Saturday, June 1, 2013


As our semester comes to a close, I am reminded of the types of learners that flock to our campus and some who are preparing for graduation. I think about how we prepare the individuals to take on their next stages of development; either to ensure they have the skills to land an entry-level career, or advance in the career for which they are already working.

The land grant mission of our University is to serve the residents of the District of Columbia who are often, working adults. Students enroll in courses and programs to increase their knowledge and advance their skills and abilities to get better jobs, gain access to new careers and provide better lives for the families and communities that they come from. As such, how might we best reach adult learners and reach-out to more who may not be able to pursue a traditional college education?
I propose that online and hybrid courses are but one way to meet the growing demands of an educated workforce and the constituency of working adults seeking advanced credentials. In order to ensure we put forward our best practices in serving our constituents in the online or hybrid environment, we might reflect on the conceptual understandings of teaching and learning. Let us begin with pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy.

Pedagogy typically refers to how the instructor facilitates the learning (the process) where the focus is on what the instructor does (how they design activities and content) as opposed to what the participants do or what they bring to the learning environment - teacher centered (Beich, 2008).

Andragogy is best understood as an adult learning concept popularized by Malcolm Knowles. It is based upon understanding the motivations behind learning. It is noteworthy to point out that the focus is upon the student and their intrinsic desire to create knowledge and an understanding that the instructor facilitates students’ self actualization of their full potential.

Andragogy includes:  
  • Problem centered rather than content centered pedagogy.
  • The consideration of learner experiences (prior knowledge).
  • Experiential learning and reflection.
  • A partnership between the learner and the instructor.
  • Self-directed focus and authenticity.
  • A need to know why one needs to learn something (full disclosure).
In the 1950s European scholars looked for ways to distinguish passive learning from active learning. They settled upon the term andragogy as a way to refer to learning that was engaged and student centered. Malcolm Knowles made distinctions that andragogy focused upon adult education whereas pedagogy related to the education of children. While some make these distinctions, others may not; moreover, some may consider that the two concepts are inter-linked and part of the progressive educational model or the continuum of active-based or experiential education found at all stages of formal and informal learning.

Heutagogy promotes the concept of self-determined holistic learning through critical reflection. The approach facilitates a flexible modality where the instructor shares resources and learners help design the course or path of learning (Hase and Kenyon (2001). Heutagogy involves encouraging learners to become deeply reflective while developing their capabilities. Reflection focuses upon helping the learner understand how experiences affect their values, beliefs, goals, habits, conceptual frameworks, and previously held ideals and to contemplate ways in which the learner might expand their self efficacy in these areas. Argyris and Schon (1996) called this double-loop learning. Like andragogy, it too is student centered and involves reflection to stimulate meaning.
What is the relevance of heutagogy to online learning? Online learning is in a unique position to expand the heutagogical approach, as well as stimulate additional research into heutagogy. As we embrace the full conceptual range of epistemology and acknowledge that age alone cannot determine cognitive maturity or motivation to learn, we find that the online learning environment is a flexible modality to facilitate self-directed and self-determined learning. Online course design is a natural fit to construct activities that are authentic and lend themselves to self-directed learning.
By understanding our students, instructors might redesign courses to build a sustainable community whereby students develop the skills necessary to explore their values, the values of the community and ultimately the values of society at large as they progress from module to module in an online course.

With its learner-centered design, Web 2.0 offers an environment that supports a heutagogical approach that supports the development of learner-generated content, learner self-directedness in information discovery and learner engagement in defining their learning path.
The asynchronous nature of online learning offers many affordances and allows for reflective thinking since the students have time to respond to peers and to form questions of their own as they struggle with problems. Parameters can be set by the instructor while students can determine the scope and creativity of the projects, activities, or papers based on their own particular needs for relevance, time concerns, need to know, past experiences, and readiness to learn.

Argyris, C and Schon, D. (1996) Organisational Learning II, Addison-Wesley, Reading.

Beich, E. (2008). ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Blaschke, Lisa Marie. (2012). Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning. < >.

Hase, Stewart and Chris Kenyon (2001). From Andragogy to Heutagogy. < >

JEberle, Jane., and Marcus Childress. (2007).Heutagogy: It Isn’t Your Mother’s Pedagogy Any More.

National Social Science Association

Knowles, M. (1973). The adult learner: A neglected species. Houston: Gulf.

Knowles, M. (1970). The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy versus pedagogy. New York: Association Press.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Online Syllabi Using Google Calendar

Time management has always been a critical skill for a student to poses in order to effectively balance their academic and personal lives. Students must constantly be aware of their agenda for each class and how much time to set aside to complete assignments and prepare for exams. Syllabi have always been around to dictate the pace of each course and alert students of upcoming deadlines. But is there a more effective and innovative way?

After numerous discussions with my colleagues and students, I have come to the realization that there definitely is. Professors due their best to remind students about upcoming deadlines and students use their own daily planners and online tools to keep up-to-date. However, there is a more cohesive and technologically friendly way to accomplish these goals.

Professors should consider creating a Google Calendar in the form of their syllabus for each of their class sections. Exam blocks should be scheduled out in addition to project reminders, suggested group meeting times, and most importantly, class times. By then sharing the Google calendar with their students’ - every student would have an extremely useful calendar to keep them up-to-date with everything going on in the class. More importantly, this calendar can be accessed from any computer and most mobile devices 24/7/365.

If all professors employed this method at their institution, each student would have a calendar of their personal appointments and agenda in addition to an overlay of all their classes, assignments, and tasks. Professors often change their syllabi throughout the semester and hand out additional hard copies or upload another online version which can be confusing and inaccurate for some students. This Google- approach scheme allows professors to make modifications to their curriculum on the fly and insures that every student is always up-to-date with latest agenda. A bonus to the student is that each student only has to reference one online file for all their classes and avoid having to sort through multiple hard copies and online syllabi for each class.

To learn more – go to:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Benefits and Challenges of Using Tablets in Classrooms

The incorporation of digital devices for students and instructors is becoming a major trend in education. The recent appearance and early adoption of tablets by young people is pushing the acceptance of these devices into the classrooms which, in turn, have been broadly presented (at least by the media) as the “next step” or the “natural evolution in the wave of future education.” Even though there are potential promises of educational impacts of tablets, educators should weigh the potential challenges as well before utilizing tablets into teaching and learning. Below is the list of some of the benefits and challenges of using tablets in classrooms with the resources where they were discussed.


1. Tablet computers, like the iPad, are interactive communicator and book-reader tools. They are also an imminent second wave of “must-have” technology for students. Their large screens (about 10 inches diagonally) and large memory (16 GBytes minimum) and similar processing power to Netbook PCs differentiate them from mobile phones and give them a different IT dimension: they are not just communicators, or toys, they are computers.

2. A Tablet’s functionality potentially allows it to behave as a paperless combined textbook/notebook/test-paper/progress-record. A textbook may be downloaded and stored for use as needed. The Tablet’s interactive property allows the textbook to function as a notebook- meaning the user can make notes, highlight, and even look up the meaning of words. The progress/recorder allows attempted work to be automatically logged and all marks awarded to be automatically entered from the instructor’s machine.

3. An Extensive library of apps are available either free or reasonably priced, as compared to computer software which is usually quite costly, allowing the student experience to be easier and more affordably accessed.


1. Drawbacks of usage. A seven-week-long study by the University of Notre Dame found that students did indeed like learning with the tablet computers, but that they used the devices differently than was expected. The students also identified some drawbacks of bringing iPads into the classroom, such as the difficulty of taking notes on the tablet. The auto correct typing function can create very interesting passages as well as frustrations. In the study, more than half the students reported feeling frustrated when highlighting text and taking notes within e-books on the iPad. Another drawback was the fact that multiple “windows” or files couldn’t be kept open, side-by-side, on the iPad, unlike a full-fledged computer.

2. Monitoring use.  Though tablets allow students to learn at their own pace, some educators are worried about how to handle a classroom full of independent learners.  Many educators expressed concern about monitoring students while they use their tablet. The biggest problem with tablets is students’ visiting sites other than those for learning.

3. Incompatible Applications - Until all tablets can use all applications/websites there are limits to how well the tools can be used in the classroom. ( As faculty, we must select tools that are compatible with the greatest number of devices – especially if one allows a BYOD environment.

In sum, it is worth experimentation and identifying whether or not a tablet will help your students consume course content and learn. Even though there are potential promises of educational impacts of tablets, educators should weigh the potential challenges as well before utilizing tablets into teaching and learning. At the end of the day, if using a table is helpful to facilitate student success, we should embrace it to the extent it facilitates the learning process and causes no harm.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Just-in-time Webinars

As we approach the end of the semester, perhaps you need some just-in-time training. I have placed some valuable links below to upcoming webinars to help ease your work and refresh your skills. Please see what we have for you.

Creating Tests, Pools, and Surveys: (April 8, 2013 - 11:00 am Eastern Time) – 1 hour

Webinar Description: Blackboard has enhanced the search function when building tests. Join this session to explore creating, finding and using questions in the Blackboard testing, pools and surveys feature. We will also learn how to build random tests to help ensure integrity. To register – go to:,-Pools-and-Surveys.aspx

More about Rubrics: (May 6, 2013 – 1:00 pm Eastern Time) – 1 Hour

Webinar Description: This webinar is for faculty interested in learning more about rubrics and how to use the new rubric tool in Blackboard to assess student work. To register – go to:

Organizing your Content: (May 20, 2013 – 1:00 p, Eastern Time) – 1 Hour

Webinar Description: Within each menu area of your course, you have options of organizing content in folders, learning modules, lesson plans. In this webinar, you will see some exemplary designs to make decisions about your content organization. To register – go to:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Using Twitter in Your Classrooms

Using Twitter in Your Classrooms 2013 yields hundreds of ways to enhance a classroom experience and get otherwise weary, unengaged students to willingly dive into the topic at hand. Perhaps the most popular tool recently has been Twitter. 

 The social media tool allows students to create a temporary online forum about anything. From high school to higher ed, tweets are being used to start a discussion and maintain the dialogue and offer insights about learning that go beyond the class rooms. Twitter allows people all over the world to discuss a single topic and allows all interested participants to view the posts by attaching a common hashtag at the end of each post. The network is ideal for distance learning in which students might be in different states or even different countries. The forum allows discussion and sharing long after the class is through, eventually developing a deeper knowledge and perhaps, interest on the subject.
A few guidelines must be remembered when implementing Twitter in the classroom:

  1. The students must be required to participate. The discussion cannot be prompted as an option. Set expectations upfront, whether they must tweet a certain time per discussion or come to some type of conclusion in the process. 
  2. The teacher must also participate. The students need to know that you're monitoring and engaging in the discussion, as well, to pull the best out of them. Clearly define you're hashtags and discuss accessibility for private profiles. Every tweet doesn't need to be read or responded to. The act just gives the students a chance to explore the topic and open up more than they normally would in a comfortable, convenient setting. Create the guidelines, pick a hashtag and tweet away. The search bar will open a whole new side to your students. 
If you want to learn more about how to begin using Twitter, check the CAT Professional website schedule

Come Together

What follows is a laundry list of free web tools  that might be useful for phone conferences, web conferencing, screen sharing, help desk, advising, group meetings, sharing a desk-top, sharing documents, etc…

SKYPE -  htttp://

Using Skype, you can share screens, documents, chat, call, send files, and video conference.

JOIN.ME - combines instant screen sharing and powerful meeting tools in an app that anyone can use to present, train, demo or concept. is designed to be intuitive and accessible, providing features that you'll use every day for everything from show-and-tell to formal presentations. Features:  • up to 10 meeting participants • screen sharing • internet calling • share control • multi-monitor • chat • send files • viewer: iPad/iPhone or Android.

Mikogo -

Mikogo is an easy-to-use FREE cross-platform desktop sharing tool, ideal for free web conferencing, online meetings or remote support. Features:• Desktop Sharing (for Mac/Windows) Multiple • Meeting Participants(for Mac/Windows) • Switch Presenter(for Mac/Windows) • Remote Keyboard and Mouse Control(for Mac/Windows)  • Meeting Scheduler(for Windows) • Meeting Recording and Playback (for Windows) • Whiteboard (for Windows) •Transfer Files(for Mac/Windows) • Application Selection(for Windows)  • Back Monitor(for Windows) • Pointer(for Mac/Windows) • Copy/Paste/Email Meeting Info(for Mac/Windows) • Pause Transmission(for Mac/Windows)  • Voice Conferencing Service(for Mac/Windows).

GOOGLE Chrome Remote Desktop

Google Chrome has a beta version app that allows users to access other computers or allow another user to access your computer securely over the Internet. Computers can be made available on a short-term basis for scenarios such as ad hoc remote support, or on a more long-term basis for remote access to your applications and files.  All connections are fully secured. Chrome Remote Desktop is fully cross-platform.  Provide remote assistance to Windows, Mac and Linux users, or access your Windows (XP and above) and Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) desktops at any time, all from the Chrome browser on virtually any device, including Chromebooks.

FREE Conferencing -

Collaborate and conduct your meetings with a free, reservationless conference calling service. This tool is simple to use, requiring only a name and email address to receive an instant account. accounts come with host web-based commands. This tool provides instant conference call functionality to your computer screen. Features include: • recording • muting • conference lock • Q&A. Each of the functionalities are accessible by both regular touch tone and right on your computer with just a click of your mouse.

Free ConferenceCall -

Once you enter your name and e-mail address, you will be instantaneously provided  a dial-in number and access code for immediate phone conferencing. The users  teleconferencing line is available 24/7 and there is no need to schedule or make reservations. Each conference call account accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour free conference calls.

AnyMeeting -

Simply a audio- video free chat tool that allows users to meet anytime and share screens. Features: • Video • Audio • screen sharing • chat.

OnWebinar -

A free web conferencing service that allows users to organize distance learning, business meetings, online coaching, videoconferences and interactive communication. Features include: • video broadcasting •  private chat • public chat • shared resources area (whiteboard, slide show presentation, desktop sharing, files and links) • polling tools •  videoconferencing.

Yugma -

Yugma offers free desktop sharing, web conferencing, online meetings, and web collaboration for Mac, Windows, and Linux users. Features: 20 attendees •  host a meeting • Desktop Sharing •Free Teleconferencing •Public and Private Chat •Customizable Widget •Works on Windows, Mac and Linux •Skype Integration.

Adobe ConnectNow -

This Adobe tool uses screen sharing, chat, notes, audio, and video features to facilitate  meetings online that can be as interactive and productive as in-person meetings. Adobe ConnectNow is free web conferencing solution with limited features.

WebHuddle  -

WebHuddle (free web conferencing tool) makes it easy to meet with the people you need to, when you need to — all it takes is a web-enabled PC. Meetings can be conducted either in conjunction with an enterprise’s existing teleconferencing service, or utilizing WebHuddle’s optional voice over IP. WebHuddle also offers recording capabilities — presentations can easily be recorded for playback over any web browser for those who missed the live meeting. WebHuddle is Open Source.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Peer-led Learning and Reading Groups - Theory and Practice

How might we help students gain a better understanding of course material, structure a learning community, seize responsibility for learning, and promote valuable affordances? We might consider peer-led Learning. What is peer-led learning?

Peer-led learning approaches vary significantly and have been used for decades. With the popularity of MOOCs we see many new approaches to peer learning and crowd sourcing that are effective and innovative yet build upon long-held principles. In the face-to-face classroom, we might think about peer learning that involve student cohorts or triads taking responsibility for presenting chapters in the textbook or presenting theoretical frames. We might think of it as flipping a classroom or structuring the learning activities to expound the power of peer-to-peer learning and group process. In essence, when students work together, they build bonds that add to the student’s sense of belonging and invite opportunities to learn from one another. Moreover, when students are provided power and responsibility to direct the learning process, they gain numerous affordances that facilitate the evolution and growth of the person. Utilizing a more concrete example of peer-led learning one might explore the interteaching model (Boyce & Hineline 2002).

The interteaching model is a pedagogical method that shifts student responsibility from passive reception to active engagement, while transferring the instructor’s role to organizing and guidance (Saville 2006). The paradigm can be traced back to behavioral scholarship (Keller 1968),cooperative learning (Halpern 2004), and reciprocal peer tutoring (Griffin and Griffin 1998).

An example of how this method works involves Instructors preparing instructional guides in advance of class sessions which consist of a series of factual and conceptual questions. In the online class, these are posted in the modules. Students work collectively outside of class to grapple with the questions and make sense of the factual information. Students work in groups to discuss and deliberate the topic and questions, while the instructor provides prompts and feedback to support active learning. After student-led discussions have exhausted the topic or issue, students are asked to complete an assessment that provides feedback to the instructor about the student’s level of comprehension. Any misunderstandings or weak points may be addressed by the instructor during the next class period, posting, or video lecture. The theoretical framework that supports the interteaching model is well documented.

For example, David Kolb’s work on adult learning (known as “Kolb’s Cycle”) describes how adult learners traverse experiences and make sense of them. In his 1916 book, Democracy and Education, Dewey wrote, “Education is not an affair of ‘telling’ and being told, but an active and constructive process.” Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who developed the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development, was another proponent of “constructivist” learning theory. His 1962 book, Thought and Language, is a seminal work that provides evidence to support collaborative, socially meaningful, problem-solving activities over solo exercises.

In the 1980′s, Edwin Hutchins developed the theory of Distributed Cognition (Dcog). His findings suggest that knowledge lies not only within the individual but is situated in the individual’s social and physical environment. Distributed cognition refers to activities whereby cognitive resources are socially shared, extending individual cognitive resources, and allowing groups to accomplish some things individuals cannot achieve alone. This also fuels affordance theory.

The theory of affordances was introduced in the field of cognitive psychology during the late seventies (Gibson 1977). In short, it refers to measurable and independent benefits that flow from action, association, interaction, and presence.

The interteaching model envelops a behaviorist, cognitive, procedural and constructivist approach. It places the student at the center of learning and the instructor in the role of facilitating. This power shift, allows students to express their opinions, engender mature group dynamics, and creates a sense of independence, autonomy and responsibility.

In addition to learning the core concepts and struggling with conceptual questions, students gain soft-skill affordances. As students communicate with one another, they inevitably assume leadership roles, acquire conflict-managing skills, and as they discuss and clarify concepts they unravel the complexities of human relationships within a given context. In sum, peer-led learning should be incorporated as pedagogy in courses or programs to facilitate intentional integration, an attachment to the learning process, and the facilitation of a sense of belonging in order to best promote deep learning.


Davies, Bill., and Maya Barak. 2013. “Peer-led Reading Groups Boost Engagement and Retention” in Faculty Focus, February 18. <>

Boyce, Thomas E., & Hineline, Phillip N., 2002. “Interteaching: A Strategy for Enhancing the User-Friendliness of Behavioral Arrangements in the College Classroom.” The Behavior Analyst, 25:215-226.

Gibson, James. 1977. “The Theory of Affordances.” In Robert Shaw and John Bradford Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing, (Eds.), Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Griffin, M.M., and Griffin, B.W. 1998. “An investigation of the effects of reciprocal peer tutoring on achievement, self-efficacy, and test anxiety.” Contemporary Educational Psychology, 23: 298-311.

Halpern, D.F. 2004. “Creating cooperative learning environments.” In B. Perlman, L.I. McCann, and S.H. McFadden (Eds.), Lessons learned: Practical advice for the teaching of psychology. 2:149-155. Washington DC, American Psychological Society.

Keller, F.S. 1968. “Good-bye teacher…” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 1:79-89.

Kolbs Learning Cycle

Nelson, C. 1999. “Critical Thinking and Collaborative Learning.” Tomorrow’s Professor Msg. #173. Center for Teaching and Learning, Stanford University. (last accessed: 23 June 2003).

Saville, B.K. 2006. From sage on the stage to guide on the side: An alternative approach to teaching research methods. Paper presented at the Annual Teaching Institute, Association for Psychological Science, New York, NY.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom

Repost: Faculty Focus

By Oliver Dreon, PhD

Almost 25 years have passed since Chickering and Gamson offered seven principles for good instructional practices in undergraduate education. While the state of undergraduate education has evolved to some degree over that time, I think the seven principles still have a place in today's collegiate classroom. Originally written to communicate best practices for face-to-face instruction, the principles translate well to the online classroom and can help to provide guidance for those of us designing courses to be taught online.

1. Encourage contact between students and faculty. Students need to know how to contact their online instructors and should be encouraged to communicate with us when needed. In my online courses, I identify multiple means of contacting me (email, Skype, Twitter, etc) and clearly post times when I'll be available to chat during online office hours. While few students utilize the online office hours I provide, offering this time communicates to students that I am available if they need assistance and that I value this interaction.

2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students. For those of us who believe that people learn through socially constructing their understanding based on their experiences, this principle is critical. Online courses should not be independent study classes. Online instructors need to build collaborative structures into their courses to promote student-to-student interaction. In my experience, I find that students who feel isolated in an online course have difficulty being successful. In my online courses, I incorporate collaborative and interactive ventures early on. I also try to foster discussions where students communicate with one another, share ideas, and debate concepts. While interacting with the instructor is important in an online class, it is also important that students have a space where they can discuss concepts with one another as well.

3. Encourage active learning. Learning is not a passive activity. For students to learn, they must actively engage with the content in thoughtful, purposeful ways. As you develop your online course, consider ways to build active learning into the course content. This can include utilizing tools with a course management system (discussions, for instance) or other tools (GoAnimate, Animoto). But active learning isn't limited to technological avenues in online courses. Someone teaching science online could utilize hands-on lab activities developed with common everyday items. Someone teaching psychology or sociology online could have students conduct observational work at a park or at the mall.

4. Give prompt feedback. This can be tricky, especially with instructors teaching larger online classes. While grading hundreds of papers can be overwhelming, students need to receive prompt feedback to know whether they are being successful or what they need to do to improve. If you have a few larger assignments in your class that you know will take more time to provide quality, constructive feedback, communicate this to your students. You should also include some smaller assignments that will not take as long to assess. While some experienced online instructors use the course management system to build automated responses into their courses, I believe that some students still need personalized feedback on their work that comes directly from their instructor.

5. Emphasize time on task. Learning takes time. Students and faculty working in online spaces need to realize this. Just because an online course may be more flexible schedule-wise does not mean that it won't require a significant time commitment. It's important for instructors to communicate expected time commitments but also be realistic with their expectations. Assigning students to read a 500 page book in a day may not be completely realistic. Have high expectations but respect students' need to have time to interact with the content and learn.

6. Communicate high expectations. While it's important to have high expectations for students, it is also critical that these expectations are clearly communicated to students. Likewise, it is helpful to communicate clear expectations for participation and for interaction. Do you want your students to log on daily? Do they need to submit assignments in a certain format? Is it okay for them to use emoticons in their discussion posts? These are just a few of the areas that online instructors need to consider as they develop an online course for the first time.

7. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning. Students learn in a variety of ways. While there will undoubtedly be some text-based content in an online course, it cannot be the only mode of delivery or assessment. Draw on the host of multimedia options available online to deliver content to students and to assess them. Instead of typing out some long lesson on the Middle Ages, check out YouTube or Vimeo for some available videos. Or better yet, use a screencasting tool like Jing to record a customized lesson. Instead of assigning a ten-page paper, have students create a video where they demonstrate what they've learned.

Dr. Oliver Dreon is the director of the Center for Academic Excellence at Millersville University.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Two New Tools

Online OCR -

Do you ever have a scanned document that you would like to manipulate? Your solution has arrived. Online OCR offers a free, high-quality solution. Users can simply upload an image (JPG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, GIF, and non-editable PDF are all accepted), then choose the language and preferred output format. At the free level, the service will convert 14 images per hour, but those who are satisfied with the service and require more frequent conversion may purchase a membership.

WordTalk -

Need to meet accessibility standards? The WordTalk plugin works with Microsoft Word to create an audio version of text documents. The plugin speaks the text of the document and highlights it along the way. It also contains a talking dictionary so that users can decide which word spelling is most appropriate. This version is compatible with all computers running Microsoft Word.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Online Learning What’s Next?

Thomas Snyder, President of Ivy Tech Community College ( blogged recently for the Huffington Post about his beliefs that the future of higher education lies with online learning.

In his blog, he confirmed what many of us know to be true on our own campuses that increasingly, colleges and university students find themselves with other obligations beyond getting a degree. Jobs and family commitments demand time and attention. As such, the flexibility of online education is very attractive. At the same time, he says, “many state institutions are unable to accommodate all those who want to take classes on campus, escalating the demand for online learning.”

With the onslaught of MOOCs, lifelong learning has become so easy and free. Moreover, says Snyder, “in today's job market, taking online courses help workers remain competitive and they don't need to take time off from their jobs to do this.”

Community colleges such as Ivy Tech have been in the forefront of online learning. In 2010-11 “Ivy Tech in Indiana had more than 79,000 unduplicated students in 300 credit earning online courses.” Ivy Tech community College also works directly with local businesses to help supply a trained workforce to meet their future needs. “Online learning not only trains the workers of the future, it can also provide a career path for someone employed, who needs to learn new skills” says Snyder.

Using a learning application such as Blackboard, that seamlessly integrates additional software applications and social media, making it possible to create online communities that are course specific enhance the learner experience. “Blogs, tweets, podcasts, webcasts, online chats, discussion boards, and virtual study jams are all part of the online mix. Success in an online course often depends on how connected a student feels to his instructor and fellow students” says President Snyder as well as other industry leaders.

In order for high quality online education to be successful, instructional faculty needs to re-orient their pedagogical approach. At the University of the District of Columbia we have two pathways for online teaching certification. Many institutions across the United States require faculty online teaching certification or training before they teach an online course. In addition to faculty skills and abilities and student motivation, we might consider how best to serve these “mobile” learners. I use mobile in the physical sense.

President Snyder suggests the development of a national transfer pool to enable transferability of online course credit taken anywhere in the country and transferred to the student's home institution. Prior to becoming president of Ivy Tech, Thomas Snyder worked in corporate America.

Source: Tom Snyder, President of Ivy Tech Community College. The Benefits of Online Learning Posted: 01/30/2013 8:21 am

About Thomas Snyder: Thomas J. Snyder serves as president of Ivy Tech Community College, the largest institution of higher education in Indiana and the nation's largest singly-accredited statewide community college system.

Appointed in 2007, President Snyder leads the strategic, academic and operational processes of Indiana's largest and fastest growing college serving more than 200,000 students annually at 30 campuses and 100 learning centers that provide a full-spectrum of educational resources, transfer credits, associate degrees, workforce training and professional certification (

Friday, February 8, 2013

Zeen is a smart, new way to share what matters

Whether you are a creator, a curator or a casual surfer, Zeen makes it easy for you to create something beautiful. Zeens are portable, bite-sized pieces of content that are easy to make and fun to share.

Tell A Story: Zeen makes it easy for you to tell a story and create something beautiful.

Make It Shine: Your Zeen can include words, images, galleries, links, music, videos, maps and lots more.

Take it anywhere - Portable: Zeens are portable. Post them to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Or embed and share them on your blog

Fun Ways To Use Zeen

  • Create photo albums of your Facebook, Instagram, Flickr or Picasa photos – or upload pics directly from your computer!
  • Share your favorite restaurant recommendations with friends
  • Gather some songs to share with your friends
  • Publish a travel journal about a recent vacation
  • Compile a cookbook of your favorite recipes
  • Create a visual report for a class or assignment

To sign-up and start creating go to:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Baking Bread: Five Essential Ingredients To Online Education

Suzan Harkness Ph.D., Director of the Center for Academic Technology,

University of the District of Columbia and ACE Fellow, Mount St. Mary’s University Class of 2012-2013

No matter how endowed or respected the institution, there are five essential elements of equal importance that bind together to affect the functioning of the other in a successful online initiative. Successful online initiatives require a basic understanding of how core elements work together and separately to create a sound and successful online education program or college. Building a successful online model is much like baking bread – there are really five key ingredients that make or break the recipe.

Flour – Flour provides the foundation for all other ingredients – Colleges and universities need a sound strategic plan, supportive infrastructure, policies and procedures, and dedicated budget to support the strategic initiative.

Yeast – Yeast is a living organism that grows and reproduces – Colleges and universities need their strategy and key administrators, faculty and staff to grow the initiative through peer review, peer-to-peer learning, collegial collaboration, collaborative support structures and shared services, vision, and continual improvement. A program, staff, faculty, and vision in the technological paradigm that does not grow and stay current will rapidly become out-of-date and insignificant.

Liquid – When liquid is added to the flour it causes the gluten to form long elastic strands with kneading. This represents a commitment to student success across a comprehensive learning environment that begins when a student shows initial interest in the college or university by visiting its webpage all the way through graduation and alumni relations. How institutional employees who come in contact with the student population support students, is fundamental to student success, time to degree, matriculation, career preparedness, well-being, and learning.

Salt – Salt provides balance and flavor, it also slows down the yeast process and controls the way the bread will rise. Dedicated faculty and instructional designers are the introspective salt in any successful online initiative. Faculty and instructional designers balance actions to safeguard high quality course design and delivery. Their work is to ensure that the best interests of student learning and institution integrity are at the forefront of every step. Moreover, the diversity of faculty, majors, programs and sharp thinking, provide ample opportunity to thoughtfully and with great purpose, implement online delivery strategies in collaboration with administrators.

Fat – Fat coats and tenderizes the gluten and gives bead the elasticity it needs to reach its full potential. Without fat, the gluten would keep expanding to a breaking point and collapse. As much as some look with animosity toward the administration and finance/budget office, without a fiscal plan, oversight, and careful financial planning, any initiative could easily grow out of control, expand in areas without a return on investment, and undermine an otherwise successful model.

Keeping these five key elements in mind and attending to the manner in which each is added, supported, recognized, and rewarded will help ensure a successful online initiative.

© Harkness 2013: To contact the author, email:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Four Useful Resources

Reposted from: The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013.

Below find four instructional resources to help you in your academic or creative work.

BioDigitalHuman -

BioDigital Human presents a virtual 3D body that brings to life "thousands of medically accurate anatomy objects and health conditions in an interactive web-based platform." Visitors can get started by clicking on the appropriately named Get Started button. Here they will have access to hundreds of interactive features and customized views that look through all of the body systems. Moving on, the Annotated Screenshots area will teach users how to save and share these powerful tools for use in a range of settings. It's worth noting that while the Basic version is completely free, there are other levels of functionality available for a fee.

GetBodySmart -

This remarkable online textbook was created by the folks at McGraw Hill Higher Education to complement several of their physical textbooks. The site contains eleven subject areas, including Skeletal System, Muscle Tissue Physiology, and Nervous System. Each of these fascinating areas contains interactive animations, along with elaborate links to additional resources, such as quizzes, fact sheets, and so on. Visitors should also note that the site contains other versions of this same material designed to be used on the iPad. The site is rounded out by a collection of anatomy and physiology quizzes that cover everything from the clavicle to the lumbar vertebrae.

Codeacademy -

Have you ever had a problem or found coding complicated? Allow Codeacademy to lift the veil on the mystery behind coding. On the site, visitors can immediately get started by typing in a username. After this, visitors can click on a Learn area to find out more about programming for JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and jQuery. An area at the bottom of the main page links to HTML/CSS lessons. Visitors with adroit skills can click on the Teach area to get involved with creating new code teaching modules. The site also contains a link to After-School Programming which will help young people get started with creating a programming club at their school. Finally, the site also features a Stories area, which features inspirational stories from people who have used the Codeacademy website.

BrowserBite -

The BrowserBite application gives web designers the ability to test out their designs on different browsers without much fuss. This application uses complex image processing algorithms to detect differences in snapshots captured through different browsers. It's a rather useful tool, and the free version gives users access to browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. This version is compatible with all operating systems.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dropbox for Storage and Easy Access

Dropbox is a web based cloud storage system that will allow you to save files on one computer and access them from any other personal computer or mobile smartphone. Whenever you create a document or file and upload it to the Dropbox, the file is instantly made available on your other internet accessible Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices. Dropbox eliminates the need for carrying files around on a zip or thumb drive or emailing them to yourself.

Dropbox is likely to appeal to a wide variety of users, becoming one of those resources you quickly begin to wonder how you did without. How can you know if Dropbox is right for you? A few key questions to ask yourself are:

Do you need to collaborate with other faculty or students on a project? Collaboration is one of the best and most exciting features of Dropbox. Team members may collaborate on a project from literally anywhere in the world and ensure that changes made to any project documents or files are instantly available to all team members.

Are you working with large or frequently expanding data or project files and simply need more storage space? It can be frustrating trying to frequently determine how much additional storage space you need for ever expanding files. Do you need 500gbs, 1TB or 100TB? How much is enough?

Are you tired of trying to keep track of what is on your mobile drives? Keeping track of multiple thumb, zip or jump drives, external hard drives and the like can become cumbersome not to mention expensive if you have to continually buy more of these items. Cloud storage services such as Dropbox eliminate this problem by providing one point of access for all of your storage needs across ALL of your internet accessible computing devices.

Are you concerned about data lost due to computer accidents? Computer accidents do happen. From power surges to lattes spilled on laptops, unexpected accidents can make data retrieval a major headache. While Dropbox won’t keep you from spilling that Latte on your keyboard, it may save you the headache of data retrieval by providing quick and secure access to all files you have stored on its cloud server.

Are you concerned about your tablet, smartphone, or mobile drive being lost or stolen along with all your data? Well today there are numerous resources such as Prey, Lookout Security and others, that will help you to retrieve these items if they are lost. But, with Dropbox, retrieving your valuable files and information is easy – they are right where you put them. Anything you upload to the Dropbox is accessible from the Dropbox server – anytime.

Are you travelling and want to ensure that you have access to your conference paper or presentation? While many people simply email a copy of the item to oneself when travelling - Dropbox eliminates the need for the “email backup” strategy. Using the cloud provides a safe, secure, easily accessible virtual file cabinet for all of your work.

Dropbox is free and comes with 2 GB of space which one may use for an unlimited time. Those requiring more space may purchase up to 100GB of space, or teams and administrative groups may access 1TB or more.

To download a free copy of Dropbox or to learn more about this helpful resource, please go to

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Web 2.0 Tools and Resources for 2013

Word Clouds - graphically display textual information based on word frequency.

Wordle -

Uses: Summarizing articles, highlighting key points, summarizing course notes.

Visualization Tools - provides alternate means to display information, temporally, graphically, or spatially.

The Visual Thesaurus - is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that bloom with meanings and branch to related words. Its innovative display encourages exploration and learning. - is an online service that lets you create, share, discover infographics and online charts

Uses: language and vocabulary development, definitions, brain storming, collaboration, presentation.

File Conversion/exchange- convert, compress, synch and share file types between different formats via the Internet.

Zamzar - allows users to convert files for free without downloading a software tool.

Yousendit – Send, synch and securely send your files.

Youconvertit - allows users to convert and share files.

Uses: file conversion, video extraction, file compression

Concept/Mind Maps- Allows users to brainstorm ideas, organize information, solve problems, plan projects, write, study, collaborate, and communicate more effectively. Shows relationships between entities (words, ideas, tasks)

Webspiration™ -

Mindmeister - -

Uses: setting objectives, brainstorming activities, organizing information, identifying cues, summarize notes, visual thinking, collaboration, process management, write, study, and communicate.

Screencasting—record and share your computer screen with voice, mouse movements. - - -

Screen-o-matic -

Uses: share ideas instantly, create demos for repeated activities; demonstrate grading policies, review quizzes, class summaries/announcements, helpdesk support, advising, and registration.

URL Shortened- take really long URL's and shorten them for easier consumption and redirection. Bookmark, organize, and share.

TinyURL -

Uses: URL shortened for online assignments, share links in class, soft assessments (track number of students who accessed link), organize and bookmark.

Document Sharing—tag, share, and annotate documents with others. These sites and applications allow you to upload documents, share, annotate, and collaborate via the Internet. - - -

Google Docs

Uses: sharing, collaborating, annotation skills, class resources, providing supplemental materials.

Blogs - An online journal or collaboration tool which allows users to share media as well as text with minimal HTML experience. – - -

PBWorks -

Edu Blogs -

Uses: Assignment self-reflections, posting supplementary materials embedding sound, video, documents critical response, course notes and build community.

Wikis—a website which allows for the creation and editing of linked web pages by multiple users simultaneously. Collaboration and participation allow multiple people to have access to a shared workspace. -

Wikispaces -

Uses: Peer review, collaborative writing assignments, resource collections, group work, reading summaries.

Social Bookmarking/Online Notebooks – create, store organize, and share online repositories of URLs, clippings from web pages, images, and more, all accessible via the web Sites. - -

delicious - -

Google Reader

Uses: Peer review, collaborative writing assignments, resource collections, storage, organization, reading summaries, literature reviews, and data aggregation.

Visual Communication/Collaboration-- Use media to collaborate with students and vice versa. The ability to manage these efforts is made easier. - - -

Uses: Peer review, collaborative writing assignments, resource collections, reading summaries

Feedback Tools-- facilitate the collection of data from students in an online environment. The participatory nature of the Internet mandates two way communications. -

poll everywhere - -

Doodle -

Socrative -

Google Forms

Uses: Gather student/group responses, assess progress/readiness, collect student data, rapid feedback,  assessments/reflection, and scheduling.

Comic Creations - The fastest way to build comics strips.

Toondoo -

Uses: express creative works, student community building, and online introductions.

Speaking Avatars - Create voice over animated discussions or voice threads.

Voki -

Uses: Motivate students, increase participation, Improve comprehension, address language skills, increase comfort using technology.

Scavenger Hunts

Goose Chase -

Scvngr -

Uses: Team Building, Reinforce Course content, Fun

Flashcards - collaborative flash card web app that allows users to create flashcards for review. There are ready made flash cards in a pool, often organized by topics. Some may be used on smart phones.

Cobocards -

Quizlet- -

Used: reinforces learning through study, games, and memorization.

Video Creation – Create videos


Uses: Users are able to mix relevant messaging, statistics and quotes among the pictures or videos to educate and inspire.

Screen Sharing - Opportunity to share your desktop and screen with others. -

TodaysMeet -

Uses: Help service, narration, navigation and resource sharing.



Gizmodo - to stay on top of Apps and new tools to the market.

Mashable - to learn about technology in general.

Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies to understand the pedagogy of teaching with new technology and to quickly identify the latest and newest ranked applications.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Online Dictation Made Easy

Happy New year! Are you looking for an online dictation program to start your New Year off right? If so, look no further than Online Dictation for use with Google Chrome. This FREE dictation program allows users the ability to convert their spoken voice into digital text with little fuss. Visitors to the application just need to attach a microphone to their computers to allow the program to pick up their voices. This version is compatible with all computers running Google Chrome. What a great way to create a transcript to pair with your spoken words - especially useful for online, hybrid, and computer enhanced traditional classes. Use it to write a long email, narrate an essay or speech, provide student feedback, or transcribe any message. For more information, go to: