David Fite Nancy Hensel New American Colleges and Universities… I’ve had the delight of working with a number of you through the Teagle Foundation grant and through the Innovation Summit last fall
Michelle has been live tweeting all of the sessions so far. I am a technology integrationst. I work with teachers, administrator, and staff to help realize the full potential of digital tools in teaching and learning environments.
Ask them to shout out – (seed the crowd?) – go ahead, just shout out words. Words for the skills and abilities you want your students to possess when they leave your insititutions. Don’t be shy.
Just last week I had the good fortune to attend a part of the Advanced Placement Reading put on by the College Board in Kansas City. While there I attended a talk one night given by the Princeton researcher, Bonnie Bassler. At the end of her talk she showed a photo of the graduate students in her lab and thanked them. A fresh faced group of eager looking young people. During the q/a period at the end, one of the teachers in attendance asked Bonnie, what do you look for when you’re hiring graduate students for your lab? And do you know what she said? She didn’t say anything about grades or GRE scores, she didn’t list the courses they should have taken, she didn’t talk about the content knowledge they needed to have. Here’s what she said:
Helps facilitate the constructivist approaches we all agree are educationally sound Students as makers and producers Breaks silos, blurs boundaries The role of “school” has shifted from being the source of knowledge to the validator, the applier of knowledge Helps to bridge the worlds of student affairs and academic affairsAnd particularly relevant to a NACU crowd, to provide a better connection between a liberal education and a professional one. Because we live with media like fish live in water
Add fish swimming picture
To test the hypothesis that active learning matters, the authors did a meta analysis of 225 studies that reported data on exam scores or failure rates when comparing student performance in STEM courses under traditional lectures versus active learning approaches.
Results: examination scores improved by 6% in active learning sections than those with traditional lectures, and students in traditional lecture sections were 1.5 times more likely to fail than their counterparts in active learning sections. They went on to find that active learning is more effective acorss all class sizes, though the greatest impacts are felt in class sizes less than 50 students. Trim and fill analysis suggest that the results are not due to publication bias
I’m skeptical of the boosterism, I feel my hand going out in the universal sign to “halt” when I encounter evangelists…. but we cant let our finely honed skepticism blind us to possibilities
So, I squint at these digital tools these widgets, and screens and ask myself…what are we trying to DO with these tools?
Assuming that we want to support constructivist, active learning - to encourage students as producers – to tackle those objectives we laid out a few minutes ago.. I think about it in three broad domains (you could call them affordances) I’m going to take those three categories one by one and give you some examples, from various colleges around the country, are tackling this. I’ll make a swift trip through these three domains, with Michelle and Pat furiously working along with me, and if you’ll be good enough to stay with me for 40 minutes, we’ll have time to talk about it at the end.
Ok, let’s dive in!
Blogs Explainers DS106 Minecraft
Blogs are a great way to build a conversation around an idea. Comment, ask questions, critique, reflect, refer to other posts or articles to support the exchange. It becomes an interactive exercise, as opposed to a stagnant presentation of a single person’s view. Not just words – could be a video blog (vlog), photo stories, student drawings to explain, to show your work, to demonstrate what you know. Break it down for us. As John Dewey said in 1933….
Started at Mary Washington as an in person course in Spring 2010. Extended to an open, online course. Students use different media to tell stories in a series of assignment. Riff with 100’s of students around the world. Assignment repository. Syndicate everyone’s blog into a central hub (republishes all the links to all the story creations). People out on the open web are commenting and leading.
Because video games are basically simulations of particular kinds of experiences, or problems, they require a kind of active engagement that simultaneously calls on diverse ways of knowing. Similar to the way most activities in life require using multiple cognitive skills simultaneously, scenarios in the game world can be constructed in such a way that individuals are forced to apply a variety of intellectual tools. Contrary to the popular view of game-based learning, then, the game is not simply a robotic teacher. It is not about drilling students with animated adaptive flashcards. It’s more interesting than that. Great game-based learning platforms do not attempt to trick students into memorizing facts. They are not “chocolate covered broccoli.” Instead, video games can be used as tools that encourage students to apply class content in contextualized ways.
Let’s take a moment to pause on the attributes that make video games so compelling as learning environments. If you take a hard look at any multiplayer videogame - games like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Civilization, Halo, Portal - What are gamers doing when they play?…. They are: leveling up, engaged in cooperative play, benefit from timely feedback, just-in-time information (in the zone of proximal development). MMOGs are well defined problems within ill-defined problems with many routes to success. In games, the learner feels that what they do really matters. Their actions have meaning. They are open-ended and have many possible outcomes. They feel real. Games have motivational benefit because they encourage an incremental rather than an entity theory of intelligence. Gaming is social – most games are multi-player, requiring impressive levels of cooperation and team work in order to meet the game objective.
In a game, what you DO is assessment. So, gaming gives us affordances that serve our purposes
To show you what I mean, let’s take a look at the mentoring going on in the gaming world. One of my favorite examples of that is the concept of narrated play. Gamers regularly post screen capture videos of their game play, narrating heir decision making as they go. There are 100’s of thousands of these videos on YouTube. If you listen to these, they are chalk full of the kind of excellent mentoring, collaborative guidance that we would love our students to develop. It’s apprenticeship.
And, most noteably, 80% of the gaming time is spent failing. Gamers learn from their failures.
In thinking about applying gaming to edu, it’s less about adding a video game to a class and more about designing a class to be more like a game.
As I mentioned games have a social context – the game plus the community adds up to situated learning. As Constance Steinkeuhler explains that games are “third places” Most people live in two places – home and work. People crave a third place, a place of safety and support. Think the Cheers bar, a square dance group, a sports team. The key to a successful third place is one that is neutral ground, conversation is the main activity, it’s accessible and accommodating, there are regulars, the mood is playful. MMOGs provide that third place for gamers. A place to build social capital.
The collection, organization, and aggregation of a students’ body of work.
Portfolios DoOO Badges
Westminster and Nazareth
And, unilke a transcript, a student portfolio can include all of those other important elements of their experience at your campus – sports, music, student government, dorm life, volunteer services, work on the school paper, study abroad, internships, and service learning.
The badge is an electronic file that contains artifacts to demonstrate and communicate students’ skills and knowledge. Each badge breaks down a degree, a program, a course into a measurable chunk (you decide on the granularity). Think girl scouts and boy scouts who award badges at the granularity of a set of skills or accomplishments – first aid, camping, meal preparation. A real assist to folks outside your institution. Afterall, (what does an “A” in Biology 101 really mean? A better link, really, between employers and job seekers. Think in terms of digital badges awarded for professional skills, like team work or leadership. Interesting to consider the possibilities outside of the classroom as well – badges awarded in alignment with internships, study abroad programs, library skills, undergraduate research, work study programs, and service learning.
UC Davis. Sustainable Agriculture Joanna Normoyle 7 core competencies Students apply for the badge and write up (or deonostrate) what they’ve done to earn the badge, so it’s up to them
One thing I find very interesting about the concept of badges is the idea of breadcrumbs or pathways. If I admire David Solaman, at Sage, (as I can assure you, I do), what do I do to follow his career trajectory. What do I need to know in order to get close to where you’ve arrived? – what path could I follow?)
Riffing on Virginia Woolf
Each student choose and buy their domain name Assigned to a web server (not a 1 GB folder on a university server, but real space with built-in affordances and analytics) First year series of seminars facilitated by librarians, instructional technologists, and faculty advisors Skills and understanding Syndicated to a community hub, federated with other spaces (because learning doesn’t end at the boundaries of the university) Grows and changes over time, reflecting your skills and interests Portable – they don’t evaporate when students graduate, they take their space with them Mary Washington, Emory, Davidson
This program gives them their own space to explore and develop their digital identity Students exert control over the digital spaces they learn, teach, and live in
Intense involvement from librarians, IT, administration Companion faculty program with support, short courses on digital identity and digital scholarship, stipends. Imagine a student affairs companion program to go along with this! Interestingly enough, a program like DoOO could help to provide the kind of bridge between student affairs and academic affairs that Frank Wong, the late Provost of University of Redlands and a founder of NACU, called for in his 1994 article, Primary Care Education: A New American College Model. A way to build deeper and more fulsome academic community, a way to pat closer attention to, as Wong put it, the whole student.- who are they? What are their values, what do they do outside of class, what are their abiding interests, where do they hope to be going?
Deeper and more fulsome academic community
Teaching with Twitter Peer Assessment Cloud Course
To understand this one, let’s take a look at Michelle’s live twitterstream. Michelle, can you do a search on Twitter with the hashtag for this talk, which we’ve already set up as #heydennacusi. You’ll see that when Michelle searches on that hashtag, up comes all of the tweets that she’s posted, along with anything that anyone else has posted – any tweet that includes that hashtag hadle. A 140-character essay. A model of writerly concision, for sure.
Ok. So what Jesse Stommel, an English professor at ____ does is to assign his students to write a 140-character essay, in response to a prompt, and unleash it upon the twitterverse, tethered to a hashtag (for curation purposes). He models the behavior by posted his prompt to them in eactly 140 characters, posted on Twitter. Students go through the drill they would in writing a longer form essay – brainstorming, composing, iterating, rewriting. Stommel encourages students to consider their audience engaged in discussion around a particular hashtag. Stommel encourages them to carefully consider word choice, punctuation, abbreviation, etc. And then they workshop the twitter essays online and in class. Students comments, in Twitter, on the essays of their peers.
Sample prompts. (get student essays)
And while I’m talking about Twitter, let me just put in a plug to the administrators and staff in the audience to encourage you, if you’re not already tweeting, to do so. Why? A wonderful way to connect with students, faculty, alumni, employers, prospective students/parents, groups Build up the values of the institution Provide a public voice for the college Share news about higher education Safety information in the case of a disaster Address local incidents or widespread trends Keep a finger on the pulse of the student body Interact with students Reach out to alumni
Interesting ramifications here for student evaluations.
4-Continents (North American; Europe; Africa, and Asia); 5-Countries (United States; Ireland; Russia; Egypt; and Taiwan); and 6-Universities (The University of Massachusetts Amherst; The National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway; Novgorod State University, Novgorod Russia; The American University of Egypt; The National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan; and The Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Taiwan).
Undergraduate, global course Gino Sorcinelli, Isenberg School of Management, UMass and David Buchanan, School of Public Health, UMass Running since Spring 2011 In fall ’14, it will be 4 continents, 5 countries, 6 universities The course is built around researching the efficacy of different biotech companies Students work in international teams (representatives from each participating university) For each assignment, each team produces a presentation given to the rest of the class Assignments focus on workplace decision making (e.g. “Your Company & Competitors: Business Intelligence Activities and Planning”) Tools in use: email, video conferencing, Instant Messaging, Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive, SharePoint All student materials are in the cloud, facilitating collaborative creation My favorite part of this story? The problems they’ve encountered are social and cultural (not technological) Based on the success of this course, there is a follow-on Cloud Teaching Fellows Program, organized by the UMass Vice-Provost through the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development to adapt the model to other types and sizes of courses on campus
The problems they’ve encountered are social and cultural (not technological)
So, if we’re going to wrap this up, what are the key take-homes? Before I give you mine, I’d love to hear yours and now comes the homework thing I mentioned at the beginning. Here’s the URL for your to submit your thoughts. If you type in that url, it will take you to a page with three questions, a form for you to answer in. I’d love to hear from each of you and would be happy to share the collective thoughts.
You can do that now, or you can do it later, whatever suits you.
Embedded in the examples I shared with you today were a wide range of digital tools, but I want to stress that the specific tools to use are not important. Instead focus on what you want to do, what you want your students to do, and t the tools will follow. Besides the tools change all the time. But don’t fret about the tools changes, the interesting thing is that the more different tools you use, the easier it gets. You start to recognize patterns, methods, navigations that are similar.
Avoid tack-ons. You want to embed the digital action into the beating heart of what you do.
Think widely and holistically – about the whole campus experience. We tend to think about applying digital tools primarily in the classroom (and that’s good!), but I urge you to think of the other aspects of the higher ed experience – libraries as places for this kind of learning and support, service learning, is your student-run newspaper online, how might you reinvent alumni relations, outreach to prospective students, how might digital tools change the campus tour experience….think about it synthetically.
Faculty need support for this work. Not only professional development and training, but time. Reward the behavior you want to encourage.
Ask for help. Think of the range of educators, administrators, librarians, and support staff that I mentioned here this morning who’ve earned experience – they love to share. One of the unique advantages of your consortium is easy sharing across institutions. Setting up exchanges and collaborations across NACU institutions would be a terrific way to raise all the boats in the harbor.
And now a few dinner mints for you from some of my favorite thought leaders….
The immortal words of Marshall McLuhan remind us that technology is not neutral - new channels of communication change what can be imagined and expressed.
Gardner Campbell, whom many of you met at the Summer Institute two years ago. Campbell reminds us of the importance of fully grappling with the business of learning
Every talk has to have a graph. Here’s mine. Don’t get used to it.
The point is that in the span of twelve years, we’ve seen a sea change. And you’ve just demonstrated the ubiquity of these mobile devices --- these computers in your hands --
What are we supporting through the
use of these tools?
• Group skills
• Critical thinking
• Problem solving
• Developing, creating, and revising
• Approaching failure as iterative
• Continuous feedback
• Deep reflection
Here’s one way to think of it…
• Digital Storytelling course
• Open. Online. Networked community.
• 15-week course
• Students frame their own digital identity
• Sandbox video game
• Enter as avatar
• Build simulations of problems or particular
• Active engagement that simultaneously calls
on diverse ways of knowing
• Leveling up
• Cooperative play
• Just-in-time feedback
• Well defined problems within ill-defined
• Many possible outcomes
• Actions have meaning
• Incremental (vs. entity) intelligence
• What you DO is assessment
• Electronic collections of a students’ work over
the course of their academic career
• Artifacts of their learning
• Broader than a transcript
• Electronic containers for accomplishment
• What makes for a badge?
• Awarded with evidence of competence
• Meaningful on the outside
• A better link between employers and job seekers
• Think outside classroom too
• Mozilla Open Badges
• Blackboard and Moodle
Domain of One’s Own
• Provide each freshman with a domain name
• Assigned to a web server
• Develop digital identity
• First year series of seminars…
First Year Seminars…
• Experiment with server management tools
• Create sub-domains
• Create email addresses
• Create databases
• Manage file structures
• Install scripts
• Play with wikis and blogs that they create
• Import and export
• Study the design & function of their digital environment
• Assemble a platform to support their publishing
THEY BECOME SYSTEM
ADMINISTRATORS FOR THEIR OWN
In other words…
What do they learn?
• Knowledge management
• Curation skills
• Multimodal writing
• Intellectual property
• Bibliographic instruction
• Social networking
• Understand network effects that arrive recursively
• Think about the web at the level of the server
• Digital fluency
• Well prepared for responsible leadership in the world
And the faculty and staff?
• They travel right along with their students
• Fellow learners
• Companion faculty programs
• A bridge between student affairs and
“…the whole student - who are they?
What are their values, what do they
do outside of class, what are their
abiding interests, where do they
hope to be going?”
- Frank Wong
• Participation in forums & affinity spaces
• Posting creations to a wider audience
• Peer learning
• Connecting with researchers at other
• Connecting with other classrooms around the
• The Twitter essay
• Student essays in response to a prompt
• Peer review
• Eric Mazur
• Learning Catalytics
• Pairing/grouping students in a planful way
• Peer evaluation of group projects
UMass, Amherst Course:
“Effective Decision Making in the
Age of Cloud Computing”
• Undergraduate, global course
• Gino Sorcinelli, Isenberg School of
Management and David Buchanan, School of
• Since Spring 2011
• In fall ’14, it will be 4 continents, 5 countries, 6
• University of Massachusetts, Amherst
• The National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway
• Novgorod State University, Novgorod Russia
• The American University of Egypt
• The National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
• The Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages,
What do they do?
• Biotech company efficacy
• International teams
• Each team produces a presentation
• Tools: email, video conferencing, Instant
Messaging, Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive,
• All student materials are in the cloud
• Cloud Teaching Fellows Program
And here are mine…
• Focus on affordances, not tools
• Avoid tack-ons, make it a working part of what
• Aim for intuitive use
• Think synthetically
• Reward the behavior you want to encourage
• Ask for help
"Any technology gradually creates a totally
new human environment. Environments
are not passive wrappings but active
processes…The 'message' of any medium
or technology is the change of scale or pace
or pattern that it introduces into human
- Marshall McLuhan
“Learning is about grappling with
paradoxes, conundrums – more like a
network than an ordered chart of learning
- Gardner Campbell
“A good joke isn’t a
punch line, but a story
that goes on forever.”
- Louis CK