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

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!

Summer (blog) Reading

Reading by a pond

Happy summer! Graduation was one month ago and you are probably settled into your summer routine (which may be no routine at all!). This is also a good time to catch up on the blog posts you didn’t have time to read during the semester. To get you started, here are the most popular posts published this year.

The blog will take a vacation in the month of July, but we are still here! If you would like to meet with any member of the Instructional Technology team to discuss technology in your classes, summer is a great time to do it. Start with your Instructional Technology liaison if you are not sure who to contact.

The top 10 blog posts published in the 2015-16 academic year are:

Image credit: “Connecticut College, Arboretum, Amphitheater and pond, March 5, 1977.” Photograph by Ted Hendrickson.

Weatherproofing Resources Recap

Snowscape at Connecticut CollegeToday seems like an appropriate time to dig up our weatherproofing posts from the past. As always, feel free to contact an instructional technology liaison for help in planning technological solutions for inclement weather (ideally before inclement weather arrives!).

  • Our post from February, 2014 includes four simple ideas for communicating with your students and staying on track during a snow day: Snow Day Resources: Don’t Let Snow Stop You!
  • I summarized last year’s weatherproofing workshop in two posts. The first focused on our discussion regarding communication with students, the impact of snow days, and accessibility issues. The second post focuses on technological solutions for lecture and content delivery, group work, and synchronous video communication.

Image credit: Linda Lear Center for Special Collections, flickr

On the Road! What we learned at the Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts conference

Faculty and Staff going to Bryn Mawr
Ann Marie Davis, Karen Gonzalez Rice, Diane Creede, Jessica McCullough, Suzuko Knott, Lyndsay Bratton, Anthony Graesch on their way to Bryn Mawr.

Last week 7 faculty and staff from Connecticut College took a road trip to Bryn Mawr for the Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts conference to present the Technology Fellows Program (TFP). During the two day conference, we learned a lot listening to the presentations, talking to each other and to colleagues at other institutions. Here are a few things we learned.

Anthony Graesch: I collected a handful of inspiring ideas across the various sessions, including some new ways of framing knowledge building in my curriculum.  But I was most struck by the realization that it might take 10 Blended Learning Conferences to be the equivalent of one full cycle of the TFP.  Only in its second year of operation, our TFP combination of workshops and seminars is resulting in a sustained conversation about the role(s) of digital technology in teaching and learning at Connecticut College.  Over the last academic year, we’ve seen considerable growth in collaborations across the campus, with teaching-focused innovations being co-authored and implemented by faculty fellows, digital technologists, and librarians.  One of our emergent goals (realized during our long drive to and from Philadelphia) is to make even more evident the products of these collaborations.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, we aim to use digital technology to better achieve this goal!

Suzuko Knott: I was particularly excited to see so many panels dedicated to world language learning and the blended classroom. It was interesting to hear how other institutions are implementing technology in consortia to address issues of low course enrollments and student access to world language learning at schools with limited course offerings and resources. But more importantly, I was struck by how the conversations we have been having in the TFP are rooted in pedagogical best practices that will no doubt help us steer clear of many of the challenges we heard voiced at the conference. Synchronous online distance learning certainly has many great things to offer, but only when the pedagogical benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks – bad audio connections (a real problem for foreign language learning), stationary teachers, limited sense of community – that the technologically mediated classroom often has.

Jessica McCullough, Karen Gonzalez Rice & Lyndsay Bratton: We were all excited about the same presentation! Danny Jauregui, Associate Professor of Art at Whittier College creates digital worksheets in Moodle to accompany readings in his sophomore-level art theory course. He found that many students had difficulty critically engaging with the reading and that too much class time was given to explaining or summarizing readings. To solve this problem, he created “Critical Reading Worksheets” in Moodle that required students to answer a series of guiding questions for each reading. One question asked students to summarize the reading using 5-6 hashtags – requiring them to distill each reading into its main points – then order the hashtags in order of importance. This, along with word clouds he generated from their responses to this and other questions, formed the basis of a conversation about the readings. He discovered that students were better prepared to discuss readings, the tools helped place students at the center of the discussion instead of the professor, and that students appreciated using the worksheets.

Ann Marie Davis: This was my second time attending the conference. A year ago when I attended I was inspired to learn about the growing movement where faculty, staff, and administrators are exploring best practices for blended learning within the context of the liberal arts. As a Tech Fellow, I was especially inspired to learn from the examples and case studies that were presented by fellow colleagues at institutions similar to Connecticut College.

The conference also allowed me to better appreciate the TFP, which is supported by the College’s Dean of Faculty and VP of Information Services, and is one of the most innovative programs among the liberal arts colleges. The TFP is already ahead of the curve, offering an institutional model in terms of its support for faculty innovation in teaching. With this knowledge, I was eager to return to the conference this year to share information about TFP with other peer institutions. It was a great opportunity to showcase the program as well as discuss  case studies in which technology-infused assignments have pushed teaching and learning to new levels.

Diane Creede: Faculty at Smith College presented on their use of a software program called Knowledge Forum and how it enabled asynchronous online discussion and knowledge building. Their use of this tool got me to thinking about use of the online discussion forums in Moodle and how they might be used differently (better?). Students were instructed in specific practices for online (and offline) discussion that more effectively increased their knowledge. For instance, responding to other students posts by beginning with the phrase “Building on your comments,….”; or using direct quotes from course readings; or avoiding opinion-based posts, such as those that start with “I think…”.

5 Tech Tools for Spring 2015

1024px-Five (1)Welcome back! For this semester we are working on an exciting new tool, have a great lineup of workshops, and, notably, preparing for the early opening of Shain Library! To stay updated on everything ed tech at Connecticut College, sign up to receive emails when we add a new post by clicking “Follow” on the left and entering your email address.

Our first post is our top 5 technology tools to help you in spring 2015. We selected these based on our experience and your questions or comments. If you have questions about using any of these tools, contact your instructional technology liaison.

  1. Google Drive
    Google Drive is great for storing documents and having them available wherever there is an internet connection. But because everyone at Conn has access to Drive, it also provides a powerful platform for document sharing and collaboration. Read how students spontaneously employed it in a group project, or imagine if students shared working drafts or bibliographies with you and allowed you to comment on their work before turning it in.
  2. Moodle
    If you don’t use Moodle to share your syllabus with students, post assignment instructions, collect assignments digitally, design and deliver quizzes, or as a platform for after class discussion, this is your semester! Almost 80% of classes use Moodle. If you’d like to think about using more robust features or how Moodle might help you better achieve your course goals, let us know and we can help.
  3. Interactive Whiteboards
    An interactive whiteboard can function as a traditional whiteboard, a projector screen, or a computer screen that can be controlled by touching or writing on the panel. When used effectively, interactive whiteboards can provide new opportunities for student engagement with class material that traditional whiteboards or projectors do not. Use the SMART and eno boards to save notes and illustrations written on the board and distribute to students or use again in a future class. Annotate images or text and save the annotations. Ask students to conduct live online database searches and evaluate information they find. Or, work collaboratively on design projects, spreadsheets, and documents. SMARTboards are installed in Blaustein 207 & 208; eno Boards are installed Olin 107, New London Hall 204 & 214.
  4. Evernote
    Use Evernote to collect, save, access and share notes, articles, ideas, pictures, websites, audio recordings, screenshots or files. Everything in your Evernote account syncs to all your devices and is searchable. I love it as a place to keep articles and websites that I want to revisit at a later date (when writing a blog post or preparing for a workshop, for example). Hear how Karen Gonzalez Rice uses Evernote.
  5. Socrative
    Socrative is a web-based student response system that allows students to “enter” a virtual room and answer questions you pose. It is free to you and to students, and sends a report of student responses after class. Use it to solicit student feedback to improve teaching, to identify students’ preconceptions and assumptions about course material, to generate more diverse discussions, or to improve social cohesion in the learning community by making all students feel valued as participants, not just the outspoken few. Read our previous post about students response systems.

Image credit: By Mc95 at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia (Original Image)) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

End of Semester Round-Up: Reflecting on Fall 2014

67371512_02a442696a_bAs we wrap up the semester and head into the holiday season, I spent some time this week reflecting on the posts we published and what information people found most useful or interesting. Here are the top posts of the semester and the top three categories. If you missed any of these when they were first published this is a great time to catch up!

The top posts of the Fall 2014 semester:

  1. Plot.ly Data Visualizations published on October 30 by Lyndsay Bratton, Digital Scholarship and Visual Resources Librarian.
  2. Open Access Week posts published during Open Access Week, October 21-24 (yes, I realize this is cheating!)
  3. Using Historypin to Engage Students with Place written by Becky Parmer, Librarian for Special Collections and Archives.
  4. Mapping Women’s Movements by Ariella Rotramel, Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies.
  5. Presenting Syllabi and Course Assignments as Pages in Moodle by Anthony Graesch, Associate Professor of Anthroplogy.
  6. Advising Week Tip: Use Google Calendar Appointment Slots published on November 9.

I also found the categories with the most number of posts interesting:

  1. Tools
  2. Workshops
  3. Productivity

What would you like to see next semester? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: XMas Balls by C.P.Storm.