UW Bothell Learning Technologies Blog Rotating Header Image

learning technologies

Students Spending Money on Online Tutoring


One of the biggest parts about going to college is balancing studying, going to class, working, personal health, and possibly a social life. This in turn makes online tutoring and study guides much more enticing compared to on-campus tutoring centers. Students are spending money on online tutoring in order to spend less time studying but get the best possible grade they can.

Schools such as Pennsylvania State University has taken notice to this growing trend. To the point that their own student government voted to “beef up” its own free tutoring options. They hope to sway students from spending money for online tutoring and take advantage of the tutoring centers that are already allocated on their campus.

Most tutoring centers, such as the University of Washington Bothell, is run by students that have already taken a course and gotten an adequate grade. Although our campus heavily advertises these resources, most campuses have tutoring centers that tend to be small and hidden.

At Penn State, the two hottest companies, LionTutors and PSUKnowHow, offer group tutoring sessions for the more popular campus courses. Which most would describe as live-active versions of CliffsNotes for the classes.

These companies are capitalizing on just reusing information that they’ve gathered from these popular classes and are enticing students to pay their way through school.

Students that use these services tend to be those that might have had to miss class or don’t completely understand the material in class. That being said, more schools need to invest more into their free tutoring centers as companies are now capitalizing on the pressure that students feel to academically succeed.

For more information on this topic click here.

Cybersecurity Update: Phishing Becoming More Frequent, Effective


As other forms of online security grow stronger, online criminals are looking more and more towards the end user as an attack vector as well as a victim. Phishing attacks, which trick the user into voluntarily giving up their personal information to a source that they think they can trust, are increasing dramatically. At the same time, these attacks are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to confuse their victims and earn their trust. For example, phishing attacks frequently take the form of fraudulent emails that tell users that their account has been compromised and that they need to reset their passwords. They then direct users to a fake website that resembles the one they expect to see and ask users to enter their credentials. Once the victim enters their username and password, attackers are free to use those to impersonate the victim. Attackers are quickly learning to trick their victims by including the victim’s name in the subject of the email, among other things. Other forms of phishing attacks could include email attachments that, when downloaded, can infect the victim’s computer.

UW has an excellent system for telling students about ongoing security issues, including emails being sent to the entire system when attacks are being reported against UW students. However, the best way to fight phishing attacks is learning the ability to tell the difference between a trustworthy and untrustworthy email. Paying close attention to spelling and grammar in a given email and looking for consistency in information given can be an effective tool to keep oneself from being tricked.

For more information on this topic click here.

6 Blended Learning Models

Research has shown the blended learning, the combination of face-to-face and online instruction, increases flexibility, individualization and chance of student success. It is a great way to meet the diverse needs of several students at once. Here are 6 models of blended learning that has a unique system for teachers to choose from.


  • Face to Face Driver Model: Best when students function at varying levels. More skilled students will be able to move a faster pace so that they would not be bored and be given appropriate challenges.
  • Rotation Model: Teachers set schedules for face to face and online meetings. This model is popular in elementary classrooms where math and reading could be divided, so that students can be scheduled face to face meetings with reading and study math via learning stations
  • Flex Model: This model is heavily online, where instructors act as facilitators instead of primary delivers. This works best in school settings where students are in work-study programs, have attendance problems or are part time students
  • Online Lab Model: There are no certified teachers, but there are supervisors for these classes. This will be most suitable for students who: have other responsibilities; want to progress at a faster rate; want to slow down the pace; and schools with budget constraints
  • Self-Blend Model: Students take traditional face to face classes but enroll for separate online courses as supplements. This would be beneficial if: the school didn’t offer the course; students want to gain college credit and take advance placement classes; students are motivated and independent learners
  • Online Driver Model: This is completely online and students would be working from their home. There would be opportunities to check in with the teacher as well. This would be suitable for students: with chronic illnesses or disabilities; who have other jobs and obligations; want to progress faster than a traditional school setting


Schools and institutions will be able to refer to these models when planning out their class setup as it has a lot of potential and success. It will save schools a lot of money, and it is appropriately adapting to the way students learn nowadays. For more info, click here.

Face to Face: a New Way of Blending Digital and Physical Classrooms

Georgetown University has recently experimented with turning one of its digital-only courses into a hybrid course. Usually, this process occurs in the other direction: a physical class slowly spins off portions into online sections. This means a lot of the class can occur online, but it is still constrained by scheduled, physical meetings instead of fully taking advantage of the digital format.

the thing

By moving from a conventional online class, more helpful, innovative ways of addressing online learning can be addressed. Georgetown’s system is based on holding the same class twice a week at scheduled times- students only need to tune into one of the two. Attendance is done entirely remotely. Students teleconference in and participate in a live discussion just as they would in a traditional setting. Their webcams and microphones are utilized to give the illusion of physically being present. In this way, the digital classroom experience is raised beyond the typical list of tasks and readings and becomes a personally engaging system. Interactivity even includes a method of virtually raising one’s hand, and splitscreen conversations between professor and pupil. Perhaps UW Bothell could adapt this system to let more students participate in each class while preserving the same small-class feel that has become its trademark.

For more information on this topic, click here.

Virtual Labs Taking Over

While online courses are at an all-time high, these programs still have a major problem: how can they can give their students access to software and data sets needed for class when they can’t walk into a computer lab on campus and log in?

At Indiana University, for example, the online course there required a high-end mapping application. Before, the university would put together 10 DVDs or so with the software for the students to use, but this only created more problems and was impractical as the students had to spend time figuring out how to install the software and possibly calling tech support. Another example would be at Capella University, an online school, where the students needed industry-grade applications such as EnCase Forensic and such in order to succeed in their course.


Now, at both of these universities, virtualized desktops are being provided for the students, although the approaches are different. At Indiana University, the technologists have developed a virtual desktop solution with “zero logistical overhead”, according to David Goodrum, the director of teaching and learning technologies. At Capella, they have outsourced the work to a service provider that specializes in virtual environments.

In order to figure out how to grade its virtual desktops, IU (Indiana University), put a team together comprising of staff from IU, Client Services and Support, and Enterprise Systems. Their goal was to figure out a way to move different classes online in a way that would be a good experience for the students.

While the group had different components already set in place prior to, for students, they were all missing one thing: an easy way for instructors to distribute the digital course files to their students.  What they came up with, is Broadcast. This is a plug-in that is used alongside Canvas that allows the staff to send copies of all the course files to the students through their accounts. With the problem of hundreds of files being sent out, the next issue is to tackle programs such as Adobe products which are graphically heavy and poses performance issues above all else.

At Capella, a virtualized secure space was created. This space is heavily protected and allows students to use some of the same tools that hackers may use. The school works with Toolwire, a group in the virtual desktop and scenario-based training business to deliver this environment. Basically what happens is that the student sees a link, they click on that link, and it takes them to this secured environment.

Using virtual labs has many advantages, such as students don’t need to schedule time at a lab, worry about grabbing a free seat at a computer, or finding time to get to the lab. There are still some kinks to work out in this area, but once it’s worked out, virtual labs will be a regular thing to use in online courses.

For more information, visit here