Active Teaching Lab: Faculty Development in Educational Technology

In Fall of 2014, I wasn’t sure the idea would make it beyond a semester, but five semesters, 80 Labs, and some ~1300 participants later, I’m pleased to report that this idea of a collaboration between the UW-Madison Teaching Academy, where I’m an Executive Committee member, and the Division of Information Technology’s Department of Academic Technology, where I work, is successful. What it is Each week during academic semesters, the Active Teaching Lab invites an instructor to come share a Continue reading

Active Teaching Lab

This past Spring, with the wonderful support of DoIT Academic Technology and the Teaching Academy, I launched a series of Active Teaching Labs — low-commitment, structured explorations of cool teaching tools and techniques to teach more effectively. The response to them was very positive. GOAL: Capacity Building at faculty level; create deeply-embodied and socially-playful environments & experiences for learners — Lure with low-risk involvement. Inspire with stories. Motivate with hands-on success. SUCCESS: Because it is a safe & playful, low-risk environment where faculty are Continue reading

Teaching for Graduate Student Instructors

Pedagogical Treatments for Graduate Student Instructors  (GSIs) I’ve been thinking about his for some time. Thought I should write something up on it. Overview I propose that someone create small programs to improve the teaching of GSIs — in conjunction (and collaboratively) with various entities on campus to identify and target needs, to avoid programming in areas that do overlap, and to capitalize on lines of communication to potential participants. Benefits: This proposal addresses a problem that has not been adequately Continue reading

OK, Blended Learning — How about Blended Teaching?

I’m a conscientious teacher. I work pretty hard to ensure that learning activities are driven foremost by learning goals, and I work pretty hard to avoid “easy-for-me; crappy-for-student” learning activities, where they spit back content in multiple choice tests. But there’s no denying that I get really tired doing it this way. And there’s no denying that I mess up from time to time. And sometimes I really long for the simplicity and clarity that quantitative, multiple-choice assessment offers in spades. Continue reading

New Article Published

Our TechTrends article is now online — soon to be in better newsstands and libraries across the globe! Sadly, the title isn’t quite what it should be. What it should be is: Participatory Scaling of Augmented Reality Learning through Local Games Authors: John Martin, Seann Dikkers, Kurt Squire, David Gagnon Abstract: The proliferation of broadband mobile devices, which many students bring to school with them as mobile phones, makes the widespread adoption of AR pedagogies a possibility, but pedagogical, distribution, and training models Continue reading

Teaching Academy 2014 Winter Retreat

Teaching Academy 2014 Winter Retreat on January 17: Rethinking Effective Learning and Teaching Engagement (RELATE) Register here. Campus conversation is building around engaging and improving effective teaching on campus. Be a part of the conversation! Join us for our annual winter retreat on Friday, January 17, 2014, from 8:30–12:30 in Varsity Hall II, Union South Over the course of the morning, we will RELATE our successes and failures around improving teaching, and discuss learning, reshaping and promoting effective teaching on campus. Retreat Continue reading (Cool Stuff I’m working on)

SIFTR.ORG You may have heard of, or used ARIS, the iOS place-based activity platform. I would like to introduce its simpler sibling — — a cross-platform, web-based, mobile and desktop, interactive crowd-sourcing map that the Mobile Learning Incubator built for the Year of Innovation. One of my personal goals in pursuing the opportunity to build it was to create a place-based education tool that instructors can employ to harness creativity, collaboration, and peer-to-peer knowledge construction by all of their Continue reading

Disney and Education

Let me just be clear on a few things: I love Disney and its ability to create incredibly immersive experiences. I am a HUGE proponent the power of designed, built environments for learning (Ellworth 2005, etc.). Experiences that situate learners’ experiences in embodied contexts that touch multiple senses are experiences that “last a lifetime”. They’ve created top-notch, heavily-designed multimodal learning (and entertainment) environments that hold consumers’ attention throughout a learning experience. If all (or even 1%) of my public education Continue reading

Popular Science and the Impact of Trolling

THIS:   It’s exceptionally sad to me to see a 141 year old magazine, Popular Science, shutting off commenting on its website because the effect that trolling comments is actually having on shaping people’s opinions about the issues presented.    People still fear trolls. Or, at least, they avoid them. Maybe cross the river at other bridges, or decide not to cross the river at all?   It is precisely this type of story that motivates me to implement activities such as Continue reading

Student photos straight to D2L via Blogger widget

Last year, as a way to encourage that my first-semester freshmen get out and meet people beyond their residence hall, I made them go to the UW-Madison student organization fair and  take selfies of themselves with the booth people, then insert the photos into a Google doc that was shared among the class. They had to do at least two, but then I gave them something like 5 points for every pic after. To complete the assignment, they had to:  Continue reading

Why College? (Twitter assignment 1)

For the Wisconsin Experience seminar that I’m teaching this Fall, we examine “why are we here?” (student personal expectations, community expectations of students, and community expectations of the university, etc.). We do this through a few readings (The Wisconsin Experience, “Only Connect” [PDF], and “Research and the Research University”), and some reflection of course. The incoming first-semester freshmen in the class will probably be very familiar with their high school commencement speech and will have probably have had numerous discussions with Continue reading

Using Padlet in an LMS — Need ideas

So, there’s this tool, called Padlet, and it’s basically a magnetic note board. You can make a board and send people to the URL, and they can double-click on it and add notes that can contain: a title  text links (with thumbnails of the linked site!), documents (with thumbnails of the document!),  video from webcam (though I haven’t gotten it to work yet) So, it’s pretty cool, and I can imagine it being used to showcase — all in one Continue reading

Crocodoc! — Annotating PDFs in an LMS

I just found’s recently-acquired Crocodoc, and promptly tried to embed it in D2L as part of my “Embed Everything!” philosophy. I was looking for a solution to problem: “how can I get my students to collaboratively read a PDF?” (for PDFs that are text-based, it’s easy to import them to Google Docs and have them read and annotate them there, but image-based PDFs don’t convert very well). Enter Crocodoc. It turns out that Crocodoc Personal lets one do this Continue reading

Twitter for First Year Experience Class

How are you using Twitter for teaching and learning? This fall I am teaching a tech-enhanced Wisconsin Experience (#wiexp) seminar, and Twitter sort of embodies “tech-enhanced” (in a disembodied way), so I’m going to require that they open a twitter account, and each week we’ll be using it (with hashtags) to share things. The idea behind this is to get you to explore and share. We learn new stuff every day that helps us get through our days more comfortably, more efficiently, Continue reading

Prezi for more than presentations

As a visual-primary learner, and as a fan of learning tools, I love the spirit behind this article in the Chronicle’s ProfHacker: Hacking Prezi as a Platform for Visual Composition and Design Experimentation. The infinite zoom of Prezi has tremendous potential in design and visual layout as an organizer of content. But, as a devotee of sociocultural and collaborative learning, I especially love this part: One of the best things we have found along the way is that Prezi has a collaborative Continue reading

ARIS at AERA: Scaling Augmented Reality Education Through Local Games

I just got back from the 2013 AERA (American Educational Research Association) conference, where I got to present papers about Augmented Reality (and ARIS) in two sessions. The first, hosted by Chris Dede (Harvard), featured Eric Klopfer (MIT), Matt Dunleavy (Radford), Amy Kamarainen (Harvard), and Kurt Squire (Madison), with Chris Holden (UNM) and myself. Eric talked about MIT’s very cool Taleblazer platform. Matt discussed the development of the gorgeous Fresh AiR platform, and Amy detailed one cool case of how EcoMobile was using it. Then Continue reading

Place-based Learning in Environmental Studies

In summer and Fall of 2012, I was thrilled to be involved in the Situated Learning Award by the Engage program at UW–Madison. I got to assist three instructors in creating and implementing mobile-based Situated Learning activities for their courses. This post examines a case in Environmental Studies, where the instructor and her two graduate students built an elaborate three-role collaborative interactive tour of six buildings on campus where six issues in sustainability that the course covered throughout the semester: electricity, carbon, LEED, Continue reading