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.

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.  

The perfect textbook is possible! Tools for creating or customizing textbooks

American History textbook based on American Yawp and created using iBooks Author

We’ve written a lot about open educational resources (OER) on this blog, in addition to presenting at regional, consortial, and national  meetings. One area we could explore further is the ability to customize true OER. Don’t like a chapter? Edit it, or simply remove it. Don’t like the order material is presented? Reorganize it so that matches the way you teach. Like some parts of one text, and parts of another? Mash them up to create your own.

A quick Google search reveals that there are hundreds of platforms and software options that allow you to create your own textbook from existing OER. This post focuses on four inexpensive (or free) tools that we have experience using. We also want to point out that this is only one step in successfully implementing OER into a course, and that members of the instructional technology team are here to assist you through the entire process!

  • iBooks Author is a free app that allows you to create ebooks and either export them as epub files and share with students, or make them available through the iBooks store. This software makes it very easy to incorporate multimedia content – image galleries, movies, multiple-choice questions, and more. You can even add interactive widgets to your books such as maps, 360 degree panoramas, and timelines. Note that your students will need to have software that can read epub files, but there are free options we can recommend.
  • Scalar, a free online platform built by the University of Southern California, is a favorite authoring platform of digital humanists who wish to create long-form, born-digital content. Its structure is flexible, allowing for multimedia-rich, non-linear texts. Scalar does not require you to install or use any specialized software – all editing is done online. If you want students to access your course materials online and you have a lot of multimedia content, this is a good choice.
  • Pressbooks is book production software, but you don’t have to create a print book. If you have used WordPress, the learning curve will be small. I found the different templates to be attractive, and was pleased with the ease of reorganizing my book’s content and the ability to select page-level copyright licenses. Also exciting is the Hypothesis plugin so students can highlight, add comments, and take notes while reading! While it is free to use the platform and distribute your text online, it does cost money to publish your book in epub and pdf formats without watermarks (from $19-$99). There is also an option to order printed copies.
  • Blurb is an inexpensive option for creating professional-looking books that can be easily shared as pdfs. Blurb also has many print options if you wish to professionally print copies of your textbook. The free online editing tool, Bookify, is user friendly and offers many different page templates. The cost to create an ebook is free, but to export it as a pdf, you will pay a one-time fee of $4.99 per book. Note that every time you update the book, you’ll need to pay $4.99 for a new pdf version.

Tools in a Flash Next Week

7044719053_b7dcb4bb0eWe have two Tools in a Flash workshops scheduled next week. Tools in a Flash are short, hands-on workshops with the goal of building confidence and skill in one specific technology tool. All Tools in a Flash workshops are held in the Advanced Technology Lab, located on the lower level of Shain Library. Register or just stop by as your schedule allows.

Moodle Gradebook
Monday, March 6, 9:30-10:00 AM 

Get your Moodle gradebook in order! The Moodle gradebook is a great way to keep students informed about their progress in class, but it is important that it’s set up correctly so that there are no surprises at the end of the semester. This session will go over common gradebook setup scenarios and help you get your own gradebook ready to use for the semester.
Register

Scalar
Thursday, March 9, 9:30-10:00 AM

Looking for an alternative to WordPress for your digital projects? Come learn about Scalar, a free online platform built by the University of Southern California. Great for incorporating multimedia formats into your text, Scalar is easy to use and looks beautiful.
Register

Image: “Infinite Flash” flickr photo by JD Hancock https://flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/7044719053 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Register for February Workshops!

Join us for the following workshops! If you plan on attending, you can register by clicking on the workshop titles and filling out the form. Registration is not required, but it is helpful in knowing how much food and drink to order.

We ❤️ Google
February 14, 2017 at 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Neff Lab, Shain Library
Get the most out of G Suite (previously Google Apps for Education). In this session we will explore some of the lesser known but valuable tools in our suite of Google applications. Topics include citation tools in Docs, Forms, and Google Groups. Breakfast, coffee and Valentine’s Day treats will be provided! 

Tools in a Flash: RefWorks
Thursday, February 16, 9:00-9:30 AM
Advanced Technology Lab, Shain Library
RefWorks is a web-based bibliography and database manager that allows you to create a personal, searchable database of citations.  There is a new version of Refworks which adds increased functionality such as drag-and-drop uploading of pdfs, an enhanced PDF reader, and simultaneous group document editing.  Additionally, there is now a Google Docs add-in to complement the Word add-in for creating in-text citations, footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies.

Research Practices and Media Literacy in a ‘Post-Truth’ World
Tuesday, February 21, 9-10:15 a.m.
Haines Room, Shain Library
The national discussion surrounding “fake news” has thrust media literacy into the spotlight. At this workshop, we’ll consider the relevance of media literacy to student learning and research. Librarians will lead a discussion on how you can help students evaluate resources, provide information on media-related tools and resources, and present some results from the Research Practices Survey we undertook with incoming first-year students. We’ll also suggest and brainstorm assignments that are designed to help students evaluate and use the media sources. Breakfast will be provided.

Tools in a Flash: Omeka and Digital Collections
Tuesday, February 28, 9:30-10:00 AM
Advanced Technology Lab, Shain Library
Do you have scholarly digital collections but no way of managing or displaying them? Interested in having your students create and publish digital archives and collections, or to develop digital exhibitions for the public? Stop by and learn about Omeka, a free, easy-to-use, web-based platform for creating and managing digital collections and exhibitions. Omeka is as easy to set up as a blog, and provides a flexible, powerful suite of features to help foster user interaction and participation with your content.

Snow Day Plan – Do You Have One?

Snowscape at Connecticut College

As you prepare for the semester, this is a good time to review some of our “weatherproofing” suggestions. What do you do when classes are unexpectedly canceled? Share what has worked for you in the comments!

  • Several low-effort ways to reach students when you can’t come to campus were featured in Snow Day Resources: Don’t Let Snow Stop You! Ideas include recording short, 5-minute screencast videos using Jing or whiteboard apps such as Doceri, Screen Chomp, or Educreations, meeting virtually using Google Hangouts or Zoom, or utilizing the many collaborative features of Drive.
  • We discussed strategies for communicating with students – well ahead of the snow day and during – in our post, Weatherproofing Resources.
  • Have a little more time? Our follow-up post to a weatherproofing workshop included many recommendations, from recording full lectures to facilitating synchronous and asynchronous discussions.

See you on campus soon!

OER Roundtable Recap at #aha17

Picture of panelists
Panelists (right to left): Sarah Randow, Christy Jo Snider, Ann Marie Davis, Jessica McCullough

Over the break I participated in a roundtable, “Free for All: A Discussion of Open Educational Resources (OER) in U.S. and World History Survey Courses,” at the the American Historical Association conference in Denver, Colorado. Members of our roundtable included Sarah Randow from LeTourneau University (Chair), Christy Jo Snider from Berry College, Ann Marie Davis from Ohio State University (formerly Conn!), and me. If you are interested in the topic of open and affordable teaching materials and textbooks resources, read on for my takeaways!

  • Two panelists, Sarah and Christy, adopted The American Yawp, a free online textbook collaboratively developed by historians (who very kindly attended the roundtable). This particular textbook is published under a Creative Commons license allowing others to adapt and share the material, so long as they allow others to do the same and attribute the original creators (Attribution-Share Alike). Both panelists not only adopted the book, but adapted it to suit their own specific needs. For example, Christy used a free online publishing tool, Blub, to create a new textbook to which she added images and selected primary source material.
  • The best outcomes come from a focus on pedagogy. For example, Sarah found that the while rigorous, the readability/accessible and focus on the essentials of U.S. History allowed her students to make connections and draw their own conclusions from the material presented.
  • Ann Marie conducted a survey among historians and found that many faculty use OER in their courses, but don’t often realize that these materials are considered OER. This finding resonates with me, as faculty I know have made the switch to OER for pedagogical reasons without realizing they were a part of a larger movement. One surprising finding was faculty who have been teaching longer were equally receptive and have adapted OERs at similar rates as more junior instructors.
  • In our discussion, it was clear that there is a real need for a World History textbook, similar to American Yawp. However, such a project comes with additional challenges surrounding content selection. There seemed to be real excitement surrounding this project.
  • Additional themes from the discussion included recognition (for tenure and promotion) for creating open resources. Institutions are uneven in their recognition of this work, and while students are grateful for free or low-cost course materials, they do not realize the effort required to create the resources.  There was also a lively discussion of access to technology and the continued need for printed materials.
  • My presentation focused on how to implement OER in courses, from the perspective of an instructional designer. I also included plenty of examples of OER initiatives, helpful repositories and interesting resources.

Great Information Services Events Planned This Semester!

I am very excited to announce our line-up of workshops and special events this semester. We are widening our scope to include not just technology tools for teaching and productivity as in years past, but tools and resources that support both student and faculty research. This is a true collaborative effort and I hope that you can take advantage of some of our offerings this semester. And as always, I’d love to hear your ideas for new topics!

  •  Tools in a Flash: This is a new series of short (30-minute), narrowly focused workshops. The goals is for participants to get their hands dirty trying new tools. This semester’s topics include RefWorks, Omeka, Moodle Gradebook, and Scalar.
  • International Women’s Day Wikipedia Edit-a-thon: Rebecca Parmer and Rose Olivera are organizing Shain Library’s first Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on March 8! A Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is a meetup where novice and experienced editors come together to improve Wikipedia entries. They will identify a selection of entries that need attention but welcome and encourage input on additional topics. As part of the event, they will cover the basics of editing in Wikipedia, and will have Wiki-ambassadors (experienced Wiki-editors) on hand to provide additional support.
  • Wondering what you can do about “fake news”? Concerned about the media literacy skills of your students? Join librarians for a discussion, learn helpful strategies and tools to improve literacy skills. Find out what our students know and where they struggle from data collected from an information literacy survey conducted with Connecticut College freshmen this past summer.
  • Amid all this excitement, don’t forget about our regular workshop series that includes discussion and hands-on components. This semester’s topics include G Suite, Open Access, and Digital Commons. Find the full list and register here!