Two Fun Tools To Enhance Your Courses and Engage Your Students

Announcing TWO exciting tools for our faculty* to use. Pixton and PowToon. Each of these tools can liven up your content and help make your class more interesting to your students. Here’s a little info on each product:

pixtonTitle III purchased a license for Pixton, a cartoon tool for you to create innovative content. Use comic characters to explain a concept, or create scenarios or situations using comics. You can create storyboards that fit your needs quickly and easily. You can even upload audio to your comics. Here’s a short video clip explaining how Pixton works. In the video it mentions giving Pixton to your students. Our license is ONLY for our faculty’s use. There is a free Pixton that your students can use to create cartoons.

powtoonPowToon is a little different from Pixton. Powtoon is an “intuitive presentation software that allows someone with no technical or design skills to create engaging professional ‘look and feel’ animated presentations.” This is available NOW for a short time only on a 1 year trial basis for teachers. We’d love to see some faculty try this tool out and let us know if they’d like us to find the funding to continue the license when the year is up. This tool lets you create animated clips, short information pieces that can easily upload to YouTube. Here’s an example of PowToon in use.

Each product has great examples to view and tutorials to help you get started. If you are interested in one or both of these products please contact Nicole. (PowToon’s free offer is only available for a limited time!)

*UAS faculty teaching a Sitka course, or faculty participating in Title III projects (like Peer Review or iTeach).

Non-traditional Students?

Recently we’ve had some great discussions in our ED593:Design and Teach an Online Course including a talk about lessons we have learned from our “non-traditional” students. When I read those posts I thought I understood what faculty were talking about. But, after reading Clinton’s blog post (below), I am now wondering, what we really mean by that term “non-traditional” students, and, is it really a) accurate or b) helping us as educators to categorize students in this manner?

Brian Murphy Clinton, the executive director of Enrollment Management for the Northeastern University College of Professional studies feels that using the term ‘non-traditional’ marginalizes the very population of individuals that universities cater to! I hope you’ll take the time to read his post: “Is there Really Such a Thing As a Nontraditional Student?”

You can click the image to find his article. Let us know if you agree or disagree!

What's In a Name Quote

Motivating Adult Learners

We’ve been talking about learning styles in general, but what about adult learners, as a group? Are there things that online instructors can do to motivate and keep adult learners engaged? Tom Kuhlman things so.  He believes that practice activities, meaningful feedback, and providing an environment where adults have freedom to learn are some of the keys.

Take a look at his blog post by clicking on Tom’s unique character avatar below. Do you agree with this list? Have any ideas from your experience that you’d care to share with us?

Tom Kuhlman from Rapid eLearning

Learning Styles Explored

Gayle H. began the conversation on Friday when she spoke on Learning Styles at the first “Teaching Tips in 30” gathering.

I thought the article Learn Faster, Learn Better: What Style Fits You Best might be a nice follow-up.

Does this agree with what you shared in your session Gayle? How much credence do faculty put into learning styles and how does this affect the way you teach?

Click the image to explore this info-graphic.

Learning Styles

From the Education Database Online Blog.

Why Your Students Might NOT Be Reading

booksmallIt’s a busy time of year as we ramp up for Fall 2013. Most of us have textbooks or articles that we assign as critical components of our course.

We thought you might be interested in a recent study “Why University Students Don’t Read: What Professors Can Do to Increase Compliance” by Mary Hoeft.

If you think reading is essential to your student’s success, you might be interested to read that this study suggests graded journals and quizzes will greatly impact the rate of reading compliance.  It might be worth taking a few minutes to look over this study.

Image: ©

Social Media for Teaching and Learning

Pearson Learning Solutions – Social Media for Teaching and LearningSocial media concept

Social media is gaining a lot of attention in online learning. Learn what the buzz is all about from the following session slides and podcasts available online:

  • Major Findings from the 2012 Social Media in Higher Education Report
  • Social Media for Establishing Learning Communities
  • Creating Pedagogy for Social Knowledge Networks
  • Social Media for Engaging Multiple Learning Styles
  • Education 3.0

Image: ©

eLearning 2013

Are you back in the swing of school? Are there terms you are hearing (“gamification”, “mlearning” etc.) or other words you’ve been coming across that you aren’t sure you know? Check out Ms. Marshall’s post: 10 Terms You Should Know in eLearning and get familiar with the language of eLearning today!

We were lucky to hear some excellent speakers this year at some educational technology conferences.  One stand-out speaker was Sugata Mitra. He is the 2013 TED winner of $1,000,000 for his latest endeavor in education.  You probably heard of his “hole in the wall” computer project 13 years ago in India. His talk this year involves what he learned from that project, and also some newer projects where he is convinced that kids can teach themselves with the proper encouragement. It was a fascinating talk. You can listen to the lecture at this link: Highlights from Bb World — if you want to skip directly to his talk, move the player about 11 minutes into the video. You can also watch his TED talk Build a School in the Cloud. 

Additionally, be on the lookout for a post from Mary describing a ‘book club’ event we’ll be hosting this Fall. We found the keynote Tony Wagner to be so compelling that we’re looking at purchasing his book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World” and hope to hold a discussion about some of his ideas to revamp education. Here is a recap on his talk, Closing the Skills Gap by Educating Innovators.

Stayed tuned for more information as we sift through all of our notes and find more valuable apps and links to share with you all!

Are Your Courses Ready for Fall Semester?

Fall semester is almost here which makes this a good time for you to take a close look at your Fall courses. How does their design and organization compare with national standards (like Quality Matters and Blackboard Catalyst)? Would your courses fare well against the UAS Sitka peer review rubric?

ED593_PosterResizeRecently Mary and Kathi were in Vegas for Blackboard World 2013. Their ED593: Designing and Teaching an Online Course was awarded a Director’s Choice Catalyst Award (view all of the 2013 award winners). Take a few minutes and click through some of the courses. You might get some ideas on course design and organization by seeing this year’s winners.

ED593 will be offered in September. We encourage all faculty to sign up and take the course. We guarantee that your time will be well spent as you redesign and make improvement to your existing course(s) to meet best practices and national standards of course design and organization. Mary and Kathi model good teaching practices and are looking forward to you joining them!

Don’t forget there are many of us available to help you design or redesign your course(s). Please don’t hesitate to ask!

In the News


We’ve been hearing more and more about Google Apps in Education and Google tools lately. Google Drive, Hangouts… and what’s in that Cloud anyway?? Here are a few articles worth checking out.

Online Collaboration with Open Tools: The Case for Google Drive & Hangouts – Brian Janz, WCET Frontiers Blog Post

The Staggering Number Of Schools That Have Gone Google – Jeff Dunn, Edudemic

Summertime Fun with Videos!

mobile devicesThis summer the Instructional Design team has been experimenting with quick, easy to create videos. Because so many of your students have cell phones, iPads, Surfaces, and/or laptops with video capabilities, these web tools can be used to quickly engage students. Consider a 6 second Vine or 15 second Instagram movie as a student introduction. You also might consider one of these movies as a quick and fun introduction to your class or a “meet the instructor” video.

If you haven’t tried making one of these videos, we encourage you to take 15 minutes and try it out. It’s quick, it’s free, and it’s fun! Remember, these don’t have to be professional– they are merely quick snapshots. If you are still skeptical, you might enjoy reading this article: Vine in Education.

Image: ©