Monthly Archives: September 2015

Learning Games


TCC hosted the first Learning Games evening on September 10, 2015. Larry Straining led the evening with a presentation on the difference between activities and learning games. The enthusiastic crowd consisted of people already convinced of the value of playing learning games in teaching and training as well as some interested in adding such games to their teaching and training.

The games included Jenga, Things, Backseat Drawing, Telestrations, Tsuro, Apples to Apples, Fluxx, Story Cubes, and Battleship. Participants divided into groups and chose a game to play. The rules for the evening were simple: play a game according to the rules. during and/or following the play, discuss the ways to use the game in a variety of disciplines. Then play another game and continue the discussion.

When my group chose Jenga, I was skeptical about playing it and using it with a class. However, Johansen Quijano, a member my team,explained how he uses Jenga. Students in teams build the towers according to the directions. Then Quijano asks questions; the team which answers correctly does not have to remove a tile. Those who do not answer correctly, must remove a tile from the tower. The questioning continues until a tower collapses. The game involves strategy, knowing the correct answers, and tension over when or if a tower will collapse.

Story Cubes proved to be a favorite of all who played it. Players can also download an app for a reasonable fee and play from a smartphone or tablet.The game has nine cubes with pictures on all sides. Roll out the cubes and tell a story connecting all of the pictures.

Think about how to use games in teaching and training! Learning is fun!

storycubes boxgame stroycubes


Useful Technology


Today, I am writing about some old technology friends: Padlet, PowToon, and–a preview to the open lab Steve St. John, Logan Phillips, and I will host at Stayonference 2015 on Oct 9. All three tools are free or have a free and a paid version. I’ve used only the free versions with excellent results.

Padlet is an online bulletin board with a great deal of flexibility. Users can post information there without an account, but creating the free account allows the users to keep the material on Padlet longer. Check out “32 Interesting Ways to Use Padlet”: Not all of those suggestions will fit a single instructor’s needs, but the variety of suggestions is useful. I require students to create a Padlet wall with pictures of themselves, their pets, links to favorite Web sites,  and other information as a way to introduce themselves; this assignment is particularly useful for online students. I also ask students to keep a Commonplace Book Padlet wall where they reflect on the readings assigned for the class. The students have the opportunity to reflect in a number of ways: including an appropriate video, choosing a passage from the reading and writing about it, and/or adding a picture that sums up the reflection. The assignment gives students an opportunity to show they have read the material and to be creative. For students reading literature, I require them to create a fake Facebook page using Padlet. Again, the students receive specific instructions on what to include, but they can also be creative by adding other information.

At, users can create free videos and share them from PowToon or turn them into YouTube videos to share. PowToon is easy to use, but takes a little time to understand how to set the timing. The free version limits the characters users can include, but it is still a useful tool.See the link below for a sample I created.

Finally, is a curation tool. The free version allows users to have five boards on which to collect material from the Web. Users can add their own comments to the sites they collect. Then they can share the boards with other users. The boards are inviting.