How a Flipped Syllabus, Twitter and YouTube Made This Professor Teacher of the Year — from by Bruce Anderson


A few years after John Boyer began teaching world geography at Virginia Tech, a survey revealed that 58 percent of college-aged Americans could not locate Japan on a map. Sixty-nine percent could not find the United Kingdom.

Boyer raced ahead undaunted. He loved the scope and implications of his subject. “The great thing about geography is . . . everything happens somewhere,” he explains. “Geography is the somewhere.”

Boyer is now a senior instructor and researcher at Virginia Tech. He took over World Regions, an entry-level geography class, while he was working on a master’s degree nearly 20 years ago. The class then had 50 students. Now the course is offered each semester and a whopping 3,000 students take it in any given school year.

What has made it so popular? Innovative pedagogy, for starters. Boyer uses a “flipped syllabus” in which students’ final grades are based on the points they’ve earned—not lost—throughout the semester. His legendary assignments range from reviewing films to tweeting on behalf of world leaders (more on that below). Mostly, Boyer himself has made the class a rite of passage for undergraduates, who typically find him funny, passionate, and consummately engaging. Boyer even created a comic alter ego called the Plaid Avenger, who has narrated textbooks and podcasts but is now largely retired—though Boyer still sports his famous plaid jackets and drives a plaid Scion.



Given the disparity in knowledge levels as well as the disparity in what they like to do in terms of work, whether that be watching international film or writing papers, I wanted to increase the flexibility of what the students could do to achieve a grade in this class.



Tell us about the Twitter World Leaders.
You can choose to be a true, real world leader. Of course, they’re fake accounts and we make sure everyone knows you’re the fake Donald Trump or the fake Angela Merkel of Germany. Once you take on that role, you will tweet as the world leader for the entire semester, and you have to tweet two to three times a day. And it’s not silly stuff. What is the chancellor of Germany working on right now? What other world leaders is Angela Merkel meeting with? What’s going on in Germany or the EEU?




Smartwatches Deemed Least Valuable Technology in the Classroom — from by Rhea Kelly
In our second annual Teaching with Technology Survey, faculty revealed what technologies they use in the classroom, the devices they most value, what they wish for and more.


Smartwatches may be one of the hottest gadgets in the consumer market — making up nearly a third of all wearables sales this year — but the climate in the classroom is noticeably cooler for the wrist-worn devices. In our 2017 Teaching with Technology Survey, smartwatches came in dead last in the list of technologies faculty consider essential or valuable for teaching and learning. Just 9 percent of faculty called the devices “valuable” (an increase from 5 percent in 2016), and not a one deemed them “essential.” What’s more, 9 percent of respondents considered smartwatches “detrimental.”

When we asked faculty what computing devices were most valuable for teaching and learning, laptops came out on top, considered “essential” by 54 percent of respondents (up from 49 percent in 2016). Workstations (defined as higher-end computers with faster processors, more RAM, more storage and dedicated graphics cards) came in second, followed by all-in-one computers, traditional desktops and detachable tablets. (The lineup was similar last year.)




7 years after Steve Jobs waged war on Flash, it’s officially dying – from by Kif Leswing


Adobe is killing Flash, the software that millions used in the early 2000s to play web games and watch video in their web browsers.

The company announced the software was “end-of-life” in a blog post on Tuesday. From the blog post:

“Given this progress, and in collaboration with several of our technology partners – including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla – Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.”


Complete Guide to Virtual Reality Careers — from by Mark Metry


So you want to jump in the illustrious intricate pool of Virtual Reality?

Come on in my friend. The water is warm with confusion and camaraderie. To be honest, few people have any idea what’s going on in the industry.

VR is a brand new industry, hardly anyone has experience.

That’s a good thing for you.

Marxent Labs reports that there are 5 virtual reality jobs.
UX/UI Designers:
UX/UI Designers create roadmaps demonstrating how the app should flow and design the look and feel of the app, in order to ensure user-friendly experiences.
Unity Developers:
Specializing in Unity 3D software, Unity Developers create the foundation of the experience.
3D Modelers:
3D artists render lifelike digital imagery.
Animators bring the 3D models to life. Many 3D modelers are cross-trained in animation, which is a highly recommended combination a 3D candidate to possess.
Project Manager:
The Project Manager is responsible for communicating deadlines, budgets, requirements, roadblocks, and more between the client and the internal team.
Each project is captured and edited into clips to make showcase videos for marketing and entertainment.



Virtual Reality (VR) jobs jump in the job market — from by Karsten Strauss


One of the more vibrant, up-and-coming sectors of the tech industry these days is virtual reality. From the added dimension it brings to gaming and media consumption to the level of immersion the technology can bring to marketing, VR is expected to see a bump in the near future.

And major players have not been blind to that potential. Most famously, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg laid down a $2 billion bet on the technology in the spring of 2014 when his company acquired virtual reality firm, Oculus Rift. That investment put a stamp of confidence on the space and it’s grown ever since.

So it makes sense, then, that tech-facing companies are scanning for developers and coders who can help them build out their VR capabilities. Though still early, some in the job-search industry are noticing a trend in the hiring market.






From DSC and Adobe — for faculty members and teachers out there:

Do your students an enormous favor by assigning them a digital communications project. Such a project could include images, infographics, illustrations, animations, videos, websites, blogs (with RSS feeds), podcasts, videocasts, mobile apps and more. Such outlets offer powerful means of communicating and demonstrating knowledge of a particular topic.

As Adobe mentions, when you teach your students how to create these types of media projects, you prepare them to be flexible and effective digital communicators.  I would also add that these new forms and tools can be highly engaging, while at the same time, they can foster students’ creativity. Building new media literacy skills will pay off big time for your students. It will land them jobs. It will help them communicate to a global audience. Students can build upon these skills to powerfully communicate numerous kinds of messages in the future. They can be their own radio station. They can be their own TV station.

For more information, see this page out at



From DSC:
This is where we may need more team-based approaches…because one person may not be able to create and grade/assess such assignments.



The 82 Hottest EdTech Tools of 2017 According to Education Experts — from by Giorgio Cassella


If you work in education, you’ll know there’s a HUGE array of applications, services, products and tools created to serve a multitude of functions in education.

Tools for teaching and learning, parent-teacher communication apps, lesson planning software, home-tutoring websites, revision blogs, SEN education information, professional development qualifications and more.

There are so many companies creating new products for education, though, that it can be difficult to keep up – especially with the massive volumes of planning and marking teachers have to do, never mind finding the time to actually teach!

So how do you know which ones are the best?

Well, as a team of people passionate about education and learning, we decided to do a bit of research to help you out.

We’ve asked some of the best and brightest in education for their opinions on the hottest EdTech of 2017. These guys are the real deal – experts in education, teaching and new tech from all over the world from England to India, to New York and San Francisco.

They’ve given us a list of 82 amazing, tried and tested tools…

From DSC:
The ones that I mentioned that Giorgio included in his excellent article were:

  • AdmitHub – Free, Expert College Admissions Advice
  • Labster – Empowering the Next Generation of Scientists to Change the World
  • Unimersiv – Virtual Reality Educational Experiences
  • Lifeliqe – Interactive 3D Models to Augment Classroom Learning






ISNS students embrace learning in a world of virtual reality — from by

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

To give students the skills needed to thrive in an ever more tech-centred world, the International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (ISNS) is one of the world’s first educational facilities now making instruction in virtual reality (VR) and related tools a key part of the curriculum.

Building on a successful pilot programme last summer in Virtual Reality, 3D art and animation, the intention is to let students in various age groups experiment with the latest emerging technologies, while at the same time unleashing their creativity, curiosity and passion for learning.

To this end, the school has set up a special VR innovation lab, conceived as a space for exploration, design and interdisciplinary collaboration involving a number of different subject teachers.

Using relevant software and materials, students learn to create high-quality digital content and to design “experiences” for VR platforms. In this “VR Lab makerspace” – a place offering the necessary tools, resources and support – they get to apply concepts and theories learned in the classroom, develop practical skills, document their progress, and share what they have learned with classmates and other members of the tech education community. 



As a next logical step, she is also looking to develop contacts with a number of the commercial makerspaces which have sprung up in Shenzhen. The hope is that students will then be able to meet engineers working on cutting-edge innovations and understand the latest developments in software, manufacturing, and areas such as laser cutting, and 3D printing, and rapid prototyping.  




Top 200 Tools for Learning 2016: Overview — from by Jane Hart

Also see Jane’s:

  1. TOP 100 TOOLS FOR PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL LEARNING (for formal/informal learning and personal productivity)
  2. TOP 100 TOOLS FOR WORKPLACE LEARNING (for training, e-learning, performance support and social collaboration
  3. TOP 100 TOOLS FOR EDUCATION (for use in primary and secondary (K12) schools, colleges, universities and adult education.)




Also see Jane’s “Best of Breed 2016” where she breaks things down into:

  1. Instructional tools
  2. Content development tools
  3. Social tools
  4. Personal tools





Jane’s Top 10 Tools for Learning 2016 — from by Jane Hart


On Friday 23rd September, voting closes in the 10th Annual Survey of Learning Tool  – so it’s not too late to vote!

You can find out how to do so HERE – essentially it involves sharing your own Top 10 Tools for Learning – privately or publicly.

Anyway, as we reach the final few days of voting in 2016, I thought it was time to share my personal top 10 tools – so here they are:



Also see:




Photos of clouds and storms by Sean R. Heavey — from





Surreal monochromatic GIFs by Carl Burton — from by Christopher Jobson


 > Photomanipulation




Accurate ballpoint pen art — from





A rotating 42-layer sculpture of Franz Kafka’s Head by David Cerny — from by Christopher Jobson









PolyWood: Toy animal concepts rendered in polygons by Mat Szulik — from by Christopher Jobson






New powerful street art by Pejac — from





Google’s Tilt Brush allows you to paint in 3 dimensions — from






Watch the year’s best drone footage — in just 2.5 minutes — from by Hillary Grigonis





Vertiginous Skyscrapers of Hong Kong— from featuring the work of Ekaterina Busygina






Stunning 3D Chalk Art Illusions by Tracy lee Stum — from






Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2017 | Daniel Christian