New faculty gathered at the Bean Broker for the final meeting of the New Faculty Orientation (NFO). Tracy Nobiling, NFO facilitator, led a discussion with the now not-so-new faculty to identify what they considered most useful and least useful aspects of this year’s program experience. The new faculty members shared their perspectives and offered suggestions for ways to improve the program for next year’s new faculty cohort.
The discussion expanded upon feedback the NFO participants submitted via an anonymous, online evaluation of the program’s full-day orientation held prior to the start of fall semester and the hour-length, bi-monthly meetings scheduled during the fall and spring semesters. Points taken from the survey framed the candid discussion.
Survey responses and the subsequent conversation suggest that new faculty have many things in common, that they appreciate and benefit from having structured, collegial opportunities to meet with each other, and that the program is not perceived as overly time-consuming.
Faculty expressed general agreement that the most useful meetings are those focused on explaining college planning, policies, processes, and
procedures as well as those which identify resources (individuals and offices) that support students.
Opinion was split on the value of meetings focused on teaching-related topics. Given the varied levels of new faculty teaching experience, these meetings were considered greatly beneficial to some, but less valuable to others.
The informal discussion underscored the challenges of providing the right balance of topics relevant to all new faculty while coordinating perfectly timed delivery of information just when faculty need it.
The group discussion prompted several suggestions to enhance future NFO experiences and/or CSC teaching overall. Some ideas proposed are:
- Add an agenda item to every meeting to increase time allotted to unstructured discussion and sharing of challenges and successes faculty are experiencing at the moment.
- Add a meeting or event in which a panel of experienced CSC faculty members address what to expect when teaching CSC students and how best to engage them.
- Schedule and promote a regularly scheduled “Teaching Table” to support both new and experienced faculty informal discussions regarding teaching strategies, ideas, and conundrums.
The NFO Program is designed to assist incoming faculty who are new to teaching and/or new to campus with just-in-time guidance and resources for getting settled on campus. Meeting topics aim to introduce new faculty to CSC and support them in navigating college processes, developing a support network, and fostering plans for improving teaching, scholarly and creative activities, and professional service.
One new faculty member expressed that the NFO experience was very helpful and provided some great information that could be used throughout the semesters.
“It was refreshing to be part of a group of faculty that was in the same boat as me, being in the first year of teaching here at CSC, and it helped provide a non-biased look at happenings around the campus. Often times, our views can be distorted and we can get cliqued into our own department and not have to travel outside of it. This was a nice way to branch out and meet new individuals and learn about campus.”
This year, the TLC did something new. In its first year sans director, it took a page out of Plato’s Apology, and decided to examine a slice of life (2015-2016) – both to get a sense of what it does well and what it could do better. At the core of this self-examination is an important principle: utilization. As a service unit of Academic Affairs, TLC staff want to understand how their services are being used. Simple tracking strategies are able to tell us how often services are used and for what reasons. It’s assessment at its most basic, but it does give us some basis for extrapolating on faculty interests in pedagogical strategies and instructional technologies.
This year the TLC facilitated five mostly faculty-led seminars, with an overall attendance of 40 faculty and staff. There were a variety of topics, including verbal Judo, RSS, active learning, the science of student mindsets, and academic study tables. The nine faculty who led the seminars included Jamie Wada, Ann Buchmann, Joyce Hardy, Wendy Jamison, Beth Wentworth, Jesse Sealey, Josh Ellis, Susan Schaeffer, and Kurt Kinbacher. We were pleased to see participants from so many different disciplines with such a broad range of teaching experience (assistant professors to full professors).
Additionally, six multi-session workshops (some of which ran encore performances) provided hands-on and technology-infused instruction. Topics included Turnitin, high-impact practices, Sakai’s Lesson Builder tool, screencasting, object-based learning, and academic blogging. A total of 30 faculty and staff attended these sessions, while seven staff members from the TLC, LLC, and Sandoz Center facilitated and assisted with the sessions: Matthew Perrie, Susan Hines, Elizabeth Ledbetter, Jereme Patterson, Sarah Polak, Christine Fullerton, and Sam Ballard. The workshops – even the under-enrolled ones – have clearly elevated the skillsets of some faculty, but, more importantly, they have spurred closer connections between faculty and staff, which, we hope, will lead to more productive partnerships.
This August, the TLC will launch its first Summer Institute, a two-day event that focuses on online course revision and e-pedagogy. The author of Excellent Online Teaching: Effective Strategies for a Successful Semester, Aaron Johnson, will be on hand for “Tuning Up Your Online Courses.” The institute (which is limited to six participants, due to space and workstation restrictions) is currently full, but we’re already considering an encore. If you’re interested, contact the TLC’s ID Specialist, Elizabeth Ledbetter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Like any sports enthusiast with a Fitbit, the numbers say something about overall health at a given point in time. Now that the TLC knows its numbers for the academic year (a grand total of 16 facilitators and 70 participants), the goal in 2016-2017 is simply to increase them and to expand its multiuse, presentation, media-development, and training spaces so that more faculty and staff can be accommodated. We are also very keen to keep the quality high and are experimenting with seminars that dovetail into publishing, such as Kurt Kinbacher’s “Academic Study Table,” and publishing that dovetails into book-club gatherings, such as the academic Book Review Club recently proposed by Josh Ellis.
While the TLC has been more focused than usual on its program offerings, which in addition to seminars, workshops, and institutes, include New Faculty Orientation and, beginning this summer, a Faculty Fellows program, it checks in on a number of its other numbers as well. These include data on:
- LMS (Sakai) stability and utilization
- LMS (Sakai) support utilization
- instructional design support utilization
- mediated-classroom support utilization
- mediated-classroom utilization
- web-conferencing and lecture-capture utilization
- academic web utilization
- TLC Blog & Website utilization
- subscription service utilization (Quality Matters & Lynda.com)
- TLC Library utilization (books and, beginning this summer, equipment circulation).
Currently, our utilization reports are monthly, but data will be aggregated into semester and annual reports. So, if you’ve ever been curious about Sakai’s uptime vs downtime or would like to know more about LMS user and ticket statistics, the reports are now available on the Reports page of the TLC Blog. There’s a bevy of other interesting facts to glean, such as how many people use Vidyo and how often or what MAP sub-priorities are advanced through TLC seminars, workshops, and institutes. You can even find out about hot-ticket TLC Blog posts or learn what percentage of faculty have received basic training in Quality Matters.
Check It Out: Teaching & Learning Center Collection
The authors draw on “research from a breadth of perspectives to identify a set of key principles underlying learning” and provide guidance for applying those principles to college students through thoughtful course design and instruction. I found the book to be a bit overwritten in parts and oversimplified in others, but all-in-all a good read that offered some thought-provoking concepts and ideas in regard to designing a course and presenting material with “how learning works” in mind.
Applicable Knowledge / Skills
Some of the concepts that I found particularly interesting and applicable are as follows:
- Course improvement should follow a process of “progressive refinement” with continuous incremental changes and reflection.
- Increase student learning through “goal-directed practice” and “targeted feedback.”
- Increase student motivation by making the “value” and “expectancy” of the course evident to them.
- To increase “expectancy” and “mastery” establish student learning outcomes and course goals that help students see “component parts” of a “complex task.”
- Prior knowledge can help or hinder student and teacher course performance so it is necessary to determine what your and your students’ beliefs are regarding intelligence, ability, and learning.
“Numerophobic” safe. Useful research-based information presented in a readable manner.
Book Review Club
If you’re interested in writing reviews of the books in the TLC Collection, contact Josh Ellis (email@example.com), who will be starting and facilitating a Book Review Club through the TLC in 2016-2017. As you peruse the shelves for a book to read, review, and share, keep P. J. O’Rourke’s insightful suggestion in mind: “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
Thanks to a recent upgrade, CSC Online-Sakai is now powered by one of the most actively developed open-source learning management system (LMS) platforms available. On March 7th, between 6am and 2pm, CSC’s LMS hosting partner, Longsight, successfully moved the CSC Online codebase to the community version of Sakai v10.5. As online programs grow at CSC, the technology supporting them must also grow. This upgrade was an important step in providing a stable and economically sustainable online learning platform. A huge thanks to all faculty, staff, and students for bearing with us as we completed this major upgrade and for providing valuable feedback.
Moving a heavily used, hosted application to a new codebase and software version is no small feat. The project requires many hours of planning and testing. The goal in any major application platform update is to identify and fix all major issues before the new software instance is launched to end users. In this regard, the March 7th upgrade was a resounding success. However, there were several minor issues; these were reported and swiftly resolved (within 12-48 hours in almost all cases) in the days immediately following the upgrade.
With application updates come new opportunities to make the experience better for all users. This experience is extended to the CSC Online-Sakai students in the form of building more engaging courses with better tools. Some of the new features offered in Sakai 10 were discussed in a previous blog post. Additionally, Longsight offers extensive documentation and tutorials covering all features and tools available for instructors to use in Sakai. All faculty are encouraged to read the Sakai 10 Instructor Guide.
The TLC will continue to coordinate rolling updates and improvements to CSC Online-Sakai in a timely manner. A rolling (non-disruptive) incremental update to Sakai 10.6 is planned for the near future and will provide approximately 100 bug fixes and enhancements. Since this is an incremental update, users will not experience downtime. For more details about Sakai 10.6 and a list of all improvements visit the Apereo Sakai 10.6 release webpage.
As an added benefit to aligning CSC Online’s Sakai instance with the community codebase, we are able to track changes and find out about current developments within the Sakai community. For example, see what’s planned for Sakai 10.7.
Thanks to the update, the TLC is actively working to include several commonly requested vendor integrations including EBSCO Curriculum Builder, McGraw Hill Campus/Connect, and Cengage products. Additional details on these integrations are forthcoming.
As always, contact Sam Ballard in the TLC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-432-7089 with any questions about CSC Online.
Document cameras are increasingly becoming a technology staple in the office and classroom. Problem solving with pen and paper as well as displaying physical objects, such as textbooks, timers, artwork, and student projects are among the many ways document cameras are incorporated into instruction. Long gone are the days of bulky, expensive specialized document cameras, often referred to as visual presenters or “Elmos.” USB-enabled camera technology has significantly evolved, making cameras extremely versatile and affordable. Software can extend the useful life and capabilities of USB-enabled document cameras that enhance teaching and learning.
Some of the most versatile and modern document camera models are available from Ipevo. Ipevo is a company geared toward making technology affordable and available in education. The Ziggi line of document cameras offers models that incorporate many of the most advanced USB document camera technologies. Features include wireless display functionality (iZiggi), High-Definition (HD) 30-frame-per-second (fps) live imaging, resolutions up to 3264×2448, autofocus with 12x digital zooming, and powerful yet intuitive Ipevo Presenter software.
During the summer of 2014 campus classrooms were updated to include the release of the iZiggi HD document camera model. The iZiggi HD revolutionized the USB document camera industry on multiple fronts, including price, performance, and functionality. The iZiggi integrates an autofocus 5.0-megapixel document camera with optional wireless HD live-streaming into a compact and affordable multifunctional document camera. The optional wireless feature of the iZiggi HD supports faculty and student devices in the classroom while providing the freedom to use wirelessly the iZiggi as either a document camera or webcam.
Ipevo has further refined the success of the Ziggi document camera platform with the recently released 8.0-megapixel Ziggi HD Plus. Although not wireless capable, the Ziggi HD Plus is designed to accommodate the latest in lag-free USB livestreaming and to provide better low-light performance. Built similarly to the iZiggi, the Ziggi HD Plus includes a multi-jointed stand with a swiveling camera head and incorporates an integrated microphone. Optional accessories, such as the lighted magnifying lens, add versatility.
USB cameras are typically designed to directly connect to a computer or mobile platform and leverage software to extend camera features. The Ipevo Presenter software is designed to be extremely intuitive and easy to use. The latest version of Presenter software features the ability to create still photos (snapshots) or to make video recordings of live images. Users can easily annotate over images and generate digital content that can be integrated into online curricula.
Follow these guidelines for the best experience when using Ipevo document cameras:
- Most USB cameras perform better with adequate lighting. If the image looks grainy, it is often due to poor lighting conditions. The iZiggi camera can connect an inexpensive, flexible USB light into the base. Alternatively, a desk lamp or battery- powered LED light can be used.
- Image resolution often must be adjusted according to intended purpose. Ipevo document cameras are capable of very high resolutions, up to 3264×2448. Live motion-enabled images displayed at very high resolutions require significant computer resources. It is often necessary to adjust the image resolution to balance display for either motion (frame rate) or image detail (resolution). For lag-free motion, use lower resolutions. For greater detail, use higher resolution, however, be prepared to sacrifice frames-per-sec (fps).
- Lock and manually adjust focus or exposure settings if necessary. Similar to still photography, some objects and environments do not work well with automatic camera settings. The Ipevo cameras can turn off automatic exposure and focus settings. Manual adjustments can then be made with Presenter software.
- The digital zoom capabilities of the Ipevo document camera can be very useful. However, when zooming in on an object the camera is very sensitive to movement. You may get better results by using the Presenter software to enlarge the image using the “click and drag” command.
Increasingly, the TLC is focused on reporting emerging technologies and identifying professional development opportunities that enhance teaching and learning on our campus. As the TLC staff reviews technologies, we will hold informational seminars and invite faculty to participate in a testing and review process. To discuss training opportunities and/or suggest “new arrival” gadgets, please stop in for a visit or contact the TLC’s IT Analyst, Jereme Patterson (email@example.com or 308.432.6234).
The idea of hosting an academic study table came back to CSC from a session at a Higher Learning Commission Conference. The principle is that students who might benefit most from visiting faculty during office hours to discuss class material, study habits, and writing are unlikely to do so. First-generation college students are reportedly the least likely to visit with faculty in a one-on-one situation. In theory, moving office hours out of the office and into a more public space that accommodates group meetings encourages greater contact between students and faculty. Presumably, greater contact facilitates improved student success.
Although study table is a common practice at colleges and universities, there is not a significant body of scholarship on the topic. Many athletic departments at Division I and II schools set aside library time – labeled study table – for student athletes, but they are not usually moderated by either faculty or tutors. While the rationale for mandated study time for athletes appears to be continued eligibility, there is a small body of literature that addresses the importance of scheduling times for study when student athletes are not exhausted from their practice sessions.
Many institutions also schedule study table as part of their supplemental instruction programs, which are generally hosted by peer tutors. Some engineering programs set aside time and space for unmoderated group study on a drop-in basis. Modern language programs still host tables that focus on language immersion. Faculty-led study tables are either uncommon or have received little scholarly attention. The promise of improved student success and the dearth of information about study tables is what compelled me to experiment throughout the 2015-16 academic year. I cannot ascertain at this time whether holding a study table in the Library Learning Commons is holistically successful or not, but I feel it is worth continuing – with some modifications – in 2016-17. I have come to this decision not because I collected much data on the practice (a quantitative approach) but because of my general impressions about student engagement (a qualitative approach).
In fall 2015, I started a study table for my freshman-level World History survey sections. Combined enrollment in the two courses was about 95. In addition to presenting historical content, the study table is designed to help students read and write at a college level. All exams and in-class assignments are in essay format, and there is a formal essay based on an ancillary monograph. I hosted my study table in a main-floor study room in the library every Monday at 1 pm and every Tuesday at 6 pm. Attendance at the 6 pm session, I feel, was acceptable, although a large number of the regulars were student athletes who would have been in the library anyway. Three to four students attended most evening sessions. The largest groups were about a dozen students, but this only happened in sessions just prior to exams.
Student success was likely improved, although those in most frequent attendance were individuals who would have succeeded anyway. There were also students who utilized study table to pass the course. Three of my study table students were in the Transitional Studies program, and they attended (at least in part) because other professors and tutors asked them to do so. They all earned Cs, and their work improved dramatically as the semester moved forward. Availability of study table was noted positively on student evaluations.
I expanded my sessions to Wednesdays at 6 pm for spring 2016 and opened up study table to students in all of my courses, as requested by several seniors. Up until mid-term, attendance had been markedly down. My spring course load, however, is less focused on freshmen; I have only one large survey section, and most students were already successful for at least one semester. However, I regularly see both of my independent study students during the evening hours. I read essay drafts for about ten students prior to the first deadlines, but spring term has not been as active as fall.
In 2016-17 I will likely continue the 1 pm Monday sessions. In the fall term, I will schedule two evening times, one at 6 pm Tuesdays and one other to be determined, in part, by library usage statistics. Spring term, I will reduce the hours to just 6 pm on Tuesdays. I opt for the Tuesday slot to encourage students to attend the Graves Lecture Series at 7 pm. I will reevaluate after next academic year.
If you would like to learn more about my study table experiment, please attend the TLC Seminar “Academic Study Table” on April 14 (3-4 pm, ADM 030). If you are a faculty member interested in starting a study table of your own, the librarians in the LLC are happy to assist you. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 308.432.6271.
As an online instructor in Sakai, you may often need to add additional faculty or staff members to your courses. As the site owner, you have the ability to make these changes yourself—without contacting the Sakai administrator.
For instance, you may need to add a colleague to your course in order to team teach or share content. Additionally, you may need to add staff members, such as teaching assistants or course designers, to assist with managing your course. The step-by-step instructions below make the process quick and easy.
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Teaching & Learning Center (TLC) staffers turned out in force at this year’s Information Fair Luncheon (Student Center Ballroom, February 11, 2016) sponsored by Academic Affairs.
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