Faculty Showcase, Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Productivity

Episode 1 – Weather-proofing the Classroom: A Conversation with Professor Ricard Viñas-De-Puig

During the 2018 Fall Semester, the College of Charleston canceled five days worth of classes on account of hurricanes.  It would be nice to think this semester was a fluke, that experiencing two separate hurricanes in one semester is a once-every-fifty-years situation.  But scientists are telling us that climate change is bringing bigger storms more often.  As teachers, we need to think of how we can design a more resilient course structure, one whose tension, support, and anchorage can withstand the cancellations that university administrators need to make for our physical safety.

Recently, I spoke with Ricard Viñas-De-Puig, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies.  He said that some of the skills that he learned in the Distance Education Readiness course were helpful for overcoming obstacles created by the weather cancellations.  Keep listening to hear what he had to say.

#tltcon It's Going to Be Epic!
Events, Faculty Showcase, Faculty Technology Institute, TLT, TLTCon

#TLTCon Featured Session: Casting Your Web

Are you interested in learning about web building tools?
Do you want to learn how to create a custom website for your course?
If so, you’re going to LOVE this session!

Casting Your Web: Building a custom website for your course (for free!)

Paul Colling head shotPresenter:  Paul Collins

Session Date:  March 9th

Session Time:  1:30- 3:00 pm

Sitting down to build a website can seem an intimidating and daunting proposal. But, as technology advances make it easier and easier (not to mention cheaper) to have a web presence, it is worth exploring some of the tools that have become available to use in our classes. A number of pretty good tools have made it possible to build websites to help to support our teaching. Weebly and Wix are two of these. I have used both services to support both my classes and my professional practice. I will briefly present the websites that I have created, and discuss how each has been useful to my work both within the College and outside of it. I will then go ‘under the hood’ to show the customization tools at work.

In the second part of the workshop, participants will explore the interface of each of these services, and experiment with some of the tools that are available to the user. I will then give a tutorial in which participants will be able to build webpages that can be published on the web by the end of the session!

In order to ‘play along’ in the web-building part of the workshop, participants will need a laptop (as opposed to a mobile device), as the editing engines do not yet work on mobile platforms. The demonstration portion of the workshop will work equally well on laptop and mobile.



*Teaching, Learning, and Technology Conference brought to you by TLT and the FTI

Faculty Showcase, Information Session, Innovative Instruction, Round Table Discussion, TLT

Giving Thanks for Technology: November Faculty Showcase

At our November Faculty Showcase, we gave thanks for the many ways technology makes us more efficient, productive, and engaging instructors.  Special thanks to Kate Pfile, Mary Ann Hartshorn, and Gayle Goudy for sharing their experiences using instructional technologies.  In addition to learning about innovative teaching strategies, we also collected over 34 pounds of canned goods to be donated in time for Thanksgiving.  Thank you to everyone who contributed!

Amy thanks you for your donations!
Amy thanks you for your donations!

During the Showcase, Kate Pfile (HHP) showed us how her students use Popplet (Free; iOS and Web) for a postural assessment assignment.  Popplet is a digital mind-mapping application that allows users to visually capture ideas and make connections between them.  Kate asks her students to take pictures of a friend’s posture, then use Popplet to analyze musculature by identifying the relationships among various body parts.  Popplet can also be used to enhance brainstorming, tease out ideas, plan projects, and organize one’s thoughts, such as when writing a research paper.  Even better, Popplet allows multiple users to collaborate synchronously or asynchronously, so small groups or an entire class could work together.

Example Popplet with Kate's Annotations, made in Goodnotes
Example Popplet with Kate’s annotations, made in Goodnotes

Gayle Goudy (SOTA) shared her experiences with flipping her art history courses.  Flipping has become a hot topic in education, as instructors move lectures outside the classroom while reserving class time for discussion, problem-solving, activities, and group work.  This allows students to accomplish the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy on their own while they work through higher levels of cognitive work with their classmates and instructor.  There are a variety of approaches to flipping your course, whether you want to flip the entire semester or just a handful of classes.  TLT can point you to numerous technology tools that will facilitate this change, including Voicethread and Kaltura Mediaspace.

Kate Pfile and Guoli Liu
Kate Pfile and Guoli Liu

Mary Ann Hartshorn (TEDU) is a TLT Superstar: she presented at both of our Faculty Showcases this semester!  Mary Ann shared how she uses Google Docs for a collaborative annotated bibliography assignment and the OAKS Discussion tool to encourage community-formation.  To read more, check out our recap of the October Faculty Showcase.

TLT’s instructional technologists also had tech tools to share.  Laura Plotts, instructional technologist for LCWA, showed faculty how Haiku Deck (Free; iOS and Web) provides a fantastic alternative to “death by Powerpoint.”  With Haiku Deck, there’s no chance of presenting slides crammed with bullet points.  Instead, the application forces users to keep text to a minimum and use images to tell their story.  If you want students to learn to speak extemporaneously, Haiku Deck can help wean them off of reading directly from their slides.  Because of its eye-catching designs and graphics, it’s also perfect for video lectures, conference presentations, sales pitches, and keynote addresses.

Kaitlin Woodlief, instructional technologist for SSM, shared a tool that allows instructors to collect real-time feedback without the need for student devices.  Plickers (Free; Android and iOS) makes formative assessment and live polling simple.

Students don’t need iPads or smartphones; instead, each student responds by holding up a card that’s printed with a special image that has letters around the sides.  If, for example, the answer to the question is A, the student will turn the card so that the letter A is on top.

The instructor then uses their smartphone or iPad camera to scan the room and capture the cards.  The app registers the student answers which then can be displayed to the room.  For those who worry about their entire class having devices, or those who simply don’t want to bother with students having to log in or register, Plickers may be just what you’re looking for.

Trying out Plickers!
Trying out Plickers!







If you’d like to learn more about any of these tools and strategies, please contact your instructional technologist.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by!  Be on the look-out for our Spring Faculty Showcases, including a few new, exciting events!

1-1-1, Faculty Showcase, Innovative Instruction, Round Table Discussion, TLT

Student Zombies No More: Faculty Showcase Recap

Your students will be zombies no more!
Your students will be zombies no more!

A “spooktacular” time was had by all at the TLT Faculty Showcase!  A hearty thank you to the faculty who shared their innovative teaching strategies:  Gustavo Urdaneta Velasquez, Mary Ann Hartshorn, Laura Penny, Sherry Wallace, and Lancie Affonso.  Not only did we learn how to more effectively engage our students and manage our classes, we also played Plinko and enjoyed trick-or-treating!




For those who couldn’t attend, the following applications were discussed:

Google Docs (Free; Web, iOS, Android) is a cloud-based word processor that allows users to create and share work from any device that connects to the Internet.  Users can work on the same document both synchronously and asynchronously, making it ideal for collaborative projects.  Mary Ann Hartshorn’s students use Google Docs to crowd-source references for research papers.  The students each contribute to the annotated bibliography then collectively edit the document for proper APA formatting.

To establish community and encourage communication, Mary Ann asks her students compose a “Where I’m From” poem at the beginning of the semester, which they share in the OAKS Discussion boards.  In addition, throughout the semester, students take turns as discussion leaders charged with facilitating the boards. Mary Ann has found this continuous interaction throughout the semester encourages students to complete the assigned readings, engage in peer teaching, and establish relationships with one another.

Using Google Docs and the OAKS Discussion tool
Using Google Docs and the OAKS Discussion tool

What student wouldn’t love to play games in class?  Kahoot (Free; Web) is a student response system founded on game-based digital pedagogy.  Gustavo Urdaneta Velasquez tests his students’ understanding of Spanish vocabulary and grammar by creating quizzes that incorporate text, images, and video.  Using any device with a Web browser, students play against each other hoping to top the leader board.  Gustavo is able to see how well his students understand course content and use the students’ answers to provide “just in time” feedback.

Lancie Affonso starts his “flipped” classes by checking his students’ pulse.  LinkedIn Pulse (Free; Web, iOS, Android) is an RSS aggregator that exposes students to industry-specific resources and professional networking.  Students get up-to-the-minute news from industry professionals, business publications, and news media, which inspire lively class discussions.

If you’ve ever wished you could scribble all over PDFs or Powerpoint slides while lecturing, Laura Penny has found the app for you.  Goodnotes ($5.99; iOS) is a note-taking, annotation, and digital whiteboard app.  Using the external display feature, Laura projects her iPad screen to the class and annotates while she lectures.  She can then export those annotated slides and share them with her students.

Socrative (Free; Web, iOS, Android) is a student response system that helps instructors assess student understanding through quizzes, polls, and games — no clickers or subscriptions required!  Sherry Wallace uses Socrative in her art history classes to evaluate students’ knowledge based on their exploration of websites such as the Louvre and Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.  Socrative captures students’ responses in real-time, which encourages discussion and allows Sherry to clarify confusion.

Looking for a way to deliver content while encouraging discussion, especially in an online class?  Instructional Technologist, Chris Meshanko, shared the perfect tool to accomplish these goals — Voicethread (Free; Web, iOS, Android) is a cloud-based application that allows users to upload, share, and discuss documents, presentations, images, audio files and videos.  Chris has devised twelve fantastic ways to integrate Voicethread into your classes including icebreaker introductions at the beginning of the semester, guest lectures, syllabus question & answer, peer evaluation, and a variety of formative assessments. Making Voicethread even better are the College’s site license and its integration with OAKS.

If any of these tools sound promising to you, contact your Instructional Technologist to learn more.

We hope you’ll join us for the November Faculty Showcase on 11/20/14 from 11:00-12:00 in Tate Center 202.

Your fun-loving Instructional Technologists: Mendi, Chris, and Kaitlin
Your fun-loving Instructional Technologists: Mendi, Chris, and Kaitlin
Faculty Showcase, Innovative Instruction, Round Table Discussion, TLT

Are Your Students Like Zombies in Class?

While teaching, do you ever find yourself staring at a group of students who resemble the class in John Hughes’ classic movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?  Slouched in their chairs, glazed expressions, texting under their desks or staring out the window. . .  It’s frustrating to say the least.

bored students









Well, TLT has gathered a group of faculty who have discovered strategies to improve student engagement and they want to share this knowledge with you!

Our faculty showcase will feature a variety of applications that incorporate game-based learning, digital mind mapping, live polling, and collaborative projects.  At each table you will receive a “trick” (a tip or technique) as well as a sweet treat! Please join us.

What:  TLT’s Faculty Showcase on Student Engagement
When: Thursday, October 30th 2:00-4:00 PM (Drop in any time)
Where: Tate 202
Why: Learn something new from your colleagues and have fun trick or treating!







1-1-1, Faculty Showcase, Faculty Technology Institute, Innovative Instruction, Pedagogy

Tackling challenging concepts with problem-based learning in the classroom

Our guest blogger is Elizabeth Burton, an adjunct professor in the Department of Biology. Elizabeth was a participant in the 2013 Summer FTI.  This post is a report on her experience using problem-based learning in her courses.

In the classroom, many students have trouble translating the facts into action.  This is particularly true in the non-majors introductory biology classes that I teach.  Many of these students enter into the classroom with little knowledge or understanding of biology, with many having no interest at all in the subject.  Most only take this class as a general education requirement.  I have chosen to incorporate problem-based learning into the classroom to provide students with a way to translate abstract ideas into functional scenarios.  This is of particular importance in biology because many of these biological concepts translate into proper functioning of the human body.  From my experience, both personally and as an instructor, I have found that it is easier to understand a tough concept when you are “forced” to work through it.  Students are more interested in the topic when you relate it to something familiar to them or something that is more interesting than a cell, such as a disease.

One example of problem-based learning from my classroom is based around the concept of mitochondrial functioning in cellular respiration.  This concept is probably one of the most difficult for students to understand because everything is explained at a minute level.  In this section, I give a lecture on the basics of the electron transport chain in the mitochondria in one class period.  During the next class period, I reinforce this material through the use of a case study.  The one that I use is from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/), which is a great resource for case studies in all sciences, not just biology.  In this case study we follow the story of Connor, who is a wrestler hoping to lose weight and get down to a lower weight class for competition.  His friend suggests taking a weight loss drug that is available from foreign internet pharmacies but is banned in the United States.  Through this case study, the students dissect the mechanism behind how this weight loss drug works, looking specifically at mitochondrial functioning and why this drug is banned in the US.  Once the students figure out the mechanism by analyzing actual scientific data, I then show them additional substances that have a negative impact on mitochondrial functioning such as cyanide.

From my experience, more students understand the basic concepts after working through a case study problem.  In the classroom, I usually use one case study per unit to reinforce the material from lecture and multiple questions during the lecture.  I have had positive feedback from students on the use of problem-based learning in helping them understand the material.  The in-lecture questions also allow the students to think about the material that we have not yet covered to see if they can find the answers.  Sometimes I ask the question after covering a topic to reinforce understanding.  Frequently, students retain lecture material if they were “forced” to think about it during class instead of frantically writing notes.  While this does take away from the amount of material that I am able to cover, the material that we are able to cover during the semester is understood and retained better by most students.  Overall, I have found problem-based learning to be a welcome addition to the classroom that has facilitated a greater understanding of complex biological ideas.

Make Over
Assessment, Faculty Showcase, Innovative Instruction, social networking, TLT

Activity Makeover – Transforming a Current Events Assignment

Twitter? Tweet? Hash tag?  What does it all mean?  Well to Louise Ackerman, in Health & Human Performance, it means a way to transform a traditional current events assignment into something more fluid and relevant using Twitter *. 

The Old Assignment

So here’s the old assignment:  The goal is for the students to stay abreast of what is happening in global health.  Before each class period students must:
  • Find a health related current event in a reputable publication.
  • Read it.
  • Copy it, print it, or cut it out and bring it to class.
  • At the beginning of each class, if called upon, come to the front of the class and talk about the event or article.
  • Class will discuss the issues from the article.
Sound familiar?  Given that the field of public health is ever changing this method was feeling stale to Professor Ackerman.  In addition, most of the students were going to the same publications (Washington Post, New York Times, etc.) so there wasn’t much breadth in the articles and topics being discussed.  It just wasn’t delivering her desired outcomes.

The New Assignment

When Professor Ackeman decided to revamp the assignment to make it more current she selected Twitter as the vehicle.  Here’s the new assignment:
  • Each student must establish a Twitter account
  • Each student must follow 8-10 people (experts) or organizations in the health field (see Twitter Tips and Getting Started) – those followed can (and should) change over the semester as the student’s interests evolved. (Students were not required to Tweet, only Follow.)
  • Each student must check their Twitter feed daily.  They could set up notifications if they desired to keep them informed when new items were posted.
  • At the beginning of each class, if called upon, the student must speak for 2-3 minutes, from their seat, about what they learned from the their Twitter feed. (3-5 students were randomly selected each class).
Louise was thrilled with the results of the makeover.   The amazing discussions, sparked from these topics, were so engaging that she often had to stop them in order to continue with the class. She states, “(Stopping the discussion) was killing me because it was exactly what I wanted to happen.”  Only one student over the entire semester was not prepared when called upon.  All the rest were ready and waiting to be selected.  As the semester went on, she found that the students branched out from the obvious organizations, such as the World Health Organization, into specialized areas and were really able to expand their knowledge.  They began choosing articles and events that related to the topics currently being discussed in the class and made connections between the two.
She didn’t give a lot of direction on who to follow as she didn’t want to influence their choices.  She instead gave direction on how to search for appropriate people to follow.  This resulted in a much broader collection of articles and topics.  In addition, they were able to follow subjects and organizations that interested them so it made the assignment more relevant to the students.  As the class progressed Professor Ackerman would mention people in her lectures and encourage the students that were interested in the topic to follow them on Twitter.    In addition, as they did research for other assignments in the class they would follow more people based on that research.  The current events assignment became relevant to the students in a way that the old assignment never did.
It’s important to note that Louise had never used Twitter before embarking on this adventure.  She tried it and felt that it was easy to use so she had no qualms about asking her students to do it.  When asked what she thought of her assignment makeover she said, “Twitter made it straightforward and simple.  I loved it, just loved it.”


Original and Made over Assignments:  ASSIGNMENT_MAKEOVER_ACKERMAN
Twitter Tips and Getting Started:  http://goo.gl/KfR3z6
Twitter Basicshttp://goo.gl/m86C2k
Twitter Glossary:  http://goo.gl/DQPovt
*Twitter is an online, social, microblogging application that allows people to read and “tweet” short 140-character messages.
1-1-1, Collaboration, Faculty Showcase, Faculty Technology Institute, Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Mobile, Productivity

Faculty Guest Post: Paul Collins Talks about Students Helping Students with Celly

Our guest poster this week is Paul Collins, Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.  Paul attended the Spring 2013 FTI.

As part of the Scenery and Lighting Design and Production concentration in the Theatre major, students are required to take a course in which they learn Computer Aided Drafting and Design. The software on which the students learn is brand new to nearly all of them, and very complicated. We spend time in class going over the necessary skills and tools, but the students are then expected to complete exercises in the computer lab as homework. Because of the complexity of the software and the lack of experience that the students have with it, struggles are very real and frequent, and I spend a lot of time with individual students working through the process.

While I work closely with each of the students, I have also noticed in previous semesters that the students do a great job helping each other. Sometimes while I am working with an individual in class, another student has a question about something, but by the time I get to this student, a neighbor has helped to solve the problem. I encourage the students to work on their homework in the lab together so that they can take advantage of what I call ‘the collective wisdom of the class’.

During the Faculty Technology Institute (in Spring 2013), I was introduced to a tool that has allowed me to expand this ‘collective wisdom’ beyond the walls of the classroom. Celly (simply http://cel.ly/ in your web browser) is a kind of online discussion board, similar to other discussion boards that you may be familiar with (including the tool available in OAKS). However, the advantage that Celly has over traditional discussion boards is the ability for the user to receive and send messages in a number of different ways: via email, mobile app, online web portal or text. The text feature is what makes this tool truly powerful- by connecting the discussion to a cell phone, posts to the board are more immediately available both to the students and to me. A question can be put up on the Celly, and be responded to almost immediately by whoever gets to it first. Here is an example of one of the conversations (note… read the conversation from bottom to top)



In this situation, a student asked for clarification about a handout. Within a minute, another student joined the conversation to try to help, as well as giving advice on how to create the shape in question. I also was available to help at this time, and checked the handout so that I could answer the question. Within 8 minutes, I had the problem figured out, and posted a clarification to OAKS to clear things up for the whole class. This is only one example of what is a relatively easy question, but would likely have caused this student to either be unable to continue, or at the very least have to go back and make significant revisions. If the message had gone to a discussion board or email, the response time would not have been nearly as quick as the text message allowed.

There are a few things that I’d like to mention, though: First, this is a small class. With a larger group of active users, receiving the messages via text could quickly become overwhelming (especially if you do not have an unlimited texting plan). There is an online web portal which updates immediately, and you can receive the messages via email or mobile device, but this also brings you back to the response time issue that traditional discussion boards have. Each individual user (student and faculty alike) has the ability to set notification preferences to whatever combination of methods desired.

Celly also allows me to contact the class via text message without sending from my personal phone (and thus sharing my cell number with the whole class). I will send out a ‘how is the homework going?’ reminder message around Friday or so, as the homework is due on Monday. However, if this ‘reminder’ feature is the primary reason for using a service such as this, Remind101 is probably a more appropriate tool (as this service allows ‘outgoing’ text messages from teacher to student, but not vice versa).

Celly also has a ‘private messaging’ feature that allows users within the ‘cell’ to send messages to individuals rather than the group.

When this tool was initially introduced to me during the FTI, I did not think that it would be one that I would wind up using, but I’m glad that I gave it a shot this semester. I think that it is a powerful tool for those students who have chosen to participate, and I will continue to use it in the future.

And the best part: I get to be a robot.