Upcoming September Events

We hope to see you at some of our upcoming events this month. Beverages and snacks are provided, as well as friendly colleagues and interesting conversation! Feel free to register or just stop by as your schedule allows.

Thursday! Joint Session with the Center for Teaching & Learning 

Helping Students Read Effectively: In Print & Online – Email Tanya Schneider to Register
Thursday Sept 14, 8:45-10:15 AM| Hood Dining Room, Blaustein Humanities Center
Reading is a significant part of our students’ learning on campus, and much of this work takes place outside of class. How can we effectively guide their efforts to make sure that they are reading effectively and preparing well to reflect on their reading during class? How does reading online and in print differ, and how can we teach students to read carefully and critically in different media? This joint session with Instructional Technology will help us all consider methods that colleagues are already implementing and other approaches that we may want to share with our students.

Technologies for Teaching & Research Workshops

Reflect, Integrate, Demonstrate: Student Digital Portfolios – Register
Tuesday, September 19, 2:00 – 3:30 | Advanced Technology Lab
As we build a curriculum that asks students to reflect upon and integrate their coursework and co-curricular activities, several members of of our teaching and learning community are experimenting with digital portfolios as a space for this work. Through digital portfolios, students can archive artifacts that document and demonstrate their path through their education. Narrative explanations and curated examples make clear why they selected courses, a major or pathway, as well as what they learned and accomplished. We will demonstrate platform options and end with a discussion and leave with ideas for future implementations.

Media Literacy and Fake News – Register
Tuesday, September 26, 2:00 – 3:30 | Davis Classroom
Authorship, authority and credibility.  How do we help our students distinguish a more-credible resource from a less-credible one? What is media literacy and why do our students need to understand it? We will offer assignment ideas and class activities faculty can use to incorporate media literacy into their courses.

Reading Group

Debates in the Digital Humanities
Thursdays 2:30-3:30: September 21, October 26 & November 30
Advanced Technology Lab
Texts Available Online

Should liberal arts campuses do digital humanities? What is the role of teaching and learning in digital humanities? How are the digital humanities impacting your field? How do the digital humanities engage with, improve, and/or perpetuate problems of social justice? Debates in the Digital Humanities addresses these questions and many more. We will read some chapters together, and others of your choosing, based on your own interests.

Attend one session or all three! Please let Lyndsay Bratton know if you are interested in attending any of the meetings, so that planned readings can be communicated.

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Videoconferencing for students in the elementary language classes

Image of students with conversation partner.

Videoconferencing is becoming an increasingly popular tool used by many instructors to enrich foreign language classrooms with authentic experiences. In his post, Luis Gonzales, for example, reports on the advantage and success of using videoconferencing in his 200-level course SPA 250, Spain: A journey through history and culture.

Spring semester 2017, I also decide to explore the benefits of using videoconferencing in my language classes in order to increase confidence and motivation towards Italian. Previous research has, in fact, shown that for language learners a positive experience associated with computer-mediated communication in general, and videoconferencing in particular, can increase students’ motivation. Unlike Prof. Gonzales’s students, my students were all elementary students with less than 50 contact hours in the language. Their task was to complete a 30 minute exchange with a native speaker on a topic of their choice about Italian culture.  In order to assure that they would be ready to undertake this challenging task successfully,  I scaffolded the project throughout the semester with each step intended to build a layer of support that would provide the proper background for the exchange. These steps included a number of writing assignments that were corrected for grammar and content (the main one being a report on the topic they wanted to discuss),  semantic word maps for vocabulary, questions that they wanted to ask and possible answers. Another important aspect  was also the choice of a reliable technology and conversation partners who would be patient and amicable. I decided to use Talkabroad, a videconferencing platform  which provides a reliable technology, trained native speakers, and  recordings of the conversations for later review. This was possible through a grant from the Student-faculty Engagement Fund and turned out to the perfect choice with my elementary language students.

At the end of the project, students completed a questionnaire to reflect on the experience. They were asked about their perspective on perceived success of the exchange, adequacy of preparation, and effects on motivation. 46 out of 52 students responded to the questionnaire as follows:

  • 91% had a positive experience and perceived the exchange as successful; only 9% of the students reported a negative experience due either to problems with the technology or inadequate language abilities for the task.
  • 55% felt adequately prepared; 32% somewhat prepared; 13% felt unprepared.
  • 71% reported  feeling more motivated because the positive experience made them more aware of their own abilities and boosted their confidence; 28% reported no change even if they had a positive experience; finally only 1% reported a decrease in motivation due to the inability to carry out the conversation.

From my point of view, this was a very successful and energizing project. I saw many students come to life both while preparing for it as well as while teleconferencing with the native speakers. Many students expressed excitement directly to me, and, although it was challenging for them, I was extremely pleased with their performances. I will definitely do this again next year, and I would encourage other colleagues teaching elementary language classes to include some type of computer-mediated  authentic experience for the students.

Debates in the Digital Humanities Reading Group, Fall 2017

 

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Should liberal arts campuses do digital humanities? What is the role of teaching and learning in digital humanities? How are the digital humanities impacting your field? How does DH engage with, improve, and/or perpetuate problems of social justice? Debates in the Digital Humanities addresses these questions and many more. In the reading group, we will read and discuss some essays together and others of your choosing, based on your own interests.

Attend one session or all three! Please let Lyndsay Bratton know if you are interested in attending any of the meetings, so that planned readings can be communicated.

Thursdays 2:30-3:30: September 21, October 26 & November 30
Advanced Technology Lab, Shain Library, Lower Level
Texts Available Online

Avoiding the Rabbit Hole of Distractions on YouTube: How to Embed YouTube Videos Into Moodle

YouTube is amazing. With nearly 1 billion hours of uploaded video, the site hosts an impressive array of content germane to many topics in my courses. But YouTube is also a rabbit hole of distraction. I’ve gone to YouTube to watch a four-minute video on mitosis and left over an hour later having watched eight videos featuring farm animals attacking humans, nearly 14 minutes of carpool karaoke with Madonna and James Corden, and maybe 12 minutes of Queen at LIVE Aid. Thanks to increasingly savvy logarithms, the opportunities to click on other “suggested” videos are seemingly endless. And then there’s the cesspool of oftentimes caustic user commentary that continues to erode my faith in humanity.

Suffice it to say that sending students (or faculty) to YouTube to watch and think about only one video is like sending my 8-year old to a candy store to do her homework. It’s just not gonna happen. So my challenge has been how to use YouTube content without all of the distractions. My solution, detailed below, is to embed the YouTube video into my Moodle site and to do it such that only the video displays.

Read step-by-step instructions in the document embedded below.

Image credit: Rabbit Hole. By Amanvanasparesort (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome Back! Instructional Technology Office Hours

Activity is picking up on campus and we are looking forward to seeing you soon!

If you need help or motivation to work on your courses, drop in during our Instructional Technology Office Hours next Wednesday, August 23rd.  Members of the Instructional Technology staff will be available on Wednesday, August 23rd from 10:00AM – 2:00PM in the Advanced Technology Lab (Shain Library). We can answer questions on Moodle, WordPress, Computer Labs, Google Apps, or whatever else is on your mind. Bring your own computer or use one of ours in the Advanced Technology Lab and get last-minute class preparation done. We will have coffee and tea.

 

 

Summer = Reading Time!

Classes are over, grades are in, Camp Teach & Learn is winding down. Were you too busy this year to read all our blog posts? Not to fear! Here is a recap of everything published this year by category to help you catch up.

Active and project based learning

Social Media

Open Educational Resources

Tools

Digital Scholarship

Flipped and blended learning

See you at Camp Teach & Learn!

Will you be at Camp Teach & Learn next week? If so we look forward to seeing you at the following sessions!

Reflect, Integrate, Demonstrate: Student Digital Portfolio Pilots
Wednesday 24 May 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM

As we build a curriculum that asks students to reflect upon and integrate their coursework and co-curricular activities, several members of our teaching and learning community are experimenting with digital portfolios as a space for this work.  Through digital portfolios, students can archive artifacts that document and demonstrate their path through their education.  Narrative explanations and curated examples make it clear why they selected courses, a major or pathway, as well as what they learned and accomplished.  Faculty and staff who have used portfolios or participated in the pilot will share their experiences and sample student portfolios will be demonstrated.  We will end with a discussion and leave with ideas for future implementations.

Session leaders: Laura Little and Jessica McCullough; discussants include Amy Dooling, John Madura, Ariella Rotramel, and Sarah Queen.

Open Access & Digital Commons
Thursday 25 May 10:30 AM to 12:15

Did you know that most journals allow you to make previously published articles freely available over the internet?  Archiving your research in an institutional repository like Digital Commons makes it accessible to researchers who don’t have access to expensive databases and can make it more readily discoverable by those who do. Bring a c.v. or list of publications to this workshop and we will show you how to determine which articles can be made open access and how we can make your research as widely available as possible through Digital Commons.  We will also discuss some of the author features that make Digital Commons a practical, useful, and appealing platform for your research.

Developing Digital Humanities Projects:The Why and the How of Digital Scholarship
Thursday 25 May 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM

Does digital humanities (DH) research have the same outcomes as traditional research? Does DH appear to require more effort to reach the same end goals? Why do digital humanities?

This session will focus on how digital scholarship projects can enhance student engagement and lend students useful new skillsets (both technical and critical), all while helping you achieve your pedagogical goals. Hear from faculty about why and how they integrated digital projects—mapping, online exhibitions, and computational analysis of data mined from digitized texts—into their humanities courses, what worked well, and what students gained from the experience.

Discussants include: Lyndsay Bratton, Karen Gonzalez Rice, Emily Morash, and Ariella Rotramel.

Global Classroom: Teaching about Refugees in the Age of Trump

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I am teaching GER/GIS/GWS 262: “Refugees in Europe: Germany” for the second time this semester. Obviously the recent change of government in the United States has impacted this course in many ways. As we all know, on January 27th, President Trump signed the Executive Order 13769 “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” limiting – among many other things – the number of refugees to be admitted into the United States in 2017 to 50,000 and suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. As a consequence, the course has become much more comparative in nature, with students discussing the impact of the Executive Order and drawing parallels to Germany’s refugee policy. Right after the Executive Order was signed, students – as an online assignment on a snow day – wrote a letter to an (imaginary) friend or (imaginary) family member or local, state, or federal elected official, discussing the legal implications of the recent Executive Order in light of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

Another assignment in this class that has been heavily impacted by the above-mentioned Executive Order was the Twitter assignment. Throughout the semester, students are asked to tweet 4 times a week about our course readings and news sources regarding the situation of refugees in Germany and Europe. While students’ privacy is always a major concern, the recent changes in U.S. Customs and Border Protection that make social media accounts part of the screening process clearly affect the privacy and safety of non-US citizens more than ever:

If you travel, know that CBP will open all of your electronic devices (laptop, phone, tablet) and examine the contents. We know of instances where individuals have been turned away for being perceived as “anti-Trump.” If you delete the content on your phone, they will ask for your email username and password. They will do the same for all of your social media accounts. –  a newsletter from Global Immigration Partners, sent to me on January 31st.

Again, this is something most of us are probably aware of, but a threat that, in a global classroom with extensive online and social media components, poses itself with particular urgency.

At the same time, the Twitter assignment this semester has triggered even more engaged discussions about its use as a tool for political social media marketing and branding; the challenges to distinguish between facts and lies; and one’s own responsibility to respond (or not to respond) to unsettling responses to one’s own posts.

Video of student answering why he signed up for this course

Like last year, the second half of the semester has been dedicated to the videoconferences with our German interview partners (see my Engage blog post). This year, I have had a larger group or students, raising some of the technical issues that we had discussed during our Technology Workshops throughout the year, so I felt well prepared to address them (as always, thanks to Laura Little for her support!). This semester, we Skyped in a young female refugee from Syria, two volunteers from a private reception center for refugees in Lübeck, a teacher from Hamburg, the organization “Flow” from Lübeck that offers programs for young refugees; and a lawyer who volunteers his time to help refugees with their asylum applications. Our final interview with “KidzCare Lübeck“ is scheduled for May 3rd, focusing on the special situation of female refugees.

On Wednesday, May 10th, we are going to have the public “launch” of our collaborative WordPress site. You’re welcome to join us from 11:50-1:00 at the Visualization Wall in Shain!

Digital Storytelling on and for the Environment


Recently I met with Siri Colom, C3 Doctoral Fellow in Environmental Studies, to discuss an interesting project she incorporates into SOC/ES 329: Sociology of the Wild. Students are asked to critically think about what “nature” is, and how “our conception of it is socially and culturally based, and how it might preclude us from understanding the world around us.”

To demonstrate that they are engaging with these themes and to connect philosophical and theoretical reading to lived experience, Siri developed a series of digital story projects for students. Pedagogically, the goal is to get students interacting outside of the classroom using multiple senses and to think about audio literacy as they pull their pieces together. She employs podcasts as the medium for storytelling, an interesting juxtaposition of nature and technology.  

The three podcasts projects are scaffolded and build in complexity – both in content and technology – over the course of the semester. The first requires students to make a two minute recording that includes one sound and explains a personal connection to the environment. The second requires two sounds and students describe a historical example. The final podcast is 10 minutes or less, requires interviews with two experts, and includes sociological analysis. The podcasts are shared publicly through a website Siri created in WordPress for the class.

With several semesters of the class creating podcasts, Siri now asks students to record 30-second summaries of the class readings so that they are engaging with audio in all aspects of the class. In addition, one student enjoyed this medium so much that she is creating a series of podcasts for an independent study with Joyce Bennett. 

Asynchronous Collaborations: Using Google Docs to Facilitate Working in Community

This semester Ariella Rotramel and I are engaging in community-based teaching and research. In order to work efficiently in our collaborations with community partners, we have both turned to Google Docs as an important tool. This post describes how each of us use use Google Docs in this work.

Joyce

IASC LogoMy course, ANT/LAS 431 Globalization, Transborderism, and Migration, is partnered with an organization I have a longstanding relationship with, the Immigration Advocacy and Support Center (IASC) in New London. Students are working on two projects: creating bilingual Know Your Rights materials for our local community and  interviewing immigrants that IASC has supported through the legal system. Students will write synopses with selected quotes for IASC’s newsletter to highlight success stories. The interviews also provide data that IASC can use in grant applications. Finally, these interviews will provide me with research materials for my long-term research project on the local migrant community and the non-profits they interact with.  

Google Docs has been essential to creating and editing the materials that are at the core of these projects. First, IASC members logged into Docs and commented on the course syllabus as it was being designed. IASC’s direct input into the syllabus follows best practice guidelines for community learning courses. Google Docs allowed IASC collaborators to comment and co-design at times that were convenient for them, enabling us to make progress without meeting in person. While in-person collaboration is key, many of the challenges our partnership faces is finding times to work together given that we exist in two rather distinct work-cultures: academia and nonprofit service sector. This kind of collaboration and co-designing never would have been possible without Google Docs technology.

Most recently, students have used Google Docs to create Know Your Rights materials for our local migrant community. Google Docs has allowed us as a group to share materials already created (such as materials from the ACLU). We were then able to adapt pre-existing materials to the needs of IASC. Collaborating on Google Docs allowed students to share the responsibilities of formatting issues, and it allowed IASC to comment on our work as we went along. That kind of valuable feedback saved us time, as IASC was able to guide our work effectively and quickly.  

Finally, students will be using Google Docs to share their interview transcripts and field notes. Students are completing interviews in pairs, which means using Google Docs facilitates their collaboration. More importantly is that using Google Docs is a convenient way for me to archive the data produced by this class from year to year. A word of caution: be sure to own all of the documents, because if students own the documents and graduate, one could lose access. Barring this particular issue, using Google Docs to archive the data has been convenient  because I cannot misplace it and, more importantly, IASC always has access to the Drive. This means they can access all the data our partnership has produced whenever they need it, which again, is in line with best-practices for community partnerships.

Ariella

Fresh LogoI have been engaged with FRESH New London over the past year as a volunteer and board member. As FRESH began to explore the possibility of a youth participatory research project (YPAR) to tell New London food stories (related to questions of access, inequality, and culture), it became clear that I could help develop this idea into a collaborative research project that would address FRESH’s goals and draw on my experience with community-based research. Over last fall, I worked with FRESH staff to develop an IRB for the initial stage of the project, mapping New London’s food resources using Google Maps. This semester we are working together with youth as co-researchers, meeting weekly to design, collect, analyze, and map information related to New London and food.

I used Google Docs to share initial academic articles on YPAR and food stories, and FRESH reciprocated by sharing existing grants and other materials. Together, we were able to mix in-person meetings with Google Doc work to develop the IRB proposal and all of the related documents. As we received feedback from each other and then the Connecticut College IRB committee, we used Google Doc to make changes, give comments, and  track this work easily through the “see revision history” function. After the project was initiated, we continue to use Google Docs to share materials including brainstorming notes, research links and PDFS, as well as using Google Spreadsheets to track  research findings.

Final Thoughts

Overall, using Google Docs for our community collaborations allows us to follow best practices for community engaged learning because it facilitates input from community partners and community partner’s access to the data we produce. If planned, using Google Docs can also cut down on the amount of coordinating and administrative work the instructor has to do in community learning courses, which can be a barrier to engaging in this important and fulfilling work.