Archives for November 2013

So what is Twitter saying about my class?

If you are an avid Netflix user like me you may have watched the Netflix original series “House of Cards.”   There is a quote in one episode from a character that accurately encapsulates the power of social media: “Remember, these days, when you’re talking to one person, you’re talking to a thousand.” So with that quote in mind one can wonder, what is social media saying about my class? What about my university? Fortunately, there are emerging technology platforms that are taking these types of questions to task, and are providing valuable insight into what students and customers are saying on social media platforms.

One of these technology platforms Twitter Logois offered by SAP and their platform is based on their SAP HANA product.  SAP HANA is an in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system that is changing the ERP and “Big Data” landscape.  HANA forgoes the traditional hard drive for data storage and instead stores all of its data in RAM.  This allows for data to be accessed faster, and allows for data to be safely compressed by a factor of 10.  The speed and data storage increases provided by HANA make it a powerful tool for analyzing data of all kinds.  So with HANA and the help of some programming tools customer sentiment can be harvested from social media sources and then analyzed in near real time with business intelligence tools.

The results and insights from this type of analysis could be invaluable to an organization.  Instructors could re-evaluate the instruction methods, and universities could reshape their messaging campaigns to ensure that their target audiences are reached with a clear message.  The possibilities and benefits for this type of analysis in the future are immense as the importance of and dependency on social media increases across younger generations.

So hopefully in the near future if you wonder “What is Twitter saying about my class?” your answer will only be a few mouse clicks away.


Educational Technology has been conducting an evaluation of Blackboard as a Learning Management System (LMS) suitable for this campus.

A committee was formed with instructors and students from across campus to answer the question “Does Blackboard meet the teaching and learning needs on our campus?”  The campus community had several opportunities to offer opinions and feedback through open forums and a survey.

The committee was unanimous in its decision that Blackboard and other Learning Management System alternatives should be evaluated and compared to determine which LMS would best meet the needs of the campus.

The committee recommends that—beginning as soon as January 2014—an additional 2-3 LMS alternatives should be evaluated, if possible in an actual course environment to more fully explore both Blackboard and the alternative products available.

Educational Technology is recruiting for the next committee in this process. This committee will meet with vendors, complete the evaluation of alternatives, listen to the campus community and make a recommendation to campus on which LMS should be used on campus.

We need your help!  If you are interested in being on this committee please contact Angie Hammons, Manager of Educational Technology, at

More information about the Blackboard / LMS review process can be found at:

A new tool for teaching circuitry

Teaching students how to build circuits is tricky business, especially when you want to provide a hands-on experience.  There are a number of ways to approach the problem, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.  You could, for example, pass around a box of wires and components and have the students twist, solder, or clip them all together…


You could show them how to use a breadboard and hope that mentally compiling and decompiling the circuit doesn’t overshadow the lesson the circuit’s meant to teach…


You could buy a kit with easy, snap-together components that can be quickly assembled and disassembled at the expense of scalability and authenticity…


All of the solutions have the same problem, though:  At the end of the lesson, the circuit is disassembled and lost forever.  Those wires need to be used again, the breadboard needs to be cleared for the next project, and those brightly-colored snapping components are too bulky expensive to keep your beautifully constructed XOR gate for future reference.  Just draw the diagram and build it again next time.

Wouldn’t it be so much better if the circuit diagrams students drew in their notebooks could be real circuits?

Clear some space in your pocket protector, because a new project on Kickstarter hopes to make this a reality.  Meet Circuit Scribe—a ballpoint pen that draws working traces.


Deliveries for project donors are expected to begin in June of 2014, and other buyers can expect a product shortly thereafter.

If you’d like to learn more or donate to the kickstarter, you can find the project at

LMS review committee reaches decision

After reviewing results from surveys and open forums, examining data on current LMS usage at Missouri S&T, and collecting input from faculty representing a range of use cases, the LMS committee reached a unanimous decision on October 30th:  Blackboard may not be adequately meeting the needs of Missouri S&T faculty and students, and should be evaluated against alternative learning management systems to determine the best fit for our campus.

The committee recommends that Blackboard and 2-3 additional LMS alternatives be evaluated in an actual course environment beginning as soon as January.

To read the full report, visit

Will You Be Using Tegrity Lecture Capture For Spring 2014?

Do you plan to use Tegrity lecture capture during Spring 2014?

If so, then Educational Technology will need to gather some basic information from you so that we may prepare any room(s) in which you will be teaching with the appropriate technology.

To gather that information, we ask that you complete the survey linked below:

Tegrity Lecture Capture Information Survey
(This survey will expire at midnight on Friday, December 20)

This survey will ask you in which rooms you will be teaching and will also ask which technology (audio or video) that you will need. NOTE: Several rooms are already equipped with Tegrity technology.

If you want to find out more information about Tegrity, please visit the EdTech web page below:

For assistance with Tegrity-related issues, please contact the IT Help Desk at 573-341-HELP or online at

TEGRITY Courses Purged at End of Semester (FS 2013)

IMPORTANT! Please read the following message VERY carefully!

Educational Technology (EdTech) will be purging ALL course sessions stored in Tegrity at close of business on Friday, December 20, 2013.

Missouri S&T’s usage agreement with Tegrity limits us to only 500 hours of recordings per semester. This means we MUST remove all recordings from Tegrity at the end of each semester in order to ensure we have enough space available for recordings in the next semester.


If you used Tegrity lecture capture to record your class sessions, those recordings will be removed permanently from Tegrity’s servers. This includes any recordings in your private course. All Tegrity users are given a private course in addition to their regular courses (listed as “<NAME> Private Course” in the course list inside of Tegrity).

Any recordings that you wish to keep will need to be downloaded from Tegrity to a different storage space (e.g. local hard drive, flash drive, DVD, etc.). Fortunately, there are a few different ways of downloading recordings.

Download the recording to HTML/DVD compatible format:

This method will allow you to review your Tegrity recordings in a web browser. You will also be able to upload your Tegrity recordings back into Tegrity again if you need to recycle the recording from semester to semester.

To upload a recording that has been downloaded, visit this link:

WARNING: Please do NOT upload a recording back into Tegrity for Spring 2014 until AFTER the purge for Fall 2013 has taken place. The purge process will remove ALL Tegrity recordings, including any that have been uploaded back into Tegrity. (You will still be able to upload the recordings after the purge.)

Download the recording into iTunes as a podcast:

Tegrity recordings can be subscribed to as a podcast and from there they are converted into convenient, portable *.MP4 format. This is very handy for copying the recording into another storage location. IMPORTANT: Tegrity recordings converted into iTunes compatible format CANNOT be re-uploaded into Tegrity later.

Any instructor who would like assistance in backing up their Tegrity recordings is strongly encouraged to contact the Help Desk at 573-341-HELP or online at EdTech will be glad to provide that assistance.

More information about Tegrity lecture capture can be found at:


Calibrated Peer Review

Peer review is a very popular way for instructors to allow students to rate each others’ work. The students gain some significant benefits by engaging in peer review, such as improving their own ability to teach other students and provide other students with constructive feedback. Peer review is often a very good way to help students develop their higher-order thinking skills, according to Bloom’s taxonomy (analysis, evaluation, and synthesis). However, peer review is only as good as the students’ understanding of the material, even if the instructor provides a rubric against which to measure the student submissions.

On the other hand, calibrated peer review gives the instructor additional input into how each student will measure another student’s submissions. Calibrated Peer Review (or CPR) is a web-based application developed by the University of California, though the process itself does not necessarily have to be done through a web-based application (it’s an idea as much as it is a technology). There is a handy flow chart illustrating the process but it basically breaks down as follows:

  1. Students first write and submit an essay on a topic and in a format specified by the instructor.
  2. Training to evaluate comes next. Students assess three ‘calibration’ submissions against a detailed set of questions that address the criteria on which the assignment is based. Students individually evaluate each of these calibration submissions according to the questions specified by the rubric and then assign a holistic rating out of 10. Feedback at this stage is vital. If the evaluations are poorly done and don’t yet meet the instructor’s expectations, the students get a second try. The quality of the evaluations is taken into account in the next step evaluation of real submissions from other students.
  3. Once the deadline for calibration evaluations is passed, each student is given anonymous submissions by three other students. They use the same rubric to evaluate their peers’ work, this time providing comments to justify their evaluation and rating. Poor calibration performance in 2. decreases the impact of the grades they give to their peers’ work. After they’ve done all three they evaluate their own submission. [From the Overview Page]

CPR is available for purchase from their website for a fairly reasonable price ($5,000 for a Ph.D.-granting institution). If S&T were interested in this technology, we could certainly investigate to see if they have options for a pilot program or something.

Once CPR is available on a campus, the instructors can access either assignments that they have created or search for assignments from CPR’s database. However, since CPR is still a fairly new technology, the selection for a given topic is still somewhat limited. For instance, I was only able to find 3 assignments when searching their database for college freshman/sophomore English literature assignments. A few more (maybe a dozen) can be found for college freshman/sophomore English composition. As more instructors use this technology, the assignment database should grow by leaps and bounds. But one major road block may be the difficulty inherent in creating an assignment. The interface seems user-friendly enough, but it takes a great deal of thought and planning for each assignment that is created. The instructor needs to create well-developed learning objectives and write three sample submissions (one each of high-, medium-, and low-quality). And then the instructor has to create the rubric/questions the students will be using as their measuring stick for evaluating the other students.

For more information about Calibrated Peer Review, visit ELI’s 7 Things You Should Know About Calibrated Peer Review.


Even my mother is asking about MOOCs!

School Of Open Workshop WMDE / Elly Köpf / CC BY-SA

School Of Open Workshop WMDE / Elly Köpf / CC BY-SA

When my phone rings at 6:30 in the morning, I know it is one of about 4 people – my son, my daughter, EMS, or my mother.  So when the phone rang at 6:30am on October 8 and I looked over to see my mother was calling, I wasn’t too surprised.  What did surprise me, however, was what came next.

“Do you know about these M-O-O-C things?” my mother asked.    Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a morning person.  While I often teach at 8am, I’m not really feeling human until after 9 or 10am.  Starting off the morning correcting my mother’s pronunciation and discussing current educational trends before I’ve introduced caffeine into my system was certainly interesting.  “Good morning, Mom.  It is pronounced “MOOC” with an “oo” sound.  We don’t spell it out.  It stands for Massive Open Online Course, and yes, I’ve done a lot of reading about them and even participated in a couple of them,” I answered her.  “They are in the Journal this morning, and I thought of you,” Mom continued.

A retired educator and life-long learner, my mother reads the Wall Street Journal daily.  If it is important enough to be written about in the Journal, she wants to know about it.  She got interested in online learning a few years ago when I started teaching for MoVIP and Kaplan, and she even taught online for about a year during the second year of MoVIP.  When she told me that the Journal had written a large article about MOOCs, I knew that they were becoming main-stream.

What is a MOOC?  Well, MOOCs are online courses that are designed to have thousands of students in them.  They allow a learner to gain knowledge in a structured way, guided by a university professor, but without the expense of a college or university.  There are even companies that have sprung up, such as Coursera, Udacity and edX, allowing a student to earn credit for a MOOC by paying a fee and proving that they did the work and have the knowledge.  Of course, the cost is quite low, in one instance $150 per class.  Compare that with the $1061.59 that a student will pay to take a three credit class at Missouri S&T this spring!

Some of the concerns about MOOCs are that students often sign up, yet do not finish the course.  In some cases, over 90% of students who enroll in a MOOC may not finish it.  However, if a student enrolls in a MOOC and learns SOMETHING, isn’t that a good thing?

MOOCs can be used in many different ways.  A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Focus on Teaching & Technology conference at UMSL.  The keynote speaker was Amy Collier, Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at Stanford University.  It was very interesting to hear her speak, and one of her topics was MOOCs.  To provide some background info, Stanford is a big name in MOOCs, having started offering them at the very beginning.  Dr. Collier spoke about how a MOOC was used by a university in Puerto Rico, when an instructor was asked to teach a class out of their specialty area.  While researching to prepare for the class, the instructor found that Stanford was going to be offering a MOOC that met the requirements of the class in question.  With permission, the university in Puerto Rico asked all of the students in the class to enroll in the MOOC, where they found the lectures and a number of activities, then participate in class where they participated in additional activities.  This allowed the instructor to offer an enriched class, while using the MOOC as the foundation.

Recently, Georgia Institute of Technology announced that it would offer a MOOC-based master’s degree in computer science.  Working with Udacity and supported by AT&T, Georgia Tech will charge students only $6,600 for the degree program, which will allow the public to interact with degree seeking students.  Those who are fully enrolled will have access to proctored exams, tutoring, online office hours and some support services.  Written about in the New York Times, as well as online tech journals such as Slashdot and Gizmag, the program reportedly had over 19,000 applicants for the 600 available seats.  Information about this project can be found at

What do MOOCs really mean?  For one thing, those who choose to be lifelong learners do not need to be limited to professional journals, but can instead learn by participating in MOOCs that peak our interest.  It means that we can download a few MP4 lectures to watch on our favorite device while on the way to our next conference, knowing that we are using our time to stretch ourselves.  It means that we can enroll in a class outside of our comfort zone, learn something new, and complete the class or not as our own schedule allows.

MOOCs may mean that we can direct a struggling student to find a MOOC on a level that will provide background information to the topic they wish to study.  This might help that student to perform at the level they wish to perform, having filled in a few gaps in their knowledge.  MOOCs may also mean that motivated students may not need to take as many lower level classes, but can instead study a subject at a higher level.

The story that started the phone call from my mother at 6:30am?  That is located at

Kaltura Service Restored

The Kaltura streaming media service is again functional.  Thank you for your patience in this matter.

Kaltura Service Interruption

EdTech became aware of a system-wide interruption in Kaltura streaming media service at 12:43PM this afternoon.  The vendor is currently working to restore service.  During this outage, Kaltura streaming media viewing and uploads will be unavailable in Blackboard.  Updates will be posted as more information is received.