A Peek at ‘Technology and Pedagogy Expectations for an In-Person Course’

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

Carrie Heeter’s “Technology and Pedagogy Expectations for an In-Person Course” reports on a study of Michigan State University students and instructors. Heeter is creative director of MSU’s Virtual University Design and Technology. What makes this report interesting and unique is that it focuses on students and instructors in “in-person” or F2F courses. The research question, in general, is: What are your views on the importance of a wide range of instructional technologies, including ones that are internet-based, in in-person courses? In this article, I’ve extracted select findings from the executive summary. (For the complete report and all the results, published 9 June 2010, click here.) My selections lean more toward students’ views and internet-related technology.

The study was conducted in fall 2009, with 165 MSU instructors and 735 students. The subjects “completed surveys about their technological and pedagogical expectations for a high quality, in person course in their discipline.” According to Heeter, “The evolving, ever-expanding array of increasingly sophisticated online tools for teaching and learning and the explosion of online information resources have transformed instructor and student expectations about good teaching.” Continue reading

What’s the Buzz? Buzz

A Google search for the term Google Buzz returns 72,400,000 hits. Google Buzz Twitter returns 53,100,000. This is considerable, given the relative new shininess of the Google Buzz functionality. But isn’t Buzz just like Twitter in Google? Is it a Twitter killer? What the heck is it? Continue reading

Textbook Tweets – Integrating Twitter into a Telecommunications Design Class

Dr. Carrie Heeter, a professor of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University has been integrating Twitter into her graduate Design Research class this spring in two very different ways. She is moderating a class Twitter ID (@tc841) set to follow experts in the field. Heeter retweets particularly important content to students and to the vibrant professional community of design researchers on Twitter.

Heeter is using Twitter in an unusual way to enhance live class discussions of assigned readings. She calls it “Textbook Tweet Time.”

As a graded part of live class participation, Heeter’s students are assigned to come prepared to tweet interesting insights they gleaned from the week’s readings from the Twitter ID they created for class participation (this can be their personal Twitter ID or one created exclusively for class). Using the PowerPoint Twitter tool from SAP, Heeter configures and projects a PowerPoint slide to search for the hash tag #tc841read. The search is continuously updated so new tweets show up within 10-20 seconds.

Dr. Carrie Heeter

Students must include that hash tag in the tweet in order for it to show up on the slide (and in order to receive credit for participation). The PowerPoint Twitter Tool can be toggled between two alternate formats – one shows the 9 most recent tweets in dialog boxes, along with the twitterer’s ID and photo. The alternate photo shows the most recent 18 tweets. The examples below are from Textbook Tweet Time about Will Wright’s chapter, “Sim Smarts,” in Design Research by Brenda Laurel.

As tweets appear in class, Heeter calls on the tweeters to describe their post. The class discusses each post, then moves on to another tweet. The class tweets about and discusses one chapter at a time, to limit number of tweets and to focus the discussion.

Heeter finds that “the tweets give each student a platform, almost like handing them a microphone. The students explain and expand upon their tweet, and discussion ensues.” The tweets focus class discussion and ensure 100% participation (in this small graduate class). There is a permanent record of the tweets, which facilitates grading of live class participation and motivates attention to the readings before class.

Learners can also view the search results for #tc841read on Twitter search (located at http://search.twitter.com). This view does not limit the number of tweets that are returned unlike the PowerPoint tool (shown above). Heeter subscribes to the RSS feed for that Twitter search, creating a permanent record of the class tweets on her desktop. Heeter says, “Because I can search and archive the tweets, grading classroom discussion becomes more systematic, thorough, and objective. I gain a sense of what matters from the readings, and some feel for how deeply different students are delving in to the readings. The tweets motivate preparation for class and then serve to reinforce the important points; and they give each student a turn.”

Twitter is a public space, leading to the potential for privacy concerns. In Heeter’s design, the students can use their personal Twitter account for class or they can create a unique twitter ID just for TC841. She says, “They control their anonymity in their choice of twitter ID.” For example, one student’s Twitter ID is six letters, all consonants and unpronounceable. Another student is a deceased movie star. Still others use their real names.

Some students post a picture of themselves as their Twitter icon while others post a graphic or picture of something other than themselves. Still others are simply a variation on the default Twitter icon – a white bird silhouette with a color background. “I have one orange student, one purple, and one light blue,” says Heeter. “I know the Twitter ID that each student is using for class so I call on them by their real name (or for fun, sometimes by their silly Twitter name). Their tweets are public, but depending on the set up choices they have made, they are more or less anonymous.”

By navigating to http://search.twitter.com and searching for #tc841read, Heeter can click on the feed for the #tc841 query button to have a folder in her default RSS reader collect and save all textbook tweets.

Heeter feels that using tweets for classroom discussion and collaboration is working well, though she notes that “for larger classes I would need more control.” As it stands, with the number enrolled, she finds “this particular interface happens to be perfect as is right now in this class.”

Heeter lives in San Francisco and teaches in East Lansing. The design research class is a hybrid class with between one hour and 90 minutes of live class and the rest online. Heeter participates via Skype and Breeze connect. Students can either come to the classroom or Skype and Breeze from any remote location. Of course, the instructor need not be remote for Textbook Tweet Time to be an effective component of synchronous class discussion.

Live by Example

As previously discussed in this column, when it comes to Twitter, there is no “right way” to do things. Learning the right balance of tweets, re-tweets and replies to meet your needs and increase your return on (time) investment is a learning process like any other. For this column, I’ve compiled a list of educators and technologists that I look to as good examples of using Twitter in an approachable way to network, share, learn and grow.


@MAET – Michigan State University Master of Arts in Educational Technology – Shares information on upcoming program events as well as what is new in educational technology. This account is excellent at interacting with program students and others.

@CapMSU – Michigan State University Campus Archaeology – @CapMSU – The MSU Campus Archaeology program excavates sites around the MSU campus and shares their findings with the campus community. This account provides a fascinating historical perspective and shows us what archaeologists do and how they work.


@gravesle – Michigan State University – Leigh is the coordinator of MSU’s Master of Arts in Educational Technology program and shares excellent articles and resources.

@Tjoosten – University of Wisconsin Milwaukee – Tanya is very open to sharing her adventures in educational technology at UWM and has great information.

@UWM_CIO – University of Wisconsin Milwaukee – Bruce Maas is the CIO for the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and very accessible to education colleagues on Twitter. He’s an excellent example of transparency and availability in leadership.

@NealCross – Southwest Baptist University – Neal is an instructor, a learning management system administrator, and very collaborative in his work. He is interactive, helpful and fun to follow.

@Captain_Primate – Michigan State University – Ethan is a professor at MSU and an expert in digital humanities. He is an evangelist for open access teaching and learning, and he teaches his courses outside of the central campus learning management system, using WordPress and more.

@kevinoshea – Purdue University – Kevin is a technologist working closely with online education and is adept at putting Web 2.0 tools to work.


@Educause, @EducauseReview – EDUCAUSE is a non-profit association with the mission of advancing “higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.” Stay apprised of upcoming events, interesting educational technology news and new study data by following them on Twitter.

@mashable – Mashable is not geared specifically toward higher education, but they offer excellent, short articles on Web 2.0 tools and innovative ways to use them. I get much of my technology news from Mashable and have found them to be an invaluable resource for explaining how things work.


TechSmith: @TechSmith, @TechsmithEDU, @jingTips, @SnagItTips – TechSmith takes a very approachable stance with their customers, offering beta membership, technical support and tips via Twitter. They are always on the lookout for people using their products in innovative ways.

Biggby Coffee: @BiggbyBob, @T_C_B, @BiggbyJedi, @BiggbyFelicity – Biggby Coffee could write the book on using social media in business. The company founders are active, reaching out to customers and offering glimpses of what goes on behind the scenes. Employees obviously love the company, making the excitement contagious.

Insomniac Games: @insomniacgames is an independent video game developer that takes support to new heights using Twitter. Have a question about one of their games? Ask them on Twitter and you’ll often have a response the same day.

Who do you follow that you find interesting? Would you like to add to this list? Please e-mail your favorites to jlknott@gmail.com. You should also follow @etcjournal on Twitter for information and updates each time a new article is posted.

A Quick Hello

ETC, Twitter and Me by Jessica Knott
“That sounds useless.”

“I don’t care what a bunch of teenagers are eating for lunch.”

“I just don’t have time for it.”

I’ve heard all of these arguments (and then some), and could not disagree more. Hello, my name is Jessica Knott, I work as an instructional designer at Michigan State University, and I love Twitter. Since I signed up for the Twitter service in 2007, I have watched it (and myself) evolve from “I just ate a sandwich” to “Does anyone have good resources for marketing my online course?” When used well, Twitter is so much more than a status update service, it is a wonderful communication and information gathering device.

From conference back channels to blog post sharing to chatting with friends, the greatest thing about Twitter is that it can be whatever you make it. I have had the great fortune of making friends and valuable contacts from around the world, and fervently believe that the opportunity to network is one that educators should take advantage of. We’re all doing such fascinating things, why not share them?


That said, I understand that Twitter is not for everyone, nor will it meet the needs of all. I hope that, in my time here, I will provide information and resources you find useful to improve your Twitter experience, or help you in your implementation decisions.

I would love to hear from you. What do you want to see? What do you struggle with? What are your concerns? Let’s start the conversation! If you’d like to start it on Twitter, I can be found at http://www.twitter.com/jlknott or http://www.twitter.com/etcjournal.  Otherwise, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at jlknott@gmail.com. I look forward to “meeting” you.

Online Hybrid as Asynchronous, Co-present, and Remote

heeter80By Carrie Heeter
Editor, Games Development

[Editor’s note: The following article was submitted as a reply to a comment by Steve Eskow, which appeared in “The Campus: The Old Imperialism?” Eskow asked, “I wonder how Carrie Heeter feels about hybrid learning.”]

“It depends” is a cop out but also usually true. A major factor in deciding whether or not to be together in the same room is how motivated students are not to have to come to campus every week to be in class. I have found that full-time students who are enrolled in an on-campus program are most resistant to fully online classes. They are used to and enjoy the presence of fellow students, and they have organized their lives to be able to go to classes. The familiarity of in-person togetherness overshadows potential benefits of fully online learning. Those exact same individuals welcome a fully online summer section, enabling them to go home (or anywhere else) for the summer but still complete requirements toward their degree.

Students who live a long distance from campus, those with full-time jobs, and parents of young children are much more likely to welcome a class that they can attend from home. Here, too, the convenience of fully online outweighs perceived and actual limitations of technology.

I would like to add a distinction regarding online class sessions. They take three different forms: asynchronous, synchronous-physically present (co-present), and synchronous-but-online (remote). Each has different teaching affordances. Physically present requires a building.

As a teacher, quality of teaching and learning is another critical factor. I live in San Francisco and teach at Michigan State University. So it is a given that my students are going to have a distant professor. I get to decide whether to teach fully online, to require them all to go to an on-campus classroom almost like a “normal” in-person class, or to do something hybrid (asynchronous, co-present, or remote).

For eight years I exclusively taught fully online. Then I started adding an hour of optional “in-person” time huddled around a conference phone in a conference room. I didn’t know exactly what to do with that hour, but it seemed to add something the students had been missing. Then I had some students who didn’t want to go to campus so about a third attended via free conference.com audio and Breeze for PowerPoint, and two-thirds were physically together in the conference room, also linked by Breeze and an audio conference call. This mixed mode is a bit bizarre but meets both the co-present and remote students’ needs.

This fall I taught an in-person class that met in a classroom, live, three hours every Wednesday night. The only reason this happened is that I stepped in to teach this already scheduled class at the last minute. But I learned a huge amount trying to figure out how to make three hours of live class vitally interesting with a Skyped in virtual professor. It helped me better understand what to do with my live student time.

My current best practice thinking is a hybrid solution. When I am providing linear information, I can offer a much better learning experience if I write documents, craft PowerPoint presentations, and record audio. I do that for mini-lectures, content modules, and introducing assignments. I also package guest interviews with industry professionals. If I want every student to participate, we do it asynchronously (via blogs or uploading project reports).

I use synchronous time for:

  • Any questions? (clarifying assignments and concepts works better when everyone is live)
  • Breakout small group discussion or activity during class period, followed by synthesis and full class discussion
  • Quick review (Q&A – with me doing the Q)
  • Thought provoking questions (students volunteer answers, and I sometimes call on random people)
  • Student presentations to the class

Because my class this semester turns out to be entirely comprised of on-campus students, everyone  – except for me  – is in the classroom. Technologically, everything I am doing right now could immediately accommodate remote students. But I don’t have any who want that. At the beginning of a semester, I start with a student survey, to help me decide how to offer the class.

Adventures in Hybrid Teaching: The First Day Is the Hardest

heeter_upside80By Carrie Heeter
Guest Author

Monday was the first day of the semester, and Monday night, 6:30 to 7:20, is the live component of hybrid TC841, my graduate design research class. Hybrid means a third of class time happens in person, and two-thirds online at the students’ convenience.

This is the first year my department (Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University) actually scheduled a class meeting time (yay!), meaning I did not have to begin by finding a time when every enrolled student was available to come to class. In prior years after I found a day and time every student could attend, we would squeeze into the GEL (Games for Entertainment and Learning) Lab conference room.

In spring 2009, we had an actual scheduled time AND place. Room 161 Comm Arts. The room has a projector. What luxury.

My department very generously lets me telecommute, but they do not consider it their responsibility to support my lack of physical presence in Michigan. So, as of Monday morning, I did not yet know how I was going to get to class from my office in San Francisco.

I saw that two students enrolled in TC841 had been my students in a class I taught in fall. Both had been gone over break so I waited to contact them until they returned. At 12:32 Sunday night, I emailed them to ask, “Do either of you have a laptop you would be willing to bring to class tomorrow night, to Skype me in?”

heeter01There was no answer when I got to the office at 8am California time. By 9am, I received a “sure!” email from YoungKim. I proposed we start trying to connect at 6, before the 6:30 class.

At 6:08pm Michigan time, I received an incoming Skype call. (Yay!) With some fumbling, my audio worked. He figured out how to connect to the classroom projector, and logged in to and opened Breeze, the TC841 blog, and ANGEL in separate browser windows. I got video of the class via YoungKim’s Skype.

My tablet PC was running Breeze for video (not audio). My desktop PC was running Skype for audio but no video (using a handheld mic) and a second Breeze connection as well as the blog and ANGEL.

Five minutes before class started, Breeze failed on the tablet PC, meaning they lost my video. Reconnecting never worked. My only connected camera was the laptop. But the Skype connection was to my desktop. Video of me was not going to happen.

I had forgotten that the last time I used Skype was showing it to Sheldon on his new laptop, and that while playing around I had turned my image upside down. So most of the class only saw me as a small upside down still image in the Skype window. I’m afraid to go check what I might have been wearing.

Students were still arriving, so some never saw me on video at all. I joked that I hadn’t had time to brush my hair but would be ready for video next week. It is unusual to be able to see the class when they can’t see me. Much better than not seeing them, that’s for sure. When one student walked into the classroom 10 minutes late, he entered a room with 13 students sitting at tables, looking at a projection screen. A disembodied voice (me) said, “Welcome to TC841! The students here are pretending there is a professor.”

Half an hour into class, one of my cats pried the office door open (which I had closed to keep them out). After meowing disruptively for a bit, she jumped onto my keyboard, switching the Breeze window to a mode I’ve never seen before, one where I could not control Breeze or change to any other windows on my computer. (Why would there be a “switch to larger than full screen and freeze all controls” special keystroke command? Just to give cats disruptive power, I think.) At that same moment a student who had logged in to Breeze (as I had proposed they do) took over Breeze and was playing around, resizing his video window, eliminating the class’ and my view of the PowerPoint.

After fumbling for a minute, I quit Breeze (command Q), went to the blog, and opened the PDF handout I had posted of the PowerPoint so I could know what else to talk about. Class moved into a lively discussion about “sampling” methods used in research about media design, and ended on time.

A good time was had by all.