January 2012 Archives

Strategies for Teaching Millennial Students

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The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence held a workshop facilitated by Kathy Jackson and Crystal Ramsay on Thursday, 1/19/12. Characteristics of the millennial generation, classroom challenges, and teaching strategies were discussed. They organized the discussion around four topics: Environment: Classroom climate, Students: Mindset about learning, Instructor: Scaffold student learning, and Tasks: Student work. We began by collectively taking a quiz from the Pew Research Center - How Millennial Are You? (Also see http://pewresearch.org/millennials/.) This quiz is helpful to become familiar with characteristics of the millennial generation, and also to discover which characteristics you might share with them.

Seven Characteristics of Millennials (Debard, 2004; Ramsey, 2008):
  1. internalize they're special (1st generation w/"Baby on Board" signs)
  2. live sheltered lives
  3. self-confident (sometimes misguided thanks to helicopter parents)
  4. team-oriented (but don't necessarily like working on teams)
  5. conventional (like to have everyone get along with each other)
  6. feel pressured (over-programmed)
  7. high-achieving (not necessarily realistic)
Environment: Classroom climate
Issue: Defining "Disruptive"

Resource: Felder, R.M., & Brent, R. (2000). All in a day's work. Chemical Engineering Education, 34(1), 66-67.
Disruptive was defined as a behavior that "distracts the class's attention from your teaching."
To set a classroom climate conducive to learning, be clear in the syllabus about your expectations and how they relate to learning - offer your rationale, and discuss this in class.
When a disruptive incident occurs, ask 2 questions:
  1. Is the behavior disruptive or non-disruptive?
  2. Is it the 1st offense or is it a recurring behavior?
If the behavior is disruptive, deal with it assertively. If it's not disruptive to the class, ignore it. If it is the 1st offense, don't make too much of it. If it is recurring, try to learn why it is occurring.

Strategies shared:
  • Get student input on what they consider disruptive behavior
  • Set classroom guidelines together
  • Use "proximity control" (walking around the room so your presence is closer to each student)
  • Learn what behaviors don't bother you and giving it away (e.g., allowing texting but not phone calls)

Students: Mindset about learning
An Issue: Performance vs. learning

Resource: Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.

What is the student's motivation for engaging in an achievement activity?
Consider the differences between a fixed mindset and a learning mindset. With a fixed mindset, students don't pursue challenge because they feel it won't get them ahead.

Strategies shared:
  • Teach disciplinary ways of thinking.
  • Include an exam wrapper, which is a handout returned with exams/homework asking students about their preparation and understanding (Google "exam wrapper" to learn more and find examples).
  • Attribute success or failure to effort and strategy (or lack thereof).

Instructor: Scaffold student learning
An Issue: Commodity Thinking

Resource: Crone, I., & MacKay, K. (2007). Motivating today's college students. Peer Review, Winter, AAC&U. (See http://www.aacu.org/peerreview/pr-wi07/pr-wi07_practice.cfm)
Millennials view a college education more as a commodity to be acquired than a process and experience in which to engage.

Strategies shared:
  • Be explicit with expectations, directions, instructions
  • Teach them to plan, execute, and evaluate their learning
  • Parse projects and assignments into pieces
  • Give credit for planning
  • Use exam wrappers
  • Consider Consumer vs. Creator dilemma for students
    • Teach what plagiarism is in your discipline
    • Teach how to carefully vet sources
  • Avoid straight lectures - provide opportunities for interaction with others, engagement with content, and feedback about their understanding (formative assessment)

Tasks: Student work
An Issue: Reading Compliance

Resources: Armbruster, B.B. (1984). The problem of "inconsiderate texts." In G.G. Duffy, L.R. Roehler, & J. Mason (Eds.), Theoretical issues in reading comprehension (pp. 202-217). White Plains, NY: Longman.
Bean, J.C. (2011). Engaging ideas: Integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Strategies shared:
  • Try to select a "considerate text" (see http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/subject/considerate_text.phtml for a quick explanation)
  • Make sure the purpose for reading is clear and explicit - e.g., we're going to do a group activity with it tomorrow
  • Teach disciplinary ways of reading
  • Select interesting, relevant texts (even if supplementary) - are the readings tied directly to the course, or are they just a chapter to chapter list?
  • Make assignments that encourage deep reading
  • Don't use quizzes to motivate reading (doing so tends to encourage surface reading)
  • Tell students if they can expect the reading to be difficult (i.e., research articles were not written with an undergraduate audience in mind, so they might be difficult to read)
  • Model note-taking from the text
  • Arouse interest before reading
  • Create reading guides
  • Use informal writing assignments (marginal notes, reading logs, graphic organizers)

Welcomed Updates to Adobe Connect

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Reported by Barb Smith to the Meeting@PennState Notification Listserv on January 6th

Information Technology Services (ITS) recently upgraded Meeting@PennState to Adobe Connect Version 8 Service Pack 2. This upgrade offers a better user interface, including enhanced audio and video controls, unified attendee management, and optimized screen use.

Other enhancements include accessibility improvements for users with disabilities. These include screen reader support and easier keyboard navigation.

In addition, users outside of Penn State no longer have to get a Friends of Penn State account to be able to join in a meeting. They can now log on to public meetings using the Guest log on, greatly simplifying their participation In the attendee pod, participants logged on as guests are shown with a blue icon and are easily identified from the Penn State and Friends of Penn State participants, which are shown with a yellow icon. This is important information for the host, as guests can enter a meeting room using any name they wish.

Another enhancement is now all faculty and staff are able to create their own meeting rooms. Upon signing in to http://meeting.psu.edu, the new landing page for Adobe Connect at Penn State offering announcements and additional information about the service, only those with LDAP designations of "staff" or "faculty" will be auto-promoted to Meeting Owners. Staff with "member" or some other designation should contact meeting@psu.edu to explain why they need to be able to create meeting rooms. Students who want their own meeting room should contact a staff or faculty member to get a room.

For more information, please contact meeting@psu.edu or visit http://meeting.psu.edu.

Note: The next demonstration session is scheduled for January 24th, from 10:00-11:00am in https://meeting.psu.edu/r54559680/. If you plan to join the demo, it is suggested that you read through the Adobe Connect Version 8 information at http://kb.its.psu.edu/meeting and test your connection in advance with their generic test meeting room at https://meeting.psu.edu/testmeetingroom/.

To learn more, handouts are available through Penn State's Training Services site:
Help is available by emailing meeting@psu.edu.

Preparing for the New Semester: ANGEL Reminders

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The Faculty Center has prepared a list of ANGEL reminders and tips to help you towards a smooth start to the new semester. Please be in touch with any questions. Our contact information is provided on the "Contact" tab of this website.

Activate Course
If you still see Disabled under your course title on your ANGEL "My Profile" page, students cannot see your course. To activate your course so students can see it, please follow the steps listed in this ANGEL Help article: http://kb.its.psu.edu/cms/article/85.

Tip: Activate your course before sending ANGEL mail to your students.

Gradebook Copy Tool
If you used ANGEL's Gradebook in a previous course and have the same or similar assignments and grading scheme in this semester's course, you might be able to save time by copying that previous Gradebook into this semester's Gradebook. Use the Copy Gradebook Settings steps provided in this ANGEL Help article: http://kb.its.psu.edu/cms/article/419.
Tip: If you have not used ANGEL's Gradebook, but are interested in getting started, please make an appointment with one of the instructional designers in the Faculty Center by calling Betsy at x4309.

Importing Content from a Previous Semester
This ANGEL Help article will provide the steps to import content from a previous semester's course into your current course in ANGEL: http://kb.its.psu.edu/cms/article/541.
Tip 1: Be sure to be in your NEW course to begin these steps.
Tip 2: If you have taught this course multiple times over the past year, it could be difficult to distinguish last semester's course from all of the other previous sections. One way to determine which course is which is to add the semester and year to the course title, e.g., FA11. To do this, from your My Profile page, click the "Settings" link located under the course title and type in the year and semester in its title field. Click "Save." Now you can enter your new course and begin the process to import content.

Sending Course Mail
It used to be that when you chose to "Compose Message" in ANGEL and selected "To," options would automatically be available from which to choose. Now it seems that at least some of us need to select the Groups link to see the choices to send to "All course faculty," "All course individuals," or "All course students."
Tip: Be sure that you have activated your course before sending ANGEL mail to your students.

Supported Browsers
ANGEL is not compatible with all browsers. Currently, it is only compatible with Internet Explorer 7, 8, or 9, and Firefox 3.6, 4, or 5. Please refer to this ANGEL Help article for the list of compatible browsers and links to their downloads: http://kb.its.psu.edu/cms/article/6.
Tip: This might be a good link to share with your students.

Syllabus Upload
The last step in the syllabus upload process is often forgotten, so please refer to this ANGEL Help article for a list of the steps: http://kb.its.psu.edu/cms/article/473.
Tip: For students, only one file is viewable from this tab. If you have two separate files for the syllabus and course schedule, upload the syllabus to the Syllabus tab and upload the course schedule to the Lessons tab.

System Check
This component is viewable from ANGEL's logon screen, directly beneath the Log on button, and checks your browser for compatibility every time you navigate to ANGEL. Read more in this ANGEL Help article: http://kb.its.psu.edu/cms/article/268.
Tip: This might be another good link to share with your students.

Reminder: The ANGEL Archive will take place Wednesday, January 25th, for all courses from Fall 2010 and prior, all groups with low activity for 6 months or longer, and for all master courses and learning object repositories no longer in use. You received email notices from ANGEL Support on 12/12/11. You can read the entire ANGEL archive policy here: http://kb.its.psu.edu/cms/article/71#_ANGEL_Archiving_Policy.
Tip: Work with the Faculty Center's instructional designers to devise your own archiving strategy.

ANGEL Replacement Rumors
It is true that ANGEL was bought by BlackBoard, and is being integrated, along with WebCT, into their newest version. A University eLearning Strategic Committee has been working for over a year conducting site visits, piloting various learning management system products, and reviewing RFPs. Some of Penn State Harrisburg's faculty have been involved in those pilots. A decision for ANGEL's replacement will be made before the end of this semester with a pilot project likely to begin in Fall 2012. The transition to the new learning management system will continue until 2014. We will continue to use ANGEL through Spring and Summer 2012, and many of us will still be using it during Fall 2012. Most will begin the transition during 2013.