Tips for Making Amazing Videos on Your Smart Phone

Tips for Making Amazing Videos on Your Smart Phone

By Jerry Pearson
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Terry Campus

Whether you are recording live footage in your classroom to add to your teaching portfolio, making an educational demonstration for your students, or just snapping a quick video for fun–these tips should help you get the most out of your smart phone’s video recorder. Continue reading

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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Paper or Plastic?

By Justin Strader
Automotive Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

Paper or Plastic?

Analog or Digital?

What does the future hold?

Justin, what the heck are you talking about? Good question. Well, I’m not really talking about grocery bags or electrical signal patterns. I’m talking about test taking believe it or not Continue reading

Forward Thinking for the Over Fifties Like Me

By Stephen Taylor
Science Department
Delaware Technical Community College
George Campus

Do you think that teaching is all about standing at the front of a class telling them how it is?

Do your technical skills stop with working an Elmo projector or a Betamax video?

Do you have gray hairs – come on really do you (salt and pepper counts too)?

I’m not saying that you’re old or behind the times, but, come on – a Betamax!

This little article is your path to eternal youth, well almost. I’m going to tell you all about something called Quizlet. Continue reading

Orchestrate Lively Review Sessions with Flippity

Sandy McVey - Review Session

By Sandy McVey
Academic Technology Services
University of Delaware

Exam reviews have never been so fun!

Wouldn’t it be terrific if you reinforce learning by involving students in the study material creation process as well as the active review participants? Now you can with the free Quiz Show. Continue reading

Innovate Your Flipped Classroom with Zaption

By Molli Carter
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

When flipping the classroom, how do you keep your students engaged?

How do you ensure they have understood the material?

As flipping the classroom becomes more and more prevalent, the choices available to make the process more effective continue to grow. Many faculty have used technology such as Google Forms and websites like to do that. There is another player on the field, and this player is worthy of exploration.

Enter Zaption. Continue reading

Google Forms for Anonymous Student Surveys

Google Forms for Anonymous Student Surveys

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

A week or so before a big project is due, I like to collect feedback from students to gauge their muddiest points with the assignment. Then I try to devote a bit of class time to addressing the greatest needs among the class. Continue reading

5 Blackboard Hacks for Smoother Course Design

5 Blackboard Hacks for Smoother Course Design

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

Have you been using Blackboard in the same way for the past five years? Are your Learning Materials still a dumping ground for every handout and PowerPoint ever?

These 5 Blackboard Hacks will have you running a smoother course (for you, and your students) in no time. And if you use another LMS, I’m sure many of these principles can be applied to yours as well – the technical details might just be a little different.

Hack #1 – Organize Your Learning Materials By Week

Pictured below are two potential filing methods for Learning Materials. On the left, we have materials sorted by type. On the right, by week.

The left side appeals to the office organizer in us. Staples, tape, and paper clips go in one drawer. Pencils, pens, markers, and white out in another. And so on.

Ish Stabosz - Learning Materials

7 clicks on the left versus 1 click on the right

But courses aren’t office desks. Students don’t show up in your LMS and say, “Oh, I need a reading, where’s that? And now I need a quiz; let me go get one.” They log into your course at 10pm–after getting the kids to bed or coming home from their second job or what have you–and they say, “I’ve got an hour and a half to get my schoolwork done, what the heck do I need to do?!?!”

So, the less clicks the better.

Most courses progress in a relatively predictable chronological pattern, so if you organize your Learning Materials into weekly folders, each folder becomes a one-stop-shop for what students need to do at any given time.

But won’t my Learning Materials be really long? If I’m teaching a full semester, that’s sixteen different folders! My students will be scrolling for hours!


Calm down, calm down. There’s a hack for that too.

Hack #2 – Use Past & Future Folders To Keep It Clean

Instead of putting ALL of your folders into Learning Materials, you only present the current week’s folder, and hide the rest of the folders into two new folders called “Past Weeks” and “Future Weeks”. So, at week 2, your course might look something like this…

Ish Stabosz - Past and FutureEvery Friday, move your current folder into “Past Weeks” and then pull over the next week’s folder.

This method has the added benefit of providing students who fall behind with an obvious place to go to catch up, and it gives the go-getters a place to look at what’s coming up.

Slow down, Ish. My class is project-based. My students work on the same big project for weeks. Shouldn’t I use folders based on assignment rather than weeks?

-You again

IMHO… no. And that’s because you can always use…

Hack #3 – Focus Students with an Assignments Tab

There may be ways to make topic-based Learning Materials work, but I don’t think–in general–it will be as easy for students to navigate as chronological ordering.

Most classes progress at a pretty typical pace. You generally know what resources students will need to access and what milestones they’ll need to complete at any given point. If your course is more loosey-goosey, self-paced than usual, then I think it might work to organize folders by project.

Ish Stabosz - Assignments Tab

Wondering about that Zombie Survival, aren’t you?

Otherwise, I prefer chronological ordering of Learning Materials combined with an Assignments tab on the course menu. In the Assignments section, you can place all of the reference material and resources for each assignment or project.

That way, students who are sticking to the prescribed path can get everything that they need at any given moment in the Learning Materials for that week. And students who need to recheck the instructions, rubric, or graphic organizer for a project can just click on Assignments rather than digging through all of the past Learning Materials. Your assignments section might look something like this…

Ish Stabosz - Assignments Page

Hack #4 – Don’t Upload, Link

Okay, okay. I get it. I’ll organize my Learning Materials by week and I’ll create an Assignments section to organize materials by project also.

But what the heck is with that last screen shot? Where are all the document attachments?

– A slightly less skeptical, though perhaps more confused, You

Top secret information: I don’t attach files in Blackboard anymore. And it has improved my productivity by leaps and bounds.

Don’t you hate when you are teaching three sections of the same course, upload some assignment instructions to all three Blackboard courses, and then realize that you made a mistake.

Not only do you have to edit the original document. But you also have to remove all of the attachments and upload new ones (IN ALL THREE COURSES!!!). Imagine if you had that same file attached in more than one place on each course. Might as well just ignore the mistake and move on.

Enter Google Docs.

Google docs allows you to create documents (much like Microsoft Word) that can be shared via link. Wherever you paste the link, users can access the original doc.

Now, when I create my assignment sheet in Google Docs and paste the link into three different places on Blackboard, it’s much simpler to make edits. All I have to do is update the original doc and every course is immediately updated as well.

This post isn’t the place for a complete tutorial on Google Docs, but you can find some useful video tutorials over at Mr Ish’s Workshop, and Edudemic has a great post called 10 Things Every Teacher Should Know How To Do With Google Docs.

Hack #5 – For Extra Credit, Embed

I couldn’t think of another snarky comment to attribute to you.


– Me

Links are great. In fact, I spent exactly 223 words in that last section explaining how great they are. But sometimes, they aren’t enough.

Sometimes, you don’t want students to have to travel outside of Blackboard to access your content. Sometimes, as with a class agenda, you want it right smack in front of their faces.

That’s where embedding comes in.

Here is a screen shot of my Week 8 agenda embedded in Blackboard.

Ish Stabosz - embed

You might not be able to tell, but that isn’t a Blackboard content item, it’s a Google Doc, and all students need to do to view it is go to Learning Materials. No opening files or clicking on links. And I have the added benefit of being able to edit the agenda right from Google Docs, too.

This hack was tagged as extra credit because you might need to be a bit tech savvy to implement it, or at least be willing to jiggle the handle until everything works smoothly.

I’ll keep the tutorial brief. Two screen shots should be enough to help my more adventurous readers figure it out on their own. If you really, really, really, really want an in-depth tutorial, leave a great outcry in the comments. If there’s enough demand, I’ll post a follow-up.

Screenshot 1: What To Do in Google Docs

Ish Stabosz - Embed step 1

Screenshot 2: What To Do in Blackboard

Ish Stabosz - Embed step 2

Okay hackers. Get hacking!

“Go Forth and Reuse!”

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

Last month, the New York Public Library announced the addition of almost 200,000 items to their digital collections. In their announcement, they make it clear that these are free to use without restriction with the following words:

No permission required, no hoops to jump through: just go forth and reuse!

Ever wonder how 1857 New York City was laid out?

NYC 1857

Or maybe what floor plans looked like in the early 1900s?

Floor Plan 1900s

Or how MIT classrooms were designed more than a century ago?

MIT classroom

The collection is big, and it provides some great material for use in your lessons. Consider how your discipline has changed in the past century? What conversations could you start with your students using an artifact that shows that change?

Explore the collection your self at and share your finds in the comments.

The Wonderful Mistake


By Craig Cox
Senior Systems Specialist
Delaware Technical Community College
Office of the President

I had an opportunity earlier this year to help design a class in Blackboard. In my role in IIT, I don’t often get into the Blackboard LMS, even though I once helped manage that system behind the scenes. Much has changed in just a few years, so I thought I had better brush up on my skills.

I signed up for IDTG22, “Foundational Technologies”, hoping to get the cook’s tour of Blackboard. Here’s a blank course, here’s the feature set, here’s Delaware Tech’s common look and feel, let’s all make a quiz – that kind of thing.

Week one was kind of a surprise, as we introduced ourselves on a Blackboard discussion board, and then took a really deep dive into learning theory. By week three, it was clear that we would be casting a very wide net, incorporating all kinds of technology into the classroom experience. But there was still no mention of Blackboard operations.

Instead, there was a wealth of insight into the people whose work I support.

Traditional IT service involves assessing the needs of employees and delivering systems that meet those needs. Expansion and upgrade are orderly, planned processes. The introduction of unexpected and unauthorized hardware and services is viewed with some hostility, because securing and supporting technology requires technical staff to be trained.

Having five (or 20, or 100) different custom setups puts a burden on support staff to stay competent in that variety of technology. You end up with a “jack of all trades, master of none” level of support. Maintaining and enforcing standards puts boundaries on the amount of training time and money needed to keep staff proficient; it also keeps the workload manageable.

As it turns out, this model doesn’t always mesh well with academic needs.

I had known in a vague, background sort of way that colleges had to compete for students. What I picked up from IDTG22 was an idea of the depth of thinking that goes into reaching and keeping those students through graduation. I learned that in order to accommodate diverse learning styles and needs, educators are actively pushed to experiment with diverse technologies.

While I have always known about the rapid pace of change in the technology fields, the class I’d taken by mistake brought home just how that pace challenged and drove educators to constantly seek new techniques and solutions.

Stagnation never was an option. The orderly process of evaluation, selection, approval, training and deployment of technology might not always be the best option. While I would love to wind up this post with a bold vision of a new understanding between those who do the educating and those who provide the infrastructure, I don’t have one of those. I will certainly be working to find one, of course; but that was never the central point.

The central point is, my job perspective was improved in a way I didn’t expect. Sometimes professional development is deliberate; sometimes, I found, it sneaks up on you. I challenge anyone reading this to look for opportunity in mistakes. If you’re digging for silver, don’t close the mine if all you find is gold.