Our Tools Shape Us

The educational tools that we choose often shape how we educate our students, so let’s choose them wisely with one eye on the future.

Source: www.edutopia.org

This same concept applies to a lot of lab courses. There’s some big machine which drives the lab activity because it’s there, we’ve paid for it, and it’s all we know. Don’t let the tools that we have limit the way we think about teaching.

STEM Experiential Education at Missouri S&T

At Missouri S&T, the experiential experience is a top priority. That’s what drives students to a STEM school with an engineering focus in a small town in Rural Missouri that’s more than an hour…

Source: blog.sloanconsortium.org

Here’s a look at laboratory redesign projects going on at S&T. We’ve got several courses piloting now and others under development.

Zombies at Instructurecon 2014

InstructureCon-2014-249x300Last week I attended my second Instructurecon conference in beautiful Park City, Utah. While everyone at S&T was baking in the Missouri sun, I was chilling out in the mountain snow learning some really cool things that are going on in the Canvas Network.


One conference session that was particularly interesting demonstrated the use of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to develop a MOOC course at UCIrvine. Several instructors from various areas of expertise came together to create this course very quickly. At the conclusion of the course in the fall of 2013, there were around 3,000 who earned completion certificates and around 17,000 badges collected, not bad for a MOOC.

To learn more about this course or other MOOC classes available for free on the Canvas Network, visit the course description page on the Canvas Network site at the link below.


S&T Students Prefer Canvas to Blackboard for Online Testing

canvas-v-blackboardOver the last several months, many instructors on campus have come together to take a look at Blackboard and its competition. The decision was made by the faculty committee to conduct a pilot using Instructure Canvas, an open-source learning management system (LMS), which has experienced tremendous growth in the last couple of years. The faculty have recommended that the campus make the leap from Blackboard to Canvas. So, what do our students think?

As a part of that pilot, I decided to take the bull by the horns and try out the testing capabilities in Canvas. I had already given online assessments using Blackboard and Moodle at S&T and elsewhere. This spring, I provided assessments using Blackboard, Instructure Canvas, and Qualtrics, a survey tool available on campus.

At the end of the course, I surveyed my students and let’s just say that the numbers speak for themselves. Our students like Canvas as much as our instructors do!

LMS/Testing Tool Student Preference
Instructure Canvas 74%
Blackboard 14%
No Preference 9%
Qualtrics 3%

Don’t Cancel Your Class: Tools For Teaching on Snowy Days

2013-12-06 13_03_09-Live Video and ControlSo, you woke up this morning and thought, “Oh no! It’s Friday of dead week!  I can’t cancel class…but look at all that snow!” Am I right? EdTech can help with tools that take little or no advance planning.

Tool to use TODAY:

tegrity_vectorTegrity Lecture Capture: Have you noticed the “Tegrity Classes” button in every one of your Blackboard courses? The tool will only take a small download to use on your personal computer but it’s already set up correctly in most classrooms. Tegrity allows you to record your desktop and a webcam image as well if you would like. If you’re on your couch in your jammies, you can opt for a still shot instead.

Tools for the future:

If you need a little more robust tool for conversations with your students, Big Blue Button (available in January) and Adobe Connect (must be set up in advance by EdTech) are great for holding virtual classes or office hours.

bigbluebutton_vectorBig Blue Button: This is a virtual classroom that will be available in Blackboard for the spring semester. Be watching for details and announcements to help you learn more about Big Blue Button.

adobeconnect_vectorAdobe Connect: If you plan to use a virtual classroom regularly, EdTech can create an Adobe Connect room that will be dedicated to you for your classroom and office hour use. This room must be set up in advance but once it is available, you can use it on the fly by providing a link to your students through Blackboard.

E-Learning Essentials Interactive Guide

I was perusing around the Centers for Disease Control Website over the weekend and I came across a very interesting resource. If you’re not into the whole CDC thing, don’t worry, it has absolutely nothing to do with disease or panic.

The CDC has developed an online tool called the “E-Learning Essentials Interactive Guide” for all course designers and instructors to use. This guide takes you through six steps of course design for online learning. The steps for course design include:

  • Analysis
  • Content Elements
  • Interactivity
  • Product Evaluation
  • Interface and Navigation
  • Learning Assessment

It takes less than an hour to work through all of the pieces of the guide. If you are new to e-learning or wanting to explore how to produce quality online content, this is a great resource. You can find the guide at: http://www.cdc.gov/learning/quality/EssentialsHTML_072413/index.html