Monday, November 16, 2015

TED Talks by Ann Yehle

I lead an online section of EDS 203: School & Society.  This course examines the historical and philosophical foundations of the teaching profession as well as contemporary issues in our schools.  It aims to provide teacher candidates (TCs) with a nuanced perspective of how schools and societies interact as well as foundational understandings and dispositions of the teaching profession. Many of our teacher candidates find topics explored in this course (e.g., school to prison pipeline, unequal funding formulas in today's schools, merit pay for teachers, tracking of students based on ability) to generate heightened levels of cognitive dissonance.  They often desire to know what is the 'right' way to address these topics.

To help my students tackle these heightened levels of cognitive dissonance and seek a deeper understanding, I incorporate Ted Talks into lessons to help build background knowledge before completing course assignments and to provide students the opportunity to hear multiple perspectives on particular topics within a short period of time.  TED, started in 1984, is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. TED speeches are usually presented by experts in their field and push students to listen and comprehend topics that can represent the minute details of very complex subjects. The talks are engaging and presented in such a way as to not tell the students what to think but to help them understand the nuances of these issues and how they are grounded in historical, political, and contextual variables. 

My students have taken an interest in the TED Talks beyond the classroom. Many have expressed interest in utilizing this medium in professional development opportunities when they are teachers. As Miranda P., a MC-EA major shared, "I love TED Talks and hope to use them in my lessons in the future as a learning tool to support critical thinking among students. Possibly to have my students create their own TED Talks."

For more about TED talks, go to

Presented by Dr. Ann Yehle, Department of Educational Studies, School of Education 

VoiceThread by Heather Linville

VoiceThread is a free interactive collaboration and sharing tool that enables users to add images, documents, videos, and even Power Point slides to which other users can add voice, text, audio files, or video comments. You can post your VoiceThread on your website, save it as an MP3, or use the URL provided to post in D2L. 

The decision to use this particular tool came down to wanting a technology that allowed my students to showcase their In-Depth Country Profile assignment so that their peers could see the presentations and also have the ability to comment.  My students were tasked with researching a country where they might like to some day teach English as a Foreign Language and then creating a slide-like presentation that contained voiceover about that county. I searched for a place for the students to create audio and visual, share with each other, and comment.  That place was VoiceThread. The only stipulation was that the students had to use VoiceThread to build their presentations.  They could create their project using other tools but then had to import that creation into VoiceThread.

What worked best was preparing the students ahead of time for the task. A few weeks before the start of the project, I encouraged the students to create a free VoiceThread account and begin looking at the tutorials provided within the software. This allowed them to explore to the tool and its potential before having to create anything. 

My students enjoyed using this tool and in the process became more aware of image to text to speech balance, annunciation and speed in recording, and a limited file size can be an obstacle. “In my Russian courses we would make multiple language videos for our class that would turn out very nice, and was a fun approach to using the language.  There is even a feature where you can call in to your VoiceThread from your phone. I found that really helpful when the microphone on my old laptop stopped working. The biggest complaint I have is that only one account gets three free videos. Once you want to make a fourth video you either have to pay a fee or start up a whole new account,” Stated Abigail T.

  Here is a VoiceThread student example
Heather Linville

More information about VoiceThread can be found at

Submitted by Dr. Heather Linville, Modern Languages 

Glogster by Leslie Rogers

Glogster is a collaborative learning platform that allows users to develop online interactive posters or presentations on any topic.  These digital posters, or Glogs, (short for graphical blog) can be shared with classmates and teachers via email, posted on a class blog, or included in a post on D2L by using the poster’s URL address.

Glogsters are a great way to engage student creativity and assess their understanding. Students can sign up for a free account by going to the Glogster website ( Once signed up, students are able to create interactive online posters equipped with a variety of text, videos, pictures, and audio options. I find the work that students produce has much greater depth and breadth and allows students to better demonstrate how key concepts relate. While it looks like a poster, the readers can interact with the content. An example of a "Glogster" is provided for you to see how one student used this tool to demonstrate her understanding of key concepts taught in one of my classes. Click the link to view an example of a student's finished "Glogster" (

Glogster can also be used to present lessons, share resources, and provide a more dynamic learning experience to anyone using this tool. This makes an excellent tool to use as an alternative to traditional PowerPoint presentations.
More information about Glogster and its capabilities can be found at

Submitted by Dr. Leslie Rogers, Department of Educational Studies

Monday, September 14, 2015

Twitter by Kate Lavelle

As a Communication Studies instructor who specializes in issues of Advocacy and Communication Criticism, evaluating new and popular communication tools is a critical part of evaluating how Advocacy works in American society. In the Summer of 2015, I taught an online course which was a Special Topics class focusing on Communication and Sport. One of the major assignments in this course had students study the use of Twitter by a professional athlete.

Twitter is a popular social media tool used by athletes and sports journalists to break news, interact with fans, and discuss a variety of relevant issues. Numerous communication scholars have examined Twitter to evaluate how a variety of social, cultural, and political issues are expressed by Twitter users. While Twitter is not the most popular social media tool in terms of users, because it is a public site that doesn’t require a login or permission to follow for public accounts, important sports information and discussion takes place via Twitter. Students do not need to be active on Twitter (or even have a Twitter account) in order to complete the assignment.

For the Communication and Sport class, each student chose an athlete to follow on Twitter throughout the semester. Athletes were chosen who were active on Twitter, and students applied a variety of communication and sport concepts to the tweets. Popular concepts included parasocial relationships (where athletes interacted with fans through replying or retweeting posts), issues of speaker credibility, and a variety of public relations strategies (where athletes promote charitable works and other interests using Twitter). Students provided weekly updates on their Twitter athlete, and then wrote a final paper using a communication concept and evaluated how this concept was used by the athlete. The goal of this assignment is to encourage students to think critically about sports media discourse using communication concepts.

If you are interested in learning more about Twitter, please check out their website.

Kate Lavelle
Assistant Professor

Department of Communication Studies

Zaption by Lema Kabashi

Want to make online videos come alive?  Try Zaption!  Here is a video based learning tool with interactive content. Zaption is a way to take existing videos or videos you’ve created and add interactive elements such as multiple choice questions, open response boxes, text, images, or drawings. Students respond to the elements you embed. This is a great way to introduce new content, activate prior knowledge, create review activities, and insert formative feedback into your lessons. 

If you have a YouTube account, you can easily upload your videos directly to YouTube from within Zaption. These videos are published to YouTube as unlisted by default, meaning that they are not searchable on and can only be found with a private link or from within Zaption.

I use Zaption in my special education courses as a way to highlight different instructional strategies and as a way to be more engaging in content delivery.  I have created many of my own videos (called video tours within the tool) with Zaption and often use them as part of D2L courses.  With this tool, I can create more thoughtful learning experiences and the students really seem to enjoy the difference in this type of content delivery. It’s not the same old thing.  I think they like that.  This method offers my education students more opportunities to see different ways of delivering content.  Some of the students have said they have used Zaption outside of my classroom.

There are many other ways that Zaption can be used in your courses. A Zaption video tour could be used to create a screencast or video of yourself as a welcome introduction, or as a quick review of material, or even a way to spark a class discussion.  The possibilities are endless.

There are both free and paid accounts with Zaption. In both types of accounts you can create and view tours. However a paid account gives you more advanced authoring, permissions, and analytics.

More information about Zaption and all its capabilities can be found here:

Submitted by Dr. Lema Kabashi, Department of Educational Studies