Monday, July 28, 2014


I’ve just completed my 10th RAGBRAI bicycle ride, this time covering about 440 miles over the course of 7 long and at times grueling days. Every time I ride this tour, I manage to learn something. There is a lot of time to think while you peddle for hours on end! This time out, these thoughts came to me.

You are stronger than you think. Hey, I’m 61 years old, a bit overweight, and yet I managed to ride  across the entire state of Iowa on a bicycle. Ain’t nothing special about me, except I like bicycle riding. In a work context, this also means that I can do more than I think I can if I only set my mind to it.
Sometimes it is good to vary your schedule. I usually get up early and strike my camp, so that I can ride by 530am or so each morning. I generally miss the later crowds on the ride, but I am often too early to really engage in some of the activities along the way, since the towns are open for business only during certain hours, so to say. This year, I had a day where  I went out later than I am comfortable with, but I had a completely different experience as a result. I saw larger crowds, longer lines, but this is the more realistic RAGBRAI experience. There are, after all, 18,000 riders each day, if not more. Be open to change, is the message I learned here. I can be very obsessive about not changing, but this was a good reminder that sometimes it is okay to vary your approach.

It is okay to make mistakes. I made the decision to ride on the second to last day after a severe strom when through and dropped the temperatures 25 degrees while kicking up a strong wind. I left in a period of calm, but the rain returned with a vengeance and the winds picked up more and I was riding through it all, at 61 degrees while soaking wet an unable to ride faster than about 7 miles an hour due to headwind. On a day that was supposed to go 67 miles. By the time I was pulled off the course by my good friend (who will remain unnamed), I was hypothermic. Really I should have waited to later in the day to ride, but at the same time, I am surprised and pleased I made 50 miles in that maelstrom.
You can change your mind. I was sure this was my last RAGBRAI. Nope, it won’t be.

Friday, July 18, 2014


There will be no new post next week, as I will be riding RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This year the route generally runs along the northern border of the state, starting at Rock Valley, and then overnighting at the following towns: Okoboji, Emmetsburg, Forest City, Mason City, Waverly, Independence and ending in Guttenburg. The route length is about 440 miles, and 5 out of 7 days the daily distance is around 70 miles, while there are 2 shorter days of about 40 miles each.

It's a grand time. You see parts of Iowa that are only infrequently visited. You pass through many small farming communities. People are friendly, and the food is good. There is pie, corn and pork tenderloin sandwiches. You may see Mr. Porkchop, and sometimes the best part of the day is when you stop for some shaved ice. I learn a lot each time. I look forward to it each year, even as I get older.

So, back on July 28. Rider on!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Free and Easy Tech Tools

During last week’s in-service session with Dr. Teresa Freking, she ended the session with a list of useful utilities and applications faculty could use to help create blended coursework. This is a compendium of some of the programs she mentioned.

1.       Screencastomatic ( : This is a program that allows you capture your screen activity using a single click. In essence, it records what happens on the screen for the period of time you let it. You can use a basic version (for up to 15 minutes at a time) for free, or pay $15 per year for unlimited recording time.

2.       Khan Academy ( Khan Academy provides you with access to a great number of general video clips over a wide range of topics, including computer science and health and medicine.

3.       Movie Captioner ( This allows you to put captions onto any movie or video clip you wish to show in class. This is useful for universal access for students, for example, with hearing impairment.

4.       Survey Monkey ( A now standard program that allows you to easily create online surveys. You can sign up for free, which allows you limited access and numbers of participants, or pay for the pro version, which allows you unlimited access and numbers of participants. For most of us for classroom use, free will be fine.

5.       Poll Everywhere ( This is sort fo cool. You can create a poll which you can bring up on screen. Your audience can then answer the poll using either a mobile phone, Twitter or a web browser, and you can then show the audience the results live or import into a PowerPoint presentation. Sort of like clickers, but without the need to use clickers.

6.       Jing ( Jing is a free program that allows you to share images and short videos from your computer screen, and it allows you to add visual elements to what you show.

7.       Dipity ( DIpity is a program that allows you develop timelines, such as theone Dr. Freking showed in class that demonstrated the growth of technology programs for the classroom.

In addition, she listed a number of other programs, which you may feel free to check into: Amara, Vimeo, Creative Commons, Youtube, Ted Ed. Please consider using some of these- they are fun, easy, and can transform how you teach others.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Hearty Welcome Back!

Just a brief note from me to welcome you all back from what I hope was a restful and happy break. At the Davenport campus today we have an in-service on blended learning. And to all, just a reminder that deadlines for submission to ACC-RAC are coming up faster than you might think. Workshop proposals need to be submitted by July 15, and abstracts for platform presentations should be submitted before the end of August. Don't forget IRB approvals where necessary.

I am looking forward to a wonderful new term. See you all soon.