Skip to content

Two joys: learning and great video

September 2, 2015

I won’t bore you with all of the reasons why I am a fan of Michael Wesch, a professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. I will tell you that I’m not his only fan; in 2008 the Carnegie Foundation named him US Professor of the Year. Last week Dr. Wesch launched a blog called “My Teaching Notebook,” and one of its first features is the video below.

Okay, that may be a lovely video about the joy of learning, but what does it have to do with technology? Wesch is an expert on the effects that digital technology is having on global society and education. He also knows how to use video effectively. Notice three things in particular:

  1. At only 2 minutes and 19 seconds the video is very short.
  2. The message is simple; he makes five explicit points.
  3. He frames the message with a story we can relate to.

When folks decide to “flip a class,” often their first thought is to ask students to watch an unedited series of 50-minute lecture videos. Wesch’s video has a different purpose, but you can see how the length makes it easy to digest. And combining a clear message with a compelling story makes it truly memorable.

The principles of simplicity, brevity, and storytelling don’t just apply to video. They are repeated all over the literature on effective presentations (e.g., Presentation Zen).

I plan to follow Wesch’s new blog — not only because I know he has great things to say, but also because I look forward to seeing how he uses media to make his points.

7 reasons NOT to move presentations online

August 26, 2015
UPDATE: early readers got the impression that I don’t want students to make videos of presentations. To be clear, I’m asking you to think carefully before eliminating an existing in-class presentation assignment.
@CT231 student presentation
Photo by Catherine Cronin, Flickr

Do you feel like student presentations take up too much class time? Writing for Faculty Focus, Stephanie Smith Budhai suggests that you can Move Student Presentations Online.

It all sounds so simple and it’s really not a bad idea.

Please think about what could happen, though, and address the following ramifications as you consider changing your course.
Read more…

3 tools for booking office hours online

August 25, 2015

[Image by Hoangttu from Wikimedia Commons]

We all know it’s good for students to take advantage of office hours. The CRLT at Michigan says they are “crucial to creating good relations between you and your students … [and] provide a valuable opportunity for individualized teaching and learning.” One great bit of advice is to survey students about when they are available before determining your office hours.

Read more…

Let’s ban printing presses

August 20, 2015

I’m resurrecting this funny old tweet for a good cause. The beginning of a semester is an opportunity to remind ourselves that PowerPoint is only a tool and we CAN use it well.

My favorite advice

  • Eliminate text or keep it to a bare minimum,
  • Use great images,
  • Tell stories,
  • Keep your designs simple,
  • Vary the ways you show material on a screen, and
  • Turn off the projector when you can.

Before eliminating PowerPoint we should outlaw the publication of books; there are so many terrible ones! If we banned every oft-misused tool, we would find ourselves in a pre-stone-age world.

Building a visual syllabus

August 19, 2015

bill G cmst 137 syllabusA year ago on this blog you may have seen Turn your syllabus into an infographic. Purists will argue that calling something an “infographic” means it should present statistical data, so let’s call the visual linked to the image at right a poster-style syllabus. The imagery created by Bill Genereux at Kansas State is very appealing.

Read more…

Share URLs quickly with ShoutKey

May 14, 2015

ShoutKey screenURL shorteners (Bitly, TinyURL,,, etc.) make it easy to share long web page addresses. They usually generate a short URL with random letters that are hard to remember or speak out loud. Go to ShoutKey, paste a URL into a box, indicate how long want the link to be active (5 min. – 24 hrs.), and the site produces a random English word you can use in a short URL. For the example at right it would be

OR add two bookmarklets to your browser and it’s even easier:
Read more…

“This will revolutionize education!”

April 24, 2015

I definitely identify with this video by science educator Derek Muller from the Australian TV show Catalyst.

A few years ago I wrote “Technology, learning, and free will,” along similar lines to several points made in the video. I love Dr. Muller’s idea that learning is about what students are asked to do, and not simply how messages are presented. Check out his excellent Veritasium channel on YouTube, but beware – it’s addictive. The guy basically wrote a book on Designing Effective Multimedia. Read more…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 709 other followers

%d bloggers like this: