Friday, April 6th, 2012 by Rob
Permalink for this paragraph 0 by Rob Gray
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Things have been exceptionally busy around the ILC these days. Of course, most of the commotion concerns Sakai, but many other things are happening as well. In the last few weeks, we’ve had excellent Teaching Workshops and Seminars on Designing Effective Instruction (Bret Webb), Alternative Assessment (Christine Rinne), Assessing Integrative Learning (Cecelia Martin), an interdisciplinary panel discussion on Using Writing to Teach Critical Thinking (Chris Freed, Nicole Amare, and Don Mosley) and, most recently, Classroom Instructional Techniques (Jeanne Maes).
Permalink for this paragraph 0 We have also had workshops on technologies such as Camtasia Studio, Camtasia Relay, and Developing Websites with WordPress. It’s worth noting that this newsletter site, as well as the ILC main site, the ILC Events page, and the South Alabama Conference on Teaching and Learning site were all built using WordPress.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Speaking of CoTL. The Second Annual South Alabama Conference on Teaching and Learning is coming up in less than six weeks. It will be on May 14-15 on the USA Campus. We will have excellent keynote speakers in Saundra McGuire and Mark Milliron, approximately 40 oral presentations, a networking lunch, and an “evening before” reception featuring posters (and free drink tickets). We want this year to be even more successful than last year, to the point that we’ll have to find a bigger venue.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Speaking of Teaching & Learning. It was recently announced that our QEP project for SACS will be “collaborative learning.” One of the fundamental aspects of collaborative learning is that it requires the instructor to give up some control of the course. This is, admittedly, one of the hardest aspects of it, and I would imagine I have heard at least a dozen faculty over the last couple of weeks talk about how they would like to do more innovative things in the classroom but they have so much material to cover that they just don’t have time.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 My suggestion is that you think about the material that must be “covered” in your next class session and then consider how much of that is material your students can only learn directly from your mouth, from nowhere or no one else. That amount will vary, of course, but in most cases there should be plenty of time left, both inside and outside of class, for more active and innovative, student-centered learning experiences.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 It is important to keep in mind that your compulsion to “cover” everything stems from a perceived obligation about your teaching, when, in fact, the real obligation should be to your students’ learning.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Be mindful of the difference.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 And now on to Sakai. One of the coolest things about Sakai is that we are always getting new features and tools. In the last few weeks, you may have noticed that when you create a new Assignment, you now have the option to use Turnitin. All you have to do is check the box. No more setting up classes or worrying about Class IDs or enrollment passwords. When the student submits an assignment, it is run through the Turnitin service automatically. You have direct access to the originality report without even having to set up a Turnitin account.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 You may have also noticed a tool called Meetings in the list of available tools. The Meetings tool allows you to hold synchronous web conferences inside your course using the open source BigBlueButton service. With BigBlueButton, you can share your desktop, audio, and webcam video.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 We are piloting an online test proctoring service called ProctorU, and the Respondus Lockdown Browser, which prevents students from leaving their browser window or even right-clicking during exams, will be available soon. We are also reevaluating our clicker system, and one of the prerequisites of any new system we choose will be a seamless integration with Sakai.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Most importantly, however, especially given the new policy that all faculty must be certified in Sakai, is that Sakai 101 Certification is now available in multiple formats. We offer at least one full on-campus Sakai 101 workshop a week during the semester, and we will continue that pace during the summer as well. Sakai 101 is also available in the form of online training modules. Finally, if you are the kind of person who likes to figure things out on your own, we also offer do-it-yourself certification. And since there are four parts to Sakai 101, you are free to do some parts one way and other parts another.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 I would like to stress, though, that Sakai 101 is based on a set of competencies. That is, certification is achieved through the demonstration of those competencies, not simply through attendance. Therefore, to receive certification, whether face-to-face, online, or on your own, you must be able to show that you can do all of things required. The list of competencies is available here.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Over 230 faculty and staff have already achieved Sakai 101 Certification, over 100 more have attended at least one on-campus workshop, and almost 100 have enrolled in Sakai 101 online.