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Client Support and Educational Technology Overview

Client Support and Educational Technology Overview

We recently had the privilege of meeting University of Puget Sound’s new faculty and sharing what services, resources, and support our Client Support and Educational Technology teams offer. This presentation, created using Piktochart (one of my favorite infographic tools) highlights the services we offer and gives more in-depth details about what each Educational Technologist, Paul Monaghan, Lauren Nicandri and me, Kaity Peake, specialize in:

How to Email Your Professor | A Guide for Students

How to Email Your Professor | A Guide for Students

As a person in Technology Services and a graduate student, I receive and send a lot of emails. Actually, you could say that about most roles: “As a person in [insert field here] , I receive and send a lot of emails.” While the communication ranges in form, from responding to panicked requests, inquiries about classroom technology use, and connections from various departments, the tone of professionalism is still there.

The exception, at times, are emails from students. Let me be clear, our students are dynamic, respectful, intelligent, and thoughtful. While it’s hard to communicate those features via email (I’m not certain anyone has ever read an email from me and thought, “My goodness, what a dynamic email!”), many emails from students are quick, and lack essential information I need to move forward. I’ve heard similar complaints from faculty, who have struggled with receiving emails from students where,

  • The question or need is unclear.
  • The answer is in another place, say the syllabus.
  • The student didn’t attempt to problem-solve before asking.
  • The tone is lacking.

Faculty members are also dynamic, respectful, intelligent, and thoughtful, and are apt to support students whenever possible. A student who is inexperienced in sending more formal or complete emails may benefit from the article “How to Email Your Professor (without being annoying AF)” by Laura Portwood-Stacer (a Freelance editor and consultant for academics working toward publication).

She addresses the issue of poor emails from students in a hilarious and well-written way, focusing on the fact that many emails from students can be so frustrating because they’ve never been taught how to write a formal email or letter. She recommends sending this format out to students to follow when emailing, calling it the “10 Elements of an Effective, Non-Annoying Email.”

Dear [1] Professor [2] Last-Name [3],

This is a line that recognizes our common humanity [4].

I’m in your Class Name, Section Number that meets on This Day [5]. This is the question I have or the help I need [6]. I’ve looked in the syllabus and at my notes from class and online and I asked someone else from the class [7], and I think This Is The Answer [8], but I’m still not sure. This is the action I would like you to take [9].

Signing off with a Thank You is always a good idea [10],
Favorite Student

Portwood-Stacer explains the importance and purpose of each element in the article. The comment section of an article hosts a debate of “I would add this/take out that” but many comments end with “I would send this to my students” as a guide to help alleviate some of the poor-communication pain.

While an effectively written email benefits us all, the purpose of this article isn’t just to help alleviate faculty frustration with student communication (though it’s a clear added benefit); effective communication is helpful in all areas of life, not just in academics. Portwood-Stacer states:

“Learning how to craft professional emails is a skill you can take with you into the so-called real world. A courteous and thoughtfully constructed request is much more likely to receive the kind of response you want. And, let’s face it, professors are humans with feelings who just want to be treated as such.”

What do you think, would you send this to students? Do you find each element useful? What has your experience been in receiving effective communication from students?

The full article, including the breakdown of the “10 Elements of an Effective, Non-Annoying Email” and her experience receiving emails from students,  can be read at 



Mind-mapping & Brainstorming Using Coggle

Mind-mapping & Brainstorming Using Coggle

I am so excited to introduce Coggle as a Mind-mapping & Brainstorming tool at this year’s Northwest 5 Consortium Workshop! Coggle is an excellent cloud-based tool that allows students to “produce beautiful notes, quickly and easily.” Coggle allows students to share their work with peers and faculty to work collaboratively to improve ideas. Whether to take notes, organize ideas for an upcoming project, or brainstorm new ideas, Coggle could work for you this semester!Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.58.42 PM

I have used Coggle extensively while in graduate school to summarize my learning from individual units, to collaborate with peers on group projects, and to share my thoughts on various topics. Below is a Coggle I created from a previous course:


Coggle shares several examples, including the Coggle below which outlines notes for Cell Chemistry using both words and images:

One of the biggest benefits of using Coggle over other mind-mapping and brainstorming tools is being able to share and collaborate on Coggles in real time. Coggle has a share feature that allows Coggles to be edited by peers, evening allowing editors to chat in real-time. Coggles can also be downloaded and shared as images and PDFs.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.56.27 PMAs with any third-party cloud based tools, there are FERPA considerations for asking students to use and create a Coggle account. Educational Technology suggests including the following information in your syllabus to ensure that all necessary information is shared and students have the opportunity to decline the create of an account (rare, but optional).

This course incorporates various online software and other technologies.  Some technologies require you to either create an account on an external site or develop assignment content using them.  The content, as well as your name/username or other personally identifying information may be publicly available as a result.  While the purpose of these assignments is to engage with technology as a means for representing the content we are covering in class, please see me for an alternative activity if you object to potentially sharing your account, name or other content you create in these technologies.

Our website includes additional information on FERPA and third-party cloud based tools.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 3.10.15 PMThere are several account options that offer different features for students, however I have personally used the free account for a couple of years and can highly recommend its capabilities for academic purposes.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.43.17 PM

Additional support and how-to guides are available on Coggle’s cleverly named blog, Bloggle. While it can take a few tries to get a hang of Coggle’s many features, especially the keyboard shortcuts, Coggle does grow to become extremely easy to use for a variety of purposes. Interested in using Coggle in your classroom? Contact your Educational Technologist for more information!



Using Stock Photos

Using Stock Photos

I consistently use stock photos in presentations and blogposts- who doesn’t love a copyright free, high quality image to break up blocks of text and to demonstrate concepts? Below is a list of some of Educational Technology’s favorite stock photo resources, with a description of the type of license required (or not required) when citing the photo.

Unsplash –10 free high-resolution photos posted every 10 days, Creative Commons license (Kaity’s favorite source)

MorgueFile– Over 350000 high-quality, high resolution photos. Free for commercial use. No attribution required (Lauren’s favorite source)

“Beach Waves” by Michael Durana, via Unsplash, is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Ocean by NASA, via Unsplash (CC License Type).
“Ocean” by NASA, via Unsplash, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pixabay – Large library of stock photos and vectors, creative commons license.

Magdeleine – Hand-picked stock photos, searchable by license type, creative commons or attribution. – Free, wide selection, under the creative commons license.

“Map” by Andras Barta, via Pixabay, is licensed under CC By 2.0
“Computer & Coffee” by Lia Leslie, via Morgue File, is licensed under CC By 2.0

Kaboompics – Free photos for personal and commercial use.

New Old Stock – Free vintage photos, varied and interesting, no copyright restrictions.

DesignersPics – Great styles of photos for blog posts. Creative commons license.


Abbey Street Corner, Hibernian Bank Shelled, 1916, via New Old Stock (Copyright Free)
“Abbey Street Corner, Hibernian Bank Shelled, 1916,” via New Old Stock, is licensed under CC By 2.0
Crewmen of the Amphibious Cargo Ship USS Durham Take Vietnamese Refugees Aboard a Small Craft, 1975, via New Old Stock (Copyright Free).
“Crewmen of the Amphibious Cargo Ship USS Durham Take Vietnamese Refugees Aboard a Small Craft, 1975,” via New Old Stock, is licensed under CC By 2.0

MMT – Blog-format free stock image site by Jeffrey Betts. Creative commons license.

The Pattern Library – Great resource for cool patterns.

SplitShire – Free photos by a photographer/web designer. Creative commons license, accepts donations.

Fruit by Jeffrey Betts, via MMT (CC0 License)
“Fruit” by Jeffrey Betts, via MMT, is licensed under CC By 2.0
“City Life” by Jeffrey Betts, via MMT, is licensed under CC By 2.0


Fox, Dana. “30 Free Stock Photo Resources For Your Blog Posts.” I Can Build a Blog. Web.
Faculty Training Institute Reflection

Faculty Training Institute Reflection


“There’s an App for that,” Apple’s 2009 trademark slogan, was once a shining promise for the many digital resources at our fingertips. Now, the phrase sends a chill down the spine of many faculty; yes, there is a digital resource for that- actually there are many resources for that, on top of the apps and websites for that other thing you were interested in, and don’t forget about those digital resources that those amazing professors are having incredible success with. Unlimited options can mean unlimited complications and questions for faculty as they seek to incorporate more technology into their classrooms’ daily use.

Educational technologists feel the pressure of not only using digital resources but sharing them successfully with faculty. We strive to stay current, focus on best practices, and find the best resources that enhance teaching and student learning. Those tasks can become daunting as we explore how to best deliver that information to faculty. How can we share and explore best practices in educational technology to the people who need it most, but whose time is already so tasked?

We recently had the privilege of attending Lewis and Clark’s Faculty Technology Institute and were inspired by how they reached and supported faculty through a week-long training event. The conference offered varied trainings at a variety of skill levels, and focused both on the theories of using technology in education as well as what actually using it looks like. It was a wonderful blend of best practice theory, exploring, and learning and gave their faculty a sense of commonality in the issues and successes that can be had when using educational technology. The following is a list of my favorite resources shared, all of which would provide faculty with tremendous opportunities to engage students using technology in a way that fits their teaching practice, not vice versa:

  • Nearpod: create interactive lessons where your content is displayed on students’ screens.
  • Zaption: add questions and short answers to fair use videos for students to interact with
  • Tellagami: students create animated presentations to share their voice in a unique way.
  • Basic in Data Visualization: Technology Services is pleased to offer two kiosks dedicated to online training access. Our kiosks are setup with our subscriptions to give you full access to their videos and training materials on a variety of technology, creative, and business skills. These kiosks are located in the Tech Center in Collins Memorial Library.”
  • Peardeck: Create interactive presentations using Google slides.
  • Quizlet: Make studying simple by requiring students to create varied quizzes for others to study from (recommended for language courses).

The following is a great example of an institution who has used technology to connect globally and place students at the center of learning.

Educational technology conferences take the fear and uncertainty out of using digital tools and resources and add excitement to our teaching practice. Inspired by their institute and the requests for professional development at University of Puget Sound, we are currently working on our own faculty technology institute that would offer faculty an opportunity to explore using technology in their teaching practice. Our goal is not to create a syllabus drenched with digital tools, but to seriously look out ways technology can enhance student learning in ways that fit with teaching style and goal outcomes. What opportunities lie in our syllabi for a digital resource to enhance a project or clarify student understanding? How can we better organize our content, say on Moodle, to create a clear and concise digital learning environment? What struggles and successes are other faculty having?

We are so excited about offering our own training and are guiding our plans based on faculty feedback and researched best practices. Please look out for news regarding quarterly trainings and our first faculty training institute  2017!

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Feedback Studio, the New Turnitin

Feedback Studio, the New Turnitin


Turnitin is offering some additional features and functionality in its latest release: Feedback Studio! Turnitin is a perennial favorite among faculty as it combines key assessment features into one easy-to-use tool. Feedback Studio combines all of your favorite assessment features, like plagiarism detection and peer review, but includes added features that allow faculty to provide dynamic and specific feedback. Best of all, the interface is easy to use!

As Feedback Studio reminds us that, “feedback only matters if your students engage with it.” This is especially evident with their emphasis and easy access to creating voice and text comments. Among Edtech’s favorite features are the “Quickmark” comments that allow faculty to provide detailed feedback from a set of custom or pre-written comments, which can be saved for future use. We also love the easy to use PeerMark feature. PeerMark allows students to edit one another’s papers, discuss, and reflect while collecting student feedback anonymously.


Interested in trying it? Faculty can access a Feedback Studio demo to try out the new features. Feedback Studio will be enabled at University of Puget Sound in January 2017, and can be accessed both at and as a Moodle integration. Interested in using it in your classroom? Contact your Educational Technologist for more information about how Feedback Studio could work in your teaching practice.