Category Archives: Instructional Technology

Dr. Bill Sugar and Dr. Abbie Brown.

Faculty Book Authors

Dr. Marjorie Ringler

Three College of Education faculty members were recognized at the Joyner Library/Academic Affairs Faculty Book Author Awards Ceremony on November 6, 2015.  The event celebrated the accomplishments of faculty who have contributed to the prestige of East Carolina University and the scholarship of higher education through publication of scholarly books between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

Two faculty members, Dr. Abbie Brown and Dr. Bill Sugar, from the Math, Science and Instructional Technology (MSITE) Department were honored.  Dr. Brown is co-author of, Securing the Connected Classroom (International Society for Technology in Education). Dr. Sugar is author of, Studies of ID Practices (Springer).

Dr. Majorie Ringler from the Educational Leadership (LEED) Department was also honored.  Dr. Ringler is author of, Academic Language Literacy: Developing Instructional Leadership Skills for Principals and Teachers (Rowman & Littlefield).

Dr. Sugar and Dr. Brown are pictured above wearing the medals they received at the event.

IHAT group

IHAT Center Participates in Eastern AHEC IDD Conference

The Irene Howell Assistive Technology (IHAT) Center staff was invited to present on assistive technology at the Eastern Area Health Education Center’s (AHEC) 11th Annual Eastern Region Intellectual and Developmental (IDD) Services Conference held in Greenville, NC on October 15-16, 2015.

Participants enjoying the assistive technology presentation at the SHEC event.The presentation, titled “Great Scott: Back to the Basics and Future: A Round Robin of Four Assistive Technology Trainings” consisted of four professional development sessions currently offered through the IHAT Center’s on-campus trainings in an abbreviated format, including Assistive Technology for Behavior, Assistive Technology for Communication, Boardmaker software, and Alternate Access.

Participants of the conference were from diverse fields that serve a variety of populations of individuals with disabilities. The IHAT staff consists of students in their sophomore to senior year who benefited from the experience presenting to colleagues in their field at a professional conference. Feedback from participants was excellent with an invitation to future collaborations. The IHAT Center thanks the COE ITCS team, Al Barnhill, Chris Hurdle, and Collin Stancill, for their assistance in technology support in advance of the conference, allowing the presentation to give hands-on experience to the conference participants.


Upcoming Professional Development Offering: Instructional Design for Online Student Success

The NEW Instructional Design for Online Student Success professional development series will focus on motivating and retaining online learners by developing a course that incorporates interactive tools, student collaboration and a variety of assessment activities. Topics will also include strategies for creating and fostering a sense of community in online or blended courses.

The first session, Collaborative Tools in Blackboard, will focus on using the collaboration tools that are readily available within Blackboard and many other learning management software suites including groups, discussions, wikis and blogs. Both novice and experienced online instructors are encouraged to attend the session, as it will focus on sharing collaborative ideas among faculty in addition to showing how to use these tools.

Collaborative Tools in Blackboard-Part I will be offered face to face on Thursday, September 17th at 1:00 in Speight 239. Participants are encouraged to bring their own device to participate in the interactive session. The session will also be offered online Thursday, September 24th at 2:00 via Saba Meeting.

Part 2 of Collaborative Tools in Blackboard will provide a more focused look at one or more of the collaborative tools discussed in Part 1 based on participant interest and feedback provided during the sessions.

Faculty and staff can register for these sessions via Cornerstone. For more information contact Holly Fales at

View all detailed descriptions of all COE Faculty/Staff Professional Development opportunities at

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Professional Development Opportunities for 2015-2016

The Office of Assessment and Accreditation’s professional development for the 2015-16 academic school year will have two different overarching themes for participants. The workshops will be presented in two different formats to better fit the schedules and preferred learning styles of those interested in attending.  Participants will have the opportunity to attend either a face-to-face or an online session.

Google Apps for Education – A Progressive Workshop Series

Google Apps for Education are becoming a powerful tool in the Pk-12 education world.  Google has created a cost-effective way to bring collaboration tools to the classroom.  This has led to greater integration and implementation of this tool in the classroom with many of our LCSN partners using them.  If you have any questions contact Jason Whited at

Instructional Design for Online Student Success

This professional development series will focus on motivating and retaining online learners by developing a course that incorporates interactive tools, student collaboration, and a variety of assessment activities. In addition, these sessions will include strategies for creating and fostering a sense of community in online or blended courses.  If you have any questions about this workshop contact Holly Fales at

For detailed descriptions of each of the sessions, please visit College of Education Professional Development for Faculty and Staff.

ECU faculty and staff can register for these session via Cornerstone.


COE Instructional Technology Consultants Attend Pitt County Tech Fest

On August 10th, College of Education Instructional Technology Consultants, Christine Wilson, Jason Whited and Holly Fales attended Pitt County Schools’ 10th Annual Tech Fest at South Central High School. Over 500 educators from Pitt County and surrounding school districts gathered at Tech Fest to learn about the latest ways to implement technology in the classroom.

Teachers, media specialists, and technology facilitators from across Eastern North Carolina conducted a majority of the sessions with several technology vendors also presenting. Popular sessions included Google Apps, NearPod, and Canvas LMS. In addition, teachers shared examples of projects and lessons from their classes that utilized technology to reach a vast range of learners. The majority of sessions were interactive, with attendees using their own devices to participate.

The Pitt County Robotics Team provided entertainment during lunch with a demonstration of Roboxsumo, a cost effective robotics activity where robots are constructed of cardboard. Participants also had an opportunity to try 3D printing, Stop Motion Video and Green Screening throughout the afternoon.

Attending Tech Fest provided an opportunity for the COE ITC team to connect with school partners and gain additional insight into how technology is being utilized in local classrooms. For more information about Pitt County Tech Fest visit

Captain Arrrgh Headshot

From the TRC: SMART Board Workshops

It’s Thursday, and a new edition of From the TRC is published to highlight another service or resource Joyner Library’s Teaching Resources Center has to support the College of Education’s faculty and students. This week, it’s our upcoming SMART Board workshops.

smart-logoOver the next two weeks, the Teaching Resources Center (TRC) is offering two separate workshops covering the basic functions of the SMART Board and integrating the SMART Board into lesson plans and classroom activities using the TPACK Framework.

These workshops are being offered in an effort to gauge the interest level of the College of Education’s students as the TRC is looking to build and pilot an instructional technology program for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year.  This pilot program will offer COE students and faculty the opportunity to attend workshops, schedule individual or small group (<5 students/faculty) consultations, and course-integrated instruction. Each of these will cover a variety of instructional technologies used by schools within the Latham Clinical Schools Network.

Student attendance and subsequent feedback of these workshops will directly influence the content covered in future workshops, and will inform the TRC as it moves forward in the development of its new instructional technology program.

Here are the session descriptions and link to register:

SMART Board: Essentialssmart_logo_corp

This interactive workshop will teach you the basic functions of the SMART Board and SMART Notebook software. Topics covered will include: connecting the SMART Board to your computer, managing objects, inserting graphics, layering, linking and locking objects and adding animations and reveals.

Attendees who already have the SMART Notebook software installed on their laptop are encouraged to bring their computer. (There are no prerequisites or requirements to attend this session.) Click here to register.

smart_logo_corpSMART Board: Lesson Plans & Activities

This interactive workshop will teach you how to use the SMART Notebook activity builder and dive into the SMART gallery to find multimedia and interactive elements to integrate into your lessons. Six strategies to maximize student engagement and working within the TPACK Framework will be covered.

Attendees who already have the SMART Notebook software installed on their laptop are encouraged to bring their computer. (Prerequisites: Attendees must have previously used a SMART Board and SMART Notebook software to attend this session.) Click here to register.

Follow this link to register for either one or both of the sessions. You may also copy and paste the following URL into your browser,

Until next time…Dan Z. in the TRC

Click here to view the archive of all From the TRC posts.

Captain Arrrgh Headshot

From the TRC: NoveList Plus

It’s Thursday, and a new edition of From the TRC is published to highlight another service or resource Joyner Library’s Teaching Resources Center has to support the College of Education’s faculty and students. This week, it’s NoveList Plus.

This week’s post builds on a previous post we wrote about While focuses on bringing the author to your students so students can experience how their favorite authors create and read their own works, NoveList Plus can help educators match readers with the right books to expand students’ literary world beyond the familiar.

NoveList_PlusNoveList Plus bills itself as a comprehensive online readers’ advisory (RA) tool used to search hundreds of thousands of popular fiction and nonfiction titles, which includes categories such as author read-alikes, book lists, and book discussion guides. It includes genre outlines and online training materials for librarians to familiarize staff with appeal factors, the RA interview, and other aspects of readers’ advisory.

Sounds like a resource for school librarians, right? Of course it is, but my experience as a teacher and school librarian has taught me that students won’t always turn to their librarian for book recommendations. Students will reach out to the teacher they feel most comfortable with for reading advice.  At the high school where I worked in Arizona, the English Department and I constructed and continuously updated a bulletin board highlighting the most recent books the staff had read. Students paid attention to which staff member’s interests matched their own, and turned to them for recommendations. I think it is a safe bet to say the English Department used NoveList Plus more than I did!

The teachers I’ve worked with loved the fact that NoveList Plus includes Lexile measures, book reviews, and lists the awards a book has won. Take a look at  “The Crossover”  which was awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal.

Here are other tools and resources NoveList Plus offers educators at all levels:

  • Professional Toolbox
  • Read-alikes
    • Love an author, but have already read all of their books? Finished a series and disappointed there aren’t more to read? Each book and author in NoveList Plus is paired with other books and authors that are similar to your favorites. Here is an example from George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and Sherman Alexie’s author page.
  • Genre Overviews
    • Keeping Up…Genres covers “core genre essentials, links to key awards, lots of lists and on-point articles to help readers find the perfect genre match.”

NoveList Plus also offers a robust Support Center complete with an archive of training sessions, tutorials and additional materials such as “Help Sheets” and PowerPoint presentations to help you maximize NoveList’s resources.  Finally, watch their “News and Events” page for professional development webinars, press releases and new product demonstrations.

Until next time…Dan Z. in the TRC

Click here to view the archive of all From the TRC posts.


Week 7 – Collaboration in Blackboard – 2/23/15

This week’s blog is a continuation of the discussion last week on collaboration tools. As discussed previously, it can be difficult to build the same kind of community in an online class as typically occurs naturally in a traditional, seated course. The collaboration tools that are either provided in Blackboard or are available by third parties, can help provide the tools necessary to make this community easier to build.

Last week, we discussed some synchronous tools that are available to faculty to use. As a reminder, synchronous tools, are tools that require everyone to be online at the same time. There will be an online follow-up professional development session coming soon for faculty to learn more about Saba Meeting. Please keep an eye on the COE PD page for details. Now, without further adieu, asynchronous tools!

Asynchronous Tools

Asynchronous tools are tools that do not require collaborators to be online at the same time. This blog could represent an asynchronous activity if you, the readers, decided to later participate by commenting below and contributing to the article. In fact there is a Blog tool in Blackboard, but its purpose is a bit different. One thing to note before starting is all of the asynchronous tools that will be mentioned here are native to Blackboard and can be set as gradable items. Each can also be set to grade with a Blackboard rubric (discussed in Week 8).

Blog – Essentially a blog is a shared online diary for use in a class. It can be used by an instructor to let students know what was or will be done in class to save the instructor from answering individual questions repeatedly. It can open up online discussions about related topics or a place to provide evidence of class participation. It is organized strictly by date. Blogs can be set up for each individual student or by course. Blogs are much less formal than discussion boards, which will be discussed later.

Discussion Board – Even a Blackboard newbie has probably heard of the discussion board. It is the most commonly used method of communicating in an online course. Essentially the instructor creates a discussion topic and the students then respond and discuss the topic. They are organized hierarchically with forums, threads, and replies. Discussion boards are easily collapsed, expanded and searched. Users can subscribe to a forum or thread to receive an email each time someone contributes to it. One of the newer features is students can be required to participate before they are able to see other student entries.

Journal – A journal does a bit less to build communication with the class, but potentially more with the instructor, as it provides a personal writing space for self-reflection and private communication with the instructor. It can be used to reflect on personal growth, assignments, personal experiences, etc. Be advised that if you choose “Permit Course Users to View Journal” in the settings all class participants will be able to see each others journals, removing the privacy feature, essentially creating a non-commentable blog.

Wiki – A wiki is a collaborative space where students can view, contribute and edit content. It can be used if students are collaborating on a paper, study guide, etc. The biggest difference between a wiki and any of the other tools is that everyone essentially works in the same space. What this means is there is one text box and each student can contribute, but the particular contribution of one student over another is not necessarily identified, besides look at the history.  Multiple pages can be created to make essentially a website for a project.

So that pretty much does it for the collaboration tools within Blackboard that are designed to potentially work with the entire class or groups. In addition to these tools, you can also divide your class up into groups and then assign group projects. When groups are created, there is another world that opens up for students in Blackboard that provides a place for Group assignments, file exchange, discussions, tasks, and more.

In addition to the tools we’ve looked at this week and last there are lots of third party tools that are also available that may meet your needs, and new ones become available every day. In face Google provides a wide range of free tools that are certainly worth looking into.

Once you start looking at the possibilities, you’ll find there really are ways to do the things you’ve been doing in your traditional classes all these years. It might take a bit of time and training to master it, as it has in your classroom, but once you do, you and your students will be quite satisfied with the results.

Throughout the semester, the OAA-Instructional Technology Team will be offering Professional Development opportunities. For more information on these opportunities, please visit the COE Professional Development website. To register for any professional development sessions, please use Cornerstone.

Synchronous Communication

Week 6 – Collaboration in Blackboard – 2/16/15

In a traditional classroom collaboration is natural, it doesn’t need to be planned or forced. In an online environment, it is quite different, since on the way to submitting an assignment it is, shall we say, highly unlikely, that one student will run into another and they will get into a deep conversation regarding the week’s topic. Hard to believe I know.

With that being said, as educators, we know that students learn best through interaction, so how can we provide this interaction in an online class. Let’s look as some options. This week we will be looking at synchronous tools, and next week we will look at asynchronous tools. There are of course many more tools than I will be able to mention here, so if there is a particular synchronous tool that you use, please feel free to add it in the comments at the bottom of the article this week. If there is an asynchronous tool you love, please add it next week. Any of these options can be done either with the entire class, or with the class divided into smaller groups, depending on what is more manageable for a chosen activity.

Synchronous Tools

Synchronous tools are tools that require everyone to be online at the same time. If synchronous tools are to be used, it is advised that students be made aware of this at the very beginning of the semester, if not earlier, as many students chose to take online courses because they cannot meet at a certain time due to other classes or life circumstances. It is also advised that if assigned after the semester begins, students should be given a few choices for times that work in their schedules.

Chat – Participants have an online discussion by typing short, text-based messages in Blackboard. Sort of like a real-time discussion board.  A great option for online office hours because they can be recorded and viewed later.

Virtual Classroom – A more robust version of the Chat, as it includes the test box for chatting, but also includes a Virtual Whiteboard to display course materials, websites and for drawing.

Saba Meeting – A tool provided by for faculty by ECU that takes the Virtual Classroom to the next level. With Saba Meeting, communication can be done either by chat or by microphone, and can also take advantage of live video streams. In addition to the “old fashion” whiteboard and presentations, a presenter can also share his desktop to demonstrate a program or browse the web. During a meeting, surveys can be given and breakout rooms can be set. Meetings can be recorded, but will be deleted unless requested each semester to be kept. Saba meeting is a great solution, but it can be rather technical, and sometimes students can have a hard time getting in, as typically Java needs to be updated/installed. Following the User Guide will usually help with the install process.

Second Life – If you are ready to take your students to a whole new way of learning, then Second Life is the way to go. I will warn you that there is a learning curve. In Second Life, you have an avatar and you can literally have the students sit in class, go on field trips, visit your office, the possibilities are endless. ECU even has a campus and its own Pirate Ship there. The more creative you are, the more you can make of it. In the past, I have seen a faculty member teaching Shakespeare require her students come to “class” dressed in Elizabethan garb and the students loved it. There are a lot of interesting, educational things that have been built that could possibly serve as great field trips: a Holocaust Museum, The Mayo Clinic, a Renaissance Gallery, New York City, Paris, even the RMS Titanic just to name a few.

So those are some synchronous ways you can encourage collaboration in your online class. A couple work directly in Blackboard and a couple can be linked in Blackboard and then taken outside. Are there others perhaps that you use synchronously? Use the comment area below to contribute what you use.

Next week we will talk about Asynchronous Tools that you can use in your classes to help encourage collaboration. Remember that any of these tools/activities can certainly be used in your seated classes as well to enhance collaboration amongst your students.

Throughout the semester, the OAA-Instructional Technology Team will be offering Professional Development opportunities. For more information on these opportunities, please visit the COE Professional Development website. To register for any professional development sessions, please use Cornerstone.


Week 5 – Tips for Tests in Blackboard – 2/9/15

Giving your tests using Blackboard is a great option whether you have a seated, hybrid or online class. Tests given in Blackboard allow for many question types that are self-grading, which can make your life much easier and save a lot of time. Plus you can get statistics on the questions and the results. This can help you to identify a possible bad question. As great as tests are in Blackboard, there are a couple of tips you want to keep in mind when setting up your test.

  1. Always time your tests – You do not want to allow students to work on a test for more than a reasonable amount of time. The amount of time will vary depending on the question types. In Blackboard, once the time expires, the test does not stop and will record the amount of time given versus the amount of time taken.
  2. Don’t make your tests too long – Having a test that is over an hour long is really unrealistic – even an hour long exam is stretching it. If you have a lot of material to cover, why not break it down into multiple exams? Maybe a 2 hour exam broken into 30 minute chunks. This will give the students an opportunity to take a break every so often without being penalized.
  3. Turn Force Completion off – This option is often misunderstood. Instead of using Force Completion, set up a time limit. The way the time limit works is that once a student begins the test, their time starts. If the student exits the test for any reason – voluntary or otherwise – the time continues. So if a student works on a test for 15 minutes, then leaves and goes to work for 8 hours and then returns and completes the test in 45 minutes, the timer will show that it took 9 hours for the student to take the test. It is a misconception that the time stops on the test when the student comes out of the test. The benefit of using this feature though is the student could be kicked out of a test involuntarily, but can then go right back in and continue where he left off. With the test submission issues in Blackboard, this is something to definitely take advantage of.
  4. Randomize your questions and answers – If you use a set of questions, make sure you check to randomize the questions, so that everyone does not receive the questions in the same order. Even if you are randomly pulling questions from a large pool, there is a good chance that students will run into the same questions. If you at least randomize the answers, the order for multiple choice questions will at least be different (if you do though, remember the “none of the above” answer will need to be modified to something like “none of the other answers are correct.” Also, if you have several questions referring to a single image, make sure the image is included in each relevant question.
  5. Narrow Test Availability – When you are determining your start and end dates for a test, narrow the amount of time you give for the test to be taken, if at all possible, try to include at least one weekend day since many students work and/or have other classes. No more than 2-3 days should be adequate for all. You could even reduce it to one day or a certain time frame, but be sure to announce that on the first day of the semester, so arrangements can be made as necessary by the students.
  6. Do Not Reveal Answers – Set up the test so when a student completes an attempt, the score is the only thing shown. Once your classes, or all classes using the test, have completed the test, go back in and reveal whatever else you’d like to show them (correct answers, their answers, feedback, etc.).
  7. Use Exceptions – If you have students who require extra time, make it easy on yourself and set that up in the test options before you start a test. If you end up with a student who needs to take the test a second time, or on a date other than the dates you’ve specified, you can use these Availability Exceptions to allow it for a particular student or students without having to set up another version of the test that will confuse your gradebook and the rest of your class.
  8. Update Tests Regularly – Do not use the same tests each semester. There is no reason to believe students from one semester won’t share a test from another semester. Remove the effect this could have by regularly updating tests. Even if you don’t completely overhaul all of your questions, at least integrate some new questions and rework some of the old ones.
  9. Help Students Be Successful – There are several things you can do to help your students be successful when taking tests online. Following are some tips:
    • Encourage your students not to use Internet Explorer
    • Encourage your students to use a Wired Internet Connection
    • Tell your students not to double click and be patient
    • Tell your students not to use the Browser Refresh or Back buttons while taking a test
    • Tell your students not to use the Return/Enter key while taking the test except when typing an answer to an essay question
    • If giving essay questions, have the student type directly into the text box within the test rather than going into Word and copying and pasting into the test. Word brings in a lot of extra code that can cause problems within the test.
    • Advise your students to keep the window with the test active and not go to or open other windows.
    • Advise students to let the page load completely before starting to answer questions.
    • Advise students not to leave the exam until they have completed it. Even if Force Completion is turned off, time set for the exam will continue even if the exam is closed out.
    • Advise students when they finish an exam to click Submit only once.
  10. Grade by Question, not by Student – When the time comes to grade essay questions, take advantage of the option in the Grade Center at the top of the test column to Grade by Question.