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How Technology Can Drive Active, Perpetual Learning

Jeremy Petranka has found a way to make classroom engagement more interesting and captivating – even outside of class. Petranka is an associate professor at Duke University and has integrated a new product called Yellowdig into his Strategy class.

Yellowdig is a platform where students can post links, photos, notes and discussion posts as a news feed. Students can up-vote posts, and those that do get up-voted will gain more “influence”. Petranka thought that his class should have had more collaboration and make use of the advancing technology that is engulfing the lives of students these days. He says that the right technology is “designed for students; mirroring their use habits, patterns and preferences; and resembling they applications that they already know and love”.

Petranka reassures that the integration of this new technology into the classroom won’t move the whole class online – it would just be a separate classroom experience. As students are posting discussions and posts about the week’s topic, professors are able to check in on what topics students seem most interested in.

He concludes that this new product has brought out positive results as learning became more natural and familiar to the students. According to him, a lot of his students commented, “I wasn’t sure at first, but once I jumped in I completely got it.”

For more information on this topic, visit the article here.

Lecture Capture App For Canvas


Professors, do you wish there was a way to record, edit and upload lectures from your phone to Canvas? Thanks to Collaaj it is now possible. This is an app that is exclusive for users with iPhones or iPads and comes with game changing features that are easy to use. After installing Collaaj into the Canvas environment, you will be ready for to approach any last minute lecture capture or video issues that come your way.

Collaaj allows the instructors to record just about anything; things such as: slides, videos, presentations or audio. The company says that the application is capable of recording from three different cameras, all at the same time. The software then goes through PowerPoint presentations and collects as well as indexes text, allowing the students who are actually viewing the video to search on a given term and be able to locate it inside the lecture recording. Once the recording is finished, it’s “live encoded” in order to make it available almost instantly to its viewers and is also uploaded to a “cloud-based or on-premise Campus YouTube” repository, left for the school to use. Collaaj apps are available in the iTunes app store,

If you would like to make your experience much simpler, download Collaaj today. It’s one of the newest apps created for Canvas and is built for easy use and for professors everywhere. But to figure out more about it before you buy it, click on the link above and find out more about what Collaaj can offer you.

Technology and Institutional Retention Strategies

In the beginning when hopes are high and one is feeling energized about either starting their higher education or returning to obtain it, these two attributes alone will not be enough  to keep you on the right track and your eye  on the prize. In an article on the Ellucian website they discussed the pitfalls that new and returning students succumb to that hinder them from making it to graduation. The article then talks about possible strategies that keep students on the ball and on their way to obtaining their degree.


About 400,000 students drop out of college every year. More than 40 percent of American students who begin at four-year colleges don’t earn a degree in six years. When community colleges are considered only about half of students actually earn a degree. So the question was asked why students leave before they graduate and what can higher education institutions do to change it.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently surveyed college leaders to hear about their retention and completion strategies and the image above breaks down the five most common approaches, and the percentage of institutions that employ them, to help keep students in school.

Each approach has its merits. But it was recommend that one should pursue a graduation strategy. Although a comprehensive strategy may be ideal, a graduation strategy includes the most viable elements of all the approaches. You can craft an effective graduation strategy by focusing on a few key principles:

  1. Meaningful engagement
  2. Clear pathways
  3. Early detection
  4. Personalized learning
  5. Insightful analytics

The main point is that technology can either supplement your efforts or do the heavy lifting for you. To read more details on the other top strategies and see which one best fits your needs please read the full article.

iPad + Me = iGraduate?

For those who choose to go beyond undergrad and continue on to a graduate school it is imperative that they get the most out of their program as they continue on in their area of focus. For those whose focus is in the medical sector, it is very important that as they go through their graduate classes they are maximizing their learning by any means necessary. An article on the Educause website discusses the effectiveness of Apple iPad technology in the Biomedical Sciences graduate school setting at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.


The article points out that there is little research that looks at the use of the iPad in the classroom, but there is an increasing amount of people adopting tablet technology. For example, the article states that the percentage of American adults who own tablets almost doubled over the 2011 holiday season, from 10 percent to 19 percent, as did the ownership of e-book readers.

Current research indicates potential for the iPad to serve as a teaching tool because of its light weight, high connectivity, and functionality with both typed and hand-written note taking. From the two-year experience of equipping all of Ohio State University College of Medicine first-year graduate students with iPads, they found many advantages of an iPad-enabled curriculum in our graduate program, but challenges remained. The main advantages included:

  • a portable device with constant access to the web while on campus
  • consistency with the educational goal of active learning
  • excitement among our students to receive an iPad
  • increased enthusiasm for the graduate program that benefited recruitment efforts
  • a sense of newness, with the deployment of this technology enhancing the graduate student experience

Overall, the adoption of iPads in graduate education enhanced the educational experience by increasing classroom connectivity, promoting engagement, and putting a wealth of new teaching and learning tools at the fingertips of students and faculty.

How Student Video Presentations Can Build Community in an Online Course

Robert Talbert, a STEM professor at Grand Valley State University, decided to integrate online student presentations into his online Calculus I class. He mentioned that teaching an online course came with a few challenges including setting up student presentations when the class never actually met face-to-face.

Talbert would give students one week to prepare for their presentations. The main rules were that students had to show their face, voice and own handwriting at all times in the video to ensure that they are in fact the ones doing the work. Students had to pass three video presentations to get an A, in the class and at least one to pass the class.

The professor informed all the students that he would provide any equipment that they would need to make the presentations, but all the students were able to manage on their own. Some students used basic filming tools such as their laptops or phones, while some who didn’t have whiteboards used large sheets of paper and taped them to her wall.

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(Photo credit: Chronicle.com)

These video presentations posed a number of positive impacts to the online class. Students were able to see each other’s work and use the videos to study for tests or see the different approaches to a problem. In addition, it created a slight difference from most online courses as students were able to see who else was in their class, instead of just “entries in a spreadsheet or avatars on a discussion board.”

Talbert says that “these video presentations were one of the biggest successes I’ve had as a teacher”

To view some of the presentations, visit the main article here.