What is Open Access?

Do you know what open access is? There are many myths surrounding open access. Take a minute (or a few) to learn about open access by watching these brief but informative videos.

Have 8 minutes? Watch Open Access Explained! by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen.

Only have one minute? Watch The Library Minute: Open Access from Arizona State University.

Tomorrow we’ll be posting about open access at Connecticut College. Missed yesterday’s post? Find it here!

Happy Open Access Week!

OAlogo (1)Happy Seventh Open Access Week! This week is a global celebration of the open access movement in scholarly research. Throughout this week I will use this blog to share information about open access. But first, why should you care about open access?

  • The price of access to scholarly research, the same research that you produce, is rising at a much higher rate than library budgets (over the past 30 years, 250% above the rate of inflation, according to the Association of Research Libraries). Simply, this means that fewer and fewer people have access to (your) quality research.
  • Publishing in open access publications, or negotiating your rights with a publisher to allow for broader dissemination of your research, increases exposure and use of your published research. Everyone wins!
  • Wide dissemination of research allows and encourages others to build upon existing knowledge to create new knowledge, regardless of the college/university they attend or funds they have to purchase research.

Stay tuned for the next installment…. What is Open Access.


The Printer Ate My Homework: Turning Assignments in Online

-No_excuses^_Watch_your_waste.-_-_NARA_-_515081.tifAre students claiming printer problems as an excuse for late assignments? Collecting papers and other written assignments online through Moodle can be an efficient and effective way of avoiding that problem. Not only do students avoid printing, and the associated financial and environmental costs, but collecting assignments online can provide benefits and efficiencies for the faculty member as well.

The Assignment Activity in Moodle works as an electronic dropbox for virtually any type of assignment. Students can submit Microsoft Word documents or PDF files for written assignments, but other file types can be collected also, including PowerPoint presentations, Video, or Audio files.

As a faculty member, you can download the assignments submitted by students and print them yourself to grade the old-fashioned way (if you must!), or read the papers online and provide grades and comments to students through Moodle. By collecting the papers through Moodle, you no longer have to physically carry them with you to grade, or worry about misplacing them. And you’ll have a record of who turned in assignments and when. You will also be able to collect and return assignments on whatever schedule you like, without regard to class meeting times.

For more detailed information, see our detailed instructions or contact your Instructional Technology liaison.

Image credit: “No excuses! Watch your waste.” Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. (03/09/1943 – 09/15/1945)

Save Time! Using Canned Responses in Gmail

Trådtelefon-illustrationDo you find yourself typing the same email response over and over again? Use a canned response!  Simply, canned responses allow you to write text one time, save it and insert it over and over within Gmail. Canned responses are very easy to set up and use, take a look!

  1. Enable canned responses in your email. This 45 second video shows you how.
  2. Create and insert canned responses. Here’s the video showing you how. 
  3. Use the time you just gained on more meaningful projects!

Image Credit: “Trådtelefon-illustration”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tr%C3%A5dtelefon-illustration.png#mediaviewer/File:Tr%C3%A5dtelefon-illustration.png

Group Work & Active Learning in the Google Age


I had an interesting, unplanned “teaching with technology” experience last week with my First Year Seminar students. To supplement the students’ reading of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, I adopted the exercise outlined here. Students are assigned one of 16 historical figures who took part in President Kennedy’s 1962 Scientific Advisory Committee on the use of pesticides. They were charged with researching an historical figure and preparing for an in class re-enactment of the Advisory Committee’s debate.

In preparation for the debate, we allocated one class meeting for the students to plan their debate strategy. I put them in separate classrooms and checked in on each group as they  formulated  game plans. All students brought their laptops so they could discuss what they researched and could individually contribute to the debate. I suggested that one student write their ideas on the blackboard. After about 10 minutes of bantering back and forth, one member of the anti-pesticides group said “Hey, lets create a Google doc so everyone can add to it and edit it.”  As a Tech Fellow professor, I smiled and watched what unfolded. Talking did not cease, but was dramatically reduced as they sat in a circle pecking at their keyboards and staring at their screens. I watched one student’s screen as a 3+ page document emerged within 5 minutes. I thought, why didn’t I think of this, and felt archaic and embarrassed for suggesting the blackboard, as I went next door to the other group to check on their progress.

Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, the other group was doing the same thing! The identical idea had sprouted organically, independently and simultaneously in separate groups of digital natives. There were many smiles and contemplative gazes as they read what emerged in between bursts of typing. There were occasional comments that to a non-doc-shared observer must have seemed disjointed such as “No wait a minute, that should go first…I’ll cut and paste it.” Unlike most class meetings, I had to remind them when our time was up so another class could use one of our rooms. They seemed a bit perturbed about having to stop and I must have been grinning from ear to ear when I heard one student say, “I am sending you guys a Doodle poll so we can pick time that we can all be online to finish this.” I asked each group to share their doc with me so I could watch it develop. What emerged was a mixture of research facts, opinions on their importance and a consensus outline of the group’s strategy.

Our debate took place on Thursday. The students did a fabulous job of adopting a 1960’s view of the issues and highlighting the major points from each side’s position. They were passionate and at times I had to remind them that accusation and defensive statements were probably not constructive. The two groups ultimately found common ground and came to the same consensus as the original committees that controlled use of pesticides was the best course of action.

We ended a little early so I could ask them why they chose to use Google docs for their group strategy planning session. Unlike me, they were not surprised that the idea emerged independently in each group. One student matter-of-factly remarked, “How else would we do it?”  Another said “I can type and read faster than it would take to write while listening to everyone take turns to talk.” They also commented that oral discussions are often dominated by one person, but a digital conversation was more diplomatic and democratic. I asked them if they thought it strange that they were all sitting within 10 feet of each other, yet they were not using spoken words to communicate. No one seemed to mind that the oral aspect of their collaboration took a back seat to the efficiency of the collective digital effort. One student explained that if they were in a similar group setting talking about a social or personally relevant topic “of course we would talk to each other!” However, for collective brainstorming about a topic that they had to present as a team, the use of digital technology was second nature to them.


Expanding Your Class: Yesterday’s Workshop on Inter-Campus Collaborations

3f5ea9690a84fee28e8f9f85ed45432fThank you to yesterday’s presenters, Hisae Kobayashi, Joe Schroeder, Andrea Lanoux, and Jason Jones (Director of Educational Technology, Trinity College), at the Teaching with Technology event, Expand Your Classroom through Inter-Campus Collaborations. I personally left feeling very excited about the possibilities that videoconferencing technology affords our students. Here is a short summary of the event if you missed it.

  • Hisae Kobayashi presented an upper level Japanese course where students regularly met with peers at Mount Holyoke. Students participated in peer reading, discussion, and delivered presentations to each other via Skype (which were also recorded using QuickTime). In addition to the course learning goal of having students learn Japanese culture and language through the Japanese language, Professor Kobayashi found that students were especially motivated to do well when speaking with students at a different college.
  • Joe Schroeder and Jason Jones spoke about a course taught by Matthew Kurtz, Wesleyan University, on schizophrenia to students at Trinity, Wesleyan and Connecticut College (CTW). A more detailed description of the course can be found in an article published in Campus Technology. In addition to the weekly teleconference meetings, the course included two face to face meetings and a field trip to a local hospital providing both a common experience from which to draw throughout the course and a chance to interact in person.This collaboration allowed both Trinity and Conn to offer a course taught by an expert that they would otherwise not have been able to offer.
  • Finally, Andrea Lanoux wowed us all with her course about youth culture in the United States and Russia. The course includes 18 American students and 22 Russian students in St. Petersburg and utilizes the teleconference equipment in Olin 107. The discussion based course requires students to regularly confront cultural differences, stereotypes, and carefully examine and communicate their own culture. Read more about this course an a 2013 article by Professor Lanoux from The School of Russian and Asian Studies’ newsletter.  You can also read a 2012 article from Connecticut College Magazine about a past iteration of the course.

If you are interested in using Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or the videoconference equipment available at the college, feel free to contact your Instructional Technology Liaison and we can help with the technical aspects. You can also learn more about some of the technology available in our workshop handout.

Image credit: Students in the Dilley Room, Shain Library. Photo by Bob McDonnell.

Expand Your Classroom Using Teleconference Technologies

cassinispace1_2Teleconference technologies offer great potential to the small liberal arts classroom. Invite experts into your classroom, expose students to a classroom in a different culture or language, or broaden your departmental course offerings. During our next workshop, Expand Your Classroom through Inter-Campus Collaborations, we will hear from faculty who have used teleconference technologies, including Andrea Lanoux, Joe Schroeder, and Hisae Kobayashi. We will also use our videoconference technology to include colleagues at Trinity College. Come learn how to use the technology, consider potential uses in your own teaching, and learn from colleagues who have implemented it. See you there!

Expand Your Classroom through Inter-Campus Collaborations
Thursday, October 2
3:00-4:00 p.m.
Olin 107

Registration not required but recommended. Fill out the registration form or email Jessica McCullough.

Globo terrestre / delineato sulle ultime osservazioni con i viaggi e nuove scoperte del Cap. Cook, inglese ; Gio. Ma. Cassini C.R.S. inc. Roma : Presso la Calcograf[i]a cam[era]le, 1790. Accessible via David Rumsey Map Collection.