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Hypothes.is: Twine Might Be Too Much. Or Not.


flickr photo shared by dutruong.t733 under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

I started this blog some time ago to invest in the reflective work on teaching and learning that I was asking of my students, and I was not a good role model.  Thanks to Todd Conaway for jump starting this project where a number of us will write together.

I didn’t keep up the blog because there was always something else that needed to be done, and I’m certainly feeling now that I should be working on my syllabi for the quarter.

But here’s the thing: I’m grappling with whether or not to incorporate two new digital tools into my Education and the American Dream course this quarter.   It’s time to decide.

I have seen multiple faculty blogs and tweets about using Hypothes.is to support social reading, as students jointly annotate websites or PDFs. I’ve read very encouraging accounts of deepened learning, richer class discussions, and students’ capacity to see things in course readings that they might otherwise have missed. Some of the readings in Am Dream are  dry  but important sociological studies, and I imagine that enabling students to  read “together” would provoke more questions and  legitimize critique of writing styles that merit critique. I’m also often surprised with the range of “numerical literacy” among students when they read some of the quantitative analyses, and I imagine the learning that could happen by witnessing others’ interpretations/ questions/ ideas as they work through these readings.

Back in June –when the summer seemed so enticingly long —  I also spent some time playing with Twine and I started to get excited about making interactive stories for this class.  They read books  (in small group “book circles” that usually operate mainly within fairly conventional online discussions) that trace pathways of opportunity — along with multiple multiple obstacles to opportunity.  I imagine them constructing games that explore different outcomes for the people in their books as they consider the complex routes that people take from childhood to adulthood.

So, instead of just revising my assignments and taking a run at either of these, I write.  I imagine having one or two students primed ahead time (and bribed with at least coffee cards) who could help classmates troubleshoot and who could model playfulness.  I imagine how great it would be to know that a few colleagues were also experimenting with either of these this quarter and we could compare notes or panic together out of the sight of students when we have no idea how to solve something.  But neither of those is likely.

So it’s time to decide.  Do I have the time?  I no longer believe that I have to have “mastered” a tool to introduce it to students, but neither will I go in without having a very good idea of how something works.  Will colleagues understand when two students (inevitably) push back on their end of quarter feedback that “this is not a tech class”?  Would my time be better spent prepping for my conference presentations (they COUNT) than refining assignments that already work ok?

I’m also developing a brand new course, in a new field that has mostly been an ever-more-finely tagged folder in Evernote for a year now, and is only now being organized into weeks and assignments and grading scales.    That’s been a lot of (fun) w0rk.

But it’s time to decide.

One? Both?

Stay tuned.  Right now, I have no idea.

 


Hello Again…

Hello Again, Hello…

Wow. It has been a long time since I’ve even opened this blog. Embarrassing. I can blame it on many things. But alas, it still falls back on me. However, I am proud to say, that for the next few months, this blog will actually be updated.

I blame Todd

So, this spring, we at UWB (University of Washington Bothell) hired an awesome new instructional designer, Todd Conaway. And I have to say, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. But in a really good way. Todd comes to us from Yavapai Community College in Arizona (Sorry for taking him away Yavapai. Wait. No, not really.) Anyway, Todd is energetic. He has so many amazing ideas. And Todd has a way about him. He can talk so chill about an idea, but when you leave the conversation it stays with you. Thus, how I blame Todd for roping me into starting to write again.

The 9x9x25 Writing Challenge

These next few months, I will be participating in the 9x9x25 Writing Challenge. From the moment I heard about this – I was sold. We hear and read so much research on the power of reflective writing, and the good it does our students. Just take a look at any issue of the Journal of Writing Research. It’s the same research that we use to justify having students maintain an ePortfolio. Yet, how many of us actually do our own reflective writing? How many of take the time to write about our own teaching? Our own learning? I for one have not. But, this will now change.

Writing in the UWB Reading Room

Writing in the UWB Library Reading Room

The 9x9x25 Writing Challenge is quite simple. Write at least 25 sentences about teaching and learning each week for nine consecutive weeks. Publish your writing on the web. Done. Those participating in this challenge at UWB will be posting their writing on the Learning Technologies Blog. So, there you have it. For at least the next 9 weeks, I’ll be writing. Something.

I have to admit, the idea of writing so regularly, and posting it online is scary to me. I’ve never considered myself a writer. And I definitely have never shared my writing before. Yet, this is different. It’s a different type of writing. Writing for a different purpose. And more importantly, what sets this writing apart is that with this writing challenge, I am part of a community. A community of learners. Of writers. Of those who love education as I do. So, onward! And hello again.

Is that 25 sentences?

What Visual Aids Do You Use in Class?

I have often joked that my favorite week in school was the “using visual aids” week. When you go to college to be a teacher, using visual aids is one of the topics covered. I learned all about using visual aids in classrooms. Yeah, don’t laugh.

I use my eyeballs a lot and I like to touch things. So when a topic is being addressed I like to be able to touch it, or at least see it. Thank goodness for PowerPoint right? Does all that visual aid stuff for you right? Some colorful bulleted lists and maybe a picture or two and you got some kinda killer visual aids. Well, not really. Ask any student.

Some courses lean more towards easily accessible visual aids. Science courses for example. There are all kinds of cool things you can bring to class for science. Bones you find in your back yard, pretty flowers, or moldy bread. And the classrooms themselves are full of things to play with and touch. To smell and to get hurt using. Other courses, like psychology or advanced business courses may be more challenging. None the less, you can have fancy visual aids to help articulate and detail examples from the field of work you are studying in any course. It just takes some imagination. Easy Access / Easy Consumption - The Wall E Model I don’t teach English anymore. But when I did, I used serious visual aids sometimes. We usually call them “field trips.”  To me, they were just another visual aid that helped students better understand the multidimensional topics we covered. I had them draw the rock they saw in Bryce Canyon. I had them read about conservation in Yosemite. I used some big visual aids in my classrooms. 104_jpg   Now I do “teacher training” and I really can’t use the phrase “visual aids.” Sounds like I am talking about middle school right? But not really. I employ fancy colors, big pieces of paper, and sometimes old t-shirts to really bring a point home. Yeah, keep laughing. Sometimes, I use websites. But not store bought websites. My own websites. The difference there is like bringing store bought cookies to a party versus bring warm homemade cookies. You’re not laughing now, are you? And website are an interesting form of handout that can be shared many times over. Of course a website has limitations like anything digital. No smell. No texture. You can’t throw a website across the room or dance with it.
These visual aids can be employed in a variety of ways. You can use them in one on one conversations or in small groups. You could use them as rewards, or as ways to recognize outstanding performance. They could be online or held in a hand. They can be big or small. Fluffy or prickly. Smelly or cold.

What about visual aids in online classes? Well, you might just use the out-of-doors as a visual aid to help describe something.

What I enjoy the most is that time holding something that represents an actual artifact from the content being discussed. Then giving it to students to look at, to touch and feel. A tangible element to add dimension to the conversation. I know, I can think of a lot of examples for science or botany or anatomy. Even some for physics and math. But what about English? What about those times in psychology where you do role playing? Do you bring in hats and big horned rim glasses to help with the visual elements?

I have more questions about visual aids. Like is a guest speaker a visual aid? Is a field trip a visual aid? Is Skyping someone into the room a visual aid? Is asking another faculty’s class to come share some time with your class a visual aid?

Do visual aids make any difference? Learning is about making connections. Connections between ideas and things known and newly discovered. And these things are not just words in a bulleted list, they are often things that exist and can be touched. And that touching can be part of making connections more concrete. Because we remember what our senses encounter. And we sense the world with more than our eyeballs.

Tableau Desktop Review

two students working on laptops

As part of UW Bothell’s mission to establish digital literacy in its students and faculty, bridging digital media tools with other areas of study is an important educational strategy that greatly enhances the value and skillset of students and instructors, as well as prepares individuals for a society where digital media tools and practices exist as the standard and norm. In an article written by Andreas Brockhaus, UW Bothell’s Director of Learning Technologies, he states that the importance of acquiring digital literacy skills is even higher now, as digital media becomes pertinent in all forms of professional and institutional work. “For faculty and especially for students, the explosion of digital media tools and practices in society have made it ever more vital that students gain skills in using media across many disciplines.” (Brockhaus, 34)

 

tableau desktop logo

 

Tableau Desktop, one of four main products under the Tableau Software name: Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, Tableau Reader and Tableau Public, is one of the leading digital literacy tools in data visualization for statistical and data analysis. With a simple interface and powerful set of features and tools, Tableau Desktop has made analyzing data easier and much more intuitive.

Read More!

Introducing the Learning Technologies Video Tutorial Library

Here at UW Bothell Learning Technologies, we’ve produced dozens of video tutorials to help UW students, faculty and staff find their way around technologies like Canvas, UW Google Apps, Tegrity and more. Previously, all of the videos could only be found on the site among the written tutorial pages. In an effort to make our video selection more centralized and easier to browse, we’re introducing the Learning Technologies Video Tutorial Library!

vtl

The library–which will also be continuously updated as new content is published–features links to all Learning Technologies videos as well as the tutorial pages where they are embedded (provided the pages still exist). The videos are organized by the tool they are associated with, which you can quickly navigate from the shortcut links at the top of the page.

We hope that this will make the videos on our site easier to find and more convenient to anyone looking for help or interested in learning something new!