Author Archives: Jim Groom

An Open Definition of OER

Open education is about far more than a

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Creative Commons license. Leveraging the wealth of freely available digital resources, data, platforms, and tools requires an open mind as well. The goal of this presentation is to argue for a wider definition of OER through examples of non-traditional resource sources, tools, and the application of broader “open” pedagogical frameworks.

Beyond Blogging: WordPress as a Platform for Innovation

JMU’s Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) recruited 13 faculty for a WordPress pilot in the Spring of 2010. Faculty came from sociology, nursing, psychology, English, CIS, writing and geology. Most of the faculty used WordPress for course-related activities like blogging and lightweight course management. Since then, over 5,000 users have logged into over 140 sites. CIT has installed over 400 plugins and themes. CIT has also integrated WordPress authentication with JMU’s central user directory so that students and faculty do not have to manage another set

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of login credentials. CIT has also written a script to synchronize WordPress site membership with course enrollment feeds coming from JMU’s Student Administration system.

In this presentation, we will show how faculty are using WordPress as a platform for building innovative and engaging web applications to support their teaching and scholarship. We will cover a wide range of topics and technologies; such as podcasting, video sharing, digital storytelling, digital exhibits, social networking, Google maps, mobile-friendly themes, content upload from mobile devices, student journals and fanzines, the flipped blog, co-authoring, peer review, and more. Our demonstrations will highlight a couple of emerging trends within the JMU community. Multimedia assignments delivered online with a shelf-life extending beyond the semester are becoming more common. Students are creating video and audio files and sharing these on easily discoverable web sites. Students are also creating exhibits of carefully curated artifacts. WordPress is a place where scholarship is expressed. Unexpectedly, WordPress has also become an object of learning, a class assignment. Students in disciplines like Public Relations and Technical Communication are learning to build WordPress sites.

We will conclude with a brief discussion of some of the challenges of managing a large WordPress installation.

Open Educational Resources for Students and Teachers in Rural Schools

Longwood University’s Institute for Teaching through Technology & Innovative Practices in collaboration with

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Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium will showcase their implementation of Open Educational Resources in rural schools for professional development (Moodle), building communities (Moodle and ELGG), design thinking (Lily Pad and Arduino), and students as creators (Kodu, Scratch, Alice, and Wiki).
Moodle and Mahara: When teachers use Moodle for professional development, they share their lessons, interact with their peers, and design their own online learning courses. Even after they complete their graduate courses, they continue to have access to Moodle supported by SVRTC.
Elgg: Elgg is an open source social networking engine and has a Facebook-like interface. Teacher participants of HP STEM catalyst project and student participants in NSF funded Digispired project used Elgg for interaction with each other individually and in groups and for sharing files, C# programs, Scratch, and Unity 3D files.
The LilyPad is a sewable microcontroller used to explore the concept of e-textiles and can be programmed through the open source software, Arduino. The LilyPad is used in conjunction with conductive thread to create circuits and individual designs using components such as colored LED lights and sound and temperature sensors. The student kits we have created include the LilyPad Arduino, conductive thread, FTDI breakout board, USB cable, 10 LED lights, AAA battery holder and battery, and two test leads (alligator clips), costing approximately $65. Teacher kits contain sewing supplies and extra materials for students.
Scratch is a free download for users to create their own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art by using the software’s programming language. Users then can upload and share their creations, as well as share the programming so that others can learn and alter creations from other users. Scratch also has an online community of users for creators to discuss and challenge themselves with activities.
Kodu (Microsoft Research): Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. The programming environment runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input. Though we trained teachers and students to use Kodu, the implementation has not been highly successful.
Alice: Digispired students used Alice in creating their stories. Alice was introduced to teacher participants of Digispired. However, teachers chose Scratch over Alice in presenting their final projects.
The HP Global Innovation in Science and Technology (GIST) project facilitated international collaboration between teachers in Ghana, India, and Virginia. In addition, Longwood ITTIP provided professional development for science teachers in the Eastern Cape region in South Africa. Implementation of Scratch and LilyPad in selected schools in Virginia was very effective in improving student attitude toward STEM fields.
The NSF project was Inspiring High School Students through STEM Exploration and named Digispired (i and ii) spanning over a course of six years. Students studied mathematics, science, technology and engineering principles behind microcontrollers and game design in Scratch, C# and Unity 3D.

Instructional Technology Collaborators: Leveraging Students to Enhance Instructional Technology

As institutions continue to acquire new and

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improved instructional technology, similar invest needs to be made in the human infrastructure that supports, uses and understands emerging technology. Unable to hire full time staff, come to this panel presentation on how Longwood University revamped a discontinued student program to support instructional technology on/off campus and enhance student professional development for careers in the 21st century. The panel will consist of the Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, Director of Planning, Innovation, and Implementation, Director of Instructional Design and Training, graduate student program manager, and instructional technology collaborators (student employees).

Using an Online Community to Innovate, Network, and Scale

Teacher professional development as a static one or two day event is evolving in the 21st century. The open nature of the Internet is providing opportunities for educators to seek online communities of practice (CoPs) that incorporate open source thinking. Within the College of Education at the University of Mary Washington, students and faculty have created an online community for new K12 teachers.

This digital repository of knowledge is intended to be collection points

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that provide feedback to K12 teacher participants and support their organic growth through communication and collaboration among the community at large.

Join this interactive presentation to explore how we are creating an open source digital information source that is collective in nature and scalable to meeting the dynamic needs of the K12 teacher. Topics will include collaborative software, video talks, webinars, and lessons that can be accessed by anyone with a Web connection.

A Domain of One’s Own

A Domain of One’s Own is a pilot project from the University of Mary Washington and a collaborative effort between the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies,

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Office of Information Technology Services, and the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation. This pilot has given 400 students and faculty their own domain name and web space to install a portfolio of work or map to existing systems. UMW believes this pilot project gives students the flexibility to build out their “personal cyberinfrastructure” (to quote Garner Campbell) using a variety of software and approaches in a space that gives them the power to become “sysadmins” of their own learning.

This panel will explore the conceptual birth of the idea through to the pilot UMW is currently running for the 2012/2013 academic year with more than 400 domains registered and controlled by UMW faculty and students with a larger goal of providing the same for all incoming freshman in Fall 2013.

Moderator: Gardner Campbell (Virginia Tech)
Tim Owens (UMW)
Mary Kayler (UMW)
Zach Whalen (UMW)
Krystyn Moon (UMW)

Social Annotation Sites and Wikis as Disruptors: Classroom Salon and PBWorks

Are you looking for a way to encourage your students to slow down their reading process, to read texts closely at the word, phrase and line level, and to draw on textual evidence in their summative and formative writing? This session will feature the benefits and highlight the tools of Classroom Salon, a socially networked annotation site created at Carnegie Mellon University.

You will learn how to set up an account, load texts, prompts, and tags on Classroom Salon, and how to incorporate Salon into the reading and writing assignments and learning management systems (LMSs) you already

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use in your face-to-face, hybrid, and distance classes. If you teach classes with readings in the public domain (such as Early American Literature), you will be able to use Salon in lieu of an anthology and as a supplement or alternative to your college’s LMS.

This session will also demonstrate how a wiki (such as PBWorks) can be used both as an alternative or supplement to your college’s LMS and as a vehicle for the publication of collaborative and individual student work.

Note: I have selected the Carnival Showcase as my Session Format, but depending on the needs of the conference, I could also give a 20 or 45-minute presentation in the afternoon.

EagleICE: Experiences of MOOC Noobs

In January 2013, the UMW Computer Science department launched a new online learning experience for high school students. The course, called “eagleICE”, introduces the basics of computer programming in the context of Web application development. Students in the course will learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ajax, and jQuery and create social media themed web applications. This course is being offered as an open online course, with 25 official participants. Some participants are taking the course for high-school credit through agreements with area high schools, some are taking the course for fun, and still others are taking the course for dual-enrollment credit and receiving high school credit and 3 UMW credits for CPSC 110 Introduction to Computer Science. In addition to the high school students, several adult learners have signed up to take the course including a teacher at one of the area high school as well as adults with an interest in the subject. The course content and assignments are the same for all of the enrollment types.

Students engage in the course material asynchronously through streaming video, lab assignments, discussion forum and interactive exercises found here: The faculty instructors, Drs. Stephen Davies and Karen Anewalt, deliver most content. Additional support and community building activities are provided by

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a group of seven UMW Computer Science students who are mentoring the high school students.

The primary course goal is to introduce students to the type of creative problem-solving that is the essence of computer programming. Within our department, we’ve noted that often students don’t come to college planning to be computer science majors, in part due to lack of exposure to the discipline. Most area high schools do not offer computer science courses, probably because people with the necessary expertise are lucratively employed in industry. We hope to inspire students to continue to study the discipline when they attend college and instructors to consider offering traditional courses in their schools.

Teaching an open online course is a completely new experience for us. Neither Karen nor Stephen has taught or taken an online course. At the conference we’ll be reporting on things that are working well and mistakes that we’ve made along the way. Early challenges have included:
· Issues with video quality of screen shared text
· Some participants experiencing choppiness in video streaming
· Students misunderstanding the course schedule in the asynchronous environment
· Extensive communication from parents without accompanying communication from students.
Hopefully others will be able to learn from our experiences.

Student and Faculty Perceptions of Electronic Textbooks at the University of Virginia

Imagine a college class with no textbooks…at least no textbooks with paper pages and spines. That’s exactly what happened in 16 classes for 693 students at the University of Virginia (UVa) during the Fall 2012 semester. Partnering with Internet2 and EDUCAUSE, UVa participated in a pilot study involving the purchase, distribution, and use of electronic textbooks, or eTexts. In the pilot study, publishers provided UVa access to eTexts for all students in selected courses for free, and students had access to the materials until the end of the semester. For the most part, the eTexts were simply digitalized versions of the paper version of the textbook, but special annotations and markings could be utilized by instructors and students alike through the software that provided access to the eTexts. In this first phase of the distribution of eTexts, UVa obtained baseline assessment information about students’ perceptions of the eTexts on a variety of issues, ranging from ease of use, methods of access, effectiveness in facilitating learning outcomes, and satisfaction in comparison to paper versions. Moreover, course instructors were surveyed or interviewed about their perceptions of the eTexts on issues related to future motivations to use eTexts, use of the various features of the eText software, effects on student learning and quality of interactions with students, and accessibility difficulties.

In this presentation, UVa Associate Vice President and Deputy Chief Information Office Michael McPherson and Director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas will present the results from the Fall 2012 baseline assessments and note the implications of the findings in terms of the use of eTexts in courses

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at UVA in the near and long-term future.

Currently, we are still collecting the faculty assessment, but we have preliminary results from the student assessment. In general, the student respondents did not feel that the eTexts enhanced their learning needs. The overwhelming majority of student respondents (62.9% to 88.7%) were either neutral or did not feel that the eTexts facilitated superior learning over traditional textbooks in a variety of areas, such as: understanding ideas and concepts taught in class; engagement with the course content; organizing and structuring learning; and interaction and collaboration with classmates or the professor. However, these low results may be due in part to the fact that most students reported that they did not use the eText interactive features, such as annotations and highlighting. Regarding user-friendliness, the majority (52.9%) of student respondents indicated that the features and navigation of the eText (through the use of the Courseload software) were easy to use, despite 41.3% indicating initial difficulty using the eText and Courseload software. Finally, the student respondents indicated that the following factors would be important when considering the purchase of future eTexts: costs less than traditional textbooks, accessible without an internet connection, available for more than only one term, and easy portability. The full results from the student assessment, as well as for the faculty assessment will be presented during our presentation.

Pinterest in the Classroom: Case Studies in History and American Studies

This presentation will explore the use of Pinterest in three classes (two American Studies seminars and one History seminar) during the Fall 2012 semester at the University of Mary Washington. In line with Clive Thompson’s argument about this form of social media published recently in _Wired_, I hope to

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show how using Pinterest’s visuality and platform simplicity/flexibility helps to teach students to navigate larges amount of information available online, organize that data, present it to an audience, and finally self-reflect on a given subject.