Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Break Finally!

Well the fall semester is inching its way to a close, finally. I know for myself I am in the mode of wrapping the semester up and looking forward to a little R&R, then a fresh start for the spring semester. But wait! An important start to the spring can be made much easier if I take a few moments and reflect on the past five months. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you take a break:

· What went well in my online course?
· What road-bumps did I hit over the past semester?
· What student comments are fresh on my mind to help me tweak my course for the spring? · Are there instructions or details I want to add to my content that will help students in the future?
· Is there a way to reorder the course materials to make navigation easier?
· Was there a thought or idea for a new collaborative project that I wanted to explore?

A few notes now will make your work much easier in the spring to give your course a simple facelift. The new additions and changes will help keep it fresh for you and the students will benefit from the efforts you have put forward.

Have a great holiday break and see you all in the spring.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spring 2010 DE Faculty Development Series

Student Success 2.0
A series on student outcomes in the online world

This spring, you will have several opportunities to hear from Distance Education experts about important topics related to online student success. Registration details will be available in the Spring. We hope you can join us!

Program Evaluation Strategies for TWU Chairs
Featuring Drs. Ron Carriveau and Richard Plott from University of North Texas*
Friday, February 12
1 – 4 p.m.
Library 101

Cheating in Online Courses
Featuring Ms. Lori McNabb from UT Telecampus*

Friday, March 5
1 – 3 p.m.
This presentation will be presented via Wimba and will provide a reality check about whether online students really do cheat more (for people who have not taught online) and ideas to encourage academic integrity in online courses (for people who teach online).

Assessing and Aggregating Learning Outcomes
Featuring Ms. Kaye Shelton from Dallas Baptist University*

Friday, April 9
2 – 4 p.m.
This presentation will give a look at using embedded assessment to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes, along with a demonstration of how DBU does this.

Denton ACT 301; Parkland 229; Houston 3322

*Subject to change

Live, Desktop Presentation

Wednesday, December 9, 1 – 2 p.m.
Register Today! The registration deadline is Monday, December 7.

Critical Thinking Activities
Presented by Heidi Ashbaugh, Sr. Instructional Design Specialist, Dallas
Critical thinking is an important skill for students to learn and can benefit them long after they leave the University. However, it can be difficult to find ways to teach this type of thinking to students. This presentation will provide ideas for teaching critical thinking within any discipline by using metacognitive “wrappers” for various assignments and activities.

To attend, you must
Register. The registration deadline is Monday, December 7 at 11:45 p.m. If you register, you will be sent your log-in information prior to the event.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Digital Literacy Skills for Faculty and Students

Register, mark your calendars and join us online for another Live, Desktop Presentation! It will be conducted in Wimba, an online collaboration and presentation tool.

Thursday, November 12 Noon – 1 p.m.
Digital Literacy Skills for Faculty and Students
Co-presented by Valerie Shapko, Sr. Instructional Design Specialist and Tracey Mac Gowan, Instructional Design Specialist, College of Professional Education

Being digitally literate encompasses much more than just technology. This type of literacy requires the skills to take in, crunch, seek, find and create with technology in thoughtful and discerning ways. The digital landscape is changing the way students connect socially and professionally, seek out and use content, read, explore, write and understand their world. What do these changes mean for how we teach and who we are as teachers? What benefits and challenges do instructors face as they enter the rich and often overwhelming world of digital tools, global connectivity and a planet’s worth of information just a mouse-click away? How does an instructor make informed choices for using digital tools for teaching and learning? How can instructors use technology to accomplish their course learning objectives and help students become more mindful, discerning and literate regarding the digital landscape? Join us as we explore these issues and possible solutions.

To attend, you must
Register. The registration deadline is Tuesday, November 10 at 11:45 p.m. If you register, you will be sent your log-in information prior to the event.

Please visit for more details on other upcoming professional development opportunities.

Monday, November 2, 2009

15th Annual Sloan-C Conference, Andrew Keen

Last week I traveled to the 15th Annual Sloan-C Conference in sunny Orlando, Florida. It was a great conference with plenty of sessions to choose from. The only drawback was that the sessions were about 35 minutes long, so the presenters were racing to get through their information with little time for any real discussion; seemed to me to be somewhat like speed-dating.
The theme for me was faculty development for the online environment. It was very interesting to put side-by-side what we here in Distance Education at Texas Woman’s University are doing compared to the other institutions. Without prejudice, I believe we are much further along in our delivery of faculty development programs and service we are able to offer our faculty.
I was most intrigued by the Thursday morning breakfast speaker Andrew Keen. Keen, a British Entrepreneur who has dabbled in and around Silicon Valley, has become a mouthpiece for the concerns of Web 2.0 and the negative effects on our culture and authority. An interesting analogy was painted of the rise of the Internet and the 1960’s rise of the Hippie culture and a mistrust of one’s government ideology. I almost felt I was in the presence of the Ralph Nader of the Internet; the scary thing is I couldn’t really argue any of his points. The broad highway of the Internet does have a ditch on most sides and we are the ones that need to monitor this landscape of all edges and no center.
If you want to know more about Andrew Keen check out his Blog and Web Site at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Texas Blackboard Users Group is next week!

It's not too late to register! Head to Nacogdoches for the 2009 Texas Blackboard Users Group conference October 14 - 16. This year's theme is "The Best of the Old; The Best of the New."

Preconference sessions are on the 14 at Stephen F. Austin State University and are $60 each. That price includes a box lunch. These workshops have a limited registration and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

The main conference is at the Hotel Fredonia and the registration is $250. That includes:
1. Vendor reception on Wednesday evening
2. All Break-out sessions on Thursday and Friday
3. Keynote presentations
4. Breakfast on Thursday and Friday
5. Lunch on Thursday and Friday6. Party on Thursday evening

For more information on speakers, the program and to register, go to the
TBUG website.

It will be a great time!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Power of a Healthy Woman Symposium

September 19, 2009 8:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Texas Woman's University MCL Building Auditorium Denton, Texas
Register Online
Information About the Symposium

Symposium Overview
The purpose of this symposium is to increase knowledge of health risks among women over the age of 18. The intent is to raise early awareness among young women for disease prevention and health promotion. The speakers will provide valuable tools, specific to women, that ease incorporating daily wellness strategies in the areas of healthy eating, stress management, and financial health.

Who Should Attend
Women over the age of 18

Registration Fee
Registration fee will be $15 per person until September 10, 2009. After this date, the registration fee will be $20. Registration deadline is September 16, 2009. On-site registration will be accepted on a space available basis only.

Contact Us
If you have questions, contact Texas Woman's University Office of Lifelong Learning at 940.898.3408 or email

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A review from the Online Educator Symposium

If you couldn’t attend the Online Educator Symposium on August 27, you missed 34 presenters with some awesome information for the online learning environment. Dr. Stankey kicked it off with some animated opening remarks to inspire us, and for the next seven hours faculty, staff and students presented in workshops what has been successful for them in the online classroom to enhance the online learning experience. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Ron Carriveau from University of North Texas fed us some food for thought on assessment and measurement to use in the classroom that was effective and amazingly easy to understand.

I led a workshop on how to navigate through the murky waters of utilizing sights and sounds in the choppy sea of Blackboard. I thought I would re-cap some of the information that seemed to be important to the attendees of the presentation.

First, consider the goal of the lesson or concept that you feel would be improved upon by using a visual or audio file. Non-text items can go a long way to improve upon the text you provide, but one size does not fit all – there are many reasons a picture or diagram will have more impact than a video. Once you have decided on a delivery mode, let’s look at how to get the most bang for the buck.

Images appear larger on the monitor than in real life! Somewhat like your side-view mirror in the car, images on the computer monitor seem to supersize when we insert them into an application. Even though you can resize them with the sizing handles in many applications, this does not make the file size smaller, and we are many times placing a large file where we could easily get the same performance with a fraction of the file size. Use a simple photo editor that is already on your computer such as Paint, or you can use the tools in PowerPoint to reduce the file size and make opening the files easier and faster for your students.

Audio files are usually not a problem if they were produced on your computer to begin with or if you are linking to an external site where the files reside. Most audio files are compressed to play on the computer and use technology that does not require an extended download time. If you have a file that was not created on a computer and needs to be converted to a user-friendly format, there are many audio convertor programs available to use on the Internet, and I can help you decide on one that is right for you.

Video is where most folks get into trouble with large files and uploading and downloading issues. Or the other common issue is in not knowing how to find material to use that is acceptable and meets copyright compliance. With the ever expanding reach of the Internet, I am constantly amazed at the resources that are freely available for users to use free or link to. Sites like YouTube, TeacherTube and TeachersDomain are great sites for educational resources, free for anyone to link to for extra material. Video solutions are many but still confusing for the majority of the population. Video production from the desktop has come a long way with free applications like Jing, a tool that allows you to narrate screen captures from your desktop and post to a free account for your students.

We are always happy to help explore possible solutions to your audio/visual questions. Please email or call our office for more information.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fall 2009 DE Faculty Development Opportunities

Welcome back Distance Education Faculty! We hope you enjoyed your summer and are ready for another semester. Below is information about our development offerings for the fall. Please take a few minutes to read this information and mark your calendars to join us online for another round of Live, Desktop Presentations! These will be conducted in Wimba, an online collaboration and presentation tool. Registration information and more details about each presentation will be coming soon!

PowerPoint’s Place in the Online Course
September 18 / 10 a.m.

Testing for the Online Course
October 12 / 11 a.m.

Digital Literacy Skills for Faculty and Students
November 12 / 12 p.m.

Critical Thinking Activities
December 9 / 1 p.m.

Check out the DE Faculty Development Webpage for more information about these and other events!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Third Annual Online Educator Symposium

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Denton, Dallas (Parkland) & Houston!
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Schedule of Events
Register for the Third Annual Online Educator Symposium

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Ron Carriveau, Assessment and Measurement Specialist for the Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign at UNT. His presentation will be given in Denton and videoconferenced to Dallas and Houston.

Along with Dr. Carriveau's presentation, this year’s OES is going to be a collaborative showcase of all of TWU’s extraordinary online courses and the people that make them happen!

Why should you attend? The OES is...

  • an excellent opportunity to learn more about teaching online.
  • a prime venue to learn about distance education initiatives at TWU.
  • a great way to network and reconnect with colleagues.
  • one more way to get in some professional development.
What can you do now?
Register for the Third Annual Online Educator Symposium

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Third Annual Online Educator Symposium

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Denton, Dallas (Parkland) & Houston

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Ron Carriveau*, Assessment and Measurement Specialist for the Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign at UNT. His presentation will be given in Denton and videoconferenced to Dallas and Houston.

We also want to invite you to submit a presentation proposal for the concurrent sessions. If your proposal is accepted, you’ll have the opportunity to present on your own campus face-to-face, to all three sites at once through videoconferencing or online using synchronous presentation technology! This year’s OES is going to be a collaborative showcase of all TWU’s extraordinary online courses and the people that make them happen! Hurry – the proposal deadline is July 1!

For more information and to submit a proposal, please visit

* Tentative

Call for Proposals for the 2009 TBUG Conference

2009 Texas Blackboard Users Group
October 14-16, 2009 in historic Nacogdoches, TX

The annual T-BUG conference is a unique opportunity for Blackboard users to discover, discuss, learn, and share best practices in using the Blackboard learning management system. This year’s conference theme is “The Best of the Old, The Best of the New” and will encourage attendees to explore and utilize the very best of proven pedagogy and technologies and the very best of innovative pedagogy and technologies.

We encourage you to participate in the conference as a break-out session presenter! All break-out sessions will be 50 minutes long, including 15 minutes for questions and answers. Presentations should be designed to encourage audience interaction. Breakout sessions are organized along these tracks:

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Professional Development
  • Support
  • Administration

If you are interested in presenting, please visit for more information and a submission form.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mini Reading Club Invite: The Courage to Teach, by Parker J. Palmer

I know that all of us are unbelievably busy! Between work and home life, there is often little time to relax and reflect. However, I believe that taking some time to rejuvenate your intellect is a beneficial task! And, one of the things that never fails to motivate me is a good book.

I'd like to invite anyone interested to read The Courage to Teach along with me. Last year, a friend loaned me a copy of Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (also by Palmer), and I found it to be a timely and appropriate recommendation. Palmer is very good at explaining and providing examples of how to connect our internal lives with our professional lives. Through this process of connection, I think that we all become more complete and conscious individuals on a daily basis, and this can manifest itself as more self-confidence and engagement with our profession.

So, please join me over the next few weeks in examining some of the more interesting and relevant ideas that I find in this text! Comments are welcome and encouraged!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Useful Online Links to Help in Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom or Online

With the ever changing Internet and the availability of information, images, audio, and video it is hard to determine sometimes what can be considered fair use for educational purposes. I have looked at several helpful sites that Stephany Compton sent me and wanted to pass them along to you.
The first website is the KOCE Classroom from PBS at A clean site that is very simple to navigate to just the right area you want to find. The KOCE site has streaming videos as well as PDF downloads of guidelines for teachers and checklists for different copyright scenarios. They also have a copyright Quiz to test your knowledge. See how well you do!
The next website is from Baruch College and has a great interactive flash guide to using copyrighted media for your course:
The interactive guide will cover the use of audio, images, and video in your courses. It has complete information on how to obtain permission for copyrighted items and how to use copyrighted items in a F2F or online course. The interactive guide comes complete with a robust set of tools that include a brief copyright history, common faculty scenarios, and resources for supplemental materials, reference guides and helpful links to assist you as you learn more about copyright issues.