Smart Science® Labs 90-day Free Access: A COVID-19 Response

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

Smart Science® Education Inc. is aware of the incredible strain the recent events are having on all educational institutions.

To assist, we are offering free 90-day access to our 300 Smart Science® Labs for K-12 and higher education science courses.  Smart Science® Labs are virtual science labs that closely simulate a hands-on laboratory experience using real experiments.

You will receive free webinar PD to get your staff up and running quickly once you opt into this opportunity to share our online science labs with your science students.

Fill out this form to get Smart Science® Labs now:

Watch a tour video of the program here:

We are open to your feedback regarding how we can help in this difficult time.

Resources for Moving to Online Teaching: A COVID-19 Response

By Ilene Frank

[Note: In response to a request from Bert Kimura (3/14/20) for sites that are “curating resources for teaching online (for emergency and on short notice)” for the TCC 2020 website, Ilene responded (3/15/20): “Bert, here’s some! [See list below.] I know there’s better stuff. But here’s some things I’ve seen on discussion lists, Twitter, etc. very recently (but where the heck was that really funny thread I saw from an instructor trying to video conference with her students getting interruptions from her husband and cats — and basically telling other instructors to embrace the goof-ups. She gave extra credit to students who could name all of her cats at the end of an online session or two.” -Editor]

A community getting together to discuss tackling the move to online teaching

Keep Teaching; Resources for Higher Ed

From Steve Covello – a suggestion to start your thinking about moving your course online here: The Ed Techie: Martin Weller’s blog on open education, digital scholarship, and over-stretched metaphors – “The COVID-19 online pivot

Continue reading

Email Is All You Need to Teach Online: A COVID-19 Response

By Jim Shimabukuro

For some instructors who have never taught online and are unfamiliar with their college’s LMS (Learning Management System), email may be the simplest and quickest way to move a course online. This approach would eliminate the steep learning curve for both instructors and students who are expected to move F2F courses into LMSs within the next week or so. The advantage of email-only is that everyone has an account, everyone knows how to use email, and students who don’t own a computer can get by with their smartphones1.

This email-only approach will work best with lecture-discussion courses that rely on papers and projects rather than quizzes and exams. For those requiring tests, a simple adjustment would be to require a paper, instead, that’s submitted via email2. For this approach to work, the instructor and students would need to have the email address of every person in class3Continue reading

Google Classroom to Transition to Online: A COVID-19 Response

By Davin K. Kubota

Davin Kubota, after surveying his classes, sent the following announcement to his students in preparation for the University of Hawaii’s move to online instruction for all classes beginning 23 March 2020, the day after spring recess. He also suggests ways to personally cope with the pandemic. -Editor

Based on your survey responses, here is what’s going to go down from March 23 to …? (I’m not sure UH President David Lassner will let us come back to school on April 13 if the coronavirus is still out of control in Hawai’i).

1. GoogleClassroom remains the core source of information and coursework upload.

2. Zoom will be used to accommodate those students who wish to live-conference with me virtually. My online office hours will be scheduled from 10 am to 1 pm Monday through Thursday. I will create signups for Office Hours accordingly. (Discord has too many privacy concerns.)

3. Attendance online will not be taken. You will be responsible for checking GoogleClassroom for applicable lectures and PDFs. Class will be conducted asynchronously rather than synchronously, freeing up your time but making you responsible for doing your work at your own pace and at your own time. Revisions, too, should be addressed at your own pace and with my commentary. (I may decide to remove attendance altogether as a grading criterion. Those of you who showed up regularly until now will likely receive bonuses. I need to check with my department chair to see if I can do this.)  Continue reading

Barebones F2F-to-Online Transition: A COVID-19 Response

By Jim Shimabukuro

In the morning of March 12, faculty and staff in the University of Hawaii System received news that all classes will be conducted online starting March 23, after the spring recess, to prevent the possible spread of COVID-191. For F2F and blended instructors with some knowledge of Laulima, the System’s Sakai CMS, the move from F2F to online shouldn’t be too difficult. Those with little or no knowledge, however, will face a steep learning curve.

Laulima is a complex Course Management System with powerful tools, which makes it difficult to learn and master. This difficulty is compounded by numerous complicated procedures that are nonintuitive. It is often klunky, confusing, mindnumbing, and unforgiving, but it also provides some invaluable tools for online instruction. For me, the two most valuable are the discussion and email tools.

To substantially reduce the learning curve, I’ve devised a quick and dirty method to move a standard lecture-discussion course2 completely online via Laulima’s discussion and email tools. Both are included as default tools in the left sidebar of the basic course structure. There are many other tools to streamline and enhance instruction, but in this emergency and in the interest of time, the focus is on getting up and running with minimal fuss.  Continue reading

TCC 2020@25 Preconference Webinar + Presenter/Facilitator Orientation


25th Anniversary Webinar
4E Principles of Professional Development
for Online Faculty

Empathize, Engage, Emulate and Empower:
A trio of instructional developers will describe
an award-winning course for online faculty.

Full Information

Date & Time
Tuesday, March 17
1:30 p.m. HST
4:30 p.m. CDT, 7:30 p.m. EDT;
Wed Mar 18, 0830 Tokyo, Seoul
Other timezones

Continue reading

TCC 2020 (April 14-16) Call for Participation

Join us!

TCC 2020@25 Worldwide Online Conference
April 14-16, 2020

TCC is a three-day, entirely online conference for post-secondary faculty and staff worldwide that features presentations covering a wide range of topics related to educational technology and emerging technologies for teaching and learning.

Register now for early bird rates:

Individuals participate in real-time sessions from the comfort of their workplace or home using a web browser to connect to individual sessions. All sessions are recorded for on-demand viewing.  Continue reading

Messaging Apps

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of messaging apps as more people use their phone and other mobile devices to communicate. In his March 19, 2019, article on the Motherboard website, Owen Williams asks, “Why Do We Need So Many Different Messaging Apps?” He poses this and other interesting questions about the variety of messaging apps that are available, who uses them, and how they are used.

I recently became interested in this question because, in the last few months, I’ve had to add What’s App and Telegram to my array of communication choices. I’ve always relied on email to communicate with friends and colleagues, occasionally using my texting function on my phone, Messenger on FaceBook, and Skype for messaging. Once I got my iPhone, this began to change. I started using iMessenger, which was on my phone. However, I couldn’t use it for international contacts, and I had a colleague in Albania who said she used Viber, so I downloaded it to IM with her about our project.  Continue reading

‘Are Books Going to Be Replaced by Technology?’

By Jim Shimabukuro

With so many professional services competing for our interest online, I couldn’t remember when, why, or how I signed up for eblasts from ResearchGate (RG), but, last night, as I was pruning my list of incoming email, their subject line caught my eye: “Q&A Highlights for James Shimabukuro.” I moved the cursor from the garbage can icon to the subject line and clicked. This is what I found:

RG 102419

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TCC Online Conference 2020: Call for Proposals

Last updated 12/16/19 7:30 AM

25th Anniversary Special!
TCC Worldwide Online Conference
April 14-16, 2020

Vision 2020

Proposal deadline extended: December 27, 2019
Deadline for accepted papers: December 30, 2019
Proposal deadline: December 20, 2019
Hashtag: #tccsilver

Call for Proposals
Faculty and staff are invited to submit a paper or a general session proposal related to learning design and technology such as e-learning, learning communities, digital literacy, social media, online privacy, mobile learning, emerging technologies (AI, AR, VR), gamification, faculty and staff support, and professional development.  Continue reading

Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop: Upgrades and Updates

By Jim Shimabukuro

The more time I spend with the Raspberry Pi 4, the more I’m convinced that it could stand in for a desktop for many uses. For light users and perhaps for schools and colleges, the savings would be astronomical. I decided to add a small monitor to make the unit less cumbersome and more portable. School and college faculty, techs, and administrators ought to look into this tiny computer as a possible replacement or substitute for expensive desktops for class or lab use. Experiment with it. Can it cover the functions that are needed?

Added a lightweight, portable 1920×1080 HDMI monitor1 and some updates.

Tweaks abound. Enthusiasts and pros are sharing, via YouTube, new and exciting updates and upgrades. Here are a few that I completed in the last hour:
Continue reading

Raspberry Pi 4 Is the Future of Desktop Computers

By Jim Shimabukuro

Update: 4 Aug. 2019

The CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 Complete Starter Kit arrived yesterday evening. I got it up and running before turning in and did more extensive testing today. My overall early impression is “Wow!” Pi4 has all the earmarks of a desktop disruptor. Its tiny size and outrageousy low price is a dramatic departure from clunky and expensive desktops. I’ve always wondered why desktop computers have changed so little in the last ten to twenty years. Laptops, notebooks, tablets, and other computing devices are shrinking in size and price every year or so, but desktops seem to remain the same.

It was only a matter of time before a breakthrough like the Pi4 would occur. Earlier Pi versions didn’t have enough power to replace desktops. The Pi4 is a tipping point, marking the beginning of an era that might eventually see the decline of today’s major desktop producers as well as Microsoft’s monopoly on operating systems. For approximately $150, I have a desktop that can do almost everything my $1500 desktop can do1.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is the tiny box to the right of the keyboard. I have it set up for two monitors. The screen on the right is running a 1080p YouTube video. The screen on the left is running four apps: a webpage, an email page, a word processor, and a spreadsheet. The keyboard, mouse, and power supply are official Raspberry accessories. The two mini-HDMI and power cable with in-line power button are CanaKit products.

Continue reading

‘Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy’ — A Review

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy, by Bilal Soylu & Paritica Aluskewicz, illustrations by Olga Pietraszek. XcooBee LLC. Printed by Amazon. 61 p. ISBN 9781095474815.

This book is designed for parents and other caregivers to read with children around five years old, kindergarten age. It’s a cautionary tale about the dangers that lurk online, which is a relevant topic for today’s young learners. The book aims to educate young children about the importance of privacy when online, such as not sharing information with strangers. The characters are animals, some representing children, others adults, and the cartoon-like illustrations would probably appeal to a child this age.

A  page from Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy.

However, I’m not convinced the book would be effective. It seems to have a dual personality, each of which is directed at a separate audience. The story that is directed at children addresses various issues at their level. It shows young animals on the Internet playing online games and using various apps being approached by strangers obtaining personal information in the guise of friendship.  Continue reading

Repurposing Gaming Keyboards and Desktops for Multimedia Work

By Jim Shimabukuro

After nearly ten years, I decided to upgrade my desktop computer. It was being overwhelmed by the multimedia tasks that I’ve been throwing at it. After reviewing the available options, I ended up getting a gaming PC. I’m not a gamer and never have been, but the features that I need happen to be in gaming machines. I got the HP OMEN Obelisk Desktop1 with an Intel Core i7-9700 processor and 16 GB system memory.2 (See the details below.) For serious gamers, this is a modest system.

I completed the purchase online and drove to the store, which is about four miles away. While waiting for the order to be filled, I browsed the keyboard section. I decided it was time to get a new one with backlit keys. The search led me to gaming keyboards, and the best for my needs was the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro mechanical gaming keyboard. It was compact and felt substantial. It didn’t have a numeric keypad. I never use a keypad, so I welcomed the smaller size.

HyperX Alloy FPS Pro mechanical gaming keyboard with backlit keys. All of the photos in this article can be enlarged by left-clicking the photo.

Continue reading

Memories of Computers Past

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

When Jim wrote about 5-1/4″ disks, it triggered a cascade of memories from my half-century of computer experiences. Today, it’s all miniature flash memories.

Seriously, I remember 8″ floppy disks. I had a bunch of them, now long gone to the landfill. I worked in the computer industry before ANY floppy disks existed. Oh, we had removable disks and were careful not to drop them on our toes.

8-inch, ​5 1⁄4-inch, and ​3 1⁄2-inch floppy disks. Wikipedia photo and caption by George Chernilevsky, 6 June 2009.

It gets worse. I remember working with punched cards — myself! I even edited the binary cards returned to you after a compilation to save time. Woe betide the person who dropped their cards if they were not sequenced. If they were, then you had access to a card sorting machine. Old movies showed them as though THEY were the computer. Ha ha ha.  Continue reading

Remember Floppy Disks?

By Jim Shimabukuro

The message on this tanktop is a reminder of how far we’ve come in a very “short” period of time. I got it as a gift this past Father’s Day and catch myself smiling whenever I wear it.

My first personal computer, in the early-1980s, was a Kaypro 2 that came with two single-sided, double-density 5.25″ floppy drives. For all practical purposes, we needed two drives back then: one for the program and the other for our files. Wikipedia photo by Autopilot, 19 Mar. 2015.

Continue reading

A Palm-sized Desktop Computer for $35 – Raspberry Pi 4

By Jim Shimabukuro

Officially released today, 24 June 2019, is the Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK-based charity (nonprofit) that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. They do this so that more people are able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively.

The foundation provides low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn, solve problems and have fun. They provide outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making. They develop free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn.

For more on this palm-sized computer, click here.

Continue reading

A Plea to Simplify the Definition for ‘Online Course’

By Jim Shimabukuro

Three years ago, in 2016, four students (one was possibly an instructor) had a discussion on Reddit about an online course offering with a “lecture required” component. The original poster was byu:

Posted byu/[deleted]
[Subject:] Online Classes – Class Component: “Lecture Required”?
Signed up for a couple online classes and under the Class Details section is says Class Components: Lecture Required. The class is definitely listed as an online class, room says online and meeting day/times TBA, so what does this mean? Video lectures? Just making sure I don’t have to physically show up for anything.

TurtleWaffle: It could be a blended class. I had a class like this and we had 5 Saturday class sessions during the semester as well as the online stuff

Rhynocerous: In my expirience it means you have to physically show up at some point possibly for exams.

corner0ffice1: It sounds like a class with both an online lecture and online lab. You always enroll for the lab component, and then tack on the lecture, so SIS is just telling you that you need to enroll in both components. It does not always mean that you have to show up for anything in person. It SHOULD say if you have any on-campus obligations in the course description, but you can also ask the instructor to confirm.

If we took a moment to actually listen to our students, we’d learn that conversations like this pervade the higher ed landscape. In nearly all colleges, “online” is a confusing course label that can mean any number of things that fail to meet student expectations. byu’s “Just making sure I don’t have to physically show up for anything” captures students’ primary concern in selecting an online class.

Implicit in their expectations for an online class is the idea of not being required to “show up” in a specific place at a specific time. For them, online is virtual, a convenience that allows them to engage learning from anywhere at any time. Thus, synchronous meetings are also not part of their online expectations. “Online” ought to be reserved for courses that are completely online and completely asynchronous. Sync requirements are a real problem for students who choose online courses for their anywhere/anytime advantage. Many online administrators and faculty don’t realize that sync requirements are a carryover of F2F into the virtual environment. Requiring students to meet at a specific time is tantamount to requiring them to meet at a specific place.1 Continue reading

Discussion of Ken Robinson’s ‘Bring on the Learning Revolution!’

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

In our current discussion on “The Zen in Online Learning” (17 June 2019), Harry Keller says, “Life is about joy. Find your joy, and immerse yourself in it” (19 June 2019). His comment reminded me of Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talks “Bring on the Learning Revolution!” (Feb 2010).

The transcript is available here. This video runs 21 minutes, but Robinson’s wit and wisdom make it seem much shorter. His message is similar to Harry’s, which is to change our model for education to develop and celebrate each student’s talents, interests, and dreams. Please make the time to watch this video. It was released in 2010, but its message is relevant today.

Also make the time to comment in the forum attached to this article. (If you’ve never posted a comment in ETC, it will be held for approval. I’ll be standing by to speed up the process. Once approved, future comments will be automatically published.)  There’s a wide-ranging discussion on the TED site, so in our discussion, I’d suggest focusing on the takeaway for higher ed. What are your thoughts on Robinson’s call for an “organic” revolution? How does this apply to higher ed?

If you’d like to submit a longer comment as a stand-alone piece, email it to me at If this is your first submission, then please append a brief (1-to-3 line) professional bio and snapshot.

Related Videos:
Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity? Feb 2006 (20 min).
Sir Ken Robinson: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley, Apr 2013 (19 min).

The Zen in Online Learning

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

When the center monitor in my three-monitor setup failed to turn on this morning, I didn’t panic. It happened before, and reinserting the HDMI connector into the graphics card usually did the trick. So I turned the computer off, crawled under the desk, unplugged the connector, and plugged it back in.

I turned the computer on, but the monitor remained dark. No problem, I thought. Try the same maneuver again. I did, but it still didn’t work. I was beginning to panic a little. I turned it off and checked the back of the monitor to see if the power and HDMI connectors were tight. I unplugged and plugged them back in.

The three-monitor setup for my desktop computer.

I turned the computer on again, but the monitor was still dead. Panic was setting in. I tried the remote control to see if the settings were correct. (This monitor is also a TV set.) Nothing came up on the screen, not even the menu.  Continue reading

Using the CRA to Promote Digital Equity: May 14-15, 2019

By Vic & Bonnie Sutton

Ways to use the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to persuade banks to invest in projects to promote digital equity was the central focus of a meeting of the National Collaborative for Digital Equity (NCDE), held in Washington, DC, on 14-15 May 2019.

The meeting was hosted by the National Education Association and brought together some 70 participants from across the country.

The CRA is a federal statute enacted in 1977. It requires the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC) to encourage financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they do business, especially in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.  Continue reading

The Future of AI in Education?


Will Technology Ever Replace Teachers? by Katie Fong, Forbes (1 Apr. 2019)
The authors’ answer is yes and no.

Ready for the Future of Education with Artificial Intelligence? by Holly Morris, Education Week (9 Jan. 2019)
The author contends we need to prepare our students for the future.

AI in schools – Here’s what we need to consider by Neha Shivhare, The Conversation (7 Mar. 2019)
Regardless of what we want or think, AI will continue to be part of the educational landscape.

Should the question “Will AI replace teachers?” really be asked? by Livia Bran, NEO Blog (21 Mar. 2019)
The author doesn’t think so because it’s the wrong question.

THE 2019 Impact Rankings: US Colleges Outshined

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

In the Times Higher Education (THE) global University Impact Rankings released today, U.S. colleges are woefully underrepresented in the top 25. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the top U.S. college in the rankings at 24th. The top five are from the Commonwealth realm: (1) University of Auckland, New Zealand, (2) McMaster University, Canada, (3) University of British Columbia, Canada, (3) University of Manchester, United Kingdom, (5) King’s College London, United Kingdom.

THE, which is headquartered in London, publishes “the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]. [It] uses carefully calibrated indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach, and stewardship. This first edition includes more than 450 universities from 76 countries.”  Continue reading

Mobile Devices and Screen Size


I was doing a lit review about using visuals in the language classroom, these articles Caught My Eye.

Size matters: AV in the classroom: Why the education industry needs to take screen size seriously by Hans Drummer in ET
This article focuses on projector screen and talks about optimum size and distance.

7 Tips To Create Responsive Design For Mobile Learning by Christopher Pappas in eLearning Industry
As the title suggests, this article looks at how to create responsive design on a mobile device.

Mobile learning design strategy: Why it matters and how to get the best results for your learners
by Debbie Hill in Elucidat
This blogpost suggests how to optimize mobile learning.

TCC 2019 (April 16-18) : Call for Participation

TCC 2019 (April 16-18) : Call for Participation
Join us!
TCC 2019 Worldwide Online Conference
Sustainable Learning, Accessible, Technologies, & Diverse Contexts
April 16-18, 2019

Keynote and invited plenary sessions
Dr. Charlotte “Lani” Gunawardena, University of New Mexico, USA
Dr.Ohkwa Lee, Chungbuk National University, South Korea
Dr. Matthew Schmidt, University of Cincinnati, USA
Dr. Yoon-Ah Rho, Kookmin University, South Korea
Dr. Hanna Teräs, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland
Dr. George Veletsianos, Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada

TCC is a three-day, entirely online conference for post-secondary faculty and staff worldwide that features over 100 concurrent sessions covering a wide range of topics related to educational technology, distance learning and emerging technologies for teaching and learning.

Register now for extended early bird rates:

Individuals participate in real-time sessions from the comfort of their workplace or home using a web browser to connect to individual sessions. All sessions are recorded for on-demand viewing. View the current schedule of presentations and descriptions.  Continue reading