Monday, November 15, 2010

Teaching in One-Minute Snippets

A New Mexico college is successfully integrating micro-lectures into classroom instruction. Can students and faculty members benefit from 60-second chunks of knowledge?

In the November 10, 2010 issue of Campus Technology, Bridget McCrea reports that David Penrose's "micro-lectures" -- or "knowledge bursts" -- break the lecture content down to specific topics, but without the explanation. These 60-second lectures are delivered online, in the form of podcasts. Classroom time is spent on active-learning, knowledge-building, assignments.

Students access and view the lectures on their computers via the college's course management system and can also download the snippets to their mobile devices. Some of the lectures contain only an audio component, while others include both audio and video.

Said Penrose, "With micro-lectures, instead of trying to cram an entire textbook into 16 weeks, professors can link the content they're teaching more closely to specific learning objectives, thus creating a more focused learning experience."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teaching in this Century

How do we transform current teaching-centered practice to learning-centered practice, using the technologies of today?

The 10 rules included in this "Campus Technologies" article suggest the depth of change that's occurring on campuses right now.

1) Re-examine and adopt the move from teaching to learning.
2) Re-visit the accountability measures on your campus (student learning outcomes).
3) Make a corollary change in assessment.
4) Insist on teaching only in technology-enabled classrooms.
5) Make sure your students have technology management tools of their own.
6) Insist on faculty having management tools for their own professional development.
7) Do not discard the lecture or class discussion approach when appropriate.
8) Make sure your students have a digital repository of some sort (portfolio, wiki, blog, etc.)
9) Require your students to interpret their collected online evidence at regular intervals.
10) Make the collection of evidence the primary work in the course.

Read the entire article and comments.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where is the down time?

I just went to lunch with a few friends -- without my cell phone! How liberating! I didn't do this on purpose -- I just forgot to grab my phone before I left for lunch. Now, let me say that my phone doesn't ring EVERY time I go to lunch, but I can say that it rings more often than not. Of course I checked for any missed calls and messages upon return to my office.

And, when I arrive at home this evening, I'll check for any missed calls and messages on my home land-line phone. I'll turn on my home laptop and check my email, and then go to Facebook to check and reply to any messages there. While I'm in Facebook, some "friends" will chat with me. I'll look up a recipe on Paula Deen's or Rachel Ray's websites and then I'll have to excuse myself, with a "ttyl" and go to the kitchen to prepare supper. I have a small television in the kitchen, which I'll turn on to watch the weather or the news while I'm making supper. Usually, either my cell phone or the home phone will ring during this time, and possibly during our meal. After supper, I'll need to go online to do some reading and perhaps read some help guides on our newly installed wi-fi-capable television, and then finally be able to relax and watch a Netflix movie being streamed to my Blu-ray player. My laptop will be near me and I'll be logged into Facebook during the movie, just so I can keep in touch with my family and friends.

Just before turning in for the night, I'll check my email, my online calendar, and to see what to expect for tomorrow.

Hopefully everyone else has crashed in exhaustion too, so I won't have to worry about my phones ringing once I'm asleep!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wikipedia in the Classroom: Tips for Effective Use

You know when you do a Google search for something and the first hit comes up as a Wikipedia link . . . what do you do? I find that I read that page first. It gives me something to begin with, and usually, there are all kinds of links to useful resources on the subject.

Here's an article about using Wikipedia in the classroom that appeared in the Faculty Focus e-newsletter on May 26, 2010:

Wikipedia in the Classroom: Tips for Effective Use

By John Orlando, PhD

Most academics consider Wikipedia the enemy and so forbid their students from using Wikipedia for research. But here's a secret that they don't want you to know--we all use Wikipedia, including those academics.

There's a reason that the Wikipedia entry normally comes in at the top of a Google search. Google relies heavily on inbound links to rank a site, and Wikipedia is one of the most commonly linked sites on the Internet. Here's another secret--Wikipedia is vetted by volunteer academics. Wikipedia's motto is "no original thought," meaning that everything must be cited, and uncited material is quickly removed. In fact, studies have shown the Wikipedia is about as accurate as Britannica.

Here are two ways to use Wikipedia to improve learning outcomes in your classes:

Have Students Build Articles
In the Spring of 2008, Professor Jon Beasley-Murray at University of British Columbia had the students in his class "Murder, Madness, and Mayhem: Latin American Literature in Translation" create articles for Wikipedia on the books that they read. He transformed his students from learners to teachers, which improves outcomes. Plus, creating public work improves motivation as well as performance.

Importantly, the students were instructed to make contact with the Wikipedia editors--called the "FA Team"--to receive feedback on their work for revisions. The instructor had effectively enlisted outside academics as reviewers for his class. Wikipedia also has a quality ranking system that assigns "Good Article" or "Featured Article" status to exceptionally good works. About 1 in 800 articles reach Good Article status, while 1 in 1,200 reach Featured Article status. The instructor guaranteed his students an "A" for Good Articles, and an A+ for Featured Articles.

The results? The students, who worked in groups of two or three, produced three Featured Articles and eight Good Articles, an exceptional result given how few articles achieve these levels. These articles receive thousands of hits per month, demonstrating to students the value of their work. Now more than 20 universities have projects in Wikipedia.

For effective teaching strategies that improve teaching and learning, subscribe to The Teaching Professor. It's guaranteed to make your teaching experience more effective and enjoyable, from the very first day of class to the final exam. Learn more »

Host a Course on Wikiversity
Wikimedia--the non-profit foundation that created Wikipedia--also hosts nine other wiki projects, including: Wikibook (free textbooks), Wikispecies (dictionary of species), and Wikiquote (compilation of quotes). One interesting site is Wikiversity, which provides a space for hosting courses or other content. An instructor can build a course page with syllabi, lesson plans, and other material for the students to access whenever they need it. That page can also be linked to other educational material such as videos.

Best yet, students can be given editing access to the page to add their own material. Groups can be assigned to add material to the course, such as resources for further exploration of the topics. Another option is to have the students build self-tests on the material using free web-based quiz functions for future students. This will enlist the students in an ongoing project of developing knowledge that outlives their particular class and is passed on to future generations of students.


The Latin American Literature Project

Guide for university projects

Listing of university projects

Guide for peer review of articles


John Orlando, PhD, is the Program Director for the online Master of Science in Business Continuity Management and Master of Science in Information Assurance programs at Norwich University. John develops faculty training in online education and is available for consulting at

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Asynchronous Learning and Trends

Asynchronous learning, or teaching and learning that occurs when the interaction between the instructor and students is not constrained by time and place, can cause feelings of isolation, resulting in disappointment and low retention rates in online classes. Below are links to proven collaborative learning techniques you can use in the online classroom to promote social interaction and have a positive influence on learning, motivation, and problem-solving.

This information and many other useful tips and techniques for faculty can be found at Faculty Focus:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Challenge #4: Encouraging Faculty Adoption and Innovation in Teaching and Learning with IT

The EDUCAUSE "Top Teaching and Learning Challenges 2009" project identified five main issues/challenges for teaching and learning with technology. Number 4 is near and dear to my heart! How are other institutions encouraging faculty adoption and innovation in teaching and learning with technology?

The University of Indianapolis hosts week-long summer and winter camps to help encourage technology adoption and innovation among faculty. Current faculty serve as "Camp Counselors," demonstrating how they have integrated various Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching. This year's Winter Camp, for example, introduced faculty to micro-blogs, social bookmarking, start pages, aggregators, wikis, blogs, collaborative tools, chat tools, social networking, and associated applications. The Web 2.0 topics were presented during morning sessions, and discussion continued with Camp Counselors dispersed across various tables during a shared lunch. Afternoon sessions were devoted to hand-on activities, with assistance provided by Camp Counselors.

Camp Survival Kits were also distributed, including resources such as the 7 Things You Should Know About . . . series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) and the ELI Discovery Tool, Applying Technology to Teaching and Learning.
Related articles from EDUCAUSE Review and EQ were also included, along with software quick-tip guides. A wiki was created to house camp materials, and a social networking site was used to promote use of the tool and to maintain longer-term contacts.

On the final day, camp attendees were invited to participate in a Camp Revue, showcasing various projects they had created during the week. The campus community was inviited to attend. The university also created a Web 2.0 community of practice that meets twice monthly to showcase and discuss current developments with the integration of Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching. The camps have enabled the university to not only introduce the tools to the faculty, but also to develop a sense of community and continued support long after the camp session has officially ended.

EDUCAUSE Review, May/June 2009, Pg 42-43

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Google Apps for UMM


The Google Apps for the University of Minnesota implementation remains on schedule.

The University will use the Google Apps for Education Edition, which includes the following applications:

  • Gmail (e-mail)

  • Google Docs (word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations)

  • Google Calendar

  • Google Talk (instant messaging)

  • Google Sites (web pages)

Students will not see advertising while they are active students. However, once a student leaves the University, their account will revert to a regular Google account and they will be subject to advertising like any other Gmail account. Faculty and staff accounts will not be subject to advertising.

Google Apps will be available for retirees who maintain their Internet ID access.

IMPORTANT: Google Apps for Education are not hosted by U of M OIT. Signing up for a University Google Apps account means that your e-mail is transitioned away from U of M hosting to being hosted by Google. Because OIT does not host Google's e-mail (Gmail), or any other documents created in Google, OIT is not able to maintain or secure the content in Google Apps. Individual users must be responsible for making backups of and securing any content they choose to place in the Google Apps domain. For example, OIT cannot recover an accidentally deleted file, document, or e-mail, nor will Google provide this service.

Gmail accounts are provided with 7GB of e-mail storage.

You can retrieve your Gmail messages with OIT-supported clients or devices that support IMAP, such as Thunderbird, Outlook, or Apple Mail, as well as with your mobile device, but you will need to set a Google desktop/mobile client password if you want to use either of those options. To read your Gmail with another e-mail client, you will need to use your Google Desktop (IMAP)/Mobile Client password to access your e-mail in that other client.

While the Google Calendar will be available for use with the University's suite of applications, at this time it is not the official University of Minnesota calendar system. You will be able to use Google Calendar with your iPhone. Complete information about Google Calendar, including a link to Google Calendar for Mobile can be found at

Google Talk with video chat will be supported.

Here are a couple of other links that may assist you as you consider the change to Google Apps:

OIT's Google Apps Page:

Getting Started:

Video Tutorials and Handouts for Learning how to Use Google Apps:

As always, please contact me if you have questions!