Game Based Learning and Serious Play Poster at Fall Academic Conference

My proposal for “Game Based Learning and Serious Play: Examining Opportunities and Trends at the Games for Change Festival, Different Games Conference and SUNY Conference on Instructional Technology”,  has been accepted as a poster session for the 2013 Empire State College Fall Academic Conference. My session is scheduled for Thursday, 10/24, from 3:30-5:15 in Win/Place/Show at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs.

Poster Abstract:

This poster is intended to report back to the faculty on information about trends, theories and practices in the use of games for education obtained through attendance at The Games for Change Festival (G4C), the Different Games Conference, and the SUNY Conference on Instructional Technology (CIT). This poster will highlight the use of games for education that relate to andragogy that were presented by industry leaders and educational researchers at these conferences.

The average age of the gaming population is quickly aligning with the average age of an Empire State College student. The majority of gamers are older than popular conception and there are roughly equal numbers of male and female gamers. Games are becoming infused in popular culture and have been the subject of several art museum exhibitions.

Opportunities exist for including game-based learning and serious play in all of the types of studies offered by Empire State College.  Game-based learning can increase student engagement and be applied to students with a variety of learning styles.

This poster will include background information on game player demographics, types of games played, a summary of current game culture and diversity issues and trends, and a discussion of how games and serious play can benefit learning and adult education.

The poster will include a list of specific games and free game authoring tools that can be used as part of course instructional activities. Sample games and game authoring tools that were featured at these conferences will be available for play and review on one or more laptops.  A web site with resource and supplemental information will be created.

SUNY CIT 2013 Diigo Ignite Session

On May 22nd, 2013, I presented an Ignite Session titled “Building Shared Knowledge with Diigo” at the SUNY Conference on Instruction Technology in Utica, N.Y. This session discussed the use of Diigo by ESC Mentor Anna Bates in her Food in American History Class.

The presentation abstract follows:

“Diigo is a social bookmarking tool whose special features allow for the collaborative creation of shared knowledge between groups with common interests. This may include faculty, students or anyone invited to the group. This presentation will highlight the features and show an example of a collaboratively created student knowledge base used in an actual course.”

The presentation and more information about Diigo are available at:


2013 Womens Studies Residency

Occupy Gender! – 2013 WOMENS STUDIES RESIDENCY (Metro Center)

On April 7, 2013,  I co-presented a Gender and Technology Workshop with Erin Young (LIC) and Jase Teoh (LIC). I spoke about Gender Issues and Video Games. This included an overview of the Gamer demographics (47% are women) and a discussion of online harassment (For one example of this issue see and concluded with an examination of salary inequities in the game development industry.

UPDATED – Fall 2012 Lunchtime Talks

All are invited to the last Fall 2012 Lunch Time Technology Talk:

Meeting times by location for all talks are:
1:00 pm Hartsdale
1:15 pm Newburgh
12:00 pm Nanuet.

Diigo – Social Bookmarking
Easy to use web page bookmark repository for text, video and pdf’s, engage students in discussion, create private work groups.

Tuesday, 11/27 – Hartsdale
Wednesday, 11/28 – Newburgh
Thursday, 11/29 – Nanuet

NOTE: The Lunchtime talk on Open Education Resources and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) was cancelled due to hurricane related issues. A discussion on MOOC’s was presented during the HVC November Center Meeting Tiara Time by Mark Lewis and Linda Treinish. Contact Mark Lewis if you would like to arrange a consultation on possible uses of MOOC’s in your studies.

Contact Mark Lewis for more information.

Fall 2012 Lunch Time Technology Talks

All are invited to the Fall 2012 Lunch Time Technology Talks:

Meeting times by location for all talks are:
1:00 pm Hartsdale
1:15 pm Newburgh
12:00 pm Nanuet.

Dropbox and other file sharing service
Web 2.0 file sharing services are useful for distributing and collecting files as well as collaborating with colleagues and facilitating student group projects.

Tuesday, 10/2 Hartsdale
Wednesday, 10/3 Newburgh
Thursday, 10/4 Nanuet

Diigo – Social Bookmarking
Easy to use web page bookmark repository for text, video and pdf’s, engage students in discussion, create private work groups.

Monday, 10/29 – Newburgh
Tuesday, 10/30 – Hartsdale
Thursday, 11/1 – Nanuet

Open Education Resources
What is new, what has changed and a discussion about recent trends with MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

Monday, 11/26 – Newburgh
Tuesday, 11/27 – Hartsdale
Thursday, 11/29 – Nanuet

Contact Mark Lewis for more information.

HVC Center Meeting FIT Updates – 8/2012

The following announcements were made at the August 28th center meeting:

SUNY Innovative Instructional Technology Grants

The faculty instructional technologists were awarded an Innovative Instructional Technology Grant from the SUNY Provosts office.

  • The project is titled “Supporting the needs of 21st Century Learners: Faculty Development with Tools of Engagement”.
  • Anyone that works at the Hudson Valley Center can participate.
  • The project involves the development of a module-based blended training program designed to introduce several types of technology tools that have been shown to increase student learning and engagement and emphasize how mentors can incorporate 21st century literacy into teaching.
  • The development of instructional materials will be conducted in the Fall 2012 semester, and the roll out will be held in Spring 2013.
  • Research using pre and post project assessments and focus groups will be compiled and analyzed and the results of this project will be presented at the SUNY CIT conference in 2013
  • Participants who complete one of the four modules in the program will be entered into a drawing to win one of several technology prizes. In addition, faculty and/or staff  who complete all of the modules will receive a certificate of completion.
  • There will be food and beverages at all face to face meetings and focus groups!

Look for additional announcements on this project during the Fall Terms.

Lunch Time Talk Topics

The lunch time talk series on technology will resume this fall, the exact dates will be confirmed in the next week.

Dropbox and other file sharing service – September
File sharing services are useful for distributing and collecting files as well as collaborating colleagues and facilitating student group projects.

Diigo – Social Bookmarking – October
Easy to use web repository for text, video and pdf’s, engage students in discussion, create private work groups.

Open Education Resources – November
What is new, what has changed and a discussion about recent trends with MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), including a first-hand description of what it is like to participate in a MOOC course.

Zotero – December
The free online reference management tool that includes integration with popular word processing programs

Elluminate is Now Collaborate

The upgrade to Angel version 8.0 also included an upgrade to Blackboard Collaborate 12 (formally called Elluminate). There is a new easier to use interface, better performance and the ability to create scheduled Collaborate sessions in any Angel study course shell, Community Groups or your Study area including student moderated sessions and archived recorded sessions. Additionally you can still request an Elluminate room independent of Angel.

See the following articles for more information:

Collaborate – How to Request a Room

Elluminate Live Web Conferencing Tool to be Upgraded to Blackboard Collaborate 12

Mobile User Group

There are now a number of center faculty and staff that have iPads, iPhones, Android phones, Nooks, and Kindles. These devices often have similar “apps” available that are useful for productivity, education and entertainment. The Mobile User Group can be a time when everyone can share how they use their mobile device and what “apps” are their favorites and have some fun.

The HVC FIT will be meeting with each location to determine interest in starting a Mobile User Group as well as the best way to facilitate group meetings.

For more information about these announcement:
Contact the HVC Faculty Instructional Technologist (FIT) Mark Lewis at

YouTube Tools

If your studies use videos from YouTube you can create a less visually cluttered viewing environment by using one of these tools listed below. Some tools can be used in Angel, while others work better for face-to-face study group meetings.

SafeShare TV

Generates an advertisement and clutter free view for any YouTube video. There are several background options, however, there is no option for switching to full screen mode.


Generates an advertisement and clutter free view that also permits a full screen mode. ViewPure has a  toolbar button which can be installed in your browser bookmarks toolbar that makes generating a an advertisement free view a simple one click operation.


QuietTube will provide an advertisement free view for YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Viddler and Vimeo. QuietTube requires the use of a toolbar button. QuietTube supports the creation of a short URL to send to students or colleagues. Note that QuietTube does not block video suggestions that appear at the end of YouTube and other videos.


TubeChop has an intuitive method for selecting part of a YouTube video. TubeChop will generate a link and an embed code. Note that the link to the edited video does contain advertisements, while the embed code does not. Useful for an edited advertisement free Angel or Commons video.


VideoANT provides the ability to annotate videos with timeline-based text annotations. The annotated videos can be linked to for viewing on the site or embedded in an Angel or Commons page. Instructors can also provide a link to students so that they can add their own annotations.

For more information or assistance using these tools, contact your center Faculty Instructional Technologist.


This past May, I attended the SUNY Conference on Instruction & Technology which is an annual meeting of faculty and technology professionals. The conference includes keynote addresses by SUNY administrators and education technology leaders, vendor exhibits and the chance to attend presentations by SUNY faculty and staff demonstrating innovative uses of instructional technology. The conference highlights below discuss several of the technologies that have possible applications within the Hudson Valley Center. & Voicethread

Michael Van Etten (Finger Lakes Community College) presented a series of talks on the technology he uses in his language classes. Two of the technologies provide ways for him to create audio/visual databases that students can use to look up an answer or to ask their own question. is a web-based application that uses a web camera to provide a simple and direct way to interact with students and add instructor “presence” to learning outside the classroom. While you can’t include text or computer screen images, you can use creative visuals such as hand written signs or diagrams or actual objects. The service is free and Vyou videos can be embedded directly into an Angel shell. Michael Van Etten’s site can be found at and his video feed is embedded above. His notes for the talk are available at:

Voicethread ( is another free web-based technology (Pro version is $60/year) that allows you to use a variety of media including images, videos, documents, and presentations in an asynchronous conversation. With VoiceThread your students can have conversations and make comments using any combination of text, a microphone, a web cam, a telephone, or uploaded audio file. Voice thread has the following features:

  • Can be embedded in Angel
  • Keep the students in Angel and use the Angel grade book, works with “pouring”
  • Has demo module for student practice
  • Can act as an interactive hub that has minimal technical requirements – useful for bringing independent study students togather
  • Recordings/comments can be played in sequence
  • It meets 501 Accessibility requirements
  • Can record audio controlled Powerpoint like presentations
  • Not a Youtube crowd – 90% use is by Education
  • IF it can be done in an Angel discussion, it can be done in a VoiceThread
  • There are privacy options including not being listed on VoiceThread main page
  • You can export an entire study thread to back up the class interactions
  • There is comment control

Access to a voice thread can be controlled (including the free account) – Van Etten’s Voicetreads for his classes are not shared, however, Penn State has an excellent site ( for learning more about using Voicethread in your studies. The following resources are excellent starting points:


Second Life

Susan Miller and Linda Smith from SUNY New Paltz had a very informative presentation on using Second Life ( for a fully online art class. Students were able to post work in a virtual gallery and conduct synchronous critiques within the virtual gallery.The instructors indicated that the online work retained sufficient information to determine the type of media and the techniques used – this allowed for a full critique of each piece. The final work was mailed to the instructors at the conclusion of the course.

Online Writing Service

Siu Ng and Tara Dolan of Schenectady County Community College talked about their experiences with using an Online Writing Service pilot that used DimDim and then later switched to Elluminate (when DimDim ceased operation). They discussed the potential problems associated with free Web 2.0 services and also talked about student perceptions that face-to-face consultations are more efficient (you can work on the entire paper). Students felt that the online environment works well for focusing on a single issue (citations, problem statements).

Avatars and Student Services

Trista Merrill and Brooke Baker of Finger Lakes Community College discussed how creating an online “Persona” called an Avatar  as the face of the writing center online has helped the eliminate stigma associated with asking for assistance. Each person staffing the online center would play the role of the Avatar to present a consistent “personality” or “character” to the students regardless of who was actually “behind the mask”. The service can be used anonymously by students to avoid any stigma and the Avatar prevents the student from possibly encountering someone that they know.

The creation of the Avatar involves making a personality definition, deciding how this “Persona” will react and answer questions and otherwise present a consistent personality. They used a student artist to design the graphic presentation,. A manual on conversational style and how to deal with issues like misuse of the service as a counseling or complaint line was developed.

Finally, there were many other presentations including several presentation by SUNY Empire State College faculty and professionals. Please contact me if you would like a complete listing of the presentations.

Steps to Creating a Commons Web Site

What is the Commons?

The Commons (  is a growing collection of web sites hosted by Empire State College that have been created using  open-source web site publishing software called WordPress. Each commons web site can be used for professional or personal (but not commercial) purposes.  Commons sites can be quickly customized and updated, literally with just a few clicks the look of your entire site can be changed. Commons sites are transportable and can be moved to other WordPress sites.

Commons Home Page Screen Shot

WordPress or Commons sites may sometimes be referred to as “blogs”. The word “blog” is a shorted version of “web log”  or to put it another way: web+log=blog. A blog is a special type of web site with “regular” publishing of news or articles and usually includes some way for readers to comment on the articles. Commons sites are very flexible and will allow you to create a traditional web site or a blog site or a combination of the two. The option for reader comments is available for every Commons page, regardless of what “type” of site has been developed.

What can you do with a commons site?

There are a variety of applications for a Commons web site that range from professional or personal web sites to text or audio/visual blogs to sites that have very specific purposes. Commons web sites provide general information, topical news or articles meant to invite discussion or commentary by readers or between the readers and the author. Commons sites be an integral part of a study or provide a service to students. Some examples are listed below:

Additional sites can be found in the Commons site directory located at:

How do you get started?

After looking over the examples and additional resources (listed below), the first step is to write a short simple plan for what you want to accomplish. The plan can be developed in two 30 minute blocks of time.

First 30 Minutes:

  1. List the top three goals or objectives, consider how your commons site will address a need that cannot be addressed by another tool or method.
  2. Describe what your site will include in general terms in about three to five paragraphs. Include descriptions of the information the site will provide or special features or functions – avoid describing visual design or how the site will look.
  3. Who is the audience? Will the site serve students, colleagues, the public? What will their expectations be for your site?

Second 30 Minutes:

  1. Review your goals/objectives and description to see if you have any new thoughts or ideas
  2. Make a Content Inventory that lists the items that you need to include on your site. The list should be specific – examples would include: “Curriculum Vitae”, “List of Studies Taught”, “Portrait Photo (self)”, “”YouTube video of ______” . Note: This is a specific list of items that you want to include on your site, you do not need  to have the fully developed or completed items at this time (such as full-text).
  3. Site Organization (Architecture) – Once you have a list of content, you can organize the content into logical groupings according to the purpose of you site by using an outline:

Outlining – Create an outline that lists all of the content inventory items, group together using different heading levels to identify categories and hierarchies. A web professional rule of thumb is to limit the total number of main categories to a range of 6 to 8 maximum.

“A good hierarchical structure for the Web is one in which information is categorized and content is only a few pages away from the main home page.” (Horton, 2000, p.33)

What if you have more than three goals? Do you need web sites for multiple studies? Would you like a blog, but feel it will detract from your professional information Commons site?

The solution may be to create more than one Commons site. However, creating and maintaining commons sites takes time, therefore creating one site at a time, each with site plan will ensure high quality results for all of your Commons sites. There is no limit to the number of sites you can have!

Working with your Faculty Instructional Technologist (FIT)

Your FIT can help answer questions as you develop your plan. Your FIT can also provide training and technical advice for the process of creating the Commons site. This may include questions related to setting up your commons account, creating a site URL (web address), helping  you to choose a theme (visual look) for your site – there are more than 100 choices, working with photographs, videos and links, and adding new content and updating the site.

The Commons and Angel

The Commons is not a replacement for Angel for several reasons including the difficulty in creating and maintaining a roster as well as FERPA related security issues. Any postings by students should be suitable for a potentially public forum and should not contain personal or confidential information.

Getting on the Commons

To create your commons site you will need to:

  1. Log In (follow instructions carefully)
  2. Click on the Create a Site Link
  3. Watch the tutorial videos or schedule an introductory session with your FIT

The Commons is very flexible and keeps an archive of all versions of a page – if you make a mistake, you can roll-back to a previous version. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Additional information and resources:

Commons Site Policy and Acceptable Use Guide

Blogging in Higher Education – AT Blog article


Horton, S. (2000). Web Teaching Guide: A Practical approach to creating course web sites.  New Haven: Yale University Press.