Tag Archives: technology

Augment Your Teaching

Augmented reality (AR) was a huge hit with Pokémon GO. When you turned on AR mode, the camera on your mobile device would open and a 3D video of a Pokémon would be superimposed over your camera’s view of the world, which made it look like the Pokémon was right in front of you, as shown below.

Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vastateparksstaff/27972275293

But I’m not here to talk about how much I love Pokémon, I’m here to convince you AR has a place in your classroom and I will even show you how to create AR experiences for free. What do I mean by AR experiences? Imagine pointing your phone’s camera at an image of an human femur, and that image triggers a video to open on your phone, explaining how to treat femoral fractures. This is one AR experience that you can design for your own classroom that doesn’t require a lot of time or skill. There are multiple resources available to do this sort of thing but the one I would like to share is called Aurasma. Below is a video that will show you how to use Aurasma, both with the app and the website.

So why should you care about AR technology? What place does it have in the classroom? Here are a few reasons to support the use of AR technology as a teaching and learning tool:

  • AR allows students to observe and interact with processes that can’t be viewed in real life e.g. bond formation, structure deformation (Akçayır, M., Akçayır, G., Pektaş, H. M., & Ocak, M. A., 2016)
  • The increased interactivity can encourage positive attitudes and increase student motivation (Akçayır et al., 2016)
  • Text can be supplemented with images, or vice versa, allowing for multimedia learning (Akçayır et al., 2016)
  • AR technology is conducive to student-centred learning by allowing for independent exploration of concepts (Martín-Gutiérrez, J., Fabiani, P., Benesova, W., Meneses, M. D., & Mora, C. E., 2014)
  • Student understanding is increased, and the time required by students to understand the material is reduced (Rizov, T., & Rizova, E., 2015)

Although there hasn’t been very much talk about AR in the post-secondary environment, it doesn’t mean we should shy away from it. Below is a video providing examples of how Aurasma is used in a high school that hopefully will inspire practical applications in the post-secondary setting.


Akçayır, M., Akçayır, G., Pektaş, H. M., & Ocak, M. A. (2016). Augmented reality in science laboratories: The effects of augmented reality on university students’ laboratory skills and attitudes toward science laboratories. Computers in Human Behavior, 57, 334-342.

Martín-Gutiérrez, J., Fabiani, P., Benesova, W., Meneses, M. D., & Mora, C. E. (2015). Augmented reality to promote collaborative and autonomous learning in higher education. Computers in Human Behavior, 51, 752-761. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.093

Rizov, T., & Rizova, E. (2015). Augmented reality as a teaching tool in higher education. International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering, and Education, 3(1), 7-16.

ePortfolio Series – Episode 1: What is ePortfolio?

Hi there,
My name is Mohammad. I am the ePortfolio coach at the Schulich School of Engineering and this is the first episode of a series on ePortfolio. Through this series of posts, I am going to introduce you to ePortfolio and its benefits for your personal, professional, and educational development. I will also assist you with setting up a compelling ePortfolio and will list available platforms at the University of Calgary.

Having an ePortfolio has recently become one of the most effective ways to organize works you have done and to share them with others. ePortfolio is a process of generating deeper learning and planning for personal, professional, and educational development. It is also a product (an electronic collection) of learning evidences such as essays, photos, videos, assignments, etc.

ePortfolio enables you to plan ahead, collect learning evidences, self-assess your learning outcomes, make connection between your curricular and extracurricular activities, and reflect on the works you are most proud of through a structured and supported process. In fact, the process of creating an ePortfolio assists you to clearly define and understand your strengths and weaknesses. By continuing to add to your ePortfolio, you will be able to see where you began, and how far you have come!

For more information, please visit my site. Also, watching the following video tutorials is helpful (and fun!) for understanding ePortfolio better.

Useful softwares to record your educational videos

Here is a list of some useful softwares that help you creating an exciting video for your class.
1- Camtasia (Video editor, screnn recording, effects)



2- Snagit (Screen recording)



3- Powtoon (quick animated videos)



4-Articulate storyline (Interactive videos, quizzes, adaptable with D2L and SCORM)



Nedal Marei

Nurse in Translation

My name is Teya and I’ve been acting as the e-Learning Technology Coach for the Cumming School of Medicine. In real life, I work as a Registered Nurse at the Foothills Hospital, fresh out of the nursing program at the University of Calgary. Nurses often act as translators between patients and physicians, and in this position, I’ve been attempting to translate progressive technology to new users. OpenLabyrinth is a virtual scenario and education research platform that medical professionals can use to create case studies for students. Students can test out their clinical decision making skills as they navigate an interactive “choose your own adventure” style of learning.

While OpenLabyrinth is incredibly powerful with many unique features and limitless possibilities, it isn’t entirely user friendly. It’s producers found that once they could get new users over the initial “technology adoption hump” they could use the technology successfully. I had the pleasure of working with the brilliant Dr. David Topps, Medical Director of the Office of Health and Medical Education Scholarship (OHMES). As the consortium lead, he knows every intricacy and idiosyncrasy of OpenLabyrinth. I came on as a set of new eyes with the task of helping new authors pick up the technology a little easier and get over that first “hump.”

I began by teaching myself how to use the program through arduous trial and error, sympathizing greatly with new users. Once I had the hang of it, I had to decide on the best mode to translate this technology for new users. Enter the one and only, Leanne Wu, the tech-savvy queen of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. With her help and some networking with e-Learning Coaches from other faculties, I learned how to use the program Snag-It to video capture my screen while I talked through some of the starting functions of OpenLabyrinth. This method worked particularly well to have the visual prompts alongside my audio instruction. A sample video will be posted when editing is complete!

I was asked to do this project because my clinical background as a nurse and limited (zero) knowledge of the OpenLabyrinth technology. It was challenging and rewarding work to learn the program and hopefully make adoption of the technology easier for new users. This is just one way that the Taylor Institute uses technology to support teaching and learning at the University of Calgary. Keep an eye on this blog to read about many more!

Twelve Apps of Christmas

For those who are interested in new and different e-learning apps, you might want to check out 12 Apps of Christmas. This is an initiative put on by BC Campus to have post-secondary educators try out different apps and discuss them. They have a contest going to keep the comments going, on-topic and engaging.

So far they’ve tried out a favourite here, Padlet, as well as two tools from Google. It’ll be  interesting to see what’s next.

Podcasting 101

Podcasting Suggestions

Generally, when building a stereo rig the prevailing ideology is to build from the source out. So, in an analogue world you’d get the best turntable and stylus first and then worry about better speakers. The rationale being If the needle can’t read the record well the quality of the speakers are irrelevant since they are a downstream component. The signal is amplified from the source out. For recording it’s pretty much the same idea. No matter how fancy the software nothing will overcome a bad microphone or room dynamics. Some things just cannot be fixed in post production.


There are plenty of microphones available that work well for basic podcasting. This article outlines many good choices. Based on the usages I have seen so far in the various courses though I personally recommend the Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Silver Edition (there are different colours if you care).

img_20161107_152039681_hdr img_20161107_152052238_hdr

There are several reasons I recommend this microphone:

  • Allows for different recording patterns. (Aligning the recording pattern to the type of recording is very important. The company website has a graphic of the capabilities.) . 
  • The Blue Yeti is a USB microphone which makes it much easier for novices. Choosing a non USB microphone introduces an additional layer of complexity because you have to then get a board and other gear that really isn’t necessary. A high quality podcast can be recorded with a USB microphone.
  • Blue Yeti is arguably the most popular USB microphone on the market making troubleshooting for it exceptionally easy. There is a wealth of information. Furthermore, it will be compatible with any competent audio software. 


Acoustics is almost as important as the microphone. For podcasting you really want to try to reduce room noise (the sound of a buzzing fridge in the background) and echoes. This link I’ve included lays out some really easy steps to take to improve acoustics. For example, recording in a carpeted room makes a big difference. Even small things like having a large rug and curtains in the room make a larger impact than you would expect. You can also build a really cheap foam barrier which the link above discusses to reduce echo.


Personally, I use Garageband because it is easy to use and free. Honestly, the core abilities you will need in the software are equalization, noise gate, compressor, trimming, and mixing. Podcasting does not require an advanced software suite and it probably makes more sense to discuss these settings in practice rather than here. Often you don’t need to use a compressor or a noise gate but they make for a more professional product. 


Also, very important but more seldom discussed is accessing a podcast. I am not sure the culture of posting materials regarding how professors feel about sharing their content to a “wider” internet audience vs keeping it locked behind D2L. However, a proper podcast should really be posted to a RSS feed that can then be read by podcast aggregators like iTunes, Google Music, or whatever. I’ve gone through the process of getting a podcast listed on iTunes and it is exceptionally easy. There are many ways to structure it but you could have feeds for every class so a student opens the feed and all of the podcasts are ready to go in chronological order and easily accessible and playable on any device of their choosing. This discussion is probably a more lengthy one but I would be happy to discuss it more in person. 

An aside about the pitfalls of podcasting. Don’t be a podcast tyrant.

When recording in a new room it is inevitable some mistake will happen that requires the re-recording of a podcast. The risk can be minimized with test recording but eventually something will happen. I lost a 2 hour recordings once because of a fridge buzz. Problems like this are almost impossible to fix in post production. It is simply better to re-record the podcast. Basically, what I am getting at here is don’t publish a podcast that has a glaring audio issue. No one will listen to it. Audio issues are magnified substantially when listening in headphones, which I would suggest is how most students are listening to podcasts. Furthermore, it’s simply bad etiquette to force someone to listen to something that is unlistenable. Lastly, the most important piece of advice I have is don’t write a script write a skeleton. Have a structure of where you want to go in a podcast but don’t write a complete script. If you are reading from paper verbatim it will be monotone and the timing will always be unsettling to the listener. When recording visualize you are having a one sided conversation with an invisible guest. This will make the podcast infinitely more engaging to the listener. You want to get better at having a conversation with a microphone not how to write a better script. The essence of a podcasting, like radio, is conversational.

Google Doc on how to remote record a participant: