eLearning, Web 2.0, Educational Technology, Online/Distance Education, Faculty Development, and more…

Archive for the ‘Online Education’ Category

Supporting Effective Teaching & Learning Practices with VoiceThread #edtech #elearning

I used the “free” version of VoiceThread (VT) in my online course this fall, EDU 261 – Teaching, Learning & Technology, and based on that experience, I will definitely use it again. VoiceThread is a VoiceThread Screenshotpopular Web 2.0 tool used to foster learner engagement and increase instructor and student presence in online and hybrid courses.  It is basically an online discussion on steroids, but it can also be used to create presentations and tutorials. Learners can add audio comments, video comments, or text comments to VoiceThread slides.

This is the second time I’ve used VoiceThread in this course. The first time VoiceThread was optional, and I only used it a few times during the course.  This time I required students to use it as part of their course participation and discussion grade.  I created a Voicethread almost every week to share mini lectures/announcements. Then bi-weekly, I required students’ to comment/respond to questions using VoiceThread in lieu of a traditional text-based discussion.

What I liked about teaching with VoiceThread

  • Easy to re-record VoiceThread comments compared to other screencast/video recording tools.
  • Flexibility for adding comments (text, audio, or video).
  • Opportunity to both see and hear student comments
  • Basic license free for students and instructor
  • Very few technical issues

How I will use VoiceThread differently next time

  • Use VoiceThread for ice breaker instead of threaded discussion
  • Purchase license for VoiceThread to fully leverage the technology
  • Use VoiceThread for Peer Review Assignment
  • Share/post student tech projects
  • Include Voice Thread discussion requirements on VT slide
  • Require everyone to post at least one video VT comment early in the course

In addition to supporting several of the principles of good practice on the slide included in this post, VoiceThread also supports the following UDL principles:

  • presenting content in a variety of formats
  • keeping learners motivated by offering choices
  • providing multiple means of engagement

I was able to teach the entire course using the FREE version of VoiceThread.  The free account is available for anyone who is at least 13 years old and has a valid email address. It allows you to create up to 5 VoiceThreads, comment by microphone and text, and share or embed VoiceThreads via a shared link or embed code.

Register for FREE Voicethread account

  • Go to http://voicethread.com
  • Click “Register” in the top-right corner of the page.
  • Fill out and submit the short form.
  • Check your email for the confirmation message, and click on the verification link in this message.

Visit the link below to compare the differences between the Free account and the Single License here.


Give it a try!




Teaching in the Digital Age and more words of wisdom from Dr. Tony Bates

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Tony Bates, the author of Teaching in the Digital Age at the World Conference on Online Learning in Toronto. Tony is a leader in the field of Dr. Tony Bates with Kathy Keairns at book signingonline education and I was thrilled to receive an autographed hard copy of Teaching in the Digital Age at the conference.  I use this as the textbook for my Teaching, Learning & Technology online course.  Although the book was written 2015, it is still very relevant and worth checking out.

Dr. Bates is an outspoken advocate for preparing faculty members in the art and practice of teaching.  In his 2017 end of year blog post, he laments:

“Without a grounding in pedagogy and a knowledge of the research into how people learn, it is impossible for most instructors to see the real potential of digital technology for improving their teaching.”

Tony’s stance on this important problem (lack of faculty training in pedagogy and how people learn) is similar to other critics of higher education in the US like D. Fink, John Sener, and Richard Felder.

I’ll end my blog post with a recent quote from Tony:

“Technology is best used when it helps solve an actual teaching problem.”

Learn more about this issue, OER, Innovation, and Online Learning in Tony’s “That was 2017 in online learning” blog post. Also, check out his FREE digital book for guidelines about teaching & learning in the digital age.

Technology as a Lever 2.0 #WorldConf17 #ICDE2017

I’m looking forward to presenting my poster at the World Conference on Online Learning. The poster builds upon Chickering and Erhmann’s 1996 essay titled “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever” which encouraged educators to employ technology in ways consistent with the seven principles of good practice. The seven principles are still very relevant today, and the poster highlights 21st technologies that can be used to leverage these research-based principles of good practice. Check out my poster here!


Why I’m using VoiceThread in my online class

I’ve been debating on whether or not to use VoiceThread (VT) as an alternative to text-based, threaded  discussions in an online course I’m teaching this Fall. The course is titled EDU 263 – Teaching, Learning & Technology. The last time I taught the class, we experimented with VoiceThread, but only during one week of a ten week class.

Screenshot of Voicethread with picture of Kathy, University of Iowa buildings and downtown Denver

VoiceThread Slide (2016 Teaching, Learning and Tech course)

Instructor presence and community building are keys to the success for learners in online courses. VoiceThread will be used to not only support these principles, but also supports the following standard competencies for the course:

III. Utilize technology to manage and communicate information.
VI. Utilize instructional technology to support a wide variety of learners and learning styles.
VII. Explore various instructional tools and technology, including computers, video, graphics, multimedia, audio, and other media, and their contributions to the learning process.
VIII. Investigate and design a lesson using instructional technology coupled with a variety of instructional strategies, including: cooperative learning, discovery, problem solving, games, simulations, discussion, demonstration and presentation.
IX. Select the most appropriate instructional methods, materials, and media for a particular lesson or presentation.

The deciding factor for me as I was spending my Friday evening evaluating and testing VoiceThread, was receiving timely technical support from VoiceThread.  I sent support a message to VoiceThread support tonight at 6:50 pm and received an email response from Sadie at VT at 7:14 pm which resolved my problem.  What is really impressive is that I’m using a FREE version of VT!  I’ve been experimenting with VoiceThread since 2009 and look forward to using it in my course.

Quality technical support is crucial when teaching with technology and I hope the level of support I received from VT tonight continues for me, as well as my students. I’ll let you know how it goes…

VoiceThread Research Abstracts


Distance Learning Council Report #distanceeducation

The Distance Learning Council (DLC) report below provides an overview of the current status of online/distance learning at the University of Denver (DU). It includes video clips from DLC panel presentations, information on national/local trends, and results of a 2016 survey of DU faculty and administrators about online learning.  Take a look!

Tip: If you are unable to view the “Sway” report, visit the Distance Learning Council Portfolio.

Don’t Miss the Higher Education Supplement to the National Education Technology Plan! #higherednetp

“It is impossible to redesign students to fit into a system, but we can re-design a system for students. This can be the difference between success or failure for our students that need the promise of higher education the most.”

—Joseph South, Director, Office of Educational Technology

The above quote is from “Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education,” the higher education supplement to the National Education Technology Plan (NETP).  Just like the K-12 NETP, Future Ready Learning, the higher education supplement is backed by research. The supplement includes real-world examples, case studies, and actionable recommendations about the role of technology in higher education.

The report examines the changing nature of students in higher education and recommends a new “student-centered higher education ecosystem.”  According to the engaging and empowering learning through technology section, technology provides an opportunity to improve teaching practice and not merely broaden the reach of existing courses. Recommendations for engaging and empowering learning through technology include:

  • Promote Excellence in Teaching
  • Use Technology to Transform Teaching
  • Develop Collaborative Practice of Teaching

This supplement is a “must read” for faculty, administrators, researchers, course designers, policy makers, and other higher education stakeholders.

8 things students wish more professors would do…

In this short video (5:12), University of Denver (DU) students share what they wish more professors would do by:

  • Providing constructive feedback and encouragement
  • Recognizing student differences
  • Giving students opportunities to lead
  • Assigning roles for group projects
  • Prioritizing students over grades
  • Sharing their syllabus in advance
  • Providing opportunities for students to get to know one another
  • Using Canvas more consistently

This is the first installment of several video clips we’ll be creating from student video interviews and a student panel organized by the Office of Teaching & Learning for DU’s Teaching & Learning Week.

Special thanks to Alex Martinez his awesome video recording and editing skills!

Improving Face-to-Face Pedagogy Through Faculty Development Programs for Online Learning

Poster Presentation –  2016 Quality Matters Conference in Portland, Oregon.


Poster Objectives

  • Describe best practices for faculty development programs
  • Share how faculty development programs for online teaching impact face-to-face pedagogy.
  • Share research that describes how faculty development and teaching online has a positive impact on teaching and learning in all types of classrooms.
  • Describe the format and objectives of the Teaching Online Workshop and its impact on face-to-face teaching at the University of Denver.

The Problem

Historically, college faculty members learn how to teach based on how they were taught over their many years as students in a college classroom. Unfortunately, the “dominant paradigm for preparing colleges teachers has not, with few exceptions, included instruction about learning.”

According to Dr. Richard M. Felder, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering,

“College teaching may be the only skilled profession for which no preparation or training is provided or required. You get a Ph.D., join a faculty, they show you your office, and then tell you “By the way, you’re teaching 205 next semester. See you later.” The result is the consistent use of teaching techniques that have repeatedly been shown to be ineffective at promoting learning.”

Another outspoken critic about the lack of opportunities for college faculty to learn about teaching and learning is author and researcher, L. Dee Fink. Dr. Fink recently visited the University of Denver during our Teaching and Learning Week to talk about high impact teaching practices. During his session for administrators, he made it very clear why he believes it is no longer acceptable to NOT require faculty to know about proven teaching strategies before they become college level teachers.

Dr. Fink’s recommendation to our administrators was to make professional development about teaching and learning, the 4th obligation of faculty members, in addition to the traditional emphasis on research, teaching, and service. In Fink’s foreward to Davis and Arend’s Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning book, he bluntly states that the lack of emphasis on requiring higher education faculty members to know about proven strategies that promote learning is the “shame of higher education today.”

The Solution

According to John Sener, author of The Seven Futures of American Education: Improving Learning and Teaching in a Screen-Captured World, online education has become a major “source of faculty development and rejuvenation in US higher education.” Online education requires that faculty change their approach to teaching. There is a growing body of evidence that faculty apply best practice about teaching online to the design and development of their face-to-face courses.

Poster Handout

Entire Poster – PDF version


The Future is Now! Is Higher Education Ready for the Role of Technology? #NETP

“When carefully designed and thoughtfully applied, technology can accelerate, amplify, and expand the impact of effective teaching practices.” This quote is from the 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP) released by the U.S. Department of NETPCover2Education.  The plan is backed by research and emerging teaching practices. It includes excellent real-world examples and actionable recommendations about the role of technology in education. The plan is divided into the following sections:

  • Learning
  • Teaching
  • Leadership
  • Assessment
  • Infrastructure

Ready or not, here they come!

We’ve known for years that higher education faculty need to learn how to effectively infuse technology into their curriculum as technology usage grows in the K-12 environment.  I think we have finally reached the point where the majority of our incoming students have been actively using technology in their K-12 classrooms, and I’m concerned that many faculty are still unsure, or unwilling, to learn how technology can enhance student learning.  In my opinion, if we don’t prepare more faculty to expand their use of technology, our students will be short-changed and unprepared for the future.

Distance/Online and Blended Leading Tech and Teaching Innovation

One of the plan’s recommendations is to “develop a teaching force skilled in online and blended instruction.” I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation as I’ve seen first-hand how online and blended education drives technical innovation and supports effective teaching practices. Faculty development programs designed to prepare faculty to teach online not only expose faculty to new technologies, but these programs also expose faculty to innovative teaching practices. Technology and online/blended education are facilitating the legitimacy and acceptance of the critical role of faculty development in higher education. In my opinion, this is something that is long overdue.


The National Education Technology Plan is chocked full of great ideas and examples. The plan acknowledges that both K-12 and higher education still have a long way to go before fully leveraging the potential of technology to improve educational outcomes. I’m hopeful that both K-12 and higher education institutions will continue to explore ways technology can positively impact learning.  I plan to highlight some of the recommendations and highlights in a future post(s). I’m so glad I stumbled across the NETP!

Innovations in Teaching Webinar – #IHEteaching


I’m always impressed by Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman’s candid depiction of the state of teaching and technology in higher education. As Inside Higher Ed’s editors, they provided an overview of why teaching means more than ever (about time!) in this one hour webinar about innovations in teaching. Here are my tweets from the webinar:

  • Agree that it is finally no longer acceptable to just be a content expert, “innovations in learning to teach” is critical to HE.
  • Faculty should be rewarded for innovative teaching & it needs to count towards promotion and tenure in research universities.
  • Agree that new modes of delivery and technology are having a positive impact on teaching innovation.
  • Agree that GREAT teaching is happening at all levels – not just elite institutions. Good teaching needs to be rewarded!
  • No innovation in higher education teaching is going to happen without faculty buy-in.
  • Learning to teach online is having a positive impact on the quality of teaching in ALL courses at DU. Teaching Online Workshop

Search #IHEteaching for more tweets. If you missed the webinar, I definitely recommend checking it out.