Tag Archive: Instructional Technology

Mar 10

Finding Government Information

This article is the fourth part of a series by UNG Libraries covering some of the newest and most exciting additions to our GALILEO Database collections. A new post will appear on the last Monday of every month of Academic year 2015-2016. Please note: login required for off-campus access to some links.


Information created by the United States federal government seems appealingly useful because it is authoritative and much of it seems reliable; finding the government information you need, however, isn’t always easy. Sure, you can do a Google search or you can search USA.gov (the official web portal of the United States government), but you may have to sift through many – even hundreds of thousands of results to find a particular document or information resource. Even after you’ve drilled through all the results, you still may come up empty-handed. Fortunately, there are some governmental databases that are especially useful for locating U.S. government information.

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications

CatalogofUSpubsOne of the most user-friendly federal government databases is the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP). Sponsored by the Government Publishing Office (GPO), the CGP creates records of print and digitized government information that is distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program. Users can choose from basic, advanced, and expert search options—although most people start with the basic search and type one or two keywords in the search box. Recent government publications are often fully digitized and the CGP provides links that will connect the user to digitized information resources.(figure 1)



figure 1


metalibIn addition to the CGP, the Government Publishing Office created MetaLib, a search engine that searches over 60 governmental resources. MetaLib allow users to select and search up to ten databases at once. These include “catalogs, reference databases, digital repositories or subject-based Web gateways.” Once the results are generated, then the search can be narrowed by clicking on one of the facets (e.g. topics, dates, authors, etc.) on the right side of the search results page (see figure 2 below). People accustomed to getting search results at the speed of a Google search may become frustrated using MetaLib. Users may have to perform multiple searches to locate the desired information resources and that can get to be a bit tedious. As is true with all database searches–the better your search terms, the better your results.


figure 2

Federal Digital System (FDsys)


Another tool from the Government Publishing Office is the Federal Digital System, or FDsys. The emphasis of FDsys is on “authentic government information.” Because digital text and images can be manipulated, it isn’t always easy to determine if the information presented is both original and legitimate. FDsys provides authentic, verified, and digitally signed PDF documents that mitigate those concerns. In addition, the GPO guarantees “permanent public access to all FDsys resources.” FDsys include around 50 collections from the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Federal Government.


Google: Effective .gov Searches

CGP ix

figure 3

The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, MetaLib, and FDsys are important tools for discovering government information. These tools work well for researchers and advanced students. But some students are going perform a Google search, almost by instinct. For these students – and anyone else seeking government information – there’s a way to search Google more effectively. One can limit the domains that Google searches by typing the word site followed by a colon and then dot gov. (In other words, type:  site:.gov,) followed by your specific search terms. Google will only search website with a .gov domain (see figure 3).


cgp X

figure 4


These searches will also pull in government information authored by the state legislatures, departments, agencies, and so on. If you want to limit your search to just information from Georgia state governmental and regulatory bodies, simply type site:.ga.gov followed by your search terms (see figure 4).

If you have any questions about finding government information, please ask the UNG librarians. We’d love to help you.

Nov 02

GALILEO database: Artstor

This article is the third part of a series by UNG Libraries covering some of the newest and most exciting additions to our GALILEO Database collections. A new post will appear on the last Monday of every month of Academic year 2015-2016. Please note: login required for off-campus access to some links

Pictorial Quilt; Harriet Powers (1837-1910); United States; 1895-98; Textiles: Cotton plain weave, pieced, appliqued, embroidered, and quilted; 175 x 266.7 cm (68 7/8 x 105 in.

Pictorial Quilt; Harriet Powers (1837-1910); United States; 1895-98; Textiles: Cotton plain weave, pieced, appliqued, embroidered, and quilted; 175 x 266.7 cm (68 7/8 x 105 in.)  This image was provided by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All rights reserved. (see footnote)

“One picture is worth ten thousand words.

~ Chinese proverb

Images are powerful communication tools and the UNG Libraries subscribe to a fabulous collection, Artstor Digital Library. Artstor Digital Library shares almost 2 million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences from museums, photo archives, photographers, scholars, and artists for teaching and educational use.  Any UNG student, faculty, or staff member can immediately start searching and using images through the Libraries’ link to Artstor on campus. You can also opt to create an account to save and organize images into collections and write personal annotations. Faculty and staff may also request “instructor privileges” that allow additional folder rights and the ability to upload your personal images (Login, click My Profile, then click Instructor Privileges tab). The tools within Artstor allow you to easily export images directly into PowerPoint or use their offline presentation tool (OIV) to zoom in to see minute details of a work for presentations.


Apples; Thomas Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910); United States; 1867; Oil on canvas; 38.73 x 30.8 cm (15 1/4 x 12 1/8 in.) This image was provided by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All rights reserved. (see footnote).

Looking for ideas on how to integrate images in your teaching? This collection is more than “fine art” to be used to teach Art History. Check out Artstor’s case studies and curriculum guides! You can find them at the Teaching Resources link under the Browse section in the Digital Library homepage. (If you’re visiting Artstor on your phone or tablet, you’ll find the case studies under Global Folders.) Artstor’s curriculum guides are broken down into topics or themes, each composed of approximately ten images that illustrate or support the subject. Artstor’s case studies describe the innovative ways subscribers in a variety of disciplines are using the Artstor Digital Library in their teaching, research, and scholarship.

Looking for images for your own publications? Select images in Artstor are part of the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) program. Initiated by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2007 to help address the challenges of scholarly publishing in the digital age by providing free images for academic publications through an automated Web-based service, the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) program makes available publication-quality images for use in scholarly publications free of charge. All IAP contributors are Artstor image contributors and you can use Artstor to search for IAP eligible images.

  1. Login to Artstor with your username and password
  2. Use the Keyword Search and add IAP to your search criteria.
  3. Click (the IAP icon) to download a high resolution file for publication. A new window will open explaining the process. If you are eligible for the program, click Proceed. In the next window, click Download.
  4. In the next window, review the IAP Terms and Conditions of Use. You may also print this window for reference with the print link at the end of the document. Check the box indicating that you have read and accept these terms before clicking Continue.
  5. Provide the information requested in the space provided. Click Download.
  6. Two windows will open. One warns this download will take some time. The other shows your computer’s directory, where you can choose a place to save this file and continue to download as usual.
CreatorMade by, Ma Yuan, Chinese, active ca. 1190-1225 Culture China Title Scholar Viewing a Waterfall; Guanpu tu Period Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) Date late 12th-early 13th century Material Album leaf; ink and color on silk Measurements 9 7/8 x 10 1/4 in. (25.1 x 26 cm)

Scholar Viewing a Waterfall; Guanpu tu; Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279); late 12th-early 13th century; Album leaf; ink and color on silk This image was provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved. (see footnote)


Want to learn more about Artstor? Artstor offers a webinar series that cover both the general usage and Artstor tools as well as subject specific sessions such as “More than Just Art: Image of Psychology” and “The Do’s and Don’ts of Image Copyright and Image Use”. Also, their support center has a wealth of learning aids in a variety of formats for just in time learning.



*All images provided are available for uses permitted under the ARTstor Terms and Conditions of Use, such as teaching and study, as well as for scholarly publications, through the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) initiative. Please review the IAP Terms and Conditions of Use.

Oct 12

Space to Teach: The Teaching Professor Technology Conference

In 2013, the English Learning Support department at UNG was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As part of the “Adaptive Learning Market Acceleration Program” (ALMAP) grant, several learning support English professors – myself, Ashley Armour, Kelly Dahlin, Dr. Shannon Gilstrap, and Dr. Matthew Horton – took on the task of incorporating adaptive technologies into our courses. We decided to use the McGraw-Hill LearnSmart program, which uses an algorithm to constantly update each student’s learning challenges and successes in order to offer a so-called “personal learning plan.” For three semesters, we incorporated the technology into our pedagogy and into our assessments, and, for three semesters, we gathered data on the students. Were they successful in completing the “learning plan”? How did their work with the technology affect their success in the course? How did using the technology impact our teaching?

The answer, right now, is that the verdict is still out, at least empirically speaking. We do see some correlation between course completion rates and learning plan completion, but we’ll need to look a bit closer to determine whether it’s causative or simply correlative, as the plans were also a percentage of the course grade. We did decide, nearly unanimously, that the program gave us room; we had more space in our classroom lessons to address more holistic issues, such as paragraphing, organization, and critical thinking. We spent less time lecturing about grammar, and we spent more time teaching, and practicing, revision and editing strategies. In other words: we could workshop student papers. Students could collaborate in peer review sessions, feeling more confident about their foundational knowledge.

It was this pedagogical freedom that we focused on in our poster presentation at the Teachning Professor Technology Conference in New Orleans. Our eposter, “Space to Teach: Adaptive Technology in the Developmental English Classroom” (watch it here) drew a bit of attention, as we fancied it up with a Google Slides presentation. The most interesting conversation was with a faculty member from a large university. She was not only skeptical of the technology; she simply refused to believe that we had time to “workshop” and to “work with students” in a writing classroom. We insisted that, as long as the instructor scaffolds the lesson appropriately, with specific tasks and expectations, peer reviewing and student-teaching interaction can work quite well in our courses. Despite our clear experience with this format, the faculty member remained doubtful, and she walked away with a firm shake of her head and a dismissive comment, “I don’t believe that’s possible, what you’re saying. There’s no way to work with individual students to that degree.”

For us, her doubt was suprising, since our student-centered pedagogy has served us so well for so long. We weren’t, however, bothered overmuch by her disregard of our approach. In fact, the exchange reaffirmed the unique beauty of what we’ve been able to accomplish with a focus on teaching and learning at UNG. The adaptive technology, for us, simply allows us more space to do what we want: teach every student how to communicate effectively and confidently, in any context.


Further Reading

2015 Teaching Professor Technology Conference

news@UNG (Press Release) “Grant will expand project to support student success at UNG”

Space to Teach: Adaptive Technology in the Developmental English Classroom (ePoster Handout)

Space to Teach: Adaptive Technology in the Developmental English Classroom (ePoster Slides)


Sep 28

GALILEO Database: ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™

This article is the second part of a series by UNG Libraries covering some of the newest and most exciting additions to our GALILEO Database collections. A new post will appear on the last Monday of every month of Academic year 2015-2016. Please note: login required for off-campus access to some links.

CTLL Blog - Hist NYT - Image

The ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™ database offers researchers full coverage of the New York Times from 1851 to the recent past*. This invaluable resource provides a record of over 160 years of significant historical events. It also gives students and researchers a glimpse into changing social perspectives and values over the decades.

Teaching with this Database

The ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™(listed in GALILEO as: Historical New York Times (via ProQuest)) database is a fantastic resource for primary sources in history. In addition to articles by staff writers, this database includes documents like satirical cartoons, letters to the editor, classifieds, and advertisements. History classes could read feature articles about significant historical events, then look at related cartoons, editorials, and letters to the editor to examine the social response to the historical event.

Sociology classes might use ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™ to compare current and historical attitudes toward groups of people. For example, this 1904 classified ad page features job applicants openly discussing their own religion, ethnicity, physical appearance, and disabilities. This could spark a class discussion about whether these attributes are a factor in modern-day employment.

Political science classes might use this database to examine the evolution of current hot-button political topics. The immigration debate didn’t originate with the 2016 Presidential election, after all! Students can search for “immigration” or “immigrant” within an assigned decade, then compare and contrast the issues discussed in historical articles versus current articles.

In the field of journalism and media studies, students might analyze how newspaper layouts have changed over the course of time. The “Browse this issue” feature shows an entire original page at a glance, including advertisements and images, and allows navigation to other pages within the issue. This retains all the original context and allows users to experience the newspaper much as the original reader would have.

Searching and Navigating

Like many databases, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™ can search through articles’ full text by keyword and narrow by publication date. Search refinements allow users to search for terms specifically within articles’ title, author, dateline, section, and more. Users can also search for a term anywhere outside of the article full text, which is helpful for common terms that appear frequently in irrelevant articles.

proquestsearchProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™ can also search according to document type. Since this database offers full coverage, search results cover far more than just feature stories. Users can search for specific item types like advertisements, birth notices, classified ads, real estate transactions, obituaries, fire losses, soldier lists, and many more.

Some item types, including advertisements and comics, lack descriptive labels that would allow users to search for specific topics. Instead of keywords, you can select “advertisement” as the document type, select a date range of interest, and leave the keyword search box empty. This will bring back all advertisements from the specified date range.

Users can browse entire issues and experience them in their original layout. If you’re already reading an item in this database, click “Browse this issue” at the top or at the right of your page. If you’re starting from the Advanced Search page, click “Publications” and navigate to your desired issue based on its publication date.

For more tips on searching within this database, see this guide from ProQuest.

Expanding Beyond ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™

Many more newspapers, both current and historical, are available through the UNG Libraries. Explore more current and historical newspapers through GALILEO, including the current New York Times.


*Coverage ends three years prior to the current year. Right now, coverage ends on December 31, 2012. Coverage of 2013 will become available in 2016.

Aug 31

GALILEO Database: History Reference Center

This article is the first part of a series by UNG Libraries covering some of the newest and most exciting additions to our GALILEO Database collections. A new post will appear on the last Monday of every month of Academic year 2015-2016.

A comprehensive and multi-faceted history database, History Reference Center® is an essential student resource for historical research with full-text journals, reference tools, and primary resources, all in one search.

History Reference Center® offers the full text of more than 2000 reference books, encyclopedias and non-fiction books from leading history publishers, and includes full text for articles from more than 150 leading history journals and periodicals combined with thousands of primary research documents.

Excellent as a “first stop” research tool for most topics in history, History Reference Center® results display basic overview sources alongside the texts of research documents.  The Browse by Topic feature lets students browse, refine and explore selected topics in either U.S. History or World History.  For many topics, the database includes related videos and images: over 80 hours of historical videos and 40,000 historical maps and images.

CivilrightsUsing History Reference Center® in the Classroom

Like other EBSCO databases, History Reference Center® offers all the basic features of an EBSCO resource including emailing, printing, citing, or saving, but there are still other features which help students explore and use content.

For instance, students may create a personal My EBSCOhost account which allows them to create customized folders to which they may permanently save their search results. EBSCO’s folder feature allows students to collect results from different searches, store them in the session folder, and manage the folder contents — printing, emailing, or saving them.  Folders created in one EBSCO database are visible in all EBSCO databases and remain accessible to the user indefinitely.

Additionally, the “shared folder” feature in the History Reference Center® database allows students and instructors to create and share their custom folders with others.  Shared folders make it is easy for students to share materials within the database for classroom projects and support the collaborative process as students work together in groups to search, review and save journal articles, reference materials and primary resources.  For more about using folders for any of the EBSCO databases, select the Help link at the top of the page of the database and Yaltasearch for “folders”.

As it has for many of its databases, EBSCO has created and offers to users a student “Scavenger Hunt” activity for the History Reference Center®.  By using the “Scavenger Hunt” for History Reference Center®  instructors help their students become familiar with the topics and content covered in the database, explore database features and create effective search strategies.

Creating Search Alerts

Instructors can keep the most up-to-date materials and resources for their classes handy by setting up an EBSCO search alert in the History Reference Center® database.  Search alerts locate relevant materials based on a prescribed topic without having to craft the search string over and over again. Once instructors set up a search alert, they will receive automatic notification by email whenever new search results become available. Instructors can also retrieve those alerts and search immediately, instead of waiting for the alert to run.   In the same way search alerts work, journal alerts can be set up to provide automatic email notifications whenever a new issue of a particular journal becomes available in the EBSCO database.  For more information about setting up journal or search alerts for any of the EBSCO databases, select the Help link at the top of the page of the database and search for “search alerts”.

For more information about History Reference Center® or any of the EBSCO databases in UNG Libraries’ collection, please call us at Gainesville, x3915, Dahlonega, x1889, Oconee, x6238, or Cumming x3840, or email UNG Libraries at askus@ung.edu. Students — and faculty — may also find the “Ask a Librarian” chat window on the UNG Libraries home page a useful tool for assistance finding resources and working through searches.

Apr 20

To Incentivize or Not To Incentivize

As an instructor, my philosophy has always been to treat college students as adults. This philosophy generated from both my own experiences as a student and also the fact that additional freedom and responsibility will help students develop the habits they need to be successful during their academic and professional careers. As a USG colleague states in his class introduction, shared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “…nor will I penalize you for being late to class once in a while, or even being absent… Unlike some of your other professors, I will not withdraw you from the class for excessive absences. If you want to withdraw, you’ll have to do it yourself before the deadline. Otherwise, if you simply stop coming, you’ll wind up with an F in the course.” This truly seems like the best way to manage a course and interact with our students who are – or should certainly aspire to be – adult learners.

freakonomicscover As an economist, nevertheless, I must also acknowledge the importance of incentives, a core principle in any introductory economics class. Incentives effectively have an impact on every aspect of human activity ranging from the habits of bus drivers in Chile to birth rates in Estonia. The popular books Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, and the New York Times Freakonomics column featured entertaining analyses of the application and misapplication of incentives to a diverse range of topics including education, sumo wrestling, drug dealing, and the operation of day care centers.


As such, I face the philosophical dilemma of balancing my own instincts as an instructor with the importance of incentives central to my discipline.  Along the same lines, this internal debate may well be rendered mute bythe specific requirements and goals of the University System of Georgia‘s Complete College Georgia program. In particular, this program calls for an increase in the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by USG institutions and an increase in the number of degrees that are earned “on time.” Given these prescriptions, faculty at USG institutions have little choice but to take any reasonable action possible to promote student learning, including the use of incentives wherever and whenever possible and prudent.

It is in this light that I made a major change in one of my important classroom policies. I previously created a total of 27 interactive problem sets for critical topics in macroeconomics and macroeconomics. These problem sets featured graphs, formulas, equations, and – most importantly – feedback on the specific solutions for all questions. Based on the instincts that I mentioned above, the problem sets were completely optional;completing these assessments had no direct impact on a student’s grade. Given that these problem sets were accessible to students in WebCT and later in D2L for zero cost, we might assume that the majority of students who are adult learners would take advantage of these resources which would so clearly help them better prepare for ECON tests and exams.

We would be wrong.

When these problem sets were optional, only 62% of my students completed them and the average score on each assessment was 33%. In an effort to promote success through incentives, I changed my policy making these assessments required with an initial minimum score of at least 25% on each assessment. This relatively low requirement was a incentivesimpactgraphcompromise of sorts. The requirement would create an incentive but allow students to engage in these activities without undue anxiety. As a result of the requirement, the completion percentage increased substantially to 92% and the average score increased to 63%. These results were quite encouraging. My ultimate goal, however, was to improve student learning, with the gauge being students’ final exam scores. In that area, this experiment was not successful. The impact of the change from “optional” to “required” was not statistically significant.

Yet I was able to draw some conclusions on incentives. The analysis of the results did indicate that those students with scores over 50% on the problems sets did have significantly higher success rates in the course as measured by their final exam scores. While there is an issue of differentiating causation from correlation within these results, the significant relationship between success rates on the problem sets and success in the course as a whole at least suggests the potential for a benefit to students of incentivized participation, provided that the incentives and requirements offer sufficient rigor. Much in the same way that a lack of incentives can lead to less than optimal results, incentives based on standards that are too undemanding may not provide true challenges for our students and therefore not provide true opportunities for growth and success.

Feb 14

(Re)Processing High-Impact Classrooms

(Re)Processing High-Impact Classrooms

The idea behind high-impact approaches to the classroom is not new.  In 1854, Dickens (2001) warned us away from a focus on “ ‘nothing but Facts, Sir; nothing but Facts’  ” (p. 2), and countless scholars since have demonstrated the need to move away from traditional approaches to more progressive, critical, engaging, and inclusive educational environments.  In higher education, we understand the importance of critical pedagogies and high-impact practices at the same time that we often lose sight of these during the semester.  One issue could be that we tend to equate high-impact practices with “new and exciting techniques,” as Caroline Fallahi (2011) writes, rather than focusing on the process of learning and how this is reflected in course design.  We conflate new approaches with better learning, believing that “the practices facilitate the process” (Barber, 2012, p. 591).

Using the latest approaches, though, does not mean that we’re engaging our students with high-impact practices.  In developing an environment that supports higher-order thinking skills, Fink (2007) reminds us that we need to think about “the situational factors” or context and expectations surrounding the course, students, professors, and institution (Fink, 2007, “Course Design”).  In this process, understanding the situational factors that our students bring with them—even those outside the context of the classroom—is key.  As Barber (2012) notes, we must focus on how our students learn and how to help them make connections to their everyday experiences, and he provides four recommendations for moving toward integrated learning:

1. “Invite conversations with students,”

2. “Actively bridge contexts for and with students,”

3. “Promote perspective taking,” and

4. “Encourage reflection” (pp. 610-611).

Engaging in these four practices can help us develop a better understanding of students’ situational factors (Fink, 2007); which, in turn, can help us tailor high-impact practices and higher-level learning approaches to a specific course.  This does not mean that we cannot establish learning goals, readings, activities, and projects prior to meeting our students.  Rather than starting at the end (or at the beginning), we have to view this as an ongoing, non-linear process, which means we should be flexible and create room for input.  What are students’ worries and interests?  What are their goals?  How do they best learn?

Clickers, cell phone polls, digital storytelling, and other forms of technology can be great learning tools, but these techniques alone provide only a surface-level understanding of our students’ experiences, and in the meantime, we lose sight of the process of teaching and learning.  Courses should not remain static.  A high-impact classroom is complex, flexible, and constantly changing, and it cannot be reached merely by revamping our old techniques to fit taxonomies, introducing new approaches into an old frame, using a manual of trendy approaches, or working from end to beginning or vice versa.  It’s a living, breathing thing that requires that we pay attention and cultivate it over time, and this cultivation begins by getting to know our students as complex learners and taking the time to ask, listen, and reflect.  In thinking about developing high-impact and engaging practices for current and future classrooms, start each semester with students’ reflections on themselves, their current knowledge, and their learning processes, and then work with students and colleagues and engage with research to find high-impact practices that can help students reach the learning objectives for the course.

Note: This is a site with prompts for student and educator reflection in order to encourage higher-order and critical thinking in the classroom: http://www.teachthought.com/learning/44-prompts-merging-reflective-thinking-blooms-taxonomy/ I would encourage developing questions related to pedagogy as well for a holistic viewpoint.


Barber, J.P. (2012). Integration of learning: A grounded analysis of college students’ learning.

American Educational Research Journal 49(3), 590-617.

Dickens, C. (2001). Hard times. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Fallahi, C. (2011). Using Fink’s taxonomy in course design. Observer, 24(7), retrieved from


Fink, D. (2007). The power of course design to increase students engagement and learning. Peer

Review 9(1), retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/peerreview/pr-wi07/pr-wi07_analysis3.cfm

Sep 07

CTLL and Technology

In the new Univeristy of North Georgia structure, the work previously done by CTLE (Center of Teaching and Learning Excellence) and CTLL (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership) is now handled by two separate areas:

CTLLThe Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership facilitates faculty development, including orientation, service-learning, best practices in teaching and learning, mentoring, and other faculty enrichment. CTLL offers programs aligned to the institution’s strategic plan and supports departmental faculty development opportunities. CTLL reserves space, promotes events, and coordinates workshops. In addition, we collect data on professional development offered throughout UNG.

DETIDistance Education and Technology Integration handles distance education and training on best practices using technologies of learning. DETI focuses on accessible quality online instruction, best practices in online pedagogy, and faculty support services. DETI encourages and supports the implementation of new technologies within traditional, hybrid, and online environments.