Learning Objectives First, Technology Second

The stages of backward design.

[This is a guest post by Sharon Zuber, Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies and Director of the Writing Resources Center at William & Mary] What comes to mind when most faculty think about “IT” services? The person who rescues a crashed hard drive? The voice behind the HELP number when a classroom […]

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Beyond PowerPoint: Prezi in Education

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Even though it came to life five years ago, Prezi still manages to wow audiences — especially those who encounter it for the first time. A welcome disruption to the ubiquity of PowerPoint slides, with their overused bullet point lists and mundane clip art, Prezi is a dynamic presentation tool that by its nature makes […]

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Gardens of Discussion: What Makes Online Communities Work?

garden

I’ve been contemplating online communities lately — specifically, that I don’t know what comprises the magic that makes one community tick and another one fail, despite the fact that I’ve participated in many different communities online over the last twenty years. I can tell you that the magic of a successful, vibrant community comes from […]

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Upcoming Blackboard Workshops

April Lawrence, academic technologist for the School of Education, and Rachel Kleinsorge, our resident Blackboard expert, will be hosting a pair of Blackboard classes to help professors use the new Blackboard tools. The workshops will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., on Monday, January 13, 2014, at the School of Education and Tuesday, […]

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Blackboard Upgrades 2014

An example Access Log.

Blackboard is an ambitious company, releasing updates several times a year. Our most recent Blackboard update took place on January 3rd. While there are some small formatting changes, like the addition of a quick links button to the upper left of the screen, the changes below will probably be the most noticeable. Test Access Log Things […]

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iPads in the Classroom: Using Reflector to Project Displays

Projecting technology has come a long way since candle slide projectors. Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.

One increasingly common question I get these days is from faculty members who want to use their iPads in the classroom or do a video capture from their iPad or iPhone. While there have been a few W&M faculty members who have successfully used their iPads in class over the past few years, these uses […]

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Interactive Rubrics: A Blackboard Tool for Planning and Grading

rubrics

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.

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The One-Minute Dissertation

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While most of the media attention has focused on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and their impact on teaching, it seems to me that our current approach to research is likely to change even more dramatically — particularly the doctoral dissertation in education. The dissertation in the social sciences is a relatively predictable document that has been developed according to the expectations over the last 50 years or so. The chapters cover the same topics and follow the same logic, even though we no longer hand-calculate our statistical tests or tediously calculate the amount of space needed to accommodate our footnotes at the bottom of a typewriter page. But the dissertation still takes a year to produce, and the first couple of drafts are painful for the writer and for the advisor. What would happen if the dissertation could be written in one minute?

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Five Tips for Using Skype and Google Hangout for Meetings

This image shows a comparison of different ISOs from a digital camera. Notice the additional noise in the bottom image? This is due to settings on the camera that aren't allowing enough light to enter the lens. [Image source.]

I recently moved to the opposite coast from W&M, and used the opportunity to learn how to use both Skype and Google Hangout for meetings with folks still in Virginia. I’ve used both platforms over the past few months, and I’m here to share my own quick tips for getting the most out of video […]

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The End of Bliss, or, Why You Should Think About Upgrading from Windows XP

Bliss is the default wallpaper for Windows XP.

If you are trying to find Bliss you may want to start your search at 3050 Fremont Drive, roughly halfway between the towns of Napa and Sonoma, California. Subconsciously I think most of us know exactly what Bliss looks like — a lovely, vivid, green meadow on a perfectly rolling hill, lying under a deep […]

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