Category Archives: online teaching

Teachers of TikTok

I like her style. The quarantine is unleashing all manner of creativity…

@makeshift.macaroni##ukulele ##uke ##originalsong ##teachersoftiktok ##tiktokteacher ##smallgestures♬ original sound – makeshift.macaroni

Shifting to online learning so abruptly, without any advance warning and in most cases without any training, practice or experience delivering a course from a distance, understandably elicits such a reaction.

I didn’t sign up for this!

I know the feeling. I didn’t become a teacher to be estranged from my students. And the horror of Covid-19 is all too scary and real. However, I think this new reality is bringing about a critical shift in perspective. There is no going back. Anyone hoping for things to go back to exactly the way they were is in for a rude awakening. Our world changed after 9/11. Our world changed after Pearl Harbor. These kinds of events change our world into something different. Not necessarily in a better or worse way, although it could be both, but just different than how it was before.

Honestly, for me, I refuse to return to the old way. I am happier now, more productive and creative now and am more fulfilled in my work than ever before.

Well, that is easy for you to say, Mister Digital Media Man. You love this stuff!

It is true to some extent that I do love this stuff. But I also abhor some of this stuff as well. While the world has mindlessly embraced the 24/7 commitment to smartphones and mobile technology, I have been more skittish. I don’t necessarily like what the tech does to us, particularly when we adopt it without pause or reflection. I try to be purposeful in my use of technology because it is addictive stuff.

So I feel a deep connection with the music teacher who is sad to be apart from her pupils. But I am also aware of some clever uses of technology to keep us connected while we are apart. TikTok is one of those ways, by the way, but I don’t think makeshift.macaroni’s intended audience is her students. I’m not saying it should be, simply noting that it could be if desired.

As for me and my students, we have been practicing together in this new way of being for over a decade now. Not without some resistance, I might add. I have long promoted using blogs, showing our work online, connecting online with others having the skills and knowledge that you desire, communicating in various digital formats including video conferencing. Together we have practiced. Sometimes there were misunderstandings and bumps in the road. Sometimes we wondered why we were even doing it. Now we know. We were preparing to flourish in a time like we are currently experiencing.

If you find this new reality unsettling, if it is completely unfamiliar territory and you just want it to go back to normal, it is because you have not practiced as much as I have. Things won’t stay this way forever, but they won’t return to our pre-2020 existence either. Our eyes are being opened to new possibilities. Along with the danger and the heartbreak will come new ideas and opportunities. Just like after 9/11, our world has changed forever. Better get used to it. Technology is part of our new normal and there is no going back.

Liberty and Justice For All: An Evening With Dr. Onalee McGraw (part 3)

***Editor’s note*** This event has been rescheduled for Monday, April 20, 2020.

A Raisin in the Sun: Liberty and Justice for All –
A Classic Film Series with Dr. Onalee McGraw

Come join us in a night of online learning with Dr. Onalee McGraw. 

What: An interactive discussion with Dr. McGraw about the film A Raisin in the Sun (links to Amazon Rental for $2.99).

When: Monday, April 13 20, 2020 – 7 pm Eastern / 6 pm Central (for 1 hr)

Where: Via Zoom Meeting Room (Register below to receive instructions and access)

Why: “To explore together the mysteries of our human condition and the longings of the human heart with one of the greatest of the films of Classic Hollywood.” – Dr. Onalee McGraw


Dr. Onalee McGraw is Director of the Educational Guidance Institute, which helps instructors use classic films to present universal truths about Character, Virtue, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. In the 1980s, Dr. McGraw was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Council on Educational Research. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Georgetown University.

Dr. McGraw appeared on Turner Classic Movies as a guest programmer for the film, 12 Angry Men. We are so very honored to have access to her wisdom in these uncertain times.

Join us on Monday, April 13 20, 2020 at 7pm Eastern / 6pm Central. To be sent details about accessing this unique opportunity for learning, please register below. Don’t delay, space is limited! For the best experience, be sure to view the film A Raisin in the Sun prior to attending.

Fill-In-The-Blank Quizzes on Canvas

Teachers of English might find this amusing. I have been experimenting with using automated quizzes on Canvas. One form of quiz I have tried is “fill-in-the-blank.” For this type, you have to anticipate what correct answers will be provided by the students. If they type it in correctly, they will receive credit, but any slight deviation will be counted wrong.

So far, every single student who has taken my quiz has required a scoring adjustment because of weird capitalizations and punctuations or because they didn’t make the subject agree with the provided verb. (Why do you need to add “s” to everything???)

I’m doing the automated quizzes to save on grading work, but on this one, it so far has saved me nothing. But I’m remembering from my college days Dr. Les Hemphill, my psych teacher, set up a computerized testing system that was hard as hell, but he allowed you to re-take it as many times as you wanted to if you wanted a perfect score. Sneaky! We were reviewing the material over and over, doing it this way.

I could ditch the format altogether – probably the preferred path, or I could just have the quiz be very strict about what answers are acceptable and let them do re-takes. I have already adjusted the instructions to note that correct answers must be single-word answers that must agree with the verb used in the prompt sentence and that extraneous capitalization or punctuation will cause the answer to be marked incorrect. I also now allow unlimited re-takes of the quiz. It is already an open-notes quiz with no restrictions on group efforts.

Hmm. This could be frustrating for a student to encounter, to be sure. It feels like an automated version of Neil Postman’s “Guess what the teacher is thinking” game. But it is an extremely low-stakes quiz meant for reviewing material discussed in class. I don’t mean for it to be punitive. Keeping this format could serve as a not-so-subtle reminder that good grammar is something worth considering.

I’m still thinking about the nuances of this.

Adding Mediasite Content to Canvas

I added content hosted on Mediasite to my Canvas course once before, but promptly forgot how to do it and where to go to learn how again. A quick search online took me to the K-State Mediasite tutorial. Now, if I forget again, I can refer back to my own blog to find the link.

By the way, the main piece of information I was looking for was the fact that there is a special button on the Canvas interface for adding Mediasite content. That button looks like a blue “V” like this:

That was all I needed to know to get myself back on track again!

Why Computers and Networking?

I’ve spent a fair amount of time revising this Powerpoint slide show that I like to show early in my CMST 250 Hardware and Networking course. Since I’ve redesigned it for a distance learning class and I’m putting lectures in video form, I thought I would update the random bits of art in the slides and hand-make new artwork for this presentation. This video shows the results of that effort. Most, but not all of the artwork in it was recently made by yours truly.