Friday, April 24, 2015

Faculty Panel Digital Storytelling Assignments

Sheryl Tremblay, Rebecca Alexander, and Caroline Jetton will discuss the use of digital storytelling assignments in their courses. These faculty members will share the goals of and approaches to digital storytelling assignments along with ideas for student engagement and development. Lunch will be provided.

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Read more articles:

Edudemic: Teacher’s Guide to Digital Storytelling

Center for Digital Storytelling

State Library of Queensland Digital Storytelling Manual

University of Wollongong Digital Storytelling Libguide

Microsoft: Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

Digital Storytelling Resources at DePauw

Don't Rely on Grades Alone

How can you motivate people to do something they wouldn’t normally do? It’s a difficult question, and clearly one that’s near the heart of teaching.

All the knowledge, preparation, and pedagogical techniques in the world won’t help you in the classroom if you can’t convince students to come along with you. Particularly if you, like many faculty members, are moving away from a lecture-heavy model of teaching to one that makes more use of class discussion and group work, you need your students to be motivated to learn. Student-centered teaching depends on quality student participation, which in turn depends on student motivation.

Most of the time, our main weapons in the fight to motivate students are the grades we give out. To be sure, grades also exist to give an accurate picture of student performance. But grades typically exist as both rewards and punishments to nudge students into approaching the course the way we think they should.

Think about the way you construct your syllabi. You’ll devote a higher percentage of the final grade to assignments you think are more important or difficult. You’ll assign regular quizzes if you want to make sure students come to class prepared. You’ll threaten to dock their essay grades if they turn their papers in late. That’s how we tackle the idea of student motivation in higher education: Students understand the rules of the game, and if they fail to follow them, their grades (and presumably their future prospects) will suffer.

The tricky thing is that, while it’s easy to come up with any number of carrots and sticks to prompt students to do better, decades of research have shown that such so-called extrinsic rewards and deterrents are not particularly effective tools. In fact, in many studies, subjects who were offered extrinsic rewards to complete a complex task actually performed worse than when they weren’t given rewards.

When grades are the main driving force behind our students’ motivation, instead of trying to master the material for their own benefit and assimilate it into their prior knowledge, students figure out what’s expected of them to attain a good grade and act accordingly. In addition, if we want students to develop a lifelong interest in a subject, extrinsic motivators are problematic; after graduation, when the rewards for learning are gone, the interest disappears.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

My Nomadic Class

My course this past semester began like so many others: 14 students and I arrived every Tuesday and Thursday morning in an uninspiring space of concrete-block walls and fluorescent lighting, with few windows and fixed desks all facing forward, ill suited to the discussion-based, flipped format of the class. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, we decided to go nomadic.

We had pedagogical reasons for doing so. The course focused on how the built environment both reflects and affects our ideas about the world around us, looking at how philosophical concepts, cultural constructs, and social, economic, and environmental constraints help shape the spaces that human beings inhabit . . .

Unexpectedly, the continual change in learning environments also helped the students learn the material. Certain ideas became associated with particular locations, and recalling a space seemed to help the students remember a concept. We talked in class about how students in pre-Gutenberg Europe learned to mentally construct “memory palaces” as a mnemonic device to help them remember information attached to objects and spaces in their imagined structures.

Read the article My Nomadic Class

Digital Liberal Arts Discussion Group: Telling Stories with Maps

Join the monthly digital liberal arts discussion group for an examination of telling stories by mapping information. The session discusses visualizing research and information in new ways to spark further inquiry. Google Maps Gallery and Story Maps provide some ready-to-use resources while faculty and students can now upload simple spreadsheets to create visualization in New Google Maps. Lunch will be provided.

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Read more articles:

Visualizing Geography: Maps, Place, and Pedagogy

7 Things You Should Know About Visual Literacy

Visualization across the disciplines

Spatial and Mapping Pedagogy

Introducing Digital Humanities Work to Undergraduates: An Overview

Story Maps Gallery

Google Maps Gallery

Teaching Roundtable Dave Berque "Discussion of Pedagogical Best Practices for Extended Studies Curricular Courses

This session is designed for faculty and staff who have recently taught in the Extended Studies program, or who may do so in the future. We will present a draft of a "Best Practices Pedagogical Guide for On-campus and Off-campus Curricular Extended Studies Courses". This guide has been developed based on a survey of faculty who taught Winter Term 2015 courses. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss best practices and to provide feedback to improve the guide.

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Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning is a framework for the design of materials and instructional methods that are us- able by a wide range of students. The term was adapted from the concept of universal design in architecture, where considerations of physical access for individuals with dis- abilities are incorporated into the original design rather than added later. Based on research in neuroscience and other disciplines, UDL recognizes that individual learning patterns differ and that learning systems should accommo- date variability among learners from the outset. The ap- proach encourages flexible conditions that ensure access and participation by all students, without lowering expecta- tions or standards. One aim of this approach is to provide full access to students with special needs, particularly through the provision of supportive technologies such as captioned video or text-to-speech options. But UDL offers significant affordances for all students, allowing them to benefit from learning presented through multiple sensory avenues and a variety of conceptual frameworks . . .

Adoption of UDL can help an institution commit to a broader range of students, cultures, abilities, and backgrounds. For faculty, the prospect of teaching effectively to all learners is rewarding, particularly when it is visibly demonstrated that more students are able to succeed. Although the principles of UDL apply to all learning environments, blended and on- line contexts might especially benefit from UDL because of the range of options available in technology-enhanced edu- cation. Unlike programs that target specific disabilities or learning needs, which tend to separate such students from the rest of the class, UDL provides an approach with many paths to learning that benefits all students without forcing them to self-identify as needing unique support. While the approach can involve some rethinking and investment, it has been effective in addressing such troubling issues such as stu- dent apathy, sinking enrollment, and rising dropout rates. It does this by ensuring that students across the campus have equal access to learning and equal opportunity to participate in their own education.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

How 'Elite' Universities Are Using Online Education

After years of skepticism, higher education’s upper class has finally decided that online learning is going to play an important role in its future. But what will that role be?

Recently, conversations about "elite" online education has revolved around the free online courses, aka MOOCs, which Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and dozens of other top universities started offering several years ago. But it soon became clear that high marks in those courses would not translate to academic credit at the institutions offering them (or anywhere else).

So how exactly does online education figure into the future of elite higher education? Judging by what we’ve seen so far, the answer can be divided into three parts.

For more information, read the article...

MITC Open House

Visit the newly upgraded Music Instructional Technology Center. Afternoon sessions include Scott Perkins demonstrating Sibelius (1-2:30), Tyler Benware demonstrates Finale (230-330), and Veronica Pejril showing Reason (4-5.) The event includes a concert of student work (330-4). Feel free to come and go as your schedule allows!

First-Generation Students

The NYT ran an interesting article this week on first-generation students, primarily at Ivy league schools. The article is worth a read as are the comments.  

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Two Events on Research-Based Writing

Come learn about research-based writing with Tricia Serviss, a contributor to the Citation Project. The first event is a lunch presentation (starting at 11:30) and the second is a workshop. Both events are in Julian 251. Please confirm your participation with Mike Sinowitz.

Faculty Forum Jennifer Everett "Waste, Consumption, and the Ethics of Stuff"

Please join us for the last Faculty Forum of the year: Jen Everett on "Waste, Consumption, and the Ethics of Stuff".

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Getting Them to Stop Talking

At first, you're grateful. At the beginning of the semester, with a classroom full of skeptical students not yet ready to speak up, you usually have at least one student who always seems ready to raise his hand or blurt out answers. This student seems like a godsend: He (it's almost always a he) actually listens to what you're saying and is confident enough to want to test out his ideas in the public space of the classroom.

But soon you start to suspect that this overeager student may be hurting more than helping. He dominates discussions, always jumping in before anyone else gets a chance, sucking all the air out of the room. It doesn't matter if his answers are correct, or whether you encourage him or not. It becomes a self-sustaining pattern: The other students quickly realize that they don't need to respond; if they hold back long enough, they know that the dominant student will speak up.

In my last column, I wrote about the difficulties involved in getting quiet or uncooperative students to contribute to class discussions. Motivating them to speak up can take a lot of work. But it can be just as challenging to have one or two students who talk too much. A few garrulous students can end up crippling class debate and cutting off the possibility of a wide-ranging discussion involving the whole class. How should you respond?

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Flipped Classroom Workshop - Getting Started Flipping

Join FITS for this 90-minute workshop on techniques for flipping content and preparing students for in-class work. Screen capture and other means to provide out-of-class lecture and practice will be demonstrated with time for hands on work. Bring your laptop (and any files you may have as flipped content). 

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