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Aiming for Annotation

Annotating-with-Qiqqa1

For the longest time the majority of people have considered passive reading the same as active reading, which is not the case. Active reading is more like a discussion between you and the material and therefore involves repeated questioning, critiquing, re-examination and the development of ideas. Whereas passive reading is when you’re reading to just get through the assigned pages and you show little actual interest in identifying and remembering the main ideas. But even the best active readers may find it tedious to actively read about particular subjects.

In an article on Educause Review written by Elyse Graham, she talks about the use of digital annotations to help train readers in the techniques of close reading, textual analysis, and proper comprehension of the topic.

Recently, development of tools to support digital annotation has been the subject of research and development. Some groups are building heavily annotated digital versions of maps, manuscripts, and specimens; others are focusing on developing tools that enable users to annotate new media formats, such as audio files or videos of class lectures. For example, the University of Maryland has teamed with Alexander Street Press to tailor a video-annotation toolkit for scholars. Johns Hopkins University is working with the French National Library on a complete digital library of existing manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose, annotated with the kind of scholarly commentary that normally could not appear in a facsimile. MIT’s Annotation Studio, a web-based application that enables users to create, save, and share annotations to digital texts.

The application was designed to help college readers locate and mark evidence in texts, with the aim of supporting instructors and students in the humanities. To learn more about this application click the link above.

Video-Recording Studio Boom

Now more than ever colleges and universities are providing video studios for general academic work rather than just for film majors or student news organizations.

Pennsylvania State University has created a simple setup that they call the “One Button Studio.” This room allows students and faculty members to simply plug a flash drive into the studio’s computer and press a button rather than dealing with complicated cameras and different editing software. The button controls the green screen, the lighting, and the video recording. Once the user is done, they just push the button again and retrieve their flash drive, with their new video saved. Penn State noticed how popular the One Button Studio was with faculty and students now they provide 19 One Button Studios across its multiple campuses.

Ohio State opened their studio just last fall and an instructor used the room to record a video of herself experimenting with liquid nitrogen and a blowtorch. Other universities, including Abilene Christian and Notre Dame, now use the model for their own in-house studios. Dartmouth College opened their studio called the “Innovation Studio” in May. Instructors can sign up to reserve the production rooms and can bring their own equipment or borrow some from the college’s media center. The rooms are used for a variety of different educational purposes. For example, universities such as Harvard have interviewed guest speakers in their studios to film the interview, so it can later be shared with classes. Other professors have used the studios to prerecorded lectures for students to watch when class is canceled. Now students don’t have to miss a lecture due to bad weather.

Professors are engaging more with tech-savvy students to provide more digital learning material for higher education.

For more information on this topic click here.

Engaging Students to Learn Through zyBooks

Textbooks can often be long and boring to read, making it difficult to keep students engaged. Now there’s a new web platform ‘zyBooks’ that creates a new way to learn from textbooks. ZyBooks mixes learning activities such as question sets and animations with written content. ZyBooks wants professors to use the web-based platform as a new way to help students engage with course material along with helping students perform better.

Students oftentimes have to reread passages in textbooks to actually understand the content. Frank Vahis, the founder of zyBooks in 2012, wanted to create a platform where students could retain more information while giving students an alternative to the wall of text traditional textbooks have. Vahis explains that the company wanted to avoid having “book” in the products name because the word would inaccurately describe what they were trying to do, however eventually they did keep it. Yes, digital textbooks are hardly a new idea, but the ‘next step’ Vahis argues is for textbooks to provide engaging material that helps students collaborate with other classmates while assisting students retain more information. A study done on students using the platform found that students tended to perform better on quizzes and other actives. Students also reported that they felt more engaged with course material when using zyBook products than using a regular textbook. The product also provides professors with a tool to track students’ progress in the course.

Currently, professors in 250 universities, primarily in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses, are using zyBooks. Not to mention that zyBooks products cost $48 each, which is cheaper than the average cost of a new textbook. Originally the platform was intended to focus on courses such as computer science and other STEM fields, but now the group hopes to move onto other topics, such as finance, accounting, and sociology.

For more information on this topic click here.

Create A Better Learning Space

Providing a well-rounded learning space is not always the easiest task, and can be difficult based on the class size as well. Luckily there is a way to deal with such obstacles. In an article on Campus Technology we find out how multiple types of tests, taken by Purdue University, worked and brought in new ways to improve the learning space of their students. To provide a better experience for everybody, the university had to lay out specific requirements for the new physical space, such as: soundproofing, acoustic panels and ceiling mics.

To create a better learning space, Purdue University had to take into consideration the different needs of students taking classes online. In order to turn lectures around quickly for the use of online learners, “Telestream” was applied to do the encoding, which allowed the school to provide recordings to its students within 20 minutes from the time the lecture was finished. The encoding would capture the lecture and place it into one big file. It was then compressed down into a MPEG-4 file that could be uploaded onto a Web server.

This was a great way to improve the experience for students who were taking the class online, but more changes had to be made to take effect on those who physically attended. It was for them that the monitors were removed from the desks in order to design a more interactive classroom layout. Mobile tables and chairs were also added to provide maximum flexibility for the professors and students. For bigger classrooms, containing 75 students, 90 inch screen tv’s were placed on the wall allowing the students to view anything that the professor would display or demonstrate.

The rooms were all designed to function in two distinct modes: the first is the”Presentation mode,” this meant that the equipment in the room was not in use for  lectures being recorded; the second is “production mode,” an operation intended to capture the class. These two modes could easily be switched between one another with one single button. Though as nice and as flawless as this may sound, there were some challenges the University happened to come across. To see what challenges were faced and how they were handled click the link above.

E-Portfolios New Way For New Career

A new way is being tested to link students’ academic achievement to career success. In an article on Campus Technology, Dian Schaffhauser examines how Portland State University is turning E-Portfolios into a key component in their programs. These will be used by the students and will be carried out for use after their graduation. There are three steps total, one will be incorporated each year out of this three-year program.

Starting this summer, the usage of E-Portfolios will be embedded into as many touch points as possible. One example of this is during their orientation, where students will be presented a self-paced video module about E-Portfolios. The videos will explain what they are as well as how they are used. There will also be a organizational behavior course that will have first-year students begin their E-Portfolios. This will include writing an autobiography and a leadership purpose statement.

In year two, students will develop content that talks about and is able to expose their very own personal strengths in a “team processes” class, as well as a “innovation for shared value” class. From there, they will create a presentation that will be used to persuade a board of directors about a “state-of-the-art innovation process.” The works that are produced will then be added into their E-Portfolio.

Then comes year three, where a “contemporary leadership issues” course will require the students to revisit their project from year one and refine it in order to reflect their experience and the knowledge they gained. As for their capstone, the students have to take on a community project. This project and the results will also be added into the E-Portfolio. Though at the same time, the students will also be going through a “career management and digital portfolio” class.

To find out more about these steps and their possible outcomes as well as questions that it has raised, visit the link below:

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/06/17/eportfolios-link-academic-achievements-to-career-success.aspx