Wednesday, April 30, 2008

3-d Handsfree

I think this is a very significant development. I represents an important step between the physical presence and the virtual. There is no telling where this can go but that is the true spirit of exploration and discovery.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Media Festival

I am organizing a "New Media Festival" here at Tacoma Community College. We will design workshops for the students in new media, open source, and web 2.0 tools, have the students create media, host the media online (YouTube, PodcastPeople, iTunes, etc) but collect it all at the Tacoma Challenge. We will then give awards out in the Fall where we will show nominees and give out awards and prizes.

The purpose of this enterprise is many-fold. I am looking for a way to bring all of these great tools and resources we have on campus to the attention of the students. I want to help create cross-discipline curriculum (why can't the art dept. work with the computer music class?). I want to host all of the entries in the student news site (The Tacoma Challenge) and thereby increase the community. It will have gone from a newspaper, to a news site, to a community of people sharing ideas in completely new ways.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Gig Harbor Presentation

PowerPoint as an Interactive Teaching Tool

From: geoffcain, 3 hours ago

Eight principles for keeping PowerPoint real.

At a minimum, a presentation format should do no harm to content. Yet again and again we have seen that the PP cognitive style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content. Thus PP presentations too often resemble the school play: very loud, very slow, and very simple. -- Edward R. Tufte, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, p. 22.

PowerPoint as an Interactive Teaching Tool: Eight Techniques
Geoffrey B. Cain

The following techniques are not meant to replace your current use of PowerPoint as an information delivery tool, slide show, etc. These techniques are meant to apply principles of interactive teaching that you probably already use in your lectures or your class activities. These slide suggestions are meant to help you prevent the computer from interfering with your teaching.

1. Opening Slides:

“Take a moment to reflect on your experience of PowerPoint. Think of a negative example and a positive example.”

An opening slide is an opportunity to allow students to engage prior knowledge. Students learn effectively when they make connections between what they already know (prior knowledge) and new content to which they’re exposed. The opening of a lecture can facilitate these connections by helping students exercise their prior knowledge of the day’s subject matter.
Present an “opening question” on a PowerPoint slide and give students a moment to think about their response. The instructor may then ask a few students for answers. This strategy focuses students’ attention on the day’s topic. It provides the instructor with useful feedback on what students know and don’t know about the material being presented. The opening question might be a question that informs the entire lecture -- a point that can be returned to throughout the lecture.

2. Problem-Solving Slides:

Slide contains a question and the answer is left blank to let the students answer first.

With PowerPoint, the instructor can raise a question, give an example that needs correction, present a formula, and then ask the students to solve the example. When the instructor clicks the slide again the correct answer (or a correct answer) appears. The instructor can either go on to the next problem or discuss how to arrive at the correct answer. This is also an example of a non-linear teaching technique because where the lecture goes depends upon the student feedback.

3. Non-Linear PowerPoint Slides

“Three categories that should be understood together.”

PowerPoint often breaks information up into little discreet bits and breaks down meaning by extracting from the whole. In other words, some kinds of knowledge lose their meaning or significance when broken up into the bite-sized chunks that PowerPoint traditionally encourages. With use of simple animations, three columns of information can be highlighted one column at a time “on click.”

4. Focusing Activity Slides

“Think about how you might apply what you have learned today in your particular discipline. Discuss these applications with your neighbor and be prepared to share with the class.”

Interactive learning strategies like this can be used as transition points in the lecture. Employed in this way, these strategies give students an opportunity to think about and work with material just presented before moving on to new information. They also help the instructor gauge how well students have understood the content, perhaps shaping what the instructor discusses during the remainder of the period.
“List as many characteristics of a good lecture that you can.”

Focused listing is a strategy in which students recall what they know about a subject by creating a list of terms or ideas related to it. To begin, the instructor asks students to take out a sheet of paper and begin generating a list based on a topic presented on a PowerPoint slide. Topics might relate to the day’s assigned reading, to a previous day’s lecture material, or to the subject of the current session. Instructors often move around the room and look at students’ lists as they write, briefly summarizing major trends or themes as a way of closing the exercise. Others ask students randomly to share the contents of their lists before moving on with their lecture. In either case, focused listing need not take more than a few minutes.

5. Questioning Slides:

“Questions?” or “Come up with one test question based on this lecture and try to stump your partner.”

Asking students to come up with a question about the lecture before they leave the room encourages them to think about the material and form their own sense of closure to the lesson. The instructor can choose a couple of students at random and answer their questions in the remaining time. If collected in writing, the questions can also serve as a classroom assessment technique to help instructors judge how well their students are learning. When the students know that there are questions at the end of a lecture, they tend to take more focused notes.

6. The Blank Slide

“ “

One way to gain students’ attention and to remind yourself to stop for questions is to insert a blank slide into your presentation. This is a disruption that casts the student’s full attention on the lecturer. You can go to a questioning slide, check student comprehension, and move on to the next part of your lecture. You can also use the “b” key at anytime to black out the screen when you think it is an appropriate time to bring the material off the screen and into the classroom. You can hit the "w" key and get a white screen (think spotlight). Hitting those keys again returns you to the presentation

7. The Game Slide


This, of course, does not replace assessment but can be a way to check or enhance student learning in the middle or at the end of a lecture. Questions do not have to be based on mere rote memorization (e.g. questions can be created and sorted by Bloom’s Taxonomy).

8. The Mnemonic Visual Slide
The final technique is not really a technique but an admonition to think before you use any graphic. Make sure you understand why you are using the graphic. Aesthetic reasons are often enough, but as a designer, you have another opportunity to reinforce information or create a mnemonic device for your students or yourself as a speaker. The irony here is that in the renaissance, there were handbooks on how to memorize large amounts of information. A few of those books would outline elaborate pictures that stood in for places in the mind where information could be stored. Your illustrations can do that for your lectures and in turn, help your students remember the information as well.

The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers. -- Sydney J. Harris

SlideShare Link

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies

Each month, the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies (RCCS) publishes a set of book reviews and author responses. books of the month for April 2008 include:

Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture
Author: Lisa Gitelman
Publisher: MIT Press, 2006
Review 1: J. Patrick Biddix
Review 2: David Heineman
Review 3: Michelle Rodino-Colocino
Author Response: Lisa Gitelman

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
Author: Henry Jenkins
Publisher: NYU Press, 2006
Review 1: Susan Keith
Review 2: Anne Kustritz
Review 3: Darby Orcutt
Review 4: J. Richard Stevens
Author Response: Henry Jenkins

Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
Author: David Weinberger
Publisher: Times Books, 2007
Review 1: Lucinda Austin
Review 2: Geoffrey B. Cain
Review 3: Erika Pearson
Author Response: David Weinberger

Online Matchmaking
Editors: Monica T. Whitty, Andrea J. Baker, James A. Inman
Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007
Review 1: Trudy Barber
Author Response: Andrea J. Baker

Enjoy. There's more where that came from.
David Silver
david silver's blog

Wikis and Emergent Roles for Teaching and Learning

I was really pleased at the turn-out for this presentation. Wikis are being used for a wide variety of educational applications in many different kinds of educational settings.

Gail Burns and David Reed are using Blackboard, Moodle, and along with Moodle they are using Atlassian's Confluence wiki software. They use it for:
1. Building knowledge bases
2. Event planning
3. Collaboration on documents
4. Meeting minutes
5. Student collaboration

David Reed trains and manages Student Technology Assistants. The STA program is a year long program. Students are paid to participate. They spend semester in training learning about:
1. Web design
2. Office productivity
3. Graphic design
4. Software training
5. LMS support

They then spend the next semester helping faculty with projects, supporting the lab, and training the next generation of STAs in STA workshops. It is a brilliant idea.

At this point, the wiki was used to post meeting minutes and announcements.

They lost their workspace and to replace it, David divided their time between face-to-face meetings and posting on to a wiki. He decided that they needed some wiki projects to bring them together. These projects included:
1. An STA mission statement (an informal document)
2. An "Open House" project where they created posters, signs, and slogans.
3. The STA workshop wiki

STAs began to post to the wiki things they wished they knew about or wanted to learn. Other STAs began to post skills they had and this began to inform the direction of formal and informal workshops.

I think our eLearning Dept. at TCC could really learn from this program. I would love for those STAs to meet some of our student workers.

Next came Barbara Shroeder, the head of the Academic Technologies dept. She came up with a "best practices" list for wikis in education:
1. Create a culture of trust - students have to learn the risk-taking involved with writing and editing online.
2. Set up guidlines (
3. Create a common goal for the wiki
4. Create meaningful assignments
5. Include explicit instructions
6. Remind students of deadlines
7. Define roles
8. Examples and models of collaborative activities should be modeled
9. Clear expectations should be provided
10. Patience - students may take a while to get the hang of new tech.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008
11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Room of the Dons, Lobby Level

* Gayle Burns, Manager of Academic Technologies, Occidental College
* David Reed, Academic Technologist, Occidental College
* Barbara Schroeder, Instructional Designer, Boise State University
* Session convener: Crista Copp, Senior Director, Educational Technology, Art Center College of Design


Institutions increasingly encourage students to take an active role in their own learning. Wikis can facilitate this process by offering many ways for faculty and students to collaborate and create content. This panel of wiki experts from Boise State University and Occidental College will discuss their experiences in using wikis, including emergent roles in the teaching and learning process, critical to the effective use of this new technology.

Space Defines Destiny: assessment of a learning studio

This presentation at the Western Regional Educause conference was particularly interesting to me because of the struggles we have gone through to get Second Life working in a lab and classroom environment, and because of conversations we have had in our department about learning spaces.

* Jim S. C. Tom, Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology, University of Missouri-St Louis

"This session will present the planning, use, and assessment of our first flexible technology-enhanced classroom or learning "studio"—an immediately useful yet also provocative and experimental space. We will show how the completed space itself challenged our faculty and students to redefine what learning at UMSL could mean."

They wanted to create a learning space that would challenge the typical teaching space model that includes fixed seating, "sage on the stage" teaching, and a culture of discomfort that does not invite engagement or participation.

They created a discussion group on innovative classroom design called the "Provost's Forum" that included staff, faculty, students, facilities and planning. The result was a working paper on classroom design. They decided that a learning space should be flexible, comfortable, social, and accessible. They created a team to design the space that included their IT department, faculty, a systems integrator (I want that job), and interior designer (what a relief! don't the IT dept. choose the colors!), and facilities. This is really a radical idea: get teachers to help design learning spaces with those who have to build and use this space.

They built a prototype classroom that would have assessment of the project built into its use. This is different from a culture that builds spaces but does not follow up on how they are used.

Assessment included:
1. Faculty observations
2. Blogs
3. Video recordings
4. Surveys of all users
5. Debriefing meeting with faculty

The room included two projectors facing opposite walls, a plasma screen, white boards, an area with couches, circular tables that were made of moveable quarters on wheels, a cart of laptops, sympodium, and a document camera. Their budget for the one room came in at $222,000!

They found that the rooms promoted engagement. The comfortable space was less threatening to students who said that it felt like a privilege to use the room and that it made them want to learn and participate. Faculty said that "the space is the message." Space not only determines how the students feel about learning but it also communicates how the institution feels about teaching and the students as people.

Spaces reflect the values of the institution.

The classroom had no obvious front or back. It encouraged the faculty to circulate among the students.

They learned that training teachers how to use the space was important.