Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Collaborative Learning is Shaping the Future of Education

Many in higher education agree that while some of the traditions hold value worth preserving, many of the paradigms are outdated and no longer effective. I am, myself, a strong advocate of replacing the COMPETITIVE models ingrained in education to COLLABORATIVE ones, but to do so we must begin on very basic and grassroots levels.

Does a massive redesign of higher education (or all education, for that matter) begin with administration? With faculty? With students? Who is responsible for taking the risks and giving new ideas a chance? Well, basically we ALL are responsible to some degree, but it's worth noting that a great deal can happen in the design of our coursework. Once we adapt and adopt the technological strategies to support our efforts, learners are often able to balance the load and take on increasingly active roles in the learning process.

This article makes some excellent points---I especially loved this quote:
“Social” probably isn’t the right word to picture a successful digitally-integrated education, as social media isn’t the key component. Instead, think “collaborative.” Historically, the academic model has focused on teaching rather than learning.
How can we change our focus from teaching to learning? What tools are you using to increase the role of the student in both his/her OWN learning, as well as in the learning of their peers? Is your course teaching real world skills in problem-solving and collaboration?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

9 Tools for Using Wikipedia in the Classroom

There are lots of varying opinions about Wikipedia, but most who really know the Web site really love it. There are many misconceptions about Wikipedia and how its information is gathered and verified---for anyone who has not yet viewed this TED talk by Wikpedia founder Jimmy Wales, I HIGHLY recommend you do so before forming your opinion about Wikipedia's value as a research tool.

That said, here are 9 Tools for Using Wikipedia in the Classroom.

More to come on this hot topic!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ScribLink meets Screencast-o-Matic!!! (You saw it here!)

No downloads, and both the white board software and video capture software ... FREE! See the "Cool Tools" section on this page for links!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are Learning Styles a Myth?

I haven't read this thoroughly yet, but I plan to ... are learning styles a myth?

21st Century Skills are so Last Century!

Interesting blog post here---make me think of learning objectives! I believe that technological impacts on culture and learning bear reflection in our course design and learning objectives. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

e-Portfolios for Learners

I thought some faculty might enjoy this Sloan-C Webinar on e-portfolios. (If you don't have the software already loaded, it will load automatically; just keep clicking "allow" and "OK" as needed! There is audio overlay to the slides, so make sure you have speakers or headphones.)

I can't think of any discipline in which it wouldn't be both prudent and educational for a learner to produce an e-portfolio. There are lots of resources out there as well as innovative applications of the tools. I'll create a special e-portfolio section of this blog page for linking you to the latest and greatest in e-portfolios.

Six Ways to Make Online Education More Invitiing

This article has some great tips for making your online course more inviting to learners. Would love to hear what has worked (or not) for you!

In my experience, the most common criticism of online education by learners is that instructors are slow to respond and not very interactive with students. While a certain degree of autonomy is requisite for online learning success, it's also critical to for the learner to engage with the instructor and with peer learners. There are myriad ways to ensure a deep level of engagement in an online course. I'll be posting more ideas and tips from a variety of sources as time goes on. I welcome your input and suggestions!

Monday, November 14, 2011

10 Awesome Free Tools to Make Infographics

Have you seen the infographic on the right side of the blog page? (You can click on the e-learning infographic in order to view it in a larger view in a separate window. Explore!) It's a great model for conveying dense information in an engaging, high-impact presentation. I can think of so many ways that infographics can be used to teach but also to ASSESS LEARNING in the online classroom!

Here are tools to give you a great start on creating infographics. If you find that you have a need for tools not on this list, let me know and we'll look into higher end graphics programs.

Please share your tips for creating infographics ... as well as your end product!

17 Signs Your Classroom is Behind the Times

I enjoyed reading this list of '17 Signs Your Classroom is Behind the Times' and thought you might too! (Many apply to asynchronous classrooms as well!)

Are there any with which you disagree? Anything you would add?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

SoapBox lecture tool invites beta testers!

SoapBox is a fascinating new online lecture tool! According to its site:

Soapbox provides a platform for audience member input, while letting speakers facilitate discussion, organize feedback, and gauge audience sentiment -- all in real time. With SoapBox, speakers are able to transform traditional lectures into lasting conversations by integrating audience thoughts and opinions, without any interruption. 

I signed up to beta test (at the bottom of the page) ... anyone else interested?



It's all the rage! Classroom flipping has some bright outcomes as well! Check out THIS ENGAGING INFOGRAPHIC for the full story in bite-sized chunks.


Friday, November 11, 2011


Folks, the site is giving away FREE FOR LIFE 50-gigabyte storage accounts for online storage of your files. This offer is good only until December 2. In order to access the promotion, you must register and login the first time on a mobile device (Android, i-Phone, i-Pad) and then you will be able to login and use the account through non-mobile technologies after your initial login.

I signed up tonight. First, go to and look at the app. Then go on your mobile device and download it. After installing the app, open it and register for an account. You will need your email address and a password. Once you have logged in for the first time on the mobile device, you should be able to login (upload, view, etc.) from any mobile or non-mobile device after that.

Hey, 50 gigs of space that is free for life is nothing to sneeze at! Act quickly! Offer expires Dec. 2.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

e-Learning Infographic

Check out this very cool (and very informative) e-learning infographic. Cool tool! And ... who knew?

Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners

Here are ten steps to transforming your traditional lesson plans and learning modules into 21st century models that engage learners.

Anything you would add?

JALN (Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks)

Do you know about the Sloan Consortium? Let's start with the peer reviewed Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks. In its own words:

The aim of the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks is to describe original work in asynchronous learning networks (ALN), including experimental results. Our mission is to provide practitioners in online education with knowledge about the very best research in online learning. Papers emphasizing results, backed by data are the norm. Occasionally, papers reviewing broad areas are published, including critical reviews of thematic areas. Papers useful to administrators are welcome. Entire issues are published from time-to-time around single topic or disciplinary areas. The Journal adheres to traditional standards of double-blind peer review, and authors are encouraged to provide quantitative data; currently JALN's acceptance rate is 25%. The original objective of the Journal was to establish ALN as a field by publishing articles from authoritative and reliable sources. The Journal is now a major resource for knowledge about online learning.

The Sloan Consortium also offers a considerable number of professional development opportunities, many of them free and not requiring membership.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I just found out about Voki from Connie Mack during our day-in-the-lab Blackboard marathon. With this tool, even the camera shy can create engaging video using either your own audio/voice (by phone or recording) or one of the digital voices on a fairly generous menu of options. I will be experimenting with this! The site generates a code to embed (like below) or link your video. Imagine the fun!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I am in Philadelphia this week at EDUCAUSE 2011 and am very excited to be getting started this morning. For those who cannot attend, HERE is a link to some online streaming sessions made available through their Web site at

Looking forward to networking with e-learning colleagues and diving into the best practice in academic technology today!

Friday, October 7, 2011

How to Combat Plagiarism

One of the hottest topics at our recent e-learning conference at AAMU was concerning plagiarism and how to address it in online learning environments. This article, published today at Edutopia, addresses some of the same questions.

What are YOUR thoughts on cheating and plagiarism, especially in an e-learning environment?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blackboard On Demand Learning Center

Did you know that Blackboard has an online learning center stocked with tutorials and resources for faculty course developers? It's true! And it's HERE!

Even veteran LMS and Blackboard users can benefit from the site! I'll post more Blackboard resources here as I find them as well, and will set a permanent link in the resource sections of my blog (to the right of my posts).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Does Wikipedia have a place in academic inquiry?

I had an amazing high-energy day presenting to an incredible team of 60+ e-course developers at Alabama A&M yesterday. The conversations and collaborations started yesterday are going to lift our kite and get us into the Cloud! (Pun intended!)

In my presentation on Learning Object Repositories (LORs) we talked about Wikipedia and its relevance in academia. I also talked about and its potential as a great resource for videos one could use in courses in support of learning objectives (or simply enjoy on a Sunday afternoon!). I invite you to spend just a few minutes watching this video TED talk by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and then to join our upcoming workshops to discuss your thoughts.

What an inspiring day!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Learning Outcomes

I am so enjoying working in academia! The environment of inquiry, learning, growth and development has always inspired me to not only think more about what I do to support the learning of others, but how I support my own learning. I love the AAMU CETL belief that "teaching is a form of learning."

In a discussion yesterday, I was asked, "What makes a teacher MOST successful?" And I have enjoyed pondering that question. I have it boiled down to two options:

1) A teacher who is able to impart all of the facts and information to all of their students and every single one of them is able to memorize, retain and reflect that information and those facts when tested. (But then again, is that skill as critical now with online repositories of facts at our fingertips 24/7?)

OR ...

2) A teacher whose students ask him or her questions that s/he cannot answer.

Which would you rather be?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

YouTube for Teachers!

What do you think of YouTube for Teachers? Alabama A&M University will soon have an official presence on both YouTube and i-Tunes U. Are there other video-sharing sites we should consider?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why IT Matters to Higher Education

A compelling set of articles! Why IT Matters to Higher Education

Tips & Tricks for the Online Classroom

These are EXCELLENT tips and tricks for teaching in an online classroom! I'm not going to give any away, just go LOOK! I hope to hear more tips and tricks from our team of e-learning course developers at our mini-conference next week!

Webdocs Multimedia Tool

I haven't used this yet, but the idea of Webdocs is very compelling! A simple way for instructors (AND students!) to compile text, video, audio into a multimedia document for the Web! This link is to the review of the online software, and from there you can link to the Web site itself. Sounds very promising!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Facebook Group for e-Bulldogs!

I have created a Facebook page for the e-learning community at Alabama A&M University! Please know that you can "LIKE" the page without having to "friend" me, although I welcome all friend requests at Since this page is public and we needn't be "friends," you won't have to sacrifice your Facebook privacy in order to follow our conversations. You will be able to read OUR page, but we will NOT be able to read your profile until and unless we become Facebook friends!

Please consider joining the conversation! We hope to add a "group" for discussions as soon as the Facebook e-Bulldogs community has grown a bit. You can also find the page by simply typing in: if you have trouble finding it! Please join us! And tell your friends!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

The Office of Distance Education and e-Learning in The Centers for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Alabama A&M University is hosting a full day mini-conference entitled "An Intro to e-Learning: A Faculty Perspective" with keynote speaker Dr. David Currie. Dr. Currie is the assistant director of e-Learning and director of Digital Media Services at East Tennessee State University. A faculty member in the Department of Public Health when the Internet went public, Dr. Currie embraced the new technologies as opportunities to both expand the reach of higher education as well as enhance the pedagogical quality of curriculum design for maximum effectiveness with a wider diversity of learners. It was in his Faculty Technology Leadership course that I first learned of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, which provides the curricular infrastructure for all online courses. He will be discussing Bloom's Digital Taxonomy and the Seven Principles of Instructional Design in more depth at the mini-conference. AAMU faculty should watch for a registration email within coming days!

The event will take place at the Drake Learning Resource Center and will run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 30. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wordpress as a Syllabus Database

I have not had the time to read this through thoroughly yet, but the idea is just fascinating and promising enough that I'm going to post this one here for possible feedback and to commit it to my archives for future perusal. What a great idea! (Thanks to Stephen Downes' e-mail list!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New resources!

Please take the time to peruse the Source Forge and Open Culture links I just added to our resource list.

Source Forge is a repository of free open-source (nonproprietary or noncommercial) software made available to the public for free! We especially had fun with Celestia, a program that takes its users on a visual tour of the solar system in VERY realistic detail and allows for a variety of levels of space exploration. There is a category called "Home and Education" which is particularly rich but other categories hold promise for usable content as well.

Open Culture caught my eye because James Taylor is offering free online guitar lessons there! I am sure that there is other content there of interest to course developers. Again, the emphasis is on FREE for those tight departmental budgets!

Let me know if you know of any good resources we should add to our growing list! And please let me know if you find anything particularly fabulous in any of those we have already shared.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alabama A&M Pioneers in e-Learning

I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Taylor Byrd, Jr. one time so far, but am looking forward to working with him in coming years. His early work in e-learning at Alabama A&M University no doubt helped lay important groundwork for the current emergence of a formally recognized and supported institutional distance education and e-learning department.

Here is a glimpse into some of the early efforts in asynchronous learning at AAMU.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grant funding alert!

Help spread the word! There is $300,000 in grant funding available for science and engineering academic programs that serve minorities. Need money to help build your e-learning program or courses in an engineering or scientific field of academics? Here's your chance!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Learning Object Repositories (LORs)

Learning Object Repositories (LORs) are the secret weapon of many faculty online course developers who need to develop a course fast and then consider self-produced enhancements and alternatives later, after the wheel is turning. (In fact, a learning object developer might consider contribution to the repository!) LORs like MERLOT offer a repository stocked full of peer-reviewed "learning objects" (typically interactive multimedia "objects" like instructional video or a flash-based assessment tool, among myriad others with new technology spawning rapid evolution) that can be used by anyone who has a need for the content! Many are officially LORs in their primary mission, but some, like YouTube or i-Tunes U offer a wealth of learning object resources as well. Those LORs like MERLOT which offer peer-reviewed content are especially valuable when one considers the need for application of theories of instructional design.

Check out the lists on the links bar! I apologize for numerous broken links on that directory, but don't want to take the list down because some of them ARE good resources and work well. Those who teach in science, math, economics, accounting or business will be especially interested in the Khan Academy, a surprising free repository with an interesting history and a lot of attention on the national e-learning landscape!

ATTENTION to e-LEARNING ADVENTURERS: MERLOT is recruiting peer reviewers and is registering folks for GRAPE camp, an online training series that prepares participants to serve as content peer reviewers. Join the fun and then let's talk as a group! Please let me know if you take this training through MERLOT! (We hope to offer similar peer review certification training on campus which will be designed just for AAMU faculty and course developers.)

In the meantime, we know that there is content out there for our use which already complies with principles of sound pedagogy/andragogy, accessibility and accreditation guidelines and technological reliability for the learner. I hope that you will help me enhance our list of resources! Please send me your finds!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Alabama A&M University

Hello my new neighbors and colleagues!

I am excited to be joining the Alabama A&M University community! My new role is to assist in the development of a formalized online learning program.

I hope to use this blog to communicate more personally and expediently with the members of my new community as well as the global e-learning community at large. Over time, I have found that the lines that at one time categorized my life, roles, and relationships are blurred more and more everyday with the integration of Web technologies into every aspect of our collective living, learning, loving and working. Our work here will prove to anyone who still holds doubt that the Web holds immense power and infinite possibilities for accomplishing all of these things successfully, sometimes all at the same time!

Please be in touch!