Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog

Faculty Learning Day 2012 – Keynote Notes
January 12, 2012, 10:16 am
Filed under: Conferences, Work Activities

Grand Rapids Community College has a faculty learning day every year with a keynote and several breakout sessions.

This year, the keynote was delivered by Constance Staley from the University of Colorado who spoke about the topic of “resilience” in faculty and students.

Here are a few of my notes from her presentation:

  • Resilience = Confidence / Character / Connections and it is also related to the themes of the conference which were: Challenge / Control / Commitment
  • When working with students we need to accentuate the positive.
  1. Praise Effort & Motivation – Focus on the effort placed by students.
  2. Emphasize Realistic Optimism – Not blind faith, but help students admit what needs to be changed.  It’s about the intentionality of learning and the students’ responsibility.
  3. Teach Student to Fail Forward – Use experience to gain and “failure is a process not an obstacle”.
  4. Help Students Understand how they contribute to their own learning and resilience.  Do students spend the time and energy required to be able to succeed.  Are they prepared? Do they monitor their own performance?
  5. Build & Model Emotional Intelligence – Are students discouraged? Do they have low motivation? Do they realize it?  Focus and build student intra-personal, inter-personal, stress management, adaptability, etc.
  • Multitasking = Task Switching
  • When students multitask they are breaking a connection and when they get to the next task they need to spend time to rebuild.
  • We need to “Help Students Learn how to Learn”!
  • Many students need help with anti-procrastination management, stress management, and we can do our part to engage multiple learning styles?
  • Fear management is an important part of resiliency and students have a tendency to: 1) Drop out, 2) Scale back, 3) Avoid assessment and assignments, and 4) Redefine what success/failure looks like.  These are indicators.
  • Important too is the student’s mindset – that is – what and how they think about their own intelligence. Here are 2 videos that were shared during the keynote:

In short faculty need to help students with building their resilience and the key areas that instructors can include in their lessons and instructional design include: CHALLENGE | REACTION | INSIGHT | ACTION

What are your thoughts about faculty or student resiliency?


Leveraging Technology to Improve Online Student Success & Retention
July 27, 2011, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Articles | Tags: , , , ,

The Chronicle recently published an article (Community-College Students Perform Worse Online Than Face to Face) related to online learning and student success rates and highlighted research which was supported by the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In a nutshell, the report finds that students taking an online course had 82% chance of completing the course when compared with 90% in face to face courses.  For remedial courses that percentages were 74% and 85% respectively.

Here are a few key excerpts from the article (in italics) that I have found particularly useful:

  • “Online courses are a vital piece of the postsecondary puzzle,” said Shanna S. Jaggars, co-author of the study. “There are a lot of nontraditional students who would find it very difficult to attend and complete college without the flexibility they offer, but at the same time colleges need to be careful to make sure these courses aren’t just thrown together and that they are effectively serving students.”
    • This is an excellent point and underscores the importance of deliberate course design and quality checks and balances.  Quality Matters is a good resource here along with programs such as the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award Program.  In addition, Blackboard Inc. now has a partnership with Quality Matters that centers around quality courses design and effective faculty professional development.  Grand Rapids Community College is working to evaluate quality programs to move forward in improving the quality of online learning.
  • “Ms. Jaggars said lower completion rates in online courses often boil down to a combination of technical difficulties, a lack of structure, and isolation. Online students often have little training in how to navigate the online interfaces of their courses and struggle to manage their coursework without the grounding of weekly class meetings.”
    • The key here is to execute well on providing a reliable and robust enterprise course management systems like Blackboard Inc.  Further, dedicated student services, technology, distance learning, and faculty professional development departments need to coordinate efforts and provide the structure needed for streamlining services for students and faculty.  This includes specific areas around student (and faculty) support services and technical support.

      Isolation can occur easily, and this is where instructors can leverage technologies to broadcast their presence.  Not only with active participation in the course through announcements, discussion board posts, emails, etc.  But also by leveraging technologies such as Blackboard Collaborate Enterprise Instant Messaging. This instant messaging solution can effectively be used for online collaboration, office hours, and in the awareness that their instructor is present and online.
      Further using tools like Blackboard Connect for Learncan provide the personal touch that can help students succeed.  Sending text messages and text-to-voice message can improve the communication and reduce the feeling of isolation that can be common for students.  Grand Rapids Community College provides these solutions to faculty and is working to promote and create awareness of the power of “online presence” in teaching online.

      Here is a video clip that highlights the interactions possible with Bb IM:

  • Academic analytics is another important facet of this discussion.  Often there is data tucked away in our online systems that can help inform, shape, predict, and improve course delivery and student support.
    • Products such as Early Alert from Starfish Retention Solutions provide effective ways to leverage the data in course management systems such as Blackboard to better identify, track, and retain students.  Blackboard Analytics for Learnwas recently announced at the BbWorld 2011 conference as a product that takes advantage of iStrategy that was acquired by Blackboard in February of this year.

      Grand Rapids Community College uses Starfish Early Alert to identify students who may be falling behind in their online courses by automatically notifying the student and the faculty member if a student hasn’t accessed their online course within 7 days.  Also, conduct/behavior, academic performance, and manually raise attendance flags are used campus wide with the goal of intervening early to better support students.  These flags, when raised, notify the instructor, the student, retention specialists, student conduct and student affairs staff.

“The report suggests several ways to improve online courses, including increased technological support for students and more extensive training in online-teaching methods for faculty.”

Applying the Blackboard LMS to TPACK
February 3, 2011, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Articles, Work Activities | Tags: ,

I recently came across TPACK.

“Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) attempts to capture some of the essential qualities of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching, while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge. At the heart of the TPACK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK).” – SOURCE:

What I like about TPACK is that it zeros in on the intersection and interplay of the domains of: Content, Pedagogy, and Technology  This model can be used to be reflective and yet intentional when viewed from the aspect of teaching practice and instructional technology deployment.  This can be useful for faculty, instructional designers, those involved in designing professional development activities, and instructional technologists.

Using the TPACK model, faculty and instructional designers can focus on relaying content that adhere to course outcomes in a way that is pedagogically effective through the application of appropriate technologies.  Taken together this truly has potential to transform teaching and learning.  This in turn, has direct implications for faculty professional development as well as instructional technologists that are charged with providing support for technology integration in teaching.

While the focus is on the TPACK “center”, the following intersections may be helpful to review to begin putting TPACK into practice and it is also where the “rubber-meets-the-road” so to speak.

Consider the following equation (TCK + PCK + TPK = TPACK):

TCK (Technological Content Knowledge)

  • This intersection is all about how technology can be applied to subject matter to represent it and formulate it in ways never before possible – with the goal to make it comprehensible for diverse populate learners and learning styles.
  • Blackboard can power unique applications and representations of content.  Powerful analogies through Wimba Voice Tools, illustrations through Slideshare and Flickr Mashups, examples and simulations or explanations through YouTube Mashups, and demonstrations or real world application of content with engaging video tools such as NBC Learn can be easily added to courses in Blackboard.


PCK (Pedagogical Content Knowledge)

  • This intersection relates to how subject matter can be organized, adapted, facilitated, and presented.
  • Blackboard enables faculty and instructional designers to create an effective sequence and structure in displaying course materials, assignments, and learning activities.  Learning Units, Lesson Plans, Course Links, and Tool Links can be used by faculty to bring about custom course designs in Blackboard.  In addition, Adaptive Release can be leveraged to create custom learner paths.


TPK (Technological Pedagogical Knowledge)

  • This intersection is about the knowledge of the existence of technologies and ability to apply them to change teaching and learning.
  • Blackboard has a wide array of tools for teaching.  These tools can be broken down into Content Delivery, Communication, and Assessment categories.  There are also features that provide the ability to manage and maintain class records.  A few of the features in Blackboard include: Grade Center, Discussion Boards, Wikis, Blogs, Journals, Assignments, SafeAssignments, content Mashups (Slideshare, Flickr, YouTube, Camtasia Relay, NBC video content, Voice Authoring), Email, Wimba Pronto Instant Messaging, Wimba Voice Boards, Wimba Voice Email, Wimba Voice Announcements, Self and Peer Assessment, Surveys, Tests, group tools, announcements, etc.



  • and the potential of transforming teaching and learning with technology…

Some closing questions.  As you assess this model:

  1. Which domain do you naturally fall into?
  2. What domain do you need to spend some more time on and learn about?
  3. What steps can you take to approach “the center”?

My Book of ELI2010 2
January 20, 2010, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Day 2 at ELI2010

The following are my notes from the second day of the ELI Annual Conference in Austin, TX:

KEYNOTE: Born Digital

  • John Palfrey, Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law & Vice Dean, Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School

Abstract: John Palfrey, a professor and vice-dean at Harvard Law School, will discuss the topic of his book, Born Digital (Basic Books, 2008). The talk will cover the first generation of digital natives. These young people are now coming of age, and soon our world will be reshaped in their image. Our economy, our politics, our culture, and even the shape of our family life will be forever transformed. But who are these digital natives? How are they different from digital immigrants? Palfrey will discuss a broad range of issues, from the highly philosophical to the purely practical. What does identity mean for young people who have dozens of online profiles and avatars? Should we worry about privacy issues, or is privacy even a relevant concern for digital natives? How does the concept of safety translate into an increasingly virtual world? Are online games addictive, and how do we need to worry about violent video games? What is the Internet’s impact on creativity and learning? What lies ahead—socially, professionally, and psychologically—for this generation?


  • Social Media Opportunities
    • Digital Identities – students don’t see a difference between their face to face and online life. The have the same “identity” online and offline.
    • Interoperability – mainstream and everyday experiences.
    • Creativity – new opportunities for expression.
  • Social Media Problems
    • Security – crimes haven’t really increased with social media but the concerns are real.
    • Privacy – users often forget about searchability… users may have “virtual tattoos that they want to rub off”, myth is that kids don’t care about privacy but they do.
    • Intellectual Property – kids for a large part do know what is right or wrong but they often do it anyway.
    • Credibility – in a world of which sources are enormous – what is credible or not.
    • Information Overload – exhausted by all the information, and what is important?
  • Thinking about the system is where we need to be. We need to figure out what our learning environment is and how is it structured. Recognizing that we live in a fast changing environment and not focusing on the specific tools but the environment.
  • We need to DO the design work about what a learning environment is. We need to architect our learning space… months and months if not years spending time in the details and system. We need to think about the design of the virtual environment and how to we intersect this virtual space with the face to face and how do we make this constructive. It’s about the design work that is before us.
  • “A Book is just a Digital File”
  • Video – Digital Dossier on YouTube (a 17 year old created this…)

SESSION: Mobile Learning Environment Showcase

Abstract: Through rapid “lightning round” introductions, campus practitioners will share how they are leveraging today’s technologies to create mobile and virtual learning environments. Learn about their process for experimentation and assessment and find out how these innovators are targeting student success with emerging technologies.

During the first half hour of each hour-long session, presenters will share a 10-minute overview of their project. The second half hour is designed for informal interaction with these innovators so you can follow up, learn more, and make connections.

Mobile Learning Initiatives at UT Austin’s Learning Technology Center

The Learning Technology Center (LTC) at The University of Texas at Austin has been examining how mobile devices including smartphones, PDAs, iPod Touches, iPhones, and netbooks can be effectively leveraged to support learning within and beyond the classroom. In doing so, the college has provided iPod Touches to two cohorts of preservice teachers (who already have a laptop requirement) in order to compare the pedagogical affordances of such devices to laptops. LTC representatives will demonstrate open-source, commercial, and internally developed software, along with classroom practices, that enable instant access to information; collaboration; peer review, evaluation, and feedback; and location-aware learning activities.


  • External and Special Projects Group – intent to obtain funding externally.
  • Mobile device… what is one? Portable – laptops, tablets, netbooks, ereaders, smartphone, pda’s
  • Laptop requirement for teacher prep program.
  • Application development includes place-based learning, FIT data collection, mobile online assessment system, presidential timeline.
  • Cohort Pilot = iPod touches distributed in 2 preservice teacher cohorts of 20 students each, microblogging (firtclass) during classroom observations, audio recording of interviews between teachers and students, design and implementation of location-based learning activities, K12.
  • iClicker > Webclicker, U Texas Official iPhone App

Mobile Learning: The Classroom, the Campus, and the World in the Student’s Pocket

Mobile devices offer opportunities for providing experiential and relevant educational activities for learners. The University of Maryland is conducting an iPhone/iPod Touch pilot that is exploring how these technologies can enhance the student education experience. We will explore the use of various mobile devices in teaching and learning and will delve into the roles of both the instructor and the learner. There will be discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of using various applications for teaching and learning.


  • Mobility Initiative – started as a recruitment tool.
  • Device – iPod touch or iPhone
  • Enhance the classroom learning experience, promote interaction between faculty and students, teaching and learning uses, provide students with a tool to help them manage their time, move mobile support to the enterprise level.
  • Pilot – 175 students iPod touch or iPhone, weekly seminars during ’08, pre and post semester evals, applications where mobile portal, MyeVu, clickers
  • Pilot – year 2, six faculty engaged in the pilots through center for teaching excellence, access to iPod touch loaner pool, native ELMS application / Bb app, and data collection apps, UM info, app for evaluating teachers, app for recording how you are spending time for a research project
  • Distribute apps currently through internal – not through the app store.

Who Gives a Flip? Outcomes from a Large-Scale Distribution of Flip Video Cameras

Over the past two years, the Duke Digital Initiative provided Flip cameras to faculty and students who applied for grants and created a large “loaner” pool of Flip cameras for faculty members or students. Access to easy and portable video capture resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of academic video projects on campus. This session will provide an overview of the Flip distribution, share survey results and outcomes, and explore a variety of course projects using the Flips to better understand how they’re being used in, and outside, the classroom.


  • 2004 iPods with Belkin Voice Recorders distributed to 1600 students, 45 classes
  • Duke Digital Initiative created in 2005 to promote, create, and sustain innovative efforts. Tech support of curriculum enhancements, share knowledge about effective instructional technology strategies.
  • Microprojectors, Voice Thread, Remote Collaboration, WordPress
  • Flip Cameras, Hard Drive camcorder, Web Cams, iPod touch pool
  • Headsets with Microphones, iPods, DVD cameras
  • Flip Program
    • 61 instructors and 161 students gave out cameras – through a grant application process
    • Loaner pool as well of 300 cameras and have 54 faculty, 470 undergrads, grad students 116, and 16 staff.
    • Training and Support Materials
    • Used cams for: class assignments, events, interviews, documentaries, digital diaries, filming lectures, study abroad
    • Student and faculty comments have been great – simple device, and how much need there was- the loaner pool filled that need.
    • Examples:,

SESSION: Using Analytics to Intervene with Underperforming College Students (Innovative Practice)

  • Kimberly Arnold, Educational Assessment Specialist, Purdue University
  • John Fritz, Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Eric J. Kunnen, Director of Distance Learning & Instructional Technologies, Grand Rapids Community College
  • Session convener: Malcolm B. Brown, Director of ELI, EDUCAUSE

Abstract: Data mining is typically associated with business and marketing. For example, Amazon uses people’s past purchases to suggest books they might be interested in buying. Similarly, academic analytics can be used to identify and predict students who might be at risk, by analyzing demographic and performance data of former students. However, there is no clear consensus on how to intervene with current students in a way they will accept and not associate with academic “profiling.” Why should students think they are exceptions to our rules? This panel presentation will share how three institutions are approaching this problem and provide an overview of related issues.

Streaming Video Link

SESSION: Connect the DOTS: The DePaul Online Teaching Series

Abstract: DePaul University’ has launched a program called DOTS (DePaul Online Teaching Series) designed to help faculty prepare for teaching in an online environment, both from a technical and pedagogical standpoint. Attendees will learn about the aspects of the DOTS program and how we offered tools that broke down the barrier between faculty and online teaching: laptops, peripherals, software, critical pedagogical tools, compensation, training and one-on-one support post-DOTS. In addition, participants will hear from an instructor who took the DOTS program and learn how her experience has influenced her teaching in all modalities, as well as what motivated her and online teaching do’s and don’ts.


  • Focus on Instructional Design
  • What is DOTS? It is the DePaul Online Teaching Series = Faculty development program to train and assist faculty to become successful facilitators of online learning.
  • 15 or faculty form a cohort – use a departmental model whereby the cohort faculty are all from the same department.
  • What is expected of the participants:
    • 36 hours of training
      • 6 hours of online learning activities prior to the on site training
      • 3 hours EVERY DAY for a 2 week intensive on site and online training OR 5 hours EVERY WEEK for six weeks on site and online training.
      • Commitment to develop and teach at least one line or hybrid course after the training and submit for course review.
      • Formal commitment by signing a participant agreement for the program.
  • What do the participants get?
    • Technology kit includes a tablet PC or MacBook, webcam, headsets, flash drive, and SansaClip recorder and software such as SoftChalk.
    • Knowledge and skills to facilitate online learning.
    • Stipend of $500 at beginning of training and $1000 at complete of the online/blended course delivery and course review.
    • Certificate of Completion with letter of commendation from the Provost
    • Course Design Support
    • Quality Matter is the foundation for the pedagogical basis.
  • What makes DOTS different?
    • Match technology and instructional design together in a balance.
  • How to convert F2F to Online
    • Tool: Blueprint
    • Aligns Assessment and Activities with Objectives
    • Maps out resources needed
    • Makes building easy!
  • Lessons Learned
    • Over estimate time commitment.
    • Develop first, then schedule
    • Engage instructional design / tech support resources
    • Expect an iterative process
    • Request an independent review or test run before going live.
    • Protect your teaching evaluations.
    • Commit to continuous learning and development.

SESSION: Success, Withdrawal, and Student Satisfaction When the Numbers are Very Large

  • Charles D. Dziuban, Director, Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness, University of Central Florida
  • Joel L. Hartman, Vice Provost and CIO, University of Central Florida
  • Patsy D. Moskal, Associate Director, Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness, University of Central Florida

Abstract: The presenters in this session will describe the results of ongoing research examining the predictors of student success and withdrawal for more than 250,000 fully online and blended students over five academic years. They will demonstrate data mining results for 1,200,000 student ratings, presenting decision rules for predicting, with 95% accuracy, the circumstances under which students assign excellent ratings to courses. Finally, they will demonstrate the need for contextualizing all research findings with the institutional culture.

SESSION: The Genius of “And”: Reconciling the Enterprise and Personal Learning Network

  • Jon Mott, Asst. to the Academic VP – Academic Technology, Brigham Young University

Abstract: The current educational technology debate is often framed as a contest between the CMS and the PLN, between centralized IT and individualized toolboxes. Mott argues that we should reject this “either-or” choice and instead embrace the possibility of a best-of-both-worlds “and” solution. Such a solution would combine the value of SIS integration and secure, assessment-related communication with the openness and persistence of the web.


  • Begin with the end in mind…
  • CMS or PLN?
    • does one work better than the other?
    • CMS
      • Reinforcing existing practice.
      • Content, Assessment, Gradebook, Communication, Collaboration
      • SIS to CMS to External Apps + Other redundant non-integrated apps.
      • Feature usage: Course Materials 85%, gradebook 78%, announcements 68%, email 68% — then falls off dramatically when it comes to teaching tools.
      • Faculty use the CMS primarily as an administrative tool and it is a fundamentally conservative tool.
      • Online tech use: CMS only 75% use, 25% use CMS+, and then the 25% that don’t use anything. 14% have their own blog or custom website… they have more freedom.
      • Open for Learning: The CMS and the Open Learning Network… a whitepaper.
      • A CMS is time bound… when the course is done – the content and learning is shutdown vs PLN which can grow and persist.
      • UC Boulder 36% wikis remain available and still participating on the wiki.
      • A CMS is instructor centric. Standard practice is often reflected and supported by the CMS. The underlying paradigm hasn’t really changed.
      • Educating and facilitating learning vs Providing students with content.
      • Shift from pouring content through a funnel and move to creating learning. Steven Wheeler
      • Pointing students to data buckets and conduit weve already made won’t do it.
      • Teaching and learning are not fundamentally.
      • CMS is not the Academic ERP
      • Teaching and learning are not fundamentally transactions – we need tools that facilitate.
    • PLN
      • Anyone with a pc can create their own pln… the rules of the game have changed.
      • Everyone has a camera.
      • Flash mobs
      • Do yourself culture – cobble together tools.
      • Scott Lesley has several PLN schematics on his blog.
      • Central IT doesn’t need to be involved.
      • But… sites can go away.
      • Security issues…
      • Is it this OR that?
      • private OR public
      • secure OR open
      • reliable OR flexible
      • teachers OR learners
      • efficient OR creativity
      • What is the best of both worlds…
      • this AND that
    • CMS + PLN = OLN (open learning network)
      • Dave Weinburger – Small pieces loosely joined.
      • Open modular interoperable… how do you do this?
      • In progress… Network of Collaboration Entities bringing in standards of how tools interoperate.
      • Washington State – Harvesting Gradebook
      • Hotseat
      • Goingon
      • ConnectYard
      • SAPO Campus
      • OLN Infrastructure – BYU Web Services Platform
      • LTI Framework and standard web services protocol.
      • An Open Institutional Learning Network
      • Step 1 – Build a stand alone Gradebook (BYU and Agilix partnered and this semester they are piloting with 25 instructors.)

In summary, I have found ELI 2010 one of the best conferences I have been to in many years.  Sessions were top notch, presenters top quality, and the ideas expressed where innovative.  Well done EDUCAUSE!

Here are the archives from the sessions that were recorded.

I’ll leave you with a few photos from ELI 2010.

See you next year!?!

My Book of ELI2010
January 20, 2010, 3:16 am
Filed under: Conferences | Tags:

Day 1 at ELI2010

What follows are my notes (without much editing) from the first day at the ELI 2010 Annual Meeting in Austin, TX:

SESSION: Newcomers’ Orientation

Notes: An overview of ELI, membership, conference highlights, etc.


Diana G. Oblinger

President and CEO of EDUCAUSE

EDUCAUSE Top Teaching and Learning Challenges:

  1. Creating Learning Environments – This concept and the theme of the ELI 2010 Annual Meeting, invites us to think of the space in which learning happens, as an ecology of sorts where there is a blend of resources, cultures, practices, and spaces.
  2. Developing 21st-century Literacies
  3. Engaging Today’s Learner
  4. Encouraging Faculty Adoption and Innovation
  5. Advancing Innovation in Teaching and Learning in an Era of Budget Cuts
  • Join the ning site: and the Project Wiki at:
  • This event promises to create an opportunity to experiment, explore, and gain new insights.
  • Uncommon thinking for the common good… a lot of experimentation and trying new things. The common good – doing things to benefit each other.
  • We do what we do for students. Education is an imperative.

Malcom Brown

  • Welcome to Austin and online via SonicFoundry and streaming live these sessions. Thank those too in SecondLife.
  • Learning Environments for a Web 2.0 world. Teaching and learning is complicated enough… we have moved on to the ecology of learning and it is paralleled to a 3D puzzle and the task is to get the pieces to line up!
  • There are 495+ here in Austin in attendance.

Veronica Diaz

  • Theme is social networking. This is as much about catching up with friends and meeting new ones as well as learning how to better connect with each other.
  • google wave
  • Google Moderator Q&A
  • Welcome have fun and enjoy.

Malcolm Brown:

  • How can the ELI community play a role in assisting the re-establishment of education in Haiti – set up a wave for this on Google. Search with:public tag:haiti
  • Expanded the number of sessions that are being streamed in realtime.
  • Thanks to the program committee and the ELI Advisory Board and to the Cooperate partners and to the EDUCAUSE staff and thank you to all of you!

KEYNOTE: Bob Heterick Memorial Lectureship – Digital Histories for the Digital Age: How Do We Teach Writing Now?

  • William G. Thomas, III, John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities, Department of History, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Abstract: The digital environment has had an immense effect on American society, learning, and education: we have more sources available at our fingertips than any previous generation. Teaching and learning with these new sources, however, has been a challenging transition. Students are confronted with an ocean of digital objects and need skills to navigate the World Wide Web and numerous proprietary databases. Writing and disciplinary habits of mind are more important than ever in this environment, so how do we teach these in the digital age? This presentation looks at the current digital environment that humanities faculty face in their teaching and explores new tools that might support collaborative writing and digital skills development for students. In particular, Thomas will showcase a multi-agent wiki system for writing called POND (Participating Online In-Depth) that is currently being used in a large lecture and intensive writing classes at the University of Nebraska and developed as a collaborative project between History, English, and Computer Science.


  • Goal is to inspire you and to talk about use of teaching and technology.
  • Hasn’t solve the “teaching rubrics cube”… but it’s a good analogy.
  • Huge scale of students take History Survey Courses at the U of Nebraska. What kind of writing are they doing? Found that they needed to improve literary skills in general. An interdisciplinary team enabled an amazing and innovative and unexpected set of collaboration.
  • Problem – How do we take novices with us re: technology? WHAT are our primary sources on the web? WHERE are the primary sources and there are all sorts of interfaces and connection points – is there one catalog?
  • Strategy: Pilot with Bb in Fall 2008 with a wiki. Run course in Spring 2009 in Bb. Evaluate the process with ClassroomWiki in Spring 2009 course to get close tracking and analysis beyond Blackboard. What should we do with the 3 hour lecture, should we teach writing? What is the value of content coverage with digital information all over? Can we reverse classroom time from lecture to opportunities to collaborate? Place lectures online with Camtasia Relay or other capture tools? No textbook was used in the course. 3 hours of class time would focus on explanation, significance, and not worry about content, instead to model the historical thinking that the students would bring to the course and to the wiki. Midterm and final would ask students to deploy their skills. Encourage students to be their own historian through inspiring speeches rather than lectures focused only on delivery pieces of content. The content coverage issue did cause some anxiety.
  • The approach was to emphasize writing as a process of learning and disc thinking, used digital sources to expose students to the complexity of the past, requires collaboration in digital formats to formulate interpretation about sources.
  • Highlights with Bb: Students had trouble with library databases, despite our howtos, most groups of students spent time face to face instead of using technology. There was no record of that process, however in the system. Bb needs to track this social stuff. “Blackboard had buckled”.
  • Highlights with ClassroomWiki: There was a new interface and separate login. We gave clear directions and purpose and gave them more often and consistently, we told them the more they participated the higher grades, the new system would track their activity. This caused a lot of discussion in the forums. There was a higher performance overall. We could then track individual work – collaborative assignments but individually assessed. We found that students did slightly but statistically significant better with the groups and wikis which resulted in better final grades. The wiki system was developed at the U of Nebraska at Lincoln. This allowed greater data compared Bb such as: view topics, view surveys, view messages, work count, revisions, view assignment.
  • Student activity counts over time, and interactions can be tracked over time as well. Days to assignment deadline was on the x axis.
  • Students said – it’s one thing to read a history book, it’s quite another to play the part of the historian and to develop… – the wikis were a different kind of analysis than I was used to… – I feel like a better student… – this course wasn’t expected I was used to get information, receive it, and then spit it back.
  • Where or not a textbook was not as important as people think. More crucial is the handson experience that student get. Digital literary skills are so important and students need help. We learned that we can adjust what we do in the classroom (instead of lecture).
  • Faculty are looking for guidance they know that teaching is changing… the change in the last 5 years is massive. But they want to do so in ways that bring about critical thinking, etc.

SESSION: The Future of Mobile Learning

  • Kyle Dickson, Director, Digital Media Center, Abilene Christian University
  • Dwayne Harapnuik, Director of Faculty Enrichment, Abilene Christian University
  • Session convener: Veronica Diaz, Associate Director, ELI, EDUCAUSE

Abstract: What is the potential of mobile learning? What opportunities and challenges exist in your context? How do we move from seeing these devices as passive receivers of content to embracing their place in more engaged learning environments? This session will ask participants to construct a vision for mobile devices in education as they gain firsthand experience with tools currently deployed at Abilene Christian University. Together, we will identify key issues educators and technologists must address to build the future of mobile learning. An iPod touch will be available to anyone without a device for the duration of the session.



SESSION: A Successful and Reproducible Model for High-Impact Educational Media Services (Innovative Practice)

  • Hannah Inzko, Multimedia Specialist, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Justin Miller, Multimedia Specialist, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Chris Millet, Manager of Advanced Learning Projects, The Pennsylvania State University

Abstract: In this presentation, a team from Digital Commons, a university-wide initiative to support the educational use of digital media, will share best practices developed over three years. They’ll discuss strategies on how to integrate simple tools like Flip Video cameras and blogs into effective educational activities. Detailed case studies will be presented, including samples of student work, syllabi, project outlines, and assessment instruments. Examples include a student video assignment in a microeconomics class with over 1,200 students. The presentation will also outline our efforts to improve digital literacy including strategies for researching for a media-based project.


  • 24 imacs
  • green screens
  • pro lighting
  • hd video cameras
  • flip video cameras
  • high capacity storage
  • sound booths
  • podcasting equipment
  • elements of digital commons = services, facilities, support
  • goals: 1 improve teaching and learning by the pedagogically sound integrations of digital media, 2 raise level of digital literacy among students (and faculty), creating sustainable applications.
  • Kaltura at Penn State – allows import, record, upload of video/still images and the editing and publishing.

KEYNOTE: 2010 Horizon Report and Lightning Rounds

Abstract: For nearly eight years, the annual Horizon Report (a joint publication of the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) has tracked new technologies for teaching, learning, and creative inquiry. This session will highlight some of the major technological trends discovered over that time and use them as context for the official release of the 2010 Horizon Report and the current year’s findings.

Immediately following the release of the 2010 Horizon Report, you’ll hear from five institutions that have already adopted and implemented Year One teaching and learning innovations. Following their lightning round presentations, you’ll have some time to speak with these presenters individually to learn more about how they’ve done so and what impact the innovation has had on learners’ experiences.


  • Horizon Report is available now –
  • Horizon Report 2004-2010
  • Intent is a resource for the teaching and learning community, for institutional leadership, and as a means of promoting local discussion and planning
  • Attempt to contextualize the technology rather than just a report of technology.
  • Evolution — Key Trends & Critical Challenges ’06, Metatrends ’08, Horizon Project community (wikis/tags)
  • Key Trends
    • Abundance of resources and relationships challenges our roles as educators.
    • Expectation to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to. (BOTH faculty and students)
    • Technologies are increasingly cloud based and decentralized
    • The amount of collaboration continues to expand.
  • Key Challenges
    • Role of the academy is changing
    • New forms of scholarship challenge old standards
    • Digital media literacy is a new key skill
    • Fiscal resource shrink as challenges grow
  • NMC – Sparking Innovative Learning and Creativity
  • Laurence Johnson – The official release of the report, but it’s actually a transparent process (
  • Bryan Alexander Video Clip
  • How we do it: 1) Advisory Board, 2) Wiki is used
  • Technologies to Watch – Alan Levine & Rachel Smith
  • Within 12 Months
    • Mobile Computing
    • Open Content
  • Two to Three Years
    • eBooks
    • Simple Augmented Reality
  • Four to Five Years
    • Gesture Based Computing
    • Visual Data Analysis
  • Brand new project: “Horizon Project Navigator” – expose the data set to the community for access to reports.
  • Comment on the Horizon Report on

Lighting Round – How campuses are integrating technologies mentioned in the report.

  • Visualization – Shannan Butler (St. Edwards University)
  • Open Content – Holly Willis (USC)
    • Critical Commons for fair and critical participation in media culture.
    • Creative Commons
    • The problem: fear confusion, lack of support for using multimedia… solution is to get informed and get connected.
    • Clip library:
  • Mobile – Daniel Bracken and Michael Reuter (CMU iPod touch Program)
    • Turning Technologies – Chipcast@CMU – used as a classroom response system and for mobile content delivery
    • iPod touch devices rented to students who do not currently own one for $35/semester through bookstore.
    • FaCIT, CEHS, and the CMU Bookstore
  • Mobile – Hans Aagard (Purdue) Hotseat
    • Powering the backchannel – or the frontchannel.
    • Web device can connect to Hotseat (Twitter or Facebook) – students are thinking what… – instructor station.
    • Students seemed to be more engaged
  • Augmented – (U of Illinois) TEEVE Project
    • TEEVE – Teleimmersive Environment for Everyone
    • Increasing the applicability of multimedia and networking tech to areas like the humanities, etc.
    • TEEVE is a cross layer control and streaming framework
    • Applications – wheel chair physical therapy, dance, etc.
    • TEEVE@Illinois video clip.

ELI 2010 Annual Meeting
January 17, 2010, 5:33 pm
Filed under: Conferences | Tags:

I have the very fortunate opportunity to attend the 2010 EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Annual Meeting next week.  The theme of this event is on “Learning Environments for a Web 2.0 World”, and I will be presenting with Kimberly Arnold (Purdue University), and John Fritz (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) on the topic: “Using Analytics to Intervene with Underperforming College Students”.

I’ll be presenting Project ASTRO which was $25,000 Blackboard Greenhouse Grant that GRCC received back in 2006, along with Seneca College in Toronto. I also plan to present GRCC’s plans to use Starfish Retention Solutions to help provide an early alert system that is also integrated with Blackboard.  Kim Arnold will be presenting their custom Signals application for early alert which was recently featured on NBC news, and John Fritz will be presenting data on Blackboard use as it correlates to student success.

I’m anxious to attend this conference and to return to GRCC with fresh innovative ideas, resources, and useful information that will contribute to the growth and enhancement of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies. I am also looking forward to continue to build rapport and to network with peers and colleagues in the field.

ELI 2010 Annual Meeting:

  • “Learning Environments for a Web 2.0 World”
  • January 19–21, 2010
  • Hilton Austin, Austin, Texas
  • Conference Web Site

Conference Notes:

About ELI:

  • Learning is at the center of higher education. It is an essential part of the mission of all colleges and universities. The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) is a community of higher education institutions and organizations committed to advancing learning through IT innovation. View the ELI Mission.

About ELI 2010 and Learning Environment for a Web 2.0 World:

  • Join us at the 2010 EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Annual Meeting, “Learning Environments for a Web 2.0 World,” where we’ll explore models for the future of learning that fuse emerging technologies and learner-centered strategies to yield new learning environments designed for student success.Today’s technologies have fundamentally altered the very lenses we use to examine the world around us. Smartphones, PDAs, and MP3 players have granted instant access to information irrespective of location, creating ubiquitous, mobile access to entertainment and information. The rise of social networks and virtual communities like Flickr, YouTube, and Ustream has transformed the web from a place to seek information into a gateway to share, build, and interact with content and communities. High-performance networks and collaborative tools like wikis and videoconferencing also allow us to reach across hallways and beyond oceans to share interests, work with colleagues, and seek advice from peers.But how have these new tools and our emergent participatory culture changed the way we imagine learning environments on campus? Or, perhaps the more pertinent question is, How should our perspectives be changing? And how can we begin to move past an educational model that is tethered to time and place and move closer to learning that is immersive, mobile, collaborative, and social?
  • Sessions will highlight:
    • The ways that technology-enhanced environments can open up learning, thereby dissolving traditional boundaries of space and time
    • The value of cross-campus collaboration in the creation of new learning environments
    • Strategies to develop campus environments built on engagement, collaboration, authenticity, and co-creation
    • Opportunities to leverage shared networks and Web 2.0 tools to construct truly global learning environments, where students interact and collaborate with peers across geographic boundaries
    • New learning environments that elevate the importance of participation and social interaction as a way to empower both instructors and students

How to connect on Twitter:

Who is here at the conference?

  • Currently 460 people are registered for the full conference with about 93% are from the United States. Also registered are participants from Canada, Egypt, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. There is representation from 7 countries and 39 states. And attendees come from every type of institution from the very large public research universities to small private colleges.
      • 40 % are faculty.
      • 15% are senior IT
      • 12% are support IT staff from front line help desk to systems administrators
      • 8% are CIOs, deans, or academic officers
      • 5% are librarians
      • 1.5% students
      • Others include administrators, vendors, etc.

I’ll continue to post daily updates on this blog… stay tuned for more information!

Fall 2009 Student & Faculty Blackboard Survey Results
December 4, 2009, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Work Activities

Each semester we conduct a survey of students and faculty regarding their use with Blackboard here at GRCC.  The survey is not part of a research based initiative and is posted as a link inside of the Blackboard portal.  This semester, over 850 students and 130 faculty responded to the survey.

Here are the top 7 highlights from this semester’s survey:

1. Students and Faculty would like to see More Blackboard Use in Teaching and Learning

Overall, both faculty (88%) and students (94%) believe that it would improve the learning experience if more instructors used Blackboard.

Student Response
Faculty Response

GRCC’s use of Blackboard (based on the CCSSE report and highlighted in an earlier GRCC Today post “Results of Community College Survey of Student Engagement: Using Technology to Engage Students“) was also higher compared to the national benchmark as seen in the graph below:

Finally, the high use of course management systems is also reflected in the recent ECAR report as shown in the following chart:

What’s more, according to GRCC’s participation in the recent ECAR report, GRCC students surveyed indicated a desire for mobile access to  Blackboard as seen in the following chart:

2. More Online Courses in English, Computers, Business, and Science

When asked what disciplines that students would like to see in the online or hybrid format, in order of preference, they indicated: English, Computer Apps, Business, and Science.  According to a recent CCSSE report, more than 28% of students take online courses with an expectation in the growth of online courses based on a recent Ambient Insight report highlighted in an article by Campus Technology Magazine.

3. Describe Blackboard in One Word

When asked to describe Blackboard in 1 word, most students said: “Helpful”, “Convenient”, and “Useful”

4. Advice for Faculty

When asked to provide advice for faculty, most students used the following words in their open ended responses: “use, grades, blackboard, students,post, class, assignments”.

5. The Gradebook is the Most Used Tool by Students and Faculty

When asked which tools students used most frequently, they indicated:

  1. gradebook
  2. email
  3. announcements
  4. online quizzes
  5. discussion board
  6. content

When posed with the same question, faculty indicated:

  1. gradebook
  2. announcements
  3. email
  4. content
  5. discussion board
  6. online quizzes

6. Students would like more Lecture Capture

When students were asked: “Which technology capability would be most useful to you or what you would want MORE of in your studies and in your coursework here at GRCC?”, students indicated: Lecture Capture and Podcasting, Text Messaging, Live Online Lectures, and Instant Messaging.  For comparison, when faculty were asked the same question regarding technologies in teaching, they responded with: Lecture Capture and Podcasting (35%), Live Online Lectures (17%), Blogs and Wikis (12%), and Text Messaging (10%).

7. Wimba Pronto is the Most Popular Building Block with Faculty & CourseFeed for Facebook is the Most Popular with Students

Nearly 70% of faculty that responded to the survey indicated signing up and using Wimba Pronto for instant messaging, office hours, and enhancing communication with each other and with students.  Additional Building Block integrations used by faculty this semester were:  NBC Content, Facebook CourseFeed, and Rave Wireless.  For comparison, students responding to the survey indicated that they used: Facebook courseFeed (49%), Wimba Pronto (42%), and Rave Wireless (23%). Social networking tools such as Facebook are used by roughly 95% of “traditional age students” and 78% of “non-traditional age” students according to a recent CCSSE report.  In addition, based on this report 73% and 51% respectively have used social networking sites to discuss coursework.

8. 10,000 Users Accessed the Bb Content System

Well over 10,000 unique users clicked on the “My Content” tab in the last three (3) months. A breakdown by type of user is listed in the chart below.

9. Over 600 Users Added Content to the Bb Content System

635 unique users added content to the Content System. As indicated in the chart below, 67% of those additions were made by students.

10. 22% of Faculty Added Content to the Bb Content System

Finally, here’s a breakdown of faculty usage of the “My Content” tab. 181 faculty members have already added content during the first semester.