Faculty Spotlight: Jaime Vidaurrazaga – Collectively Prepared Study Guides Using ECLearn Discussions and Pages

Jaime Vidaurrazaga, PhD.
Assistant Professor of Theology & Religious Studies

THRS1103 Exploring Catholic Theology, THRS 1111 Exploring the Bible, THRS2203 Jesus & Christian Ethics, THRS2213 Latin American Liberation Theology, FYS1101.57 Christian Morality in the Roman World

About the Project/Idea/Tool:
Two seemingly unrelated concerns about more efficacious teaching/learning in Dr. Vidaurrazaga’s class, led him to develop the project he is sharing with Emmanuel College community here:

“1) Different kinds of learners find different learning activities engaging and they excel in different kinds of assessments. For this reason, I like to offer a variety of learning activities in my courses so that different kinds of learners all have a chance to excel and to demonstrate their learning and their effort throughout the semester. Applying this principle to the “participation”/”active engagement” component of my grading, I realized that I needed to offer opportunities for engagement/participation that would be appealing to students who do not necessarily feel comfortable speaking out in front of the whole class. I tried proposing topics for discussion online, but I got very low levels of participation. I then tried to establish mandatory levels of participation in those online discussions, but some of the students (those who more easily speak during class and already participate in that way) found it redundant and a form of “busy work.”

2) Students often assume a more active role in synthesizing the knowledge they have acquired in the class when they are preparing for a quiz or an exam, but that process does not normally take place during class, when they have easy/immediate access to the instructor to clarify anything that is not clear in their notes or anything that they may have missed during class or in their individual reading of the textbook or assigned reading materials. While holding “study sessions” before quizzes and exams would be an effective way to address this issue, this strategy requires all the students to be able to meet at the same time, and the faculty member to be present during that meeting, both of which can lead to a scheduling nightmare.

My idea then was to use the “discussions” feature of ECLearn to hold the equivalent of an ongoing (diachronic) study session involving all the students in the class and me, between the time I post the study guide for the quiz/exam and the night before the quiz/exam takes place. Students are encouraged to post any questions they may have as they prepare for the quiz/exam and to post answers to other students’ questions. All postings count as instances of class participation/active engagement, whether their answers are right on target, incomplete or even wrong (no judgment). My commitment to the students is that I will review periodically their postings and that I will answer any unanswered questions, and edit/correct/complete any of the posted answers that need correcting/completing so they all can fully trust the content of the collectively prepared study guide as they review it the day before their quiz/exam.

Another way to do this in ECLearn is to post the study guide in the “pages” format and allow all students in the class “editing” privileges. The class as a whole then uses the page as a wiki, in which they all post answers to the questions in the study guide, definitions/descriptions of the terminology used, and other such study materials. Once again, all postings right or wrong are credited with participation points, and in this case I do not post answers to any of the questions in the study guide unless someone in the class has at least tried to post an answer (right or wrong) first.

In my personal experience, it is better to use the “discussions” feature in the beginning of the semester and to introduce the “pages” one only later in the semester (I typically use it for the last quiz and for the final exam).  While the “pages” version offers great possibilities for students to formulate and synthesize their knowledge in their postings, it has the possible downside of giving less dutiful and hardworking students the idea that they don’t need to take notes in class because they will have excellent study materials available to them through the hard work of others in the class when time comes to prepare for the test anyways.


  • To increase the level of participation in learning activities and engagement with the content of the course.
  • To offer avenues for participation/engagement for students who are not comfortable speaking up in front of the whole class or answering questions on the spot.
  • To encourage cooperation and mutual support within the course.
  • To support the students’ learning in general and preparation for quizzes and exam in particular.
  • To provide the kind of revision and clarification that one could offer in a study session in a way that is accessible to students diachronically and wherever they happen to study more efficiently.

Technology Requirements:
The only technology required is already built into ECLearn in the tools called “discussions” and “pages.”

I have been using these and similar tools is most of the courses I teach for several years now. The previous content management system we used offered a “discussions” tool, and I used to use websites offering free “wikis” for educational purposes to do what I do now with the “pages” feature of ECLearn. For this reason, it is a little hard for me to notice the increase in online participation in my courses and the improvement in students’ performance in quizzes and exams anymore. For this reason, I am very appreciative of Teodora Hristov’s and the rest of the ATIG team’s recognition of the relatively high level of student engagement in online discussions and collaborative work on “pages” in my courses, because their feedback encourages me to continue using these tools in my courses and to search for other means to further engage my students in online collaboration in the work they do preparing for quizzes and exams.

I can also say that many of my students choose to enroll in a second class with me after having had me as a teacher and when they do they often ask on the first day of the semester if I am going to use “discussions” and “pages” for quiz and exam preparation in this course as well. In interpret their interest in asking about this as a sign that the students in general find these initiatives helpful.”

Posted in Classroom Technology, EC Learn, Faculty Spotlight, Innovation, Teaching Tips, Teaching with Technology, Tech Tips | Leave a comment

Tech Tip: Using Etherpad for Student Collaboration

Update as of August 2015: ETHERPAD is no longer available in Canvas.

Emmanuel College’s ECLearn (Canvas learning management system) allows for easy integration with external tools.

One application offered under the “Collaborations” tool menu is Etherpad. As described on etherpad.org, this is “a highly customizable open source online editor providing collaborative editing in really real-time.”

Etherpad is a tool similar to a Google Docs document. It opens as a blank wiki page where multiple users can participate at the same time. Once online, each pad contributor can communicate with others via a chat. Each member can be anonymous or identified by their name associated with the colored text they input. The color is automatically assigned, but users can pick their choice if they wish. Just like a wiki page, students can look at previously saved versions of the document.

etherpad snapshotEthepad can be imported and exported as HTML page, plain text, MS Word doc, PDF, ODF, or DokuWIki. An interesting feature is the timer that is a recording of a real-time version of the page editing process. A saved version can be replayed unlimited times to see who did what and when. The pad can be also embedded and shared as a link. This allows for creating collaborative spaces that are web-based, which allows for different users to edit the same version of a document without having to save separate copies of it; possibly, it also avoids the necessity to attribute ownership of the final result, because it is all self-evident.

This Fall semester, ATIG noticed two faculty who implemented Etherpad in their ECLearn courses. In a Business course, the instructor (Kelly Grant) had students brainstorm ideas using the tool on a course level. (For more on this particular professor’s pedagogy and course design, check out Faculty Spotlight section where the faculty member will be featured in December 2014.)

Another teacher – Prof. Ana Otero – used Etherpad differently. In her Biology course, she grouped the students in pairs and gave them the option to select a topic of interest to develop their case study. Students used the tool to collaborate within their group. Each member was tasked to research and contribute to the story, so the end result would be a mixed input illustrating the work of the two participants whose intertwined thoughts are laid out in writing in pre-determined format. Not everyone used the tool as intended. Some worked individually and their work displayed no evidence of mutual effort. Others collaborated in person and delivered a final result posted by one of the two members. And yet others, used the tool properly to edit each others postings in order to improve the final outcome.

There are more examples of online collaborative work using this particular tool. What are yours? To find out more about other collaborative tools, check out the How-To @ Emmanuel EClearn course where all academic technologies offered to faculty are listed. Have questions? Email us at at@emmanuel.edu.

Posted in EC Learn, Open Educational Resources, Teaching Tips, Tech Tips | Leave a comment

The Role of The Teacher in Blended Learning

The term student-centered learning has gained a lot of popularity nowadays along with other ideas such as flipping the classroom, interactive learning, multimedia learning… Not so long ago a traditional course was considered a face to face more or less one-way interaction between a teacher and students. The teacher lectures. Students watch, listen, and may take notes. They may even participate in conversation if prompted by the instructor. However, in recent years with academic technology advancement, learning management systems and many web tools have been widely used in most higher education institutions. This allowed for moving certain learning practices in online environment which brought a paradigm shift in our understanding of what quality learning means. Interactivity is understood twofold – as increased interaction between students with faculty and students with students, and also as increased interaction between students and content, especially content provided electronically. Hybrid and online courses allow for more interactivity than in the traditional course format simply because there are more options for communication and interaction available.

Blended courses are format where 50 to 70% learning activities are done out of class, either online using academic technologies or in the physical world in the form of field trips, reports, interviews, projects, etc. Hybrid courses allow for time flexibility, diversifying of the activity channels, and increased students participation and interaction. Learners become more responsible and organized in their efforts. Their learning is more independent, proactive, and varied. Their learning revolves around them and how much they invest in it. Blended learning holds a greater risk and challenge to both teachers and students, but ultimately, it brings greater results.

For students the challenge is in better time organization. Some find it difficult to keep up with the readings and homework when they are not due in class. They are not used to perform on time and/or as efficiently when there is not an immediate response and feedback from a teacher. They take time to place equal importance to any out of class activities. Students also report difficulties organizing their own learning and keep track of tasks, because of the dual nature of instruction – via LMS and via live instructor. It is challenging to increase efforts that come with variety of information and communication channels. At the end, however, hybrid format of learning reflects better meta-learning results, because students improve their ways of acquiring knowledge and become more efficient in organizing their time and efforts.

The role of the teacher in hybrid course is more varied than that in a face to face course, because teacher’s responsibility is no longer just to teach on topic, but to design in advance a learning process where students will learn how to be more independent as they move along the curriculum. Time investment and preparation in course development requires more effort of teachers who are also challenged with learning how to use academic technology effectively. Having said that, the role of the teacher is increased and becomes multi-layered in blended courses as the teacher is the designer of student-centered learning. The instructor needs to by a guide who set clear expectations about course work and quality of learning, communication and presentation; a facilitator to students individual and group activities; a leader in all their learning endeavors regardless of environment; a consultant who is present in physical and virtual space to all in need of redirection and help; a mentor who finds and makes learning relevant to each individual in order to keep students engaged and ultimately improve their learning outcomes.

The role of the teacher is to make students become independent learners and thus prepare them for the world where they will continue on their life-long journey of learning. People may think learning ends with the end of their official academic life. Actually it never ends. So well-developed cognitive skills like time management and study organization, responsibility and courage to face new learning challenges, will enhance job performance and life progress in general – all thanks to the initial careful guidance of the Teacher.

Posted in Teaching Tips, Teaching with Technology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Learning Merit: About Digital Badges

ATIG’s new badging initiative might leave you wondering: what are badges? What is the place of these digital badges in the learning environment?


While a GPA is one measure of student success, what does that number let us know about the student’s pathway to graduation? Badges tell a story of an individual’s unique skills and achievements during their academic career, painting a clearer picture of who that learner is and what learning objectives she has completed.

Digital badging is catching on not only in higher education. Stack Overflow, a web community where computer programmers of all levels ask and answer questions and receive help, awards badges based on user expertise and helpfulness. These badges award community members for being good citizens of this digital community.

Beyond telling a student’s story and encouraging good digital citizenship, badging makes learning fun. Badges give tangible form to the sense of achievement we feel when mastering a skill and progressing to a new challenge. Overcoming challenges is rewarded, and learners can “level up” to more advanced challenges – just like in a video game.

Want to learn more? Check out some further reading:

Carey, Kevin (November 2, 2012). Show Me Your Badge. The New York Times, retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/show-me-your-badge.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Carey, Kevin (April 8, 2012). A Future Full of Badges. The Chronicle of Higher Education, retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/A-Future-Full-of-Badges/131455/

EduCause Learning Initiative (June 2012). 7 Things You Should Know About Badges. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7085.pdf

Raths, David (June 20, 2013). How Badges Really Work in Higher Education. Campus Technology, retrieved from http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2013/06/20/How-Badges-Really-Work-in-Higher-Education.aspx

Posted in EC Learn, Innovation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Faculty Spotlight: Richard White – Online Video Conferencing

Instructor: Richard J. White

Course: HRM/MSM 9019 OL Negotiation and Conflict Management

About the Project: This course uses simulated negotiation exercises focused on problems in a management/human relations environment to provide negotiations experiences. These experiences are then analyzed using course materials and group discussions. The analysis is formalized in a weekly reflection paper.

I had taught this course in a face-to-face format at Emmanuel before being asked to convert it into an online course. I had some misgivings concerning the effectiveness of teaching negotiation without interpersonal contact, but I discovered in teaching the course that many of the negotiation skills translated well into exchanges of proposals, counterproposals, questions, and rationale using typewritten posts. I have discovered that there are materials available which assist the students with particular skills designed to enhance their ability to negotiate in an online format. However, in the process of providing feedback, a number of students expressed a desire to develop their skills in face to face negotiations.

When the college transitioned to EC Learn, the enhanced video capabilities of the platform made it possible to have negotiations conducted by asynchronous video post and real-time video conference. In becoming experienced with these capabilities, I decided to try to expand the negotiation experiences in the course into the face-to-face arena.

Goals: My goal was to provide both text based and face-to-face negotiation experiences in the context of my online course using the EC Learn platform without detracting from the workload scheduling flexibility which is important to many online students.

Technology Requirements: In addition to the computer equipment necessary for an online course, each student needed access to a video camera with audio capabilities. Otherwise, no special technology was required beyond that provided through the EC Learn platform.

ConferenceTool_snapshotOutcomes: The first contact which each of my students has with the course is to introduce themselves to their classmates. In order to appraise the technological ability of my students, as well as the quality of the video equipment available to them, I requested that each student make their introduction by video post. I also posted mine by video post both to share the experience with them, and to test my own abilities and technology. This initial activity was a success for all parties involved.

Similarly, the first negotiation exercise is a simple negotiation between two friends concerning one friend selling a fax machine which they cannot use to another. I decided to continue to test the video format by configuring this negotiation exercise to be contacted by asynchronous video post. I required that all communication between the students be conducted by video post. No emails or text postings were to be used. This activity was also a success in that all negotiations were completed without technical difficulties or extensive delays. This was extremely important to the course because each student must have a negotiation experience which they can use as a vehicle to analyze the particular skills being emphasized in a module. As a result of the success, I carried the video format followed throughout the remainder of the course.

I ran into some difficulties with an exercise where there was a requirement that students work out their bargaining positions as negotiating teams before communicating them to their opposing team. The difficulty largely resulted from the fact that negotiation by video is slower than negotiation by text because it is difficult for many students to make video posts or engage in conferencing when they have a small amount of available time at work, work odd hours, and/or lack good video equipment at home. I addressed this issue in each negotiation by allowing students who could not use video in a timely fashion to use text to communicate when necessary. This modification made the process work within the weekly class format without undue delay. It was interesting to note that no students abandoned the video format.

The final negotiating exercise in the course is the mediation of the termination of an employee for allegedly engaging in sexually harassing conduct. In this exercise, I serve as the mediator and the students serve as the representatives of the company and the employee. Because of my previous difficulties in the team format, I decided to modify this exercise to be a one-on-one negotiation with one representative of the company negotiating with one employee representative. (I use an employee representative rather than the employee to avoid putting any student in the position of having to defend themselves as a sexual harasser.) I used the conference function of EC Learn to conduct the mediations. The conference function of EC Learn was flexible enough to allow me to set up joint conferences where all parties were present, and private conferences for each party to meet with the mediator in each mediation. Conferences were scheduled by appointment just as they would have been in an actual mediation. Despite the fact that I had some technical issues due to my inexperience with the platform, I found the mediation to be as effective and realistic as I had been able to reproduce in the face-to-face course. All parties settled, and the settlements were quite realistic.

At the conclusion of the course, I sought feedback from my students as to the effectiveness of the experience in their view, and any negative impact which the video format had on their experience as online students. I solicited this feedback after the course had closed and grades were awarded as I did not wish to influence any responses. I received responses from five out of eight students who unanimously endorsed of using video to provide realistic negotiation experiences. It was interesting to note that some of those who responded were those who had some difficulties with the format from time to time as the course progressed. On the negative side, each commented that the interchanges were slowed by the video, but went on to state that the positive aspects of using the video capabilities of EC Learn to teach negotiations far outweighed the negatives.

From an instructional perspective, I was able to assist students in improving the communication skills used in negotiating in both competitive and cooperative situations. Because this course teaches practice as well as theory, I believe that the addition of the video experiences enhanced the learning experience for the students.

I intend to continue to refine the use of video in my future courses.

I would like to thank Teddy Hristov and Cynthia Brennan for providing me with extensive help with the technological aspects of this project. They were both knowledgeable and patient in getting me through my first experiences with the video aspects of EC learn.

Posted in Classroom Technology, EC Learn, Faculty Spotlight, Innovation, Teaching Tips, Teaching with Technology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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. They overlap in meaning and each has a 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.

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, because that is how it is measured. So, setting learning objectives is about students’ learning. It is not only about the lesson plan (course blueprint), the elements of the learning process (instructional strategies), 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. In addition, 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. Using Bloom’s taxonomy cognitive verbs is a good way to write measurable learning objectives, for example. Alternative taxonomies can be used as well: Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning and Marzano’s Taxonomy.

In most cases 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. They may overlap in performance. It is important to consider that 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.

Posted in ID 101, Teaching Tips, Workshop | Leave a comment

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.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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 align objectives,content, learning activities, and technologies in that order. Reasons for selection of instructional media should be transparent to students. The media should enhance the learning experience in a productive, not a distracting way.  Provide a rationale about the whole course setup and include course expectations to make it relevant to students’ personal educational goals. The course should also include a schedule  or timeline of learning activities to help students organize their learning better. This information should be present in the syllabus, because the 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

Posted in EC Learn, Event, Innovation, Teaching Tips, Teaching with Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in Classroom Technology, Faculty Spotlight, Innovation, Teaching with Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Faculty Spotlight, Innovation, Teaching Tips | Tagged , , | 1 Comment