Happy National Online Learning Day!


If you didn’t know it, today is National Online Learning Day, a day to celebrate and showcase success of online education. Online Learning Day is a chance to recognize that online environments provide students the opportunity to learn almost anything, from anywhere, at any time.

If you’ve taken a class online or taught one–whether for academic, professional, or personal development–we encourage you to share your successes on your favorite social media platforms and include the hashtag #OnlineLearningDay.

Learned a skill online that you thought could only be taught face-to-face?

Developed a really great online lesson?

Discovered a piece of ed tech that took your online course over the top?

Have a tip for succeeding in online learning environments?

If you can answer YES to any of these questions or similar ones, then you’ve got something to share.


Here at CCIT, we tossed a few ideas around of what we’d like to share when it comes to online learning. Here are a few suggestions from our director, Kelly McVeigh Stanley, about alternatives to discussion boards in online classes:

Student Video Blogs: Not just a substitute for discussion boards. Student videos assignments can be designed through a process of “Know, See, Do, Improve”. Students demonstrate their knowledge, build observation skills overtime, and are then asked to analyze their own work.

Live Streamed Lectures: Using tools like YouTube Live, Adobe Connect, and Google Hangouts is a great way to mimic face-to-face exchanges and connect with your students. Record these sessions for students who can’t attend.

Encourage Reflection through Student Self-Assessment: Self-assessment rubrics and online journals allow for reflective thinking about course content. Self-assessment aligns with the theory of student-centered learning and helps students take ownership of their involvement in the learning process

Encourage Sharing: Leverage social media tools. Have students use a course specific hashtag to share their resources and experiences related to the course. Use a tool like Tagboard, Keyhole, or Hashatit to monitor student activity across multiple social media apps.


And Learning Strategies Coordinator, Al Drushler, offers the following tips for running an online class that keeps students focused on success:

  • Make the course schedule and grade center visible prior to the start of the semester.
  • Keep due dates consistent throughout the semester (for example, homework is due every Sunday at 11:59 PM).
  • Respond to student questions about coursework using short screen casts and publish them for the entire class to see.
  • Create a discussion board for questions about the course work and encourage students to post there rather than emailing questions to you individually.

What about you? What are some of your tips, successes, and positive experiences with online learning. Share in the comments to let us know, and don’t forget to hop on your favorite social media platform and use the hashtag #OnlineLearningDay to share your thoughts with the rest of the country this National Online Learning Day.

Communication Skills for Nurses: Engaging Activities to Use in Your Classroom

Communication Skills for Nurses: Engaging Activities to Use in Your Classroom

By Kimberly Hopkins MSN, RN
Nursing Instructor
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

One of the many foundational skills that I strive to pass on to future nursing students in one of my pre-nursing courses is effective communication. In this post, I want to share a few activities that I use to make the topic of communication skills for nurses as interactive as possible. How else can communication be taught if not interactively? The goal of these activities is to show students that there are many ways to communicate in nursing.

The first activity involves the following picture. Take a look at it and note what you think the drawing depicts.


Kimberly Hopkins 1

Do you see a mouse or an old man? When I display this optical illusion to students, I ask them to explain what they see and then debate over why the picture shows one image over the other. The goal is to help them understand that perception isn’t always objective, and that communicating a difference of perceptions isn’t always easy.

In the second activity, I divide the class into pairs, with one student acting as the patient and the other as the nursing assistant. The patients leave the room for a little while while the nursing assistants study the following image:

Kimberly Hopkins 2

When the patient returns, the nursing assistant’s job is to describe to the patient how to draw the picture without ever having seen it. The catch is that the patient isn’t allowed to ask any questions. Once everyone has had a chance to give it a try, I show them the correct image and let them discuss their results.

We then do variations of the same activity with different images. In one method, the patient is allowed to ask questions – but no hand gestures are allowed. In another, the nursing assistant is not allowed to give verbal directions, and must instead write the directions down while the patient is still outside of the room.

These activities provide students with a chance to realize that communication comes in many forms, and that these different forms can lead to different misunderstandings. The variation in which students are forced to use written directions, for example, often reveals that not everyone has the same understanding on how many sides to an octagon!

All in all, these activities to reinforce communication skills for nurses are great fun. They prepare future nurses for the workplace by helping them realize that communicating with their patients isn’t always as easy as as they might expect.

Adobe Spark for Education: How to Wow Your Students and Yourself

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

If you haven’t already heard of Adobe Spark, it’s an amazing free tool for designing visually stunning presentations, social media posts, and videos. I first stumbled upon Spark when I was trying to find something to use to create a really awesome looking web page. Well, it didn’t quite fit the bill there, but I did realize that Adobe Spark is perfect for education. So I created this:

Welcome to ENG 102 Click the image to view my creation

This Adobe Spark page was my alternative to the usual welcome message that I post in Blackboard. I thought, why not start the year off with something fun and visually stunning that shows students that this writing class ain’t gonna be what they’re expecting.

The best part of all: this was a cinch to create. If I were to make something like this using PowerPoint or Google Slides, it would take me all day and the final product wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful (or mobile responsive (you heard me: mobile responsive!)).* I probably spent two hours on this, which might seem like a long time, but it’s something that I can use for years to come.

Adobe Spark isn’t just great for welcome messages though. You can use it for your presentations too. Even better, students can use it for theirs. No more boring bullet points.

Check it out and create a free account today at https://spark.adobe.com/

*Yeah, I just parenthesized my parentheses. Sue me.

Let’s Get Clicking


By Susan Chumley
Nursing Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Terry Campus

Teaching has evolved through the years. Instructors are no longer considered strictly the providers of information, but now they are the “facilitator(s) of knowledge” (p. 121) to self-directed learners, according to Carol S. Sternberger in her research article entitled Interactive Learning Environment: Engaging Students Using Clickers, published in the 2012 issue of Nursing Education Perspectives.

For a recent faculty development class, I was part of a group researching Turning Technologies clicker tools, and my curiosity to ascertain if this type of technology would actually be proven to be beneficial to nursing students led me to Sternberger’s article. I wondered why learn another piece of technology unless the research substantiates its efficacy?!

The article was really quite interesting. The study was descriptive in nature and explored the pedagogical approach of using clickers to enhance a learning scenario with nursing students. The learning environment in this research project utilized the constructivist theory. This model states that “learners construct their knowledge by building on their internal representations and previous experiences and thus create their own meaning or constructs” (p. 121).

In other words, new learning takes place via the building of new synapses on the already existing synapses. The research sample consisted of 72 students enrolled in a one-credit weekend undergraduate nursing course on disaster health care. The students used the clickers to answer multiple-choice questions from different short scenarios that were meant to assess the application, analysis, and evaluation skills of students.

The instrument in the study was a 22-item fivepoint Likert-type scale questionnaire that measured four subscales. The subscales ranged from how the students were able to integrate the clickers into the classroom setting to how much they thought the clickers helped them with their critical thinking skills. At the end of the course, a 50-item, multiple-choice comprehensive exam was administered online and was available to the students for a four week time period. The questions on the exam were all different than the questions given with the clicker scenarios.

The results from this study indicated that the students enjoyed using the clickers to enhance their understanding of the presented material. Most students either agreed or strongly agreed with items on the Likert-type scale questionnaire. Fifty-one students added comments at the bottom of the questionnaire. The written statements contained three themes. The students commented on the “novelty of using clickers in a learning environment,” that the scenarios “promoted discussion and analysis,” and that the clickers “created a competitive game-like environment” that made “learning fun” (p. 122).

Another result that was analyzed was the scores from the comprehensive exam. The mean score was 41.8 and scores ranged from 30 to 49. The author described the scores as “disappointing” (p. 122) since the students reported that the clickers helped them to create and explore new concepts instead of just memorizing answers to test questions. The author suggested that perhaps the four week time period for completion of the exam might have contributed to the lower scores. She suggested that short-term knowledge gain might be lost as time passes.

So, how does this study impact the educator who might chose clickers as a way to enhance learning? The author states that other studies indicate that clickers may encourage more discussion among students and this discourse could inevitably lead to a deeper understanding of complex issues. If a student commits to an answer, the student is more willing to discuss the rationale behind their choice. Also, students report a higher level of satisfaction in the learning environment while using this technology. It’s all about keeping the students tuned in verses tuned out.

However, the educator must be aware that studies do not necessarily indicate higher overall exam scores when students use clickers. This technology can definitely be used to foster classroom discussion and student participation, but instructors should not hope for a miracle with the dreaded examination scores.


Sternberger, C. (2012). Interactive learning environment: Engaging students using clickers. Nursing Education Perspectives, 33(2), 121-124.

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Student-Centered Learning for Librarians

Student-Centered Learning for Librarians

By Michelle Marshall
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

As a librarian, it is my hope to apply what I learn about teaching and instruction to the informal learning environment in which I work every day, namely, the library.  The challenge has become how to apply concepts such as “student-centered” and “active learning” to a reference interview or to a one-shot information literacy session.

In my search for examples of how to do this, I recently read an article titled Authenticity and Learning: Implications for Reference Librarianship and Information Literacy Instruction by Kevin Michael Klipfel. Continue reading

Get Your VERB On!

Get Your VERB On!

By Dr. Richard Kralevich
Associate Vice President for Information and Instructional Technology
Delaware Technical Community College

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom and a few of his colleagues had a thought.  Their idea – develop a framework that educators and student alike could leverage to better organize and understand the learning objectives associated with their shared educational experience.  Since that faithful day, educators like you and me have devoted countless hours discussing, debating, and deliberating over how to find the right verb for the job.

Recently, I came across a few visual representations of Bloom’s Taxonomy that might help to make that deliberation a little easier. Hopefully, these resources will come in handy the next time you’re struggling to pen that perfect instructional objective.

So get out there and get your verb on!

A 3 Dimensional Model Of Bloom’s Taxonomy
Source: teachthought

Take Action: Verbs That Define Bloom’s Taxonomy
Source: MindShift | KQED News

Bloom’s Taxonomy Overview
Source: Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching

To They or Not To They

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

My sharing of this video, created by the Baltimore Sun’s John McIntyre, is simply an attempt to gauge how many English teachers and grammarians read this blog. I know you’re out there, and once you watch this you simply won’t be able to keep your fingers from typing in the comment box. Continue reading

Why I Added Research,Writing, and Presentation to My Math Class

Why I Added Research,Writing, and Presentation to My Math Class

By Rachel Chase
Mathematics Department
Delaware Technical Community College
George Campus

After attending an undergraduate research conference, I was inspired to implement a research driven assignment into the statistics courses I teach. Over the last few semesters of trials and tribulations, I have learned much about what works and what doesn’t. Continue reading

Let the Students Teach

Let the Students Teach

By John Burbage
Bio/Chem Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

If you have ever taught a class in an accelerated format, you know how hard it can be to keep the student’s attention for three, four, or even 5 hours. To keep the students engaged, I like to include a project that requires the students to become the teachers. Let me share with you an example that I have used in a five hour Environmental Science class. Continue reading

After the Flip: What to Do With All That Extra Class Time

After the Flip: What to Do With All That Extra Class Time

By Kate Lind
Nursing Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

After teaching in the K-12 sector of education, I was initially shocked at how difficult it was to involve active learning at the collegiate level.

At the high school level, I developed a Medical Program, using Learning Focused Strategies (LFS) as the delivery system. This meant concept mapping to encourage students to make connections and understand vocabulary, activities to break-up the monotony of a block class, and many formative assessments to ensure students were doing more than treading water.

Coming into higher education was eye opening, but I discovered we are teaching such heavy content that we have to find a delicate balance of creating a foundation with information and engaging learners in various ways. Continue reading