Karen Kingsbury, Ph.D. International Studies

Overview

Over the course of the year, I investigated and experimented with several technologies, with the following results:

  • iPad as digital reader
    • useful for this purpose: will continue to use it
    • reduces financial and resource (paper) costs
    • access to other readers’ highlighting of a given text is an interesting feature
    • it’s best to stick with reputable publishers because the quality of digital text-publishing varies widely; many products are sub-standard due to poor editing and page enumeration.
    • iPad as mobile computing device
      • useful for note-taking during oral sessions and for short travel (2-3 days)
      • does not, so far as I can tell, offer enough features to replace MacBook for office use and longer trips
      • VoiceThread as asynchronous audio-visual discussion forum
        • useful, well-received addition to my online teaching strategies: will definitely use it again
        • breakthrough learning technology, offering something that often cannot be achieved in traditional classroom teaching: opportunity for each participant to speak and be heard by every other member of the group.
          • two-round VoiceThread discussion (thank you, Katie Cruger, for this great idea!):
            • each student makes initial post of a defined length
            • all students required to listen to all initial posts, then
            • refer to them, in a second post.
        • Setting up assignment parameters and deadline schedule requires careful thought, but the result is satisfying to all concerned.
        • Skype and Google Hangout as platform for international videoconferencing
          • Skype  performed much better than Google Hangout
            • ease of use
            • clarity of readily available trouble-shooting instructions
            • international conversation partners’ existing level of familiarity with the technology (our partners were in India and Taiwan)
  • Skype would also be first choice when talking to people in China, due to the Chinese firewall that complicates use of Google products.
  • Prezi as a presentation tool

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 1.52.22 PM

    • This tool, for me, is closer to a new medium (e.g., hypertext, animation) rather than a formatting or packaging tool (e.g., Word, PowerPoint), because it fosters visual thinking about rhetorical issues that, in my thinking and training, have previously been centered in and by verbal text.  Its panoramic, zoom, and pathway features offer concrete correlatives for abstract rhetorical concepts like introduction, paragraph development, topic ordering and transitioning, conclusion, etc.  Thus, it feels to me as though Prezi has prompted a quantum shift in my own understanding and practice of written and oral argument.  It opens up new areas, channels, and even modes of thought, much the way a new language does.
    • It was a student who first introduced Prezi  to me, and many students share my excitement about this product, even though one might think it would not be so startlingly new and inspiring for people who have grown up in an environment filled with digital, visual-media communication tools and (flip side of the coin) do not have decades of training in verbal-text thought pathways that now can be so productively disrupted and reconfigured by this new medium/tool.
    • In fact, the first big negative result came when a student grew so excited by the opportunities afforded through this tool (and by the topic she was pursuing) that she lost sight of the necessary limits: her Prezi  project ballooned into a behemoth that exceeded the assignment limits by a full magnitude (yes: 10x).
    • Thus, the first big lesson (not a new one, to be sure) is that caution and heedfulness, as well as energy and imagination, are needed when using a new tool (or medium) like this one.
    • This is a proprietary tool and Chatham does not currently have a site license, but the business model, cost, and subscription policies seem reasonable to me.
    • Downloading is possible but remember that the files may become very large, which may impact both the time needed to download and the storage space needed on a drive.

Planning Process

  • Desired Outcomes:  Effective, engaging presentation of ideas and materials, for scholarly and classroom presentations
  • Review of Current Technology Practices and Trends: Prezi  seems to be an increasingly popular, and well-received tool.
  • Clarify a Technology’s Teaching and Learning Value: Prezi  seems to be a flexible, convenient, inspiring tool

Implementation

  • Offered Prezi  to students as an option for presenting project results in Fall 2013 online course
  • Used Prezi  to prepare for a Faculty Seminar presentation in February 2014
  • Plan to develop several Prezi  presentations for use in Fall 2014 courses

Successes/Challenges, Assessment, Perceived/Determined Value and Next Steps

I am still using and experimenting; may have fuller comments to report here at the end of the summer.

Anthony Isacco, Ph.D. Counseling Psychology

Overview

anthony

I am a paradox to many – I am an early career professional but a complete late adapter when it comes to technology!  Case in point – I still have a basic talk/text phone from 2008.  Nope, no iPhone or Samsung Galaxy for me yet.

So, I began the Technology Fellowship with a healthy combination of ambivalence, skepticism, and lack of confidence.  Like a moth to a flame, I did know that I wanted to learn some new teaching skills and to see if some of this technology stuff was really helpful to me and students.

My project goals were:

  1. Learn a bunch of technology teaching tools
  2. Gain confidence in the technology
  3. Use the technology to improve my teaching and help students learn

Implementation and Assessment

Panopto: I taught a Research Methods class and made an instructional video about qualitative research coding.

Student Feedback: The video was underutilized by students.  The feedback that I received from most students was that they forgot the video was posted to Moodle because they never had a professor post supplemental videos before.  A couple students did remember and reported that the video was helpful with their homework.

Google Hangout/Skype & Google Documents/DropboxThe Research Methods class included a group project that required students to analyze a dataset as a team.  In the past, students complained about the logistics of the assignment (e.g., multiple in-person meetings, emailing documents, etc…).  I gave extra credit to students if they used technology to improve logistics.  Many students used a combination of video-conferencing and cloud-based, shared storage to manage the project.  The students loved the convenience that technology provided and the extra credit points! : )

Group 1: Throughout the development of our research project, we found technology to be very beneficial.  We found Dropbox to be a very useful tool. Dropbox is a program that allowed us to access one document which could be edited at any time by any of the group members. We were able to track everyone’s progress by each member choosing a font color, signifying it was he/she who had written the post. Instead of getting in your car, driving to campus, opening up a notebook, Dropbox allowed us to work from home at any time that was convenient to us. We found this to be especially helpful because our group was the largest containing four people.

Group 2: We used google docs for our technology and we just completed the entire lab on this document.  This was very helpful, as it allowed us to contribute to one document even if we were not in the same physical location and on the same computer.  It also allowed us to just sign onto google docs to contribute instead of having a flash drive or other type of document.  This made updating our lab much easier.

Group 3: Our group capitalized on the use of technology and virtual communication throughout the project. By using the easily accessible and user friendly Google Drive and Google+, we were able to communicate by sharing documents, progress notes, and questions that surfaced throughout the project. Google+ allowed us to create a communication circle where we could easily communicate through posting to our group wall with links, comments, and meeting reminders. Google drive allowed us to upload our documents so that each member would have access to update the documents, all while being revised and saved in real time.

Sample Feedback from Students

Poll Everywhere: Poll Everywhere is a simple way to compose a poll as part of a presentation.  I used Poll Everywhere in all of my classes as well as for professional conference presentations.  The technology increases engagement and often is a catalyst for larger group discussions.

Feedback:  Universally, students and professionals love Poll Everywhere.  You get to text in your answers and the results show up on the screen in real time.  Students like being able to use their cell phones during class instead of being told to put them away.  Below is an email I received after the conference from a colleague.

Dear Anthony,

Quick question–I thought I had written it down…but what was the name of the app you demonstrated so beautifully in Atlanta during our presentation?

Best,Carol


VoiceMemos for Grading and Student Feedback: I bought a voice memo app for .99 cents, which I use for grading assignments and giving feedback to students.  Very easy to use.  I like the voice grading a lot better than writing all of my feedback on student assignments because students can understand my tone and style a lot better and seem to accept constructive feedback easier.

Sample Feedback from Students

Student 1: I think the voice memo is FANTASTIC!  It totally took me by surprise, but it felt as though we were having a face to face meeting!

Student 2: Wow! What a cool way to give feedback. Thanks Dr. Isacco!


Successes and Challenges

When I received my iPad, I didn’t even know how to turn it on!  I knew implementing my ideas was going to be a challenge.  My first success was turning on my iPad.  Since that magical moment, I had a lot of fun using Polleverywhere, VoiceMemos, and encouraging students to use technology.  I also use my iPad for note taking all my meetings, to-do list (Wunderlist is a great app for this and free), and has basically replaced my laptop.

I can see how technology can increase student engagement, make classes more fun and interactive, and improve logistics on assignments.  Making instructional Panopto videos as supplemental material for my Research Methods class was a challenge.  Even I found the video a bit boring and I would like to figure out a way to increase student utilization of the videos.  Learning new technology is frustrating at times and not everything works all of the time.

Goals Met!

1. Learn a bunch of technology teaching tools
 check
2. Gain confidence in the technology
 
check
3. Use the technology to improve my teaching and help students learn
 
check

Next Steps

  1. Make better use of Panopto videos for upcoming Research Methods class in Fall 2014.
  2. Develop a hybrid or purely online course within the next year.
  3. Keep using the tools that I learned and like.

Thanks, Anthony
aisacco@chatham.edu