Category Archives: New tools and ideas

A New Standard for the World: Creating a Cadillac Course

This summer in preparation for Faculty Development Day, the CTL was tasked with showing off the full technical capabilities available to the faculty.  We christened the project, the Cadillac Course.   The title of our breakout session was entitled, Linking Library Resources and Technology Using ANGEL; however it was really more of a test drive for our fully loaded Cadillac course.  This session featured faculty member (and FDD MC) Lisa Richter and CTL staff member Bill Drummond.  Examples of the technology demonstrated included Adobe Connect (web conferencing) Panopto (lecture capture) along with a number of Library Resources, including a video starring last year’s MC Cassie Spieles, were  all embedded in an ANGEL course.  Lisa started the session by video broadcasting from a different room via Adobe Connect.  Faculty experienced Panopto lecture capture by viewing a recording Lisa had made earlier of a lab exercise she conducted.  More than 80 faculty members attended this session.  Cool!

Some the questions we have for you are (let us know in the comments):

  •  What tools would you need to build your own Cadillac course?
  • What Library resources would you link to embed in you course?
  • What  would Lecture Capture and Video Conferencing mean for you?
  • How much would your Cadillac Course cost, not $$ but time and preparation and training.
  • What color would you like your Cadillac to be?  This time we are talking about the actual car. 🙂

To find out more about using web-conferencing, lecture capture, or integrating library resources for your on-ground or online courses, send us an email at or give us a call at 586.226.4774.

Open Educational Resources

Explore your resources or share with othersThe Internet and digital technologies have transformed how people learn. Educational resources are no longer static and scarce, but adaptable and widely available, allowing educational institutions, teachers, and learners to actively participate in a global exchange of knowledge via Open Educational Resources (OER).

In an earlier posting we talked about copyright and fair use.  Another side of the issue is OER; free, copyright-unencumbered, normally digital materials you can use in your classes.  They range from individual objects like pictures and documents to complete textbooks.  In this post we will explore some of the resources available to you and how you can add to the growing collection.  But first, some history…

David Wiley, a professor at Brigham Young University, introduced the concept of Open Content as opposed to Open Source (a topic of a future post!) in 1998 (see Wiley, David (1998). “Open Content”. Retrieved 2012-03-28).  In 2001 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology started their OpenCourseWare (OCW) project with the intent of putting content for all courses online and freely available to the world.  Wow!  The term “open educational resources” was first adopted at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries (see Johnstone, Sally M. (2005). “Open Educational Resources Serve the World”. Educause Quarterly 28 (3). Retrieved 2012-03-28).

Below is a collection of some of the more popular resources.  If you know of others, please share!

To begin, you can learn more about OER and its use:

Now that you have an idea of what OER is, below are some resources where you can find objects to use in your class:

  • Open Course Library:
  • Internet Archive:  The Internet Archive is a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.  Like a paper-based library, it provides free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public.
  • National Science Digital Library: National Science Digital Library (NSDL) resources include images, video, audio, animations, software, datasets, and text documents such as lesson plans and journal articles.  In addition, NSDL provides search, browse, help, blogging, collaborative workspaces, collection creation and management services, news reports, and online community discussions.
  • Library of Congress: The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library’s vast digital collections in their teaching.
  • TED: Consider using TED to initiate class discussions.  TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.  It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  Since then its scope has become ever broader.  Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh Scotland each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.
  • TED-Ed: The newest initiative from TED, and one deserving special mention, is TED-Ed, an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas.  Within the growing TED-Ed video library, you will find carefully vetted educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform.  This platform also allows you to take any useful educational video, not just TED’s, and easily create a customized lesson around the video.  You can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student.
  • Kahn Academy: Kahn Academy has a library of over 2,400 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 150 practice exercises.  They’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.
  • Annenberg Learner: Annenberg Learner uses media and telecommunications to advance excellent teaching in American schools.  This mandate is carried out chiefly by the funding and broad distribution of educational video programs with coordinated Web and print materials.

Following are additional collections and full courses, many of which are overlapping, but have their particular focus:

  • OER Commons: OER Commons is a place where content is made free to use or share, and in some cases, to change and share again, made possible through licensing, so that both instructors and learners can share what they know.
  • Merlot: MERLOT includes peer reviewed online teaching and learning materials.  See our blog post of July 13, 2011.
  • MIT Open Courseware: OpenCourseware (OCW) includes free lecture notes, videos, and exams from MIT – no registration required.  It is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content.  OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
  • Open Michigan: Open.Michigan encourages researchers, learners, and instructors to maximize the impact and reach of their scholarly work through open sharing.
  • Academic Earth: Academic Earth consists of free online video courses from leading universities.  It was founded with the goal of extending high-quality online learning opportunities to people around the globe.
  • Open Courseware Consortium: The Open Courseware Consortium is a collaboration of more than 200 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.
  • SOFIA: SOFIA is modeled after MIT′s OpenCourseWare initiative.  It encourages the free exchange of community college-level materials on the World Wide Web.

Bubblicious Brain Storming

Here is a neat little program that we think you might enjoy.  It’s simple, it’s slick and it’s free.  Check out BUBBL.US

What is it? is a Web 2.0 tool that enables users to create mind mapping and brainstorming diagrams online. To begin, the main topic/concept is entered in to the parent bubble. Then ideas and thoughts are recorded in colorful text bubbles linked to the parent bubble. Users continue to add text bubbles which are color coded according to hierarchy.

Why we like it?

Mind mapping is a good tool for visual and kinesthetic learners. Visual learners benefit from associating ideas and concepts with images. Kinesthetic learners learn well by physically drawing their ideas.

Ideas for the classroom:

Use  as a pre- and post- topic assessment tool.

Generating study guides.

Aid in writing papers.

Click here for more information and examples.

Goodbye 3×5 card, Hello Zotero

Need help keeping track of your teaching resources?   Creating a bibliography?  Collecting research?  Take your library with you.

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.

Zotero is a bibliographic tool, much like Endnote….but much better.  Once downloaded,  Zotero recognizes citation forms and places them in one central location.  You can add notes,  annotate and organize your research.  Using Chicago, MLA, APA format?  No problem.  You can export your information and choose your preferred bibliographic style.  Even if you are not engaged in some monumental research project,  you can use this application to store articles, websites, or texts that you use in your courses.   Are your students required to write a research paper? Try sharing this tool with them!

The one drawback is that you can  only compatible with Mozilla -FireFox but this little hiccup is well worth it.  Click here to download FireFox.

Bookmark freeeedom

I’ve been an avid user of for a while, and I love it. Delicious is a free online tool that allows you to bookmark your favorite websites from any computer, and access them from any computer. It also allows you to tag (mark with keywords) those bookmarks, and see what other people are bookmarking with similar tags. It’s a community of interesting and useful links on every subject you can imagine. I don’t use the favorites or bookmarks feature in Internet Explorer or Firefox anymore, because they are stored only on that particular computer. There are numerous applications for such a tool, as well.

But after hearing the recent news that Yahoo! is “sun setting” Delicious (whatever that means), I’ve decided to shop around a bit. I’ve found a few alternatives that are very interesting and feature-rich! Continue reading

♪ Video Killed the Telephone Star ♪

It’s a holiday week, so homages to great 80’s songs are allowed, right? Whatever happened to The Buggles, and who knew they would be so right? And… what does this have to do with instructional technology?! Today we’re going to talk about online video chat, how it can be used in higher education to enhance the learning process, and wonder if it will someday kill the “telephone star!”

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Files files everywhere!

I’m a busy guy, and frightening as though it may seem, most of my professional (and personal) life is digitized. Sometimes I work on my laptop, on my home desktop, on the computer in my office, or even on my smart phone. Sometimes I work in a computer lab, or at the library. I have files stored on flash drives, external hard drives, network drives, and in my email account as file attachments. I have digital files floating around all over the place. Ahhhhhhh!

So, when I need to work on something, I always have to think ahead to make sure I have access to the files I need, at whatever location I’m going to be working from. If I’m not on top of things, I can end up wasting time. But I’m sure this problem is exclusive to me, because I’m special. Right? Riiiiight.

How can we easily and efficiently share files between multiple computers and maintain a high level of productivity, without creating duplicates and confusion?

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Facebook for Academia

Annnnd, we’re back! The mad dash at the beginning of the semester has subsided, and we’ve got some new bits of instructional technology goodness to share with you. To kick things off today, let’s take a look at, which has been affectionately referred to as the “Facebook for academia!”

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“Flip” out!

In case you haven’t noticed, we have some cool technology in the CTL. Oops, sorry, I meant to say cool AND useful! The cool and useful instructional technology item that I’d like to highlight today is the FlipCam!

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PowerPoint Comedy

It’s the oldest teaching trick in the book… and it never fails to bring your students [back] to life. And that trick is humor! Sometimes, as educators, we take ourselves a little too seriously (what?! never!). Find cartoons related to your subject, bring in some crazy props, and try something new! Your students will appreciate it! We are, after all, “on stage” while we’re teaching.

Speaking of humor, I’ve stumbled upon an interesting video that I think we can all appreciate. It’s a stand-up comedy routine by Don McMillan, a PHD-holding comedian, called “Life After Death by PowerPoint.” His bit on PowerPoint is hilarious… and also very true. Enjoy!