Category Archives: Learning Technologies

Boeckers honored with Outstanding World Language Educator award

11awardDaryl Boeckers, teaching specialist in the Learning Technologies Media Lab, recently received the 2014 Emma Birkmaier Outstanding World Language Educator Award at the fall conference for the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures. Boeckers is pictured here with former student Anna Oliver, Buffalo High School senior, who wrote a letter supporting his nomination.

The Emma Birkmaier Award is given to a teacher credited for a significant impact on the language teaching profession and involvement with the nonprofit organization.

Learning Technologies Media Lab selected as SciGirls CONNECT partner

The Learning Technologies Media Lab, in partnership with Minneapolis Community Education and Austin Public Schools, will serve as a SciGirls CONNECT partner from 2014-2016. A popular PBS program, SciGirls aims to change how girls think about science, technology, engineering, and math – or STEM.


As a CONNECT partner, the LT Media Lab, along with educators from Minneapolis Community Education and Austin Public Schools, will receive official training on SciGirls resources and curriculum. Once training is complete, LT Media Lab staff will support the efforts of SciGirl clubs from Austin and Minneapolis as they dedicate time to investigating, creating, and solving STEM-based challenges. Girls from both communities will visit the University of Minnesota next year to showcase their learning and explore opportunities in STEM careers.

Read more in this Austin Daily Herald story.

Earthducation team to explore links between education and sustainability in Nepal

1nepalWhat does education look like in remote mountain villages where electricity is nonexistent or unreliable? How does a developing country seeking to grow its economy, boost tourism, and expand its infrastructure do so sustainably? Earthducation Expedition 6 aims to find out — and share what it learns with teachers and students around the world beginning April 27.

This journey — sixth in a series of seven-continent explorations — investigates the intersections between education and sustainability in Nepal, the roof of the world. Led by Aaron Doering and Charles Miller of the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development, with funding from the University’s Institute on the Environment, the expedition will travel through May 8 to this diverse ecological area that boasts some of the most majestic geographical wonders on Earth.

“Nepal is home to eight of the world’s ten highest mountains and the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar region — glaciers that feed almost every major river system in Asia,” Doering said. “This small landlocked nation emits a mere 0.027 percent of global greenhouse gases, a minute contribution toward global warming. Yet Nepal is one of the countries at greatest risk from the impact of climate change.” Continue reading

New course combines reach of a MOOC with more personal online interaction

1nextedWhat if you could combine the reach and accessibility of a MOOC with an engaging user experience and online interface, a Facebook-like social network, meaningful interaction with an instructor who is more than a talking head, and authentic project-based learning?
That’s what the Learning Technologies Media Lab (LTML) plans to accomplish via an innovative new learning initiative called NextEd. In January, LTML will launch NextEd with a course titled Designing for Experiences: Principles to Technology Transformation. Led by Aaron Doering, Bonnie Westby-Huebner Endowed Chair in Education and Technology and associated professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the course is targeted at anyone interested in learning to design and develop transformative technology-enhanced experiences for learners of any age. Course participants will explore multiple technologies and teaching strategies as they put into practice the principles they are learning.
“Transformative learning begins with transformative experiences,” Doering said. “This online experience will guide and inspire teachers, corporate trainers, designers, and anyone interested in technology-enhanced learning to generate real change in online, hybrid, and mobile education.”
The NextEd courses offer an innovative course registration model as well, allowing participants to choose their level of enrollment and what type of recognition they will receive for completing the course — from a simple certificate of completion up through University of Minnesota graduate-level credit.
See more about NextEd and the Designing for Experiences course.

Learning Technologies and Ensia magazine win international design awards

Three University of Minnesota-based projects — Earthducation, Ensia and North of Sixty — received prestigious 2013 (Re)design awards recently from AIGA, one of the world’s largest professional organizations for design. The projects competed against hundreds of competitors worldwide. Earthducation and Ensia also received additional recognition as “Judge’s Choice” award winners.

aigaThe AIGA (Re)design Awards competition has been held biennially since 2009 as a way to recognize exemplary sustainable and socially responsible design. The awards showcase “design that challenges us to (re)think the world and our choices” and are based on the philosophy that “through masterful storytelling, compelling visuals, and beautiful design, we have the power to shape the future and ignite change,” according to AIGA.
Other 2013 award recipients include projects done for Human Rights Campaign, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s National Medical Center, Earthjustice and more.
North of Sixty is a project of the LT Media Lab in the University’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), while Ensia is housed in the Institute on the Environment (IonE). Earthducation is sponsored by both CEHD and IonE.
North of Sixty aims to create a global tapestry of climate stories, weaving together the history and culture of Arctic communities worldwide and preserving the voices and ecological knowledge of generations.
Ensia is a magazine and event series showcasing solutions to Earth’s biggest environmental challenges. The online magazine was designed by Vancouver-based creative agency smashLAB.
Earthducation is a series of seven expeditions to every continent over the course of four years (2011-14) designed to create a world narrative of the dynamic intersections between education and sustainability.

CEHD partners with EMC Publishing to build world language learning environment

Increasing student fluency in world languages and providing educators with innovative technology are the goals of a new partnership between the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and EMC Publishing. This collaborative partnership will build EMC Languages, a new online environment for teaching and learning world languages in K-12 classrooms. The partnership between EMC and the CEHD Learning Technologies Media Lab is part of a 10-year exclusive agreement that includes collaborative design and development, K-12 classroom integration and support, and ongoing design-based research.
The goal of this first-of-its-kind partnership is to improve educator effectiveness and student proficiency in the world language arena, since statistics show that only 18 percent of Americans report speaking a language other than English, while 53 percent of Europeans can converse in a second language.
1aveThe EMC Languages online learning environment will include video-based platforms Avenue and Flipgrid, created by the LT Media Lab and proven effective in postsecondary American Sign Language classrooms.
EMC Languages builds upon and extends research-based language learning platforms created by the LT Media Lab by leveraging EMC Publishing’s world language instructional content in an easy-to-use environment designed to drive educator effectiveness and student fluency. Students will discover languages and cultures, expand their knowledge beyond the textbook and written test, and perform what they’ve learned to achieve proficiency.
EMC Publishing will pilot EMC Languages in the fall of 2013 and the full environment will be available in early 2014.
“This is a unique partnership for our LT Media Lab and an example of the kind of technology transfer the University is committed to creating,” said CEHD Dean Jean Quam. “We are proud to see our research-based design and development work reaching the marketplace and serving the public good.”
1aa1flipgridFor the past year, EMC and the LT Media Lab have collaborated on the re-design, technology expansion, and K-12 specific development of Avenue and Flipgrid. Avenue allows an educator to conduct a one-to-one assessment of a student’s performance via webcam by creating custom tasks based on EMC’s rich library of curricular media to capture, evaluate, archive, and visualize progress. Flipgrid is a more informal, video-based discussion platform that encourages students to discuss and reflect upon questions and topics sparked by their educator.
“EMC Languages is not about simply extending textbooks into an online environment,” said Charles Miller, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and co-director of the LT Media Lab. “Avenue and Flipgrid take educator feedback and classroom collaboration to a new level and give teachers a better way to connect with and earn the trust of their students. It’s all about bringing kids from the back of the class to the front row.”
“As a nation, we face a series of challenges related to our world language deficit. Our focus will be to help world language educators meet these challenges by providing them with a simple and engaging learning environment that’s easy to use and builds student competency,” said Eric Cantor, chairman and chief executive officer of New Mountain Learning. “The future of fluency depends on motivating students to practice and perform, and to learn in ways that transcend vocabulary words and verb conjugation. The long-term goal of our partnership is to keep students engaged in world languages beyond the basic requirements.”
EMC Languages will be intuitive and flexible and fully integrated to flow with any approved curriculum. Educators can subscribe to the entire suite or only those elements most relevant to their classrooms. The platforms are simple to use, enabling an educator and student to create and complete a task in three minutes.
For more information, visit
Read the Star Tribune/Associated Press story.

Learning Technologies team begins new effort to tell Arctic climate stories

1HenricksonNorth of Sixty is a new collaborative program of the Learning Technologies Media Lab working with schools in regions north of 60 degrees latitude to tell their Arctic climate stories. Partner schools and communities in the Arctic regions, located in Finland, Norway, Russia, Canada, and the United States, are creating videos and other content online to share on the North of Sixty website.
The project team, led by professors Aaron Doering and Charles Miller, is preparing for an April expedition, traveling over 100 miles on skis, pulling pulks between two remote Inuit communities in Arctic Canada and visiting schools and community centers along the way. Expedition leader Aaron Doering emphasized that while education is the goal, safety is also of utmost importance to the team. which will be practicing training runs with full gear on the ice in Minnesota later this month.
Graduate students Matti Koivula and Jeni Henrickson (in photo) have already left for Alaska to visit schools and gather cultural information about different communities in Kotzebue and Noatak in the Northwest Arctic Borough, and in Kodiak and Karluk on Kodiak Island. They are also sharing their findings online.

Pazurek featured on American RadioWorks for innovative online classroom

pazurekonlineclassroom“Keyboard College: How Technology is Revolutionizing Higher Education,” the latest documentary program produced by American RadioWorks and airing on American Public Radio throughout the country, features the Learning Technology Media Lab‘s innovative approach to online learning by integrating social media. Stephen Smith, program editor and author, spent a great deal of time with members of the LT team investigating their work for the documentary. American RadioWorks highlights C&I’s Angel Pazurek in its accompanying feature, “Social Media in the Classroom.”
To access the documentary and spotlights, visit American RadioWorks’ Keyboard College story.

Aaron Doering’s TEDxTalk on Adventure Learning now online

DoeringTedTalkCurriculum and Instruction Associate Professor Aaron Doering‘s TEDxUMN Talk has been added to the TEDxTalks youtube channel. Doering gave his talk on April 21, 2012, in the Coffman Theater. The theme of the event was “At the Heart of Discovery,” inspired by the ambition of the University’s greatest inventors, scientists, and thinkers that shine and echo from the past.
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.
To watch Doering talk about Adventure Learning and motivating and engaging K-12 students from around the world, visit the TEDx Channel.

Earthducation Expedition 3 explores education, sustainability in Australia

Earthducation Expedition 3, the third in a series of seven-continent explorations investigating the intersection between education and sustainability, begins Feb. 27 in Australia. Led by curriculum and instruction professors Aaron Doering and Charles Miller, the team will discover how education and sustainability intersect on the driest inhabited continent on Earth. In their two-week journey they will collect a diversity of ecological stories from inhabitants across the densely populated regions of Australia as well as the barren Northern Territory and the Great Barrier Reef communities.
doeringBioAustralia is home to plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet as well as the world’s largest coral reef system. It is one of the most biologically diverse countries on Earth. Unfortunately, the continent also has one of the highest extinction rates, and is typically cited as being one of the countries most at risk from climate change.
Doering, who has explored the entire circumpolar Arctic over the past 10 years addressing the issue of climate change, said, “The environment is continually changing, and we are documenting how people on every continent are adapting to this change to secure a sustainable future. Our goal is to create a global tapestry of voices throughout the world around this important issue.”
Read more here.

Earthducation Expedition 3 explores ecology and education ‘down under’

Earthducation Expedition 3, the third in a series of seven-continent explorations investigating the intersection between education and sustainability, begins Feb. 27 in Australia. Led by curriculum and instruction professors Aaron Doering and Charles Miller, the team will discover how education and sustainability intersect on the driest inhabited continent on Earth. In their two-week journey they will collect a diversity of ecological stories from inhabitants across the densely populated regions of Australia as well as the barren Northern Territory and the Great Barrier Reef communities.
doeringBio“We’ve been invited by these communities to document the ecological and economic impact of climate change,” said Doering. “We start by asking: How can education advance sustainability?” Several environmental topics will be explored including Australia’s biodiversity, uranium mining, tourism, and the contributions and concerns of people across the continent, including Aboriginal communities.
The goal of Earthducation is to travel to climate hotspots on all seven continents by 2014, collaborating with different cultures to create a first-of-its-kind narrative from around the world. So far, Doering and Miller have traveled to the Arctic Circle, Burkina Faso, Africa, and northern Norway.
millerBio.jpg“By gathering stories about education and the environment from around the world, we hope to create a foundation for embedding sustainability in learning at all levels and in all cultures,” Miller said. “Ultimately, we anticipate that the Earthducation EnviroNetwork will be the world’s leading online community focused exclusively on the increasingly vital fusion of education and sustainability.”
The Earthducation project is funded by the University’s Institute on the Environment. Doering (project investigator), Miller (co-project investigator), and Cassandra Scharber (co-project investigator) from the Learning Technologies program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are spearheading the project and are working with a project team from the Learning Technologies Media Lab.

Inquiry to Impact Symposium explores digital media potential for youth

Symposium photoThe LT Media Lab (LTML), University Extension Center for Youth Development (CYD), and Youthprise welcomed Dr. Nichole Pinkard for the Inquiry to Impact Symposium on Oct. 28. Pinkard’s presentation, “Digital Youth Network: Developing 21st Century Learners Through the Integration of Overlapping Affinity Spaces,” addressed two programs that she co-founded in Chicago geared towards fostering digital literacies in teens–the Digital Youth Network and YOUmedia.
Following the presentation, a panel discussion, moderated by Joyce Walker (CYD), was held with panelists representing stakeholders from both formal and non-formal learning spaces interested in youth and media production. The panelists included Pinkard, Cynthia Lewis (Curriculum and Instruction), Cassie Scharber (LTML), Kevin Kalla (Saint Paul Neighborhood Network), and Mercedes Thomas (The Learning Branch). Youth workers, teachers, and researchers from around the Twin Cities joined the symposium, providing the groundwork for increased communication and potential collaborations between schools and youth programs.
See images of the event here.

Earthducation Expedition 2 explores life, education above the Arctic Circle

DoeringA_150_2011Earthducation Expedition 2, the second in a series of seven-continent explorations investigating the intersection between education and sustainability, begins August 23 in the sparsely populated regions of Norway, above the Arctic Circle. Led by curriculum and instruction professors Aaron Doering and Charles Miller, the team will investigate oil exploration, renewable energy, sustainable fishing, toxic pollutants, school logistics, land and water rights, and culture and language in the indigenous Sami communities. Then they will post their findings online in the EnviroNetwork, where teachers, students, and others around the world can view and discuss them.

Continue reading

LT well represented at AERA conference

LT, the learning technologies area of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, was well represented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference last week in New Orleans. Faculty, staff, and students participated in several presentations during the conference.
Suzan Koseoglu (LT PhD student): Understanding Complex Ecologies: An Investigation of Student Experiences in Adventure Learning Programs
Aaron Doering: Keynote Address for the Computer and Internet Applications in Education SIG Business Meeting
Joel Donna: Using Cloud-Computing Applications to Support Collaborative Scientific Inquiry: Examining Preservice Teachers’ Perceived Barriers Toward Integration
Cassie Scharber, Charles Miller, Aaron Doering: Creative Conversations and Potential Collaborations Between Educational Technology Labs and Institutes
Charles Miller, Lucas Lecheler (LTML; LT PhD student): Reading, Writing, and Language E-Assessment for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing K-8 Learners
Charles Miller, Aaron Doering, Cassie Scharber: “Emerging”: A Reconceptualization of Contemporary Technology Design and Integration Through a Lens of Adventure LearningLTML_logo

KARE 11 Extra featured Earthducation expedition launch

earthducationJanuary 13, 2011, KARE 11 Extra featured the launch of Earthducation’s Expedition 1 to Burkina Faso, a land-locked country where the future will depend on the ability to provide a consistent supply of fresh water. Earthducation team members, led by Curriculum and Instruction’s learning technologies’ professors Aaron Doering and Charles Miller, are now in Burkina Faso, Africa.

Follow the Earthducation expedition on Twitter and for updates.