May 22

Fried Friday – Communication/Presentation FAIL

Yikes! Haven’t we all made a few of these mistakes? Or if we can’t admit to that, we’ve all sat through presentations like this!

It is precisely because we want to avoid this type of situation that a group of Instructional Designers (Baldwin/Duclos/Coulston/Purvis/Olson/Walker/Canavan/Barbour/Henrikson) from each MAU decided to create a peer review rubric for presenters. Don’t groan. You could use this checklist:

  • before you give or create a presentation.
  • you could give it to your students as a checklist.
  • you could ask a peer  or your students to provide you with feedback.
  • self-review after you’ve presented.

See what you think of the rubric and please give us feedback if you see something that we should modify or see ways that we can simplify this list. Peer Observation Checklist Draft Peer Observation Checklist-Printable

Enjoy the presentation below and have a great and safe holiday weekend.


May 21

Free Training Opportunity for LIMITED Time Only: Don’t Miss Out!!

wordpress offerWordPress Essential Training at will be free for viewing until June 18th with a 10-day free trial.

This course has had over 100,000 views since inception and explains why WordPress is not only an excellent blog/web site tool, but also how it can be used for courses. Author Morten Rand-Hendriksen states that WordPress actually holds 60% of the CMS market today (course management system) and powers 24% of sites on the web. Pretty impressive stats! Read Article

Take advantage of this offer and learn more about WordPress. Then, request your own university site and start playing around. Request Site

The Faculty Learning Corner and the Tips for Student Success blogs both take advantage of WordPress. Check out this free training and see if WordPress has something that would enhance your course or benefit your students. Thanks Tina for sharing this with us!

May 20

Let Students Summarize the Lesson

Today Faculty Focus shared a post titled “Let Students Summarize the Previous Lesson” by Maryellen Weimer. It struck home to me and I want to share her post and add some ideas. She emphasized the importance of making connections between class sessions or online, between weekly modules/presentations. However, rather than the instructor making these connections Weimer suggests that our students can create this, and it can be an important step in their learning and exam preparation process.

At iTeach last week we talked about the importance of:

  • Introducing weekly modules or presentations
  • Summarizing the week
  • Connecting one week to another (both looking backwards and forwards)

Students working at computerWe didn’t have time during iTeach to take a close look at Blackboard’s wiki last week and we didn’t compare this tool Google Docs but what a wonderful way to use either of these tools– as a way to share, weekly, the most significant ideas of a module/unit or presentation perhaps highlighting crucial themes or elements and asking significant questions. Using either Google docs or the Bb wiki tool, this document can be created as a single page co-authored by the entire class.

Google Docs has the advantage of allowing students to write and edit simultaneously. Blackboard’s wiki has the advantage of a single sign in without needing to capture email addresses to share the document. Either tool would work. Students could create a single document that contain a running record of the course, the connections and the main ideas. This would be an ideal study document for students before exams too.

Let us know what you think or if you do something similar!

Image credit: @ Jacob A Lund

May 19

Tech Tuesday: More On Bb’s Achievements

Yesterday’s post mentioned Bb’s Achievements and today we want to leave with you a little more background and “how to” information.

  1. You will find Achievements under Control Panel > Tools > Achievements.
  2. After creating an Achievement Badge you can modify the achievement and even swap out the badge, even if it has already been awarded to students. Might be a good idea, however, not to modify the triggers if students have already earned a badge or that will all change too.
  3. You need to create the item/quiz/survey/discussion board/page or whatever the trigger is BEFORE creating the achievement. In other words plan and develop your content and then add your badges.
  4. Consider how your badges will differ from grades. Try NOT to badge the same things that earn students points in your course or you will trivialize the badges or the grade. Of note, Jennifer Stone, Associate Professor of English, UAA has given permission for us to post her presentation at Serious Fun at UAA  “Using Achievements to Support the “Habits of Mind” of successful Online Students where she explains how she thinks about the “habits of mind” that she feels leads students to success in her course. Thank you Jennifer for sharing your thoughtful use of Achievement badges.
  5. Achievement Badges operate using Blackboard’s Adaptive Release rules. When copying or exporting or archiving a course you must copy BOTH the adaptive release rules AND the content or your achievements will not copy correctly.

WhiteBirdBelow are some resources that might help you to integrate Achievements into your course. We’ll be creating our own tutorial soon, but these should be enough to get you started.

Blackboard Help: Create and Manage Achievements

University of Kansas: Create and Manage Achievements

Blackboard Learn Quick Hit Video on Achievements

To side- one of our “Early Bird” badges from iTeach. Blackboard. You can use Blackboard’s badges or upload your own.

Questions? Thoughts about achievements and badges? Don’t hesitate to reply to this post or send us an email.

May 18

“Brain Sponge is Dripping” from Anonymous iTeach 2015 Participant!

What a great week we had in Juneau last week. We all (Tina, Maureen, Mary, Nicole and I) want to thank all of our faculty for their enthusiastic efforts last week. And the food, well, what a delicious and pleasant surprise, was terrific too!!

Mostly though, I wanted to point out and emphasize, while our group of Instructional Designers are the ‘instructors’ we come away learning so much from you! The discussions we had were rich and often inspiring. And while we may show you some new tools, how you creatively put them to work in your courses is amazing. The brain sponge drip happens to us as well!

This week I want to point out a new tool (new for UAS at least) in Blackboard and share with you what Charla Brown created. It’s pretty awesome. The tool is Blackboard’s Achievements. These are milestone badges that Blackboard can award automatically when you set “Review Status” on a particular page(s) or when a student submits an assignment or scores a particular grade on an assignment. You determine what will “TRIGGER” the achievement badge and Blackboard will automatically award it. Pretty cool idea. Later this week I’ll post some tutorials about Blackboard’s Achievements.

What’s the difference between badges and grades? That was one of our best discussions last week. I think we pretty much decided that Jennifer Stone (UAA English Professor who shared what she is doing Achievements) has it right: badges are for habits that you want students to cultivate; grades are for skills and knowledge that you want students to gain. At least that’s what we thought last week. Let us know if you have a different notion.

I’d like you to examine the badges that Charla has created for her Organizational Change course. Her theme (if you couldn’t guess from the badges) is Mission Possible. I hope Charla will let us know if these badges inspire and motivate her students as we’re hoping they will!

Again– look out for step-by-step instructions and more badging information later this week! And thanks Charla for sharing your action plan. PS- Charla used Piktochart to create this infographic.

Infographic by Charla Brown


May 14

Deeper eLearning Design: Part 1 – The Starting Point – Good Objectives


This is the first post in a series of six that covers Deeper Learning. The goal of this series is to build upon good implementations of instructional design, and go deeper into the nuances of what makes learning that really works. We’ll move on to practice, examples, concepts, emotional elements, and putting it together, but to start, we’re talking objectives.

Targeted learning graphic

Image source: ©

To read Part 1, click on the link below.

Source: Deeper eLearning Design: Part 1 – The Starting Point – Good Objectives | Learnnovators



May 12

Tech Tuesday – Teaching Professor Tips App

Get a daily teaching tip delivered to your smart phone or tablet with the new Teaching Professor Tips app. Brief and to the point, each tip provides a nugget of wisdom regarding assignment strategies, student engagement, classroom management, instructional vitality, and much more.

The free app lets you:

  • Get one tip every day (365/year)
  • Specify the time of day you want to receive your tip
  • Share favorite tips on social media or email
  • Send your own tips to the editor

Available in the App Store and Google Play.
app on phone

(Image source:

May 08

Fried Friday: Standardized Tests

John Oliver investigates what’s wrong with standardized testing (warning: contains strong language). Here’s a link from Karl Kapp’s blog:

May 05

Tech Tuesday: Slides that Communicate Your Idea

Charla Brown shared this resource saying that it was really helpful to create better, more expressive slides. Certainly TED has created high standards for presentations and these tips from the TED’s in-house expert should improve any presentation. Check them out and share with your students.

10 tips on how to make slides that communicate your idea, from TED’s in-house expert

instructor presentationThanks for sharing Charla!

Image credit: iStockPhoto laflor


May 01

Fried Friday: Happy Graduation Everyone!

While we’re all thinking about graduation today, we thought you might enjoy a few funny graduation speeches (I enjoyed Stephen Colbert and Neil DeGrasse Tyson in particular!).

10 Hilarious Graduation Speeches That Won’t Put You to Sleep.

And for those of you in a more serious mood, NPR has picked out 300 addresses going back to 1774! You can search by name, school, date or theme and listen to some awesome commencement speeches.

The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever

Congratulations to all graduates!


Image Credit: iStockPhoto Rawpixel

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