Online Course Trailers Developed by NIU Faculty Mace Bentley

Dr. Mace Bentley, Associate Professor, Department of Geography at Northern Illinois University has developed the following movie trailers as an experiment in trying new ways to recruit more students to his classes. According to Mace,

I thought the idea of a class trailer (similar to a movie trailer) might provide a nice multimedia introduction to classes. I think it might help to access the “Net Generation” in a way engaging and motivating to them.

Take a look at the finished product!

GEOG 368: Climate Change (online)

GEOG 408/508: Tropical Environmental Hazards

Mace included a link in the YouTube descriptions to the NIU online web page where prospective students can learn more and enroll. Additionally, Mace shared:

I created these in iMovie and have used all my own materials to avoid copyright issues. It took a while to figure out how to do it, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to replicate in iMovie. The idea is to keep it short, to the point, and stimulating. I shot my videos on a Lumix GF-1 and iPhone and then downloaded directly into iMovie where I did the editing and incorporation with photos. The video portions are actually parts of vodcasts I have developed for several classes. This process takes time but can be done.

Have you ever considered creating a similar video trailer to promote your course(s)? Perhaps you’ve seen other similar video trailers online? Leave a comment with your experiences and/or links to any other similar trailers you’d recommend sharing with others!

Text Messaging in Teaching Workshop Preview

Beginning September 5, 2012, I’ll be leading a 10-day online professional development workshop on text messaging in teaching through the Sloan Consortium. Check-out a preview of the workshop and feel free to join us!

For more details or to register, visit

How to Create Google Voice Call Widget and Embed in Blackboard

Google Voice is a great service for extending the capabilities of your phone, including helpful features for educators such as a single number that rings you anywhere as well as online voicemail transcription in which messages are transcribed and delivered to your inbox.

One of the lesser-known features, Call Widgets, allows you to create an interactive widget and place on a website, allowing visitors to easily call your Google Voice number. Call Widgets can be put on any web page, and allow people to call from that web page. When somebody clicks on the widget, Google Voice calls them and connects them to you. Your number is always kept private. You can create multiple call widgets and have different settings for each of them.

Here’s an example of a Google Voice Call Widget (if you use this widget, you can leave me a voicemail at my Google Voice number)

In this screencast, I share how to create a Google Voice call widget and embed in a learning management system (in this example, I demonstrate embedding in Blackboard, but the steps would be similar for other LMS’s).

Do you use Google Voice in your teaching? Have you tried setting-up a Google Voice call widget? Feel free to leave a comment other Google Voice tips or suggestions you have to share!

Why mobile learning?

Mobile learning is seen by many as a disruptive technology. This is because it has been identified as a technology which holds great potential to transform the learning and teaching within a classroom. What follows is a mash up presented at the NSWDEC 5th biennial equity conference in 2011 which explains some of the issues.

Katy ISD — A New Vision for Mobile Learning

In 2011, Katy Independent School District, in partnership with Cisco, launched the final phase of a technology transformation. Learn how Katy ISD realized their vision for education transformation with a BYOD mobile learning strategy.