Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Extended Studies Roundtable Structuring Assignments: Challenges and Opportunities of Teaching Block Courses on and off campus

A panel of Extended Studies faculty will start the session and then we'll open up to a broader exchange on structuring assignments for block courses. Lunch will be provided.

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First-Year Seminar Faculty Discussion

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. at the Prindle Institute, Room 152

You are invited to participate in a discussion about grading standards. Please bring at least one essay that you either have already graded or one that you need to grade. Wine and snacks will be provided.

RSVP to Jean Everage

No Place for Introverts in the Academy?

Fascinating Times Higher Education (THE) article about the way university expectations compel otherwise introverted students to become vocal performers in the classroom.

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Even Techies Limit Their Children's Screen Time

Sure, using tablets and computers can have upsides for children. They can provide, education for one, or just plain old entertainment value.

But we know there are downsides, too. NPR reported just last week on a study indicating screen time can negatively affect children's ability to read people's emotions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "screen-free zones" at home. No more than one to two hours of entertainment media a day for kids, and none for kids under two.

So how do people who work for big tech companies, like Google or Yahoo, approach this with their own children?

Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC's New Tech City, tells NPR's Melissa Block that most people who work in the tech industry do regulate their children's screen time. Zomorodi's full show on techies and parenting comes out Wednesday.

Interview Highlights

On the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a low-tech parent

That is what Nick Bilton wrote about recently in The New York Times. ... So Nick and I got together to sort of swap stories about how technologists deal with their kids and screens, and Steve Jobs is really just the jumping-off point. So many people in tech are not worried about making sure that their kids learn to code. They put very strict limits on the very gadgets and software that they spend their days developing.

Read the full article here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Modern Technology and Ancient Manuscripts

Caitlin Rajala FP’15 and Julia Spector ’16 were in the British Library in London this past summer, holding in their hands manuscripts worth more than an original van Gogh painting. They were written in Aramaic between the fifth and twelfth centuries, and the students’ job was to select the items most suited to a groundbreaking project they’ve been working on for more than a year.

They’re applying new technology to ancient manuscripts, using software to compare stylistic details in individual scribes’ handwriting. The software program measures elements of a scribe’s handwriting style—such as how rounded letters are and how tight or stretched out a phrase is—then compares the measurements against those in other documents scanned into a database.

The results can uncover relationships between historical documents and yield clues about when and where they were written. Analyzing script at this level of detail wasn’t possible until recently. A Five College faculty-student research team developed and refined a handwriting analysis tool that is unlocking the manuscripts’ secrets.

Rajala and Spector are an integral part of this team led by MHC’s Michael Penn, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Religion, and Smith College computer science professor Nicholas Howe.

Penn says the students have been involved in every single aspect of the project, which is supported by MHC, Smith, and the Mellon Foundation. “They are getting a type of mentorship that graduate students might get, but in reality even they don’t often get,” he says. “And the students constantly push the project in directions I never could have foreseen and make discoveries I would not have. It’s been fantastic to collaborate with them at that level.”

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The Future is Now: Harvard's Teaching and Learning Technologies Program Webinar

In this webinar, learn more about Harvard's vision for leveraging technology to transform teaching and learning in residential, hybrid, and online courses and programs. We will discuss our migration from a custom course platform to Canvas learning management system, our plans to extend core platform functionality through LTI tools, our engagement strategy and partnership with Harvard's teaching and learning community, our initial work cultivating an open-source developer community, and more.

Read the article Teaching and Learning Technologies: A Harvard IT Strategic Initiative

Managing Advising Appointments

Just in time for advising for the coming term, join FITS for a lunch discussion on Managing Advising Appointments to learn how to set up online appointment sign-up slots for advising sessions or office hours. 

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Read the article How To Create and Reserve Appointment Slots