Snow Days, Sick Days: How to Incorporate Online Content into your Courses

New England has seen its share of snow days this season, resulting in scheduling disruptions and missed classes. Here are just a few ideas for making up lost face-to-face class time with fun and impactful online learning activities:

Record a lecture

Using only screen-capture software and a microphone, you can record a class lecture and PowerPoint for a missed class day and post it to ECLearn.

If you want to build your online lecture quickly and easily, ATIG has tutorials for both Screencast-O-Matic and Jing. If you’d prefer more complex tools, including embedded quizzes, check out Camtasia for Mac and PC.

Moderate an Online Discussion

Web-based discussions are a great way encourage participation, even if members of your class can’t be in the same place at the same time. Learn about how easy it can be to set up discussions in ECLearn here.

ECLearn features a synchronous (live) discussion tool called Conferences. Invite your entire class to participate, or meet with smaller groups.  Present your slides, share a whiteboard and more.  You can even record your presentation.  Find out more in ECLearn’s documentation.

Encourage Collaboration

ECLearn offers web-based groups and online collaboration tools too.  You’ll also find plenty of worthwhile free collaboration tools outside of ECLearn.

Google Drive provides a shared file system for collaborative editing in text documents, spreadsheets, and more. Another free Google product called Hangouts is an easy way to hold a video conference including a screen-sharing feature with as many participants as you’d like.

Popplet is a great visual brainstorming tool, helping groups would through ideas and plan complex projects together.


For even more ideas, enroll in our online workshop Design Strategies for Online and Blended Learning. And, as always, contact ATIG for help implementing your ideas!

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Tool Spotlight: CommentPress

Looking to incorporate peer review within your WordPress site? Look no further.

CommentPress is a plug-in for WordPress that allows signed in users and “anons” (anonymous people) to write a comment next to a selected piece of writing. The feedback is then sent immediately to the person who is being critiqued. For example, if I visited your site that had CommentPress enabled, I would be able to click next to where I want to comment on regardless if I am affiliated with the site or not. My comment will then be sent to the person who wrote the piece of writing that I was giving feedback on. Another plus CommentPress provides is comfort to those who wish to remain anonymous while simultaneously creating an environment for feedback. The idea of anonymous peer review is seen as an advantage for some students because they do not want to be affiliated with harsh or weak feedback. CommentPress eliminates these fears which has not been implemented before in WordPress.

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Click here to go to the CommentPress website to learn more about the tool.

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iPads in the Classroom


You can now project presentations and course materials from your iPad to classroom projectors! Reserve an Apple TV and HDMI cable from ATIG and we’ll walk you through setting it up.

What can you use an iPad for in the classroom?

Displaying course materials in a wide range of media seamlessly:

  • Presentations using apps such as Prezi, Keynote, and Google Presentations in Google Drive
  • Videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and MediaCore within ECLearn (read more about MediaCore here:
  • Documents and course readings saved to cloud storage apps Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Create an iPad “magazine” for your course using Flipboard


  • Popular apps for interactive reading like Inkling or Subtext allow a whole group to read and comment together
  • Explain Everything   is an interactive whiteboard tool used to record audio, video, writing, and even your screen. This tool integrates with cloud storage as well, so you can show shared files from Google Drive to Dropbox.
  • Other collaborative brainstorming tools like Popplet have iPad apps as well.

In case you don’t see what you need here, Educause has a more in-depth list of Apps for Education:

Do you have ideas about integrating iPads into your course? Contact ATIG – we’re here to help!

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We Went Out for Piazza! Any questions?

No, that’s not a typo.  Piazza is a cool new tool we recently added as an option within ECLearn. Here’s how Piazza describes what it offers:

Piazza is a free platform for instructors to efficiently manage class Q&A. Students can post questions and collaborate to edit responses to these questions. Instructors can also answer questions, endorse student answers, and edit or delete any posted content.

Piazza is designed to simulate real class discussion. It aims to get high quality answers to difficult questions, fast!

It also lets you or your students conduct mini-polls — cool!

Add Piazza to Your ECLearn Course

If you'd like to try it out in a risk-free setting, go to your sandbox course in ECLearn, click on "Settings", then "Navigation", and drag the button that says "Piazza" up into the active course items, as shown here.

If you decide you like it, you can use the same method to add it to any of your live courses. As always, contact with questions!

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The iTeam Is Coming To Save the Day!

iTeam logoThe new year will soon be here, and ATIG plans to brighten up your mid-winter days with a nifty new service for Emmanuel faculty.

We’ve been thinking about all the work that goes into preparing your classes for the new semester.  It can be stressful – and when you hit a technical snag, or are trying to remember how to do something in your course site, taking the time to send an email with a question sometimes seems like too much work.  ATIG is going to try to save you that step. Beginning the week of January 6,  ATIG’s iTeam will make scheduled visits to faculty offices to offer hands on, on-the-spot help with any of your academic technology needs.

The iTeam is staffed by our highly trained, experienced student workers.  They know lots about ECLearn, Qualtrics, Camtasia, MediaCore and much more.  If they can’t help or answer your question, they’ll immediately connect you with someone who can.

The iTeam schedule for your building will be hand-delivered to your office door before the Christmas break, along with a handy tear-off checklist designed to help you prepare for the spring semester.  If iTeam visits don’t fit your schedule,  you are welcome as always to make an appointment by emailing

* If you must know, it stands for “Innovative Technology for Emmanuel Academics – Mobile.” And let’s never speak of that again.)

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Instructional Design 101, Part 4

Let’s conclude the Instructional Design 101 series by pulling everything together to see how you can practically use the ADDIE process in your classroom. Whether you are building a new course, redesigning one, or adding a new instructional technology, ADDIE can be your road map to a successful launch.

Let’s go through ADDIE in the following scenario:

 A Who are my learners?

  • My students are of traditional age.
  • I am teaching a general education course, therefore my students will have different interests.
  • I will teach the course face-to-face.
 D What do learners need to know and how will I know that they have learned?

  • I will outline each week and sequence the learning.
  • I will create course goals and objectives, keeping Blooms Taxonomy in mind. My objectives will focus on higher forms of cognitive work.


  • I will build approprate assessments that match the objectives.
 D2 How will I deliver course material?

  • I will use ECLearn to enhance my course with different instructional tools.
  • I may create a game for students to play in class.
  • I will consult with ATIG to determine what features of ECLearn will help me accomplish my teaching goals and brainstorm game ideas.
 I Teach the course.

  • I will add additional resources to ECLearn on topics that students are struggling with.
  • I will create a video to clarify topics of confusion and post to ECLearn.
  • I will take notes on what works and what does not work, knowing that unforeseen challenges may arise.
 E How did it go?

  • I will routinely assess if students are learning and meeting course objectives through group project and essay assignments.
  • I will assess the impact of my chosen instructional materials through continual evaluation.
  • I will keep in mind Kirkpatrick’s 4 Levels of Evaluation.


Do you have other questions about ADDIE and interested in learning more? Are you ready to start applying this process for an upcoming Spring course? E-mail me ( for an individual consultation.

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Instructional Design 101, Part 3


We continue the Instructional Design 101 series with the next 3 phases of ADDIE – Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

D2In the Development phase, we begin to put together our instructional strategy: Based on our determined objectives, how are we going to deliver the required information to our learners? This is when we create our deliverables. What instructional materials will we need to accomplish our task(s)? What technology can/should we include in the strategy? The Development Phase is the “How” and the “What” of the process.

Academic Technology can help you identify tools and resources available that can be used to build your deliverables – whether that is using ECLearn or Prezi or Camtasia to deliver content, a Qualtrics survey or clickers to survey students, or choosing a collaborative tool to best facilitate group projects.


Now that we’ve got all of our instructional materials ready to go, it’s time to deliver the course to our audience – the Implementation phase. We schedule class times and deliver the needed information. Is it an online or blended course? Is my ECLearn course shell published? Remember, if you are delivering this course for the first time or using new instructional materials and technologies, learner problems or unforeseen instructional challenges may arise. It is important to remember that this stage is part of a process and not simply the end of the design and development project. Which leads us to E.


During the Evaluation phase, we accomplish two things: first, we evaluate the learners to make sure they’ve met the lesson or course objectives; second, we evaluate the lesson or course. Was it successful? If yes, why? If not, what needs to be changed to make it successful going forward? Based on the feedback, revisions in the design phase may need to be made.

But evaluation is not the final or next or end phase of ADDIE. Evaluation is all-encompassing. ADDIE is not a linear model. If I were to diagram it, it would look more like this:


The Evaluation process is probably the most difficult to design and implement, but one of the most important elements. While it’s easy to figure out if students “liked” the lesson or course, it’s much more difficult to determine exactly what they learned from it and if they were able to actually put their new knowledge/skills to work in any meaningful way. Two forms of evaluation – formative and summative – are two approaches that go hand in hand to evaluate the whole process of instruction.

  • Formative evaluation supports the design and development phases of the instructional design process. It takes place while you are still forming the instructional strategies and materials. What looks great on paper might not necessarily work well in the actual teaching environment. For example, I might have developed a great learning activity that requires students to work in groups of three. The learning activity is supposed to take five minutes. When I ‘pilot’ the activity, it turns out that it actually takes the students closer to fifteen minutes to complete the activity. Knowing this, I can now adjust my timetable for the remainder of the class time.
  • Summative evaluation provides information on the lesson or course’s ability to do what it was designed to do. It takes place at the end of the lesson or course. Did the learners learn what they were supposed to learn at the conclusion of the lesson or course? It lets the learner know “how they did,” but also, it helps you know whether the lesson or course goals and objectives were met. Commonly used summative evaluation tools are course grades, ePortfolios, and the course evaluation.

Now that we have reviewed the ADDIE process, stay tuned for the fourth and final part of ID 101 as we discuss ways you can practically use this process in your classroom.

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Looking for Teaching Ideas? Try Merlot!

MERLOT2_logoWhile a glass of wine may stimulate ideas, that’s not the kind of merlot I’m talking about. This Merlot is actually “a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community.”  While Merlot has always been a great resource, it’s recently been re-designed to make it much more user-friendly and attractive.

There’s so much available in Merlot, it can be a little overwhelming.  It’s okay to browse, but better to go in with some ideas about what you’re looking for.  Perhaps you’d like to see a recent open textbook on inorganic chemistry , or a game that explores MesoAmerican history or a resource for connecting language learners via skype.  You can find them all here, using the advanced search feature to identify your subject, type of material and so on, and then filter to see the newest, the most highly rated, and so on.  We’re happy to help you try it out – contact us at!  And when you’ve found something great to energize your teaching or inspire your students – raise your glass … to Merlot!

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Instructional Design 101, Part 2


In Instructional Design 101, Part 1, you were introduced to ADDIE:


ADDIE is a simple way to conceptualize the ID process. Let’s delve into the first two phases of this process – Analysis and Design.


During the Analysis phase, we want to evaluate the learners and the learning context. We can’t really begin to design an educational initiative until we know our audience. Who are our learners? Are they traditional college students? Are they working adults who need to learn how to perform a specific job function? How many students are involved?

Next, consider how the learning will be applied. Will students need this information to proceed to the next course? Are we teaching adults who will need to apply what they’ve just learned to complete specific job tasks? Knowing how your learners will apply that learning is critical to success.

Finally, what instructional strategies will be used? Knowing our learners and their motivations will help as we develop effective instruction. Another thing to consider is the availability of educational technology and other supports for delivery of instruction strategies.

Now that our Analysis is done, on to the Design phase.


During the Design phase, our focus will be on learning goals and objectives. What do we want students to know and/or do at the end of the learning initiative? Will they need to demonstrate their knowledge by demonstrating the skills they have learned or will they only need to complete a test to demonstrate knowledge and understanding? It’s important to establish what they will need to be able to achieve before we develop actual learning content. In addition, we will create our assessment plan during this phase. How are we going to measure whether the students have learned what they need to?

While we are on the subject, let’s take a short detour to briefly discuss Assessment. Learning goals are closely linked to assessments. Learning goals are the concepts, facts, and principles that you want your students to learn. Assessment is the process of figuring out whether or not your students are achieving these learning goals. The purpose of assessment isn’t to determine a grade; it is to determine whether or not students are achieving the learning goals that you have set for the course.

As teachers, we know what content we want our students to learn. We know the important ideas that will help students build a scaffold for adding more information. But our students will not automatically understand these learning goals – we must ensure that our students know why they are learning something by making our learning goals explicit, and explicitly connecting course content to the learning goals.

With this information at hand and with the learner in mind, we can create more meaningful activities that have a real impact and tap into the learner’s motivations. We will discuss more about creating these activities in the next part of this series when we discuss the second D - Development.

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Instructional Design 101, Part 1

In this 4-part series, Instructional Design 101, we will discuss what instructional design is, why it is important, and offer you instructional design strategies that you can use in your classroom.

What is ID?

Let’s start by defining instructional design (or ID)? Definitions of ID abound, from simple to complex. The Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University is attributed with developing a four-part definition of instructional design (Brown & Green, 2011, p. 5):

  • Instructional Design as a Process
    Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.
  • Instructional Design as a Discipline
    Instructional Design is that branch of knowledge concerned with research and theory about instructional strategies and the process for developing and implementing those strategies.
  • Instructional Design as a Science
    Instructional design is the science of creating detailed specifications for the development, implementation, evaluation, and maintenance of situations that facilitate the learning of both large and small units of subject matter at all levels of complexity.
  • Instructional Design as Reality
    Instructional design can start at any point in the design process. Often a glimmer of an idea is developed to give the core of an instruction situation. By the time the entire process is done the designer looks back and she or he checks to see that all parts of the “science” have been taken into account. Then the entire process is written up as if it occurred in a systematic fashion.

Simply put, ID is the process of assessing learning needs and applying the appropriate learning strategy to meet those needs.

Learning & Teaching…It Just Happens, Right?

We are wired to learn and we are constantly learning. Learning happens through our experiences as we explore our environment and what we see and hear, we learn as we privately reflect on life, we learn in our interactions socially with others, and we learn through formal education. We are also wired to teach. People have been teaching others ever since, well…ever since we existed. We instruct our infant daughter as she is learning to walk or our son as he attempts to ride a bike; we explain and demonstrate to an apprentice how to blow glass; we guide our new co-worker through the institution’s policies and procedures.

So, if learning and teaching happens casually and organically, then why is ID so important? Why do we need a system and a process and a person and a framework and a…OK, I’ll stop there…  The answer is that instructional design can make learning happen faster and more efficiently (and I am not just saying that because I am an instructional designer)! ID helps learners makes sense out of new information through clear goals and objectives, providing context and perspective, in an engaging, meaningful way. How can you say “I don’t need that”?

Where Do We Begin?

This is where ADDIE comes in – it is one way to conceptualize the entire ID process. ADDIE is not an ID model per se, but an illustration of the components of many ID models.


Stay tuned for Part 2, as we delve into the ADDIE process.

Brown, Abbie and Timothy Green (2011). The Essentials of Instructional Design: Connecting Fundamental Principles with Process and Practice, Second Edition. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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