Quick Tips from Penn State Harrisburg Faculty Who Teach Online and Hybrid Courses:
Using the "From the Field" Recorded Interviews in an Online Introductory Course--Dr. Barb Sims
Dr. Barb Sims took us right into her Criminal Justice online course to share with us an innovative way to include guest speakers in an online learning environment. With the help of a Faculty Center instructional designer and a camera person, Dr. Sims interviewed various people about the issues they face in their professions. The recorded interviews provide students with a glimpse of what different career paths might entail while engaging course content. Students loved the videos and Dr. Sims encouraged faculty to consider how effective simply produced videos can be.
Things to consider:
• Discuss with the camera person how they are setting up the shoot and framing the interview. Aesthetics can make a difference.
• More importantly, make sure the sound quality is as clear as possible. Choose a location with minimal noise and chances for interruption.
• You never know where the conversation might go!
Things to try in the future:
• Asking students to brainstorm interview questions as an assignment
• Creating a discussion forum or quiz that links back to the video
• Building in interaction with the interviewees later in the course. Perhaps they could return for additions Q & A.
Nested Upside Down Traffic Light for Communicating the Learning Objectives of a Course--Emilia Kenney
In her session, Ms. Kenney reminded faculty that sometimes it is necessary to show students the forest and not just the trees. She introduced a visual graphic that uses the colors of the traffic light to help students become clearer about the hierarchy of concepts introduced in the course.
Ms. Kenney uses this diagram to design exams and feels that it helps bring a texture to teaching. She concluded with her observations that students remembered the core concepts better as a result of using this visual aid. The diagram:
• conveys the assessment priorities
• allows for structured feedback
• cements understanding of the fundamental concepts
Echo Analysis (A Study of Teacher-Student Interaction)--Dr. Bing Ran
Dr. Bing Ran presented a session titled "Teacher- Student Interactions in Hybrid and Online Courses: An Echo Analysis." Dr. Ran has taught in hybrid and online modes for some time, and recently did research using Echo interviews to investigate the behavior characteristics of students and professors as they interact in hybrid and online courses. His findings were very interesting, and can help inform some best practices for teaching and learning in online and hybrid modes:
o Faculty must set clear expectations
o Role identification is key
o Keep your online office hours
o Provide prompt responses (both students and faculty)
o Class bonding is important
o Both faculty and students must work to motivate each other for the purpose of participating (Faculty must participate as well)
o If students perceive the instructor is detached, they are discouraged and less likely to engage
o Students appreciate personalized feedback
o Communication - email is the major channel of communication for fully online - students want to hear from their instructor
o Dr. Ran found no significant difference in responses between students and faculty in online, hybrid, and traditional classrooms
Using VoiceThread to Build Community--Dr. Jeremy Plant
So, you are teaching online, now how are you going to create a learning community? Dr. Plant's online Master in Public Administration students are literally scattered all over the world. So much of the work done in Public Administration is done in a group setting, so he needed a way for students to work in groups online. Dr. Plant worked with an instructional designer to determine the best way for students to work collaboratively in groups online. They decided to try VoiceThread - an online collaborative multimedia space that allows users to navigate slides and leave comments in several different ways. He used a familiarization assignment during the early part of the course to allow students to practice using the tool. He asked students to use VoiceThread to introduce themselves to the class. It was a great icebreaker, and a wonderful way to get students familiar with the tool. Using it in this way was an excellent way to get personalized introductions, and a great lead-in to working in groups. Overall, it was a very successful experience and he will continue using it in future course offerings.
You may also view a talk about how "disruptive technologies" such as Twitter can be harnessed to transform lectures into rich discussions. C. Michael Elavsky, Assistant Professor, University Park discussed his experience of reimagining COMM 110, implementing it and assessing students using social media.
Faculty Center Newsletter Vol. 10.2
BACK TO SCHOOL!
SERVICE-LEARNING- WHAT IS IT?
Service-learning is a method of teaching, learning and
reflecting that helps learning come alive beyond the classroom and helps
students experience real-life connections between their education and every-day
issues in their communities. This experiential style of education combines
academic classroom curriculum with meaningful community service and encourages
lifelong civic responsibility and engagement that strengthens communities in
the process. Every subject area can be linked to real life community problems.
Key components of service-learning courses typically
- Curricular connections to a community-based need
- Student voice and leadership
- Community partnerships
Dr. Roderick Lee has been incorporating service-learning into his Information Sciences and Technology courses by organizing his students to analyze, design and evaluate information systems to solve real-world problems that community-based organizations are facing. "Now, every semester we get more requests for web development than we can handle. Before incorporating service-learning, I found that textbook cases and scenarios were not well defined. And because students didn't have someone to contact for clarification, the textbook problems were too open-ended. The students couldn't get their heads around what they wanted to design, even late in the semester. But now, having concrete tasks and boundaries makes a big difference."
Roderick believes that it would be useful to have more
serious discussion about the benefits and outcomes of service-learning. One way
to encourage student engagement and interest in projects is to publicize
success stories. One of his past-graduates, Kelsey Kerr, was the sixth Penn
State Harrisburg student to win the Ralph Dorn Hetzel Memorial Award. Named for
Penn State's 10th president, the award recognizes high scholastic attainment
and good citizenship and leadership in student activities. Amongst the many
service-learning projects that she worked on during her time at Penn State,
Kelsey was project leader for a class group that designed a web site for the
Central Pennsylvania Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She also designed a system for
the Penn State Hershey Medical Center blood bank to monitor federal regulations
and was the project leader for the PRH baseball website, found at
"The students get real world experience, an enhanced
understanding of content knowledge, communication and collaboration skills, and
a sense of social responsibility. Some students still work with community
partners post graduation," says Roderick.
A few faculty members engage in service-learning on our
campus and are a wealth of information about the benefits and different issues
involved. The Faculty Center is interested in supporting more faculty in
redesigning their courses to engage with the broader Harrisburg community, and
can help you access discipline-specific service-learning resources for your
courses. In late fall, we will host an hour-long session on what
service-learning involves. Shivaani Selvaraj, Instructional Designer in the
Faculty Center, is also interested in facilitating a small learning community
of faculty to share experiences and resources. If you have an interest in
service-learning, please contact her at x6623, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty Center Newsletter Vol. 10.1
BROADENING OUR HORIZONS AT THE SYMPOSIUM
Even if you missed the 2010 Symposium for Teaching and
Learning with Technology (TLT), you can begin planning now to join us next year
on March 26, 2011! Five of us from Penn State Harrisburg joined the 400+ Penn
Staters at this year's Symposium. This is Penn State's signature event for the
vibrant community of faculty and technologists who are working together to
enhance teaching, learning, and research.
You can view this year's keynote and some session
recordings at: http://symposium.tlt.psu.edu/
KEYNOTE: MICHAEL WESCH
Besides being an accessible and friendly place to explore technology, both familiar and advanced, the TLT excels in generating dialogue about perspectives and approaches from the frontlines of teaching and learning. We, at the Faculty Center, wish not to reduce technology to a set of tools to be simply prescribed and plugged into different situations. The promise of technology, besides staying current with our emerging young people, is to further understand human values. This year's TLT keynote speaker, Michael Wesch, known for his scholarship and videos exploring the effects of social media and digital technology on society and culture, spoke precisely on this topic.
Wesch reflected on the psychological dilemma for academics who bring their heart and soul to teaching only to face disengagement and apathy, and the struggle for students to find significance and create meaning. With this backdrop, he showed examples from YouTube of the ways that people, young and old, are using multimedia and the internet to forge connections without constraint and to think critically about dominant narratives through a process of co-opting those messages and recreating their own. Wesch would describe himself as being "critically optimistic," not blindly optimistic, that technology will provide the solutions for all social problems.
talk, Wesch named the challenge for us all: How to engage real problems with
students and harness the relevant tools in our shared struggle to create
To find out
more about Wesch's scholarship and view videos made by him and his students:
To read more
about his teaching strategies:
From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments
Anti-Teaching: Confronting the Crisis of Significance
HARNESSING TOOLS TO ADVANCE TEACHING AND LEARNING
Clarity of vision and purpose precedes successful implementation of any new technology. Careful planning to integrate technology into your courses can help you think outside the box in face to face, hybrid, and online learning environments.
Original photo by Derick Burns
We thought we would share some great applications of two of the many tools we explored further at the Symposium: Google Earth and Voice Thread. These are web-based tools that allow students to collaborate and share their work using visuals, audio, and video. We heard from several presenters about exciting applications of these tools across disciplines and in both online and face to face courses.
Google tools (Google Earth, Google Maps. Google Sky, Google SketchUp) allow people to "conceptualize, visualize, share, and communicate information about the world around them." These tools are simple to use, free and can be applied to any subject matter. Dr. Laura Guertin on Brandywine campus showed us examples using Google Earth to create "literature trips" that plot the journey of main characters, maps of historical voyages and events, maps plotting the location of scientists debating throughout history, real world math problems using real time coordinates to calculate distance, and of course examples from the very visual disciplines of geography and earth sciences. At each plot point you create, you can easily upload images, text, audio, and video. You can view "Earth QUESTs," Questioning and Understanding Earth Science Themes), completed by students at Penn State Brandywine at http://www.personal.psu.edu/uxg3/blogs/googleearthquest/
A great example of using Google Earth came from a student who traced his ancestral migratory journey after having his DNA analyzed through National Geographic's Genographic Project. His Google Earth presentation was a rich combination of his own reflections and multimedia, including embedded YouTube videos, explaining different periods of human and geologic evolution.
On our own campus, Google Maps have been used increasingly in the Criminal Justice Department. According to Dr. Carl Garver, "the Google Map has provided an educational dimension to the ANGEL learning environment. Students love knowing where other students are from. It enhances discussion when one student asks another whether what applies in one place applies the same way in others. In the example of my 'Introduction to Law' class, laws are different in many states and local jurisdictions. Students learn of new events in one area and ask other students to comment on such. Our Class Sharing Forum allows students to delve deeper into occurrences in particular states (even internationally). It challenges students to find out more and research more extensively what other students have heard on the news. The Google Map allows for a constant reference of where students are from. It also helps the instructor to create questions specific to certain students."
The Power of Voice
Voice Thread is a powerful tool for harnessing the power of our voices when designing opportunities for asynchronous learning. This tool allows students and faculty to collaborate and generate conversations by creating their own identity and inserting recorded video, voice, text, or doodle-based comments around assigned texts, images, powerpoint slides, or videos. The end result is a multimedia slide show that holds the content as well as the conversation surrounding it.
One example of how this can be used is in an art history class where images are uploaded, and a class can add verbal interpretations and drawn elements specifying different sections of the work of art that they are referring to in their comments. Or, a video documentary in a history course can be uploaded into Voice Thread and as students watch, they can add their vocal reactions exactly at the point in the video clip where they have a comment to make. When the avatar of that student is clicked the video will play and then pause so we here the student's reaction.
At the TLT presentation, we saw how this tool was used in a negotiation course in the Smeal College of Business, where students were asked to reflect on the outcomes of a two week, team-based simulation of a negotiation. A short powerpoint summarizing the different teams' outcomes was uploaded into Voice Thread and students from the entire class held conversations about the reasons for a team's success or failure, what could have been done differently, or if the outcome came as a surprise, etc. Another example came from an online class on Globalization, Technology, and Ethics, which used Voice Thread as a way to collaboratively assess, discuss, and reflect on various international case studies.
Voice Thread is being used on Harrisburg's campus in Dr. Bill Bigos' online capstone course in the Teaching and Curriculum Masters program. In another simulation exercise, students were asked to prepare verbal presentations advising about technology integration to a School Board. Students recorded their testimonies in Voice Thread and then had members of their teams use Voice Thread's commenting to constructively critique each others' presentations.
Voice Thread accounts can be free or for a fee, faculty can obtain 50 licenses for students, with different helpful management features. Click here to see an example of how a graduate class in Education used Voice Thread to discuss and answer questions from their teacher about information literacy: http://voicethread.com/library/1/
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