Are you paying attention?


Time so often hastens by,
Time so often stops --

Still, it strains belief
How an instant can dilate,
Or long years be brief.

-- Richard Wilbur

"When we are at our best, we are paying attention." (Bill Hogue, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO at the University of South Carolina, EDUCAUSE Review, January/February 2014).

You know those days that seem to stretch on forever -- either out of boredom, when you are waiting for something, or when you are working on an intensive project for an entire day? Then also, those days that just seem to have flown by? What encounters with others have you had on those days? Did you listen well to them? Did you thank them? Was your mind with them in those moments?

When we are at our best, we are paying attention!

Some great new enhancements to Moodle will roll out with Moodle 2.6

  • Annotate PDF assignment submissions
  • Single Activity Course Format - Use this when you are using solely a SCORM module
  • Improved TinyMCE editor - expands editing features
  • Improved editing icons

Learn what's new in the upcoming release -- Moodle 2.6
Moodle 2.6 Release Highlights -- YouTube Videos

Your students have their cell phones with them in the classroom. Why not tap into that resource and use PollEverywhere (or Twitter) to assess student learning?

Watch this video


Have you tried using Google Docs in your classroom yet? Students are able to share their document with you and the other students in their group. Group members can write within the document simultaneously. Writing can continue outside of the classroom and students can chat with each other via the chat pane as they write.

Ask your students to bring their laptops, or assign groups and then make sure at least a couple of students in each group bring his/her laptop to class.

This video shows how one instructor is using this in her classroom:

Dropbox, Flip It!, Poll Everywhere, Evernote, Doceri, Fuse ... you name it! What are your top favorites in mobile apps?

Chances are you have favorites for organizational tools, productivity apps, and classroom apps.

Here are my favorites:

Organizational Tools:

Google Drive (free): Especially useful if your institution has adopted Google Apps, this app allows you to collaborate with other users, upload and store files in the cloud, and access those files from any device, any location.

Evernote (free): This free, straightforward note-making app outrivals most competing apps thanks to its strong search capabilities and effortless organization. But the real key to its success and popularity is that Evernote synchronizes all your files by saving them to a cloud service, meaning anything you create or alter from your mobile device will be there waiting for you when you log into any other version of Evernote.

Productivity Tools:

EduCreations (free): Educreations transforms your iPad into a recordable whiteboard that captures your voice and handwriting to produce amazing video lessons that you can share online. It's as simple as touching, tapping and talking. Create amazing animations by touching your photos to move and resize them. Whatever it is that you want to teach, now you can do it from anywhere. Finished lessons are hosted on, where you can choose who is able to watch them.

Dragon Dictation (free): Accurate and fast, the Dragon Dictation app cuts the typing out of jotting down a note, drafting an email, posting to Twitter, and a few other light tasks. As a simple dictation app, Dragon transcribes whatever you speak with good accuracy.

Fuse (free): Techsmith, the maker of Camtasia Studio and Camtasia Relay, brings us Fuse on mobile devices. Fuse allows you to turn any moment into a learning experience. It allows Camtasia Relay users to upload new or existing camera videos to their Camtasia Relay server right from their iOS device or Android phone. Once you try it, you'll use it everywhere. Capture live speeches and presentations on-the-go, create quick camera videos to engage viewers with real-life examples, record extra learning materials such as labs, fieldwork, or visual aids.

Reference Apps:

Google Maps
(Free): Download this app. It has proven itself more accurate than other apps, including the built-in Apple iPhone Maps app.

Google Translate (Free): With more than 30 languages supported and the ability to deliver impressively accurate results most of the time, this app is one of the most remarkable programs you can install.

Wikipedia (Free): This is the go-to source for fact-checking in the mobile age, and the Wikipedia app usually returns results faster than a mobile search engine.

Flipboard (Free): Curates content from your social networks and Web partners (periodicals, blogs, etc.) based on your interests and turns them into stunning magazine-like digital pages.

StumbleUpon (free): Helps you explore your interests widely across the Web and find sites and pages you might not have found otherwise.


RedLaser (Free): Barcode Scanner and QR Code Reader. This is a multi-functional scanner that works on QR codes too. When shopping, scan any item with a barcode, and RedLaser delivers detailed information about the product including whether you can buy it at a better price nearby.

RetailMeNot (Free): Need a coupon for anything, anytime, anywhere? This app is the go-to source for discounts of all kinds. The mobile app puts nearby offers, as well as discount codes for online purchases, at your fingertips instantly. It will save you bundles of money.

Yelp (free): The most comprehensive review app helps find businesses nearby and includes reviews so that you won't have any unexpected surprises.

Educational Uses of Annotating Tools


Collaborative annotation tools are a social starting place for immersing students in the scholarly practice of research and annotation, while encouraging them to share information and build on the work of others in a dynamic community of thought. With tools like Diigo,students might have the opportunity to collaborate on the interpretation of resources in ways not possible inside a classroom or with printed materials that should not be written in, such as library books. In addition, while scholars have found in the web an unparalleled information resource, using it effectively depends on tools that help organize the data and simplify the process of locating resources when they are needed. These tools empower users, giving them the capability of commentary and reflection rather than restricting it to authors and website creators. Finally, academics across disciplines and institutions value these tools and the accumulated observations of instructors, experts, and peers that they facilitate (Educause 2009).

Here are 8 annotation tools that you should check out:

1- Diigo
You can use it both to annotate , collect, and highlight content found online. It also has apps for both Android and iOS.

2- Webnotes
Webnotes allows you to highlight and add notes to both web pages and PDFs. You can also use it to organize your bookmarks and share them with others.

3- Awesome Screenshot
This is an extension you can use on Chrome to capture screenshots and annotate them by adding arrows and text boxes.

4- iCyte
This is a great research tool. You can use it to save your bookmarks and just like the previous tools, it lets you annotate and add notes to your web pages.

5- Bounce
This is a cool web tool that lets you take a snapshot of any webpage and add notes to it before sharing it with others.

6- Mark.up
Lets you draw on any webpage with a variety of tools to express your thoughts, make a point or to just simply edit.

7- Screen Draw
This is an extension for Firefox users. Screen Draw lets you draw or type text over the top of any page in any color or size and then save it to png or jpeg.

8- Draw Here
Use the Draw Here bookmarklet to draw on top of web pages while you are browsing the web. If you save your drawings, other Draw Here users will then be able to see your drawings when they go to the same page.
Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
--a resource of free educational web tools and mobile apps for educators

Keeping Tech Accessible


I was pleased to see that this video on University leaders speaking out about accessibility of technology premiered today at the Educause Annual Conference.

View the video

The 15-minute video, "IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say," features university leaders and campus-technology staff members speaking about the importance of using technology to make college campuses more accessible. The AccessComputing project, run by the department of computer science and engineering and the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology Center at the University of Washington, produced the video with funds from the National Science Foundation.

passport.jpgMapping Success: Essential Elements of an Effective Online Learning Experience

Danielle Hathcock, "Faculty Focus" September 5, 2012

"An online course is like walking into a foreign land with an entire map laid out, but having no sense of the land's origin or how to navigate the terrain. How the instructor formats and interacts with the class will ultimately determine the student's travel experience."

It is important to integrate the elements of an online course to form a cohesive whole that creates easy travel based on instructor presence, appropriate feedback, and easy navigation for students.

Instructor Presence - The Mapmaker
Instructor presence is vital to create in an online course, because without it, the class becomes an impersonal experience guided only by text and the other electronic medium.

Instructor presence can be created in a variety of ways:

  • having a welcome announcement and faculty bio providing an initial presence

  • having consistent formatting

  • putting photos in the faculty bio and on the main introduction so that students could put a face to the instructor's name

  • having the instructor provide his or her own icebreaker and having students relate theirs to it

  • providing clear objectives for the course (and relating those to each lesson so that the expectations are clear)

  • having the instructor take part in the discussions

Instructor Feedback - The Tour Guide
Instructor feedback is one of the most vital elements of an online course. Feedback helps the students recognize that there is an instructor that is monitoring their progress. Feedback adds an interactive component that brings warmth to the experience.

Feedback can be found in many areas.

  • grades

  • discussions - giving reinforcement as quickly as possible

  • giving a quiz with a function that produces immediate correction.

  • Email communication: let students know the time frame for answering emails

  • online office hours

Last Thoughts
The feel of the course and the experience for the student will chiefly rest on the instructor's ability to provide a succinct, clear, accessible, course with guided direction--in other words, an accessible map made by a mapmaker who serves as the tour guide.

Danielle Hathcock, "Faculty Focus" September 5, 2012