more like evolution. But that's okay, because we're moving in the right direction! Fascinating read for those with opinions on either side of the debate.
“Embrace” is probably too strong. “Acquiescence” suggests too much passivity. Whatever word you choose, though, the data indicate that American faculty members -- whether grudgingly or enthusiastically -- are increasingly participating in and, to a lesser extent, accepting the validity of online education.

Woman with computer on one side of her and stack of paper books on the other, smiling

ePortfolio Tip Sheet for Students

I love using the e-portfolio as a final project in my courses, regardless of what I teach. Each module is intended to build a piece of that final deliverable that mimics authentically the challenges a student might face in their professional roles after graduation.

As students submit module assignments and incorporate feedback over the semester, they aggregate their feedback-applied final products into a linear or montage collection of samples of real work. Because I stress its value to them in applying for scholarships, programs, degrees, and jobs, they put a bit more time and energy into getting it right. And because I provide the rubric at the beginning of the semester by which the final product will be graded—and timely incremental feedback through the building stages—the final product is almost invariably A-quality.

Cartoon illustration of two women building content on large screen

5 Design Principles for Building Your First Portfolio is a tip sheet for e-portfolio construction that might help you help your students. We will be adding it to the broader Student Learning Guide to Multimedia Production that is available to any instructor to insert into their course who wants to provide it as instruction and support with assignments that involve multimedia production. We welcome comments (and questions via comments) on the document itself or by emailing!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

VIDEO: Accessibility & Academic Continuity (+ Video editing strategies!)

This week I created a 20-minute presentation for New Faculty Orientation, to be delivered in a face-to-face setting for those full-time faculty able to attend. But for those not able to attend, and for part-time faculty also not able to drop in, I recorded this quick Screencast-o-Matic master video shared in Canvas.

I captioned and posted it quickly to ensure immediate access to the content, but will further refine it by dividing it into two videos (one for each topic) that can be used individually or in conjunction with each other.

Best practice for video length is generally 5-7 minutes, but two 10-minute videos would work well here as well. This video can be used until my updated versions are ready. I'll need to recheck my captions for accuracy, and update anyplace where it has been embedded. This is why spreadsheet records of each video (and where it is placed) are such a timesaver!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Silencing Voices

Julian Stodd, "writer, researcher, (and) Captain at Sea Salt Learning" writes in "Silencing Voices:"
Perhaps when we consider the silent voices, we should distinguish between those that are drowned out, and those that simply never shout out at all. Self censured, not silenced.

Girl with braid holding hand over own mouth

If you need help finding ways to create and sustain dialog in your classes, contact ETL by emailing and letting us know how we can help!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

More free graphics!

Need additional resources for spicing up your course content visually? Here are 7 best illustration resources to use in your web design projects (including course work!).

Still can't find what you need? Drop us a line at and we'll do our best to help!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

UDL-IRN: It's happening!

Universal Design for Learning Implementation and Research Network Logo

Anyone interested in learning more about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is encouraged to check out this virtual (one-day online) conference and the organization forming around implementation of and research within the UDL community. You'll be hearing a lot more about UDL and ADA accessibility in coming months! These are great resources to bookmark even if you don't have the time this semester. The conference fee is only $20, so you really can't lose!

For more information on how to implement UDL and ADA accessibility into your course, contact to schedule an appointment with the specialists best suited to your needs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Lightening the (Cognitive) Load

This great quick read about integrating fun graphics into curricula applies to online learning as well as classroom course materials for on-ground or hybrid course modalities. Check out Bitmojis, GIFs, and Snaps in the Classroom? Oh My! from Magna Publications.

You can create a FREE Bitmoji (see mine below) and have (still free) access to thousands of images to use in announcements, slide decks, ... even blog posts! Bitmoji has free apps for both Android and Apple iOS devices and can be used in any software that supports graphics. While setting up your own Bitmoji, once you find a Bitmoji that looks sort of like you, you can even customize the details to look EERILY like you! I was even able to find my trademark cat-eye glasses!
Bitmoji of Tess in front of blackboard stating "Knowledge is Power"

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Learning Tools You May Have Missed

I confess that while many of these technology tools are like extensions of my own hands now, some of them are new to me. Let's check them out!

Decorative image of red toolbox with a few handtools sticking out

This link to the lists of the top 200 academic technology tools for 2019 could have gone directly to the sublist specifically for higher education, but then you might have lost the introduction and context of other lists, if curious. I was!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Collaborative Learning Center Needs Your Voice!

Please fill out the faculty survey on collaborative learning in your class. We need the information you are providing to demonstrate we are executing our Quality Enhancement Plan as part of our SACSCOC accreditation.  Even if you are not doing collaborative learning, please take the survey.

If you are interested in incorporating or expanding  collaborative learning in your course but don’t have a good idea of how to do it or time to research it, please contact the Collaborative Learning Center at x5203 or

Group of six ethnically diverse cartoon characters holding hands around a globe

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Skill Development: Google Searches

Some people might think that using a search engine is as easy as finding the Google Web page and typing a few words into the query field for searching. It's true that these steps will likely yield an avalanche of responses, but those could take a year or two to pick through!

Most of us have figured out that there's a trick to making search engines work smarter, but for some of us, discovering those tips and tricks requires more time and effort than we have to spare.

Here's a great starter video to whet your appetite. There are lots of resources available to take this training to the next level, and what's good for the teacher is also good for the student (and vice versa)! As you learn the ins and outs of search engines yourself, think about ways that you could incorporate such skill-building into your class.

Stuck for ideas? Contact ETL by emailing

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Digital Storytelling in Teaching & Learning

Our esteemed UAH colleague Dr. Laurel Bollinger contributed this week's resource for faculty interested in folding (digital) storytelling into their curriculum. Storytelling is as old as humankind, no doubt, and storytelling for instruction as old as instruction itself. It's not a new idea to incorporate storytelling into curriculum, but digital storytelling is a fairly new phenomenon with ever-changing toolsets and resources, as well as applications for both formal and informal educational experiences. And it's not hard to accomplish!

The University of Houston offers public access to web resources devoted to supporting digital storytelling both as a means of instruction as well as a tool for learning assessment.

And if that's not enough to whet your appetite, check out the 30 Sites and Apps for Digital Storytelling!

For support with integrating storytelling into your teaching and learning, please visit ETL or email

Group of colleagues around table using laptop and woman pointing to sticky notes stuck to wall organizing the project
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Screencast-o-Matic on a Surface Pro

This should have special meaning for those in math, science, and engineering who have been frustrated by the keyboard limitations of various types of academic technologies and wish for a smooth surface upon which to write complex formulas and diagrams while recording lecture video!

Interested in learning how to create high quality video right on your desktop, laptop, iPad, or Surface? Contact for more information and to get started!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What the World Needs from Education (Medium/OL Weekly)

From my beloved OL Weekly by e-learning guru Stephen Downes:
Marc Prensky knows how to make a big statement. Here's his latest: "People, In the future, will increasingly mean newly empowered symbiotic human hybrids who can, as individuals and teams, apply the strength of their unique blends of human and technology components to creating new and positive value and solutions to local and global problems. 
“The big issue for the world is not to create more or new jobs, but to figure out effective ways for people to be compensated for whatever series of world-improving projects they want and choose to do.” 
Can't say I disagree with him. 
See also: The No-Collar Workforce, Deloitte.
What the World Needs from Education is a little deeper dive than usual blog fare, but it's worth the time. It provides a framework for moving forward through the technological evolution and its pedagogical impact on teaching and learning, but also the world beyond degree attainment. This piece forces us to reevaluate our objectives for ourselves and for our learners.
Symbiosis with technology — i.e. tools becoming indispensable parts of us — is, of course, the story of human development. The question of what we keep in our human heads (i.e. our dreams, passions, compassion, warmth, kindness, good, ethical behavior) and what we delegate to our extensions (e.g. calculation, memory, speed, accuracy, analysis, connection) has been a human issue since the invention of the abacus and writing. Today this integration is speeding up incredibly. 
Finding new evolving integration opportunities — and realizing them seamlessly — is perhaps the most crucial task for humans in the coming years and centuries. It is what will lead to the solutions of all our pressing problems, which neither technology alone, nor humans unintegrated with it, will be able to fully deal with. Helping each individual find his or her unique, appropriate and ideal “style” of hybrid symbiosis is perhaps the central challenge of future education. And yet, no one has adequately addressed the issue in those terms.

Cartoon illustration of two people working on computers

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Top Five Competencies for Faculty Innovation, Plus Five More

photo of person holding sign with word 'innovation' and various doodles
What are the core competencies that faculty innovators need in order to be successful in making sustained changes in and beyond their classrooms? While sitting under the starry Arizona desert sky near Bioshphere 2 during an NSF-sponsored workshop focused on the intersections of STEM education; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and innovations in learning, we decided to bring this question to our colleagues working in higher education learning innovation.
Can't stand the suspense? See the full list at Educause Review
(May require login; faculty and staff of Educause member universities like UAH may create a profile at no cost to log in.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

7 Strategies to Promote Community in Online Courses

Straight from MAGNA Faculty Focus to you: 7 Strategies to Promote Community in Online Courses.

It's easy to see why building community can lead to enhanced learning outcomes, but a lot more challenging to figure HOW and with which tools to accomplish these goals. If you need help building community in your on-ground, hybrid or online course, contact Enhanced Teaching and Learning! Between the Collaborative Learning Center, Online Learning, and Academic Technologies, we've got everything you need to ensure both yours and your students' success! Email for more information and guidance.

group of people joining fingers to form a star

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Google Partners with Be-My-Eyes

If you're not already familiar with Be-My-Eyes, it's an app-based service that connects sighted volunteers with those visually challenged to solve everyday problems like reading food and prescription labels, choosing attire, finding one's way along a busy street or navigating an ATM transaction.

Now Google has partnered with Be-My-Eyes and is providing virtually instantaneous video support for online assistance with accessibility and accommodation for users with visual impairment. 
The idea of “calling Google” might be new to some people – but thanks to a new partnership launched in March 2019, Be My Eyes users can now establish a video link with a Google accessibility expert in seconds.

Woman using tablet and phone at a desk in coffee shop

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Academic Continuity: Have you got a plan?

downtown skyline at night with storm in background, lightning striking

Campus closures can happen for a variety of reasons and are usually unexpected. Do you have an academic continuity plan for your course should disaster strike?

Check out one professor's experience when it became necessary to teach through a hurricane!
The unexpected emotional and physical upheaval caused by a hurricane at the beginning of an academic year was challenging for many institutions in the Carolinas. One faculty member shares the lessons he learned and describes how the experience has shaped his approach to teaching.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Genius of a Good Graphic (TED Talk)

Directly from
In a talk that's part history lesson, part love letter to graphics, information designer Tommy McCall traces the centuries-long evolution of charts and diagrams—and shows how complex data can be sculpted into beautiful shapes. "Graphics that help us think faster, or see a book's worth of information on a single page, are the key to unlocking new discoveries," McCall says.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Do you have what it takes?

I snagged this one from the venerable Stephen Downes' OLWeekly and must share his anecdote as introduction to the study:
My first reaction was to roll my eyes when I read the title of this paper, because the designation of 'award winning' professors is unscientific at best. I remained sceptical on reading about the "five different roles: facilitator, course designer, content manager, subject matter expert, and mentor," because I know there's a lot more than that. But persisting with it paid off as it turns out to be an interesting and thorough article. There's a good (though not comprehensive) list of competencies (table 4) and an emphasis on the need for quality online instructors to be strong online learners themselves. The authors write, "Our study emphasizes the need for instructors to maintain a strong willingness to learn and grow in their pedagogical and technology skills. This requires seeing oneself as a lifelong learner, allotting time to learn about online teaching and learning, staying abreast of the latest research, theories, and techniques of teaching online, experimenting with technologies, making mistakes and learning from them." Too true. 
Award-Winning Faculty Online Teaching Practices: Roles and Competencies provides a robust and comprehensive framework for preparing faculty for online teaching and learning. 

Silhouette of person balancing stack of books on top of a single laptop computer

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

UX: User Experience (& Why it Matters)

From the Interaction Design Foundation:
User experience (UX) design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.
As educators, it behooves us to think about UX and to apply the basic principles of sound UD (Universal Design) to any coursework we put online whether for an on-ground, hybrid, or asynchronous online course. UX goes beyond but includes issues of ADA accessibility and acknowledges and addresses the vast differences in how humans interact with digital content. It stands to reason that a well designed user experience can only benefit teaching and learning outcomes.

The IDF maintains a working (and dynamic) definition of UX and bountiful guide to its principles and resources at its UX Design site. Worth bookmarking and sharing!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Writing vs. Writing

As a student and educator for the past 20 years or so, I've seen the traditional world of academia both embrace and resist technology on myriad fronts over the decades. This one is a classic struggle between traditionalists and those more progressive faculty who understand that the world is changing around us, whether we participate in that change or not.

I offer this piece for consideration not only by those responsible for teaching English and writing, but by those teaching in all academic fields. All the expertise in the collective field of an(y) academic area is worthless unless one can communicate it effectively to both colleagues within one's field of expertise/study and to a greater public audience, when appropriate.

Tell Me a Smart Story: On Podcasts, Videos, and Websites as Writing Assignments takes the concept of writing to "new millennial" levels with the actual experiences of one instructor whose iterative approach to integrating multimedia as assignment options for students led to breakthroughs for both her and her learners. (Be sure to read the comments on the post as well!)
Skeptics will, I’m sure, insist that podcasts, videos, and websites are not writing assignments.

I would argue that they absolutely are. They require students to organize materials in a similar way and to literally write out their scripts. And just because these arguments are not made in a dry, formal prose style doesn’t mean they aren’t effective or smart. In most cases, I’ve found that students who choose to do one of these nontraditional research projects are making better arguments and end up putting a lot more effort into the overall project. 
Decorative photo of a person's hand holding a cell phone while taking a photo or video
Worth a try? For ideas on how to integrate multimedia creation into your course assignments or assessments, contact

Friday, April 26, 2019

OER Research Fellowships

For faculty interested in becoming an OER Research Fellow:
We (the Open Education Group) ... are in the process of identifying early career researchers and/or qualified Masters/PhD candidates in the United States and Canada for a fellowship to research topics related to Open Educational Resources (OER).

Successful candidates will publish papers relating to the educational outcomes that take place when OER and/or open pedagogy are substituted for traditional learning materials and approaches. OER Research Fellows will receive funding to attend two conferences, one of which will be the Open Education Conference in Phoenix, AZ, October 30–Nov. 1, 2019. The second conference will be the 2020 OpenEd conference (date and place to be determined).

In addition, Fellows will receive mentoring in OER research and guidance in identifying, researching, and writing specific OER projects. Small stipends will be made available to OER Research Fellows who successfully complete the program; the overall funding support for Fellows will be approximately $5,000 (including conference costs and stipend).
Apply here! The deadline is May 15th.

Word cloud related to open education with words like open, videos, resources, discussions, etc.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Panopto: Securing Folders & Videos

Secure Access to Folders and Videos is one in a series of Panopto Advanced Training Webinars and the recording is now available for your review. Captions will be available within a few days. For those who view the video, Panopto seeks feedback on this survey.

And here's a handy extra article on using Panopto's quizzing feature to assess learning in Canvas.

Panopto logo

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Cool Tool: Draw.IO (*Free!)

Ever been stuck finding a way to create a flow chart or diagram for a report or your course materials? Draw.IO could be the answer to your prayers. It comes with many templates and a fairly robust set of tools for a free program. And it works great with Google Drive! Certainly worth bookmarking and sharing with students and colleagues.

In case you're interested in the nitty gritty, PC Mag gives it to you straight and recommends it among free programs.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


It happens all the time. I find bits and pieces of great info and resources I want to share with my colleagues when I least expect it. Watching CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend, my ears perked toward the end of this story about Steve Ballmer, ex-Microsoft billionaire recently turned philanthropist at the urging of his wife. Check out this video, which begins at what I consider the "good part" but feel free to rewind if you'd like his whole story:

USA Data has a lot of promise in teaching and learning in virtually every field of study. While government databases have offered access in the past, most require a level of expertise to use and analyze that leave the resource still out of reach for many would-be researchers.

What a great resource to introduce to colleagues and to our own learners!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Mistakes as a Part of Learning

Do your courses allow for the free-range thought and exploration that leads to ... mistakes being made—without penalty to the final learning outcome and quantitative assessment of the entire process?

Be inspired by Phil Plait as he explains how mistakes are integral to learning, discovery, and growth.
Phil Plait was on a Hubble Space Telescope team of astronomers who thought they may have captured the first direct photo of an exoplanet ever taken. But did the evidence actually support that? Follow along as Plait shows how science progresses -- through a robust amount of making and correcting errors. "The price of doing science is admitting when you're wrong, but the payoff is the best there is: knowledge and understanding," he says. (