Teaching, Learning & Technology
Sharing best practices from faculty around the world who are using technology to transform teaching and learning.

Designing for Online Learning: My Story

The exponential interest in online learning and the launch of our new HP Catalyst Academy for STEMx Teachers has me thinking about my own experience teaching online. What makes it work?



My First MOOC



I've just signed up to participate in my first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC). It's free and runs from Sept 8-30th. The focus of "MobiMOOC" is Mobile Learning, and hundreds of educators from around the world are already "enrolled". Sounds crazy - and very interesting.


What to join me? Keep reading to learn more...




Making Live (Synchronous) Distance Learning Come Alive - Georgia Tech and DyKnow

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Ask anyone who has attended an online webinar presentation, a live "broadcast lecture", or viewed a lecture that has been video podcast, and chances are they were multitasking - big time. Let's face it: Without actually engaging the audience, a lecture is highly ineffective - and if it's an online, non-interactive lecture, it's like watching a television show - minus the entertainment value of advertising.

Thankfully, innovation in instruction and technology is changing the equation, as is the case at Georgia Tech Savannah...

With support from an HP Technology for Teaching grant in 2006, and a follow-on HP Leadership Grant in 2008, Elliot Moore and Monson Hayes, co-PI's and faculty in engineering, used HP tablet pcs and DyKnow software to make their synchronous, distributed learning courses come alive.

From their project website:

Currently, Georgia Tech Savannah (GTS) provides engineering education to students located across 4 different universities.  One of the primary initiatives at GTS is to develop a blueprint for building a campus that utilizes computer-based technology to enhance the effectiveness of education in synchronous distributed learning (DL) environments.  In this scenario, the professor and students engage in a live classroom session via videoconferencing equipment that allows the students and professors to be at different geographical locations.  This type of DL environment typically suffers from several challenges that create significant barriers in effective student learning and teacher instruction including:

  • 1. Poor transmission of live lecture content

  • 2. Limitations on basic classroom interaction among the instructor and students

  • 3. Challenges in class administration of basic assessment activities (e.g., in class examples, exams, etc.)

These problems have contributed to a poor opinion overall of DL courses by students and instructors.  The results of this project have shown the following measured improvements in student attitudes and opinions regarding the learning environments created in the DL courses for this project as opposed to traditional DL courses:

  • 1. Students felt the presentation of the lecture content was more clear and easy to follow than in traditional DL courses

  • 2. Students preferred the use of the Tablet PC for taking and receiving notes

  • 3. Students felt more involved in class discussions and learning activities

  • 4. Students felt the in-class interaction through the Tablet PC helped them learn the material better and pay more attention in class


The comments from the students support these findings:

"I liked that the professor could ask questions and have us submit answers. It caused me to pay more attention than I normally would. I think I also grasped the concepts better by actually doing them during class." (Spring 2007 Student)

"The Dyknow interface allows students to actually LISTEN to what the instructor is saying without scrambling madly to write stuff down and missing important point in the process. I would highly recommend it!" (Spring 2007 Student)

"LOBBY TO MAKE OTHER CLASSES USE TABLET PCs!! It worked very well. Not only was having all the notes readily available great, but working problems in class with you giving feedback and showing popular incorrect answers was nice too. I'm actually getting a tablet pc for Christmas because of this class, no joke." (Fall 2007 student)


Keep up the great work, Georgia Tech Savannah!



This experience at Georgia Tech is only one of many. Richard Anderson, creator of Classroom Presenter software, has created a similar synchronous distance learning interaction in his computer science course (see my previous blog posting, "Enhancing "Live" Distance Learning with Classroom Presenter").

Also, check out the Virginia Tech video posted on the DyKnow site "...I can take an auditorium, a theater, and turn it into an active learning place..." (Tom Walker, Associate Professor of Engineering).

Jim Vanides, B.S.M.E, M.Ed.
Worldwide Education Programs
HP Global Social Investment

Twitter @jgvanides

For information about the HP Global Social Investments, visit www.hp.com/hpinfo/grants



Beyond Video Chat - Making Conference Presentations via HP Virtual Rooms

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Let's face it - there are more conferences on the planet
than one can possibly attend. While I always appreciate the opportunity to
participate and share stories about "Re-Imagining the Classroom", I simply
cannot be traveling all the time. So I have recently tried using HP Virtual
Rooms - and it's a whole lot of fun!...

There's nothing particularly new about video conferencing.
Those of us with loved ones far away have been appreciating the Glorious magic
of Skype video calls - and some are switching to Google Video Chat. But what's
missing from both is the ability to show and annotate. Having used a tablet pc
for several years now, it's hard for me to imagine talking without
simultaneously drawing - so you can imagine my frustration with most video

That's all changed now.

I finally have had a chance to use the HP Virtual Room service
that we granted to our 2009 HP Innovations in Education awardees in the US. The
version we granted is the Multimedia version of HP Virtual Room, which supports
webcam video streams and Voice over IP conversations, so participants can see
and hear one another without an extra phone line. Like all HP Virtual Rooms,
the room's content is persistent (you can upload presentations and keep them
there for future use). It really is "your room".

I recently used my HP Virtual Room Multimedia
account as a Presenter at two conferences, neither of which I could attend in
person - the Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology in Education (www.wipte.org) held recently at Virginia Tech,
and the Next Steps Institute, a K-12 science education conference hosted
recently in Huntsville, Alabama, by the Association for Science Materials
Centers (http://www.kitsupport.org/).

The setup was simple: I have a computer, webcam, external
mic, earbuds, and an HP Virtual Room. I create an event and send the room URL
to the conference organizers, who have a room full of people, a computer (with
headphone output connect to their house P/A system, a webcam, a digital
projector, and (preferably) a wireless house mic connected back to the mic
input on their computer.

The result is an easy way to have a video conference with
window sharing. Below is a screen shot of what the NSI event looked like this


If you can't be there in person to give a presentation, it
sure is nice to still have a way to participate... and in this visual, multimedia
world, being able to show, point, and scribble is very important - and couldn't
be easier!


Jim Vanides, B.S.M.E, M.Ed.
Worldwide Education Programs
HP Global Social Investment

Twitter @jgvanides

For information about the HP Global Social Investments, visit www.hp.com/hpinfo/grants


Education Talk-show in Second Life? You bet! ISTE Eduverse archive treasures...

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In our ongoing quest to find ways to share the expertise of innovative educators, we have been collaborating with ISTE in the use of Second Life as a professional networking venue. The education talk show, "ISTE Eduverse Talks" has just completed its 8th episode - and each one is worth watching...

ISTE Eduverse "talk-show" events are recorded before a live studio audio in Second Life. The archives are then posted on the ISTE Eduverse blog. These one-hour interviews are done "talk show style", featuring HP grant recipients and other experts who have valuable best-practices to share. As described on the ISTE-Eduverse blog, "Filmed and broadcast from Second Life, the series highlights innovations in educational technology, in both real life and Second Life."

You are all welcome to attend the recordings "live" (well, your Second Life avatar is welcome to attend). But even if you don't have a Second Life account, you can still view the shows the ISTE Eduverse blog, or view videos chunked into sections and posted onto Youtube. I've pasted samples of the Youtube recordings below for your reference.


Jim Vanides, B.S.M.E, M.Ed.
Worldwide Education Programs
HP Global Social Investment

Twitter @jgvanides

For information about the HP Global Social Investments, visit www.hp.com/hpinfo/grants



Episode 7: Living in the (Virtual) Moment: A Case Study of Association Member Engagement in Second Life - Learn how the International Society for Technology in Education expanded into Second Life and used this virtual world to support member professional development, networking, and leadership in this episode featuring some of ISTE's most active volunteers and members!

Full Episode, or partial sample from YouTube:


Episode 6: Revolutionizing Instruction With Tablet PC's - Are you ready to learn how to use web-based tools in your classroom to improve the sharing of ideas, problems, questions and solutions among students? Join host Kevin Jarrett (SL: KJ Hax) for a discussion with cross-disciplinary team of educators from Clemson University who successfully integrated Tablet PC's into their curriculum as part of the HP Technology for Teaching Grant program. Hear classroom success stories and lessons learned from this diverse group of educators

 Full Episode, or partial sample from YouTube:


Episode 5: Flat Classrooms: Using Web 2.0 Tools to Level the Playing Field between Students and Teachers - Want the inside scoop on The Flat Classroom Project-a collaborative effort that utilizes Web 2.0 tools to foster communication, collaboration, and creativity between educators and students across the globe? Join host Kevin Jarrett (SL: KJ Hax) and project co-founders Vicki Davis (SL: CoolCat Whitman), the IT Director of Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia, and Julie Lindsay (SL: Charlotte Ozigard), the head of IT and E-Learning at Qatar Academy in Doha, Qatar, for an exciting discussion about the evolution of this project as well as tips for flattening your own classroom.

Full Episode, or partial sample from YouTube:

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About the Author(s)
  • Jim Vanides is responsible for the vision, strategy, design, and implementation of education technology innovation initiatives. His focus is the effective use of technology to create powerful learning experiences that help students around the world succeed. He has been instrumental in launching over 1200 primary, secondary, and higher education projects in 41 countries, including the HP Catalyst Initiative - a 15-country network of 60+ education organizations exploring innovations in STEM(+) learning and teaching. In addition to his work at HP, Jim teaches an online course for Montana State University on the Science of Sound, a masters-level, conceptual physics course for teachers in grades 5 through 8. Jim’s past work at HP has included engineering design, engineering management, and program management in R&D, Manufacturing, and Business Development. He holds a BS in Engineering and a MA in Education, both from Stanford University.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.