Nov 08


When looking at learning motivation, an idea that you may keep hearing about is gamification.  As technology and gaming evolves, the use of games as a standard teaching mechanism becomes closer to reality, especially with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) devices.

Two factors in effective e-learning are motivation and community building, both of which coincide nicely with gamification.  Games and simulations can have a motivational effect, as most use a story-line and have some type of reward for winning or completing a task.

Games can also be used to help students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Studies have shown that there is a good level of acceptance by ASD students, and that gaming can help behaviors related to social initiation.  Also, in cases where the student demonstrates repetitive tendencies, games can increase exploratory behaviors.  (Malinverni, 2017)

So how do you gamify your curriculum?   An important element involves integrating your game’s storyline with your instructional objectives.  You want to be certain that the game is aligned with your student goals, so students are concentrating on the correct information.

You also want to incorporate feedback directly into the game, in order to determine whether students are getting the correct message.  This is even more effective if the feedback is explanatory.  It should also be noted that rapid response games work well for automating skills through drill and practice exercises, but may not be effective when pursuing cognitive learning outcomes.  (Clark & Mayer, 2011)

Another tip is to make sure your game contains cognitive activity and not just discovery learning.  Exploring without cognitive activity has been shown to be ineffective, and may produce unintended learning results. (Clark & Mayer, 2011)

Still on the fence as to whether or not gamification has educational value?  Watch this 20 minute Ted Talk!


Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-Learning and the Science of Instruction (Third Edition ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Malinverni, L. M.-G. (2017, June). An inclusive design approach for developing video games for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Computers In Human Behavior, pp. 535-549.

Oct 23

Pause, Play, Repeat

Here is an interesting article from Faculty Focus

Pause, Play, Repeat: Using Pause Procedure in Online Microlectures
By: Judith Dutill, MA, and Melissa Wehler, PhD

The article advocates combining microlectures with pauses for interactive activities that allow students to review, process and clarify their understanding.  The can include responding to brief writing prompts, playing “Devils Advocate” or pausing for short check-for-knowledge quizzes.

While it easy to see how this can be done in a face-to-face class, how would these pauses be incorporated in an online environment? Recorded lectures can be paused (either automatically if using a program like Adobe Presenter or by asking the student to pause a video) and then the student can be asked to think about a particular question, respond to short quiz questions etc. before continuing.

Dec 13

Audio feedback for student assignments

Here is a pretty good 8 minute video on using audio feedback for student assignments.  It shows how you can use Audacity to record mp3 audio files and return them to students.  If you are using Blackboard you can return them as a file attached to their graded assignment – just use the paperclip icon in the feedback box.

This video shows not only how one instructor creates audio feedback but the reactions of a student.


Audacity is not the only tool you can use to create audio – but it is easy to use on both Mac and Windows platforms. Find audacity at

Oct 05

Teaching Lessons from Bobby McFerrin

Thought I’d share this article from Teaching in Higher Ed

It includes a youtube video of Bobby McFerrin giving a lesson about the Pentatonic Scale – the Youtube is embedded below but go and read the whole article to highlight some teaching tips


Jul 20

“Flipping” your class?

“Flipping the classroom” is a buzzword for supposedly reversing the delivery of lecture/homework.  Instead of lecturing in a classroom or synchronous online class session and then assigning homework for students to do outside of class time, you make students responsible for reading or viewing content before class then plan more engaging and challenging activities during the class session.

Since UAS generally has small class sizes, many of faculty are already forgoing straight lecture and engaging their students in active learning during class. Planning for a variety of activities can be a challenge though.  Here are some resources to help  (thanks to Susie Feero for forwarding this article):

Five Time-Saving Strategies for the Flipped Classroom”  – Barbi Honeycutt, Faculty Focus

My favorite recommendation from this article: “Once you look at which lessons to flip, build margins into the actual lesson plans. Where can you find white space in a lesson? For example, if it takes you five minutes to solve a problem in a lesson, plan for your students to take 10 minutes. If you are trying out new technology in a lesson, plan for it not to work the first time. If you are introducing a new activity, allot enough time to explain the process three times.”

Previous articles about flipping the classroom:

Five Ways to Motivate Unprepared Students in the Flipped Classroom

Three Focusing Activities to Engage Students in the First Five Minutes of Class

Managing In-Class Learning Experiences in Flipped Classrooms

Apr 05

Google URL shortener

GOOGLHave you ever run into problems sending a really long URL (web address) in an email or posted it as a link?  Sometimes the sheer length of the URL can cause it to “break” or make it hard to copy and paste if it doesn’t show up as a “live” link.

One solution  a URL shortener?  There are a lot of them including and .  Since I use Google drive and other apps a lot the one I like to use is Google’s shorter:  Simply go to, paste in the long URL and it will create a custum short link.

Like other shorteners, it not only shortens the long URL – if you are logged into Google then it also remembers all your shortened links making it easier to go back and retrieve one to use again.  It will also keep track of statistics so you know how many times that URL has been clicked on.

Ever wonder how they get short names like ?  Well the last two letters are a “top level domain” – in this case an abbreviation for country: Greenland.  (or in this case, an autonomous country within the Danish realm.)  So Google just registered the domain name in Greenland.

Mar 30

Quizzes: Going beyond memorization

Do you use regular quizzes in your class?  You can use quizzes not only for memorized “factoids” but also to engage students.  Here’s an article that discusses some different types of quizzes:

Five Types of Quizzes That Deepen Engagement with Course Content” – Maryellen Weimer, Faculty Focus, March 30 2016

How do you use quizzes in your class?


Mar 23

Why can they print??: A conversation about online testing

You may be interested in a Blackboard sponsored webinar on online testing.

“Assessing students in an online environment is alternatively enthralling, overwhelming and frustrating. Instructors are sometimes shocked to discover that students can print or take screenshots of online tests, or that the test banks to all the major textbooks are for sale on the web. How can you be certain you’re accurately assessing students when they are able to print or copy by hand all of the questions in your exams?

Join Corrie Bergeron from Lakeland Community College and Kevin Lowey from the University of Saskatchewan as they discuss assessment strategies which can help address your concerns and give you creative solutions to the authentic assessment problem.”

  • Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016
  • Time: 2:00PM – 3:00PM ET  (10:00AM – 11:00AM AKDT )

Register for the webinar:
Webinar will be conducted via Blackboard Collaborate.  More about Blackboard Collaborate.

Jan 25

Free Webinar – Rockin’ the Virtual Classroom!

January 26, 2016
10:00 am – 11:15 am AK time
Begin Registration…

Virtual classroom technology (ILinc, Adobe Connect, WebEx, Elluminate, etc.) provides a wonderful live, real-time bridge between the traditional classroom and the learner. But it isn’t “just like” the traditional classroom, and in the wrong hands can be deadly dull. In this session we’ll learn to read virtual “body language,”  look at ways to increase interactivity and engagement, utilize games and activities, and create visuals that support learning.

Instructor — Jane Bozarth

Jane Bozarth is North Carolina’s self-appointed “E-Learning Goddess.” While her specialty is in finding ways to cut the high costs of e-learning, Jane is also a popular classroom instructor and motivational speaker.

Oct 29

Blackboard Tech: Collaborate Mobile

Blackboard Collaborate MobileWith the new version of Collaborate (WebMeeting) participants can attend meetings from mobile devices such as Apple iOS (iPhones, iPads) and Google Android devices.  Both Apple and Google have free Blackboard Collaborate Mobile apps in their respective app stores.

The interface for mobile is limited and does not have all the functionality of the conventional interface. Moderators cannot use it as it is missing moderator tools. Whether it is useful for participants will depend on what kind of activities take place in your class(es).

Mobile participants have access to a subset of functions in Blackboard Collaborate, including:

  • Viewing the Whiteboard (but not drawing on the whiteboard)
  • Viewing an Application on another user’s desktop (but not taking control or sharing an application themselves)
  • Access to breakout rooms.
  • Sending and receiving chat messages with the entire room.
  • Listening to other speakers and speaking to the room.
  • Responding to polls.

Note that there is no video available (either to send or receive) and application sharing and whiteboard use is limited to viewing others contributions.  WebTours are not available.  If they are using a phone then obviously the whiteboard size will be very small which will make PowerPoints harder to view.  Still it is an option to use under some circumstances – there may be times when students need to use a mobile device to attend a live meeting but will be able to view a recording later on a conventional device.  They will also be able to “play” recordings on the mobile device.

More about Blackboard Collaborate Mobile:

Blackboard Collaborate Mobile Users Guide (pdf)