Friday, October 26, 2012

Extending the Classroom with Google+

Recently, Information Services made two new Google tools available through our Gmail accounts.  These tools, Google+ and Blogger, were implemented at the request of several faculty who wanted to experiment with them in their classes.  One of the benefits of having access to these tools from within our NSCC Google suite is that faculty and students will not have to sign-up for a separate Gmail account with an additional username and password.

Google+ is Google's social networking platform.  Faculty, staff, and students now have access to this tool from within our Google suite by clicking on the +You (or +Your Name) option in the black toolbar at the top.

Google+ has several features and one of them is Google Hangouts which is a tool that allows for video conferencing with up to ten people.

Here are just a few uses of Google Hangouts inside and outside of the classroom:
  • Hold small group meetings with faculty, staff or students
  • Conduct virtual office hours
  • Share computer screen to walk through a web site or demonstrate a software program
  • View and discuss YouTube videos
  • View and/or edit Google Documents collaboratively for writing workshops or group projects
  • Bring in a guest lecturer
To use Google Hangouts, you do need to set up a Google+ profile within your Gmail account.  You can do one-on-one video conferencing without a Google+ profile.
Note: When entering your birth date, make sure you do not select a year that will make you 13 years or younger. This will lock your North Shore Gmail account.
For more information on social media in the classroom and using Google+, please take a look at these resources:
Please do not hesitate to contact us at to brainstorm ideas for integrating Google+ and other social media into your teaching or for assistance in using any of these tools.

• Do you see a use for Google+, especially Google Hangouts, in the teaching and learning environment?  What goals might this tool help you meet?
• What challenges do you see to using Google+?
• What role, if any, does social media play in the classroom?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Social Media & Teaching at NSCC

Social Media & Teaching at NSCC

Social Media:
  • Can foster student to student, student to faculty, and student to content interactions.
  • Can facilitate communication expediently.
  • Can encourage informal learning and the development of personal information networks for students.
  • Can aid in developing meaningful connections with students.

When to Use Social Media in the Classroom:
  • To encourage informal discussions between students and faculty.
  • To identify and share new or recently-discovered content that is course relevant.
  • To provide a voice for those who find classroom settings intimidating or challenging.
  • To make education accessible in unique ways the classroom inhibits.
  • To collaborate on a piece of media (text, image, sound, video, etc) for meaningful discussion that can be captured and reproduced in other settings.

Different Social Media & Potential Assignments or Projects

  • Student journals
  • Faculty observations & students comment
  • Course blog where all students contribute relevant posts related to the course
  • Collaborative note-taking
  • Group blogs based upon different course-topics
Google Hangouts

  • Student-faculty video conferences
  • Student group conferences
  • Collaborative work space
  • Office hours
  • Peer reviews
  • Small-group workshops with students and faculty

  • News-tracking for different disciplines
  • Live classroom question forum
  • Encouraging dialogue with professionals within a given field
  • Collaborative note-taking
  • Tweeting live events

  • Social bookmarking
  • Organize online course readings
  • Collectively annotating course material
  • Research space for project/paper
  • Develop a collection of supplemental resources that can be reproduced for the next course.

Recommendations for Using Social Media in the Classroom
We always encourage faculty to contact the Instructional Technology and Design Team - Andrea Milligan (, Lance Eaton (, David Houle (, & Patricia Lavoie ( for help in addressing some of the following concerns:  
  • Gaining familiarity with the tool.
  • Aligning usage of social media with course goals and objectives.
  • Making the tool accessible and easy to learn for students.
  • Developing guidelines about the ways in which the tool will be used (and how students will be evaluated with regards to its usage).

For More Information
Please visit the ITD Social Media Resources page at:


  1. Log into North Shore Gmail (
  2. Click on More in the black toolbar across the top of the screen.
  3. Click on Blogger.
  4. You will be prompted to create a profile.  Select Create a Limited Profile for Blogger.
  5. You will then be prompted to select a Display Name.  This is the name that will show up when you post on Blogger.
Once in Blogger:
  1. Select New Blog to create a new blog.
  2. Provide your blog with a name.
  3. Create a name for your Blog's address (often an abbreviated version of your blog's name)
  4. Select a Design Template for your Blog (how you want the blog to appear--this can be changed later on).
  5. Select Create blog!
  6. You will be returned to your Dashboard where it will list your blog.  To start composing a blog, click  Start posting or the pencil icon under your blog's title.

  1. Log into North Shore Gmail (  
  2. To set up your Google+ account with the domain:  
    1. Click on the +You in the black toolbar across the top of the screen.  
    2. Click on the down arrow next to your email address and then the Join Google+ button. 
  3. In step 1 (Upgrade):  
    1. You will need to check off the box that reads: “I understand the changes to Picasa Web Albums”.  
    2. We recommend that you uncheck the box that reads: “Google may use my account information to personalize +1s content”. 
    3. Click the Upgrade button. 
  4. In step 2 (Add people):  
    1. You can just click the Continue button at this point.  You do  not need to add any people.  
    2. Click the Continue button at the “Follow interesting people and pages” screen.  
    3. Click the Continue anyway button at the “you might be lonely...” screen. 
  5. At step 3 (Be awesome):  
  6. Click the Finish button.  You do not need to add a photo or fill out the rest of the information (unless you want to). 
  7. Once you have set up your Google+ account, you will see +Your Name in the black toolbar across the top of the screen instead of +You.

Once in Google+:  
  1. Click on the Start a hangout button (on your Google+ home page) to create a video conferencing space.  
  2. Enter in the email addresses of students or colleagues to invite to the hangout.  
  3. Provide your hangout a name (for example: CPS100 Office Hours)  
  4. Click the Hang out button.

Note: Google+ is available on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.  Also, use of Google+ and Blogger fall under NSCC’s Computer Use Policy (  For full Social Media Guidelines, visit:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Surviving" Earthquakes and Viral Education

I heard about it; I did not feel it.  Apparently, I missed the not-so-epic earthquake of New England.  I was in my basement apartment engaged in conversation--I guess I just figured it was the hot air bellowing from me (or indigestion?).  But New England witnessed a 4.5 magnitude earthquake in Maine that was felt down through Massachusetts.

Like many people who missed the earthquake, I found out about it when Facebook updates exploded with references to it.  Dozens of friends were asking Facebook if their world was just rocked.  Enough asked to figure out that yes, indeed, there was an earthquake, even before the official notice went out.  It was pretty interesting to come to Facebook some 20 minutes after the event to discover the event and witness everyone else discovering the event.
But what struck me as absolutely fascinating was how quickly the meme-machine went into action.  Within 20 minutes, people were posting amusing pics about the incident.  It was a typical self-deprecating response with a bit of post-modern twists to it as can be seen in the screenshot to the left.  But around 8:15PM, about an hour after the earthquake, I stumbled upon a Facebook page:  I survived the 10/16/12 earthquake.  By the time I encountered it, it had over 35,000 "Likes".  That is, already in less than an hour 35,000+ had seen it on their Facebook feed or shared it with friends who had quickly learned about the earthquake and joined.  Over the course of the next 3 hours, this group swelled to nearly double in ranks (about 71,000) before I went to sleep and up over 80,000 likes before I went to bed.  So in lieu of watching the debate, I watched the numbers grow.  And as they grew, I took screenshots of the page and numbers, showing that increase.  The results can be found below in the slideshow.

But the question I want to think about is as educators, how can we harness this potential of viral explosion with informal learning.  Granted, I understand there is a certain frivolousness to what's happened.  Most likely, 99.99% of people who "liked" it will never revisit it.  But that doesn't mean we can't learn from the interaction and ask ourselves what are the takeaways from this (non)event.  A couple to consider:

  1. Fast response:  A news event occurred and someone quickly responded with a way to capture it in a way that brings attention to it (and mocks it).
  2. It grew rapidly within a specified population.  I'm not privy to the demographics of the the fan page, but I'm willing to guess the demographics were heavily skewered to these people:  People who have or are living in New England and people under 50.
  3. Absurdity + recent event + social media=Opportunity to connect (and profit).  Within 3 hours of the event, the FB page not only had 70,000+ likes, but also had quickly created an e-store with which to sell "I Survived the 10-16-2012 Earthquake" T-shirts.
  4. People got something out of liking it.  Brief though the interaction may be, there was something rewarding for people to participate in this.  There was some exchange--small or not.

If we are more socially connected with our students what opportunities lie in wait for us to re-purpose such events into opportunities for learning and meaning-making?  I don't have the answers for this one but do wonder if we are more away of the phenomenon and think or discuss it more, can we find ways of doing something with it.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Professional Development - Anytime, Anywhere

This year, Academic Technology is piloting a new on-demand online professional development service – Magna Commons.

Our subscription to Magna Commons provides North Shore Community College faculty and staff with instant access to current and archived versions of the most popular Magna Online Seminars, covering a broad range of teaching and learning topics such as student engagement, technology and Web 2.0, grading and feedback, academic integrity, and course design.  There are also a variety of seminars specifically targeted to faculty teaching in an online or hybrid environment.  These seminars are delivered by educators from institutions across the county.  Each online seminar presentation also comes with a PowerPoint handout, supplemental materials, and a transcript.

Sampling of the professional development titles available:
  • Five Strategies to Engage Today’s Students
  • Ten Ways to Actively Engage Your Students
  • How to Deepen Learning through Critical Reflection
  • Active Learning That Works: What Students Think
  • Finding The Right Technology to Support Learning Outcomes
  • Grading Strategies to Promote Student & Faculty Success
  • Engage Online Students with Targeted Feedback
  • Selecting and Using Technologies in Online and Blended Courses
  • Best Practices for Designing Successful Blended Courses
To access the professional development seminars, you will need to create an account on Magna Commons and enter in our Authorization Code.  You will only need to do this once.  After you have done this, you will have instant access to Magna Commons from any computer, whether it is on- or off-campus, with your unique username and password.  Seminars can be viewed by subscribers on a computer or many mobile devices.

For information on creating an account and accessing Magna Commons, please refer to the announcement in the Bulletin on October 9, 2012 or email

Enjoy--and let us know if you check it out, some of your thoughts and experiences!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Engaging Students with Web 2.0 Tools

In June, Academic Technology and the Information Technology Fluency Across the Curriculum Committee facilitated the 2nd Annual Faculty Technology Summer Institute.  15 faculty attended the Summer Institute to learn more about student-centered uses of technology in a variety of disciplines.  Several sessions focused on various Web 2.0 and instructional technology tools that could be used to engage students inside and outside of the classroom or for student-based projects or assignments that would allow students to use technology critically and creatively.
The following resources (with information to learn more) were highlighted at the Summer Institute.
Google Documents: A free online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editor that enables students to collaborate online in real time.  Google Documents is available to everyone at North Shore Community College.
Prezi: Online software that enables students to create “visually captivating presentations”.
VoiceThread:  An online program that enables students to have “conversations in the cloud” around images, documents and videos.  North Shore Community College has a departmental license to VoiceThread.  Please contact ITD if you are interested in using VoiceThread with your students.
Diigo:  An online collaborative research tool that enables students to bookmark and share Web resources.
Screencast-o-matic:  A simple screen capture program that enables students to create online presentations with voice.
Glogster:  A Web program that enables students to create online multimedia posters.
Quizlet: An online site that allows students to create and share flashcard sets.  Mobile apps are available for on-the-go studying.
Wordle: A web site to create word clouds to visually display prominence of words in texts.
Poll Everywhere: A Web-based classroom response system that allows instructors to get instant feedback from students.
Dipity: A Web site to Create and share “interactive, visually engaging timelines that integrate video, audio, images, text, links, and social media”.
If you are interested in learning how to integrate any of these resources into your classes, please contact us at

• Have you used any of these Web 2.0 tools?  If so, how are you using them to engage your students?
• What other Web 2.0 tools have you used in your classroom?  What are the benefits to using Web 2.0 tools?

• What challenges do you run into when using Web 2.0 tools?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Podcasts in the Classroom

Consider Classroom Podcasts!
Often times when we think of using the Smart Classroom, we think of using video materials or PowerPoints with our class. Podcasts, however, are a great educational tool to use in the classroom—speeches, poetry, stories, and news clips—are all great types of podcasts to bring into the classroom or have your students listen to at home or on their computers, cellphones or mp3 players.

One application or web tool is “Stitcher”. It’s an on-demand internet radio service and application for the iPhone, Palm, and Android devices. Stitcher brings together content for thousands of providers, including NPR, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the BBC, AP, and more. It also gives you local stations so that you can easily utilize local content in the classroom.

With upcoming local and national elections, Stitcher is the ideal site to engage students in the political process. Check it out at or on your mobile device.  (For instructions on how to use Stitcher for different platforms, we recommend checking out Youtube for instructional videos such as this one that shows you how to use it on your iPhone).

Podcasts are plentiful at the following sites as well:
If you’d like more information about utilizing podcasts in the classroom, please contact me at

Enjoy this new engaging experience for your students!

Have you used podcasts before?  What was your experience like?  How would you like to use podcasts in your class?