Workshop 5

Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants and Technological literacy:

The comparison made between being a Digital Native and a Digital Immigrant was interesting as I never previously thought of it like that. I then thought about technology as a language. Those who grow up speaking a language think very differently in it than a non-native speaker of the same language. The same idea applies to technology. Those who grow up interacting with and using technology tend to develop a very different mode of learning than someone who did not grow up using and interacting with technology. This is where literacy comes in. Those who grow up with technology not only are able to use it but also have the ability to understand, manage, and evaluate it. It is possible for a Digital Immigrant to acquire this kind of literacy but it will take them much more time.

Technology in the classroom:

There is still a large divide between teachers who are adamantly against having any kinds of technology in the classroom and teachers who are all for it. Yes, having technology in the classroom can be distracting to the students and disrespectful to the teacher. Some even argue that it takes away from what the “traditional” classroom learning experience is. On the other hand, students now have access to all of this technology that can ultimately enhance their learning experiences if they are used responsibly.

Technology Trends and Costs of Technology:

One of the major pieces of technology that should definitely be tracked right now is wearable technology. More specifically, Google Glass. With the way Google has been advertising this product, it is clear that they want it to go mainstream. This has the potential to be huge and we should consider what would happen if everyone started essentially wearing a hands free, voice controlled phone on their heads. Many people have already expressed their fears of losing a lot of privacy with this and I believe privacy will be the major issue with a product like this.

Googling Myself:

I wasn’t too surprised when I uncovered virtually nothing about myself through Google. The only things that I could find were my Facebook profile and my LinkedIn profile. This didn’t surprise me much since I have always been very careful about publicly viewable information.

Digital Badges: Incentive for Online Learning?

I was recently introduced to the idea of using online badges to acknowledge a skill or goal that you have accomplished. I found this idea to be intriguing because this would be a great way to enhance online learning and student motivation. The Mozilla Foundation has taken the initiative with their free and open sourced Open Badges software (http://openbadges.org/).

According to Mozilla,

A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve earned. Open Badges takes that concept one step further, and allows you to verify your skills, interests and achievements through a credible organization. And because the system is based on an open standard, you can combine multiple badges from different issuers to tell the complete story of your achievements — both online and off. Display your badges wherever you want them on the web, and share them for employment, education or lifelong learning.

The fact that this is completely open and free means that with a supportive community, it will keep getting better as more features and bug fixes are made. There already is a WordPress Plugin that implements the software.

Now a major flaw that MOOCS and online education in general has is that when you complete a course you get no recognition for it. Yes you may have acquired new skills and knowledge from the course but wouldn’t it be nice to broadcast this accomplishment to schools and potential employers? Badges could also be a solution to the inability to receive credit for the completion of online courses.

These badges don’t have to be limited to online education though. Imagine a full-fledged  online badge system that is implemented on a professional workplace. Now employees don’t have to worry about work going unnoticed and can feel even better about accomplishing tasks. The competitive element that these badges can bring would drive motivation even more as well.

Mozilla’s envision of a Badge ecosystem:

Badge-diagram-2.3 Taken From http://openbadges.org/about/

 

Workshop 3

My own philosophy on Educational Technology:

“Knowledge is power.”

This all to familiar adage provides a strong basis for many philosophies in education and I believe that it provides a perfect basis for my philosophy on educational technology as well. Retaining knowledge is how we are able to learn. What good is teaching something only to have students forget most of it in a week? What good is simply taking in information without really retaining it? When I say retaining knowledge, I don’t mean just being able to remember everything that was taught in a class. I believe that we are able to retain information the best when there is some sort of memorable experience associated with it. This is where I think technology can help greatly.

Using technology in class can help create that memorable experience needed to retain knowledge. Whether it is using an iPad to dynamically present classroom material/share content in some way or seeing a creative Prezi presentation that really opens your mind. These experiences created through using technology help us to not only gain the knowledge but to retain it.

Peter Norvig’s Ted Talk on the 100,000 classroom is a good example here because he uses some of this philosophy. Part of the reason why this class was a  success was due to the experience the students had of just being in a digital classroom like that. Also, the interactivity between students is paramount. Some may argue that a lack of feedback from the professor is a major fault for online courses like this but the fact is that the professor only needs to be a guide for the students now. The role of the professor is changing from one of being a pure lecturer to more of a facilitator of discussions and interactivity in the classroom. The technology at our disposal now is what is causing this progression.

There is a professor here at Skidmore who also uses some of this philosophy. When he teaches classes, he makes it a point to not say much and allows the students to discuss questions for some period of time before coming to a conclusion. He also uses clickers which enhances the interactivity. Now you may think that this would only work in a class that is inherently open for discussion like a History or English class. Well this is not the case since this professor uses this method for his computer science class which is much more on the objective side. I’ve spoken with a few students who have had him as a professor and they all agree that they prefer his style of teaching.

Although I do believe that this is a good philosophy on Educational Technology, It is only really relevant to new and young educators. This could be a downside but as time goes by, I think we will see more of this philosophy implemented in the classroom.

 

Interview with Professor Rachel Roe-Dale

What’s your process for creating instructional goals?

 

I think in the end, the process is the same. For example take our numerical algorithms class. I want you to be able to leave being able to do a series of things. I always think about what you will need for future courses, graduate school or work. So basically in a broader sense It’s about what skills or what material I want you to have encountered by the time you leave the course. That breaks down into the goals that I have for each individual class. It’s a little difficult I’ve found with having goals for a specific class since it’s difficult to gauge exactly how far along I will get in each lesson due to student’s concerns and questions.

 

How do you design a syllabus?

 

After you have planned and looked at your main goals you make a time grid for how many weeks and how many classes per week and then try to fit that material into the time grid, that’s quite literally what happens. And then with regards to what the syllabus is actually made up of besides class material, I look at what assignments will help my students achieve these goals. It’s so much easier coming into it a second time because you have an idea of the questions that students will ask and you can plan around that as well.

 

So it really depends on the students as well?

 

Yes that’s it and the other thing too is that, and I’m sure you’ve heard this adage before, you never really learn the material until you have to teach it. So I think that as I present material more than once, I get better and more confident. You get better at handling mistakes and you make less of them.

 

What activities and tools do you find work or don’t work in class?

 

It really depends on the class. I think that when instructions aren’t clear then it just doesn’t work. Over time you can also think about how to make instructions more clear. It’s difficult because when you already know what you are doing its hard to figure out how much information you need to relay to someone who is a novice at that process. When I first taught Linear Algebra and introduced students to Matlab, they complained and said that it was a little confusing to use. SInce then I’ve been sure to give tutorials on the software to make it easy to understand and it always changes from year to year. You’re always modifying the course to account for this.

 

I know that the two big softwares here are Matlab and Mathematica. So how did you arrive at the use of Matlab as opposed to Mathematica?

 

Well really two reasons. One being that it’s based off my background; I’ve done a lot of work in Matlab. The other reason is that it’s based off of feedback from students who have graduated. They tell me that using Matlab and having classes with it would be helpful because that is what they are needing now. We’ve always had this Numerical Algorithms course but it had not been taught for several years. There wasn’t really a demand for it from students. When I came all of these things worked out sort of and I was able to offer it once and it was well received so then we made it a regular part of the curriculum.

 

Which activities and projects elicit intended outcomes as the “best”?

 

I think, and again I’m thinking about your 316 course, that working on challenging problem sets for homework produces the best outcomes. These assignments are tailored to help students become more comfortable with what they’re struggling with over time. Just having the experience in working with these problems and with the computer, I think, is the best way. And this is true in any class I teach as well. I always give out a lot of homework assignments to help students gain more experience.

 

How do you measure success and performance in class?

 

I think that if you have learned something in the class then it was a success. Just because a student doesn’t get an A in the class doesn’t mean that I think they haven’t been successful, and I hope that they don’t think so either. I get more satisfaction in observing someone who has really wrestled with the material and has really had to put forth that effort. The grades don’t always tell the full story.

 

How do course evaluations influence your approach for future classes?

 

Evaluations can be tricky because often times students won’t understand the reason for or way in which they should answer the questions. It’s most helpful when students are very specific about what they liked and if there is something that they didn’t like then they should offer a suggestion or a change. They definitely have helped me in planning the next course. It’s nice to see that the more times I’ve taught a course, the course evaluations have improved as well.

 

 I found it interesting how Rachel actually followed the ADDIE model to an extent. She mentioned that the Numerical Algorithms course was always offered but there was not a high demand for it. So when she came, she analyzed the need for the course and decided to offer it. She then had to design the course and course syllabus. She did so by planning a series of main goals. This then went along with the development of the course as she had to decide what assignments should go along with the course material to help her reach those goals. She also decided on what technology she would implement to help her students now and in the future (in this case, the software Matlab). The time for implementation then came as she taught the course for the first time. She found it difficult the first time because you don’t know what kind of questions the students will ask or how comfortable with the material they will be for the first time it is being taught. Once the second time came around she was able to account for similar questions and was able to gauge more accurately how the class was doing with the material. The course evaluations play a large part in this because through those evaluations she is able to see what works and doesn’t work in the class and can adjust for the next time. This process repeated and she is now on her third time teaching the course and has been able to get it to be quite structured.

Interview with Kelly Dempsey

 

  • What is your role and what are some of your main responsibilities at Skidmore College?
    • “Well I’ve been here for ten years now and my responsibilities have evolved since. When I first arrived my title was training and documentation coordinator so my main role was to conduct workshops and do a lot of written documentation for all the programs we supported. Early on my primary duties were also to support faculty developing their own websites so I did a lot of html and Dreamweaver training. Now we have converted to a content management system and also acquired BlackBoard and so my role changed as well. Now my main responsibility is to manage the BlackBoard system at Skidmore, which is growing by leaps and bounds.
  • What do you see as the most important goals for Skidmore College? How do you see IT Services fitting into these goals?
    • Well our goals are to increase the use of technology in the classroom. We want to help the faculty integrate lots of different technology into their teaching. The world is evolving technologically and the way students learn is changing and so the use of technology in the classroom is really important. The learning management system is an example of how we are trying to do this. With how more and more faculty are using it now, we are trying to get them away from the role of just using it to upload their syllabus and readings and into more of an interactive communication tool for their students. A long term goal for us would be getting to the point where we’re offering hybrid courses using BlackBoard and having students come to some classes while faculty teaches online for when students do not have to come to class.
  • What are major Challenges facing your area of responsibility?
    • One major challenge is always budget. We are always looking for plugins and such to add on to BlackBoard.  Another challenge that we are currently facing is trying to incorporate multimedia, videos specifically, into courses through BlackBoard. The process has been a little difficult. We just purchased a platform called Share Stream. It’s built right into BlackBoard so now if a professor wants to upload a video for their students to watch they can do it themselves and will not need us to do it anymore. Since it’s hosted on the Share Stream server we won’t have to worry about storage either. Another major challenge we are facing is keeping up with all of this. We always take a look and ask ourselves, “Are we keeping up with where we should be a year from now, three years from now, and five years from now?” Mobile and cloud computing are two of the biggest things to keep up with. It’s definitely a challenge with how rapidly technology keeps changing but it’s also fun and exciting. Every day I come into work wondering what I will be facing, how will I handle it and if I know enough to be able to answer people’s questions.

 

One of the most important points that Kelly brought up, in my opinion, is that the world keeps evolving technologically and the way students learn is changing along with it. While this can be a good thing, I can also potentially see it being a bad thing. With students changing the way they learn through increasing interactions with technology, we need to be able to provide them with the tools necessary to foster knowledge growth. Things like integrating tablets in the classroom to dynamically share media projects, using Blackboard as a kind of cloud/hub space for faculty to interact with students, and things like smart boards are all steps in the right direction to facilitate the new ways in which students are learning. However, the negative aspect of all of this is that technology never stops evolving. And as Kelly addressed as a major challenge, will we be able to keep up with the changes? Will we be where we should be one, three, or five years from now and how much will this cost us? There will be ,many opportunities to integrate this technology into the classroom especially given how rapidly mobile and cloud computing are evolving. My hope is that we will be able to keep classrooms updated and as high tech as possible to allow students to learn in all these new ways that are being made available to them.

Digital Media at Skidmore College

Rather than having an official model for video narrative projects at Skidmore, we have a very open policy for these types of projects. In the library we have the Media Services center and within this area is the Multimedia Production Lab where students can come in on a walk-in basis to work on any kind of digital media project. Support for any project in the lab is directly provided by the student staff in Media Services. 

Skidmore is prepared for the growing number of projects as video projects become more mainstream because our Multimedia Production Lab is fully equipped with the current, in demand software that’s used for top quality production such as Final Cut Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite. Another thing to note is that this software is now not being limited for use in the Multimedia Production Lab but can also be found on computers in more common student spaces so that even more students can have access to it.

Some aspects of Colgate’s model that would prove to be useful for implementation in our program are the points listed in the Assessment and Promotion portions of their CEL Process Document. It would be beneficial for us to get a wide range of feedback on our Media Service support through the use of a survey distributed online for example. We can then use that feedback to improve on anything that might need improvement. We would also benefit from a better promotion system for media projects. For one of my classes in the first semester, I was tasked with making a video project with a partner. We were limited to using Windows Movie maker and it was the first video editing/production project for both of us. If the Multimedia Production Lab and the Media Services support was better promoted, our production could have been made top quality and without most of the technological nuances that we came across.

 

Implementation of Video in the Curriculum: A Step By Step Example

 

At Skidmore, we tried to incorporate a model of sorts for implementing a video project into one of the Firs-year seminar courses as part of the First Year Experience (FYE).

  1.  We looked to find which course would benefit the most from having this technology integrated into the syllabus. The course chosen was Travel Writing and Gender: Power, Place and Identity.
  2. Discussions were had with the faculty to bring together the content knowledge of the faculty member and the technological knowledge from IT professionals.

Determined:

-The Specifics of the Video Project itself

-The Instructional Design:

*Digital Storytelling/narrative design and videography instruction

*Culminating video project

*5 minutes final project = 15 minute footage

-The Technology to be used:

*Flip Video Cameras

*iMovie/iDVD  ‘09

4.     Met with the class early in the semester to explain the video project. Workshop tutorials were then set up for the class in a computer lab to learn the software. Students then had the option of working independently or setting up instructional sessions with IT staff.

5.     The Projects were shared publicly with the rest of Skidmore through:

-Class Film Festival where Instructional Technologists were also invited to see the      culmination of the students’ work.

-Class Screening where debriefs and interviews were held

-Archives on Hollywood Streaming Server

6.     Evaluation of the final project through:

-Student self-evaluation and peer critique during film festival

-Companion Essay

-Samples of qualitative feedback

I think that the use of this model for any further digital media project would be very beneficial in the long run as it is a good approach for integrating technology into the classroom setting for professors who are completely new to the idea. The planning, discussions and workshop tutorials are a crucial part for this to work. There are so many implementations that this can have if this model is extended to work on a general campus setting. With the development of robust streaming servers we can have students sharing projects with each other. It can be even more dynamic if a content management system such as Blackboard is incorporated. Then there will also be that social aspect and we would be one step closer to a point where students won’t even need to physically go to class all of the time to properly learn material.