Faculty Development & Learning Assessment

iPad as a Daily Tool

posted by Joan Van Duzer on 11/01/2011

Guest blogger, Buddy White, Housing & Dining Services, describes his favorite iPad apps …
I currently use my iPad for all different needs in my current role in Housing. Gone are the days of note paper and a pencil!

PlainText logoI now use my iPad for all note taking and word processing on the go, through an app called PlainText (http://bit.ly/a3TLr2, free). And, what’s really special is the fact that all the note taking data syncs across all my devices: iPad, iPhone, office computer and home computer. If I need to take a note on my computer, it’s there on my iPhone. If I need to take a note at home, it’s back on my office computer and iPad. I’m never in a situation where I can’t take a note for whatever reason. PlainText is simple and “plain” for those who just need typed notes without the bells and whistles.

ToDoQueue logoAnother work function for my iPad is a to-do list with the app To-Do Queue (http://bit.ly/s3mhpl, $1.99). Although much the same idea as the note taking app, it offers a to-do list format with the ability to set priorities, add additional notes, and have different lists for projects or classes. This is another app that syncs across all my devices. Having both these apps is a huge organizational asset for multiple projects.

dropbox logoHowever, the full potential of both of these apps wouldn’t be possible without another app that connects and pushes the data to all devices: Dropbox (http://bit.ly/38tJ6q, free). Dropbox is an app where you store data in the cloud. You can use it like a personal flashdrive in the sky for all kinds of files: photos, movies, PDFs, word documents … the possibilities are endless. And on the Dropbox website are more apps that connect to Dropbox like the two I mentioned above. It’s a great service if you need all devices to have the same information.

These are just a few apps that I use for work. Simple, easy and fun!

Recap of the “Cool Tools for Engaging the Millennial Learner” workshop

posted by Joan Van Duzer on 05/25/2011

It was great fun to share some favorite web applications with participants in the “Cool Tools for Engaging the Millennial Learner” workshop at the recent Institute for Student Success. Kimberly Vincent-Layton and I presented a variety of “cool tools” and ways that they have been used to support innovation in learning.

Participants had so many ideas for how they plan to apply them! Here is a summary of their suggestions:

Wordle (http://wordle.net)
Illustrate literary works and stories from news sites.

Picnik (http://picnik.com)
Edit images for art history class; support digital photography for the course catalog

Issuu (http://issuu.com)
Guide students in preparing a personal portfolio.

Screencast-o-matic (http://screencast-o-matic.com)
Create online presentations or provide tour of an online course.

Quizlet (http://quizlet.com)
Practice vocabulary for linguistics and statistics

Jing (http://jingproject.com)
Capture images to add visuals to PowerPoint slides and other instructional materials

MakeBeliefscomix (http://makebeliefscomix.com)
Create cartoons for presentations; introduce fun to get students in for advising

Diigo (http://diigo.com)
Improve organization of web-based resources

Animoto (http://animoto.com)
Introduce advisors or different student organizations.

What ideas do you have for using these “cool tools?”

New Name, Even Better Event!

posted by Riley Quarles on 01/25/2011

We at CELT, along with the rest of the organizing committee, would like to take this opportunity to formally introduce the 2011 Institute for Student Success, held here on the HSU campus Wednesday, May 18th, and Thursday, May 19th.

Last year, we were excited to combine forces with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion – rolling together the Institute for Learning & Teaching and the Professional Day on Diversity to create a new and expanded event: the Institute for Diversity in Learning and Teaching. We received a great response – both in attendance and feedback, and are ready to do it all again. (Check out our newly released report from last year’s event! (.pdf))

In an effort to keep this event relevant, current and responsive to the evolving needs of HSU, the focus is being drawn even wider to allow us to support the campus in its central mission of creating student success. With that in mind, we have changed the name (yes, again!), added new ways for both participants and presenters to engage with the material, and we have made a significant effort to connect our event to the larger scope of professional development opportunities here on campus.

We are inviting staff and faculty to share their expertise in the form of both workshops and poster sessions, and are encouraging a broadened spectrum of topics. In advance of the institute, there will be three Spring Book Circles focusing on the areas of cooperative learning, student success and multicultural education. These will be attended by and facilitated by HSU faculty and staff. The books are directly tied to the topics presented by our keynote presenters (Dr. George Kuh, Dr. Barbara Millis, +1 TBA soon). The keynote presenters have also graciously agreed to make themselves available at the event to meet with the book circle participants!

It is our hope that all faculty, staff and administrators – either through presenting or attending – get a greater sense of their own individual role in supporting student success.

Have questions? Want to present a workshop? Visit http://www.humboldt.edu/institute or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)!

Diggin’ Diigo!

posted by Joan Van Duzer on 11/18/2010

Those of us that regularly use more than one computer for web-based research have probably experienced the inefficiency and confusion (or frustration!) of misplaced bookmarks. Recently I overcame my skepticism of social bookmarking and gave Diigo a try. After trying out Diigo for less than an hour, I was hooked!

Diigo is a free web-based tool that archives and organizes web-published resources based on the keywords you assign to the resources. After you bookmark sites into your Diigo account (a simple two-click process!) you can access them again from any computer!

list of my recent tagsYou can also instantly see how many other Diigo users also marked it, and the keywords they have in their tag list—then view the other related resources that they’ve publicly bookmarked. What a phenomenal opportunity to see a wealth of items quickly on topics of interest to me!

As useful as this feature is, there are even more exciting reasons to use Diigo. You can set up Groups and invite “Friends” to follow your bookmarks. This offers important opportunities for research or for class projects.

Diigo Sticky NoteDiigo offers a handy highlighter tool and “sticky note” feature that lets you annotate the areas of interest on the web page to call your attention to specific information for later reference—or to share with others.

I have begun to build my list of resources on many topics of interest to me so I can quickly access references to share in my consultations. It’s been a real timesaver!

You can register with Diigo for a free account in seconds at http://diigo.com (use the “Join Diigo” link in the top right corner). Be sure to take the 6:14 minute tour and install the Diigo toolbar to your browser to streamline your bookmarking to mere seconds.

Diigo Splash Page

You can find a nice summary of Diigo at Scribkin, “Tell Me About Diigo”

If you’re interested in being my Diigo “Friend” wink to access resources related to my work here at Humboldt State as an instructional technologist and elearning specialist, just email me (joan at humboldt.edu) so I can Invite you. If you are already using Diigo or would like to give it a try and want a “Friend” let me know!

Bored with PowerPoint?

posted by Joan Van Duzer on 10/22/2010

PowerPoint has become the de facto standard software to support presentations. However, advances in technology tools in the past few years—including Web 2.0 applications—have expanded the possibilities for easily improving presentations without extensive technology expertise.

Knowing how rapidly Web 2.0 technologies are cropping up, I couldn’t help wondering what other tools might be out there, so I cruised the landscape and decided to share a few of the things I found. The choices are both exciting and amazing—and most are either free or have a very low-cost option!

Slide Presentation Alternatives (to PowerPoint)

KeynoteKeynote (Mac only, $39 from HSU Bookstore) is a very popular alternative to PowerPoint for creating slide presentations due to better integration of multimedia, more polished theme options, and appealing transitions. In addition, iPhone users can remotely advance slides via wireless network connections and refer to the speaker notes on their handheld phones. However, transferring files into PowerPoint can disrupt fonts and layout of text.

Open OfficeImpress is the PowerPoint counterpart in the Open Office suite of software. This is open source software so it is free to download. Although themes and styles are limited, this is a tool that creates respectable presentations with few compatibility problems when transferred between Mac and PC.

Web-Based Slide Creation & Publishing

Google DocsGoogle Presentations may be the most well known tool for web-published presentations that allows collaboration over the Internet. However, as groundbreaking as this tool is presentations are limited to 10Mb; no movies, sounds, or any type of animation can be incorporated.

SlideRocketSlideRocket is a web-based presentation creation and publishing tool. Use your own pictures, text, and video or capture resources from the WWW to store in an online media library that can be shared and organized as desired. The free version allows unlimited presentations and up to 250 Mb of online storage. See SlideRocket in action!

Prezentit and 280Slides are other tools with similar features, but may be less reliable or have fewer features.

Screen Capture Presentations

JingI’m a big fan of Jing! Jing is a free program for both Mac and PC users that not only makes it effortless to capture screen shots to incorporate into handouts and presentation slides, but you can also capture up to 5 minutes of video from your computer display with optional recording from your microphone. These “screencasts” can be saved to insert into your Moodle course, or you can publish them to the WWW if desired (no charge), then share the link. Jing does not have a captioning option, so a text equivalent must be offered. See Jing in action!

CamtasiaCamtasia is a more full-featured “sibling” to Jing that offers captioning capability and more sophisticated (but still easy) sequencing of media in the same video (e.g., sound files, still images, video) along a timeline. See an example of Camtasia in action!

Multimedia Presentations

VuVoxVuVox’s Collage may be the most exciting tool I found in my investigation! “This dynamic media creation suite enables everyone to easily turn their photos, videos, text and audio clips into interactive stories. A Collage can be published, embedded, and syndicated into any website, blog or social networking site.” See Collage in action!

AnimotoAnimoto is another of my favorites for adding excitement to presentations. It is effortless to create a professional quality video from still images with a soundtrack of your choice. Free accounts limit videos to 30 seconds, a $30 annual pass allows an unlimited number of full length videos. Accounts for educational use may still be free. Animoto presentations definitely emphasize visual and auditory learning as text is downplayed. See Animoto in action!

PreziPrezi offers a completely different type of presentation: a visual representation showing relationships between elements of your presentation. This is a web-based tool that can incorporate all types of media. Free version has a watermark and publishes all presentations online. Other plans are modestly priced at approximately $64-$196 per year. See Prezi in action!

Have you tried any other presentation tools that you can recommend? Share your experiences here. We’d love to “hear” from you! Need help getting started with any of these tools out for use in your classes? Contact CELT (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) for assistance!

A Discussion on Plagiarism and Cheating

posted by Riley Quarles on 09/30/2010

Plagiarism usually falls into one of two primary categories; intentional and unintentional. Often it is simply the result of an improper citation and/or disorganized research practice. Reviewing the proper citation procedures for your discipline with your students as a part of the rubric for assessing their work may help to alleviate some of this confusion. (1)

Academic integrity has always been considered to be one of the cornerstones of higher education. But I wonder… Is it still a core value among the majority of today’s students? I will not pretend to fully understand the complexities of societal norms and behavior, but I do know that many of our very successful business people, powerful elected officials, and highly paid sports figures have built their careers upon markedly dishonest foundations. These folks are some of the highly visible role models of success in our society. Plagiarism and cheating on exams used to be considered deviant behavior. However their prevalence in the modern university setting causes me to question if societal values may be shifting. (2)

The underlying reasons why some students intentionally submit unoriginal work are complex. I have heard several instructors say that laziness is at the top of the list. Other factors include the student’s perceived lack of relevance of an assignment, the fear of requesting assistance, and unjust treatment by a professor as reasons or justifications for plagiarism.

By defining how an assignment fits into the larger context of their academic career and their lives, demonstrating openness for discussion, and interacting with students in a clear and consistent fashion may help to address these situations. (3) For a detailed list of why students cheat look here: http://www.pointloma.edu/TeachingandLearning/Faculty_Resources/Academic_Honesty/Reasons_Students_Cheat.htm

I have also heard the argument that “I need to use my limited time to present the material of my discipline. My students should have learned about and embraced academic honesty long before they get to my class.”
But have they? And are you more interested in the encouragement of good citizenry or the punishment of wrong doing? Do your writing assignments require drafts and revisions with associated deadlines? Do you integrate HSU’s online originality checker (Turnitin) into your student’s writing process?

I believe that students need to grasp the fundamental concept that plagiarism and cheating is wrong. Dishonesty in the classroom is a slippery slope that easily extends into relationships with loved ones and within the future workplace. Dishonesty degrades dignity and it has insidious consequences. An open and frank discussion of academic integrity near the beginning of the term will go a long ways towards honoring and reinforcing your honest students, and it just might help bring a few back that may have crossed the line in the past. Some institutions and/or instructors require an Academic Integrity Contract (AIC) to be signed by the students. A sample AIC can be found here: SampleContract.

Also, here is a link to a PowerPoint presentation that may help with your class discussion: http://www.pointloma.edu/TeachingandLearning/Faculty_Resources/Academic_Honesty/Reasons_Students_Cheat.htm

Educational Games

posted by Joan Van Duzer on 04/29/2010

Who says learning can’t be fun?

“We believe that the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do. –TheFunTheory.com


The Fun Theory (video)


I can’t help believing in the Fun Theory. Some of my fondest memories from elementary school were the fun ways that teachers incorporated games into learning—from jump rope songs to spelling bees to trivia games and scavenger hunts—we were always eager to participate. Why should our interest in games for learning disappear in higher education?


Fortunately, the plethora of Web applications make it possible to incorporate learning games easily and quickly so I decided to check them out.

Web-Based Games


Quia

http://quia.com

bQuia remains my favorite of the online game making sites with 16 tools: matching game, flash cards, concentration game, word search puzzle, battleship, challenge board, hangman, rags-to-riches (“Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”), jumbled words, and more. These games allow a lot of flexibility when including content so are quite adaptable for adult students practicing knowledge, recall, and classifying exercises. Their website includes tutorials for each of the games and also examples shared by other educators. After the 30-day free trial, annual subscriptions range from $49 to $29 per instructor. Contact CELT if you are interested in a subscription and we can coordinate reduced pricing for a group of instructors.


JeopardyLabs

http://jeopardylabs.com

bThe King of all learning games—Jeopardy—can be simulated online with the answers you have in mind. “No fees, no registration, no PowerPoint.”


GameSalad

http://gamesalad.com

bDownload this free (beta release) software to create your own web-based or iPhone game. Publish to the web. Its drag-and-drop interface makes this a useful tool for game makers of all levels—no programming experience required!


Kubbu

http://kubbu.com

bEasily create matching or grouping exercises, crossword puzzles, and self-assessment quizzes that may contain pictures and sound. A one-year license of $35 avoids the advertising and watermark that comes with a free account and expands the number activities permitted and the storage quota. All games appear to require a mouse to navigate.


ClassTools

http://classtools.net

bAlthough this site is free and there are 19 games to choose from, the primitive graphics and simplistic design lead me to believe they are clearly geared for younger students. However, for knowledge and recall, planning projects, or organizing ideas they might be adapted for a college audience. Each Flash-based game has an overview description, sample lesson plans, and sample completed projects using the tool.


EdCreate

http://edcreate.com

Besides the more typical hangman, flash cards, and word search activities, EdCreate also features a States activity (ask questions with a map of the United States as the answer board), cryptogram, and trivia quiz games. After the free trial, annual subscription is $25.


Online Tools to Make Print Games


Discovery Education Puzzlemaker

http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/

bThis free resource offers options to create printable word search and crossword puzzles cryptograms, mazes, and more.


The Game Crafter

http://thegamecrafter.com

bThis site allows individuals to create a board game or card game with their own images and rules and—similar to Lulu.com publishing—have the game manufactured at a modest per unit cost. This has very interesting implications when considered with student-generated content and peer teaching.


EducationalPress

http://educationalpress.org

A free site that helps create both web-based and print-ready flashcards, bingo games, and study worksheets from the list of words you provide.


 


Can you share any experiences with these tools? Do you have other favorites that should be added to the list? Share your ideas!

Small Group Learning

posted by Riley Quarles on 03/18/2010

At CELT we are avid proponents of integrating active learning strategies into your lessons. With class sizes increasing each year, more instructors are planning to incorporate small group activities to increase student engagement. There are many advantages and perceived disadvantages to small groups.

One obvious advantage is that when students are actively involved with the content, they learn more.(1) Breaking down large class sizes from 80-110 students into smaller groups for specific assignments promotes cooperative learning. Successful group learning experiences can be facilitated by the careful explanation of intended learning outcomes and the reasoning behind small group work, as well as a clear explanation of the small group’s processes, and a well defined rubric that outlines how their performance will be assessed.

Some of the disadvantages to be addressed include unfair distribution of workload, cultural differences, and communication breakdowns. Many of these issues can be addressed at the formation of the group through student discussions and contractual agreements. Please feel free to contact a member of the CELT team to discuss potential written “contracts” that students can complete and sign, listing their agreements and obligations to each other and to the instructor.

References
Collaborative Learning: Group Work and Study Teams, Group Work and Study Teams

Creating Accessible Word Documents

posted by Kim Vincent-Layton on 03/11/2010

Here is an unsolicited comment from Pam Dougherty in the HSU Advising Center: “I thought the online ‘Creating Accessible Word Documents” was an excellent course! Concise, clear, and fairly comprehensive. The graphics help a lot. I completed the course in chunks as I meet with students all day, but found it easy to pick up where I left off. I thought the exercise in making the sample document accessible was critical and useful, especially as I had no instructor present to answer my questions. I just went back to the training when I needed a reference.

This helped me to understand how people with disabilities have to navigate and search for information. I also enjoyed listening to how a screen reader reads a document…it’s so important to understand what other people have to go through! In addition, the training piece that included Instructor feedback on the document was an important part of the training because it allows the learner to practice, apply knowledge and check understanding, including areas of difficulty that need to be addressed/revisited.

The comments provided are important because I was able to go back to the document and correct it. Practice makes perfect! All in all, I find this to be a very valuable training, I’m excited about becoming proficient so that I feel confident creating my documents.”

CELT is interested in hearing about your experiences with creating accessible documents. Do you have any particular needs that may be addressed with another workshop?

Course Transformation Project Proposals

posted by Riley Quarles on 02/25/2010

By Marcy Burstiner

Teaching an online class offers the promise of flexible scheduling and gives an instructor the ability to teach the class from any location. That has obvious advantages. At the same time, many people are leery about the idea of an online class. How do you know the students really read the material you put out? How do you communicate with them when they log on at different times? How can you replicate in-class discussions? How can you show the videos you show in class or go through the Powerpoints you use? How can you have questions and answers?

That’s where the Course Transformation Project Comes in. Offered on-campus through the Center for Excellence in Teaching, it is designed to help faculty members redesign a course so that it becomes an effective way of teaching a subject.

See, you can’t just teach a class online. It doesn’t work that way. You need to understand how people learn online and that means you need to rethink how you teach. Consider my class JMC 302: Mass Media and the Popular Arts. It’s an upper division Area C General Education class that I have taught several times in the lecture hall, and it is one of the most popular classes the Journalism Department offers. I currently teach it in a three-hour session once a week in Siemens Hall. In that class, I have each student watch 10 movies of their own choosing over the 15 weeks of the term and analyze those movies for various themes. For the midterm and final they must read each other’s analyses and pull out similarities they find across movie genres. The magic in that class comes from the give and take in class discussions as we examine such things as portrayals of women and minorities in movies and television, the effects of prevalent themes such as reinvention in story lines, whether movie violence is bad for society, and so forth.

I first applied for a course transformation grant for the class, because I felt that if any class could be structured for online learning it was that class. Since it focused on popular entertainment, many of the examples I use in class could be linked to on the Web. And since students select their own media to analyze, they can do that from their home as well. Moreover, the students already post their analyses on Moodle, so in a way the class operates partially online.

But it wasn’t until I found myself in the Course Transformation Project that I began to understand the full capability of online teaching, using interactive tools.

Here is an example. In the first week of my term this year I gave the students an in-class exercise. I showed various examples of what is considered art and I paired them with examples of things considered popular art: Monet v. graffiti, Henry James v. Dan Brown, Mozart v. Rap, etc. and in small groups, the students had to decide whether each example was art or popular art and identify why they had made that choice. How can you replicate that online?

Well, one way is to have the students, in small groups on-line, do that in wikis – collaborative documents. I could upload the same images that I show on Powerpoint slides onto wiki documents and students could discuss their ideas with each other there. Or I could use an interactive tool called Tablefy (“Art vs. Popular Art” ) and have them discuss various media in small groups using discussion forums and then input their findings into a comparison chart.

In the discussions I had with the folks from CELT and with my colleagues in the course transformation project – who were working to transform their classes in math, nursing, international business and other subjects – I realized that the trick was to have the students do online what I used to do for them in the classroom. So instead of my talking them through Powerpoint slides, I could instead assign them subjects to research or articles to read and have them put together their own Powerpoint-like presentations using presentation tools available for free and share them with their online classmates, who would then be required to discuss the material in forums.

I also found a site for doing collaborative mind-mapping exercises I think will help the students work through their movie analyses. (Mindmap Exercise )

But the most valuable thing I gained from the Course Transformation Project was the idea that if lessons are not carefully structured, not only would students likely lose interest in the class, but the instructor teaching the class could find the work daunting; with some 100 students in a class or more, you could find yourself reading post after post after post after post. Personally, that’s not something I want to do. But I learned that with careful design, you can break students into groups and minimize the amount of grading. This has the added effect of connecting students to their classmates, which gives them a greater connection to the class.

So the bottom line is that the course transformation project has transformed the way I now approach the concept of online teaching. It isn’t as easy as stuffing all your material on Moodle or recording your lecture into a podcast. A boring lecture in the classroom will be just as boring online. But an energetic, creative and challenging class in the classroom can be equally energetic, creative and challenging online. It’s all in the thought that goes into it and some careful structure and design.

Combining Forces

posted by Riley Quarles on 02/04/2010

Campus-wide, it’s no secret that HSU is weathering one of its worst budget crises ever. As such, we have all been faced with tough decisions about how to continue providing high quality services in the shadow of perpetually shrinking resources. For CELT, last year’s Learning & Teaching Institute, provided a clear outcome of improved student learning & success (see our full report here (.pdf)), and spoke loud and clear to us that we need to continue to consider this event a priority. With an eye towards greater campus efficiency and broader professional development outreach to those whose travel budgets have been reduced or cut altogether, this year – and hopefully for years to come – we will be consolidating efforts with the Diversity Action Plan Council and their annual Professional Development Day on Diversity to provide a comprehensive, 2-day professional development effort targeted at the entire campus community. The newly titled Institute for Diversity in Learning & Teaching is scheduled for Wednesday & Thursday, May 19th & 20th – so be sure to save the date!

Our goal with this event is to, provide faculty, staff, and administrators with resources and strategies useful in supporting a variety of student learning needs and/or enhancing the academic success of students from diverse backgrounds.

All of us here at HSU are in the business of producing student success, and this event has been designed to get right to the heart of it. Whether you are working in Financial Aid or the Advising Center, whether you are staff, faculty or administrator – we plan to bring you the information, understanding and concrete strategies that help our students feel welcome, understood and valued, and that they are ultimately provided with the exceptional educational experience they deserve.

Have topic suggestions? Questions? Comments? Concerns? Feel free to respond below.

We look forward to seeing you there!

PS: RFP applications are still being accepted!

PECHA KUCHA:  NOTES FROM THE FIELD by Andrew Stubblefield

posted by Riley Quarles on 01/20/2010

This Fall Semester (‘09) in WSHD 333 Wildland Water Quality I tried several new techniques. In this posting I will talk about group presentations. Groups of 5-7 students chose term paper topics with a common thread (such as the Klamath River Basin). At the end of the semester they gave group presentations on their topic. I gave each group a range of options for how to use the 50 minutes. Most chose PowerPoint, one group had a poster session, and one group chose PechaKucha. (PechaKucha is a PowerPoint presentation, but limited to twenty slides and set on an automatic timer with only twenty seconds per slide.) It made for an interesting comparison of methods.

Of the PowerPoint presentations, the PechaKucha presenters were electric! Their presentations felt like laser-beams of focus and control. Each word, each image was precisely crafted and delivered. Their fellow students were riveted. I have never seen anything like it!

Part of the effectiveness was the extra time the presenters had to put into crafting their presentations. They described a lengthy and iterative process of removing material, stripping down to the essential points they wanted to make. Typically there are only a few words on a slide. As an audience member you have to pay attention, you only have twenty seconds to capture the essence of the material before the next slide pops up. Because there is no fluff, you really can’t afford to zone out or you will be left behind. When I asked presenters afterwards if they would want to use this same presentation technique in professional settings in the future, they enthusiastically agreed. One of the presenters asked the audience for their opinion, and the audience responded very positively.

Since the presentations last only 6 minutes and 40 seconds, it leaves a lot of time for discussion or group activities related to the content, or to have many students present in one class period. One method to consider would be to divide an existing full lecture PowerPoint into two or three Pecha Kucha presentations alternating with activities such as “muddiest point” or “go around” (one word to describe the presentation), quick writes, polling with clickers, and/or discussion.
I will definitely be working this style into my class presentations and student work.

Give it a try!

To Click or Not to Click?

posted by Joan Van Duzer on 11/13/2009


multiple choice question asking about use of clickers

I’ve noticed that student response systems (aka “clickers”) seem to be growing in popularity in university classrooms. Last year my daughter, a junior at Oregon State University, told me that a clicker was part of her required materials list for several classes. As an instructional technologist, I couldn’t help wondering whether clickers are “just another gimmick” or a meaningful way to enhance learning by applying technology. How better to find out if clickers help than to ask students? So I decided to ask my daughter about her experience with clickers. She told me:

I think clickers are helpful as long as the teacher knows how to use them. For example, [one of my teachers] has trouble getting the software to work in the classroom—he says the results aren’t compatible with his Mac so he can’t get them to display. It’s a big waste of time. It’s less effective to raise hands in class [than to use clickers], because sometimes students don’t want to be singled out for an opinion that’s outside the norm. Also, with clickers, the class opinion is graphed for us all to see which is more accurate than gauging by just looking around the classroom.
In [one of my classes], the clickers were really helpful, because the instructor would start out with a question about the topic that day and we would guess. If we guess, it’s easier to remember her explanations later why we got it right or wrong. She also used it to gather statistics on certain issues from our class and compare our class to the population as a whole.

I decided to put her “to the test” smile and asked her if she still remembers some of the questions and answers from that class (more than six months ago). She could list some of the questions and what the correct answers were (this offered some comfort for the out-of-state tuition I’ve been paying!). She added that she thinks clickers should just be used for engaging with the material—not for merely participation or attendance credit. Too many students will send along their clickers with classmates if the clicker is used in that way.

Roxy Peck at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo experimented with two sections of an introductory statistics class: one class of 49 did not use clickers, and the class of 44 used clickers. Not only did the clicker group have better attendance, but they scored better on individual assessments and in the course overall. Most surprising to me was the unanimous opinion from students that she should continue using clickers. (See summary of her experiment (.pdf) [no date].)

University of Iowa has recorded testimonials on clickers from both faculty (video) and students (text) that supported both my daughter’s opinion and those offered by Roxy Peck’s students.

It turns out that William B. Wood, Department of MCD Biology at University of Colorado, also wondered enough about effectiveness of clickers in the classroom to create his own study and report the specific and satisfying results of using clickers with his Developmental Biology class (Clickers: A Teaching Gimmick that Works .pdf).

Humboldt State University has standardized on the Turning Point Technologies clickers so HSU students can use the same clicker in any class where they’re required. (Clickers from different vendors are not compatible with each other.) I was surprised to learn that Turning Point also has a product (Turning Point Anywhere) that allows students to use any mobile Internet device to respond—they need not buy a clicker, but instead purchase a $16 license. Also with TPAW, the instructor need not be using PowerPoint to pose questions and gather responses.

After this investigation, I feel confident now in my answer:

multiple choice answer asking about the use of clickers with answer selected

How can an instructor capitalize on all the benefits of clickers and avoid the pitfalls?

questions asking about the use of clickers in the classroom

Leave your answer below in the comments section!

Integrating ePortfolios into the HSU Classroom

posted by Riley Quarles on 10/22/2009

Electronic Portfolios, or ePortfolios, are very powerful online organizers of student learning experiences. You might want think of them as learning management systems (like Moodle) on steroids.

In my humble opinion, it is not a matter of “if” HSU will integrate ePortfolios into the learning and assessment process; it is more a matter of “when” we as an institution, will recognize the awesome power of this online tool set. As mentioned in the CELT Teaching Tip above, implementing ePortfolios will be a valuable asset for students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Our choice really, is to either embrace the technology as a campus wide enterprise application, or to encourage pockets of leading edge individuals to develop solutions on their own. If we promote decentralized development, it will likely lead to a growth of multiple software applications that are not cost effective to support as they scale upwards. Additionally, it will establish disparate procedures for tracking student learning rather than collecting, analyzing and improving upon consistently formatted institutional data.

Rather than managing multiple ePortfolio systems, I recommend that HSU decide what it is that we want to measure and then establish an ePortfolio pilot program in one college or department. It is likely that the WASC review team will recommend this anyway, so we may as well begin discussing it now. In order for an ePortfolio to be meaningful for all stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, and administrators) a comprehensive system must be developed. Fortunately, commercial and open source ePortfolio software is designed specifically for this purpose.

It is absolutely essential that there be a well defined alignment of learning outcomes throughout the entire hierarchical structure of the ePortfolio, from the most broadly defined outcomes of WASC, to the six or seven HSU learning outcomes, G.E outcomes, departmental, course level outcomes, and individual assignment and assessments. Without this systematic cohesiveness, HSU will continue to collect bits and pieces of student learning data here and there that will likely serve no greater purpose than a mere container of student projects.

I would be happy to work with anyone on campus that recognizes the potential value of implementing ePortfolios, in an attempt to establish a pilot program that can serve as a model for a future enterprise level application.

What do you think about this?

‘Teaching Naked’ in the Classroom

posted by Kristen Pope on 10/15/2009

Jeffrey R. Young wrote an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about ‘teaching naked’ without technology. Here is an excerpt from his article “When Computers Leave Classrooms, So Does Boredom”:

College leaders usually brag about their tech-filled “smart” classrooms, but a dean at Southern Methodist University is proudly removing computers from lecture halls. José A. Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, has challenged his colleagues to “teach naked“—by which he means, sans machines.

More than any thing else, Mr. Bowen wants to discourage professors from using PowerPoint, because they often lean on the slide-display program as a crutch rather using it as a creative tool. Class time should be reserved for discussion, he contends, especially now that students can download lectures online and find libraries of information on the Web. When students reflect on their college years later in life, they’re going to remember challenging debates and talks with their professors. Lively interactions are what teaching is all about, he says, but those give-and-takes are discouraged by preset collections of slides.

He’s not the only one raising questions about PowerPoint, which on many campuses is the state of the art in classroom teaching. A study published in the April issue of British Educational Research Journal found that 59 percent of students in a new survey reported that at least half of their lectures were boring, and that PowerPoint was one of the dullest methods they saw. The survey consisted of 211 students at a university in England and was conducted by researchers at the University of Central Lancashire.

Students in the survey gave low marks not just to PowerPoint, but also to all kinds of computer-assisted classroom activities, even interactive exercises in computer labs. “The least boring teaching methods were found to be seminars, practical sessions, and group discussions,” said the report. In other words, tech-free classrooms were the most engaging.

The rest of this article is available here.

Will you ‘teach naked’ in your classroom? What are some of the challenges of this technique? What are some of the advantages?

Less is More … but HOW MUCH Less?

posted by Joan Van Duzer on 10/08/2009

During Humboldt State’s Learning & Teaching Institute last May when Dr. Craig E. Nelson emphasized the importance of including “less content” and replacing some lecture time with learning activities in the classroom, I was reminded of an article by David Shieh that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education just a couple months earlier, “These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds” (PDF)

Shieh’s article describes the adoption of microlectures of 1-3 minutes in online courses at San Juan College in New Mexico—followed by a related reading or learning activity—where students have responded very favorably. The microlectures provide a condensed overview of topics where “little seemed to be lost except ‘verbiage’,” according to one instructor who has adopted the technique after overcoming her wariness.

Microlectures in online classes could take a variety of forms: narrated slide presentation, screencast (capturing actions displayed on a computer screen, often with text or audio narration), or short video/audio-only clip. Along with a text equivalent transcript or captioning, these can easily be inserted into the course management system.

While exploring the application of microlecturing in a face-to-face class, I stumbled upon a relatively new presentation technique, Pecha Kucha, that is gaining popularity around the world in corporate and artistic venues. A Pecha Kucha (PK) presentation lasts a mere 6 minutes 40 seconds—with (exactly) 20 seconds on each of (exactly) 20 slides. The animation timer within the presentation software (usually PowerPoint) is used to automatically advance the slides at the 20-second pace.

In this video of a live PK presentation, a big PK fan, Felix Jung, uses images to convey part of his message so that his spoken comments can fit in the 20 seconds for each slide. His presentation also demonstrates some best practices for presentations by avoiding too much text on the slide, using the slides to support his message (rather than the other way around), and with little text, he is not reading his slides.

Pecha Kucha Chicago: Repetition and Variation (Live) from Felix Jung on Vimeo.

Although this video shows an example of a live PK presentation, it’s also possible to record a PK presentation and publish it in your Moodle course shell or directly to the web.

Students could also use the PK format for their presentations in class—presenting them either live, or posting a link to where they’ve posted them online.

Felix Jung has developed a guide to Pecha Kucha. Are you willing to give it a try? Contact CELT for more details on or assistance with tools to use to prepare and publish PK presentations.

Although the microlecture is reportedly popular in online classes, how practical are such short lectures in a traditional class when followed with related learning activities or discussion? What do you think? (I’d love to “hear” your comments on this!)

UDL:  How has it worked for you and your students?

posted by Tasha Souza on 09/03/2009

Over 200 HSU faculty have been trained in the principles of Universal Design for Learning in the last three years. I know that being introduced to the three principles of UDL has impacted the way in which I teach. For example, I am more thoughtful about utilizing multiple methods of expressing course content by different modes (visual, graphic, verbal, auditory, etc.) so students have varied ways to access the course content. In the past, the use of classroom discussions without any visuals dominated many of my class sessions.

I am hoping to hear from others about the extent to which you have adopted the principles of UDL and whether implementation of such principles has seemed to have an impact on students. Have you been offering more variety in representation, engagement, and/or expression? How have students responded? Which of these three principles has been the most difficult for you to implement? The easiest? What successes can you share?

Mary Poppins Joins HSU Faculty!

posted by Joan Van Duzer on 05/14/2009

What if Mary Poppins joined the faculty at Humboldt State? Would we soon be asking her why her students are so eager and engaged? My guess is that she might remind us, “In ev’ry job that must be done there is an element of fun …Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down … In a most delightful way …”.

One of the ways we can add a spoonful of sugar to learning is by incorporating comics (comic books, comic strips, cartoons). Cartoons purchased from Randy Glasbergen ($20 each in 2005) add both visual interest and engagement by anchoring course concepts in a whimsical way.

More simple messages can be conveyed with comic strips. I experimented with Comic Boom software ($20) and found it easy to create a sample comic strip in less than an hour.

4 panel comic about office hours

An even faster and easier option is to use MakeBeliefsComix.com to generate a 2-4 panel comic strip. I created one in minutes! Although it’s free, the output is a URL or to the printer only (not PDF or GIF).

I noticed that Ruben Puentedura will be offering a two-day immersive study workshop at this year’s New Media Consortium conference at CSU Monterey (June 9-10) titled, Making Comics into Interactive Media: A Hands-on, Two-Day Digital Storytelling Production. Participants will be using ComicLife (comic book software for the Mac only) and Pachyderm (open source) software for production of their stories.

Comic books can be created to both offer course content and by students to tell the story themselves to illustrate their grasp of particular course concepts. I was fascinated to see that Google introduced their new browser, Chrome, by telling the product story in a graphic novel. Professors at Duke Law School created a comic book on copyright law – one of the most challenging subjects out there! Creating comics can integrate kinesthetic, visual, reading, and writing learning styles for our students. Since I’m not an artist myself and use a PC, I found Comic Book Creator 2 software ($30 download). I was surprised how exciting and easy it was to create my own graphic novel.

Isn’t this the same reaction we want from our students as they explore learning in our classes? What ideas do you have on how comics could be used for your students?

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  1. Plagiarism in the Digital Age: Voices from the Front Lines, What’s Happening on College Campuses Today http://www.plagiarism.org/
  2. 3 Main Reasons Why Students Cheat, Neils, Gary, http://privateschool.about.com/cs/forteachers/a/cheating_2.htm
  3. Plagiarism 101 – How to Write Term Papers Without Being Sucked into the Black Hole http://library.albany.edu/usered/plagiarism/page3.html
  4. HSU’s Academic Honesty Policy, http://studentaffairs.humboldt.edu/judicial/academic_honesty.php

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TheFunTheory.com

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Collaborative Learning: Group Work and Study Teams, Group Work and Study Teams

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From unsolicited email.

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MindMapping

Art-Popular Art

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Here are some links:
The PechaKucha phenomenon: http://www.pecha-kucha.org/,
A related concept: The Takahashi Method: http://presentationzen.blogs.com/presentationzen/2005/09/living_large_ta.html

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Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments, by Derek Bruff, is now part of the CELT library for HSU educators to browse at their convenience.

Clickers in the Classroom (Duncan, 2005). Excerpt: Clicker Best Practices

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offers: “Faculty: Enhancing Classroom Instruction One Click at a Time” Best Practices which includes some showcases of use and related articles and research.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative presented “7 Things You Should Know About Clickers” (.pdf) in March 2005.

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Sweat-Guy, R. and Buzzetto-More, N.A. (2007). A Comparative Analysis of Common E-Portfolio Features and Available Platforms. Retrieved Oct. 1, 2009, from:
http://proceedings.informingscience.org/InSITE2007/IISITv4p327-342Guy255.pdf

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-Joan Van Duzer