Tiny Habits

I recently came across this video interview with the director of Stanford University’s Behavior Design Lab, B.J. Fogg. I think his point about how to form habits is pretty interesting, especially his perspective on motivation and willpower. I also love that he addresses eLearning directly through the lens of goals/outcomes, habits, and behaviors. I think it’s well worth clicking the link and taking nine minutes of your time to watch it.

I’m interested in what others think. What would this look like in practice in your course or course shell? Do you think you’d see changes in student behavior? And how would you grow tiny habits into mastering course objectives?

Finding Properly Licensed Images for your Course

First, an update to an earlier post of ours regarding how to find images with the proper use licenses, so that you can feel absolutely comfortable using said images in your course. It seems that Google’s layout has changed a little, so here is how you would do this in the current Google set-up.

To find a properly licensed Google Image:
1. Go to Google and click on the word “Images” on the left-hand side of the options running across the top of the page (in the black bar). This will ensure that you are only searching images.

2. Enter your search terms in the box. Hit enter or click on the blue magnifying glass button to see the results of the simple search for your image.

3. To refine your results for the type of use that fit your needs, google image search settings buttonclick on the settings button (see image at right). The button is located in the upper right corner, just above the returned images.

4. From the drop-down menu that appears, select Advanced Search.

5. On the new search page (which will have retained your original search term), scroll down to the very bottom for the usage rights options. Click on the drop-down menu to select the use that matches your needs.

6. Click the blue Advanced Search button, just underneath the usage rights field, and watch your results appear. Voilà!

Of course, Google is only one way to locate the right legal image. Pearson’s online education blog has a very informative post reviewing several options for locating free and properly licensed images. Building on that post, which mentions Flickr as an option for images, ProfHacker has some advice about the easiest way to search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed photos.

Last, once you’ve located all those amazing and legal images, here is the documentation from the Koehler Center for Teaching Excellence regarding how to put images in your Pearson LearningStudio course shell.

p.s. If you’re still on the fence about using images in your course or would like a review of what Creative Commons licensing is all about, we’ve got you covered in this post from our archives.

On Learning, Aging, and Failure

For a little Friday fun, check out this New York Times blog post about famous people acquiring new skills late in life.

If Tolstoy learned to ride a bike at 67, I’m thinking those technology / learning  challenges that seem so daunting to all of us can probably be overcome!

Actually, what really shines through in each of the short anecdotes is the value of both passion and persistence. On the topic of persistence, I’m intrigued by the idea of recognizing “high quality failures” and then using that as a springboard for improvement, as highlighted in this article on Teaching and Failure in the Chronicle of Higher Education. After all, you can’t learn to swim, box, ride a bike, or paint pictures without some poor performances (or high quality failures?) at first.

Google Maps

Have you ever wondered how Google makes those maps? What, exactly, happens before and after all those Google Street View vehicles hit the roads or trails? This piece in The Atlantic tells all – and has some suggestions about what Google’s mapping project and data management means for the future of all our data. (Thanks to Kim Mann over at the College of William & Mary’s Academic Technology blog for the link to this article.)

On a related note, I’d love to hear about what tools courses are using to integrate geographic information. I’d be willing to bet that the menu of commonly used tools has converged upon a few readily accessible free / affordable options while the variety of courses using these tools has greatly expanded. Prove me right or wrong in the comments!

Taking Attendance

As an instructor, you may have less overt ways of taking attendance than simply calling roll and marking it down on a piece of paper (quizzes, clickers, or exit slips come to mind). However, you gather the data, this sort of information is exceedingly useful to have, whether to illustrate the general relationship between attendance and success or discuss performance issues with particular students.

If you’re not using one of the methods above (or perhaps in conjunction with them), there’s a new app for i-devices, Attendance2, that can help you keep track of classroom attendance  – and easily communicate an individual student’s records with him/her. Designed by a computer science professor, the app is getting some good press. It’s easy to create classes (using contacts or a .csv upload), track customized fields of information (beyond present/absent), and use the app to randomly select students who are present in order to insure equitable classroom participation.

I’m also mulling over some other (less spiffy, perhaps) ways to track attendance. Stay tuned!

Screencasting options

We’ve written about using Jing for screencasting. Alas, it seems that the Pro version of Jing will soon be no more. The free version (which lets you record up to 5 minutes) should be sufficient for most users and isn’t going anywhere.

If you happened to be a Jing Pro user need some help processing your feelings about the loss of Jing Pro (or another dearly beloved program), here’s a little dark humor regarding the stages of software grief.

The benefits of screencasting and screencaptures are still going strong! Screencasting and screencaptures can be helpful for providing visuals to accompany directions related to any number of activities: a new computer program students have to use, resources they need to access online, or a complicated file upload procedure they need to follow. In the food-for-thought vein, here’s a scholarly article arguing that “screencast video feedback serves as a better vehicle for in-depth explanatory feedback that creates rapport and a sense of support for the writer than traditional written comments.”

If you’d like to use screencasting or screenshots for comments, tutorials, or other purposes in your course, the free version of Jing is still going strong. Another option garnering a fair amount of press is Skitch, from the folks at Evernote. Like Jing, Skitch is free. Magical! And, building on last week’s post, Skitch evern integrates with Evernote, so you can put you videos and images right in your notes! Alas, there’s no Skitch for your windows machine (although this is reportedly coming), but you can use Skitch on your iPad, Mac, and Android.

Share away!

TCU’s Pearson LearningStudio Mobile Website

login page of TCU LearningStudio mobile websiteAs courses are ramping up and our calendars are filling with meetings, lectures, and other campus events, now seems like the perfect time to post a little reminder about TCU’s Pearson LearningStudio mobile website.

The mSite is a slimmed down version of your Pearson LearningStudio experience, designed for mobile devices (including iPads). No special downloads or apps are required!

Users can use the browser on any device to access the mSite at http://m.tcuglobal.edu or visit http://www.tcuglobal.edu.

What can you do/see on the msite?

Courses – A user can see their currently enrolled courses.

Announcements – A user can see all of the Announcements within each course. Rich text is supported in Announcements.

Activity – Activity is a cross-course feed that shows the user what’s happening in their courses. Items include threads posts and responses, Dropbox submissions, and Gradebook items.

Upcoming – Upcoming shows the user a cross-course list of upcoming events, which includes any item with a due date, or start/end date. Included in this list are scheduled threads, quizzes/exams, and HTML content with due dates.

Discussions – The Discussions section shows active discussions (posts within the last 24 hours) from across a user’s courses, and let’s the user see all topics, organized by unit. Discussion topics support rich text and images. Users can reply to any topic or response. When a message is unread in Discussions, a colored bar shows to the left of the cell as a subtle indicator that the user has not yet read the message.

Gradebook – A user can see their Gradebook, with both graded and ungraded items, and see details for graded items.

Want more information? Check out or msite how-to videos for instructors and students.