Carmen Model Course Banners: Ready to Use

Have you recently imported a Carmen Model Course but are looking for banner options? If you don’t have your own image to swap out, each below is downloadable and already cropped to the correct size with a white perimeter for visual design in the homepage.

To download:

  1. Right click on the banner and select, “Open in a new tab/window.”
  2. Once fully loaded, right click the image and choose to save it to either your downloads or your device.
  3. Log into your Carmen Canvas course and replace the model course image.

Canvas Banners 1 Canvas Banners 2 Canvas Banners 3 Canvas Banners 6 Canvas Banners 5 Canvas Banners 4 Canvas Banners 7 Canvas Banners 8 Canvas Banners 9 Canvas Banners 10 Canvas Banners 16 Canvas Banners 11 Canvas Banners 12 Canvas Banners 14 Canvas Banners 13 Canvas Banners 17 Canvas Banners 18 Canvas Banners 20

Want to learn Photoshop for creating course images? Good news …

IMAGE DESIGN FLYERI’ve written about the value of using images in course design, but many folks find that they just don’t quite have the toolset needed. Thus, on August 19th, we will host a one-day, three-part bootcamp over course image design using Photoshop for faculty.

The bootcamp will focus on learning the software and best practices, then practicing image editing and diagraming. Attendees will leave with the ability to create Carmen images, diagrams, and page headers for their teaching projects.

Because we want the bootcamp to be hands on and an efficient use of time, attendees will receive an email before the date with information about finding and using images. They can then bring their images to the workshop ready for use. And if attendees are unable to source their own image files, some will be provided for practice.

The bootcamp is divided into three sessions, thus you’ll need to register for all three sessions to attend. Already know Photoshop basics? You may want to skip the first session. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the software, please enroll in all three. The sessions are structured to build skill cumulatively, thus each one requires the content covered in the previous sessions. Of course, if you have a basic or intermediate skill set to begin with, you may elect to skip what you don’t need.

Ready to learn more and sign up?

SESSION 1: Photoshop Tools Introduction & Basic Image Diagraming for Teaching (1.5 hrs) 9:00-10:30


Skill Level: Basic
Tools Covered: Layers, Resizing, Cropping, Brightening, Adding Text, Adding Lines, Text Shadows; JPEG and PNG export
End product: Attendees will be able to bring an image, crop or adjust lighting, and add text and lines to diagram and title.

SESSION 2: Advanced Image Diagraming/Editing for Teaching (1.5 hrs) 10:45-12:15


Skill Level: Basic/Intermediate
Tools Covered: Background removal, adding background, healing, layer duplication, blending, transforming, working with text in detail
End product: Attendees will be able to remove background images, add in other backgrounds, add text and lines to diagram, and title.

Prerequisite: Must attend Session 1 (“Photoshop Tools Introduction & Basic Image Diagraming for Teaching”) OR be proficient in those skills.This workshop will not cover preliminary skills tools taught in Session 1.

BREAK FOR LUNCH 12:15-1:15

SESSION 3: Creating Images for Carmen & Online Learning (1 hr) 1:15-2:15


Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Tools Covered: Using a template, masking layers to other layers, importing previously authored images
End product: Completely customized images for learning purposes designed to use in Carmen or other LMS as section headers

Prerequisite: Must attend Session 1 (“Photoshop Tools Introduction & Basic Image Diagraming for Teaching”) and Session 2 (“Advanced Image Diagraming/Editing for Teaching) OR be proficient in those skills.This workshop will not cover preliminary skills tools taught in Session 1.

Have questions? Email me at

Course Images Matter (Skulls, Skin, and Bodily Systems)

Online courses benefit from images for a number of reasons, but the succinct list might be:

  1. They add another sensory element to learning that is occurring through a screen. Engagement in an online course has to occur at multiple levels and provoke thought in various ways. Text is one specific process; video is another. Adding images where appropriate provides learners with another form of stimulus within a learning platform that, compared to a traditional class, may be without as many sources of stimuli.
  2. It signifies change or continuation. The images and banner deployed in a course let a student who has logged in immediately see that things are either a) the same or b) different, thus visually representing whether the learning unit has changed.
  3. Images are memory anchors for many learners. Folks will often recall image associated with a concept earlier and more easily than they recall the content itself, but joining the two can be a bridge between simple recall and a more complex recall function. Providing those symbols of the unit or content may help students recollect associations.

I recently created a series of topic images for an online biology course that will be based on Carmen. The image sizes are specific to the display within the learning platform.

Nervous System

The professor provided the list of topics, and I pulled images from a variety of free, open content collections. Some images came from older medical books that have entered the public domain. Others used modern photographs and lab samples.


While many of the concepts lent themselves to very concrete, literal representation, others were more undefined and accommodating of abstraction.

Human Evolution - yellow text


Human Impacts on Environment 2

Lastly, my favorite concept may have been this one:

Environmental Impacts on the Human Body 2

If you’d like to know more about creating course images, feel free to email me, Tara Koger, at You can also follow me on Twitter via @TaraOSUTech.


iPad Training Connects Math Coaches Around Ohio

for blogWe were first contacted in February by Cheryl Johnson, the program manager of the Mathematics Coaching Program (MCP) through the College of Education and Human Ecology here at the Ohio State University. The MCP program works to aid teachers around the state of Ohio and beyond in reaching math teachers in public high schools and enriching curricular and academic performance. The sheer scale of and distance involved in the program require a great deal of remote communication and collaboration, hence the program’s decision to implement iPads as devices that coaches can use on the job, regardless of location, to take notes, create documents, complete files, and fulfill program needs while traveling throughout schools.



Our first session with the coaches was intended to take place in person but was countered by one of Ohio’s wintry days, hence we took the workshop live online via Carmen Connect. Our second training workshop took place on April 10th in Worthington, Ohio. Kevin Kula, instructional designer with ODEE’s Learning Technology Team, and I will meet with the group one more time later this month to walk through a variety of applications. As the coaches transition the iPad program into the classrooms in the fall, they’ll be utilizing a variety of applications to take notes, document teacher lessons, sketch out equations and geometrical concepts, and create collaborative resources for educators statewide.


Interested in learning more about iPad productivity or how it could be implemented for educational purposes? Looking for a departmental training opportunity? Contact Kevin Kula (; @KulaOSU) or Tara Koger (, @TaraOSUTech).

Digital Book Creation Breakdown: Money, Time, Staff [INFOGRAPHIC]

Digital textbooks have picked up steam recently, and while there’s often growing interest, it doesn’t always get to the production point. Digital texts offer users and creators alike a great deal of opportunity and benefit, though.

The Ohio State University’s Theatre department recently created their own textbook for a general education course:

Anatomy of a Digital Textbook


To learn more about OSU’s digital book initiative, contact Ashley Miller ( or Tara Koger ( on the Learning Technology Team.


A Few Months and Many Cats Later —

cat mastery header 1

Update: Cat Mastery is out! Now available for $4.99.

I vaguely remember my coworker, Ashley, saying something along the lines of, “There’s this cat book project, if you’re interested in helping with that.” As if that were at all a real question. And so it began. With wild enthusiasm.

cover for blog

Dr. Buffington’s digital book will sell for $4.99 later this month.

At the time, I had no idea how much I would learn in the process. The author of the upcoming Cat Mastery, Dr. Tony Buffington, is an infinite well of cat wisdom: even though our meetings were generally centered around book formatting and design, I never left without gleaning some new significant knowledge about the animals that I live with daily. (And specifically, I gained insight into just why one of my own cats traded loyalty years ago, attaching himself to my husband and eschewing me without so much as twitched whisker of remorse.) Dr. Buffington’s book is slated to go on sale in the Apple iBooks Store later this month, and his adjacent iTunes U course, also titled Cat Mastery, will release as well.  My own personal revelation that I mentioned earlier came with the cat-owner personality compatibility section of the book. Essentially, Dr. Buffington created a series of traits that exist on continuums that are appropriate for both humans and cats. Completing the assessment for both yourself and your pet allows you to see a visual representation of your similarities and differences in, for instance, need for social interaction. I personally assure any reader that they’ll find valuable takeaways in both.

Cat Mastery Banner 1 - Proof

Dr. Buffington’s iTunes U course will be free and open to the public.

The project was immensely fun to work on. For the most part, my work revolved around taking the concepts of cat behavior, environment, and need and illustrating them. Thankfully, my coworker who lead the project was great at intuiting exactly what kind of imagery might best express reward systems or cat-owner interactions. The actual image creation from there was always a combination of drafting, tweaking, revising, and a smidge of general feline adoration.

cat and mouse - room background

Alternative to the illustrations, the book plays happy host to many cat photographs. Many of these came from different sources, and some I photographed and edited specifically for the book. Such was the case with Lilly, the very glamorous long-haired cat that will be on the cover. Initially, a few photos of her made it into our image folder.



Unfortunately, the orientation and lighting didn’t quite work for what we had in mind. I scheduled a second visit to her owners’ home and spent a good hour aggressively snapping a lens in this cat’s face, all the while the owners’ adorable one-year-old hung around just out of frame looking to tug a tail or sneak in a pat. Let it be a testament to this cat’s conduct that her cover shots came through regardless. 

Ultimately, while I was generally excited to work on the project, there was a really charming component about entering folks’ homes in order to take their pets’ photos. Of course we all adore these creatures that we live with, but it’s rare that people get a chance to tell you at length about their cat’s personality, preferences, and behavior all while having full photographic attention shone on said creatures. It really brings out the Beaming Pet Parent personality inherent in most owners who, in normal social situations, might get a bit of critical side eye for waxing poetic about their indoor animals. Thus, I’ll end with a collection of these good looking felines. 

Look for Twitter updates as the book and course are released later this month. Follow me! @TaraOSUTech

#InnovateOSU 2014: Highlights on Education and Technology via Twitter

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.09.23 AM

@InnovateOSU: My field changes so quickly, I can’t offer a print textbk. As soon as it could publish, it would be out of date. – Nicole Kraft


Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.08.27 AM

@eileengr: attendance with twitter – student tweets 1 important comment based on the class — can’t just retween or send out the hashtag


Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.08.02 AM

More info about who Nicole Kraft uses Twitter at this Washington Post link. Image links to website.


Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.05.53 AM

@tresslertech: Intrinsic motivation psychological needs: autonomy, competence, relatedness


Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.05.35 AM

@chamady: heard in a session at Innovate OSU: “The students get frustrated when we post course content in different places. They want it all in one.”


Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 3.10.01 PM

@InnovateOSU: What if you need to edit your iBook? An updated copy of the iBook goes to the bookshelf, a notification goes to the book owners.


Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 3.00.52 PM

@llease: “Video and audio – give it in 5 minute chunks. #getsmart. @Kerr63: Been in several Coursera courses with 20, 30 minutes single videos and longer. Ugh. Keep it short!”


Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.59.50 AM

@Autumnm: Dealing with the tech in a non-tech class. Provide templates, plan time for training, take advantage of university resources.


Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.59.38 AM

@jaychsiao: Designing online courses – medium: the web. Content: varied. Context: doing


Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.57.31 AM

@TaraOSUTech: 60-70% of undergrads don’t buy all the textbooks for their courses each semester – Cable Green


Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.57.20 AM

@pmeCbus: “When the marginal cost of sharing is $0, educators have an ethical obligation to share.” – Cable Green


Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.56.47 AM

@InnovateOSU: for engaging discussions, don’t post a question. post an idea to support/dispute, a situation to respond to, a current event.


Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.27.34 AM

@HowardSJ: Lecture capture doesn’t have to happen in classroom/office: could be a recording of subject-matter expert from distance#lcosu.


Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.52.57 AM

@Innovate OSU: The value of podcasts: they’re portable, enable multitasking, build trust with listeners.


Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.57.26 AM

@aarkae: The most shocking thing I heard at #InnovateOSU was that men should not fear make-up to be on camera. #onlinelearning





“Why should I make a digital textbook?”

digtial book feature

Instructors are often put into the situation of both wanting to do a significant amount of creative, innovative work for their classrooms and being low on the energy and other resources needed to do so, namely time. Traditionally, their textbooks have been produced by outside publishers who seek to create materials that align with or meet the needs of the courses being taught. Instructors evaluate them, select those which best support their curriculum, then often supplement as needed with additional texts, videos, handouts, and online resources. Essentially, this works: instructors often don’t have the capacity, time, or resources to produce their own textbooks; publishers have all of those and are eager to provide a functional product to instructors in order to gain students as customers.

Thus, in looking at the potential for instructors to write and develop their own digital textbooks, it’s beneficial to first recall that “textbook” isn’t a universally defined layout, number of pages, or product. Step back to the intent of the textbook, or the basic “book” of text: an all-encompassing collection of information in various forms intended to be reviewed by the student outside of class. The “book” format itself — a mass of bound pages — is a matter of practicality and efficiency rather than requisition or current best practice. The paper-based book, though, was best designed for a chalkboard-based classroom in which teachers provided text via manual tools and students took notes on paper — a very tangible learning experience that didn’t and couldn’t incorporate other modes of information dissemination. Those models have been both surpassed and preserved in the past few decades; simultaneously being leaned on and augmented. In teaching and working with departments, examples of how departments create and use their own texts  for teaching have included:

  • the traditional publisher book model
  • PDFs
  • printed handouts
  • slideshows and presentations
  • outside web videos
  • instructional videos, direct teaching or demonstrative
  • websites
  • images
  • interactives

Additionally, the basic classroom experience includes communication far beyond the lecture format, including:

  • one-on-one meetings
  • study sessions
  • discussion boards
  • online collaboration
  • group and cohort work and projects
  • blog and web creation
  • social media

Thus, while the student experience in a typical undergraduate class is highly text-dependent, the text appears in multiple varied forms. It’s not as restricted to stagnant printed text as it once was and requires incorporation of other modes. All instructors create some of their own texts; many are now creating larger works of supplementary text. But still, most adhere to the implementation of a standard publisher textbook and require it for student purchase, even though they may only use some of the book (and will rarely use all of the book). Thus, authoring and developing one’s own primary course texts may seem like a stretch of the already-insufficient energies and resources an instructor has at hand. That, however, may be premised on the assumption of creating a “traditional” text — a mass of pages that must be completed and edited all at once and far in advance, put through rigorous standards of publishing companies, and encounter a delayed process before ultimately becoming available. The traditional text generally needs to appeal to a broader market as well, as publishers don’t approach folks to create materials geared toward a specific person’s course.

However, digital publishing and digital textbook creation offer infinite options: there is no standardized form or expectation with which they must comply, the costs to produce are minimal, and the process is quite user- (and instructor-) friendly:

  1. The cost to produce: your time and effort. Because this form of self-publishing doesn’t require editors, printers, assembly and shipping, the cost to produce beyond your own resources is minimal. That, of course, shouldn’t undermine the the significant work and personal investment involved in authoring your own textbook. It is both a significant commitment and a giving of self. That said, it’s considerably less demanding than the traditional route. Some digital book authors also find that writing for self-publishing is less arduous, as they’re not writing with the intent of an editor or publishing house in mind, thus the authoring may feel more within one’s own control and definition.
  2. The students’ cost to purchase: up to you. In traditional publishing, there are many folks to pay along the way for their services in producing and distributing the physical book. With a self-published digital text, there may be only you. (If you have graduate students, interns, or others assisting in the process, this can change, of course.) One book that I’m currently assisting in developing will retail for less than $5 digitally, while it’s print counterpart would likely retail for many times that with none of the fun features of widgets, video, and interactive elements. OSU’s theatre department recently created their own digital textbook for the popular “Introduction to Theatre and Performance” course.  Nicole Kraft, an assistant professor in the Journalism department at OSU, created her course textbook which sells for $2.99. As an instructor, being able to provide a quality textbook tailored to one’s specific needs at a price you determine can make them much more accessible to students who often struggle with the financial burden of purchasing course materials every few months. Ultimately, this allows a far more flexible range of price points. Even though people generally expect digital texts to be cheaper than traditional print copies, the author will get a much larger percentage. If produced in conjunction with a university course, the book may be considered ‘work for hire’ and the instructor will likely work out an agreement with the university regarding how the revenue is divided. Some writers choose for the revenue to go to a program or department instead of themselves, providing funds to students or special interests organizations within the college.
  3. Easy facilitation of collaboration and co-authoring, even across departments. If the prospect of authoring an entire text seems daunting, consider that you can incorporate as many collaborators as you like, easily. For departments that offer many sections of the same course taught by different instructors, this can be a tremendously efficient way to produce a customized text that aligns precisely with the curriculum. Dividing the authoring between several folks not only allows for a more manageable distribution of the workload, but it also allows each person to elect to write about the topics they feel most confident and versed in, which ultimately benefits the larger text and student readers. Because the digital textbook is self-published, incorporating others and making changes to the collaborating team requires less hoop-jumping, as there aren’t external companies controlling the process.
  4. Easy software means quick, drag-and-drop building. The design stage of the book — the part where you actually take your word processing document and make it look like a digital book that people will want to electronically page through — may seem daunting, but it has definitely never been easier. Software intended to make the process user-friendly and quick to master has evolved rapidly in recent years. Apple’s iBooks Author (free; can publish iBooks format and ePub format) comes with a variety of templates, allows users to build their own templates, and makes importing documents as simple as dragging and dropping. If your text is saved into a Pages file (the Mac version of Microsoft Word, but with a few extra features), each document will automatically import and format as its own chapter. (This may be a point where you begin considering the differences in formats. For instance, what’s the difference between a PDF and an ePub?) If exported in the iBook file type, you can incorporate most things imaginable into an interactive, multi-touch book: links, tap-to-jump glossaries, embedded video and audio, interactive touch features, maps or images that zoom and highlight, scrolling pop-up windows, and more. An entire menu of additional widgets is available through services like Bookry. If you go the ePUB route, there are a variety of software programs that allow users to export documents as this file type, with Adobe InDesign (prices vary) being the most customizable. While the ePUB format won’t allow all of the gadgets and educational tools of that come with the iBooks file type, ePUBs are easily shared across multiple devices, regardless of operating system.
  5. Include only what is relevant and useful; tailor as much as desired. Provide students with what they need, as much of it as needed, in as many modes of delivery as needed, and omit whatever is unwanted. Have a concept that’s difficult to explain via text only? Would a video work better? Or a slideshow showing changes and evolution? Or a 3D graphic that they can manipulate with their fingers? Or would an interactive timeline that zooms into points on an image be ideal? Learners are diverse, and so is content: Incorporate everything that is needed in the course in the way that best reaches learners and models ideas.
  6. It doesn’t have to look like a “book.” Textbooks usually evoke a fairly universal image: a large volume of hundreds of thin papery or glossy pages combining text, images, and review sections. A digital textbook doesn’t have to have any specific length or amount of text. There isn’t an anticipated text-to-picture ration, or an anything-to-anything ratio. The concept of the digital textbook is in the hands of the creator to define for their own purposes, or in the case of the instructor, the purposes of their course. And if those review pages are incorporated, they can be designed with clickable buttons so that students can see their choice as well as feedback.

Conversely, it may be worth asking, do you even need a textbook? 

Another option for those uninterested in creating a digital textbook is to just go without a textbook. In the summer of 2013, OSU’s English as a Second Language Composition department converted the program to a “flipped” format, meaning all instructional content was delivered outside of the classroom via recorded video content. Videos included instructors’ own presentations and content; in-class time was used for workshopping and discussion. Video production was done in cohort groups, thus each instructor only had to produce at most one video per week. By the end of the first semester, an entire library of curricular instructional videos were standardized and created. Thus, in one semester, textbooks as sources of content were eradicated. The ability of any one department to employee this model, of course, is contingent on a multitude of factors; it’s certainly not a universally applicable method. But, it can work in courses and programs that are skill and demonstration driven. Similarly, many of the courses now available on iTunes U run without a textbook, both for the public users visiting the course and the undergraduates enrolled at OSU.

Now, to get started, or at least find out more. 

Want to know more or have questions? Begin with an overview of the process from OSU’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning. From there, looking at a sample workflow can be helpful in wrapping one’s head around the process. While this one is published by Apple, the steps involved are similar regardless of software and format choice.

For more information on The Ohio State’s digital publishing efforts, contact Ashley Miller ( or Tara Koger (