Facebook Has Changed My Life and It’s Not What You Might Think

The midterm elections have just finished and it’s got me thinking about how I engage with the news and keeping up with (or not) current events. As an impestuous young adult from 10 to 15 years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to watch the news or read the newspaper and that it was all too depressing for someone who wanted to help change the world into something better, but was overwhelmed by not knowing what to do with all this “bad news.”

So, I don’t have cable, I don’t get the newspaper, I intentionally don’t get into conversations with people about politics, and while I do listen to the radio, it is usually in the car on my way to someplace – not a lot of exposure time. Essentially, I was unplugged from world events, current events, hot topics, election topics and even a lot of pop culture. I was definitely not in a position to do a whole lot to change the world into something better, that’s for sure.

In 2006, my younger college friends convinced me to change social media networks from MySpace to Facebook, which was about college affiliations at the time and a way to make friends and see relationships between people based on the college they attended. I joined this new platform and have been an active member ever since.

Unless you’ve been hiding somewhere under a rock for the last 10 years, you probably know that Facebook is all about being social, posting what you’re doing, your pictures, asking what you should make for dinner, being a philosopher with a few lines or an image, getting ads based on your mined data, blasting immense disapproval of politics or food service and other things of the sort. But what you may not be aware of is that in the last year or so, Facebook has become considerably more populated with articles from all over the internet about all kinds of things. These articles range from news stations, pop culture magazines, science articles, human interest blogs, news releases, newspaper articles and movie/tv reviews.

When I recently had to do an accounting for all the professional development I’ve done in the last year, including articles I’ve read, I realized that I read between 20 – 30 articles every week. I’m not even considered an avid or frequent Facebook user. I’m just average. A quick scroll through my news feed and I find only 3 personal posts, 7 news releases from a newspaper or news station, 6 movie/tv reviews or blog articles, 4 science articles, and 7 human interest articles. And then if I click on one of these articles, there are links to more articles. I invariably find myself on Facebook for hours reading about current events, hot topics, politics from differing perspectives, human interest stories, movie and tv reviews, news releases and pop culture (I love finding “Life Hacks” and organizational designs).

On top of that, if I find a blog writer, newspaper, article author, magazine or news station that seems to be producing good stuff, I follow them or sign up for a blog to get sent to my email and then I’m reading even more.

This is on top of working full time, being a single mommy to a preschooler and working on my master’s degree, so it’s not like I have oodles of spare time where I’m just bored. I’m the opposite. I’m riveted. Facebook has made me more connected, more informed, and more compassionate. It has even taught me to be more patient, more forgiving and practice holding my tongue better when I should. I am in a better place to change the world than I’ve ever been in. And the surprising thing is I’m not overwhelmed. I’m excited and I want to spread the disease of information and being informed and being excited to everyone I know.

Are You Surviving Fall Quarter?

Phew! We have made it past midterms (hopefully, relatively unscathed), and we are into a serious countdown to Christmas (or winter break).

Fall quarter is always a blur. There’s a HUGE build up to prep, the most new students at once all year and the largest break between quarters happens right before fall. Talk about stressful. Students are stressed out too because this may be their first quarter, they have just come off of summer break (even if they attended summer classes, there’s a lot of time in between the beginning of August and the end of September), they may have their own kids that have started school.

Plus, let’s not forget all those hollidays that make it so hard to be good and do what you’re supposed to…like work 40 hours in a week, or grade papers…or write a paper…or read all the chapters and articles you’re supposed to. Throwing Typewriter gif

Since we could…ahem..ALL use a little help maintaining the sanity to make it through the quarter, here are some tips that could make your life as an instructor easier.

  1. If you’re not using Canvas for your gradebook, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. A main benefit is providing students with more immediate access to their grades and being less dependent on you, the instructor. Students call, email or walk in to the eLearning office ALL the time with questions about why their grades aren’t in Canvas for all their classes. Another HUGE benefit of you using Canvas for your gradebook is that it’s easy to share student grades and reports with organizations on campus that need to keep track of student progress as part of eligibility in their program. If student grades are in Canvas, then we can also identify students who are at risk of dropping out or failing, so that we can intervene earlier. If you use Canvas for nothing else, use it for your gradebook. If you would like to explore how to make the Canvas gradebook work for you or would like help setting it up, call, email or come on down to the eLearning office. We’d love to help you!
  2. Be intentional about your gradebook now and don’t leave it for panic time in week 10. If you’re using Canvas, don’t rely on how you set up your modules. Check your “Assignments” in the left hand navigation. Everything listed in your Assignments will be listed in your gradebook. Alternatively, whatever you don’t see in your Assignments isn’t listed in your gradebook. Also, check for duplicate assignments, if all of your assignments are labeled correctly, or if they all have points. Read this blog post to give you more tips on the gradebook and setting up extra credit.
  3. Think about how your students are interacting with your content material. If you’re not getting the desired response from students, think about how you could make it more effective in the future. Start with the end. What result do you want? Then, work backwards from there, how could you get your students to give you the desired result? Tweak these assignments in your master class in Canvas.
  4. Do you have a master class in Canvas? A master class is an awesome place for you to tinker and tweak things, to experiment, fail miserably and then try again – without the danger of messing up your students or your grades in your live classroom. It’s also a great place for you to perfect your lessons and assignments based on student feedback throughout the quarter. Then, you simply import your material into your live class when you’re ready. You can create your own master class, as many as you’d like. For help on setting one up, contact eLearning.
  5. Finally, if you need help or your students need help, don’t hesitate to ask! Don’t suffer in silence, whether you’re struggling with technology, instructional design, student engagement, student behavior, accessiblity, etc. Ask for help and encourage your students to do the same.

Have a great rest of fall quarter!

We look forward to serving you!

GoogleDocs…in Canvas!

If you haven’t met GoogleDocs yet and the amazing things it can do for you, allow me to introduce you.

This is Google:

Google - Hand waving hi

The company was founded by Ph.D. students at Stanford University in 1998. It became a public offering in 2004 with a mission statement “”to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

It has grown rapidly, which has produced an ever-growing list of products, aquisitions and partnerships beyond its main search engine.

It has Web Tools.

Google - Web tools

Specialized Mobile Tools

Google - Mobile tools

Business Tools

Google - Business tools

Media Tools

Google - Media tools

“Geo” Tools

Google - Geo tools

Specialized Search Tools

Google - Specialized Search tools

Home & Office Tools

Google - Home and Office tools

Social Tools

Google - Social tools

And “Innovation” Tools

Google - Innovation tools

Well, awesome…so, what? Right?

Well, beside the fact that there are billions of things with these tools all on there own or separately, it’s when you start to use them in conjunction with each other and with other programs (Like Canvas!) where your life starts to get a whole lot bigger and easier.

First off, if you and your students have a google account (gmail address), you can link it to your Canvas account in your personal settings. Then, you and your students can easily use the Google Collaborations tool already built in to all your Canvas courses. This tool is great for students to work on group projects or papers or take shared notes. Teachers or students can set up group collaborations if you have this navigation tool visible in your left hand navigation.

Next, you could link a document or folder right into the left hand navigation bar using the “Redirect” App Tool. That way if you had documents you wanted everyone to have access to and collaborate on, it’s right there. The beauty of using it this way is that only the person who set up the document needs to have a Google account. If you don’t want to track who does what (Google account needed for that), then you can adjust the settings on your document and anyone that can access the document or folder in your Canvas class. Think about the possibilities of this for your class or if you’re using Canvas as a work space for your department or advising.

Next, have you tried Google Forms yet?

If not, you’re missing a whole world of genius.

Google Forms allows you to create forms (duh!). Lets say you wanted to give a survey, or you wanted students (or others) to fill out a request for more information with their contact info, or you want to do an evaluation on your course, Google Forms can do that. Even better is, when people fill out the form, it autopopulates in a spreadsheet with a date and time stamp, which arranges your data all nice and neat. It even allows you to easily see analytics (depending on the type of question you asked).

Here, in eLearning, we track our support tickets.

So, our form looks like this:

Google form - Ticket Tracking

Then our autopopulated sheet looks like this:

Google form - Ticket Tracking Sheet

And our analytics look like this:

Google form - Ticket Tracking Analytics

And, you could easily embed or link one of these surveys right into Canvas, so it would look like this:

Google form - Ticket Tracking in Canvas

Honestly, the possibilities are endless.

So, basically what I’m trying to say…is Google is pretty awesome by itself.

But Google and Canvas together can be simply AMAZING!

It definitely gets my

seal-of-approval gif

Have You Heard of Screencast-o-matic Yet?


Have you heard of Screencast-o-matic yet?

It is a free screen recorder for instant screen capture and sharing. You can use it right in your browser without installing anything. Or you could download the program and run anytime you want to on your mac or pc.

Watch this video created by YouTube user MsMagic Submitter on how simple it is to use.

In case you were wondering how this compares to things like Panopto and Tegrity, here’s a comparison chart.


My big take-away is that both programs have their merits and really about which works best for you and what you want to use it for.

Tiki-Toki – What Could You Do With an Awesome Timeline Tool?

It’s the age-old problem.

You need to tell a story line or create a time line and you’re limited to the old standard of drawing a line on a piece of paper as neatly as possible, only to go back and redo it several times because you kept having to make more room for another time slot.

Crying gif

Or maybe you’re even new school enough to do an electronic version.

But wait. Now, there’s an even better, more engaging and dynamic way. And it’s called…

According to the website at http://www.tiki-toki.com, “Tiki-Toki is a web-based software for creating beautiful interactive timelines that you can share on the internet.” The web based program makes it easy for people to create interactive multimedia timelines in their browsers. Images, text and even videos from YouTube and Vimeo can be embedded. The timelines can be easily shared and there are a variety of account options (of course you have to create an account to use it). There is a free account with full functionality, but with some limitations. You’re only allowed to make one timeline at a time (which you can then edit or delete to make a different one), you can’t embed timelines on your own website, you can’t activate Group Edit that allows friends and colleagues to add to the timeline, and you are limited to a maximum of 200 events on your timeline. Tiki-Toki says its free account is primarily for giving people a chance to try out the program and its features, with the hope they become “so thrilled by it that they want to upgrade to one of [the] premium accounts.”

The 3 premium accounts are Teacher, Bronze and Silver. The teacher account is hugely discounted and includes 50 free Bronze pupil accounts for and 1 Silver account for the instructor.

It comes with four different viewing types, including a 3d option. The Category Band view allows you to create multiple timelines within one timeline. Each category you add to the timeline creates a colored horizontal band. The bands are then populated with stories or events of the corresponding category.

Here is an example of the ‘standard’ viewing where a woman has used it to tell the events of her life.

Tiki-Toki Timeline: The Life of Mary Kearns

Tiki-Toki Timeline: The Life of Mary Kearns

And here is an example of the 3D viewing of the timeline of the Tower of London. Note the 3 different categories coded in colors of Architecture & Works, Events and Reign.

Tower of London 3D Tiki-Toki timeline

Tower of London 3D Tiki-Toki timeline


So, whether you’re doing a storyline, giving an estimate on the length of a project, writing a paper in English or giving a lesson on the history of diesel technology, try Tiki-Toki.

It’s pretty darn cool.

Ryan Gosling Approves gif

Doodle a Survey


If you haven’t heard about Doodle, then you might be doing your scheduling wrong.

Doodle is a scheduling tool that simplifies coordinating a meeting, call, conference, training, or whatever.

It allows you to schedule an event.

Doodle - Create an Event

Next, plug in options.

Doodle - Pick a dateDoodle - Times

Doodle - Settings

Then, send the link to anyone.

Doodle - Send the Link

The participants use the link to click on their availability.

Then, at a glance, you can see what times work for everyone and schedule your meeting.

You don’t even have to create an account, but you can if you’d like.

Check out doodle.com for more info.

Thinglink.com – A Dynamic Tool for Your Classroom, Facebook, Presentation, Ad or Anything Else

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what happens when we make that picture interactive and clickable? Now it’s gotta be worth at least 2,000, right?

Well, that’s exactly what ThinkLink does.

According to the ThinkLink website, “ThinkLink is the leading platform for creating interactive images for web, social and advertising channels.” It says you can “make images come alive with video, text, images, shops, music and more.”

What that really means is that you can take a picture (any picture) and add links to it without cluttering it with words. You simply add clickable spots on your image that make it infinitely more informative.

Examples from the website are using it for storefront images, with purchase links layered directly onto the image, using an image of a map to “unlock narrative elements,” and using a personal photo enriched with video, audio and other online media.

You can use this as a way to flip your classroom. Rather than having your students simply read a text, you could provide an image (a real one or one you created, like a mind map or drawing, etc.) and have the students click on points on the image to learn more about the topic. The links could be other images, videos, audio, text, websites, or anything you can link to.

And good news, it works on all modern web browsers, the iPad, the iPhone and Android!

You do have to create yet another account, but you could always just create one by logging in with your Facebook, Twitter or Google+ accounts to make it easier.

You can “follow” people just like any other social media, but you don’t have to. The images you use can come from your Facebook, Flickr, anywhere on the web or even your computer.

Here’s an example of one using the college’s map and linking videos, news articles, photos and websites. Welcome to Centralia College!

The possibilities are endless!