What People Don’t See… | #hardwork #gettingitdone

Best practices for #Periscope educators and hustlers | via @bioamyb

As I’m learning this new platform, I saw an AWESOME best practices scope today. Robert Stern discussed many of these, and I added some of my own. (I haven’t been asked to see my fridge, yet)


Best practices for Periscope:

1. Choose a clean background, not distracting, not in your bathroom. If you are outside, make sure it’s not too loud. Turn off your TV or computer sound. If you have mayhem going on around you, it comes through the listeners’ headphones LOUD!

If you have no clue how you’ll use #periscope yet, you aren’t alone. Here are some cool ideas!

So, I’ve been trying periscope, the live streaming app that Twitter has integrated into their platform. I see SO MUCH POTENTIAL, and I’m excited to throw myself out there, and get started. And I see so many people with questions! As I’ve trolled around, and played with the app on my iPhone 6+, I’ve seen it done well, and I’ve seen it done…. weird. But I digress. Here’s what periscope is all about:

One of the first people I followed was a friend from an online forum, named Dave Shrein. We both are establishing ourselves in different segments of the online population, but I love what he’s doing. He is working a lot with churches, and church communications people. He is the FIRST person I saw using periscope that I said, “Hey, he is killing it! I want to do my periscopes like THAT, but in education!” So, as we geeks often do, I trolled the heck out of him. I checked out his website, and every time I see him live on periscope, I watch and interact with him.

When You Find Out You’re Already Doing it Right – Mobile Learning | #techcorrect

I was pleasantly surprised to get this infographic in my inbox today.Teachers are always delighted when they find out they are already doing something “ahead of the curve,” and that is “tech correct.” When I found out that my efforts are being hailed as “best practices,” I was thrilled.

All my web creation is done via HTML5. I never do Flash, simply because you have to be a professional to get anything done. Because HTML5 is “open source,” it’s just how I learned to create. I guess I have to thank my lucky stars I started creating websites when I did, because otherwise, if I had learned on Flash, I’d probably be married to that platform.

I’ve always been a device agnostic girl, because I consume media on so many types of devices. I have always had a smartphone, since they were created, and I’ve had every iteration of iPad there has been. I have a Kindle, I’ve had every Roku, and I have an Amazon Fire TV Stick. I’ve had all shapes and sizes of laptops, desktops, and smart TVs. And I know students do too. I want them to be able to choose what THEY want to do their work on, even if it’s not what *I* would choose to do my  work on. I can’t tell you how many professors I’ve heard say “I could never read on that tiny, little screen (about smartphones and textbooks).” Well, it’s not up to us. It’s up to students. And if students want to read on their phones – let them!

(continued after the infographic)

2015 Mobile Learning Trends Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

I already view how my students (and visitors) to my webpages flow through the system. And as I’ve grown to use better plugins, and better Membership site software, I’ve grown to better understand the consumers of my materials. The more you know, the more you can build to suit your audience. Win/win, IMHO.

I’m already using mobile responsive technology. The theme I chose for my website, Get Noticed!, is mobile responsive. Any time I click on a website, and I have to pinch the screen and pull it around to try to read, I get frustrated. It’s also a sign the infrastructure of a page hasn’t been updated in a few years.

Bite-sized? Uh, hello Seven Minute Scientist!!! I’m the perfect bite-sized chunk QUEEN!

I’m also looking to become better at using social professionally. I think many educators only think of social as students wasting time on Facebook. I see social as a way to connect students, educators, and the creators of information. The better you use social, the better connected educator you will be. One of my goals is to be known as “The most socially connected biologist in the world.” I work to make that happen every day.

The only things I’m not doing currently are augmented reality or gamification. But, I’m sure I could do those things, as the technology gets easier to use. I see both of those things as beyond my technological abilities.

How do I research and write a new lab for my college non-majors biology course?

Today I’m writing about carbon footprints, which is very appropriate, considering it is Earth Day! I think it’s important to recognize how someone like me (a curriculum and instruction specialist, who writes labs for non-majors) goes through their process.

What's Your Carbon Footprint-


First, I am not starting from scratch. I have a lab I’ve been using, but it needs changed out for several reasons. One is that the website we were using was “questionable” about it’s authenticity. It was www.myfootprint.org. When we were doing the quiz, it was understood that the quiz originated from BP (British Petroleum, an oil and gas company). Because it was a “.org” we thought it was a legit quiz. Then, two semesters ago, the Carbon Footprint Quiz changed to a pay model. I couldn’t justify making my students PAY an oil and gas company for their Carbon Footprint Quiz. I kept looking back at the quiz, and the “Center for Sustainable Economy,” and I’m somewhat horrified by what the website has become. It has appears to have morphed into a lobbying group, that is not about sustainable resources, but about litigating for the economy. I could be wrong, but that is how it appears.

Did I Just Write All That For Nothing??? Recovering Lost Blog Posts

I spent all morning, writing an article for my website. I used several different websites as sources, hyper-linking them, and making the article flow. I had begun the article last night, however, and when I went to publish it – I got the WordPress kiss of death. “Failure to Import. Do you want to try again?” Click on it, and post is GONE! Looked through “All Posts” and the draft is the one I started last night. Are all my words… lost?

Recovering Lost Posts

Thankfully, no.

Of course, I had my moment of panic. Losing blog posts is something that has happened to me before. I had vowed never to write another post directly in the WordPress editor, but of course, I had forgotten to do this. I should be writing in Google Docs, where the changes are saved as long as the internet is connected. But if you’ve lost a blog post, what can you do?

At first, I thought I was doomed. This article, WordPress Failure notice and entire days data lost, seemed to be my exact problem, and the conclusion was, “You can ask your host to try and recover the page, but it sounds like it wasn’t even saved in the database, so it’s gone for good.” Oh no! I figured I was out of luck, and gave up for about two hours. Then I started thinking, “Amy, you only read one article. Try a few others.”

So next, I found this article, WordPress: Recovering a lost blog post or page. I decided to try to recover the post from the trash. It could be hanging out in there. I actually hadn’t known there WAS a trash, in WordPress, so I went searching. As I looked for the trash, I found a draft post entry. When I clicked on it – MAGICAL!!!! I found it!!!

My words of wisdom here? Always start creation of articles in Google Docs. If you don’t do that, because you like the WordPress editor (which I do, because I can save drafts of articles I don’t want to publish yet), then hit save often. If you do lose an article, then try several ways of finding it, before you give up. Googling your exact problem, and looking at several solutions, is often better than starting from scratch. But if you do start from scratch, you already have the research in your brain. Re-creation is always easier than original creation.

Good Luck! If you’ve ever had this problem, I’d love to hear how you fixed it, in the comments below.

Are Online Classes the Kiss of Death for Struggling Students? | #techcorrect #OnlineEd

When you hear about online courses, as a faculty member, one might think “Online courses are not as good as in-person courses.” I can certainly understand why faculty feel this way – online courses have the reputation as being taught by less-than-qualified adjuncts, being boring, having students enroll that have less skills than a “normal” student, and are just videos and discussion forums. Online courses have traditionally been taught by for-profit schools, which are not really education first – they are profit first. For-profit schools are just doing online in as cheap a manner as possible – they take videos of what would typically be the lecture portion of a class, slap it in a forum, and call it a class. There is no curriculum, just a traditional course video taped.


Online Learning

The New York Times featured an article about online colleges, “The Trouble With Online Colleges.” Note that this is about online colleges as a whole, not online courses offered by traditional schools. In the article, they describe the HUGE attrition rates – up to 90% – and that these colleges typically target struggling and disadvantaged students, who need personal interaction with professors. It’s easy to see why these online courses fail. They are just traditional courses, with all human interaction removed. Cheap, and completely ineffective.

Is Using Technology as an Educator a MUST?

When I began teaching, our district barely had a website. Over the years, from 2001 until now, I’ve gone from using the district website platform, to Google Sites, to the free platform Weebly, to a self-hosted WordPress with a custom theme.

Each iteration has allowed my students to have more interaction with me, and with my materials. At first, it was from their home computers, and then their laptops, and now, thanks to my mobile responsive website, on their smartphones.

Not only do I have this website, I have developed a custom website to go along with my custom lab manual that I wrote. Big Picture Biology is getting almost 5000 hits A DAY, from my students. They access all the class videos, terms, labs, supplementary info, and even custom flashcards! They do this all from their phones!

Why do I do all this? I believe the infographic makes my point!

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Seven Ways to Teach Students Organization Skills Infographic

Why I blog – and why EVERY educator should!

For seven years, I’ve been the only instructor of my course.

In some ways, it’s a blessing. I am free to create content, choose the curriculum, and experiment with biology labs with my 640 non-majors Biology students.


But it has also been a lonely road. I’m in a completely different building than the rest of the Biology department at my university. So I feel left out of the Biology community at my school. The only time I interact with my colleagues is when we have an occasional meeting (maybe once a year) or holiday party (we had a Christmas luncheon – – three years ago…). Everyone is off doing their own thing. Amazing things. But isolated things that I don’t get to be a part of.

My situation is not unique. Many scientists have lamented about the loneliness in the profession. Academia is a notoriously lonely place – from grad school, to ABD, to being a professor. No one can rescue you from the loneliness, the disconnect, and the isolation. Only you can save you.

Scientists and educators make a lot of assumptions about how other people feel – we overthink EVERYTHING. A lot of us are introverts, preferring the comfort of books and blogs over human interaction. I always considered myself to be an extrovert – until I got to academia. Then, I became so self-conscious, as people reminded me constantly how much I don’t know. I know there is so much I don’t know. And so, as others in academia smack you down with evidence and articles, you learn to be hesitant about what you say, lest you be jeered by others.

I was starved for discussions, for the energy of the graduate classroom, and to be part of the conversation with my students, instead of talking at them.

I wish I could have introduced “new teacher Amy” to my current self.

Writing has changed my life, along with Facebook and Twitter. I don’t have to depend on the (lack of) people around me. I can connect virtually to many of the people I need.

Blogging is something I wish every teacher, grad student, professor and educator would do, and stick to regularly. It can help you cultivate great ideas, and energize you to create. I truly believe that literally EVERY educator can benefit from blogging, regardless of discipline, level, experience, or location.

Why keep a blog? Here are five main reasons:

1. Bogging helps you catalog your ideas. By creating a map of where you’ve gone each day with your thinking, researching, and creating, you can create a filing cabinet of your brain. I can simply search my site for my ideas. Between this blog, and my Evernote, I can remember everything.

2. Blogging lets you share your ideas easily. People ask questions on Twitter or Facebook, and I can refer them to articles I’ve written, or articles I’ve read. I can help people find answers they may not have found themselves. Rather than digging through old notes or textbooks, pretty much everything is easily found in my archives.

3. Blogging shows how I’ve changed over time. I simply did not write one year ago, the way I write now. I changed over the course of writing a dissertation. I changed through my Master’s degree. And I have evidence of that. I have digital archives of how my thinking has changed since about 2005, which is where my digital archives of writing start. I can look back at www.amybhollingsworth.com, www.biologywithtechnology.comhttp://amyandguppy.blogspot.com, my “Free Biology Resources” Google Site, and various other writing I have done, and I’m proud to have developed so much as a writer. My educational journey has been well worth the time and investment.

4. Blogging shares my story. If I don’t tell my story, who will? Allowing the internet to invent my narrative, or relying on others to tell people who I am and what I do is not acceptable (even when what they write is good). I have such a unique story in my educational journey, and my personal triumphs, that I have to let people know they aren’t alone! There is so much negativity surrounding education and teaching, and many of the articles I read are so critical. Those of us who are having a positive impact on education need to share our stories as well. If not us, who?

5. Blogging encourages others. I found Vicki Davis’s blog, “The Cool Cat Teacher,”  several years ago, as I was looking to develop my own website. It was one of the first teacher blogs I read. She made me realize that amazing teachers should share their stories. She gave me encouragement and equipped me with tech techniques and tools to improve my class.  Chances are you’ve been encouraged by someone who’s shared their experiences or ideas. Come full circle. Put yourself out there and give that encouragement to others. If no one published their ideas, there would be nothing to be found online. Contribute!

I hope that every educator will give it a shot. You have to start somewhere, and today can be that day! Here’s a great resource to guide you: “Start Your Teaching Blog: Resources, Advice and Examples” via Edutopia. You can start by just posting ideas. If you can write a Facebook post, you can write a blog post. It can be simple, or it can be in depth. I could write 250 words in my sleep. You can too! You have ideas, so share them with the world.

Have you started a blog or website? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. I promise I’ll go leave a comment on your blog too!