Archive for the ‘Workshops’ 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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Today’s DCAL workshop began with the image of a map, and a route marked from Hanover to Saginaw. The map inspired quite a bit of conversation before we settled in to the workshop proper. “Why that particular route to Saginaw?” one faculty member wondered. “There’ll be quite a traffic jam crossing into Canada at Niagara Falls,” another added. “Why not go through Cleveland?” I queried. Finally one faculty member asked, “Why go to Saginaw at all?”

Of course, the map had been offered as an analogy. The questions it raised might be applied to our teaching as well. When designing a course, we, too, are planning a journey from point A to point B. Our students may well ask, “Why that particular route?” or “Why take this journey at all?” The point of this workshop was to practice composing learning outcomes, so that these important questions might be answered.

Facilitators Tom Luxon and Prue Merton began the workshop by asking faculty to consider, in pairs, two course descriptions: one that focused entirely on course content, another that focused entirely on what students would be doing in the course. The two examples demonstrated powerfully how important it is to keep students at the heart of course design.

Once we’d been appropriately student-centered, we turned our attention to composing course objectives—a task that is always more challenging than it seems. The aim of our challenge was not simply to compose the objectives, but to assess them in light of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher Thinking. I enjoyed the opportunity to reconsider Bloom, who has been an important figure in my professional thinking. I found myself preoccupied by the fact that Bloom’s taxonomy is often interpreted hierarchically—i.e., one must know in order to understand; must understand in order to apply; must apply in order to analyze; and so on. I wondered, along with my colleagues, if learning indeed happens this way, or if it is in fact a messier process. I’m leaning towards the latter.

While we didn’t reach any conclusions, we raised some first-rate questions. Another excellent conversation at DCAL. In the end, we didn’t make it all the way to Saginaw. But we had the feeling that the journey was well begun.

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How many ways of seeing are there? How can we learn to see differently, see deeper? Most courses could incorporate asking students to “read” images or interpret their environment through observation, and the generous folks from the Hood Museum are available to lend their expertise, enthusiasm and time to help you design learning experiences that use items from the Hood collection. This session highlighted two such collaborations. Kathy Hart, Lesley Wellman, and Amelia Kahl, from the Hood demonstrated how “reading” works of art were used to develop students’ observation and critical thinking skills as well as provide a basis for further inquiry and research. Using examples from courses taught by Sara Chaney and Stephanie Booth (The Institute for Writing and Rhetoric) workshop participants gathered in the Bernstein Study Storage Center to see some of the art works and hear how they were used.

Sara Chaney’s course focused on visual analysis and was structured to afford students several opportunities to view photographs and artwork from the Hood collection in order to “read,” “unpack” and “decode” these images. Led by Lesley Wellman, Assistant Director and Hood Foundation Curator of Education, students had two class sessions in the Bernstein Study Storage Center. In these sessions, students closely studied selected photographs, and explored their reactions and interpretations through discussion. Working with Amelia Kahl, Stephanie Booth chose provocative and often disturbing pictures for her course “Memory, Trauma, and Place.” Using a set of writing prompts, students wrote an essay on a photo they chose.

As John Berger (Ways of Seeing) asserts, what we know and believe affects the way we see things. Learning to see things deeply and reflectively can reveal layers of meaning in not only paintings and photographs but in the many scenes and images we scan unconsciously on a daily basis. This kind of intentional and reflective seeing can also reveal cultural biases and assumptions that we hold. This workshop was a refreshing reminder of how there are many kinds of “texts” available for the courses we teach.

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I’m going to begin my post with a story so bear with me.

Immediately after graduating from college, I secured a job and moved with what few possessions I owned to Philadelphia. I had worked throughout high school and college and my “new to me” car was a symbol of my responsibility and hard work. Within a few weeks of moving to my studio apartment located in what at that time was a rundown neighborhood, my license plate was clipped and the registration sticker stolen. The fact that someone felt they could steal something that was rightly mine left me feeling violated.

Maybe if I had the resources, I would have tracked down the perpetrator of the stolen sticker. Maybe I could have hired someone to find the free rider and bring them to justice.  But I had laid out too much money already paying for a new plate and registration stickers. The most I could do was what so many others had done before me; report it and keep my new sticker in my wallet, along with my registration card so it wouldn’t be stolen again.

Words like stealing and theft in combination with possessions or property often elicit visceral reactions and feelings of injustice and violation. During the DCAL session on April 5th, William Patry, author of Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, pointed out that these and other words/terms became part of the rhetoric around copyright during the late 1970s.

In the late 1970s, former Motion Picture Association of America leader Jack Valenti argued before Congress that the protection of copyright was a public good and that the piracy or theft of copyrighted material by free riders was an assault on the People. Patry noted that in reality, Valenti was arguing to protect the economic bottom line of the media industry from the perceived threat of a new technological innovation called the VCR, not the public good. The entertainment industry’s push for copyright protections was a preemptive action to try to prevent the potential loss of revenue from commercial spots because this innovation would allow VCR owners to skip the commercials when they watched the programming after the fact.

During the discussion, Patry spoke to the power of metaphor in relation to copyright. When referring to copyright as property it triggers associations of ownership and that it is mine unless I agree otherwise or society through the proper channels intervenes. This argument weighs the scales for the copyright owner, making it more difficult to argue otherwise. Referring to copyright as a social growth program for the benefit of everyone; however, would put everyone on the same plane and affords greater opportunities to benefit from it. Unfortunately, from the beginning copyright has been overpromised and as such has largely failed as a public growth program.

Patry suggested that innovation is actually the public good and copyright as it stands is the free rider. We are currently in a position where innovation and copyright are pitted against each other. As such, we as individuals need to work together to identify that which is impeding innovation and offer solutions on how to address it. This type of action can be seen with the recent defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and with the development of Creative Commons.

Let me go back to my story for a moment. Interestingly enough, a few years after I moved out of Philadelphia, the increase in reports of stolen plate stickers resulted in the DMV piloting rear window stickers. Unfortunately, the rear window stickers were disbanded after five years. While I am not privy to the reason for the pilot failure, I’m going to take some liberties and make a few assumptions.

  • I’m pretty certain the folks who had been clipped continued to keep the stickers in their wallets for fear that now their windows would be smashed.
  • The clipping issue existed primarily in Philadelphia, thus making an exception for a small subset of Pennsylvanians.
  • Philadelphians traveling elsewhere in PA were subject to increase police stops and possible profiling due to the new window tag.

So what does my story and the assumptions about the failed pilot have to do with my take away from this session? My comparison and comprehension of the discussion may seem a bit obtuse, but I came out of the session thinking that:

  • Fear of copyright should not deter Higher Education from facing the issues surrounding it.
  • Higher Education as a whole (faculty, staff, students and administration) will need to come together to identify the issues faced by academia regarding copyright and then work toward unified solutions.
  • Higher Education’s support of efforts such as Creative Commons and Open Publishing have the potential to support knowledge generation, creative endeavors, and sharing as a way to overcome the inadequacies and misuse of the current copyright system.

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Librarians from Special Collections led a group of faculty members and librarians through an exercise that could be tailored to the objectives of almost any course at Dartmouth. Jay Satterfield and Peter Carini distributed to the participants a set of documents from special collections and gave us the following very minimal instructions as if we were a group of students.

In groups of two, look over the document and respond to the following prompts:

  1. What is this?
  2. What is its information value?
  3. What questions does it prompt you to ask?

We worked in groups of two for about 15 minutes, then the six groups each reported their responses one at a time. It was difficult for us to refrain from starting discussion and sharing questions right away. It was even more difficult for Jay and Peter to refrain from supplying corrections and special information they had about the documents. They kept this activity focused on the students.

Here’s a list of the documents we looked at in pairs. We did not have this list; each pair had only the primary document before us; we were tasked with making some sense of the document without knowing what it was.

  • A “memorial” of a petition by Dartmouth students addressed to their neighbors asking for permission to undergo inoculation for smallpox in January 1777
  • A recipe for a prescription for smallpox inoculation written by one Dr. Tiffany
  • A letter from Ebenezer Haseltine to his brother, dated February 12, 1777
  • Acts and Laws of the State of New Hampshire promulgated from July-December 1776 and published in 1780
  • Reasons against the Practice of Inoculating the Small-Pox. London 1722
  • A Narrative of the Method and Success of Inoculating the Small Pox in New England. London 1722

As each pair reported, we could not help but learn new things about our document and even start to construct a narrative. When all six pairs had reported, Jay asked several people, in turn, to tell the story they were constructing from all the documents. Not surprisingly each narrative offered was different. Some told a story about the 18th-C controversies about small pox inoculation; another told a story about students responding to a smallpox outbreak at Dartmouth; still others wanted to tell a story about reactions to epidemics.

What’s more, each story needed more information to become truly useful. We were prompted to sort our questions into those that could be answered by further research in secondary sources, those by research in more primary sources, and those that might require careful interpretation and speculation.

Then we stepped back into our roles as teachers to consider how an exercise like this could be useful in one of our own courses and how it might further the learning outcomes we want our students to achieve.

Finally Peter Carini shared with us his list of “Skills for Primary Source Research,” a list of the outcomes he expects students to realize by using primary materials in Special Collections. Everyone started planning such exercises for future courses.

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Often times the largest barriers to learning are the preconceived ideas or mis-conceptions that we as learners bring into the classroom. While this is true for many subject areas, it seems most pervasive in learning science and mathematics. Given this knowledge, it is important to address these misconceptions and provide the students with the opportunity to unlearn and relearn these concepts.

During the February 9th Teaching Sciences Seminar in DCAL, Professor Chandrasekhar Ramanathan presented on the active learning teaching practices he was exposed to during the American Association of Physics Teachers workshop for new physics and astronomy faculty. In keeping true to the topic, those in attendance at this TSS were not passive recipients of the knowledge but active participants in the session.

After reviewing the philosophy behind Active Learning, Sekhar engaged the group in the practice of Peer Instruction. Made notable by Harvard Professor Eric Mazur, Peer Instruction involves students in their own learning during lecture by focusing their attention on underlying concepts.  In modeling Peer Instruction, Sekhar presented the group with a variety of common Physics questions and first asked the participants to answer as individuals. After answering individually, we broke off in groups of two to three to discuss the reasoning/thinking behind our answers. The group was then re-polled and the answer revealed with explanation/clarification as necessary. Not only was it fun to learn this way, but it allowed each individual to share their knowledge and become active participants in their learning. Find one of those who attended the session and ask them about the Car vs the Train.

Professor Ramanathan then discussed to the technique of Interactive Lecture Demonstration (ILD).  During ILD students first make predictions about the results of the demonstration. Once the demonstration is completed, the students discuss the results compared to their predictions. Reflection is key as it is through reflection that we can work through our misconceptions. Unfortunately, as noted by many in attendance, often times the traditional lab does not allow for reflection and that a standard “solution set” while often reproducible with that same set, does not afford students with the opportunity to reflect upon the process of solving the problem set and then applying the knowledge to other solution sets/situations.

The third active learning technique presented in the session was that of JITT or Just In Time Teaching. JITT engages students in learning activities before a class meeting. The type of activities can vary but may include video tutorials, simulations, and problem sets. The goal is to have students engage in the content and concepts outside of class and submit questions or reflections about the assignment to the instructor before class. This practice allows the instructor to focus on the knowledge gap and potential misconceptions the students bring to the content as he/she prepares for the next class meeting.

The session was fun, informative, and full of important takeaways. While incorporating Active Learning practices into the teaching and learning experience are extremely valuable; implementation is key.

  • Align Outcomes with Assessments, Assessments with Activities, and Activities with Outcomes.
  • Provide a supportive environment within the active learning classroom.
  • Explain to the students what you are doing and why.
  • Meet students where they are; don’t try to predict what they will have problems with.
  • Recognize that students may feel that their intelligence is being questioned when their understanding (misunderstanding) is challenged.
  • Provide opportunities for reflection for both the students and for yourself.
  • Consider how you will evaluate the success of the teaching techniques.

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The Cornell Interactive Theatre Ensemble (CITE) once again visited campus to present a couple of workshops. On October 5th, DCAL hosted “It Depends on the Lens,” a workshop exploring the topic of unconscious bias in employment search committees.

Our facilitator, Tine Reimers, began by asking attendees to watch a DVD scene created by CITE actors displaying the last 15 minutes of a faculty search committee meeting. Five faculty members of varying tenure status discuss a pool of six candidates for the position. Following the viewing, the search chair, David Delay (played by CITE Director and actor Dane Cruz), entered the room to take questions from workshop participants about the behavior of members of the committee and that of even the chair himself, and also provided addition information about the search process up to the start of the video.

The video and the discussion that followed helped to highlight a number of issues related to unconscious bias. At the very least, all people are proved to have certain stereotypic unconscious biases that can affect their decision making. However, through awareness activities, we can reduce reliance on these biases to conduct effective searches. The interactive theater approach gives participants an external view of the situation, encourages self-reflection, and helps to expose these biases.

What can be done? Some of the strategies recommended include:

  • devote adequate time to the search process and to meetings
  • avoid premature ranking of the applicants
  • read candidates work rather than relying solely on support materials
  • be transparent with the criteria, ensuring that it is the same for men and women
  • consider using a candidate evaluation form

Stereotypic biases disadvantage women more than men but both men and women are prone to biases regardless of how well-intentioned and non-sexist the individuals are. Biases can be reduced, however, and this CITE workshop provided a number of tools to help. The discussion was lively and interesting, and an accompanying handout provided additional resources for participants to take away.

We look forward to CITE’s next visit to Dartmouth.

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Thursday, October 21st, Karen Gocsik from the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric (IWR) offered a workshop at DCAL entitled “Reorienting Our Response to Student Writing.”  This workshop emerged from the IWR’s ongoing 3-year research project, which is assessing student writing in the first year.   Through their assessment project, the IWR is gathering data about first-year writing in order to determine how students transfer knowledge about writing from task to task and course to course.  For Karen, the assessment process led her to think about how her written response to student papers may or may not be encouraging transfer.  The premise that Karen is currently exploring in her classroom is whether or not a response that focuses on what students are doing may increase transfer of rhetorical ability from one writing assignment to another and from one course to another.

The workshop provided a hands-on opportunity to respond to sample student writing, first from a more traditional method of providing feedback regarding what the writer is saying, and secondly, using a method that asked readers to notice what the writer is doing.   Helpful questions to guide this last type of feedback were “What rhetorical moves is the student making?” and “What would you like the student to understand about these moves, generally?” We practiced these two kinds of responses using samples of student writing, and then shared our results.  Some helpful tips that came out of the discussion were:

  • Acknowledge what the student is doing well, so that they will know what strategies to transfer
  • Make several suggestions so students can decide for themselves what and how to revise
  • Think about how you phrase feedback, to facilitate rather than to direct revision
  • Consider how offering feedback on both what the student is saying (content) and what they are doing (rhetorical moves) may help students see how certain writing principles can be carried over to other classes and disciplines.

This last item – helping students transfer what they have learned about writing in one context to another—was the major “take-away” from the workshop. Teaching for transfer is challenging; augmenting feedback to include comments on general writing principles may help students with their writing in other contexts.

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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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As part of the ongoing training for Dartmouth’s GK-12 Fellows, participants in a session open to all grad students and postdocs gathered to discuss the questions we ask in class or during science outreach with public audiences.  We generated a list of questions, experienced either as teachers or students, that silenced the room rather than promoted discussion.  After reading “The Right Question at the Right Time,” by Joe Elstgeest (Chapter 3 in Primary Science: Taking the Plunge),  we explored why questions ranging from “why is methylmercury toxic?” to “are there any questions?” didn’t elicit the desired response and how we could revise them to better achieve the goal of the question in the first place.

Suggestions included breaking a big question down into smaller parts, revising the language to better match the knowledge level of our students, finding a related common experience, being more specific (or more general), creating a safe space, and recognizing when the question asked was not leading to the intended learning objective.  We talked about the importance of timing both in terms of allowing enough wait time to generate a response and how a question will be more productive when asked at an appropriate time.  Using the improv acting technique of “yes, and” to give a positive response to an answer that wasn’t expected and building from there was mentioned as another way to create an environment where people want to participate.

Nancy Serrell and Cindy Tobery, who were facilitating the workshop, concluded by using a summary of productive questioning strategies to focus on a specific example from our participants: how to engage the visitors to Dartmouth’s polar ice core exhibit during the upcoming USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC on Oct 24-25.

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

Feral Librarian

Research libraries & higher education. Sometimes music, sports, & other stuff.