Instant Pot

So, I got a new kitchen toy in mid December. I’ve not used it anywhere near as much as I would like.

This is a post to admit that, and to say … ONE TIME per month—at a minimum—I intend to try something new with it.

What’s up for January? … Not quite sure – just grabbed “Instant Pot Ultimate CookBook: The Complete Pressure Cooker Guide with Delicious and Healthy Instant Pot Recipes (Instant Pot Cookbook, Pressure Cooker Recipes Book 1)

I need to check through my pantry and decide what to make as we’re running out of January.

February (on deck) … making coconut ‘yogurt.’

Grass growing around the sewer lid

Getting serious about Twitter?

099373-twitter-bird3-squareEgads! I’m a professional. I’ve been online since (okay, I won’t say)… but in the five years I’ve had a Twitter account–the one I use, not the one I want–I’ve not tweeted *enough.*

Enter IF THIS THEN THAT to the rescue. I most certainly have communicated a LOT and shared cool tools and how-tos via different web interfaces. Let’s consolidate. “Let’s get connected…”

Now, the interesting thing to me was WHEN I decided to start pushing my WP posts to my Twitter feed, I was presented with a fun dilemma – JetPack would connect my sites to my personal WordPress site hosted elsewhere. Verra cool!

What am I doing now? Frittering away time that I should be spending on my Financial Peace homework, or working on the draft ONID Project site. Yeah. It’s that kind of day.

What’s up with the sewer lid?
I took this photo when out walking (August 2016) and found it awesome that grass will grow…

baby clothes sorted for quilt

Baby quilt

Get excited… I am. Blair of WiseCraft made a quilt out of Aedan’s clothes. I haven’t seen the pictures yet – the quilt is in Portland with the photographer. Here’s a quick shot of the clothes I sent for her to use.

I’m the youngest of five children; my family and friends blessed me with both an amazing largess of items before he was born, AND hand-me-downs… my three brothers all have kids and two women from church gave me boxes of items. That’s just one reason why I’ve carefully laundered and packaged up the most usable items and sent them on their way to friends who were pregnant or just gave birth. I kept quite a bit for exactly this purpose–maybe some day… a quilt!

I heard back from Blair and she kept out the two items I marked ‘most treasured.’

red chair with tv radio sitting on it

Use Video to Capture Students’ Attention

red chair with tv radio sitting on it
Small and dark but still captivating

You may consider video difficult to get started with. Make your first video using tools you already have: Keynote (or PowerPoint) and QuickTime. Once you’re ready, upload your presentation to YouTube for easy sharing.

Download PDF: TT-video-engagement

“People react to well-crafted videos and audio with increased attention.”1 Using skills you have and software you most likely own, create items to reach your students. Charles Mason, photography teacher at UAF, while creating his online version of Basic Digital Photography used two slides, five images, and his voice to illustrate depth of field incredibly well in a video lasting less than three minutes!2  

Make your slides; talk to your students. Describe what you’re doing via a screencast or illustrate a point with a story by narrating your slides. Both Keynote and PowerPoint allow you to save a narrated slideshow. Once created, export it to QuickTime. The next step is to open the QuickTime file and share it to YouTube, where you to gain access to editing tools and transcript services in addition to placing your work in a space that is highly accessible. Now embed your video or video link in your course materials.

Even without filming yourself, you can strengthen your course by telling stories and asking colleagues to share theirs. “Nothing persuades our learners better than seeing real people who are like them — giving testimony, telling their stories, giving their lessons learned.”3 These illustrations make the course personal for you and your students. Focus students’ attention to specific points you feel are important while increasing student engagement with your course material.

If you’re comfortable with video, consider using it to show scenarios; “video can utilize scenario-based decision making, which we know from the learning research is a powerful tool to support comprehension and remembering.”1

Adding your voice to slides is useful for other reasons. Charles Mason’s first short video is a course summary he created so UAF eLearning could help him market his course, JRN 204/ART 284.3   His course  filled up in the first few days of registration; perhaps this video helped that happen?

Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College says “the notion that new social media are exclusively the province of the young or the technically savvy is mistaken.”4  While he had help creating his video and a very different goal, you too have help. Contact UAF eLearning to find out more and join the  “serious sources [that] are turning to video…TED video, the New York Times, The Economist.”4

Full steps on how to do this with screenshots at:



1Thalheimer, W. “Video is the New Text… Hmmm!”

2Professor Mason’s lecture video:

3Professor Mason’s  introductory video:

4 Rosenberg, B. “What I learned from YouTube”



Lunch at the hospital affordable and good

Great lunch!

I visited a friend at the hospital today (surgery yesterday was more extensive than previously thought). She needs kinds thoughts and prayers sent her way. But that’s not what this post is about…

I thought I’d take a moment to say, the service, quality, and selection (as well as the price) at the hospital cafe is well worth driving there for lunch. Yup. You don’t even have to be visiting someone. Get it to go…

$4.62 for a great lunch ($1.25 for the bag of chips 1.5oz size). That salad was tasty and filling! The chips: bonus!



This article written as a companion/draft piece for ED650 post for week 2.

I’m unpacking this assignment and I see that it is supposed to be both one page and two pages in length. I’m interpreting that to mean that I should include one page for my personal productivity applications and one for what I use in my professional life.

Thankfully, the two overlap.

While Evernote is not going to be for everyone, I want you to be aware that I use it where and how I can. Picture this: a young man and his wife drive up in their work truck to give me a bid on gutter cleaning. He, the owner, mentions that he needs to ask me a few preliminary questions, because now that his business has grown, he is not sure whether or not he spoke with me, his wife, or one of his employees. He needs to assess what my needs are before he can begin.

I am in favor of excellent customer service, so I stand in my driveway and patiently answer each of his questions. I am even smiling. He and his wife are nice. They are, however, over six hours (and two phone calls rescheduling) late.

When everything is done and he is about to pop back up in the cab of his truck, I lean over and ask his wife to write down “Evernote. You can download the free version to test it out.

Set it up so that each type of job has a notebook and create your own template that everyone can copy with things like:

  • Customer name:
  • Phone:
  • Address:
  • How contacted – phone, email, etc.
  • Needs:
  • Appointment set for:

jm Get in the habit of putting in your initials.

Then everyone can access it from their phone, laptop, work computer, etc. It’s also easy to search.

If you make PDFs of your bills you can drop them in there too. That will allow you to search the text of the PDF.”

I don’t explain that this will take some getting used to. They’re sitting in their truck. But it’s clear that they are young, growing, and looking for solutions.

Will Evernote work for them? Maybe. I also, briefly mentioned DropBox.

Yes. That was two Sundays ago.

Is this really the best for business? It has a free version and paid upgrades. But, it’s cool. It’s easy to use. It is very portable.

Also, I really did have THAT conversation. It took about 5 minutes. They asked a few questions; she wrote down both Evernote and Dropbox. Will they use it? I don’t know. But it may have opened up the idea of a quick app they can share with the team to save time and reduce the need to go over everything with the client again.

Let’s move on to what I use professionally, and only at the office: Trac. Trac is a web-based ticketing system that has a wiki system integrated with it. It is not for everyone. Like everything on the web there is a back end that needs routine maintenance and can be a bit unfriendly to interact with.

Trac differs from Evernote in that, well, almost everything. At this point it would be best to provide screen shots. Instead I’ll say that there are fields, you can customize some of them, that you use. The reporting system works off of the main fields. The reporting system is really convenient, and you can customize it. Again, if you choose to go that route you will need to know some sql.

“Trac is an enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects. Trac uses a minimalistic approach to web-based software project management. Our mission is to help developers write great software while staying out of the way. Trac should impose as little as possible on a team’s established development process and policies.

It provides an interface to Subversion and Git (or other version control systems), an integrated Wiki and convenient reporting facilities.” Edgewall software site

I was exposed to Trac as the Communications Specialist V for the Alaska Ocean Observing System; part of my role was to help develop and roll out a very complex website that had multiple live products that allowed researchers to visually interact with real-time data. See this is what the product we built at AOOS Data Warehouse has evolved into.

You may note that it is rather complex. As such it was important that the five us working on parts of this product, as well as several other projects including one for NPRB’s Bearing Research Project ( carefully track our changes.

Trac is OpenSource. I’d been exposed to Open Source products in the past; in fact I used to encourage my students to download and use OpenOffice starting in 2006-2007 when I taught UAF’s CS101 in the classroom. Using a version control system was brand new for me. However, when you have two incredible programmers and one amazing data specialist asking you to do tasks that plug into a large universe of data, you’d best learn right quick how to dance the two-step.

Get a wonderful group of dedicated folk together and toss in something like svn; no power in the ‘verse will stop you. Funding can run out. That might also have been addressed or better managed using productivity software and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Thankfully decisions of that nature happen at a level above me.

References accessed 9/9/2014

Active or Passive?

This post to serve as Weekly Writing #10 (Unit 6 Week 1) 

This week’s weekly writing challenge is just like trying out for Top Chef: daunting. “How many of the proposed tools are contextualized primarily for teacher presentation (passive learning)? Which have potential for active learning or afford students opportunity to display a product of their learning? Which of the tools have potential for developing or enhancing the community of learners? Which features most actively support learner engagement in a community? Post your preliminary conclusions in your weekly writing.”

The list of emerging tools brainstormed by the spring 2014 cohort included the following tools:

  1. Camtasia
  2. Skitch
  3. Prezi
  4. TeacherTube **
  5. Moodle **
  6. Quia
  7. Mango Languages
  8. GoAnimate
  9. Biteslide
  10. Khan Academy
  11. Powtoon
  12. Screencast-o-matic
  13. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives **
  14. Google Apps/Google Drive
  15. Geogebra
  16. Quizlet
  17. Aviary **
  18. Layar
  19. Teaching channel **

I initially skipped the product ResponseWare, but they do have an app and most students have smart-phones (not all) and therefore this product could also be used to engage the learner in the classroom.  On their website they say, “ResponseWare allows users to respond to multiple styles of questions using QWERTY keyboard input. Question types include multiple-choice, alphanumeric, multiple response and short answer questions. ResponseWare also displays the question and answer choices on the device during polling. ” Looks good. 

I feel each of the following have the potential for developing (or enhancing) the community of learners: I’d argue almost all of them IF the student is being asked to create items. If not I don’t think some of the products help create a community. A QR code in and of itself does not invite a person to belong. The materials that are at the space the QR code goes to and the method in which people are involved in conversation or participating in building the space is what makes a community.

In that same way I know from experience that some Moodle courses are very open providing content and a space in which people interact while others are password protected or on a private server. So that would depend upon how you deploy it.

I love Jing (which is like Screencast-O-Matic) and if a teacher stores her items online and makes them visible, great. But she could choose to tuck her creations into Blackboard where only the students may see them. But ask a student to make a screencast of how to do something and BANG! You’re in business. Active learning achieved. Student participation and involvement ratchets up. Consider yourself no longer a red-shirt.

Active or passive? In short, it depends.

Without looking into each tool I cannot know the features that most actively support learner engagement in a community. However, I can say that my Spidey senses went off for each of the items I marked ‘**’ because I have taught since 2003 and I know that FOR MYSELF it has been a big challenge to move into the arena where I’m engaging the student and asking them to drive the boat. So each of the items that are primarily tools I might use to make something to deliver content to my student, those are the ones I’d say are most easily categorized as passive. However, if you link out to or create a screencast to show the student how to use the tool, several of the tools would fall into the active category. It might take pushing and pulling and crazy glue. You can do it.

Author’s Note: I know YouTube allows for followers and commentary that could easily build a user community therefore TeacherTube may also.

Developing a Unit’s Curriculum Plan

This post to serve as Weekly Writing #8 (Unit 5 Week 1)

In order to summarize–and reflect in a purpose-driven manner–on my curriculum plan it was essential to spend time doing the reading, writing up notes, drinking tea and thinking.

I had a hard time focusing on how I might respond to the weekly writing prompt. Every time I thought I’d make notes for my submission my mind wandered to items like “how are you going to change your course to engage the student more, to ask the student to reflect, and to see if you can get the students to give each other feedback?”

This weekly writing could take pages and hours to construct, and then edit and pare down. I’m going to try to be more succinct and efficient.

  • I know what I want to introduce as the unit curriculum plan.
  • I know that it will span several modules.
  • After reading and cogitating, I am aware of how pressing it is I redo my assignment descriptions to indicate criteria for success and expectations regarding outcomes/scoring. (See a few example of my assessments by scrolling to the bottom of : and )

I revamped materials created for Instructional Design for my lesson plan. Modifications were driven by lessons learned from five additional semesters online teaching and understanding from materials gathered during this summer’s ONID work. I laid out how to inject a few elements early on in the semester that scaffold into a secondary capstone crossing over Modules 8 and 9 — I am not replacing the student’s final project  worth 10% of the grade. This ‘unit’ serves as a project spanning the course worth the same as the final project.

The reading opened up additional doors for me. I asked questions, as listed above, and  drafted possible solutions as paired below:

  •  Get the students to give each other feedback
    “good teachers find ways to generate feedback from other students and occasionally from an outside expert brought in for that purpose…” (Fink, 2003, p. 85) The emphasis is my own.

    • I use the Blackboard discussion board for some discussions, but I find that students (even though points are assigned to this portion of the assignment) do not give others valuable feedback.
    • I propose to change my use of the discussion board asking the student to submit their assignment via the Discussion thread for that week (meaning that everyone in the class will see their work, not just me) and to point out “one area you would consider ‘nailed it!’ as well as one area where you’d like specific suggestions from your cohort on how you could improve it/solve a problem you encountered/etc. Please be specific.”
    • I could use a Google form with a spreadsheet that is OPEN for them to view/not edit in order to contain the type of response and length as well as pattern what is expected via sample submissions.
  • ask the student to reflect and turn in a polished piece
    I’d like students to go through a series of steps prior to turning in their work. “As part of your process, please use the following checklist prior to turning in your work:

    • Run spellcheck and determine if you need to make any changes and respond accordingly.
    • If your assignment includes multiple parts (html, css, images) please review your work using more than one browser. If your materials are supposed to be on your website, please upload them and review your materials. Make changes/upload missing items and retest.
    • Have a friend, colleague, classmate, etc. review your work and provide suggestions. Determine if you need to make any changes and respond accordingly.
    • Check your work against the criteria given with the assignment. If you feel your work misses a part and you have a reason for it, provide your argument for not performing those steps.

Author’s Notes: I have yet to fully integrate or emphasize the feedback cycle between instructor and participant, but it is modeled within the assignment itself as it is essential the student work with and speak to their client in building their final product.

I’d like to integrate self-reflection on the lessons I am building. I may alter a few other lessons. I’d like to ask the student to consider the following: “Do you know the material? Can you apply the knowledge; IE can you create a product using the material you read and practiced? Can you promote your work? By this I do not mean doing marketing, I mean can you talk to another person about what you’ve done or learned?” It is important both in the work arena and in dealing with clients. I am unsure, however, if I would give it points or score submissions.

Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

When Working in the Open We Create a Better Product

This is to serve as Weekly Writing #9  (Unit 5 Week 2)
This week’s weekly writing centers on the idea of working in the open.

“The idea of requiring students to present their work via the internet is often met with trepidation by educators. Which concerns are valid? Which are hype? What are the merits of having students present in a public space? In which circumstances do the advantages supersede the concerns? For your writing post this week, weigh the value against the danger of public homework and online student participation.”

I require my students to work in the open on WordPress blogs they set up. In the past I allowed students to choose from WordPress or Tumblr. However, since so many business websites are being built on top of the WordPress engine, I felt it essential for my students to become familiar with the dashboard and as many intricacies and difficulties as possible during one semester.

That does not answer the request to weigh the value against the danger. Simply stated it only explains why I choose to have the students perform in this manner. To best answer this question I offer this list of pros and cons:

Pro: through my reading and my experience a student who knows that others–not just the instructor–will be able to see the product they are creating causes them to work harder, polish the product more and–in effect–take the time that is appropriate to the learning process. Instructional designers at UAF eLearning & Distance Education espouse the need for public opportunities to shine–during iTeach Learning Assessment Cycle trainings. 

Pro: this is an excellent avenue for students to build a portfolio which they may be proud of and one to which they can easily point potential clients or employers. In essence after my course is over these students have their own domains and live samples of their work. I would recommend that they go back and clean it up or reframe parts of their work.

Con: I would highly recommend against working in the open in the K-12 arena. FERPA issues and possible dangers from predators seem too high. Furthermore I feel that students need to gain a level of understanding of what it means to share on a level of this nature that comes with maturity and practice. That being said having the students work in a fashion that is open IN THE CLASSROOM where they put materials out for their fellow students to see and comment on would be very worthwhile.

Con: Chris Lott possibly said it best in Public vs Private Considerations on the iTeachU website:

Obviously, it wouldn’t be ethical to require all activities be out in the open: some conversations and work involve personally sensitive information and should be limited to just the classroom community or even just the individual student and instructor. Discussions in a psychology course, for example, might be most effective when they include sharing of personal thoughts and history that–even if FERPA compliant–are nonetheless should be limited to the more trusted peer community.”

Author’s Note: Does this suffice? Have I concerned myself enough with the issues? I know I give every student the option of using a moniker when working in the open. I cannot open the can of worms that is the hype (for or against) in the amount of time I have to dedicate to this post. Furthermore, I do not want to. When asked by a co-worker what would I do if a student refused to work in the open (paraphrasing), I replied that I would ask the student to drop the course. I’m not being insensitive to the issues, I just feel that strongly that students who want to learn Internet Authoring & Design, must be okay with publishing to the Internet.

Lott, C. “Public vs Private Considerations”  Retrieved from Accessed August 16, 2014.

Unit 4 Concept Map

I’ve thought (for the last two semesters) that jQuery was just too advanced. Asking a student to download a library–minified or not–and then to upload that library, link to it, and properly perform function calls… it’s a bit tricky.

So, I do think that I can take the 20 point assignment that was jQuery tabs or accordion and replace that with a new capstone for a series of four items over the course of the semester (starting in module five when they are supposed to be able to upload to their own space…)
Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

An Even Twistier Path – Replacing the Text

Originally posted 7/25/2014
Weekly Writing for Online Pedagogy

I’m stealing the fifth article review to go over an Open Source text resource: Flatworld. I have a new instructor who is not tied to the existing syllabus or old, very expensive, textbook that has been in use for this course. We’ve looked at a variety of resources to replace the text.

I came across the following in the second chapter of an online text, Exploring Business, the BA 151 instructor will use for fall 2014:

Exploring Business chapter 2 on ethics
Exploring Business chapter 2 on ethics

I’ve encouraged faculty to reduce the price of texts they use, or to use materials that are freely available. In helping this instructor work up materials for his class, I indicated I would read chapter two and then we could discuss likely activities, assignments, assessments. I did not realize that I’d enjoy the process. Nor did I realize that I’d feel a section of the text worthy for an article review. But it is.

The graphic above just happens to correlate with thoughts I’ve had about the rising cost of texts. I would be embarrassed if my local newspaper wrote up the cost of some of the texts I used before I realized it was not that hard to replace them.

How do you review an online text for a course? The same way you review any article. What parts are good? What parts are bad? Did the author or authors utilize enough resources to provide a well-rounded view of the topic at hand? What’s the layout look like? Is there supporting data? Can I learn more?

The navigation is incredibly clear. Not only that, but this online text takes advantage of a few great html tags (like acronym) to make learning just a wee bit more accessible. I easily read through the first half of the chapter. It was engaging and well written.

The cost is incredible starting at just $24.00. That’s a huge savings off of the traditional one hundred level business book that most students won’t read and won’t use again. Of course there are other, more expensive, options.

All seven sections of chapter two had great articles in the reference section that are easy to follow to read the source materials and find more on topics of interest. Here are just a few:

Well, as much as I enjoyed reading the materials in chapter two, I still lean toward truly free resources versus those what only allow us to see the first few chapters for free.

I’m going to have to put the fact that the test bank is set up to easily integrate into Blackboard as a score against it. Sadly, that’s me expressing a bias. Flatworld knowledge website has a drop down for more resources that includes the following language: “We have taken our test item file and created files to import into the following Learning Management Systems*: Blackboard, Angel, Moodle, WebCT.” They also support Respondus Neutral.

Author’s Note: One of the most positive things about this site is the additional support provided for both students and faculty in the form of flashcards, key take-aways, and terms for students and slides, video and easy to read AND USE cases for faculty.


You Can’t Go Home Again

Originally posted 5/29/2014

You can look on something anew, but it would not be with the eyes of a child. You can try to put yourself in someone’s shoes, but ultimately when it comes to a teacher being taught, I’d say it depends on how long she’s been teaching.

I agree with Benander, “taking a class as a novice learner can be a valuable form of reflection on the teaching and learning interaction.” (Benander, 2009, p. 36) However, seasoned faculty would find it difficult to take on the role of novice. I’m a fan of experiential learning. My background in computer programming suggests students, in or out of a classroom, need to practice to learn. Once a person has passed a certain level of practice, they achieve a level of proficiency. Take riding a bike, once you know how, you know. Of course, we could add a level of complexity: I do not know how to ride a bike under water.

In web design, novices look at everything at once and get lost. They do not know where to start; they simply know they want to create awesome products. I’ve taught a variety of individuals about web design since 1993. Students without knowledge of programming languages looked for ways to compare web design to using a word processor. They focused on a tool, like Dreamweaver, to connect its use with another tool they are familiar with. Students with some understanding of programming tried to put the language into perspective, actively connecting new information to existing knowledge.

Much as Benander suggested an expert has been around the block. She knows to gather her tools. She knows to ask the client a few key pertinent questions up front. She might spend more time looking the client in the eye (or crafting a warm email) than drafting ideas prior to the first meeting. Why? She has an established method of development, a series of steps she’s about to embark upon that she’s developed over time through trial and error.

“Experts have a different orientation not only to their subject matter, but also learning about their subject matter.” (p. 37)

I have been struggling with allocating the time necessary to pursue a second master’s degree. By comparing the time to take a class to the time to teach a class or to the opportunity to relax at home and enjoy the spring, summer, fall I missed–until I read this article–the value of taking any course on the table. While actively building knowledge, I need to refresh my store of compassion for new learners. Reflection will allow me to better empathize with my own students.

As an instructional designer, I assist faculty in building their courses. Some instruction is broken into minute steps. The button to toggle into the student view is a newer addition.  Benander remarks “many instructors only use the instructor view of software like Web-CT or Blackboard. Negotiating assignments and quizzes through the student view of the electronic interface can help one anticipate student challenges.”  (p. 39) Members of the design team show instructors how best to check the product they are building. However, I’ve never suggested that faculty do more than look at the student view. It is now much easier; in the past you had to create a student account, log out of your instructor account and log back into the student account to see the different presentation of materials. Now, it is faster; I believe more people building modules will look at the student’s view more often.

Is it enough to share minutiae? Should I also propose a macro approach? I don’t think so. I can continue to establish myself as an expert in the field of learning and try to inspire others to do the same. The best teachers I know are also life-long learners. In our hectic-paced, ‘get it done now’ mode can we make time to revisit what it means to learn and how new students navigate the process? Benander selected a quote from Silberman that resonated with me.

“Silberman (2007) comments that experiential learning is a ‘sticky’ learning: ‘when it is done well, it adheres to you. Participants will usually forget a great presentation, but they often remember a great experience’ (p. 4). ” (p. 40)

Do your best to take on the mantel of a new learner, but realize that it is more of an investment than simply going to a lecture here or there. It takes more than one Saturday afternoon at Home Depot trying to create a flower landscape. Putting on the eyes of a child is like learning to ride a bike under water.

Author’s note: when originally drafting these materials, I considered the concept of negotiating a learning space and thought of resources like PriceLine and how travelers sitting on a plane paid to be there, but there is a vast distribution of prices. It is much the same with learners. We–the university, the collection of faculty and staff–need to help them establish patterns of learning. We cannot truly know what they have paid to be here, but while they are here we can make every effort to help them succeed.

Benander, R., Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol. 9, No. , June 2009. 40