Learn Something New This Holiday Weekend with Lynda.com

Learning paths in lynda.com

Have you forgotten about lynda.com? Since our initial subscription, thousands of new courses have been added. If you haven’t looked in awhile, now is a good time to see what’s new! To access lynda.com, use this link or log in using the link from CamelWeb to ensure you have access to the full library.

Here are a new teaching related courses for you:

Here are a few new courses for your students:

Finally, some new courses for anyone!


Swivl toward Lecture Recording

This semester Joe Schroeder is using a Swivl, a robotic mount that holds an iPad or smartphone, to record lectures in Behavioral Neuroscience. With the use of a remote that the presenter wears, the Swivl tracks a moving person and uses the camera on the iPad or smartphone to record. Lectures or presentation are stored and saved in the cloud using Swivl’s cloud service, and shared with students through a link.

Swivl robot
Swivl robot

Why Lecture Record

Last year Joe had a problem: several students were going to miss class but he needed to cover important material. He asked about ways to record his lecture, and we suggested he try the Swivl. He gave it a try, and found the technology easy and convenient to use. This year, due to scheduling difficulties in Behavioral Neuroscience (PSY/BIO 314), he has one student who needs the class but is unable to attend one day a week. Recording the class on this day was the only way that this student could enroll. Remembering the Swivl, he decided to record the Friday lectures.

How it Works – Technology

Joe assigned one student as the class videographer, and this student is responsible for ensuring that the device it turned on, recording, and working throughout the class period. After class, Joe initially downloaded the video, saved it as an .mp4 file, then uploaded that to Moodle (through Kaltura). This process, while simple, was time consuming. More recently, with the introduction of Swivl’s cloud service, which automatically processes the video after recording and provides a link to the video, he simply copies that link and shares it with all students through Moodle. While Swivl provides tools for editing, the integration of slides and video, and other features, Joe does not spend time editing.

Excerpt of Joe's Moodle site, showing links to outside resources, lecture slides, and class recordings.
Excerpt of Joe’s Moodle site, showing links to outside resources, lecture slides, and class recordings.

How it Works – Pedagogy

After a few weeks of recording one day a week, Joe decided to record every class. Initially he had concerns about attendance – would students attend a class they knew would be recorded and could be watched later? He found that this practice did not affect attendance. Students value class time for the interaction with Joe and fellow students, as well as the ability to ask questions and check for understanding – this is a challenging class and expectations are high. In addition, the course does not use a textbook (see When Risks Pay Off in the Classroom), but a collection of resources – an online animated textbook from University of Toronto, simulation software, videos, articles, and more. Students use the recordings as another resource to understand course material.

Final Thoughts and Next Steps

While the full impact of providing class recordings is not yet known, mid-semester feedback from students is positive. Using Swivl is low-effort, but may potentially have a high impact for all students in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Beyond lecture capture, I can imagine additional uses for the Swivl. Students or faculty could use it to practice presentations and review the recording, students could rehearse a performance, then send the video to faculty or peers for feedback.

If you have questions or are interested in exploring ways to record your classes, contact your Instructional Technology liaison.

I’ve Been Searching for Prezi for 40 Years


When I was a 1st year student in graduate school I took a course from a development economist Alain de Janvry. It was probably the best course I ever took after high school. He was, of course, brilliant and a great theorist of economic development, especially Latin American economic development. But what made the course really great for me was that he put a picture of the entire course on the blackboard in the first lecture. The picture was a series of connected bubbles and each bubble contained a piece of the story of economic development. Over the next 14 weeks, each bubble was essentially blown up and filled with rich detailed content. But you never forgot how it connected to all the other bubbles. I learned more in that class than any class I took because I could visualize how all the different pieces of a unified picture fit together. I am a visual learner and when I am at my best teaching, it is by drawing pictures of the big ideas I want my students to link together.

That brings me to Prezi. I first met Prezi when we were doing a search in Economics three years ago. All the candidates did their presentations using Prezi instead of Power Point. I immediately saw the visual power (and the limitations) of the presentation tool. Power Point is linear and verbal. Prezi is visual. It was exactly the tool I needed to replicate the kind of course diagram that de Janvry had created.

During the Tempel Summer Institute last summer, Instructional Technology staff trained us to use Prezi. Sort of. We were told that our final presentation about what we had learned would be done with Prezi, then immersed us for about two frustrating hours. I thought I would go crazy and then suddenly it clicked. Because Prezi lives in the cloud and can be shared with others, it is also a great tool for collaboration. But one drawback, as we learned in Tempel, is that when many people work on the same presentation, someone can suddenly show up on the document and make a mess of what you were doing. Not on purpose of course.

I am teaching Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow in my first year seminar, and by the end of this section I created a Prezi that captures the essence of the book. Each bubble will be a topic for a class session the next time I teach the course. I can already see how it helps students understand the big picture – for their final paper of the section, they used the Prezi to help structure their arguments.

I now have students creating collaborative Prezi’s for their final group presentations. I’ll write more about this in a later post.

New Accessibility Features in iOS 10

Our Instructional Technology Student Assistant, Kristen Szuman, did some research into new accessibility features available in iOS10 (if you missed her first post on iOS accessibility, find it here). She turned up some interesting features, including a camera magnifier, color display adjustments, voicemail transcripts, and more. Read on!

Apple has long been an innovator in the field of accessible technology. As one of the world’s foremost and most popular brands, Apple has been continuously raising the bar for technological accessibility; their release of iOS 10 was no different. Advertised as their “biggest release yet,” Apple’s iOS 10 featured many new and innovative accessibility features that work directly with the operating system, eliminating the need for additional app or tech support. Here are some of the new accessibility features available in iOS 10.

iOS 10 Camera Magnifier

With iOS 10 you can now use your built-in iSight camera as a Magnifier with a customizable user interface. The Magnifier allows you to access the camera flash, gives you the ability to lock focus and take a screencap, and adjust color filters to increase contrast or color settings for easier viewing. This new feature not only has practical everyday applications for everyone, but also is especially helpful for anyone who may be visually impaired in some way.

  • To enable the Magnifier: Settings>General>Accessibility>Magnifier
  • To access the Magnifier: Triple-click the home button

Color Display Adjustments

With Apple’s fall launches, they have expanded their iOS, macOS, and tvOS, to include color adjustments to assist with color blindness by adding the ability to tint the entire display a certain color. Apple has included new color options such as Grayscale, Red/Green Filter (for people with protanopia), Green/Red Filter (for people with Deuteranopia), Blue/Yellow Filter (for people with tritanopia), and a more general Color Tint.

  • To enable Color Display Adjustments: Settings>General>Accessibility>Display Accommodations>Color Filters
  • To access Color Display Adjustments: Automatic once enabled

Voicemail Transcripts

iOS 10 now supports Voicemail Transcriptions as do many of the major US cell phone carriers. Voicemail Transcriptions transcribe the words that are spoken on voicemail messages and display the text right in the voicemail section of the built-in Phone app on your iPhone. Voicemail transcripts are useful for everyone but offer new communication opportunities for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Carriers that Support Voicemail Transcription
  • To enable Voicemail Transcription: If you have upgraded to iOS 10 and your cellphone carrier supports Voicemail Transcription, it should be automatically enabled on your iOS device
  • To use Voicemail Transcription: When you select a voicemail message the first time, the audio will playback automatically when you tap it to see the transcript. If you’ve already listened to a message, it will not playback the next time you read it.

Wheelchair Fitness

With the launch of watchOS 3, the Apple Watch has become capable of tracking the activity and fitness of wheelchair users. The device will track pushes, rather than steps, and encourages users to meet daily goals, burn more calories and provide notifications to keep moving throughout the day. While this feature is only available built into the new Apple Watch series, this is a new and innovative way to track fitness that will assist many wheelchair users.

Siri Updates

iOS 10 has opened up a whole new world for app developers as Apple has now begun to allow third-party apps access to Siri. Using apps such as Square Cash, Venmo, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and The Roll, an iOS 10 user can now access Siri to perform simple tasks, such as sending money to a friend via Venmo or searching for pet photos in The Roll. You are also now able to send messages in third-party messaging apps, such as Skype, WhatsApp, and WeChat, using Siri. Additionally, ride-sharing apps are now partnered with Siri, so calling an Uber is now as simple as asking Siri to do so. As an easily accessible app, the addition of Siri in third-party apps have made those apps increasingly user-friendly and accessibility-friendly. While the motor control needed to swipe through pages of apps and repeatedly click and type may have been difficult for some individuals, the new addition of Siri in third-party apps now removes some potentially difficult physical barriers.

Using Quizlet for Elementary German

Quizlet "Gravity" Question
The Gravity question type in Quizlet.

For the first time this semester, I am incorporating Quizlet into my Elementary German class, as a mandatory tool to study new vocabulary on a regular basis. Most of you will be familiar with Quizlet, a collaborative online learning platform released in 2007 that offers students different gaming and study modes. These gaming and study modes include “Flash Cards”, “Speller” (students must type a term that is read out loud), “Match” (students have to drag terms on top of their associated definitions), and my very favorite “Gravity” (see above), where students must type a term that goes with the definition in the shape of an asteroid before the asteroid reaches the bottom of the screen. Quizlet thus addresses a number of different language skills and learning styles. It simulates testing conditions, students are familiar with its different study modes from high school – and most importantly: it is fun, and the students love it. It is also free and easily accessible.

I had prepared the vocabulary lists for this semester at the Tempel Summer Institute, including articles and plural forms of the nouns as well as the third person singular of each verb. That way, students are forced to study them as a unit. Every other day, we now have a brief vocab quiz in class. I use the Quizlet “Test” tool for that but print out the tests to ensure that all students are tested on exactly the same vocabulary. So far the use of Quizlet has been hugely successful: students now study the vocab on a regular basis and not just for the chapter exams – which makes a big difference in terms of teaching. Also, almost all of the students do extremely well in these quizzes. I am very happy with this new tool and am definitely going to use it in the future!

Wrapping up Open Access Week

Storify of Open Acces

We had a great time creating our tweet-stream about Open Access for International Open Access Week last week! If you didn’t follow us, click on the Storify above to read all our Tweets – I promise you won’t be disappointed! Bonus points if you find yourself mentioned!

I’d like to leave you with what I think the most important information about Open Access is. It is easy to participate and make a difference by including your publication in Digital Commons! Authors usually retain the right to make the final draft of their article freely available. In some instances, we can even make available a pdf of the final published version from the journal. Simply send an email to Ben Panciera and include your CV or a list of citations. Librarians will research your publications, determine what can and cannot be posted (and in what format), and will upload your articles to Digital Commons @ Connecticut College. It is a simple as providing us with a list of citations.

Your research does not need to be locked up behind a paywall, only available to those students and scholars affiliated with institutions that can continue to afford the ever-increasing prices for journal subscription packages. In addition to feeling good about supporting open access, making research available in institutional repositories increases citations to your work. It’s a win-win for everyone, including libraries.

If you have questions about Open Access, or the Open Access Policy at Connecticut College, view our Open Access webpage.

Join the Technology Fellows Program! Proposals Due October 30

As we near the proposal deadline for 2017-2018 fellowships, we are taking stock of the remarkable accomplishments of the Technology Fellows Program over the last three years. To date, the program has supported 14 Connecticut College faculty who sought to leverage digital technologies to deeper, more impactful teaching and learning. The outcomes have been remarkable for their many lessons and successes. These include applications of Twitter to Japanese language learning, using digital publishing tools to enrich the learning objectives of a theater project, using scanning tools to interact with special collections archives for history assignments, and leveraging web conferencing to more meaningful language and culture instruction. Our participants have also been instrumental in efforts to realize better productivity in the modern digital world by offering strategies for managing a deluge of email, efficiently reproducing and sharing course syllabi, and scheduling office hours and learning student names.

The strengths of the Technology Fellows Program lie in its unique organizational framework and supporting resources, all of which are intended to help cultivate pedagogically centered approaches to researching and experimenting with digital technologies. The program offers a combination of small-group discussions and hands-on workshops focused on scaffolding curricula, beta-testing assignments, and providing constructive feedback on your efforts to innovate pedagogy. Moreover, we offer the talents and expertise of a dedicated Information Services staff, the accumulated wisdom of faculty directors and past fellows, and (importantly) the time needed to experiment and innovate.

Proposals for 2017-2018 fellowships are due Sunday, October 30, 2016. Should you be interested in participating, we encourage you to reach out to current and past fellows for their perspective on the program’s affordances and successes.

2014-2015 Fellows
Ann Marie Davis (History)
Suzuko Knott (German Studies)
Karen Gonzalez Rice (Art History & Architectural Studies)
Anthony P. Graesch (Anthropology)
Joe Schroeder (Behavioral Neuroscience)

2015-2016 Fellows
Ginny Anderson (Theater)
Hisae Kobayashi (East Asian Languages & Cultures)
Leo Garofalo (History)
Luis Gonzalez (Hispanic Studies)
Emily Morash (Art History & Architectural Studies)

2016-2017 Fellows
Rachel Black (Anthropology)
Candace Howes (Economics)
Karolin Machtans (German Studies)
Wendy Moy (Music)  

Design A Better Assignment – Workshop It!

Chopping onions

Where do I position the camera? Why do I have to do a voiceover? What is line 2 of the instructions asking me to do? Is time lapse video really the best choice here? These were a few of the practical and didactic questions I received from colleagues as they worked through the activity that I designed as part of Technology Fellows Program. The workshop experience is one of the invaluable opportunities that this program offers. Colleagues encouraged me to push my thinking about this specific assignment and my approach to course design more generally. The Technology Fellows Program focuses on the use of technology for teaching, but it is also a place to hone one’s teaching skills.

For my workshop, I proposed to try out an assignment that I am calling mise en place, after the culinary practice of preparing ingredients before cooking. This assignment will be part of my Food and the Senses course in the Spring semester. The objectives of the assignment are to have students explore concepts of embodied knowledge and apprenticeship through the activity of mise en place. The first step is to teach students to chop onions in a variety of ways (live demonstration, video and no instruction). Next, students chop onions in teams. They take turns chopping and recording. Initially, I believed that time lapse video would be the best technology for this job.  Outside of class time, students have time to view their videos and reflect on the experience through a voice over. Finally, students share their video documents in class or online.

Leading up to the big day of the workshop, I had a small group meeting with other Tech fellows and instructional designers. They read over the assignment, we discussed the objectives of the activity, they suggested a variety of technology options, and made concrete suggestions for how I could continue to develop the assignment to sharpen the connections between the activity and the learning objectives. Using these suggestions, I prepared the materials for the workshop, where the other Tech Fellows would have a chance to try out and critique my assignment.

The big day came, and, to my surprise, no one balked at the idea of using large knives and the possibility of crying over onions. My colleagues started setting up a variety of recording devices on all sorts of tripods. They immediately began asking important questions, “What part of the body should the recording capture? Just the hands?” This got me thinking about a series of theoretical issues connected with the disembodiment of knowledge and objectification of culinary skill. This is just one example of the sorts of feedback that led me sharpen my assignment and consider the utility of the data that my students would be collecting. Thanks to my colleagues, I began to see connections to visual anthropology and how I could use this assignment to engage with an additional set of methodological questions.

Although I had initially been concerned about finding the right technology for my assignment. The workshop experience helped me to think more deeply about learning objectives and how to bring more intention to the methods and technology I want to use. I like to try new techniques and activities in the classroom and, for the most part, I usually have to wing it. Being able to workshop an assignment that pushes into new pedagogical territory will certainly lead to a better thought out assignment and hopefully a better learning experience for my students.

Image credit: Cutting onions, https://www.flickr.com/photos/61508583@N02/13561876493

Open Access Week 2016, Open in Action, Starts Today!

Open in Action Logo

Today marks the beginning of International Open Access Week. This year’s theme is “Open in Action.” To celebrate, we are posting with the hashtag #ConnCollegeOA on Twitter throughout the week, multiple times a day. Follow us to learn about Open Access, why Open Access matters, how to participate and make your work more widely available.

If you can’t wait to read our tweets (or dislike Twitter!), you can read the series of blog posts I wrote two years ago during Open Access week:

Day 1: Happy Open Access Week!
Day 2: What is Open Access
Day 3: Local to Global Open Access
Day 4: Is Your Work Still Yours?
Day 5: Teaching Open Access

To learn about Open Access workshops, events, seminars happening all over the world, click on the map below!

Friday Fun with the Smithsonian Learning Lab

Greensboro Lunch Counter, National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center.

Earlier this week I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington DC. I often forget about the amazing treasures that the 19 Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, and 9 research centers hold.  Fortunately, now we can explore these diverse collections virtually through the Smithsonian Learning Lab. The Learning Lab includes images, video, audio, text, and learning resources. The Learning Lab is a space for anyone to curate and create collections; you can even annotate or upload your own resources to a collection and share those collections with students or colleagues.

While the Learning Lab’s primary audience is K-12 teachers and students, the content available makes the site worth exploring for your own courses. Many images are scanned at a high resolution, allowing you to zoom in to see details. Creating an account is easy and allows you (or your students) to create your own collections and share them easily.

What can you find in the Learning Lab? Collections from some of the following institutions are represented:

  • Archives of American Art
  • Astrophysical Observatory
  • Conservation Biology Institute
  • Environmental Research Center
  • Marine Station at Fort Pierce
  • Museum Conservation Institute
  • Smithsonian Institute Archives
  • Smithsonian Libraries
  • Tropical Research Institute
  • African American History and Culture Museum
  • African Art Museum
  • Air and Space Museum
  • American Art Museum
  • American History Museum
  • American Indian Museum
  • National Zoo
  • Natural History Museum
  • Postal Museum
  • American Indian Museum Heye Center
  • Cooper Hewitt

Let us know if you find anything interesting in the comments below. Enjoy!