Archive for February, 2011

Weekly EdTech Roundup, 2/23/2011

February 22nd, 2011

Pen en papier / Pen and paperphoto © 2009 Nationaal Archief | more info (via: Wylio)A useful post at ProfHacker outlines an interesting way to “Avoid ‘Grading Jail’ through Course Writing Contracts” in which students create their own due-dates and these serve as binding contracts. The papers trickle in throughout the semester and you’re faced with a little bit of reviewing/grading per day than a whole stack a few times per semester. I experimented with a similar approach by having a large class divided into groups that had rotating due dates. I also remember my Human Sexuality professor providing a list of response paper topics and their due-dates and we were instructed to complete any three of our choosing by the end of the semester. I suspect this worked particularly well because the topics were often personal and controversial and so interest is what drove our decision to choose an earlier paper rather than procrastination.

Will Richardson, author of “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms” has a post outlining the difference between “online coursework” and “online learning” and his skepticism at the increased lauding of online courses as the silver-bullet of education reform.

Finally, as a follow up to last week’s post about Twitter and Classroom engagement, I appreciated this post at TeachPaperless on How Social Media Changed My Novel. The author cites Twitter and blogging as two major influences in the writing of his recent novel. Twitter helped him tune in to writing more succinctly and blogging helped him find his voice (and also provided a useful forum for feedback on drafts). The benefits and drawbacks that he discusses are readily applicable to your own writing and particularly to how students conceptualize and write-up their ideas in your classes.

Other notable bits:

Weekly Roundup (2/14): Academics and the Interwebs, sittin’ in a tree…

February 14th, 2011

After perusing my Google-reader this week I noticed there were a handful of posts addressing academia and technology or, more specifically, having an academic identity online. The following links in this roundup follow that theme and range from simple how-tos to more philosophical questions about taking your scholarly presence online. And, in the spirit of the day, they document the ups and downs, loves and hates, of engaging online.

154 Blue Chrome Rain Social Media Iconsphoto © 2009 webtreats | more info (via: Wylio)

Defining your web presence: ProfHacker has a useful post about Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics. As someone who is currently on the market I’ve been receiving a lot of those little notifications from that someone Googled me and landed on my Academia profile. Do you have one set up? Are there other ways that you have built an academic web-presence? This post also suggests LinkedIn, discusses the benefits of Tweeting (or not), and highlights the usefulness of RSS feeds. It also dovetails nicely with NspireD2’s Three Easy Ways to Make Academic Websites post including a range of out-of-the-box options to more customizable platforms (such as WordPress, which I wholly endorse).

I appreciated this (yet another) ProfHacker post on Encouraging a Conference Backchannel on Twitter. After attending a few DH and IT heavy conferences over the past year (Digital University @ CUNY and both CUNY-IT days) I found the Twitter participation intriguing and, ultimately, helpful. At first I was put off by how many people seemed to be engaged with their devices during a presentation, but I also realized that they were often going deeper with a line of thought and at some points were even having Twitter exchanges with the panelists! But the real value became more apparent to me after I attended a conference this past month in Arizona. There was no social-networking component and, low and behold, I didn’t meet anyone. I stayed with my usual circle of colleagues (all folks I enjoy, of course) but didn’t really make connections with others sharing my research interests. This stood out in sharp contrast with the conferences that had a hashtag and a group of even 5-10 active Twitterers — I made some solid connections that have presented a number of opportunities to build relationships. If anything, Tweeting a conference helps shy types like me get a foothold in that ever important conference-networking door.

A guest blogger, Katrina Gulliver, on TenuredRadical debates the merits of identifying your blogging vs. operating under a pseudonym. The post raises important questions about performances of online identity(ies) and the ever-diminishing online privacy (i.e. ability to actually operate anonymously). Her post provides examples of scholars who have helped shape their fields through their online presence and considers how social networking has changed during her career and the specific value of social media for history. Dr. Gulliver also makes use of the platform mentioned in the NSpireD2 link above to create a visually appealing “meta” page that compiles all of her online activities into one page.

Finally, when you’re putting your words in the public forum, whether online or in print, there’s a great post over on Cac.ophony that considers what happens when you lose control of your words, as seen recently with the hullabaloo around Frances Fox Piven.

What would you like to know about engaging with your students online? Don’t forget to take our poll (to the right!)

Documenting What We Do

February 13th, 2011

The BCC Office of Instructional Technology opened for business in 2007. We have lots of activities now—faculty development (online courses, ePortfolio integration,  departmental projects combining new technologies with curricular change, all kinds of workshops), new classroom and lab installations, a streaming media server, an expanding tutoring and technology support program, and initiatives of different kinds with both academic departments and our friends in IT. All of these are running more or less simultaneously now. Sometimes the bursts of activity—early in June for example, just after commencement, or at the beginning of each semester—get truly frantic.  And the overall expansion of activities and responsibilities is pretty mind-boggling. OIT plays multiple roles, not the least of which is as a kind of mediator or translator between the academic and IT sides of the college. That may in fact be our most valuable role. It’s not what I set out to talk about right now, though. That’s a topic for another day.

Documenting this work, archiving it somehow, has clear value. Not all activities are easily documented, of course, but we want to display those which are. And yet documenting ongoing work in this way is very difficult to do. We’ve got our office web site, and that’s fine as far as it goes. Those old-school static pages are funneled through the IT web development shop on our campus. We give them the material, the content gets approved, and up it goes—eventually. Changes or updates to content have to follow the same protocol. It’s cumbersome, and we’re locked into their formatting.

Even if we had more flexible access to the BCC web site, frequently updating and documenting what we do would be difficult. There’s just no time for it given the pace at which we work. The Commons has provided an alternative.  The possibility here is this:  a venue for quick and nimble updating of our work, and (unlike the purely static web page) the possibility of readers who choose to join our community commenting, discussing, tagging, and linking. One contributer, Giulia Guarnieri, has already started through the podcasting pages she is building. Valerie Futch, BCC’s Instructional Technology Fellow, continues to put quality time into maintaining this blog and its associated pages. Look for more documentation soon, like this summary of a grant-funded project pursued by BCC’s Art and Music Department. With luck, and with some strategic prodding and lobbying, there will be more to come..

Faculty and Students Podcasts

February 8th, 2011

Since 2009 several BCC faculty members participated in intensive summer podcasting training in which we offer both technical and pedagogical support. The following programs have been used during the training: Audacity, Windows Movie Maker, Jing and Camstudio. Please check the podcasts produced by both faculty and students. On the faculty and students podcast’s page you can also read about the pedagogical rationale for using podcasting in the classroom.

Weekly Roundup: Aaaaaaand we’re back! edition

February 7th, 2011

Bibliographyphoto © 2006 Alexandre Duret-Lutz | more info (via: Wylio)

People. Whatever you do, do NOT ignore your google reader for 45 days. Ouch. But writing a dissertation is a good excuse, right? Things are back and running here at the TE(a)CH arm of BCC. So, without further ado, here is a roundup of some useful ed-techy things.

  • An interesting tool that allows you to make fake facebook walls. The obvious use would be for English or History teachers to have students create walls for literary/historical figures. Are there other creative uses? 
  • A promising looking website, Higher Education Teaching and Learning Portal, has grown out of a Linked-In group for higher education folks interested in using technology. You can also submit articles of your own experiences for bi-weekly publication. 
  • BiblioBouts online resource and citation game: A really cool way to have students collaboratively (and competitively) create bibliographies for projects and assess the quality of the information while building them. It works in phases, or “rounds” in which students complete various tasks of finding sources, ranking the sources found, and generating a bilbiography.
  • TeachPaperless provides ideas for how to give your students non-exams. And then provides an example of a final exam in human geography. The final makes use of visual data and a variety of websites. Some of the questions are more scavenger-hunt level while others make use of aggregating and comparing data and asking students to synthesize their responses.
  • Boomerang plug-in for Gmail. Make emails reappear in your inbox or set a delay for sending out responses/reminders. Between this and the priority inbox feature I’ll either be super-productive or lose half my emails…
  • At one of the sessions I attended at the CUNY IT conference, a professor talked about having their students create actual Wikipedia entries. This idea is gaining ground…at Wikipedia! They’ve announced an initiative to recruit college professors who are interested in having their students contribute work. Rather than banning Wikipedia from our classrooms (another discussion entirely), the idea of having our students contribute to a site and inherently learn the tools of evaluating information seems very promising.
  • Finally, what are you using now instead of delicious? Derek Buff chronicles how he’s switching to using Diigo with his students and is enjoying the more participatory aspects of the service.
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