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EdPuzzle for interactive video assignments

July 25, 2014

EdPuzzleEdPuzzle Logo starts by having you pick an existing online video or uploading your own. Then they provide a simple clipping tool for selecting a section of the video. Now record audio notes and embed quiz questions. Finally, assign the video to a class and invite students to join by entering a unique code. EdPuzzle tracks which students work on the assignment and how they score. The teacher can see this information in the dashboard for their account. And the accounts are free – at least until it catches on – which I hope it does.

Watch a video & see an example

5 collaborative writing tools

July 23, 2014

collaborateAfter examining several tools used by researchers in colleges and universities, Christof Schöch of the University of Würzburg (Germany) came up with a recommended list of Five collaborative writing tools for academics. His article provides details, but here’s a quick summary:

  1. Google Docs – I you’re not already familiar, here’s a video and some help.
  2. Etherpad – a basic text editor. Use a public instance like the free one at or create your own server.
  3. Mediawiki – the software that runs Wikipedia. You’ll need a web host like iPage for this, or you can install it on a server.
  4. Penflip –  based on GitHub, a collaborative coding platform. Two problems it aims to solve are accessing previous versions and bringing parts of a project together. It’s free for public projects or you can pay for support and more space.
  5. FidusWriter – for academics who need to use citations and/or formulas. It focuses on the content rather than layout. Log into the test server or download and install the open source software.

I have used the first three quite a bit, and have recently settled on Google Docs as my own collaborative tool of choice. Penflip looks very interesting, though.

Weird Al’s musical grammar rant

July 21, 2014
tags: ,

Weird Al Yankovic has been a musical humor icon for thirty years. Under his belt are three Grammys, six platinum records, thousands of live appearance, and fourteen studio albums. Yankovic’s latest release, Mandatory Fun, includes a hilarious grammar rant titled “Word Crimes”. If you don’t know about Weird Al, his tunes are generally based on real songs; this time it’s Robin Thicke’s controversial 2013 mega-hit “Blurred Lines“.

See the video and read more

Consider your academic brand

July 17, 2014

I follow Sidneyeve Matrix’ blog Cyberpop!, and she often writes about personal branding and social media. In the gorgeous slides below, Dr. Matrix provides some excellent tips and strategies to help academics mold the way they present themselves on the Internet.

Dr. Sidneyeve Matrix is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.

100’s of ideas in free TEC-VARIETY book

July 15, 2014

TEC-VARIETY book coverMotivation is central to all things human; unfortunately, much of today’s online content is not very motivational. On top of that, argue Curtis Bonk and Elaine Khoo, many college courses fail to leverage the motivational potential of the devices students tuck into in their backpacks every day. In their book, Adding Some TEC-VARIETY, Drs. Bonk and Khoo propose a new framework for ensuring meaningful engagement. The PDF version of the book is free, while paper and e-book versions can be purchased at Amazon.

The book is aimed at online learning, but many of the ideas and strategies can be used in hybrid or web-enhanced classes. TEC-VARIETY offers more than a hundred practical strategies based on ten “theoretically driven and proven motivational principles”:

  • Tone/Climate: Psychological Safety, Comfort, Sense of Belonging
  • Encouragement: Feedback, Responsiveness, Praise, Supports
  • Curiosity: Surprise, Intrigue, Unknowns
  • Variety: Novelty, Fun, Fantasy
  • Autonomy: Choice, Control, Flexibility, Opportunities
  • Relevance: Meaningful, Authentic, Interesting
  • Interactivity: Collaborative, Team-Based, Community
  • Engagement: Effort, Involvement, Investment
  • Tension: Challenge, Dissonance, Controversy
  • Yielding Products: Goal Driven, Purposeful Vision, Ownership

Dr. Bonk, a professor of education at Indiana University, is a popular speaker and author of The World is Open. Dr. Khoo  is a research fellow at the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.

6 research findings about MOOCs

July 10, 2014


Recent articles about research on MOOCs suggest the following:

  1. Less likely to finish: students who are isolated, poor, or enamored of the university offering the course.
  2. Coaching MOOC students to have a healthier mindset about learning may not be helpful.
  3. With with the right incentives, MOOCs can help prepare at-risk students for college.
  4. MOOC discussion forums are beneficial to the few students who use them.
  5. The jury is still out on whether MOOCs help underprivileged learners become upwardly mobile.
  6. Labeling those who fail to complete “dropouts” misses key distinctions and does not acknowledge student goals.

Get the details at Wired Campus:

Two innovative video setups

July 8, 2014

My colleagues in the Office of Information Technology at the University of Notre Dame are busy borrowing creative video production techniques from two sister institutions. They have already installed a lightboard, modeled after an installation developed at Northwestern. Faculty can now use a specially designed facility to create videos where they appear to be writing on a blackboard from behind.

Read more…


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