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Spring Workshops
Hybrid Courses
Teaching Tip
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DU Portfolio 




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What are your ideas
to Renew DU?

Call for Concept Papers
DU is currently undergoing strategic repositioning. University Teachingand Academic Technology have been identified as
two of six key strategic initiatives with the potential to transform DU. The university has committed funds to test pilot projects based on ideas and concepts that emerge from faculty members over the
coming months. 
A recent call for concept ideas asked the DU faculty to "submit their own bold ideas of how to advance the educational experience at DU." These ideas can be submitted as brief, informal emails and will be explored by the relevant incubator (groups of 11 faculty and staff members). The most promising ideas, as determined by the incubators, will be turned into concept papers to potentially be piloted over the next academic year. 
We hope many of you will take some time to think about how DU can "dramatically alter and improve the way we approach education"
and share your ideas! 

The deadline is May 15.
Click here for details on submitting concept papers. 

Technology Tip: 

Formatting Problems in Blackboard?


Do you often copy text into Blackboard only to lose all the formatting or have your text appear differently than you intended?  


If you paste text from Microsoft Word into Blackboard's Text Editor, you will often encounter formatting errors. This is caused by hidden code in Word documents that Blackboard will read as formatting instructions. To avoid this, first paste your text into your Notepad (Windows) or Text Edit (Macintosh) application. This will strip out the extraneous code. Then, copy and paste the text into Blackboard's Text Editor. You may have to reformat the text, but the pesky formatting errors will be removed. 



Blackboard Upgrade Coming this Summer! 


We will be upgrading to a new version of Blackboard this summer, be on the lookout for dates and further details.


DU Course Portfolio 



Teaching a capstone course or need an easy online space for student projects? Consider creating a DU Course Portfolio. Students can upload documents or media files and determine the levels of privacy needed.

Click here to find out more.
New Release:

Adobe Edge Quickstart Guide


Joseph Labrecque, OTL Senior Interactive Software Engineer published a new book that provides learning basics on Adobe Edge, a new web motion and interaction design tool.
Available at
PACKT Publishing.


OTL Contacts

OTL Helpdesk

Academic Technology 

Alex Karklins
Kathy Keairns
DU CourseMedia
Alex Karklins
Jenn Light
DU Portfolio
Jenn Light
Carrie Lorenz
Clickers (Student-Response Systems)
Jenn Light

Alex Karklins  


Lecture Capture
Jane Maurer
Alex Karklins

Adobe Connect
Jenn Light 
Joseph Labrecque 
Faculty Technology Lab
Alex Karklins

Cheryl Jackson 

Software Development Projects
Joseph Labrecque
Mobile Development
Joseph Labrecque
ECTD (Electronic Capstone, Theses and Dissertations)
Alex Martinez
Gary Taylor

UTS Help Desk

Teaching Resources

Bridget Arend
Kathy Keairns
Teaching Resources and Consultations
Julanna Gilbert
Bridget Arend
Teaching Online
Kathy Keairns
Bridget Arend
Funding Opportunities

Faculty Grants
Julanna Gilbert 
Cheryl Jackson

OTL Debuts VideoManager   


Videos have become a popular tool in education. At DU, renowned talks in the Bridges to the Future program are  recorded, Lamont music students record their performances to receive instructor feedback, and social work students refine their skills by peer reviewing each others' role-play videos. Although video is easily captured with video cameras, flip cameras, and even cell phones today, encoding, presenting, and managing video files can be a daunting task. Providing feedback to students within those videos is beyond the capabilities of most software programs.


The OTL has worked with faculty and staff across the university over the last year to create a solution to video management at DU. We are very excited about the release of our newest software creation: VideoManager! VideoManager is a web-based video storage and delivery solution.   




All DU faculty and staff have access to this new system, providing a professional alternative to YouTube or Vimeo. Instructors can upload videos that can then be copied into Blackboard, create groups so that student-created videos can be uploaded, and tie notes and comments to particular sections within a video.  


Dr. David Montano from the Lamont School of Music is using VideoManager in his piano courses. His students use their laptop webcams to record themselves playing a particular piece of music, and David provides feedback about their posture, finger placement, rhythm, and other aspects at various points within the video (see an example of video bookmarking).  

VideoManager is located at
Contact Alex Martinez to learn more.  


Spring Quarter Workshops


Register for the final workshops of the 2011-2012 academic year:  





Friday, April 20, 3:00 - 4:00 pm 

OTL Classroom - Room 102, Nagel Hall 


Did you know that all DU students have access to The New York Times? During this session you will learn how New York Times articles and videos can enhance a wide range of disciplines by providing materials for writing  assignments, class discussions, activities and projects. Join us find out how faculty members are incorporating New York Times content into courses they teach. 

Examples of Using the NYTimes in the Classroom

Guest speakers:
  • Derigan Silver, Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies 
  • Dalyn Luedtke, Lecturer, University of Colorado at Boulder     

Register online  



Friday, April 27, 10:00 - 11:30 am
OTL Classroom -Room 102, Nagel Hall

Join us for a panel discussion by members of DU faculty who teach  condensed and short courses, followed by an informal discussion about the challenges and strategies for teaching these courses. Jennifer Karas, Associate Provost for Academic Programs, will provide a brief overview of the types of short courses offered at  DU and share the  university's plans for increasing summer course offerings.

  • Nick Galatos, Department of Mathematics 
  • Lydia Gil-Keff, Department of Languages & Literatures
  • Bruce Uhrmacher, Morgridge College of Education    

 Register online           



And don't forget the many excellent workshops offered by Penrose Library Staff!  

Hybrid Course Pilot Projects    

In Hybrid (or blended) courses, a portion of face-to-face (f-2-f) time is replaced by time spent working through carefully developed, interactive online content capable of providing an individualized learning experience to students. Well-integrated online components also make it possible to transform the classroom experience so that the f-2-f component of the course can move from one characterized by content delivery to one that is characterized by activities that promote critical thinking and that inform the instructor of the level of student mastery. More and more educators are exploring this format and finding that when done properly, student engagement and student learning is improved.

This message came through loud and clear at the Fall 2011 Provost's Conference Reinventing the Classroom: New Terms of Engagement, where Dr. Candace Thille from Carnegie Mellon presented on the particular effectiveness of hybrid learning in quantitative courses. After the conference, what started as a conversation between a few inspired people expanded into an OTL-supported pilot project involving 11 faculty members in NSM. Dr. Deb Carney from the department of mathematics initiated a discussion within her department about exploring the transformation of Calculus for Business & Social Sciences (MATH1200) into a hybrid format and is now working with a team of math lecturers to develop online and in class components that will be used in pilot sections of MATH1200 with 120 students during the 2012-13 academic year.

In addition, three faculty members in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, Dr. Keith Miller, Dr. Martin Margittai, and Dr. Scott Pegan, will convert modules within General Chemistry into a hybrid format, Dr. Toshiya Ueta in the department of physics and astronomy will convert his year-long course 21st Century Physics & Astronomy (with an exclusive focus  on Astronomy) into the hybrid format, and Dr. Susan Sadler is working to create a hybrid approach for the first-year course Concepts-Physiological Systems. Assessment of these pilot projects will be used to guide future improvements.

An OTL workshop that includes both face-to-face and online components (modeling the format of the courses being developed) will provide support and guidance to the NSM faculty as they develop the integrated face-to- face and online course modules. Stay tuned for more information on these courses as they are rolled out during the 2012-13 academic year.


The Importance of Prior Knowledge 


The concept of students as "blank slates" who enter our  classrooms ready to absorb material exactly as we present it has long been discounted. Cognitive psychologists have found that even in areas where students have little formal background knowledge about a topic, their everyday experiences create knowledge patterns that influence what they learn.


Prior knowledge can greatly aid learning as we integrate new information and knowledge into what we already know. But prior knowledge can also be a barrier to learning. Specifically, prior knowledge can hinder learning when it is:

  • Inactive - Just because students learned something once, or in another course, does not mean they will remember or be able to apply this knowledge. Knowledge needs to be activated to be useful.
  • Insufficient - Sometimes students know "about"   a concept and can explain it, but don't know how to use it or apply it to different situations. It can be helpful to identify exactly what type of prior knowledge is necessary for students to be successful in your courses.
  • Inappropriate - Students may have everyday knowledge about a concept or terminology that   is different or not appropriate for academic study. Additionally, some knowledge may be context dependent, such as when a student learns writing skills for a creative writing class but those skills are not appropriate for writing a lab report.
  • Inaccurate - Sometimes student simply have incorrect conceptions. Deeply held misconceptions can be difficult to change, even when students are confronted with disconfirming evidence.

Do you know about the prior knowledge, or the misconceptions, that your students bring to your classes? Do you help them activate their prior knowledge so it can be useful? Do your teaching methods identify and attempt to correct insufficient or inaccurate prior knowledge?


Image of OTL workshop participants 


In a recent OTL workshop on this topic, faculty members reviewed the role of prior knowledge and steps they could take to promote learning. According to one participant, "The most valuable thing I learned was the different types of prior knowledge, particularly inactive knowledge. It helped me to understand why a review of past material at the beginning of each class is important."


Download the handout from this workshop with ideas to address prior knowledge in your teaching.