Thursday, November 29, 2012

Paul Halpern Presents "Edge of the Universe"

Chat with Paul Halpern, Professor of Physics at USciences and the author of 13 popular science books, about the frontiers of scientific knowledge about the universe. It will be your chance to ask him questions about dark matter, dark energy, the holographic principle, time travel, dark flow, black holes, the fate of the cosmos, or anything else you've wondered about the universe.

This live and interactive discussion of modern ideas in cosmology will be available on Thursday, December 6, from 3:00PM – 4:00PM EST on Shindig (a new video chat platform for giving online readings, talks or interviews in front of an online audience).

For more information on Paul's book, please visit:

Monday, November 5, 2012



PADLA is pleased to announce that the 10th Annual Distance/e-Learning/m-Learning/Educational Technology Conference & Expo will be held on Friday, 11/16/12, at Temple University's beautiful Ambler Campus.

Our keynote speaker will be, Jeanne Meister, Founding Partner of Future Workplace and co-author of "2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today".

Also featured during this full-day event will be 15 presentations in 3 tracks, including our own Rich Cosgriff presenting on "Using Apple TV to Unleash the True Power of Mobile Teaching & Learning".

The vendor expo and food are all included for only $100 (which includes a full year 2013 membership)!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What makes MOOCs like Coursera so great?

Watch this TED Talk video from one of Coursera's founders Daphne Koller to find the answers about this MOOC, for example...
  • Universal free access to education
  • Videos that pause and ask a questions
  • Modularized content that does away with "one size fits all"
  • Personalized tutoring and feedback
  • Immediate help from peers across the globe

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Northeast E-Learning Consortium Fall Conference

The Northeast E-Learning Consortium (NEC) will host its annual Fall Conference at Temple University on October 26, 2012. The conference is targeted to faculty, instructional technologists, and other staff who work in higher education institutions in the Philadelphia tri-state area and either use and/or support the use of technology in teaching and learning. It will provide an excellent opportunity for participants to collaborate with peers and share best practices and innovations on the use of technology to facilitate teaching and learning.

Featured Speakers

Lisa Johnson Nutter is President of Philadelphia Academies, Inc., a non-profit youth development organization that works in Philadelphia’s public high schools to provide career-based learning experiences that motivate young people to stay engaged in school and that create supportive networks for them in the real world.

Lynda Weinman is cofounder and executive chair of, one of the pioneering companies in online education. Lynda is a self-taught computer expert, author, educator, and entrepreneur. A web graphics and design veteran and author of dozens of best-selling books, Lynda wrote the very first industry book on web design, Designing Web Graphics, in 1995.

Continue for more information and Registration

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blackboard World 2012: Closing Keynote by Salman Khan of Khan Academy

This inspirational closing keynote was by Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, another of Time's Top 100 most influential people. With over three million users per month, Khan Academy is transforming learning. He provided insight into its evolution, and how we can rethink education.

Khan first made a name for himself by recording Youtube videos on mathematics for his cousin, which quickly went viral. As he says "No tutor would sit there and repeat the same thing 20 or 30 times but the videos let me do that without judgement."

Khan has produced over 3300 videos covering a wide spectrum of academic subjects, mainly with a focus on mathematics and the sciences. He has attracted more than 355,000 subscribers.

In the period of a few short months, he went from making videos in his closet to getting $2M from the Gates Foundation and $2M from Google. Khan videos are now available in multiple languages, even Mongolian - voice overs being produced by an army of dedicated volunteers.
Sal Kahn Keynote
Sketch notes by Gerren Lamson

Sal Kahn Keynote

Bb Client Appreciation Party

Another informative, inspirational and fun Blackboard World has come to an end - almost. Michael Chasen and friends know how to put on a great "client appreciation" party. Here's a teaser video from the party at Mardi Gras World:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blackboard World 2012: Blackboard Corporate Keynote

Inspirational keynotes are great, but this was the one I anticipated the most. The Blackboard corporate keynote is typically the venue for announcing new cool educational technology. I was not disappointed.

Blackboard CEO, Michael Chasen, opened the corporate keynote with an entertaining animation on the active learner (see first 2 minutes). The complete (1 hr 15 min) keynote was just made available:

The real news, the highlight of the keynote, in my opinion, was the Chasen's announcement of a new ground breaking product... 

BBWorld Day3 (21 of 72)
Michael Chasen announces xpLor

Project XP: xpLor

XP stands for "cross-platform" and Lor stands for "learning object repository". Yes, finally a way for faculty content experts to share and consume modular learning objects - no matter what learning management system they use! Easily shareable cross-platform learning content has been the holy grail of learning technology for at least the 20+ years I've been in this business. I hope they succeed.

Chasen introduced David Mills (founder of ANGEL Learning) who has been quietly working on Project XP in his new role as the Chief Technology Officer at MoodleRooms (recently acquired by Blackboard).

Though the web app is still in alpha, David did a live demo of xpLor showing how faculty can search and instantly embed free learning objects from other sources (e.g, MIT, Stanford, Khan Academy) into his or her learning management system (Blackboard Learn, Sakai or Moodle). The system takes advantage of the IMS Common Cartridge and IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards to make it truly cross-platform. Of course, faculty can generate their own xpLor modules complete with tests that feed back to the host LMS gradebook. Will this make native LMS learning modules obsolete?

Chasen then introduced three of his division leaders, Ray Henderson, Katie Blot, and Kayvon Beykour who drummed even more excitement about Blackboard’s future.

Blackboard Learn Fundamentals

Ray Henderson, Chief Technology Officer and President of Academic Platforms, discussed recent advances and the future roadmap for Learn, Blackboard’s keystone education platform. Here are some of his announcements with links to more information:
  • New 2-Way SMS Platform (ConnectTxt is used by more than half of all colleges and universities in the UK)
  • McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Wiley, and Cengage learning content now fully integrated with Bb Learn
  • Improved support, cohort programs, new openness (LTI, Scorm, Oscelot, LIS, CAS, Common Cartridge), and transparency
  • Bb Learn innovations: improved global navigation, assessment insight, and item analysis in SP8; enterprise surveys (free), text messaging in SP10
  • Bb Analytics for Learn: new dashboards for improved decision making
  • Bb Collaborate v12 will improve integration, including grade book, and support mobile delivery
  • Bb Social: social learning coming in the fall for FREE with Community module! Stream status, Spaces (clubs etc) very cool. 

BbWorld Corporate Keynote
Sketch notes by Gerren Lamson 

Bb New Professional Services

Katie Blot, President of Global Services Division, presented on new professional services aimed at expanding program and course development, marketing, and student lifecycle support services.

Bb Mobile Showcase

Kayvon Beykpour, General Manager of Blackboard Mobile and founder of Terribly Clever Design, showcased some great new capabilities in the Blackboard Mobile Learn and Mobile Central offerings:
  • Mobile Central enhancements to maps include augmented reality
  • Mobile Learn enhancements include mobile assessments 
  • Usage and analytics are now available via reporting tools in Mobile
  • Push notifications were also recently released to provide more timely notifications
  • Bb announces an End User License option for students to purchase a $1.99 1 year license or an unlimited license at $5.99
BbWorld Corporate Keynote
Sketch notes by Gerren Lamson
Exciting news all around for Blackboard users and even users of open-source LMS's such as Moodle and Sakai. Stay tuned for a lot more on xpLor!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blackboard World 2012: Opening Keynote by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski

It was hot and steamy in New Orleans, but the gigantic mile long, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was freezing. I was immersed in both at this years Bb World, the fiery historic city and the cool technology expose. Maybe that's why I came home with a miserable summer cold.

As one of the official Bb World Bloggers invited to cover the largest Blackboard World yet, I tweeted and took notes during the three keynote sessions. I'll cover each keynote in a separate post. (My main focus will be on the Blackboard Corporate Keynote.)

The opening keynote was given by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County. This man has an incredible life story and numerous honors. He was on President Obama's short list for Secretary of Education in 2008. Time Magazine rated him as one of the Top 10 College Presidents and as one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year.

As expected, he gave a rousing keynote. He tells stories rather than talking about concepts. One story reminded us about the days when student orientation began with “look to the left, now look to the right, one of you will NOT graduate.” He challenged us all to innovate and as an example showed a video of one of UM Baltimore's impressive "flipped" science classrooms. He implored us to talk about success rather than just access to education and say “look to the left, now look to the right, our goal is that all three of you will graduate.”

Here are some wonderful info-graphics that sum up the keynote...
BbWorld Keynote - Dr Freeman Hrabowski

BbWorld Keynote - Dr Freeman Hrabowski
Sketch notes by Gerren Lamson

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Are you attending Blackboard World in New Orleans?

Looking forward to the meeting - and NOLA! I've been selected as one of the "official" Blackboard World Bloggers, so look for me in my "free" Bb Blogger t-shirt. If you can't make the trip, you can follow my posts and tweets starting on Monday, July 9. I might even do a podcast or two.

Rodney B. Murray, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Office of Academic Technology
University of the Sciences
600 S. 43rd St.
, Philadelphia, PA 19104 |

USciences: Where healthcare and science converge.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why I want to be a VIP BbWorld blogger

Why do I want to be a VIP BbWorld blogger? Let me count the ways:
  1. I could really use another Bb logo shirt to add to my private collection (running out of clean t-shirts)
  2. I could use the money I'll save on BbWorld registration to fund my pet project to save the endangered Markhor (will buy first class airfare)
  3. I can proudly show the Bb Blogger badge on my blog (spiff-up my dull blog layout)
  4. I can arrive fashionably late to the keynotes and take my reserved seat up front with an aire of entitlement that says "I'm a corporate VIP who's in negotiations to be purchased by Bb" (will cash out and move to Tahiti)
For those of you in higher ed who are not using Blackboard yet - are there any left - I want to be the first to break the news to the academic blogosphere about all the new wonderfully clever features and functionality that are being announced at Bb World 2012. As a user of Blackboard (CourseInfo) as far back as 1998, I have been following the ups (and downs) of this industry leading company and the surrounding e-learning ecosystem. Look for my tweets (@rodspods) and blog entries here AND even a podcast or two as I prowl the exhibition hall (

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lecture Fail? Long Live the Lecture!

There has been a lot of talk lately on the lecture and whether it is better to flip the classroom and have students watch videos of lecture material and use class time for interaction with the instructor and group activities. Is the classroom lecture dead? You decide.

Jeff Young has posted an enlightening series in The Chronicle where he has challenged students to post videos of what they think of lectures (mostly boring) and challenged faculty to respond, again by posting Youtube videos.

This response from David Miller at the University of Connecticut illustrates how instructors can transform boring PowerPoints into engaging lecture presentations.

True, it takes time to create engaging lectures. Need some help? Contact us at the Office of Academic Technology.

Friday, February 17, 2012

USciences Mobile App Launches!

The NEW USciences Mobile App makes accessing the latest news and information about University of the Sciences easier than ever from your iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), Android or Blackberry mobile device.
  • Read the current campus news 
  • Check out the most up-to-date sports events on campus 
  • Know where you need to go with campus maps 
  • See available courses 
  • Watch videos and view photos from USciences 
  • Find and dial emergency numbers

Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Blackboard Learn Interface Announced

Blackboard just announced their Service Pack 8, which significantly changes the look and feel and adds some new functionality. The latest release will improve the experience for students, instructors, and administrators. View the following video playlist to learn about:
  1. Task Based Navigation
  2. A Modern Experience
  3. Easy Edit with Blackboard Drive
  4. Automated Regrading
  5. Introducing Blackboard Learn SP8
  6. New Authentication Framework
  7. SIS Integration Made Simple

This is a Youtube Video Playlist - click Arrow to start and Next to move to the next video.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The NMC Horizon Report > 2012 Higher Education Edition

The NMC Horizon Report 2012 Higher Education Edition is a collaborative effort between the NMC and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), an EDUCUASE Program. This ninth edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, a decade-long research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education. Six emerging technologies are identified across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, as well as key trends and challenges expected to continue over the same period, giving campus leaders and practitioners a valuable guide for strategic technology planning.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Technology Training Center Schedule

The Technology Training Center, located in the McNeil Science and Technology Center (STC-151), was established to meet the needs of faculty through hands-on learning and demonstrations. The room is equipped with 12 new iMac computers that can run the Mac OS or boot into a Windows environment as well as provide access to the tools and equipment found in the classrooms. 

Faculty and staff may now sign up for our January Technology Training sessions (view Educational Objectives). Office of Academic Technology staff will be presenting sessions on:
  • Blackboard LMS: Getting Started / Assignments, Exams, and Gradebook / Communication Tools / Content Collection
  • Bb Collaborate (web conferencing, aka Elluminate)
  • MS Office 2010
  • Panopto (lecture capture)
  • TurningPoint AnyWhere & ResponseWare (audience response)