Reflections from faculty who earned the BLT Certificate
Chrystine Mitchell (BLT, 2015)
Although I already knew that my experience and knowledge about ways to integrate technology into classroom practices was only the “tip of the iceberg,” it was through the content presented at the BLT workshops that I learned about the extent of my own limits. The workshops provided a means for me to learn more about what the university has to offer, the supports in place to help us achieve our own professional goals, and share invaluable resources to help us engage students in course content while pushing their technological boundaries.
The first workshop shared the numerous ways that Penn State offers course content and the different ways to integrate web-enhanced course opportunities. Although I had familiarity with how online courses are facilitated and can be created, the workshop provided a much more detailed picture of the immense learning opportunities that can be produced and shared with students. As a new faculty member I wanted to use ANGEL in a way that seemed logical but I did not have a lot of time to understand the larger capabilities. Following the workshop session focused on ANGEL, I was able to utilize much more of the functionality of the management system. This led to me being able to become greener, making instructional resources more convenient for students, and in general being more efficient. It also allowed me to understand the functionality of ANGEL in creating and managing an online course, which I will accomplish this summer. This year I also utilized the rubric tool, which enabled me to easily grade student work and provide valuable feedback.
I also attended a workshop regarding multi-modal content and ways of not only making course material more accessible for my students, but making the material more engaging as well. I plan to use different videos and demonstration lessons in next year’s courses and I also have a way to create videos for my online course this summer. Finally, the workshop regarding multi-media experiences in the classroom introduced me to some tools I had not yet encountered and certainly wanted to utilize during the spring semester. I feel that I have a responsibility to model appropriate forms of technology through my courses in order to illustrate to the future teachers I am instructing about the importance of using multi-media in their instruction. I utilized a version of every tool that was shared at the workshop and I feel that my course content was enhanced as a result.
Attending the workshops for the certificate is an excellent opportunity to gain extensive knowledge about tools that extend student thinking, offer formative assessment data, and improve student learning. I plan to continue to attend future workshops because technological tools and opportunities are continually shaped and improved over time. I want to continue to improve the way in which I provide meaningful opportunities for learning and I know the BLT workshops will provide me with relevant information to accomplish this goal.
Shannon Nowatarski (BLT, 2015)
As a new faculty member, who is illiterate when it comes to technology, I very much appreciated the opportunity to learn about all of the exciting ways we can implement technology into the classroom. Every session was very informative and encouraged my exploration of using various tools, tools that I would have never known about without attending the BLT sessions, in the classroom. I came back from each session filled with new ideas about how to better my courses and increase my students’ engagement in my courses.
I am already in the planning phase of adding learning badges to my laboratory course. In fact, after discussing this with other biology faculty members, we are trying to create a comprehensive badge program for the students who take their mandatory laboratory requirements in the BMB major. We want to implement the badge system as a way of not only rewarding our students for mastering a scientific practice/method but also as a tool for the faculty to gage where individual students are in terms of laboratory methodology. The next step for our program is to have the lab instructors come together and create a rubric for each badge that we will offer and determine which laboratory course will offer each badge. I think that this is a fantastic way to increase students’ engagement and to give them an incentive to master laboratory techniques. To me, this is better than just offering a grade.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Center for Learning and Teaching team for putting on a wonderful workshop series. Every workshop was quite useful and really made me think about how technology can be utilized to enhance course curriculum.
Michael Briggs (BLT, 2014)
As a relatively new faculty member who only just a little bit ago was a student, I felt as though these instructional courses on classroom technologies would be mindless and pointless. After all, I had just graduated from a university with faculty using technologies in their lectures. So, clearly I knew all that was to know about technology…right?! I couldn’t have been more ignorant!
The BLT Certificate Program's instructors present a wealth of innovative learning technologies while still ‘dumbing it down’ for those who may otherwise be technologically afraid/ungifted. They did an excellent job in presenting what the technological tool was and illustrating examples of how it could be incorporated into the classroom.
I will be teaching a Polycom structured class in the fall that is also supplemented with an online component. The amazing BLT instructors have already graciously offered to help me in constructing and incorporating some of the technologies discussed in the BLT program. While online is nothing new to me as a student, it will be an exciting and novel experience for me to be the one creating the class! The use of Polycom and its complementary technologies will be a beneficial experience for me.
I would like thank all the instructors of the BLT courses for their time and easy-to-follow presentations throughout the certification process. I hope you don’t mind me phoning you for support! Also, to those faculty reading my reflection right now, I encourage you, if you haven’t done so, to attend this certification program!
Cesar Martinez-Garza (BLT, 2014)
I wandered into the BLT program searching for ideas to integrate the humble blackboard with computer graphics and animations. My approach to teaching Mathematics relies heavily on graphics--simple graphs and animations to generate intuition. At the 3-dimensional level, some graphs are better rendered in a computer than drawn by hand and much faster. Animations require a computer altogether. I currently find myself skipping from the blackboard to the projector screen. Typing Mathematics is a miserable experience if one uses standard tools. There are mathematical typesetting programs that can be utilized, but at this point one has to question the need for a textbook if one has to replicate the effort of preparing a textbook, and the animations are still not included. Mathematics has to be taught “live”. The logic has to flow and become evident as arguments are constructed in real time, not stationary in print. I have tried Doceri on an iPad and I found the experience completely unsatisfactory.
Moving into the future, I plan to combine a Smart Board, data capturing equipment, and a microphone to generate video files of solutions to exams and quizzes that can be posted on ANGEL. Other tools presented during the seminar may be of use with this endeavor.
Wolfram’s Mathematica, my preferred mathematics computer tool, now has a mode called a Computational Data Format (CDF) where documents look like PDF’s but all graphical aspects are interactive. I would like to begin constructing a collection of CDF’s with examples. These files would be suitable for electronic distribution, but as mentioned above, this task will be very time consuming. This way, however, the animations and complicated graphs will become available to students outside of the classroom.
Jeanne Marie Rose (BLT, 2014)
As a teacher-scholar of literacy, I hold a strong interest in students’ ways of reading, writing, thinking, and knowing. And, after thirteen years at Penn State Berks, I’m increasingly aware of the gaps between my own preferred literacy practices—many of which remain print-based—and students’ ever-changing digital literacies. My students remind me that we are in the midst of a “convergence culture” that requires us to produce, as well as consume, information. Today’s students thrive on interactivity; indeed, they demand it, and the Berks Learning Technologies (BLT) Program has helped to highlight ways that I might connect students’ preferred ways of learning with my own commitment to critical inquiry.
Most of my teaching is located in the Professional Writing Major and the Composition Program. Given the discursive nature of writing, it’s unlikely that I will be adopting Clickers any time soon. That said, I found the Clicker component of the “Breaking Old Habits” session to be a valuable hands-on experience. This workshop demonstrated how a Clicker session can be highly interactive while simultaneously providing a safe, anonymous space for students to test their understanding. In a way, this “safe, anonymous space” characterizes students’ expectations—and perhaps hopes—for a writing course, which nevertheless remains a risky, highly personalized learning space. “Breaking Old Habits” therefore helped me to think through some of the ways writing courses challenge students’ sense of vulnerability, and it gave me some ideas for anonymous online activities. I can imagine, for example, creating peer response activities through ANGEL that allow for anonymous student feedback.
The “Breaking Old Habits” session also introduced me to Digital Badges, a form of online gamification. I was immediately drawn to the badges because their ability to document conceptual learning struck me as a good fit for a writing course. I started envisioning a Revision Badge, a Peer Workshop Badge, a Successful Paraphrasing Badge, and more. All of these represent concepts that are valued in writing courses, but are not easily quantified or graded. A student who does extensive revision may write a B-range paper while still deserving special recognition for her commitment to revision. Students who excel at peer review may not be able to transfer that skill to their own writing. Successful paraphrasing often goes unremarked while ineffective paraphrasing receives plagiarism warnings. The badges therefore represent a way to galvanize interest in writing, reward accomplishments that are not easily graded, and, ideally, merge students’ participatory digital literacies with my own pedagogical values and priorities. To that end, I plan to follow the BLT series’ recommendation to explore Mozilla’s Open Badges and Penn State’s Digital Badging Platform.
Bryan Wang (BLT, 2014)
As a relatively new faculty member, I appreciated how the BLT Certificate program both exposed me to new classroom technologies and helped inform my vision of an effective undergraduate learning environment. While the Center for Learning & Teaching team presented a wide array of tools and strategies for using them, the discussions were not limited to technical matters; the presenters also talked about and modeled ways to keep students actively learning.
The experience has already substantively affected my teaching practices. For example, this semester I’ve begun to use i>clickers and other classroom activities in my freshman biology lectures to encourage deeper student engagement—with the topic at hand, with their peer mentors, with me, and with each other. I’ve also added weekly online homework assignments to reinforce what I’ve taught in class. These changes have positively impacted student learning, as evidenced by formal assessment scores, and they’ve enhanced the atmosphere of the lecture hall. In the future, I’m planning more adjustments to my courses. One possibility that I’m eager to explore is the idea of giving audio feedback on student writing—another BLT tip—in hopes of delivering my comments in a more efficient and personal manner than is possible with written feedback.
On a broader scale, the BLT sessions, along with the e-learning academy, helped convince me of the many benefits of hybrid classes. This summer, I’ll be building a hybrid version of the freshman biology class, combining lectures, discussions, and problem-solving workshops in face-to-face sessions with asynchronous online and traditional learning activities. In this course redesign, I’ll incorporate more of the tools I first learned about in the BLT workshops. For instance, for each learning module, I’ll be creating online videos or narrated PowerPoints to introduce foundational concepts to students.
I look forward to continue learning how to improve my teaching through programs of similar quality to the Berks Learning Technologies Certificate program.
Ryan Hassler (BLT, 2013)
With the click of a mouse or the push of a few buttons, we literally have the world at our fingertips. In fact, our society thrives and has become based on information technology. As an educator, I therefore find it imperative to integrate technology into my daily instruction and curriculum. My goal in attending the B.L.T. workshops was to gain further knowledge about online, multimedia and web 2.0 resources that I can use to further enhance my Statistics 200 hybrid courses.
My first attempt to use what I learned in the workshops will be to create mini-lectures/podcasts that can be posted onto Angel in order to provide an effective way for students to learn material outside of the classroom. In addition, I am anxious to also create a different set of podcasts that will be used to review topics that students often find difficult. Throughout the workshop I learned about several different tools that can be used to accomplish these goals and will work to find the best one suitable for my needs.
Another topic that I wanted to take away from these workshops was various ways to increase student engagement in the classroom. Although I already use clickers in my classroom, after attending the assessment workshop and discussing effectiveness of clickers I revised and further integrated the clicker questions into my daily classes. Moreover, I am going to explore using Doceri (an interactive white board application for the iPad) for instruction. With having my lecture in my fingertips this will allow me to be mobile and roam around the room further interacting and engaging students.
Malika Richards (BLT, 2013)
My goal for participating in the BLT program was to expand my knowledge of new learning technologies and resources in order to enhance student learning. In this respect, I was almost overwhelmed by all the information presented.
In session #2, I learned new things about ANGEL and classroom clickers.
In session #3, I was amazed at all the online open access educational materials. I will explore these resources to see if I can find useful engaging activities to integrate into the classroom or assign as out-of-class exercises. Some useful points brought up in this session are that the material students tend to struggle most with is ideal for a game or interactive activity they can do out of class. This way, class time would not need to be used for remediation. Other things to consider are the useability, quality of content and activity, level of feedback, and technical specifications. The more engagement and feedback, the more students will like it. The more time students spend on working on a content, the more they learn.
In session #4, I learned about numerous multimedia tools and will give Adobe Presenter a try in future. Another tool, GoAnimate, could be a lot of fun incorporated into student projects.
In session #5, I was most intrigued by the possibilities of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs). This tool allows one to open files from any device and to "e-mail" even large files.
Thanks again to all the dedicated professionals in the Penn State Berks Center for Learning and Teaching.
Wah-Kwan Ku (2013)
Session 1: Engaging Students Beyond the Classroom: Two thoughts after attending this session:
I was convinced that hybrid classes can be useful to some students. I had one student in MATH 110, who lived and worked far away from campus, and she had to miss the class on every Friday because she had to work on Thursday evening. It will be helpful to students in her situation if we can develop one hybrid section in MATH 110.
The online forum seems to be a good idea. I experienced this when I was an undergraduate student in a computer science course that consists of 400 students. I learned a lot by participating in online discussions with other classmates.
Session 2: Organizing & Assessing Students for Success: I had never used Clicker in my teaching before. It seems easier to use than I thought it would be. After this session, I have developed an interest to try it sometime in the future. It seems Clicker works better with conceptual questions than questions that require lengthy calculation. Therefore I need to think about how to make it useful in a computational-based course such as MATH 22 or MATH 110.
Session 3: Motivating Students' Course Engagement: Using Interactive Online Resources: Through this session, I realized that most students in the current generation grew up in a different technological environment than me. It can be helpful and even necessary to incorporate some technological resources to provide interactive learning opportunities for students. Some of my colleagues have been creating electronic modules for MATH 110, and many of my students found it useful for their learning of calculus. I wonder if we can do something similar with MATH 22.
Session 4: Multimedia: Enhancing instruction with imagery, sound and motion: Before this session, I thought Multimedia must consist of both sound and motion. It turned out the definition of multimedia is broader than I previously understood. This session introduced several basic multimedia applications that are currently used by other Penn State Faculty. More importantly, it provided resources that allow the participants to find out more if they wish.
Session 5: Web 2.0 Tools: Connecting Ideas Within the Classroom and Beyond: With the many tools introduced in this session, I want to try using Yammer. I hope it can address the issue that students in general don’t like to check their emails.
Lauren Jade Martin (BLT, 2012)
I was fortunate to attend the first four BLT workshops of the 2011-2012 year: Engaging Students Beyond the Classroom, Facilitating Discussion and Collaboration, Motivating and Assessing Student Learning, and Multimedia Tools. Having attended these workshops, I feel more competent in my ability to find and assess technologies I may want to incorporate in my teaching. While I am sure that I will integrate several of the provocative ideas and technologies that I learned about in these sessions, some of the workshops were more immediately useful than others. Technologies such as online tutorials or multimedia tools seem like they would be great for hard science or language classes, but I am still uncertain about how to apply them in my largely discussion-based classes in Sociology and Women's Studies.
Two sessions, however, definitely piqued my interest, and gave me ideas about how to integrate technology into--and out of--the classroom: Engaging Students Beyond the Classroom, and Facilitating Discussion and Collaboration. Prior to coming to PSU Berks, I had never even heard the term "hybrid course," but I was excited to learn about the possibilities of working with CLT staff to create or modify a course that involves both in-class and online components. This kind of course could prove helpful for reaching students with a variety of learning styles; whereas some would benefit from immediate face-to-face interaction in the classroom, others may appreciate the ability to work privately and at their own pace. I am also interested in exploring the use of blogs in the classroom. Having my students blog may help me to reach several of my pedagogical goals at once: improving students' writing through low-stakes exercises, facilitating discussion among students, and getting students to engage with sociological concepts as they encounter them in their daily lives.
Toby Rider (BLT, 2012)
First and foremost, the Berks Learning Technology series has helped me to rethink the way that I teach. In the long run, this will hopefully lead to a better learning experience for the students that take my classes. I must admit that for much of the series I was left trying to come to terms with the myriad of ways that technology can be used in the classroom. Fortunately, the instructors clearly explained the often overwhelming flood of technical jargon.
Without question, each session contained ideas about teaching and technology which were new to me, and some of the tools outlined were very applicable to the classes I lecture on the history and philosophy of sport and physical activity. For instance, learning about the role of sport across a range of historical periods is a far from straightforward process. To take one example, in order to understand the function and purpose of sport in ancient Greece, one must also understand the social and political dynamics of ancient Greek society. Merely cataloguing the events in the Olympic Games tells us little; the student must grasp why athletic festivals such as the Olympics were an important part of Greek culture. However, communicating this can become complicated, especially when class time is limited. Sometimes the contextual background can overwhelm the focus of the class, which is sport and physical activity. During the BLT session on “Finding, Choosing, & Using Interactive Educational Resources,” John Shank suggested that online educational resources may well be able to help me navigate this problem. For example, before class the students could be provided with a link to an online learning tool which gives them a brief and accessible overview of the structure of ancient Greek society. This could alter the dynamics of the class in a positive manner. Rather than beginning class with a barrage of information, the students and I could discuss the contextual background covered in the online tool, and tackle any troublesome questions. The rest of the class time could then be spent discussing the role of sport in ancient Greece by referring back to the online tool. In sum, the aim of the class remains the same, but the learning outcome and the student experience would be greatly enhanced.
I intend to contact John on this particular issue and to also explore how suggestions from the other BLT sessions can be applied to my classes.
Terry Speicher (BLT, 2012)
I enjoyed attending the 2011-2012 Berks Learning Technologies (BLT) Certificate Series. After participating in the first session in October, Engaging Students Beyond the Classroom, I decided to experiment with the hybrid format in my fall STS 233 course. For a few weeks I canceled our Thursday class, and the students then had until Friday to write commentaries on an ANGEL Discussion Forum. The time period between Tuesday and Thursday was not sufficient for some students to complete the weekly assignment. This flexibility was well received by the students, and it convinced me that a hybrid format had advantages over meeting on a typical twice a week schedule.
The second session in November, Facilitating Discussion and Collaboration, gave me ideas on how to deliver my spring STS 245 course as a hybrid. My course typically met on Monday with assignments due on Wednesday and Friday but no class meeting those days. The before-class assignment was a multiple choice quiz on the reading material. The during-class activity was discussion of the quiz and other short answer questions. The after-class activity was for students to comment to a discussion question on the ANGEL Discussion Forum by Wednesday and then reply to another student’s submission by Friday. Students could not see any posts until they first posted their paragraph. This facilitated students seeing other points of view on a topic and strengthened their ability to state and to defend a position.
The fourth session in March, Multimedia: Enhancing instruction with imagery, sound and motion, and the fifth session in April, Web 2.0 Tools: Connecting ideas within the classroom and beyond, gave me ideas for my summer course with a six-week schedule. This summer I plan to use video clips of problem examples in MATH 211 to forgo class lectures. Limited class time during the summer session will be used as a recitation class to discuss homework problems attempted from the online lecture notes and video clips. Flipping the classroom is facilitated by a hybrid format course delivery.
The sessions delivered by the staff at the Center for Learning and Teaching illustrated many opportunities to incorporate instructional technology in the classroom to engage students and enhance learning. This fall I’ll deliver STS 233 in a hybrid format, and I’m looking forward to incorporating more of these Web tools in the course.
Kira Baker-Doyle (BLT, 2011)
My pedagogical background and praxis have always valued the distributed intelligence possibilities inherent in technological media and programming. As such, I was eager to participate in the Technologies certificate program. In addition, I looked forward to sharing experiences with colleagues. The workshops provided an overview of means and methods to include technology in the classroom. As an education researcher and professor, I took note not only of the content provided, but also of the format of instruction. In this reflection, I would like to touch upon both of these issues. Content-wise, I was re-introduced to a variety of popular technological tools in the classroom, from media tools to web 2.0. Although I already had knowledge of many of these tools, the websites and resources online were frequently novel and noteworthy. Jing, a web-based program that allows users to record the computer screen particularly intrigued me. I would like to use this program in my course, in order to show students how to use some of the programs they need to use for digital storytelling. Further, the workshops allowed me to reflect on the work I accomplished with the TLI grant that I received in 2009, and spurred me to enhance or modify certain aspects of my syllabus regarding technological applications.
In terms of the instruction, I enjoyed being with colleagues and occasionally sharing ideas and experiences at the end of the sessions. In the future, I would suggest offering more opportunities for sharing and discussion, which would both give the presenters some information on the background knowledge of participants, and allow participants to get to know more about what practices are being implemented in Berks classrooms. I would be happy to offer more specific suggestions and strategies if requested.
David Bender (BLT, 2011)
My goal in attending the BLT series of workshops was to increase the use of technology in my courses with respect to (1) identifying resources to incorporate into classes consistent with my course objectives, and (2) increasing the online components of my courses that match my philosophy of teaching.
I found the workshops to be a great overview of the possibilities for increasing online learning. I realize, however, that I need to explore the various tools in more depth and give thoughtful consideration as to how different types of technology will enhance student learning in my courses.
Although not part of the BLT series, I attended the NBCLearn workshop and have started to develop my own playlist. I have used some segments in my classes and will use more segments during the remainder of the spring semester.
Zohra Guissé (BLT, 2011)
I plan to use the Students Response Systems (Cliquers) in the foreign language class to review the material taught. I will ask students to answer to multiple choice questions about vocabulary, grammar, or culture. I believe that the use of the Cliquers will improve students’ participation in a non threatening environment. It will also help me assess their understanding of the material and adjust my teaching accordingly.
I plan to use the Voice Thread as a tool of communication in the foreign language class. For example, I will post videos in the target language or pictures with questions and have students answer either by recording their answers or in writing. This method will help students to improve their writing, speaking, and listening skills in the target language.
Benjamin Infantolino (BLT, 2011)
I plan to implement what I have learned in the program to aid student learning in and outside the classroom. One of the major aspects from the program that I will be implementing will be the online interactive resources. Students in anatomy need practice with the material and since much of the class is based upon memorization, non-graded quizzes are an effective way for students to test how much material they know. Interactive online quizzes are a great way for the students to have their knowledge tested in a low pressure situation. I learned how to search for reputable sites for online quizzes, which helped me post more of the quizzes for the students.
Another portion of the program that I will implement in my courses is increased use of ANGEL. I currently use ANGEL to post notes. Now I will focus on using the online gradebook and online quizzes. The gradebook will allow me to post grades more quickly for students as well as give the students an electronic way to check their grades. Online quizzes allow for more flexibility on the student’s part so they can take the quiz when they are comfortable and not at 8 am in lecture.
Overall, I learned numerous techniques that I can use to enhance my lectures and the learning experience for the students. This will translate to increased student engagement and more success for the students.
Ron Jastrezebski (BLT, 2011)
I found the various workshops presented by the instructional design staff of the Berks Center for Learning & Teaching to be quite beneficial. I learned a great deal of how I potentially further enhance the use of technology in the classroom. I would highly recommend this certificate program to other Berks faculty in the event the program is offered again in the future. The sessions I found to be of interest to me in the short-term were the last three (sessions 3-5): "Using Interactive Online Resources" (session 3), "Enhancing Instruction with Imagery, Sound and Motion" (session 4) and "Web 2.0 Tools: Connecting Ideas Within the Classroom and Beyond" (session 5).
A number of the textbook publishers in the field of accounting that I currently use in my courses have recently introduced a number of online and interactive tools as a basis for enhancing the overall student learning process and to better engage them in the subject material. As a result, I would be looking to partner with the staff of the Berks Center for Learning & Teaching to see how much of this available textbook publisher interactive material would practically make sense to incorporate to my accounting course. I see some real upside to enhancing the overall student learning process in my courses by taking advantage of this available interactive technology that currently exists.
There also was a wealth of information provided in the last two sessions on Multimedia (session 4) and Web 2.0 Tools (session 5) many of which we were only able to touch upon due to time constraints. The tools presented in these last two workshops that are of immediate interest to me are: Adobe Presenter, PSU Media Commons, NBC Learn, Google Docs, Adobe Connect and VoiceThread. Specifically, I see some real immediate value to being able to record my study review sessions to make these available to all students, to be able to utilize Adobe Connect (or other tools), to be able to conduct an interactive make-up class session in the event of class cancellation, and to be able to incorporate NBC Learn in future courses as part of either homework assignments or course projects. My near term plans are to reach out to the Berks Center for Learning & Teaching staff to find out more about each of the teaching and learning tools to see how I will be able to take advantage of the technology presented in the various workshops especially the these last two sessions.
Edwin Murillo (BLT, 2011)
The teaching methodology that I encourage in my language classrooms is one of immersion. I base my pedagogical approach on the belief that an individualized investment on the part of the learner is paramount in the dynamic, but slow process of second language acquisition. In order words, language needs to be intricately woven into the fabric of the personal, so that the mechanisms of an implicit linguistic system are founded and set in motion. As noted linguist Bill Van Patten puts it, with regard to language learning: “interaction promotes acquisition because students help to manage the input […] interaction may also heightens learners’ awareness of thing that are missing in their developing systems, pushing them to be more active input processor,” to which Van Patten concludes, “what it suggests is that whenever learners produce language, it should be for the purpose of expressing some kind of meaning” (108). In this respect, the BLT Certificate workshops have provided valuable tools for implementing a dynamic classroom approach to Spanish language education.
In Amy Roche’s workshop “Engaging Students Beyond the Classroom,” we discussed how technology can expand the boundaries of the traditional classroom. To this end, the workshop examined the multitude of possibilities available to instructors at Penn State Berks. In my classroom I have incorporated the Spanish eLearning Project which was initiated in 2009 by Spanish professors Dr. Belén Rodríguez-Mourelo and Dr. Rosario Torres and the Center for Learning & Teaching at Penn State Berks. This project allows students to assess online tutorials and interactive practice exercises. Also, after this workshop I become more familiarized with ANGEL, and have since linked Spanish versions of MSN, Yahoo and ESPN to help students access “real” world media. Furthermore, I’ve made links available to other online resources, such as Spanish dictionaries, and Latin American and Spanish newspapers. In fact, I often show news clips from BBC Mundo for the students to keep up to date with the Hispanic world and to experience a new perspective on current events.
John Shank’s workshop on “Motivating Students' Course Engagement: Using Interactive Online Resources,” discussed the innovative new learning resources that have been and are being developed by textbook publishers and universities. After this workshop, I located Spanish Language and Culture with Barbara Kuczun Nelson, an interactive grammar and culture learning resource sponsored by Colby College. I have since returned to Spanish Language and Culture, several times to incorporate grammar lessons and exercises for my basic Spanish language courses. Also, after participating in this workshop I have more thoroughly integrated the online learning resources of Dos Mundos and Rumbos, which include interactive cultural videos, music links, chapter vocabulary quizzes, verb conjugation charts, an individualized country image bank and even a textbook contextualized version of Jeopardy!
Through language learning I strive to develop in my students an informed appreciation of languages, literatures, and cultures. At the same time I aim to help my students to continue acquiring skills in critical thinking, effective writing, and oral communication which in Spanish opens the door to a vast world of distinct cultures. After the BLT Certificate workshops, I am more comfortable with implementing distinct technological resources to create “windows” into the Spanish language world, with the hope of fostering language learning but also real world dialogue.
JoAnne Pumariega (BLT, 2011)
I signed up for the sessions not only to hopefully earn the Berks Learning Technologies Certificate, but to learn as much as I could in order to enhance the hybrid course in Math 22 which I began teaching during the spring 2011 semester.
The first session by John Shank and Amy Roche demonstrated the difference between web-enhanced and hybrid courses. It was mentioned that students retain more and do better in web-enhanced and hybrid courses if they put forth the effort that these courses demand. One can reach a diverse population outside of the campus community by the use of web-based courses that do not restrict the student to be on the campus taking courses for as many hours as before. These courses reach out to older students who may work several hours a week and/or live far away from the campus while at the same time attracting the younger students who enjoy experiencing and learning in a manner different from their parents.
On our campus many of the instructors, including myself, make use of ANGEL to enhance instruction, to act as a tutorial, to post the grades in a timely and confidential manner, and to make use of discussion groups and various other technologies which enhance the learning of the many objectives set forth in the syllabus of the course. Amy Roche has worked tirelessly with Selvi Jagadesan and me in order to develop Math 21 and Math 22 hybrid courses. All of the materials we teach for each class session are stored under Lessons on ANGEL and presented to the students on line. We teach two days in the classroom and the third day is optional which is used for extra practice or small group tutorials. From the surveys which Amy Roche has received, again all online, it appears that the students are enjoying the hybrid and feel that they are learning in a different environment. I have never used clickers, but their usage and usefulness in the classroom was demonstrated by Tricia Clark, especially focusing on the objectives that students need to master in order to move on to the next level.
The third session given by John Shank focused on the various types of learning resources that publishers have had to develop since the ordinary books are going out of style. In developing the hybrid math courses we used as much as we could from the publishers including online homework problems which could be selected, online tutorials, videos, etc. which were all developed so we did not have to reinvent many of the materials. Our job was to select the materials that fulfilled our objectives and organize what was useful to us as we developed the materials for the students. Various websites that I could use to enhance the course further were shown. Materials may be taken from these sites and shared amongst instructors without worry of academic integrity and thus integrated into the specific course throughout the semester.
The fourth session given by Mary Ann Mengel proved to be a very exciting one for me. She said that Richard Mayer (2007) feels that “relevant” visuals increase comprehension for the students. Mary Ann focused on incorporating multimedia of which she is an expert into the instruction, assignments, and assessment given in the classroom. I was exposed to many tools, too numerous to mention, which I took notes on while I watched Mary Ann demonstrate and give examples of each one. Some of the tools I had heard of such as podcasting, for example, where we see our chancellor each month, screen captures, audio feedback, and video displays were also demonstrated. The tools such as Audacity, Jing, PSU Media Commons, Kaltura, NBC Learn were amazing to me. I would need a lot of hands-on experience with the video camera, but would like to be videotaped to demonstrate some of my lessons for my hybrid course. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, but honestly speaking, do not feel that I have the time or know how to learn all of them. Several websites were given so we could set up accounts such as with iTunesU, podcasts, Kaltura and thus explore these tools on our own time. Perhaps, this instructor could make use of Jing and make a screencast to share with the students and save it in a file.
The last session by Amy Roche and Tricia Clark which explored Web 2.0 was even more amazing. I was overwhelmed by the display of tools used at Penn State that are currently used by our students. Some that I felt as though I could make use of were Blogs and ePortfolios. Wikis and Google Docs would be great for my FYS. Wikis allow students to share and post together their feedback instead of waiting for an email to go from one person to another. We do a lot of group activities in this class. I do have a Facebook account, but it was nothing like the Facebook sites developed by an Advanced Placement History class shown in our session. Learning how to use these tools along with the assistance of the students would help me become more acquainted with each one. I would probably need a demonstration on a particular tool, such as Adobe Connect or Voice Thread and for someone to watch me use the tool before I would feel comfortable using it with the students.
In conclusion, I learned an incredible amount of information in these sessions, and hope that I am able to incorporate at least a few of these tools that are most interesting to me into my classes. Hopefully, this summer I will have a chance to do this exploration of tools in the classroom. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us faculty members.
Holly Ryan (BLT, 2011)
Since writing and technology are intertwined, my teaching has always included a significant integration of various technologies in and out of the classroom: course management software, WordPress blogs, multimedia tools, and, of course, the computer! Even so, I’m always looking for ways to increase students’ engagement with technology since I believe critical analysis of these tools will empower them in their professional and educational pursuits. The Berks Learning Technologies Certification program introduced me to several ideas that I hadn’t considered using in my writing classroom. In particular, I found two tools that I’d like to incorporate into my classroom activities: the personal response devices and the podcasting/multimedia technology offered through the media commons.
Since my classes are relatively small in size and fairly student-centered, I never considered using the personal response devices since I always thought they would be most useful in larger classrooms where faculty employed a lecture-oriented teaching style. However, after our BLT workshop, I can see how I might use them. In the writing classroom, my students and I discuss credible evidence and effective source integration, among other writing-related issues. I could imagine creating classroom activities with student writing that used the devices to poll students about what is effective for them as a reader. I could then facilitate a discussion of why certain texts, strategies, or evidence works for them. Since I have a small classroom, I often get the same students piping up with their own opinions and I could see the clickers getting a broader range of responses from more (maybe even all!) students. Furthermore, if a writer saw that, for example, 80% of the class found he/she needed more evidence to support a claim, the writer might be more inclined to make changes than if he/she heard from just one or two students.
In addition to personal response devices, I hope to incorporate podcasting into my English 250 course next semester. English 250 is the peer tutor training in writing course, and the students who enroll in the class create materials that help our student-writers on campus. Often times, these materials are used in the Writing Center, but, next semester, I’d like the students to create writing-related podcasts that anyone can download from our website. I could imagine these podcasts might even be assigned by composition and/or writing across the disciplines faculty when they are teaching new writing strategies to their students. Given that the media commons has the equipment and resources to help students create these audio texts, I am confident that my students will create projects that could be helpful to the entire campus community!
Jenifer Shannon (BLT, 2011)
The Berks Learning Technology Series has been a great way to introduce how new tools in technology could enhance my teaching practices and student engagement. I have been exposed to some new ways of using technology through this series. Summarized below are the aspects of technology that I have tried as a result of this series and those that I intend to try in the future.
I found the session on ANGEL particularly helpful. In my first semester of teaching at Penn State, I was only using ANGEL to post documents such as the syllabus, schedule, and lectures. After the BLT Session, I added the gradebook for my students so they could access their current grade at any time. This semester I incorporated online assessments into my classes through ANGEL. I had a number of problems using the assessment development software provided by the textbook publisher with ANGEL, but Tricia Clark patiently worked with me until we ironed out the kinks. I have found Tricia to be a wonderful resource.
The session covering enhancing instruction with imagery, sound and motion has given me some ideas about using the Jing to develop tutorials the various software packages that my students will be using in their coursework. I have also started to explore iTunesU for additional ideas for course supplemental material.
Googledocs is a popular way of sharing materials. I intend to explore using Googledocs for my classes that require teamwork and project development. I currently use Google Calendar and find it extremely helpful in that I can share my schedule with people of my choosing. Last but not least, my summer project is to open a Facebook account.
Jessica Schocker (BLT, 2011)
As a professor of education, I’m a firm believer in staying current with the available technology that supports classroom instruction and independent student learning. I was thrilled to participate in the BLT training to gain deeper insights to the technology I already use and to learn more about technologies I have not used. There are a number of ways that I will incorporate my new learning into my teaching here at Berks.
First, I’d never seen or used Jing before. I love the idea that I could post tutorials for my students of how to navigate a website. I’ve often spent precious class time teaching my students to navigate the Pennsylvania Department of Education content standards for K-12 students, and it takes a long time to go through a process that could very easily be done outside of class, depending on the student’s level of savvy with the internet and their experience on the site. I look forward to creating such tutorials and posting them onto my ANGEL pages in the future.
Another new feature I’m looking forward to implementing next semester are the clickers. My class is already highly interactive, but it is often impossible to get 100% participation from my students with limited time. The clickers offer a way for all students to be actively involved, even when there is not time for all students to speak aloud in class. Student engagement in class is essential for their understanding, but it is easy, particularly in a large class, for students to zone out or feel disconnected from the teacher and from the class content. Using the clickers to regularly poll the class can be used to spark discussions on controversial topics, to assess student prior knowledge, or to evaluate student understanding before moving on to new material, among many other possibilities.
I have dabbled in the use of social networking tools with my students in the past, but never was quite sure how to make it successful. I particularly enjoyed learning how other professors have been successful using Facebook and Twitter to support their classes. I already have a professional Twitter account that I encourage my students to follow, but I look forward to encouraging them to create their own page in order to join in the conversation. This provides a short, easy way to communicate and share without the pressure of a detailed discussion board. Balanced with other types of assessments, this will add a lot of student engagement to my classes.
I tried to incorporate the use of Blogs in the past in my classes, but with little success. I wasn’t sure how to get my students to read each other’s blogs and share feedback. Getting to learn more about the Penn State blog tool was very valuable, as I see how other teachers have successfully used the blogs for a collaboration piece. I would like to take my blogging assignments even further by developing a class wiki page in the future that would give the students ownership of the content and a live, developing site that they could watch grow and evolve as the content progresses in the class.
I enjoyed this series of workshops immensely, and would love to see more such opportunities available to faculty at Berks in the future. I would certainly like to continue to refine me skills and be exposed to the technology available to support my teaching and my students’ learning.
- Faculty Development