Friday, December 7, 2012

It's official!

Alabama A&M University is launching its first entirely online degree program next month! The University received its approval from SACS (its regional accreditation agency) to offer the bachelor's degree in management as an entirely online program beginning with the spring 2013 academic semester.

AAMU is a land grant HBCU institution founded in 1875 and steeped in a rich heritage and tradition of excellence in academics, research and community service. It's beyond exciting to bear witness to—and be a part of—bringing such an historical institution's academic opportunities to a global community of e-learners!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Learning Solutions 2013

I'm getting back in the swing between the Thanksgiving holiday, a brief personal leave and the chaos that ensues when exam time is upon us. While I put together my next post, I wanted to let you know that I will be presenting at the Learning Solutions 2013 e-learning conference in Orlando in March and I hope to see you there! Hosted by the e-Learning Guild, the event provides an open highly collaborative learning environment for e-learning professionals from higher education, government and the private sector to come together and share best practice as well as collaborate on emergent online learning solutions.

I will be discussing the course certification system that I designed and how it does double duty for e-learning administrators who manage course development by faculty and/or instructors. In addition to giving us a great cloud-based system for collaboration on the quality control process of individual course development, our course certification system MODELS the hands-on, project-based self- and peer-assessment strategies that we would most love to see our online courses rely upon for assessment of learning outcomes.

Join us!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Resubmission in Formative Assessment

In this excellent blog post by a fellow educator, a great case is made for the opportunity to resubmit assignments as a formative assessment strategy (see Nov. 7 post on formative assessment). 

When I taught my course online at ETSU, whenever I gave a graded assignment back to a learner, I always gave them a chance to raise their grade by resubmission under certain circumstances. If the reason that the grade was low was due to poor grammar and writing, I required a documented visit to the Writing Center to precede a corrected resubmission. If the problem was related to content/course material, I would add additional questions to my feedback that would lead the learner in the direction I had been hoping that they would take on their first assessment attempt. By making sure that there were some new specific objectives to be met, I knew that the learner would not be able to simply rely on the feedback given to his or her peer to fulfill my requirements for resubmission. The resubmitted assignment always took on just a bit more depth than the original assignment—by design.

When the resubmission option was exercised, it worked well! But not everyone wanted a second chance. What are some strategies I could employ to inspire those who didn't take the opportunity to want to improve their learning, their grade and their overall course experience?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

15 Lesson Plans for Making Students (and Ourselves!) Better Online Researchers

I was overjoyed to find this in the Edudemic feed on Facebook this morning. I know that my online research skills could use some refinement, but I also know how much more effective my research efforts became when I began learning the mechanics of how search engines work. This is the sort of critical infrastructure that should be a foundation of every person's digital literacy, fluency and mastery, including our own.

And Google is not the only search engine! There are hundreds of search engines, many of which are dedicated to specific fields or topics. Some are even open source!

I'm going to work my way through those fifteen lessons, to refresh my existing skills and add new ones to my digital toolbox. Join me?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Formative e-Assessment of Learning

In the world of learning outcome assessment (testing), things can get complicated in an online learning environment. The nature of the LMS (Learning Management System, such as Blackboard or Moodle) encourages the automation of assessments with tools like multiple choice and true/false question quiz banks. But before deciding on just how to use those assessment tools, it's best to think about and answer a few questions.

Do you want to use summative or formative assessment strategies with your learners? If you're not familiar with those terms, think of the question as a learner might. Would you rather that your grasp of the information being learned be evaluated at the end of the learning process, or at intervals throughout the process itself, to make sure that you are staying on track and not getting lost along the way?

The practice of assessing learning outcomes at the end of the learning process (whether we're talking a unit of curriculum or at the end of the course) is summative assessment. Using summative assessment, the instructor (and perhaps even the learner) might be unaware that there are problems or misperceptions on the part of the learner until its too late to remediate the process and ensure learner success.

Formative assessment, however, "checks in" with the learner at various points throughout the learning process to make sure that they are grasping the information being presented and synthesizing it appropriately. By checking in with the learner at various points along the way, the identification of learning obstacles occurs much earlier, while there's still time to get the learner back on track and ensure ultimate success.

It may daunting to an online instructor to think about increasing the frequency and depth of assessment efforts in courses that are being taught to what are likely increasingly larger student enrollments. That's quite a time commitment! However, the carefully considered use of self- and peer-assessment strategies can help both mitigate the level of instructor involvement as well as provide additional learning opportunities through self-reflection and collaborative peer-to-peer learning opportunities for learners.

There is a lot of information out there in the world of e-learning about the use of formative assessment (using self- and peer-assessment strategies) in online courses. Here's one journal article that lays out the basic concepts involved but still sticks closely to the traditional tools. It presents sound research that provides a rationale for using formative assessment in online learning environments.

While the traditional multiple choice quiz banks certainly have value as one component in an overall assessment strategy, I'd like to suggest that we all look at assessment with new eyes and think about ways that we can integrate reading, writing, critical thinking and new forms of expression into the assessment process in online learning environments. How can we inspire and document critical thinking and problem solving in our e-classrooms?

I will be on the lookout for both research in this area and more practical information and tools that help integrate formative assessment strategies into online course development. I am also launching an ASSESSMENT section of my blog resources to highlight the resources that I find. I welcome your input, questions and suggestions!

Mistakes that Online Students Make

I just found THIS GREAT LITTLE BLOG POST at Schoox that provides some good points to share with students who are enrolling in your online courses. It might be worth linking to the same blog post or citing its content in an introductory course document that helps the learner assess his or her own readiness for asynchronous online learning. Take a look! What would you add to this list?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

10 Must-See TED talks

Anyone who knows me knows that I have nurtured a long-standing adoration for TED. And it's not just TED. It's the whole TED-x phenomenon as well as the community of folks who love, live, watch and talk about TED. TED is a way of life for us.

TED devotees tend to be lifelong learners who embrace new opportunities for growth and insight, even when those opportunities come wrapped in dramatic change!

So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I found 10 TED Talks Perfect for the e-Learning Industry. I haven't watched them all yet, but I recognize a few. I just had to rush over and share with you all before I lost the link in the information avalanche that I plow through every day in my adventures in e-learning.

I'd love to hear your feedback on any and all of these great talks! And do you have suggestions for others we should include?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trick or Treat!

In honor of Halloween, I'm going to give you a couple of treats just for the fun of it!

First, scoot on over to Open Culture to download your free audio Halloween story by Neil Gaiman entitled "Click-Clack the Rattlebag" and available through Audible. For every download, Audible has agreed to donate a dollar to one of Gaiman's favorite charities, so your download is for a good cause as well! From Open Culture:
Gaiman also has a few requests: first, you need to download the story by Halloween in order to make the donation; second, please don’t give the story away—encourage people to go download it for themselves; and lastly, “wait to listen to it until after dark.” Atmosphere matters.
Your other treat is a tip on a Halloween app that is fun for all ages! Mojo Masks is a simple camera overlay app that allows you to choose a mask, overlay it on your face (to which it oddly adheres so that you can play with different expressions as the mask moves with your features), and simply snap for a great Halloween photo that could work for your Halloween greeting card or Facebook profile. Here are a couple I snapped this morning:

Note that while the base app is free
and comes with a few masks, the best
masks are available in sets for
99¢ per collection.

Happy Halloween! Stay safe and stay tuned!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ubuntu on Chromebook! (and Using Open Source in the classroom!)

For those OS (Open Source) fans out there, know that the Chromebook hybrid (think: laptop meets tablet) supports the Ubuntu operating system. (Thanks to Scott D. for this tip!) For anyone who is not sure exactly what that means, it's significant to mobile technology (like tablets and smartphones, devices you can take on the run) to be able to run software that is Open Source—I have an OS section of resources started and welcome the contributions of any OS veterans!

We have a workshop coming up in November that will address OS integration in the classroom. Dr. Maurice Dawson and a few of his student colleagues will be presenting! It'll be one of those don't-miss presentations, so we'll be giving you plenty of notice, as well as recording the session for online delivery next semester. (Any off-campus readers can contact me directly for access.)

For the novice, OS means using FREE software for you and your learners. The OS software movement is user-driven and much more accessible to the computer novice than ever before. Watch for our workshop announcement and join the discussion!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Art of Positive Skepticism

This great article posted at Psychology Today on the Moment of Youth blog really hits the nail on the head in describing the difference between cynicism and skepticism and the value of positive skepticism in learning. But how to inspire such positive skepticism in your learners? Great tips there too!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Self-Organizing Computer Course

This TED talk was sent to me by my colleague, Everett Alexander. The video talks about the surprising level of motivation found in learners who are flocking into the free, open course movement to participate. I don't want to say too much—this is another TED talk that simply speaks for itself.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

iPad Workshop

I'm throwing together an impromptu iPad workshop at the CETL Conference Room (#309) in the LRC on Friday at 8:30 a.m. Anyone interested in learning more about the iPad is welcome to join us! I will give a 1-hr workshop credit to all learners! Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 21, 2012

What We're Learning from Online Education (TEDTalk)

"The mind is not a vessel that needs filling;
it is wood that needs igniting." (Plutarch)

ACCS e-Learning Symposium (FREE!)

It's that time of year again! The ACCS e-Learning Symposium (Friday, Nov. 16) held at Athens State University claims to be the largest e-learning conference in Alabama—and I wouldn't doubt it! I attended last year and had a great time networking with colleagues in the region and learning about new online educational products and emergent technologies in our field.

Why not register now so that we can sit together at lunch and compare notes?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lettrs: Making Writing Meaningful in a "Slow Communications Movement"

The Lettrs [sic] social media platform is creating a stir in both secondary and post-secondary learning environments. A common refrain from educators at all levels is that learners simply don't know how to write well. I'm seeking resources that would help in the classroom (digital or brick-and-mortar) with developing/remediating reading and writing skills.

I know as a learner, an educator and a parent that there are two key components to the development of great writing skills: reading and writing. The more one reads, the better one writes. And the more one writes, the better s/he becomes at writing.

So how do we encourage the development of these skills while teaching other course curriculum at the same time and at a post-secondary level of academic rigor?

Here's a great idea that can be adapted to any academic level of learning and any topic or curriculum. Writing is a great form of learning assessment as well.

Do you have other great ideas for developing reading and writing skills at a college level? Please share!

QUICK TIP: Peer Review in Discussion Forums

A really great way to work peer review into an online course involves allowing learners to rate each others' discusson posts. Here's a quick how-to video from Blackboard.

I'll be adding more "quick tip" blog posts going forward!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Universities in the Digital Age (audio)

Wondering how all this techie stuff is impacting higher education?
The digital revolution—which has upended journalism, publishing, movies and music—is poised to storm the ivory tower. Under enormous financial pressure, and facing a strong push to "democratize" knowledge, the university is being asked to re-imagine itself. In question: the very nature and purpose of higher education, at a time when demand for it has never been greater.
Listen HERE. (The feed was down when I posted this, so I haven't previewed the audio file. I'll remove this post if we can't get it to play!)

(Thanks to Stephen Downes and the OLDaily).

xEDUCATION: Book on MOOCs & Education (Sneak peeks!)

George Siemens announced on elearnspace that he and a few others will be starting a book for John Hopkins University on MOOCs and their potential impact in education. He posted:
Bonnie Stewart, Dave Cormier, and I have signed on to write a book on MOOCs and other such trends in education. The book will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2013.
See the blog post at elearnspace for more details.

The book will be closed, but the field notes will be collected and published on the Web at their new blog for this purpose. We'll be keeping an eye on them!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Free Tutoring Software

Susan Smith Nash offers us a tidy little blog post outlining the essentials for online tutoring software and her recommendations for the most economical and effective options. I haven't tried them yet, but hope you'll experiment and let me know what you find!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Blog updates!

I have just added a few new sections to the links on the right! You will now find a section dedicated to Open Source software as well as a section titled "How to Get Started Guides" that will cover various facets of online curriculum development. We are starting with a guide to getting started designing apps for mobile devices, but will be adding content to ALL the sections as time goes on. Please feel free to make suggestions!

And don't forget to keep an eye out for additions! I just added a new infographic that profiles the college student of 2012. Check it out on the right hand side of the screen (click on the graphics to enlarge, then use your browser magnification to zoom in for detail.)

New goodies are arriving daily!

Free Online Blackboard Design Course!

In its determination to join the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)/open learning movement, Blackboard is joining the fray with Designing an Exemplary Course Online. Registration opens September 19 for the course which runs September 26 through October 17. And yes, it's really FREE!
Whether you are just getting started or are an advanced online educator, this course will provide you with a framework to help identify and apply best practices for designing engaging online courses.
This is an exciting opportunity to dip your toes into the fast-moving MOOC waters as a learner—and learn a great deal about Blackboard-based course design to boot!

I know I'm signing up! Please join me!

PS ... And here's ANOTHER great learning opportunity delivered via a MOOC! The Current/Future State of Higher Education (Oct. 8–Nov. 18) is another FREE, open online course yours for the taking!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hear Us Out! Learners Open Up

Students in four Hamilton County, Tennessee high schools talk about college: what motivates them toward college, what weighs them down, what supports they need. The students were part of a series of focus groups (ten in all) in a student-led research project called "Hear Us Out." A student researcher facilitated each focus group. At the end of the video, juniors and seniors give advice to freshmen and sophomores who are just starting their path to college. "Hear Us Out" is a project of the nonprofit Center for Youth Voice at What Kids Can Do. A grant from Lumina Foundation for Education made this video possible. (YouTube description)

I find it sad and telling that this gem of a student perspective has been on YouTube for two years and has less than 300 views. Learners are letting us know what they need to succeed—are we listening?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Seven Things You Should Know About MOOCs (from Educause)

Here's a two-page PDF primer from our friends at Educause for those just joining the conversation about free, open courseware in higher education:
Seven Things You Should Know About MOOCs 
I'll be posting more resources and news as I come across it! I welcome your comments, questions and insights!

More on MOOCs

My email inbox held several significant updates regarding the "tsunami" issue of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courseware). There were company updates from Coursera (1 million learners!) and Udacity as well as ample speculation regarding how well MOOCs will dominate the market for free, open courseware. There was also speculation of just how sustainable the entire movement is likely to be.

Not surprisingly, there are issues of retention with learners registering for and beginning courses that they don't complete for a variety of reasons. It will be fascinating to watch as the data begins to manifest and key obstacles to retention—and ultimately graduation—are identified and vanquished (ever the optimist, I am!) as education becomes ubiquitous in an increasingly global higher education market.

I have always found the greatest diversity of my neighbors on the campuses of colleges and universities and it's one of the things I love most about working in higher education. The integration of free, open courseware into the more (and less) traditional forms of classroom and online education will enhance that diversity of both learners and teachers exponentially as new technologies give birth to new players in the global movement to teach and to learn. More voices, better dialogue. Most educators I know would agree that diversity of voices adds depth, context and application to knowledge and information. It turns reading, talking and asking into learning, and for everyone involved! As teachers, isn't the most gratifying teaching that which brings us opportunities to learn as well?

The challenge will be to maintain engagement with curriculum, the learner and with a qualified tour guide/subject matter expert in the form of faculty, teachers and instructors. The new learning paradigms require more of both learner and teacher than ever before, but the outcomes promise to bring more relevance and more profound sense of meaning to the experiences of both learners and teachers.

There is an excellent case to be made for the embrace of MOOCs by institutions of traditional higher education. Students who use a combination of self-guided study through a dizzying array of curriculum choices with the guidance, support and curation of faculty/instructors have literally a world of information from which to draw as they practice the skills of problem-solving, collaboration, design, engineering, teaching, researching and discovering. From that post (emphasis mine):

"The promise of MOOCs is their inclusion in the creative design of individual programs of study for degrees and certificates, and the force that will drive it is the most intimate, natural, and informal sort of dialogue that transpires between teacher and student. In this scenario, the teacher becomes guide, advisor, and facilitator; and the student, an active participant in the planning. Together, they will explore all the learning resources in the world to generate an individualized plan that meets the student’s goals and the college’s standards. When this happens, we’ll begin to realize that MOOCs, as a tsunami, have transformed rather than destroyed higher ed, and the changes will redefine the roles of students and teachers as well as the structure of courses, the sources of content, the process of learning, and the forms of degrees and certificates."

There is an entire globe full of people who want to learn, and there's a place for everyone at the table, both learners and teachers. As the tsunami approaches, the distinction between the two continues to blur.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jimmy Wales on the birth of Wikipedia

In order to understand the way that Web technologies have opened up the doors of education, I suggest watching this video from TED. Wikipedia's model is a perfect example of how an open, democratic platform for the curation and delivery of knowledge can be the most authentic for learners.

And, hey ... did you know that Jimmy Wales is a Huntsville native?

Free fonts!

I just added a list of free font Web sites to our list of resources on the right! It's important to be creative with typefaces and fonts that are eye-catching and easy to read when preparing digital curriculum. You also must make sure that the font is not substituted by a learner's computer system if it can't find the same font in its library! Contact me in the ODEeL if you'd like help using unusual fonts in your curriculum and would like to know our secret for "freezing" them into your layouts and never having to worry about font substitution again!

These are easily downloadable on both Mac and PC platforms. Just download the one you want, open the ZIP file by double-clicking and then double-click the TTF or OTF (TrueType Font or OpenType Font) file in the folder. It will ask if you want to install the font in your system and you simply agree. Then open your programs and see your new fonts on your type menus!

Let me know if you need assistance with this or any other technical or design issue on your course development!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Value of Disagreement

I sure hope that you all already know about TED. Margaret Heffernan's Dare to Disagree is one of the best TED talks I've heard yet, and I feel compelled to share it because of its social, cultural and academic implications. Please listen carefully when she talks about the value of dissent in collaboration and research. From TED:
Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers—and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.
Sometimes, we all must agree to move forward. Sometimes, it takes disagreement for any forward movement to occur.

Do you encourage your learners and colleagues to disagree? 

Friday, August 3, 2012


Coolest tool I've seen since Pinterest! MixCloud is a Web-based server (free! unlimited!) for your "radio shows" and podcasts. Of course, you don't HAVE to be a content-provider/deejay in order to enjoy the offerings of all its members! The music offerings alone seem incredibly rich. But the applications for this unique cloud-based media server site also include talk radio/podcasting, documentary/news, politics, and education.

The site is just as easy to navigate for producers as it is for listeners. Users develop a unique profile and have access to group functions that allow each to affiliate with like-minded souls and to share similar content easily in a social media stream model.

In comparison to i-Tunes, MixCloud is a Web-based software environment that does not require a client-side application (download/install) on the user's device (although there is an app for mobile devices). Content is entirely free unlike at i-Tunes, which offers a mix of free and billable content (which requires a credit card affiliation with each i-Tunes account).

Although MixCloud content is free like YouTube's, here the radioshows are presented as one continuous file of presumably consistent quality. And—at this point anyway—the content is audio only. YouTube offers the ability to create video lists with continuous play that operate somewhat like a "radio show" but unless they were all produced by the same content provider, playback quality can vary widely and playback can involve some tedious monitoring. With MixCloud, the listener simply hits the play button and sits back to enjoy the entirety of the radio show/podcast.

The environment at MixCloud is ripe for use in e-learning. And not just for course delivery! I imagine a class in which students are asked to produce their own content in assessment of their learning. The MixCloud venue is the most open, democratic and free that I've seen since YouTube launched, with a little tighter structure holding the content together in simple, easily navigable formats (groups and categories).

I plan to do something fun with MixCloud. I don't know what yet, but when I do, you'll be the first to know!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Online Pecking Order

HERE's MORE on the free, open courseware movement. How will (both) traditional brick-and-mortar universities (as well as the exclusively online degree industry) react to this game-changing movement? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Berkeley Joins 'EdX' Effort to Offer Free Open Courses

It's happening fast. Faster every day. HERE is another example of a traditional university joining the FREE and OPEN COURSEWARE movement. According to the article from The Chronicle, another 120 colleges and universities are queued up to join the EdX effort. In fact,
George Siemens, a pioneer of offering free open courses ... said he has been surprised by how rapidly major universities are moving ... “I can’t recall a time when universities at one moment have responded en masse as aggressively and as collaboratively,” he said.

For more information about the EdX movement, check out the project site as well as THIS ARTICLE on Wikipedia. And be sure to read the last few blog posts on this subject (scroll through the past few or do a search on the blog).

Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Harvard & MIT Launch Revolution

It is a logical next step in the incredible revolution to which we are all bearing witness. You owe it to yourself, whatever your level of enthusiasm for e-learning, to READ THIS.

This article is not conjecture, wishful thinking nor strategic planning. It has happened! It's happening around us. There are already programs granting credits (via CLEP) and certificates for free online offerings, which are promising some major impacts on higher education with rippling effects yet incalculable.
“Online education is not an enemy of residential education,” Hockfield said, “but rather an inspiring and liberating ally.”
Is it surprising that there could be hundreds of thousands of learners eager to participate who otherwise would not have the time, money and/or confidence to enroll in traditional academic programs? What incredible discoveries, breakthroughs, inventions and intellectual adventures await the expansive class, the institution, the academic community ... the greater culture as a whole? I believe that we are going to witness the unearthing of a vast intellectual power otherwise left untapped by mere logistical obstacles! This is incredibly exciting news!
She added that in facing the dramatic changes brought about by technology, “You can choose to view this era as one of threatening change and unsettling volatility, or you can see it as a moment charged with the most exciting possibilities presented to educators in our lifetimes.”
We need not be threatened by this revolution. It's time to embrace it. It's time to see that by opening the doors of our programs even wider, we are exposing more minds and hearts to education, and enhancing the richness of human potential, the depth and breadth of human knowledge and the texture of human experience.

At the present time, the courses are limited in number and entire degree programs are not yet attainable in this approach. Yet. I can't imagine that the movement will stop here. So why would a learner choose to enroll in a "traditional online program" (did you think we'd be saying THAT so soon?) rather than avail themselves of the free curriculum being offered online? What will differentiate us in the pool of global choices for an online degree?

In a word? Engagement. Engagement with an instructor or professor who personifies intellectual curiosity, wisdom, experience, dynamic breadth of knowledge, great communication skills and an insatiable desire to learn themselves. Ideally.

Wait! And assessment. How well can an automated computer program assess knowledge and learning, especially learning that is more qualitative than quantitative in nature?

But that begs the question: how well are we assessing learning NOW? Our commitment to innovative and comprehensive assessment strategies has never been more important if we want to distinguish ourselves to learners and distinguish our learners to the professional world that awaits them. Assessment presents a prime opportunity to personalize our expertise, our energy, our passion and our commitment to learning. And since the most valuable assessment strategies are interwoven deeply into the learning experience, rather than being an afterthought logistic that "seals the deal" on a grade and credit hours, we have a unique opportunity here to lead our own revolution/s.

So what is your place in this revolution? Are you pushing ahead at the front of the movement or lingering in the back to see what happens next before you decide? What are you doing today that will enhance your teaching tomorrow? How can I help?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fair Use/Copyright Decisions in Federal Court Affect e-Learning

Just a few months ago, a federal court in Georgia handed down a 350-page ruling that adds a lot of clarification—as well as some new confusion—to the application of copyright laws in terms of fair use in educational contexts (with heavy implications for e-learning).

The blog Scholarly Communications @ Duke (dedicated to news and analysis on subjects of copyright and publication issues in higher education) does a great job of summarizing the court's findings in THIS POST. In addition to a concise, salient analysis of Judge Evans' decision, the blog offers wonderful resources on issues of copyright, fair use and publication. I'll be adding it to our resource links at the right, but take a look!

I am especially interested in (and grateful for) Duke University sharing its policy on electronic course content with us via this resource in the blog's side bar:
For help deciding whether course content in Blackboard or some other digital form is fair use or requires copyright permission, consult this policy document adopted by the Academic Council in February 2008.
The document contains a handy, clear checklist for use by faculty to ensure that they are operating within legal frameworks when using the work of others. We'll be developing similar resources for AAMU in the near future and look forward to announcing their availability right here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blackboard course templates

Check them out HERE! Missouri State University offers three templates you can download and use with Blackboard 9.1. As they mentioned, these are not meant to constrict your creativity or flexibility with your curriculum, just to give you a starting point.

Let us know if you use them and how it goes! Is there a template you'd like for us to make available to you or your team? Let us know!

Come the Revolution

There's no doubting it. The revolution is here and it's not slowing down for anyone!

“I normally teach 400 students,” Ng explained, but last semester he taught 100,000 in an online course on machine learning. “To reach that many students before,” he said, “I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”

Andrew Ng and colleagues have now created Coursera, a means of getting free and VERY low cost educational credits that will actually link successful learners to job and educational opportunities.

Anyone who works in traditional higher education and has been asking themselves, "Why do I need to be e-teaching and e-learning?" can read THIS and wonder no more. What are you doing to prepare yourself for the inevitable changes that are coming to—indeed, have ARRIVED in!—higher education?

How can we make the experience of an online education with a university steeped in brick-and-mortar tradition the path that a learner will choose in a global educational marketplace? The answer isn't simple, but it's clear; QUALITY INTERACTION with instructors/faculty in a personalized learning environment will be our calling card, and the experience of having taken our classes will be the legacy that learners talk about long after they're gone (a great form of marketing).

In order to make an impression on the world of e-learning (and its dynamic markets), we have to impress its learners with who we are, what we stand for and how we teach/learn. What is our brand? What do we stand for? What do we offer and what do we promise learners? Are we keeping that promise?

What is the thing your learners will remember most about your course/s? Are your skills and methods keeping up with Web technologies and e-learning trends?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hey, Boo (Documentary Must-See)

I just watched an amazing documentary on PBS online and was reminded what a fabulous educational resource PBS' Web site is, especially for educators. Check it out here. There are even several special sections for educators like this one for the American Masters series!

And enjoy this documentary about Harper Lee, the writing of To Kill a Mockingbird and the way that its publication made contributions to the early Civil Rights Movement.

Watch Harper Lee: Hey, Boo on PBS. See more from American Masters.

Watch the Full Documentary with full-screen viewing capability at

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When currencies meet objectives

Think about learning currencies and how they've changed over the past 20 years. The Internet went public in 1993 and ever since has been turning evolution into revolution in the practice of teaching and learning. Both bring about change, but the pace at which learning has been transformed by technology has been warp-speed. As program management and administration have become much more research-based, the tools (most free) have been developed to keep pace with bringing that level of rigorous inquiry and fact-based strategizing to the learner themselves. These tools provide venues for new millennium skill development in research and collaboration at all levels of learning.

In this interesting graphic, learning currencies inspire a way of looking at learning objectives and outcomes with an active, research- and collaboration-based approach to teaching and learning. These currencies can be exchanged in any academic field or topic.

What are the currencies in your classroom, virtual and on-the-ground? How do your currencies help form your learning objectives and meet your learning outcomes?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Huntsville school system trades textbooks for laptops & e-books

Have you heard? Huntsville schools are going digital with their textbooks! Check it out HERE!

What a forward-thinking move!
I think it will be great, said long-time school board member Topper Birney. Very quickly, it will save money. You don’t know how much we spend on textbooks, and once you buy a textbook it’s out of date the next day. 
Did you know that there are lots of FREE academic e-books out there for use in your classroom? Look through the resources links on the right of this page or just do a Web search for "free academic e-books" and see what's out there!

e-Books are not only more affordable (especially if FREE!) but are "dynamic" in that the information is more likely to be current and easily updated. Developing your course textbook-independent with e-curriculum has never been easier! 

Contact me at the ODEeL if you'd like a consultation on how we can help you locate and integrate these resources into your classes!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Nature of Change

"When we see the need for deep change, we usually see it as something that needs to take place in someone else. In our roles of authority, such as parent, teacher or boss, we are particularly quick to direct others to change. Such directives often fail, and we respond to the resistance by increasing our efforts. The power struggle that follow seldom brings results in change or brings about excellence. One of the most important insights about the need to bring about deep change in others has to do with where deep change actually starts." 
Robert E. Quinn
"Quickest way to make change? Not the easiest, but the quickest.
  • Don't demand authority.
  • Eagerly take responsibility.
  • Relentlessly give credit."
Seth Godin 

Friday, May 11, 2012

11 Strategies for Managing Your Online Courses

My friend and colleague sent a link to "Eleven Strategies for Managing Your Online Courses" and I wanted to share it with you all. I welcome any emails from folks who want to share good resources and information!

I am going to link this in the bar on the right to make sure it's easily accessible as well.

Thanks, Dr. McDaniel!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Are Online Discussion Forums Conversations?

One of the primary methods of engaging learners in an LMS-hosted learning environment is through the use of online discussion boards --- but is what happens on these boards REALLY conversation?

This article by Nancy Dixon (as gleaned from the OLDaily by Stephen Downes) talks about the differences and, in doing so, makes some good suggestions for making SURE that your online discussion forum hosts real conversation. As the author cites, "When conversations do occur in online forums, the learning and performance results go up."

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Need help with Blackboard?

In light of pending deadlines for getting our courses certified and online, the Office of Distance Education/e-Learning is announcing the commencement of twice-weekly drop-in/hands-on labs for course developers stuck in the development process. Drop by Lab #1 (usually, with notes posted for anomalies) in the LRC EVERY Tuesday and Thursday afternoon from 12:30 to 2:00 for over-the-shoulder support from Blackboard experts!

We can also schedule one-on-one and group consultations by appointment in the ODEeL for anyone who cannot make use of this opportunity.

Come see us!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Encouraging Student Participation: Daily Experts!

THIS ARTICLE suggests some simple techniques for encouraging the participation of learners in class discussion. The idea of "daily experts" could be easily adapted to "weekly experts" for an online course. The advice is practical and straight-forward but has big implications in both the theory and practice of teaching and learning. What do you think?

State-to-state Distance Education

There is an issue that has been brewing for a long time regarding the certification of distance education programs in state-to-state agreements to allow courses to be taught across state lines. I have no new information to add to this issue, but a great resource for tracking legislative updates and their impacts!

Check out the WCET blog and bookmark it! The handy resource links on the right are a gold mine of information and insight!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

5 Innovative Animation Tools for Teachers

I haven't tried these yet. Have you? Animation is so critical to learner engagement, especially in online environments!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pinterest anyone?

Have you heard about Pinterest yet? It's the latest in Web trends!

Basically, having a Pinterest account allows you to store Web links (like Favorites or Bookmarks) in an account that uses a visual form of indexing --- photos! Whether it's a recipe you want to keep, instruction manual for your printer or a news article you want to digitally "clip," Pinterest allows you to bookmark the site to your account with a big photo in your album to represent the page. When you choose to "pin" a page (via a browser tool you install by drag and drop), the site checks the page for all available photos and allows you to choose which will represent the link. It always stores the link to allow proper credit, but the link can also provide valuable archived information and reference material.

After using the account for a week or so, I'm getting a clear idea of how it could be leveraged in an online class as a resource for group projects/assessments. Imagine a class in which the students themselves go out and vet reference material on a given topic into a usable online resource for fellows in their field as well as themselves. They would be in charge of researching, locating, reading/watching, evaluating and organizing the material in a way that would make sense to a novice in their field as well as meet traditional academic standards and the standards set forth by the instructor.

The process itself would have inherent learning opportunities in real-life professional skill development such as collegial collaboration, effective information evaluation skills (this is all done under the supervision via engaged collaboration with faculty teaching the course) and information literacy in digital environments.
I am going to put together an informal session at the LRC for anyone interested in seeing how this works. If you let me know you're interested, I'll try to coordinate it so that everyone interested can attend.

Let me know if you need an invitation to Pinterest!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tech-Happy Prof Reboots ...

This article was forwarded to me by one my most inspired (AND inspirational!) colleagues. I am posting the article link from Wesch's blog because I think the conversation that follows it in the comments is as valuable as the article, and provides a lot of context for all perspectives.

I would love to gather with anyone interested to discuss this article and the ideas it puts forth --- and many others! Whether formally or informally, we can start a series of serious discussions about the role of technology in learning and decide where our own teaching fits into the paradigms, both old and new.

Please contact me if you're interested in participating in such a discussion, even if you're reading from outside the AAMU campus community. Whether we do this face-to-face, online or some hybrid of the two --- we should be talking!

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Exemplary Course Program

What does a great course LOOK LIKE in Blackboard?

HERE is a list of exemplary courses delivered via the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) currently in use at AAMU. You can browse through past winners as well. Be sure to take a "course tour" of the courses via the "click here" link in the last column of the table. They each look quite different from each other, but ALL are deemed exemplary!

Although their designs are part of what makes these courses great, you'll notice that each expresses an individual style. This list illustrates that there is no SINGULAR formula for success in Blackboard. You just have to roll up your sleeves, design the course you would want to take for yourself if you were the learner --- and go for it!

The ODEeL is happy to announce that we now have fully functioning MAC and PC workstations set up for faculty course developers to use in course development. They run the latest and greatest Adobe software (e-Learning Suite and Creative Suite) on screaming fast hardware and will help you take your course development to the next level!

Digital media guru Everett Alexander is here to help train faculty course developers in the use of the computers and software, and/or to assist in the production of more complex projects. Contact us at the ODEeL to schedule your introductory session to the workstations --- and imagine your course taking off with all the tools and training you need to make it happen!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which; he simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both. (Buddha)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

7 Misconceptions About How Students Learn

I'm just going to leave this here. (What do YOU think?)

And, this quote from Will Rogers --- from the article:

“It isn’t what people don’t know that hurts them. It’s what they do know that just ain’t so.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ODEeL 2012 Training Schedule

HERE is the newest schedule for workshops for the ODEeL through the end of the fiscal year.

A few things you need to know:

1) Mouse over the workshop topic for more details/learning objectives. 
2) The schedule is subject to change. Anyone preregistered will be notified in advance. 
3) You may register for as many as you wish, but need to resubmit the form for each one. If you hit the back button after submitting, you won't have to refill the contact information fields.


Please join us!

Monday, February 6, 2012

"But where do I START?"

I have found that the overwhelming majority of faculty are very enthusiastic about and interested in e-learning. But because academicians are trained and educated primarily in their field of expertise, and not in the pedagogy (the art and science of teaching), they are often bewildered about where exactly to START the process of developing e-instruction.

THIS ARTICLE ("Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching") describes succinctly the ways that we can begin to rethink the educational process. It's important to remember that the challenges and weaknesses of higher education are shared across the spectrum of schools and universities.
In large part, the problem is that graduate students pursuing their doctorates get little or no training in how students learn. When these graduate students become faculty members, he said, they might think about the content they want students to learn, but not the cognitive capabilities they want them to develop. 
"It really requires someone to be doubly expert," Mr. Wieman said. As sometimes happens in some disciplines and departments, a few people develop deeper knowledge of pedagogy. These doubly expert faculty members, he said, can show colleagues how to apply new approaches to teaching the discipline.
It's not just YOUR institution or your TYPE of institution that struggles with training/teaching the methodology of sound instruction---we all do! The ODEeL is addressing faculty development from both technological and pedagogical perspectives. Effective e-learning requires that both are viewed as intertwined, as the digital pedagogy is far different in both theory AND practice. But we're here to help! And to learn together, inspiring each other and our learners to join us in the "sandbox."

If I had to give just three short pieces of advice to those just beginning the e-learning journey it would be these:

1) Don't be afraid of "failure." It takes experimentation with your content, your personality and your resources to find just the right combination of technology, content, instructor input and learner feedback to get the right mix, and that may change from semester to semester with emerging knowledge in your content area as well as changes in the personalities of learner groups. There is not a singular "best course design" and as long as you're engaged in the delivery of the course, you CAN'T GO WRONG! Keep your course design flexible and dynamic, and you'll be able to keep up with the constant changes!

Role play! Put yourself in the position of the learner in your class and try to see your course design with what Buddhists call "beginner's mind." A blank slate, not yet painted with the assumptions of prior knowledge or experience. If you have a hard time "forgetting" all that wisdom and expertise you have accumulated over the years, perhaps you can test drive your e-curriculum on peers or students who can give you a more objective perspective of your course design. It's important to think of the experience from others' perspectives in order to identify and address their unique and ever-changing needs. 
3) Engage! By that, I suggest that you engage yourself in the study and practice of the field of e-learning---as an engaged LEARNER! Take advantage of all the research, practice, resources available out there for you to form your own path of lifelong learning. As you learn, you will also teach. By becoming (and/or staying) the learner, you add a valuable tool to your toolbox --- experience as an e-learner! Nothing teaches you to be a more effective instructor better than being a learner under others' instruction for awhile. Keep notes! Compare notes! Share notes! And if you simply don't have time for all that study, just keep coming HERE to my blog where I will continue to point you in the direction of the greatest tools, resources, research and support available today. I don't know even a fraction of what's out there, so your contributions to my posts will help make it a better blog for ALL readers and learners!

The Internet and e-learning have made the field of education more dynamic and collaborative than ever. Not only can you share the benefit of your experiences and expertise, but you can benefit from that of others every day that you spend in pursuit of academic excellence. The "sandbox" is a place to meet and experiment, play and learn in a freeform manner that allows new discovery and the occasional "failure." You'll see SANDBOX used throughout the field of e-learning in both noun and verb forms, the same way that GOOGLING has become its own phenomenon.

What advice would you give? And what do you need to move forward?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Free & Open Textbooks: They're HERE!

It's important to remember that there are a LOT of quality textbooks out there for your use in designing online instruction. You are NOT bound to expensive textbooks! (And could that affect enrollment, retention and academic outcomes in your class if every student could have instant and free access to the text? I think, YES! and in very positive ways!) Check out Flatworld, a huge repository of free and open textbooks --- and rethink your course design! From their site:
We are the world's largest publisher of free and open college textbooks. With our ever-expanding catalog of top quality books by expert authors, now is your chance to be a hero and help your students save thousands of dollars. Get started today and join the textbook affordability movement.
Let me know if you find something you can use!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Social Media for Universities: Best Practices for Attracting Students, Employees, and Donors

This excellent and succinct advice is good for any university or college struggling to attract students, donors, faculty and staff. The most key point, in my opinion, is the importance of integration of social media into every department, both academic and administrative. The tools listed on these resource pages aren't just for certain age or grade levels---they can be the social channels by which you reach the audience you want to attract to your course, your program, your institution. How are YOU using social media to enhance education?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LapPaq: Lab Material Bundles for Online Science Wet Laboratories--Delivered to Learners!

Now THIS makes some sense! I haven't evaluated it for cost, but our new colleague and digital media guru Everett Alexander heard the Webinar and thought it of value to share with you scientist types! Apparently, you can customize the kit to your curriculum/labs and the company delivers straight to the learners. Is the cost comparable to that of lab fees in a traditional setting? Please help me evaluate that very question. Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 30, 2012

100 Teaching Tools You Should Know About

This is a SlideShare powerpoint covering 100 essential technology tools for educators. It's worth a look to make sure that something amazing hasn't passed you by! And if you find one there I haven't mentioned here, please share!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

9 Ways to Learn a New Language Online

This list provides valuable resources for learning foreign languages online! Some cost, some are free. Let me know what you use and how you like it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Algebra II comes to life!

This video was a class project for an Algebra II class and was produced by a very talented student named Andrew Paluszak from NC! The production of the video was a form of assessment, and now the instructor can use this as a learning object in their course ... GO ANDREW!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Ideal Professor Vs. the Typical Professor

This excellent article was sent to me by a friend and colleague --- and I found it interesting that there's not a huge difference between the two. Which are you? Ideal or typical? What would it take for you to become the ideal professor? And how can we help?

FREE SYMPOSIUM: Exploring Quality in Online and Blended Education

I just signed up for this FREE online symposium entitled "Exploring Quality in Online and Blended Education." Won't you join me?

About the Virtual Symposia
The Sloan-C Online Research Education Symposia in 2012 are a series of 4 interactive presentations on research of critical importance to educators engaged in advancing online and blended education. The symposia will familiarize participants with the current research in each topic via multiple perspectives and emerging trends. Participants can pursue particular aspects of the topics via focused discussions and questions to the presenters.

Dates & Topics Include:
  • January 16 - 31, 2012 - Exploring Quality in Online Education
  • April 19 - May 3, 2012 - STEM in Online Education
  • August 23 - September 6, 2012 - Scale
  • October 30 - November 13, 2012 - Policy
Click here for more information.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Uncool Teacher's Guide to Getting Hip

I'm not saying that an instructor needs necessarily to be hip --- you can't be all things to all hipsters, after all. But are you tuned in or dropped out?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Top 10 Free Online Tutoring Tools for 2012

I know people in SEVERAL departments who would like to know about these TOP 10 FREE ONLINE TUTORING TOOLS for 2012! Dig in and let us know what you love best!

Moodle Tool Guide (handy tool for course developers!)

This Moodle Tool Guide is a very handy tool whether you use Moodle or not, as most of the components such as quizzes and wikis can be used in any learning platform. This guide helps you move from learning objective to the proper online tools for meeting your need. Take a look and let me know what you think!

(It occurs to me that creating such a guide for a variety of knowledge areas --- biology, art, accounting, etc. might be a great way of assessing knowledge via a class or group project! Those projects which are of the highest quality can be used as learning objects in future courses! Start building your archive of learning objects by using creative assessment models! Contact me if you need ideas!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guggenheim puts 65 modern art books online ... FREE!

This is amazing news! Good news for those who teach art, as well as those who simply love art! Look around online (Open Culture is a great place to start!) for free resources for your classes. Don't forget that we have lots of resources to browse in the sidebar of this blog under LORs, Cool Tools and On The Web ... !

Let us know what you love best and what you want most to learn more about!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Directory of Learning & Performance Tools

This incredible list of over 2,000 digital tools for learning and working in education and the workplace was sent me to by the amazing Connie Mack! I have not yet delved into the list, but I can tell you that I can't wait to get in there and start digging!

Let us know what you try and whether you find it useful or not! There will be some workshops and hands-on laboratories coming up and we're open to suggestion on which tools you want to learn to use!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Google+ for Universities

Here is a little primer on how Google+ can be used in higher education. Is Facebook pushing its userbase out and away? Are both platforms going to be critical to reaching all stakeholders?

What are you doing with these platforms in your work in higher education?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

5 Things Students Want Their Teachers to Know about Online Learning

This fabulous article (and tech ideas!) applies to learners of all ages in an online learning environment. What are you doing to engage your students online?