Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New INTERACTive Version

You may have noticed that this blog has been on hiatus for the past couple of months as we redesign a new version focusing on a more interactive format. The new site may look different, but it is still centered on learning, teaching and technology tips for faculty and graduate students (and anyone else with an interest in education today.) Visit INTERACT AT THE CENTER, take a look around, and leave your comments to continue the conversation!

Friday, September 01, 2006


The Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) would like to welcome you to our blog! We hope that this will become a valuable resource for anyone interested in improving student learning.

(NOTE: Originally created in Aug 2005, but listed in future to stay at the beginning of this blog... sneaky, eh? ;-)

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Since August 2005

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Free Books on Google

If your eyes aren't already glazed over enough from reading text on a computer all day long, you can now add some evening reading to your list with free public-domain books from Google. More information can be found in this CNET News article.

These PDF books can be downloaded and even printed (unlike their other Google Books), depending on the country you're currently in (a factor of the public-domain issue). Obviously, these downloaded books should be for personal use only.

Readers can find the books by choosing the "Full view books" option on the Google Book Search home page before they activate their search. Once they have chosen a book from the results page, a download button is clearly visible on the top-right corner of the page.

Using Google Book Search, you can find The Free Library and many other extraordinary old books, such as:
* Ferriar's The Bibliomania
* A futurist from 1881's 1931: A Glance at the Twentieth Century
* Aesop's Fables
* Shakespeare's Hamlet
* Abbott's Flatland
* Hugo's Marion De Lorme
* Dunant's Eine Erinnerung an Solferino
* Bolívar's Proclamas
* Dante's Inferno

So is this a good thing or not... or neither - just another step in information technology's evolution?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Nine is not Enough! (planets, that is)

From NSTA:

Astronomers Debate Definition of Planets; Vote Next Week May Raise Number of Planets From 9 to 12

After two years of work a panel convened by the International Astronomical Union has reached a decision about the definition of "planets" and smaller "solar system bodies" such as comets and asteroids. If the definition is approved this week the number of planets in the Solar System would rise from 9 to 12, with more to come. Read more in the USA Today article and an article from the Boston Globe.

What we consider the information or facts of today, may change as our ways of understanding and observing change or develop (or evolve). Since the beginning of time, technological advancements are deemed responsible for these changes and there is obviously no end in sight to this onslaught.

As you decide what to teach students, be sure to also venture beyond content, into the realm of learning... THEIR learning, once they're no longer in your course. What skills and abilities do you want them to take with them so they can inquire and learn more on their own? Do they know how to go about doing this? (It's dangerous to assume they do.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Blogging in Science Classroom

The National Science Teacher's Association's (NSTA's) Journal of College Science Teaching, Vol. 35 No. 6, p. 18-22 (May/June 2006) features Blogs - by Erica Brownstein and Robert Klein

It provides definitions, examples and diagrams of blogging for educational purposes as well as rules for an effective blog in a science classroom and grading options.

Mul-TV: How much is too much?

Spoken news briefs, written news briefs, time, weather, box scores, stock quotes, logos and more (oh my)!

How much information can we absorb or consume in one TV sitting? Are our students better at this? Is it something we'll all improve upon with time? Are we going down a "slippery slope"? How much is too much? How effective are we at multitasking?

And the "good news" is that bigger & better screens are on their way into our homes and classrooms!

(from http://www.watchfarscape.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17346)

Defying Distance: Virtual Meeting Spaces, Webinars & Video Chats

In this age of globalization and rapid change where budget and time constraints consistently affect decision-making, professionals in business, government and education are using virtual meeting spaces at an ever-increasing rate. Although not new to the business world in particular, this technology has advanced to a point where it is an viable alternative to face-to-face (F2F) meetings thanks to burgeoning broadband connections and infrastructures.

Some teaching and learning professional development sites, such as the Ohio Learning Network and Learning Times are currently using virtual spaces to deliver services to members and interested parties, thus extending their reach.

While the Blackboard course management system offers similar features such as Chat and Virtual Classroom, these embedded tools haven't been as predictable with continuity and speed. Blackboard also doesn't easily allow for guests outside of the university to enter and participate in the virtual classroom event.

Here are some options for web-based virtual meeting spaces &/or webinars, most fairly expensive (but like every other technology, will soon be plummeting):

Elluminate - Used by OLN for their TeachU series of online web seminars.

Adobe Breeze - Used by Innovate Online Journal for their webinars. An example of a recorded webinar session is this one: "Uses and Potentials of Wikis in the Classroom"

Microsoft Live Meeting


Now for free alternatives: (no... Google does NOT offer a video conferencing option as of today... but it may not be long until Talk does more than instant message!)

Another virtual meeting alternative comes with new Apple computers in iChat or iChatAV. With a built-in camera on all new Apple's, you can video conference realtime with up to 4 locations/people. Here is a link to how it looks and other educational uses for such a product. For those with a slightly older Mac, an iSight camera can be purchased and used along with OS 10.4 (Tiger) to accomplish the same type of communications.

Windows users will soon have an apparently non-video/image based collaboration venue in their upcoming Vista OS. Currently there are 3rd party alternatives available for Windows users wanting video conferencing, such as AOL - AIM and Skype.

One other free, downloadable option for voice or video chats (and short video messages) is SightSpeed. This is discussed in a previous posting on virtual office hours. This is a free Mac and Windows OS alternative.

And a parting thought... It shouldn't be long before we are able to stay home or in our offices and do all our communicating via an internet connection! ;-) "To connect or disconnect?", that is the question!

TeachU: Ohio Learning Network's Online Seminars

The Ohio Learning Network's TeachU Online Seminars are
"a series of free, hour-long interactive Web presentations on uses of emerging technologies and pedagogies within the contexts of teaching, assessment, and student success. Each seminar is delivered live using online audio and video/image presentation technology, allowing you to interact with the presenter(s) and your colleagues through your web browser.

With seminar-specific variations, the facilitator and presenter will discuss the topic and respond to questions submitted by seminar participants in an online meeting room. Generally, the guest will do an initial presentation, using PowerPoint slides, Web tours, or other online resources, and then engage in dialogue with the facilitator and online participants.

These seminars were created to provide Ohio's educators with accessible, timely, and outstanding learning opportunities at no cost. They have been designed to showcase excellence and existing expertise within Ohio's institutions, while providing practical approaches so participants can implement what they learn. All facilitators are sharing their expertise and resources within the TeachU online Seminar Series to benefit all."

Although there are no offerings this summer, suggestions are being considered for the fall semester. A current listing of the past sessions are available in the Archives area. Past, recorded sessions include:

Games, Multi-Player Environments, Immersive Reality: Virtual Worlds & Avatars: What Do They Mean for Learning?

Competency Expectations: E-Portfolios Lead Us Where We Need To Be

Student Success Skills Integration

Chunking Learning: The Why and How of Successful Modularization


Using Concept Mapping and Problem-Based Learning to Encourage Meaningful Learning

Ohio OSPILOT Update (with an emphasis on e-portfolios)

If you've never tried an online interactive webinar, the TeachU sessions provide a great starting point to experience the medium first hand. After creating a free account with Learning Times, you will be able to easily access the online gathering through a link provided to you upon registering. The application used for the webinars is called Elluminate.

More details on the TeachU technical requirements and steps can be viewed here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Learning Community Applications Available

The Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology welcomes BGSU faculty and graduate students to explore our learning community opportunities for the 2006-2007 academic year.

Here is our current offering as of July 4th (click on each to see a description &/or download the application):

Developing a Professional Identity through Mentoring and Eportfolios

Grant Writing

Initiatives for the Future (IF) at Firelands

New Faculty


Reflective Teaching

Research in Science and Mathematics Education

Research and Teaching

Transition to Digital

Check back by the end of July for our full offering of learning communities for the upcoming year. If you have any questions, please contact the Center at ctlt@bgsu.edu

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bringing the Classroom to the Student

The PEBBLES Project (Providing Education By Bringing Learning Environments to Students) allows students requiring long-term hospital care to continue to engage in classroom learning. This article in eSchoolNews online explains:
The robot in the classroom, which displays a live picture of Achim, provides what its inventors call "telepresence": It gives the boy an actual presence in the classroom, recognized by teachers and classmates. It can move from class to class on its four-wheeled base, and it could even stop at the lockers for a between-periods chat.
"The robot literally is embraced by students in the classroom as though [it] is the medically fragile student," said Andrew Summa, national director of the robot project, which is in use at six other hospitals around the country. Achim's teacher, Bob Langerfield, said his other students have become used to the robot and were treating it as if it were Achim after just a few days.

Although this project is focused currently on K-12 students, it shouldn't be long until there is a push at the post secondary level. How would the presence of "virtual students" affect your course goals & objectives, if at all?

For another perspective on virtual learning, Can e-learning replace classroom learning? (2004), Zhang, Zhao, Zhou and Nunamaker suggest the following regarding e-learning specifically:
Nevertheless, we believe that e-learning is a promising alternative to traditional classroom learning, which is especially beneficial to remote and lifelong learning and training. In many cases, e-learning can significantly complement classroom learning. E-learning will keep growing as an indispensable part of academic and professional education. We should continue to explore how to create more appealing and effective online learning environments. One way to do this is to integrate appropriate pedagogical methods, to enhance system interactivity and personalization, and to better engage learners.

As research in the myriad of other educational technologies continues to grow, we'll need to pay very close attention to the benefits and costs for both students and teachers.

Those that are concerned about emerging technologies such as the internet, course management systems (Blackboard, etc.), podcasting/ videocasting and gaming changing the way learning takes place, hold on for the ride... technologies will continue to offer previously unimaginable options and alternatives to both students and teachers (and researchers), but the facilitation of learning will remain both an art and a science. Pedagogy should be the focus no matter what technologies are used, from chalk to PEBBLES.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Faculty Flexibility: Virtual Office Hours

As you evaluate and revise your syllabi for the fall, something to consider might be 'virtual office hours' using different tech tools available to most students and faculty.

One example is from Alex Halavais, now an Assistant Professor of Interactive Communication at Quinnipiac University (formerly of SUNY-Buffalo). Here are his 'virtual office hours' for the Spring 2006 semester:
I am keeping virtual office hours Spring semester.
• Via Skype (halavais): Thursdays, from 1pm to 2pm EST.
• UBLearns chat for COM497: Thursdays, from 2pm to 4pm EST.
• You can often reach me via AIM (DrHalavais), or Skype, Google, etc. (halavais). Happy to set up an appointment to chat via IM or phone.

One other option is SightSpeed that allows for video or voice PC to PC 'calls' as well as video messages and blog videos (up to 30 sec.)... all for free. You'll need your own camera &/or microphone to make it all work, but it's a nice option for those 'F2F' (face to face) connections from afar. This works on both Macs and Windows machines.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The 3 Rs for Effective Teaching: Risk, Reflection and Renewal

(This was originally published in the Center's weekly Teaching Tips, Spring 2006. View other tips at our Teaching Tips Archives)

As educators, a fundamental role that we must take on is that of learner. We must constantly strive to learn what works best for our students, what doesn't and where to learn more because, as you know, all aspects of teaching and learning are constantly changing - the tools, the students, the knowledge base or content, and even ourselves. Accomplishing this goal of perpetual improvement toward effective teaching requires the consideration of a different set of "3 Rs" - risk, reflection and renewal.


David Kreiner’s essay, “Taking Risks as a Teacher” describes a variety of risks one can take as an educator, including: not lecturing, trusting students, being funny, class activities, using technology, and not having fun. For some, these may not seem like risks, but for anyone not used to doing it or not “a natural” at it, they can be great risks.

In addition to the list provided by Kreiner, perhaps one more risk can be added: “The Risk of Opening our Classroom.” Whether done in an informal manner (i.e., peer coaching, mentorship) or something more formal like a planned peer observation session, a great deal can be learned if coupled with introspective thinking and reflection.

For those of you who may be wary of another person observing your teaching or syllabus, consider this: Larry Keig and Michael D. Waggoner comment that
“having classes observed and materials assessed by colleagues for the purpose of instructional improvement no more should be considered a threat to academic freedom than would having colleagues critique a proposed manuscript for publication.”

Characteristics of an Effective Observer
Below is a list of characteristics provided by department faculty members at UNC-Chapel Hill who were asked to describe the qualities of an effective observer.
“These characteristics consistently appear in the literature on peer observation, and successful programs emphasize the necessity of keeping them constantly in mind when visiting classes. The basic task of a peer observer is to ascertain if the method being used seems to be effective, not whether it conforms to notions of teaching derived solely from personal experience. There are many ways to be effective.”

1. Has sensitivity; empathizes with the person being observed
2. Sees improvement as the primary objective of the evaluation process
3. Is an experienced teacher
4. Is a good listener
5. Gives specific, constructive feedback and advice
6. Has integrity; takes the process seriously; prepares for the observations
7. Sees different styles of teaching as valid and acceptable
8. Is not doctrinaire about teaching methods

It’s interesting to note that extensive discipline-specific content knowledge is not mentioned. Depending on the type of feedback one may want, this could be a critical characteristic, but it’s not necessarily essential when identifying and suggesting effective teaching strategies.


In addition to the importance of allowing our students time to reflect on their learning, it's just as important that we take time to reflect on our learning and teaching. Moreover, finding methods to determine or assess your effectiveness is essential to accurately guide your decision-making toward increased student learning. Below are two links that describe ways to be a more reflective teacher and take steps to improve student learning based those reflections. As Tice mentions, it is a cyclical process toward continued improvement.

The Getting of Wisdom: What Critically Reflective Teaching is and Why It's Important By Stephen Brookfield (From the book: Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher)
This is the first chapter of Brookfield's book, providing an overview and basis for critical reflection as a teacher. It's fairly long, but will offer some good starting points as well as let you decide if the other chapters deserve review.

Reflective Teaching: Exploring Our Own Classroom Practice by Julie Tice, Teacher, Trainer, Writer, British Council Lisbon

- Think, talk, read, act
- Reflective teaching is a cyclical process, because once you start to implement changes, then the reflective and evaluative cycle begins again.
- Questions to ask:
• What are you doing?
• Why are you doing it?
• How effective is it?
• How are the students responding?
• How can you do it better?


As we move further into spring, the season of re-growth and renewal, take some time to reflect back on your semester or year to consider what types of changes you’d like to implement for next year and beyond. Do you want to try a new teaching strategy? What about developing a research plan centered on your teaching effectiveness? Are there others in your department who want to meet regularly to talk about teaching strategies, effectiveness and student engagement? Do you want to start a teaching portfolio for reflection? Is it time to make the time to focus more on your teaching? Any of these changes allow opportunities for you to become renewed, invigorated and rejuvenated as you enter the summer or fall semesters.

Here are some other ideas for ways to renew yourself as an educator:

Ten Ideas to Encourage Renewal
(Courtesy of Lee I. McCann and Baron, professors in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh)
1. Collaborate – team teach a course or design a research project
2. Experience life as a student – enroll in a course
3. Enhance your office – invest in a new chair, put new artwork on the walls, or turn your desk a new direction
4. Get more involved in your community – campus or otherwise
5. Take time to reflect – attend a teaching conference, read teaching journals or books, or keep a teaching journal
6. Try a new approach – include something fun for you and your students in each class period, change your assignments, or change your mode of delivery
7. Create a network of people with similar teaching or research interests, or with whom you enjoy spending time
8. Get to know new faculty – in and outside your department
9. Invite guest lecturers to your class, or volunteer to do the same for a colleague
10. Temporarily exchange positions with someone on another campus

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer Workshops

Below is a listing of technology tools workshops that the Center will be offering this summer. Contact the Center at 419.372.6898 or email ctlt@bgsu.edu to register for the workshops.

Create Audio Files
June 13, June 21, June 29 at 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. (9:30 - 10:15 a.m. Audacity; 10:45 - 11:30 a.m. Garage Band)
July 12, July 18, July 27 at 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Learn about Podcasting
June 13, June 21, June 29 at 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
July 12, July 18, July 27 at 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Start with iMovie HD
July 5 at 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Advance to Final Cut Pro
July 5 at 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Start with iDVD
July 13 at 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Master DVD Authoring
July 13 at 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Enhance Video with Photoshop
July 6 at 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Learn Livetype Techniques
July 6 at 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

"SNAP Survey Software"
These workshops are currently full. Please contact the center, ctlt@bgsu.edu, if you would like these workshops offered at a future date.

For the clickable descriptions, visit our workshop page.

And, as always,

Any of the following "tools" workshops may be scheduled if four or five individuals would like to complete them. Please check with your colleagues and contact the Center at 419.372.6898 or at ctlt@bgsu.edu to schedule these workshops.
Introduction to Podcasting
Advanced Podcasting
Film and Slide Scanning
Digital Photography Basics
Digital Photography Advanced
Digital Photo Manipulation
Introduction to PDF
Creating Fill-in Forms with Acrobat
Text Scanning & Omnipage
Creating Video with Imovie
Developing DVD's with iDVD
iPhoto and Picassa - Photo Libraries
Faculty Gadgets and Gizmos
Using RSS
iTunes Basics
Data Storage and Backup
Video Camera Basics

Friday, June 09, 2006

ScrapBlog: Another Option for Digital Storytelling

ScrapBlog is an online application that allows you to create an online digital scrapbook that can be shared through RSS updates or emailed to anyone. Like "traditional blogs", it also allows for comments to be made.

Here are some other examples:
Island Life
3D graphics
Puerto Vallarta
Family Scrapbook

Just a note... it seems as if it would be best to name your ScrapBlog carefully, perhaps by your name and then subject (like JonesArizonaLandscapes or SmithPortfolio) in order to keep all of them organized rather than in one large mass of pages. Also, the registration states: "Your free membership is limited to creating 1 Scrapblog and to uploading a maximum of 20MB of photos each month."

Although most examples shown on the site look like traditional scrapbooks (personal photos of friends and family), this could be easily integrated into any classroom lesson that utilizes photo identification, portfolio or gallery of work, or even just to record techniques for a specific skill or process. Here are just a few examples:
• slideshow of insects of a certain classification (with taxonomy listed or not)
• slideshow of a recent trip to ___ (students view pictures with descriptions given or spoken)
• student portfolios of the semester/years art projects (with or without commentary)
• slideshow showing the detailed steps of how to ____ (fill in with a necessary skill that could be viewed online to help students, NOT something that they would have to watch WHILE doing the task -- something for review)
• portfolio with reflection on a subject or course (other students use comment feature to give feedback)
• weekly photos and reflections on given topic that can be RSS-ed (automatically updated) and viewed by the teacher and other students

What else could it be used for?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tips for Getting Students to Read - Part II

Question: Do your students read or ignore the picture captions and margin comments when they are assigned sections/chapters of the text?

Before we get to the tip, here are some stats to ponder and keep in mind as you plan for next semester's courses...

From the Kaiser Foundation:
    "...kids spend about six hours and 21 minutes per day on non-school media use, which equals about 44 hours per week."

The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that:
"Three-quarters (74%) of college students use the Internet four or more hours per week, while about one-fifth (19%) uses it 12 or more hours per week. This is somewhat higher than the amount of time most students devote to studying: Nearly two-thirds (62%) reported studying for classes no more than 7 hours per week, while only 14% reported studying 12 or more hours per week."

According to Grunwald Associates 2003 report entitled: "Connected to the future: A report on children’s Internet use from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting":
    • Sixty-five percent of US children now use the Internet, representing a 59% growth rate from 2000. Preschool children are one of the fastest growing groups to be online with 35 percent in 2002 compared with 6 percent in 2000.

    • Eighty-seven percent of Caucasian and 98 percent of high income families own computers, whereas the rate of computer ownership among African – American families is 71 percent and among low income families it is 65 percent.

    • Online children between 6 and 17 reported using the Internet 5.9 hours per week in 2002 compared with 3.1 hours per week in 2000. The older the child, the more time spent online. For example, teenagers claim they spend an average of 8.4 hours per week online, 9-12 year olds report 4.4 hours, and 6-8 year olds report 2.7 hours per week.

And these surveys were from 2002 or earlier!

A thought...

When spending many hours doing one thing in particular (accessing/using the internet), one tends to get used to the format, norms, customs, layout and design of said activity. In essence, the "NetGen" (or internet generation) has been essentially trained to ignore the margins, small banners and peripheral text since on many webpages those represent advertising or information perceived to be unimportant.

Remind students that web page structure and layouts are often the opposite that of textbooks -- the diagrams, pictures, margin notes and peripheral text often add greatly to the overall understanding of the concept(s) being discussed in the main copy.

An excellent way to demonstrate this to them in a concrete fashion is to have students "read a page" in class and take a short quiz on it (for credit or not), focusing your question on the caption, picture/diagram or sidebar text only. (Note: be sure to find a page where the main copy doesn't relate exactly to the diagram/picture and caption shown... let them see that the two provide different types of information and can lead to different levels of understanding).

Enjoy their responses...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Podcasting in the Classroom

With all the latest information on podcasting, it can be difficult to find places to begin to learn more, let alone just the basics. Here are a few resources that may help you get started learning more about educational podcasting and it's applications:

• A quick reference article, "7 Things You Should Know About Podcasting." This article is a good introduction to podcasting in education.

• An EDUCAUSE Review Article, "There's Something in the Air: Podcasting in Education."

• For a list of sources about podcasting, EDUCAUSE's Resource Center on Podcasting is a great "one-stop-shop".

• Duke University Libraries has an excellent collection of URLs. From this Web page you can link to public radio and government podcasts and podcast directories. Check out the "Universities and Tutorial." Under the Universities section you can visit podcasting sites for Duke, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and Purdue -- these universities have led the podcasting in higher education charge. In the Tutorial section is a single link to the University of Wisconsin - Madison, with information on podcasting: what it is, how to use it in teaching and learning, samples, and how to create and deliver podcasts.

• Below is a matrix of educational uses for podcasting. It shows specific types of podcasts that can be created by either students or teachers (or a combination), relating these to both time and student engagement considerations.

• Additional resources can be found at our Podcast Resource page on our CTLT site.

For more information about the Center's workshops on podcasting and digital audio recording, visit our workshop page. Currently we're offering the following sessions for summer:

Create Audio Files
June 13, June 21, June 29 at 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
July 12, July 18, July 27 at 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Learn about Podcasting
June 13, June 21, June 29 at 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
July 12, July 18, July 27 at 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

To register for one of these sessions, you can email us at ctlt@bgsu.edu or go to our registration page to do so.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Newsworthy: Are bloggers journalists?

From Charles Cooper at CNET News comes some commentary regarding a ruling by California Appeals Court on the Apple vs. independent web publishers.

Here are some highlights:
The emergence of technology that allowed personal publishing on the Internet also triggered a tiring debate over who should be considered a journalist.

Apple claimed the public has no right to know a company's trade secrets. But the appellate court said any claim of legal protection for commercial secrets was trumped by the greater good served by the free and open disclosure of ideas and information.

"As recent history illustrates, business entities may adopt secret practices that threaten not only their own survival and the investments of their shareholders but the welfare of a whole industry, sector or community. Labeling such matters 'confidential' and 'proprietary' cannot drain them of compelling public interest," the court said.

Will this be the beginning of a new reality developing... bloggers and web creators considered journalists (at least in some ways)... what about bloggers as academic researchers?

How far will it go or should it go? How will our ideas on this change (or continue to change)?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Challenge to Educators

In the BG News Opinion article by Ryan Johnson, educators are prompted (no pun intended) to "drop memorization from tests."

"From the mouths of babes..."

This just shows the value of listening to students... especially those who are craving challenge to better prepare them for their future, rather than for our past.


Pop quiz. What's the capital of Bolivia?

While waiting for tardy clubs to show up to an orientation for Spring Fling last week, my roommate wondered aloud the same question.

He was sure I would know the answer. I spent a semester in Bolivia's neighbor, Chile, and my concentration in my international studies major is Latin America.

I didn't know it off the top of my head. Thirty years ago, I would have seemed unprepared and unknowledgeable. A fraud for saying I know about South America.

Instead, I took out my Blackberry, went on Google, and came back with the answer 20 seconds later. (It's a trick question. Bolivia has two capitals, La Paz and Sucre.)

It's a different world now. Memorization is a thing of the past. We have companies like Google, whose self-proclaimed mission is to "organize all of the world's information."

Our heads can't compete. Even the best geographer in the world is no match for the CIA World Factbook online. Wikipedia now has more than 1 million articles. Bloglines indexes over 1 billion blog entries.

No longer is it useful to be able to rattle off all 50 states in 30 seconds, except for maybe at parties. An 8-year-old who spends a week memorizing the Gettysburg address is probably less than 25 feet from the nearest computer when he recites it, if he doesn't already have a Sony PSP in his pocket. And I'd like to see ESPN's The Schwab, their trivia expert, compete against my mother - who knows little about sports - with the Elias Sports Bureau in front of her.

What does this mean for the professors who still think rote memorization is useful? The ones who make their tests so that students have to camp out in the library with flash cards?

It means they're wasting students' time. What they should be doing is focusing on what is going to be really important this century: Synthesizing and analyzing information. We're in an open-book world, and what's important now is how ideas and facts connect to each other.

This shouldn't be seen as letting students get away with not learning what they used to have to memorize. Instead, it means professors should list it, teach students how to find it and then move on.

Classes would actually get more advanced. "What's the capital of Bolivia?" would become "How has having two capitals influenced Bolivia's political development?"

This doesn't mean the end of all tests. Absolutely not. Tests will always be a staple of college life and an essential one at that. Tests let professors hold students accountable and serve the valuable purpose of distinguishing which students are best at the subject.

Instead, it means more open-book tests and take-home tests. Why not let students take tests with the Internet in front of them? When we get into the job market, how often will we have assignments when we can't use all available resources? When we produce reports, clients aren't going to care if they came from memory or from an online procedures manual.

Granted, this doesn't mean that everything should be done at home or with open books. One of my professors had everyone take a quiz before each class about the chapters we were supposed to read. Most of the questions were simply facts from the chapter, just to make sure that we read it. He would then use our knowledge about the chapter to have a more advanced class discussion.

Similarly, courses in subjects such as math and engineering may have some use for memorization. But why shouldn't an English class allow you to use writer's handbooks during in-class essays?

In 20 years, there will be much more on the Internet - including every book ever written, every speech that was written down and every newspaper article. We will also have advanced handheld computers more powerful than supercomputers today.

Shouldn't our education reflect that whenever we need information on anything, it's right there?

Professors, please try to make your tests reflect our reality.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Internet Filtering & Protecting Students/Children

"Filter a website and you protect a student for a day. Educate
students about online safety in a real world environment and you protect your child for a lifetime."

~Christopher Harris
His Blog

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

AudioBlogger Test Post

How cool is this -- no more typing needed (other than this part & the title)!

this is an audio post - click to play

Digital History Resources

Yet another website on U.S. history, but what a gold mine it is! Digital History is supported by the Department of History and the College of Education at the University of Houston as well as several other partners. The main selections include:

Online textbook (American History)
Primary Sources (documents) - searchable
Ethnic Voices
For Teachers (resources/lessons)
Active Learning
Interactive Timeline
Visual History
Virtual Exhibitions
Special Topics
History Reference Room

From their "Credits" page:

This Web site was designed and developed to support the teaching of American History in K-12 schools and colleges and is supported by the Department of History and the College of Education at the University of Houston.

The materials on this Web site include a U.S. history textbook; over 400 annotated documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection on deposit at the Pierpont Morgan Library, supplemented by primary sources on slavery, Mexican American, Asian American, and Native American history, and U.S. political, social, and legal history; succinct essays on the history of film, ethnicity, private life, and technology; multimedia exhibitions; and reference resources that include a database of annotated links, classroom handouts, chronologies, glossaries, an audio archive including speeches and book talks by historians, and a visual archive with hundreds of historical maps and images. The site's Ask the HyperHistorian feature allows users to pose questions to professional historians.

Our website offers a variety of ways for students and teachers to actually do history. We have created 72 inquiry-based interactive modules that we call eXplorations. These modules provide extensive primary sources on such topics as Mexican, Tejano, and Texian perspectives on the battle of the Alamo; Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to relocate Japanese Americans during World War II and the Lyndon B. Johnson's decision to escalate American involvement in the Vietnam War in 1964 and 1965; and children's perspectives on slavery, westward migration, and World War II.

We also allow students and teachers to create multimedia American history exhibitions. These exhibitions can include historical images from our extensive database, which currently contains over 600 photographs, art works, and digitized letters. Users can easily incorporate their own text in their exhibitions. These presentations can be e-mailed, downloaded, or saved on our servers.

Digital History offers many other ways to engage students in the study of history, from fact checks (multiple choice quizzes on every era of American history), to 19th century high school entrance examinations, a time machine, an interactive timeline that links to primary source documents, and a flash overview of American history.

For teachers, we have created 24 learning modules, each of which includes a succinct historical overview; recommended documents, films, and historic images; and teaching resources including lesson plans,fact checks, and activities.

The site also contains resource guides for 44 historical eras and topics. Each includes a historical overview, links to the relevant Digital History textbook chapters, bibliographies, classroom handouts, charts, chronologies, film guides,
historic newspaper articles, primary source documents, lesson plans, historic maps, music, cartoons, quizzes, and images.

Library of Congress Webcast Resources

The Library of Congress Webcast Resources site
is a wonderful resource for educators at any level that would like to add video resources to enhance a lesson or as an extension activity for students in many areas, including:

Biography, History
Culture, Performing Arts
Poetry, Literature
Science, Technology

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

iTunesU - University Podcasting Examples

Stanford (First and most comprehensive)


Case Western (new & growing soon)

Radford (coming soon)

More to come in the fall... supposedly a LOT more!

It will be interesting to see how each university chooses to use and promote the use of their podcast portal site. As some of our other posts suggest, there are numerous uses of podcasting beyond a recorded lecture. It will be fun to watch the evolution of this process as it grows and teachers (many at student request) begin to value and use podcasts requiring higher levels of student engagement.

FREE (But Priceless) Tools for Teachers

As MasterCard(R) puts it so well, some things money just can't buy -- or shouldn't have to! When it comes to educational tools, we're just beginning to see companies, groups, organizations and individuals offer valuable resources at no financial cost. Call it open source, Web 2.0 or just plain old altruism, hopefully the "generosity" will continue bringing valuable tools to those that can put it to incredible educational use.

Here are some wonderful FREE tools for teachers to use in pursuit of educational excellence (NOTE: all are cross-platform... Mac/PC... unless otherwise stated):

Rubistar - Search for, create your own rubrics and save them online or download a copy
PBL Checklists - Problem Based Learning checklists that can be used for many types of projects, but especially suited for PBL
Zoomerang - One of many "free or fee" online survey creation and deployment tools; up to 100 responses and data stored for 10 days -- results can be copied/pasted into Word or Excel

Picassa (WinXP only) - Similar to Apple's iPhoto, it's a wonderful tool to sort, touch-up and manage digital images
Google Earth (now for both PC & Mac) - "Google Map on steroids"... Wonderful images from satellite pictures; often used on TV news stations
Cmap Tools - Concept Mapping - on your own computer or via vast shared Cmap network
Flickr - Create an image storage site or digital story on a given topic

Audacity - Sound recording and editing
PodOmatic - Online podcast creation or uploading and management/RSS
Vodcaster - For publishing/RSS audio and video podcasts

Please let us know if there are some we missed -- we'll continue to add to this post...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Wikis in Your Classroom

Wikis may sound like a silly term, but they can be quite helpful. Orignially named for the wiki-wiki busses in Hawaii (meaning quick), they offer a quick and versitile solution for collaborative works.

If you often have students work in groups to create a project or written product together, a wiki provides both a way to track progress and provide commentary (as needed) along the way.

PB Wiki is a site worth checking out if you'd like to try creating a wiki for your course. It's called PB Wiki to symbolize that it's as easy to create as a peanut-butter sandwich. (I know first hand since I've done both recently). Once created, you can take the tour of the capabilites and learn more about how to format entries (if needed) in the sandbox.

Friday, April 28, 2006

AudioBlogger - Phone in Your Blog Posts!

For those of you on the go, just like our students, give Audio Blogger a try. It seemlessly integrates with Blogger posts and more information can be found here.

Regarding the future of this technology, someone asked them, "Are you guys going to have speech to text?" they replied:
We are very excited about speech to text and are currently developing solutions to enable this capability. Also are in the works are indexing, categories, and meta-search.

This is a "non-iTunes" alternative to podcasting for anyone that would like more flexibility with their posts -- text, images, voice, & video (soon?)

NOTE: See post on May 9th, 2006 for our first test audioblog post -- nothing exciting, but it's a start!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Observing the Earth" with the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency has produced a website that is worth your time and attention: Observing the Earth. This site puts all of the data, pictures, and related resources of the ESA at your fingertips. There is a strong educational slant to the site, with a focus on ecological and economic issues that relate to space. This page and the ESA homepage itself have links to many enlightening and educational articles, as well. If you are intrigued by our final frontier, technology, international issues, and the environment, you may have just found your new homepage.

The Films of The National Archives

Google has recently begun compliling the films of the US National Archives onto their their own site, found right here. At this website, Google has posted veritable historical films to chronologue the history of the United States by way of this collection of moving historical images. The films are organized into categories such as "NASA History" or "Department of the Interior." While this site is still in its infancy, stay tuned to this resource for its growth and expansion. Keep it in mind the next time you want to find a historical film to use in your class or just for your own educational and entertainment purposes.

The National Archives Films by Google

Google has recently begun compliling the films of the US National Archives onto their their own site, found right here. At this website, Google has posted veritable historical films to chronologue the history of the United States by way of this collection of moving historical images. The films are organized into categories such as "NASA History" or "Department of the Interior." While this site is still in its infancy, stay tuned to this resource for its growth and expansion. Keep it in mind the next time you want to find a historical film to use in your class or just for your own educational and entertainment purposes.

Monday, March 20, 2006

CATs - Classroom Assessment Techniques

In their book Classroom Assessment Techniques (1993), Thomas Angelo & Patricia Cross listed and described 50 assessments that can be used to assess student learning. These are meant to be formative assessments (meaning not graded) and they are almost always anonymous. The purpose being for the instructor to obtain feedback about a lesson, concept or even the direction of the course. Students can also benefit from using CATs during the process of self reflection and metacognition -- thinking about what they've learned and possibly even how they learned it. So, although these strategies may not solve all of your assessment quandaries, they will provide some well needed insights into your course content, design, instruction as well as into student retention, understanding and engagement.

[NOTE: descriptions below & steps are from the University of Hawaii-Honolulu's Faculty Development site, but many other sites also use similar information, all based on the Angelo & Cross book.]

Background Knowledge Probe

At the first class meeting, many college teachers ask students for general information on their level of preparation, often requesting that students list courses they have already taken in the relevant field. This technique is designed to collect much more specific, and more useful, feedback on students' prior learning. Background Knowledge Probes are short, simple questionnaires prepared by instructors for use at the beginning of a course, at the start of a new unit or lesson, or prior to introducing an important new topic. A given Background Knowledge Probe may require students to write short answers, to circle the correct response to multiple-choice questions, or both.

Step-by-Step Procedure:
    1- Before introducing an important new concept, subject, or topic in the course syllabus, consider what the students may already know about it. Recognizing that their knowledge may be partial, fragmentary, simplistic, or even incorrect, try to find at lease one point that most students are likely to know, and use that point to lead into others, less familiar points.
    2- Prepare two or three open-ended questions, a handful of short-answer questions, or ten to twenty multiple-choice questions that will probe the students' existing knowledge of that concept, subject, or topic. These questions need to be carefully phrased, since a vocabulary that may not be familiar to the students can obscure your assessment of how well they know the facts or concepts.
    3- Write your open-ended questions on the chalkboard, or hand out short questionnaires. Direct student to answer open-ended questions succinctly, in two or three sentences if possible. Make a point of announcing that these Background Knowledge Probes are not tests or quizzes and will not be graded. Encourage students to give thoughtful answers that will help you make effective instructional decisions.
    4- At the next class meeting, or as soon as possible, let students know the results, and tell them how that information will affect what you do as the teacher and how it should affect what they do as learners.

Minute Paper

No other technique has been used more often or by more college teachers than the Minute Paper. This technique -- also known as the One-Minute Paper and the Half-Sheet Response -- provides a quick and extremely simple way to collect written feedback on student learning. To use the Minute Paper, an instructor stops class two or three minutes early and asks students to respond briefly to some variation on the following two questions: "What was the most important thing you learned during this class?" and "What important question remains unanswered?" Students they write their responses on index cards or half-sheets of scrap paper and hand them in.

Step-by-Step Procedure:
    1-Decide first what you want to focus on and, as a consequence, when to administer the Minute Paper. If you want to focus on students' understanding of a lecture, the last few minutes of class may be the best time. If your focus is on a prior homework assignment, however, the first few minutes may be more appropriate.
    2-Using the two basic questions from the "Description" above as starting points, write Minute Paper prompts that fit your course and students. Try out your Minute Paper on a colleague or teaching assistant before using it in class.
    3-Plan to set aside five to ten minutes of your next class to use the technique, as well as time later to discuss the results.
    4-Before class, write one or, at the most, two Minute Paper questions on the chalkboard or prepare an overhead transparency.
    5-At a convenient time, hand out index cards or half-sheets of scrap paper.
    6-Unless there is a very good reason to know who wrote what, direct students to leave their names off the papers or cards.
    7-Let the students know how much time they will have (two to five minutes per question is usually enough), what kinds of answers you want (words, phrases, or short sentences), and when they can expect your feedback.

Muddiest Point

The Muddiest Point is just about the simplest technique one can use. It is also remarkable efficient, since it provides a high information return for a very low investment of time and energy. The technique consists of asking students to jot down a quick response to one question: "What was the muddiest point in ........?" The focus of the Muddiest Point assessment might be a lecture, a discussion, a homework assignment, a play, or a film.

Step-by-Step Procedure:
    1-Determine what you want feedback on: the entire class session or one self-contained segment? A lecture, a discussion, a presentation?
    2-If you are using the technique in class, reserve a few minutes at the end of the class session. Leave enough time to ask the question, to allow students to respond, and to collect their responses by the usual ending time.
    3-Let students know beforehand how much time they will have to respond and what use you will make of their responses.
    4-Pass out slips of paper or index cards for students to write on.
    5-Collect the responses as or before students leave. Stationing yourself at the door and collecting "muddy points" as students file out is one way; leaving a "muddy point" collection box by the exit is another.
    6-Respond to the students' feedback during the next class meeting or as soon as possible afterward.

One-Sentence Summary

This simple technique challenges students to answer the questions "Who does what to whom, when, where, how, and why?" (represented by the letters WDWWWWHW) about a given topic, and then to synthesize those answers into a simple informative, grammatical, and long summary sentence.

Step-by-Step Procedure:
    1-Select an important topic or work that your students have recently studied in your course and that you expect them to learn to summarize.
    2-Working as quickly as you can, answer the questions "Who Did/Does What to Whom, When, Where, How and Why?" in relation to that topic. Note how long this first step takes you.
    3-Next, turn your answers into a grammatical sentence that follows WDWWWWHS pattern. Not how long this second step takes.
    4-Allow your students up to twice as much time as it took you to carry out the task and give them clear direction on the One-Sentence Summary technique before you announce the topic to be summarized.

What's the Principle?

After students figure out what type of problem they are dealing with, they often must then decide what principle or principles to apply in order to solve the problem. This technique focuses on this step in problem solving. It provides students with a few problems and asks them to state the principle that best applies to each problem.

Here are more links to additional websites that focus on many of the CATs:
Southern Illinois University
Indiana University
Teaching Goals Inventory (TGI) Online - A wonderful tool to help you identify essential course goals and plan your classroom assessment techniques (CATs) around them.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bloggers of Yesterday & Today

I overheard some talk recently about which historical figures would have been bloggers if they were alive today. Thinking about it now, it brought back images from the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (see this site for more information about this late 80's "blockbuster").

Some suggestions are more obvious, like Thomas Paine and the dissemination of his Common Sense pamphlet prose, while others are more debatable such as John Adams or Benjamin Franklin who helped mold a nation. Others still are in contention... those who caused others to stop and think about the world in which they lived (or will live) like Karl Marx and George Orwell.

Ideally that's what blogging can be about... a means to share thoughts, theories, ideas or even to stir up discourse, debate and controversy with one's perceptions of what is or isn't reality (or the effects and consequences of that reality).

Some would argue that this is how one learns: by being challenged and prompted to formulate and defend a response. Many teachers propose this type of learning in the form of a written paper, but blogging can add more dimensions by: 1) allowing for more than just the original formulation of the idea with multiple entries, 2) adding hyperlinks to the entry as a quick reference or supporting documentation, and 3) allowing for others to respond, question and challenge a entry in the form of comments or by setting up a "group blog" with multiple contributors. Ideally, through blogging the blogger (i.e.-learner) gets multiple chances to think, formulate, respond and refine based on the valuable input from others.

So back to our famous bloggers. Who do you think, if still alive, would be (or would NOT be) a blogger today? Add your comments or suggestions below in the comments section.

On a similar note... What about "Professors Who Blog"? See what they are "talking" about at this site.

And lastly, for more information about blogs and how they can be used in your classroom, Educause has a wonderful 2-page PDF summary, 7 Things You Should Know About Blogs .

Famous Words, Powerful Message

Only the educated are free. ~ Epictetus (55 AD - 135 AD)

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. ~ Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten. ~ B. F. Skinner (1904 - 1990)

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. ~ Will Durant (1885 - 1981)

Quotations can support someone's position or ignite a heated debate, but either way, they can be a quick and powerful tool in the educational process. Above are just a small sampling of quotes on education. For other famous quotes on a plethora of other topics, there are numerous websites to investigate and utilize; here are just some:
Quotations Page
Brainy Quote
John Bartlett’s tenth edition of 1919 contains over 11,000 searchable quotations

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Life Before Computers

As computers and technology become increasingly essential in our daily lives as educators, here is some thoughts to consider as we look back to days gone by...

Life Before Computers

From: Computer Humor
(Author Unknown)

There was life before the computer
An application was for employment
A program was a TV show
A cursor used profanity
A keyboard was a piano!

Memory was something that you lost with age
A CD was a bank account!
And if you had a broken disk,
It would hurt when you found out!

Compress was something you did to garbage
Not something you did to a file
And if you unzipped anything in public
You'd be in jail for awhile!

Log on was adding wood to a fire
Hard drive was a long trip on the road
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
And a backup happened to your commode!

Cut--you did with a pocket knife
Paste you did with glue
A web was a spider's home
And a virus was the flu!

I guess I'll stick to my pad and paper
And the memory in my head
I hear nobody's been killed in a computer crash
But when it happens they wish they were dead!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Podcasting Possibilities

Imagine… here is your learning for the day: JFK & MLK speeches, Ask an Astronomer, NPR: The Story of the Day, Discovery Channel: Nefertiti Resurrected, the President’s Weekly Radio Address, What’s Up in Taiwan, Personal Trainer in Your Pocket, Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, ChinesePod, Digital Photography Tips and the Dalai Lama series from Stanford.

This is not the latest lineup on a make-believe cable TV station. Better yet, these are podcasts that can all loaded onto your computer or portable digital audio (MP3) device – accessible to you throughout your day – in your car, while waiting in line, walking across campus or during a leisurely lunch. These are just a small sampling of the podcasts available that could easily become a valuable part of a variety of courses around campus – notwithstanding any other digital audio content that is created specifically for a course by the instructor or students.

For the spring semester, the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology has developed a mission of sorts that focuses on "Communication for Learners”. Another way to look at this theme is to realize that all learning is attained through communication of some fashion or another. From metacognitive or internal communication to more common external didactic or dynamic communication methods, teachers and students continually interact to share, create and even question knowledge. Podcasting is a tool that can assist educators in the communication of learning through the acquisition and sharing of information, experiences, and emotion. The use of podcasting in the educational world is fairly new, but it’s quickly becoming an effective and efficient way of communicating for learning.

So what exactly is podcasting? Simply stated, it’s a mobile digital audio file. More accurately and completely, there’s a bit more. It also:
- is subscribed to (via RSS – really simple syndication) so that you get new “episodes” or programs automatically as they become available
- is part of a series or theme (like episodes or programs)
- can contain still or moving images (i.e.- pictures and video) along with it

In other words, all podcasts are either audio or video files, but not all audio or video files are podcasts. The key difference between a podcast and any digital audio file is that, once subscribed to, a podcast comes to you automatically (even while you sleep!) while an audio file stays put, waiting for you to come and get it.

Podcasting has been called:
- Audio blogging
- Digital soapbox
- TiVo for the radio (& now TV with video podcasts)
- Amateur radio with reach
- Radio to go
- Audio newspaper

A podcast differs from a “regular” audio file because it can be subscribed to with something called RSS (several acronyms for this, really simple syndication being most popular). This process is often compared to subscribing to a magazine – when the new issue is complete and published, it will arrive in the mail, no additional work required from you other than the initial subscription. Podcasts will be “delivered automatically” to your computer when they become available and from here, can be transferred to your portable MP3 player (iPod, iRiver, etc.) if you have one or it can be listened to directly from your computer’s speakers.

As with any new technology that begins to find its way into the educational arena, the most important question is not “How much is it? or “Where can I make one?” Instead, the question should center on the student: How can it help improve student learning? How can it help me be a better (read: more effective) teacher? And most importantly, how will it allow me to finally do what I couldn’t do up until now? In other words, it shouldn’t be about the “Oooh, cool!” effect to hook students – that fades surprisingly fast and only scratches the surface. The focus should be on crafting a learning environment where students can communicate, create and connect more as a function of their own growth, in turn, allowing the educator to grow as well.

One of the most common uses for podcasts in education is to extend the learning experience by supplementing course content, skills, and attitudes. Currently, educators are already extending student learning beyond the classroom by assigning readings, homework problems, projects, discussion board posts, papers, and more. Podcasts don’t replace these methods necessarily; they supplement them in ways not possible before. Podcasting allows for extended learning to take place – extended time, place, emotion, prodding and ultimately or ideally, connection.

Probably the most attractive thing to both student and teacher regarding podcasts (or digital audio) is portability and reach. These recordings can be listened to while doing numerous other tasks: driving, walking/running, cross-stitch, working out, cleaning, cooking, etc. Similarly, the student and teacher have an extended connection to each other, now able to connect using the voice, adding another level or dimension to the message being conveyed. Perhaps a better term for podcasts, one that is not misleadingly brand-related, would be “portable casts”.

One BGSU faculty member exclaimed how blissful it would be to discover that a student was listening to his lecture while running on the treadmill at the Rec Center. Just imagine – two students jogging while simultaneously debating the meaning of life based on a recent Philosophy 101 podcast they listened to during their first mile.

Another benefit of using podcasts/digital audio recordings for educational purposes is that the act of speaking engages more areas of the brain than just listening or reading. For student learning, this is essential to consider – it’s often a primary reason why “real” presentations (as opposed to reading aloud) are a common assessment of student learning. When a speaker is reading a script aloud (that they have created), so that it can be recorded (and later transformed into a podcast), the visual cortex of the brain is engaged, as are the auditory and verbal/language areas. This creates several active areas of the brain, all searching for and making connections. Generally speaking, the more active and engaged a brain is during the learning process, the more likely meaningful and lasting connections are to occur.

As a teacher, think about your own content and pedagogical development; we know our content exceptionally well, in part, because we discuss, share and debate it through verbal communication with colleagues, students and even family or friends. Another example of this is Dale’s “Cone of Experience” where reading or listening to something, most can only remember 10-20%. But when we have to teach another, we will retain up to 70% of what we’re teaching the first time (obviously increasing with multiple experiences). And when we have an opportunity to simulate or do the real thing, it’s closer to 90% retention. In other words, the more active one is in the process, the more opportunities there are for learning to take place.

So how can podcasts (or digital audio) be used in your course? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Teacher uses – to “supplement & support”

• interviews (with former students, other faculty, experts, children, etc.)
• lecture recordings (for recall and review purposes)
• speeches/presentations (of experts, famous people, students, foreign language, etc.)
• ads / prep – before class preparation or anticipatory set
• focus / pep-talk – redirect students in their homework readings, practice, reflections
• case studies – easy access to verbal renditions
• teaching philosophy – spoken words convey more meaning than written, emotion with inflection, pauses, and emphasis
• “sound-seeing” tours
• professional development opportunities

Student uses – to “communicate, create & connect”

• Projects / Presentations
• Interviews
• Debates
• Other authentic tasks: book reports, reviews, case studies, journals/reflections, plays, music compositions, art gallery (with video/image players), commercials, sales pitches, “sound-seeing” tours, short stories, etc. – limited only by creativity &/or necessity

In considering using podcasts or digital audio for your courses, it’s essential keep in mind the level of student engagement while also considering the time required for such endeavors. The matrix below shows the different levels of educational use for podcasts/digital audio by comparing the level of student engagement with the amount of effort needed to create or produce the podcast/digital audio.

Another use for podcasting in the education world is for purposes of professional development. The Center is currently working on creating podcasts of our workshops as well as shorter podcasts that can provide faculty quick, but meaningful ways to improve student learning. Watch for updates on our offerings in the near future...

Podcasting is a relatively new phenomenon in the education world, but as a learning tool, one to improve, enhance or broaden the educational experience, podcasting is just moving out of the awkward wobbly stage and starting to get its footing. Before you know it, this promising learning tool, or “prodigy”, will be soaring, launching educators into new strata of extended learning environments. This, along with creative, dedicated, pedagogically-focused faculty, will open the doors to learning opportunities much greater than ever before… at least until the next tool comes along!

NOTE: If you are already using podcasts (RSS-version) in your course and would like to share your experiences with other faculty, please contact the Center at ctlt@bgsu.edu. We would love to hear your stories!

Podcasting Libraries or Directories

iTunes (to download iTunes for Mac or PC – free; from iTunes, you can search podcasts available through iTunes)
Podcast Alley
Yahoo Podcast Directory

Podcast Creation Options

Podomatic (search, download & create your own)
Odeo (search, download & create podcasts)
Profcast Software (download program to create your own; Mac only - $35)

Resources on Podcasting

7 Things You Should Know about Podcasting from EDUCAUSE
Podcasting in Education: There’s Something in the Air (EDUCAUSE Review Article)
Podcasting News – latest updates in the world of podcasting
Podcasting for Dummies, by Tee Morris & Evo Terra, ©2006
Podcasting: The Do-It-Yourself Guide, byTodd Cochrane, ©2005

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blockbuster Plagiarism???

This situation is a great reminder that plagiarism is not just about copying words from another, but also ideas. It should make for an interesting debate... one you may want to take up in your courses.

(From Yahoo News - Monday February 27 12:57 PM ET)

'Da Vinci Code' Author Accused in London

"The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown was accused in Britain's High Court on Monday of taking material for his blockbuster conspiracy thriller from a 1982 book about the Holy Grail. The accusation was made in a breach of copyright lawsuit filed against "The Da Vinci Code" publisher Random House. If the lawsuit succeeds in getting an injunction barring use of the disputed material, the scheduled May 19 release of "The Da Vinci Code" film starring Tom Hanks and Ian McKellan could be threatened.

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," sued Random House, which also published their book. Random House denies the claim. Baigent and Leigh claim Brown appropriated their ideas and themes in writing his book, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its 2003 publication. Both books hinge on the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had a child, and that blood line survives to this day. The earlier book set out the notion that Christ did not die on the cross but lived later in France.

Brown, who was expected to testify next week, told reporters outside court that this idea had no appeal for him. "Suggesting a married Jesus is one thing, but questioning the Resurrection undermines the very heart of Christian belief," said Brown, who described himself as a committed Christian. Jonathan Rayner James, a lawyer for Baigent and Leigh, said the case did not relate to the theft of specific parts of text but to the appropriation of themes and ideas. "Brown copied from 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail' and therefore the publication of the resulting novel is an infringement of my clients' copyright," he told the court.

James said his case was not an attempt to "stultify creative endeavor" or claim a monopoly on ideas or historical debate.
But Jonathan Baldwin, representing Random House, said Baigent and Leigh were making "wild allegations." He said they were suggesting that "Mr. Brown has appropriated not only the numerous parts of a jigsaw puzzle but the organizational way (Baigent and Leigh) put it together."

"In brief, the complaint appears to be that 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail' discloses the idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, that they had children which survived and married into a line of French kings, that the lineage continues today, and that there is a secret society based in France which has the objective of restoring this lineage to the thrones not only of France but to the thrones of other European nations as well, and that ('The Da Vinci Code') uses some of this idea," Baldwin said. He said Brown referred to "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" in his novel, but the earlier book "did not have anything like the importance to Mr. Brown which the claimants contend it had."

Full article here.
Wikipedia's entry on The Da Vinci Code

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Getting Students to Read: Fourteen Tips

Idea Paper #40 from the Idea Center
Getting Students to Read: Fourteen Tips
by Eric H. Hobson, Georgia Southern University

These Fourteen Tips are specific solutions that teachers can employ when trying to get their students to do their reading assignments. Address each of these in turn and you will boost your students' reading habits and course performance. To read this excellent article in its entirety,
click here.

1. Not every course is served by requiring a textbook.

2. "Less is more" applies to course reading.

3. Aim reading material at "marginally-skilled" students.

4. Use the syllabus itself as a teaching tool.

5. Explain reading assignments' relevance.

6. Assign readings close to their due dates.

7. Preview the reading yourself beforehand.

8. Use class activities that increase compliance and effectiveness.

9. Use class time to focus on the most important passages from the reading.

10. Question students about specific issues found in the reading.

11. Test over reading material.

12. Teach reading strategies overtly.

13. Use Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)to assess compliance.

14. Get assistance where/when needed.

Social Bookmarking

Heard about social bookmarking yet?

Social bookmarking is an increasingly popular way to locate, classify, rank, and share Internet resources through the use of shared lists of user-created Internet bookmark lists, the practice of tagging, and meta-data inferred the use of such tags and their relation to one another.

In such a system, users store lists of personally interesting internet resources, and (usually) make these lists publically accessible. They also classify their resources by the use of informally assigned, user-defined keywords or tags. Most social bookmarking services allow users to search for bookmarks which are associated with given "tags", and rank the resouces by the number of users which have bookmarked them. Many also have implemented algorithms to draw "meta-data" inferences from the tag keywords that are assigned to resources by examining the "clustering" of particular keywords, and the relation of keywords to one another.

Such a system has several advantages over traditional automated resource location and classification software, such as search engine spiders. All tag-based classification of Internet resources (such as web sites) is done by human beings, who understand the content of the resource, as opposed to software which algorithmically attempts to determine the meaning of a resource. Additionally, as people bookmark resources that they find useful, resources that are of more use are bookmarked by more users. Thus, such a system will "rank" a resource based on its perceived utility. This is a more useful metric for end users than other systems which rank resources based on the number of external links pointing to it.

Here are some archtypical and popular examples of this new technology:

Furl stands for Frame Uniform Resource Locator. This highly-rated site allows you to save, search, and share every web page you've ever wanted to keep.

Don't let the pun fool you, this is a seriously useful way to archive websites! It employs a non-hierarchical keyword categorization system where users can tag each of their bookmarks with a number of freely chosen keywords. Del.icio.us has a simple HTML interface with human readable URLs, as well as a REST API and RSS feeds for web syndication.

Similar in function to the other popular social bookmarking sites listed above, iKeepbookmarks prides itself on being easy to use. Even kids can purportedly use it, but you can make good use of it too in a professional or personal sense depending on your needs.

Have you used Technopoli yet?

Methods of teaching and learning are constantly evolving, and it can be a challenge to keep up with every new advance. Technopoli was created by the Ohio Learning Network to help you find the professional development opportunities you need without wasting precious resources, especially time. This tool instantly connects you to advances and announcements in education and is provided by the Ohio Learning Network at the request of other Ohio educators like you. For your information, "Technopoli" is composed of pieces of three words: TECHNOLOGY OPPORTUNITY LISTINGS. See for yourself how it earns its name at Technopoli.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New Workshops Headed To The CTLT Near You

CTLT Workshops - Communication for Learners

As teachers, we all have our areas of expertise, and in order for us to engage our students in learning about those areas, we must communicate effectively for our learners. For the Spring Semester 2006, the Center wants you to rethink, retool, and recharge your communication skills. We are offering workshops that will give you opportunities to discuss dynamic instructional communication, communication for assessment and feedback, and teaching techniques and communication tools.

Are you interested in how other faculty members deliver effective presentations? Do you design and use rubrics for student assessment? Will you use podcasting in the future to extend your classroom communication?

Read on for more specific information about this semester's workshop offerings. The Center welcomes your participation-we are dedicated to providing faculty with resources and an environment that facilitates excellence in teaching.

Dynamic Instructional Communication-skills for classroom communication choices, presentations, and discussions

"Delivering Effective Presentations"The best presenters always seek counsel and resources. As presenters we need to first find and focus our messages, but then we need to shape a forceful communication for our learners. Our presentations may take place in a variety of settings on campus, and they can employ a variety of techniques and tools. Colleen Boff, Michael Ellison, Brett Holder, and Gene Poor share their expertise about delivering effective presentations in large lecture halls, mid-sized classrooms, and computer labs.
Monday, February 27, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in 113 Olscamp
Thursday, March 23, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. in 113 Olscamp

"Matching the Media to the Audience and the Message"In all communication we consider the sender, the medium, and the receiver, and in today's classroom the media choices can make our communication faster and richer. With those choices come the responsibilities of analyzing the purpose of our messages and the learners who receive them. Meet with other faculty members in this workshop to discuss the structure, clarity, consistency, medium, and relevancy of your messages to learners.
Wednesday, February 15, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in the CTLT (pizza provided)
Monday, March 20, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. in CTLT

"Facilitating Learner Discussions"Planning and executing productive learner discussions can be challenging, but they are definitely worthwhile since they offer learners unmatched experiences in articulating, responding to, and evaluating ideas. Leading discussion, encouraging learner participation, choosing and asking effective questions-all are important components of good discussions. Join this discussion workshop for information about effective facilitating strategies for both classroom and online discussions.
Tuesday, February 21, 9:00 - 10:30 a.m. in the CTLT
Wednesday, March 22, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in the CTLT (pizza provided)

Communication for Assessment and Feedback - communication that seeks feedback for learners and teachers

"Metacognitive Assessment Strategies"Finding out what students know (or don't know) is an essential part of the educational process, for both the educator and the learner. Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) provide many opportunities for two-way communication between teacher and student as well as function as an introspective metacognitive tool for each student in your course to examine where they've been and where they're going during their guided "educational journey".
Thursday, February 9, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in the CTLT (pizza provided)
Friday, March 24, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. in the CTLT

"Organizing and Communicating Knowledge Visually"For many years, organizations of all types have used organized visual models to convey a complex message in a concise manner. Graphic organizers, mind maps, organizational charts, flow chart and concept maps are only a sampling of terminology used to describe these valuable tools. Join our discussion of the current research regarding concept mapping as a cognitive tool and investigate how to use concept-mapping software such as Cmap or Inspiration to create maps or graphic organizers that focus on your student learning outcomes.
Friday, February 17, 9:30 - 11:00 a.m. in the CTLT
Tuesday, March 14, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in the CTLT (pizza provided)

"Guiding Authentic Learning Experiences"
Have you ever struggled with evaluating a paper, presentation, portfolio or final project and exclaimed that there has to be a better way? Rubrics can serve as a means of communicating expectations of authentic tasks while doubling as a clear guide for the both student and teacher during the actual creation and assessment of the final product. Ease your apprehension toward incorporating authentic projects by joining us in discussing the purpose and basics of rubric design as well as how they can be employed to assess student growth.
Tuesday, February 21, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. in the CTLT
Tuesday, April 18, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in the CTLT (pizza provided)

Teaching Techniques and Communication Tools-pedagogical strategies and technical tools to facilitate communication

"Collaborative Visual Narratives"Images can quickly convey a message with more emotion and context than a few lines of text. Challenge your students with the integration of images to foster collaborative learning, promote visual literacy, and encourage discussion and debate through the application of a universal medium. Join us as we explore available techniques and tools to find, organize, enhance and display images in order to design a meaningful collaborative student learning experience.
Tuesday, March 28, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. in the CTLT
Monday, April 24, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. in the CTLT

"Building Shared Reflections"
If you're looking for a new way to get your students thinking, talking, writing, creating and analyzing knowledge, then come explore weblogs (blogs) and wikis! These versatile online tools allow students to reflect on their experiences, thoughts, ideas and conceptualizations with words or images. Both blogs and wikis are fairly new, especially to the education world, but they offer a new dimension to the learning environment and community by extending the classroom experience, social engagements, and critical voice.
Friday, February 24, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. in the CTLT
Tuesday, April 4, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. in the CTLT

"Extending the Classroom Experience"
If you could transform the classroom setting so that time and location were not constricting, how would your pedagogical expectations and expressions change? With the advent of networks, both technological and communal, educators now more than ever are able to extend student learning like never before. Be a part of a thought-provoking discourse on the utilization of one of the latest "extension tools", podcasting, to facilitate, enhance and extend student-learning opportunities.
Thursday, March 2, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in the CTLT (pizza provided)
Tuesday, April 11, 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. in the CTLT

Monday, January 30, 2006

Making Connections

How do you incorporate student prior knowledge or expertise in your lesson/lecture? (Post your ideas in the comments below)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Helpful Tips for Faculty

Here are some strategies that may be helpful as you settle into another busy, yet productive semester. These were discussed during the New Faculty Learning Community:
    • Create a routine for the students to get used to, for example: the first 5-10 min. of class or last 5-10 (but not the entire class)
    • Give preview questions to go with each reading
    • To return papers, call their name and have them come pick it up from you up front – this way you get to see them for a longer period of time (not just the back of their head)
    • In order to proof your own writing (which is often a futile effort since you wrote it and easily overlook errors), read it from the end, one full sentence at a time.
    • To reduce the cringe factor or to relieve anticipatory stress for your students, use euphemisms ☺ (Ex.- “preparation exercises” are quizzes, “narrative piece” is a paper)
    • Create an outline or “skeleton” of your PPT (PowerPoint) and post it on BlackBoard before the class so they can fill it in during class (or for preparatory work ready when they come to class)
    • As always seems to be the case, moderation is the key when it comes to reflecting on your course evaluations
    • As a professional with multiple demands on your time – teaching, research, service, committees, professional development, and so on, it’s essential to schedule time (even if it’s 15-30 minutes a day, 2 times a week) – Ex- allow for 30 min. on M, W, F to write a professional article. For more information on this and researched benefits, check out F.O.P. (First Order Principles for College Teachers), by Robert Boice
    • Remember… writing and research are both recursive, so the more you put in, the more you will get out of each, oftentimes “magically”

Please feel free to add your own in the comments section below... the more, the better!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Teaching To & Learning From the "Gamer Generation"

Little did I know that when my brother and I received a ColecoVision game system for Christmas when I was 12 years old, we were unknowingly initiated into the “Gamer Generation”. Growing up playing video games became an enigma that now separates us from our older siblings, parents and many other elders. But unlike most university students, I did not grow up from birth with a mouse in one hand and a cell phone in the other… this puts me in a “tweener” generation that can relate to what teaching and learning used to be like and what may be required now of educators to reach "the gamers".

Today, I rarely find (make) the time to play any video games although I do have an outdated PS1 (original PlayStation) system tucked away somewhere collecting dust. But coming from this experience, and as a former high school teacher, I found myself nodding my head in agreement at much of what Dr. John C. Beck had to say this past Tuesday at the first President’s Lecture Series event. (click here to log into to the DVSS and search for a streaming video of the event)

Here is a summary of his major points made (with some commentaries in parentheses):

John C. Beck (Capturing the Value of the Gamer Generation)

• They think, believe and learn differently
• Growing up on games creates a whole new way of thinking about the world
    - The game worlds are immersive worlds, often competitive
    - (they control things, investigate, goal seeking, emotion, decision making/problem-solving)

• Gamers are:
    - More competitive
    - Naturally global-thinking
    - More social and work better in teams
    - Willing to take risks -- attitude of “immunity to failure”
    - More confident in abilities -- prefer to be paid based on actual performance rather than a set salary
    - Believe more in luck (can be seen as them not caring and shrugging it off)
    - Flexible, don’t mind having to change (this will be helpful with the rapid changes we’re just beginning to enter)
    - They can easily go “meta”/reflective

• Boys – spatial; girls – linear (success in schools to girls, boys like games for spatial environment)
- Both want to be heroes (“that’s not fair”; kids starting charities and non-profits)
• They want to be challenged; give tough jobs/tasks
    - Natural multi-taskers
    - They want fun (to be engaged/interested/pay attention to)

• Games are basically fair (player messes up, they lose, etc.)
• “Strategy guides are good; Level Bosses are not” – that is there implied / undercurrent reality
    - Strategy guides help gamers be successful in getting through a game
    - Level bosses are something to be conquered, overcome, killed, etc. in order to move on to the next level
    - As a boss (teacher/leader), be a “strategy guide”, NOT a “level boss”

• Competitive, risky, difficult, social, global, heroic – build this type of world for them to be involved in
• All of this will change… so stay current!
- Blogs – potentially creating a world where secrets are less viable
• (Games have the potential to be a training ground for doing good; more games to promote this are forthcoming)
- Game of smiley faces clicked on while traveling over clouds – the study included approx. 130 people – it improved their self esteem
• How will relationships change in future because of this interaction between machine & human?
- Second Life – virtual world allows you to become who you want to be online
• Used to be able to buy things from others on eBay, not anymore
• “Sweat-shops” in India/China that you can contract out – i.e.-pay - to click on mouse a million times so you can gain points in these virtual worlds (Many virtual gamers are outraged by this, see “fair” item above)
• Neural pathways are created up until the age of about 13 – after that, it’s more difficult to change &/or learn (it can be done, but not as fluid or easily attained)
• Gamer generation CONTROLLED the dot.com ride – they were just living out a live video game! Like Super Mario Bros. where you collect gold pieces and once you get enough you can fly!!! – like a corporate jet!
-When the “ride” was over, they were OK… onto the next adventure…

To access an online audio recording of IT Conversations interview with John Beck, ”When Gamers Enter the Workforce” (~17 min.)