TED Tips – Issue 15: 23 Things for Digital Knowledge

Two weeks ago in TED Tips Issue 13 one of the solutions to the challenge of Digital Literacy caught my attention. When digging deeper into that solution, I realized that the “23 Things” course was easily adaptable, well designed, and loaded with great examples. It has potential application in the classroom and for personal development. It’s also free! Let us explore this solution this week: “23 Things for Digital Knowledge.”

What are “23 Things for Digital Knowledge”?

23 Things for Digital Knowledge

23 Things for Digital Knowledge

The University of Edinburgh’s 23 Things for Digital Knowledge is an award winning, self-directed course. The course aims to expose you to a range of digital tools for your personal and professional development as a researcher, academic, student, or professional. The aim is for you to spend a little time each week, building up and expanding your skills. There are 23 “Things” to explore: ideas, tools, and tips related to Digital Literacy. The program is free to anyone who has access to a computer and the internet.

The University of Edinburgh’s program was itself inspired by previous iterations of similar activities. The original program started as part of “Learning 2.0 Program” at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County in the USA in 2006. That was a discovery program designed to encourage staff explore new technologies at ran for 8.5 weeks. In its current open source iteration as published by the University of Edinburgh, the content is free and self-paced.

How does it work?

Each “Thing” starts with an introduction, a definition or description usually accompanied with a short video or two. There are links to brief reading material. There is a “hands-on” task and further digital exploration. For example, Thing 4 is about “Digital Security.” It defines the terms and explores some use cases. It links to brief reading on “Using Apps Safely and Security” and a practical guide on keeping smartphones safe. Next, you explore the settings on your own device and have the opportunity to change them. Then you research and discover the privacy policies of several applications, websites, and social media services. Finally, there an opportunity for reflection and additional resources and research for further discovery.

The 23 Things are grouped into couplets of related content and activities (with one exception). One hour per week per thing is recommended. The content is further organized into four “focused blocks”: Digital Awareness, Social Digital, Collaboration and Sharing Tools, and Digital Play and Experimentation. The full set program could easily fit within a semester…or a compressed timeline like Winterim. The entire program could be adapted to support a variety of different learning objectives, courses, or programs. Almost every person could benefit from enhanced digital literacy.

Team Application

23 Things for Digital Knowledge has also been adapted for team applications. The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) completed the 23 Things as a team, trying each of them, and discussing those experiences during weekly meetings. That group tried to embrace the course motto and keep things as flexible as possible – but they did set up an internal scratchpad using a shared Google doc for everyone to participate. Maren Deepwell, CEO, provides some insight:

“The experience of taking part as an individual was really rewarding for me. Being in a leadership position means that I don’t often get the opportunity to collaborate or learn alongside colleagues in my day to day work as equals and courses such as this allow me to step back from responsibilities and instead focus on asking questions and discovering new things. The range of topics that the course covered really challenged my digital knowledge and there were plenty of things that I hadn’t really engaged with before. Other tools or platforms were more familiar, but looking at them with a fresh perspective was useful.”

What are the Things?

I thought it might be helpful to provide the full list of 23 Things. If you are interested in adapting the 23 Things program to your class, I would encourage you to try them!  Start with one or two and discover more of the program.  The entire course is built with Creative Commons licensing and is fully and freely adaptable. The supporting website  is free and the activities are varied and fun. I have provided some additional links in the resources section at the end of the blog this week. Feel free to reach out to me in the Learning Technology Center or leave a post in the comments to discuss it further!

23 Things for Digital Knowledge

Thing 1: Introduction
Thing 2: Blogging
Thing 3: Digital Footprint
Thing 4: Digital Security
Thing 5: Diversity
Thing 6: Accessibility
Thing 7: Twitter
Thing 8: Facebook
Thing 9: Google Hangouts/Collaborate Ultra
Thing 10: Wikimedia
Thing 11: Copyright
Thing 12: Open Educational Resources
Thing 13: Video (YouTube/Vimeo/MediaHopper)
Thing 14: Audio (Podcasts/SoundCloud)
Thing 15: Digital Curation
Thing 16: OneNote/ClassNotebook
Thing 17: Geolocation Tools
Thing 18: Augmented & Virtual Reality
Thing 19: Altmetrics
Thing 20: LinkedIn / Academia.edu / ResearchGate
Thing 21: Online Games & Learning Tools
Thing 22: Fun and Play
Thing 23: Reflection

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant


The University of Edinburgh’s 23 Things for Digital Knowledge. http://www.23things.ed.ac.uk/

Original Learning 2.0 Program. This site was created to support PLCMC’s Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies and reward them for doing 23 Things. https://plcmcl2-about.blogspot.com/

“#23things – how taking part turned into a digital knowledge habit” by Maren Deepwell. CEO Association for Learning Technology. https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2017/01/23things-how-taking-part-turned-into-a-digital-knowledge-habit/#gref

This 23 Things for Digital Knowledge program by Stephanie (Charlie) Farley of The University of Edinburgh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The materials are free to share, copy and redistribute in any medium or format. They can also be adapted: remixed, transformed, and built on for any purpose including commercially.

TED Tips – Issue 14: Feedback and Speed Grader

This week, I wanted to explore some reflections on giving and receiving feedback in the context of an academic setting, share a specific tip as it applies to Speed Grader in Canvas, and finally highlight an upcoming LEARN / LTC workshop that will also explore feedback.

For feedback to be effective it needs a context in which learners have both the ability and opportunity to hear, understand, and act on that feedback. It should help learners reach a goal – provide clarity of what they did well or not do well, and how they can improve that work. Research shows that good feedback should be formative – it should help to improve performance or increase understanding. Feedback should be timely — happen at a moment when it is possible to learn and change. Finally, feedback should be descriptive – directed at fulfilling some clearly defined goal. Another way to put it is that feedback should tell a student what they accomplished (descriptive), what they were asked to accomplish (goal referenced), and what they must do next (goal directed).


feedback can be painful

With that in mind, I want to share an example of actual feedback. It is fortunately not my onus of shame for personally receiving it; however, I was witness when my classmate actually did. It was so laden with ink it actually dripped red. It was fresh. This is likely not the type of feedback I would recommend using, but it is another example of how Fr. William Ryan, SJ made an impression on terrified students. I introduced Fr. Ryan in my Ted Tips Issue 9: First Impressions. This type of feedback definitely made a powerful first impression… and I apologize if I have inadvertently increased your anxiety!

What tools are available to assist in providing good feedback in Canvas?

Providing feedback in Canvas, has never been easier!  Canvas offers a tremendous tool:  Speed Grader.

Speed grader allows you to view and grade student assignment submissions in one place.  You do not need to download papers, then mark them up, and upload them.  Instead, you can directly assign points or use rubrics.  Canvas accepts a variety of document formats including URL submissions.  Some document assignments can be marked up for feedback directly within the submission. You can also provide feedback to your students with text or media comments.

You can use SpeedGrader to:

  • View submission details for each student, including resubmitted assignments
  • Leave feedback for your students
  • Track your grading progress and hide assignments while grading
  • Use rubrics to assign grades

For each student, SpeedGrader has five areas:

  1. View student submissions (text entries, website URLs, media recordings, and/or file uploads). Many file types are able to be previewed directly.
  2. Assign a grade based on your preferred assessment method (points or percentage)
  3. View Rubric to assist with grading (if one is added to the assignment)
  4. View comments created by you or the student about the assignment
  5. Create text, video, and/or audio commentary for the student

Video tip!

524 – SpeedGrader™ Overview from Instructure Community on Vimeo.

Upcoming workshop

If you are interested in learning more about feedback and strategies, I want to up invite you to check out then next LEARN Center / LTC workshop in the 2018-2019 “Back to Basics to Balance Workload.” Next Workshop: Focused Strategies for Providing Formative Assessment by Dana Prodoehl, Alexis Piper, Trudi Witonsky.

Thursday, October 18th, 12:30 – 1:45, UC259A (lunch is provided).  Sign up here:  https://my.uww.edu/signup/Public/Available/15834

At this workshop, panelists will draw on current pedagogy to discuss strategies for providing focused feedback to students at they are engaged in active learning activities. Some of the strategies will be time-saving. Others help instructors direct feedback in productive ways to foster student learning and development. An LTC representative will also be on hand to provide a brief overview of some of the feedback tools in Canvas, along with tips for utilizing them.

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant





TED Tips – Issue 13: 2018 NMC Horizon Report — Challenges

2018 NMC Horizon Report Challenges

The New Media Consortium recently published its annual Horizon Report. The report “identifies and describes the higher education trends, challenges, and developments in educational technology likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry.” This week’s TED Tips is part two of a three part series exploring the Horizon Report. This week focuses on the significant challenges impeding technology adoption in Higher Education. The purpose of this blog is not to offer or propose possible solutions, but to report the challenges.

These challenges were identified because of their potential implications for policy, leadership, and practice. The challenges identified are likely to impede the adoption of technologies if left unsolved. They vary in scope and complexity. The Horizon report defines solvable challenges as “those we understand and know how to solve”; difficult challenges as “well understood but for solutions remain elusive”; and wicked challenges as “the most difficult…complex even to define, and thus required additional data and insights before solutions will be possible.”

Solvable Challenges:  Those that we understand and know how to solve.

Authentic Learning Experiences

Authentic learning experiences connect students to real world problems and immerse learners in environments where they can gain high practical, lifelong skills.  The challenge identified by the Horizon Report relates to the increased demand for students with skills directly applicable to the workplace and the perception that graduates may not have the skills needed. 

Possible solutions identified include vocation training, apprenticeships, and course projects situated in the community.  Job shadowing programs and project based learning through startups have become more common.  Colleges and universities have the opportunity to expand beyond their traditional roles.  They could provide instruction for more adults making mid-career pivots retraining from one industry to another.  Community colleges may offer a model to help provide access to apprenticeships and more direct industry experience.  “Learning by Doing” is a key tenant of programs like the LEAP initiative that reflect changes in this area.  Rethinking courses and programs to increase authentic learning opportunities seems something that is already underway at Whitewater especially as it applies to being “even better together” and the restructuring of UW-Whitewater and UW-Rock County.

Improving Digital Literacy

Technology has become essential to success in the workplace.  Are institutions of higher learning creating digitally literate students?   Digital literacy, however, is not strictly technical proficiency and competency.  Digital literacy also includes skills like:

  • netiquette
  • digital citizenship
  • understanding digital rights and responsibilities
  • articulating the boundaries between our personal, private lives and are more public persona. 

Solutions exist to help prepare students for digital literacy, for example, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland has developed a self-paced course, “23 Things for Digital Knowledge.”  These types of skills could become more integrated into existing curriculum.

Society is wrestling with some of these challenges too.  Consider the implications and fallout of the recent Facebook data “scandal”.  The use of social media and online consumerism has created buffets of data; various advertising and agencies are hungry to sample those delicious data items.  This creates additional ethical challenges and potential conflicts of interest.  There are implications for policy and leadership as drivers from other areas (like the need to track attendance) often lead to possible technical solutions that could potentially clash with student privacy concerns.   

Difficult Challenges:   Those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive.

Advancing Digital Equity

Another area that poses challenges to higher education is ensuring digital equity and opportunities for all students.  While MANY students use devices like smart phones and laptops, not all students have access to technology devices or can afford high-speed data.  While technology needs have expanded, the creation of formal policies to ensure equal access have often not kept pace. 

Adapting Organizational Designs to the Future of Work

Do the organizational structures of colleges and universities align with the practices of the 21st century workplace?  Do traditional educational models prepare students for success? Colleges and universities are finding new ways to integrate faculty from distance and interdisciplinary programs.  Technology creates new teaching and learning methods. More flexible degree paths and credentialing options provide new paths and opportunities for schools to offer new forms of stackable degrees and graduate programs.  There are possible consequences to the new models:  over two thirds of faculty members are now non-tenure, with half working part-time, often in teaching roles at several institutions.  In addition to changes in teaching roles, other services and programs may need to be re-evaluated.   What does do student services, which include financial aid programs, academic advising, and work-study programs look like?

Wicked challenges:  Those that are complex even to define, much less address

Economic and Political Pressures

While we have already identified some of the changes to staffing and programs, other economic and political pressures pose bigger, more complex challenges.  Several institutions, both for-profit and nonprofit, have closed recently.  Others have faced consolidations and mergers.  The Horizon report does not forecast an end to higher education.  However, other trends affecting higher education like changes in enrollments policy, tuition discounting, and funding through research pathways have forced all models to come under scrutiny.  There are opportunities.  As was identified in the authentic learning challenge, industry is looking to higher education to provide different types of education.  Foundations are looking to new community models and partnerships.   Can individual institutions adapt nimbly enough to meet these challenges?

Rethinking the Role of Educators

Not only is the future of higher education institutions in question, the role of faculty is changing.  New models of stackable graduate school degrees, competency based programs, online micro credentialing, and flexible learning paths have forced institutions to rethink the role of educator.  With an increase in the use and demand of technology, faculty need to be more tech savvy.  Many programs are becoming much more student-focused; as such, there is more demand for faculty that are facilitators and guides.  The role and expectations of tenure track instruction is changing.

The 2018 Higher Education Horizon Report provides a look into the future. It is a rich place to explore ideas connected to the themes of Technology, Education and Design. These glances can inform our thinking now, guide our planning, and inspire our journey.

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant


2018 NMC Horizon Report
Citation: Samantha Adams Becker, Malcolm Brown, Eden Dahlstrom, Annie Davis, Kristi DePaul, Veronica Diaz, and Jeffrey Pomerantz. NMC Horizon Report: 2018 Higher Education Edition. Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE, 2018.

UW-Whitewater/UW-Rock County Restructuring
UW-Whitewater LEAP program

University of Edinburgh, “23 Things for Digital Knowledge”: http://www.23things.ed.ac.uk/

TED tips – Issue 12: Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere can be used to engage students on many devices

Last week I looked at a couple of communication tips. This week I want to focus on another specific tool that is available for use like a clicker for student engagement: Poll Everywhere. I also want to share the story of how one of our instructors Lori Trimble, from the social work department has used Poll Everywhere in her class! Finally, there are a couple of training opportunities if you are interested in learning more about Poll Everywhere to see how you could adapt it for your own use.

Poll Everywhere is an interactive tool adopted for use on the UW-Whitewater campus. It allows you to create poll questions and prompts, which students can respond to in “real-time” through mobile apps, text messages, or the Poll Everywhere website. You can then display the responses live to the class, and incorporate what you find out into class discussions and group activities.

One way to use Poll Everywhere would be to use an open-ended question to kick off a group discussion with a colorful word cloud. Another way is collect live, anonymous results by an audience who can participate via a website or mobile device. Responses can appear live, in real-time, directly in PowerPoint presentations. The most recent update has introduced live competitions! Have you ever encountered interactive pub trivia or other trivia contests with live leaderboards? Now you can build that into your class with your content using Poll Everywhere.

One of the great things about it is that you engage your classroom without any clunky and easy-to-forget hardware. You can use a device most people have at all times — a mobile phone. You can also ask students to use their phones, tablets, or laptops to respond to polls that you present. The results appear live on the display. You can use this tool to quiz your class, discuss the results, and use that insight to guide the classroom discussions.

I took some time to interview Lori Trimble of the Social Work Department. Lori joined the Social Work department as the Academic Department Associate (ADA) in January 2017.

I asked Lori what challenges she was facing in the classroom and what she was using to solve them. One of the tools she talked about was Webex Teams – but the other one was Poll Everywhere.

Lori: I was teaching New Student Seminar, with brand new freshmen. I broke them into small groups and that created lively conversations and discussions…but as soon as I combined a conversation to a full class: “CRICKETS!” There had to be a better way to keep the conversations flowing.

Ted: What did you try? What did you do to get additional engagement?

Lori: I started using Poll Everywhere. Specifically, using open-ended questions to encourage engagement. Since the lesson was on engagement, this seemed a good way to get ideas flowing.

Ted: How did it work? Did you incentivize it at all?

Lori: It worked great! While I was a bit nervous that with an open-ended question, I might get a smart aleck response, people started providing answers to the questions right away. It was clear once one student shared an idea others reacted similarly. It was a great way to get engagement; specifically some people not brave enough to raise their hand, this gives students a great way to participate without fear because their answers appear anonymously on the screen.

After class – I was able to generate a user report because I limited my polls to registered users. I wanted to award participation points to students for joining in the conversation. This provided a way to get students involved, and I was able to record their activity.

Ted: Why do you think this was a valuable tool to use? How effective was it?

Lori: It was VERY easy for students to use, and the platform for creating polls is very user friendly. I asked them to bring a phone or laptop, and they did. I wanted to get students engaged – Poll Everywhere helped prompt the discussion; I facilitated it. Students were very excited to use the discussions in this way.

Ted: Did you encounter any challenges or barriers to using it?

Lori: There were a couple of hiccups. I did not realize being logged in for the first question didn’t necessarily mean I was logged in for subsequent questions. Texting responses did not work as smoothly as I hoped with registered users – but overall it was very intuitive.

I want to thank Lori for sharing some of her experiences using Poll Everywhere in the classroom! If you are interested in exploring more about how to get started using Poll Everywhere there are a couple of upcoming information sessions. The sign-up links are below in resources (please note you will need to log in with your UWW credentials to register).

Next week we return to the 2018 Horizon Report and look at the Challenges facing technology and higher education.

Ted Witt
–Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant

Upcoming Poll Everywhere Information Session:
Wednesday September 26th, 2018 at 3:00 PM in McGraw 19A
Friday October 5th, 2018 at 10:00 am in McGraw 19A

Poll Everywhere “Live interactive audience participation” https://www.polleverywhere.com/

TED Tips – Issue 11: Communication Tips


As we settle into the start of the term, it is great to see people on campus, observe the bustle and scramble between classes, and listen to the conversations of students studying hard! There is an excitement and energy unmatched at the beginning of a semester!

As I observe, I start to pick up threads of some common conversations: “What do I have to do for this assignment? Where do I go? Is it on the quiz?” Many of these questions could be answered if communicate clearly, listen, and use some tools to aid our efforts. Clear communications are built into most parts of successful teaching and learning and start from a clear statement of learning objectives to a well-written syllabus, to good directions for homework. We strive to provide lectures and content that insightful and informative to help our students to succeed. This week I want to share two tips related to communication: reinforcing active listening and using technology. I will provide information on two supported technology tools that communication: Webex Teams (formerly Spark) and blogging. Finally, I will invite you to attend an upcoming workshop on September 20 entitled “Efficient and Effective Communication Strategies” co-sponsored by the LEARN Center and the LTC.

Reinforce active listening

What challenges are our students facing? Active listening can help us to understand those challenges so we can provide guidance. Active listening is a valuable skill that asks a listener to make a conscious effort to understand what people are really saying. It requires a listener concentrate, understand, respond, and remember what is said. Active listening helps foster relationships built on trust, respect, and honesty.

The Center for Creative Leadership’s Michael Hoppe identified six steps that enhance active listening.

  1. Pay Attention – Allow time for the other person to think and speak.
  2. Withhold Judgment – be open to new ideas, new perspectives, and new possibilities.
  3. Reflect – Paraphrase key point to get on the same page.
  4. Clarify – Use open-ended and clarifying questions to draw people into the conversation.
  5. Summarize – Confirm a sense of mutual understanding.
  6. Share – After understanding the others perspective, you can incorporate your own ideas, feelings, and suggestions.

Active listening can be used in the classroom as a method to gauge students understanding of the subject, what they think they need to do for an assignment, and whether or not they believe something is on a quiz! Taking the time to listen helps us to craft better communications that meets students’ needs.

Use technology

My second tip this week is to use technology to engage our students and colleagues in (hopefully) active listening. I want to highlight two technologies that the University of Wisconsin Whitewater supports: Webex Teams and Blogging.

Webex Teams

Webex Teams is specifically a communication tool. It is an application that facilitates collaboration. Webex Teams supports group messaging, video meetings, file sharing and white boarding. Webex Teams supports group messaging and creates a secured environment for communications. Messages can be read and responded to right away, or flagged for follow up later. Andrew Cole facilitates a three part bootcamp this fall in McGraw 19A on Wednesday afternoons in October (10/10, 10/17, 10/24) from 3:00 pm to 3:45 pm. The first session on October 10 introduces Cisco Webex Teams and explains why instructors and students might benefit from incorporating it. It is encouraged, but not required, to attend all three sessions.


The second tool I want to explore this week is one that I have personally started to use as part of writing TED Tips: blogging. Whitewater supports WordPress and has blogs available for instructional, departmental, student organizations or clubs, and personal use. Setting up your own blog site for classroom use, could be a good way to encourage communications. Share class updates on a blog. By sharing the link to your blog, students and parents can sign up for the update notifications and stay informed throughout the year. You can also create assignments or activities that support your learning objectives by having students create and post blog posts and submit the link to you. More information can be found in the Resources section at the end of this post.

Upcoming Workshop on Communications

Finally, I want to invite folks to attend the first of the LEARN Center/LTC Workshop Series of the year. The theme of the 2018-2019 year is “Back to Basics to Balance Workload”. The first workshop is this coming Thursday, September 20 from 12:30 to 1:45pm in the UC 259A. Lunch is provided! Heather Pelzel from Biological Science and the LEARN Center will be presenting with me.

The theme for the workshop is “Efficient and Effective Communication Strategies.” Strategies to communicate with students while also making good use of your available time will be provided. Good interactions start with setting expectations. Setting boundaries for appropriate times, methods, and places for communications is important; we’ll share some examples. We will discuss considerations and options to do this in the syllabus, as well as in the classroom or online learning spaces. Specifically, we will look at how to identify early indications that your students are struggling and then determine if, when, and how to intervene can play a large role in student retention and success.


Back to Basics to Balance Workload Learn Center/LTC Workshop series
Thursday, September 20: “Efficient and Effective Communication Strategies”
12:30-1:45 p.m., Lunch Included
University Center, Room 259A
Register by September 14. If you have any questions about this workshop or for late registrations, please contact Sally Lange at learn@uww.edu or 262-472-5242

Upcoming Back to Basics to Balance Workload Sessions:

October 18: Best Practices on Providing Effective Feedback Using Low-Tech and High-Tech options
November 27: Using Groups to Engage Students and Maximize Your Class Time

Webex Teams Bootcamp
Wednesday, October 10, 2018: Why Should I Use Webex Teams?
 Registration Link: http://my.uww.edu/signup/Registration/Details/15660

 Webex Teams (Formerly Spark) https://www.uww.edu/icit/services/webex-teams

WordPress Blog Information: https://www.uww.edu/icit/services/blogs

TED Tips – Issue 9: First Impressions

Listening to Chancellor’s Kopper’s excitement about the sesquicentennial theme “150 years: Inspire. Engage. Transform” I was reminded of a personal story about first impressions. First impressions can have incredible impact on our students: both positive and negative. The “best” first impressions tend to be memorable first impressions! These are the impressions that can inspire students, get them to engage, and get them to achieve more than they thought possible. They can become memories that last a lifetime.

When I was a student, my first year philosophy instructor was Fr. William Ryan, SJ, a senior faculty member and a Jesuit priest. On the first day of class, Father Ryan terrified me. He looked like a villain from a fantasy movie.

Imagine him. He had a couple of peculiar physical characteristics that he leveraged for maximum cinematic impact. He was double-jointed with reversible elbows that bent the wrong way. They swiveled like a contortionist. On that memorable first class, he greeted us perched precariously forward on these elbows, hands like off-kilter talons dangling from broken bones. He had large dark beady eyes that protruded slightly too far from his head on menacing eyestalks. To add to the menace, he swayed silently like a cobra, back and forth, back and forth.

There were no rows in the classroom. The desks were arranged in a circle around the outside of the room. As we were settled in in our seats, trying desperately to avoid eye contact, unsure what to expect, we waited in silence; those large beady eyes flickering from side to side glaring at each student in turn, with no place to hide… The atmosphere was thick and unease, fear, and terror collected as beads of sweat on a warm fall day from anxious — now silent students. We awaited some proclamation that would likely spell our doom for the semester.

The uncomfortable silence lingered. After what seemed like an eternity, (likely no more than a few seconds), Fr. Ryan stood up and started class. He was not a large man. His voice was soft but the silence amplified his words into a bellowing roar. Three words without preamble or introduction: “KANT WAS WRONG!”

This was NOT what we expected on the first day of class. Who was this misshapen lunatic? Who was Kant? Why was he wrong? Am I in the right class? I hope Kant is not a student! Do I belong here? Can I do this? What madness was this? Am I smart enough to be here? What does this mean? My class was ensorcelled.

Then I started to notice something remarkable happening. After another pause, Father Ryan sat back down into is his chair. No longer perched on backwards elbows, his arms now rested at his side. A slow tremendous smile spread across his face. His eyes softened. A warmth began to spread across the room led by his smile. A glow replaced the glower. A soft laugh replaced the bellow. My class started to relax.

“Welcome to class!”

The spell was broken. It would take a long time to learn more about this Kant character and why he might be wrong…but we could begin the school year!

TED Tips. Technology. Education. Design.
–Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant

TED Tips – Issue 8: 2018 NMC Horizon Report — Trends

Each year, for the last fifteen years, the New Media Consortium has published an annual Horizon Report. The report “identifies and describes the higher education trends, challenges, and developments in educational technology likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry.” In 2018, EDUCAUSE acquired the rights and plans to continuing publishing this important look at trends and technological developments that drive educational change. As the name implies – the report is a look towards what is on the five-year horizon for higher education.

This week’s TED Tips will start what will become a three part series on the 2018 Horizon Report. The Horizon report includes three main sections:

  • Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Higher Education
  • Significant Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption in Higher Education
  • Important Development in Educational Technology for Higher Education

This week’s post will explore the key trends; about once a month, I will report on the each of the remaining topics.

Technology changes:  timelines

Trends in technology drive our planning and decision-making. They shape our strategic thinking. Long-term trends take time to emerge. Mid-term trends shape a window three to five years from now. Short-term trends influence technology adoption now but may be fully implemented or replaced by other trends in the near future.

Growing Focus on Measuring Learning: short-term trend

In the context of measuring learning, the trend here is on the variety of methods and tools used to evaluate measure and document academic readiness, learning progress, and skill acquisition. Changes in the workforce change the skills needed. Data analytics has been a buzzword for some time; that translates into an increase in expectation around developing data systems to provide “evidence” for decision-making. Data mining, dashboards, and visualization software. We have already looked at how we are no longer focusing on “Learning Management Systems” and instead looking at “Digital Learning Environments”. One of the main advantages of this trend is to leverage analytics and visualization to portray data. The upcoming LEARN / LTC workshop on Efficient and Effective Communications Strategies has a segment on how to develop strategies to use that information in Canvas to help your students! I suspect that this trend will continue.

Redesigning Learning Spaces: short-term trend

This trend focuses on strategies that help blend digital components with more active learning elements. Our “classrooms” are evolving to support online, blended, and hybrid modes of teaching. We are concerned with greater mobility, flexibility, and multiple devices. What is the role of technology in the classroom? How do we use it to inform our design? What spaces can we use to encourage the skills for students to use and interact in their future careers?  Rebuilding classrooms take time, budget, and talent.

For example, several classrooms on campus have been recently redesigned to become “active learning classrooms”.  These spaces often feature movable tables and chairs, individual whiteboards, screen sharing technology, multiple monitors for easy content viewing, interactive whiteboards, and other technologies.  The newly redesigned Heide 105 opens this fall as an example of this trend and included input from teams from the College of Letters and Science with collaboration from ICIT, facilities, and campus planning with support from the Provost’s Office Classroom Redesign Initiative.

Proliferation of Open Educational Resources: mid-term trend

One driver in higher education has been costs associated with textbooks, materials, and fees associated with implementing software or devices. Open Educational Resources (OER) could be an answer to help keep costs down.  OER is “high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to reuse and repurpose”. A common example of an OER resource is Creative Commons. The Horizon Report itself is published using “attribution 4.0 International license” which allows anyone to replicate, copy, distribute, transmit, or adapt freely, provide attribution is provided. As such, I am providing a link the full report and the full citation in the Resources section of this post. Additional OER strategy could be using Canvas Commons where faculty can find, import, and share content for their classes. Another potential outcome of OER strategies could allow institutions to leverage investments and share content from courses and instructors – potentially building programs across departments and colleges.

The Rise of New Forms of Interdisciplinary Studies: mid-term trend

New maps and paths for higher education continue to be developed and expanded every year. The “traditional, single degree” path has faded as higher education explores new models. Recent innovations within this trend have included alternative credentials, badges, “stackable” degrees, awarding credit for real-life experiences, and on-demand training. Building these structures takes time.

Advancing Cultures of Innovation: long-term trend

A long-term trend in higher education has been a call to drive innovation and invention. This trend can been seen in programs that foster entrepreneurship, spark startup incubators, and develop venture capital and investment. Students engage in tackling bigger problems. Higher education is being called upon to innovate, invent, and create.

Cross-Institution & Cross-Sector Collaboration: long-term trend

The final long-term trend reflects an increasing global and interconnected environment. Faculty can work with colleagues across institutions, time zones, and continents. Technology provides more resources to support cross-sector collaborations. How do we prepare students for this new digital focused workforce? What skills are needed? How do we realign and rebuild our programs and degree pathways to align with these changes?

The 2018 Higher Education Horizon Report provides a look into the future. It is a rich place to explore ideas connected to the themes of Technology, Education and Design. These glances can inform our thinking now, guide our planning, and inspire our journey. The emphases will change over time. I appreciate the opportunity now, to gaze out towards that horizon, and ponder possible trends educational technology can have on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry.

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant

2018 NMC Horizon Report
Citation: Samantha Adams Becker, Malcolm Brown, Eden Dahlstrom, Annie Davis, Kristi DePaul, Veronica Diaz, and Jeffrey Pomerantz. NMC Horizon Report: 2018 Higher Education Edition. Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE, 2018.

TED Tips – Issue 7: Upcoming Training Opportunities

Last week, I introduced the idea of “learning technologies” as the broad range of communication, information, and related technologies that support learning, teaching, and assessment. This week, I want to explore a few upcoming Learning Technology Center (LTC) activities where you can learn more about various “learning technologies”.



Welcome Back Week

One of the most important events at the start of the academic year is Welcome Back Week. Each year, ICIT hosts a Technology Open House where faculty, staff, and students explore new campus technology and technology related initiatives. This year’s Tech Open House is Wednesday, August 29 from 1:30 – 4:30 pm in UC 275. You will find hands-on interactive demonstrations, information from vendors, and can participate in a “GooseChase” scavenger hunt. There will be free food and door prizes. Complete scavenger hunt missions to win additional door prize entries. See the resources section at the end of this TED Tip for more information on how to get started on the GooseChase.

In addition to the Technology Open House, there are several Canvas workshops throughout “Welcome Back Week”. These workshops cover a variety of topics from getting started in Canvas, a look at building content, and a more hands-on approach to features like “SpeedGrader” and other ways to expedite grading and provide feedback.  These workshops will are all held in Hyland 3101.

  • Introduction to Canvas — Friday, August 24 from 8:30 – noon
  • Using Canvas for Grading and Feedback – Friday, August 24 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm
  • How to Build Content in Canvas – Tuesday, August 28 from 3:30 – 4:30 pm

LEARN Center/LTC Collaborative Workshop Series

The LTC/LEARN Center collaborative series for the 2018-2019 is on the theme of “Back to Basics to Balance Workload” and will focus on strategies to improve your teaching practice and student learning without adding to your workload. The first session “Efficient and Effective Communication Strategies,” will be Thursday, September 20 from 12:30 until 1:45 pm in UC259A. Heather Pelzel, Biological Sciences and LEARN Center and Ted Witt from the LTC will present communications strategies to help you:

  • Establish expectations and boundaries for communications between instructor and students.
  • Evaluate strategies for determining academic “at-risk” students and tips for how and when to facilitate academic interventions.
  • Explore methods to use CANVAS for additional ways to communicate with students.

The other workshops in the fall series will be on October 18th “Best practices on providing effective feedback using low-tech and high-tech options” and November 27th “Using groups to engage students and maximize your class time”.

Teaching with Technology

Searching for ways to build community with students in your online class? Looking for a way to facilitate communication and collaboration between your students in your face-to-face class? You may benefit from the Learning Technology Center’s (LTC) “Teaching with WebEx Teams Bootcamp!” Webex Teams is an app for continuous teamwork with video meetings, group messaging, file sharing and white boarding. This three part series is on Wednesdays at 3:00 pm in October.

  • Why Should I Use WebEx Teams? October 10
  • How Do I Use WebEx Teams? October 17
  • Now What Do I Do With WebEx Teams? October 24

Additionally, there are two upcoming “Poll Everywhere” information sessions. Poll Everywhere is a polling application that can enhance live interactive audience participation in class in real time. You can learn more about “Using Poll Everywhere to Engage Students” through two upcoming workshops:

  • September 26 at 3:00pm
  • October 4 at 11:00 am

Institute for Online / Blended Teaching

If you are new to teaching online or blended courses, or are interested in revitalizing a current course, the Institute for Online/Blended Teaching provides instructors the opportunity to collaborate on course design strategies and teaching best practices. This intensive and interactive series of workshops simulates taking a blended course and integrates a variety of different methods and technologies. The structure of the Institute allows participants to explore new instructional and course design methods, and participate in learning activities similar to what a student would experience. Look for registration for the Winter 2018 program early this fall.

For a complete list of upcoming events or to sign up for these events, use the ICIT signup web page using your Net-ID! https://my.uww.edu/signup/Home Find more about these and other activities on the LTC’s blog page: http://blogs.uww.edu/instructional/

Next week I want to peer into the future and explore the innovative practices, trends, and technologies for higher education as presented by the 2018 Horizon Report.

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant


Welcome Back Week GooseChase notes:

  • Play our Interactive Scavenger Hunt, GooseChase.
  • Download the GooseChase iPhone or Android app.
  • Register for an account with your “uww” email address.
  • Create a password that IS NOT THE SAME as your Net-ID password.
  • Search for and join one of the two “ICIT Tech Open House” games.
  • The missions will go live on Wednesday, August 29 at 1pm.

TED Tips – Issue 6: What is “Learning Technology”?

Technology has become more and ubiquitous in higher education.  Technology allows students to conduct research and analysis, collaborate and communicate, and to create rich multimedia experiences.  Interacting with digital learning environments help develop deeper skills like problem solving and critical thinking.

Over the last few weeks, I have introduced myself and started to explore the themes of Technology, Education, and Design.  This week I want to describe the meaning of the phrase “learning technology” and some of the context of the work we do in The Learning Technology Center.

I work in the Learning Technology Center (TLC). The LTC is a unit in the Instructional, Communication, and Information Technology (ICIT) Department in the division of Academic Affairs.  ICIT focuses on using technology to meet “educational, research, learning, organization, administrative and public service” needs. As part of ICIT, the Learning Technology Center supports faculty and instructional staff.  The LTC looks
for ways to integrate pedagogy and technology to develop effective learning experiences.

procution studio

LTC Media Production Studio

What is “Learning Technology” and how does the LTC support it?

The Association for Learning Technology defines “Learning Technology as the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that support learning, teaching and assessment”.
Learning technologies support the process, design, and delivery of education.  In addition to learning, teaching, and assessment, tools can aid faculty in other ways such as analytics that provide insights into student progress and support data-driven decision-making and intervention.  Tools that support research can also be included.

What types of topics fall into the broad category of “learning

Digital Learning Environment The University of Wisconsin System uses a “digital learning environment” to support teaching and learning in all modes.  As we have explored over the last few weeks on this blog, the UW-System is moving to Canvas Instructure as that main platform.  The LTC supports faculty by providing training and workshops on how to use Canvas, migrate content from D2L to Canvas, and explore specific tools within Canvas. This support extends beyond how to use Canvas and its tools, but promotes the best practices and advocates for sound pedagogical approaches to using those tools.

The digital learning environment extends beyond the Canvas platform.  It include other ways to design, develop, and deliver learning materials, interactive experiences, and assessments.   For example, multimedia video has been shown to increase student engagement; the LTC has a professional media production and recording studio to help create, manage, and distribute streaming video for classroom use.

Incorporating technology into learning spaces.   Higher education increasingly incorporates digital elements into the classroom.  Learning technology can support traditional face-to-face classrooms by incorporating digital content or active learning
models.  Technology also enables the facilitation of other course modalities, for example, online classrooms or hybrid and blended spaces that fall somewhere in between.  More recently, classroom interactions often support multiple devices including mobile smart phones and the use of student response systems.

Evaluating emerging technologies.  As new technology emerges, there are different possible applications for classroom use.  The LTC supports pilot projects to help
monitor and evaluate trends related to emerging technologies for potential use at the UW-Whitewater campus.  Additionally, the LTC supports technology adoptions that meet both instructional and non-instructional needs.  For example, the LTC is currently exploring adaptive learning with instructors.

While technology can be fun and shiny and new…we believe that technology should not be used for technology’s sake or because it is considered “fun and shiny and new”!  Instead, we believe in understanding the underlying issues and trends, exploring multiple options (including possible low or no tech solutions), implementing strategies, and evaluating their effectiveness.

I hope that this week’s TED Tip elaborates on what “learning technology” means and some of the ways the LTC supports using technology to enhance teaching and learning.   Next week I will explore in more detail some of the specific services, workshops, and training opportunities the LTC offers.  I invite you to participate!

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant





TED Tips – Issue 5: Inspiration for Discussion

 I want to start this week with a thought exercise. 

Rank the importance of the following free internet services.  What is most important to you?  If asked to give up one of these services for a year…what service would you be able to do without?

  • E-Commerce
  • Email
  • GPS / Maps
  • Online Streaming
  • Search
  • Social Media

Even without having the full context and background behind the question – I was engaged in it.  What internet service is most important to me?  There is clearly no “right” answer.  People value services differently.   When I starting thinking more deeply about it, I realized that each category of internet services leads to additional analysis and further places of discovery.

Talking about this topic with other people prompted additional questions.  For example, what does “E-Commerce” mean?   My first thought was, no big deal, I could do without Amazon or buying products online…   However, a colleague realized that “E-Commerce” could also extend to a variety of other activities like online banking, direct deposit, automated bill baying, and every credit or debit card transaction!  That changed my own thinking on the topic.  Could I return to a world carrying cash and mailing checks?   Do I remember how to balance a checkbook?  

This type of questioning could lead me to think differently about my own behaviors and habits.  Many of these internet services have become ubiquitous, completely integrated in our personal and professional lives.  It is hard to imagine life without search.   Google search is merely 20 years old.   Smart phones and other technologies continue to evolve changing the environment.  YouTube (via online streaming) is the number one place where many learn new things!  Social Media continues to change how we receive, create, and distribute information.  A model where these internet services are free is NOT the only possible model.  It can be a valuable exercise to challenge our own basic assumptions and expectations…and to discuss those ideas with others.  

internet services

internet services

My goal this week was to explore some tips to create good discussion board prompts!  Discussion boards are a great way to improve student engagement, encourage interaction, and expand the learning objective in different areas by getting students to think about things differently.  They can be used in face-to face classes or online.  

One of the themes of TED Tips is examine our technological environment.  Approaching questions and topics in different ways can find inspiration from different places and find new ways to connect ideas from one field or application to another.

What was the source of inspiration that prompted the starting question this week?  I encountered a version of this question on a friend’s Facebook page.  The conversation enraptured me with a variety of healthy dialogue.   Posts that prompt good discussion often inspire other prompts!  After a bit of additional search, I discovered that the question originated from a real world problem.  An economist was faced with the challenge of being assigned to a project in China – and specifically, behind the “Great Firewall of China”.  The firewall regulates the Internet within China by limiting access to foreign information, restricting internet tools like Google search and social media, and disabling many mobile applications.  What can you do to plan to be successful from an environment that does not provide the same access to technological services?  How valuable are those services?  The “Indicator” economics podcast (3:38) hosted by Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia that presented this information is embedded here and helps show us how far online streaming has evolved.  Good engaging discussion board prompts can originate from anywhere!

In conclusion, here are a few quick TED tips for writing good discussion board prompts:

  • Relate prompts to a learning objective.
  • Provide opportunity for reflection, interpretation, analysis, and problem solving.
  • Encourage open-ended exchanges.
  • Seek inspiration from everywhere!
  • Draw connections between past and present course content.  Plant the seeds for future conversations.

Next week I want to explore the Learning Technology Center and discuss the LTC’s mission and vision.

– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant



Would You Give Up Some Widely Used Features On The Internet?
Economics podcast The Indicator, hosted by Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia.
June 8, 2018 Heard on Morning Edition