What OHSU can learn from MOOCs

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) are all the buzz right now, and the debate over whether students actually learn from a massive course still rage. Although OHSU will likely never offer a MOOC, can we learn anything from one?

This Chronicle of Higher Education article highlights the take-aways for “normal” online courses from MOOCs as  described by successful MOOC students:

  1. Clarity and Organization are key” – assignments need to be clearly defined and the course needs to be organized so there are no glitches and no confusion.
  2. Professors are the stars” – The personality of the instructor is important and can lend energy and enthusiasm for the topic.
  3. Text still matters” – Lecture alone doesn’t engage students. Studying for quizzes/exams is much easier when there is a text to accompany the lecture.
  4. Passion matters most” – students learn from instructors who are passionate about their topic (even if they aren’t the best in front of the camera).


Young, J. R. (n.d.). What Professors Can Learn From ‘Hard Core’ MOOC Students – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education. Home – The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved June 28, 2013, from http://chronicle.com/article/What-Professors-Can-Learn-From/139367/

Sakai upgrade coming on June 19th: Here’s your sneak peek

Click for a Sakai 2.9 previewWe’re pleased to announce that Sakai will undergo its annual upgrade on Wednesday, June 19 from 5 AM to 7 AM Pacific timeSakai services will be unavailable during this time.  The latest version brings many improvements — both big and small — including an updated look.  Aside from small bug fixes and feature enhancements, here are a few of the features you’ll discover:

  • A streamlined look that devotes more space for course content
  • Collapsible navigation toolbar
  • Directly navigate to tools from the site’s navigation bar
  • Ability to open and close the “Users present” list (now moved to bottom right corner)
  • Easy access to the Preferences and Profile tools from anywhere in Sakai

Attention faculty!  Gradebook enhancements you’ve been requesting have been added.  You can now select options to drop highest or lowest grades and  factor in extra credit.   For power users, zip files uploaded to Resources folder can  expand automatically once uploaded.

While Sakai will look a little different, all course data and student work will be retained.  All existing tools will continue to work as they always have with just a few visual changes and additional features. Be sure to check out the first-time instant tutorial for new users!

Questions or concerns?  Contact the Sakai Help Desk at sakai@ohsu.edu or 877-972-5249.

Polleverywhere.com: checking for understanding

Students in NRS 411 Epidemiology use mobile devices to answer questions using Polleverywhere.com.

Last month,  I had the great pleasure of visiting Anne Heenan’s Epidemiology course which is part of the BSN program at the OHSU School of Nursing.   We worked together to use polleverywhere.com.  It’s a free service that allows faculty to quickly and easily set up a poll which students can respond to with cell phones, tablets or laptops (basically any wireless device).   Students were asked to bring devices to class in advance.  Every student followed through and participated in the activity.  It only takes  a few minutes to embed a poll in a powerpoint presentation.   The poll allowed the instructor to check the students understanding of the concept at hand.  This service is a  faculty-student-friendly alternative to clickers.

Using Polleverywhere.com the instructor can create questions that are embedded in Powerpoint presentations.

In large classes, with 50+ students,  checking for understanding can be a challenge.  The logistics of large and small group discussions, or “practice quizzes” are complicated.  In this course,  thorough understanding of epidemiologic study design and data analysis techniques allow the nurse to make data-based decisions for direct care of populations, families, and individuals.    With polleverywhere.com, the instructor can set up a few poll questions prior to class.     When the poll question is opened and students respond to the questions, they can track the response rates to different answers “live” on the screen at the front of the class.   For this session, the students had no problem navigating to submit their answer, regardless of the device they brought to class.  For more information about polleverywhere.com, please visit their website, or contact Scott Christian at the Teaching and Learning Center.

Students could watch the results of the poll “live” projected on the screen at the front of the class.

Assignments, Assessments, and Academic Integrity

As I work with faculty to expand their use of Sakai to include the Tests & Quizzes tool, there are inevitably questions around assignments, assessments, and academic honesty.

“I’m used to giving tests in a classroom – is there any way to manage/monitor students taking online tests?”

The Tests & Quizzes feature in Sakai allows instructors to create a variety of question formats, including multiple choice, true/false, matching, and short answer; create a question pool to store and rotate questions; randomize the order of questions in a test; and provide varying levels of feedback to students on their test performance.

While it is not possible to completely control the online testing environment, there are several settings that are built into the Sakai Tests & Quizzes feature that allow faculty to manage some aspects of the student experience, including setting a time limit; establishing a specific day/time parameters; retracting an exam.

Additionally, there are two relatively new tools that are available to faculty who utilize Sakai:

Respondus LockDown Browser™ is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Sakai.  In fact, it is integrated into the settings for Tests & Quizzes – you just select that option if you wish to activate the tool.

When activated for an assessment, students are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications. When an assessment is started, students are locked into it until they submit it for grading.  This tool also protects the integrity of the exam by disabling the students’ ability to print, copy, paste, screen capture, message, during the exam.  Additionally, assessments are not stored on the student’s computer after exiting. http://respondus.com/products/lockdown-browser/#1

ProctorU is a live online proctoring service for students taking exams online. It uses a three-step process to replicate the face-to-face proctoring experience over the internet by connecting with the student via web cam, monitoring the student’s computer screen in real time, and authenticating the student’s identity using a multi-factor process.  http://proctoru.com/forinstitutions.php#

Keep in mind that Respondus and ProctorU are more applicable to courses like the basic sciences or other subjects, where the emphasis is fact recall, and multiple choice, T/F, and matching formats are utilized.  These tools are not needed where students are asked to access higher level/critical thinking skills, such as applying their knowledge to analyze and answer open-ended questions about case studies or scenarios.

 “With so much information available online to students, how can I ensure that their writing assignments are original and/or appropriately cited?”

One of the biggest challenges students face is integrating researched information into their writing assignments.  Resources for citing sources and recognizing plagiarism are available to students through the library (http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/library/research-assistance/plagiarism.cfm?WT_rank=1#) and the Teaching and Learning Center (http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/teaching-and-learning-center/for-students/index.cfm); however, faculty also have the option of activating a tool in the Submissions settings for each assignment in Sakai, called Turnitin.

Turnitin is a web-based system designed to compare submitted works against a large database of student papers, scholarly works, journal articles, texts and other material.  The service compares the body of a student’s writing assignment with a database of digital content contained in its library and then generates an “Originality Report” that documents the matching phrases and assigns an originality score.  In addition to alerting faculty to potential plagiarism, Turnitin can also be utilized to educate students about what is and is not original work.  http://turnitin.com/en_us/products/faq

Finally, when utilizing these technologies to monitor and manage academic integrity, faculty need to be sensitive about how students might perceive the use of these tools:  Are they getting the message that we are protecting them and the integrity of the institution, or are they getting the message that we do not trust them? 


Enhance your online student group projects with Wikispaces pilot

Wikipedia LogoThe Teaching and Learning Center has begun piloting a much enhanced Wiki tool called Wikispaces in Sakai sites.  Wiki tools are group collaboration websites that allow everyone in the group to add, change, rearrange or delete web content using their web browser.  Of course, the most famous example of a Wiki site is Wikipedia.org, a massive encyclopedia that anyone on the Internet can contribute to.  Wikis aim to make group collaboration on documents and web-based projects easy.

The Wikispaces tool allows you to set up a Wiki-style site just for your Sakai course.  Wikispaces is a tremendous step up in usability and features compared to Sakai’s built-in Wiki tool.  It includes an easier WYSIWYG text editor that makes embedding graphics and multimedia simple.

Wikispaces also has some excellent group-focused capabilities.  For example, the Nursing Chronic Illness course from Ashland used Wikispaces to divide the class up into 12 project teams and assigned each team to create an online web site about a different chronic illness.  The students were required to report on the symptoms, treatments, and long-term consequences of each disease including references to the source material.  All this information was compiled into the course wiki.  When the projects were complete the different teams could look at the other teams’ work and comment and rate what they created.

Currently the Wikispaces tool is in pilot mode and must be enabled by the Sakai Help Desk.  If you’re interested in incorporating a wiki-based activity into your course send an email to sakai@ohsu.edu and we can discuss adding your course to the pilot.

Wiki Trivia: The first wiki (WikiWikiWeb) was invented in 1995 right here in Portland Oregon by Ward Cunningham.

Articulate Storyline

Nelson Family Case Scenario – Produced by the Teaching and Learning Center in conjunction with the OHSU School of Nursing

As a Faculty Development Specialist with OHSU’s Teaching and Learning Center, my interest is in designing educational media. This type of media development includes graphics, video, and interactive multimedia for use in the classroom and online.

I was introduced to the concept of multimedia in 1990 when I developed my first HyperCard stack. Based on the metaphor of “virtual index cards”, each card in a HyperCard stack was programmed using HyperTalk. A typical HyperCard stack included a common background, interactive objects, text fields, check boxes, buttons, and clickable images. By interacting with these clickable elements on a card, users could jump randomly to various cards in a HyperCard stack based upon their selection or input.

Since HyperCard’s introduction over 25 years ago, applications for creating interactive multimedia have matured. Today, authoring tools like Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline provide multimedia developers with a rich array tools that are easy to master and require no programming skills.

While Captivate and Storyline are both excellent applications, my personal preference is Storyline. Why? Well it’s because Storyline’s user interface is very similar to PowerPoint’s. So being familiar with PowerPoint, learning Storyline was a breeze.

Supported by an active development community, Storyline is intuitive and easy to use. You can develop e-learning tutorials quickly by importing your PowerPoint content directly into Storyline, then enhancing your instruction using pre-programmed drag and drop interactions, quizzing options, and branching features.

To learn more about Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate, please contact the Teaching and Learning Center Toll Free at (877) 972-5249 or download the 30-day free trial of both Storyline and Captivate and get started exploring both these applications today.

Articulate Storyline Demos & Examples
Adobe Captivate Showcase

Quick and easy recordings with Camtasia Relay

Tired of spending hours recording voiceover PowerPoint lectures for your students? Worried your students just aren’t “getting it” and not sure your written explanations are getting through? Wondering how you’re going to give feedback to students on their projects? Not sure you’re making the connection in a distance course? The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) is offering a service that can help.

Camtasia Relay is now available to all faculty. It will record anything on your screen, whether it be a PowerPoint lecture, a walkthrough of a website, or a tutorial of how to use a new program. You can record from work, home or even from your mobile device. It’s simple, easy to use and free to all instructors at OHSU.

Camtasia Relay can be used to do so much more than just record a narrated presentation. Some other possibilities are:

  • Quick responses (5-10 minutes) to students questions on homework and quiz questions
  • Just in time mini-lectures to address challenging content
  • Tutorials and walkthroughs of specialized systems, web pages, applications, etc.
  • Welcome/Introduction “talks” to introduce students to weekly content
  • Video feedback to student assignments
  • Khan Academy style videos made with a drawing tablet

Check out what some of your OHSU colleagues are doing:

Kathie Lasater, EdD, RN, ANEF, Associate Instructor in the School of Nursing, and one of the Camtasia Relay beta-testers says,

“The setup and use of the Camtasia Relay system is easy, especially for a digital immigrant like me. I’ve gotten great feedback from the students in my hybrid (blended) course that they really appreciated the short blurbs I produced with Camtasia Relay because it helps them to focus on what the week is about. From my vantage as the facilitator of learning, I like it because it helps me to connect the dots between modules for the students as well as pick up on any evidence of ‘not getting it,’ particularly between the weeks that we don’t meet.” Dr. Lasater’s lecture “‘Careening’ toward Week 8” is one such example of an introduction of weekly content to her students.

Claudio Mello, MD, PhD, Professor in the School of Medicine, is recording lectures using Camtasia Relay, which students can watch, and rewatch, from home. Having lectures available outside of class helps students gain mastery over the content and touch up on any parts of the lecture they may have missed.

Dr. Mello says of Camtasia Relay, “I actually enjoyed using the software, it was surprisingly easy to use it on my laptop, a MacBook… I’d also suggest breaking up a lecture into shorter 10-20 min segments, students also seem to like that, instead of having very large lecture files to view.”

Larry Wasserman, MS Health Care Fiscal Managment, CPA and Adjunct Instructor in the Division of Management, uses Relay to record tutorials, problem walkthroughs and practical examples of the week’s content in Excel for his Managerial Accounting course. View his lecture Fixed and Variable Cost as an example.

“I enjoyed doing a full lecture [using Camtasia Relay] because it seemed more “real” as opposed to using Adobe Presenter and having each slide done one by one (which you essentially can perfect), ” says Mandy McKimmy, RN, MSN, FNP-C, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. She uses Relay to show her students how to search for national guidelines on the web for a patient with high cholesterol in Cholesterol Guidelines.

Some benefits of the Camtasia Relay system are:

  • Record from anywhere with Internet access (including from mobile devices!)
  • Capture anything on your screen
  • Help students connect with you at a distance – include your face with a webcam thumbnail
  • Quick and Easy to install and use
  • Links to your recordings emailed directly to you, which you can embed in Sakai, an email or anywhere.
  • Mobile-friendly! Students can watch recordings from their mobile devices.
  • Audio files automatically created to supplement flash recordings
  • Students can watch lectures over and over again as needed
  • It’s free to use for OHSU instructors

If this sounds like something you would like to try, please email or call the Sakai Help Desk (sakai@ohsu.edu or 877-972-5249) and we’d be happy to consult with you.

Here’s a haiku or two:

Camtasia Relay
Record Anything On Screen
Will you flip your class?

Flipping my classroom?
Time for hands-on, discussion
Awesome! Relay Rules!

Write a haiku about Camtasia Relay, narrated PowerPoint or lecturing and share it with us in the comments (the haiku form is 5, 7, 5 syllables)!

Increasing presence and inspiring collaboration with the new Virtual Meetings tool in Sakai

Students can now collaborate online through the Teaching and Learning Center’s (TLC) new Virtual Meetings tool. Fully integrated into Sakai course sites, it’s easy, reliable, fast and just in time!  It provides a more interactive experience with greater immediacy.  Originally called “Big Blue button”, this tool was developed by a group of engineering students at Ottawa-based Carelton University. The TLC recently adopted it and named it “Virtual Meetings” to better describe its functionality to Sakai users.

Having a virtual meetings tool enhances peer to peer activities and collaboration.  Faculty can hold virtual office hours and ‘just in time’ Q & A sessions prior to homework due dates or exam days.  Students can collaborate on group projects, can conduct private study sessions and give peer reviews. Virtual breakout groups can be conducted during lectures for distance students enrolled in a hybrid course.

What could you do in your class?

Faculty in the School of Nursing were looking for a tool to integrate classroom and online students in group work.

Mandy McKimmy, an earlier adopter of the tool in the School of Nursing, used it not only for students to collaborate virtually on a group assignment in her Family and Primary Care Management III course, but also plans for her 6 distance students to use Virtual Meetings to “virtually breakout” during class to work through a case study and come back to class to present their findings.

Katherine Bradley in the applied Health Care Economics and Finance course in the School of Nursing uses the tool for her students to collaborate on producing a voiceover presentation.  Katherine also holds online office hours once a week where multiple students can join the session to clarify assignments.

Ease of use is key.  The Virtual Meetings tool features include:

  • Webcam: multiple users can share their webcams at the same time.
  • Integrated voiceover: students need only headphones and a microphone to participate.
  • Sharing documents to view: Participants can jointly view documents with each other. Accepted file types are PDFs, image files (.jpeg and .png only) and Microsoft Office Documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc)

Faculty are welcome to contact their instructional designer to explore incorporating this tool in their course.

Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence and TLC partner to create online learning modules

“My participation in the Gerontological Nursing Scholars program will translate to an improved ability for me to impart to students and colleagues and clients more and better information about the graying of our society and the challenges and opportunities for culture change that accompany this shift.” – Barb Enos, MN, RN‐BC

As the nation’s population of older adults grows, it is has become increasingly important to educate more nurses in gerontology. With this aim, the Hartford Center for Gerontological Nursing Excellence at the OHSU School of Nursing has partnered with the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) to create several gerontology-related learning modules for a variety of audiences.

The partnership was first developed to develop a scholars program for selected faculty. For each of the last two years, a cohort of teaching nurses has participated in a face-to-face workshop and also completed a series of self-paced learning modules on Sakai. These faculty also submitted pre- and post-assessments in Sakai to quantify their learning. The scholars have gone on to incorporate gerontological content in their undergraduate course teaching.

The Hartford Center and the TLC have also developed a nursing honors program for students. Qualified students with an interest in gerontological content were matched with mentors, asked to participate in a seminar and directed to complete a series of self-paced modules on Sakai. Content was arranged around the organizing concepts of Acute Care, Chronic Care and Pathophysiology-Pharmacology.

Most recently, the Hartford Center and the TLC have partnered to create a Long Term Care Internship Program site hosted on Sakai. The objective of the program is to help prepare nurses for successful careers in the care of older adults. Content was developed by the partner school (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and OHSU faculty adapted the material to incorporate more interactive experiences into the modules, so that they would be more engaging for learners.

With these past and present projects the Hartford Center and the TLC have surely met the aim of preparing nurse leaders who are committed to improving the health and health care of older adults.

Professionalism in teaching

On Friday, November 16th, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop sponsored by the OHSU Graduate School of Medicine called: “Professionalism in Medical Training: How We Can Challenge the Hidden Curriculum.”  The session was facilitated by Karen Adams, MD, Andrea Cedfeldt, MD and Josh Kornegay, MD.  Not only did the content and activities of the workshop engage participants in a thoughtful consideration of issues related to professionalism, the facilitators also “walked the talk” by facilitating a session that inhabited the behaviors and responsibilities that were advocated in the workshop.  The session focused on professionalism in Medical Training, and I couldn’t help but make connections to professionalism in teaching.  Although the majority of the workshop was spent in small group and large group discussion, the facilitators also presented findings and analysis from research in the field of professionalism.  The list of medical professional responsibilities that was shared, in particular,  could transfer directly to teaching (in any discipline), which were:

1.  Professional Competence
2.  Honesty with patients
3.  Patient confidentiality
4.  Maintaining appropriate relations with patients
5.  Improving quality care
6.  Improving access to care
7.  Just distribution of finite resources
8.  Scientific Knowledge
9. Maintaining trust by managing conflicts of interest
10. Professional responsibilities


I like the clear language and focus on the patient evident in these responsibilities. What would it look like if we were to substitute the word “student” for patient, conceptually in this list?

  1. Professional competence for teaching faculty means understanding the basic tenets of pedagogy and assessment, adult learner theory and what it means to teach ethically in culturally appropriate ways in diverse classrooms.
  2.  Honesty seems simple at first glance, however, it’s not simple, nor easy to be honest when providing feedback to students regarding their performance, especially when it’s clear that they are putting forth their best effort and falling short, or when feedback becomes complex because of the context of the performance.
  3. Maintaining Confidentiality   Medical professionals are constantly aware of the constraints around PHI (Protected Health Information) however, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) creates a class of protected information related to education.   With all of the cloud-based technologies and digital communication tools, protecting student confidentiality has grown more complex.
  4. Appropriate Relationships  There have been many stories in the press regarding faculty who have not maintained appropriate relations with students, but to truly be professional in these relationships, faculty must walk the line between caring for students’ best interests and taking a personal interest in their lives, a key component of constructivist teaching, while maintaining a professional role as the teacher.
  5. Quality Education   Ever since the release of the “A Nation at Risk” report, and the standards movement was launched in 1983, there has been a lively debate about what a quality education, K-20, looks like.  However, any definition of quality should involve clear expectations, an understanding of the instructional context for teaching, multiple opportunities to learn and appropriate formative and summative assessment.
  6. Access to Education   In theory, one of the basic tenets of democracy is equal access to education.   In reality, the opportunities for quality education are largely dictated by socioeconomic factors.   As professional educators, we need to continually examine the ways that our systems and programs exclude or include students from diverse backgrounds, including students with disabilities and “unconventional” students who are challenged by the circumstances of their lives to participate in education.
  7. Just as with the considerations for equal access to education, the same concept applies to the just distribution of finite resources.  When academic programs, scholarships and other financial resources for students are limited, or re-allocated, professional educators need to look closely at the relevant data to determine who will be impacted by those decisions.
  8. It might be surprising to some to consider that there is now considerable scientific knowledge about best practice in teaching.   For example, The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) is the “world’s largest digital library of education literature” and there are literally decades of qualitative and quantitative studies regarding teaching and learning.   Perhaps the most exciting area of research in education is in the field of neuroscience, which has already provided critical insights into how the brain learns.
  9. At first glance, faculty are not confronted with “managing conflicts of interest” in the classroom.  However, the administrative pressures on faculty and teachers to “pass” students because of financial considerations for the institution (tuition dollars) or to “teach to the test,” so that students can pass professional examinations, can provide ethical dilemmas, especially when faculty are pressured to act in the best interest of the institution or program, instead of the best interest of the student.   There has been considerable conversation around “failing to fail” students who are not performing and the implications on both the individual student and the profession.
  10. Last but not least professional responsibilities for faculty are influenced by the personal factors discussed at the workshop, including : quality of life,  balance between personal /professional life,  burnout/depression/stress and addiction/substance abuse.   Faculty who see large numbers of students each day, with substantial clinical and/or administrative responsibilities can find it difficult to engage in the professional, collaborative processes and activities required in academic contexts.

In his book “The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life,” Parker Palmer writes: “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.”   As students, we don’t necessarily remember the teacher who gave the most lively and engaging lectures, or the faculty who had the best portfolio system or most compelling use of media and text.   Instead, we remember the teachers and faculty who had an impact on our lives as well as our education.   Faculty who enter the classroom as emotionally and psychologically healthy individuals, conduct themselves ethically and with integrity and are guided by genuine compassion and empathy, are the true professionals, challenging the hidden curriculum in the classroom as well as in the clinic.