Friday, March 25, 2016

Sexy Technical Communication Webinars - 3/22 and 3/23

On 3/22 Tammy did a webinar on Sexy Technical Communication with Softchalk Innovators, and on 3/23 I did a webinar on it and another ALG grant project with Dan Farr in Sociology with Affordable Learning Georgia's Design Matters. Check out our webinars below!

3/22 Softchalk Innovators - Tammy Powell

External link:

3/23 ALG Design Matters - Tiffani Reardon

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

KSU Unconference 3/4/2016

On March 4th, 2016, we had a GREAT time at the KSU Unconference in the university rooms on the Kennesaw campus. We learned about all kinds of neat things the faculty on our campus are doing in their classes, handed out great door prizes and awards, saw how Anissa Vega incorporates her personality into her classes, and learned about how to keep our students engaged with Angela Velez-Solic.

Anissa Vega

Anissa won KSUs Online Teaching Award in 2015, and there's no need to guess why after seeing her presentation at the unconference. For lack of a better way to explain it, she has her kids teach for her! Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic. But I will say for myself that she inspired me to incorporate my family and life into my teaching if I ever teach a class. By having her kids participate, mocking Internet icons like Bat-Dad, and using fun things like Minecraft to remind her students of what they should be doing for the week, I imagine that she has some awesome student reviews. I know I'd be more engaged in her class if I was looking forward to those fun videos every week. 

Angela Velez-Solic

Angela is the author of How to Teach Online Without Losing Your Mind, and has spoken at several conferences before. KSU was lucky to have her for her (and our) first keynote speaker! She gives a great presentation, and is totally honest. She told us about her son, and how he wanted to drop out of college almost immediately because he was bored and felt like he was paying thousands of dollars to go to high school again. And he's not the only one! Instructors are losing their students' interest, and it is effecting retention and engagement. Angela told us about cool ways to keep our students engaged and why we should care. 

The KSU Unconference had its first year this year, but it will be back bigger and better next year. So look out for the information!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

KSU Faculty Save Students $899,860 from student debt load each year!

 Kennesaw State University faculty are committed to supporting student success. Thirty-six KSU faculty and staff have stepped up, with support from the KSU Library and the state of Georgia,  to create and/or adapt 13 sets of open educational resources (OERS) sometimes for use in multiple classes or class sequences. This work has saved $899,860 from the student debt load each year.  Each group was awarded an Affordable Learning Georgia Textbook Transformation Grant to support them in their work (

The winners and amount of student savings through OERS are

Camille Payne and Rachel Myers (Nursing) student savings: $30, 468
Seneca Vaught and Griselda Thomas (African and African Diaspora Studies): $20,840
John Isenhour, Ophelia Santos, Charles Marvil (Culinary Studies): $13,875
Lake Ritter, Shangrong Deng (Math): $9,180
Guangzhi Zheng and Zhigang Li (Information Technology Department): $16,833
Lu Kang and Zhigang Li (Chemistry): $184,320
Lei Li, Rebecca Rutherford, Svetlana Peltsverger, Jack Zheng, Zhigang Li, Nancy Colyar (Computer Science/IT): $110,419
Ginny Zhan, May Gao, Yumin Ao (Asian Studies): $11,249
Carlton Usher and Linda Lyons (First Year Studies): $67,250
Daniel Farr and Tiffani Reardon (Sociology): $13,963.80
Tamara Powell, Jonathan Arnett, Monique Logan, Cassandra Race, Tiffani Reardon (DWMA/English): $51,615
Sharon Pearcey, Chris Randall, Jen Willard, Beth Kirsner, Adrienne Williamson, Tricia Mahaffey (Psychology): $345,912
Chi Zhang and Bob Brown (Information Technology): $23,936

According to a study performed by the US Government Accountability Office, the annual average amount students spend on textbooks is 26% of the cost of tuition at a public, four year university. According to a June 2013 report from Lumina Foundation, about “30% of college students” don’t buy the books for their courses. Why don’t they buy the textbooks? Sixty-five percent of students choose not to buy a college textbook because it’s too expensive. 
As faculty, we know it is hard to teach students who come to class unprepared, and 94% of the students who report not buying the textbook say that they know they suffer academically because they do not have the text. Forty-eight percent say they make decisions about which classes to take, and how many classes to take, based on textbook costs. That is, textbook costs not only increase debt load directly but also indirectly as students take fewer courses when faced with high textbook prices. Eighty-two percent of students say they would be more successful academically if they had a free online textbook and if a hard copy were optional. 
Research backs up this idea. A recent study in Journal of Computing in Higher Education of nearly 5,000 college students using OER and over 11,000 college students using commercial textbooks in 10 US institutions yields striking results. Overall, the researchers found that “In three key measures of student success—course completion, final grade of C-or higher, course grade—students whose faculty chose OER generally performed as well or better than students who faculty assigned commercial textbooks” (Fischer, Hilton, Robinson, Wiley, OERS increased course completion. Students in courses using OERs did take more courses.  And students reported being more satisfied in courses where OERs were used.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Speed Geeking Webinar 2/24

On Feb 24, 2016, Tammy and I both virtually attended the Softchalk Innovators session called "Speed Geeking," and we learned about a few cool new tools including the following:
  • Today's Meet - a real-time discussion/response tool
  • ToonDoo - create cartoons!
  • - tons of cool ways to present content
  • Animoto - photo and video tool
  • Storify - collect various feeds into one central place
  • Foter - millions of free photos to use in classrooms
  • Zaption - interactive video tool

Tina Rettler-Pagel and Nancy Woodward were kind enough to create a website for the attendees so that we can see all the tools they presented and more. You can see their site and more tools here:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Affordable Learning Georgia's Reimagining the Textbook 2/19/2016 - Macon, GA

Tammy Powell, Jonathan Arnett, and I attended Affordable Learning Georgia's one-day conference on Reimagining the Textbook in Macon on February 19. We learned all kinds of cool stuff about open educational resources and affordable learning materials at the conference, but here are some highlights!


The four ideal R's of OERs:

  • reuse - OERs should be free to reuse
  • revise - you should be able to revise OERs within the licensing parameters 
  • remix - you should be able to mix OERs with other resources within licensing parameters
  • redistribute - you should be able to redistribute OERs to your students and others
Challenges of OERs:
  • technical
    • internet
    • accessibility
  • economic
    • development costs
    • maintenance costs
  • legal - copyright 
  • social
    • lack of technical skills
    • quality
OER landscape:
  • open textbooks
    • Flat World Knowledge
    • Open College Textbooks
    • OpenStax College
  • OER Commons
    • repository for OERs
    • search for discipline
    • collaborative atmosphere
  • Open Courseware Consortium
    • another repository
    • focused around general ed
  • Galileo
    • research repository
    • free access for members

On Affordable Learning Materials (ALMs)

  • not free, but affordable
  • eBook platforms
  • publisher materials
Challenges of ALMs:
  • limitations - have to use specific textbook to get pub materials
  • sometimes not downloadable
ALM landscape - eReader apps:
  • YUZU - Barnes & Noble (replaced Nook)
  • Brightwave - Follett
  • Smartbook - McGraw Hill

Evaluating OERs and ALMs

  • Does it match the learner's needs?
  • Does it align with curriculum standards?
  • How is the ease of use/accessibility?
  • Are there license restrictions?
  • How is the content quality?
  • Is there a community of users?

Ohio State University's BookLaunch

  • cohort model - 2 cohorts annually with 2-8 projects each
  • focused on iBooks, but support other formats (ePub, PDF)
  • Bootcamps
  • 80 hours of support
  • Macbook Airs
  • $500/$1000 with 2:1 match (half from BookLaunch, half from department)
  • co-produce project plan

A Cool Tool

Ohio State uses a cool tool called to create and incorporate interactive widgets into their iBooks.