Faculty Café

Snack time. Yes, there will also be fruit.

I’m a big believer in the afternoon snack - that “little something” to keep you going.  And, just as our bodies can need a pick-me-up, our brains can use a bite-size bit of learning or new information to refresh and re-inspire.  So, down here at ATIG, we thought: “Why not combine the two? It could be the next best thing since Reese’s put peanut butter and chocolate together.”  (Mmm, Reese’s…)

We were also motivated by faculty comments.  Many faculty members have said to us that they wish there were more opportunities to share information with colleagues in an informal way.  And so, Faculty Café* is born.  Faculty Café is a weekly chance to drop in, have a home-made snack, a little coffee or tea, and share information with colleagues about teaching strategies.  Or get suggestions from your fellow teachers on how to solve a problem you’ve encountered.  Or ask us a quick question. We’ll have a few conversation triggers available to inspire you – but you own this time.  Nothing formal, no commitments — if you just want a cookie, that’s okay too.

The first Faculty Café is scheduled for Wednesday, September 10 at 3 pm in WSC 113. 

*We were going to call it “Snack and Share” but thought maybe it sounded a little pre-school.
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Writing Measurable Learning Objectives

To define how to write measurable learning objectives, we should answer first what a learning objective means. There is an inconsistency in literature about terms like learning goalslearning objectives, and learning outcomes, because they overlap in meaning. Another reason is because they have slightly different meaning based on whether we see them as program goals, objectives, and outcomes or whether we mean lesson specific learning goals, objectives, and outcomes. Exploring the meaning of each of these three terms we will lead us to the notion of why writing measurable learning objectives is important to design a pedagogically sound lesson.

A learning goal is the stated desired result, the intent to be achieved upon the end of a learning process. In both a program and a course, a description refers to the purpose and reasons of existence of the designed instruction. Learning goals are usually included in the description as general statements that relate to the selection of instructional strategies and assessment methods; the goals are the intended learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes are connected to assessment of learning; they are the achieved results – the gained skills, knowledge, or values initially described with the general learning goals and the specific learning objectives. In a bigger scale, learning outcomes overlap in meaning with learning goals. The alignment of program goals puts in perspective the learning process. Learning outcomes set faculty and student expectations and define the role of the student during the time one is in school and after graduation.

Learning objectives pertain to the specificity of the design of a course or program as foundational blueprint components. They may or may not exist if only learning goals/outcomes are outlined. Learning objectives in a bigger scale are the learning goals broken down to outline specific outcomes.

In comparison, in a smaller scale – within a lesson – the terms learning objectives and learning outcomes can be used interchangeably, because both refer to the specific results of the performed learning activities. The former refers to intended results, the latter to achieved results. Learning goals pertain to the lesson topic and general purpose of the lesson, while both learning objectives and learning outcomes are very specific.

So, whether created for a program, a course, or a lesson, learning objectives are specific statements that describe acquired abilities. Learning objectives show the connection between actions that lead to the end results and the desired end results themselves.

Many times, however, when writing objectives, instructors describe the instructional activities rather the intended results thus converting the learning objectives to teaching objectives. It is important to note  that the objectives are to guide students in how well they are supposed to perform. Level of performance defines level of learning. So, setting learning objectives is about students’ learning. It is not about the lesson plan (course blueprint), it is not about the structure of the learning process (instructional strategy), or the subject matter (curriculum), but it is about the correlation of aligning the goals with the outcomes by aligning the learning activities with their assessment. Learning Objectives set expectations of tangible results of learning. Objectives should be measurable to gauge the amount and difficulty of instructional materials, activities and assessment. They should include the conditions and the criteria to measure performance.

Learning Objectives are the end statements, not the means. Each learning objective in the lesson should describe what students will be able to do at the end of a learning activity. I prefer to use the term objective to outcome, because it implies more initial control rather than just dealing with the results. Also, an outcome could refer to the lesson as a whole, but an objective should refer to each instructional strategy utilized in the lesson. Objectives correspond to demonstrated abilities, not to the learning processes. How can an ability be demonstrated? An ability can be demonstrated when it can be assessed during performance. Therefore the easiest path to write measurable learning objectives that describe the desired observable demonstration is to include a verb in each statement. Even if the outcome is covert, the objective should be a verb that indicates a behavior that can be measured directly; the accomplishment of the learning objective is assessed indirectly this way.

As an example, instead of this blog post, a training session could be organized for the purpose of educating faculty how to write measurable learning objectives. This is will be the overall learning goal of the lesson. A set of learning objectives will illustrate the outcomes of the instruction in order to demonstrate desired goal achievement. Each learning objective will be written as a sentence that include one verb that is what students have to perform in order to demonstrate their acquired abilities. Each verb is specific, observable and measurable as each objective targets one aspect of student performance.

Learning Goal: Upon successful completion of this session, participants will understand the difference among basic pedagogical terms, which will help them improve the instructional design of their courses.

Learning Objectives: Upon successful completion of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Distinguish the meanings of the following three terms: learning goals, learning outcomes, and learning objectives.
  2. Write a set of measurable learning objectives for a lesson.
  3. Determine an appropriate learning activity and activity assessment for each learning objective.

Learning activities regarding Learning Objective 1:

  1. Explain the meanings of the terms: learning goals, learning outcomes, and learning objectives.
  2. Write a general statement using the appropriate combination of term pairs based on their meanings for a course and for a lesson.

Learning activities regarding Learning Objective 2:

  1. List all verbs that illustrate desired behaviors, which students should be able to perform at the end of the lesson to demonstrate learning mastery. Include conditions when applicable.
  2. Create criteria used to measure performance for each behavior (verb).

Learning activity regarding Learning Objective 3:

  1. Create, design, or select learning activity for each objective or measurable performance.
  2. Combine assessment criteria and learning activities.

Notice the verbs in the learning objectives are observable and measurable, because they are about concrete actions. In comparison, the verb in the goal: ‘understand’ is vague.

As in this example, what happens in most cases is that a learning goal as a general statement is accompanied with several specific learning objectives. These objectives are further broken down to even more specific learning activities that construct the lesson’s instructional strategy. The verbs in the objectives often illustrate the nature of the activity and its assessment. What distinguishes a learning objective from a learning activity is that the first is an intended demonstrated ability (end result) and the second is a scaffolding building block of a learning process. One learning objective can be achieved with more than one learning activity based on the level of difficulty, conditions and performance/assessment criteria. The art of teaching includes the ability to determine the level of difficulty and to apply creative design techniques in order to sustain flexibility throughout the length of the learning process (class, semester, program).

Writing measurable learning objectives depends on the successful alignment of all pedagogical components within a lesson and a program. Contact ATIG for examples and support, or sign up for a training session in September 2014.

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Backward Instructional Design Model

Instructional Design is a term that refers to systematically designed instruction with or without the use of educational technology. Instructional Design 101 is a four-part series description of “the process of assessing learning needs and applying the appropriate learning strategy to meet those needs.” The ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) model is explained in detail. There are many other pedagogical models. For example, the Backward Model, summarized below is popular in blended and online course design.

When teachers plan out their course structure and curriculum (with or without the support of instructional designers,) teachers design their instruction blueprint. They may use concept mapping, storyboarding, or other techniques to scaffold and sequence lessons; they may utilize a learning management system (like Canvas/ECLearn) to plan out the delivery of learning experiences; they may use other academic technologies to provide nurturing environment for (personal and academic) educational growth and achievement.

Backward Instructional Design Model

To develop your course blueprint, start with the learning outcomes (knowledge, skills) or what students will gain upon successful completion of the course. Then determine acceptable evidence or how these outcomes will be assessed. 

Other key course components that define course learning experience are the course goals and objectives. Goals refer to the course description and outcomes. Objectives refer to the specific visible and measurable actions students perform to achieve learning goals. Defining instructional strategies or learning activities that students will do to successfully meet the course learning objectives are the answers to how you design instruction wrapped around the subject matter and how you assess learning.

Pedagogy should always lead technology, so it is important to determine what a course is about first and then find the appropriate media channels for development and implementation. Only after creating the context of the course, should you proceed with identifying educational technologies that support each instructional strategy. This means you need to not only align content, objectives, and learning activities, but also, when applicable, select which technology and which learning activity correspond with each other. Reasons for selection of instructional media should be transparent to students. By providing rationale for course setup and by providing course expectations, you will help students organize their learning (and time) better and see its relevance to their personal educational goals. The course should also include a schedule (timeline) with learning activities. This all goes in the syllabus, because syllabus is the course blueprint summary.

The following crossword puzzle is created to introduce a couple of new instructional design terms gaining more popularity nowadays as new pedagogical approaches and emerging technologies. Check for yourself to see where you stand in regard to what’s new in the higher ed field.

Check out the crossword puzzle at http://justcrosswords.com/Instructional_Design_custom34763.html

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Faculty Spotlight: Regina Rutter – Video Resumes

Instructor: Dr. Regina Rutter, Lecturer in the Department of Management and Economics

Course: MGMT3496 – Management Internship and ACCT3296 – Accounting Internship

About the Project: Students were assigned to develop a two-three minute video resume that is typically used to supplement a traditional resume. According to recent studies, approximately 89% of managers said they would view a video resume, if provided. Additionally, another study stated that 40% of major companies are requesting video resumes.

The students were instructed to create a short video that addressed one of the more popular questions they may have in an interview, “Tell me about yourself.” They were to describe their skills and qualifications after watching a sample video resume from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK8hG-VN7jw. The students were also asked to dress professionally, be mindful to use good lighting and sound quality (avoid background noise,) be in a professional type of setting, and to make sure to use business acumens, where appropriate.

The students were recommended to prepare a storyboard/outline of their video presentation that might address some or all of the following points:

  • Introduction
  • Objectives
  • History
  • Knowledge
  • Special Skills
  • Education
  • Summary (can add references at end, if interested)

Goals: The goal in creating this assignment is multi-faceted. Over the years, a good number of our students have been viewed by their internship supervisors as being competent, but reticent, and have advised the students to have more confidence in their abilities. Therefore, the main two goals of this assignment are to increase students’ confidence and improve their communication skills. By practicing responses to typical interview or networking questions, the students grow more comfortable talking about themselves. Video resumes are increasing in use, as some of our students have already had to submit video resumes for internships or jobs. A video resume, as a supplement to a regular resume, may give our students the upper-hand in a job search given that many managers said they would definitely view them, if provided. They could distinguish themselves from other job seekers.

Technology Requirements: Students could record the videos on their PC or follow the following guide sheet to borrow a video camera from the library for this project:

Guidelines for Creating a Video Resume

1. Before your begin, create a Storyboard using http://popplet.com/

2. Reserve Equipment:

  • Go to library website
  • Reserve (search from list) – Please note the policy states 24 hour notice for reserving equipment (or by 3:00pm if reserving on a Friday)
    • Fill out ALL the starred (‘required’ fields) in order for the form to allow you to hit ‘finish’ and go through to their Media queue on the Portal. Note: if you keep hitting finish and it will NOT finish, you need to check the form to see if you are missed anything.
  • Media Equipment (HD camcorder and tripod)
  • Pick up at front desk during scheduled time
  • Note on the Media page that requests are only reviewed M-F and that will only be between the hours of 7:30 AM and 5PM.  You may send any student to the Library Home page under Library Services & Policies for the form and policies: http://library.emmanuel.edu/sp2/subjects/view.php?subject=emc_media.
  • Media must be returned the same day or you will receive overdue fines on your account and will receive a notification from the Library Circulation staff (these fines will keep you from getting grades or transcripts, so you need to take this seriously).  It is also not fair to your classmates who also need the equipment to finish their project.

How to use Equipment and Produce video in iMovie:

Video Resources:

Adding Music via Creative Commons:
• Know what is okay to use and what isn’t: http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/fair-use/related-materials/codes/code-best-practices-fair-use-online-video
•  Search Creative Commons for music, images, and video clips to use in your project: http://search.creativecommons.org/
• Information about Creative Commons licensed music: https://creativecommons.org/legalmusicforvideos

Outcome: Typically, a student might spend 30-60 minutes preparing the video having to do several takes. This was a good thing, because repetition and speaking out loud improved their communication skills. Many of the students found it helpful to have another person in the room to talk more naturally.

Initially, the students overall were not thrilled with having to do this assignment as evident by the eyes rolling and heads shaking in the classroom. The assignment  was semester-long, so students realized that they have plenty of time to work on this project. The outcome was wonderful. I [Dr. Rutter] saw students who were typically very quiet in the classroom blossom in their videos. One such student stated, “The video resume, at first, seemed pointless and unnecessary. But, after completing it I actually felt as though it made me more comfortable talking about myself.” This comment was resonated in the evaluations.  The students have gained more confidence and felt better prepared as a result of this assignment.


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Faculty Spotlight: Flipping The Classroom with Dr. Clare Mehta and Prof. R. Bryan Sears

This month faculty spotlight is on Prof. R. Bryan Sears and Dr. Clare Mehta. Here, their experience is shared as a logical continuation of a hot topic at Emmanuel College, addressed in a recent post: “What Is a Flipped Classroom?.” ATIG staff interviewed the two professors who presented their teaching innovations at the last Faculty Showcase in April 2014. Here is what they shared:

Flipping the Chemistry Classroom with Prof. R. Bryan Sears: 

In his Principles of General Chemistry course, Professor Bryan Sears has converted several chapters to recorded video lecture format.  These lecture videos recorded by Dr. Sears himself are provided to students online ahead of scheduled classroom meeting times and are available to students via the ECLearn course website. Before class, students are asked to watch these lectures and take notes on the subject to be covered before they enter the classroom.  The traditional lecture period is now consumed with groups working together on “homework” in a cooperative learning environment.  This course format allows for the instructor to circulate amoung the students while they work and to answer individual questions that arise from the material.  Dr. Sears made the choice to flip some of his lectures after hearing from students who wanted more time to practice their chemistry skills in class with the professor present.  This method of lecture delivery also helped to provide a way for students to review the course material after the class period by having the lectures preserved digitally.  For Prof. Sears this also meant he could expand the one-on-one time with each student in his classes by working homework exercises with his students and allowing them the freedom to learn from fellow classmates during the lecture period.

Interestingly, the feedback from the flipped lecture delivery methods has been mixed. Dr. Sears has noted that “in some cases, students really enjoyed the flipped classroom format and found it beneficial.”   By having lecture recorded there were numerous opportunities for students to watch and re-watch the recorded lecture on their own time and pace.  However, other students felt this independence for covering the lecture portion of the course “put too much responsibility on the student to stay up to date with the material on their own” and preferred the structure provided by the traditional lecturing format.

In the end Prof. Sears concluded that flipping his classroom had more positive than negative outcomes and will repeat this pedagogical technique in the future.  He muses, so many of his students “had a better grasp of the language and chemistry concepts for describing the subjects we cover in these sections.” Professor Sears explains, “they have a better ability to share with each other and explain the chemistry to their fellow classmates and it also appears that this translates into other sections that were not flipped.” Prof. Sear concluded: “It’s a very exciting way to teach and I liked doing it. I think would do it again, and I hope to eventually convert an entire course to the flipped format.”

Flipping the Classroom with Dr. Clare Mehta: 

A Professor of Psychology, Dr. Clare Mehta, wanted to experiment with the flipped  classroom so that she could use class time to work with students on more complex topics that went beyond information covered in the text book and the lectures (which she recorded and posted online). By recording her lectures as PowerPoint narrated slides, Dr.  Mehta was able to increase the time spent on discussion in class. She first experimented with this technique by teaching a blended (half online, half in person) summer class. This gave the students more flexibility, which they appreciated during the warm weather! While the students were happy with the format, Dr. Mehta was concerned about the effectiveness of using online lectures. As such she tweaked the course, increased the rigor and re-launched it as a graduate level class.

The flipped classroom was very successful at the graduate level. Dr. Mehta recorded all the lectures and made them available online. This was appreciated by the working adult learners enrolled in the course as they could chose to watch the lectures at a time convenient to them. Class time was then used for discussion. As working professionals, the graduate students  appreciated the increased time invested in discussing topics with their peers that were relevant to their professional interests. Dr. Mehta describes this class as her best teaching experience at Emmanuel college, and enjoyed discussing class topics with her students.

During the same semester Dr. Mehta tried another experiment in her undergraduate classroom. Although the course was a traditional face-to-face lecture and discussion course, Dr. Mehta also made her video lectures available to her students.  She found that her undergraduate students also appreciated the recorded lectures, but for a different reason – they could watch and review the material once more before exams.

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Formative Classroom Feedback – A Self-Evaluation Technique for Teachers

Teaching is a hard job, a noble professional and personal commitment. Just like any other profession, its performance is evaluated on constant basis. In the academic world, one of the most common ways is through course evaluations done by students at the end of each semester. How effective teaching is can be determined via formative and summative assessment. Formative assessment of learning (directly) and of teaching (indirectly) happens all the time throughout the length of the course work. This is what course design is about: structuring the delivery of instruction and aligning every instructional chunk with an appropriate assessment technique in order to measure the level of knowledge and skills that are to be acquired. Summative evaluation is tied to the course learning outcomes and reflects overall student academic achievement per course (on a local scale) and per degree (on a global scale).

On one hand, test scores and grades are an indicator of student success, on the other, formal feedback (course evaluations) provide learner perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of applied instructional strategies within a course or a program. These two indicators cross-check and reflect results from already completed actions. This is summative evaluation of learning and teaching.

What about formative evaluation? Teachers assess students’ learning progress as part of their pedagogy. What is not widely adopted is direct evaluation of their own teaching efforts during the run of a course. This could be done by cross-checking results from self-assessment and from surveying students. Doesn’t it make sense to evaluate how good a teaching practice is just like we evaluate how well learners master a skill as they complete an assignment? The focus has always been on the direct result of student performance, which is the main indicator of teaching mastery. As a consequence, a mandatory implementation of formative self-assessment of teaching in class has never gained much ground until recently.

Many subject matter experts find out what teaching techniques work and what don’t throughout their professional experience and in communication with students and colleagues. Over time effectiveness of certain instructional strategies outweighs and defines SMEs teaching methods and preferences. Sometimes, however, the strategies successfully implemented once, no longer work the way they did in the beginning. Faculty may not notice the negative impact until after the end of a course. Or, as it happens more and more often nowadays, proactive teachers who implement innovative pedagogical techniques and educational technologies need feedback prior to the overall course evaluation in order to see on the go what does not work as excepted and how it can be modified before it is too late.

One way of implementing formative classroom assessment is to use a midway survey. It is a preferred technique among educators who like the informality and the immediacy of feedback they get from students. This method works in two ways: first, it addresses the quality of learning and teaching by determining whether and how well the course design is aligned with the actual learning process. Second, it addresses students expectations and concerns. A midway survey provides a channel for communication that may reflect any otherwise undetected learning gaps; it provides with an opportunity for the teacher to identify patterns of logistical or other problems in class that can prompt her to modulate her role of a leader and mentor. The attached template is an adapted example of a midway survey, created by Dr. Wayne LaMorte who teaches both at Boston University Medical School and in the BU online Health Communication program.

Another way of assessing the effectiveness of teaching techniques is by utilizing a survey with open-ended questions like the “critical incident questionnaire” developed by Dr. Stephen Brookfield. It is an anonymous survey that students must complete at the end of each class. At the next class, voiced out concerns regarding learning or events that happened in the last session are responded to by the professor.

A third option is Robert Marzano’s Exit Tickets. These are instructional strategies successfully applied as formative classroom assessment. He developed four exit ticket prompts for constructive feedback:
1) Students level of understanding in class: “How would you rate your level of understanding of today’s learning?”
2) Students level of effort: “How would you rate your effort in class today? What could you done differently to help yourself learn better?”
3) Focus on instructional strategy effectiveness: “What activity did you like the most and what the least at today’s class? Why?”
4) Open communication to the teacher: “What should I [the teacher] be doing differently to improve your understanding of the content?”

Exit tickets are an immediate, more informal feedback than course evaluations; they can be done several times a semester or at the end of every class. Completion of the four questions (tickets) is required and even counted as attendance in class. The exit tickets can be given in any format , e.g. post-it notes on a wall, one-piece paper questionnaire submission, or as an online survey using the free online survey tool Padlet.com.

Exit Tickets provide faculty with valuable insight on students’ meta-cognitive processes. By aligning teacher and student viewpoints, faculty can improve their lesson plans and gain experience sooner and more effectively than they otherwise would if they were analyzing course evaluations post factum. An interesting example was given recently at the Teaching Professor Conference in Boston by presenters Deborah Theiss and Angela Danley, two teachers from University of Central Missouri. They emphasized the importance of transparency of applied pedagogical methods and the connection between learning goals, learning objectives, and learning activities. Teachers, they said, should not only focus on the learning processes and steps, but provide more clarity on the overall learning goals and show students the big picture, share with them not only the immediate learning goals, but inspire them to expand their own learning aspirations and efforts. They gave an example with the exit ticket that asks about student self-evaluation on effort. By “effort” these two teachers meant knowledge application as an end result. For students however, effort simply meant the time spent on a task. Such survey outcomes can definitely be an eye-opening method for faculty to improve their own teaching approaches on a granular level, which may ultimately affect their overall teaching expertise in a positive way.

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What Is a Flipped Classroom?

A flipped classroom is a format where instruction delivery does not happen in class, but asynchronously off campus most often in the form of digitally recorded lecture materials. In addition, learning activities (quizzes, papers, or projects) can be tied to the subject matter as assignments for completion prior to in-class meetings. The time spent in class is dedicated to more learning activities such as discussions, group projects, presentations, practice exercises and/or lab sessions.

Flipping the classroom means making learning student-oriented. Students invest more time assimilating new knowledge in learning communities and focus their efforts on developing relevant skills by collaborating with other learners. The idea of flipping is to use these diverse techniques of active learning more effectively in order to help students better understand, analyze, apply, evaluate, and synthesize new information. As Charles A. Hill says in his “The Benefits of Flipping Your Classroom” article: “Focus on the synthesis and application of knowledge will find considerable favor with employers who deride the lack of a more competency-based approach in much of higher education.”

Using Bloom’s taxonomy terms, understanding, analyzing, applying, synthesizing, and evaluating are cognitive levels of learning that can be performed better when knowledge and skills are practiced in social context as in a classroom environment. The construction of knowledge is based on recalling and internalizing of information. In dynamic learning space, experiences become anchored. On the flipped side (no pun intended) remembering – the lowest taxonomy level of learning – can be attributed to covering the basics. Students are introduced to a learning topic at their own time and convenience by watching, reading, and listening to a lecture. They may complete a quiz as a learning practice for information recall, but in class they further deepen the level of acquiring knowledge by interacting with others, by receiving more attention on problematic or not yet well-understood aspects and thus making their learning more personalized. Learners also receive immediate feedback from peers and instructors, which can speed up and solidify their learning.

By flipping the classroom and doing more learning activities with others, students also improve their meta-cognitive abilities or learning skills, which ultimately enhance their ability to successfully transfer knowledge to other academic disciplines and professional environments.

What is the difference between blended learning and flipped classroom as learning environments? These terms overlap in meaning. In blended learning flipping the classroom is not a requirement, although more often than not instructions or demonstrations in the form of lectures and videos are assigned as out of class activities. Learning is blended if classroom sessions are skipped due to assignment of learning activities done out of class. In contrast the flipped classroom requires regular class attendance.

Both blended learning and flipped classroom also refer to the use of technology with face-to-face teaching. This means that faculty has to invest more time and effort in planning, designing, and especially developing their courses, if they are going to use technology to prepare learning materials and activities. Emmanuel College provides technical training on “Flipping the Classroom” via Atomic Learning. This 30-minute technology-based videos focus on lecture capture: what hardware and software is needed along with demonstrations on video and audio recording and editing. Feel free to contact a member of the ATIG group for individual training on any of the tools offered in the Atomic Learning sessions.

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iPads in Your Classroom

“Powers of Minus Ten,” an award-winning iPad app that allows students to explore human biology down to the molecular level.  

As you may have heard, ATIG has 41 iPad minis (and a few full size iPads) available for you to borrow for up to a semester for use in your course.  This may lead you to wonder — how could I use iPads to enhance student learning and engagement?  A good way to approach this idea is to analyze the iPad use as you might any other learning activity.  And a good basis for that analysis is with reference to Bloom’s taxonomy.

Luckily for you Teddy Hristov, ATIG’s Senior Instructional Strategies Specialist, recently attended a program at the Teaching Professor Conference in which specific iPad applications were associated with the various levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.  This handout provides some examples, but is certainly not exhaustive.

You might use this approach by deciding what level of the taxonomy is appropriate for your students, and then selecting an associated app.  For example, if your students are ready to Create - the highest level of the revised taxonomy - you might choose to have your students use the iPad tool “Explain Everything” to create an original instructional module on a topic.  Or, you could have your students use “Book Creator” or “Creative Book Builder” to write and publish their own book about a topic.

Are your students are at an earlier stage of their learning, where finding strategies for Remembering key facts and concepts is essential?  Here, you might choose applications that help drill students on their knowledge, such as ChemPro: Chemistry Tutor or Timeline Civil War, or a more generic tool such as one of these flashcard apps.  You could even borrow them to use with a polling application to test your students’ Understanding of key concepts.  

ATIG staff are here to help you identify and evaluate apps and work with you to craft iPad-related assignments that will offer your students meaningful educational experiences.  Contact us for more information!

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VoiceThread: A Tool for Presentation, Peer Review, Reflection, and More

VoiceThread featuring an image of Shakespeare

A VoiceThread lets your students comment on any image, video, powerpoint slides or document.

VoiceThread is a tool that offers new ways for your students to interact with content and with each other.  Here’s how it works: You (or a student) set up the VoiceThread by uploading a “prompt”, which can be an image, a video or a document to which you want a response.  Voicethreads can center on a set of powerpoint slides, a pdf, an image of a historical document – virtually anything visual.  In the illustration, you see an image of Shakespeare used as a prompt.

Next, students are invited to respond to the image, video or document by recording a comment.  Comments can be recorded via webcam, audio, telephone, or simply by typing text.  While the student is commenting, he or she can even mark up the image with arrows or text or zoom in or out.  The markups will display only when the comment is played by others.  Here are some nice examples from the University of North Carolina of different ways to use VoiceThread.

For more information on using VoiceThread at Emmanuel, go to the How-To@Emmanuel site on ECLearn, or contact the ATIG team at at@emmanuel.edu.

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Faculty Spotlight: Melanie Leussis – Using ECLearn (Canvas) Badges to Foster Learning

Instructor:  Dr. Melanie Leussis, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Courses:  PSYC 2801/2802 – Research Methods and Statistics I & II

About the Project:  The American Psychological Association (APA) has outlined a very specific and extensive set of rules governing writing in psychology known as APA format.  The guide for this set of rules is currently almost 300 pages!  Students in psychology are expected to use this format for all writing assignments.  Faculty members in psychology generally agree that teaching APA format to students, while important, is also time consuming and a poor use of classroom time as the material is so dull and dry.  It is not a thought-provoking or discussion-worthy topic.

APA ECLearn Badge

APA ECLearn Badge

This project evolved from a desire to find an alternate way to teach this required material to students without sacrificing valuable classroom time. The use of badges offered a method for teaching the basics of APA format through an online medium embedded within ECLearn. At the end of the online mini course in APA format, students are automatically “rewarded” with an online badge that denotes their mastery of the rules for APA format.

Goals:  The main goal of the current project was to develop a method that would allow APA format rules to be taught outside of regular classroom time.  Badges provided one means to automatically reward students after they complete a set of requirements. In this case, students could earn the APA format badge after watching a series of videos about APA format and successfully completing an online quiz indicating they had learned the material in question. The APA format badge can now be used by all psychology faculty in their classes, although it is a requirement in the core research methods classes that all psychology majors must take.

Technology Requirements: The use of badges can be fully integrated into ECLearn.  The badge itself was designed and set up through Canvas badges, and included the specifics of what students needed to accomplish to earn the APA format badge. New material the students were expected to learn was presented using readily available modules from Atomic Learning, with the link to these videos embedded in the assignment page on ECLearn.  After viewing the videos, students completed an online quiz in ECLearn to test their knowledge (90% or higher required to pass).  Upon completion of the specified requirements, the badge can be automatically awarded to students within ECLearn.

Outcome:  The use of badges allowed Dr. Leussis to 1) automate the process of teaching dry background information that students are required to use in psychology – specifically the rules for writing in APA format, and 2) provide a template for teaching APA format that the entire psychology faculty can make use, the APA badge. In general, the use of badges to teach APA format complemented traditional classroom teaching methods, allowing more time in class to be devoted to less mundane tasks than learning a set of rules for writing format.

Interested in using Badges in your courses? Wanting to know more about Atomic Learning training videos? Contact ATIG with questions.

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