Category Archives: Summer Student Series

Go(ing) Pro

Check out our last post from student contributor, Annie Birge.  We wish her the best on her next endeavor at University of Virginia.  A Pathways  graduate and student leader, Annie has left an indelible mark on this campus and Team TILT especially.  In this post, she contemplates the benefits of Go(ing) Pro.


I have a special place in my heart dedicated to photography. Not like I’m really good or anything but I have always loved taking pictures. I love art in general but I have always gravitated toward photography because I feel like my fingers are incapable of painting or drawing what my brain wants to produce. Yeah I know what you’re thinking… Art has no boundaries, no rigid rules or expectations but that mantra doesn’t offer me any solace when I look at my doodles and realize they look like the work of a kindergartner. I guess my self-conscious mindset will always in some ways prevent me from feeling totally satisfied with whatever I produce, especially by pen, pencil, or brush.

But cameras, on the other hand, have been able to provide a necessary artistic outlet for me- free from the pressures of wobbly lines and bad shading. Instead of forcing my hands to follow my imagination and create a picture, a photograph takes only a click of a button. With that very click comes a snapshot of time, a capturing of emotion, that offers your mind a conversation they say is worthy of a thousand words. Cameras are so rampant in today’s society and culture, we photograph nearly every moment of our lives and I mean every moment. Including all of our special occasions, be them weddings, proms, or (of course) all of our gains at the gym. We photograph our nights out with friends, birthdays, and vacations. We post pictures of ourselves, definitely some more than others (come on, admit it, we all have that one friend on IG who will #selfie back to back to back). And don’t forget about the “foodgasms” we undeniably have from all of the #foodporn we scroll through in a day. Read more

From the Green Screen to the Big Screen

Guest Blogger: Samantha Blain




Any assignments this summer related to creating or producing a video? Have you ever wondered how to change the background of your scene, transporting yourself to another location? Tilt’s Green Screen Room (AA337) in the Bisdorf building gives you the ability to do just that.

The green screen is part of the special effects process known as Chromakey. Chromakeing is the process of singling out a particular color (green in this case), in an electronic image and then using computer software to make that color transparent. With the equipment in the Green Screen Room, you can place yourself on a beach with a T-Rex chasing behind you!

The App Green Screen Movie FX, used in the example above, is a computer software that allows you to create your scene. Some other apps you can use are iMovie, Movie Maker, Veescope, and DoInk.

Adventures of a Senior Citizen: Working with TILT

Guest Blogger: Margaret Ransom

This Spring, this 63 year young student was fortunate enough to begin working with TILT (Technology Innovation in Learning and Teaching) where I am expanding my use and knowledge of technology.  Prior to working with TILT, I had used an iPad only once when I had to submit a French assignment late one night and a kind person’s iPad was the only technology available.  I had a lot of trouble trying to log in to my NOVA account and then submit the assignment.  Now I use an iPad 5 days a week to sign-in and to help instructors sign out equipment.  I also learned how to use an iPod Touch with which I had a lot of fun taking pictures on LTR Day.

Prior to TILT, I also had never used a Samsung dual camera nor Media:Scape.  A dual camera allows its user to both take pictures and create videos.  Instructional videos can be made to facilitate classroom teaching.  Cameras are available in the TILT Center for use by the faculty.

This is a Media:Scape

Media:Scape is a combination of furniture and technology to facilitate the sharing of information within groups, whether in the same room or around the world.  This technology allows collaboration using iPads, laptops, MacBooks, PCs, or cute little red Surface Pro tablets.  Surface Pro tablets can be made to look like laptops when you add a Surface keyboard.  It is enhanced with magnetic stability to keep the keyboard steady—regardless of where you’re working.

An example of how one can use Skype in their French classroom. C’est si bon!

Skype is just one way to take advantage of Media:Scape’s capabilities.  Recently a group of 8 people collaborated around the Media: Scape table to learn about Office Mix, which is a new add-on feature of PowerPoint.  Office Mix is intended to take existing PowerPoint slides and turn them into cloud-hosted interactive lessons, complete with links to external resources and with built-in tests.

iPads, iPods, laptops, MacBook, PCs, and cute little red Surface Pro tablets are all used in TILT.  Working in the TILT Center is an amazing experience and has truly expanded my use and knowledge of technology.

Summer Student Series: Walking The Path

A path is often defined by the obstacles that either surround it or are a part of it. Often the more we know about a particular path, the more likely we are to choose that path or find another. Those that have walked a potential path before us, supply us with the first hand information we need to make an informed decision on which path to choose.

Annie Birge has walked several paths here at NOVA. One of the paths was NOVA’s Pathway To The Baccalaureate program, where 86% of the students who have participated, have transitioned from high school directly into post-secondary education.

“Pathway [to the Baccalaureate] took me immediately into their arms and I instantly reaped the benefit of the individualized, compassionate, and straight-forward support that the programs allows its participants.”

Check out the full blog post here.

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Adventures of a Senior Citizen: A Senior Citizen Goes to Class

Attending NOVA as a senior citizen has it benefits!  In this post, our student contributor, Margaret Ransom provides her perspective and shares how attending NOVA has proven especially beneficial.


As a senior or “seasoned” citizen, I attend college for free.  The state of Virginia has mandated tuition waivers for citizens of my age for audit and for credit.  Tuition waivers for credit courses is reserved for those whose incomes fall within a prescribed range.  Classes are available on a space-available basis on the day before the 1st day of class.  According to Dr. Al Sears, you can slow or prevent the cognitive decline that sets in with age by challenging your mind every day.  Dr. Sears further states that “research shows the more you use your brain, the less your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”  Attending college and especially working with a foreign language helps me to use my brain more.  “By stimulating your mind, you preserve your memory, and can and can even restore the clarity you had in your youth!”

This summer, my foreign language professor discovered that several “seasoned” citizens, including me, were accidentally dropped from the class roll after we started attending the class.  Having discovered this before the next class day, she was able to contact the registrar and by the time I went re-enroll, I was already back on the roll.

Seasoned citizens are eager to learn and may influence the younger students to take college more seriously.  Many senior citizens have traveled abroad and add excitement to a foreign language class.  Class is so much fun!!!

More about our Seasoned Senior Student Contributor, Margaret Ransom:

“Being a student at NOVA is a great opportunity for me.  I love the college environment and I am a firm believer that attending college improves the mind.  As I grow older chronologically, I want my thinking to improve and to bypass age-related cognitive decline.  Because I was born in a Leap Year, I am NOT really 63.  I have only had 15 birth anniversaries.  Every year for the past 3 February’s, I have gone to sleep on February 28th excited about waking up to a birthday celebration.  When I awakened, I discovered that it was already March 1st.  Next year is another Leap Year and I will finally wake up on my birth anniversary.  I can’t wait!!!

My previous experience includes information technology doing requirements analysis, writing assessments and analysis documents, software development, and software testing in support of telecommunications and other areas.  My experience in testing includes unit, integration, system, and acceptance testing to ensure that the software meets the user’s needs.  I also performed end-to-end testing to test the flow of applications from start to finish and ensure their proper integration with external interfaces.  Also performed regression testing to ensure that any changes or enhancements to the software did not introduce new faults or affect other parts of the software.

At Carnegie Mellon University, I was a teaching assistant where I was also involved in Artificial Intelligence research.  I obtained my Master’s degree in Mathematics from George Washington University.”



Summer Student Series: Politics in a Technology World

As you have seen (and read) previously, we’ve got a few guest bloggers here at Tech4Students.  Another one of those in our “Summer Student Series” is Annie Birge, a recent graduate of NOVA and now a student of the University of Virginia, starting this fall.  Annie has served as the SGA President here on the Alexandria campus, and has worked with many of the student organizations/clubs to better our local community.  Whether it is politics, technology, photography, or travel, Annie is always eager to share her thoughts and welcomes dialogue, with anyone, anytime.  She is charismatic and driven (a scary good combination) and while that comes through in the conversations you have with her, it shines bright in her blog as well.

Her most recent post is entitled “Voter Gravity.” Below is an excerpt from that post, along with a link to the full article.

“…I was tasked with searching for tools or resources that help campaigns GET OUT THE VOTE – the process that motivates constituents to exercise their voting rights and get to the polls.

For Grassroots campaigns, getting out the vote is difficult because unlike their money-loaded counterparts, they are unable to pay for valuable ways to reach the voters, like TV time. Grassroots organizations and campaigns take to free methods such as utilizing social media, door knocking, and phone banks, all taken on by usually unpaid volunteers.”

Annie’s full post on “Voter Gravity” here.

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A Perspective from a Returning Student




After being away from school for more than a decade, it’s taking some time getting acclimated. I worried about staying caught up, being organized and balancing my personal life. Here are some techniques and strategies that I found helpful that may benefit you, if you are a returning student like me.

Do your research– NOVA offers a web based program that allows you to research your professors called Rate My Professors. Use this tool to get to know your professor before taking their classes. Here is a link to the website:

  • Consider balance when choosing classes– Counselors will advise and direct you toward a specific plan but you will need to choose your classes wisely. Try selecting no more than two difficult classes and balancing them with an elective or something you enjoy. For example: If your Major is Business Administration and you have a passion for Math; I recommend taking Intro to Business, Communications and Math. I believe that you are more capable of doing your best when you are in balance.
  • Utilizing services on campus– TILT (Technology Innovation in Learning and Teaching) is a great resource for students. Located in the Bisdorf building (343), TILT is an active learning space where you can collaborate in small groups and utilize different technological equipment. The staff is also available to help you with various technology questions.

Be Smart! Take Advantage and Succeed!

Adventures of a Senior Citizen Student: About Instructional Videos

This summer, TILT will introduce student perspectives on our Tech4Students Blog.  Our first guest blogger is Margaret Ransom, our 63 years young summer student liaison.  She will share a fresh, non-traditional perspective on her teaching and learning practices and experiences. 


When a professor knows that he or she is going to be absent, it would be a great help to the students if the professor would create an instructional video presenting the class material for that particular day.  Videos are good teaching tools to facilitate learning.

I personally have a great thirst for knowledge.  When the students come to class, it would be great if we are not totally disappointed by the non-appearance of our instructor.

The Metiri Group which provides consulting services to the education community had this to say about instructional videos:

Teachers who use instructional videos report their students retain more information, understand concepts more rapidly, and are more enthusiastic about what they are learning.

In an article by Metiri Group in conjunction with Cisco Systems, “Technology in Schools:  What the Research Says,” they stated Emergent Research suggests that video can add rich context to students’ learning experiences without increasing cognitive load on working memory, translating into increases in complex, higher-order thinking.

In an article by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, it was stated that the human brain processes information via two channels: visual and verbal.  Our mind then creates separate images of this content. It processes and stores information and retrieves it when needed.

On the website, an article titled “The Benefits of Using Educational Video in The Classroom” stated:

Video provides a means of interactive instruction and is a very flexible medium. Having the ability to stop, start and rewind is absolutely invaluable. It provides the option to stop each video and challenge students to predict the outcome of a demonstration, and elaborate on, or debate a point of historical reference. You also have the option to rewind a section of the video to review a segment to ensure that children understand a key concept.

As a 63 year young college student, I would like all the instructional support that is available.  I certainly want to retain more information and understand concepts more easily.  When using a video, I love the ability to stop and rewind when there is a particular point of interest.  Instructional videos are a great help to me and, I am sure, to students of all ages.