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

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


YouTube Playlists

November 29th, 2012 · Comments Off on YouTube Playlists · tutorial

YouTube playlists are groups of related videos that play after one another in an order you specify. Playlists are a great way to create content for a flipped classroom, since students don’t have to navigate to many different YouTube videos in order to learn about a topic. When creating your own playlists, you can even use YouTube’s built-in video recorder to add your own introduction to videos published by other individuals. When finished, you can embed the entire playlist in your D2L course very easily. Let’s take a look at how it works!

Getting Started

You’re need a Google account to create playlists. If you don’t already have one, go ahead and head over to this site to set one up – https://accounts.google.com. Click on the create an account for free link to get started.

Create a Playlist

  1. Make sure that you’re logged in to your Google/YouTube account. Use the search box to locate a video you’s like to add to a new playlist.
  2. Click on the Add to button under the video. Type a name for the playlist in the text field and click the Create playlist button.
  3. Find another video using the search tool. To add the new video to an existing playlist, click on the Add to button and choose the playlist from the list of available items as shown in the image below:
  4. Repeat the above process to add as many videos to the playlist as you’d like.

Edit a Playlist

You can visit the Edit Playlist page to change the order of videos in a playlist, insert your own introductions, or remove videos all together. To get started, either navigate to https://www.youtube.com/view_all_playlists or click on your name in the navigation area, then choose Video Manager | Playlists. Click the Edit button for the playlist you’d like to edit.

  • Change the order of videos by hovering over the left part of the row and clicking and dragging the video to a new location.
  • Delete videos from the playlist by checking the box for the videos you’d like to remove and choosing the Remove videos from playlist option in the Actions drop-down list.
  • Add your own video or text introduction to videos by hovering over a video thumbnail and clicking the Introduction option. If you plan on recording video in the browser, you’ll need to give Flash permission to access your computer’s camera and microphone. Click the Start Recording button when you’re ready to begin.

Embedding a Playlist

You can embed a playlist in your D2L course as easily as you can embed a single video.

  1. In YouTube, access your Playlists in the Video Manager. Then, click on the title of the playlist you want to add to your D2L course.
  2. Click on the Share button and copy the URL form the text field that appears.
  3. Access your D2L course and navigate to the Content tool.
  4. Click on the New Topic button and select the Create New File option.
  5. Choose a module in which to place the topic and provide a title.
  6. Click on the Insert Stuff icon in the HTML editor.
  7. Click on the Insert Link option in the left column of the dialog box. Then, paste the address you copied from YouTube in the URL text field in the main content area.
  8. Click Next. Then, click Insert.
  9. Save your topic when finished!

Click here to download a PDF version of this tutorial.