an evening playing 'smartphone' pub quiz with the exeter twitterati!

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

I just wanted to follow up on a notice I posted a few weeks ago about nominations for the Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Memphis. The deadline is approaching, and I wanted to be sure and make you aware that this is a great opportunity to recognize the outstanding teaching, mentoring, and course design implemented by our IDT faculty. I hope you’ll consider nominating someone.

Do you have a professor at the U of M who is an exceptional teacher? The Distinguished Teaching Award Committee is soliciting nominations for awards recognizing faculty who are outstanding educators. Honorees are recognized at the annual Faculty Convocation held at the end of the spring semester.

Students and alumni can nominate a professor for the 2014 Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes and encourages excellence in teaching.  Added weight will be given to faculty members who receive nominations from two or more sources (students, faculty, and alumni). A nominee’s total number of nominations may also be given added weight.

Students should use this link:

Alumni should use this link:

Faculty can use this link:

The nomination deadline is Friday, November 22, 2013. If you have questions please contact Dr. Melinda Jones, (901) 678-2690.

It is no secret that I am a fan of iSpring’s tools (particularly the free one!).  I regularly use them in my online courses to produce narrated Powerpoints that convert to Flash for embed into my course web pages. I’m hoping to find the funds to upgrade to the iSpring version that will also let me output to HTML5 for mobile devices, too.  I was able to beta test this version, and I found it pretty useful and successful.

On iSpring’s blog, they have a quick post about QR codes, which you guys also know I’m a fan of, so I thought I would share.  Here’s a quick snippet from the post, but I encourage you to follow the link to see their ideas for using QR codes.

QR codes have been around for a while. What seems clearly interesting is that process of consolidation of complex QR code initiatives seems to be occurring. Clear call to action QR codes, linking to edge to edge formatted information on your cell phone is gaining traction.

via Is the QR code on point or just a phase? | iSpring Blog.

To follow up on iSpring’s question, I do think QR codes are a phase.  The US is kind of late to the game on QR codes, and I believe they will be replaced soon with technologies like RFID and near-field communication (NFC).  However, the ease in which QR codes can be created and scanned is pretty unparalleled right now, and I don’t know the RFID or NFC can be produced quite so easily by teachers and university faculty members.

What’s your thoughts? Please share them in the comments. I would love to hear what you have to say.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: katiemarinascott via Compfight

teacher technology thursdays

Later today, I will be conducting a professional development workshop for teachers in our area and particularly those in the Shelby County Schools district. While I’ve been using QR codes for a while, the augmented reality apps I have only dabbled in.  So, I have spent quite a bit of time working through these to see what’s possible.

Earlier this summer while I was working with some teachers as part of a grant, I found out about the ColAR App, which is just fun.  I’ve also heard of the Aurasma app, but I spent a lot of time researching this to see what was possible, as well as what I could do.  I’m really pleased to see what I was able to come up with.

Here’s a brief description of the workshop and the slides I will be using:

Drop in for this fast-paced and hands-on workshop to see some of the most current and exciting technologies available for teachers and students. We’ll take look at QR codes (those square thingies on signs and posters) and augmented reality, which let’s you merge the real world with the digital one. In addition to learning how to do use these technologies, we’ll discuss how they can be leveraged for teaching and learning, too. Feel free to bring your own iPad or iPhone or I’ll have one for you to borrow.

[slideshare id=27280401&doc=you-gotta-see-this-forss-131017010438-phpapp02]


Do you have a professor at the U of M who is an exceptional teacher? The Distinguished Teaching Award Committee is soliciting nominations for awards recognizing faculty who are outstanding educators. Honorees are recognized at the annual Faculty Convocation held at the end of the spring semester.

Students and alumni can nominate a professor for the 2014 Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes and encourages excellence in teaching.  Added weight will be given to faculty members who receive nominations from two or more sources (students, faculty, and alumni). A nominee’s total number of nominations may also be given added weight.

Students should use this link:

Alumni should use this link:

The nomination deadline is Friday, November 22, 2013. If you have questions please contact Dr. Melinda Jones, (901) 678-2690.

AECT Research and Theory Division logo

As president of the Research and Theory Division (RTD) of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), I wanted to let you know about an awesome opportunity to hear from an IDT god.  Dr. David Merrill is Professor Emeritus at Utah State University, and he is a renowned scholar, creating the First Principles for Instruction (here’s a link from Dr. Merrill’s site on the First Principles!).

Dr. Merrill will be presenting a brief webinar to launch our RTD Series of Professional Development.  It is sure to be provocative. Here’s the details and you do have to register beforehand.

Dr. David Merrill
Instructional Effectiveness Consultant & Professor Emeritus at Utah State University

October 17, 2013 at 1:30 P.M. (EDT)

Registration Link:

My Hopes for the Future of Instructional Technology

This short paper presents reasons for three hopes for the future.  First, it is time to move the training of instructional designers to the undergraduate level.  Second, I hope that graduate programs in instructional technology will emphasize both the science of instruction — including theory development and research, and the technology of instruction– including using principles, models and theories derived from research as a foundation for designing instructional design tools that can be used to design instruction that is more effective, efficient and engaging. Third, it is time to restructure our master’s programs to prepare our students to manage designers-by-assignment (DBA) and to prepare them in designing instructional design tools that would enable DBA to produce more effective, efficient and engaging instructional materials.

This came across my email announcements, and I wanted to make sure and share it.  Dr. Lloyd Rieber is offering his free MOOC again on statistics. It starts on October 7, 2013.

I’ve heard a couple of folks talk about the first iteration of the course, and it’s been really well received.  As I mentioned in my previous post about Lloyd, he is an exceptional teacher. He is able to make complex topics concrete and understandable.  This would be an excellent refresher or a great introduction for someone a little apprehensive.  It’s free with very low risks to you.  You’ll like Dr. Rieber and how he teaches. 😉

Here’s the details:

I am again offering my MOOC on introductory uses of statistics in education.
This section will run from October 7-November 11, 2013 on .

Here’s a link to the course site:

The course is free.

I designed the course for “mere mortals,” meaning that I designed it for
people who want to know about and use statistics as but one important tool
in their work, but who are not — and don’t want to be — mathematicians or
statisticians. A special note that I also designed it with doctoral students
in mind, especially those who are about to take their first statistics
course. It could also be good for those students who just finished a
statistics course, but are still fuzzy on the details.

However, this course would be useful to anyone who wants a good, short,
hands-on, friendly introduction to the most fundamental ideas of statistics
in education.

Here’s my approach … I provide a short presentation or two on each
statistics topic, followed by a video tutorial where you build an Excel
spreadsheet from scratch to compute the statistic. Then, I ask you to take a
short quiz — consisting of sometimes just one question — where I ask you to
plug in some new data into your spreadsheet and then copy and paste one of
your new calculations as your answer. (And yes, there is also a short final
exam on the conceptual stuff.)

Examples of specific skills to be learned include the scales of measurement,
measures of central tendency, measures of variability, and the computation
of the following: mean, mode, and median, standard deviation, z (standard)
scores, Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r),
correlated-samples t test (i.e. dependent t test), independent-samples t
test, and a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).


* Lloyd P. Rieber
* Director, Innovation in Teaching & Technology for
*   the College of Education
* Professor, Department of Career & Information
*   Studies
* 203 River’s Crossing
* The University of Georgia
* Athens, Georgia  30602-7144  USA
* Phone: 706-542-3986
* FAX: 706-542-4054
* Email:

 Streaking Rays
While reading through my Zite magazine this weekend, I came across a post that mentioned Wideo.  I hadn’t heard of this animation tool, but while I was looking at it and thinking about how I might could use this myself (or invite my students to use it), I came across a couple animations for design, which I really liked.  (Those are down below!)  These video animations inspired me to put together 10+ resources and lessons that I really like and use with my students for improving design, graphic design, slides, elearning materials, and type. I think there are 13 or 14 recommendations in total.  I hope you enjoy!

Graphic Design

eLearning & Online Courses

Slides & Presentations

Fonts & Typography


Two super quick look at elements of design in fast and fun animations.  These were produced with Wideo, and I’m thinking about trying this new tool myself.

Following up …

If you have some other resources, links, or lessons that you can recommend, please add them into the comments.  I’m sure others would really like to see them.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Stuart Williams via Compfight

weighting rubric

PBL Rubric
I use project-based and problem-based learning a lot in my own teaching, as well as research it, recommend it, and present workshops on it.  Consequently, I am often asked about assessments and grading that come along with using PBLs and inquiry.  In conversations that I have with teachers and faculty members about using rubrics for grading student products, or learning artifacts, I consistently find there are two challenges that make rubrics not as effective as they could be.


The first challenge that I often observe or hear about is a misalignment between what the teacher or faculty member actually cares about and what is listed as criteria on a rubric.  For teachers, I usually see this as a mismatch between what they have listed on their lesson plans for the objectives or goals of the lesson and then what criteria they have listed in the rubric.

I try to remind teachers and faculty members that the objectives and goals of your lesson should be directly reflected (read as “obvious”) in the rubric.  That is, using the language from Bloom’s Taxonomy, such as “compare and contrast” or “analyze” or “explain,” that is embedded in your objectives or goals should be embedded overtly in the criteria for your rubric.

Often, I find that teachers and faculty members list criteria that are part of the requirements for the artifact, such as number of slides, number of pages/words, or spelling, but they fail to adequately list the very criteria for which they designed the lesson.  So, don’t forget to include criteria that delineate to students the quality you expect in their comparisons, analyses, or explanations.


The second challenge I observe when teachers and faculty members use rubrics is inadequate weighting of criteria.  This is evident in a rubric when a student can do average or better (so maybe a “C” or better) with your rubric and still fail to understand the primary course content.

In my research, students told me it was easier to get a good grade with a project than it was on a test.  This calls into question the rigor of our rubrics.

Where I see this most prevalent is when teachers and faculty members use rubric maker tools.  I am a huge fan of tools such as iRubric, Rubric Maker and Rubistar.  I frequently recommend these tools to teachers as a beginning to building their own rubrics (see an overview at Edudemic).  I also always recommend that rubric designers (that’s teachers and faculty members) handle weighting in one of two ways inside of these tools.

Add a Column

The first way to handle weighting in a rubric is to add a column for weighting, such as a percentage or with points.  (I know this seems a little obvious.)  Many rubric tools, however, do not include this in their settings.  So, you have to go in and add this column.  I also encourage you to make sure that you weight most heavily what you care about most.  If the “scientific knowledge” or “analysis” or “articulation of symbolism” is what you care about most, make sure it is weighted appropriately.  Again, I believe that a student shouldn’t be able to do average or better on a performance-based assessment without demonstrating the knowledge and skills of the assignment. There is a great post by Pamela Flash that walks you through step-by-step of building a rubric and weighting is the second step.

Add Criteria

The second way to handle weighting is to add more criteria for the knowledge, skills, or requirements that you care most about.  For example, if you are emphasizing “compare and contrast,” then you may be able to break this down into more criteria, such as “identified…” and “supported…” and then “compared…”  If there is scientific knowledge that you are expecting students to “explain,” then you may be able to break this down into specific criteria.  Again, you’re adding criteria in order to increase the weight for the set of knowledge or skills that you care about.

Bonus Tip!

While I encourage teachers and faculty members to share their rubrics with students ahead of time (as well as consider having students collaborate in the creation of the rubric!), I also think it’s a great idea to turn the rubric into a self-check checklist for the students prior to submissions.

Following Up!

  1. Here’s a great article by Madeline Marcotte about rubrics and the pros and cons of using them.
  2. There’s another great post by John Larmer and the folks at BIE on how to use their rubrics for 21st Century Skills and PBL, so you may want to take a look at that one.
  3. Finally, Grant Wiggins offers up a thoughtful post on how rubrics can be created and how they should be used.  It’s thoughtful in that it offers some philosophical viewpoints about when and how rubrics should be used and what their purposes can be.

I would love to hear your thoughts on rubrics and how they work for you and what you struggle with when using them.  Please share your thoughts and any additional resources in the comments below. Good ideas are always welcome!

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Kathy Cassidy via Compfight