Apereo Foundation Fast Interview with Julianne Morgan

Apereo Foundation Fast Interview with Julianne Morgan

Headshot Julianne Morgan, University of Dayton


Julianne Morgan is the Academic Engagement Lead at the University of Dayton's Learning Teaching Center. She is responsible for creatively and entertainingly communicating best practices, new features, and quick tips to instructors and students about the Learning Management System (Sakai) and other educational technologies. She also facilitates professional development programs and dabbles in instructional design. One of her favorite things to do is to take an instructor's existing content and re-design it to make it as engaging, attractive, and functional as possible for all learners.

Julianne earned her Master of Science degree in Technology-Enhanced Learning from the University of Dayton in 2018 and is now taking a break from formal learning and focusing instead on k-pop, jigsaw puzzles, rockets, space, and her cats, Butternut and Cinnamon. 

Julianne Moore was a 2022 recipient of the Apereo Dolphin Fellowship for her commitment to Apereo and Sakai through years of--often behind-the-scenes--contributions helping to define and drive improvements in Sakai. Julianne’s involvement with the Sakai marketing team, outreach at the Educause ELI conference, and participation with SakaiCon were just a few of her contributions listed in her fellow nomination.



AFF: Thank you, Julianne, for joining us on Apereo Foundation Fast, and congratulations on being one of the first recipients of the newly coined Apereo Dolphin Fellowship! We are excited to shine a light on your contributions!

JM: Thank you so much! I’m truly honored to be an Apereo Dolphin Fellow. I have loved working with the Sakai marketing team to highlight the features of Sakai. 


AFF: Please tell us more about your role as the Academic Engagement Lead at the University of Dayton's Learning Teaching Center! What tools are you using to communicate with teachers and learners about Sakai? 

JM: Because Sakai is open source, we have the ability to customize, well, everything. We use the top-left hand space of users’ Sakai homepages to promote new features, professional development sessions about Sakai, and, honestly, just sometimes fun messages. We have an instructor-facing Twitter feed and a student-facing Twitter feed that make it really easy to share this kind of information. We also send out monthly newsletters to highlight the latest and greatest developments in this ever-improving learning management system. 


AFF: What would you say has been your most recent ah-ha moment or discovery of success when it comes to reaching these groups?

JM: Ha, that’s a bit of a tough question. Often, I don’t know what is or isn’t successful - we don’t have a lot of engagement with any of our platforms. But that’s okay - I assume at least some people are seeing my posts, and any exposure is better than none. I’m always trying different strategies, but for students, I like to try to find the humor. I like to lurk on YikYak to see what our students are talking about, then sometimes vaguely reference a trend in a (hopefully) humorous way. For instructors, they like step-by-step videos that show them how to do a thing that will save them time. We recently released a new midterm grades feature that benefits instructors and students, so it was a win-win. 

AFF: Please tell us a bit more about your involvement in the Sakai Marketing team. 

JM: [My involvement] with the Sakai Marketing group has been a wonderful experience. It's a great group of creative people, and I had the opportunity to attend the ELI conference with Dr. Chuck and Brent Severence in June. It was rewarding to interact with administrators and instructors at other institutions to learn about their experiences with learning management systems. We [hosted] SakaiCon [in July] where we promoted the best features of Sakai to an audience of "Sakai curious" instructors and administrators. I would like to explore doing more with social media for Sakai over the coming year - I really enjoy running two Twitter feeds for Sakai at UD, and I think there could be some good crossover between my ideas and my content and Sakai's social media.


AFF: We will share those Twitter feeds below so folks can follow and see what cool things you are doing at the University of Dayton. 

AFF: What were some takeaways from SakaiCon and/or ELI conference that you’d like to share? Anything that you were particularly excited about?

JM: At the ELI conference, it was great to interact with instructors at other universities to hear what they are doing. Some instructors had previously used Sakai and missed it as their schools moved to other platforms - Dr. Chuck did a great job pitching Sakai+ to those folks, and I really hope to see some pilot groups forming soon. The biggest takeaway though? SWAG. Specifically plushies. The Sakaigers were a huge hit!


AFF: Julianne, please tell us about a pet project you would like to focus on during your year as an Apereo Dolphin Fellow. 

JM: I've been thinking about what features could be created in Sakai to facilitate 'ungrading,' the latest hot topic in pedagogy. I'm hoping to put together a bit of a pitch to my team at UD to see if we can develop some of the ungrading features I have in mind for Sakai, so that Sakai could stand out in this respect compared to other LMSs. I've also been exploring more social media avenues as a means of engaging with students and faculty, so I've been investigating technologies (cameras, mics, lighting, etc.) that could help me create more polished videos for social media. No one really ever watches me do my “Sakai editing livestreams,” but I find that doing these livestreams helps me focus a bit on the task at hand - and I really enjoy sharing tips, tricks, and best practices while I’m building these sites. I’d love to eventually have a nice setup to make these kinds of streams more professional looking. 


AFF: Any special plans for your Apereo Dolphin Fellowship award funds?

JM: Well, I’ve already purchased a bag to hold all my recording stuff. I kept finding myself without a key piece of equipment when I wanted to do a recording, so now I have a nice bag that holds everything. I’d like to use the rest of it to buy a better mic and/or a better camera. I’m a bit audio-obsessed. All I want in life is clean, clear audio without having to do editing in post - increasingly it seems I need to build a whole recording studio to achieve this, which thankfully we are doing at UD. 


AFF: What would you say are your favorite aspects of working with the Apereo community and the Sakai LMS community in particular? What’s made you passionate about working in this area with these folks?

JM: The Sakai marketing team are so warm, motivating, and thoughtful. [I] feel inspired to try new things after hearing thoughts from the Sakai marketing team. I do really believe in Sakai, too. I am passionate about this learning management system, so that makes it easy to “market” the platform. I see first-hand how we actually listen to our customers, and then how we think deeply about every decision we make in Sakai to make it the best for our teachers and learners - and the rest of the schools using it! Sakai honestly feels a bit like my kid sometimes, haha. I get this same sense of personal care towards Sakai from the Marketing team - we all just want the best for it, and we work together to achieve that goal.


AFF: Julianne, you were a 2022 fellow winner and the theme of Open Apereo 2022 was “The Value of Open Source.” Could you give us a few thoughts on “The Value of Open Source” both at your institution and in the world at large?

JM: I think an open source environment is just so freeing. We start from the position of anything is possible, literally anything is on the table. This allows us to actively search for the next good idea, to think broadly and creatively, and to enrich our platform. I also believe that the more diversity of opinion and thought that goes into development results in a more accessible, usable product. Sakai benefits from the input and design of coders, instructional designers, teachers, and students from all around the world.

Because Sakai is open, we are open.

AFF: Thank you so much for joining us on Apereo Foundation Fast, we are deeply grateful for your time and the work that you do for our communities! Once again, congratulations on being a 2022 Apereo Dolphin Fellowship recipient! 


Fast Followup:

Follow the University of Dayton's Twitter feeds to see what Julianne Morgan is doing to promote Sakai and to creatively reach instructors and students at her institution. 

Follow Jullianne’s work on her YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/@juliannemorgan

List of 2022 Apereo Dolphin Fellows and Awardees