Category Archives: Education/Training

Help! I’m Flipping Out!

i_love_flipping_out_sticker-rc04026307ba149ba9c74da03022e8556_v9waf_8byvr_324I’m sure by know we’ve all heard of the latest trend in student-centered learning, flipping. Flipping the class means that you have students access the lecture portion of the class at home and in class you work on extending the knowledge. Think of it in terms of the Bloom’s Taxonomy model.  Students would do the lower level work of remembering, understanding and applying new information at home. And then,  in class, students would complete the higher level learning of analyzing, evaluating and creating using the new information.  This flipped model of traditional classroom instruction enables learners to have more teacher support and peer collaboration when doing the heavy lifting of learning.



Higher order thinking skills are a must in the workplace. Employers expect employees to be problem solvers, creative thinkers, collaborators and more. Flipping the classroom helps students develop the skills they need to be successful in the workplace by giving them a safe, supported environment to make mistakes and learn by doing.

There are many instructional technologies out there to help you flip your class when you’re ready to transform the way your students learn. EduCanon and OfficeMix are two tools that work with Blackboard that can help you get started!

 EduCanon allows you to take a video published online and create an interactive user  experience by embedding questions into the timeline. You can borrow a video or use your  own! The free version allows you to create multiple choice, select all that apply and  reflective pause checkpoints. You can use your VCCS Gmail account to login and it will keep  track and monitor student responses. The entire process only takes minutes! Check out the Bulb below.

OfficeMix is a free PowerPoint add-on that allows you to voice-over and annotate your slides. You can even include short quizzes on each slide that students can answer and a way to self-check their learning. You’re able to sign on with your VCCS Gmail account and can publish a video or create an embed able mix. All of your mixes are stored on a cloud, so you can access them anywhere. Check out the mix below.

Hopefully, you’re interest is peaked! Stop by the Annandale FSRC on Friday, June 19th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm for our “Appy Hour” and learn how to create your very own EduCanon Bulb and Office Mix presentation. You may R.S.V.P. at

Symbaloo! What the Who?!

This tool is a must for visual people!

Symbaloo is a free visual bookmarking tool that allows you to keep track of all your favorite websites in an icon based grid that you can share, embed and even set as your home screen. All of your favorite web mixes are now just one click away!

Symbaloo is an effective instructional tool that can enhance your course content. For instance, you are teaching a class where there are lots of great web resources for the students to use. You already have an extensive web links page in your Blackboard course.  You can transform that list of links into an interactive webmix that can be embedded right into Blackboard. Let’s take a before and after look at your Web Links page on Blackboard.

The first picture is your traditional Web Links page on Blackboard. Boring!



Below is your updated Web Links page on Blackboard. Engaging!

symbaloo bb


Is creating a symbaloo necessary to get your information across? No? But, it is a great tool to engage students and keep them interested in what we are presenting. Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed!

Remember, stop by the Annandale FSRC in CG206 if you need any assistance with instructional technology. We are here to help.


Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality isn’t just what happens when you indulge a little too much. It’s the latest trend in instructional technology! You can now take a static picture and have it turn into video before your eyes without the help of hallucinogens! All you need is a smart phone, tablet or computer and the Aurasma App! Aurasma uses trigger images to automatically link to and play a video or as Aurasma likes to call them auras. They’re kind of like QR Codes, but better!

So, I bet your thinking this sounds cool, but how could I use it in my class? Well, luckily for you, I have come up with some great instructional uses. A few weeks ago I was sitting in on an Trigonometry class. The instructor was reviewing the previous assignment. He worked out all of the problems that students had questions about on the board. The students who asked the question were engaged. The others were just on their phone or daydreaming until it was their turn. At least 40 minutes of class time was gone and not all the students were actively engaged. Seems like a lot of time wasted!

What if the professor recorded himself working out the problems and then posted the trigger images around the room. He could then direct students to locate the problem they needed clarification on and watch the video. All the students would be able to get the review they needed and this would free up the professor to work with individuals or small groups of students that need additional assistance. Seems like a win-win for everyone involved.

I know what your thinking. When will the professor have the time to record all of the videos? And I get it. I understand the grind. You have to think of it this way. Once you record the video, you’ll have it for all future classes. Not only can you use it for Aurasma, you can embed it into Blackboard too!  With a little upfront time, you will be able to use your time more wisely in the future.

Auras could work for any type of class. I can envision it working in the lab setting to review safety procedures or directions. Or in language classes to master the basics. The Ted Talk below gives an excellent example of how it can be used in history and art class. Check it out for yourself!

And remember, if you need assistance with incorporating instructional technology into your class, The Annandale FSRC in CG 206 is here to help!



How Can I Engage My Students?

Student engagement is the key to the student’s success! Gone are the days of having the students sit quietly in class taking notes and memorizing long lectures. Millennials want to explore and apply what they are learning in a risk-free supportive environment that aids growth and deep understanding. Having students demonstrate their understanding is an important part of this process. Millennial’s grew up in technology rich environments. They embrace multimedia and want to share their creativity in a multitude of formats that not only express their knowledge, but their personality as well!

Luckily, there are many instructional technologies out there to help you reach your students and keep them actively engaged. One such tool is called Glogster! Glogster is a web-based presentation tool that allows you to create interactive stand-alone presentations that are great for hybrid and online courses.  You can customize a presentation with text, graphics, video, and audio that can be shared with anyone, anywhere. Check out my Glog and then give it a try for yourself at our next Make & Take on Friday, June 5th.



educreations logo

Ever wished you had a portable whiteboard to capture all of your epic ideas?  Educreations is a whiteboard app for your iPad that allows you to record and share all of your mental masterpieces. You can work out a math problem, diagram an image, make a route on a map! The uses are endless. Check it out at

KQED Education

KQEDLogoIf you haven’t already heard of it, take a look at the KQED Education website. It’s a great resource for educators in schools, colleges, universities and informal learning environments, and is packed full of interesting and useful news, tools, and resources.

Produce high-quality digital learning tools such as video and audio clips, interactives, and lesson plans, all aligned to state and national content standards.

Distribute free resources via and other platforms, including iTunes U and PBS LearningMedia

Learn how to use educational media and digital media tools in your learning environment through in-depth professional development and online training resources.

Thank you to Cindy Miller for recommending this website!



Did You Know?……Chrome Incognito

So here begins a new FSRC Blog segment called “Did You Know?…” which features cool and interesting tips, tidbits, and shortcuts for software programs that you use every day.

google-chrome-logoI’m starting out with a quick tip about Google Chrome. Did you know that you can go “incognito” on Chrome to avoid saving any cookies or history on the computer you are using?

Step 1. Open your Google Chrome browser.

Step 2. At the top right of the screen, click on the “hamburger” icon. (Three lines inside a square).

Step 3. Choose “New incognito window”.

ChromeIncognito1A new Chrome window will open with a message that says “You have gone Incognito…” You will also see a cool image of a guy in his spy/private-eye outfit in the top left cornerChromeIncognito2

Now, any browsing you do, or any websites you log into will be completely hidden from the computer you are working on. This is especially useful if you are working on a public (or college) computer and would like to access your banking website, or anywhere that you need to enter private usernames and passwords.

Once you close the incognito browser window, all activity will be deleted from the computer, and completely untraceable!

If you have any questions about this, or any, posting on the FSRC Blog, please feel free to contact us here at the FSRC and we can further explain or walk you through the steps., 703-323-3855

Web Page to PDF in 4 Easy Steps

PDFLogoDid you know that you can save a Web page as a PDF file?

When you want to save information you find on the Internet, you can usually only save the page as an HTML document. Saving the page as a PDF makes it easier to print and to share via email.

1. Right-click on the page you want to save and choose “Print” (don’t choose “Save as…”)
HamburgerButtonor if you are using the Chrome browser click on the hamburger (three parallel lines) at the top right and choose “Print”
2. In the Printer or Destination option box, choose “Adobe PDF” or “Save as PDF”
3. Click “Print”
4. A dialogue box will open asking where you want to save your PDF. Browse to your location, and click on “Save.”

Who Trains the Trainer?

Hello gentle readers! Once upon a time, my father told me, “If someone in a job interview asks you if you know how to do something, always say yes. Then you have at least a couple of hours to learn it”. Note to anyone reading who may have been on my NOVA hiring committee…I DID already know how to do that stuff!

We all know how quickly things move in the tech world, and as an instructional technologist, I spend a lot of time learning new things. It’s not unheard of for me to have an hour to learn something before teaching someone else. So today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite training resources.

Atomic Learning

I’m only putting this one first (actually, at all) because everyone at NOVA can access it for free. It’s worth checking out, especially if you absolutely need to go the free route, but I’m not that impressed with it. Content is okay, but the site is ugly and hard to navigate. Go to–offices/administrative-offices/ithd/students/onlinetraining/index.html. Yes, it’s a student page, and you have to click on the STUDENTS link to log on, but it’s for faculty and staff too. Sign in using the login/password you use for MyNOVA.

Lynda and all training resources mentioned here on out have my hearty endorsement. Lynda is $25 a month for a regular account. You can view some videos for free, but they usually just make you want more (curse you Lynda, you smart marketers you!). You can pay more to be able to download handouts and other materials, but I get by okay on the standard plan. They cover all the tech topics/software/hardware/anyware you can imagine, and their video tutorials are fantastic. If you had to pick one training option, this would be the one I’d recommend.

I pay $17 a month for this one, and it’s tied to Sitepoint, which is a site that is chock full of useful tech news, tutorials, support and resources. Also, you have access to read any Learnable ebooks online (they’re pretty good, and cover all kinds of topics) and download 1 ebook a month. Learnable focuses on web technologies, though they do sometimes stray into other areas, like lockpicking(!). I mostly stick with their web design resources. Courses generally consist of videos, readings and tutorials. You can download the materials for no extra charge. I’m doing some CSS trainings through Learnable right now that I like very much.


I’m not going to go into the politics and vagaries of online learning because lots of other people go there, and while I can do pedagogy, I don’t. According to their site, Coursera “partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free”.  These are online university courses, so they’re a bit different from what you can get on the other sites I mentioned…the information is more in depth and the courses are usually more of a time commitment. You can not earn a degree doing these courses, but there are tests, quizzes and homework assignments you can complete if you want the pretty paper certificate at the end. However, if you’re someone who just loves learning, jump in and enjoy the video lectures.

There are other training sites out there, and I’ve visited a lot of them, but these are my favorite. Perhaps I’ll post another handful in another blog post.