Dr. Mary Beth Mannarino – Counseling Psychology


Project Overview

My project involved re-designing a course that had been taught for years on land for an online format. The course, PSY645 Environmental Psychology, includes exposure to such topics as climate change, ecopsychology, ecotherapy, environmental justice, and the relationship between humans and the rest of nature. It has in the past required students to engage in personal and in-class exploration of their own political, religious/spiritual, social, and environmental identities, and has necessitated thoughtful management of in-class discussions so that differences were respected and even welcomed. The primary challenge of converting the class to the online format was how best to build community online so that students could comfortably express ideas to and ask questions of the instructor and peers. A secondary task was creating an online classroom experience, through assignments and recorded lectures, that engaged students with the material, stimulated active thought, and contributed to later online forum discussions.


Planning Process

The course is an elective for students from several graduate programs. This class included students from two graduate programs, Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology and Masters of Food Studies. As I designed the course with a focus on the learning objectives listed below, I felt that it was important to find ways to meet the educational and professional needs of students in both programs:

  1. Define concepts related to environment and psychology
  2. Define concepts related to health and well-being
  3. Discuss the effects of humans on the environment, and the environment on humans, in the context of global climate change
  4. Reflect on and discuss own beliefs, values, and behaviors related to the above topics
  5. Discuss implications of topics for profession
    1. Discuss implications of topics for counseling and psychology roles, including assessment, treatment, prevention, and advocacy OR
    2. Discuss implications of topics for food studies work.

The initial steps in building the online course were as follow:

  1. Consultation with Lauren Panton, IT Manager, Becky Borello, Instructional Technologist, and Mark Kassel, Director of Online Education, about how best to design and structure the course on Moodle (separate from content).
  2. Actual design of the course on Moodle in a format that was clean, not visually overwhelming, and inviting with nature photographs.
  3. Planning about how to sequence the course in a deliberate way to move students through Bloom’s taxonomy from taking in and comprehending information to integrating the various topics studied across the semester to, finally, thinking about how what was studied could be applied to one’s life, personally and professionally, and creating plans for doing so.
  4. Careful selection of readings for the first part of the semester that addressed ways to embrace and talk across differences, and inclusion of group assignments that would foster intentional practice in doing so.
  5. Use of VoiceThread to create weekly PowerPoint lectures, which included links to videos and pauses for thinking and note-taking to facilitate discussion. Since the PowerPoint lectures were created week-to-week, it was possible also to integrate specific issues or comments that had been raised in the previous week’s student discussions.

NOTE: The class did include an option for a group field trip OR individual field trip; these experiences were included as a topic in a discussion forums.


Implementation

Initial planning for the project took place during Summer 2016, and the course was implemented in Fall 2016 with 14 students (12 MSCP and 2 MFS). Changes were made to course delivery throughout the semester in response to student feedback.

Below is a summary of steps taken to address the two tech goals outlined above.

The first goal was to build an online community that fostered brave and respectful discussion of issues that had political, religious/spiritual, or environmental aspects to them. The first two weeks were critical for laying this foundation, as described below.

1.  Week 1Place Identity and Attachment – Students read articles and watched a video about place attachment and identity, and introduced themselves in a discussion forum by sharing information about and a photo of one of their own special places. This was a relatively “neutral” topic that allowed students to be creative in what they shared and to get to know something unique and personal about each other student.

2.  Week 2Creating Brave Spaces for Learning – Two readings specifically addressing talking across differences were assigned (Parker, 2011, and Arao and Clemens, 2013, referenced below). In addition, I used VoiceThread to record a PowerPoint lecture entitled “Civil Discourse.” The lecture reviewed both articles and included specific exercises for the students to complete at home that mimicked what might be done in a classroom, but at the same time allowed greater privacy for student contemplation prior to discussion (unlike the live classroom). Examples of questions and exercises that were included in the lecture and then discussed as a group in the forum are described below:

a.  Where do you stand? In the privacy of their home, each student was asked to take a large piece of paper and to mark the four corners of the paper with Likert-like ratings (Very Important, Kind of Important, Not Very Important, and Not Important at All – with Neutral in the center). They were then asked to mark where they stood with regard to the relevance of your political identity, religious/spiritual identity, social identity (including race, age, SES, gender, etc.), and environmental identity to their daily lives. I did NOT ask what the specifics associated with these identities were, only the relevance/importance of them to the person. The goal was for students to think, as they completed the exercise privately, about peers whose religious or political or other identity might be different from theirs in content but equally strong in terms of personal relevance. The exercise was designed to build empathy, thus contributing to the development of a healthy and respectful online discussion culture.

b.  Think about the current election cycle (Fall 2016). Students were encouraged to apply the readings, in private, to their own experience of the current election cycle, and to think about how this was playing out in relationships, conversations, etc. Again, a goal was for the students to imagine peers who might also have strong thoughts and emotions related to the election, with different beliefs or political orientations.

c.  Discussion forum – Students were asked to respond to the following prompt, and then to read and respond to several posts from peers:

-“List and discuss a couple of ideas that would contribute to the creation of a healthy ‘brave space’ discussion forum culture in our class.”


3.  Throughout subsequent weeks, students were reminded to review the discussion and readings from Week 2 as they tackled talking about challenging topics.

The second goal was to learn how to create an online class experience that actively engaged students. To do this, I included questions and exercises throughout the PowerPoint lecture that required the students to pause and DO something that would then be incorporated into the discussion forum (as described above). I also embedded videos of varying lengths into the lectures. Finally, the course material included links to online sites that required active exploration, in addition to traditional peer-reviewed academic articles.


Assessment

The project was assessed through an anonymous survey monkey questionnaire focusing on the online delivery process (administered a couple of weeks before the end of the course), the regular Chatham-administered course evaluations, and a final discussion forum requiring students to describe their “3 Take-Aways” from the course. In addition, comments and suggestions were invited throughout the course. Below is feedback from the assessments.

SURVEY MONKEY (9/14 responded)

1.  Have you taken an online graduate level course before?

YES                                          11%

NO                                           89%

2.  Rate your degree of ease in navigating Moodle for getting information about assignments and making your posts and comments.

Very Easy                               44.44%

Pretty Easy                            33.33%

So-So                                      22.22%

Kind of Difficult                   0

Impossible                             0

3.  How comfortable did you feel sharing your opinions and ideas with your classmates?

Very Comfortable                 44.44%

Pretty Comfortable              55.55%

So-So                                      0

Kind of Uncomfortable       0

Very Uncomfortable            0

4.  What suggestions do you have for improving the online course delivery process? (SUMMARY OF RESPONSES)

  • More specific training in tech aspects of class
  • Better posting schedule – posting 3x week was challenging, especially when due on weekends
  • Have first class in–person

5.  Describe least favorite part(s) of course. (SUMMARY)

  • Schedule of posts
  • Back and forth nature of posts and comments – sometimes confusing
  • Required too much time – wish it had been in-person

6.  Describe favorite parts of the course. (SUMMARY)

  • Able to get into issues in a way that wouldn’t have been able to in person
  • Variety of materials – readings, videos, internet resources
  • News item discussions (based on a particular assignment)
  • Opportunities for discussion with other students
  • Course topics and content

7.  Any surprises for you in the course? (SUMMARY)

  • Amount of time required for online course
  • What I learned from content of course
  • Learned more than in in-class course because of in-depth discussions and time to think before “speaking”

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM ASSESSMENTS AND EVALUATIONS

The formal Chatham course evaluation comments were consistent with those summarized above.

In addition, students completed a final discussion forum related to their “3 Take-Aways” from the class. Below are some comments that are related to the goals of this project:

  • I have rediscovered and even improved my critical thinking skills as a result of this class. (I’m not sure my husband is happy about this. LOL…) I am able to look at events, debates, studies, and see even more angles to what I am analyzing. It has helped me through this election as well as not to argue with people. This is very beneficial to my counseling skills because it also allows me to see more process that is going along with the content.
  • I will also remember the conversation we had about brave spaces vs safe spaces. For some reason, I always thought of the therapy space being safe, but I was neglecting the idea of the space being one where clients feel brave enough to take the next step, or to help to become brave so they can use that quality in their everyday lives.
  • The first major take away that I would like to talk about is the fact that we, as a class, were able to work and learn together. We formed an online Chatham community where I was able to learn more from everyone’s contributions than the material itself. I had never taken an online class before and although it’s not my personal favorite style of learning, this was a great experience! I really felt that the creating brave spaces in week two helped contribute to this style of learning.
  • I enjoyed the non-traditional format of this course. I felt like I was able to learn more without relying on one textbook, and was offered many different perspectives on environmental psychology within the readings. I also enjoyed that we were able to have thoughtful in depth conversations through the online discussion boards.

Finally, I was able to do informal comparisons of this online class with the many previous times the course was taught in a traditional on land format. First, I heard substantively from every student in every session throughout the semester; in the “live” classes, in spite of my efforts to draw quiet people out, certain students stayed in the background during most of the discussions and did not express ideas that, based on my online experience, might have contributed significantly to the larger discussion. Second, the ideas discussed in the online forums were more thoughtful and detailed than most of those in the on land class; I believe that the chance to think things through privately before posting allowed for careful deliberation of both what to say and how to say it. And third, the requirement that students “talk” to each other in the discussion forums resulted in very respectful and personalized responses. While I weighed in on the discussions, the discussions were really conversations between the students themselves; sometimes it seemed like my own posts were superfluous! This was very different from the traditional format where so many comments, even if I tried to redirect them, were from the students to me rather than to each other.

Fourth, knowing that the online class lacked the energy of the actual students’ presence during the lectures, I needed to make sure there was great variety of materials for students to review each week and thus expanded readings with more internet sites and videos than I had used in the traditional format. I think this helped students stay engaged, and appealed to different ways of learning.

Finally, I want to note a change that I made in course expectations mid-semester. I assigned lots of readings each week. In reviewing early student discussions, I could tell that not every student read every assigned article (which I am sure happens in on land classes as well! It is just harder to track). I had a couple of choices: 1) I could decrease the number of readings and hold students accountable for reading all of them through a grading process, or 2) each week, I could continue to assign multiple readings, videos, etc., and even expand the number of offerings related to the week’s topics, and allow students to choose what to read. The second choice felt less conventional but more attractive to me, as an experiment, so I took it. The result was that – while not everyone reviewed everything, everything was reviewed and posted about by someone, AND students read posts about things they had not chosen to read, learned something, and contributed to the discussion. What I personally liked about this option was that it allowed me to post LOTS of interesting material each week that might otherwise, in an on land class, not get presented; I think the students were thus exposed to more material through the discussions.


Reflections and Next Steps

I was satisfied with this first offering of the online version of PSY645 Environmental Psychology, and with the outcomes for the project. First, I believe that the efforts to structure the course with careful sequencing, specific readings, and a focused lecture on “Civic Discourse” contributed to the students’ abilities to tackle challenging material and to discuss it with peers both bravely and respectfully. I also believe that this experience is one that many students will carry with them into their professional and personal lives. Second, most students seemed to appreciate the multiple formats in which information was presented.

I enjoyed learning how to present an online class and hearing from students about ways to make the process even better. I will be teaching the course again in a six week format during Summer 2017 and will make a few changes in it, including the following:

  1. I will provide more instruction in online/tech processes at the start.
  2. I will be more thoughtful about the posting schedule, particularly since students will be doing two class sessions per week.
  3. I will do a weekly individual check-in with each student via email.
  4. I will do also quick surveys each week about how the class is going, so that I can make adjustments in terms of pace, content, and load.
  5. I will be intentional at the outset about the “I am offering scads of material for you to review each week; you must read X and you can choose among the other materials” format.
  6. I will continue to offer a field trip (group or individual) activity.

References

Arao, B., and Clemens, K. (2013). From safe spaces to brave spaces: A new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice. In L. Landreman (ed.), The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (pp. 135-150). Sterling, VA: ACPA

Palmer, P. (2011). Healing the heart of democracy: The courage to create a politics worthy of the human spirit. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Dr. Meigan Robb – Nursing


Project Overview

Providing feedback regarding a student’s level of proficiency with writing can be a daunting process for faculty.  Within the online learning environment numerous challenges must be overcome when communicating with students about their writing behaviors and processes.  For example, feedback rarely occurs in real time, a personal connection is often lacking, and there is limited opportunity for open dialogue about the feedback with the student “in class”.  For my project, I explored the use of technology to deliver writing feedback in the online learning environment.  Technology tools that supported best practices of effective written and recorded feedback were incorporated in a doctoral level writing intensive capstone course in the Spring semester of 2017.


Planning Process

Various planning steps had to completed prior to implementing this project.  First, I turned to the literature to identify types and characteristics of effective writing feedback.  Then, through conversations with Instructional Technology I explored the use of technology tools to support the delivery of effective writing feedback.  I selected the annotation / editing tool Track Changes / Comments in Word, the audio recording tool PoodLL, and the interactive presentation tool VoiceThread.  Lastly, I reviewed various “how to” guides and websites under the direction of Instructional Technology regarding how to incorporate the selected tools in the Moodle platform.


Implementation

Upon implementation of this project I reached out to students via a group email to explain how technology would be used to deliver feedback on written assignments in the course.  Student writing assignments for this course include submitting drafts and final versions of eight different chapters that encompass a culminating capstone project.  For each submitted draft individual written feedback using Track Changes / Comments in Word and individual recorded feedback using PoodLL was provided.  Both approaches were modeled to reflect best practice standards of effective writing feedback (meaningful, focused, clear, personalized) while providing: 1) general praise (Appreciation for what was done well), 2) informative, issue specific comments (Feed-Forward directions regarding what needs to change to be successful), and 3) support (Coaching by providing specific examples and resources for the student to model writing behaviors and processes after).

Written feedback (Track Changes / Comments in Word) was provided at the word / sentence level.  Use of this tool allowed me to provide specific content and editing suggestions and examples.  The tool also allowed the student to locate, address, and/or correct specific areas in his/her assignment.  Each annotated file was uploaded to the course in Moodle for each student to independently review via the assignment submission link in the course.  Here is an example of Feed-Forward and Coaching feedback I provided using Track Changes / Comments in Word:

“In this section you need to identify how you plan to analyze the collected data.  For example, will you calculate a percent change in means?  Also, you need to identify what benchmark you will use to determine project effectiveness.  For example, does the literature support a benchmark of a 20% increase in knowledge scores post intervention?  For additional examples please refer back to the handouts provided in NUR707.”

Recorded feedback (PoodLL) was provided at the global level (e.g., overall quality, structure, and organization).  Use of this tool allowed me to established a sense of faculty presence and a personal connection with the student.  The tool also softened the written feedback I provided.  Since PoodLL is a Moodle plugin, students were able to independently listen and download the audio file via the assignment submission link in the course.  Here is an example of Appreciation and Feed-Forward feedback I provided using PoodLL:

“Hi Jill, nice work on your introduction!  Your approach helped set the tone of the paper.  You have a few areas that are lacking specific details.  Please be sure to carefully review the attached feedback regarding your proposed measurement tools and data analysis plans.  Please contact me with any questions.  Keep up the great work!”

Upon completion of the final version of the first four chapters of the capstone document, written feedback with recorded feedback using VoiceThread was provided to the group.  This approach was modeled to reflect best practice standards of effective writing feedback (meaningful, focused, clear, personalized) while providing: 1) general praise (Appreciation for what was done well), 2) informative, issue specific comments (Feed-Forward directions regarding what needs to change to be successful), and 3) support (Coaching by providing specific examples and resources for the student to model writing behaviors and processes after).

Written feedback and Recorded feedback (VoiceThread) was provided at the course level.  Use of this tool allowed the student to form an awareness of where he/she stood in relation to meeting assignment goals.  The tool also allowed the student to identify what steps needed to be taken next (individual goal-setting).  The VoiceThread provided both illustrations and narrative tips directed towards modeling effective and efficient writing behaviors and processes.  Content included: 1) Strategies for setting writing goals, 2) Approaches for managing writing time, and 3) Steps for addressing required revisions.  Since VoiceThread is a Moodle plugin, students were able to independently view and listen to the presentation in the course.


Assessment

At the midpoint of the course, I used Google Forms to assess the students’ perspective of usefulness of the strategies implemented to deliver writing feedback.  Aggregate findings are provided below:

Strategy most useful in allowing the students to identify which areas of the assignment they were most successful at writing:

Strategy most useful in allowing the students to identify which areas of the assignment they needed to improve:

Strategy most useful in allowing the students to identify which writing behaviors they needed to change:

These findings are not surprising when viewed within the context of work performed by Richard Mayer in regards to a multimedia learner.  The students’ responses reflect Mayer’s principles that people learn better:

  • from narration combined with illustrations than narration or text alone.
  • when they know the characteristics of the main concepts.
  • when words are in conversational style rather than formal style.

VoiceThread was the only strategy used that combined illustrations with narration.  Written feedback using Track Changes / Comments in Word and recorded feedback using PoodLL were provided independently from one another.  VoiceThread was utilized once the students completed the first four chapters of their capstone.  Hence, one may conclude that the students had a firm understanding of the requirements of the culminating assignment.  The provided narration was spoken in a friendly personally tone, with attention directed towards conveying a message of instructor presence and support.

Success and Challenges

I believe this project was successful.  Exploring the use of technology to deliver writing feedback in the online learning environment allowed me to self-reflect on my “feedback style” and “feedback philosophy”.  Through incorporating technology, I was better able to be in-tune with students’ writing needs and feedback expectations.  On the other hand, changing my approach was also a challenge.  I had to devote considerably more time in reading and responding to each student’s written work.  I had to be more cognizant of making sure I reflected best practice standards; while consistently providing general praise, informative – issue specific comments, and examples and resources for the student to model writing behaviors and processes after.


Next Steps

Next steps stemming from this project include:

  1. Continue to explore the work of Richard Mayer in regards to a multimedia learner. Evaluation findings from this project suggest students feel they benefit best from writing feedback when it is provided in a way that 1) allows them to form an awareness of where they stand in relation to meeting assignment goals and 2) facilitates the development of individual goal-setting.
  2. Develop a plan to further incorporate the use of VoiceThread to positively influence writing behaviors and processes of doctoral students in an online program.

Beth Roark, Ph.D. Art


Project Overview

As an art historian, priorities of each class I teach include providing access to visual resources of excellent quality, increasing students’ ability to analyze works of art from a variety of perspectives, and encouraging students to exchange ideas and insights about what they see.  While the classroom has always been the primary site of this exchange, which I generally facilitate, I sought opportunities for student-directed experiences where they could share with each other.  I determined that this was particularly necessary in the two writing intensive classes I teach, which combine students with extensive art history backgrounds and students with little understanding of how to approach works of art.

During last summer’s Technology Fellows workshops, introduction to VoiceThread, a cloud-based interactive tool focused on creating a true presence among its participants, allowed me to envision accomplishing these objectives: providing high-quality visuals with which students could interact using multiple tools, communicating with each other and sharing ideas virtually, and improving the content and written quality of their papers.


Planning Process

I teach two writing intensive classes, ART 213WX Special Topics: Women and Art and ART 309W: Art + Land: Artists Engage the Environment.  For each course a learning objective is increasing visual literacy, or the ability to articulate, in both oral and written form, what distinguishes a work of art.  Written assignments in writing intensive courses are to be discipline specific, and analyzing works visually is a fundamental step in evaluating and assimilating the objects of study.

The first paper is a visual analysis of a work of art from the Carnegie Museum of Art’s permanent collection.  Students visit the museum on their own and select a work from a list of options I provide.  For ART 213, the works are either by woman artists or address women as subjects.  For ART 309, the works are typically landscape paintings from the 18th through the 21st centuries.  After readings and class time spent reviewing visual analysis as a methodology, students write papers assessing their selected work’s basic visual qualities, such as line, shape, space, and color, and address more complex issues of composition such as symmetry, rhythm, and focal point and emphasis.  They also consider whether or not their work of art reflects any of the issues about women and art or artists and the environment that we have addressed in class.  Despite efforts to prepare students to successfully complete the assignment, there was always a discrepancy between those who had previous experience with visual analysis and those who had not.

I sought a tool that would enable students to help each other with this assignment outside of class time, allowing the more experienced students to work with those with less experience.  I created groups of three to four students; each group had at least one seasoned art history student whom I spoke to in advance about acting as group leader. This is the VoiceThread assignment for the first paper in ART 309:

VoiceThread Assignment

Obtain an image of your work of art. You can see if the image is available online by doing a Google Images search (some works in the collection are, some are not).  Images of most of the works are included on the Search Collections feature of the Carnegie Museum of Art’s website, but I’ve found that these are small, low res images that may not work for this assignment).  You can take a picture of it at the museum with as long as you don’t use a flash.  In addition to the whole work, you might want to take pictures of particular details that interest you.

Create a VoiceThread with your work of art.  Becky Borello will review how to do this in class and I will post tutorials on VoiceThread on Moodle.  Your VoiceThread should include an image of the full work of art, and any of the details you want your group members to look at.  You should first complete a preliminary formal analysis so you can recognize what aspects of the analysis you still have questions about.  Then use the text, video, or audio feature on VoiceThread to ask your group three questions about the work that you’re having difficulty figuring out, and provide some of your own insights. Finish your VoiceThread by Jan. 29 and make sure when it is done to “share” it with the class.  I will be viewing the VoiceThreads to make sure you’ve completed the assignment correctly and this will contribute to your paper grade.

Each student will look at the other two to three VoiceThreads created by their group members and respond to the questions posed or share your own observations by Feb. 3.  This is intended to help you determine the important points of visual analysis you should address in your paper – instead of having only one set of eyes on the image – your own – you’ll have 3 or 4 sets!  I will also review the responses and this will also contribute to each student’s paper grade.

A personal goal of this assignment was building relationships between the students at the beginning of the term that could serve them in future assignments and exams.


Implementation

The first term I attempted this project, I assumed the students were more tech-savvy than they actually were.  Only three students had previous experience with VoiceThread.  I provided online tutorials about VoiceThread and instructions about my expectations for the assignment but the results were mixed.  Several students had difficulty with the technology, especially sharing their VoiceThreads with the rest of the class.  Others misunderstood the expected combination of their own analysis and questions for their group members, either providing only the analysis and asking no questions or asking questions only and providing no analysis. There was a wide range in the quality of the projects and the responses of the group members.  I did not comment on the projects or the responses. Because this was a pilot, I did not consider the VoiceThread as part of their paper grades.

The second term I clarified the assignment and invited Becky Borello to the class to introduce VoiceThread.  This term I had no issues with the technology or the expectations of the assignment.  Each student completed a detailed analysis of their work of art, generally using the written or oral tools on VoiceThread (a handful used the video tool as well) and asked appropriate questions.  Many used the colored “pencils” to further clarify their points by drawing on the images.  Some students also used more than one slide to emphasize particular parts of the images they had questions about.

Group members not only responded to the questions the creator of the VoiceThreads asked them to consider, but added unsolicited observations to help the creators recognize important points. Here are three samples of what the VoiceThreads looked like.  The initials/pictures on the right side indicate who made the comments.  In the first example, you can see that the student has “drawn” on the image with the red pencil to identify the painting’s repeated horizontals:

VoiceThread, Roark

Here is an example of a student using the video/webcam tool:

VoiceThread, Roark 2

In addition, I listened to all of the VoiceThreads before the papers were due and commented myself on the students’ preliminary analyses, reconfirmed important points made by their group members, and added any additional points they should consider in writing their papers. The third example shows my picture at the right and the drawing I did to demonstrate linear perspective in the image.

VoiceThread, Roark 3


Assessment

I assessed the VoiceThread assignment informally based on the quality of the papers produced.  In comparison with past years, I found that the papers were more comprehensive.  Previously, students would often work through the points of analysis in order and simply stop when they reached the page limit, often disregarding important considerations.  The feedback from their classmates encouraged them to consider points they were uncertain about or hadn’t thought about, and figure out ways in which to balance the papers’ content to include all information of significance within the page limit.  The result was much improved papers (and better grades!).  While I didn’t notice a significant improvement in writing skills compared with past terms (as the first paper, we had spent little class time on writing skills), I did see greater clarity in organization.  The papers’ organization was often much more organic than simply responding to a list of points in order, grouping related information and using clearer transitions.

I was pleased to see group members sitting together in class, talking with each other more frequently, and forming study groups that led to improved exam grades.


Reflections and Next Steps

I hope to expand the ways in which students in writing intensive courses can use VoiceThread to exchange information about other works of art, perhaps as a tool to prepare for exams and their term-length research projects.  New groups would be created so students could get to know other classmates.

I will be on sabbatical during Fall term ’16, but will be teaching ART 213 during Spring term 2017 and plan to further refine and expand the project.  I would encourage students to use more of the tools VoiceThread provided, such as leaving comments with a smartphone.  I also plan to implement the preliminary assignment mentioned by Bill Biss in his blog, having students do a short VoiceThread on a simple topic to familiarize themselves with the technology and especially the use of the video/webcam tool.

I would also like to perform a more formal pre- and post-assignment assessment.  The pre-assignment assessment would analyze the student’s familiarity with VoiceThread, which would help determine what the introduction to the technology needed to accomplish.  The post-assignment assessment would ask specific questions to elicit student opinions about the usefulness of the exercise, whether or not it helped with the content and writing of the papers and in what ways, and advice for improving the experience.

William Biss, M.Arch. Interior Architecture

Overview

In the Interior Architecture Graduate Building Systems course, students learn about the different building systems that essentially make a building “work”. The mode of instruction is traditionally a combination of lecture, quizzes, exams, projects, and most importantly construction site visits. A construction site visit allows a student to experience in-progress construction giving access to many of the systems discussed in the course such as structural systems, mechanical systems, electrical and plumbing systems. One of the challenges faced with the fall semester, 7 week, graduate level building systems course is the evening time frame, which, although best accommodates graduate student schedules, becomes problematic when attempting to coordinate site visits during working daylight hours.

Implementation

The implementation of VoiceThread was an attempt to solve the site visit challenge mentioned above. VoiceThread is a cloud-based discussion thread with a focus on creating a true presence among its participants beyond traditional text-based interaction. VoiceThread allows users to upload and share documents, presentations, images, audio files and video and supports varying modes of discussion and commentary through audio, webcam/video, text and phone.

The 7 week course was reconfigured to contain one lecture based class and one “floating” site visit per week. Although encouraged, students were not required to attend each weekly site visit, however, each student had to attend at least one and author a corresponding VoiceThread presentation. This offered flexibility and allowed the students to plan ahead in determining which site visit best suited their schedule outside of the evening class time. In addition, to make up for lost contact hours resulting from not being able to attend a weekly site visit, each student was required to comment and participate in all site visit VoiceThread’s developed by their peers. So to summarize, a student would attend and develop a site visit VoiceThread based on images and video taken at the site and would also participate in VoiceThread discussions authored by their peers.

VoiceThread


Success/Challenges

Overall, VoiceThread offered flexibility to learning outside of the classroom as anticipated. The VT dialogue among the students continued and evolved over the duration of the course in a fairly natural and organic manner and peer-to-peer teaching/learning was evident from the VT authorship requirement for each student. In addition, the application gave a more interactive dimension to an otherwise lecture-based type of course. As with implementing any new technology or software there was a slight learning curve to overcome for both the students, and myself however, it was fairly short lived and we were all able to utilize VoiceThread through its desktop and mobile applications. Perhaps not a challenge but a drawback of the software is the way it organized all comments and added the actual discussion thread to the end of the original presentation. Although this method of organizing the thread is sequentially accurate as to when the comments were made, it made reviewing the entire discussion unnatural and slightly disjointed. The newer version of VoiceThread has reorganized the overall thread to where it now adds the comments to the end of the relevant slide instead of at the end of the entire presentation.

Assessment

Initially, students were reluctant to participate in the discussion thread using the video and/or audio method of commenting and, overall, they felt more comfortable using the text-based method only. We started using the software through an introductory exercise called the “Everyday Task” VoiceThread. Students were asked to author a short VT presentation explaining an everyday task to help overcome video/audio anxiety and gain familiarity with the software. After watching the “Everyday Task” VT the following week, students quickly overcame any reservations and seemed to relax and enjoy the thread. The course continued with a total of 5 construction site visits over 5 weeks and ended with a final documentary VT of an architecturally significant building focusing on its integrated building systems. The final VT documentary was a means in testing and evaluating student competency in both the VT application as a teaching/learning tool and the building systems course content. At the end of the course the 5 students developed 16 VoiceThread’s containing a total of 115 video-based comments.

Next Steps

I’m planning on implementing VoiceThread again in future Building Systems courses with a more systematic method in place to collect feedback, user data and to better measure and evaluate its effectiveness in this type of application. I will also be experimenting with alternative uses in other courses beyond a presentation and discussion tool.

Kristin Harty, Ph.D. Education

Overview

I wanted students to work together to create and present material in an online class.

Planning Process

In the field of special education, collaboration is essential therefore pre-service teachers need to learn how to collaborate with other individuals.  In my introductory special education class, EDU 234 Inclusion: Issues and Strategies, I had always had the students present information about various disabilities and it was always a collaborative project. This year was the first year I attempted to place the class online and my goal was still the same for the online class. So now I had to think about using a tool that was simple and would enable them to work together without needing to ever meet face-to-face.  I chose VoiceThread because it was easy to use and would allow the students to coordinate online without ever having to meet face-to-face to record the presentation. I did consider Panopto and PowerPoint, but I wanted to expose students to a different tool.

Implementation

Most people think of using VoiceThread to aid in online discussion, so I first used the VoiceThread tool early in the semester for online discussion of single questions. This allowed the students to become familiar with the tool prior to using it for their project. I then developed a rubric for the presentation and also modeled how to place and record a PowerPoint presentation on VoiceThread.

I had the students use the tool as a final project so that 1) they had time to familiarize themselves with VoiceThread and 2) they had enough time to plan with their partner.

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 2.16.12 PM
Successes/Challenges

This project was very successful. All students in the class were able to create a PowerPoint presentation via VoiceThread. For most students the project was easy to implement. One challenge was that I had to constantly remind students to make the presentation public so we could view them. Another challenge was that in one pairing I could only hear one student’s voice. It took several days emailing back and forth to correct that error. Also, I would like to find an easier way to make the students responsible for communicating to the class that their presentation is available and can be viewed.

Assessment

An informal survey was given to the 20 students at the end of the semester. Students were asked to answer the following questions.

  1. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being uncomfortable to 5 being extremely comfortable), how would you rank your comfort level with technology?
  2. How comfortable are you with VoiceThread?
  3. Have you used VoiceThread before?
  4. Have you created an oral presentation online prior to this class?
  5. What technology tool did you use?
  6. Now think about one tool compared to voice thread. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being easier to 5 meaning more difficult), was VoiceThread easier or more difficult?
  7. Would you recommend using VoiceThread again?
  8. Any other information you would like to share?

The majority of the students had used VoiceThread in a previous class (all but three) and those three students were from a different institution. No student had used the Voicethread tool for a presentation. Fourteen students stated that they had created an oral presentation online prior to class using Panopto  (10) or PowerPoint (4) using narration audio.  One student stated that PowerPoint was easier, 3 people said that VoiceThread was easier than PowerPoint. The ten students who had used Panopto  all said that VoiceThread was easier than Panopto .

Perceived/Determined Value and Next Steps

I was very happy that I was able to maintain an important project in my course despite the course being online. Most students found VoiceThread easy to use and their projects were good. After implementing this project, I feel that VoiceThread is a viable option for online group presentations.

I would like to continue using VoiceThread in my online classes to spark discussion. In the future I will be posting more presentations on VoiceThread with questions embedded in the PowerPoint. So while students view the PowerPoint, they will be able to stop and ask or answer a question.

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.

Joyce Salls, OTD Occupational Therapy

Overview

Over the past year, I have experimented with several technology tools with the goal of increasing student engagement and active learning in my on the ground classes.  These have included Prezi, creating YouTube videos, and VoiceThread, with VoiceThread being the main focus this past year.    I have also been using Poll Everywhere in the classroom as a method of assessing student learning of key concepts, as well as providing students with feedback regarding their grasp and retention of material.  Additionally, I have used the iPad with the Smartboard in the classroom to present apps appropriate for therapeutic interventions.  Outside of the classroom, the OT faculty have begun using OneDrive for working on collaborative research projects.

Implementation

I implemented VoiceThread in my pediatric courses OTH 622 in both the fall and spring semesters. I used this mostly to upload video clips of children at various stages of development, requiring the students to identify developmental patterns and therapeutic interventions to further support a child’s growth.

VoiceThread

I am incorporating Poll Everywhere in all my courses as a means of receiving and providing feedback on student learning.  Additionally, in one of my classes students were required to develop a short educational You Tube for parents or teachers.

Successes/Challenges

My biggest challenge with VoiceThread was learning that you tube videos could not be uploaded on VoiceThread.  As a result, I was challenged with finding appropriate videos from friends with young children.  Another challenge was helping the students with the process of signing up for and using VoiceThread.  Once that challenge was resolved, students reported the VoiceThreads were beneficial.  Since I have 40 students per class, once I discovered how to put the students into small groups (10 per group), the learning was more effective and the process much more efficient. Poll Everywhere was a success from the beginning with positive feedback from the majority of students.

Assessment

At the end of the fall semester, the students completed a survey regarding the use of Poll Everywhere, VoiceThread, and creating an educational YouTube video for caregivers. Students were very positive about Poll Everywhere.  VoiceThread received mixed reviews due to difficulty signing up and accessing the videos, but commented that it was beneficial to their learning.  Creating a YouTube video, though reported as a valuable learning experience by many, was cited as too difficult and cumbersome to use. Students reported spending more time on the technology than on the content, which for me defeated the purpose of the assignment. I plan to re-assess the use of technology tools at the end of each semester.

Perceived/Determined Value and Next Steps 

What was most valuable for me during this first year of the Technology Fellows Program was the opportunity to take the time to learn new technologies as well as to learn from other members of the group throughout the year. Additionally, the patient ongoing support from both Becky and Lauren is what made it possible for me to experiment…get “stuck”….and get support rather than giving up! In the next year, I plan to continue exploring effective ways to incorporate VoiceThread in the classroom, as well as begin working on developing telehealth with a free clinic in Ecuador.

Tracy Bartel, Ph.D. Education

NOTE: For more information on any of these technology tools, please click on the tools name and it will take you to the coordinating website.

simSchool : Instructors can use this tool with pre-service teachers as an applied activity in classroom management and differentiated instruction in this game-like application.

I am presently piloting this technology tool in my Child Development course and I am hoping that I will be able to expand it to the Adolescent Development and Contemporary Education and Technology course.

VoiceThread : Students can engage in an on-line forum discussion using varied modes of responses (microphone, webcam, text, phone and audio-file upload).  Instructors can present the topic for discussion several different ways: uploading a document, image(s), audio file(s) or video(s).

This tool was piloted in my Contemporary Education and Technology course last semester.  At the end of the semester, I found that students enjoyed using this tool and that their level of discussions were at a higher level in comparison with the other courses that used the “written text only” forum discussion in Moodle.  I now use this as a tool in all my online, hybrid and “on the ground” courses.

VoiceThread Snip
PollEverywhere
: Instructors can embed classroom polls into PowerPoint lectures and student responses can be seen on the screen within 2-5 seconds of responding.  Poll questions can be either open-ended or multiple choice in format.

I piloted this tool last semester in my Contemporary Education and Technology course as well.  In order to keep the students’ responses anonymous, at the beginning of the class I took attendance so that students would receive class participation points for participating in this in-class activity.  There is an option in Poll Everywhere to track individual student responses instead of having the students’ responses be anonymous.

PollEverywhere SnipPanopto : Instructors can use a webcam to record their image in sync with PowerPoint lectures or use audio to discuss a document.

I use this technology tool predominantly in my online courses.  I have also had my students use it to give presentations to upload to the Moodle course shell.  This tool is beneficial when the instructor cannot make it to the regularly scheduled class time (illness, weather, conferences).

Panopto Snip

Rubistar : Instructors and pre-service teachers can use this tool to create rubrics for a variety of assignments.  Rubistar allows you to select from a wide variety of grading categories to add to the template and permits editing of any content.

For years I have hand-made my grading rubrics as a teacher, administrator and as a college professor.  Rubistar saves me time and increases the clarity of the rubrics for each of the courses that I teach.

Rubistar Snip

Update!

Congratulations to Tracy for recently having her work published in the online peer-reviewed Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy. The article, Inspiring Student Engagement with Technology, addresses the question of how to replicate the educational benefits of in-class discussions and lectures in an online environment.

Kudos to Tracy and the other technology fellows for their ongoing work!!

Debra Wolf, Ph.D. Nursing

1st Year Faculty Technology

Overview

Over the past year, I used the iPad (with Evernote and iAnnotate apps) to support paperless grading and the software (Panopto and VoiceThread) to create a traditional classroom feel within an online program.  The intent is to explore opportunities to create a more personal welcoming environment within an online program were students visually see and hear each other in a virtual asynchronized environment.

Implementation

Currently using the iPad to create voice files to offer students personal feedback on papers.  Used Panopto to offer welcoming messages at the beginning of each semester. Panopto also supports tutorials to offer students video/audio lectures on how to perform certain required tasks/assignments.   VoiceThread supported students with initial introductions to classmates and to have personal audio/video asynchronized discussions.

Successes/Challenges

Initially, I had a limited number of students who volunteered to participate in voice feedback grading during pilot trial. Those who participated spoke highly of the personal verbal feedback that was offered.  Will use voice comments for all students this term. Panopto is extremely popular and very well received. I had numerous comments reflecting positive impact from students. Learning curve for students to use VoiceThread and to find program to open voice files on graded assignments. Process creates additional prep time for faculty.

Perceived value

Welcoming environment where students do not feel alone in an online educational program.  Encourages and supports peer bonding and building of relationships.

* Giving student feedback using voice recordings with track changes. This was down on the iPad
* Evernote/iAnnotate (iPad apps)
* Panopto (Lecture capturing)
* VoiceThread (Voice discussion forums)

Resources

2nd Year Faculty Technology Plan

In preparing curricular content for a new MSN Nursing Informatics degree, my goals for year two will shift to  guiding faculty and nursing students in using the Internet, social media and innovative technology safely. Below are two goals I am striving to meet:

1. To guide faculty and students in the safe use of the Internet, social media and innovative technology within curricular content. Explore and outline articles/policy guiding faculty and students.

2. Integration of Social media into curricular design as course assignments supporting the use innovative technology to advance healthier lifestyles in the community.

Here is a link to social media guidelines for in the classroom shared by our FTF leaders “Becky Bush and Lauren Panton”  (thank you) 

Please feel free to contact me if interested in more detail on what I have learned or currently doing. Hope this is helpful.

~~ Best, Deb (412 365 1547 dwolf@chatham.edu )