Category Archives: uncategorized

Say ‘Hello’ to Canvas

You should know by now that IU has selected Canvas tCanvas newso be the successor to Oncourse. Canvas will be IU’s official learning management system going forward. There will be a two-year transition period and Oncourse will be retired summer 2016. While many features are similar to Oncourse, there are some things that you will need to do differently to manage your classes in Canvas, but our first impressions as an office are that Canvas is very good!  This post will highlight just a few of the new features we like, but we strongly urge anyone interested in learning more about Canvas to stop by the Office of Instructional Consulting for one-on-one consultation with one of our friendly consultants. Additionally, the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) will be offering introductory Canvas workshops throughout the summer and fall, and we highly recommend attending a session.

Beginning summer 2014, the registrar is auto-populating courses into both Canvas and Oncourse. In other words, you can use Canvas starting right now for your summer classes if you wish! However, it may be best to familiarize yourself with the tool before switching. We highly encourage all instructors to log into Canvas and get familiar with it. To log in, go to and log in with your existing IU username and passphrase. Feel free to make changes, add tools, etc., as the site will not be visible to your students until you actually publish the site. This allows you to experiment, create practice sites, or even create new sites for research groups as a way to familiarize yourself with Canvas before teaching your first class. For a very brief video about some of the features of Canvas, from our IC QuickTips podcast, check out the following video:

As shown in the video, there are many similarities between Canvas and Oncourse.  Each course taught has its own ‘course’ page and each course can have a unique set of tools, similar to Oncourse. Syllabus, Assignments, Grades, Discussions (more on this in a bit), etc., are just some of the main tools that will likely be used for your classes and that are set up similarly to Oncourse. However, there are some new features you should know about in Canvas. One of the key features of Canvas is that there are several universal features available as part of the dashboard. Canvas BannerThe dashboard appears at the top of your screen and is the same for all courses. On the far right-hand side of the toolbar, you can access your profile information (for uploading a picture or bio information), an ‘Inbox’ where you can manage all incoming and outgoing messages sent to students, a ‘Settings’ tab for changing notification and other settings, a ‘Logout’ button, and finally a ‘Help’ tab. On the left-hand side, there is a series of drop-downs menu items.  The first is for your ‘Courses.’ The universal ‘Assignments,’ ‘Grades,’ and ‘Calendar’ menu items are among our favorite new features of Canvas.  From these drop-down menus, students and instructors can quickly see what assignments they have due for all of their classes, as well as a quick view of their grades.  For instructors, this will even help you track upcoming assignments that you will need to grade. Finally, the calendar can show all events from your many courses. As Canvas Callong as assignments are given a due date when they are created, they will automatically populate in the calendar. This is going to be very handy for students and instructors as well.

There are many more features that we know that instructors and students will enjoy, such as the ability to record video or audio directly to discussion forums, and integrating third-party apps such as GoogleDocs or YouTube videos directly into your class, and we would love for you to stop by so that we can help you with your individual needs. We are here all summer long and would love to help out to make sure that this transition to Canvas goes smoothly. If you need any assistance or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at or just stop by our office.

Justin Whiting

Office of Instructional Consulting


School of Education Classroom Renovation: Survey Results

It’s been several months since the School of Education completed its most recent classroom renovation project. Thirteen classrooms were recarpeted, repainted, refurnished, and equipped with new technology. The IC office has administered two surveys to collect feedback from instructors and students on their experience of the renovated classrooms. In both surveys, we asked questions about use, perception, and satisfaction. Overall, both instructors and students indicated their satisfaction with the renovated classrooms. One student’s comment: “Clean environments with maximum outlets for technology have been beneficial to all students.



Nearly all of the instructors we surveyed told us that they frequently used whiteboards and mobile podiums. Fewer had used the Smartboards and Apple TVs, but those who had told us that they appreciated the affordances of these technologies. About Apple TV, one instructor wrote: “It helped me display YouTube videos through Apple TV!” Instructors indicated high levels of satisfaction with whiteboards (89%), mobile podiums (79%), and chairs (79%) and tables with rollers (72%) (both of which are on rollers to allow instructors to easily reconfigure the classrooms).



One instructor provided the following comment on the new furniture: “In a limited amount of time, I was able to transform the room to suit many configurations. I even found myself creating new activities because I knew it would be efficient to move the classroom around. I REALLY like the mobility of the new furniture!”



Students indicated that they frequently used Smartboards and whiteboards. Like their instructors, students used Apple TV far less frequently. Students were quite satisfied with whiteboards (85%), the instructor stool (79%), and the chair with rollers (77%). One student evaluated the furniture thusly: “Group collaboration is made easier through the increased mobility of the seats!”



We in the IC office were pleased to see high levels of satisfaction regarding the renovated classrooms, but we would like to see technologies like Apple TV and Smartboard used more frequently. If you teach in one of the recently renovated classrooms and you’d like to try the Apple TV, the Smartboard, or any other classroom technology in your teaching, please send us an email at or stop by our office (room 2002).

Faculty showcase: Dr. Barbara Dennis

BDThe School of Education is piloting Apple TVs in 12 classrooms (1004, 1235, 2271, 2275, 3009, 3015, 3017, 3025, 3105, 3115, 3125, and 3275) this school year. Apple TV allows students and instructors to project their MacBook and iPad screens wirelessly with the classroom projector wirelessly. This semester, Dr. Barbara Dennis, who teaches inquiry methodology in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at Indiana University, has been among the most active users of this new technology.

Dr. Dennis started using the Apple TV by coincidence. She happened to attend a new-classroom open-house session at the beginning of the semester, as she was assigned to teach a class (Y612-Critical Qualitative Inquiry I) in one of the SoE’s newly renovated rooms. She decided to make full use of the opportunity to learn about the various types of new classroom technology in hopes of expanding her teaching repertoire.

Dr. Dennis says that Apple TV is particularly useful for displaying group members’ work. She uses a wide range of in-class activities in her teaching. One activity requires pairs of students to take photographs of buildings and explain various aspects of the photos to the rest of the class. Using the Apple TV and iPads, students were able to share and discuss their work without having to spend time figuring out the complex combinations of cables and adaptors normally required to connect to the classroom projector.

Teaching qualitative inquiry methodology often involves collecting and sharing a large volume of data. iPads make collection easier, and the online file-storage-and-sharing system Box ( makes it easier to store and protect sensitive files. Together, these technologies can also drastically reduce the use of paper, which Dr. Dennis says is one of her goals for technology use.

Dr. Dennis says that she has not faced significant challenges with the Apple TV or iPads, but there are always technical glitches, and Apple TVs only work with other Apple products, which she says is a limitation. For other faculty members and instructors who would like to try Apple TVs in the classroom, she offers the following simple advice: Learning takes time, and you need to embrace trial-and-error when exploring new technologies. It also helps, Dr. Dennis says, to have highly skilled students who can help you use these technologies and are open to innovation.

If you are interested in learning more about Apple TV, stop by the Office of Instructional Consulting (room 2002) or schedule an appointment (

Augmented Reality in Education

What is Augmented Reality?

AR_image1The term, augmented reality (AR) is referred to as “a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data”. AR is thought of as a variation of virtual realities or environments. Technically speaking, AR combines the physical reality with the digital world. Virtual reality cannot show the real world, but it creates a completely virtual one, as with video games, or a virtual reality helmet. Augmented Reality, on the other hand, enables users to see the real world with virtual objects, places, and contexts. Thus, AR does not replace the reality, but augment it.

AR_image2Why is AR an interesting topic? Does AR have use in education and in the classroom? AR enhances the perceptions and interactions with the real world so that users can be immersed in a real situation. Enhancing the fidelity of reality, for instance, can make students more immersed in a learning situation by helping better understand the real-world contexts. For example, in medical education, AR can provide a learning activity which is almost identical to the real surgeon for interns by increasing medical visualization.

Use of augmented reality in the classroom

AR_image3Along with the benefits of it, AR has a lot of potentials to promote learning. First, AR can support experiential learning in a classroom by providing contextual clues or information on learning in AR. Second, AR can promote deeper understanding between a real world and a virtual world by associating learning information with the reality. Finally, AR enables students to lead active learning by constructing and manipulating 3-D objects or clues in person. Here are some examples of using AR in a classroom.

1. Providing cues or directions in a classroom

Teachers can produce ‘markers,’ which include information about a topic or content and post them on the board, walls, or anywhere in the classroom. Then, students can scan the markers or QR code (IC Quick Tips) with mobile devices to get additional information. Teachers could engage in classroom discussions about alternative forms of energy with interactive 3D wind turbines or solar panels found at

Imagine students creating a textbook with 3-D, interactive AR. Students can conduct class projects or homework assignments using AR software or applications with a tablet or mobile device. Students actively engage in learning activities with AR and are expected to accomplish them more successfully.  All of this provides more options for different students and different ways to present information.

2. Promoting student collaboration in a classroom

One possibility of AR is to promote collaboration through social interaction among students in the AR environment because multiple students can share virtual objects provided by AR. This kind of virtual objects can be a means to communicate with students. Or remote collaboration is also available in the AR environment.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Augmented Reality

As always, the introduction of new technology has benefits and disadvantages. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of AR. There are four benefits of AR: (a) multi-sensory immersion, (b) transitional interface, (c) tangible user interface, and (d) synergy with mobile devices.

1. Multi-sensory immersion: AR leads sensory immersion about information or knowledge by augmenting human perceptions with 3-D objects or materials.

2. Transitional interface: AR provides a seamless transitional interface between a real world and a virtual world.

3. Tangible user interface: AR offers tangible user interface with which digital objects or information can be touchable in AR.

4. Synergy with mobile devices: As mobile devices and its applications are advancing, mobile users can experience with more gesture and touch.

There are three drawbacks of AR: (a) high level of reliance on digital information, (b) privacy concerns, and (c) a need of extra wearable devices.

1. High level of reliance on digital information: Too much reliance on digital information may cause the decrease of working memory in the brain which in turn hinders the development of brain functions.

2. Privacy concerns: As AR software and applications are developing, it will become easy to gather information on AR stuff from social network services (SNS) and post them and thereby an unwelcome situation such as private information will occur.

3. A need of extra wearable devices: Since users may want to feel more authenticity in AR, wearable devices such as Google Glass (ABC news on Google Glass) and Apple’s iWatch (Wearable Tech And Augmented Reality – NPR OnPoint) may be provided for users in order to offer authentic experiences in more convenient yet expansive way.

AR Apps Links



Image Sources from:

  1. Use of AR in Scanning Printed Stuff:
  2. Use of AR in Medical Education:
  3. Use of AR in a classroom:

Clickers in the classroom: A powerful tool for engaging students

ImageInstructors from a wide variety of disciplines are using clickers in the classroom. The proponents of clickers claim that clickers are innovative, interactive, and useful. But before we look at potential benefits, let’s talk about what clicker systems are. Clicker systems, also known as classroom response systems, personal response systems, and electronic response systems, are designed to collect students’ responses to questions during lectures. Each student generally uses a remote device—a clicker—to participate in a range of class activities, such as lecture questions, pop-quizzes, and attendance checks.

Clickers offer several potential benefits. Clickers are an easy-to-adopt technology that can enhance the learning experience. Clickers can help instructors maintain an appropriate pace by collecting immediate feedback from students, which makes it possible to identify learning gaps, difficult concepts, and areas for improvement. Students can actively participate in discussions about controversial topics without disclosing their names. In this way, a passive lecture can turn into a very interactive lecture. This can also prevent a few students from dominating classroom discussion. Many instructors have reported that students find that using clickers is fun and engaging.

ImageHere is a case of an instructor who uses clickers in his classroom. Dr. Smith is an instructor at a higher education institution who is teaching Biology 101, Introduction to Biology. He enters the lecture room and settles down along with 200 students. He begins his lecture with a short review of an important concept that every student needs to be familiar with for the upcoming exam. The projector displays questions on the screen, and students are allowed 30 seconds for each question. After students responded to the questions with their clickers, Dr. Smith shows a bar chart that illustrates student performance. Students are surprised, as their answers to the questions are mostly incorrect. Dr. Smith intentionally asked questions that are often misinterpreted. Now he has students’ attention. A teachable moment comes.

This is an authentic example that shows a way to use clickers. It seems engaging, participatory, and effective. However, clicker systems have their downsides. For example, the cost. A basic system can cost over thousands dollars. Furthermore, given that the systems are often used in the large classrooms, one might need on-site technicians with a high level of knowledge to optimize and maintain a clicker system during classes.  Also, developing well-designed questions is important. Some institutions are frequently understaffed, unable to support this type of technology, and this leads to ineffective clicker use.

Researchers and practitioners are looking for the best ways to use clicker systems. And there is great potential. Clicker technology can provide more effective, more efficient, and more engaging education.

To assist instructors here at Indiana University, the Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning has developed several documents to assist with the use of clickers (see resources below). Furthermore, the center also offers individual consulting for instructors who are interested in using this type of instructional technology.  If you would like to know more about clicker systems, please contact us at

Helpful Resources:

Images from:


Taking to ‘the cloud’ in education

There has been a lot of talk about using “the cloud” for storing and sharing data. In our previous blog post, we already reviewed cloud storage providers such as, SkyDrive, Dropbox, and Recently, Indiana University and came to an agreement to provide cloud-based storage to its faculty staff, and students at IU. In this blog post, we focus on how the use of cloud-based storage  could be used in education.

What is cloud-based storage?

ImageWhen we trying to understand ‘the cloud’, think about how many people use the bank system today. While one’s money is still located in a centralized place (e.g., in the bank’s vault), it is accessible at many different locations (e.g., ATMs). As one interacts with an ATM, one can see the current amount and money can be added to/withdrawn from the account. Immediately, the amount on one’s account is updated to reflect the changes. Similarly, you can access your files from any device with an internet connection, much as you can access your money from an ATM, a website, or a physical bank. It is common to use online banking instead of offline banking. One does not have to go to the bank in person but one can  deposit, transfer, and even make payments all online. Like banking, cloud-based storage provides an account to upload, download, and share data with multiple of devices. Additionally, it offers to opportunity to do all these things through a website similar to online banking. Many individuals and organizations are now using cloud storage for diverse reasons, for example, data storage, data sharing, and collaboration.

Use of cloud-based storage in education

Educational institutions are taking advantage of the cloud as more and more schools are teaching courses that involve using digital media, such as pictures or videos. Cloud-based storage can help students and teachers easily access and share data anywhere and anytime.

Important features for education

Most cloud-based storage providers have common features like data backup, accessibility, and security features. The following aspects of the cloud are especially relevant for education.

1. Synchronization in real-time

ImageOne of useful features of cloud storage is remote backup. Cloud backup works similar way to traditional backup except the fact data are being moved to a server through the Internet rather than carrying it onto physical hard drive, e.g.,  USB drive. In school, any file one saves to cloud-based storages is automatically synchronized to all enabled devices such as a desktop, laptop, tablet , as well as the  webpage of the cloud-based storages (e.g., To automatically sync all of files to one’s devices, all one need to do is to download and install a program from the storage provider.

For example, if I add audio files to a cloud-based storage from my desktop, it is possible to play the file without having to download it, on my iPad, iPhone, and home laptop as it is already saved on my account in cloud-based storage.

2. Collaboration

Imagine you are collaborating on a project with a number of people in different places, and the project involves a set of Word documents. You might want to have a common place to store those files. With cloud-based storage’s synchronization function, your collaborators can independently open the documents, work on them, and save them to the one centralized place. With many different sub-applications available, much cloud-based storage focuses on collaboration function. For example, Agilewords makes it easy to collect group feedback, make online edits, track changes, and get quick reviewers’ approval. Other collaboration applications that are designed for specific fields are AutoCAD WS, for opening CAD files, AppFusions’ Box in Atlassian JIRA, DICOM Viewer for medical images, and eSurvey Mobile Forms for mobile survey.

3. Editing

Some cloud storage providers such as Google Drive and CloudOn provide users with an editing feature for documents. Google Drive, for example, enables users to create, share, and edit files and collaborate with others. However, they do not have offline support to create, share, and edit.

Some things to consider:

Before jumping on the ‘cloud’ bandwagon, there are several things to consider.



  • Low cost is used for operation compared to electronic data storage devices.
  • It has automatic backup and recovery systems so no one worries about data loss.
  • Data server is safely secured by the provider.
  • Service costs may by rising as the amount of data increases.
  • High internet speed is required to make connections and backup a large scale file.
  • If the provider server is hacked, security for data in cloud storage is not guaranteed.

Additional resources: Cloud storage comparison chart

Images from:

“Flipping the Class” in Higher Education

Lately, there has been a lot of interest in the topic of “flipping the classroom” in  the field of higher education, particularly due to the popularity and success of the Khan Academy (e.g., read CBS 60 Minutes – Khan Academy: The Future of Education). In addition, advances in technology, especially making video production more user-friendly and less expensive, allow instructors to quickly record narrated and annotated videos (i.e. screencast) which

can then be shared with students through various video-streaming websites. According to proponents, “flipped classrooms” engage students with content more deeply, provide opportunities to personalize learning, and can result in overall higher learning outcomes.

What is “flipping the class”?

The Flipped Classroom Infographic

The Flipped Classroom Infographic
– click on image

Compared to traditional classrooms, where an instructor exposes students to new content during class time while students then apply the newly-learned material in their homework, so-called “flipped classrooms” rotate this sequence. Here, the instructor prepares short lectures of the to-be-learned material, often in the form of online videos, and makes them available to students before class. Then during class, students complete activities or projects that require them to apply the material from the lectures. The idea behind this method is that more of the actual class time is spent on higher order thinking (Bloom’s Taxonomy: Application, Analysis, etc.) while more basic tasks (Bloom’s Taxonomy: Recognition, Understanding) are completed independently before class.

What is the advantage?

Posting a brief online lecture in video format offers several advantages. First, the video is available 24/7 allowing students to review material at a convenient time and location (e.g., local coffee shop). Furthermore, students can stop the video anytime, replay important parts, or watch the complete video multiple times. This is especially useful when using the “mastery learning” approach where students can only move to the next activities if he or she has mastered the previous step(s).

With students exploring new content outside of class, the actual class time can now be used to further engage students with the material applying higher-order thinking skills. Depending on topics and subjects, students can now conduct experiments, solve complex math problems, or work on projects with the instructor being present and providing guidance. In addition, class time can also be used for students to work on activities that match individual interests or academic needs; thus, offering the possibility to provide more personalized learning.

Wait, aren’t we doing this already?

Taking a close look at the concepts behind and the principles of a “flipped class”, one might wonder whether the idea is really that new or whether it has been around and is just becoming popular. At least since the turn of the century, faculty and instructors in higher education have been exploring blended learning that combines traditional face-to-face classes with additional Internet-based activities or resources. Similarly, in online education, it is often necessary, if not unavoidable, for individual students to learn content on their own “outside the class” and then apply this content in another form (e.g., discussion forum, individual paper).

While the practice of incorporating Internet-based resources into education might not be new, the benefit of using those rests within the opportunity to gain valuable class time for other educational purposes. For example, by shifting some activities outside the regular class period, the actual class might be used for students to complete projects where they need to apply newly learned material and higher- order learning skills. Nevertheless to ensure student learning, any “flipping of classes” or use of Internet-based resources should be done in pedagogically sound ways. Too easily, one could fall back to the “sage on the stage” model where instead of having a person providing content by standing in front of the class, it is now done through online videos. Thus, it takes a delicate effort by the teacher/facilitator, even in a student-centered classroom, to guide students and make learning meaningful.

For more information developing successful “flipped classes”, see recommendations by Jon Bergmann, Jerry Overmyer and Brett Wilie.


Additional Resources