Others, Self, Share, Uncategorized

Running During the Time of COVID-19

Three weeks ago, I decided to start running. Without my daily commute and general walking from building to building at the college, my body was craving movement. I tried some Youtube aerobics (remember Billy Blanks and Tae Bo) and just got angry at the lack of space in my house and the complicated footwork.  I decided to venture outside for a “ten minute blast” around the neighborhood. “I can handle ten minutes,” I thought, but my first timed round was excruciating.

Week one of running was just silly and hard, mostly because my body was in shock, but also because I just tried to run without stretching or looking into training. I thought, “I’ll just run around the block for a few ten-minute chunks to help with energy and stamina.” Ahhhh, wilderness! Thankfully I got connected with Jill Whisonant (photo below), a mentor at Summerville’s Fleet Feet, and she’s helped me set goals to safely begin running. Now I look forward to my morning runs without dread; I can honestly say they help a lot right now.

Two years back, Jill began taking her running more seriously and joined Fleet Feet’s 10K program to get more involved with runners locally. “[Fleet Feet is] a great resource no matter what your running experience,” explains Whisonant. “They just create a fun environment where people grow in the art of running and staying safe.” 

Over social distancing, Jill gave me a pep-talk and to-do list about how to safely start running. Here’s what she had to say:

1) Start where you are. Make sure you have shoes that don’t hurt your feet. ***Right now, you are able to purchase from Fleet Feet online and they are allowed to do in-store fittings still as well (***but you can also buy shoes online from your preferred store). It’s obviously at the customer’s comfort level, but they can do fittings outside or just social distance in the store, using extra precautions.

2) The thing that scares most people off [from running] is their breath. Initially, it’s not inherently easy to control your breath when your heart feels like it is beating out of your chest, so you have to find the pace that allows you to keep moving forward. And sometimes, that’s walking before you build up to the run.

3) If you start running without a plan, chances are you will get frustrated and quit. Take some time to understand where you are, and find the path that will get you to where you want to go. A great way to start is with intervals. This will help you find that comfortable pace I was referred to earlier.  Start with a 5-minute run/ 5-minute walk. If that’s too easy, increase your run time and decrease your walk time until you find what challenges you Try 6/4, 7/3 or even 8/2. Once you find that interval that is challenging but doable, start to increase the run time and decrease the walk time weekly. Start tracking distance. Run a mile, walk 5 minutes, run a half mile, walk 5 minutes, etc. Start with 30-minute blocks and go from there. You’ll eventually find that you hit a comfortable pace/stride and can go for miles and miles and miles.

4) Warm up before you run. Do some jogging in place, high knees, butt kicks and toy soldiers (see video below if the only “Toy Soldiers” you know is that song by Martika) to get warm.

5) Do some big holding stretches when you’re done running – that’s when  you’ll need to keep those muscles loose so they don’t tighten up on you as they cool down.

6) Depending on when you run will depend on how and when you eat. Everyone is different and this is one of those things you may have to learn about yourself the hard way. For runs that will be 45 minutes or longer, a light breakfast like a smoothie, some oatmeal or even a couple of eggs – nothing too much – should be enough to keep you going but not make you feel heavy.  

7) Staying hydrated will become part of your daily norm…it’s something you need to pay attention to all day, not just when you are running. Your body NEEDS water and when you start running, it needs it more. Set a timer on your phone so you remember to drink every hour. Pay attention to the color of your urine…it should be a pale yellow. That means you are well hydrated. Plan on bringing something to help you stay hydrated on runs lasting longer than an hour. You will need to replenish what your body is sweating out.


8) I think it’s important to note that not everyone loves running and that’s ok too. Find something that you enjoy doing, so that you are able to keep yourself accountable to the activity. It doesn’t matter how far or fast anyone else goes. This is your journey, measure your progress and cheer for your wins! For some people, running comes naturally, for others, like me, it doesn’t. I was lucky enough to find a tribe of people that encouraged me every step of the way, but it took me a l-o-n-g time to understand your level of dedication is what will determine your final outcomes.   

For online motivation, Jill suggests following Fleet Feet. “They have a lot of virtual running activities that are helping to keep people active.” She also follows a group on Facebook called “Run Like a Girl.”  “People will post questions or their own personal triumphs,” Whisonant says. “It’s fun for me to follow. Finding people that have the same enjoyment, struggles, and passion will help you keep your head in the running game.”



adobe scan on a phone
Distance Ed, instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Productivity, Share

Tech Tip Tuesday – How to Scan Handwritten/drawn Work to a PDF to submit in OAKS

With the College operating online, I know it’s difficult for some discipline whose work isn’t easy to do online, for example Math and Drawing.  If the assignment you wish to give is better suited to the student handwriting or hand-drawing something then just have them scan it!  This is also a great option for faculty who have semester long notebooks or portfolios that are turned in.

A FREE app that students can use (and you for that matter) is Adobe Scan. Adobe Scan works on phones and tables and makes it so easy for users to take pictures of multiple items and have one PDF created.

Check out the Adobe Scan page to download the app and here’s a tutorial for you and your students on how to use the app:

Collaboration, Google, Google Apps, instructional technology, Share

6 Reasons You Should Be Using Google Sheets Instead Of Excel

I have always said that if I could only have two applications on my computer it would be Photoshop and Microsoft Excel. With those two applications I can do almost everything I need to do in a day. Lately, however, my eye has drawn to Google Sheets, and I have to say, I love it.

Now some of you may be saying, “Why do I care? I don’t teach accounting.” Well you don’t have to teach accounting to use spreadsheets in your teaching. They are great for collecting text-based information, running statistics and doing calculations, and graphing and analyzing text or data. So now that you are ready to use spreadsheets in your classroom, here are 6 reasons why you should use Google Sheets instead of Excel.

Reason 1: Collaboration

Unlike Excel, Google Sheets is collaborative. All CofC students already have Google accounts so it’s very easy to share a spreadsheet with them or for them to share with one another. When collaboratively editing a sheet each student can see the exact cell that is currently selected all other users, to prevent overwriting. There is also a built-in chat function so students can communicate online while collaborating on a Sheet.

Reason 2: Revision history

Revision History ScreenshotHow many times have you heard, “Student X didn’t contribute anything to the project.” Now you can see exactly who contributed what and when using the Revision History. The built-in revision history gives you a timeline of all changes and additions to the spreadsheet, who made each one and when they made it. Just go to File > Revision History to see this record. The best part? This is all automatically recorded. While you can track revisions in Excel, it’s a more manual process and in the end, still leads to multiple versions and things being overwritten.





Reason 3: Sharing

Google Sheets are easy to share. Because they are already online, Sheets can be shared to OAKS or a website, using a link. These links can be set to allow the users to only view the sheet or to edit it. This is particularly handy if you want to post a spreadsheet in OAKS. Just go to Content and select New > Create a Link and paste in the shared link to your Sheet, making the file easy for the students to locate and easy to work on collaboratively as a class. This is something that can’t be done with Excel (Note: I believe this feature is available in Office 365).

Reason 4: The power of Google

From Alice Keeler, “Because of its tight integration with Google, Sheets can import all kinds of data from other Google services and the web at large. You can translate the contents of a cell using the function GOOGLETRANSLATE(), or you can fetch current or historical securities info from Google Finance with the function GOOGLEFINANCE(). And with Sheets IMPORTFEED and IMPORTDATA functions, you can pull information from the internet directly into your spreadsheet.” (Teacher Tech)

Reason 5: Google Forms

When paired with Google Forms it’s an easy way to collect data. Google Forms, also part of Google Drive (a.k.a. G-suite), allows for quick and easy form creation that professors and students can use to collect data. These forms can be completed by anyone, on campus or off, with or without a Google Account, and the data is dumped right into a Google Sheet. This can be used to replace an audience response system in your class, to check for understanding, to conduct peer evaluation, to collect lab data, etc. Once the data is in the spreadsheet, students can work with the data online or export the Sheet to Excel in order to take advantage of Excel’s more powerful functions and data analysis tools.

Reason 6: Explore with Graphs

explore screenshotSheets has a super cool EXPLORE icon in the lower right corner of every spreadsheet. This offers a quick overview of the data in chart format. You can view the entire sheet or just specific rows or columns. It’s a fast way to get a first look at the trends in your data before moving on to your own analysis. Just click on the icon and Google does the rest. Don’t worry, if this doesn’t provide enough analysis you can always create your own graphs, pivot tables, and calculations.  Excel doesn’t have this feature that I can find.



These are just my top 6 reasons to use Google Sheets. I have a ton more. So, can I do everything I did in Excel in Google Sheets? No, I can’t. Excel’s statistical analysis features and functions are still more powerful and probably always will be, but that’s not really what I use spreadsheets for much anymore. Most of the features I used in Excel, like shifting cells, can be done via a Google Add-on, which is a little extension that you can load to increase Sheet’s functionality. Given that, there’s very little need for me to go back to Excel.

Still not sold?

Check out Alicekeeler.com. Alice Keeler is a Google Sheets guru and she always has some amazing cool tricks that you can do with spreadsheets in the classroom. She has written some Add-ons for Sheets that allows you do have more control and automate some processes. Teacher Education folks, you will love her as all of her examples are from her classroom experience.  Check out this one:

Have everyone contribute to their own tab – Give students their own and collaborate. This add-on takes your class roster and automatically creates a spreadsheet tab customized for each student in your class. It can even copy a template to each tab. What a great timesaver!

syncpad on three devices
Collaboration, Distance Ed, instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Presentation, Share

App of the Week: SyncPad

UPDATE: 3/1/16 – My apologies.  I wrote this post in advance and had it auto post.  It turns out between when I wrote it and when it posted, SyncPad is no longer available.  I attempted to contact them via their website but the contact form no longer works. — Mendi


SyncPad is the ultimate whiteboard for remote and local collaboration. Would you like to share your ideas with a coworker but you are out of town? Don’t worry, just create a room with your SyncPad and share the name of the room with your co-worker, who can enter in his SyncPad or simply use any browser, visiting http://mysyncpad.com/roomname.


  • Remote Tutoring
  • Collaboration
  • Shared Whiteboard

Price: Free, $4.99/mo Pro.
Platform:  iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch
More info: https://syncpadapp.com

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 infohttp://itunes.apple.com/us/app/streamtome/id325327899?mt=8

Adobe Voice
instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Presentation, Share, Video

Make Professional Looking Voice Stories with Adobe Voice

“Adobe Voice is a free iPad app that helps you create stunning animated videos in minutes.”  Just “pick from over 25,000 beautiful iconic images to show your ideas (or choose from photos on your tablet).” Record your voice over the images, one image at a time.  “Set the mood with a musical soundtrack and choose the perfect look with just one tap. Watch your story automatically come alive with cinema-quality animation and share it with anyone online.”

— https://standout.adobe.com/voice/
As I started exploring Adobe Voice I was impressed by how easy it was to use but I wasn’t sure what I would use it for.  However, the more I played with it the more I realized that it has an enormous number of uses.  Adobe Voice allows you to create a slideshow of sorts with icons, Creative Commons images, and text.  You then add your voice to each “slide” as narration.  Finally you embellish your project using themes that control the font, color, and transitions of your slides and background music to set the tone of the project.  When your project is complete you share it by clicking on the Publish button and can easily publish it to the Adobe Cloud as well as social media, email and text.

Student Uses Faculty Uses
Create a biography/autobiography
Create how-to videos
Recount a story
Create an oral history
Promote an event
Create a public service announcement
Promote an idea
Tell what happened
Teach a lesson
Record a lecture
Create a personal introduction
Recount a story
Introduce a new subject
Summarize a chapter


What I liked was how easy it was to use.  I also like that it uses Creative Commons images and free music so copyright is not a problem.  The sharing is super easy and the fact that you can share them privately is also very important when working with student projects.

What some may like less is that you can’t add any video.  This isn’t a deal breaker for me and I know that it’s kind of outside the intended purpose of this app.  The fact that you can’t use it without an Adobe ID is a bit of a drag for K12 (esp. K8) students.  Not everyone wants their students to get these types of accounts. There may be a workaround for this but I didn’t investigate it further.  The think that bothered me the most was the lack of ability to make basic changes to the project such as placement and font.  I know for many this could be seen as a positive because it makes it easier to use and a bit more universal but if you are pretty tech savvy and like to control a lot of items in a project this isn’t the app for you.  You can’t control the placement of the image or text boxes nor can you control font or alignment within the boxes.  Again, not a deal breaker, just something to be aware of.

All in all I think this is a great, FREE, app to use as both a student or a teacher.  Unfortunately, at this time it is only for iOS devices and I’m not sure if there is an Android version on the horizon.

Price:  Free
Platform:  iOS only

App Location:

screenshot of iPhone on a Mac
iPad, Mobile, Share, TLT, Video

Record a Screencast of your iPad/iPhone from your Mac for Free!

This is for all my Mac users running Yosemite (OS 10.10).  Here’s a handy tip that you may not know that allows you to record what you are doing on your iPad or iPhone to a movie that you can share with your students or others.   In the past we’ve been able to do this by purchasing additional software such as AirServe or Reflector but these cost money (not a lot $14-$19) and they didn’t work on our CofC secured network.  Now if you are running the newest Mac OS 10.10 you can do this using only the USB cable you use to charge your phone and the built-in Quicktime Player.

Here’s a quick rundown:

1)  Connect your iPad or iPhone to your computer using the USB to lightning cable.

2)  On your computer launch QuickTime and select File > New Movie Recording from the menu bar.

3)  Choose your iPad or iPhone from the dropdown menu next to the record button.

4)  Press the record button to record.

5)  Press it again to stop recording.

6)  Choose File > Save to save the video recording.

Here’s a better way to understand what to do:

Now remember, this will only work with Macs running Yosemite and iOS devices that use the lightning connection. I hope this helps the Mac folks. For all you Windows users, if you have this need then contact your Instructional Technologist for assistance.

screenshot of two peoples edits
Collaboration, Distance Ed, Google, Google Apps, instructional technology, Productivity, Share

Google Docs Now Has a “Track Changes” Feature

I love Google Docs for sharing and reviewing documents but I do miss the features of Microsoft Word’s track changes.  Well, Google Docs has recently added that feature.  Now when you open a Doc you will see a new item in the toolbar entitled Editing.  This gives you the choice of “Editing” as you normally would, “Suggesting” which turns on the track changes, and “Viewing” which views the original document or the accepted changes.   This long awaited feature elevates Google Docs into an even better collaborative tool than it was before. If you are interested in using this feature just open a Google Doc and, under the Editing menu choose Suggesting then make your changes.


As of the writing of this post it appears that this feature is only available in Docs and not in Spreadsheets or Presentations.

TLT logo
Collaboration, Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Pedagogy, Research, Round Table Discussion, Share, TLT

Polling and Poll Everywhere Faculty Roundtable Discussion Recap

At TLT’s latest Faculty Roundtable Discussion, held on Monday, February 24th, faculty discussed their use of polling, in particular Poll Everywhere, into their teaching to increase student engagement and assess understanding.   Poll Everywhere is an online polling and quizzing app that works like an audience response system (clicker) but using the student’s cell phones, computers, and mobile devices.  A university-wide license for Poll Everywhere is available to all CofC faculty, staff and students.  If you are interested in trying Poll Everywhere after watching the Roundtable recap contact your Instructional Technologist.  We’d like to thank Sarah LeBlanc (Communication), Ryan Milner (Communication), Cynthia Hall (Geology), and Brooke Van Horn (Chemistry) for giving their time and expertise to this conversation.


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Pecha Kucha Night by Chrys Rynearson
instructional technology, Pedagogy, Presentation, Research, Share

Pecha Kucha in the Classroom

Pecha Kucha is a simple presentation format devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham where you show 20 slides or images, each for only 20 second.  The images or slides advance automatically to keep you on time and you can only talk about each slide or image while it’s being displayed.  Designed to keep presentations short and to the point, each presentation is only 6 minutes and 40 seconds long!

Why use it in your classroom

The goal of pecha kucha is to encourage the presenter to be concise but also a bit more creative and informal.  It’s suggested that the presentation consist mainly of images, photos, or graphics with little to no text.  These images should advance your story and emphasize your points. and The absence of bulleted text tends to steer the speaker more toward story telling and conversation than a rehearsed and robotic presentation.  The time constraint is great for student presentations because twenty seconds is long enough to make a solid point but not enough to prattle.  The pecha kucha time and slide constraints prevents the student from mentioning everything they could find on the topic in hopes that they hit upon the point you wanted them to make.  This encourages the presenter to know the topic well enough to distill what is important and needs to be covered in the 20 slides.  Lastly, when the fast-paced presentation is over the speaker(s) then open the floor for questions and dialogue with their audience, further allowing them to demonstrate their understanding of the topic.

How to use it in your classroom

There are some basic rules to pecha kucha.

20 for 20:  I’ve already mentioned that an entire presentation must consist of 20 slides, no more, no less.  Each slide is only allowed to remain on the screen for 20 seconds so it’s important to know how to create an autoplay slideshow.  You can find short video tutorials on how to create pecha kucha style presentations in Keynote, PowerPoint and Prezi at then end of this post.

Images over Text:  Try to use images that advance your story and illustrate your points.  When using words steer clear of bullets and use phrases that have an impact and represent the essence of your point.

No transitions or animation:  Avoid slide transitions and fly-in text.  This eats up time and detracts from the focus of this fast-paced presentation style.

No video or audio:  While you can add audio and video files to your presentations they need to fit into the 20 second time frame and normally don’t work well with this presentation style.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse:  While this is meant to be more informal and conversational you must make sure you get your important points across and you won’t be able to do that successfully if you don’t practice.  20 seconds is a short time and every slide where you go over that time forces you to speed up on all subsequent slides to make it up.  Practice is critical.

Jennifer Welsh in History has used pecha kucha with her students and here’s what she says:

It was a very interesting experiment (for me, at least; not sure how the students felt), and one I’d like to do again using what I learned the first time. I think that next time, I would watch some examples with the students in class, and talk more about the structure of a Pecha Kucha-style presentation, as well as what makes a good (or bad) PowerPoint slide. The main problem students had was putting all their text onto their slides and then trying to just read everything on there. That doesn’t work with the format, since Pecha Kucha doesn’t spend that much time on each slide. The best students were very engaging, and extremely creative in their work, incorporating interesting maps and images, and working well with minimal notes.

If you are interested in reading more about pecha kucha in the classroom go to Richard L. Edwards’ blog, Remixing the Humanities.  He wrote a post entitled Pecha Kucha in the Classroom: Tips and Strategies for Better Presentations and it is one of the resources that I used for this post.

If you would like to learn how to create pecha kucha style autoplay presentations I have created some basic video tutorials for you and your students:

PowerPoint – http://youtu.be/l9zxNTpNMLo

Keynote – http://youtu.be/KrYTB3NpNM8

Prezi – http://youtu.be/BSQlsqZWtV0


Edwards, Richard L. “Pecha Kucha in the Classroom: Tips and Strategies for Better Presentations.” Remixing the Humanities. N.p., 03 Nov. 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2012. <http://remixhumanities.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/pecha-kucha-in-the-classroom-tips-and-strategies-for-better-presentations/>.

Jones, Jason B. “Challenging the Presentation Paradigm (in 6 Minutes, 40 Seconds): Pecha Kucha.” ProfHacker. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 02 Nov. 2009. Web. 28 Aug. 2012. <http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/challenging-the-presentation-paradigm-in-6-minutes-40-seconds-pecha-kucha/22807>.

“PechaKucha 20×20.” PechaKucha 20×20. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2012. <http://www.pecha-kucha.org/>.

Rynearson, Chrys. Pecha Kucha Night Charleston. 2009. Photograph. Charleston. Flickr. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrys/4035453312/>.