Author Archive: April Lawrence

About April Lawrence

April Lawrence is the Academic Technologist for the School of Education. A high school English teacher for ten years, April also worked in online course design and development before joining the AIS staff. April is a doctoral candidate in Educational Policy, Planning & Leadership at William & Mary. Her research interests include exploring the intersections of culture, technology integration, and learning.

The Whats Whys and Hows of Infographic Assignments

You’ve seen them in your inboxes and your social media feeds — the ubiquitous infographic. This post will outline how you can include a fun infographic assignment as an alternative to a traditional reading or writing assignment in your course. What Is an Infographic? Infographics are visual representations of information. They can include numbers, text, […]

Student Perspectives on W&M’s First Online Courses

Online Pilot 1

This summer Randy Coleman (biochemstry) and Till Schreiber (macroeconomics) taught William & Mary’s first fully online summer courses in the Arts & Sciences. Once the courses were completed and grades were posted, we sent out a student satisfaction survey to all 22 students who completed the courses. We had twelve students complete the survey (a […]

The Most Successful Online Discussion Board — a Case Study

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This post outlines how Professor Tom Ward in the School of Education used a discussion board activity with a midterm project to facilitate critical thinking, peer coaching, and the authentic application of conceptual knowledge in a doctoral level Advanced Statistics course.

“Communities of Inquiry”: The Anti-MOOCs

Community of Inquiry Model

Conversations about e-learning at William & Mary are on the rise. Rachel, Jamison, and I have been working with two Arts & Sciences faculty who are in the process of developing the College’s first two fully online courses (to be taught during summer session). Faculty in graduate programs in business and education have been discussing the […]

Engaging Students with Frontline and TED Talks

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I once asked my 11th grade Math Analysis teacher how it was conceptually possible to take the limit of something as it approached infinity if infinity has no limit. She told me that I didn’t need to understand it conceptually, I only needed to be able to work the formula. So I did what she […]

Interactive Rubrics: A Blackboard Tool for Planning and Grading

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This semester I’ve been experimenting with Blackboard’s interactive rubric tool. The interactive rubric tool enables faculty to build custom (and reusable) rubrics that can be associated with Blackboard assignments and discussion forums. I created a rubric for each of the seven assignments in my course, and opted to make the rubrics visible to students. (Instructors can keep grading rubrics hidden, if they wish.) Students seemed to appreciate having clear expectations for each assignment, and I appreciated having a rubric to easily click through during the grading process. The rubric tool is extremely customizable, so faculty can determine the criteria that work best in their assignments and disciplines.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Part 2: Getting Started with Twitter in the Classroom

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Julie and I are both teaching sections of Designs for Technology-Enhanced Learning courses this semester. These courses are for elementary pre-service teachers, and they’re given an introduction to computer-based instructional technologies, curriculum-based planning with technology, and emerging trends and issues in educational technology. One of the tools we’ve decided to use in our sections is Twitter. We’ve learned some important things about getting started using Twitter for a class that we’d like to share with you in this post.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Part 1: Engage Beyond the Walls of the Classroom with Twitter

Are you as ready to tweet as this guy is? Don't worry, you will be!

I and post co-author Julie K. Marsh have started using Twitter as one of our class tools to help students (and future K-12 school teachers) learn how to manage their Web presence. With 140 characters in each tweet, Twitter allows students the ability to extend or participate in class discussion by commenting, questioning, and sharing their opinions in a medium they find easy to use. Our students will be in their first professional job by this time next year. With this in mind, we’ve encouraged students to use Twitter to connect and engage with other educators as well as to build their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs).

W&M Self-Directed E-Learning Projects: An Update

Broadcasting from W&M Weather Vane

Last spring, Gene posted a call for faculty participation in a grant for Self-Directed Faculty Development for E-Learning. This Creative Adaptation Fund (CAF) award from the College supports a collaboration among Swem Library, the School of Education (the Technology Integration Center), and IT Academic Information Services. The objective of this project is to develop Web-based resources and a set of best practices that will help faculty navigate technology enhanced learning here at William & Mary. Phase 1 of this project is now complete, and this post is about how it went and what we’re up to next.

Blinded by the MOOCs: Three Alternatives

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While MOOCs have been making their debut, more traditional forms of distance learning have persisted (though not nearly with as much fanfare). The latest figures from the National Center for Education Statistics show that about 20% of post-secondary students take at least one class online. Instead of (or in addition to) debating whether To MOOC or Not to MOOC, I’d like to propose three ways that e-learning can potentially enhance learning and increase accessibility at William & Mary: increased learning opportunities, course redesigns, and regional online collaborative courses. These three ideas can all help to keep learning front and center.