2016 eLearning Symposium

This week I completed my first real training with faculty at the second annual eLearning Symposium here at the University of Washington | Bothell. The focus of the day was on elearning tools and active learning. We tried to do some activities that could promote getting outside and walking about and using tools to document ideas and experiences and had some wonderful faculty share their stories about various forms of engagement in learning.

For part of the morning and all afternoon, we used an activity list similar to one I had some success with at Yavapai College. Basically, it is an 11 x 17 piece of cardstock with a number of activities to complete. They worked in groups of two to complete the activities which ranged from capturing a video of a faculty taking about important qualities for classrooms to have, to simply adding some ideas about classrooms to a Google Doc. One activity had them participate in a VoiceThread conversation and another was to add an image of active learning to a Google Slide presentation. Some had experience with the tools. Others, not so much.

We gave each participant an 11 x 17 “Most Interesting Man in the World” meme with the text relating to teaching and technology. If you want to use it, here is the link. It is 11 x 17.

With them all filled out it was a good way to introduce the challenges of technology and allow faculty a casual way to share concerns and successes.

They all look great when placed edge to edge. They make up a nice piece of art for our office display case for a month or so.


One of our awesome faculty, Jane VanGalen, was describing her work with a class “In the Open” and was addressing her use of Twitter and WordPress. Here is the class blog. She shared that she uses a Howard Rheingold resource and I mentioned that to Howard via Twitter. He Tweeted back before the end of her talk and she was able to show the participants that you really can connect with authors and experts in real time. It was a cool example of using Twitter.

We used a hashtag and had some interaction during the event. I think only four or so people really had experience with the tool. Here is the conversation.

It was a great day and a really nice way to meet some of the faculty here. After four months I am still meeting people and I look forward to the fall when there will be more people about and more questions coming my way!

Soft Canvas Cookies

We had some good success with our Blackboard 57 Second Tips of the Week videos. They were short. Specific. Easy to watch. Useful information. Early on they were very much “click here to do that” but they evolved into some that included some soft instructional design tips and general web tools.

We sent them out each Monday for a while till we ran out of enough ideas to keep them up weekly. But the faculty that got them each Monday morning for those months really liked them. It was successful.

Here are the 43 we made before we moved from Blackboard 8.whatever to Blackboard Learn.

When Yavapai College moved to Canvas we had hopes of redoing the short videos targeting the Canvas LMS and intentionally including more pedagogy within each “tip.” We never got it going. I never got it going. But we had a name for them if we ever created them! “Canvas Cookies!” A memorable name if ever there was one.

As I have said many times before, the whole idea came from watching the amazing Jonathan Finkelstein and his “Real Time Minute” videos. I loved that he would be in these interesting different places and pull the qualities of the location into his message. To me, in 2007, they were talking about including synchronous activities in the otherwise timeless, asynchronous online space. I was inspired because they shared a better version on the online experience and how to do it. I still am inspired. Thank you Jonathan. Thank you for not just the “what” you told me, but how you shared it with me.

Here are a number of his videos and you can figure out how to find more. Great work!

Up here in Washington I have started some drafts to share with colleagues of what will be the Canvas Cookies. One is mostly just strait screenshots, the other has an introduction of sorts that I hope to be able to add to many of the Cookies. I’d like to add the human person in the video, in locations that might align with the content discussed, and also include more rationale for the “why” we might use the tools.

So here you go, a couple of the early drafts. We need to work on leveling the audio in the final versions ( and I have to frickin open my eyes or wear sunnglasses) caption them, and add credits. But you can see the difference between one with some “live” person added and one without.

Canvas Cookies
elearning one bite at a time

We hope to have several ready to launch for the fall semester and send them out to faculty every two weeks. That is the current plan anyway.

How I Can Help?

Hi there.

Sorry to miss the opportunity to meet you all in the room, but I am off to attend my awesome daughter’s high school graduation!

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Here is a short introduction in the video below.

From simple to complex, from pedagogy to technology, I can help you with the options available to you when looking to change/improve the structure of your course.

Instructional Design in Higher Education cover
Instructional Design in Higher Education 2016 Report

The report linked above came out last month and looks at what instructional designers do. I have learned over the nine years doing this work that each instructional designer does something slightly different. How they are used at institutions varies and the skills they bring to the table varies. Some skills I admire in instructional designers include years of teaching experience, a good understanding of teaching practices and learning theory, and some good technology skills. I also admire people who work well with other people. Usually, I think I am a good communicator.

I’d be happy to meet with you in your office, in our Learning Technologies Studio, outside on a bench, or over at the Starbucks Beardslee Crossing. I can help over the phone and via email. I enjoy working with faculty and imagining how technologies can be best used in learning environments and in our personal lives.

Lastly, this site has some useful information for faculty. Under the “Writing” tab there are several articles I have written for faculty and under the “Presentations” tab there are some sites I have created for conference presentations. Some of the posts below address issues in teaching and learning, and some are informal pieces about me or my interests.

Please let me know if I can help.

14 Days in Washington

I have been here at the University of Washington Bothell for exactly two weeks. After almost 40 years in the middle of Arizona and 20 working in high school and community college environments, I am now in a damper & greener locale and fixed within a pretty darn massive university system.

I drove up from Arizona with my bike and two boxes of clothes. The day I arrived, and for the following three or four days, records were set for high temperatures in the Seattle area. It was pretty amazing. Mostly blue skies and warm days. I rode my bike along the Sammamish River and biked to work a couple of days. I am renting a room till July when the rest of the family will move up and it is a short 2.5 mile commute to the university. Most of it, is along the river.

The first weekend I ended up taking a bike ride to the University of Washington Seattle campus. It took about an hour and a half to get there and much of the ride was along Lake Washington. It was another sunny day and the weather was perfect for a ride. A lot of other people must have thought so too as I must have passed 5,000 people over the course of the ride. The Burke Gilman trail is wonderful and it is a trip I’ll make many more times.

Work here is wonderful. I am still getting to know the buildings and the places to go. Much of the first week was getting oriented and procedural. Getting email, insurances, and getting some fancy technology. I am going to be a Mac guy for a bit.

The people are great. I work with a team of five others. One is the manager/director, there is a media specialist, an e-learning specialist, an ed-tech specialist, and a faculty member who has the title of Chief E-learning Strategist. Pretty interesting.

Last week, my second week I spent an hour on a panel discussing Universal Design in higher education. Then, the next day I went to the Seattle campus and spent all day in an accessibility “capacity building” event. Lots of folks from various parts of the university looking to gain wider adoption of accessibility within the school.

I have met a number of faculty and spent a few great hours talking with faculty at the Teaching & Learning center here.

As I sit here now writing, this is my view. The team just moved into a new larger office. I bought four plants for us as there were none.

This past weekend I took a 50 minute bus ride to downtown Seattle and visited Pike’s Market and took a ferry out to Bainbridge Island.

Yesterday, I went on my first mountain bike ride in the dirt. I drove about 6 miles to the Paradise Valley Nature Park. It was sunny and warm and the trails were fun. Very different from Arizona soils and limited visibility as there are lots of ferns and bushes along the trail.

It has been both a fast and slow two weeks. I miss my wife and kids. A lot.

I am excited to have them all here and to start living as a whole with them.