Archive for the ‘Teaching with Technology’ Category

Four colleagues presented innovative applications of IT for teaching: Bob Hawley (Earth Science), Ehud Benor (Religion) Frank Magiligan (Geography) and Sarah Scully (Library).

Bob Hawley showed us how he uses his iPad as a kind of hand-held white board for presenting material in class. Using Airsketch, an iPad app, and a special wireless network provided by Apple Airport, Bob can write and draw on his iPad as he circulates around the classroom and everything on his iPad is projected on the classroom screen by way of his laptop. These drawings are captured for circulation to the class.

Ehud Benor showed us how he uses VUE, a Visual Understanding Environment developed at Tufts University. Unlike Powerpoint slides which tend to enforce a linear presentation, VUE allows one to connect slides, documents and various other media clips to a concept map. The concept map can present on one page all the concepts of a course or a single lecture, allowing students to visualize their relationships to each other. Items on the concept map provide hyperlinks to all other media: audio and video clips, pdfs, websites while it serves as an “anchor” for study and presentation.

Frank Magilligan requires his students to write blog entries on scientific articles related to his course. Over the course of a term, novices develop and share their growing expertise in scientific literature by summarizing and evaluating assigned articles and posting these to a course blog. All students then have access to this blog for study and review.

Sarah Scully introduced us to a promising new library resource—Alexander Street Press’s Academic Video Online. Documentary, educational and performance videos can now be searched and retrieved for use in classes and presentations. Many of these videos include searchable transcripts that allow users to find specific places in the video. The can also scrub through the video and the transcript keeps up. The best way to search for videos relevant to your course is to use the Library catalog, limiting your search to “video/dvd” and look for “electronic resource.” The catalog link will take you directly to the Academic Video resource. Alternatively, you can browse or search the Academic Videos Online webpage.

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This term’s TWIT (Teaching with Information Technology) session focused on ways in which teaching and learning is facilitated through technology, but the technology itself takes a background seat to the task at hand. Often, we appear to be showcasing the technology over the learning, when what we prefer is the usually the opposite.

Prof. Tom Jack, from the Biology department, and Christiane Donahue, from the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, kicked off the session with a dual-class collaborative wiki activity designed to increase Biology students’ ability to communicate science to a lay audience and increase non-scientists’ ability to interpret science.

Tom teaches BIOL99, a Senior Honors Thesis class, in which students work on preparing their senior thesis. In this particular assignment, the students are asked to write their scientific abstract, then an abstract for a lay audience and also to prepare a two-minute video describing the thesis for the lay audience.

Students in Christiane’s WRIT7, a first-year writing course, have been developing their ability to read and provide feedback to peers in a process designed to improve their own writing. For this assignment, they become the audience for the BIOL99 students. They read the abstracts, watch the videos and then, as someone almost certainly unfamiliar with the senior topics, provide insightful critiques and feedback on the materials.

The process is designed to strengthen the skills of everyone involved, and it is all mediated through the wiki tools available in Blackboard, the campus LMS. The videos that the BIOL99 student make are filmed in a studio space within the new Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center, against a green screen. The senior students then select a representative image of their work to insert via post-production.


In the second presentation, Prof. D.G. Webster, from the Environmental Studies Program described the development of a webpage using text written by students and images they shot during a trip to the New England Aquarium in Boston. Students in D.G.’s ENVS17 Marine Policy class documented their visit to the aquarium with an eye toward sustainability and seafood. After writing up their reports and submitting their images, D.G. worked with the department administrator to add the pages to the department website using OmniUpdate. The work now stands as an effective advertisement for the course the next time it is offered.

Prof. Webster also presented the work of students in her ENVS16 Business and the Environment course. In the course, the students explore “green” businesses and D.G. provides a series of writing prompts for the students to use after selecting a business for research. The students respond to the prompt by writing blog postings to a private GoogleSites webspace. By the end of the term, the students have sufficient material to organize their blog postings into a more formal final report, which is also assembled using GoogleSites. Unfortunately, due to litigation risk, the students’ final projects are only made available to the instructor and to each other, although we were able to see a few during the presentation.

Look for the next TWIT session in April.

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originally published at http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology_and_learning/student_views_on_technology_and_teaching

Today was one of those days that us educators live for. A recent graduate, Lucretia Witte (who is now teaching 6th graders in Bridgeport CT for Teach for America), came back to campus to lead a session entitled “Student Views on Technology and Teaching” at our Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL).

While a senior, Lucretia did research on what students believe are the most effective practices for integrating technology into teaching. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, she was able to gather data from a wide variety of students on their experiences (both good and bad) with educational technology. She then synthesized these findings in a Blackboard site that was made available to faculty, complete with anonymous student discussion board postings on the role of technology in learning. You can read more about her research methodology and findings here.

During today’s presentation, Lucretia took the faculty and staff in attendance through her main findings, and offered 4 ideas for immediate improvements that every course could implement.

Synthesis of Research Findings:

Learning Goals : The curriculum and assignments should clearly and explicitly reflect the learning goals for the course.

Engagement: Student engagement with course materials and assignments is influenced both by the degree that students are interested and connected to the material, and by how much that students feel that their professors take a personal interest in their learning and success.

Accountability: Assessment needs to occur frequently and with low stakes, to both hold students accountable for the assigned curriculum and to provide constant feedback and reinforcement.

The four things that every professor can do “THIS WEEK” (Lucretia’s words) to make each course more student-friendly include (with the sentences in quotes pulled directly from the handout):

1. Ensure that all readings, articles, presentations and videos (all course material) are available in the course management system.
2. “Create a weekly reading assessment that asks students to formulate or discuss the most important things you wanted them to get out the this week’s articles.”
3. “Make your syllabus a living document and let students know about changes via class emails – it will put your class in the forefront of their minds.”
4. “Use technology to help students engage with one another – create peer review groups for papers or discussion groups online.”

These methods are ones that we have discussed in various faculty discussions and professional development events. However, when the advice and ideas come from a student (or a very recent graduate), based on research with fellow students, then the impact of the findings are infinitely more powerful than when expressed by one of us. I think all of us want to understand the student viewpoint and student ideas on teaching and technology. We rarely get this opportunity, however, due to a lack of opportunities and incentives for students to conduct and share this type of research.

How can we build in student led research about teaching with technology into our courses and centers for professional development?

Do you have other good examples of student conducted research on technology and learning?

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Faculty, students, and staff met today to discuss open courseware and copyright.  This session was led by Barbara DeFelice, director of the Dartmouth College Library’s Digital Resources Program, who gave an overview of open course materials at Dartmouth.  Next,  Film and Media Studies professor Mark Williams shared his work on the Media Ecology Project, including some of his favorite media resources including Critical Commons.

The participants then each shared their interests in and experiences with open courseware.  One participant described the Kahn Academy and commented that this resource should serve to challenge Dartmouth to publicly share educational materials, perhaps by creating a repository to which interested faculty can contribute.  In response, some participants described the ways their departments already are sharing course and research materials online, such as the electronic teaching materials page on the Math department’s website.

Faculty from the sciences and social sciences had an interesting discussion about the ways open access publishing of research helps or hinders them in the promotion and tenure processes.

The session concluded with agreement on these points/next steps:

  • Participants want to hear more about the details of one another’s work in these areas.
  • Participants want to hear from their colleagues at other campuses on these topics.
  • A series of workshops and events around open courseware and copyright is of interest and could help accomplish the two points listed above.

Check the DCAL events and our quarterly newsletter for more on these topics.

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This spring term’s Teaching with Information Technology session featured four presentations from a variety of disciplines:

  1. Tom Luxon, Director of DCAL and Professor of English, talked about both the logistics and the advantages of collecting and returning student assignments electronically. Both the discussion board and the assignment manager in Blackboard can be used to to collect and redistribute assignments (the  main difference being the level of transparency and privacy). Comments or “track changes” in Microsoft Word are ideal tools for marking up student papers. The list of advantages for electronic document exchange is extensive, but includes:
    • due-dates and times can be more easily optimized for student schedules
    • feedback loops are shortened, and students can access comments on final projects while they still care about them
    • peer review can easily be integrated into the process
    • anti-plagiarism research is facilitated
    • both faculty and students will have access to feedback and comments for years to come
  2. Elissa Faro from the Classis department showed the WordPress blog for the 2009 Greek FSP. This blog, which was easily updated by the class and their TA while on the move for over two months, allowed students to create content for an authentic audience (their peers, family and friends at home, and the world at large), and generated a lot of student creativity. Posts covered the gamut from documentation of daily field experiences, usually including photos and video clips, to more reflective and insightful pieces about cultural and social differences. Classics faculty used the blog to assess the program, and plan to use to for future pre-trip planning as well. View the blog at: http://greecefsp2009.wordpress.com/

  3. Simon Shepherd talked about his experiences using high-definition lecture capture at the Thayer School of Engineering. Much of Simon’s class time is spent on the chalkboard, leaving students “frantically following along, taking notes, and trying to stay engaged”. Automated lecture capture alleviates some of this frenzy, and allows undergraduates to complement their notes, review lecture materials, and reinforce key ideas; or to simply keep up with the course when absent for athletic events or out sick. Simon noted that in his graduate course, lecture capture often played a somewhat different role: while grad students as well used lecture recordings for clarification and review, they also used them to study for their qualifying exams, or to close gaps in skills and knowledge (e.g. Mathlab) without having to enroll in a course to do so.  72% of Simon’s students reported on their course evaluations that the got more out of the class because of the availability of high-definition lecture captures – that’s a healthy student endorsement.
    Related link from the DCAL web site: Lecture capture pilot report (2008)
  4. Barbara DeFelice and Helmut Baer from the Dartmouth College library reported on the Sparky awards. Hosted annually by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), this competition encourages students to submit videos or mashups which emphasize the value of open information sharing. Best practices – such as releasing any entries under a creative commons license – are built into the competition. While this competition is not tied explicitly to the curriculum, Dartmouth classes using video-based assignments could potentially serve as a base to increase Dartmouth student participation. The fact that this is a real-world competition, with a wider real-world audience can be a strong motivator for student participation.
    Related link: http://www.sparkyawards.org/

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yeah, it's long -- I didn't have time to make it shorter

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