ASTE (Alaska Society for Technology in Education)

I spent the last two days at the ASTE conference “Exploring the Cloud Frontier” at the Hotel Captain Cook.

It was nice to see old educator friends from Kodiak, Kotzebue, Dillingham, and Fairbanks. I even ran into someone I grew up with in Virginia! There were some interesting vendors. I kept the Promethean rep busy with many many questions and saw a demonstration of Mimio which makes any standard whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard! I am excited to coordinate with a colleague in Dillingham in Second Life and to have met some Ed Tech teachers from the Anchorage School District. The best presentations I attended included one on YouTube (There were many little things I didn’t know and what a dynamic high school teacher who presented!) and one on publishing content to the Kindle (who knew how easy it is?).

Tuesday’s Featured Speaker was Lee Crockett of the InfoSavvy Group ( In addition to the opening session on Living on the Future Edge: Windows on Tomorrow, I attended his very interesting session, Literacy is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age. He delineated the critical thinking skills of the 21st century using the following framework: Digital Citizen, Solution Fluency, Creativity Fluency, Collaboration Fluency, Media Fluency, and Information Fluency.

It was also interesting to find out more about the Quality Matters peer review program Kenai Peninsula College is using to develop quality online and hybrid courses (

Next week, I will post the tips I learned about using YouTube in the classroom and generating and publishing content to the Kindle (once I have a chance to do it myself first!).


Now is a great time to start using Google Apps in the Classroom

With the migration of students to Google Mail, it makes sense to use the other Google applications such as Google Docs and Google Sites in our classes. When students first log into their student email, they see links to Google Mail, Calendar, Docs, and Sites. Once they enter any of these, they see Google just like anyone else sees Google and they have access to all the Google apps shown in the screen shot below.


What I really like about using Google Docs for student group projects is that you can have student groups create a folder to share with all the group members so each individual file within the folder doesn’t need to be shared. When the project is due (or before) they can share the folder with you (the instructor)! To get started learning about how you can use Google Apps in the classroom, visit

Active Learning ideas

Here is a list of active learning techniques which could be applied in a traditional classroom or adapted for teaching with technology:

This list comes from the Thiagi Group training consultants. Some ideas are as simple as interrupting your presentation at the end of each logical unit and asking teams to identify the most important, the most disturbing, the most surprising, or the most complex idea presented so far. I’m going to apply this in my class tonight! Yes, I’m sure you have seen this all before…but it never hurts to revisit it and change your style a little from time to time. Have fun!

Habits of Effective Online Moderators (tips from Elluminate)

Here are some good reminders for Elive moderators (they can be applied to any technology, really!). This list was adapted from “Top Ten Habits for Highly Effective Elluminate Live! Moderators” produced by Elluminate.

  1. Practice, practice, practice. Log in on multiple computers using the link I told you how to get in a previous post or apply for your own Vroom through Learn Central You can learn valuable things by playing around in elive logged in as a moderator and also a student. Some instructors log into two machines for every elive session!
  2. Give students all the information they need to use elive effectively on their computer. Direct them to Elluminate Live Training prior to your first class session.
  3. Prepare content ahead of time, designing interaction into the lesson.
  4. Run audio wizard as soon as you join to be sure your audio is working. Have your students do the same. Every time.
  5. Join the elive session about a half hour early to load slides, create breakout rooms, test audio/video, etc. Be prepared with files (for application sharing) and websites open and notes and resources available.
  6. Consider having a “helper” in your session to manage the chat window or provide technical support. This could be a student volunteer who has some experience using elive.
  7. Smile and your participants will smile with you. Exude positive energy and enthusiasm. Your attitude is contagious. Use the video every once in a while to allow your students to see your smiling face. Add profile information using Tools > Preferences > My Profile.
  8. Engage participants in an interactive activity every 6 minutes using polling, emoticons, brainstorming on the whiteboard, responses using chat, breakout rooms, etc.
  9. Check for understanding using a poll, or asking students to summarize on the mic or demonstrate with application sharing.
  10. Record the session and tell students how to find the recordings in Blackboard. [Click the elive link in Blackboard > click the drop down arrow next to “live sessions” and change it to “recorded sessions” > click the “go” button > find the recording you want to watch by date. You may have to change where it says “this month” or “this week” on the far right.] Consider creating additional recordings to supplement live sessions.

Blackboard Adaptive Release

I hadn’t used Adaptive Release in Blackboard before, but it seems very useful and pretty easy to use. Thanks, Bonnie, for asking me to look into this cool feature of Blackboard! When would you use this? Let’s say you have one student who has been out with a medical condition and you want to give him/her a chance to make up work that is in a folder which has timed out (no longer available). Here’s how to give just that one student access to the Blackboard folder.


  1. Blackboard > Control Panel > go to the right section
  2. Modify the folder to remove the date restrictions to make the folder content available to all students (temporarily)
  3. Then click Manage > Adaptive Release > Look for the “Membership” section > click Browse > Search for student name > Check the checkbox by the name > click Submit to add the rule > Submit > OK
  4. To add another rule or delete a rule, use Adaptive Release: Advanced

Here is a video tutorial:

Remember you can log in as a student to see Blackboard how they see it and to test out new features of Blackboard. I find it very useful to see the gradebook from the student perspective!

Username:  username_student e.g. afkmw1_student

Password:  UAA ID#_student e.g. 30615550_student

Blackboard Announcements

Blackboard Announcements are a great way to get information out to students. By default, the students see the announcements as soon as they log into Blackboard and also on the first page after they click on your course. You can even check a box to email the announcement to all students. This is especially nice for sending an important message to students about a canceled class, for example.

  1. Create an announcement using Control Panel > Announcements > Add Announcement > Type in your subject and message.Format your message and be sure to make links live using the hyperlink button. 
  2. Click Yes to make it a Permanent announcement so it goes to the top of the list on the Announcements page (otherwise students might not scroll down and see it).
  3. Add both a Display After and Display Until date. It is nice to be able to set up announcements ahead of time…such as a “Tip of the Week.”
  4. Here is the thing I didn’t realize! I never bothered entering a Display Until date but then when I copy the announcements to a new course shell for a new semester, students can still see announcements that have no end date if they click on the View All tab. They cannot see announcements for any that are past the display until date (but you can).

Remember, you don’t have to see your own announcements when you log in to Blackboard. After you log in to Blackboard but before clicking on a course, click the pencil icon to the right of My Courses. Uncheck the display announcements checkbox for all your classes!