I’d love to use more games in my classes but haven’t found any that have anything to do with our lesson material.  One company is trying to change that.  Legends of Learning has created several games that are available to play for free and hundreds more for which your “first $300 are free,” and support state and national education standards (for K-12, but that’s great for a college review, in my book!)  I’m encouraged to hear about the development of games to support education and see some interesting titles, especially in the “Life Sciences” category, although I’m not very clear how far my 3000 credits will go.  How about you — are you using games in the classroom?

An article in the Chronicle for Higher Education Review discusses the Janus-faced nature of social media.  On the one hand, students “curate” their accounts, maintaining a pristine appearance to the world since they know the information will be used by anybody who can get to it to influence decisions about their future.  On the other hand, students “let off steam” in anonymous forums and accounts with “temporary” posts like Snapchat and Instagram.  Is the dichotomy contributing to student stress and anxiety?  Should educational institutions do more to help students understand, analyze and navigate these treacherous waters?


This past year I’ve been part of a group from Library Services creating a pilot project that will create tutorials for faculty to embed in their Talon courses. After the first round of faculty and student testing of our first module (on Plagiarism), we heard from our pilot-ers, “We like the content, but can you make it more interactive?” This created the perfect opportunity to jump into my new role as a tech scout and investigate the possibilities. I thought, there just has to be a good tool out there that won’t take hours to learn, will interact nicely with existing video content on YouTube, and also embed into Talon/D2L.

I read lots of reviews, and tried out a few different options. Office Mix, a free PowerPoint add-in, was one promising program that I ended up not really getting to try out because I ran into technical issues loading it onto my office computer. Since then tech scout Kristie Murdoch has reviewed here on the blog! I also tried out EdPuzzle, and although it looks like an interesting tool, it wasn’t what I was looking for.

PlayPosit is the tool I decided to give a full trial. Basically, I wanted a way to take an existing video and embed within it questions or activities to engage the students watching the video in paying active attention to the content, and also processing the content rather than just passively taking it in.


PlayPosit video edit interface


PlayPosit is completely web-based, and has a nice simple interface. Once you log in you can immediately start creating interactive content based on an existing video. For my needs, I had videos I had already created and uploaded to YouTube, so I was ready to roll. I simply pasted in the URL of my video, and it showed up in the PlayPosit editing screen.


From here I began adding questions, placing them at the exact place in the video where I wanted students to pause and reflect, or check


PlayPosit “add question” interface

their understanding of the previous content. When students are watch my saved video, it will automatically pause at these points, and won’t continue until they have answered the question.

PlayPosit also has copyright agreements with YouTube and Vimeo that allow PlayPosit users to pull videos from these platforms, crop content if desired, and add interactive question elements. For more information see PlayPosit’s copyright FAQ. Once your PlayPosit interactive video is saved, you will have a couple different options for how to share it, through a link open to all, or through a link just for your students who have their own PlayPosit account (if you want to save their answers for grading).

I found PlayPosit to be very easy to use, with just very basic features, but those features being the ones I was looking for! This is perfect for those videos that you find on YouTube and would like to share with students, except that you only want certain chunks of it and don’t want to get permission from the owner, make a copy, do your edits, and reshare somewhere else. PlayPosit streamlines this and adds in the question features too. This is a great tool, and I highly recommend. (By the way, I tested the free version. The paid version has more question features.)

Give it a try, and let us all know what you think!

This Edsurge article talks about how Professional Development at California University, Channel Islands, is being ‘untethered.’  My first thought as a faculty member was, oh, you mean you want to make it easier for me to do this on my own time, rather than when I am “at work,” but that was ungenerous; after all, my main complaint about our own Professional Development offerings is that they are held at times when I am in class and thus unable to attend.

“Untethering” apparently refers to changing face-to-face meetings to virtual and, whenever possible, asynchronous ones.  As someone who loves email over phone calls simply because it means the two participants don’t have to be available at the same moment, something that seems to happen all too infrequently during the school day, I appreciate that.  However, I also feel like, many days, I barely see my colleagues, let alone exchange words with them; an excuse to be face-to-face with them is usually welcome.

CSU Channel islands asks these four questions to determine whether untethering might be right for you:

  1. We struggle with low faculty engagement.
  2. We are seeking a way to build digital literacy among faculty.
  3. Our faculty want more just-in-time resources.
  4. We employ remote faculty who currently are unable to attend our faculty development opportunities.

Those things certainly seem to apply at Kirkwood Community College; do they at your school?  What do you think?


A list of trending tools from our friends at EdTech, including some oldies but goodies and some newbies, at least to me.   I’d not heard of Breakout.edu, described as an immersive games platform where “players work collaboratively to solve a series of critical thinking puzzles in order to open a locked box.”   I wonder about applications for healthcare and criminal justice, in particular.  Anybody using Breakout.edu?  

One of the limitations of Virtual Reality headsets thus far has been accounting for movement in the virtual space.  You could “look around” a virtual construction, but trying to move through it was kind of like walking through a Hollywood set — objects were “flat” and had no backside to them.  A new VR headset from Occipital has debuted with 3D scanner capability (and, reportedly, other manufacturers are in hot pursuit).  Presently only really of use to developers, this article from Fast Co. describes some pretty compelling potential, however.

3 Feb / 2017

Digital Wisdom

I was thinking about the terms “native” and “immigrant” that were coined by Marc Prensky back around 2001, and I stumbled upon this further thinking by Prensky on the terminology. His focus now is on “Digital wisdom.” He says: “Problems too often stem from people making judgments that reflect their own formative cultures, and thinking of those judgments as culture-independent or absolute. Immigrants have to watch out for thinking the way they learned to do things is still the best way. Natives need to realize that they still have to learn many things about technology — and life. That is why it is important that we all learn to work together, with mutual respect, to find Digital Wisdom.” It all comes down to adapting, embracing and changing.


This fascinating EdSurge article includes this statement:  “An unanticipated benefit Billings also noticed is an increase in technology competence. “Students who are exposed to tech in a developmental English course are now reporting higher confidence with technology as they move through higher-level courses,” she says.”  

We tend to think of our post-secondary students as “digital natives.”  Perhaps we should be considering their level of technology acumen as they enter, ensuring that everybody has at least a minimal level of competence with computers and the internet… what do you think?

Colleges around the country have been setting up a new kind of research center—with the goal of continually improving how their institutions teach and work with students…. [Recently], a select group of these leaders gathered at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor for a day-and-a-half-long convening.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?!  Read the whole account here.

I particularly love this idea:  “One group proposed a free online repository of educational innovations, modeled after GitHub, the popular online space where computer programmers share their code.”

Looking forward to what happens next!