Do You Have Access to Adequate Support for Technology in Teaching?

According to a recent Teaching with Technology survey, about one third of faculty feel as if they do not have access to adequate support for developing their skills with technology and teaching.

35% of faculty do not have enough support for using technology


I wonder what the results of such a survey would be at small liberal arts colleges?

One area that the survey did not cover:  “training in the use of pedagogy to support instruction with technology.”


Because teaching with technology is not just about learning how the tech works.  It requires redesign of how classes work.

Since online units, hybrid classes, and fully online classes are now part of the normal teaching world, shouldn’t our goal be something better than “adequate access” to the professional development educators need?  To help teachers have many tools in their toolboxes, from which they can pick to use when needed?





NaNoWriMo Helps Folks Tackle Tough Challenges of Any Type

The National Novel Writing Month (November) challenge is something I have participated in, off and on, for many years.

NaNoWriMo logo

You commit to drafting–from start to finish–a novel draft of at least 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30.  My three published mystery novels all began as NaNoWriMo drafts.  I use this model as the basis for a successful novel writing class for undergraduates.

Whether or not you are interested in ever writing a novel, the NaNoWriMo model for fighting procrastination and just getting your work done is useful to anyone tackling a big, time-consuming, and possibly overwhelming challenge.

“Surviving NaNoWriMo: The Tough Mudder of Writing Challenges” offers some great advice on writing and on the mental attitude needed to persevere .


Thankful for Copyright Free Photos From Wonderful Sources

During this Thanksgiving holiday season in America, I’m grateful for many things.  In terms of creating digital materials for online teaching and learning, today I’m grateful for “The Commons” at Flickr.

Image from page 331 of "American cookery" (1914)

According to their website, “the key goal of The Commons is to share hidden treasures from the world’s public photography archives.”

Notwithstanding a few drawbacks, there is still much to be thankful for this winter (LOC)

“Public” means that no known copyright restrictions exist on the images in this collection.  Therefore, these can be used without cost in my own and student digital projects.  You’ll want to read their Rights Statement to be sure you understand what, if any, restrictions there are for each image, particularly in commercial use.

Thanksgiving turkey  (LOC)

You can find a list of the many international public photography archives here.  Sources include museums, foundations, historical societies and more.  You might be amazed at what’s available.




Finding Public Domain and CC Media–A Guide From Harvard Law School

One of the challenges of creating digital tools for teaching and learning comes from the constant need for interesting audio and visual media.

While I do create much of my own material, sometimes I need something I can’t create on my own.  Or, frankly, I need to do something more quickly, and finding something to use that already exists would really help me move along.

But, of course, we all know we can’t just use any media we find.  And while we can purchase rights to many things, when I’m working fast, I tend to need free materials.  Free and legal.

That’s where the Harvard Law School Library guide to Finding Public Domain and Creative Commons Media comes in.


This guide includes:

  1. an explanation of the difference between public domain and creative commons
  2. a list of sources for photos in the public domain
  3. a list of sources for photos licensed for CC use
  4. a list of sources for audio in the public domain
  5. a list of sources for audio licensed for CC use
  6. a list of sources for video in the public domain
  7. a list of sources for video licensed for CC use

Bookmark this one for your own use.

I plan to share it with my students as well, to help them find appropriate resources for their digital projects.



Using Rhetorical Analysis to Help You Design Digital Learning Part Two


This is the second of two posts to help you use all the pieces and parts of rhetorical analysis as you design digital learning experiences for your students.


circa 1873, no known copyright restrictions, from Internet Archive Book Images

In the first post we looked at what rhetorical analysis is and how to use a basic approach to analyze someone else’s work.

In this post we will explore how you can use an analysis of someone else’s work to guide your own creation.


Let’s get started!

How does using rhetorical analysis of someone else’s work help us create?

Looking at several examples of different types of work and writing down (even informally) your observations can help you think in new and smart ways about how to create your own works.  Creators across centuries have used this model of studying other practitioners to jump-start their own learning.

Learn from others–what choices do they make that seem to work?  That flop?  Positive and negative examples will help you understand how to make choices in your own communications!

While you can learn from a rhetorical analysis of any type of communication, for maximum improvement to your own writing and creation, you’ll want to study some examples (good and bad!) of the sort of thing you intend to create.  An essay?  A video explaining a concept?  A compelling narrative of an historic event?  A website showcasing an exciting discovery?

Can you identify “masters” at the sort of thing you wish to create?  Who are the best, most successful practitioners out there?  Who does one thing that you want to apply in your own creations?  Study them!

How can we use rhetorical analysis on our own work for improvement?

After using rhetorical analyses of others’ works to help you understand your own rhetorical situation and to help guide your choices, you will have drafted your work.  Use rhetorical analysis at this point in your process to benefit your final product.

When you do this for your own work you discuss the

  1. Rhetorical situation in which you created.
  2. The choices you made.
  3. What your intended (hoped for) effects are.
  4. Your assessment of the plusses, potentials, and concerns you have about the communication.  What do you like about it?  What else could you do with a future draft or a next project?  What remains that you wish could be better?

Obviously, when analyzing your own or other’s work, you may want to add specific questions or points of analysis to fit a particular purpose or audience.  But these basics should get you started.

Sources for Practicing Rhetorical Analysis

You can practice rhetorical analysis on virtually any sort of communication.  Look for ones that interest you, and the provide good models for the sort of thing you want to create.

If you want to dive in and look at a few things right away, here are some recommendations.  These are not all of the same type or quality.  Some are produced by students, some by professional artists, some by professional video production studios.  Some use slides, some use video, some use web pages.  Some target young audiences, some are clearly for adults.

Electric Charges

Famine and Emigration

Finding Meaning in Your Work

Mr. Plimpton’s Revenge

My body–a Wunderkammer

Netflix and Chill

What is a Rhetorical Analysis?

I also recommend you visit and study galleries and samples at many amazing online digital storytelling sites including:



The Center for Digital Storytelling

The Educational uses of Digital Storytelling (University of Houston)

Want to try having your students use rhetorical analysis to create better projects?  You’ll find more resources –including sample lesson plans!– at the GLCA’s DLA101 project website.


Using Rhetorical Analysis to Help You Design Digital Learning Part One

Rhetorical Analysis!  The phrase itself shuts many people down.  They think it sounds like busy work, or hyper-intellectualization, specialized gobbledygook that has no application in real life.

circa 1873, no known copyright restrictions, from Internet Archive Book Images

Not true!  Among other things, practicing rhetorical analysis will help you learn how to create/write any sort of communication more effectively.  It helps you understand how all the pieces and parts work together (or, in the case of a poor communication, fail to work together).

This is the first of two posts to help you use rhetorical analysis as you design digital learning experiences for your students.

In this post we will look at what rhetorical analysis is and how to use a basic approach to analyze someone else’s work.

In the next post we will explore how you can use an analysis of someone else’s work to guide your own creation.

Let’s go!

So what is a rhetorical analysis?

“Rhetoric is the study of how writers and speakers use words to influence an audience. A rhetorical analysis …  breaks a work …  into parts and then explains how the parts work together to create a certain effect.”    Source

In Rhetorical Analysis, you look primarily at

  • the Choices Communicators Make and
  • the Effects These Choices Have on Audiences.    

In rhetorical analysis, you are always asking:  How effective are the author’s/creator’s choices for his/her intended audience?  For other, unintended audiences?  For me?

How do we use rhetorical analysis to understand someone else’s work?

Here is an Outline for Basic Rhetorical Analysis

  1. What is the rhetorical situation?  Because context is essential for judging the effectiveness of a communication, this asks you to examine the overall context in which a particular communication was created and delivered. What genre is it (essay, textbook, blockbuster film, documentary, advertisement, persuasion)?   If a digital project, what platform delivers the experience?  Was it designed for delivery in a particular medium (print,  TV,  web, Twitter,  a speech, bumper sticker,)?  What time of year?  What year?  Is it important to know what was going on in the world at that time?
  2. Who is the author?  How does the author reflect the overall rhetorical context?
  3. What is the author’s purpose?   What effect does that author want to create on his/her audience?  What does the author want the audience to know or feel or do as a result of the communication?
  4. Who is the intended audience?  Who is the primary intended audience?  Is there a possible secondary audience?  What are the values and opinions of these audiences?
  5. What are the choices the author made in the creation of the communication? These include things like tone (is it funny or sad), pace,  organization, use of “hard” evidence (logic and facts), use of “human” evidence (narrative and opinion), word choice, focus, clarity, inclusion of audio, inclusion of visuals, inclusion of video, and so on.  Basically, how was this communication put together?
  6. What are the effects of the choices the author made on the intended audience–on other audiences?   Consider the choices you noticed in number five above and consider how each one impacts audiences.  What experience does the communication create for audiences?  How?  Does the communication succeed in appealing to the values and opinions of the identified audience?  How?  Do you think it succeeds with its intended audience?  How did it impact you (and are you different from the intended audiences?)

For a quick video overview of these points, check out What Is A Rhetorical Analysis by Kyle Stedman here.  In fact, if you are considering creating a video to explain a concept, conducting a rhetorical analysis of this video could help you realize a lot!

For the next few days, keep these ideas alive in your head.  Ask the questions above about many of the communications you encounter, from political statements to advertisements to conversations, to professional reading to anything you see on the web.  Get in the habit of using this lens to think about what you encounter.

In the next post:  how you can use an analysis of someone else’s work to guide your own creation.

Video on Google Sites and Google Drive Integration

A few weeks ago I shared a demonstration video by Dean Stokes which showcased in just a few minutes some of the basic features of the New Google Sites.

Today I want to share another video by Stokes.  Also concise (under six minutes) this video illustrates the amazing way that Sites integrates with Google Drive to allow you to include almost anything (Word docs, forms, entire folders!) into your website.

I hope this video will spark your imagination the same way it did mine.  What can I do with these new tools as I design learning experiences for my students?  How might they use Google sites to showcase and communicate about their learning?

Trick for Easier Transcription Aids in Accessibility

Whether it’s to provide a transcript for your instructional videos to assure their accessibility, or as part of an interview-based research project, this short video tip can help.

In it, author Michelle Schira Hagerman illustrates how she uses a free Google Docs add on to automatically transcribe audio recordings.

Pretty keen!

Have you used any free tools that work well for speech to text, either for a live speaker or audio recording?  Please share in the comments below.


Tips and Tricks for Google Apps from A Teacher

Want to know some slick tips and tricks for using all kinds of Google Apps? Check out the work of Alice Keeler, a teacher and certified Google ninja.

Teacher Tech logo

She has both a website and a YouTube channel.

Recent articles include topics such as:

  • inserting text backgrounds in Google presentations
  • assessing if using a digital tool is better than using paper
  • merging data in Google sheets
  • all kinds of tips on Google classrooms
  • how to set up collaboration in various Google apps
  • voice typing in Google docs
  • creating instructional videos

and so on!

Explore and see what you find that you could use in your classroom!