Notes from the Teaching, Learning, and Technology conference at JMU


[Editor’s note: It’s been far too long since I’ve posted here, and I need to address that with something more substantive than a mere copy/paste of my notes from this awesome conference today at neighboring James Madison University. But until then…]

Keynote speaker, Jim Groom of Mary Washington, showed us his exploded open class – #ds106

I hopped on my bike this morning wearing flip-flops, which quickly ended up being a mistake. Despite our lovely warm fall days recently in the Shenandoah Valley, it was cold this morning, so my toes got really cold really fast before passing into that state where they feel warm and you know they shouldn’t feel warm so that’s probably a bad thing. But it turned out all right and I was treated to a great day of wonderful presentations, great ideas for EMU, and wonderful food and hospitality from our hosts at JMU. Below you’ll find my somewhat-edited notes from each session…

JMU Teaching/Learning/Tech conference

Live blog:
Dept: Center for Instructional Technology/CIT

Session 1 – Teaching & Learning with Digital Stories

  • Benefits: Multiple literacies, multi-modal, multiple learning styles, cross-/multi-cultural
  • Gardener’s multiple intelligences: Spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, nautalistic (Wikipedia article)
  • “Call to action” section of a digital story – Become aware/informed, seems like FYI evangelism?
  • Bloom’s revised taxonomy – categorizing ways of learning & thinking: (Wikipedia article)
  • Practical steps: Storyboard, Write a script, Film/record
  • Technical considerations: Take the time to teach tools and process
  • Assessment & feedback: Provide feedback throughout the process – not just the final product. From instructor and peers.
  • Resource: University of Houston – Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling

Session 2 – Flipping the Higher Education Classroom in Response to Practical & Pedagogical Needs

  • Starting w/ TedEd – online lessons that can then be “flipped” by anyone – also can take any YouTube video and flip it, adding educational content: Watch, Think, Dig Deeper
  • What it does: Turns the classroom into a lab, problem-solving, collaborative space.
  • When to flip: Lecture material (one-way, didactic) is the most natural content to flip.
  • Assumptions: Constructivist, social-constructivist approach.
  • Pros: 1) Helps busy and/or struggling students, 2) Collaborative in-class word: “learning buddies,” 3) Reusability and consistency, 4) Just-in-Time Teaching – prepping lessons and structuring class time in response to feedback/interaction w/ students
  • Cons: 1) Students who don’t engage the content adequately, 2) Hard for student to ask questions early, 3) Access concerns: tech & physical (dis)ability, 4) Prep time is a must
  • Tools mentioned: Camtasia Relay, Elluminate (now BlackBoard Collaborate), New free tool – EZ Creator (couldn’t find this one online), Wordle w/ 67 media creation tools!
  • Look further: Layered studio model
  • Resources: Ruth Colvin Clark & Richard E. Mayer, e-Learning and the Science of InstructionDr. Mazur at Harvard

 Session 3 (keynote) – Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington - awesome session

  • Intro: Ref to the sci-fi novel, Snowcrash
  • “Tales from the Crypt” and “Night of the Living Dead” – Horror as a cultural critique. But also as an analogy as this moment in higher ed., everyone predicting its imminent doom
  • Critiquing the phenomenon of for-profit MOOCs – these have been around for a few years now, but only the venture capital-funded companies like Coursera have garnered the press.
  • “We’ve become trapped by the LMS” – His team’s approach: Giving students and faculty their own web workspace (or even their own domain) to do whatever they want/need for education – serves like somewhat of a ePortfoliio, but also an exploded LMS. (Audio resource: Gardner Campbell – “Bags of Gold” - first 2 mins) – Coming up w/ an alternative approach that emphasizes: storytelling, context, and community – a site and launch point for education
  • Class: Digital Storytelling #ds106 - - aggregator/hub of all student-generated content from their sites, and also admin-type content (virtual office hours, contact info, course docs) - Not a MOOC, but an open educational experience - for-credit students PLUS the rest of the online world – people could come and go as they pleased, participate at their own level.
  • Media: Animaged GIFs as art, an internet radio station, an internet TV show, extensive use of Twitter (#ds106) – server on Minecraft
  • Summer class experiment: Jim Groom becoming Dr. Oblivion from the movie Videodrone - alter-ego – going “missing” after a few weeks, which prompted an alternative reality game/ARG to crop up in the class – it got too weird and students started mocking it creatively

Session 4 – Stop Txting in Class – Technology and deep learning at JMU

  • Survey-driven data-heavy presentation – kind of boring
  • Take-away: Don’t tell your students to stop texting – start teaching with the tech they already use

Session 5 – Introducing the Mediated eBook

  • Dipity ( timeline of their saga/use of eBooks at JMU
  • Types of eBook: 1) Replica – identical to print copy; 2) Mediated – rich-media – text, photos, audio, video, quizzes, web & social media interfaces
  • D.J. Loveless – looking at what hypertexts to to learning. Breadth but no depth?
  • Tools/platforms: 1) Copia – Social e-reader; 2) iBooks Author (Apple) – mediated eBooks authoring; 3) Inkling
  • Bookstore person: “Within three years, we’ll sell apparel and that’s it.”
  • Resources: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

 Session 6 – The Many Facets of WordPress

  • JMU uses a multi-user/blog WordPress platform: - There’s no policy that people use this platform, though; if you want support from CIT
  • Sociology prof using podcast – lecture+slides presentation, uploaded to PowerPress-powered podcast blog, which was linked (and distinct) from this course blog, which both he and his students post to; quote: “I was almost completely liberated from BlackBoard.”
  • Other faculty showing off a range of uses – public history (, chemistry demos (, gendered communications class, communications senior capstone flipped class blog/”flog” (
  • Public nature of these blogs have raised the level of writing from the students – they know people are watching (including future employers)

(Plug from Jim Groom: March 7th 2013 - - State-wide conference on open instructional technology – we should go. It’s free, at Mary Washington.)

Session 7 – State of Higher Ed. & Tech

  • (Rehearsal of a bunch of stuff I already knew about, articles from Chronicle, etc.)
  • Focus: K-12 ed
  • Take-away: Digital everything is coming soon to K-12, colleges & universities better be ready for those students