Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Audio Lecture Insights

With being almost half-way through fall quarter, the first quarter for required weekly audio lectures, I wanted to share some insights from fellow faculty members as you move into the second half of the quarter with your audio lecture creations:
  • As stated by adjunct faculty member Bev Kile:  "the lecture must sound like you’re talking to the students and not like you are reading from a script to them."
  • Something adjunct instructor Kirk Lewis is mindful of is the need for "finding balance between spontaneity and deliberately reading/covering information presented on the slides" so as to sound natural and engaging. 
  • Adjunct instructor Stacy Engel has been reminded of the importance of keeping audio lectures to under 10 minutes in length to retain interest and engagement and prefers to include shorter lectures in length but more in number in each unit.
  • Full-time math faculty member Melonie Sebring has had wonderful success implementing interactive lectures using educreations: "Educreations pulled images of assignment problems directly from my iPad photos in order for me to show how to solve them on the whiteboard. I could not believe how user-friendly Educreations was; plus I was able to immediately send a link to the video to myself via e-mail." 
    • And students have responded really positively to Melonie's lectures and have even sent her requests for lectures on certain problems to work through. 
    • These student requests really show how much our students are embracing these lectures!
So as we move into the second half of the quarter, I challenge you to think of yet another new strategy you could try in your weekly audio lectures and remember the above insights from your fellow instructors!

Have a great rest of the week!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

App Application!

Adjunct Instructor Renee Bipes has been diligently, enthusiastically, and successfully enhancing her Abnormal Psychology and Human Behavior courses through the use of various apps this quarter.

In Unit 2 of Abnormal Psychology she incorporated the free 3D Brain app that allows students to view every structure of the brain.  What a great and complementary visual for that unit's neuroimaging reading content.

She has also successfully incorporated various apps into her discussion topics.  For example, in Unit 3 of Human Behavior students downloaded the free Youth for Human Rights Online Education and United for Human Rights International apps in preparation for their discussion on advocacy for human rights, social and economic justice, and discrimination. 

The iPad truly is deepening the educational experience for Renee Bipes' students!  

How are you incorporating apps into your classes?  Let me know so I can share your successes with others too!  After all, we can all learn from each other!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Timeline App Reviews

Timeline App Reviews
by Dina Dupre

Dina Dupre wanted to find an App to incorporate into her Developmental Psychology course.  I believe her thoughts and reviews of a couple of Apps could be beneficial to many different programs, whether in the soft or hard sciences, in business or legal, or any other program because timelines can help to put things in a new perspective for students.  I encourage you to continue reading to see what Dina has to say.

"I found a great app for free that can be used in Developmental Psychology in Unit 1 where there is a timeline assignment.  The app is called Before Now and you can make your timeline on it.  Something fun for the iPad.

I tried it out and it is a pretty nice system.  You can very easily go years back and add an entry.  It has a nice look to it as well.

I tried a different app and it was not effective (Everyday Me).  Everyday Me is not able to easily add events to the past.  It is more for journaling the present or very recent past.  It is kind of boring and it doesn't look interesting or engaging.  However, there is another assignment that requires tracking sleep, exercise, and eating, and Everyday Me might be a good app for this assignment!

I played around with both of these.  Before now is fun for creating a time line.  Everyday Me is fun for journaling present-day activities."

Check out these Apps for yourself and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why Do I Need an iPad?

Guest Blog Post by:  
Cathy Kennedy
Legal Adjunct Instructor
Globe University 

I love my laptop. I truly do. The thought of having another piece of hardware to deal with was a bit overwhelming at first. After purchasing my iPad, I used it to watch Netflix and played a few games, and kept it on my nightstand. (I really enjoy Word Jewel, and highly recommend it.) However, I could already do all of these things on my laptop. So why need an iPad? I looked at some apps on my iPad but wasn’t really sure what to do with them initially. I mean doesn’t my laptop have everything I could possibly want? Quickly I learned that the answer to this is no.

I spent some time perusing some applications on my iPad for my legal courses, and I found some really interesting apps.  One in particular was iJuror. I was looking for something for my course unit on jury selection. As I explored iJuror, I became enthusiastic at the prospect of using this in my courses. As I played around with the app, I found that I could hand pick my jury, use courtroom graphics, and place my jurors in a jury box, after filling out information for each juror. I also had the option of entering juror demographics, create custom jury questions, and make challenges to prospective jurors. When all of the jury was selected, the information could be e-mailed to other colleagues (or the instructor) in this case. Students could use this app free for 24 hours, which is really all they would need to complete the task. After that I believe it was $1.99 for longer use.

As I unearthed new apps and sampled them, I was eager to include these as an option for students to incorporate into their discussion board posts; with the hope that they would share ideas for some of the applications they tried. In many of my courses I added an “iPad Unit”  for students to examine if they wished. It really was not difficult once I took the time to peruse the legal apps. I can visualize in the legal world how paralegals and legal assistants could use iPads to keep current in the law, and how very useful it could be for trials or depositions. Instead of going through a stack of papers, apps would be a great way to keep track of transcripts, and this is something wonderful to share with students as they can bring this technology to their firms. Many lawyers share .pdf files, and there are some free sites that allow for importing and sharing .pdf files, which  include voice notes; directing the paralegal or legal assistant what to do with annotated documents (School Notes Pro). There are also many blogs that discuss how paralegals can use iPads in their firms, including: Tablet Legal, iPad Notebook, the iPad Lawyer, iPad4Legal, iLawPad. If you do some touring of apps, you are sure to find similar blogs on apps in your area of practice. 

I am now happy to report that I do use my iPad for much more than Netflix now! There are many free apps to visit and incorporate into my courses. Students can apply these apps to enhance what they are learning, to further their discussions, and will be able to enter a job with new skills that they can share with their employers, making them more marketable.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Creating Effective Audio Lectures with Camtasia

Guest Blog Post by:  Brian Craig

In my experience so far, Camtasia has become one of my favorite tools for creating audio lectures in my online classes. In Summer Quarter 2013, I tested different software for recording audio lectures including Audacity, Screencast-O-Matic , Camtasia Relay. I used Audacity to create a 15 minute audio lecture on the history of the U.S. Constitution in my LA198 Constitutional Issues class but this included just audio with no visuals. A student in my class commented that she is a much more visual learner and asked if I would create lectures with more visuals. I then used Camtasia Relay with more visuals and images and students seemed to like this a lot more than just the audio.  

Camtasia has a lot of different options including the ability to show your webcam and closed captioning. If you have a PowerPoint presentation, you can display the PowerPoint slideshow different from your computer and then use your microphone to narrate the concepts. I find it better to provide your own explanations and not just read the text in your PowerPoint slides. Images can also enhance your PowerPoint presentations.

With the free version of Jing/, you can only record up to five minutes for screencasts but I often wanted to record longer tutorials. I previously had to create separate recordings such as "Unit 5 Lecture Part 1" and "Unit 5 Lecture Part 2" for longer lectures using Jing. For online instructors at GEN now with Camtasia, you can record longer lectures. You also don't have to worry about approaching your file size limit for Jing/ I was over 90% of my file size limit with the free account on and now I can record as many lectures as I want without worrying about approaching my file size limit.  

While there is a little bit of a learning curve in learning how to record and use Camtasia Relay, I think Camtasia Relay is a great tool for creating and sharing audio lectures for students in online classes. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Best of APA

This week I am going to blog about another blog because the information is so great!  Thanks to the insight of our wonderful online librarian, Elaine Settergren, I have been perusing the various "Best ofs" for APA for 2013 that this blog offers.

It is a great resource, particularly at this stage in the quarter when students are often working on final papers and projects and may need a little assistance with APA.  It offers great explanations of what APA is, FAQs about APA, and some great sample papers.

I encourage you to check out this Elaine endorsed blog post and let Elaine, Alyssa, or I know if you have any questions.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, September 9, 2013

Get Puffin! The Browser of Course!

Good Evening!

As you begin to receive and play with your new iPads, I encourage you to download the free version of the web browser Puffin (like the bird) from the App store.  This great browser will work really well with the GEN resources, CampusConnect mobile site, and the best feature yet, it allows Flash items to run on your iPad, which otherwise wouldn't.

So, I strongly recommend you download Puffin as soon as you get a chance.  It'll make many applications on your iPad run smoother and more effectively.

If you have any questions on this, please let me know.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Good Evening Online Faculty!

I've talked about the Evernote app in the past; this week I'd like to share with you a very complementary app to Evernote called Penultimate.

This app allows you to write just like you were handwriting in a notebook but it can be synced right to Evernote so all of your handwritten notes are quickly, neatly, and easily filed - digitally - rather than having a bunch of loose papers that can easily get mixed up or lost.

In Penultimate's own words:   "Penultimate is the original and easiest-to-use handwriting app for iPad that combines the natural experience of pen and paper with the flexibility and syncing of Evernote. Lose the paper, keep the handwriting, and remember everything."

I encourage you to check this free app out and try it for yourself!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

iPad Headset Adapter

Good Morning Online Faculty!

I'm going to take a short break from iPad Apps this week and share with you a technology tip I received from Brian Craig, Online Legal Program Chair, as we prepare for our iPads.  To be able to still use your headsets with your iPad for various audio and video initiatives, you will need to get an adapter.  Brian has found this one to be a strong option if you currently use a headset with traditional microphone/headphone dual jack connections.  He also shared with me that he is using this adapter for a new lap top he has because the new lap top only offers a single microphone and headphone jack.

If you have a USB port headset like I do, you will need a different type of adapter.  From the research I've conducted and from my own experience, the Camera Connection Kit accessory for the iPad can be a viable option for you.  Here is additional information on it.  It is important to note that it may not work with all USB headsets and that Apple doesn't support this accessory beyond the Camera functionality, but from what I've read on a number of tech sites, it is a solid option for many USB headsets.

Obviously you will still have your own computer options to continue to use for audio and video functions within your online classes as the iPad will be an additional tool and resource for you to use but won't replace your computer needs; however, if you are looking to be able to use your iPad with added audio and video capabilities these might be some accessories you may want to explore more for yourself.  These are entirely optional and not at all required, but I thought the information may be helpful to some of you.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Evernote App

When exploring different Apps for instructional use, I thought it would be beneficial to mention Evernote once again.

As the iPad initiative rolls out and we get lots of different pieces of information on how and when to use the iPad as part of our daily teaching, keeping all of the different pieces of information organized will be key and Evernote is an excellent app that can help you do just that.

Dr. Meredith Butulis, HFS Program Chair, offered an excellent in-service breakout session spring quarter. For those of you who may not have had the opportunity to join the session, here are some great resources she shared:

Check Evernote out for yourself and let me know what you think!  Personally, as I prepare my family for a move, I have been using it on a daily basis to keep all aspects of my life organized!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Apps Tab

Since we are talking about Apps for online education this quarter, it makes sense to discuss our own Apps tab available to us within CampusConnect. 

The Apps tab is available to instructors as well as students.  We all get busy with our daily tasks of grading and interacting with students, though, so in case you haven't had a chance to explore the Apps tab, I wanted to share a great video that our Blackboard Administrators have put together for your use.  

Hopefully this will serve as an added motivator to explore what the Apps tab can do for you!  The more comfortable you are with this feature, the more effective you will be at sharing it with and promoting it to your students.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Thursday, July 25, 2013

There's an App for That!

With the upcoming iPad initiative and the ever present use of personal iPads and other notebooks and mobile devices in our daily lives and the daily lives of our students, I am going to spend a great deal of time this quarter blogging about the many different Apps available to us as instructors and that are available to our students.  If you have an app you love - whether for teaching or personal use - please send it my way as I'd love to share it with everyone.

The first App I'd like to share with you is one that our amazing librarian Elaine Settergren found:
  • King of Math: This game app for iOS devices provides people with a fun way to refresh their skills across several areas of mathematics. The game starts you off as a farmer who must level up by answering several fast-paced math exercises across areas such as statistics, arithmetic and geometry.
Whether you teach a math specific course or not, I could see this as beneficial for all programs and all students.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  And once again, send your favorite Apps my way!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Better studying = less studying" : I like that!

Welcome to the start of another quarter!  And with the start of another quarter, we have a new batch of students and a wonderful opportunity to help guide our students in their educational and studying pursuits. This week I am blogging about another blog; a blog that was shared with me by our very own Catz Neset. Catz regularly engages in technology and social media opportunities to enhance educational knowledge and endeavors, and this blog she shared with me this week is very timely for the start of our new quarter.

As I mentioned above, we have the power to influence students to engage in better study habits, and as this blog explores, better studying can mean less studying...I'm thinking many of our students would like that idea!

Check the blog out, explore some of the strategies and ideas discussed, and share some with your students...then let me know how it goes!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Accessing Student Portfolios

I learned something new this week that some of you may already know but others may not so wanted to pass the information along. 

Now that students house their portfolio material directly within CampusConnect, it is easy for you as an instructor to access the portfolios as long as students share their portfolio with your username.  When this occurs, you will receive an email indicating a portfolio has been shared with you. 

To access the portfolio within CampusConnect, simply:
  1. Click on the Tools tab;
  2. Scroll down to Portfolios Homepage
  3. Click on Received Portfolios and you will then have access to student portfolios that have been shared.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Student Sample = Visual Feedback

Just this morning I received 2 student emails thanking me for a strategy I've implemented this quarter and so decided I would share it with you too as you may find similar positive benefits. 

In addition to my individual feedback on graded assignments, this quarter I have also selected one solid student assignment submission each unit and have emailed those samples to the entire class immediately following my unit grading. 

I do not include the student's name on the document as I want the focus to be on the content and to serve as a guide for students as they work on future assignments.  But even though it is shared anonymously, the student who completed the assignment recognizes it as his or hers and takes pride in my sharing it as a strong student sample so continues to complete high quality work.  And for the rest of the students, the samples serve as strong examples to learn from and their work strengthens as well. 

I have received thank yous from many of my students for this practice and encourage you to give it a try in your classes too.  Let me know how it goes!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, May 20, 2013

Give them a heads up...

Now is when students often get really busy and potentially frazzled by the various projects and assignments they need to manage and accomplish before the end of the quarter.  As instructors, we can help our students navigate these waters by sending them simple "heads up" emails/announcements. 

I know many of you do this already, but in case this isn't something that you do, I encourage you to give it a try.  Adjunct instructor Jennifer Stevens does it regularly and has this to say about its benefit: 
"I send a lot of 'heads up' emails for upcoming units, particularly if students have to do something that is outside of the normal types of assignments.  For example, in SS140, students have to conduct an interview with a member of the career field they'd like to pursue.  I begin emailing the students several weeks in advance and letting them know that this assignment is approaching.  If it's useful, I provide a possible timeline to keep them on track.  In the interview assignment, I encourage them to complete the interview the week before the analysis is due.  This is also nice for longer research papers that might take some students more than one week to complete.  I've found this to be extremely helpful in keeping students on track to get their assignments done."

Modeling time management strategies for our students will help them to be able to start to do it successfully on their own too.

Once again, give it a try and let me know if you have questions.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, May 13, 2013

Blackboard Mobile App

I have received a few questions about how to most effectively use CampusConnect on the answer to that question is the Blackboard Mobile Learn App!  It is a great App that I have on my iPad and my iPhone and it allows me to quickly and easily connect to my courses even when away from my computer.

Through this app, I have been able to:
  • Participate in discussion boards from anywhere;
  • Reset a quiz or exam for a student if needed without having to wait until I get back to my computer;
  • Grade Assignments;
  • Email students from anywhere;
  • And many other key CampusConnect activities.
The grade center is a bit less usable through the App, but there are so many other features that make this such a great App that little drawback hasn't even been a drawback for me.

I was initially told that the App needed WiFi connection, but I have actually had great success on it via 4G too, so it truly is mobile!

This App is available to you as well as your students!  The download is "Free" via the App store but there is an in-app fee of $1.99/year or $5.99/lifetime access when you go to use the App for the first time. 

If you'd like, download it and give it a try and I hope you find it as beneficial as I do as a means to stay even more connected to your students.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, May 6, 2013

Viewing User Activity Within Your Courses

Good Evening Everyone,

I hope everyone had a great weekend and were able to think of some great ways to put retention as a top priority as we move into the second half of the quarter, particularly after hearing the great insights and information from the "Retention Revisited" presenters at last Friday's in-service. 

During the session, tracking user activity within CampusConnect's reports feature was mentioned so I wanted to take this opportunity to share a brief tutorial with you on where to find and run these reports.  Being able to identify where students (whether as a group or as individuals) are spending their time within a class can give you some insight into how to address potential issues or connect more with at-risk students.

If you have any questions on this please let me know.

Have a great week!
Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Funnel Brain

As we near mid-term time, you may want to offer your students some studying tips and tricks.  One great tip that comes from Kelly Schmidt, our Online Curriculum Manager, is the use of online flash cards for studying purposes.  One site for online flash cards Kelly particularly likes is Funnel Brain.

In Kelly's words:  "The cool thing about Funnel Brain is it allows a 3rd side to the flash cards that allows students to add a 'hint' for themselves or an explanation of a definition.  The cards can also have audio, images, or video too."  What a cool and interactive resource available to our students free of charge!

Check this site out and let me know what you think!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

Regardless of what program of study you teach, regardless of what profession your students are going into, we all share planet earth as our home.  And what better time than this week to build earth awareness into our courses of study. 

Whether you connect green initiatives to an economics discussion, nature awareness to a literature assignment, conservation lobbying to a legal course, green health initiatives to a medical assisting class, or any other earth awareness course connection, I encourage you to take the opportunity this week to talk with your students about our individual roles and impact on the world we all share.

Here are a few links that might help get you thinking about this further:
Earth Day Network
Smithsonian Channel
EPA - Earth Day

Have a great week and let me know what you discuss in your classes!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Let's Chat!"

Student-to-student and student-to-instructor connection and interaction are identified as two key factors in online student success and retention.  As such, it is important to be looking for and constantly implementing new ways to help students interact with one another and with you as the instructor.  Discussion board topics are a great starting point for these interactions, but we don't want the interactions to stop there. 

Looking back on my own education, I remember that some of the most impacting and fruitful interactions I had were the off-the-cuff debates and dialogues where grading didn't necessarily come into play.  It was these interactions that then helped me to critically analyze, reflect upon, and implement the course material more effectively for the graded requirements.

Obviously in the online classroom the "hallway chats" aren't as easily accessible as in the traditional classroom, but that doesn't mean they cannot still occur.  Adjunct instructor Craig Morris hosts instant message chat sessions with this exact purpose and intent in mind.  He shares with his students that he will be online to "chat" about a specific topic, a current event, or some other issue he presents and then invites students to join him.  He has had great success and participation with this.

I could see this idea successfully translating to other mediums too.  Google groups/chat is a great option, as could be Elluminate.  Or why not set something up right in CampusConnect using a blog or a Wiki, that might attract even more students who might not be able to participate synchronously. 

These topics shouldn't be graded but rather can serve as another connection point for students and another opportunity to learn from each other and from you.   They might even be quarter long dialogues that could then further prepare students for their final projects or exam for example. 

Give this idea a try and let me know what you think.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist 

Monday, April 8, 2013

What are your course FAQs?

Do you hear many of the same questions from different students?  Do you have certain practices, expectations, or sets of information you want students to really know and understand at the start of a new quarter?  If yes, you might want to create a FAQ for your course much like what Lacey Finley is trying out in her classes this quarter.  Lacey created the below document to share with her students in hopes to help answer questions proactively.  I could even see the benefits of putting a FAQ to audio through a Screencast.  The audio could allow you to really emphasize certain areas.

Even though we are in the second week of the quarter, now is probably the best time to send something like this as students have muddled through the first unit material and announcements and may have some questions still looming in their minds.  A FAQ can help to proactively answer some questions you might receive and/or answer questions for students who may be hesitant to ask.

Lacey also shares some great overall course facilitation ideas within her FAQ, so I encourage you to read through it completely!

Check it out, give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Have a great week!
Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist 

Course FAQ
Are you easy to reach?
Yes! It is very important to me that you know that I am available and willing to assist you.   I typically check email at least once a day, Monday through Friday.   Email is the quickest, easiest and best way to communicate with me.  I also provide my cell phone number to all students, in the event that you wish to ask me an assignment question via text message. This FAQ will outline the many communication channels available to you.
Are you willing to help me if I have questions or need clarification? 
Absolutely!  I am here to serve as a facilitator, guide, mentor, teacher and subject matter expert.  I know that all students have unique needs from their instructors.  I wear many hats! 
How quickly do you respond to emails?
I check email at least once a day. I typically check emails no later than 9am CST Monday through Friday.  On a typical day, I will check email at least one more time in the afternoon.  The weekends vary depending on my schedule.  I will send a Weekend Availability email every Friday letting you know when I plan to check email over the weekend. 
What information should I include in email correspondence?
It is very helpful to me to have your course section number stated clearly within the subject line of your email.  It is important to clearly state your issue and/or reason for emailing.  Simply stating that you do not understand something does not provide me with enough information to be helpful.  Make sure that you are clear and giving plenty of detail. 
What is my course section number?
Your course section number is BS110.MX3.  A good example of a helpful email subject line is: Unit 4 Assignment Question - BS110.MX3.
Why do you need to know my course section number?
I teach multiple course sections.  Telling me your course section number in your email correspondence streamlines the reply process.  Providing this information saves me a great deal of time, therefore you receive a quicker reply.  
What is the late work policy for the course?
Late writing assignments will receive a 10 percent penalty for each day late, up to 5 days. No assignments will be accepted after the 5 day grace period. If an assignment has to be returned for some reason and the second attempt is received after the due date, the penalty will be given.  Unit 10 and Unit 11 must be submitted by the due date, regardless of the reason.  Discussion posts must be submitted by the due date for each unit.
This policy is universal for all circumstances. If you have an extenuating circumstance, which is very rare, you must submit your medical letter or other documentation to your dean of students for approval. Once they approve it, I can give you an extension and work with you on a timeline.  Please do not send this information directly to me. 
What if I have a computer or internet issue?
The late work policy applies to all situations, including technical issues.  Computer and/or internet issues are not extenuating circumstances.
Why should I watch the screencasts that are provided in most Units?
I provide students will a screencast link that walks them through various aspects of the assignment for the unit.  It is to your benefit to watch the screencasts.  Many students find the screencast to be beneficial and helpful.  Please try to view this information early in the week and be proactive in contacting me with questions after you read the assignment directions and view the screencast.  Please utilize this resource. 
What do I do if the screencast will not work?
If you are having issues viewing the screencast, please download and install the latest version of Flash Player:

What do I do if I have an issue with CampusConnect?
Please contact the Service Desk. Please see contact information below?
Toll Free: 1-877-862-0662
Service Desk Hours:
M-Th7:30AM - 10:00PM
F7:30AM - 9:00PM
Sa8:00AM - 4:00PM
Su2:00PM - 10:00PM
What is  SkillPort/Books 24X7?
SkillPort is a third party training company we partner with to provide training to students on business and technical skills. Some of the things SkillPort provides training on are leadership, customer service, and Microsoft programs.  Books 24X7 is a component of SkillPort.  Some courses use supplement resources from SkillPort and Books 24X7.  You will receive detailed information if your course utilizes these resources. 
What do I do if I have an issue with SkillPort? 
Please contact the Service Desk. Please see contact information below?
Toll Free: 1-877-862-0662
Service Desk Hours:
M-Th7:30AM - 10:00PM
F7:30AM - 9:00PM
Sa8:00AM - 4:00PM
Su2:00PM - 10:00PM
Can I send you a text message if I have a question specific question regarding an assignment?
Yes!  Feel free send a text message  if you have a quick  question about an assignment.  913-488-2995  If you send a text message, please give me plenty of detail including your course and your name.
It is important that you view the screencast provided, when applicable.  Make sure that you watch the screencast and email/text me with any specific questions you may have. 
When can I send you a text message if I have an assignment question?
Please note that I will address questions via text message between 8:00am and 8:00pm CST, unless otherwise noted in my Weekend Availability email. 
Please note that I check email frequently.  That is the best method of communication, however, I am happy to utilize text messaging as well. 
Can I send you a text message if I have a question about a grade?
Please note that I  do not answer gradebook questions via text message.  Any questions regarding grading, late work, or general gradebook questions must be sent via email. 
Can I call you if I have a question about a grade?
Any questions regarding grading, late work, or general gradebook questions must be sent via email.  It is important to have a clear written record regarding the communication. 
Can I send you a text message if I plan to submit my work late?
If you submit a writing assignment late, please let me know via email.  Make sure to include your course section number in the email correspondence. 
Can I send you a text message if I have technical issue with CampusConnect or SkillPort?
Please contact the Service Desk. Please see contact information below?
Toll Free: 1-877-862-0662
Service Desk Hours:
M-Th7:30AM - 10:00PM
F7:30AM - 9:00PM
Sa8:00AM - 4:00PM
Su2:00PM - 10:00PM
Can I send you a text message if I have a question about a quiz or exam?
All quiz and exam questions need to be sent via email. 
Can we be friends on Facebook?
I have a Facebook page designed to share information with current and former students.  I can be found by searching for Instructor Lacey Finley. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

3 Little Things That Make a Big Difference!

Good morning and welcome to a new quarter!  Last quarter we explored various teaching tips from various faculty members, and I have received wonderful responses to these posts so will be continuing with this theme into the new quarter.

Just as many of you have learned from one another, I too have implemented strategies and have seen great success with these in my own classes!  Here are 3 little things I tried during winter quarter that worked great and will continue to use:
  1. Each week I move both the Discussion Post and the Content Folder for the current unit to the top of the listing so students can access them quickly and easily.  Students have really appreciated this and it even streamlines things for me too.  Thanks for the great tip, Warren Eck!
  2. Whenever I hear from a student about a personal issue, concern, or obstacle, I have always made note of it and keep record of all student communications, but this past quarter I went one step further thanks to Katie Adams' suggestion and checked in with students periodically on these different variables and my teacher/student connection got even stronger.
  3. I use my iPad and iPhone on a regular basis to stay connected with my students even when I'm away from my computer, and I love the Blackboard App that is available for these mobile devices.  Thanks to Dave Alldredge's tip about using the microphone feature on the iPad/iPhone, I have been able to really engage in discussion participation no matter where I am and in a very streamlined fashion. 
Thanks Warren, Katie, and Dave for helping me to (1) make things easier for my students so they can focus more on the course work, (2) connect with my students even more, and (3) streamline the overall course facilitation process. 

And thank you to all faculty members who have shared wonderful tips and strategies, many of which I have tried myself and hope all of you try out also.  I encourage each of you to try 3 new things this quarter that your fellow faculty members are doing and I think you too will find great successes and benefits.  And don't forget, tell me what you are doing and the successes you are experiencing!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tip Sheets

As we near the end of the quarter and students are busy working on final papers and projects, I thought now would be a great time to share with you a tip that Jennifer Stevens uses in her classes.

According to Jennifer, she provides "tip sheets for challenging assignments.  This helps students know what I'm looking for and allows me to give them examples that might be useful.  Instead of just telling them to incorporate the information from the text, I'll provide an example of how to do that (with proper citation, of course).  These sheets allow me to elaborate on the rubrics for the assignments with specific examples.  I've found it useful for APA citation issues as well."

I think this is a fabulous approach that Jennifer uses and I encourage you to carve out 20 minutes of your time this week to create a "tip sheet" for the final paper, project, or even exam that may be in your class.  Sharing this with your students this week will allow them to use that tip sheet to compare their final work to before final submission.  I think you'll find positive results and improved submissions overall.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, March 4, 2013

Discussions & Resources

Are you looking for ways to re-energize your unit discussions, why not try something that Shelly Baker, one of our adjunct instructors, has had great success with in her classes...implement current articles or videos relating to the unit and topic into the discussion itself.  By posting a thread of your own where you share a video link with a question or a current article that offers a different perspective on the topic at hand, for example, you are helping students to see and begin looking for these course connections outside of the class itself.  This knowledge extension helps our students see their education in a larger and more practical fashion.  In fact, Shelly mentioned that many of her students have begun to share and post videos or articles of their own. 

I have done this in my own classes and have great successes with it too.  In fact, in one of my sections this quarter alone, almost every single unit has a post from a student sharing a resource or link for the whole class to learn from - and I should add this is not a requirement I have in place, nor is it the same student that has posted these resources/links each time.  Rather, simply through starting it myself at the beginning of the quarter, students followed suit.

I encourage you to give it a try yourself and let me know what kind of results you see in your discussions.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ask the Students...Share with Others

A great strategy one of our adjunct instructors has been using in his classes with great success is asking his students:
  • What do you like about the class?
  • What works well for you specifically to be successful in this class?
  • What strategies have you found for doing well in my class?
  • How can I be a better teacher?
Then, taking that feedback and implementing it into his teaching strategies and sharing it with other students he has been able to help his students be more successful overall.

Here is an example announcement he shared in a class at the beginning of the quarter to help students "see" how to be successful in his class by "seeing" it from the experiences of others: 

>> Hi everybody!!
>> Each quarter I send out this list of suggestions that students have e-mailed me over the years describing their strategies for doing well in my classes. I hope you find it helpful!!!!!!!!!!!
>> NOTE: A special thanks to all those students who have sent in their suggestions in the past.
>> Please find their suggestions below:
>> ___________________________________________________________________________
>> This class was to me difficult at first as I have never had much interest in this field of study etc, but one needs to be open to learning.
>> Other than the quiz's, which I do less than stellar on, what works the best for me to take each assignment and discussion board in pieces.
>> If I try and tackle the big picture for the week it can be a little overwhelming. It helps to break it down and focus on one thing at a time and in the end it all comes together.
>> I am sure because I am a little older than most of the students that makes a difference also, as I work a little harder to figure out how I can bring myself up to the challenge and respectfully complete my assignments each week.
>> The teacher providing feedback also allows us to be more successful in the class.
>> __________________________________________________________________________
>> Every week I print out the unit content for the week. Then I highlight everything that I need to do and then once I complete each task I cross it off.
>> __________________________________________________________________________
>> In this course it is important to provide an in depth analysis of the assignments/discussions.
>> Even if you think you are not on the right track, or stray from the topic- your effort is noticed! Especially when the assignment requests your opinion, your opinion can never be wrong.
>> Pay attention to the instructor's feedback, it provides you with great advice on how to improve your performance.
>> Use the skills you have developed in English composition. (Always use Spell-check!)
>> And last of all, effective time management. This is a skill that will get you through all of your courses.
>> If you are like me and procrastinate, there is still hope yet! Figure out what works for you and stick to it.
And the suggestion list continued with many more tips...the length of tips is truly impressive as it shows just how much feedback this instructor requests and receives, which I think is reflective of his connection to his students.  As we've heard many times, a strong sense of instructor-student connection positively impacts student success and student retention rates!  Give students a voice, and you'll grow as an instructor!

I encourage you to give this strategy a try for yourself and let me know how it goes!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, February 11, 2013

Polls...What role can they play in your class?

This week I'd like to share with you a great teaching strategy that Jan Tucker uses in her classes and that was mentioned briefly in Friday's Main In-Service session, that is using Student Polls in your classes.  Polls are a great way to interact with your students and to gauge their understanding of concepts or expectations in your course.

Jan has been trying out Flisti, a free online polling site, in her classes and has found it especially beneficial in her discussions and announcements.  For example, in a matter of a few short seconds Jan created and embedded a poll during Unit 1 that stated:  "I have read and understand the class expectations --- Yes or No."  What a fantastic way to get immediate feedback from your students on something like this!

As I mentioned, Jan has been using Flisti, which allows you to create quick, free polls without signing up.  Our presenters on Friday also mentioned polls and one they mentioned was allows multi-modal polling, including via text, and is free for a single user with up to 40 responders. 

Particularly since we are mid-quarter, I encourage you to take this opportunity to check in with your students through a poll to see how they are doing.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Plagiarism Help

We are getting to the point in the quarter where research papers and projects are getting underway.  Regardless of whether you teach a 100-, a 400-, or even a graduate level course, students can benefit from guidance and assistance in avoiding plagiarism.  There are many resources available to us as instructors to help our students navigate proper citation.  In addition to the great resources found at our online library, Stephanie Heald-Fisher, our Online Graduate Program Chair, shares with us a resource called  This site guides students on:
  • What plagiarism is;
  • How to cite sources; and
  • Where to find citation and plagiarism resources.
Another tool for our students in avoiding plagiarism.  

If you have any questions please let me know.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, January 28, 2013

Technology Can Infuse Motivation and Enthusiasm in Students

Veteran and top-notch online instructor Cathy Kennedy uses technology to enhance her teaching and her courses on a daily basis, and I am excited to share with you what Cathy says about technology in her classes and even share many of her great examples at work!

From Cathy:
"Using technology in online courses can infuse motivation and enthusiasm in students. One of the goals of using technology in my classes is to provide students with opportunities to interact within the course, with the instructor, and with other students. I believe that students want and need richer and more engaging online learning experiences and become immersed in the course when a deeper connection is made.

With the increase demand for online learning, it’s important for instructors to try to incorporate more technology into their courses, as technology plays a vital role in the development and expansion of online education.

Teaching an online course is quite different than teaching in the traditional classroom. I have done both for many years. These new technologies allow instructors to convey concepts in new and different ways.  I have seen students benefit and succeed in my course through my use of multiple teaching strategies. I see more engaged learners in the discussions, as I not only provide a “Prepare for Discussion” (Example) in each of my units, but I also engage every student in each discussion for the first three weeks to ensure that they understand what is expected, that they have been recognized, and have been given feedback (both in and after the discussion). I give them links to explore and summarize if they are not on track, and I also ask them to research to find more information that is on topic; expecting them to research and find information each week.

Using varied technologies in my courses (announcements, discussions, assignments, instructor profile, and e-mails) allows students to understand what to do, where to go in the course, what to consider, and how to complete assignments accurately, through the use of programs such as: Animoto, Go Animate, YouTube videos, Glogster, Cyberlink Youcam, Jing or Screencast-o-Matic. These are just a few of the many, many tools that you can use to engage, motivate, lecture and encourage your students.

Around the mid-term I make an Animoto video with music as a way to tell students they are doing a great job, and that the light at the end of the tunnel is near. Most of these programs can be downloaded into a YouTube video. I sometimes make ridiculous videos of myself wearing hats or something corny, and yes they are corny, but students seem to like them; or at least they tell me they do! This makes a connection and shows that I do have a human side. I try to incorporate music, graphics, explanations, motivation, clarification and animations to help reiterate a point or topic. Sometimes topics can be rather dry, such as limitations on tort lawsuits. I created rather fun Animoto using a Mission Impossible music and theme to get them interested, which I provide along with written instructions. I also have a weekend video that I made in Animoto as a way to let them know that I know they have been working hard, and that it’s also important to take a little time to relax.

Rather than explain how to do these things, I put together a video by splicing some of the technologies that I use together (using Cyberlink Power Director11). I’ve used most of the technologies listed above. You can see how I use them by clicking this link. CLICK HERE and turn up your speakers!

I hope you will try out some of the tools listed above. Most are free (except for Power Director).
There is also a way to make interactive videos in YouTube where students can make choices.
Here is an example and further below is a website to tell you how to do this.

Below are some websites that offer advice, tips and discussion on using technology in the on-line courses that may help you.

Using the Technology of Today in the Classroom
Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, Jennifer Groff, Jason Haas
The Education Arcade
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Prof DeBock’s Innovator Network
Prof DeBock has helped me with many youTube videos in his “how tos”

Barach, Paper, Scissors (YouTube interactive video examples)

How to Make an Animoto Video

GoAnimate Quick Video Maker



Last, many of these have been discussed in Heather  Thomton-Stockman’s blog!"

Thanks for these great ideas and examples, Cathy!  I encourage all of you online instructors to try out at minimum one of Cathy's ideas and let me know how it goes.  After all, as Cathy said, "technology can infuse motivation and enthusiasm in students!" 

Heather Thomton-Stockman

Online Instructional Specialist