Lubkin and Screen ITEL Project Explores a Flipped Model for the ESL Classroom

Jennifer Lubkin and Andrew Screen have been busy implementing an ITEL project that explores the flipped classroom model in an ESL setting.  In the most recent issue of The Prospect, which can be viewed here, CNDLS highlighted Lubkin’s and Screen’s work; they received Level II funding from the first round of ITEL to flip their ESL classroom at the Center for Language Education and Development (CLED). They devoted last semester to a flipped model for their English grammar class.  Their reason for flipping the class stemmed from a full curriculum and the amount of class time that was devoted to grammar explanations; to increase time for conversational practice and grammar exercises and to provide immediate teacher feedback, Screen and Lubkin moved grammar explanations to an interactive online format using the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) platform.

Last month, before the end of classes, Screen and Lubkin had gone through two units with OLI.  At the mid-semester, students provided positive feedback on the use of OLI.  There was also more student participation in the second unit OLI flip as opposed to the first.  Going forward, Screen and Lubkin hope to develop further student “buy in” so that their students understand why a flipped model is beneficial to their learning.  Likewise, Screen and Lubkin hope to continue to navigate the challenge of teaching their students how to think about, rather than simply memorize, English grammar conventions.

Screen and Lubkin plan to devote this semester to analyzing data from the fall semester’s flipped model to see where improvements in design and instruction (e.g. guiding students’ self-pacing) can be made.

For more information about the CLED Flipped Grammar Project, visit:

Kaltman ITEL Project Creates Simulations for Patient Communication

Professor Stacey Kaltman of the Psychiatry Department has been implementing a first-round ITEL project on Enhancing Teaching in Physician-Patient Communication to prepare students for the OSCE, a clinical examination that all medical students must take. After noticing the limitations in current traditional teaching approaches, Professor Kaltman identified online simulations as a strategy to teach both basic and complex communication skills to students.

As of right now, Professor Kaltman and her team, with the support of CNDLS, have nearly finished the first of three online simulations.  This first simulation uses Articulate software to teach students how to open an interview with a patient and gather medical history.  The screenshot below illustrates what the simulation looks like in practice.

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Professor Kaltman cited the storyboarding as the primary challenge of this first simulation because it had to be transferrable to the branching software program.  In the late fall, the actress for the first simulation, Amanda Vacharat, filmed her parts; this simulation is now in the formative testing phase. 

The other two simulations will hopefully be completed by this spring or summer. Once students prepare for the OSCE by using the simulations, Professor Kaltman will compare their examination results against those of students who did not use the simulations; she hopes to discover a positive correlation between the online simulations and OSCE scores. The project promises to have exciting implications for the Georgetown Medical School and the larger Georgetown community.

For more information about Enhancing Teaching in Physician-Patient Communication, please visit Professor Kaltman’s ITEL blog:

What’s New in WordPress 3.8

As of January 7th, you may have noticed a few new things on your Georgetown blog’s dashboard. Most of the changes are visual: a new color scheme and simplified administration page offer a cleaner look. If you’ve never used WordPress on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll definitely want to try it out. This upgrade has made it easier than ever to manage your blogs from any device.

Also, please note that you now have a limited number of attempts to login to your blog. We have added this feature for increased security.


If you’d like to know more, see the WordPress team’s blog right here.

As always, please contact us at if you have any questions!


Introducing the Latest CNDLS Innovation: SCORMie

Over the course of the semester, CNDLS has been supporting the 28 faculty projects that were funded during the first funding round of the Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning (ITEL). As is often the case at CNDLS, one innovation engenders another.  For example, Linguistics Professor Jeffrey Connor-Linton’s Level II ITEL project inspired Assistant Director of Research and Development Bill Garr and Assistant Director for Web Projects Rob Pongsajapan to create an app, SCORMie, that has far-reaching potential for educators and students in the larger community.

Professor Connor-Linton’s first-round ITEL project for his Introduction to Language class relied on a flipped classroom model to move some knowledge-building activities outside of the classroom.  The Linguistics team used Adobe Captivate for outside lectures so that students could try out their learning and get feedback as they went through the material.  In theory, the data from students’ interaction with Adobe Captivate modules would be sent to the instructors to inform their teaching during the next class session; this strategy is known as Just-in-Time Teaching.  However, during early meetings with the Linguistics ITEL team, Bill noticed that Adobe Captivate was not supporting the team’s needs because the Blackboard Grade Center was not providing the kinds of data instructors needed.  Specifically, instructors received data regarding how students fared on an entire assignment, but they could not see which parts of an assignment were easy or difficult for students.

To troubleshoot, Bill contacted Blackboard to inquire about getting raw data dumps since he knew that Adobe Captivate files used SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference) to engage with Blackboard; this meant that a lot of data was made available through the Blackboard user interface. Long story short, Bill quickly realized that the solution to the Linguistic team’s needs would be more cost effective if he modified the javascript himself: “We kept trying to think of another way, when it occurred to me that the SCORM code was just some javascript that essentially we were providing, in that it got installed, along with the Captivate file, into the hosting Blackboard page. If we modified that javascript, we could also send the complete data to our own application on our own server, and then we could display it however the faculty needed it, for free.”

Creating this free solution initially proved challenging for Bill as he tried to ensure secure communication.  He likened the experience to writing a virus with one exception: “The hard part, getting the virus into a server’s code, was being done for me, every time one of our faculty uploaded a SCORM package with our modified javascript.”  After discovering a solution that delivered data to CNDLS’s server, Garr then asked Rob to make a Django Web app that would parse the data and convert it into manageable database tables. After collaborating on the database design, Rob created a beautiful interface, SCORMie, that is easy to understand.

SCORMie is currently a mature system that supports Adobe Captivate for the Linguistics ITEL project.  The Physics “Filling the Gaps” ITEL project also uses SCORMie with Articulate Storyline content.  SCORMie has streamlined data collection for both teams: instructors simply paste a script into their programs’ installation files and then publish and post as they normally would to Blackboard.  While the Physics project does not yet have enough content online to get data from faculty and students, the Linguistics team has enthusiastically noted the success of SCORMie, which has fostered better-informed teaching and supported student learning.

Bill notes that the next step for SCORMie involves the creation of a system whereby an interested faculty member can get his or her own SCORMie app, with a script that points the data to that app on the Web. Once support materials have been standardized in the near future, CNDLS hopes to announce SCORMie as a tool to facilitate Action Research about teaching methods and Just-in-Time Teaching.

Stay tuned for this exciting app launch!

For more information about the Linguistics and Physics projects, visit:,,


Biology Professor Anne Rosenwald Awarded with Microbiology Residency

CNDLS would like to congratulate Georgetown professor Anne Rosenwald (Biology) for a recent recognition she received for her dedication to teaching. In September 2013, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) selected Rosenwald as one of nineteen biologists nationwide to participate in a one-year residency supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

During her year in the ASM-NSF Biology Scholars Program Assessment Residency, Rosenwald will focus on how to improve undergraduate biology education. Dr. Rosenwald is already familiar with this mission, as evidenced by her work with the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT) and the Genome Education Partnership (GEP).  Moreover, her work has been featured on the CNDLS Teaching Commons as a model for teaching and learning; Dr. Rosenwald successfully brings cutting-edge research techniques to undergraduates and fosters the development of her students’ communication skills. By engaging her students in a process of scientific learning that is both skills- and content-based, Dr. Rosenwald provides them with an enduring foundation in the sciences that is useful whether they pursue careers in the field or not.

Dr. Rosenwald views the residency as an opportunity to reflect on and refine her pedagogical approach; she is confident the program will assist her in enhancing classroom assessment tools and measurable learning outcomes.  In addition to attending an intensive Measuring Student Learning Institute in DC, she will have her own teacher—a mentor who was a former participant in the program.

Together, the experiences of the coming year will have a positive trickle-down effect for student learning on campus, for Dr. Rosenwald is an involved faculty member and integral part of Georgetown.  In addition to her role as a professor in the Biology Department, Dr. Rosenwald is Co-Director for Georgetown University’s Biology of Global Health major, an adjunct assistant professor at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and an avid researcher of cell biology.

Once again, CNDLS wishes to congratulate Dr. Rosenwald on her residency, her exemplary teaching, and her service to her students and the larger community of Georgetown.


What’s New and What’s Next from Blackboard

Happy Blackboard Day!


Wednesday, September 25th was Blackboard Day at Georgetown University. Representatives from Blackboard were here to talk about Blackboard’s new features for building content, analyzing student performance, and encouraging student engagement. Workshops ran throughout the day to introduce faculty to these new and improved tools and to provide some insider tips as to how they might best be applied.

Don’t worry if you couldn’t be there — we have the highlights for you below.

What’s New (and available at GU)

● Professors can now create “Post First” discussion boards. This means that students will be required to submit their own post before being able to read posts by their classmates.

● Improvements to the inline assignment grading system allow instructors to view and annotate student-submitted assignments within the web browser.

● The new Calendar allows instructors to filter their calendar by course and syncs due dates entered within the course to the dates in calendar.

Content Editing additions include full-frame editing and improved copy-and-paste capabilities from word-processing applications.

Video Everywhere, another new feature in the content editor, lets users record and embed video easily within Blackboard. Since the videos are stored and managed through YouTube, they do not count against Blackboard course quota.

Test item analysis allows instructors to create a statistical report on overall test performance and individual test questions, which helps to measure the effectiveness of test questions.

● The enhanced fill-in-the-blank test question with pattern match logic enables more flexibility. Instructors can set up correct answers to match exactly, contain part of the correct answer, or match a specific pattern (chosen by them).

● Students and instructors can both use the Social Learning features from Blackboard to create online study groups, work on group projects, and send messages to others in their class. Social Learning Spaces, which continue after a course has ended, provide students with a “lightweight” way of engaging with others students in their courses or with similar interests.

What’s Ahead

These upcoming features are still in development. They are not currently available and may change significantly before they are released.

Improved Date Management will make adjusting individual dates easier and also allow the instructor to change many dates at once (as in the case of a cancelled class which changes the entire semester’s schedule).

● A better Student Preview will let instructors see Blackboard the way their students do.

● Further improvements to Student Data for tests and quizzes are in the works. Instructors will be able to access more detailed information about student activity and performance.

Group Management changes will make it easier to see if a student is in a group or which groups a student is in.

Drag and Drop will make content creation easier.

Attendance Tracking will allow instructors to easily maintain class attendance and in a later release the option of allowing students to “check-in” on their mobile device will be implemented.

● Changes to Achievement and Badge Earning can make evidence of learning portable. Instructors will be able to set up an achievement award for completing certain course tasks, which can then be displayed within Blackboard or linked to on electronic portfolios.

● The new Grading system will include a new gradebook with continuous scroll, auto fill for the search bar, improved point management, and a mobile grading app.

Throughout the day, Blackboard reps welcomed Georgetown faculty feedback regarding their product and encourage more Georgetown faculty involvement in shaping future product enhancements.

For additional resources and support in using Blackboard, please visit the Blackboard Support site.

Adam Rothman’s History Students Map the Underground Railroad

In this post, CNDLS Graduate Associate Caitlin O’Leary reports on a mapping project conceptualized by Professor Adam Rothman (History) that deepened engagement in his history class.

Last spring, Professor Adam Rothman, an Associate Professor in Georgetown’s History Department, decided to teach History 286: Slavery in North America a little bit differently than usual. Professor Rothman consulted with Susan Pennestri, an instructional technologist at CNDLS, to bring the nineteenth-century content of his class to life for his twenty-first-century students by using GIS tools: he asked students to translate stories from an 1872 memoir into an interactive storyboard on Google Maps.

Professor Rothman used William Still’s memoir as a primary source in his class to complement secondary source readings. Still, who was a clerk in the office of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia, encountered hundreds of runaway slaves through his work as a conductor of the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, Still recorded the stories of the runaway slaves and published his memoir.

Professor Rothman assigned each student a few stories to analyze with the goal of determining the origin of each runaway’s journey. The students then plotted these points on the Google Map and annotated each marker with a summary of the slave’s story, as well as a link to the primary source. After the completion of the class map, students participated in a class discussion and wrote reflections about their findings.

Professor Rothman’s Google Maps project was successful because he relied on the creativity and technological facility of his students to transform a familiar tool into a meaningful, engaging learning experience. Ultimately, the GIS project enhanced students’ learning in many different ways: his students collaborated, refined their research skills, engaged in thoughtful reflection and discourse, and ultimately published their work online for a global audience.

Most significantly, Professor Rothman revivified a remote part of the Underground Railroad and allowed students to deepen their understanding of the ramifications of slavery in modern times. He literally brought slavery home to his students: many runaway slaves, who were the same age as the students in the class, began their journeys in Georgetown.

This project unified Professor Rothman’s students in their pursuit of knowledge and enabled them to see slavery in a new light; a retrospective investigation of slavery was replaced with a new perspective thanks to Google Maps. The final project can be viewed here.

To date, William Still’s Underground Railroad has been viewed over 3,600 times. Professor Rothman intends to continue mapping the Underground Railroad in future classes so that his research can reach his global audience of digital learners, who can continue their self-guided exploration of slavery.

WordPress upgraded; new privacy settings location

We’ve upgraded the WordPress installation that hosts all Georgetown Commons blogs as part of our regular summer maintenance. The location of the privacy settings—where you can set your blog to be public or private—has changed in the new version of WordPress; you’ll now want to go to Settings > Reading in the WordPress admin. The privacy settings now appear at the bottom of that page rather than on a separate Privacy page.

As always, please contact us at with any questions or concerns!

The Making of the MOOC: Georgetown joins edX with Globalization’s Winners and Losers: Challenges for Developed and Developing Countries

In this guest blog post, Globalization course teaching assistant Emily Cheung describes the exciting process of developing Georgetown’s first massive open online course (MOOC), which will launch on October 1.

96 ounces. That’s 96 ounces of coffee at every MOOC filming, with all the fixings to satisfy even the pickiest of coffee drinkers: sugars (the blue, pink, and yellow packets), milks (2% and half-and-half), wooden stirrers, and napkins to wipe up any close calls near camera equipment.

Walking into  Healy Hall, the neo-Gothic landmark that dominates the Georgetown University skyline, I see Ryan, Alfred, and Barrinton setting up the cameras and microphones. Amir connects the umbrella to the backlight as Bailey deftly tucks the wire of the lavalier behind Dr. Moran’s tie. The lights warm and shine brighter as coffee brings everyone to life. Theresa, Joselyn, Yianna, Anna, Rosie, and I sit to review our notes, discuss tasks and to-dos, and coordinate our next working meeting. Filming begins and there’s an undeniable excitement and energy in the room—our MOOC launches in only nine weeks.

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INFX523-01 – Globalization’s Winners and Losers: Challenges for Developed and Developing Countries is Georgetown University’s first MOOC, bringing together faculty and staff from Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, Gelardin New Media Center, and Lauinger Library. This course gives students an opportunity to apply classical and modern trade theory to problems associated with economic development all over the world. Readings and discussions regarding industrial policy, foreign investment and national security, and effective supply chain management are unpacked and analyzed. The class challenges students to prescribe policy responses to spread the benefits of globalization more broadly and mitigate dislocations.

Georgetown’s partnership with edX is simply another way the University’s actions reflect its mission to educate and engage with the global community on important issues and problems. Following Georgetown’s long-standing tradition of quality education combined with new technologies and innovation, INFX523-01 engages global learners with problems Dr. Moran and his colleagues investigate and wrestle with everyday at Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

 This fall, pour yourself a cup of coffee and join us on this unprecedented adventure together.

“Big Data: Educating the Next Generation” recap

In recent years, the use of big data has been fraught with debates and discussions about privacy and potential usages. Not much has been said about education and Big Data, that is, teaching coming and current workforce participants how to analyze big data and manage data teams. On Wednesday, April 3, former TLT fellow Betsy Sigman (MSB), brought together students, educators and industry representatives to talk about the challenges and future needs of education in big data.

Big data is transforming society in many ways. It has implications for changes in personal and private behavior to public and social dynamics. Keynote speaker Vivek Kundra, the first Chief Information Officer of the United States, talked about using big data to encourage government transparency and efficiency as well as promoting civic engagement. He also talked about how big data translates into opportunities for entrepreneurs around the world, even in recovering economies like Haiti. In terms of jobs, projected numbers for data analysts and managers of big data is in the billions for the next couple of years in the US alone. These changes demand more educated consumers of data, big data analysts, managers and leaders in all disciplines.

Provost Robert Groves moderated the panel, which was attended by the following participants: Satish Lalchand, Director, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, Steven Miller, Program Director, IBM Information Management Practitioner Marketing, Lisa Singh, Associate Professor, Georgetown’s Department of Computer Science, and Frank Stein, Director, IBM Analytics Solutions Center. Provost Groves asked the panel what they thought should be done in higher education to prepare new generations to become users of big data. The participants provided a range of answers: Higher education institutions could make a requirement of all juniors to take an Analytics Literacy class and then for seniors a data analytics course within their major. Alternatively, universities and colleges can incorporate data analytics in every field as a tool to manage the trend toward a more quantitative world. Industry experience would be necessary for the learning experience whether that be through internships or collaborations with local businesses to analyze data and inform business decisions in real-life case studies.

What types of skills are required by data analysts/ what skills should be taught at the university level? Provost Groves started with “skepticism.” Students of big data should be thoughtful consumers and analysts of data quality, which means thinking critically about what statistics accurately represent and not jumping to conclusions. The panel also mentioned that graduates must be prepared to keep abreast of new developments and technologies in the rapidly growing field. Most importantly, they must be prepared to ask the right questions.