Introduction to New Series: Interviews with Dr. Doug Hartman

Have you ever been able to sit down with a faculty member with a great reputation and asked them questions about their career? I was able to do this because of a “Faculty Profile” assignment in my Scholarly Communications in the Digital Age course which is “an online course for graduate students interested in the ways technology influences research, writing, publication, and academic career development.

I chose to interview Dr. Doug Hartman and do a write up about it. I’ve decided to do a 9 part blog series in the next 9 weeks. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed interviewing and getting to know Dr. Hartman. Part 1 is called “Ripping Bibles” and it gives a glimpse into how Doug’s childhood experience influenced the trajectory in the decades of research and teaching that followed. 

I want to thank Dr. Doug Hartman for the kind permission to share the contents of this interview.

LearnDash – Could WordPress be a viable LMS?

So, I have always wondered about who might build a learning management component onto the existing WordPress platform.

LearnDASH LogoAbout five years ago, I had some kind friends help me to see the benefits of using WordPress as a platform for blogging and web design. I continue to find the interface of WordPress to be intuitive compared to other content management systems. The powerful plugins are also robust with an active developer community.

So, I have always wondered about who might build a learning management component onto the existing WordPress platform. There are many faculty who use it in their courses as a way to provide content to their students outside of a learning management system. In doing so, they also sacrifice native tools geared for learning like quizzes, discussion forums, and gradebook functions. This is why I have been recently really interested to hear about what has been developing over at LearnDash.

Besides having a great name similar to another one that I know, the LearnDash plugin is soon to be launching an LMS solution within WordPress. I am really eager to explore the course creation process, quiz creation process, certificate completion options, course scheduling features, user management integration with existing LMSs, learning analytics package, and even media hosting options.

What about you? Would you be interested in using LearnDash with any of your courses? What interests you about LearnDash? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Interview of Carrie on Google Presentation Collaboration with Students

I had a great conversation today about using Google Presentations for collaborative learning with Carrie Heeter and Keesa Muhammad from LearnDAT.

I had a great conversation today about using Google Presentations for collaborative learning with Carrie Heeter and Keesa Muhammad from LearnDAT. Check it out:


Field Trip to Menlo

Remember field trips? What ever happened to those?

Remember field trips? What ever happened to those?

Well, I am glad to report that yesterday, LearnDAT team members and some others from IT Services here at Michigan State University took part in one.

Sure, we didn’t ride in a big yellow bus and I am pretty sure none of us had to have permission forms filled out, but it sure felt like an authentic field trip none-the-less.

You see, we had the privilege of visiting our friends over at Menlo Innovations today. Richard Sheridan, CEO, founder, and chief story-teller at Menlo gave us a tour of their facilities, practices and philosophies. He began by explaining how the entire vision is premised upon building a culture of joy. Immediately, one of the attendants asked, “Did you say ‘joy’?”

Richard then went on to explain that he did, indeed, say “joy” despite Menlo being a software innovation company. The surprise at the word joy in the context of the software industry is not uncommon, but Menlo is simply not a common place. That is what makes Menlo a constant revolving door for tourists like us who have gotten wind of some amazing things happening there.

Not many places can claim that their primary tool for project management is 3×5 cards, and especially a place that builds software solutions.

Other notable culture shock experiences during the tour included the wide open floor plan, the 40 hour work-week (with no overtime or limits of when employees are “allowed” to take vacation), and seeing bikes, pets, and children all around the room. The culture of transparency and trust breeds some fascinating results that made for a very interesting tour, to say the least.

According to Sheridan, the issues and difficulties they experience as an organization are not much different than what any organization experiences except for the way in which they handle them. In fact, one of the quotes seen right on the wall stated, “make mistakes faster.” Menlo intentionally identifies managerial practices based upon fear-tactics and eradicates them so that trust is built with clients and the Menlo team alike.

As Sheridan and his team continue to demonstrate leadership and innovation, you might consider joining one of their tours. See what kinds of things you could learn and conversations that could be started as a result. I know that we are glad we did. In fact, they could take the whole field of design and technology for a trip if you ask me.

See photos from our field trip on our Facebook page

“Transforming Higher Education with Emerging Technologies” | EDUCAUSE 2012

Chris Dede from Harvard gave an outstanding talk called “Transforming Higher Education with Emerging Technologies” at the recent Educause Learning Initiative in Austin Texas on the morning of February 14th. In vuDAT (where I work), we had the privilege of hosting an online streaming of this talk and host of others for those interested in attending at Michigan State University.

This talk envisioned the transformation of teaching and learning for 21st-century skills and citizenship. The focus highlighted an array of interactive Web 2.0 technologies designed to aid in collaboration, social interaction, and creation. Both formative and summative assessments strategies were described. These strategies were proposed to be able to leverage the holistic data derived from an immersive simulation interfaces such as augmented reality with mobile devices as well as virtual worlds.

One of Dede’s main points was that education has historically been purposefully removed from the chaotic world in order to reflect analytically. He argues that now with these emerging technologies there are opportunities to strengthen links between life inside and outside the classroom.

Video of this session can be viewed here.

What are your reactions to his vision?

How to use google voice for extremely easy on-the-fly podcasting:

Many online course instructors use announcements to communicate on a regular basis with the learners. Some instructors create introductions to modules using video, audio, or presentation tools. Leveraging google voice for “on-the-fly” podcasts allows instructors to be able to quickly and easily record their announcments so that learners can hear the announcement coming directly from their instructor to give the course a more personalized tone.

  • See my tutorial on this here:
  • View/duplicate/edit/use my slides from here: How to use google voice for extremely easy on-the-fly podcasting: – Google Docs