Sunday, May 01, 2011

Really? That Many of My Colleagues are using Social Media in their Teaching?

There is a very interesting infographic making the rounds on how many college and university faculty are using social media personally and professionally.
Personally, I find it a bit hard to believe that the numbers are that high.  And, unfortunately, the source of the data, while indicated, cannot be inspected!

I think it depends on how one defines social media.  Is using material (text or graphics) from Wikipedia considers using social media?  Is signing up for a Facebook or Twitter account, but never really using it, considered having used social media?  

If yes, then OK, I can see the high numbers.  But I know so many people who have signed up for social media sites, but never use them.  Although, I do admit that they may use their accounts some day -- maybe after they retire?

I also agree that a lot more faculty use social media (especially Facebook) for personal reasons that for teaching or work.  I think the difference is higher than the numbers indicated in this chart.

Anyway, I could be wrong in my skepticism, which is based on my own colleagues. And I think I will be wrong, eventually -- probably much sooner than later.  My own guess is that these numbers will be more believable among my colleagues in about 2 to 3 years.
Until then, the infographic still makes for some interesting considerations....

Reading professors like an open facebook, or how teachers use social media
Courtesy of:

Sunday, January 25, 2009 - Free Flash for Online Teaching

So it has been quite a few months since I was last inspired enough to talk about something on this blog. However, I was going through my list of new Twitter followers today (again, something I have not done in a few months) and found, who is a history teacher in Toulouse, France, and who developed the website. According to Russel:
  • provides free, customisable flash templates to embed into blogs, wikis and websites. There is no signup, no passwords, no charges...
This is very cool for anyone who teaches online or has a class website. Russel has created 17 templates that are available for teachers to fill in the blanks and images. Some are interactive games, others are fill in the blanks. Students can save their work, which is saved for 12 months on the website.

As an example, the Venn Diagram template allows the teacher to fill in as much of the diagram as they want -- they could be questions, for example -- and provide instructions in a side box. Students can enter their name, then follow the directions to create their own venn diagram. They can then save this online and both print it out and copy and save or send the URL for later access and revisions.

The current 17 templates are:
Note that the results all have Google ads on the right, and an advertisement for classes offered by the sites author on the bottom.

This is a very useful teaching tool that I plan to try out in my online classes.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Top 5 Quiz Generators for Online Educators

Top 5 Quiz Generators for Online Educators

Building out quizzes for both traditional and online classes can be a time-consuming chore. Luckily, there are now many online "generators" being designed that take much of the work out of online test taking. If you need to create a simple online test, look to the five user-friendly tools below.

  1. Exam Builder – With this exam generator, you can create an online test in a Web browser, and then publish it in one click. You can customize each test for online registration and individual retests, plus the site provides an analysis on how your students scored as a whole.

  1. Quiz Center – Brought to you by the Discovery Channel, this easy tool will allow you to create, publish and grade quizzes online. This generator is very flexible and, perhaps even more importantly, is free of charge. Teachers should find this tool useful at both the K-12 and college level.
  1. Easy Test Maker – Here, you can create a host of different tests at no charge. Your answer options will include multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, short answer, true or false and more. This robust tool includes a spell check function, as well, which comes in very handy for those of us creating tests late at night.
  1. Charles Kelly's Online Quiz Generator – This multiple choice test generator is very popular amongst tech-savvy college instructors. It allows you a lot of freedom in terms of formatting the data.
  1. JavaScript QuizMaker – As the name suggests, this is a quiz generator that provides JavaScript that you can cut and paste into your own Web page. If you are operating your own classroom site, this can be an easy way to host a test on your page.

The above tools have proven to be very useful and popular amongst online instructors. Although more complex tools do exist, most teachers are looking for easy-to-use generators to maximize their productivity. These resources will certainly save you time and make online test taking easier on your students.


This post is by guest blogger, Heather Johnson. Heather Johnson is a regular commentator on the subject of top online universities. She welcomes your feedback and potential job inquiries at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Does Your Department Blog? - Why Not?

@micamonkey recently posted a comment on in which she mentioned that at least three departments at the National University of Singapore (NUS) had department blogs. I asked her who these were and she sent me these three links:
The differences among these three blogs is interesting. Here a are screen grabs of their headers along with a few comments from me:

The Sociology blog page is used almost entirely to announce events. Tabs on the blog provide basic static information, like a traditional web 1.0 website.

The Biodiversity research and education group's blog is more diverse than that for Sociology. Blog postings include announcements of an NUS library blog and the promotion of a professor, a job announcement, and several posts linked to news stories about NUS's discovery of a lung-less frog. The "Blogs, et al." link is a substantial list of blogs and online journals associated with research and classes (called "modules" in Singapore) related to the Biological Sciences Dept. More static links go to a list of classes and the student club, which seems to be responsible for this blog.

The Industrial Design program's blog at NUS is called "ID @ NUS" and describes itself as:

This blog serves as a platform to provide design information to industrial design students in the National University of Singapore (NUS). It also serves as a flatform to demonstrate the teaching outcomes in NUS ID programme, in particular, the final year studio and thesis projects.

Most of the current blog posts are about forthcoming design competitions. Unlike the other blogs, there is no static information is provided on the blog site -- at least not yet.


This relatively random selection of three department/program blogs shows the considerable diversity of ways that department can use blogs to keep their students and the general public up to date on their activities. They range from the more social networked engaged to the more straightforward announcements (almost like an email list), and from the more narrow sites to broader information dissemination.

Blogs offer a very easy way (in my opinion) to keep the different populations served by academic departments informed and up to date on department activities. It can supplements the traditional alumni newsletter that is common in the US (I am not sure how common they are elsewhere) with more timely information updates. They can help build alumni support, as well as engage current students and recruit future students. And they can give department accomplishments more exposure both within the university and to the larger public who pay a good part of the budgets of state/government universities.

Blogs also allow for RSS subscriptions, which are widely appreciated and used by those of us who are more into the social software realm. But more importantly, RSS allows these blogs to be re-purposed in other ways across the Internet, thereby giving each blog the potential to reach well beyond the immediate links above, and thereby exposing them to larger audiences. The blogs can be reposted on other websites and subscribed to in RSS readers, such as Google Reader (which is what I use).

So, when @micamonkey wondered in hwer tweet whether or not departments should blog, I think yes, absolutely -- every department should blog. It is possible to set up a group blog that includes most of the faculty and principal administrative staff in a department. It is possible to install "blog this" utilities on their computers so they can quickly and easily post to the blog without needing to go to Wordpress or Blogger.

Despite my own participatory preferences, we might not want all faculty members to have access -- given the politics that can exist in some departments. And, of course, not everyone would want to blog, either. I am a geek and am often considered a little too far into the future by others in my department. In fact, I could imagine general resistance to this whole idea from some people in my department. Despite that, I still think it is a good idea!

(BTW - you can follow me in Twitter at

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vote / Debate Online Social Networking for Education

The venerable Economist magazine is holding an online debate and poll on the topic of Social Networking for Education.

I am obviously in the Pro- camp on this one. Like many Anti-Social Media in Education arguments, the Economist author finds selective shortcomings in different corners of Social Media and paints a broad condemnation of the entire field.

I am using in a class this semester at the National University of Singapore and I think it is working great. The class is currently only viewable to the students, but I do plan to open it to world after the semester has ended. (The students will be allowed to edit or remove themselves and their postings before I do that.)

P.S. - I have not posted anything to this blog in awhile. I guess I have been distracted. Now that I am getting settled in Singapore (just visiting for this semester), hopefully I will get back to some regular posts! -- Alan

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blogging, Creativity and Formal Writing in the University

I highly recommend listening to this interview on ITConversations:
This is an interesting conversation about writing and creativity and how this is important in blogging, online communication, and web-based education. Prof. Campbell makes the case for using online tools to find new ways of learning and communicating about ourselves and our world. He makes some interesting comments. One that I like is how writing public blogs is something that students will carry with them after they graduate. I have been trying to get this idea across in my classes (most of which have some public social media presence), though not quite as concisely as Prof. Campbell did.

While I have no background in the arts, I think I agree that literature and the arts need to be free of boundaries. However, I believe that the sciences require a formal knowledge foundation, including formal forms of communication. Only then can creative insights expand the boundaries of our knowledge.

I agree with his comments that social media requires some new writing skills, and that this new medium can generate creative and new depths of communication. But as the editor of an academic journal in the social sciences, I think there is a necessary role for teaching formal rules -- especially writing. Even Wikipedia is trying to get its articles written in a more formal and academic manner.

Unfortunately, there are few more frustrating challenges for me than the poor writing ability of many of my students. If they cannot write a coherent sentence and paragraph (let alone a whole paper), then they will not be able to effectively communicate in the real world when they graduate. You cannot gain professional respect unless you are able to write to the level of your professional peers. And I am always wonder just what my students are being taught in those required English classes that they take.

Finally, I agree with his chagrin over a computer system designed to automatically grade essay exams -- and its tie to a textbook publisher. At the same time, as a former department chair in a publicly funded teaching university, I am aware of the demand from state legislators for faculty to teach as many students as possible in the most efficient manner possible. Departments that do not play the game risk the loss of faculty positions and degree programs.

Structure vs Agency

I think that there has always been a tension between structure and creativity in education (e.g., the old "structure vs agency" debate). I see it in the kindergarten classes that my wife used to teach, and I have seen it on graduate research committees. I think that the reason why the US higher education system has been so successful is because this tension is recognized and accepted, if not always appreciated (physical sciences are always better funded than social sciences and the arts).

It should be no surprise that these same tensions arise in the use of social media tools in education. To me, social software is a tool. How it is used is up to the instructor. Many of the the potential uses of social software actually evolve out of collaborative learning and student-centered learning, on which many books have been written in the past several decades, and from which those of use who teach mostly online have a wealth of knowledge to draw upon.

So anyway, it was a thought provoking interview -- and one that took me away from an encyclopedia article that I am working on, that is already past-due to the editors!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

NAU Technology Faculty Survey - Google Doc's Presentation

This is a short presentation that I am giving in a couple of hours. I created it with the Google Docs presentation tool, which works fairly well. I just wish there was an off-line version, just in case the Internet goes down just before my presentation time!

NEW: Note in the Comments that is is possible to save the presentation as an HTML file (with supporting folders) on your computer, which then allows you to show the presentation offline using any browser.

Click the Title Above to Start the Presentation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Web 2.0 Cool for School - on the DownloadSquad Blog

DownloadSquad has a list of 15 mostly free online applications to make student life easier for this coming school year. Categories include Communication, Office Apps, Note Taking and Sharing, Organizing and Scheduling, and Making Money. Also see the comments section for other apps and topics not covered in the main blog.

RELATED TO THIS is's list of Best Free Web Applications - also very useful for students and teaching.

AND - FOR PARENTS - Now you can Help your student write their term papers with Google Docs. - from the WSJ - via the Adult Education and Technology Blog

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Twitter Tweets for Higher Education

I love I usually post a couple of items a day, on average, and tend to follow and interact others who also post in a moderate fashion. Some people post dozens of twits a day and use Twitter as a kind of instant messaging client. I see, and use it, more as a mini-blog. When I click on my name, I see all my posts, which is a sort of summary of things that I do and think about that I want to share with others.

For the uninitiated, Twitter limits you to 140 characters and spaces per post (or per "tweet"). You can follow others Twitter uses on your home page. The graphic above is a snapshot of my Twitter homepage, showing three of the people whose Tweets I follow. They also follow me, though that is not necessary. To see all my posts, go to my Twitter page at:

I actually had not considered it as a tool for education until I saw a link posted by Twittown to a blog post on that subject. Doing a little online searching (emphasis on the little), I found the following items related to Twitter and education.

1- Using Twitter with your students on Doug Belshaw's blog - emphasizes secondary education. Doug says:
  • I think Twitter could be ideal for reminding students about homework, trips and such things, especially as they can enter their mobile phone number to be alerted when one of their ‘friends’ updates their account. The advantage is that you don’t need to know the phone numbers of students to get messages onto their device: they are the ones who authorize their mobile phone from the website and they subscribe to your Twitter feed.
2- The Educause 7 Things You Should Series on the EdVentures in Technology blog - The list is a lot longer than 7 items now. A PDF summary of Twitter was added in July 2007. The summary points out three potential uses of Twitter: (1) as a communications tool for collaborating researchers; (2) As a way to get students to focus in a concise (140 words) way on a topic; and (3) As a way for conference attendees to discuss topics, again in a concise manner.

3- Reference services and Twitter on the Digital Reference blog - Stephen Francoeur cites a couple of examples and suggests that libraries could advertise a Twitter address which people could "follow" to learn about library events, new books, and other announcements. Twitter could also be used to announce responses to library user questions, which might be answered in greater length on a linked webpage.

For a couple more library examples of this, see4- A Guide to Twitter in Libraries on the iLibrarian blog - This is a resource site, broken into the categories of :
  • How to Use it
  • How Libraries are Using it
  • Library Twitter Accounts
  • Twitter Tools & Mashups
  • Twitter Alternatives

Like many Web 2.0 tools, librarians are at the forefront of Twitter use. I am not sure why that is. Perhaps social media is just more core to their work and mission. Or perhaps they just have more time that do classroom teachers. Or perhaps I just did not search deep enough to find teachers using Twitter. Whatever the reason, there are lessons for classroom and online teachers from these sites. These include:
  1. Twitter is very easy to sign-up for and to use
  2. Twitter is an effective communication tool for concise messages and news items, or links to longer messages and news items
  3. Twitter is fun to use and may, therefore, be effective in engaging students in discussions who do not need to write longer essays
There are some interesting Twitter tools (also see #4 above), that students might find of interest, though they tend to not be as easy to use as Twitter.

You can set your Twitter account private ("Protect My Updates") or public. This is changeable in the Settings section. With a private account, your posts are only available to other Twitters who you specifically approve to follow you. This is probably the preferred approach for most classroom situations.

If your account is public, anything that is posted by you on Twitter can be "followed" any any other Twitter member in the world, and indeed is posted to super sites, such as the Twitter Public Timeline and Twittervision, for everyone to see. This, of course, presents privacy issues for students. I personally think that can be dealt with for university students by warning them and encouraging anonymity and thoughtful postings.

A growing issue is a kind of Twitter Spam. There are some Twitter users whose goal seems to be to follow as many people as possible. How can one possibly follow 10,000 people? They do this simply to get others to visit their Twitter site and then click on links that will take them to a different website (some of which may not be safe). When they follow you, anyone who is interested in see who your followers are will see their link. It is easy to permanently "block" these people, which you can do when you click on the list of people who are following you.

So Twitter is basically a potential alternative to email, instant messaging and discussion forums, as ways of communicating with students. And because it is fun to use, I may give it a try in my next class -- after my current sabbatical. By then, however, Twitter may be old hat, replaced by something else.

NEW (28Sept 07): Steve Dembo's Teach42 blog has an interesting post titled "What I learned from Twitter Today" which gives yet another interesting perspective on the use of Twitter in education.

NEW (29Jan 08): Twitter for Academia - list of uses of Twitter in a university class based on actual experience.

NEW (8May 08): Academic Research page on the Twitter Fan Wiki site. - not much there yet, but if we can get the word out, perhaps it will grow.

NEW (9Jun08): Twitter for Librarians: The Ultimate Guide - these ideas are not just for librarians - includes a list of about a dozen library twitter blogs

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wiki becomes textbook in Boston College classroom

Wiki becomes textbook in Boston College classroom

This is an article at From the article:

"In one Boston College professor's classroom, however, wikis have become a primary learning tool, replacing textbooks and allowing improved collaboration among students. The wiki is even used to let students submit possible questions for examinations, many of which actually appear on tests."

Anyone who attends the annual conferences on a regular basis knows that this is not a first. However, it is an interesting article and shows how wikis can be used to replace textbooks.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Top eLearning Tools - - Survey Results

The Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, in Somerset, England has an ongoing survey in which they are asking eLearning professionals to list their "Top 10 Tools." This is being compiled in a Top 100 Tools website.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in the list. First, I was surprised to see Firefox topping the list and Google Search in the #3 spot, and wondered how people are using Firefox and Google Search in their teaching assignments. I was also surprised to see and Microsoft Word on the list, but then realized that these are not Web 2.0 tools.

However, when you click on the tool to see the comments made by the respondents, you quickly learn that these are actually the Top 10 personal productivity tools of the respondents. In that sense, I basically agree with the list. It is not, however, as useful readers of this blog as I had initially hoped. Though, it does give some insight into the views of the eLearning and tech support people that those of us who are teaching online occasionally come into contact with.

AND - The survey is still open so you can add your own votes and comments on your "Top 10 Tools." So go to the Top 100 Tools list and cast your votes.

Below is a list of the top 15 tools (as of when I am posting this blog, it will likely change over time). I have highlighted in Bold/Red the ones that I consider the most obvious teaching tools that you can build an online class assignments around. (This does not include tools where you are just teaching students how to use the technology, like Powerpoint, Word, Audacity and others would be.)

1 Firefox
3 Google Search
4 Gmail
5 Google Reader + Skype
7 PowerPoint
8 Blogger + WordPress
10 Bloglines
11 Google Docs & Spreadsheets
12 Word
13 iGoogle + Audacity
15 Dreamweaver + flickr + Ning + Wikispace

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Podcast + Powerpoint = Slidecast Mashup

I mentioned before -- it is a website where you can upload and share Powerpoint presentations. I have uploaded a few of my presentations, and have marked a few others as favorites.

Now, has introduced "Slidecasts." Slidecasts are mashups of audio files and uploaded Powerpoint presentations. This is kind of like what Camtasia ( does on your computer, and what can be done with Garage Band for audio podcasts.

Camtasia Studio creates a recording that includes both audio and synchronized video that is captured from your computer's microphone and screen. Camtasia is mostly used to capture the combined Powerpoint presentation and audio presentation for making training videos and capturing lectures. Output can be edited and saved in a variety of different format, including Flash. ( also offers a similar application, with searchable files that are stored on the Tegrity server.) The Apple computer program, Garage Band, allows you to attach photos and images to segments of an existing audio, or podcast, file. The result is in a proprietory format that is only viewed on Apple's Video iPods and on the Quicktime player on PCs and Macs. It is mostly used for creating "enhanced podcasts."

Slideshare's Slidecast requires that you have two things: (1) a Powerpoint presentation that has been uploaded to [ppt, pps, opd, and pdf formats all will work], and (2) an MP3 audio file that is accessible somewhere on the Internet -- on a webpage or on a blog. (There are some free audio/podcast sites that might work for this, such as Slidecast is nice online application that allows you to mashup these two files by moving slide transitions to any point on the audio file.

The resulting Slidecast is very slick and can be viewed on the website, or the code can be copies to place it on a blog or other website for viewing. Examples can be found on the homepage, where a Slidecast of the Day is highlighted.

I have never used Camtasia, mostly because of the cost (I like free things). I do, however, record my lectures and presentations, which I sometimes use to create podcasts, and I lecture with Powerpoint slides. Slidecasting looks like something that I will definitely enhance the online learning of my student.

From the website: "Slidecasting is a new multimedia format for viewing slide decks synchronized with an audio file. It is for conference talks, musical slideshows, audio picture books or whatever else you can imagine. It's really easy to create one, so get started now!"

NEW (30 Aug 07): I created my first Slidecast today. It was incredibly easy! Check it out here.

NEW (3 Sept 07): has posted instructions for embedding Slideshare Slidecasts, and a couple of other slide show products, in your blogs:


Teaching With Web 2.0 - conference paper

Click on the title above, or try here, to download the MS Word file for a paper titled:

Social Software in Tourism, Event Management and Tourism Education

that I recently presented at the 3rd Tourism Outlook Conference in conjunction with the Global Events Congress II, 16-18 July 2007, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Event Management section is rather weak, as I added that mostly for the conference theme. In addition, I wrote this for the conference proceedings, so there are no references cited. I mostly just wanted to get it out for people to see and use. A more formal version will be submitted to an journal some day (which means it would not be out for a couple of years).

The core of the paper recounts my experiment and experience using Web 2.o teaching tools in an online class on Sustainable Tourism in the Spring 2007 semester at Northern Arizona University.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Digital Urban Blog: Universities using Second Life? Don't believe the hype

In an interesting post, Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith in the Digital Urban Blog writes:

"To be honest its hard enough to get academics to write blogs – even by those in the realms of Internet based research – Second Life it seems is still a step too far for many."

I agree with this statement. As intellectually compelling as the concept of MMOW* teaching is, in my own minimal ventures into Second Life, I found that it took far too much effort for me, let along my far more technologically-challenged students, than it is currently worth. Reports from those using Second Life at my university (Northern Arizona University) are the same -- a lot of effort on the teacher's part, and a major challenge for their students. These barriers could change in the future, of course, but for most teachers in the trenches that future is quite a ways off.

*Massively Multiplayer Online Worlds

[Digital Urban is written by Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith, aimed at examining the latest techniques to visualise the city scape via digital media it covers a lot of the work going on at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London.]

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Read/'s list of Web 2.0 Apps for Students

The popular Read/WriteWeb Blog has posted a fairly long list of Web 2.0 tools for students. Many of them have been covered in Web 2.0 Teaching Tools in the past, but there are also quite a few that I have not reviewed. In particular, I have always been a bit skeptical of the value of online Notetaking and Mindmapping applications. But from the comments to the Read/Write Web blog, I guess there are students who use and like them.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

University Librarians Emotionally Debate Web 2.0

From: The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog: 'Everyone's Tripping and It's All Free':

Calling upon Mr. Lanier’s notion of “digital Maoism,” Michael Gorman, the former president of the American Library Association, depicts Web 2.0 as “an unholy brew made up of the digital utopianism that hailed the Internet as the second coming of Haight-Ashbury — everyone’s tripping and it’s all free.”

Mr. Gorman's stinging critique of the undermining of academic authority by user generated Web 2.0 (e.g., Wikipedia) is met by equally stinging responses and discussions by blogger librarians. Links can be found in the original article, or here:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

iTunes Store Opens a Special Portal for University Content

from: The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog: iTunes Opens a Special Section for Free Collegiate Content

"Today the iTunes store unveiled its new iTunes U portal, a spot on the site that will collect college lectures, commencement speeches, tours, sports highlights, and promotional material, all available at no cost. ... The new portal should make it much easier for shoppers to happen upon collegiate content. The store’s home page now features a link to the special iTunes U section, and recordings offered through iTunes U now show up in search results."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Using Social Software in Online and Hybrid Classes

This is the Audio and Powerpoint of the presentation that I gave today about my experience using social software (blogs, wikis, podcasts, and website creation) in an online class this last semester.

The audio is located on my Geography for Travelers podcast. The Powerpoint slides are hosted for viewing and downloading at:

Note that this version of the Powerpoint presentation is slightly different from the audio file. There are a couple of slides at the start and at the end that were not in the presentation when the audio was recorded, and there is one slide at the end that I mention (very briefly) that is not in the slidecast. --- Long story....

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators - eBook provides a free and very interesting eBook titled:

"Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators: A Guide to RSS and More"
by Quentin d'souza

Download the PDF book here

and go to the blog page that supports the book here

The guide is designed for K-12 educators, but with the current state of Web 2.0 in Higher Education (very limited in my view), I do not think there is really that much difference.

Here are two chapter from the Table of Contents:

  • K-12 Learning Objects Shared Through RSS

Sunday, May 13, 2007



Here is a list of directories to educational podcasts. Educational podcasts range from university classes, to elementary school news, and from pay-per-download ebooks to free DIY (do it yourself) tutorials. All of these are worth checking out.

Learn On The Go - Nice, clean interface; Nice organized list of university podcasts; Designed for general public interest

Learn Out Loud - Includes a lot of pay-per-download audio books mixed in with the free stuff -- made it somewhat confusing to me; Designed for general public interest

Podcast Directory for Educators, Schools and Colleges - More educator and school-oriented (all levels) than the those above, though also includes professional training and learning about podcasting.

The Education Podcast Network - Podcasts are listed by academic discipline so they can be used in classrooms and for home schooling. This one is the most school-oriented of these four directories.

Open Culture: University Podcast Collection - A listing of links to university websites where podcasts can be found, with xome comments on what is available. (I reviewed this site in more detail previously.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Theory and Practice of Online Learning

Theory and Practice of Online Learning - Free eBook from Athabasca University.

Here is the TOC (table of contents), because practice really works best when supported by theory:

Part 1 Role and Function of Theory in Online Education Development and Delivery

1 Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning - Mohamed Ally
2 Toward a Theory of Online Learning - Terry Anderson
3 Value Chain Analysis: A Strategic Approach to Online Learning - Fathi Elloumi

Part 2 Infrastructure and Support for Content Development

4 Developing an Infrastructure for Online Learning - Alan Davis
5 Technologies of Online Learning (e-Learning) - Rory McGreal & Michael Elliott
6 Media Characteristics and Online Learning Technology - Patrick J. Fahy

Part 3 Design and Development of Online Courses

7 The Development of Online Courses - Dean Caplan
8 Developing Team Skills and Accomplishing Team Projects Online - Deborah C. Hurst & Janice Thomas
9 Copyright Issues in Online Courses: A Moment in Time - Lori-Ann Claerhout
10 Value Added—The Editor in Design and Development of Online Courses - Jan Thiessen & Vince Ambrock

Part 4 Delivery, Quality Control, and Student Support of Online Courses

11 Teaching in an Online Learning Context - Terry Anderson
12 Call Centers in Distance Education - Andrew Woudstra, Colleen Huber, & Kerri Michalczuk
13 Supporting Asynchronous Discussions among Online Learners - Joram Ngwenya, David Annand & Eric Wang
14 Library Support for Online Learners: e-Resources, e-Services, and the Human Factors - Kay Johnson, Houda Trabelsi, & Tony Tin
15 Supporting the Online Learner - Judith A. Hughes
16 The Quality Dilemma in Online Education - Nancy K. Parker

This book is released under the Creative Commons copyright (attribution, noncommercial, no derivatives).

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

FlatPlanet Wiki - International Collaborative Wiki Example

The FlatPlanet Wiki (on is a collaboration between a secondary class in Canada and one in the UK. The students worked together to create a series or projects that deal with Environmental Issues.

The site includes a useful set of ground rule that would be helpful to anyone wanting to setup a similar wiki project.

Nice job, kids!

BTW - I used Wikispaces, myself, this past semester as part of a class on Sustainable Tourism. I think Wikispaces is the best out there for class use -- especially from a teacher's perspective.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Earth Observatory Reference: Global Warming

Earth Observatory Reference: Global Warming

Not really Web 2.0, but this is a Great New Resource from NASA on how scientists develop global climate models and predict the impacts of global warming.

(See if you can find the photo I took that they found on my Flickr account.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

MERLOT - Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching

MERLOT = Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching

MERLOT is the probably the largest social network for sharing educational resources in higher education. At the time that I am writing this, the site claimed to have 16,566 Materials (learning materials and assignments), and 45,057 members (faculty, students, librarians, and others).

The website is divided into the following sections:

Learning Materials
Browse peer reviewed online learning materials in your discipline.

Find expert colleagues in your discipline.

Personal Collections
View personal collections from people in your discipline.

Get assignments you can use with your students.

Guest Experts
Find guest experts in the Virtual Speakers Bureau.

The Learning Materials is probably the most useful. The list is created by users who basically link to material that they have placed on their own websites. I looked at some of the Editor's Choice material, which I found to be quite good. Despite the large number of members and materials, not a whole lot came up when I typed in my discipline of geography, and nothing came up when I typed in my specialization of Tourism.

MERLOT is ike many other things on the web with the categories of Information Technology and Business being most prominent, while the Arts and Social Sciences are least represented. In addition, because the material is linked to off-site webpages, I would be concerned that some material will disappear over time -- a problem that I have regularly had to deal with in my online classes over the years.

That being said, I am a new member of MERLOT and hopefully I will be able to both use and contriute material to it in the future.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wired Campus Blog: Virtual Island Fosters Educational Innovation

The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog: Virtual Island Fosters Educational Innovation:

"On May 16, the new island will make its debut in Second Life, the interactive virtual world. Built to foster collaboration in the higher-education community, the site -- a joint effort of the software developer Angel Learning and the Second Life Educators community (SLED) -- is a place for educators new to virtuality to figure out how things are done. Teaming up to tear down a campus and redesign it is one possible use."

Monday, April 09, 2007

How Many Students Are Just Right in a Web Course?

How Many Students Are Just Right in a Web Course?

"In one university engineering program, an additional $150 per student was added to a faculty salary for every distance learning student — plus an additional $50 per student goes to the department’s budget. At a state university, faculty teaching distance learning courses received a $100 bonus for each student once the enrollment exceeded 25. In another example, in a library information program on the east coast, faculty received an additional $50 per out—of—state student enrolled in the course." ( Copyright Judith V. Boettcher, 1997-2007)

This article is actually a decade old, though it has apparently been updated over time... -- Alan

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Japan's First Internet University Goes Online

The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog: Japan's First Internet University Goes Online

Japan’s first entirely Internet-based university opened last weekend with a real-time entrance ceremony Webcast to the PC’s of its 1,200 freshmen students and a promise to shake up the country’s moribund higher-education sector.

Friday, March 16, 2007 - The Joys of Powerpoint!

I always use Powerpoint for my presentations (there are no alternatives), and after almost every conference presentation that I have made in recent years, I have had students asking me for a copy of the Powerpoint file. This is especially true in Asia, where students must have gigabytes of .ppt files on their computers. When this first started happening, I was wary of giving my work away, but now I pretty much let anyone who wants to make a copy -- life is too short to worry about it! is website where people can upload their Powerpoint presentations (also works with Open Office and PDF files) to share with the world. This is sort of Youtube for slide presentations. While it is not as entertaining as Youtube (I can waste a lot of time there!), there are gems of information that can be useful for teaching purposes. For those interested in emerging elearning, for example, there are a bunch of presentations about Second Life, several of which focus exclusively on it use in education.

A wide variety of topics are covered by the presentations, and some are approaching 1000 views (probably more by the time many people read this). I uploaded one of my presentations (on "Travel 2.0", below), which I think is a pretty good one. However, many (if not most) of the others are of questionable value. Also, there are a lot of Spanish language presentations that are not easily filtered out (since I do not know any Spanish at all). As a result, it takes a lot of digging to find the gems in this collection -- at least if you are looking for something specific. If not, then just browsing can be fun, just like Youtube!

Click Here to view my presentation in the image above.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

"Making Wikipedia Better" - Class Assignment

This comes from The Wired Campus blog and email newsletter (Chronicle of Higher Education, 8 March 07), where you can also follow the discussion.

"Nicola Pratt, a lecturer in international relations at the University of East Anglia, in England, tells The Guardian that she was once one of those "disgruntled" academics who berate students for using Wikipedia in their essays. But then Ms. Pratt had an epiphany: Instead of complaining to her students, why not recruit them to make Wikipedia better? The lecturer is now asking her graduate students to edit eight Wikipedia articles -- on contentious topics related to the politics of the Middle East -- and to make them more balanced. Ms. Pratt has also told students they must create a new article of their own. One hopes students' grades won 't be dependent on articles making it intact through Wikipedia's rough-and-tumble editing process. "

Personally, I think think this is a great idea, especially for a small seminar-like class of seniors or graduate students where not only can content be expanded, but sticky issues of knowledge and epistomology and the role of science and social science in society can be explored.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Second Life University

Universities register for virtual future | CNET

According to this article on CNET News, "more than 70 universities have built island campuses in Second Life."

I think there is one known faculty member here at Northern Arizona University who is just barely starting to play with Second Life -- but not teaching. And if any of my students want to use Second Life for their final project this semester, they are welcome to do that. For me, it is hard enough to find time to sleep in my first life, let along to spend a lot of time on a second one.

That being said, I did sign up for the Second Life Educator's email list, and I was amazed and pleased to see the educational resources that Linden Labs is providing to encourage teaching in their virtual world. Maybe I need to find something in my first life to give up so I can explore Second Life more....

(The image above comes from this SLurl - "Second Live URL.")

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Open Culture: University Podcast Collection

Stanford U. and UC Berkeley have gotten quite a lot of media coverage through their affiliation with Apple's iTunes U and Google Video to put audio and video podcasts of lectures up on the Internet. However, there are a lot more universities that are podcasting themselves in different ways to their students and the world.

The Open Culture Blog has put together a comprehensive list of university-sponsored podcasts. These are podcasts that are often accessible through some university (or other institutions of higher education) website portal. Business school podcasts are listed on a separate page.

Open Culture does not list independent university podcasts, such as my Geography for Travelers podcast, which supports my classes, but is not run through my university. Although the Open Culture blog has a more general list of podcasts, they are more culture than education-related.

More comprehensive directories of educational podcasts, covering K-12 and higher education, can be found at:

Formatpixel - Serious Online Graphic Publishing

Formatpixel is allows you to create gorgeous high resolution, page-folding, online magazines, similar to the Latitudes travel magazine our of Italy. This would be a wonderful tool for a graphic arts class to get their feet wet with quality online publishing. The list of online editing tools includes the following:

Editor (WYSIWYG)
- Insert pages
- Use the Spread Planner to arrange the order of, add and delete pages
- Layer objects on your pages in front of and behind one another
- Apply colour to your pages
- Apply background colours to your project
- Utilise the snap-to-grid functions and alignment helpers
- Upload your own images with the built in image library [ see Image object ]

Text objects
- Change font face
- Change font colour
- Change font style [ normal, bold, italic ]
- Change font alignment [ left, centered or right justified ]
- Change the background colour
- Add drop shadow
- Change the kerning [ spacing between letters ]
- Change the leading [ spacing between lines ]

Media objects
- Import your own JPG, GIF or PNG [ including support for transparency ] files
- Import FLV Video files
- Create your own formatpixel image library
- Edit the names of your images or delete them
- Crop your images
- Add blending modes to images
- Apply colour filters [ normal, greyscale or sepia ]
- Apply a customisable blur effect
- Scale object

Shape objects
- Change shape [ square or circle ]
- Change shapes colour
- Add blending modes to your shapes

There is a free account option, though it is limited to only one project at a maximum of 512k -- which will not get you many pages, but should be enough to introduce students to the concept of virtual magazines. Paid accounts go up to 20 UKPounds for 20 projects and 20MB of storage.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tourism and Social Software Class at NAU

I have added Social Media to my Spring 2007 class, "Planning for Sustainable Tourism". The class is taught 100% online. Hopefully I will not overwhelm the more technologically challenged students in the class! Click on the title above to go to the current version of the class overview. Registration information can be NAU Distance Learning.

OVERVIEW of PL 376 for Spring 2007
- January 16 - May 11, 2007

Click here for Syllabus

Topic Groups: Each student will be assigned to one of the following three groups at the start of the semester. Students will be given the opportunity to switch groups later in the semester. The Final Project will be related to the topic of the group. A couple of sample topics for each group is shown below.

  1. Sustainable Tourism and Money
    • Promoting Destinations and Sustainability Online
    • Monetizing Sustainable Travel and Tourism Websites, Blogs and Podcasts
  2. Sustainable Tourism and the Environment
    • Social Networking for the Environment
    • Online Environmental Education
  3. Sustainable Tourism and Community (Physical and Digital)
    • Online Citizen Participation / Political Activism
    • Virtual Communities and Real Communities

CLASS SCHEDULE - Please See the LEARNING MODULES and CALENDAR for Actual Assignments and Due Dates

This Schedule is Under Construction, though it will probably not change much.

Module 1 - Intro to Class, Sustainability, and Social Media
Class Intro Assignment: Tourism Development Issues
Sustainable Development and Tourism
Social Media and Tourism
Planners and Planning for Tourism
Sustainable Tourism, Planning and Social Media
Midterm Exam #1
Module 2 - Tourism Impacts (using collaborative blogs)
Economic Impacts of Tourism
Social Impacts of Tourism
Environmental Impacts of (and on) Tourism
Topic Group Wiki Projects: Resources for Manging Tourism Impacts, Greening the Tourism Economy, or Tourism Planning for People
Midterm Exam #2
Module 3 - Social Media and Destination Marketing
Final Project: Place Promotion with Social Media (website creation, podcasting, and other Web 2.0 Travel Tools; there is no final exam)

Total Points (subject to change)

Definitions: Social Media - Social Software - New Media

Social Software Tools that will be used in this class, include:

  • Message/Discussion Boards (we will use this in Blackboard-Vista)
  • Websites (this will be part of the final project, most student will use the simple online web creator at, or the free domain service from Microsoft Live)
  • Wikis (at a minimum, there will be one wiki for each of the Topic Groups above)
  • Social Bookmarking (e.g., - optional)
  • Blogs (potentially including video and photo blogging; at a minimum there will be one collaborative group blog for each of the three Topic Groups above)
  • Podcasts ( this will be part of Final Project, and if it is good enough I will put it out on my Geography for Travelers podcast - with your permission, of course; this will also be shared with student at the University of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia)
  • Virtual Reality (optional; can you promote a destination through Second Life? want to try?)
  • Social Networks (all students will be required to join and report on a travel-related social network)

NEW: FYI - I presented a summary of this class, along with a small survey of the students, at my university's eLearning Institute in May. Here is the prsentation (audio and slides):