Monday, March 31, 2014

MyLibrary - Library Resources at your Fingertips

MyLibrary Helps Students Find Library Resources

by Alan Regan

In almost every course site is a little tool called MyLibrary. If a student clicks this tool, it will present information tailored to their subject area or even their specific class and section.

How the Tool Works

When a student or professor clicks the tool, it looks at the course site. If it finds a specific match for that class site, section, and semester (e.g. ENG 101.01 F16), then it displays custom information for that class.  If it doesn't find an exact match, then it looks for the subject area (e.g. ENG), and displays the general information for that subject. Finally, if it finds no matches at all, then it displays a list of all general resource lists and the main library information.

The tool can also support up to two subject librarians per course.  For example, if the primary subject librarian is at the Malibu campus, and there is an additional subject expert at the Irvine campus, then a student can click the link at the bottom to display the other librarian's contact information.


MyLibrary was a collaborative effort between Pepperdine IT and Pepperdine Libraries and has evolved over the years.  It began in 2007 when the library approached us about students not knowing where to go or who to speak with regarding research for class papers and projects. Working with library staff members, we mocked up some options and developed an initial tool for our previous learning management system (LMS). This version was originally created with Java, Flash, and Actionscript, which were popular at the time.

In 2009, we started our pilot of Sakai as a replacement for our previous LMS. We ported our prior version of the tool to a Sakai-friendly version. This version was also based in Java, Flash, and Actionscript. Slowly, we started to see more and more mobile devices appear on campus, and many devices were not compatible with Flash content. In 2012, we began a revision, and starting spring 2013 we launched the revised MyLibrary in HTML5/Javascript so that iPad and iPhone users could benefit from the tool.


We're very grateful for our collaboration with Pepperdine Libraries and hope that students and professors alike benefit from library resources and contact details readily available from their class sites.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Exploring all aspects of education and technology


Exploring all aspects of education and technology

by Keenan Kibrick

I decided to change the format and instead of writing headings “why I clicked it” and “why I wrote it”.  I wanted to replace it with the actual terms that I mean.  Instead it will begin with why I read it for myself, and the second part is why I wrote about it and wanted to tell others about it.  The writing and reasons will be similar then they were before, but the section choices will better reflect what I actually write about in those sections.  I hope you all enjoy the change. 

Today’s wrap up is a mashup of educational material.  It covers a lot of topics from inquiry based learning, the role of a teacher, and gamification motivation.  While it is a mashup of material I hope the techniques will be beneficial to faculty in their pursuit of improving classroom achievement.

Role of the Teacher in a Blended Learning Classroom

Note you have to sign in to read the article, but it is just for verification.

Why I read it:   The separations into the rule, the example of the rule, and the technology Dos/Don’ts were easy to navigate.  I liked reading the Dos and Don’ts and felt they provided good tips for technology in the classroom.

Why I wrote about it:   The content embedded in the format is wonderful to read. It covers so many vast important topics of the 21st century classroom that are applicable to all classes.  It covers data driven culture, high expectations of students, relevant and engaging learning, positive feedback in classes and many more.  For each topic the separation of sections is wonderful.  The rule is simple to follow and the explanation of how each rule works are just one page.  After, they give a detailed example of a school that enforces the rule and exemplifies its success.  Finally it ends with a few quick tip dos and don’ts for the rule.  These tips are powerful and can help guide someone to success in exploring the topic.

This is a long paper compared to my brief entries, but it is valuable information about 21st century learning best practices.  I encourage all faculty to read this, and if need be (because of length) not all at once.  Try working on one tip at a time, and using the information to improve the classroom.  Use as much or as little of this as you want, but please read it because each topic is succinct and valuable to transforming education.

It’s perfect for:  Understanding 21st century learning, creating a toolkit of best practices, wanting examples of support to justify teaching techniques.

Can University Professors Benefit from K-12 Progressive Teaching Tactics

Why I read it:  I enjoyed the narrative of a college educator in a k-12 education conference.  It is interesting to see how different college and K-12 think they are, yet when they are put side by side how similar they really are.  The perspective kept me interested and the more I read the more I got hooked on the epiphanies that this College Professor had.

Why I kept reading it:   One paragraph in particular hooked me into this paper.  The assignment about apples paragraph in the middle of the paper is a must read.  It shows a perfect example of education in the future using the inquiry model, and it’s flawless in its design.  It succinctly explains how the classroom should be a place of inquiry where students should be encouraged to explore multiple topics while learning the main topic of a class.  If students can be motivated to learn through tangential exploration into side topics that lead to the main topic it’s perfectly acceptable and should be encouraged in a class.    It focused on the purpose of what students are learning and highlighting the importance of emphasizing that purpose inside a class.  This is just one example of the great ideas form this article.  The article focuses on how College faculty can benefit from High School Principles of learning.  I believe the ideas in this article are inspiring and should be lessons for all educators regardless of classroom level.

It’s perfect for:   Learning the basics of the inquiry based model, rethinking the college classroom, venturing outside the comfort zone of academia to find innovation.

Rewards of Glory and Other Ways to Keep Gamification Interesting

Why I read it:  I am always fascinated with gamification reward structures.  I know many, but they always feel stale sometimes.  The idea of rewards for glory and multiple reward systems is a great idea.  From the first bold words of rewards of glory I was hooked and wanted to implement these reward systems in classes.

Why I kept reading it:   While this article isn’t about gamification in education.  These same concepts can apply to almost any gamification experience.   Each of them is a great way to help engage students in very simple practices the drive achiever learning style students. Rewards of Glory are a great idea. People need to repeat actions in classes sometimes and motivating repetition is great for classes where repetition is a necessary practice.   Rewards of access are great for students who want to explore a class, and who want to feel rewarded for exploring outside the general class.  Further, by rewarding students with access it lets students realize there are alternative paths to success.  Each of the rewards is a great way to inspire student motivation in class and can be used in class to motivate students to perform tasks they are not usually willing to perform in a class.  I recommend faculty playing around with these different rewards and seeing how students respond to each in class.

It’s perfect for:   learning how to reward students in a class, motivating student achievement, designing a gamification based class

Friday, March 14, 2014

Knowing our Learners

Knowing our Learners

by Keenan Kibrick

Knowing our learners is extremely important to meeting their needs.  The problem however, is we must ask ourselves, how well do we know our students?  Our students are very different learners then we are, and the question becomes how should we teach them?  Should we design classes towards their learning styles, or have them conform to ours?  A mixed path I feel is a great way to do this, and to help these are very good links to articles that help us better understand our students and their learning process to better the education we can provide.

The Key Components of a Learner-Friendly Interface Design

Why I opened it:   I was curious to read about interface design, because I was making videos on the topic.  I wanted to confirm my video knowledge, and to learn a little more about what to add to the videos.

Why I kept reading it:   This article went beyond what I imagined.  It’s not just one article it’s a starting point that lead into many fascinating articles.  Each link is another step to great interface design in an e-learning classroom.  If you have a blended class, online class, or even use Sakai in a face-to-face class this hits so many key points in design it’s almost a crucial read.  It covers 4 primary topics graphic clarity, readability, usability, and learnability.  However, each topic has links to must-reads and they are must-reads.  How learners read on screen was fascinating, and made me realize how I should change my online class design.  It covered so many key issues in education.  Like the idea that students don’t read more than 8 seconds at a time and only read 20% of what we present to them.  The ideas on how to handle this and thought discussions about this issue were fascinating.  Another must read “experience is everything” focuses on design tips to make students experience a class rather than just read it like a website and they are easy to follow.  This website is a 
valuable article that I will reference many times and I recommend faculty also reference. 

It’s perfect for:  Redesigning and online or blended class, using courses as a tool in the classroom, learning more how our students think, designing classes to fit student needs.


How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom

Why I opened it:  Sticking to the theme of design I was curious to see how technology changes the classroom.

Why I kept reading it:   It followed those same philosophies from the design article above.  It highlights primarily how students think and interact with technology.  It gives very good overviews of specific technology facts, and after every overview it presents classroom outcomes gained from these technologies.  The classroom outcomes are very valuable and help reflect on ways we can change our classroom practice.  Great examples gained:  Flipped teaching to meet the needs of the “on-demand” student, and tips to increase interactivity in the class.

It’s perfect for:   learning more how our students think, wanting quick tips to help change classrooms, trying to meet the needs of a changing population of students

Learning Theories Gone Wild – Urban Myths that Hurt Your Learning Designs

Why I opened it:  It was catchy looking and eye appealing, and when I skimmed the article I landed on the last theory and was hooked.

Why I kept reading it:   I almost stopped when I started because it was too font weird and eye distracting.  However, when I looked past the eye distracting fonts and pictures I loved the information delivered.  I loved that it included Myths and more importantly it had ways to move away from the myths.  That was the best part for me.  It wasn’t alternatives but ways to move away.  The line alone was catchy and signaled that they understood change is a process.  Further, when we look at the tips to move away from the myths we see that they are small steps to take to improve classes.  I enjoy small steps some times and I hope many readers will also.  If we can take small steps to improve our practice they will turn into larger steps in the future.  This entire article had great small steps to improve learning.  The last step was all about research proven methods leading the classroom and dispelling the rumors that learners know best.  It’s all about making sure to cater to our students by doing what is proven and what’s best rather than just what the students want.  The rest are equally as insightful and it is a fascinating article that I hope many will read and learn from.

It’s perfect for:   Questioning how we learn (even newer practices), wanting to take small steps to success, reading more on the theory of learning.