Category Archives: Technology

Sharing a Biochemistry Class via Videoconference

This week ended a four-week intensive Biochemistry (MCAT prep) class that Dr. David Nowack, at Andrews University taught to Union College, one of our sister institutions and his alma mater. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the details and behind-the-scenes efforts it took to make this class a success! We started planning and preparing in December, and the class ran May 9 to June 3, 2016.


The most important part of any instructional collaboration is the teachers! The two teachers at each institution knew each other already, and brainstormed this great idea of sharing a class together. They worked together to make it a success!

Live Videoconference

The first and most important technical piece of this collaboration was the tool used to connect the professor and class at Andrews to the class at Union. We thought about using Zoom, but we wanted to be able to have the option of camera presets afforded by room-based H.323 videoconferencing. Union had just acquired a new Polycom system, and we have a LifeSize system at Andrews. So we tested and decided that connecting the two was the best option. It worked well, as at our end, the teaching end, we could have presets on a document camera, the professor’s computer, and a variety of classroom and blackboard shots. Once set up, it was easy for Dr. Nowack to switch between the different views.

Technical staff at Andrews University (Dan Hamstra) and Union College (Richard Henriques, Michael Calkins) provided the regular support to ensure the videoconference worked well.

Content Sharing and Accessibility

Dr. Nowack’s PowerPoint as well as the view of the classroom or professor, were shared with Union via videoconference.

Chemistry PowerPoints are very intense a lot of detail. Students had the printed version in front of them, but another tool that helped immensely was using the accessibility feature of Windows to make the mouse pointer as huge as possible. This made it much easier for students at Union to see where Dr. Nowack was pointing.

Administrative Collaboration

After discussing several models with Dr. Alayne Thorpe, Dean of the Andrews University School of Distance Education and International Partnerships, it was decided the easiest way to make this collaboration work financially would be to have the Union students register at Union, and then to create a tuition sharing agreement between Andrews and Union. Support was needed at both locations, so the expenses and income were shared. Dr. Keith Mattingly, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Malcolm Russell, Vice President for Academic Administration at Union, provided additional support for the collaboration.


In this content-heavy course, regular graded assessments keep students engaged and learning. At Andrews, chemistry majors buy their iClicker and use it often in their courses, as the department supports and encourages regular use by their faculty. iClickers are a great tool for a shared class, because the students at Andrews could use their clickers, and the students at Union could use the online version of iClickers. And all the students responses from both locations came into to the teacher’s computer and the collective results could be shown (or not) to the students.

Learning Management System

Another important piece of the puzzle was using Andrews’ learning management system, LearningHub (powered by Moodle). This involved several pieces:

  • An instructional designer at Andrews was assigned in January to provide course design and LearningHub support to Dr. Nowack as he prepared for the class.
  • The Friday before the class started, the Union registrar sent the students names and emails to our LearningHub support team, who created accounts in the course and emailed the Union students with their login information.
  • Handouts, reading guides, and student versions of the PowerPoints were shared in LearningHub. The student versions of the PowerPoints provided a note-taking guide for each chapter, and were provided ahead of time so students at both locations could print them ahead of time to be prepared for class.
  • LearningHub also hosted grades, including the grades synced from the iClickers using the integration between iClicker and LearningHub.


It takes a team to make a collaboration successful! Both institutions need to be committed to supporting the creative collaboration desired by faculty. I look forward to supporting and encouraging future collaborations, both within the U.S. and internationally via COIL.

Your students can make the playoffs by building professional digital footprints

I’m presenting this afternoon at the 2016 USDLA National Conference in St. Louis, MO.

Description: Students graduating from our institutions should have a professional digital presence on social media, as well as resumes. Learn about the continuing journey of a course taught face to face, blended, and fully online to undergraduates to assist them in presenting themselves professionally online and through social media.

PowerPointDigital Footprints

Links and Resources

Bringing the World to Your Classroom

This blog post is a supplement to my presentation at the annual Andrews University Teaching and Learning Conference.

Description: Break down the walls of your classroom and bring global engaging learning experiences to your students. Why? The benefits are engaging learning experiences for your students. Collaborate with teachers to design powerful collaborative projects. Come learn about tools and resources that can help you design and implement quality collaborations.

Why Collaborate? 

Collaborative Project Planning Resources

Possible Tools

Finding Partners

Time Zone Tools

  • – great for planning ahead, especially checking daylight savings time changes
  • – put a widget on your computer with the time in another location

Selected Bibliography

See my dissertation for a more complete list of videoconferencing and collaboration references.

  • Cifuentes, L., & Murphy, K. L. (2000). Promoting multicultural understanding and positive self-concept through a distance learning community: cultural connections. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(1), 69-83.
  • Martinez, M. D., & MacMillan, G. (1998). A Joint Distance Learning Course in American Government (No. ED428005).
  • Owston, R. (2007). Contextual factors that sustain innovative pedagogical practice using technology: an international study. Journal of Educational Change, 8(1), 61-77.
  • Sweeney, M. A. (2007). The use of videoconferencing techniques which support constructivism in K-12 education. Dissertation Abstracts International.
  • Warschauer, M. (1997). Computer-mediated collaborative learning: Theory and practice. Modern Language Journal, 81(3), p. 470-481. Also at
  • Yost, N. (2001). Lights, Camera, Action: Videoconferencing in Kindergarten. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference.

An Introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER)

Today, March 29, is the annual Andrews University Teaching and Learning Conference. This year, my department has joined forces with TLC and our monthly Faculty Technology Showcase is part of the day long conference. Our theme for the showcase is Open Educational Resources, and we’re having presentations on OER, learning from MOOCs, and Yammer, an enterprise social network. I’m sharing the OER presentation, and here are the resources we are exploring.

What is OER?

Source: Why Open Education Matters

Open Textbooks for Higher Education

Open Textbooks for K12

Open Educational Resources

So how does it work?

Want to Learn More?

Using Blogging to Contribute Expertise and Convey Credibility

Today I’m presenting a webinar for the United States Distance Learning Association 2016 Webinar Series: Using Blogging to Contribute Expertise and Convey Credibility. This post shares the accompanying resources.


My blogging history:

Tools for blogging:

Ideas for Blogging

Scheduling and Tracking Writing

Promoting and Learning

Thank you to USDLA for the opportunity to present this session! Hope to see you, dear reader, at the USDLA 2016 National Conference in May!

Meeting the LifeSize Icon Flex

lifesizeiconflex-sMany of you following this blog remember my K12 videoconferencing days. Since I’ve been working in higher education, I haven’t had many chances to use standards based or room based videoconferencing with equipment like LifeSize or Polycom.

Web Videoconferencing vs. Room Videoconferencing

But I’ve been doing plenty of videoconferencing with tools like Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and AdobeConnect.

I’ve always been frustrated with webcams though with those web based videoconferencing tools. I miss the ability to zoom in and create presets.

LifeSize Icon Flex

So I was excited when the opportunity came to try out a demo LifeSize Icon Flex from I2I Technologies. It’s “real” videoconferencing that you can connect to your laptop! I know, I know, videoconferencing with your built in laptop webcam is videoconferencing too. But for four years I’ve been trying not to say “real” videoconferencing – it’s room-based, right? or standards-based.

Well, call it what you want, the LifeSize Icon Flex can zoom, pan, show a great shot of a conference room, and I am thrilled! A webcam on top of a mounted TV is tolerable, but a camera with zoom, tilt, pan, etc. is just BETTER! Yay!!

Disclaimer: I have good friends & colleagues who work at I2I Technologies. I got the demo because we are considering our options. No one at I2I asked me to blog about it.


The Role of Social Media Tools in Bridging the Global Divide

Andrews University Faculty Institute Presentation 2015
I’m presenting with Dr. Alayne Thorpe, Dean of the Andrews University School of Distance Education and International Partnerships, and Dr. Leni Casimiro, Director of AIIAS Online, Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies

Social Media in an Online Week of Prayer
Leni is sharing the experiences and use of social media for offering an online week of prayer to students in many countries.

An Exploration of Several Tools

Questions to Consider

  • How can social media help students connect to the world?
  • How can social media and other digital tools bridge the global divide?

For Further Reading

Ideas for Social Media Participation and Promotion

This blog post is a collection of ideas to help students in my Social Media class choose a variety of social media activities.

Setup Options

Make the most of your social media sites. Set them up well.

  1. Follow Other Blogs. Set yourself up to follow others in your field or area. This will inform your social media use. Find at least 5 blogs in your area to follow. Use the search terms “[keyword] blog” on Google. Brainstorm keywords often used in your field. Then subscribe to the blog. Either subscribe via email if that is offered (usually prominently on the front page) or see if the blog is posted automatically to Twitter. Or use the RSS feed icon. What is RSS? Feedly is a good option for following blogs on your computer. I like Flipboard for my smartphone. Subscribe to 5 blogs.
  2. Follow people, topics, and/or hashtags on Twitter. Use the Twitter search to find people or tags in your interest area. Look at someone’s profile; scroll quickly through, and see if there are any specific hashtags they are using that you want to follow. Scroll through a hashtag’s recent posts and see if there is anyone else posting interesting and useful content that you want to follow. Click Follow in individual twitter profiles to follow someone or use a service like Tweetdeck or HootSuite to organize the feeds which allows you to easily follow hashtags and subgroups of topics/people.
  3. Mark / logo. Design a logo or mark to brand your work on all social media. For example, note how Silvia Tolisano uses the witch hat across her social media sites: Langwitches.orgTwitterWikispacesFlickrVimeoFacebookBlog. If you have Illustrator skills, use that. Another option is Online Logo Maker. Then add your logo/mark to the profile pictures or header images on at least two of your social media sites.
  4. Tweetdeck. Don’t have a lot of time to tweet? Feel twitter needs a little organization? Use Tweetdeck to organize the hashtags and keywords that you follow. You can also write tweets and schedule them to post later. Get set up in Tweetdeck (text tutorial; video tutorial); create at least 5 columns to follow various topics. Create and schedule at least 5 tweets.
  5. Send blog posts automatically to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and/or LinkedIn. To generate more traffic for your blog, connect it to your social network(s). I have my blog posting automatically to Twitter and LinkedIn, my professional networks; but not Facebook as my friends and family may not care to hear too much about my work. If you are using, click on the Sharing setting and connect the desired social network(s). If you have WordPress installed on your own site, install the Jetpack Plugin and you’ll find the option to Publicize under Settings, Sharing. While you are in the Sharing Setting, add buttons for your readers to share your blog post to their networks.
  6. Subscribe widget and more. Set up your blog so that others can subscribe to it and find other widgets to add to your blog. From the menu, click Customize, Widgets, Add a Widget. Note the “follow” widgets for others to subscribe. Note the widgets that make connections to your other social media sites.
  7. Create a central site that links all of your social media together. It could be on your blog, or it could be on your personal website if you have one. Note how Silvia Tolisano (wordpress) and Michael Taylor (weebly) use a central site for connections to their social media.

Things to Create and Share

Focus on the value add. How does your creation add to the online conversation on this topic? How can you use social media to hook an audience and bring them in? See Runner’s World and Strength Running as some examples.

  1. Internet image meme. What is a meme? Sabbath Sofa – examples of image and video memes. Create an image meme. While you could quickly make a cheesy image meme using a tool like Meme Generator; try something more sophisticated and use your own photo or a Flickr Creative Commons photo (follow the rules) and use a photo editor like PicMonkey (tutorials) to create your image meme. Then share the image appropriately on Facebook or Twitter.
  2. Twitter posts. Create and share 5 catchy tweets on twitter. First read some strategies for great tweets, effective tweets, promoting news, and using hashtags.
  3. Pinterest. Create at least two Pinterest (tutorials) boards related to the topic you are promoting in this class. Include at least 5 items with great graphics in each board.
  4. Graphical options. Create something graphical and cool with tools such as Glogster, Padlet, Instagram, etc. Note the visual choices here.

50+ Idea Starters for Your Blog Post

This blog post is a collection of ideas to help students in my Social Media class create the assigned blog posts.

Getting Started

  1. Write a blog post that shares information and invites reader sharing (Interactive Blogging)
  2. Write a blog post with a bullet list and at least one picture; emphasizing your main point (Writing Scannable Text)
  3. Write a how-to: With screen shots if it’s technical; with pictures; or examples
  4. Write a “tips & tricks” list on a specific topic
  5. Live blog an event or session, and write your notes as it happens (different type of writing)
  6. Write a rant/critique post – complain about something thoughtfully; give evidence and support for your comments
  7. Write a product review
  8. Use these tips to write a “great” post
  9. Write a list, or a case study, or a tutorial / guide
  10. Compare and contrast two concepts
  11. Compare and contrast two images

Write a List with 5, 7 or 10 Points

  1. Write an intro paragraph, paragraph for each of the 5 things (bulleted paragraphs are nice); closing paragraph
  2. Write about 5, 7, or 10 ideas
  3. Write about 5, 7, or 10 misconceptions
  4. Write about 5, 7, or 10 problems that need to be solved – just describe them
  5. Write about 5, 7, or 10 different solutions to a problem – think outside the box
  6. Write about 5, 7, or 10 weird things about a topic
  7. Write about 5, 7, or 10 tools to use to address a problem
  8. Write about 5, 7, or 10 paths to an end result – think creatively
  9. Write about 5, 7, or 10 interesting questions about a topic – what are the questions? Describe them… but don’t answer them!
  10. Write 5, 7, or 10 why questions about a topic
  11. Write 5, 7, or 10 problematic or sticky questions about a topic
  12. Write 5, 7, or 10 multifaceted, complex questions about a topic (questions that have multiple answers)
  13. Write 5, 7, or 10 important / controversial questions about a topic
  14. Write about 5, 7, or 10 things you wonder about
  15. Write about 5, 7, or 10 ethical considerations of a topic

Join the Online Conversation: Respond on Your Blog to Another Person’s Blog Post

  1. Do you agree with the person’s blog post? Why do you agree? What additional examples or scenarios can you give in support? Does the post raise any questions that you want to ask your audience? It’s ok to ask questions and not answer them in your blog posts! What else could you link to, maybe one other site or article, that supports the person’s post? What relationships do you see between their post and other concepts?
  2. Do you disagree with the person’s blog post? Why do you not agree? Explain why. Give counter arguments supporting by evidence such as an example, another article or situation, etc. How could you synthesize their point of view with yours or another’s to create a new idea or concept? Give several alternative solutions or options in opposition to what they posted. Take their idea in a new direction and elaborate on it. Does their conclusion or point rest on an assumption that isn’t stated? if so, what? Use that to explain your disagreement.
  3. If you sort of agree but not totally, where are the issues? Are there some parts that you agree with and not others? Why? Give evidence of why your point of view is supported. Use the questions from agree/disagree above to help you with your response.

Take it Deeper

  1. Consider an argument or statement someone has made: examine each part of the statement. Ask questions about each part. Is it true? What assumptions are behind the statement? Write out your thinking about it.
  2. Make connections between your field and your faith. Here are 99 questions to spark your thinking
  3. Consider a current issue or situation. What are at least two things that are influencing that situation? Comment on them or at least describe them.
  4. Consider a current issue, situation, illustration, graphical element. What are the parts/components and what is the relationship between them?
  5. Write about a cause and effect. Think of a possible effect in your field (snow falling, poor choices, a healthy body) and explore several the potential causes.
  6. Identify the elements of a concept or thing. Identify the relationships among those elements. Identify the rules for how those elements interact with each other. Could be conceptual, or skill based.
  7. Identify a problem and develop hypotheses about how it might be solved.
  8. Identify a problem, and think of 5 many ideas, rationales or arguments related to the problem.
  9. Write out a step by step plan for implementing an idea you have.
  10. Debate the pros and cons of an issue, problem, solution, idea, situation.

Visual and Media Choices

  1. Create something visually new from two separate parts. Show the two parts and what you created.
  2. Share 5 photos that explain or illustrate a concept; be sure to use photos where you have permission (i.e. Flickr Creative Commons) and cite the photo sources.
  3. Share 3 YouTube videos on a topic and include commentary on why you selected them.
  4. Share a photo or graphic you created and compare it to a photo of something in nature. Compare & contrast or make connections between them.
  5. Share a photo or graphic you created, with a link or photo of what inspired you.
  6. Share an infographic you created about a concept with some introductory text.
  7. Share a how to video with an introductory sentence or two.
  8. Take any of the “writing” ideas listed above and think of how you could express the idea visually with only a sentence or two accompanying it.
  9. Illustrate a cause and effect with photos or graphical elements.
  10. Create a visual mind map of a concept – i.e. a collection of photos of different types of happiness.
  11. Illustrate the various elements of a concept or thing.
  12. Categorize or classify 10-20 different things.
  13. Compare and contrast two graphics, videos, YouTube clips, photos, techniques, software packages, concepts, projects, websites, tools, etc. pick and compare two things.
  14. Diagram the flow of a procedure or relationship between elements.
  15. Create a mind map on a concept – show it and include some short explanation.
  16. Cite/quote/show a graph from a report on the Internet and then generate 5 questions about the graph.

Reusing College Content

  1. Look through your assignments. Is there a paper you really enjoyed, or felt passionate about? Could you get one or two or three blog posts by condensing and making more precise?
  2. Think about your current or past courses. Is there a lecture you really enjoyed? What was it about? What could you document / share on your blog? Cite sources and/or your professor? Respond to the topic?
  3. Take two really different classes you have taken or are taking. What is the overarching concept for each course? Now make comparisons or connections between those two ideas. How do they connect? How are they different? Does one idea remind you of another? Do the two ideas make you think of a third idea?

Blog Writing Tips and Suggestions

Blog Writing Tips and Suggestions

Here is a collection of articles and resources for blog writing. Watch out for the ads on some of these sites. 

Writing Intros and Titles

General Blog Writing Tips

Creating Visually Interesting Blog Posts