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Technology humanizing the classroom

I had heard of Khan Academy as an example of open content, but hadn’t familiarized myself with it. Then I downloaded the iPad app and watched this video. And loved it.

Here are some highlights:
  • The counterintuitive benefit of flipping the classroom is that it¬†humanizes the learning experience. Rather than a whole class of students having to sit still and attentive (in a traditional lecture,) prohibited from interacting with those around them,¬†students are instead interacting with each other and the teacher in the classroom.
  • Customary education isn’t concerned with mastery, only passing. It penalizes experimentation and failure. Flipped classrooms have the potential to change this, encouraging and empowering students to fully master the material by experimenting, at their own pace, and learning from failure.
  • Rather than using student to teacher ratio as a benchmark, why not use student to valuable human time with the teacher ratio as the appropriate educational benchmark?

Interestingly, I paused and rewound the video several times to write this post about it before I noticed the transcription below the video that allows you to go directly to a specific point in the presentation. (I had been viewing the talk full screen.)

  • The advantage of video learning is that you can pause and rewind to go back over topics until you grasp them. To do this while a person is instructing you is embarrassing, no matter how kind and patient the instructor is.
How can we utilize video and online learning at the college level, to increase interaction among students and faculty, and flip our classrooms?

How students use technology

I’m on a spring break mission trip with nine students and one other adviser to Chicago to study firsthand interfaith relations. I may (or may not) reflect on the interfaith mission in my personal blog. Here, I would like to chronicle how we’re using technology, especially how the students are using it on their own.

  • One of the students has given up Facebook for Lent, and has lamented that more than once.
  • On the bus and on the train, texting takes place.
  • Someone had a compass app on their smart phone to tell us which way to go when the bus dropped us off a few blocks from the stop.
  • Map apps were helpful in finding our way around a new city, and a very large one at that.
  • A student brought his laptop so he could finish a paper that was due on Friday.
  • The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has a mobile site and a mobile app that helped us plan our day travels.
  • Google image search was used to show pictures of a tamarind tree while we tried dried tamarind pods for the first time.
  • A girl used her phone to record our rehearsal when we were spontaneously asked to join the choir. She then shared it with several of us through multi-media text messages.
  • Phone cameras were used a lot to take pictures of the town and the team. The pictures will eventually make it to Facebook.
  • Using the Chromebook I brought, I was able to see pictures of the ball my daughters went to yesterday, pics they had uploaded to Facebook.
  • I’m using that same Chromebook to post these observations to Blogger, utilizing the church where we’re staying’s WiFi network.
How do you observe your students using technology?

Steve Jobs on PowerPoint

Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen has some nice reflection on Steve Jobs’ thoughts on PowerPoint. Jobs is quoted in his new biography:

People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.

Reynolds points out that “slides and other forms of projected visualization‚ÄĒno matter how “cool” they may be‚ÄĒare not appropriate for every context.”

Jobs preferred a whiteboard to facilitate the exchange of ideas, the hashing out of details, for in-the-moment collaboration. I’d like to point out that whiteboards, and even their predecessors blackboards and chalkboards, are (or were) technological advancements in the classroom. So, in the spirit of recognizing our current use of and comfort with technology in the classroom, let’s take a look at where technology is moving.¬†If we take the design principle and intended usage of various boards, be they white, black, or brown, and look at what’s out there in the electronic realm, we find a number of options.

So-called “smartbaords” may be the first thing that comes to mind. These electronic whiteboards allow an instructor to use different colored markers and an eraser along with familiar computer tools such as cut, copy, paste, and the ever-helpful undo. They can also easily record an image of the screen at any time, play videos, display slideware, and project a computer screen for computer training. It’s no wonder these tools have gained in popularity and usage, especially in primary schools.

With the advent of tablet computing and even smaller mobile devices and smart phones, we have the potential to take the classroom of yesterday, with students taking notes on pads of paper, and the classroom of yesteryear, with students practicing on their own personal slate boards, and mashing them up with the power of the Internet. Imagine allowing students to submit brainstorming ideas to a projected screen–whether smartboard or simply a projected computer screen–directly from their personal devices to the instructor’s canvas. The iBrainstorm app allows you to do this.

If you’d prefer to maintain more control over the board, there are apps like AirSketch that allow you to draw on your iPad and have it mirrored on the projection screen. This allows you to use the board while roaming the classroom, and you can hand the iPad to a student for them to contribute directly to the ideas being documented. This app also allows you to annotate other documents on the iPad while projected for the benefit of the whole class.

These are just a few ideas for keeping the conversation and collaboration flowing in the classroom, rather than just projecting slideware to augment a lecture. For smaller classes where discussion is paramount, these technological advances add an element of excitement and engagement, perhaps even empowerment, that’s not otherwise there.

(Steve Jobs’ innovative iPad has been a leader and standard in the field of tablet computing, so, naturally, there are more apps developed for the iOS platform. Thus my examples are all for the iPad. However, Android tablets are quickly gaining in popularity. If iBrainstorm and AirSketch aren’t currently available in the Android Market, odds are that they will be coming soon or that something similar will show up there.)

Technology in classrooms large and small

I was asked the question a while back as to whether the technology used in a classroom would change depending on the size of the class.  There’s certainly a difference in how you teach and what you can do whether the class is small or large. And, of course, you’d need more equipment (more clickers or more tablets, for example) in a larger class.

The nature of the course is a primary factor. The faculty member who asked this was in Psychology, and he taught a PSYC 101 course that enrolled around 30 students. This course was taught primarily as lectures with some use of PowerPoint to augment the lesson. Because many facts and foundational information were conveyed and expected to be learned there wasn’t much opportunity for the kind of discussion that could take place in smaller, higher level courses.

So my first line of thought was about making that “sage on the stage” type of pedagogy more engaging. Certainly PowerPoint or Prezi can be used to their fullest, making presentations lively and captivating…

Yet now I’m thinking technology can be used to make discussion in a large class more feasible than it would be without. How about using an online discussion forum or blog to solicit comments and conversation before (or after) the class? Definitely clickers would be a good way to verify that the students have read and understand the material as you start (but that doesn’t foster collaborative learning.)

What it boils down to is that, regardless of the class size, technology can be used to effectively foster collaborative learning between classes. Studies have shown that such cooperative learning methods are the most effective. There are a wealth of online resources for this, including Blackboard, BishopApps, and wikis. And as more and more students have smart phones, they can be engaged as well…

Food for thought and further conversation

Will the Digital Revolution finally transform higher education? That’s a topic of much speculation and enthusiastic debate.¬†Adrian Sannier, in the latest Educause Review, asks “If not now, when?”

I like how he describes the industry of education improving faster and more dramatically than individual people are capable of, instead of individual teachers improving over the course of their careers at human scale. That’s exciting, especially given that we’re a part of making it happen.

His discussion of education moving beyond the LMS was especially pertinent, as OWU has just begun (and I will be coordinating) a discussion on that very matter. ¬†And rather than starting with the question of what’s better and cheaper than Blackboard, we started (as Instructional Technologists are prone to do) by backing up and asking what educational objectives we are trying to enhance with technology. Taking this approach allows us to then ask whether another LMS–which some see as a behemoth of an ERP that strives to be all things to all users–or a best-of-class approach–utilizing different systems for different tasks–would be better for us.

We’re just wrapping up a multi-year ERP migration where we moved from a monolithic Jenzabar system to five new systems for different departments. Doing something different (than Blackboard) for edtech would fit right in with OWU 2.0.

…but we’ll have to see how the conversation proceeds…

Overdue

I received a courtesy notice from the library the other day, letting me know I had some outstanding items on loan. I appreciate the reminders. I think we all could do with courteous reminders when things are due, such as reminders to blog. Yeah, updating this is also overdue.

I have some advance news of a development that will free me up to devote more of my time to educational technology. We will soon finally be able to hire someone for the position of Help Desk Coordinator that I vacated about a year ago. Watch for news about that posting.

Something else that goes lacking for a while and feels overdue is technology improvements. Users complain, request, and suggest product enhancements and new features. Tech producers try to accomodate and, hopefully, satisfy and perhaps even wow customers. Organizations such as Google and Mozilla like to rapidly release updates, while other companies prefer to release updates at a slower pace. Then clients have to evaluate whether to embrace the new version. Caution is warranted when an enterprise depends on the use of a system. As good carpenter’s say, “Measure twice; cut once.” In IT that might translate to “Test as much as you can before implementation.” And so it goes…

. . .

I’ll leave you with an image of my Halloween pumpkin, in honor of a pioneer who passed away recently…

The whirlwind begins to subside

The first week of classes is over. Whew! There is a lot of excitement in Information Services.

We’ve hired a talented group of student workers who show a lot of promise, several of whom are freshmen or sophomores¬†we hope to retain for a few years. Of course, this means I have to switch into management mode after doing everything myself through the summer. This then leads to me having more time to work with faculty, and assistance in large projects, such as managing the classroom equipment inventory.

We are currently testing a WordPress server and plan to have it ready for production next week. There are plans to use this for communication/collaboration within the Course Connections and to market the new curricular initiatives. Certainly WordPress will find other uses in classes and on campus.

Thanks to a significant bequest to the Economics Department, several of the classrooms in the Corns Building are getting upgraded audio-visual equipment, including flat panel LED screens in two of the seminar rooms. The large multipurpose room will be getting an additional projector facing the east wall, and the computer lab will finally be getting a ceiling-mounted projector. The installation work begins Monday.

Besides the usual technical training workshops for faculty and staff, there will be several Blackboard workshops offered, some informal lunch & learn conversations, and I will be available to observe teachers in their classes to make suggestions and recommendations for their using technology more effectively and/or efficiently.

Along with all that there is the usual excitement of the start of a new academic year, the expectations and interests of a new incoming class, and the hopes and interests of the new faculty. And on that note, let me share this year’s Beloit Mindset List that describes the worldview of the incoming class:¬†http://www.beloit.edu/

Cheers!

Summer swiftly coming to a close

It was just the other day a colleague asked me, “Can you believe it’s August already?” Classes start in less than three weeks, athletes start showing up on campus next week, and everything ramps up quickly. The fine person who has been helping on our help desk at this busy time of year is back in the chair, freeing me up to do more Instructional Technology (such as write a blog post.)

Over the summer I’ve read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, the selected reading for OWU’s first year seminar. My, that was a good choice! Appropriately named by more than 60 critics as one of the best books of 2010, it chronicles the story of this journalist striving to uncover the history of the famous HeLa cells, and document the story of the woman they came from and her family. I had never heard of HeLa cells before, but the story pulled me right in and held my attention. It will provide ample food for thought and fodder for discussion on a range of topics, including medical ethics, racism, economic justice, and journalism. I look forward to joining a section of UC 160 and discussing this book as a launchpad into a broader discussion of college life and expectations.

(Image of stained HeLa cells courtesy GE Healthcare (by way of Henrietta Lacks) via CC)
Colored HeLa cells

Since finishing The Immortal Life, I’ve started reading Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget, and gotten through the first couple chapters. This one is different than Skloot’s in that it’s a manifesto rather than a narrative, it’s more technical and philosophical. It’s also hitting very close to home because, like Lanier, I am also a technologist. I am familiar with his terms and his topics, and am increasingly appreciating what he’s trying to do: promote more human-centered, or humanistic, technology. It’s interesting to hear criticism that the Web 2.0 is dehumanizing from someone within the IT field. I look forward to reading the rest of what he has to say, and applying some of his suggestions in my own work as an Educational Technologist. (Education comes first, so technology serves the people doing the teaching & learning…)

In other news, OWU Blackboard installation will be upgraded to SP6 before classes start, I will be making appointment slots available where faculty can sign up for consultations online, and I will be offering more informal lunch & learn conversations this fall. There are more initiatives in the works that will be announced later.

More ed tech

Summer is the time in academia (at least in IT) to catch up on back burner projects and drafted blog post ideas. This was one such draft…

~~~

Students want more ed tech (bottom right of front page) in the April eCampus News cites a survey that suggests technology is key for students with hectic schedules. And there’s a widening gap between student and faculty technology preferences.

It was in response to stories like this, and my well-received involvement in the Teaching Circles this spring, that I offered informal lunch & learn conversations during the summer session. Some of these were less sparsely attended than others, and there was enough interest for me to commit to doing something similar in the fall.

One of the earlier sessions discussed the question of embracing instructional technology. I presented a scale created by Marc Prensky in his book Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning. A group of folks over at OSU’s Digital Union had read and discussed the book and shared their thoughts on their blog. They also kindly shared Prensky’s scale. Like the OSU faculty, OWU faculty were hesitant to embrace Level 5 as the ultimate goal.

As one Professor of Education put it, if technology doesn’t accomplish something that you can’t do without it, it shouldn’t be used. This became a good rule of thumb and a great segue into learning outcomes and their relation to technology.

The survey story above, however, speaks to student’s use of technology to do things like study at their own time and pace. Just as ed tech can assist instructors in managing the administrative tasks of teaching a class and assessing learning, it can also help students manage multiple assignments, due dates, and projects for multiple classes. We need to try to see things from their point of view too, and putting more content and guidance online helps.

“81 percent of college students use computers, social networking, and other tools to study” a similar CDW-G study finds. Ken Baldauf at Florida State University says, “They’re used to being connected to each other online all the time. Students live online; our classes need to live there as well,”¬†even for a residential campus.

I look forward to continuing this important conversation in the fall.

Theatrics

This past weekend I performed as part of the Arena Fair Theater production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I haven’t done anything similar since I was a child and played the part of Tiny Tim in a community theater production of A Christmas Carol. It was truly a blast to sing and dance on the stage in the lights for family, friends, and community members. The fresh experience and getting to perform in our Chappelear Drama Center got me thinking about technology in theater and how theater relates to teaching, fascinating subjects to contemplate.

I don’t know a lot about technology used in drama. I got to thinking about this when I setup a BishopGuest wireless account for the troupe. I can see all the lights on the stages and the wireless microphones used on the cast with solos. I also got to ride a couple times the elevator-like lift that creates an organ pit in front of the main stage. These are all examples of modern technology–as well as the sound system and the Music Director’s synthesizer–used in modern drama, much as dry erase white boards and electronic projectors are used in modern teaching. The Stage Manager and I weren’t sure how wireless Internet access might be used by a theater troupe other than members of the cast checking email and Facebook during breaks and intermission. This would be a topic–how Internet and Web 2.0 technology is used in theatrics nowadays–that I would love to learn more of. I plan to continue in any production Arena Fair has in the future, so I’m sure there will be opportunities to ask around.

The other topic of reflection is the similarities between theater and teaching. Both convey a story or a message. I imagine some faculty might quibble and say that they are imparting facts and principles. I would counter that with the notion that (at least at the college level) we’re trying to get students to synthesize knowledge into wisdom. Thesis and antithesis can be seen as tandem heroes in an adventure story; their working together results in something larger than the sum of its parts that is the climax of the story. In Biology there are stories of evolution and stories of cells that have a birth, a lifespan, and a death. In Mathematics, I just learned that the term Algebra comes from the Arabic al-jabr¬†which was originally used to indicate restoration in a medical sense. So Algebra is the science of restoring equations back to balance. What a story! When educators share such stories with their students, it has a natural effect of drawing the learner into the subject. We are the result of and unconscious participants in evolution; our bodies are elaborate networks of cells; and we are the (in many cases ignorant) beneficiaries of Arabic civilization. In other words, we are part of the story. Good pedagogy should be just as absorbing and inspiring as good theater.

On a related note, there is much talk lately about digital storytelling, especially in higher ed, and Bryan Alexander from NITLE has just published a book about it. I feel it all relates together: teaching, drama, storytelling, as strands of thread or yarn in a loom.

Teaching higher ed vis-a-vis congregational ministry

While my undergrad degree is in Computer Information Systems, my graduate work prepared me for religious ministry. Now that my role is promoting and supporting faculty in their use of technology, I’ve often felt, and sometimes had to argue*, that there’s a lot of similarities between teaching in a university and ministering in a congregation.

Both faculty and clergy lecture or preach, and most give homework to their pupils.¬†Both are expected to research or study in their respective fields and become authorities in their subject areas.¬†Both depend on feedback from their constituents to know how well they’re doing in their work. Both jobs can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting, and therefore require self-care. Both academia and the church (at least the clergy) are historic ivory towers with long credentialing processes of entry.¬†Both roles are respected as community leaders, and sometimes approached by media or primary students for their sage advice.

While there are many overlaps or commonalities, there are also some differences. Professors are subject to peer review and are often expected to publish. Ministers on the other hand may have little peer review (depending on denomination) or may be subject to periodic judicatory review.¬†Ministers work with the same congregation–albeit with some¬†fluctuations–year after year; teachers work with different groups of students from term to term with the whole lot changing every four years.

How do salaries compare? I have no data… I hope they’re both doing what they love. ūüėČ

Do you see any other points of commonality or departure?

I graduated from MTSO in 2007.

*The one time I argued for the likeness between the two was when I was applying for the position of Instructional Technologist that I now hold here at OWU. I still feel that my training has served me well and is useful in this position.

Higher Education Bubble?

There is ample debate and conversation today about whether or not the higher education market is a bubble about to burst, just as the housing market burst a few years ago and the dot com bubble burst before that. I read an¬†editor’s column by Rob Preston in Information Week that tipped me off to it, and then found two articles (A and B) in The Economist that describe the debate and weigh in on it. Mainly, people are noticing the steadily rising cost of a college degree¬†out-pacing¬†inflation and salaries. There’s also the fact that national student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time last year.

Preston suggests that technology could be a dynamic change agent in this industry. (I’m hoping so and working toward that end.) Technology isn’t so prevalent in the housing industry, but it’s really making inroads in higher ed. Of course, his argument is for web-based, online education changing the sector similarly to how the Internet has changed the publishing and financial industries. But OWU does not offer online courses.

However, OWU has many tech resources to augment traditional classroom learning: campus-wide WiFi, Google Apps, wikis, Blackboard, multi-function devices, and increasingly tech-savvy faculty. Moreover, our travel learning courses, Sagan National Colloquium, and Theory into Practice programs really expose our students to more than a traditional college campus. Despite our current budget shortfall, I feel Ohio Wesleyan is a good position to weather the potential storm.

Pardon the interruption

You probably couldn’t see this apology, as the blog was MIA while we resolved some technical difficulties in the switch to a custom domain. When all DNS issues are fixed this blog will reside at edtech.owu.edu.

In the meantime, here’s a blog I’d like to recommend: Texas Wesleyan’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

Update: the subdomain is working, and this blog is now searchable with the Search box on the University’s home page.

Open Educational Resources

There is an expanding field of digital materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse. Social media is being used to spread awareness and use of OER. Such resources include courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals. There are growing online communities developing and sharing these resources. Here are some example sites:

OER Commons
Issuelab’s OER Research
The California State University’s Affordable Learning Solutions
MIT’s OpenCourseWare

Campus Technology article on Student-Driven Content

How might this impact the liberal arts campus? The first thing that comes to mind is students searching for low-cost alternatives to their textbooks. I doubt they’ll find free (legal) versions of their textbooks, but they may find many other resources for research or plain old study helps. Faculty will probably have to lead by example in selecting or suggesting OER resources for their students. Instructors may also find materials they can use to help build a course, especially online content. There are many opportunities here for collaboration and knowledge building.

This development of OER reminds me of a conversation in a recent Teaching Circle that illuminated the distinction between a culture of cheating and a culture of sharing. Cheating represents the negative aspects of ¬†our society: piracy, cheat codes, doping, the present-day expansion of the fiercely independent “me-first” strain in American culture. Sharing represents the positive aspects of this shift fueled by social media: open source, collaborative, Creative Commons, remixing, sampling, Groupon, the present-day expansion of the “We the people” stick-together strain in American culture. Now that I actually articulate that spectrum, it sounds almost like the Native American story of the two wolves: which one grows stronger depends entirely on which one you feed. Here at OWU we crack down on cheating. We also practice and promote sharing. OER is one way to expand that positive trend.

(For example, the OER image above was voluntarily released by the copyright holder into the public domain.)

Augmented reality is spreading

I recently learned of a new augmented reality app that instantly shows librarians books that are misfiled on shelves:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgZVI630SsI]

This got me thinking about augmented reality (AR,) an artificial environment created through the combination of real-world and computer generated data, as I’m seeing more and more of it. One of my first posts to this blog was of an app that instantly translates printed text. And then there’s my nephew, who recently got a Nintendo 3DS and was showing us Face Raiders:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kRf–aJL-Q]

AR is still a new field, and shows lots of exciting potential. We are only beginning to imagine the applications of this technology. I can easily see it being used in education across the disciplines.

Got any other examples?

Wikinomics, Grouponomics, Social Media is changing the world

I was wowed this morning when I learned that Groupon¬†is the fastest growing company ever. (I was also surprised to find that the second fastest growing company was Priceline.com.) As the Forbes article mentions, “Groupon” has taken a place in the lexicon of online shopping and is moving into our cultural consciousness. It was even mentioned in a¬†comic in the latest New Yorker Magazine.

This is just the latest example of how social media is changing our economics and thereby our society. The terms for these new ways of doing business, such as “grouponomics” or “wikinomics” are as innovative as the methods themselves, and capture the spirit of the enterprise.

It’s exciting to watch¬†the change all around¬†and to take up our tablet iDevices and play, knowing that we’re a part of this transformation as well. Who knows, the next great idea for utilizing the read/write Web might come from a small liberal arts college student in central Ohio, encouraged by forward-thinking faculty…

Honoring the ‘Social’ in Social Media

Today, being the first of April is observed as ‘April Fool’s Day’ in the United States and elsewhere. After only a few keystrokes I’ve learned that the holiday was first mentioned by Chaucer in 1392. That’s a long history of pranks!

In the Internet Age we continue this tradition utilizing the social media of our time. For example, Google has ‘launched’ Gmail Motion, even inserting a link to it in the Gmail (and BishopMail) gear menu. YouTube features the ‘Top 5 Viral Pictures of 1911’ and lets you watch any video in 1911 style. I watched the beginning of a video on the current social media revolution–that I had shared in a workshop yesterday–in this redux rendition. Talk about anachronistic cognitive dissonance! I’m sure other sites are having similar fun today.

And we love to share such fun via social media. The top 5 viral pictures of 1911 video has already been viewed nearly 400,000 times and it’s not even 4:00 EST. That’s the power of social networks: connecting people, spreading the word or the meme. One consultant described it as word of mouth on steroids.

When I had a personal blog several years ago, I would change the theme and title and publish bogus posts on this day. Those posts were some of my most popular. This EdTech at OWU blog is relatively new and not well known, but I look forward to it becoming more conversational and less monological. In that spirit, the spirit of social media, I invite your comments. What are your favorite April Fools pranks of the Internet Age? What are your favorite stories of the human impact of Web 2.0? (Stories of Twitter Revolutions in Northern Africa most welcome!)

Responding to the changes of the Information Age

A recent New Yorker Magazine article entitled “The Information: How the Internet gets inside us” by Adam Gopnik reviews responses to the increasing influence of the internet and social media on society:

A series of books explaining why books no longer matter is a paradox that Chesterton would have found implausible, yet there they are, and they come in the typical flavors: the eulogistic, the alarmed, the sober, and the gleeful.

All this technology that surrounds us certainly has an impact, and we navigate those changes in our own ways. Gopnik lumps authors into three camps: the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers. He critiques all three camps and has some fun along the way:

There is, for instance, a simple, spooky sense in which the Internet is just a loud and unlimited library in which we now live–as if one went to sleep every night in¬†the college stacks, surrounded by pamphlets and polemics and possibilities.

In the end he points not to the machine, but to us. “The real demon in the machine is the tirelessness of the user.” The crux of the matter is not in the technology or how it networks and pervades our living; it is in our relationship with it.

We manage this relationship through various means, some virtual, others actual. (He points out that a “social network is crucially different from a social circle.”) And, for those of us who are educators by trade, we get to meddle or muddle in on our students’ relationships to technology, especially where it is used in class. Articles such as this help us to step back and take a look at the larger picture, which Educational Technologists help us to find the best application of that technology in our teaching.

Technology and Travel Learning

Many of us traveled this past week, as this article illustrates. Destinations were scattered across the globe. I was in Jamaica on a Spring Break Mission trip.

Although I didn’t get to blog while I was there, another team, traveling in May as part of a travel learning course, has created a blog just for sharing their experience as they study obesity prevention in Italy and the U.S.

The team of 14 students is being led by a Phys Ed Professor and our Dean of Students. They and the students have started with introductions and will be blogging while they’re there, sharing what they’re learning and experiencing.

A blog is a good way to share information, allowing for comments and discussions. You can post short essays, hyperlinks to other sites, photos, even embed videos. OWU students, faculty and staff may now create Blogger blogs in their BishopApps account. For assistance, please contact the Help Desk.

We’ve also started compiling a list of OWU blogs at Follow OWU. If you have one you’d like to share, please let us know.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a technical term indicating the maximum amount of information (bits/second) that can be transmitted along a channel or data connection. The term is also used loosely to indicate how much workload a person can handle in their day-to-day duties.

I could say I haven’t had the bandwidth to blog lately due to time-consuming projects, such as the Blackboard upgrade and updating our classroom inventory.¬†Yet blogging is an important medium for communication with my constituents, peer colleagues at other institutions, and the world. It’s simply a matter of making it a priority and making time for it.

This semester I’ve made it a priority to attend the Psychological Foundations of Education class. This has been a good exposure to a typical course here at OWU, and one that integrates a a fair amount of technology: PowerPoint is almost always used for presenting material, and the presentations often include video. The Blackboard course is available and is where course documents can be found. (I’ve accessed it via the Blackboard Mobile app on my iPad.) ¬†The document projector is sometimes used. The course is taught in Phillips 210, where there is a SMART Board, but the interactive features of that are not used in this course.

It will be interesting to discuss with the instructor ways that she might utilize technology more in this class. However, it’s been eye-opening to simply observe her teach and interact with the students. It’s given me a deeper appreciation for the time it takes to prepare and present a lesson. I typically teach stand-alone workshops that last up to an hour and a half. She’s teaching 50-minute sessions three times a week for 16 weeks, and that’s just one of her classes.

It’s understandable if faculty don’t want to start something new in the midst of a semester. They may not have the bandwidth to give it the attention required with everything else they’re already doing. I’m here to support what they’re already doing, and to be available when they’re ready to learn something new.

My first workshop this semester is Thursday at noon, and will cover the new apps in BishopApps, including Blogger.

Professional Development Opportunities in the Digital Humanities

NITLE shares a conversation with two staff at the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities about NEH-funded professional development opportunities. ¬†It’s nice to know such an office exists, that there are paid opportunities available there, and why faculty at a Liberal Arts institute should be interested.

Techne >> Professional Development in Digital Humanities

New Blog

OWU BishopApps just got a lot more exciting.  Google has opened up the floodgates on almost all their online services to their Google Applications customers, including us.  So this blog that you’re reading is actually part of OWU BishopApps.  And so is Reader, Picasa, YouTube, and many, many more.  I’m sure to share more about this in the near future.  But, in the meantime, I’ve got a new blog to customize.

In this blog I will be sharing success stories and lessons learned at OWU using technology in education.  This is also a place to find out and comment on what’s going on at other institutions as to their use of instructional technology.  Please add your comments.  This works best as a conversation rather than a monologue.

And if we don’t talk again until after the new year, Happy Holidays!