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    The display of information in a non-textual way to visual learners typically has been limited to those with graphic design skills. New Web services now enable those who may not have graphic design skills to communicate and display numerical data and factual information in visually meaningful formats. Free versions of these services enable the creation of professional-looking infographics with pre-constructed icons and graphics and drag-and-drop functionality. Faculty and students are now easily able to develop and view interesting and creative information objects whether they contain numerical or factual information, thereby enhancing the online classroom and the educational experience.

    This article provides a brief overview of infographics and mentions some of the tools available for creating them, as well as a few additional resources to consider if you wish to use them in your classrooms.

    What are Infographics?

    Infographics visually explain a topic, usually data or numerical information, which can be a more effective and appealing method of learning and persuasion than just written text. These objects are typically bold and eye-catching, and they convey the creators or authors information. They are displayed in normal image formats, such as JPG and PNG, but are generally more detailed and complex than a regularly viewed graph or image. Infographics have appealing visual cues, focus on a specific question or topic, and have a poster-like quality.

    One of the earliest examples of infographics comes from Florence Nightingale, who in 1858 created an infographic of British military deaths. Although newspapers have displayed color graphs and charts to convey data to their readers in recent history, they are generally small in comparison to an infographic, which can fill an entire computer screen or tablet and oftentimes involve scrolling down to see more content.

    Edward Tufte, a noted scholar and expert in the fields of information design and data visualization, has written books about how information can be represented visually, which should be considered if exploring this topic further. Titles of his books include: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information; Envisioning Information; Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative; Beautiful Evidence; and Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions.

    Infographics vs. Data Visualizations

    Although no general rule applies to Web services that enable anyone to create infographics, for the purposes of this article, infographics are considered static media. Closely related to infographics are data visualizations, which are considered interactive, allowing users to change the appearance of the data dynamically by using controllers to add or manipulate the data. (It should be noted that some data visualizations can be turned into infographics.) Another difference between the two types of tools is that data visualizations contain much more raw data than infographics. With an infographic, the designer selects the most important information to present an information snapshot, whereas a data visualization can present many changing views of the data. In either case, the author has the freedom to tell a compelling story. Hans Roslings Gapminder Web site is a prominent site for browsing and creating data visualizations and includes a section for educators who wish to use data visualizations in their classrooms.

    Examples of Infographics

    Below are just a few examples of the multitude of infographics one can find on the Internet:

    Sources for Infographics

    One of the best sources for finding infographics and data visualizations created by others is This searchable site includes infographics created by professional designers.

    Other sources include:

    At the very least, these sites can provide ideas for creating your own infographics or serve as the basis for classroom discussion.

    Creating Infographics

    There are several Web services that make it easy for non-designers to create powerful and eye-catching images. Although these services are not expressly created for learning environments, they lend themselves to online learning and the images created with them can be linked, embedded, or saved in a classroom.

    Three services (, Piktochart, and are currently available for creating your own infographics are discussed below. These services have been selected for this article based on the following criteria:

    • They are free or have free versions along with paid versions.
    • They offer pre-made templates that can easilybe modified with ones own data.
    • Some infographics can be made public or private.
    • Images can be embedded or linked from within an online classroom.
    • Registration is easy with social media tools, such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and others, or one may register by providing an e-mail account.

    Infographics on the site (which is still in beta) are called visuals; public visuals can be downloaded or viewed in a browser. Although more than 25,000 public visuals have been created on, these infographics do not appear to be searchable. has 15 themed templates called vhemes, which can be modified. There is drag-and-drop functionality to the site, with many pre-made objects and backgrounds. You may also upload your own images. Once you create an infographic, you can make it public or private. One nice feature for faculty and students is that private visuals can still be linked or embedded in an online classroom. It should be noted that a link to the Web site will automatically be included at the bottom of an embedded visual (the link can be removed by editing the HTML embed code); the link to the Web site does not appear in the linked visual, because it is just a JPG image. You may also download your visual as a JPG image.

    Although the site is easy to use, it does not provide any help (aside from a marketing video that demonstrates the sites features). An auto-save feature is not present, so you will need to save manually before exiting a project.

    screenshot of
    Screenshot of


    Piktochart offers three levels of service: free, monthly fee, and an annual fee. The free account adds a Picktochart watermark at the bottom-right corner of the image upon exporting. Help is available along with YouTube tutorials and an FAQ.

    The free account provides five basic themes (templates) that can be edited. There are numerous pre-configured generic icons to spice up or better explain an infographic. You can upload your own images to an infographic; however, the free account has a five-image upload limit.

    Piktochart includes a create a chart option that allows for editing rows and columns. A chart can then be generated from the data entered.

    The Help Center provides instruction for common questions.

    Although there is no HTML export or a way to link to a saved infographic, you can export the graphic in PNG image format, which can then be uploaded into an online classroom. An auto-save feature is not available in this service.

    screenshot of piktochart
    Screenshot of Piktochart

    The site (also in beta) allows users to select one of six themes and then modify it as needed. Authors can add their own picture if desired or import Youtube or Vimeo videos into their infographic.

    The site lacks a help feature, which may deter novice users, but it is easy to use.

    Publishing an infographic makes it public, so take care not to include student names or other FERPA-related information if you use the site. Also, publishing creates a unique URL that makes it easy for linkage or embedding with the HTML code. Photos or images can be uploaded to infographics. One noteworthy feature is the ability to change the width of an infographic.

    By default, includes a copyright notice in the lower-left corner and a logo in the lower-right corner of an infographic.

    screenshot of infogram
    Screenshot of

    For more information about creating an infographic from any service, consider these articles available at the Web site:

    Using Infographics in the Classroom

    Infographics may enhance your course materials and enrich your students experience, particularly for those with different learning styles. You will want to determine what information may be appropriate to communicate in this format and whether such visual representations will be suitable aids for students.

    If you decide to use infographics, you may want to give thought to the following issues. Consider referencing sources for the data or information. One of the downsides to using infographics is that although sources are typically mentioned (as they should be), the infographic may not indicate which specific source contributed to a particular piece of data within the infographic. Verifying the accuracy of an infographic may be difficult if multiple sources are usedwhich you will need to keep in mind if tasking students with creating an infographic for an assignment. One solution to this problem could involve providing numbered footnotes for these sources within the infographic. One could also provide a separate text file that includes the reference sources and/or describes how the sources were used in the infographic.

    If you would like to embed infographics in your classroom, please see How to Embed External Multimedia Objects in a WebTycho Classroom for instructions.

    This article mentions a few examples of infographic tools. These references should not be taken as an endorsement of any particular tool, technology, or company. If you are thinking of implementing any of these tools into your course, check with your academic administrator for suitability.

    Any advertisements seen in the infographic tools are either self-promotions or links to partner sites and not links to third-party products.

    Please be aware of browser requirements before using any tool.

    Additional Resources

    King, L. (2012). How to create infographics online. Retrieved from

    Rogers, S. (2010, August 13). Florence Nightingale, datajournalist: information has always been beautiful. The Guardian. Retrieved from

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    A previous article in the DE Oracle @ UMUC provided an overview of the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and the student accommodations process. This installment describes a variety of ways in which faculty can support students with disabilities in collaboration with ODS.

    Background on ODS/Faculty Collaboration

    ODS understands that successfully accommodating and educating UMUCs students with disabilities can be achieved only by partnering with the faculty. We view the faculty as content experts and valuable resources in the development of student accommodations. Sometimes, implementing accommodations requires faculty to move beyond their comfort zones. When a student encounters particular barriers to success or full participation in a classroom, ODS will help the student and instructor understand what steps they can take to remove those barriers and will also provide support for both parties to ensure that the accommodations process is seamless. If requested, ODS can arrange a training session or provide additional materials for faculty or any academic department.

    Understanding and Working with Student Accessibility Challenges: Dos and Donts

    Students with disabilities encounter a variety of accessibility challenges in a distance education setting. When ODS completes the registration process with students and submits the final accommodation letter (known as the Accommodation Notification Letter) to faculty, the office notifies faculty and program/academic directors to anticipate certain accessibility challenges in the classroom. For example, a student with a speech impairment may have difficulty participating in Wimba sessions that require vocal communication from students. For more information regarding accessibility challenges for people with disabilities in distance education programs, visit the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) Faculty Room section on distance learning.

    ODS staff encourage students to contact the instructor (via phone or e-mail) to discuss the accommodations requested and develop a plan to ease facilitation of those accommodations. It is important in this process that faculty do NOT do the following:

    • Do NOT requestthat students disclose their disabilities. Because many disabilities are invisible, ODS encourages students to self-advocate and articulate their needs in courses; however, they do not have to disclose the nature of any disabilities. Make sure you do not collect or store a students medical documentation.
    • Do NOT deny a students accommodation. Accommodations are not designed to interfere with academic standards. Please contact ODS immediately if you are concerned an accommodation might compromise the academic integrity of your course. You will have to provide the accommodation until the issue has been addressed. An accommodation cannot be denied without due process, and all concerns will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
    • Do NOT attempt to accommodate students on your own or provide expert advice about the students condition. If a request is not listed in the Accommodation Notification Letter, refer students to ODS staff to ensure that additional accommodations are supported by the documentation.
    • Do NOT assume that a student with a disability who does well in your class does not need to use an accommodation. Students with disabilities are as diverse in learning as their non-disabled peers. If a student with a disability is not performing well in your class, do not assume you should grade him/her differently.Academic accommodations are designed to assist with equal access in the classroombut they do notguarantee equal success.

    In addition, here are some suggestions that faculty are encouraged to DO when facilitating accommodation requests:

    • DO encourage students to self-identify with ODS. Students with disabilities may not disclose that they have a disability until they are experiencing problems in class. If a student requests an accommodation but you have not received notification from ODS, you are not obligated to provide accommodations. Please refer the student to ODS to begin the registration process.
    • DO keep any medical information a student shares with you confidential. It is a students choice how much information to discloseabout a disability. Regardless of what is shared, only the academic challenges and accommodations used in the classroom are necessary for discussion.
    • DO promote and encourage timeliness. All UMUC syllabi contain a statement encouraging students with disabilities to contact faculty, but many students wait for a crisis to occur before they disclose their disability or begin the registration process with ODS. It is important for faculty to communicate with the students to promote timeliness and to prevent accessibility challenges in the course.

    Universal Design Considerations

    Due to the accessibility challenge that many students encounter when accessing course content online,ODS staff are committed to taking proactive steps to promote universal design (UD) principles. UD principles focus on barrier-free design and architectural accessibility.

    Universal Design Foundations and Principles

    The concept of universal design emerged from the architectural field, which sought to design buildings and spaces to improve physical accessibilitysuch as curb cuts, automatic doors, and wheelchair ramps. Architects soon found that when considering a multitude of needs early in the development process, they could design a product that could be used for individuals with and without disabilities (Burgstahler Coy, 2008). For example, curb cuts were originally designed for wheelchair users; however, they equally benefit individuals riding bikes and pushingstrollers.

    The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University has developed seven principles for thedesign of products and environments. These Principles of Universal Design are as follows:

    1. Equitable Use to ensure that designs are useful and marketable for people with diverse abilities;
    2. Flexibility in Use to accommodate a wide range of individual preferences and abilities;
    3. Simple and Intuitive Use so that products or environments are easy to understand;
    4. Perceptible Information such that information can be communicated effectively regardless of the users sensory or physical abilities;
    5. Tolerance for Error that minimizes the effects of accidents or unintended actions;
    6. Low Physical Effort so that products and environment can be used comfortably and with minimum fatigue; and
    7. Size and Space for Approach and Use to support access regardless of a users body size, posture, or mobility.

    Universal Design in Education

    Since the passage of disability rights legislation and the changing demographic of individuals with disabilities, UD has been a growing area in education, particular curriculum development. Over the last 20 years, the population of individuals with disabilities has grownwhich has led to a significant increase in the number of students with disabilities, especially military and veterans, seeking postsecondary education. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) emphasized that postsecondary institutions should design curricula with a focus on UD principles. As educators and administrators, it is our duty to ensure that both online and face-to-face courses can be universally used and accessed. Adopting UD principles in all types of education can ensure that every students potential needs and learning styles will be considered in the design and implementation of courses stateside and internationally.

    The seven design principles developed by the Center for Universal Design, while not specific to education, have been used by educational researchers and practitioners as a foundation in educational settings for course design and instruction.

    Ensuring Accessibility of Course Materials

    At UMUC, faculty are encouraged touse innovative instructional materials and to incorporate a variety of Internet resources, videos, synchronous communication tools, andother resources to provide references or simulations, etc. Most UMUC courses are accessible in a variety of ways. All courses have the syllabus available in electronic form, and most courses provide supplemental materials electronically in the online classroom. Faculty who distribute physical handouts in class are encouraged to make them available in electronic form as well. Most textbooks are available in both paper and electronic formats. An electronic format of course material provides a variety of alternatives to access information. For example, students with visual impairments who use screen readers or screen magnifiers can listen to or enlarge the text for simplified reading. In addition, a student who speaks another language can utilize online dictionaries and thesauruses to assist with reading and writing tasks.

    ODS staff work closely with faculty to support innovation in the classroom by ensuring accessibility of media, Wimba, and other audiovisual classroom tools. Faculty are encouraged to contact ODS when they are unsure whether a particular tool is accessible and/or how to create accessibility. For example, transcription is one way of providing access to audiovisual content. ODS partners with the Center for Support of Instruction (CSI) to provide this accommodation for students.

    We encourage faculty to start thinking about the use of audiovisual components in the classroom early. Making these decisions in advance of the course start date allows time for students who need transcription to make an early request for this accommodation. When ODS receives a request for transcription, the office will ask the faculty member to fill out a Transcript Request form, identifying their course information and the material to be transcribed. ODS sends the completed form to CSI for transcription. CSI works with an outside vendor to fulfill the request and, upon receipt of the completed transcript, reviews it for missing information or errors. Once the transcript is reviewed and finalized, CSI places itin the online classroom and notifies ODS and the faculty member that the process is complete. The entire transcriptionprocess takes approximately 57 business days but can take longer for lengthy, complicated material. Our goal is to receive the requests well enough in advance so that students do not fall behind in the course while awaiting a transcript.

    In short, here are some tips to incorporate universal design concepts in your courses:

    • Plan your course in advance and decide what audiovisual tools you will use.
    • When possible, select audiovisual materials that already include captioning and/or transcripts.
    • If captioning or transcripts are not available, request transcription for audio material, including optional course work.
    • Make sure textbooks have an e-text version available for students to purchase.

    For More Information

    Collaboration between ODS and faculty is a crucial component in the accommodation process. ODS staff remain abreast of accessibility challenges that students with disabilities experience. ODS and faculty must maintain communication to best address any issue regarding specific accommodations or access to course content. To receive more information/training on students with disabilities or course accessibility, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Disability Services at or (240) 684-2287.


    Burgstahler, S., Coy, R. (Eds.). (2008). Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice. Boston: Harvard Education Press.

    Additional Resources

    Applications of Universal Design:

    The Center for Universal Design in Education:

    Pliner, S., Johnson, J. (2004). Historical, theoretical, and foundational principles of universal design in higher education. Equity of Excellence in Education, 37, 105113. Retrieved from

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  • 03/06/13--15:38: Help Improve OneSearch
  • Would you like to help improve UMUC Library OneSearch? If you have used OneSearch (the search box in the middle of the Library homepage), the Library requests your participation in a focus group and/or its usability study (you may participate in both). Participants will receive a free thank-you gift (travel mug or sports bottle) after participating in either a focus group or the usability study.

    You may sign up for a focus group or the usability study to discuss how you use OneSearch and your ideas for improving it. Once you complete the short form indicating which session you are able to attend, you will receive more information regarding that session. Thank you in advance for your consideration. Your input is vital in ensuring that UMUC Library OneSearch is meeting your research needs.

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    Jack Boeve introduces Robert Gagnes Conditions of Learning theory and provides a brief, general overview of Gagnes Nine Events of Instruction that aim to support students within a learning environment. The presentation also offers some suggestions for possible application of the Nine Events of Instruction within UMUC courses.

    Archived Recording:

    WebEx Launcher Link:

    Slide Presentation:

    Printable Version: PDF

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    Many UMUC courses, such as those in the MBA program, are integrating videos in the Conferences or Course Content area of the WebTycho classroom from online resources such as TED and YouTube. By adding videos to the classroom, students may become more engaged with the learning material and can learn at their own pace. In addition, faculty are able to reach a variety of learning styles as well as use video to explain difficult concepts to students. But wouldnt it be that much more beneficial if faculty could add short lessons around a TED or YouTube video as supplemental material to further enhance and enrich student learning?

    This article introduces another resource that faculty can use in building upon their online course materials, providing some background about the new TED-Ed site and its educational videos, how to flip a lesson, and an opportunity to submit your own educational videos to TED-Ed.

    About TED-Ed and Its Video Lessons

    TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a medium where some of the worlds greatest leaders and experts share their knowledge and ideas through videos and talks. TEDs philosophy is Ideas Worth Spreading.

    In April 2012, TED launched a new platform, TED-Ed, alongside its existing Web site. TED-Eds primary goal is to provide quality educational videos and lessons that are taught by educators through Lessons Worth Sharing. This portion of the site includes short animated videos created for high school students and lifelong learners that are appropriate for higher education. The short videos are not intended to replace full courses or curricula but rather to be used as supplementary materials. Although the site is still in beta, it currently has over 100 videos, with more than 10,000 customized lessons based upon those videos. TED-Ed expects the site to continue to grow due to the practice of flipping. Users may repurpose, or flip, videos into customized lessons, and other users may then again flip those lessons into new lessons. (Flip teaching is a method of instruction in which traditional classroom lectures and homework assignments are reversed, or flipped. It is repurposing lecture time in which faculty provide interactive content, often video or other media, for students to review outside the classroom and which then serves as the basis for homework, exercises, projects, or discussion in the classroom.)

    The sites collection of short animated videos, each no longer than 10 minutes, are recorded by educators and professional animators. Each video is accompanied by a short lesson composed of multiple-choice and open-ended questions that students can answer after watching a video. The lessons are geared to help reinforce students learning and comprehension. Faculty can take advantage of the free ready-to-use video lessons at TED-Eds Web site ( Many videos are also available on the YouTube channel at

    ted-ed-screenshot1Visitors to the site can browse videos by either serieswhich list the videos by themesor by subject. One can also view the Best Flips. These lessons are created and nominated by users and are selected by educators and TED-Ed as being exceptional. The lessons surrounding the videos are built around three elements: Watch, Think, and Dig Deeper. After watching the video, students may click on the Think element to view a series of multiple-choice and open-ended questions to help them with their comprehension of a video and to use their critical thinking skills. If students answer any multiple-choice question incorrectly, they can select a video hint link to direct them back to the appropriate place in the video that provides the correct answer. Finally, Dig Deeper is an area in which faculty can provide additional topical resources, such as Web links, readings, and activities.

    How to Flip a Lesson

    Faculty can customize and contextualize lessons surrounding existing TED-Ed videos or completely recreate a new lesson from scratcha process known as flipping a lesson. To flip a TED-Ed video, faculty just edit the items in the three elements surrounding the lesson. They can change the title of the lesson so that it is relevant to a particular course; provide students with instructions about the lesson surrounding the video; keep, discard, or completely change the quiz questions; and add their own open-ended questions. Logan Smalley, director of TED-Ed, has noted, By introducing more customization options, the platform puts power into the hands of educators, converting a passive academic experience into a more active and engaging one.

    The most powerful and exciting feature on the platform may be the ability to flip any YouTube or other useful educational video into a lesson and embed it, or faculty may record and upload their own videos and turn them into lessons that will be featured on the TED-Ed site.

    Faculty may publish a lesson to a private, unique URL for students. Students will be able to log in, track, and save their lessons and recent activity. In addition, faculty can monitor and assess students progress and participation as they complete the assignments. Students also have the option of being anonymous by not logging inalthough if they choose this route, they will not be able to track and save their lessons. Depending on a lessons purpose within a course and the desired educational outcomes, faculty may wish to have students activity on a given lesson be identified or anonymous.

    Submitting Videos to TED-Ed

    TED-Ed encourages educators to get involved by creating short videos and lessons of their own work to be posted on the TED-Ed site. Faculty can nominate other faculty, themselves, or talented animatorsor they can just suggest a lesson.

    For each submitted and accepted video, TED-Ed pairs the educator with professional animators to produce a high-quality, short, and engaging educational video and lesson. All of this can be done directly on TED-Ed Web site through the Get Involved section at


    The new TED-Ed platform has many benefits for faculty and students. Faculty can add TED-Ed video lessons to their classrooms, flip and customize lessons, or upload their own videos and turn them into lessons. They can also track student activity and performance. Students interact with the video lessons and receive immediate real-time feedback on videos they watched. They can proceed at their own pace by stopping and rewinding the videos and taking the accompanying quizzes at any time.

    Faculty at UMUC already use TED, TED-Ed, and YouTube videos for educational purposes in their classrooms. TED-Ed now offers additional teaching and learning opportunities for faculty and students. Faculty can create contextual lessons around the videos they assign to their students and reinforce student learning. The lessons encourage students to think critically about the content, which also allows them to become more actively engaged in their own learning process.

    Related Resources

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      ShareFair 2012 banner

      The second annual ShareFair conference on UMUC Faculty Research and Scholarship provided another opportunity for sharing knowledge and ideas within the universitys faculty community. The half-day event on September 20 in the Academic Center at Largo engaged an eager crowd of about 100 faculty members.

      ShareFair creator/founder Dr. Jay Liebowitz, Orkand Endowed Chair in Management and Technology in The Graduate School, welcomed everyone to the event and introduced Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marie Cini, who highlighted the importance of faculty research and its contribution to the university and its students.

      Following the opening remarks, attendees were encouraged to walk through a gallery of research poster presentations and engage in conversation with the faculty presenters. Five of the 29 research poster displays were presented virtually via WebEx for viewing both remotely and on campus. (See the URL at the end of this article to view the recorded WebEx sessions.) This years poster presentations included a diverse range of topics representing ongoing research by UMUC faculty, including Development of a Reliable, Valid, Multi-Dimensional Measure of Student Engagement in Group Projects, Violent Adult Female Offenders and Their Victims, and Mobile Phones as a Payment System, to name a few. UMUC faculty member Wendy McDonough noted how refreshing it was to see UMUC students who happened to be in Largo that day taking an interest in the presentations.

      The event also included 11 Knowledge Cafs. Some of the timely topics that faculty discussed in these moderated roundtable sessions included Integrating Social Media and Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom, Using Graphical Presentations to Enhance Student Learning, and Corporate Social Responsibility. The Knowledge Cafs allowed faculty members toengage in lively discussion, creating a general buzz of excitement in the room while sharing and brainstorming ideas and topics for more faculty research.

      Dr. Kathryn Klose, Associate Chair and Program Director of Management, Accounting and Finance, attended the days events and noted that it provides UMUCs faculty with a wonderful opportunity to connect with each other and learn more about the interesting research in which our colleagues are engaged.

      ShareFair 2012 concluded with an awards ceremony with remarks by Dr. Liebowitz, who recognized the local faculty members for their participation. The award for best poster presentation, announced by Dr. Theo Stone, Program Director for Field Experiences in The Graduate Schools Education department, went to Megan Davis, Julie Lietzau, Clare Miller, and Joseph Rawson of Information Library Services for their presentation Virtual Reference at a Global University: An Analysis of Patron and Question Type.

      At the conclusion of the event, Dr. Liebowitz described this years ShareFair as another success in terms of showcasing our facultys research and scholarship, developing new potential research collaborations, sharing ideas, generating conversations, and recognizing our faculty for their research and scholarship endeavors.

      For a complete list of all the poster presentations (many with links to presentation materials) and Knowledge Caf discussions at ShareFair 2012, please see UMUCs Research Scholarship repository.

      Related ShareFair Links

      • ShareFair site within the UMUC Research Scholarship Repository
      • ShareFair 2012 Video Review site includes a compilation video highlighting various aspects of the event as well as a video featuring the poster presentations that were available onsite
      • WebEx Sessions archived recordings of the five virtual poster presentations
      • Photos all photos are courtesy of Sa Sun, Instructional Support Specialist, Center for Support of Instruction

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      (NOTE: This research has been supported by a UMUC Faculty Research Grant)


      The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) student body is growing dramatically. As an open-access institution, UMUC accepts all qualified students. These students have a broad range of skills in terms of knowledge, experience, and practice. A small percentage of our students need additional help to enhance their ability to use with greater effectiveness the quantitative methods associated with finance, accounting, and statistical analysis. In the spring 2012 semester, we provided information, reference sources, and tools related to these methods to students in three existing classes. The purpose of the study was to test quantitatively the associated value and benefits of the interventions.


      In a 2008 study using data that was self-reported by students entering their first year of college, 15%22% required remedial math instruction (Planty, et al., 2008). Another study during the same time frame indicated that 65% of new students took a remedial math course, and approximately one-half passed the course (Fike Fike, 2008). Currently at UMUC, we are using anecdotal information and heuristics to estimate the number of students who require remedial work in quantitative concepts. It is conceivable that the percentages have not improved much. The latest report from the U.S. Department of Education supports that notion because it is still reporting 2008 data (Aud, et al., 2011).

      To successfully complete the Technology Management program and/or the Project Management specialization requires a certain level of skill in quantitative concepts and methods for PMAN 639, PMAN 650, and TMAN 625, the three courses identified as major users of quantitative techniques covering accounting, finance, or statistical analysis. Studies have concluded that in addition to manipulation and interpretive skills, competence in the demonstration of quantitative skills also requires that students have the confidence to exercise their knowledge (Taylor Galligan, 2006). One of the solutions involves providing students with tools to perform a self-assessment of their own improvement. In a study conducted at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, the researcher postulated that math skills are more than an understanding of the concepts and highlighted the importance of student confidence (Bahls, 2009).

      An important aspect to note is that the interventions utilized should be focused on building the students confidence in their ability to demonstrate quantitative skills. Pajares and Miller (1995) stated, Students confidence to solve mathematics problems was a more powerful predictor of their ability to solve those problems than was their confidence to perform math-related tasks or their confidence to earn As or Bs in math-related courses.


      The team identified sources, tools, examples, tutorials, and other materials that could be posted in each of the classrooms to acquaint the students with the knowledge needed for successful completion of PMAN 639, PMAN 650, and TMAN 625. This included statistical packages, online tutorials, quizzes, and free finance and accounting software. Access to the intervention material was posted in each course section by the faculty member assigned to teach the class, directing the students to make maximum use of the material.

      In the first week of the course, the students were surveyed, facilitating the creation of a benchmark of the students understanding of the required quantitative skills to be successful in the course and to document the students opinions of their own skill set and readiness. At the end of the semester, a questionnaire was sent electronically to each student, collecting information on their use of the material and from their perspectives, the benefits derived. The students also identified additional material and resources that would be useful in future classes.

      Survey Sample

      We invited all students enrolled in the three selected courses to participate in the questionnaire. This included 21 course sections with a total of 465 students. The result for Week 1 was an average participation response rate of 58 percent. At Week 12, the enrollment was somewhat decreased with 434 present and 192 responding for a response rate of 45 percent. This decrease in the response rate was expected since students enthusiasm and energy level tend to decline from the first day of class compared to the final week. Selected questions with finite answers and associated responses from Week 1 and Week 12 are presented below. Open-ended questions were also asked and are incorporated within the Conclusions section. The finite response data are summarized in a table by each course, by all finance and accounting courses, and then by all courses. All results were then analyzed and interpreted. The results for the Week 1 and Week 12 number and percentage of survey responses are summarized below in Table 1.

      Courses/Subject Matter

      Week 1

      Week 1

      Week 12

      Week 12









      TMAN 625







      PMAN 650







      PMAN 639





















      Table 1. Summary of respondents

      Survey Results

      Week 1 Responses

      The Week 1 survey included the following questions for students to answer:

      Question 1: What level of quantitative skills do you think are a necessary requirement for an adequate graduate education?

      Question 2: Currently, at what level would you rate your own quantitative skills?

      Table 2 below shows that for Question 1, clearly a majority of the students felt that they were well or very well prepared for the class in question. According to the responses to Question 2 in Table 2, on average, students believed that their quantitative skills were good. Students taking the finance and accounting courses (TMAN 625 and PMAN 650) felt that their quantitative skills were better than those taking a course that required the use of standard statistical tests (PMAN 639). TMAN 625 is part of the core degree program and is taken among the first courses. PMAN 650 is part of the specialization and is taken later in the students academic career. For most students, it is the second course in finance and accounting.

      More than 59% of the students had already taken a course in accounting, finance, or statistics, mostly in undergraduate school, while 21% had taken such a course in graduate school. That left 18% with no preparation in finance, accounting, or statistics. Another question addressed the knowledge the students acquired and the grades they secured in taking a prior course in accounting, finance, or statistics. As many as 84% of the students who took such a course reported excellent or passing grades.

      After reviewing the syllabus, 95% of the students felt they would pass the class based upon their current knowledge, and 60% indicated that they would not consider taking a preparatory course if offered.










      PMAN 639







      PMAN 650







      TMAN 625







      All Finance/Accounting














      Table 2. Week 1 survey results, in which students rated the level of quantitative skills needed and a self-assessment of their own quantitative skills

      Week 12 Responses

      At the completion of the course, the students concluded that they did very well (35%) or reasonably well (57%). Of all the resources made available to the students, the generic information (examples, definitions, cases) was the most utilized, followed by tutorials and software packages.

      The final questionnaire included these two questions:

      Question 4: If you utilized the resources and information posted in the course content section, did it improve your confidence in your ability to do the quantitative assignments?

      Question 5: If you utilized the resources and information posted in the course content section, did you find it helpful in your completing the actual quantitative assignments?

      According to the responses in Table 3, students reported a dramatic improvement in their confidence and ability to perform the quantitative assignments. It should be noted that improvement in confidence is probably as valuable as improvements in skills and performance. The students who took advantage of the posted material reported that it was useful. This result encourages us to look for more varied, extensive, and easier-to-use resources for the future.

      Improve Confidence

      Helpful in Assignments



      Did Not Use


      Yes, but not worth the additional work


      Did Not Use

      PMAN 639








      PMAN 650








      TMAN 625








      Finance / Accounting
















      Table 3. Week 12 survey results, in which students rated their confidence levels and the helpfulness of the interventions


      From the students perspective, the identified interventions provided benefit and value to those who took advantage of the resources. Given this benefit, students wanted more examples from the professor and from the textbooks. In the open-ended survey questions, some students stated that an in-class mentor would be beneficial. The conclusion derived from this information and other open-ended comments is that even when students feel confident in their ability to perform the calculations, they often need help in determining when to use specific formulas. Although the math itself was an issue at times, knowing when to use the formulas and which formula to use for solving different problems was of greater concern. Tutorials supplemented by videos showing step-by-step usage of the formulas may be of great benefit. The videos should not be stand-alone but be put into context via incorporation into real-life scenarios.

      One potential follow-up to this research could be to correlate the student results to actual performance outcomes or grades. This would provide an indication of what effect the expression of student confidence has on performance. In the absence of this correlation, it was concluded that given the low cost and scalability, this solution was practical and effective based upon student confidence and their self-assessments.


      Aud S., Hussar W., Kena G., Bianco, K., Frohlich, L., Kemp, J., Tahan, K. (2011). The condition of education 2011 (NCES 2011-033). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

      Bahls, P., (2009). Math and metaphor: Using poetry to teach college mathematics. The WAC Journal. 75-90.

      Fike, D.S., R. Fike. (2008). Predictors of first-year student retention in the community college. Community College Review 36(2), 68-88.

      Taylor, J., Galligan, L., (2006). Mathematics for maths anxious tertiary students: Integrating the cognitive and affective domains using interactive multimedia. Literacy Numeracy Studies, 15(1), 23-43.

      Pajares, F., Miller., M.D. (1995). Mathematics self-efficacy and mathematics performances: The need for specificity of assessment. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42(2), 190-198

      Planty, M., Hussar W., Snyder, T., Provasnik, S., Kena, G., Dinkes, R., KewalRamani, A., Kemp, J. (2008). The Condition of Education 2008 (NCES 2008-031). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

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      (NOTE: This researchhas been supported by a UMUC Faculty Research Grant)


      One of the decisions that professors of adult students immediately face is: How should your students address you? And how should you address them? Do you want to be on a first-name basis with your students, or do you prefer that they use an honorific, such as Dr. or Ms. or Professor? While this question may seem like a minor one, the way in which students and professors refer to each other is crucial to creating a strong classroom environmenton campus or onlinein which collegial relationships are transparent and in which the lines of authority are clearly drawn.

      As someone who studies language and communication, I have been intrigued by these and related questions throughout my long teaching career. Many professors grapple with this issue: While you want to assert your authority and your expertise as a professor, you dont want to seem condescendingparticularly to adult studentsby according yourself with a title (albeit one that you have earned).

      With adult students, you would think that a first-name basis would be fine. We are all adults, after all, and many adult students have had more life experience than their professors have had. But I am always surprised to find that many students are not comfortable when they are on a first-name basis with the professor. I recently discovered an explanation for their discomfort by analyzing the discussion board conversations in my online classroom using a theoretical framework from studies of language in social interaction.

      This short article offers a brief summary of facework as an identity resource, applying its concepts to the discussions in my capstone class to explain student behavior associated with the use of honorifics in student-faculty interaction.

      Face and Identity

      man-woman-talking-silhouetteIdentity is complex; it is formed via symbolic communication with others within and across diverse contexts, cultures, and channels. Establishing identity helps individuals interpret experience and create meaning. While individuals display specific aspects of identity in specific social situations, the framing of individual identity in a situation is embedded within and dependent upon discourse practices (Fairclough 2001; De Fina, et al., 2006). Thus, the drive to create, construct, enact, and display identity may be understood as the basis for the discursive choices that individuals make as they interact.

      In the online university classroom, negotiating and enacting identity via symbolic communication is typically limited to different forms of writing, much of it on the discussion board. The social practice of writing in the online discussion frames both the ways in which individuals present themselves as well as the ways in which they help to define and build the online class community (and community identity). Because the class discussion board invites students to negotiate and enact complex identities, it constitutes a rich environment in which to observe, analyze, and understand the ways in which students implement particular discourse strategies that help them both to display their own identities and to engage with the enacted identities of others.

      A central way in which individuals manage identity in discourse is through the concept of face and the discourse actions of facework. Face may be viewed as our public self-image; it is the view of ourselves that we present to others and that we and they act upon in specific contexts (see Goffman, 1959; Brown Levinson, 1987; Ting-Toomey, 2004; Domenici Littlejohn, 2006). Face is mutable, fluid, and variable. In given situations, face accrues and evolves as community members enhance concepts of individual and collective face over time.

      In a classroom group, students conduct facework to establish, honor, and affirm the positive values of both the individual face and the group facein this case, the face of students in a particular class or major. People use facework to enhance their own faces and to respond to the facework of other individuals with supportive or non-supportive facework strategies.

      All individuals have two general face needs that appear to conflict: (1) independence, or the need to operate autonomously, unimpeded by others; and (2) involvement, the need to be seen as connected to a group, an identity, or an idea. As individuals use facework strategies to enact and display identity, they are constantly negotiating these two needs (Scollon, et al., 2012).

      All communication presents potential risks or threats to face. Individuals typically draw on one of two types of culture-driven discourse strategies to address these threats: solidarity strategies and deference strategies. Individuals can express solidarity in conversations by claiming common ground and by expressing agreement with the speaker. Individuals can express deference by hedging or apologizing, by flattering, and by using honorifics (or formal titles of address such as Dr. or Professor).

      An individuals selection of discourse strategies in a particular situation is also informed and constrained by perceptions of power and social distance. When there are asymmetrical social relations between individuals, one person may talk down to the other person, who may be expected to reciprocate by talking up to the other, depending on the context.

      As communication acts and relations continue, individuals may engage in preventive facework designed to protect from threats to self-face or group-face, or they may engage in restorative facework designed to rebuild face after an attack. The Western concept of saving face is related to these goals.

      So how does this framework help us understand what happens in the online classroom when students and professor address each other?

      Honoring the Face of the Professor

      Patterns of facework strategies are reflected in and influenced by student perceptions of power and authority in the online classroom. Students facework is constrained by these perceptions. In order to understand how this happens, I analyzed the facework of students in their discussion board postings in my recent online class, COMM 495: Senior Seminar in Communication Studies.

      When I teach face-to-face, I typically introduce myself to the class with something like: Hi, everyone. My name is Dr. Linda Di Desidero. Feel free to call me Linda, or Dr. Di, or Professorwhatever makes you feel comfortable. This puts the ball squarely in the students court: Each student can make the choice, and I wont have to do it myself. However, when I teach online, its up to me to assert how I would like to be addressed.

      The given authority in this specific class was the professor (me). I saw these senior scholars as competent and talented adults, and I did not want to emphasize my authority and the social distance between us by using my title. I consistently used my first name (Linda) in signing the class announcements and in signing my individual discussion board posts to students.

      I was rather perplexed to see that most students continued to address me as Dr. Di Desidero or Professor persistently throughout the course. I had anticipated that, eventually, they would feel a reduced social distance between us and become comfortable enough to address me by my first name. Almost none of them did.

      The persistence of most students in using a term of deference with me has led me to doubt my own facework strategy of using my first name with them. While my facework in this regardthe decision to use my first name and not my titlehad been grounded in a motivation to reduce distance and threat to face as well as to create an atmosphere that would be inviting to senior scholars in a seminar setting, it did not work that way at all. In fact, my own facework had the opposite effect: I only succeeded in presenting continued threats to face by persisting in using my own first name and in resisting their attempts to defer to me.

      Some students seemed unfazed by my ill-advised attempts to reduce social distance, and they simply addressed me by my title throughout the course, in all discussions. But some students were clearly confused by how best to honor my facethat is, they did not know if they should continue to defer to me, or if they should honor my obvious breach of power distance and begin to address me by my first name, even though it seemed to flout some of the cultural constraints against this behavior. Not wanting to insult me by using my first name, and not wanting to insult me by not behaving as I clearly wanted them to, these students stopped using a form of address with me altogether. They did not address me by name in discussion board postings or in other messages at all.

      Several students employed additional facework strategies to honor the face of the professor in their posts. In addition to using my title, some students displayed deference by acknowledging my need for autonomy. For example, Sarah posted Thank you for your time following every post that she made to me. She did not post such a message to her peers.


      What does this brief analysis mean for adult education? The implications here are that the undergraduate adult students in this particular capstone course preferred to behave within the traditional boundaries delineated by a cultural recognition of the professors authority within the classroom. My experience in this class leads me to understand that professors may need to provide students with the comfort of a certain degree of social distance. Professors can cooperate with their students in facework that allows the students to defer to the professors authority. A students refusal to engage with a professor on a first-name basis should not be viewed as defiance, but rather as a sign of respect and honor.

      Selected References

      Brown, P., Levinson, S. (1987).Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

      De Fina, A., Schriffrin, D., Bamberg, M. (2006).Discourse and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

      Domenici, K., Littlejohn, S.W. (2006).Facework: Bridging theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

      Fairclough, N. (2001).Language and power. Harlow, UK: Pearson Limited.

      Fowler, R., Hodge, B., Kress, G., Trew, T. (1979).Language and control. London, UK: Routledge Kegan Paul.

      Fowler, R., Kress, G. (1979). Critical linguistics.In R. Fowler, et al., Language and control (pp. 185-213). London, UK: Routledge Kegan Paul.

      Foucault, M ([1978] 1990).The history of sexuality, vol. 1.(R. Hurley, Trans.). New York, NY: Vintage.

      Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York, NY: Anchor/Doubleday.

      Goffman. E. (1967).Interaction ritual: Essays on face-to-face behavior. New York, NY: Anchor/Doubleday.

      Lakoff, G., Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

      Maltz, D.N., Borker, R.A. (1982). A cultural approach to male-female miscommunication. In J. J. Gumperz (Ed.),Language and social identity (pp. 196-216). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

      Scollon, R., Scollon, S., Jones, R. (2012).Intercultural communication: A discourse approach. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

      Ting-Toomey, S. (2004). The matrix of face: An updated face-negotiation theory. In W. Gudykunst (Ed.),Theorizing about intercultural communication (pp. 71-92). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

      Ting-Toomey, S., Kurogi, A. (1998). Facework competence in intercultural conflict: An updated face-negotiation theory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 22(2),187-225.

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      The Fall Faculty Forum, a one-day virtual event attended by 236 UMUC faculty members, was held on November 8, 2012. Sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), this event was designed to promote deeper learning and transfer of the knowledge shared at the Virtual Global Faculty Institute, which was held on July 30, 31, and August 1, 2012, and attended by 362 faculty members. The Fall Faculty Forum included seven one-hour events that were hosted via WebEx, giving faculty worldwide the opportunity to interact with the presenters and each other. Faculty were encouraged to share ways they applied the teaching techniques first taught at the institute.


      The Keynote Presentation, Making Learning Collaborative, was presented by Richard Byrne, blogger, educator, and founder of Free Technology for Teachers.

      The Undergraduate School topics were:

      • Giving Useful Feedback, presented by Susan Blankenship;
      • Designing Effective Online Discussions, presented by Betty Ring, Kim Stott, and Richard Schumaker; and a
      • Technology Showcase, presented by Liliana Meneses.

      The Graduate School topics included:

      • Building Social and Teaching Presence through the Use of Instructor-Created Videos, presented by DattaKaur Khalsa and Stella Porto;
      • Insights into Hybrid Teaching, presented by Kathryn Klose; and
      • Assessing Graduate Student Learning, presented by Mike Evanchik.

      These sessions were recorded and will be available for viewing at the CTL Web site.

      Faculty and Student Engagement

      The Fall Faculty Forum presentations emphasized using sound pedagogy with free or low-cost technologies for faculty and student engagement. Common themes across presentations included discernment and efficiency in the use of existing resources as well as tools and techniques for creating original resources that will meet course learning outcomes. Other common themes across presentations were the importance of using detailed, specific rubrics for grading both assignments and conference participation and giving students prompt feedback.

      Research Tools

      Richard Byrnes presentation stressed Web-based tools that work equally well on Windows PC and Mac computers. He gave information on new uses for common search tools, such as Googles Advanced Search feature, which allows one to search for sources from different countries and in a variety of file formats, among other options.

      Academic search engines mentioned include RefSeek, which eliminates commercial sites from search results and WolframAlpha, a computational search engine useful for mathematics and statistics. There were also citations of search engines that pull in social media results, such as Mashpedia and the Twitter search engine. Results from sites such as these could be useful in the study of social sciences and current events.

      Additionally, Mr. Byrne recommended organizational and social bookmarking tools, such as Microsoft OneNote, Dropbox, and Feedly, to aid faculty in saving time and managing all of the resources available to them.

      Engaging Students through Polling

      Polling tools can be helpful for engaging students and as a starting point for online discussions. Polls can also be useful for informally quizzing students. Tools that make it easy to set up a poll include Polldaddy, Socrative, and Poll Everywhere.

      Multimedia Tools

      The use of multimedia can have a positive impact on student engagement. During the Fall Faculty Forum, faculty and presenters discussed teaching strategies that incorporate multimedia to achieve course learning outcomes. Strategies were presented along a continuum from using free open educational resources (OERs) to the creation of original teaching materials. Faculty were encouraged to begin the process of incorporating multimedia into their classrooms in easy steps and to continue growing in their use of these tools over time.

      Audio and Video Feedback

      Giving audio and video feedback is a good way to start using multimedia. Audio files can be inserted into Microsoft Word and PowerPoint as well as Adobe PDF documents to give students feedback. Screencasting software, such as Screenr, can be used to capture images of student papers annotated with comments.

      Video Resources

      Many resources and tools exist for the use of videos in the classroom and the creation of original videos. YouTube, TeacherTube, TED, MIT TechTV, and Vimeo are popular resources for subject-matter videos that can be linked to or embedded in learning management systems.

      Jing and Animoto are popular free/low-cost online tools for creating original videos when access to high-end software, such as Captivate and Camtasia, is limited. The online tool Wevideo makes video editing easy. The Vimeo site includes a Video Schoolthat provides a variety of lessons and tutorials on how to make engaging videos, as well as some video-enhancing tools for adding or creating your own custom soundtracks.


      The Fall Faculty Forum was a productive follow-up to the Virtual Global Faculty Institute. Participants received a wealth of resources and ideas to apply to their teaching from both the presenters and each other. We encourage you to view the presentations on the CTL Web site and experiment with some of the resources that were shared during the Fall Faculty Forum.

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      When you know better, you do better.
      ― Maya Angelou

      As UMUC prepares to embark on an exciting new strategic plan with expanded goals for teaching and learning innovation, we have decided to sunset the DE Oracle @ UMUC in its current form. Although we will cease publication of the DE Oracle with this final December 2012 edition, you can continue to access the past articles, tutorials, and other resources on this site ( until June 2014. We are also working with our Information Library Services colleagues to preserve a number of historically significant articles in the permanent university archives so that faculty, administrators, and staff can reflect on UMUCs pioneering spirit, our own learning over the years, and our tremendous growth as a worldwide leader in distance education.

      When the first edition of the DE Oracle was launched in 2001 by the Graduate Schools Distance Education Coordinators, online education was still in its infancy. At that time, Christina Hannah, then-Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School (currently MBA Program Director), and Nicholas Allen, then-Provost and Chief Academic Officer (currently Provost Emeritus), recognized the critical need for cross-curricular teaching and technology support. As project champions, they played a critical leadership role in establishing the DE Oracle as the essential instructional technology resource for Graduate School program directors and faculty. Our readership grew, and the breadth of the content expanded to include tips for making the best use of UMUCs learning management systems features and external technology tools. Faculty also began authoring articles and sharing examples of successful classroom strategies with their peers in UMUCs burgeoning online teaching community. As the DE Oracle blossomed from a bimonthly e-zine to an information resource portal for faculty, we began including regular pieces from other academic support units of the university, including Information Library Services and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

      Early version of the DE Oracle

      In 2007, the DE Oracle was moved to an article management system that allowed members of the UMUC academic community to upload and submit articles directly to the e-zine for publication. From a site management perspective, this allowed the entire DE Oracle staff to easily work with all the articles from a single location. We leveraged this gain in efficiency to streamline site navigation and design, improve search engine results, and provide other improvements to the user interface. RSS feeds, ratings features, and the ability to comment directly on articles further enhanced faculty members ability to interact directly with the content.

      Current version of the DE Oracle

      After moving to UMUCs newly created Center for Support of Instruction (CSI), we expanded the scope of the DE Oracle to include topics and resources of special interest to The Undergraduate Schools stateside faculty and those teaching in Europe and Asia. And under the leadership of CSIs Director, Kathleen Puckett Ford, a new synchronous featureDE Oracle Livewas added, enabling faculty and staff who had prepared articles or tutorials the opportunity to further demonstrate and discuss their ideas with colleagues in real time using Wimba. The recorded Wimba sessions, along with the growing collection of informative articles, instructional resources, and technology tutorials, could be accessed by UMUCs worldwide faculty any time of the day or night, making the DE Oracle UMUCs one-stop shop for faculty teaching with technology.

      Throughout the years, we have strived to provide current, relevant, and interesting articles, tips, and resources that could become part of ones teaching toolkit. We kept our ears to the ground, our eyes to the clouds, and our minds and hands in the online classrooms in search of timely information to share with faculty, a number of whom debuted their own working papers here in the DE Oracle and used it as a springboard for further research in effective and engaging online instruction. Our efforts to serve UMUCs faculty community were rewarded in 2009 when the DE Oracle won two awards from the IMS Global Learning Consortium: a bronze Learning Impact award and a Best in Category for Faculty Development Network award.

      From the early days as a neat-looking Web site designed to deliver helpful content for graduate faculty to its growth as a mature, integrated resource portal and learning community showcasing our distinguished faculty members ongoing research interests across all aspects of teaching, the DE Oracle has succeeded in its mission to support effective online teaching and learning at UMUC. We have published 168 articles on 12 pedagogy subtopics, 44 articles on 10 WebTycho subtopics, 151 tutorials on 22 subtopics related to tech skills/software, and over 200 other miscellaneous resources ranging from multimedia/learning objects to information about various faculty workshops, academic awards won by UMUCs academic programs, and highlights on new approaches in specific academic programs and individual courses.

      The DE Oracle would not have been a such a success without the help of all of the CSI staff, each of whom personally wrote and/or recruited forward-thinking content for the publication several times a year.

      Deb Schroeder, the site manager, has been behind the DE Oracle since its inception. She not only led its original development but also its redesign several times over the years. Her roles included administering the various changing technologies and databases that supported the operation of the e-zine, overseeing the content submission process, and distributing each issue to all our readersin addition to providing a critical analysis/review of all content and ensuring a consistent design and layout of the publication.

      Susan Pollack served as the editor for the last five years, meticulously reviewing all articles and tutorials to ensure that each piece communicated the right message to the audience. Her editorial hats included revising grammar and punctuation, writing style and tone, and organization and flow; conducting research; verifying citations; and anticipating readers questions that authors needed to address.

      When Jack Boeve joined CSI late in 2011, he assumed the duties of assignment editor, a role previously held by our former colleague Linda Smelser. Each of them worked directly with authors to develop ideas for articles; researched potential topics and envisioned new directions and features; rigorously reviewed content for coherence and clarity; and stayed on top of everyones deadlines to ensure timely delivery of each edition.

      It has been our distinct pleasure to work with so many exceptionally knowledgeable and talented faculty and staff here at UMUC who have contributed to the the steady stream of engaging and useful content published in the DE Oracle. On behalf of the entire CSI staff, we thank you for being part of this worldwide virtual community of practice, and we look forward to collaborating with you on exciting new ventures in the months and years to come.

      Kathleen Puckett Ford, Director
      Deborah Schroeder, Site Manager
      Susan Pollack, Senior Editor
      Jack Boeve, Assignment Editor