What is “Quality” in Higher Education?

What does “quality” mean when applied to higher education?

When applied to R1 institutions or liberal arts institutions?

When applied to on-the-ground or online learning?

Check out this article from Inside Digital Learning, “The Quest to Define Quality” for a variety of thought-provoking perspectives on this issue.

How will this impact your thinking about your teaching?

Free and Easy Tool for Short Explainer Videos

Interested in making some short “explainer” videos to introduce concepts to your students?

What about asking your students to make such videos to demonstrate to you what they have learned in a unit?  What a great alternative to a quiz!

Video creation can feel overwhelming, especially if you are first starting out.  You have to write a script, organize ideas, find visualizations for the concepts, write the script again, introduce movement and maybe a soundtrack…

And while all of this can be a ton of creative fun, if you just want to dabble in the idea of explainer videos, perhaps make a few and see how you like it, you can learn a lot by starting out with My Simple Show.

My Simple Show logo

My Simple Show is a free (though there are paid versions with more bells and whistles) online engine for making explainer videos.

Its most unique feature: internal scaffolding!  In other words, you tell it what type of thing you want to explain, and it suggests a structure.

Even better:  you type in a script and it suggests images.  And yes, you can provide your own images, or even a slide set if you wanted to.

At their website you’ll find many examples, as well as a blog with tips and tricks.

It’s a fun and simple tool for quick videos.  Why not answer students’ questions by sending a video to the class?  If your course only meets once a week, why not send mid-week reminders of assignments using this easy tool?

I’m sure there are many other uses!   Give it a try.

Discover Google Keep

Google Keep logot

Have you heard of Google Keep?

It’s an application that’s been around for a few years, but is getting new attention in Education because of its integration with other Google apps. You can check it out here.

This article from EdTechTeam features an overview as well as a tutorial.

This review from common sense education shares insights about how it ties to engagement and pedagogy, how teachers can use it, and over all pros and cons.

Ed Tech Teacher Alice Keeler shares the many features of Google Keep and how teachers and student can use them in conjunction with other Google apps, notably to collaborate, in this blog post.

Blogger Kasey Bell has some wonderful resources for how teachers and users can make the most of Google Keep here at Shake Up Learning.

Weighing Two Approaches to Online Higher Ed

In “Why Higher Ed Loves Hybrid Innovations,” appearing in the March 29, 2017 edition of Inside Digital Learning, authors Julia Freeland Fisher and Alana Dunagan look at two ways in which institutions of higher education have used online programs.

Research shows that “Many traditional colleges and universities are deploying online learning as a hybrid innovation, not a disruptive one.”

Is this a good approach in higher ed or not such a good one?  Well, it depends.  Disruptive innovations are most like to serve populations which have traditionally been shut out of or over-served by business as usual.

So if an institution wants to lower costs or reach a whole new population, the hybrid approach may not be the best.

Still, most institutions take a new, disruptive technology and use it in a hybrid way:

“When a disruptive technology emerges, the leading firms in a given field usually do not completely ignore it as they march forward with better products with higher profits for their best customers.

“Instead, they try to incorporate the disruptive technology into their business models using a sustaining innovation strategy — in other words, they create a hybrid. The hybrid solution marries the old product or service with the new technology in an attempt to create a ‘best of both worlds’ alternative that the incumbent firms can market as a better product to their existing customers.”

Check out the article for the full story, including links to their recent research on innovation in higher ed.


How to Embed Videos Stored In Google Drive into Other Places

If you’re like me, you don’t like to store your instructional videos on YouTube for a variety of privacy reasons.

And space runs out on Vimeo pretty fast–suddenly you have to start paying if you make more than a few minutes of video a week.

But if you have an educational Google Drive, you have virtually limitless storage.  And you can control much more carefully who can see your videos through Google’s privacy settings.  So why not store them there?

I never preferred to store videos on Google Drive because I couldn’t figure out how to embed them.  And the instructions I found by, well, Googling the problem, didn’t seem to work.  I did find a lot of complaints about that, starting in late 2016. I don’t mind telling people to simply follow a link, but I’d rather embed the video, so it plays right from a particular site without my user having to click away.

I don’t mind telling people to simply follow a link, but I’d rather embed the video, so it plays right from a particular site without my user having to click away.

So I decided to see if I could figure it out.  And guess what?  You can do it.  Only it’s definitely kind of an odd process.

It may seem like a lot of steps, but it really isn’t.  Just suspend your demand for it to make any sense, and you’ll be fine.

Below you’ll find a video illustrating the steps.  Afer that, you’ll find the steps typed out for you.


  1. First order of business, save your video to your Google Drive.
  2. Use the “get shareable link button” to set permissions as you wish them.
  3. Double click on the video file.  A player will pop up.
  4. Look in the upper right hand corner for three dots stacked vertically.  This is the “more actions” button.  Click it.
  5. Find and click on “open in new window.”
  6. Your video will open in a new window.  Looks basically the same as the last window, right?  Ah, but now, click on the new “more actions” button.
  7. You’ll see a new option:  “embed item.”  Click on that and you’ll receive the HTML code you need to embed the item pretty much wherever you want.
  8. Copy that code.
  9. Click your way back out of all these video windows, then go to your web resources and add the code.

I hope this is helpful to you as you seek the best ways to store and share your instructional (and other!) videos.



A Quick Peek at How I Make Moodle Look More Like a Website

A lot of folks who use Moodle complain about the “scroll of death.”

This happens when users stick with the default set up of a long vertical site listing weeks or topics, into which you add content and activities and resources and, well everything.

It isn’t very attractive.  And it simply doesn’t work with easy clickability and menus the way most of us are used to using online resources.

So I decided to play around with design and see if I could come up with a more web-like interface for my Moodle sites this term.

Here is a video (under nine minutes) demonstrating one way which I have made my Moodle sites look and act more like a website.

The video gives you a peek behind the scenes as well, describing briefly the resources and organization I’ve used to accomplish this.

It does not, however, give detailed tutorials on using those resources.  Perhaps if there is interest, I can do that later

Hope you find it useful.

Moodle Resources Instead of Clickers

Often, I’m spurred on to learn something new by a question someone asks me.

Sometimes it’s a student and I have no problem saying, “I don’t know.  Let’s find out!”

And this year, as I’ve enjoyed my new role in coaching my faculty and staff colleagues in online pedagogy, I’ve had no problem saying, “I don’t know.  Let’s find out!”

Recently, a colleague asked me if I knew of any free alternatives to using clicker technology in classes–something easy to use which students could access via phone.

She asked me this only hours after I came out of a technology meeting where this exact thing was discussed as possible in Moodle.

There are two ways to approach this activity, using two different Moodle resources.

One resource is called “Choice.”  This is a one-question-only quick survey.  You can administer it at any point through Moodle, including on the spot in class, having students access Moodle through the web or the Moodle Mobile app on their laptops, tablets or cell phones.

Here is a link to documentation on the Choice resource, including further links to a screencast and so on.

The other resource is called “Feedback” and allows for multiple questions. This could also be used at any point in class, though because it includes more questions, one might want to prepare it in advance.

 Here is a link to documentation on the Feedback resource.

Both Choice and Feedback can be set-up (by you) to show results anonymously or attached to individuals.  There is also, evidently, an option so that students see the results anonymously but you can see who said what–however, I haven’t experimented with that yet.

These two resources could work well on the ground or online to take quick polls in your courses.

Adobe Spark Helps Makers Create Quick and Powerful Videos

I just finished spending several hours converting some old, word-laden slide presentations which I use in my flipped and hybrid classes almost every semester into fun, creative, videos using Adobe Spark’s video creator.

Several hours may sound like a long time, but trust me, it’s not.  I made a total of almost 30 minutes of videos in under five hours.  As someone who has made videos from my own animation, still photography, head shots, drawings and more, this is practically light speed.

Adobe Spark does more than help you make videos:  you can use it to make static graphics and attractive webpages.  I haven’t tried those tools out yet.

Interested in trying Adobe Spark for video?  Go to spark.adobe.com and sign in with your Google account or Facebook, or with an independent log-in.

For a great overview, check out this MacWorld article on creating powerful videos using Adobe Spark.  Don’t let the MacWorld publication worry you–Adobe Spark is web-based and works across platforms.

There are mobile versions as well.

It’s so easy to use, containing thousands of icons, creative commons photos, loads of music, the ability to record narration, automatic attributions, and the ability to upload your own resources–there’s no reason for professors (like me!) to continue using out-moded, word-heavy slide presentations instead of videos in flipped and online teaching situations.