Sheryl St. Germain

Sheryl St. Germain, Ph.D. Creative Writing


My primary objective was to enhance and improve my teaching with technology, and to be able to share whatever I learned with the MFA faculty.  Secondary objectives were to learn to use Prezi to create more vibrant presentations both to promote the MFA program and to utilize in our hybrid classes.

Planning Process

I wanted to be able to respond more fully to student work.  I read a lot of papers and usually comment on them in written format.  Sometimes I use “track changes,” but I sense students just glaze over those.  I wanted to find a technology that would allow me to respond orally to their pieces.  I also wanted something very easy to use.  I wanted to be able to record my comments, save them, and email them to the student or make them available via dropbox.

I reviewed five or six technologies over the course of several months that allow you to record comments.  I found the one that was best for my purposes is called Voice Memo.  It is extremely easy to use; you simply press a button; and allows you to record quite a bit.  There are apps available for cell phones as well as iPads.  You can mail directly to student when you are done or save somewhere like Dropbox.


I also worked on my secondary technology, Prezi, at this time, over a period of several months to create two presentations.


In Spring of 2014 I used Voice Memo in lieu of written comments to respond to students drafts in my graduate level Nature Writing course.  The students loved it, and I got lots of positive comments from them.  I also developed a Prezi to use in the Virtual MFA Open Houses, and another one to use on a stand-alone lecture on the Lyric Essay, which I used at a recent literary festival in Mississippi where I was invited to do a Master Class on the Lyric Essay.


I received positive comments from students in my class and I felt positive about using Voice Memo. I found that I was able to say more in 5-7 minutes, than I could write in that same time period, and I was able to present critiques in a more friendly way so that students’ next drafts seemed much improved.  I could tell they were listening very carefully to my comments.

My Prezis were also quite successful both at our Open House and at the literary festival in Mississippi on the Lyric Essay.

 Value/Next Steps

I will continue to use Voice Memo in all of my classes, and encourage my faculty to use them.  I am much more comfortable with Prezi now, and can design courses and help faculty design courses using this technology.

Anthony Isacco

Anthony Isacco, Ph.D. Counseling Psychology



I am a paradox to many – I am an early career professional but a complete late adapter when it comes to technology!  Case in point – I still have a basic talk/text phone from 2008.  Nope, no iPhone or Samsung Galaxy for me yet.

So, I began the Technology Fellowship with a healthy combination of ambivalence, skepticism, and lack of confidence.  Like a moth to a flame, I did know that I wanted to learn some new teaching skills and to see if some of this technology stuff was really helpful to me and students.

My project goals were:

  1. Learn a bunch of technology teaching tools
  2. Gain confidence in the technology
  3. Use the technology to improve my teaching and help students learn

Implementation and Assessment

Panopto: I taught a Research Methods class and made an instructional video about qualitative research coding.

Student Feedback: The video was underutilized by students.  The feedback that I received from most students was that they forgot the video was posted to Moodle because they never had a professor post supplemental videos before.  A couple students did remember and reported that the video was helpful with their homework.

Google Hangout/Skype & Google Documents/DropboxThe Research Methods class included a group project that required students to analyze a dataset as a team.  In the past, students complained about the logistics of the assignment (e.g., multiple in-person meetings, emailing documents, etc…).  I gave extra credit to students if they used technology to improve logistics.  Many students used a combination of video-conferencing and cloud-based, shared storage to manage the project.  The students loved the convenience that technology provided and the extra credit points! : )

Group 1: Throughout the development of our research project, we found technology to be very beneficial.  We found Dropbox to be a very useful tool. Dropbox is a program that allowed us to access one document which could be edited at any time by any of the group members. We were able to track everyone’s progress by each member choosing a font color, signifying it was he/she who had written the post. Instead of getting in your car, driving to campus, opening up a notebook, Dropbox allowed us to work from home at any time that was convenient to us. We found this to be especially helpful because our group was the largest containing four people.

Group 2: We used google docs for our technology and we just completed the entire lab on this document.  This was very helpful, as it allowed us to contribute to one document even if we were not in the same physical location and on the same computer.  It also allowed us to just sign onto google docs to contribute instead of having a flash drive or other type of document.  This made updating our lab much easier.

Group 3: Our group capitalized on the use of technology and virtual communication throughout the project. By using the easily accessible and user friendly Google Drive and Google+, we were able to communicate by sharing documents, progress notes, and questions that surfaced throughout the project. Google+ allowed us to create a communication circle where we could easily communicate through posting to our group wall with links, comments, and meeting reminders. Google drive allowed us to upload our documents so that each member would have access to update the documents, all while being revised and saved in real time.

Sample Feedback from Students

Poll Everywhere: Poll Everywhere is a simple way to compose a poll as part of a presentation.  I used Poll Everywhere in all of my classes as well as for professional conference presentations.  The technology increases engagement and often is a catalyst for larger group discussions.

Feedback:  Universally, students and professionals love Poll Everywhere.  You get to text in your answers and the results show up on the screen in real time.  Students like being able to use their cell phones during class instead of being told to put them away.  Below is an email I received after the conference from a colleague.

Dear Anthony,

Quick question–I thought I had written it down…but what was the name of the app you demonstrated so beautifully in Atlanta during our presentation?


VoiceMemos for Grading and Student Feedback: I bought a voice memo app for .99 cents, which I use for grading assignments and giving feedback to students.  Very easy to use.  I like the voice grading a lot better than writing all of my feedback on student assignments because students can understand my tone and style a lot better and seem to accept constructive feedback easier.

Sample Feedback from Students

Student 1: I think the voice memo is FANTASTIC!  It totally took me by surprise, but it felt as though we were having a face to face meeting!

Student 2: Wow! What a cool way to give feedback. Thanks Dr. Isacco!

Successes and Challenges

When I received my iPad, I didn’t even know how to turn it on!  I knew implementing my ideas was going to be a challenge.  My first success was turning on my iPad.  Since that magical moment, I had a lot of fun using Polleverywhere, VoiceMemos, and encouraging students to use technology.  I also use my iPad for note taking all my meetings, to-do list (Wunderlist is a great app for this and free), and has basically replaced my laptop.

I can see how technology can increase student engagement, make classes more fun and interactive, and improve logistics on assignments.  Making instructional Panopto videos as supplemental material for my Research Methods class was a challenge.  Even I found the video a bit boring and I would like to figure out a way to increase student utilization of the videos.  Learning new technology is frustrating at times and not everything works all of the time.

Goals Met!

1. Learn a bunch of technology teaching tools
2. Gain confidence in the technology
3. Use the technology to improve my teaching and help students learn

Next Steps

  1. Make better use of Panopto videos for upcoming Research Methods class in Fall 2014.
  2. Develop a hybrid or purely online course within the next year.
  3. Keep using the tools that I learned and like.

Thanks, Anthony