Break the Silence: Effective Feedback Using D2L Brightspace

Good vs Fake Feedback

Providing detailed feedback is an absolute must for effective online teaching. Feedback is a tool for instructors to communicate course content, guide, and lead students for a growing mindset.  One of the biggest influences for student’s work is good feedback. Without good feedback students cannot improve their work and can impede future learning. 

Feedback for learning in higher education highlights a growing number of studies that have demonstrated technology’s ability to boost student engagement with feedback. What D2L tools can faculty use for giving and personalizing feedback? 


D2L Rubrics can be created to evaluated activities in AssignmentsDiscussions, and the Grade tools with a predefined set of criteria. You can add additional feedback in a rubric as you are using it to grade an activity.  You can leave comments at the Criteria level by clicking on the Add Feedback link. 

Leaving feedback in the Assignment Tool 

Besides adding feedback to a rubric there are several other ways you can leave feedback in the Assignment tool.  You can leave feedback in the feedback box, upload a commented file, or leave audio and or video feedback. 

Watch how to add feedback and evaluations to assignment submission

Turnitin our anti plagiarism software is integrated with the Assignment tool in D2L Brightspace. Turnitin’s  QuickMark feature is standard editing marks commonly used by instructors when editing or grading papers. QuickMarks allow you to create a library of feedback that might be applicable, on multiple occasions, to multiple students, across multiple classes and assignments. You can use QuickMarks with or without generating an Originality Report. 

D2L Brightspace has created very good tutorials on how to set up the the Turnitin integration in the Assignment tool and leave feedback using QuickMark. 

Turnitin also has a great deal of help documents on using QuickMark as a commenting tool. 

Elements of QuickMark Commenting Tool 

Feedback options for Quizzes 

Feedback in a quiz has 3 different areas where an instructor can leave back. The first is feedback for the entire quiz attempt. 

The second area is feedback for the quiz section or category. 

Finally, feedback can be left for specific questions. 

Feedback Can Be Left Directly in the Grade Book 

Feedback can also be left directly in the grade book. You can leave feedback through a category or per grade item.  To leave feedback for students using a grade item go Enter Grades, select the drop-down menu next to the grade item and select Enter Grades. Scroll down so you see the student’s names. Click on the pencil icon on the Feedback column. 

On the Grade Feedback page enter the desired feedback in the text box. When completed click the Save button. There is also an option to leave private feedback/messages for other graders. 

As you can see there various types of feedback that can be left for students in D2L Brightspace. There are several resource articles that give ideas to faculty for leaving feedback. I have found a few articles that I hope will be of assistance for leaving good feedback.


Burnout Battle

Stress with teaching

“burn-out” by sophaya Work Anywhere is licensed under CC BY 4.0


The pandemic burnout battle is a affecting us all!  But faculty seem to be fairing worst. Have spoken to may faculty over the past 5 or 6 weeks. Those I have spoken to, are tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, depressed, and on their last nerve.  For many the working from home has been murder.

The World Health Organization define burnout as “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”  Sophaya work anywhere adds to the definition of burnout as “Exhaustion, negativity and cynicism, as well as the loss of feelings of effectiveness and fulfillment, are normal responses to crisis and should not be ignored.” I say that feeling you can’t make decisions, having so much work you do not know where to start, and you are always playing catch up are also a sign of the burnout battle. What can a person do?

We all know we need to take care of ourselves, but this is easier said then. The WebMD in their article,  Don’t Let The COVID Pandemic Rob You of Your Sleep, recommend getting enough sleep. Sleep can help with regulating mood, improving brain function, increase energy and overall productivity. Several suggestions for the best sleep include but not limited to:

  • Make sure you have a sleep routine.
  • Turn off technology about an hour before bed.
  • Make sure to create a comfort able sleep space.
  • Stay positive and connected with supportive friends and family
Stressed our zebra

“Stressed Zebra” by College of DuPage Library is licensed under CC BY 4.0

One of the things that I see a great deal is that one negative student can ruin a whole semester. It is hard to remember that there a many more students that are grateful for an instructor’s course and help. So, one apple can ruin a whole barrel. Try to think about the students who appreciate you as a teacher not the bad apples. Articles I have read suggest that instructors need to be as compassionate as possible to their students. As much as I agree with that as students have been thrown into all this Covid-19 stuff at no fault of their own, this is very difficult for many faculties who are so burnt themselves.

I like to try to make folks smile or laugh. It helps with the stress even if it is just for a moment.  The Mayo Clinic agrees. In their article Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke they outline several benefits of laughter.   Some of the benefits the Mayo Clinic gives are:

  • Stimulates many organs
  • Activates and relieves your stress response
  • Soothe tension

All in all, we will all get through this. It has been very difficult for so many. Remember to do your best to take care of yourself.

Value of a Community of Practice

Researching Communities of Practice (CoP) I have found them of great value. I joined a few CoPs such as the Instructional Design Central, ID2ID (part of my Peer Mentor program), Brightspace Community, and Higher Education Teaching and Learning (part of LinkedIn). Doing so has provided me with new ideas, advice from peers, and numerous resources.

Larger CoPs would be hard to follow. Smaller groups are more effective and give you a better feel of a community. Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) faculty have an excellent opportunity to be part of a CoP. The CoP we have is the IUP Reflective Practice Project. Reflective Practice (RP) is a project sponsored by IUP’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) to support faculty and encourage reflective and effective teaching. The reflective practice offers both monthly large group, Saturday workshops, and teaching circles.

I would recommend joining CoPs, such as those we have here at IUP, or others faculty may find that are more specific to their discipline. These groups are very useful to other professionals such as Instructional Designers. I would recommend them to my colleague and other peers as well.

Using CoPs for teaching would be a challenge. The key would be how it is constructed. They are more of a bound community. Wilson, Ludwig-Hardman, Thornam, and Dunlap (2004) state, in their article, Bounded Community: Designing and facilitating learning communities in formal courses, that a bound community is a “… different notion of learning community within a curriculum framework – bounded by the expectations inducing participation, but also by the timeframe of a typical course. Course participants come together for a standard, pre-determined period, sometimes a term or semester in length, but often for a shorter duration…”

I found some excellent recourses that speak to building CoPs and for using CoPs in a course, Learning Communities In Classrooms: A Reconceptualization of Educational Practice by Bielaczyc and Collins. Another excellent resource is Community of Practice Design Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide for Designing & Cultivating Communities of Practice in Higher Education by Cambridge and Suter (2005). It was published by Educause.

One key aspect of CoPs, I learned from my ID2ID group, is how to keep up with CoPs.  The recommendation was to schedule time in my workday (as possible) to review my CoPs. A simple idea but very effective. There will always be interruptions but it is a way to remind one’s self to keep up with the professional development groups.  Participation is also important.  When I am an active participant I not only learn more about what I post but I also get great advice from my peers.

CoPs have been on my research to do list for the last few weeks. Exploring CoPs has been very helpful in increasing my knowledge and understanding the aspect of social and situated learning.

Community of Practice – A Place to Learn

Community of Practice

Lately, I have been learning about Communities of Practice (CoP).  Wenger defines a community of practice as a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. This definition reflects the fundamentally social nature of human learning. I am experiencing a level of collaboration and learning not known.

Working with the participants in Online Learning Consortium course for Professional Foundations and the ID2ID CoP for Instructional Designers are fantastic Sharing information in such groups has influenced ideas I have regarding Instructional Design. Working with my colleagues in the OLC course helps me to understand learning theories much better and their importance as well as how to use them in course design.  For example, the importance of using concept maps to visually document learning theories as it applies to effective instruction.

The ID2ID program helps me answer questions faculty have or may ask.  One faculty asked me if other instructors have assignments or tests due on holidays or the day after.  My colleges from ID2ID suggested avoiding the practice.  But one replies made a distinct impression.

If you plan to accommodate/respect holidays, are you sure you are respecting/aware of all the holidays that are observed by your students? Do you know who your students are? What cultural/religious practices they observe? And if in an online course, do you know what the local holidays are, where your students are located?

How can I apply my new knowledge? I can improve our Professional Development program by encouraging faculty how learning theories integrate into course design. I can speak to how learning theories give ideas for practical use of activities such as discussions and assessments. Our faculty is very interested in new ideas and practical solutions for concepts they have. I believe faculty will appreciate the research-based practical ideas.

Improving my Instructional Design skills are a continuing process. I am interested in the pedagogical use of technology in education. Specifically analyzing the characteristics of existing and emerging technology and the potential use. Through the CoPs I have learned of the TPAK and SAMR models. TPACK is a framework that combines three knowledge areas: technological knowledge, content knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge. This framework looks at how this trio works together to increase student’s motivation and make the content more accessible to students. SAMR is a framework through which you can assess and evaluate the technology you use in your class.  ID2ID sponsored a webinar titled, Synthesizing TPACK and SAMR Frameworks: A Structure for Intentional Technology Integration. Because of my interest in using technology in learning, I know these models will be invaluable.

I certainly recommend that faculty participate in Communities of Practice. The value of being a part of such a group is incredible.

Learning Strategies and Communities of Practice

The world of Instructional Design has many and varied pieces.  I have to say that as I study the subject I learn more and more. Through the Online Learning Consortium, I am taking a path of study to become a better Instructional Designer. Recently were have been studying the value of learning strategies and communities of practices.

This past week we focused on deep and surface learning as part of learning strategies.  I did follow through and stayed on track but I felt confused. At first, I could not connect deep and surface learning back to the various learning theories (Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Connectivism).

I read and reread different resources.  I found that deep learning is most effective, but there are cases where surface learning is just as effective.  For me what helped the most was an article titled, Deep and Surface Learning: The Literature along with the another article titled, Unlocking the Mystery of Critical Thinking, by Linda B Nilson, PhD (December 1, 2014) These articles demonstrated, to me, how deep learning associates with Cognitivism and Connectivism and surface learning with Behaviorism.  Last week’s focus was Critical Thinking. Further study into deep learning showed that they are critically intertwined.

I also have been researching:

  • ID Skills/Competency: Specifically analyze the characteristics of existing and emerging tech and the potential use as part of Planning an Analysis
  • Learning Trends: Mobile Learning (Pedagogical use of technology)
  • Learning Theory: Practical use of Deep Learning

Communities of Practice

Wenger and Trayner define a community of practice: “A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” I find this helpful and very true as we all have a fundamental social nature.

I have actually been networking with communities of practice without consciously realizing it. I participate regularly with the Brightspace Community. I have been accepted to the ID2ID program. It is a collaboration between Penn State and Educause. I have also found the Instructional Design Central (IDC).  Here at IUP, I have become part of the PI Mentorship Academy (PIMA).

I have found that communities vary in what they offer. Groups like the IDC appear to act more as a resource center, while ID2ID, the Brightspace Community, and PIMA are more interactive.  PIMA is a face-to-face short-term group if you will. We are leaning the ins and outs of grants. It is wonderful to be in a place where others are new to grants.  However, I find myself overwhelmed. Everything we are learning is wonderful but with no grant experience, at all it is intimidating. Being with others who share the same plight as I give me comfort and resources for the process. What has surprised me is that there are so many with the quandary I have.

ID2ID is a wonderful group. Everyone is in Instructional Design. The community members are staff and faculty. We share opinions, concerns, questions, and resources. I have been asking different things in ID2ID ideas that come to mind.  One question (asked me by one of our faculty) I posted was about should faculty have assignment deadline on or near a holiday.  I got several replies all recommended avoiding doing so.

In PIMA, we meet once or twice a month. Each session involves a different grant portion of the process. We can safely ask questions among ourselves and learn from each other. In spite of the fact that the academy meets for only about a year, we have established a network of people we can call on to share with in the future.

My chosen research topic is the pedagogical use of technology. In the Brightspace Community and IDC I found a tremendous amount of information on this subject. However, I was unable to really interact on the topic.

I need to focus more on my research topic as my involvement continues in most of these groups. Having a focus will relate more to my specific interests and keep me on track. Nevertheless, I do hope to be able to support others too. However, I find that time is my enemy. I have yet to find a good way to do this. I am happy to entertain ideas from our community.

Not to exclude faculty, IUP has the Center for Teaching Excellence.  It is a great place for our faculty to gain information, advice, and interact.

I do think being involved in a community of practice is something that is important as part of our scholarship to help stay abreast of the latest topics and share ideas with others.

Engaging and Supporting Students when Using Social Media

Social Media Image Creating a engaging/support plan is very challenging. I have included a sample Social Media Support Plan. I have come to understand just how important it is to work with an Instructional Designer. The treasure of information they can share/offer for assistance is staggering.  Not only helping to make sure that the goals and objects are aligned but also knowing sharing information on the wealth of university recourse available. They are also well versed in most if not all of the university faculty services offered by their university.

I am finding more and more just how important is to know the difference between social media and programs that augment assignments. The article,  “50 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know About “ (GDC Team, 2015) has been extremely helpful. I am also learning how to use these programs not only from the “How to” perspective but also to foster learning and engage students.

I thought I understood large amount of time it takes to create such lesson/activity, support resources needed, and choosing software.  Surprise for me came from the fact that I did not fathom all the minuscule detaila of putting it all together. Workflow was another area I learned more about. The article, “Social Media Workflow – Optimizing your Time in Social Media” (Garcia, 2010) was enlightening on this subject. I especially liked organizing the task for your audience by such priorities as, listening, updating, distribution, blogging, planning, research, sharing, and engagement.

All and all I think it is well worth the time and effort. I clearly agree with most of the elements of “Engaging Students through Social Media: Evidence Based Practices for Use in Student Affairs”. (Junco, 2014)  Although he has proposed these elements with Facebook in mind and Student Affairs, I believe they are appropriate for using most social media in academia. They include: (Junco, 2014)

  1. Help peer leaders and mentors develop and maintain connection with program students
  2. Help students connect to each other and faculty and staff members
  3. Help students connect to groups and activities on campus
  4. Increase engagement of nontraditional students

I still have questions.  One that would be worth discussing is, “Is social media supported by the intuition or company more appropriate to use instead of programs like Emodo, Tumblr or Facebook as they can be problematic with security and privacy?” The second is “How can I interest faculty?” I think only time and planning with other supporters of social media in our institution will tell.

Support Students

Works Cited

Garcia, I. (2010, September 23). Social Media Workflow – Optimizing your Time in Social Media. (IG, Producer) Retrieved July 18, 2016, from Human Media: New Media:

GDC Team. (2015). 50 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know. (E. Staff, Producer, & Edudemic) Retrieved July 18, 2016, from global digital citizen foundataion:

Junco, R. (2014, April 3). Engaging Students through Social Media: Evidence Based Practices for Use in Student Affairs. (R. J. Blog, Editor, & R. Junco, Producer) Retrieved July 18, 2016, from Social Media in Higher Education:







Challenges of Designing Learning Using Social Media

Designing learning incorporating social media is extremely challenging.  You really have to understand the separation of social media tools from tools that just enhance learning. I pursued this challenge to see what all it encompassed.  I have included my Learning Design Plan in detail.

First I determined what course to use it with, audience, course description, and type:

Course Name: How to Construct a Basic D2L Course

Course Description: The How to Construct a Basic D2L Course is designed to provide participants with an overview to the tools facilitators may use to build a D2L online course. In this introductory course, we will focus on understanding how the D2L tools work as well as some basic pedagogical use of an educational and social media tool.

Audience: Full/Temp Faculty, Staff, Ph.D. and Graduate Students

Course Type: Facilitator Lead Online Course

Researching I choose a combination of university-related social media tools and one non-university tool. The tools are:

  • Screencast-O-Matic is a fast recording app used to create a video file, share on YouTube, or even download to integrate with an LMS.
  • iblog is the blogging service for the university. It is hosted through Edublogs | CampusPress and runs on the WordPress platform. iblog is open to any active faculty, staff, or student at IUP. The service is also available to any class, organization, or department.
  • iwiki is the universities collaboration/repository tool. iwiki is divided into a team or academic spaces. Team and academic spaces are designed to allow for easy collaboration, documentation, and discussion of various points a team or course may need to engage in. Using iwiki allows for teams or courses to add resources, files and other important documents. iwiki has full version tracking and change logging.
  • Optional use of StudyMate, itube (university streaming service) or YouTube is possible.

I came up with three possible learning strategies:

PA Symbols Research
Describe why, when, who/what the PA symbols are were chosen and their importance to PA history.

Assessment Method:

  • Select one of the PA State symbols. (E.g. State dog, insect, animal etc.) Create a Screencast-O-Matic video ( the program is free) on your research on why that symbol was chosen, when that symbol was chosen, and who/what was behind that symbols story.
  • Your submission should be 3-5 minutes. It should include narration, smooth transition between elements, and webcam recording of you. A script of the video should be included.
  • Alternatively, acceptable submissions include a word document (3-5 pages) or an audio file. Examples of free audio recorders include Audacity or SoundCloud.
  • Upload your submission to the PA Symbols dropbox, itube, or the class Youtube channel. If itube or Youtube is used, upload the URL of the video to the dropbox. Audio files can be uploaded or a link to the audio file can be entered in the dropbox. A script of the audio should be included.

PA Symbols Research
This activity will support course goals by showing an alternative assessment method using a social media tool and an app that enhances learning.

Age of Discovery iblog Post:
Analyze the value of the activity as a valid pedagogical endeavor.

Assessment Method:

  • Review the Age of Discovery Challenge or Quiz through the StudyMate web site.
    • Create your iblog (if you have not already). Choose a theme that is Accessibility enabled. Create a blog post on if you believe or not that if using StudyMate is a valid instructional strategy.  Determine why or why not this method satisfies direct, indirect, interactive, independent, an experimental instruction.
    • Remind the students that blogs by design are open. If the set the blog as private advise students.
    • Comment on two of your peer’s blog posts using the comment sections.
    • Copy and paste the URL to your blog post to the Assessment Tool in D2L Brightspace. Responses graded according to scale stated in the syllabus.

Age of Discovery iblog:
This activity will support course goals by reviewing the pedagogical use of an educational tool.

Curate D2L Resources:

  • Discover resources on D2L tool using curation.
  • Practice communication curating resources using the university wiki.


  • Use the iwiki tool to collect/curate a list of resources on how to use the various D2L tools mentioned in this lesson.
  • Include the citation of the sources of the  resources, URL or upload document to iwiki, and your reflection on why the resources have values to learn D2L
  • Comment on two of the D2L tools in the comment section as to how you could use the tool for instructional strategy.
  • Submissions can include files, video, audio, and text entered into the iwiki. For audio and video include a script of the content.

Curate D2L Resources:
This activity will support course goals by collecting, organizing, and sharing resources with others.

Pros  and Cons of the tools:


  • iblog and iwki are university provided and they are supported by our university help desk (IT Support Center). If the tools do not to work, students can get assistance to correct the problem. Students are also provided with “How to” help to understand how the tools work. Instructors will need to help students with the content and area but are not burdened by technical issues.
  • There are no issues with FERPA, privacy, or security.
  • Clear accessibility features are found in iblog and iwiki.


  • Screencast-O-Matic is not a university supported tool so the instructor will be responsible for all forms of technical, instructional, and content support.
  • iblog and iwiki may be a difficult learning curve for some students.

A Learning Design template outlines a sample of designing learning incorporating social media.

Curation Tools

I had only heard about curation tools with in the last year. I thought it might be good way to collect information at articles I was interested in instead of collecting a bunch of bookmarks.  So I choose to try a curation tool.  Because I wanted to categorize my information I choose Diigo  Diigo-Logo

Below are the links to my research topic on eLearning.


That said I am not sure that curation tools are worth the effort. Diigo says you can learn it in 5 mins.  Hah! I am a well-educated person and I found it a confusing and time consuming to learn.  Our faculty are pressed for time. I am not convinced these tools will help them manage the search for content.

The annotation itself does not seem to match what most annotated bibliographies contain.  The annotation reference from North Hampton Community College Learning Center, describes an annotated bibliography as, “is a list of sources (books, journals, periodicals, and websites) used in researching a topic. “ Also “…an annotation is a brief (usually a short paragraph) summary and/or evaluation of a source.” You can do this in Diigo as far as I can tell, however, a product such as EndNote would serve faculty and students much better. EndNote is a supported product for us as well. You can import references into EndNote as well as enter them manually.  There is also a web based and mobile app for the program. To be fair I do need to explore the Diigo mobile apps too.

Granted EndNote at this time does not work as a social media curation tool, but I find it more feature rich as well as having all the fields you need to have for a traditional annotated bibliography.  Plus it to can take time to learn, however, the output is better formatted. EndNote basically prepares a bibliography publish ready. Picking a tool to use may heavily dependent on your objectives for a classroom or research. To be far I do need to explore the Diigo mobile apps too.

Poking around more I finally found a couple of other ways that Diigo can work with blogs. However, one is to generate a DiigoReport that you can only print. The other is Publish to a blog but unless you use WordPress or Blogger it is difficult to use.  I tried adding my blog but could not. There online help is lacking! I purchased the basic subscription to

This particular tool I doubt I would use in teaching unless what I was going to have students do is very basic.  Perhaps I need more time with it, but I find Diigo dissatisfying at the least. i may have choose the wrong product as well.

These tools could most definitely improve collaboration and engagement. In the classroom.  An idea for use of such tools could be asking students to create a list of references, let say on  a literature topic that students can share. In this fashion they would be contributing to course content. Another idea could be to have students collect annotated references and comment  the pros vs cons on the references of their peers in a discussion topic.  This would help the student to engage each other an give encouragement or constructive criticism on the material.


Pow, Gami, Mate Oh Me Oh My!

I have used a few tools for my projects.  When I created these I was doing different responsibilities, some of which will continue in my new Instructional Design position.  Others may or will not. I say this for you to understand with the purpose was behind these projects. I have experience with the tools PowToons, StudyMate, Tellagami.

Tellagami Animations  I would say that I have a tie for my favorite. One is Tellagami.  Telligami fun. I have not tried it but I believe it would be appropriate for students to learn by creating. I believe it would also be useful for instructors and students to use Tellagami® to create book reports, solve math problems and recite lessons. It has short comings, such as getting it to work in D2L, or getting the character to say where you put it, and you cannot get back to the gami when once posted online except to make minor text changes.  If you use it for specific purposes, it can be useful.  The product currently is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, IOS 6.0+. I use my iPad. You can share it with a link, embed code, or save it to your IOS device. Output is in all browsers.. The help consists of an FAQ and email contact. No bad for a small product. When I stared using it I can concerned about accounts required by students, support, usefulness, and ease of use. If the instructor is the only one using the program, then many of those concerns are not a problem.

I use it as my welcome message for our online student orientation course for D2L.  I call it a NancyGami. I made a quick Tellagami to show everyone.  I would call this an Introduction and App Samples. I believe the Tellagami Edu is the better version.  You do have to pay for it.  Unfortunately, I do not remember the price.  I am to finding the price. The question(s) I ask myself is can I find other ways to include it in and online class.

StudyMate Authoring Tool My other favorite is StudyMatSe Author. Our state system provides us with 2 products, Respondus and StudyMate.  We have StudyMate Author. Pricing is done through our state system. Using StudyMate Author student can master the material for a course by using learning activities, self-assessments and games. Students select activities that appeal to their learning style, making the whole experience personalized and effective. The help is actually very good. They have tutorials, user’s guides, and email support. I have used this and it is actually very good. It can be use in LMSs and  all browsers.

Creating the questions to use can be time consuming unless you have quizzes in Repondus that you can use by importing them in Study Mate.  If you are creating questions from scratch, they have to be formatted in a specific way.  For example, an M/C question has to be formatted as below. Basically there has to be an ) or . after number of question an ) and . with an a * showing the correct answer. Plus, only one line between a question or answer choices.  Not hard but tedious.

3) Who determined the exact speed of light?

a) Albert Einstein

*b) Albert Michelson

c) Thomas Edison

d) Guglielmo Marconi

Here are some Product Samples.  Here are those products used with a History Example. You can upload products to or export as html or some file types. Questions I have include, will they ever update the types of choices you can create?  Some seem rather childish for Higher Ed. Will the standard for formation questions in word or text files get easier?

PowToon AnimationsLastly, I have used PowToons. This product does have a free version but of course it is not full featured.  There is also Educational Pricing.

I found creating this not quite as easy as they claim. They claim 5 mins.  However, anything with substance will take longer. They do have tutorials, an FAQ, email contact, help tickets, and a PowToon’s blog.  It can be use in LMSs and  all browsers. You can also go from a PowerPoint to a PowToon.  You can upload your work to PowToons, export them, and use embed code to share them. I created a Cybersecurity Awareness piece on phishing emails. I may still use it for our online student orientation.

My biggest concern with using PowToon or Tellagami with students is the fact you have to create accounts. You can log in with Facebook or Google accounts. However, to me that could be a security and privacy problem.  Our students complain about “another password” to remember.  Plus, how will that work for elementary school or special needs children. All this is going to need more experimentation.

Creating an Online Teaching Philosophy

technology_tools_online_teaching_learningWelcome to Educational Technology in Online and Blended Learning

Creating this philosophy, I came across some quotes that I found intriguing as well as inspirational.  One by Jennifer Fleming states, “Teaching in the Internet age means we must teach tomorrow’s skills today.” (Nunez, 2015) Fleming’s statement is intuitive as well as correct.

The other, I believe, is the most prevalent today is by Cammy Bean, “People expect to be bored by e-Learning—let’s show them it doesn’t have to be like that!” (Nunez, 2015) This quote made me think about the online course I have seen. Just a series of links to publisher content and publisher PowerPoint slides.  Nothing at all like I believe an online course should be.

I feel an online teaching philosophy encompasses several factors but no limited to; engagement, community, collaboration, student orientated, facilitation and more. I believe that the days of teachers standing up and lecturing are coming to an end.  I strongly feel it is more import to create an environment where the focus is no the student. This encourages critical thinking and self-sufficiency.

Using various types of social media works to create community and collaboration. Students cannot meet in an online class as they would in a podium class to interconnect. Therefore it is critical to create an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable and willing to contribute without fear or feeling left out. Use of social media in the classroom can also help students gain a social network that can lead them to professional connections for the future. Especially in their specific field.

Communications is vital in online learning.  The facilitators must outline what they expect of students but what students can expect from them. Communication student to student is important as well.  Twitter, Facebook and other social media programs can be an effective tool in encouraging this element. Bard has it right!

“To utilize social media tools effectively and properly, you must absolutely generate spontaneous communications in direct response to what others are saying or to what is happening in that moment. Be yourself. Be conversational. Be engaged.” (Bard, 2016)

Privacy, security, and technical ease of use, and support are another critical area that I believe is paramount. With the prevalence for viruses, malware, and social engineering the need to be keenly aware of these elements. Keeping as much as feasible in an LMS is one of the best solution. Students can then use the blog, discussion, and chat tool in confidence for privacy and security. This also protects the facilitator and university in the event a student posts items that are unacceptable.

I find that making sure students know where to find technical support is fundamental for online learning.  Facilitators need to be free to concentrate on the content.  The break fix or technical questions should be directed to a university support team. I put contact information in my syllabus and introductory module overview so our student technical know where to find the support area.

I am careful choose the types of media tools for my courses as these tools are becoming indispensable in online education. “Teaching with technology isn’t just about staying current on the latest tools, it’s about knowing how to successfully incorporate the best tools into your teaching when and where it makes sense.” (Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications, 2016)

There is definitive criteria for selecting education tools for a course. Get to know your students and their learning styles. Technology must benefit and enhance the learning environment. If most students in the class are non-traditional then the students may have technical phobia. The tools must be easily accessible to the students, easy to use,  and know what support materials are needed. Are the tools cross platform? An instructor cannot expect students to use and Apple based tool if most of the students use Androids.

I work to avoid the social media mistakes that can be made. Mistakes are similar to ignoring the community. Instructors must give regular feedback to the students so they feel a part of the online community. Another poor use of social media involves properly broadcasting information to students. Not all communication media is the same as the others. “Essentially, the rules to good, creative content applies across social networks, while still taking into account each platform’s audience.” (Giuliano, 2015)

Using social media for e-Learning is here to stay.  The Babson Survey Research Group reports, “90% of all faculty are using social media in courses.” (Moran, Jeff, & Tinti-Kane, 2011) Educational trends can change rapidly. I am sure I will be updating my online teaching philosophy over time.

Works Cited
Bard, M. (2016, ). 99 Favorite Social Media Quotes and Tips. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from

Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications. (2016). (Magna Publications) Retrieved June 22, 2016, from Teaching with Technology:

Giuliano, K. (2015, July 2). CNBC Social Media. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from The 5 biggest social media mistakes to avoid:

Moran, M., Jeff, S., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2011, April). Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from ERIC:

Nunez, M. (2015, March 31). Famous Quotations (#My Fav.#). Retrieved June 18, 2016, from