The Community of Educational Technology Support works to improve teaching and learning on campus through networking, collaboration, sharing expertise and resources, and advocacy.

The ComETS Cornerstones help guide conversations and community activities:

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James Lloyd's picture

Embodied Learning of Chemistry in Second Life

One of the things that most interests me about learning in virtual worlds is something that I experience regularly - the sense of embodiment that lingers in memory after spending time 'in-world'.  

This sense of embodiment is discussed and exemplified in this article about a study of chemistry learners by Keeney-Kennicutt of Texas A&M and Winkleman from The Florida Institute of Technology.

Video Still from can very much relate to the experience of 'sitting on a molecule' providing a very intimate and personal understanding of the unseen aspects of chemistry.

The article and accompanying video are again produced by Draxtor Despres who is currently on a highly energized quest to identify real world significance in the virtual world of Second Life.

The youtube link for the video is here: 

The Texas A&M welcome center in Second Life is:


Virtual Worlds SIG logo

With the end of spring semester drawing near it seems time to meet and explore topics for the Virtual Worlds SIG.

Wednesday, May 21st  2-4pm
looks promising at this point.

The meeting will consist of two parts.

  • The first part, from 2-3pm is an open house of sorts - a time for people to gather in-person and learn how to use the virtual space chosen for part 2.
  • Part 2 will be held from 3-4pm in a virtual world chosen by the host.  For this meeting, I am choosing to host the meeting in Second Life.

I will confirm details and create a meeting article here on the ComETS website with information for those who would like to participate. 

Seeing as this SIG is just getting started, you don't need to be a SIG member to participate.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

In the meantime, here's an interesting video from machinimator Draxtor Despres about how an adult with Parkinson's disease has been inspired by her activity in Second Life to push her very real physical limitations:

Drax Files video thumbnail from youtube

VWBPE logo

Did anyone in ComETS attend the VWBPE conference?  Reports are that it was very well attended  < > which some folks are taking as a sign of reinvigoration in the vw educational community.  I was unable to attend or volunteer this year due to conflicting work responsibilities but I will be reviewing the proceedings from the conference.  Other large universities are still quite active in Second Life as well as the Open Sim alternative to Second Life. Those include University of Idaho, Montana State University, Rockcliffe University Consortium and that other UW  (University of Washington) < > .

Then, in the true spirit of mashing things up, there is again a MOOC offered to tour the locations represented at the conference.  In another technologist-centered curiousity, this MOOC will be conducted using Moodle - the only MOOCS I've attended have been in commercial learning environments < >

johnmartin's picture

Redesign your course (with help!) at TASI14

The UW–Madison Teaching Academy is pleased to announce the 14th annual summer institute — a four-day experience in faculty development and curriculum innovation. Our theme for this year's Teaching Academy Summer Institute (TASI) is The Four I’s of Teaching: Intend—Inspire—Innovate—Invest.

The institute will be held June 2–5 at the peaceful UW-Madison Arboretum — a great place to reflect on teaching and rejuvenate your passion for education. The typical day runs from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

The institute offers faculty and instructional staff the opportunity to: 

  • design a new course or redesign an existing one, either individually or collaboratively;
  • meet and network with organizations (DoIT Academic Technology, UW-Libraries, the Writing Center, etc.) from  across campus; 
  • transform teaching (e.g. via technology, community building, and classroom innovation);  
  • meet and interact with individuals across the campus passionate about teaching, and
  • learn new tools and approaches that can enhance your classroom or online teaching.  


TASI 2013

To provide a small group of faculty, instructional staff, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows an all-too-rare opportunity for professional reflection and renewal in a collegial atmosphere. We will learn new teaching innovations while engaging in conversations relevant to the broader issues affecting higher education today. A team of UW-Madison faculty/instructional staff who can provide skills and resources on teaching and learning will serve as facilitators.   


Throughout the week, we will expand our reach beyond the campus boundaries to discuss evidence-based principles of teaching and learning that can support innovative education designs that are relevant to our learners. The week will provide a platform to innovate and transform learning within your classroom through a combination of interactive sessions, panel discussions, one-on-one consultations with experts, and individual work time. Topics include addressing the achievement gap; teaching complex ideas, incorporating service learning into courses, and designing assessments to capture relevant outcomes.  During project work time, there will also be a number of short workshops on specific classroom concerns that participants may choose to attend.


The TASI facilitators ask that you 1) attend all sessions over the four day immersion, 2) work on a course that you are scheduled to teach within the next 2 years, and 3) have at least one faculty/staff member as part of your team attending TASI.

More information and the application can be found here. Please apply by April 26.

2013 poster session extravaganza2014 UW-Madison Teaching and Learning Symposium:
Transforming Education
Union South
May 19-20, 2014

Two Opportunities:

  • Submit a Poster Abstract
  • Host a Resource Table—New Opportunity for 2014

Deadline: Friday, April 28th

Each of us at the University of Wisconsin–Madison holds a spark that can ignite a student’s interest and set them on the path to discovery. When we work together to share our ideas, we can transform the educational experience for our students and for ourselves.

To encourage the sharing of transformative teaching and learning innovations, we invite applications for posters or resource tables for the 2014 Teaching and Learning Symposium.  Please see below for specific instructions.

Poster Abstract

The purpose of the poster session is to provide an informal forum for faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students to exchange ideas, research, and practice in teaching and learning.We seek poster abstracts that spotlight teaching and learning transformations such as:

  1. Approaches that change traditional classrooms by rethinking the role of engagement, scholarship, mindfulness, or technology
  2. Innovations that span disciplines
  3. Connections that transform how we collaborate and that enable us to be more effective, more efficient, or happier in our teaching work
  4. Student engagement in the development or implementation of new modes of learning to augment and grow their own educational experiences

To submit a poster abstract, please complete the online proposal form.

Poster Specifications: A canvas poster board (4’ high x 4’wide) will be provided to display each poster. Pushpins to facilitate display will be provided for your use.

Acceptance Timeline: All submissions will be reviewed and decisions will be made by late April.

Host a Resource Table — New Opportunity for 2014

During the poster session, there will also be an opportunity to set up a table to share further information about your campus unit's teaching and learning resources.  Tables will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and pre-registration is not required. You might want to bring handouts and examples to share with people you meet.  We will provide signage and share information about this pilot with attendees. Table host are welcome, but not required, to submit a poster abstract.

More information is available on the website, or contact Poster Session Co-Chairs Kari Fernholz, or Megan Schmid,

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