Maybe I should be used to the situation by now, but it continues to be surprising how difficult it is to find a reliable way to post streaming content privately on our LMS. We have done long-term pilots with two companies that both failed for one reason or another. Last spring, I was in on a discussion with another company and, despite getting a promise that it would all be done “very soon,” they too failed to provide a workable solution by the start of our summer program this year. And here is where most of the companies working in educational technology don’t get it: the show must go on. In this particular case, providing video capabilities to teachers and students of that program could not just get cancelled, or wait until some company figures out a more robust solution. In general, instruction can’t wait for an elegant solution, so teachers usually have to come up with some sort of workaround.
The most obvious use-case for a chromebook to me is for travelling, and I can imagine recommending it to the faculty I support who travel as well. This past summer, for example, Robert Siegel took a dozen students to Madagascar, and in order to free up space on their cameras and back up a copy of their SD cards he bought a 400$+ Netbook and a couple 2TB travel drives. Its also very useful to be able to view media on a full screen to see if their are problems with focus, white balance, image stabilization, audio levels, etc. and I lent the students my old iPad 1 for this purpose. With an adapter an iPad can injest SD media, but you can’t add an external USB drive to it so only the photos from the beginning of the trip were on it.
I attended BoxWorks 2013 in San Francisco and have a few brief observations to make.
Changes in social science research have mirrored those in other fields, where the onslaught of rich and massive data corpora, both from observational and administrative sources, has opened unimaginable opportunities for researchers. To support this work, and build on its mission, the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS) has launched the Center for Computational Social Science.
A couple weeks ago we had just over 50 participants for a three day Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant orientation, a program that we have participated in for several years now. I have been trying to implement some sort of LMS training using our own Sakai instance, but we have constantly run into the reality that participants can’t get access until they arrive, and then the schedule is just too short to really do anything of substance. At the same time, we had two additional components that we wanted to accomplish this year, video clips and homework, so we needed some online way to facilitate that. I decided to try Instructure Canvas for this purpose, mostly out of curiosity about this relatively new entry into the LMS market.
Given the interest in alternative academic (alt-ac) careers and the remarkable variety these positions can take, I thought it might be helpful to others looking beyond the tenure-track if I were to provide a sense of what my particular instantiation of an alt-ac job entails. I am currently working on several noteworthy and new projects that will launch in the Fall or Winter Quarters. In this post, I highlight three projects and explain how my role in each requires (often vastly) different competencies. These three projects do not encompass everything I work on, but they do indicate some of the breadth and the multiple challenges I regularly have the good fortune to encounter.
One resource that I use and often recommend to English learners is the PBS Newshour site. While it is clearly not intended specifically to be used in that capacity, it has several characteristics that make it well-suited to that purpose.
Just finished these. They will eventually be on the Language Center website:
When I teach a pedagogy class, I tell the students that I think in PowerPoint. I do this partly to spite the large community of Microsoft haters, but also to illustrate a point: planning a lesson is a step that a teacher should never skip, especially if they have not taught that lesson at least 5 times. And, while it is important to be flexible, it is also important to visualize the short period of time that we spend with our students in a structured, chronological way, so that we make the most of every minute.
Recently, Gabriella Safran, the current chair of the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (DLCL), asked me to generate network graphs of the DLCL faculty in advance of an all-faculty retreat at which the agenda was to center around how the DLCL is structured and how well it works for faculty. We developed a series of survey questions that cover research, teaching, collaboration, and service, which I turned into a Google Form so that faculty could fill out a simple web form to provide me with a spreadsheet of data. The questions included things like “What are your primary research topics?” and “With whom have you co-taught?” The answers gave me to raw data necessary to begin building networks. In some cases, faculty are connected because they work directly together either in teaching or research (e.g., reading each other’s drafts). In other cases, faculty are connected because they share a research interest or teach the same time period or genre. I divided the questions into groups, titled “Research”, “Collaboration”, “Structure”, “Teaching”, and “Teaching Collaboration”, as a way to see different facets of the faculty’s relationships. I then created this web page to allow exploration of these networks. The data are not complete as not everyone has completed the survey yet, but I will continue to update the networks as more results come in. For suggestions on how to use this page, read on. If you would like read about the technologies I used to build this tool, see this companion post.