Tweets from Transform Avila

EdTech…a new classification of humanities within the liberal arts?

Today I was reading a blog post written for Inside Higher Ed. The post was short and gave no answers but asked some interesting questions. Here are two:

Will EdTech be an enabler for a post-secondary agenda that originates outside of the concerns, values, and goals of educators and learners? An agenda that stresses efficiency and privileges those outcomes that can be easily quantified?

Or will EdTech be a method to advance a vision of learning and teaching that insists on the primacy of relationships, people, and outcomes that may be less amenable to discrete measurement, sorting, and ranking?

The post goes on to ask if the Humanities will accept EdTech into their corner of the world. I began thinking about these questions and wondered what Avila University faculty, staff, and students thought about this. To help spur on comments, I have selected a definition of the humanities from Stanford’s Website. It reads as follows:

The humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. These modes of expression have become some of the subjects that traditionally fall under the humanities umbrella. Knowledge of these records of human experience gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries. (

Please comment on the questions raised by Kim in his 2015 post and your thoughts in this post. I would love to read your opinions and learn from each of you.


Thinglink Presentation…What the CTL does.

Join US! The CTL is hosting the first Web 2.0 Learning Discussion Series Starting August 20th

Mindscaping sxswedu

As summer comes to a halt, reflections of experiences, learnings, and new acquaintances fill the air. What did you do this summer? Read? Relax? Rejuvenate? Reorganize?

Maybe you explored helping students get to graduation more effectively, how to create and use authentic voice in your coursework, innovation in personalized learning and instruction, or ways to improve your use of Canvas during the fall semester.

Those of us at the Center for transformational learning spent the summer scouring social media and journals working to find new and updated information to assist your ease back into the academic world. We decided that a top-ten list might jump start your return.

In a recent publication by the Global Digital Citizen (July 21, 2015) I ran across the following article: 10 Social Media Skills for 21st Century Teachers . Checkout the infographic created in pictochart by Med Karbach! It provided clarity when reassessing my social learning and educational networking competencies.

I created my own Inforgraphic summarizing and sharing social media categories. I hope you find it informative.

Social Media InfoGraphic
How often do you use social media literacy competencies to further student learning? Have you ever collected data on the effect of your social media competencies has on student learning and retention in your courses?

August 20th in the Mabee Transformational Learning Center, Learning Commons will be the first of 10 informal gatherings the CTL will host to discuss these competencies.

The topic is: Knowing Popular web 2.0 categories and tools that further student learning.

Join us to help build our competencies and increase our learning!

The forum is open, light snacks and food will be provided, and, as always, your opinions and expertise are welcome.

#college in 5 words


Recently, I was scrolling through my twitter feed and came across  #college in 5 words. I was intrigued to see the posts. I was hoping these words of wisdom would add to the research I have been conducting on future of higher education. I cannot say I was surprised, however I was a bit saddened with the responses. Here are a few:

Netflix, pizza and maybe friends

I’m just trying to pass

I didn’t do my homework

Skipping class to pass another

Destroying mental health since forever

High school taught me nothing

Didn’t even need the textbook

Time to change my major

Grades don’t matter in heaven

Yes Netflix, I’m still watching

Although I am sure there are tweets that have positive connotation regarding learning in higher education, I had trouble finding them. I  have to say that as an educator I am upset. I love learning. I chose learning as my career. I could never see myself not learning. Yet, these statements do not show the love or self-directed inquiry I breathe every day. So, what’s next?

I wonder, are these students feeling any differently than past generations? Has access to free content changed the college student perspective of learning? Or…if there was Twitter when I was in college would I have felt some of these same feelings?

I don’t know the answer to any of the above questions but would love to start a conversation about what does higher education need to be to spur tweets like:

Best four years I’ve had

Changed my life ten fold

Built relationships I’ll have forever

Question, search, collaborate, problem-solve, question

Made me who I am!

Serious Gaming in Instructional Design?

Link to blogpost on

Link to blogpost on

Nex-Gen Learning

April 9, 2015 Vander Ark blogpost in Education Week.This post is a repost from Dr. Hilvitz-Stokes portfolio Transform Learning.

As an individual who uses big picture and systems thinking to create plans of action, I thought it necessary to share key learnings about digital ecosystems within the field of education. In the April 2015 article written by Tom Vander Ark, he discussed the underinvestment and feeble articulation of learning platforms within institutionalized learning organizations. The contention was that schools were approximately 5 years behind in creating learning spaces that included competency-based and learner centered activities that shape future citizens to problem-solve, ideate, and test solutions.

My mind began to wonder… “Why are we so behind in our thinking?” ,,, “How is it that a field dedicated to life long learning, inquiry, and knowledge sharing continue to operate in a reactive versus proactive state?”

My contention is that we are so busy making sure that our content is delivered through reliable and valid outlets that we miss transformational opportunities to scale our field’s actions to build the human capital needed in a world with access to rapid information exchange.

Please do not misinterpret the statement above. Validity and reliability within knowledge sharing is vital to societal growth in skills and capacities. But maybe, the field of formal education should take a page from the book of inventors and explorers. Maybe, we need to put some of our resources into design thinking techniques to extend our capacity beyond what we know to be true and dabble in uncharted waters.

So let us journey into dissecting current ecosystem of learning. A plan of action needs to include: collection of the current state of learning institutions’  use of digital tools to provide content and socialization, iterative discussions of why we function within this paradigm, creation of a system that builds on the current ecosystem, and finally ideation of future functioning.

To provide background information about digital ecosystems I have included information from Vander Ark’s blog post, recently reprinted in Education Week’s April 15th issue, to gain more information regarding the idea of a digital ecosystem. Here is what he said,

[There] are 12 components of next-gen learning and 12 development vectors, groups of organizations on a similar path to next-gen learning, and 12 suggestions for philanthropies that want to accelerate progress.

Digital Components

Digital Curation Tool Box Image

Digital Curation Tool Box Image

When defining components Vander Ark described them as digital platforms. Digital components such as  learning, relationship, content, integration, and assessment tools tend to be found in many schools today. What is not seen is the use of these tools to integrate the entire learning experience. If advising, cross-collaboration, data bases for knowledge sharing, integration of data across courses or grade levels, or a comprehensive personalized area that allows for artifact usage were intentionally applied within the student experience these components would enable learners to shine brightly.

Development Vectors

Forces that bring about change within the system can be referred to as development vectors. Re-envisionning social interaction, time, space, place and engagement might create pathways to non-identified learning options. Our field appears to be dabbling in this idea. I believe that many learning and training systems are just beginning to redefine how the concepts listed above have an effect on learning. The challenge is to change our lens as we envision the future. If we take this risk, a door will open to new ways of thinking about competency, data, dashboards and universal design of learning.

Alignment of Services

These groups of constellations create important and beautiful images when discussed in isolation. Each are important and have functions within learning that are all inclusive. However, the amazing power of alignment of student, faculty, institution and administration services is at our fingertips. With intentional integration through strategic planning; day to day operations could become more effective and powerful.

Questions to ponder:

  • What future benefits are derived, within the ecosystem of learning organizations,  through choosing use digital tools to drive systems thinking and learning?
  • What components are important and why?
  • Can they be used to scale effective societal growth?
  • Does mapping future structures, overarching themes, and concepts toward intentional use of these tools catapult institutionalized learning from yesterdays’ intended purpose?
  • Are learning organizations creating a planned digital ecosystem that includes vectors, components and constellations?
  • Is there a blueprint within each institution that shows the relationships between these components and how they will enhance society overall?


Vander Ark, T. (2015). How learning will work in the near future: 12 features of nex-gen platforms. Education Week Blog Post April 15, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2015 from

the Learning Playground


learning playground pic

Who: Faculty, Staff and Students

Where: Mabee Transformational Learning Center (learning Commons)

When: March 5th  Attend anytime During 10:30-12:30

Using ePortfolios to Enhance…..Part 1

My Story…

There have been many books, articles, and blog posts written about the use of ePortfolios in schools. Each time I read one, I am taken back to my experiences throughout my career in education.

My first introduction to using portfolios and not “work folders” was in the early 1990s. As elementary teachers we were excited to learn that we could have pizza boxes donated to our classroom as a method for gathering student artifacts throughout each quarter. We would then pick the last week of the quarter to have our students build a “memory book” of learning. Each page would have a learning goal, a piece of student work representing that goal, and a statement of reflection by the student.

Although I believed that having the students reflect on their learning was powerful,  I did not believe I had learned enough to be an effective adviser of learning. So,  in 1996, II volunteered to become a member an innovative task force, I was one of 5 elementary and special education teachers who agreed to allow the University of Kansas to implement digital portfolio processes into our classrooms. Our task was to identify if using digital portfolios showed a correlation between objectives taught and student learning. Our end product was a digital collection of student work that could be used during conferencing. These records of practice allowed the student to speak to how he or she believed the content objectives were met.

My third encounter with digital portfolio creation was in 2002- 2003. I was selected, by my school district, to participate in the the National Board of Professional Teachers certification process. This was a year long process that changed my teaching forever! I believe this change had to do with the requirement of creating a portfolio of work that was proof that my teaching was the cause of student learning. I was required to collect three types of artifacts: (a) video capture of student learning (b) written student work,  and (c) an artifact that was physically constructed by the student. Then, I created written documentation for each artifact as evidence of my mastery of national board standards.During this process I learned the power of tying intentional goal setting, analysis of artifacts, and reflection was a key determinant in my every day practice as an educator.

My fourth encounter was two years ago. I  created a portfolio of my scholarly and community work through Learning Management System (LMS). used by our university.  At this point in my career, I had collected many digital artifacts created in a variety of digital platforms including Animoto, Prezi, and iMovie. My task was to create a portfolio for rank promotion that would provide proof of my competencies as an associate professor within the School of Education. Although I accomplished this task, I felt my ePortfolio was more of a digital repository than a reflective journey through my accomplishments. I knew I needed to learn more.

Conference Learning!

So when I had the opportunity to attend sessions at the 2015 AAC&U National conference in D.C. this year, I was excited to see an entire conference strand on using ePortfolios to enhance liberal learning in universities and colleges. The presentation that most moved me was presented by Wooster College.The presenters included:administration ( Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement and the Associate Dean for Academic Advising), faculty and chair of the education department, and a junior who was seeking a degree from the department of Communication Science and Disorders.

This session was on the last day of the conference near lunch time, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew I wanted to increase ways to use ePortfolios at our university and this session spoke volumes to me.

They began by posting their mission statement:

…in a community of independent minds, working together to prepare students to become leaders of  character and influence in an interdependent global community…Wooster graduates are creative and independent thinkers with exceptional abilities to ask important questions, research complex issues, solve problems, and communicate new knowledge and insight.

What I found interesting about the presentation and the college, was not the technical content of using ePortfolios per se but the enthusiasm and buy-in of speakers toward using this process.. Each person breathed the above missions statement and believed that ePortfolios was a road-map to achieving this mission.

Students began their freshman learning experience at Wooster College by using an advising ePortfolio to help align academic and social goals with their desired degree. Advising sessions were not simply identification of course offerings and selection but the capturing of conversations to support the architecture of a college learning experience. These advising ePortfolios required the students to.identify personal and learning needs to meet their stated goals.Here are a few tips I picked up:

The best advising portfolios promote discussion and questioning, are used for intentional planning, and lead to informed decisions and use of resources.

I had to ask myself if my advisees were taught from the beginning to build their learning and social experience at our university, or did I simply share the “required classes” within the time structure that was offered? After a loit of thought, I believe I attempted to accomplish the use of discussion and questioning during advising, but what I did not have was an electronic record, created by the student, to show their thinking during our sessions. What I had was a bank of notes I took to show I covered the needed content.

AHA!  As a faculty member, my job during advising should help the student create a draft of his or her story of learning, make intentional edits along the way, and support eh student in creating his or her own voice as a learner at our university.

Thank you Wooster!.

Visit the Center for Transformational Learning

The Center for Transformational Learning is housed in Carondelet Room 109

  We have created a relaxing atmosphere to support:

  • Teaching and Learning Services
  • Information about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Instructional Design Support for Faculty and Programs
  • Information Seeking to Identify Innovative Practices within Higher Education

Join us:

To play, learn, collaborate, or work with our staff!

 IMG_1736IMG_1737 IMG_1731


What does Transformational Learning Look Like?

What does Transformational Learning Look Like?

Center for Transformational Learning Open Full Time!


The 2014-15 academic year is upon us and Avila’s Center for Transformational Learning is here to help. But what do we do, you may ask….

The mission of the Center for Transformational Learning is to re-envision teaching and learning that inspires. Our role at the university is to create ongoing programs and supports that enable faculty, staff, students,and the community to be successful reflective life-long learners. To support our mission, the center has defined four

initiatives based on our HLC Quality Initiative:

  • Anchor 21st century teaching and learning practices within disciplined inquiry
  • Maximize Students, Faculty, and Staff Networking and Social Information Experiences
  • Move Students to Become Owners of Their Learning
  • Embed the capability within Avila to integrate feedback from economic initiatives to support curricular structure

Community Partnership between local K-12 and School of Education

The Center has outlined services and capabilities to assist in meeting these initiatives. These include:

  • Support faculty with Instructional Design
  • Build knowledge sharing communities
  • Facilitate continuous Improvement of University Programs
  • Enhance digital literacies throughout the University
  • Share industry trends that influence changes in higher education
  • Promote SoTL

There are a variety of ways to access Center supports.

problem solving cc

Collaborative vetting of purposeful instruction

One option is to contact the CTL to discuss how we can facilitate your vision or goal. The School of Nursing collaborated with the CTL this past May to re-envision their course structures to incorporate test blueprint creation, alignment of course objective/assessment within syllabi construction, use of intentional instructional design, and use of rubrics to guide student learning.


School of Nursing Day of Learning


The center worked with Susie and Janet to use Improvement science to define specific change agents that will produce improvement within the school. A day long learning experience was designed to facilitate the faculty understanding and use of these change agents.

groups etl

Active Groups on Excellence in Teaching and Learning website

Another option is to create or join one of the professional learning networks on the Excellence in Teaching and Learning website. To date there are 10 private groups and 4 public groups. Public groups do not require request for membership and include:

  • Statistics- The Beautiful Science
  • Transforming Learning at Avila
  • Scholarship and Blogging
  • ePortfolios.


Joining these networks and sharing ideas with other Avila professionals allows the faculty to build their Scholarship in Teaching and Learning. If you have an idea for a Professional Learning Group feel free to log into the site and create your own topic of discussion and study. If you need assistance the Center will be happy to help.


Forbes Article on Trends in Higher Education

Forbes Article on Trends in Higher Education

The third way the Center supports the university is through dissemination of information regarding trends within higher education and strategies used to to stay current. The site contains three categories: News, Teaching and Learning Strategies,and Trends in Education. These categories will be updated once a month to share current trends and resources that may effect the structures of higher education.


HLC Quality Initiative

HLC Quality Initiative

The Center is also charged with collaborating with academic affairs to plan and support HCL Quality Initiatives that include redesign of 100-200 level courses to include academic learning communities, redesign of identified developmental course and those courses with low pass rates, and creation of faculty learning communities that study student success. These initiatives will be implemented over a two year span.

Finally, the center provides face to face learning opportunities throughout the academic year. This year we are offering sessions in August on facilitation of online discussions, lecture capture with an iPhone, individual course design, and using student groups to build student ownership of learning. In addition, there will be several Dine and Discuss venues throughout the academic year, and one book study opportunity.

To access the Center for Transformational Learning on ground feel free to contact:

2014 Andria

Andria Hilvitz Stokes Ed.D.
@ extension 3607 or






Skip to toolbar