I received an email yesterday that I didn’t ever expect:  I was notified by Slideshare.net that my content on Slideshare is among the top 1% of most viewed on SlideShare in 2013. Wow! I continue to be surprised by how many folks have viewed and appreciate my slide decks and handouts that I have put up on Slideshare.

Supporting My Course

I started using Slideshare about 5 years ago when I decided to make one of my courses, IDT 7095/8095, open source as an open educational resource.  When I decided to go in that direction I tried to make sure that all of the slides and resources I used in the course were open, available, and as Creative Commons as I could make them.  As a result of this, one of my presentations on comparing instructional design models that I use in IDT 7095/8095 continues to be very well received.  It astounds me that this presentation has over 47,000 views and almost 2,000 downloads.  I decided to do the open course because I wanted this capstone course to have more of a community feel to it.  I wanted students to get the sense that our field and our course was part of a profession that they had access to.  While the course has gone through multiple iterations over the years, the OER component has remained a constant.

More Accessible

In addition to supporting my course, I’ve found that Slideshare.net has been a good place to house slide decks to make them more accessible to others.  This is particularly true of teacher professional development and higher education lectures that I’ve participated in.  I am able to share the Slideshare.net link (after I’ve shortened it with Bit.ly) directly in my presentation, so that participants can immediately access the slides if they want.  In only a couple of instances have I found that Slideshare.net has been blocked by a school, district, or university.  In one of the cases, the university was able to have it unblocked.


I’ve also found that Slideshare.net is an easy way to embed my presentations (when I want them freely available) into my blog or courses that are housed inside our university’s course management system.

Slideshare embed optionsI like that there are options for display sizes, so that the embedded slideshow player doesn’t take up too much room; options for display without related content when I don’t want students to go down another “rabbit hole”; and options for the convenience of a shortcode (code snippet) specific for WordPress blogs, which is what I use on Viral-Notebook.com.

PDF Uploads

I did find that I needed to make a change in my Slideshare.net workflow a few years ago.  Originally, I uploaded my slide decks as the original Powerpoint files, but I don’t do that anymore.  Instead, I now upload a PDF.  I made this change for a few reasons.

First, a few years ago, I discovered from the “Related Content” channel in Slideshare.net that one of my presentations had been used unexpectedly and in ways that I considered unethical.  While I do release my presentations in general as Creative Commons licensing, this presentation had been inserted wholesale into another presentation, the attribution to me had been stripped, and the original graphic design I had created had been used throughout the entire presentation.  While I was miffed, I decided I could figure out how to handle this.  I decided to go with PDFs to take care of the problem, and now, I use myself as an example to others on plagiarism, copyright, and Creative Commons.

Second, I also found that when I uploaded Powerpoint files directly into Slideshare.net my fonts did not always stay true.  This was also the case when I began using Adobe Connect a few years ago as well.  So, because I consider the graphic design of my presentations important, PDFs allowed me to control the font issue easily.

Finally and also as a result of using Slideshare.net and Adobe Connect, I found the Web 2.0, or presentations 2.0, style of slides made my Powerpoint files very large.  This caused problems inside Adobe Connect, including upload problems, upload stalls, and errors.  So, PDF-ing the files also made it easier to reduce the file size prior to upload into Slideshare.net and Connect.

How ’bout you?

Are you using Slideshare.net or another web service to host your slide decks, etc.  How’s that working for you? Or if you’ve used one of my presentations from Slideshare, I’d love to hear what you’ve done and how you’re using it. So, let me know in the comments.  I’d like to hear what your experiences have been.

I’m proud to announce that I will have a new book chapter coming out soon.  The most exciting part of this chapter was getting to work with my colleague Yu-Chang Hsu at Boise State University.  Yu-Chang and I were part of a panel discussion at AECT a couple of years ago, and our research interests overlapped.  We collaborated on this book chapter over the fall semester, and it took some real interesting turns as we tried to parse out and define personal learning environments, personal learning networks, and professional learning networks.  Here’s the title and abstract info.

Making Personal and Professional Learning Mobile: Blending Mobile Devices, Social Media, Social Networks, and Mobile Apps To Support PLEs, PLNs, & ProLNs


Mobile technologies have become an integrated, or inseparable, part of individuals’ daily lives for work, play, and learning. While social networking has been important and in practice in our society even before human civilization and certainly prior to the advent of computers, nowadays, the opportunities and venues of building a network are unprecedented. Currently, the opportunities and tools to build a network to support personal and professional learning are enabled by mobile technologies (e.g., mobile apps, devices, and services), web-based applications (e.g., Diigo and RSS readers), and social-networking applications and services (e.g., Facebook, Google+, and Twitter). The purpose of this chapter is to describe and propose how individuals use personal learning environments (PLEs), personal learning networks (PLNs), and professional learning networks (ProLNs) with mobile technologies and social networking tools to meet their daily learning needs. In our chapter, we consider categories of learning relevant to personal learning and professional learning, then we define and examine PLEs, PLNs, and ProLNs, suggesting how mobile devices and social software can be used within these. The specific strategies learners use within PLEs, PLNs, and ProLNs are then presented followed by cases that depict and exemplify these strategies within the categories of learning. Finally, implications for using mobile devices to support personal and professional learning are discussed.

Our chapter is part of a book titled, Mobile Devices: Technologies, Role in Social Media and Uses in Education and Students’ Perspectives. If you would like to have a preprint copy of the chapter, just let me know.  It’s still in production right now.

Image Creative Commons License Phil Campbell via Compfight

internet and higher education journal cover

internet and higher education journal coverI just wanted to let you know that a former student of mine, Dr. Joanne Gikas, and I have a new article in press right now.  This is part of her dissertation research that focused on how teaching and learning occurred with mobile devices in higher education classrooms.  “Mobile Computing Devices in Higher Education: Student Perspectives on Learning with Cellphones, Smartphones & Social Media” is concerned with the student learning portion of the research, and the data were collected through focus groups with students at three different universities across the country.

We’re really pleased that this research is being published so quickly through The Internet and Higher Education journal.  It was submitted just a couple of months ago and is now in press and available through the journal’s Science Direct “in press” articles section.  That’s pretty amazing!  Here’s the abstract below and let me know if you are unable to access the article through your databases:

The purpose of this research was to explore teaching and learning when mobile computing devices, such as cellphones and smartphones, were implemented in higher education. This paper presents a portion of the findings on students’ perceptions of learning with mobile computing devices and the roles social media played. This qualitative research study focused on students from three universities across the US. The students’ teachers had been integrating mobile computing devices, such as cellphones and smartphones, into their courses for at least two semesters. Data were collected through student focus group interviews. Two specific themes emerged from the interview data: (a) advantages of mobile computing devices for student learning and (b) frustrations from learning with mobile computing devices. Mobile computing devices and the use of social media created opportunities for interaction, provided opportunities for collaboration, as well as allowed students to engage in content creation and communication using social media and Web 2.0 tools with the assistance of constant connectivity.

And if you have comments about the article or the questions about the data, please leave a comment. We’d love to hear what you have to say.

Our University of Memphis Instructional Design & Technology program has been attending the Mississippi Educational Computing Association conference this week in Jackson, MS, as a vendor to promote our program.  Plus, we are presenting a couple of sessions, too.

Freeways to mobile teaching & learning
In this hands-on session, we’ll take a look at Freeways for teaching and learning that are appropriate for a variety of mobile computing devices and platforms.
Check out the slidedeck in Slideshare

[slideshare id=10523927&doc=mstc-2011-mobile-workshop-for-ss-111208214231-phpapp02]


60+ Apps in 60 minutes or less
As current and former classroom teachers, we love to integrate technology into our classrooms. in this fast-paced session, we’ll share 60+ apps (!) that we have found to be helpful for teaching and learning.
Check out the slidedeck in Slideshare

[slideshare id=10508178&doc=60appsin60minutes-111208000146-phpapp02]


I’m going to do something really uncomfortable for me. I’m going to tell a very private story in a very public setting. Once a year, I decide to share a very personal story, because it’s too important for me to not share it. To the left is my avatar online that many of you see with that great big smile. Well, that’s not the most accurate depiction. Here goes …

When I was 16-years-old (I’m 40 now.), I became very sick.
I lost about 40 pounds without trying.
I experienced intense pain every night, and I was sick every morning (in a very gross way).
I lived with lots of embarrassing personal events.
I thought this was normal.
I graduated high school, went to college, graduated with a bachelor’s then a Masters, and I still was sick without any real explanation, all the while balancing life, school, work, and pain.

About 13 years ago, I started my PhD. About 12 years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Finally, I had an answer. Unfortunately, it was only a beginning. My health became much worse. I have spent the last decade—practically all of my 30s— attempting to manage how bad things were, and I spent a lot of time trying to ignore how sick I was. It’s just not something I talked about. My Crohn’s was painful, debilitating, and secretive.

About 5 years ago, things changed. My disease became so bad, I had no option but to have surgery. (It was a stressful time for me already. I was preparing for tenure and promotion as well.) The surgery went well, but it lasted about 2.5 times longer than the great surgeon planned. Recovery was long. It was hard to be home, be a teacher to my students, be a husband, and be a daddy to my daughters. How do you tell your little ones you can’t pick them up and they can’t sit in your lap?

Remarkably, since that time, I have been in a much better place. However, Crohn’s is a chronic disease, and there is no cure. I’m over the 20 year mark now for living with Crohn’s. My current prognosis is incredibly positive, but the lack of a cure reminds me that things can change quickly. I’m told that there’s about an 80% chance that my disease will return. So, I’m waiting. I have a 8-inch long scar on my abdomen to remind me physically of what I’ve gone through and that it’s not over for me.

What’s worse though? What’s worse is knowing that these digestive diseases have a genetic link. So, now I not only worry about me. Now I worry about my three daughters. That is why I believe it is critical to raise money to find a cure for Crohn’s, colitis, IBD, and all of the digestive diseases to help prevent my daughters from going through what I’ve gone through.

On the afternoon of September 23th, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America will host the “Take Steps. Be Heard.” walk at Mud Island. This is the 5th year for my family to raise money and “do the walk.” It’s so important to our family that the day before, September 22nd, my wife Katie will run a half-marathon, having raised money already. The CCFA walk is a great experience, and it reminds me of how much bigger my role is in helping others. I need your help, though. I would like to invite you to make a donation to help cure the digestive diseases, including Crohn’s disease, colitis and ulcerative colitis, and IBS, that plague children and adults alike. Together, we can make a significant difference. Here’s the link to donate online:


I know that many people feel that they cannot make a substantial donation. I’m hear to say, “Every donation is substantial in my eyes.” So, if you can contribute $5.00, that’s substantial. Please don’t let the amount prevent you from helping. I would rather see 500 friends and family members contribute $5.00 each than just a couple folks contribute larger amounts. (Don’t get me wrong. If you want to blow my mind with a crazy-large amount, I’m all for it.) But I want everyone who has been affected by these diseases to feel the meaning that I do by contributing.

Finally, please don’t think that this is an exclusive club. Oh, no. If you have friends, family, or other colleagues that share our passion, I encourage you to forward them the information and invite them to donate as well. That link again is


Blessings and health to you and your family. I hope you can help. 🙂

Last week, I wrote about the improved/updated version of Google Docs presentations that is available now for interested individuals. Google Docs is, of course, a great alternative to Microsoft Office.  I know that some schools have considered Google Docs specifically as a financial release to Microsoft Office.

But I have found it to be a great companion to Microsoft Office, too.  For me, this has been particularly true with collaboration among colleagues and students.  For example, a couple of weeks ago , our students, alumni, and I presented at the Midsouth Technology Conference here in town.  A couple of the presentations required input from up to 8 or so folks, such as the “60 Apps in 60 minutes” presentation.  In preparing our presentations, the students and alumni were able to contribute to the presentation individual slides, and the slides stayed in one place.  Then at the end, I downloaded the slides to Microsoft Powerpoint — just in case the network was questionable at the site.  I do find it super helpful to create slides with directions on them for students about how to contribute to the presentation.  For example in this presentation, I asked students to duplicate my template (and how to do that). I also suggested how they should prepare each slide with a screen shot.

In another presentations for “How Schools Are Doing Mobile,” I provided some scaffolding for novice researchers who would be presenting to practitioners and how I thought we should structure the presentation in order to be most audience-centered.  (I also provided some tips on how to craft a meaningful presentation, too.)

As I mentioned in my post about the updated Google Docs presentations, I found that the updated Google Docs translated/exported to Microsoft Powerpoint better than before.  So, the slides for “How Schools Are Doing Mobile” from inside Google Docs presentations (like the slide just above) were easily converted to another Powerpoint template to make them “prettier,” like below.

Are you finding that Google Docs is working as a companion to Microsoft Office or in competition?  What other examples can you share of either way?  Also, are there other tools that you’re using either as a companion to Microsoft Office or as a replacement?


Today is “My Twitter Story” Day! I’m so excited, because we can physically see the power of networks. This small project started with one of my students. People are influenced by other people. My colleagues and professional learning network responded. In the true nature of a constructivist perspective, knowledge is constructed through the social negotiation with others. Twitter and social network are one of the mediators. In fact, Twitter has begun a campaign to capture the impact of “Twitter Stories.”

Researchers Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler discuss the potential and promise of networks in their book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do. You can see Christakis present the phenomenon of social networks in a TED video here. Closer to home with teacher education and technology integration, Shelly Terrell’s “Teacher Reboot Camp” expressed the power of networking through social media, like Twitter, as:

Sometimes, the connections I make on social networks are to parents, learners, politicians, authors, other teachers, or administrators. We more than connect. We have conversations of what education transformation should be.

Today, moreover, we’re sharing how the varied natures of our professions affect others and ourselves. Interestingly, there is a paradox of the 21st century skill of cooperation. Increasing cooperation requires increasing personal responsibility (Tella, 2003). The more we need to work together, the more our personal contributions matter. That is, the reciprocal nature of social networks and professional learning communities is founded on an individual’s willingness to share in others’ social construction of knowledge.

Blog Posts

With “My Twitter Story” Day, we are sharing this reciprocity and how we’ve been affected by it. I encourage you to read these stories and then share your own. I have a feeling this list is going to grow. Won’t you document your impact? Won’t you comment on these reflections?

  1. “My Twitter story or ‘Why teachers & faculty members should give it a try’” by Michael M. Grant
  2. “How Twitter Saved My Career and My Family” by Jason Bedell
  3. “Why Teachers Should Join Twitter…What I have Learned as a Twitter Newbie” by Beth Crumpler
  4. MyTwitterStory Blog Carnival” by George Veletsianos
  5. “Happy My Twitter Story Day!” by TechKNOWTools’ Laura Pasquini
  6. My Twitter Story #mytwitterstory « A Retrospective Saunter by Philip Cummings


Tella, S. (2003). M-learning—Cybertextual traveling or a herald of post-modern education? In Kynaslahti, H. & Seppala, P. (eds.) Mobile learning (pp. 7–21). Helsinki: IT Press.


Good morning! I just wanted to reminder everyone that Wednesday, November 16, 2011, is ‘My Twitter Story’ day! This grew out of a conversation with a student of mine in one of my online courses and some follow up conversations about how we really should be sharing our stories of professional development for others.

I would really like to share and document the value you find from social media … and Twitter is just one example of this.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Invite. I invite you and you invite others to write your own Twitter story. Here’s mine if you haven’t read it. By the way, feel free to use this blog post and image in your own posts! (Feel free to plagiarize this to death use this as a model.) Start now. Retweet this.
  2. Write. Write your own Twitter story on or before Wedenesday, November 16, 2011, as a blog post. Feel free to be creative. Podcasts, vidcasts, and slidecasts are all fine by me.
  3. Rite. Add #mytwitterstory as the hashtag in your tweets and/or blog post.
  4. Cite. On or before Wednesday, November 16, 2011, add your name and the URL to your blog post in the comments area this blog post. I will add your name and link into the updated blog post for Wednesday, November 16.
  5. Excite! On Wednesday, November 16, 2011, I’ll publish the updated blog post and tweet it out as well. Retweet it willy-nilly!
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

One of my students in my online course (IDT 7064: School Change & the Internet) inspired me today.  She made me want to tell my Twitter story.  I’m pretty sure it’s not original.  I’m pretty sure it’s as pedestrian as … well pedestrians.  But it’s mine, and it is why I believe teachers and higher education faculty should try Twitter.

About 18 months ago, I was not a Twitter user at all — not even a casual user.  I even sort of scoffed at others for using Twitter, adding that it was a time drain.  About a year and half ago, though, I went on sabbatical from the university.  I studied mobile teaching and learning during my time away.  One of the tools I learned to use was Twitter.  Sounds a little silly, doesn’t it?

I found out I was wrong about Twitter. I decided early that Twitter would only be a professional outlet for me.  I wouldn’t be sharing photos of my kids, birthday wishes, etc. on Twitter.  Actually, I started out not sharing anything.  I started out just reading stuff.  It wasn’t a reciprocal relationship with others on Twitter yet.

I found great folks with great minds and great spirits for teaching like Scott Newcomb, Phillip CummingsSteve Anderson, Kyle PaceJason Rhode, and Vicki Davis.  I made stronger connections with colleagues I knew but began to interact with a lot more like George Veletsianos, Michael Barbour, Monte Tatum, and Dan Surry. I also began to follow colleagues that I used in my teaching and scholarship, such as Tom Barrett, Peter Pappas, Inge de Waard, Mark van ‘t Hooft, John Traxler, Mike Wesch, and Cammy Bean.  Plus, there are folks that I always get some great resource, tool, or news nugget from like Mark Scott, Allison Rossett, Jason Haag, Tom Whitby, Steve Dembo, Jason Bedell, Tony Vincent, Joanna Bobiash, Alec Couros, Richard Byrne, Johnny Kissko, Smashing Magazine, and David Wicks.  I’m a better teacher, researcher, writer, and professional development consultant because of these folks.

As I began to follow more folks, I found that things I had read might be useful to others.  So, I just posted them.  Reading other people’s posts these resources I had found seemed to be in the same vein.  Surprisingly (and it still is often), some of these ideas and posts were reposted, and those individuals’ followers then read them.  Some were even reTweeted again.

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

Over time, my Twitter relationships began to become reciprocal.  It didn’t have to be.  No one is going to say you need to be contributing or I won’t share with you.  Instead, it seems to be a natural progression.  In the beginning, we have a belief that we don’t have much of a voice or something to share—only reading others posts.  But we begin to find that voice, and we do begin to share.  As we do that, folks want to follow us and hear our voices.  They want to read what we’re sharing.  (It’s still a little flattering for me to get a notice that someone new is following me. Sometimes, when I get three or four followers in the same couple of day, I wonder, “What did I say or do to make this happen?” I haven’t changed.)

In Twitter, it says I have 522 followers. I can’t imagine that actually. The impact of me to 522+ people every day is humbling.

What I’ve come to believe is that I think all teachers (and higher education faculty members) should be on Twitter for the professional development community.  Teaching can be a lonely and isolating profession.  I believe it’s often hard for teachers to admit they do not know something.  Maybe it’s just being human.  Being a teacher just amplifies the expectation.  Much of what we do as teachers is taking others’ ideas and reshaping them to fit our students and curriculum.  Twitter is one of the BEST places to receive ideas from.  It also offers informal professional development.  When you begin to follow folks who are experts in your content area, then they begin to impact your thinking and your learning and your teaching.  You find avenues and resources you didn’t know you were missing.

I also believe that social media tools, such as Twitter, are tools we can use with our students as well. Dr. Monica Rankin’s video of The Twitter Experiment impacted me. I saw Kevin Oliver use a TwitterChat in one of his courses.  Some of the tools we use, such as our course management system (I.e., eCourseware & Desire2Learn) require logins and are not easy to integrate seamlessly into our everyday lives. Twitter can be used with mobile phones, too, so it can continue conversations inside of class and outside of class.  In everyday experiences, we can share and demonstrate our learning. I’ve even used Twitter inside some of my courses—both online and face to face ones.  Some students took to it.  Others didn’t.  I do believe that if Twitter isn’t interesting to you then you’re either not following enough people or you’re following the wrong people.  In either case, you need to add folks to follow and probably prune others off your list.

I still only use Twitter for professional relationships.  Facebook is my choice for personal relationships.  I’ve learned a lot about Twitter in my 18 months.  I’ve learned a lot about a lot of things in my 18 months of Twitter.  I’ve made new colleagues that I’ve never met, but I really want to. And now this story is out on Twitter.

That’s it.  That’s my Twitter story. Do you have one?  I’d like to read it, so please share it!

Three different fonts that aren't normally see...
Image via Wikipedia

In a move that will situate them strongly as competition to Google and assure their position in the professional world of web-based typography, Adobe acquired Typekit, as announced today by Typekit in their newsletter.

Typekit offers a service of web-based fonts that can be called from any web page to serve up specific fonts.  With the combination of Adobe’s vast library the power and breadth of serving up fonts that work has potential.  This has opened up the gates to design content management systems (CMSs) and blogs with CSS3 without relying heavily on images to create pretty type, particularly with headings.  This also helps with cross-platform compatibility with web-safe fonts.

Typekit in their announcement said,

Typekit will remain a standalone product, as well as become a vital part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Our team will stay together, and we’re excited to start working on even easier ways to integrate web fonts into your workflow.

via Typekit Newsletter.