Friday, October 30, 2015

EDUCAUSE and the Technologization and Corporatization of Higher Education

There are 307 vendors at EDUCAUSE 2015. There could have been more. According to the EDUCAUSE website, "Booth space for EDUCAUSE 2015 is sold out.” Every year I come to EDUCAUSE, and every year the Exhibitor Floor seems to get bigger. The booths seem to get flashier. The presentations get louder. The screens are bigger. The colors are brighter. The swag gets fancier. And every year higher education gets more expensive and less accessible. Each year the excitement about educational technology as a business seems to increase. And year year the states cut back how much money that that send to their public institutions of higher learning. Each year the vendors at EDUCAUSE promise to solve the challenges that our schools face if we can only find the right platform, the right service, and the right company. And each year the number of full-time tenure-track faculty positions decline, and the number of contingent faculty increase. Each year the new technologies on display at EDUCAUSE hold out the hope of improving outcomes while lowering costs. And each year we return to our campuses certain in the knowledge that technical solutions to social and political challenges will prove to be inadequate. Each year we marvel at the new cloud-based and lightweight systems that will allow us to consume technology as a service, enabling us to focus on our core competencies of teaching, research, and service. And each year we realize that edtech companies have locked us into proprietary standards and platforms that can’t easily integrate with other systems. Each year we hear from our vendor partners how they have increased the features and capabilities available without raising prices. Read the article.

'It's Not You, It's Them', I Told Myself

When I was lecturing in China back in 2005, I was surprised at how many students had cell phones in class. I shouldn’t have been. Cell phones, even in that pre-iPhone era, were a good way for the Chinese to stay in touch when their landlines were far from adequate. A lot of those phones were out in people’s laps while I was lecturing. I was a guest in China so I said nothing. Then in 2006, when I was teaching on a Fulbright in Romania, I had an interesting intercultural moment when one of my students wanted to take a call in the middle of a midterm exam. Of course, it was only a few years later that those situations started popping up in my own classes stateside. Attention spans wandered. Phones came out. I got upset. I changed the way I lectured in order to make sure that I was looking out at the classroom the whole time I was talking. I figured that would make it less likely for students to reach for their phones since they knew I would see them. It didn’t. At first, I thought the problem must be me. I’d gotten old and boring. Then I heard the same complaints from all over my university and all over academia: Student attention spans have disappeared! Ban cell phones now! Like everyone else, I did precisely that. Heck, I still do precisely that (and I’ll explain why in a moment), but ultimately that kind of syllabus language was just a bluff. I wasn’t going to throw anyone out of my classroom for something that petty, so rather than invoke a feeble threat, I started explaining to students how distracting their phones were when I was trying to talk and then hoped for the best. Read the article

Learning Beyond Letter Grades: Exploring the Promise and Possibility of Assessment

Why do so many schools use letter grades? What do they tell us and fail to tell us about the learners? What is the relationship between letter grades, student learning, and assessment? This three-part course (November 5, November 19, December 2; 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) will allow participants to consider different ways to augment or enhance the common letter grade system by designing a variety of formative assessment or feedback strategies. We will examine the benefits and limitations of several options: peer assessment & workshopping, self-assessment, portfolio assessment, narrative assessment, authentic assessment, and competency-based assessment. In this ELI online course, “Learning Beyond Letter Grades: Exploring the Promise & Possibility of Assessment,” you will be invited to examine a variety of real world examples of learning organizations that use or support these different assessment models in place of or in addition to a traditional letter grade system. For more information, click here.

Teaching Roundtable Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship Showcase

Rebecca Alexander and Tamara Stasik along with student researchers, YaTing Yang and Hannah Bradley, will share their collaborative work from this past summer on "Mapping as a Tool for Educating Communities about Poverty, Fostering Local Structural Transformation, and Enabling Political Action" and "Re-Evaluating the Place of the Commonplace Book," respectively. Discussion will focus on their participation in the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship, a week-long workshop held at Hamilton College during which teams (faculty member[s], students, technologists, librarians) concentrated work and effort on a faculty project. On hand for the discussion are Rebecca's other team members, Beth Wilkerson and Veronica Pejril as well as Tamara’s, Brooke Cox and Jin Kim. 

Please RSVP today for lunch.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Women's Groups Urge Colleges and Government to Rein in Yik Yak

By Peter Schmidt October 21, 2015 Washington Seventy-two women’s and civil-rights groups on Wednesday announced a campaign to enlist the federal government in pressuring colleges to protect students from harassment via anonymous social-media applications like Yik Yak. The groups have sent the U.S. Education Department a letter calling for it to treat colleges’ failure to monitor anonymous social media and to pursue online harassers as a violation of federal civil-rights laws guaranteeing equal educational access. Read the article...

Teaching Roundtable "Helping Students Write with Q"

Come hear Rich Martoglio, Director of the Q-Center, lead a faculty discussion on integrating Q with student writing.

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Yes, Colleges Do Teach Critical-Thinking Skills, Study Finds

Report: “Does College Teach Critical Thinking? A Meta-Analysis” Authors: Christopher R. Huber and Nathan R. Kuncel, both of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Publication: Review of Educational Research, a journal of the American Educational Research Association Summary: Educators, policy makers, and employers all want colleges to teach students critical-thinking skills, but are colleges succeeding in doing so? To answer that question, the study’s authors analyzed 71 research reports published over the past 48 years. Their conclusion: Yes, despite arguments to the contrary, students’ critical-thinking skills do improve in college. The difference is comparable to a student whose critical-thinking skills start at the 50th percentile and, after four years in college, move up to the 72nd. Read the article...

Teaching Faculty Forum Peggy McIntosh "Seeing Privilege: The Surprising Journey Continued"

Come hear Peggy McIntosh (Wellesley Centers for Women) talk about privilege and its implications in the classroom. Her talk is part of the American Whiteness lecture series.

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How to Teach in an Age of Distraction

This is an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Sherry Turkle on how to teach in an age of distraction.

Read the article...

Campus Visit of GLCA Director of Program Development

Please join us for a lunch with Greg Wegner, GLCA Director of Program Development, who will describe important new initiatives as well as continuing opportunities for faculty professional development through the GLCA’s consortial programs. 

RSVP on the CTL calendar or by email invitation.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Teaching Students to Evaluate Us Better

I’ll admit it: I like my students, and I want them to like me, too. Such is the humiliating plight of just about every grad instructor, adjunct, and professor I know. Our professional pride -- and, for many, our professional survival -- now hinges in part on what our students have to say about us at the end of the term. The reason they get asked, and the reason we listen, is that they know something we don’t. As the chief witnesses to our teaching, our students are often better equipped than anyone else, including ourselves, to know how we’re doing and what we can do better. Alas, when the vessels of this precious knowledge sit down to fill out their end-of-course surveys, far too few of them realize they are performing a sacrament of university life. Based on the evaluations I’ve read (of other instructors, naturally), students are shockingly cavalier in the opinions they express, and the results don’t amount to much. On the whole, student evaluations are a notoriously poor gauge of "teaching effectiveness," and they reflect some of the ugliest parts of university culture. Study after study finds that women, non-white instructors, and non-native English speakers have a harder time getting respect from students in these surveys. On top of all that, student evaluations show a depressing pattern of actually punishing instructors for their commitment to student learning and academic integrity. (Check it out here and here, and let the chills run down your spine.)
Read Teaching Students to Evaluate Us Better

Teaching Faculty Forum Real-time Storytelling: Following the Journey to the Thin Places

Through a Google Hangout, Melanie Finney will present on her current sabbatical project on dialectical perspectives of grief and identity, including her current work in Ireland. Melanie will also discuss her development of the Journey to the Thin Places: Exploring Ireland's Places of Healing, a blog documenting her research process. Please RSVP for lunch. RSVP

Is Moodle Filling DePauw's Needs

Join members of the Library and Academic Technology Committee for a discussion of what DePauw's current needs are in a learning management system. Is Moodle filling our needs? If yes, what do we like about it? If not, what else would we want in such a system? Or is the era of the learning management system passing? Gathering feedback from faculty members is important as this year we begin to assess the options available to DePauw in the future. Please RSVP. RSVP for Monday, October 12, 2015, from 11:30 am-12:30 pm in Julian 135 RSVP for Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 4:00 - 5:00 pm in Julian 300

Professional Development Roundtable Almonds, the California Drought, and What You Can Learn from First Year Writing Assessment

Come learn about the recent assessment of 578 writing samples from the class of 2019!

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When Schools Overlook Introverts

When Susan Cain published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking nearly four years ago, it was immediately met with acclaim. The book criticizes schools and other key institutions for primarily accommodating extroverts and such individuals’ “need for lots of stimulation.” Much to introverts’ relief, it also seeks to raise awareness about the personality type, particularly among those who’ve struggled to understand it. It seems that such efforts have, for the most part, struggled to effect much change in the educational world. The way in which certain instructional trends—education buzzwords like “collaborative learning” and “project-based learning” and “flipped classrooms”—are applied often neglect the needs of introverts. In fact, these trends could mean that classroom environments that embrace extroverted behavior—through dynamic and social learning activities—are being promoted now more than ever. These can be appealing qualities in the classroom, of course, but overemphasizing them can undermine the learning of students who are inward-thinking and easily drained by constant interactions with others. Just last week the University of Chicago library announced that in response to “increased demand,” librarians are working with architects to transform a presumably quiet reading room into a “vibrant laboratory of interactive learning.” One writer on Top Hat, a popular online resource for educators, argued in a post last month that “cooperative learning strategies harness the greatest part of human evolutionary behavior: sociality.” And earlier this month, Cal State University, Dominguez Hills, promoted their installation of “active learning classrooms” with “multiple desk formations” in which “professors must change their mindsets” because “the lectures should be designed to learn by doing.” Hamoud Salhi, a professor and acting associate dean, explains, “This project is not just about changing the classroom environment; it is also about changing how instructors approach teaching" ... Introverts “feel at their most alive and their most switched-on when they’re in quieter, low-key environments.” This growing emphasis in classrooms on group projects and other interactive arrangements can be challenging for introverted students who tend to perform better when they’re working independently and in more subdued environments. Comprising anywhere from one third to about half of the population, introverts sometimes appear shy, depressed, or antisocial, when that’s not always the case. As Susan Cain put it in her famous TED Talk, introverts simply “feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments” . . . Many of my own high-school students regularly request extended sessions of silent reading. Some prefer learning with the fluorescent classroom lights off, instead relying on the softer sunlight coming in through the window. Some admit to enjoying the opportunity to work in a quiet room and are eager to write about certain prompts for as long as I let them. I used to think their ubiquitous earbuds were feeding their need for stimulation; now I wonder if they’re sometimes blocking out the noise.
Read When Schools Overlook Introverts

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges

A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them. Read more...

In the Mind of a Student

Imagine if schoolteachers and college professors were immediately able to identify how each of their students learns, what learning style works best for each child and what new topics he or she is struggling with. Research faculty members at the University of Wisconsin at Madison are hoping that this can be the future of education. Their research uses a combination of psychology and computer science to determine how best to optimize teaching for individual students. This means teachers and professors will be able to immediately know what subjects students are struggling with and be able to address those needs, instead of teaching an entire class of students with ranging difficulties. Jerry Zhu, an associate professor of computer science at Wisconsin, has dubbed this technique “machine teaching,” a flip of machine learning, or when computers recognize patterns during data analysis in computer science or statistics. Instead of the computers recognizing a pattern, an equation that represents a student’s mind would be punched into the computer, which in turn would tell the teacher the student’s specific learning style and needs in the classroom. But Zhu said that those equations have yet to be developed, and it will be years before they will be created, an effort he says researchers in both computer science and psychology are working toward achieving. Read more...

Teaching Faculty Forum Digital Liberal Arts Discussions: Fostering Close Reading

Helping students develop skills in close reading can be a challenge. Join Pedar Foss, Kayla Birt, and Donnie Sendelbach for a demo and discussion of resources available to assist with close reading, including annotation, mark-up, and search tools. An overview of appropriate file formats to assist with close reading will also be covered.

Please RSVP for lunch.

Research Faculty Forum Matthew Oware "We Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb: Underground White Rappers' Hegemonic Masculinity and Racial Evasion"

Come hear Matthew discuss his research on hegemonic masculinity and racial evasion.

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Designing Learning Spaces with Learning Theory in Mind

Monday, October 5, 2015

Join Malcolm Brown, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative director, and Veronica Diaz, ELI associate director, as they moderate this webinar with Scott McDonald. From K–12 schools to institutions of higher education, there is an increasing emphasis and investment in developing spaces to support student learning. Space is becoming the hidden technology in learning that can support face-to-face student interactions, as well as how digital tools can be blended into face-to-face contexts. This webinar will draw on contemporary theories of learning and research on learning spaces to offer design principles for learning spaces. Learning spaces are often taken for granted as simply a place where the learning happens, but this webinar will lay out the case that space can play as important a role in supporting new kinds of teaching as other technologies. Design principles will address and provide examples in the areas of engagement, activity, flexibility, and access. For more information on the webinar, click here.

No RSVP is needed.