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Category: Pedagogy/Methodology

Client Support and Educational Technology Overview

Client Support and Educational Technology Overview

We recently had the privilege of meeting University of Puget Sound’s new faculty and sharing what services, resources, and support our Client Support and Educational Technology teams offer. This presentation, created using Piktochart (one of my favorite infographic tools) highlights the services we offer and gives more in-depth details about what each Educational Technologist, Paul Monaghan, Lauren Nicandri and me, Kaity Peake, specialize in:



There is an irony here that I won’t pretend to ignore.

My colleague and I have engaged in multiple discussions about classroom distractions that come from laptops or smartphones, and anything in between.  We have both witnessed it first hand.

I came across an interesting video put out by Epipheo that looks into the very idea of this kind of distraction.  The video is called “What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” and the irony I mentioned earlier, is that I came across it while engaging in my daily ritual of flipping through Failblog (trying to ignore another commercial about cheese).  Regardless, I find the content to be of value, something worth listening to and thinking about.  Whether you agree with the creator of the video or Nicholas Carr, the author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains,” is up to you, but I think in a world that is so engrossed in the internet, it is certainly worth considering.

Some of the ideas brought up are ones that I personally have pondered.  I see how things have changed in the relatively short time since I was a student.  They are conversations (and friendly arguments) that we have in the office.

I encourage you to watch the video, and consider what you think of the claims it is making.  Do you agree?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

As for me, I plan on putting Nicholas Carr’s book on my summer reading list.

And if you want to talk to someone about these ideas come on down to the EdTech office.  We would love to hear what you think about these kinds of issues!

Assessing digital projects

Assessing digital projects

GradebookI’ve always been interested in assessment and finding better ways to go about determining student performance.  Some individuals are anti-rubric, but I find that it’s one of the few transparent ways of informing students what your expectations are and conveying their grade on a specific project without having to deploy copious amounts of comments.

While rubrics are somewhat less personal (you can certainly add your own write-in feedback), they tend to make not only the directions for creating digital projects easier, but also ease scoring.  Because digital projects don’t always contain a written component or something more tangible to grade, rubrics assist with ensuring students have the opportunity to meet each requirement.  Granted, rubrics can tend to cause us to unnecessarily inflate or deflate grades due to their prescribed number values, adding an extra category, using some decimal values or even additional explanation of what’s required for each point value can go a long way towards adequately assessing student work.

Creating assignments and rubrics along side one another can also be helpful in the planning process.  Each category and description of grade values causes us to evaluate the kinds of skills, techniques and level of mastery desired from the project itself.  Actively developing these objectives together can help you determine the scope of the project and how much time you allot as well as the kinds of resources or tools to implement.

There are several options for creating rubrics.  I prefer good old fashioned Microsoft Word, but if you want some additional guidance in terms of point values and category creation, try these resources:

Rubistar has been around for awhile and it shows a bit, however, this remains one of the standard rubric creation sites available.  If you aren’t enamored with the overall aesthetics of your final rubric, you can always transfer the content into Word to pretty it up a bit.

This site contains several examples of already created rubrics for various digital assignments.  Not all of them are applicable for higher education as is, but they can certainly be modified to make them more suitable.  Regardless of the grade level, there are plenty of rubrics to get an idea of what you might want to incorporate into your own.

Looking for an added teaching challenge, but one that might have big pay-offs for student interest and ownership of learning?  Try allowing your students to create the rubric for an assignment.  Come up with some guidelines to scaffold the process, like pre-created categories or an example rubric.  You can engage students in a discussion about what makes a quality [insert digital product here].  Perhaps you can have them look at online examples of a project that is similar to the one you are assigning and ask them to look at what makes them good, better and best.  They might need your assistance with the gritty details, but this can have a huge impact on how they might go about their project creation.

Image courtesy of morgueFile:

What’s a TAPoR?

What’s a TAPoR?

Photo of a TapirA TAPoR is a South American pig-like mammal.  No, that’s a Tapir!

TAPoR, recently mentioned in a NITLE-IT webinar offering, is an online resource for text mining tools.

A couple of things first:

What is ‘text mining’?  Text mining is the search for the prevalence of words or phrases to identify patterns and other correlations to assist in a deeper interpretation of written works.  Text mining is done by using a digital copy of a specific text or texts (either scanned and then OCRed so that the document can be searched or an existing searchable text document).  Once the document is searchable, it can be put into various software programs which, depending on the software, will display the text patterns in different ways.  These software programs can pull chunks of words, phrases, etc. from the reading and display it in a visual manner which allows readers to identify how these patterns might contribute to an author’s purpose, message or other more in-depth analyses of written work.

How does text mining help teaching and learning?  Before text mining tools, we used highlighters, pens and pencils to write in the margins and identify concepts and phrases.  Text mining streamlines this process and also allows instructors to expand a discussion or analysis of a reading due to the speed with which words and phrases or concepts can be found.  Students can be broken up into groups and work with specific kinds of searches or tools to share multiple perspectives based on their text mining research.

Key among the reasons individuals use text mining is to be able to see words in a more visual sense.  Seeing the prevalence of various words or concepts based on their size and distribution in relationship to their use and the use of other common words in a text help students to think more critically about word choice and its implications.  It may also be useful for students to make observations that were formerly more difficult to see and can create their own theories to explore and research.

Text mining can even be useful for students to analyze their own writing to search for over-use of words.

TAPoR provides a slew of text mining resources for different purposes.  Text mining activities can range from simple to complex and isn’t for everyone or for every reading of a written work.  If this is your first attempt at text mining, check in with your EdTech for recommendations on tools and best practices.

Tapir image courtesy of

Puget Sound faculty featured in The Chronicle!

Puget Sound faculty featured in The Chronicle!

Just after publishing our last post about tips on flipping, I was sent a fantastic article from The Chronicle of Higher Education written by the University of Puget Sound’s own chemistry professor, Steven Neshyba!

In It’s a Flipping Revolution, Neshyba talks about the journey and observations he’s made throughout his first semester of flipping his chemistry courses and how its made an impact on his teaching and student learning by using technology as a vehicle for content delivery outside of class.

A key takeaway from this article is Neshyba’s point “…about how technology, in tandem with innovations in pedagogy and the evolving nature of our students, is driving changes even at traditional private liberal-arts colleges like [his].”

A big congratulations on this excellent article!Clip from "It's a Flipping Revolution" by Steven Neshyba

Critical questions regarding ‘flipping’

Critical questions regarding ‘flipping’

BMX bikers doing a flip off of a rampTechnology is exciting.  Technology is innovative.  It makes us think.  It makes us do!  It can change and enhance the way we teach and learn, as long as it is used thoughtfully and with a primary focus on teaching and learning goals.

Recently, we posted about ‘flipping the classroom’ and have spoken about this to many folks interested in this methodology on-campus.  As new methods and tools emerge, it’s always important to periodically reflect on your goals and practices and how those are impacting learning in the classroom–especially when technology is in the mix.

Flipping can certainly prove to be a great solution for some individuals and content areas (students and faculty), let’s take a look at some key questions raised in an article written by Kevin Makice:  Flipping the Classroom Requires More Than Video.

Some critical takeaways:

When flipping, it is imperative to be continually aware of what your pedagogical objectives are as well as the ways in which information is disseminated to the students.

Cautions also include staying in-tune with the balance of online components and the out of class time that students are required to devote to content that was formerly done in-class.

Something to remember:  blended courses on other campuses (courses which meet less frequently face-to-face and supplement online components for the reduced face-to-face meetings) are usually structured using a variety of instructional design methods to facilitate student learning in more efficient ways while employing technologies to do so.

Makice cites Richard Taylor’s (CMO for Echo360) caveat to be wary that “If you structure your class exactly the same way you have always done but employ it flipped…effectively what you have done is added an extra hour of class for every hour of class the student has.”

Good tips:

“Flipped” lectures/videos should be short clips (typically about 10 minutes or less of content).

In-class time is for collaborative work, project-based learning, and to practice and work on homework problems/concepts in order to allow them to learn from one another or ask for additional assistance from the instructor.

Out of class time should remain the same amount of work/time commitment as any other face-to-face class that was not being ‘flipped’.  Typically, out of class time is for lecture content, but is not for homework (e.g., attempting math problems that were introduced in the video lecture watched at home).

Have questions about ‘flipping’?  Contact EdTech!

Image courtesy of morgueFile:

Everyone’s reading about “Digital Pepa-gogy”

Everyone’s reading about “Digital Pepa-gogy”

Pepa Lago-Graña, a longtime technology user, was our featured faculty in Technology Services’ Spring 2013 edition of TechNews, a quarterly publication that discusses the latest news and exciting happenings regarding technology at the University of Puget Sound.  The newsletter includes a page about educational technology and what various faculty are doing to incorporate technology into their courses.

Read the article written by Educational Technologist, Kyle Cramer, and be on the lookout for TechNews in your campus mailbox or online.

For information on what you can do to use technology in your teaching, contact Educational Technology.

Image from Spring 2013's TechNews featuring Pepa Lago-Graña seated in her office using her laptop.
Image from Spring 2013’s TechNews featuring Pepa Lago-Graña seated in her office using her laptop.

Flipping: an infographic

Flipping: an infographic

I’m a self-proclaimed infographic junky and folks have been curious about practicing flipped classrooms as of late.  Flipping the classroom entails assigning students specific content to engage with prior to meeting face-to-face.  The current trend advocates the use of technology and lecture capture via video recordings posted to a learning management system (e.g., Moodle).

Today’s infographic comes to us from EdTech Magazine via Knewton.  It should be noted that Knewton is a tech company that offers course-related technology and delivery for education [insert inherent bias here…].  Nonetheless, depending on your beliefs or curiosity when it comes to “flipping”, this is an interesting graphic discussing what the flipped classroom looks like, albeit a tad one-sided.

Can “The Flipped Classroom” Model Work in Higher Education?

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media