An accurate commentary on our times.

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Marcie Hans
Reflections on a give of Watermelon Pickle…and other modern verse.

I was awestruck by this poem while teaching a 7th Grade Literature class.  The kids understood the poem and made some thought-provoking comments.  One student commented on how surface thinking we are and how, every day, we miss out on the true beauty all around us.  7th Grade!

Facebook Popularity

Interesting data on social media and the American Public’s news sources from Pew Research. A majority of Americans now say they get news via social media, and half of the public has turned to these sites to learn about the 2016 presidential election. See PewResearchCenter, Social Media Update 2016,


ASU TeachOnline Blog Site

WOZ’s Blog of the Week

One of the best online teaching and learning best practices and support sites is Arizonia State University’s (ASU) TeachOnline Resources for Teaching Online.   The group includes timely, useful  information on Course Design, Tools, Tutorials, Gaming, Social Media, and a Faculty Showcase.  Of particular interest to me is the post, Integrating Technology with Bloom’s Taxonomy, Obiageli Sneed, May 9, 2016.  Sneed explains, “The purpose of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy is to inform instructors of how to use technology and digital tools to facilitate student learning experiences and outcomes.” Included is an infographic by Ron Carranza demonstrating activities with digital tools and outcomes.  Excellent!


Infographic by Ron Carranza, Arizona State University

The site is full of up-to-date tips and best practices for the online professor.  Instructional Designers will fully appreciate Marc Van Horne’s and Robert Kilman’s, Introducing the ASU Instructional Designers, infographic and outline of the tasks and talents of an instructional designer.  Spot On!


Blog Post by Marc Van Horne and  Infographic Design by Robert Kilman Arizona State University

The freshness and creativity of this site makes it this week’s WOZ Blog of the WEEK.  Outstanding job Arizona State University!

5 Digital Tips for Infusing Cultural Responsiveness in Your Course-2 


Culturally-responsive design strategies allow students to realize they are important as participants in the class community and respected as unique individuals.  Please contribute your ideas and designs for creating cultural responsive learning in your face-to-face and/or online classrooms.

Source: 5 Digital Tips for Infusing Cultural Responsiveness in Your Course 

Compress Yourself – Blast from the Past

Tag Cloud Your Resume

I was browsing through my WP site and came across this poast.  Remember when this was all the rage?  I would have my students take their resumes and paste it into a word cloud app.  I also knew colleagues who would have their students paste their essays and compositions into a cloud maker so the young authors could visualize their work.  The students would post the image with their compositions in their portfolios.  Talk about early multimodal composition!  TagCrowd is still operational.  Here’s what I look like today.


Blast From the Past Post – July 10, 2008

Recently, I received a message from my colleague, Htay Hla, Director of Information Technology at University of Arizona. Htay is a member of our Epsilen Web 2.0 group. He had put one of my posted journal articles through a tag cloud generator, Tag Crowd. He sent the generated tag cloud to me in a pdf format. I thought, “AMAZING! Could this be a tool for the classroom?” I tried it. I put my resume through the Tag Crowd. Look! It’s me, professionally compressed!

Nancy Wozniak Professional Tag Cloud

Go to the site – and catch a vision. I see it used in visual arts, economics, writing, history, biology … you name it. Try it. Let me know what you think.

5 Digital Tips for Infusing Cultural Responsiveness in Your Course 


First think, what does cultural responsiveness mean to you?   What is your definition?

Our own, personal, cultures are the essence of who we are and how we interact with others in community settings.  Our cultures, also, provide the foundations and preferences for how we learn, process information, utilize knowledge, communicate and relate to others.  The challenge for educators is developing the ability and creativity to include culturally responsive learning design and activities in our courses to foster more understanding of the ways in which each student approaches learning, relatedness, communication, and life.   Culturally mediated instruction creates an environment in which multicultural perspectives are the norm, and the learning is relevant to each student.  The learning is authentic.  When students are allowed to learn in different ways or to share viewpoints and perspectives in a given situation based on their own cultural and social experiences, students become active participants in their learning. (Nieto, 1996).  They develop self-determined, lifelong learning habits and take ownership of their learning experiences.

Culturally responsive design strategies allow students to realize they are important as participants in the class community and respected as unique individuals.  Infusing these design strategies into your online course creates a venue for the students to establish identity and create an organics learning community.  The University of Alaska Anchorage includes culturally mediated design as a major development strategy for their Robust Online Learning Program (Title III Grant) focused on General Education Requirement (GER) online courses.  The goal is to create online environments that nature and support cultural exchange and community.  One thing to remember, when designing cultural responsive activities, is that students learn best, collaboratively.  They learn effectively by discussing their ideas with one another and by participating in peer-to-peer learning activities and reviews.  Here are 5 digital tips for infusing cultural responsiveness in your course.

  1. Make the Learning Social and Safe.  Use Blogs and Microblogs.
    Create a culturally responsive learning community that organically expands as students establish their identity.  By creating a safe, engaging learning environment, students can develop mutual respect and trust for one another in a multicultural setting. The use of interactive discussion forums keeps the topics relative and current.  In this case, social media, such as blogs and microblogs is highly recommended.  Create active exchanges and presentations in VoiceThread.  Consider the tools the students use to communicate in their everyday lives.  The learning exchange and community continue long after course completion.
  2. Use ePortfolios
    Transformative reflection is the hub of integrative and culturally responsive learning and portfolios provide a rich venue for reflective practices.  The learning is authentic and develops culturally-responsive behaviors and mindfulness.  Portfolios also promote peer learning and cultural understanding.  An excellent example of a culturally responsive learning experience and reflection is VishwajaMuppa’s Writing 303 course portfolio with her personal essay and digital story.  Dr. Cynthia Davidson, Stony Brook University Writing and Rhetoric Program, includes culturally-responsive prompts with her multimodal assignments that students post as artifacts in their portfolios.
  3. Tell Us Your Story
    Digital storytelling provides an engaging way to build a culturally responsive learning environment. The creative storytelling process fortifies communication, presentation, creative and critical thinking skills.  Have students digitally tell a short, 3-minute story about themselves.  Allow them to select their own presentation technology (Buncee, Storyfy, iMovie, Flickr with ezvid, Prezi, StoryKit).   See Story Center for examples of culturally responsive digital stories at  Darren Chase, Librarian, Stony Brook University, publishes an excellent guide for Digital Storytelling and Multimodal Literacy.
  4. Gamify.  Develop Games and Simulations.
    Games and simulations bring an experiential touch to the classroom and the learner takes an active part in the learning.  Research shows that games take the learning to a deeper, more authentic level.  In his article, “Simulations”: Are The Games?, author Marc Prensky, lists a host of definitions of “simulations”, ranging from:
    1.  any synthetic or counterfeit creation,
    2.  the creation of an artificial world which approximates the real one,
    3.  something that creates the reality of the workplace (or whatever place),
    4. a mathematical or algorithmic model, combines with a set of initial conditions, that allows prediction and visualization as time unfolds.

    Prensky quotes Elliott Masie, author of Learning Rants, Raves, and Reflections,
    “You can have a game that’s not a simulation and a simulation that’s not a game, but when yu get on that does both, it’s a real kick-ass situation”

    Students can apply the learning to other areas of their academic, professional, and personal lives.  Have students collaborate in groups within interactive digital venues and design their own games to lead the class in synchronous and/or asynchronous play (Metaphors and Analogies, Word Play, Lesson Review).  A possible culturally responsive simulation involves students interviewing and introducing a classmate from a different culture or with different life experiences to others in the class using a discussion forum, class blog or portfolio.  Students reflect on the experience and what they have discovered in the forums and their personal portfolios.  It is important to emphasize that these activities are student-controlled forms of interaction.  Provide prompts, but provided the students with opportunities to design and control a significant portion of these learning experiences and exchanges.  Autonomy is key.  Make the learning their own.  See 10 Tips To Create Learning Simulations For Non-Game Designers, eLearning Industry.  Try Articulate Storyline as a simple tool for creating games and simulations.  Join the E-Learning Heroes Community.

  1. Digital Badges
    Use digital badges to credential achievements, such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, creative thinking, and teamwork. Digital badges dig deeper to realize skills and abilities that are not recognized with graded assignments.  Use badges to encourage cultural respect and to reward self-determined learning behaviors (autonomy, self-efficacy, and relatedness) and professional achievements. Include students in the design of the course badge constellation.  Encourage the students to post their badges in their LinkedIn accounts and portfolios.  Unsure? Credly provides a good starting point.

Use Peer Review Learning Strategies
Bring students into the assessment process.  Peer reviews are a learning tool that facilitates communication between students and can help students drill deeper into the concepts of a course and learn from each other.

  • Develop a project rubric that will clearly set the criteria and expectations for the learning activity. Students will use the rubric to design, complete, and review their projects.  The rubric with serve as a checklist and discussion map for peer-to-peer reviews and discussions. Set specific policies to the review exchanges and include Netiquette Rules, constructive, positive, and respectful exchange.
  • Place the students in small, collaborative learning groups using interactive features in your LMS or other technologies such as VoiceThread, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Wikispaces, Flickr, YouTube, even Facebook.  Consider building a course blog for the display and peer review of the projects. As an example, see the Media Literacy & Cyber Communications course blog for Dr.  Manny London’s and Nancy Wozniak’s Leadership course at Stony Brook University.
  • Schedule peer reviews throughout the project production process. This will make the final review comfortable and natural.  The students will be united in a community of learning.
  • Be visible. Leave positive comments in the group forums to let students know you are an active part of the exchange.
  • After the final review, have the students submit their reviews of their classmates’ projects. Format the rubric as a checklist.  Use the reviews to give added insight to your own reviews for grading purposes.

Peer reviews give depth to individual learning. The process elevates a course learning community to a community of practice and professional exchange.  These are soft skills students will use throughout their professional careers.

Using collaborative, social media tools to enhance culturally-responsive learning activities and projects fosters intrinsic, self-determined learning behaviors (autonomy, self-efficacy, and relatedness) and equips students with the professional skills necessary for transitioning into the workforce. The learning is authentic and creates an active community of practice that continues long after the course is completed.  Please share your thoughts and ideas on infusing culturally-responsive experiences in the classroom.  How do you create a culturally-responsive classroom?  What tools do you use?  We appreciate your input and contributions to this study.

Author:  Nancy Wozniak, Instructional Designer 111, AI&e, Robust Online Learning
August 1, 2016


Course Design with Multimodal Media

Changing up traditional assignments summarized on Microsoft documents with digital formats such as Prezi presentations, concept maps and infographics, digital storytelling, have be proven to enhance understanding and learning.  Multimodal learning also includes art, music, movement, and drama.  Stony Brook’s Amy Sullivan, Center for Dance, Movement, and Somatic Learning, has her students document learning and movement outcomes with smart phone videos and eportfolios.  It’s not just the Humanities and Arts that build outcome-based assessment around multimodal media learning projects.  Dr. Gary Halada, Associate Professor, Engineering Materials Science, allows students to use various media and presentation formats of their choice for their team final projects in his Disasters in Engineering course.  His students have written and performed poetry, songs, digital stories, short plays, and physical reenactments using props as they conveyed their research and conclusions on the engineering disasters of history to the class.  Share your course designs with multimodal media and resources.  Suggest tools.

Multimodal Media?  NOTE-National Council of English Teachers defines it as the integration of multiple modes of communication and expression can enhance or transform the meaning of the work beyond illustration or decoration.  What does this mean to teaching and learning?  The article summarizes thoughts at

Other Resources:
The Digital Rhetoric Collaborative is a space for shared inquiry into the range of ideas, conversations, and activities that together constitute the work of digital rhetoricians and of the computers and writing community.:

Web 2.0 Storytelling


Have you seen the article, “Web 2.0 Storytelling: Emergence of a New Genre” by
Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine?I’m working with active learning in the large lecture classrooms. It’s a challenge, since the large lecture rooms are not designed for active learning and small group discussions. Web 2.0 Storytelling…I’m thinking, “Why not?” The students have their laptops in the large lecture halls and they send IMs and emails throughout the lecture.

The article cites Web 2.0 technologies that can be used for storytelling.  Do you think the physical sciences can use storytelling techniques as well as the social sciences?  Is this a useful active learning method for the large lecture classroom, as well as the smaller classroom settings? Comment or send me a message and let me know what you think. I need your input. How would you use this technique in your classroom? I’ll post your thoughts and suggestions on the Web 2.0 blog.

Definition from article – “A story has a beginning, a middle, and a cleanly wrapped-up ending. Whether told around a campfire, read from a book, or played on a DVD, a story goes from point A to B and then C. It follows a trajectory, a Freytag Pyramid—perhaps the line of a human life or the stages of the hero’s journey. A story is told by one person or by a creative team to an audience that is usually quiet, even receptive. Or at least that’s what a story used to be, and that’s how a story used to be told. Today, with digital networks and social media, this pattern is changing. Stories now are open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable. And they are told in new ways: Web 2.0 storytelling picks up these new types of stories and runs with them, accelerating the pace of creation and participation while revealing new directions for narratives to flow.”