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The Fall 2015 semester is now well underway and our first meeting occurred on Monday, September 21st.  This meeting focused on a great new video tool that instructors and students alike will find beneficial called NBC Learn.  John Blackwell from ITS showed us the technical ins and outs of this tool, while Associate Dean/English Chair/Professor, Bette Kirschstein, showed us how she is using it in her course(s).  After discussion of this tool, the new Virtual Presence checklist was presented by Heather Askildsen from ITS.  This is a great tool for all faculty as it will help them to increase the use of available technological resources in their courses.


NBC Learn Higher Ed is a fantastic resource provided by NBC to higher educational institutions.  It contains a large library of archived NBC news coverage and stories spanning a magnitude of historical events.  The tool includes options to search for videos and to create playlists.  Anyone with Pace credentials can register and sign in to the site, by visiting this web page.  NBC Learn has the potential to aid in student research in addition to enhance course content.  The videos can be embedded into Blackboard as NBC Higher Learn now appears on Blackboard as a Course Tool.

To demonstrate the way that these videos can be used in the classroom, Bette Kirschstein showed us how she used NBC Learn in her courses.  She emphasized the importance of giving historical context when teaching literature.  To demonstrate the uniqueness of the tool, she highlighted two different videos from different times periods to show how collective views change over time.  She pointed out that having the content right in Blackboard helped to enhance her course.  We hope that many more faculty and students are able to get the most out of this tool.

vp_checklistFinally, Heather Askildsen showed us the new ITS website in addition to the Virtual Presence checklist that ITS and Academic Technologies worked hard to put together over the summer.  The new ITS website makes it easy for faculty and students to find the resources they need and it can be accessed here.  Areas of highlight include the digital toolkit which makes finding educational resources easy. This portion focused on the virtual presence checklist of the website; which can be found here.  Going beyond just uploading a syllabus, the interactive version of this checklist gives faculty the resources and information they need to build robust Blackboard content and use other resources.  The hope is that by encouraging faculty to use these tools that the teaching of Pace courses, both online and face to face, will be brought further into the 21st Century.  This will help to create a much more pleasant experience for both students and faculty alike. The site also provides a paper version of the checklist.

We certainly kicked the semester off with a very full meeting.  Please leave a comment if you have thoughts to share on the content of this meeting.  If you have suggestions for future meetings, you can leave a comment too.

We hope everyone had a enjoyable summer and is looking forward to the exciting semester ahead.  The mobile tech meetings for this semester are scheduled for the following dates and times:Pace_app_tap

  • Monday, September 21st 12:10pm – 1:10pm
  • Tuesday, October 13th 11:30am – 12:30 pm
  • Wednesday, November 18th 12:10pm – 1:10pm*
  • Tuesday, December 8th 12:10pm – 1:10pm

All meetings take place in E319 on the New York City campus and Miller 16 on the Pleasantville campus, *EXCEPT for the November meeting which will take place in Miller 21.  Note that this location change only applies to Pleasantville.  As always, all are welcome to attend. If you would like to suggest future meeting topics, please comment below.

At our last user group meeting for the Spring semester, we saw presentations on two incredible platforms that harness the power of video learning and seek to improve the way it is used in the classroom.  Our first presentation was given by Renee Bruner from Zaption, a website that gives instructors tools to enhance online videos with interactive components.  Following that, Heather Askildsen from ITS presented Lynda.com, a website with hundreds of quality  video lessons on subjects ranging from Software Development to 3D Animation.


Zaption offers instructors tools to enhance video learning with educational videos that may be found on YouTube, vimeo, or other similar platforms.  Instructors are able to create tours which can combine multiple videos and pictures together in a single lesson.  Tours can have additional interactive elements added like multiple choice, free response questions, or a discussion board.  Some of these interactive elements are self-grading and Zaption’s Analytic Center can feed grades into Blackboard and other Learning Management Systems.  Instructors have control over the way the content is presented to students and they are able to trim clips, pause videos, and enhance content.  For example, an instructor could pause a video that is displayed to include a definition.

It is free to sign up for a Zaption account, but it includes access only to basic features among other limitations.  A paid premium account can unlock more advanced features.  For more information on Zaption, you can check out their website, or consult this video for a more thorough overview.  If you are interested in using Zaption, please let us know by leaving a comment on this post.

LyndaMoving on to Lynda.com, this is an incredible platform that everyone at Pace should check out when they have the opportunity.  Lynda.com was created by a teacher by the name of Lynda who believes that it is essential to provide high quality video lessons to industry professionals and students in this rapidly changing digital age.  All of the videos are organized into fully searchable courses, so users have the option of working their way through an entire course on a unfamiliar subject or just watching a single video on an aspect of a program with which they are unfamiliar.  Lynda.com even offers video tutorials on advanced Instructor features in Blackboard.  These videos and courses are available through both the website and the companion mobile app.

Unlike Zaption, Lynda.com only offers paid accounts, however it is available through ITS for free to anyone (faculty, staff, and students) with valid Pace credentials.  You can access Lynda.com using your Pace username and password at this link.  More information on Lynda.com mobile access and classroom uses can be found on this ITS page.  You can also check out and browse the courses that they have available by checking out their website.  If you use Lynda.com, we encourage you to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Kaltura At Pace

kalturaVideo is becoming bigger than ever, especially in higher education.  With many products we run into storage limitations, collaboration issues, integration hurdles and so on.  Kaltura looks to take these needs head on and offer us a robust media solution.

Yesterday we had an online webinar for our monthly user group meeting.  The topic was Kaltura, a new service that is coming soon to Pace.  Our presenter was Ken Taylor, Director of Education, Mid-Atlantic U.S. for Kaltura.

Ken spoke to us about the different features that Kaltura will bring to the table.  First some background; Kaltura is a streaming video service with over 300,000 web publishers integrated into Blackboard.  You can upload videos into Kaltura directly through Blackboard, and make them available to your students in any Content Area, within a Media Gallery, or as a component of an assignment, test, or quiz.  Essentially you can upload, share, and manage content within groups, with your students (and vice versa) and so much more.

Kaltura has this direct connection with Blackboard which allows for easy usage and integration for faculty, staff and students.  It brings flipped classrooms, distance learning, BYOD and more to life and provides a truly enriching experience to its users.  Kaltura is a solution for many user case needs: lecture captures, teaching and learning, media repository & archiving, and group collaborations to name a few.  In addition to higher education, Kaltura has many enterprise, media and numerous brand name clients (HBO, Philips, Nestle).

If you are interested in hearing more about Kaltura, please check out their website here.

If you are interested in using Kaltura as an early adopter at Pace, please leave us a comment here, contact your school IT director or email: acadtech@pace.edu



Want access to free textbooks?  Enticing, I know…

Our first meeting of the Spring 2015 semester included a presentation by OpenStax.  OpenStax is an innovative and (free!) way for students and faculty to utilize and acquire textbooks that align with most courses at the higher education level. With students spending so much on textbooks semester to semester (amongst other living expenses), this is a welcomed change to the textbook market and a way to save students a few bucks in the process.  There are a few different ways to acquire the textbook including the Apple iBookstore, a PDF copy and more.

How is this possible you might ask?  The initiative is lead by Rice University and continues to be made possible through philanthropic donations.  The plan is not to change to a pay model at this time, so this looks like a really intriguing option and a good marketing tool as well.  Click here for more information.

The requirements for creating a book have to meet a certain formula, e.g. taking into account the number of courses offered and number of students taking them.  So some areas, such as Communications, are not included.  But the selection is quite impressive ranging from Physics to Economics to Psychology and more.  books

Check out the selection by clicking here and let us know which books you find to be the most useful.

If you have interest in OpenStax, please take a look at their website, leave us some comments or contact someone in your IT area to discuss this further.  You can also check out the latest news here.

In the meantime please check out this YouTube video with some further information: Open Stax

Microsoft has continued to make changes over the past few years in the way in which they deliver office to consumers.  Since the introduction of Office 365 which offers the current versions to consumers in a subscription based model, there has been a push for Microsoft to make Office more mobile in the tablet age.  ZA104386679

This past fall Microsoft rolled out the complete Office experience to iOS and these new apps match the modern look and feel of Office 2013.  Furthermore, these apps now let you view and edit office documents for free.  In order to use more advanced features for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, users can either make an in app purchase or redeem a license that comes in a multiple device subscription, now offered by Office 365.

For those unfamiliar, Office 365 is a yearly subscription to Office, but it includes cloud based storage and provides users with the most updated version.  When used on multiple devices, this model can be a more economical option.  Microsoft Office is further expanding the availability of Office beyond iPhone, iPad and PC platforms, as they will be rolling out new android versions in the coming months.

officeverywhere-infographic-2-984x1024However, Microsoft’s Office Everywhere for Everyone campaign would not be complete if it did not bring the modern office experience to Mac.  It has been more than four years since Office for Mac 2011 launched in 2010 making Office for Mac 2015 long overdue.  The new screenshots released by Microsoft confirm that Office for Mac will match the Windows experience and aesthetics.  This will no longer be a less powerful version. Additional improvements include support for SkyDrive and Retina Displays, in addition to One Note for Mac, which is available for free right now on the Mac App Store.  Office for Mac 2015 is expected to launch in the later half of 2015, with a beta coming sometime in the spring.

01-Mail-All-Retina-1024x674To summarize, Microsoft is making big changes in the ways that Office is brought to consumers.  They brought new apps for iPhone users in addition to updating their iPad apps.  They are previewing and testing new android apps and are working to update the Office for Mac experience.  However, the biggest change is there is now limited free access to such a critical tool for everyone, even if they don’t have a subscription.  If you have thoughts on the new Office experience or Office 365, you can share them by commenting below.  It will be interesting to see how these apps shape up in the coming year.

Welcome back as the January Intersession is now well underway.  Our blog celebrates a milestone as this is our 100th published post.  Once the Spring semester begins, our mobile tech meetings will resume, following the dates and times listed below.mobiletechnologyusergroup

  • Tuesday, February 3rd 12:30pm-1:30pm
  • Thursday, March 5th 3:30pm-4:30pm
  • Tuesday, April 7th 3:30pm-4:30pm
  • Thursday, May 7th 3:30pm-4:30pm

These meetings will take place in Miller 16 in Pleasantville and and E319 in New York. Everyone is welcome to attend, so we look forward to seeing you there.  If you have suggestions for future meeting topics, feel free to leave a comment below.

On December 9th we had our third and final user group meeting of the semester.  Heather Askildsen  and Megan Burke from ITS presented Poll Everywhere, an exciting online interactive audience response system, while Jermain Smith from the School of Education showed us the “gamification” of learning by providing examples of two companies on the cutting edge of this new approach.


Heather and Megan demonstrated some premium features of Poll Everywhere and discussed how it could be implemented in an educational setting.  For those unfamiliar with the tool, Poll Everywhere is a web-based application that allows presenters to create polls and have their audience respond with a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.  The company offers a limited free version of this software, with the ability to purchase a subscription for some premium features.  Heather and Megan played a short video, which provides a good overview of the tool.  They provided several suggestions for the various ways in which instructors might be able to utilize this tool in the classroom.  Finally, their presentation concluded with a chance for attendees to participate in a live test.

Some of the ways Heather and Megan felt that Poll Everywhere would be helpful in the classroom include:

  • Taking Attendance – Professors have the option of creating a free response poll in which all posts are time stamped, so instructors know who got to class and when.
  • Checking for Student Understanding – Professors can make multiple choice polls and gauge how many students feel they understand the concept.  If some students are struggling to understand, then professors can use that feedback to focus the lecture better.
  • Encouraging Students – Professors have controls with the software of what they want to display to the class.  If they think a student posts something exceptional, they can call it out.  If a student sends something that is inappropriate, they have the option to block that content.

For more information on Poll Everywhere and to play around with the free version, you can head on over to their official site and try it out for yourself.  If anyone uses this tool, it would be nice to hear your thoughts and comments on this service.  If you have found innovative ways to use it in the classroom, feel free to share those too.

Jermain, Director of Technology for the School of Education, presented two companies that are combining modern technology and games to improve educational experiences for students.  The first company he introduced us to was Wavicle through an introductory video.  This company offers game based learning solutions and can help educators build game based courses that engage students in new ways.  The second company he presented was TeachLivE, which was developed in conjunction with the University of Central Florida.  This technology has already been implemented within the Avatar Labs for the School of Education at Pace.  This resource can be used to help train student teachers in speaking with students and classroom management skills.  Essentially, prospective instructors speak to an animated classroom and the students react and perform in real time.  Jermain played a video of a student teacher interacting with these avatars to help illustrate how his department was using this software.

A big thank you to Heather, Megan, and Jermain for taking the time to educate us in these exciting new technologies.

Wishing everyone a  peaceful and  relaxing break.  We will be having our first meeting of the Spring Semester, sometime in February.  Please stay tuned to the blog for the date and times for our spring meetings.  As always, feel free to comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

The following post written by  Dr. Claudia Mausner details her  experience using the Glogster application in the classroom:

An Example of a Student Created Glog: Full PDF of the Glog (pictured below)


My friend calls me the technology wiz who really dislikes technology.  I accepted the iPad loaner challenge, recognizing that it behooves me to join the 21st century and explore the world of tablets.  I attended the monthly user group meetings and learned about the Glogster app from Education department professor Peter McDermott.  My understanding was that students could use this website to create multimedia posters online.  Little did I know introduction to this app would mushroom into a major class assignment!

Each semester for the last few years I have arranged a Sustainability Tour on both NYC and Pleasantville campuses for my videoconference course ENV 235, Sustainable Living in Our World.  This year I would be unable to attend, as I was organizing an environmental conference in Washington, DC.  I wanted to be certain that students participated in the tours despite my absence and I also wanted students to share experiences with their classmates on the “other” campus.  My “aha” moment came when I realized students could create posters with Glogster and, to increase the excitement level, I could turn the assignment into a contest.  One of the students needed extra credit and thus volunteered to create a Survey Monkey questionnaire allowing her classmates to rank the posters and provide evaluative comments anonymously.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about technology, it is to expect the unexpected.  The complexity of this assignment grew at every step.  I hadn’t realized that Glogster required the professor to open an account, but when students couldn’t access the software I went ahead and purchased a relatively inexpensive 1-year account that provided space for 30 student posters.  Only to learn after-the-fact that a more limited free version was also available.  In order to post the completed glogs on Survey Monkey they would have to be in PDF format, but Glogster is designed for online use only.  With guidance from the company helpline, I downloaded freeware from Bullzip to convert the glogsters into PDFs.  Since the Sustainability Tour posters were beautiful and students spent far more time on the assignment than I had anticipated, I decided to have them printed.  The posters were hung and admired at the new Environmental Center in Pleasantville during a recent party introducing the new Environmental Studies and Sciences Department.

All of my original goals were met, and then some.  Students loved using Glogster.  The full version has many exciting tools, including built-in survey software.  Students did not include videos in their multimedia posters because this was not compatible with Survey Monkey, but in the future that would certainly be an option.  There was 100% attendance for the tours despite my absence, and I could determine by reviewing the posters that they listened and learned.  And students had an opportunity to share their experiences with classmates on the “other” campus.  New technology has many challenges and can often be time-consuming . . . . but it offers incredibly rich surprises to strengthen the learning experience in wonderful ways!

Today we had our second user group of the semester.  Our presenters were Devin McLaughlin from Apple and Amanda Villavicencio from ITS.  Both presented on some very interesting topics.

Devin has been with us before and always gives a nice presentation.  One of the very cool things that he introduced to us was the Apple iBeacon.  iBeaconIt’s a Bluetooth enabled device that essentially provides location based information that you can access through your other iDevices.  Devin gave the example of recently leaving his iBeacon in a checked bag on a flight and being able to track its exact location once he (and it) was on the plane in ‘proximity.’  Quite a cool feature and something he thinks many will start using in all sorts of different ways as far as location based offerings are concerned.

Here is some more information about the iBeacon.


Devin went on to discuss iOS 8 and the new features that it comes with.  Some of the highlights include:


  • Screen capture between an iOS 8 device (with a lightning connection) and your Mac (running Yosemite).  Essentially you are able to perform an audio/video recording using QuickTime.
  • The introduction of new 3rd party keyboards.  The most popular is Swype (currently free, normally $0.99) and another is Swift Key.  These are what many Android users are already used to and a welcomed addition to the standard Apple keyboard.
  • Having the Continuity feature which allows you to start a task on one device, and continue/complete it on another.
  • The ability to make and receive calls on your other devices (as long as your iPhone is within Bluetooth range) as well as pickup an iMessage or even SMS text message conversation on another device that you started on lets say your iPhone.
  • Specific to EDU, the introduction of extensions which allows iOS 8 users to reach into another app and access documents.  Also a direct connection with DropBox via iCloud drive which is very useful for lots of users of these two services.
  • For managing apps, e.g. with volume licensing, there is now the option of assigning and revoking access.  So this is something that may work well in the EDU field (and other fields of course) where shared iPads and apps had become quite costly.
  • The Apple TV now has the ability to talk to your devices via Bluetooth instead of the complications of having to be on the same network.  This could be a game changer for using this tool in higher ed spaces.  The Apple TV was designed to be an at home product, but as Devin mentioned there are so many uses for it, especially in the EDU environment.  With this new option it may open the door for increased usage.


There is so much more out there now with iOS 8 and the new Yosemite OSX.  Please let us know if you know any other tips and tricks below.

ePortAmanda, one of the ITS eTerns, discussed the many changes that ePortfolio just had over the past few months.  There is a new option for changing your layouts and making your ePortfolio more appealing.  More on the new layouts can be found by clicking here.  Amanda referred to it as a “pyramid” when showing us her showcase page which started with her most current accomplishments as a Graduate student and went back through Undergraduate and High School as well which was very cool.

Some other additional features include:

  • The ability to embed PDF files, not just upload them.
  • A new editing menu which stays with you as you scroll down your pages for easier accessibility.
  • A more responsive design for mobile editing.  You no longer need to be on a computer for the this, you can now edit with your smart phone, tablet, etc.
  • Badging has been introduced and is a way to show off accomplishments in a digital fashion.
  • You now get a warning when you are about to delete a journal, so there won’t be anymore accidental deletions!
  • There are now quick links on the dashboard page which allow you to quickly create something or share something in a simpler fashion.Green_ePort

Please follow the ePortfolio blog here: http://eportfolio.blogs.pace.edu/

Please contact the ITS Academic Technology Dept for any questions regarding ePortfolio: acadtech@pace.edu

Thanks to both Devin & Amanda for their informative presentations.

We look forward to seeing you at our last meeting of the semester on Tuesday December 9th, 2014 at 12:10pm in Miller 16 (PLV) and E319 (NYC).  As always please feel free to leave comments below and if you have any ideas or would like to present at an upcoming or future meeting please email me at rmiller@pace.edu


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