we’re blogging how we explore technology in the teaching/learning process

eLearning 2016 – IFTTT

March 13th, 2016 · Comments Off on eLearning 2016 – IFTTT · instructional technology, Links, online teaching

Last month, Audrey and I traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona to present a pre-conference workshop at eLearning 2016. Our session, Instructional and Fun Tools That Tantalize (IFTTT), was focused on apps and services that help maximize productivity and avoid repetitive tasks. We had a fantastic group of attendees at our session, and I learned quite a bit from everyone there. This was the first eLearning conference I have attended, and I was impressed with both the organization of the conference itself as well as the quality of the sessions I attended. Scottsdale also offers some beautiful scenery!

Presentation Resources

  • Chirp.io – send information using sound. Any device with a speaker or microphone can now send and receive data.
  • Clipboard managers add additional functionality to the basic functions of cut, copy and paste. Some of our favorite apps are: Arsclip (PC), Ditto (PC), ClipX (PC), JumpCut (Mac), CopyClip (Mac), and Copied (Mac and iOS).
  • Text expanders help you avoid repetitive typing. You can save blocks of text and trigger them with special keystrokes.Some of our favorite text expansion apps are: PhraseExpress (PC), Texter (PC), TextExpander (Mac), and TypeIt4Me (Mac).
  • IFTTT is a service for creating customized connections between services and devices. You can, for example, create a recipe that automatically archives tweets containing a course hashtag to a Google spreadsheet for grading.
  • Notational Velocity is plain text note-taking app that makes creating and searching for notes a breeze. You can also sync your entire collection of notes between multiple devices!
  • PopClip is a Mac app that allows you to instantly run over 100 actions on any text you have selected.
  • Dropbox file requests are a fast way of asking for files from multiple people.
  • Penflip is a great resource for collaborative writing and includes features such as automatic ePub/PDF/HTML creation and version control.
  • The iOS app, Anchor, offers a simple way to facilitate audio conversations online – simply post a recording, and other users can post their own responses.
  • Kahoot is a website for creating and managing game-based learning activities for your classroom.


New Hardware

August 28th, 2015 · Comments Off on New Hardware · administrivia, blogging

We are now running on RedHat Linux 7.x. This will allow us to use our new backup solution so we are all spiffy.


baby turtle cheering



Version Control (VC) for Documents – Brightspace Ignite 2015

February 10th, 2015 · Comments Off on Version Control (VC) for Documents – Brightspace Ignite 2015 · instructional technology, interesting, online teaching, presentations, teaching, tutorial

Brandon has been a big fan of Github and is slowing convincing me that I need to be a part of this massive site full of great code, knowledge and sharing. At the heard of GitHub is “Git”, the brainchild of the inventor of Linux, Linus Torvalds. GitHub puts a user-friendly, web-based GUI on top of Git and makes it better for mere mortals, like me. 🙂

GitHub allows someone to fork a document (or code) and makes changes to it in their own version. Then, they can give those changes back to the main developer via a “pull request”. The developer can then see the changes versus the original file and “merge” them into the main document, if desired. See, it is easy!

We will be presenting on how to use GitHub and PenFlip as a means for managing version of documents used in your online/hybrid/web-enhanced courses at the Brightspace Ignite Tennessee event coming up in Murfreesboro on Feb 13, 2015.

After the event, we will link the presentation file here.

Until then, here are some resources about using GitHub:

GitHub for Beginners: Don’t Get Scared, Get Started (from ReadWrite)

Part One

Part Two

Try Git (a course from GitHub and Code School – you can start for free, there will be a cost to move forward)

Brandon’s GitHub profile

Audrey’s GitHub profile

Git Beginner’s Video Series


OER on Mobile

August 19th, 2014 · Comments Off on OER on Mobile · students, teaching

We have had several presentations about Open Education Resources during inservice this year (Fall 2014)

Some of the OER resources have mobile apps that help access them on your device. We just learned about one from Open Stax (open, free textbooks)


FUSION 2014: Usng a txt expdr

July 7th, 2014 · Comments Off on FUSION 2014: Usng a txt expdr · D2L, faculty, faculty development, online teaching, students, teaching

Brandon and I will be presenting at the poster session this year at the annual FUSION Desire2Learn Users Conference held this year in exotic and far-off Nashville, Tennessee!

Our session is on using text expanders within D2L and our work supporting D2L users. A text expander is basically a database that uses short abbreviations you create to expand into longer text blocks, snippets, emails, URLs, addresses and so forth. It is a great time-saving device.

Here are the resources and references for our poster session:

Our Top Five Uses for Text Expanders:

  1. Tech Support: sending commonly asked questions for tech support or common troubleshooting techniques for regular questions
  2. Grading: adding commonly used phrases or resources for grading discussions, quiz feedback and other assignments
  3. Common HTML Code: Brandon uses it for adding Easy Proxy links within the D2L HTML Editor to prevent it from messing up the links.
  4. FAQ: Sometimes you just need to send the answer that is in an FAQ
  5. Instructions/Information: Sending links and information about campus resources or instructions to install software, etc.


Text Expanders to Explore






And, if you are really interested in seeing how a text expander works, check this out:



Upgrade to D2L 10.3

January 23rd, 2014 · Comments Off on Upgrade to D2L 10.3 · D2L, faculty, instructional technology, online learning, online teaching, students, teaching

It is obvious that we have been remiss in blogging here at TeachTech over 2013. That will try to be rectified in 2014.

To start out this new year, all of the Tennessee Board of Regents colleges (including Pellissippi State) upgraded our course management system to the latest and greatest version: D2L 10.3.

There are many small changes – some cosmetic and some a bit more extensive that should speed things up for students and teachers alike and we will talk about those in future postings. But, for now, be sure to grab the two page Quick Reference Guide for getting around in the new version.

Screenshot of the Desire2Learn Instructor Quick Reference Guide

D2L Quick Reference Guide


got MOOC?

January 30th, 2013 · Comments Off on got MOOC? · online learning, online teaching

I confess…I am a MOOC dropout. In fact, on more than one occasion.

Now, you might be asking: MOOC? What’s a MOOC.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. They typically have open registration and will have several thousand registrations at the outset. However, the dropout rate is very, very high…like above 90% of the registrants don’t complete the course. But, for the 10% that do, it is a great access to education.

A timeline of the history of the MOOC

HIstory of the MOOC

MOOCs have been around for about 4 years and have evolved into several types:

  • Connectivist MOOC (cMOOC) relies on the connectivist education theory which emphasizes the personal learning network for each participant and a collaborative structure to creating the learning experience.
  • Content MOOC (xMOOC) is a bit more “traditional” in its approach and are the types of MOOCs garnering a lot of the press right now. Examples of these include Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence  course or any of the MIT Open Course Ware options from back over 10 years ago.
  • A third type could be called the Task MOOC (tMOOC?) and it involves a set of tasks that the participant completes from prompts within the course. The students also then comment on and/or critique the other’s tasks. An example of this type of MOOC is the Digital Storytelling course from the University of Mary Washington known as ds106.

The overwhelming type of MOOC is the xMOOC approach and you can find courses from many consortia of universities in places like:

  • Coursera:  Courses from schools like Stanford, University of Michigan, Georgia Tech and more….Where I dropped out of the Human-Computer Interaction Course
  • EdX: Courses from MIT, Harvard, Berkeley and Georgetown
  • Udacity: Offers courses for high school students and beyond


The challenges, in my mind, for MOOCs include:

  • increasing the completion rate, which will also increase the scalability of the course delivery both infrastructure as well as human resources needed
  • finding a revenue streaming to keep the model viable in today’s increasingly difficulty higher education budget world
  • determining how to keep academic integrity to allow for some form of credential to be awarded for successful completion, whether it is a badget, a certificate, college credit or some other – yet to be invented – type of recognition. The introduction of Signature Track within Coursera is a move in that direction as it will use photo ID and biometrics to identify a student taking the course before a certificate can be offered.


For a very thorough review of the rise of MOOCs, check out Sir John Daniel’s paper: Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility