Collaboration, Conferencing, discussion, Research

#OneNewThing: Conducting Interviews Using FlipGrid

There are times when you or your students want to conduct an interview with someone but it’s very difficult to get together due to time zone issues, busy schedules, or some other reason.  Well, Michael Overholt, former instructional technologist with LCWA came up with a great remedy for these issues…


Flipgrid is a video discussion tool from Microsoft…The idea behind this education tool is to use video to create an open platform of discussion and learning that doesn’t require a physical classroom to get everyone involved.  (Tech Learning) But why not expand its uses to interviews.

The concept behind FlipGrid is that someone (the instructor or another student) creates an initial audio/video recording then others respond to it also using audio and/or video.  Because it’s not synchronous, the students can respond at any time that is convenient to them.   Each FlipGrid “class” can have multiple FlipGrid “discussions.”

Now let’s apply this to an interview…


  1. You create either one FlipGrid discussion containing all of the questions or one FlipGrid discussion for each question.
  2. Send the link to your interviewee(s).
  3. The interviewee, at their convenience, listens to your recording containing the questions then they will create a video of themselves answering the question.  It’s all done online so it’s incredibly easy for them.
  4. Multiple people can answer the questions if you need to interview multiple people.  In the settings you can select to not allow users to see other users’ responses.
  5. Now you can go back in and listen to all the of the responses. You can even download the videos and edit them together.

This saves you and your interviewees the headache of scheduling a time to meet.

This can be used in your research or by your students for class assignments.  Makes it easy for them to interact with experts in the field in different timezones and countries.

Give it a try!


[button link=”” newwindow=”yes”] Access the tutorials for you and your students[/button]

Zoom conferencing
Classrooms, Collaboration, Conferencing, Presentation

#OneNewThing – Zoom Conferencing

One New Thing from TLT
Zoom is an online conferencing tool, similar to WebEx or Go To Meeting, and allows you to host online, collaborative sessions.  The free version is full featured for up to 45 minutes of conferencing.

Video conferencing from your computer or mobile device

With the FREE version of Zoom users can:

  • hold unlimited 1 on 1 sessions
  • hold an unlimited number of sessions
  • have up to 50 participants per session
  • hold sessions only up to 40 minutes long (pro allows more)
  • host web or video conferences (desktop and mobile)
  • create breakout rooms for small group collaboration
  • share your, or participants, computer screens
  • annotate on shared screens
  • collaborate on a shared online whiteboard
  • record the session to share later
  • use user management with muting and hand raising
  • use either the computer microphone or telephone for audio

Need more?

  • 100 participants for $60/mo, 200 participants for $105/mo
  • Unlimited meeting time for $15/mo

Uses for Faculty & Students

There are many uses for such a tool in education, both online and face-to-face.

  • Hold online office hours: can use the screen sharing or the collaborative whiteboard to work together during the meeting.
  • Conduct interviews:  instead of Skype consider using Zoom.  This eliminates the sharing of Skype usernames and allows for screen sharing for easier discussion of materials.
  • Online paper or project review sessions: using the collaborative tools and screensharing you can work with students to review papers or projects together.
  • Online training and tutorials: use the screenshare to teach your students synchronously.
  • Study groups: students can use Zoom to conduct online study sessions when they can’t get together to study.
  • Group work: students can use Zoom to collaborate on group work.  They can bring up their Google doc or presentation and use the video chat to discuss the project while collaborating on the documents.


Get your Free Account now at

Conferencing, Distance Ed

“So a robot walks into an elevator” and other tales from OLC Innovate

So a robot walks into an elevator…sounds like the start to a joke, right? Believe me, this conference experience was anything but a joke! …and I really did see a virtual presence robot in an elevator, but more on that later.

Image Credit: Alex Rivera via Flickr
Image Credit: Alex Rivera via Flickr



Imagine that a conference dedicated to exploring emerging technologies for online learning and a separate conference to discuss blended learning possibilities had a baby and decided to throw a party in the Big Easy to celebrate and you might come close to the experience at OLC Innovate.  According to the official site, the purpose of the OLC Innovate conference was to “build new foundations for stronger, better higher education environments. And because innovation scales best when ideas are shared, our work sessions will explore emerging technologies and adapted teaching behaviors aimed at informing policy, inspiring leadership, and evolving practice at all levels impacting institutions, universities and colleges.”

Here’s the deal: we’ve all been to conferences that claim to expose people to new ideas, network, and maybe have some fun while you’re at it. What typically happens? You come home burdened with vendor flyers, business cards, and a head that weighs 20 pounds from sitting and absorbing the best you can in talk-at-you sessions.  This was not the case for me at OLC Innovate.  I came back loaded with ideas that can be immediately implemented, projects that challenge myself and the whole TLT team to do more, and genuine connections to some of the most brilliant and open people in the field.  If you’ll pardon the NOLA pun, I was jazzed to come back to work and get started.


Networking and Mentor Speed Dating

Photo Credit: Jessica Knott,
Photo Credit: Jessica Knott, 


One of the things that I was looking forward to most was getting to meet people face to face that I’ve only interacted with via social media in text form through my own professional development journey.  As excited as I was to meet finally, I have to admit the old adolescent fears crept in.  Did we really have so much in common with how we view education? Maybe we only really worked online?  Would they even know who I was? Don’t get me wrong.  I am one of those people who has never really met a stranger and loves to talk to anyone and everyone.  Networking at conferences is one of the best parts for someone like me who loves to talk it out (which classifies me as an Innovator according to the Keynote, but more on that later). I was not disappointed. After swallowing my fear I approached one of my colleagues that I’ve spoken to extensively online to introduce myself as she stood surrounded by people with whom she was obviously friends. Here goes nothing…

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to introduce myself. I’m Amy Ostrom, we’ve talked a lot on Twitter.”  

At the mention of my name I heard a gasp to my left.

“You’re Amy?”

“Yes?” (color me confused)

“I’m Laura! We’ve talked about this conference for months on Twitter! Thank you for offering to help!”

**Nods of recognition and smiles all around**

Turns out it was several members of the steering committee that I had been chatting up in my ever growing excitement. Interested conversation turned into an invitation to dinner and hallway conversations about how to get more involved in the whole conference experience. Another instance of this was when I walked into a presentation that was being delivered by another colleague and just said, “well this is where I find you”.  She immediately dropped what she was doing and gave me a hug.  Repeat the experience from above when she introduced me to the crew she was with.  It was amazing to be so readily accepted and made to feel welcome into a group of people who have been working together for years.

Moral of the story: TALK TO PEOPLE.  Whether it’s online or face to face.  Find colleagues from other universities that challenge your thinking and, to be frank, intimidate you.  Those are the people that you can learn the most from.  After all, why surround yourself only with people who can tell you what you already know? How will you ever learn and get better…and there is ALWAYS something that you can do better and you never know where that lesson will come from.


Session Take-Aways

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and focus of the presentations.  Even sessions that I thought, “I already know about that. I can skip it.” would turn into presentations that became, “I can’t believe I missed that!”.  For example, Michelle Pacansky-Brock from California State University at Channel Island (who gives fabulous online and face to face presentations if you get a chance to check them out) delivered a session entitled “Create Better Presentations”. Simple, to the point, and deceptively something that I “already knew”.  Keeping my eye on the #OLCInnovate backchannel it turned out to be a transformative experience for even the most advanced presenters.  One colleague of mine even stated that they were going to redo their whole presentation that they were delivering THE NEXT DAY due to the information that was presented.

Photo Credit: Laura Gogia,
Photo Credit: Laura Gogia,



Another session introduced me to one of the best “I can implement that!” ideas of the conference.  Jackson Wilson from San Francisco State University and his colleagues talked about the QOLT initiative in the California University System.  They gamified the quality assurance process for their online faculty using a deck of cards! I just fell in love with this process.  They had one of their faculty members give ideas on how he uses his own deck of cards to look at the assessment process.  He mentioned that assessment is typically long, involved, tedious, and hard to focus on. Can I get an Amen for that? However, with the deck he is able to focus on one standard at a time at his computer without having to switch browsers constantly and work his way through the deck.  Other times, he would pick 3 cards from the deck and those were his “greatness” challenges that he would revise and redesign within all of his courses, online or not. It was a way to maintain focus while also progressing without getting overwhelmed.  The participants of the session played a game that I thought would be fabulous for new to online instructors.  We each were dealt 2 cards.  On our turn we had to draw 2 additional cards. Someone then turned over a minute timer.  In that minute we had to look at our cards and make connections to what was already on the table, laying down and explaining the connections for as many as we could before the timer ran out.  It allowed us to see how the different parts of an effective online course are interdependant rather than just an arbitrary, stand alone standard.

Photo Credit: Amy Ostrom,
Photo Credit: Amy Ostrom,

More information from individual sessions will be coming over the summer.


Follow the Leaders

I can’t stress enough how empowering it was to be able to share ideas with the brilliant people I met at OLC Innovate. I’m looking forward to going again.  In the meantime, follow these people for an interesting perspective on teaching online.


M Pacansky-Brock


Barbara Taylor


Autumm Caines


Phil Denman


A. Michael Berman


Jessica Knott


Whitney Kilgore


Melissa Rasmussen


Laura Gogia


Laura Pasquini


Keegan Long-Wheeler


Amy Collier


Patrice Torcivia


Laura Gibbs


Collaboration, Conferencing, discussion, Mobile, social networking, TLT, Web 2.0

App of the week: Blab

What is Blab?

From Blab’s site “a platform for publicly broadcasting live video conversations or talk shows.” Blab allows for live video conversations. In addition to a host you can have 3 other people talking live at once on a split screen.  All Blabs are public so an unlimited number of people could also just watch.

Use it for debates, discussions, or a podcast which you as the host have the option to record.  The recording can then be accessed via a url, but as host you will also be emailed a copy ( an MP3 & MP4). A Recording  or “Replays”cannot be deleted, but  as the host you can make your “Replay” public or hidden.

There is also a screen share and co-host option .

If you did not want to host a Blab then watch other live video conversations on topics or specific content that you are interested in.  Search by a keyword then choose a Blab that interest you by clicking the “Watch” button.

Things to be aware of:

You need a Twitter account in order to log in

Although you can choose which callers to let into your Blab and they are the ones then that can ask questions and you can screen share with, “Blabs” are always public.  I suggest you review the Privacy policy before you host a Blab:

Price: Free
App –

Desktop –

Platform: Desktop ( using Chrome browser) or iPhone. On Android devices the Chrome browser works

More Information:

Getting started with Blab at  and

Blab tutorial at

Blab Daily Digest at

streamtome icon
Conferencing, Distance Ed, iPad, Mobile, Presentation, Share, TLT

App of the Week: StreamToMe

Use StreamToMe on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to play *video*, *music* and *photo* files streamed over WiFi or 3G from your Mac or Windows PC. No prior conversion or syncing required (huge number of formats supported without conversion) just tap the file and it plays. Using TV out cables (iPhone4 or newer) or an Apple TV (with iPhone3Gs or newer), StreamToMe can play through your TV, turning your iPhone/iPod/iPad plus your Mac/PC into a home media center for all your files.

Price: $2.99

Platform: iPad and iPhone

More info