In my college English 101 course I was assigned to write a persuasive essay. Initially, I wanted to write a paper about the purpose of technology. I started doing research, but couldn’t find anything helpful. So I abandoned that and picked a different topic. Lately, I’ve been thinking again about it. In my role here at FITS, I try to find ways to make technology help our office do tasks smarter, faster, and more efficiently. These tasks often take me back to tried-and-true technologies from Microsoft.
One of my projects lately has been working with the Global Learning Experience team, preparing for the upcoming Global Learning Conference in October. This was my first time being on the development side of a conference; let me be the first to say that it is no easy task. My role was specifically on the technology end.
Over the years, I’ve often heard faculty bemoan the lack of student interest in their syllabi. Students seem to ignore or easily forget key information presented in the syllabus, and many faculty feel obligated to treat the document like a contract, which only exacerbates the lack of student engagement. While many instructors have offered up helpful tips and examples online, it can be daunting to take on a syllabus makeover in isolation.
Our institution recently (generously/mercifully) provided the entire university access to Box.com, an unlimited online cloud storage solution. While many in our office were already pro subscribers of Dropbox or Office 365/OneDrive, the addition of an officially available solution for all faculty, staff, and students opened many, many opportunities—but brought a few challenges as well.
Some of the users we’ve worked with following the release were already familiar with cloud storage solutions, which also means they are well aware of the “data discipline” required when you have near limitless (or in our case, actually limitless) storage that can span across physical hardware setups and locations. However, some who were new to this, or just those who—let’s just say “have trouble with cleaning up” their files—needed a bit of a primer on data discipline and how to avoid the digital dumping ground.
If I were to describe my level of being a procrastinator, I would probably say mild to moderate. Over the years, I’ve used procrastination as a way to motivate myself to complete a task. This is particularly the case with tasks that I don’t like doing or tasks that appear difficult at first glance. Sometimes my procrastination is hoping that the project or task will be canceled or eliminated, or due dates pushed back.
Procrastination comes from the Latin verb procrastinare, which means deferred until tomorrow.
Teaching—when you think about it—is a process of manipulation.
Dr. Tom Angelo made this point when he was wrapping up his keynote presentation at the DePaul Faculty Teaching and Learning Conference in May 2017. Since then the idea of “teaching by manipulating” kept popping up in my mind like a little bud seeking its opportunity to break through the ground.
It seems to me the best place to sow the seed of manipulation is my home. As I once heard a conference speaker joke, “Do you know why psychologists have kids? No IRB!”
IRB stands for Institutional Review Board, a committee that reviews and approves (or disapproves) studies that use human subjects. It is a hoop that researchers must jump through—well, unless they are dealing with the human subjects that they’ve produced themselves.
I recently attended EdMedia in Washington DC. I was excited for this conference because this was the first conference that I was attending completely on my own. There’s this tendency when you go to a conference with someone—at least for me—to follow their itinerary rather than come up with your own, so this was a true test for me to see how I could experience a conference completely by myself.
One thing that was really great about this conference was how it wasn’t that large attendee wise. There was a decent amount of people from different areas of the education field but there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of people everywhere, which I felt was a true benefit as it was easier to meet people.
Since this was my first time attending EdMedia, I attended the Newcomer Welcome meeting and they had us do something similar to speed dating where we had 3 minutes to talk to a person and get to know them. This was a great ice breaker, especially for someone who is typically more reserved and has a hard time approaching people.
I know that classroom mobile phone policies can be a fraught subject. Student distraction is a real concern, and handheld technology gives students a tool that introduces a constant stream of outside input (social media, news alerts, games) that often seem far more interesting than the class material or activities. One way to combat this is to make the phones or devices part of the learning experience.
During the 2016–17 academic year, the Mobile Learning Initiative (MoLI) conducted a pilot of Poll Everywhere as a classroom response system. Poll Everywhere is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) clicker system used primarily to poll or quiz students in a face to face classroom. Poll Everywhere allows students to answer questions in class on their personal device (phone, tablet, or laptop) and visualizes their responses in real time. It’s an easy way to engage students, build more interaction into your teaching, and gauge student understanding. It’s also a great tool to use for “fun” in the classroom, from a quick icebreaker to a complex trivia competition.
The other day I was talking to a colleague about developing a new program and how he could best deliver content, especially lectures, to his students who would be scattered around the globe. Naturally, we talked about video and presentation best-practices, but he pointed out his sympathy for students who work full-time and still have to carve out a period to visually focus on a lecture.
The instructor also told me how he balanced a busy schedule and keeping up-to-date on things by listening to podcasts. They are perfect for commuting on transit systems, flying around the world, and doing chores around the apartment and he wondered about how he could create podcast-like content for his students.
At FITS, we have a number of strategies that we like to recommend to help keep students organized and on task:
- Use the “Completion Tracking” feature in the D2L Content tool so students can check off items as they complete them.
- Set due dates that will be pushed to the calendar tool and encourage students to subscribe to their calendar so that it syncs to whatever personal calendar they use.
- Use use the News tool to send updates and, again, encourage students to subscribe so they get updates via email.
But there’s a danger in all these strategies. If you don’t fully commit to them they can backfire spectacularly, and rather than help keep students on task, only create confusion about what they’re supposed to do.
DePaul University and the SUNY COIL Center have teamed up to offer the first-ever Global Learning Conference: Transcending Boundaries Through COIL. This don’t-miss event will be held October 30-31, 2017 in Chicago.
The Global Learning Conference illustrates best practices and innovation in collaborative online international learning (COIL). COIL is an approach to fostering 21st century student competencies through the development of multicultural learning environments that link university or college classes in different countries using online technologies. The conference invites faculty and lecturers, instructional technologists and designers, international education and study abroad managers, and anyone interested in the internationalization of higher education to attend and share knowledge with their peers in this growing field.