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Confidence in EdTech!

Where do your instructors fall in the EdTech adoption?

As an Educational Technologist and an instructor, I’ve seen many faculty members excel in the use of classroom technology and others whom let their fear get in the way of their technical growth.

Mark Anderson, @ICTEvangelist, posted a chart that graphically illustrated the Teacher Confidence in Use of Technology. The graph was adopted from the work of Mandinach and Cline and described the stages of confidence related to technology.

teacher confidence use in tech

As confidence and competence grows, instructors are keener to apply the technology they’ve mastered to the classroom. In doing so, the technology can effectively impact the way students learn.

The final step of the Confidence graph is Innovation. Instructors have the confidence to use technology seamlessly in the classroom, as well as innovate and share their ideas. It is at this point that I believe instructors demonstrate independence and enthusiasm for utilizing technology.

In my experience, I’ve mostly worked with faculty that were between the Survival and Mastery levels. The challenge of an Educational Technologist is to provide enough support and training to help encourage the technological exploration, yet, not be too helpful in that it enables the instructors to lean on you as a crutch when they use technology. Balancing support with autonomy is important.

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It’s not a test! Assessing Learning.

"The Melting Clock" by Salvador Dali

“The Melting Clock” by Salvador Dali

Previously, I’ve discussed the importance of evaluating training in the context of Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model. Many people neglect the evaluation process because they are either  on a very strict schedule (analysis is usually neglected, too) or they just don’t see how administering tests can work in the training.

The latter is a major misconception. Assessment is not about giving graded tests.

Tools: Assessment can be accomplished in several different ways. Some examples include:

Exams Non-graded quizzes
Rubrics Course Evaluation
Classroom Dialogue Polling/Clickers
Poster Presentations Oral Presentations
Portfolios Peer Review
Case Studies Written Reports
Fill In The Blanks State Examinations or Certifications
Publication  Observing Student Reactions

Simple Process: If creating assessment methods is daunting, I recommend starting simple.

  1. Select a training objective.
  2. Pair the objective with an activity.
  3. Create a rubric for evaluation.
  4. Review each student’s completed activity compared to the rubric to see if it aligns with the objective.
  5. Create a snapshot of your overall

Grading: Assessing your learners does not mean you need to change your grading structure or even give a grade at all. However, if learners believe that they are receiving something in return, they may give more effort when completing the assessment. Case in point: if you’ve been asked to complete a survey, you may have given up half way through if you didn’t see a personal benefit in completing it.

Cost: Evaluating learning does not have to be costly endeavor. Although there are many different software and hardware options to aid in assessing learning outcomes (such as PollEverywhere, TurningPoint, ExamSoft, and PearsonVue), assessment can be accomplished without purchasing third-party products. If assessment is a new goal for your organization, I recommend working through some of the simpler assessment strategies and tools before deciding on an external assessment product.

Step Away From the Podium!

Step away from the podium…the lectern… the computer! Back away slowly and engage your audience.

lectureEngaging instructors and trainers are typically those that break the leash that binds them to the podium. Many presenters remain in the 2-foot radius that surrounds the podium as if an electric fence traps them. But how do you break this poor habit and still control your content?

A simple solution is to use a presentation clicker to advance your PowerPoint and Keynote slides. A USB dongle (yes, that awesome, non-made-up tech word that makes us giggle) plugs into the computer and receives information from the remote to advance the slides.

But what if, you’re like me, and need the visual cues to help guide your oral presentation? There are many tools out there to help! Many work with a mobile device such as smart phone or tablet and connect to your computer via a Wireless Internet connection. The result is that you can walk around the room with your presentation on your mobile device, and as you make changes or advance the slides, the application signals your computer to do so as well.

Voila, like magic, you get your freedom of movement back and can fully engage your audience!

There are many products out there that “remotely” connects computers to mobile devices. Doing a search on “wireless presentation systems” yields a plethora of results.

I personally prefer Doceri, which is an application that can be installed on both your computer and mobile device and then a code is inputted to verify that you are connecting to the correct computer. Doceri also has a white board feature that makes for on-the-fly notes. If you want a hardware solution, both Apple and Crestron have solutions; check out Apple AirPlay and Crestron AirMedia.

CES and the Future of Education

The International Consumer Electronic Show (CES), a consumer electronics and technology tradeshow in Las Vegas, has electronic, gaming, and technology enthusiasts alike dreaming of new gizmos and how they can be used.

How will emerging technology trends impact higher education?

Curved television monitors, head mounted displays (such as the Oculus Rift), and interactive entertainment may have a bigger impact on education than you may imagine.

When we think about these technologies, we typically think about immersive experiences as a form of entertainment– television, movies and video games– enhanced by 3D, Ultra High Definition, and virtual reality. However, educators with the software programming skills and funding will be able to create immersive experiences for the classroom.

Photo Credit- James IliffThese technologies can be used to give people experiences they normally would not be able to have in everyday life. Virtual reality shown through a head mounted displays can help students and learners see the very small (microbiology), the very large (astronomical), and the very distant (ancient ruins). Imagine an observatory right in the classroom, giving students the opportunity to explore the moon and the galaxy. Imagine University Admissions counselors providing a virtual tour of their campuses to students abroad or unable to visit campus. Geography, World History, Art History, and Archaeology students would be able to virtually visit long-gone cultures and lands. All these environments can be created by a computer simulated world and displayed through a head mounted display or curved television monitor. These technologies will allow students to get a greater interactive learning experience than their traditional classroom experiences can currently provide. These technologies will bring the experience and the content to the student in a realistic and visual medium.

With these technologies, future students will get practical application of their skills without the risk. In a virtual reality operating room, Medical students can practice surgeries without risk or the expense of using cadavers. Computer programs can create fictional patients for students to diagnosis, without the need of hiring actors. Engineers can model their designs in three-dimensional space and give physical tours of their portfolios. Chemists can experiment with chemicals to view reactions without the risk of explosions and toxic combinations.

These technologies will shape the way we think about and how we design hands-on learning. It’s important to understand the emerging technologies and the implications they have on future educational practices.

Flipped on a Budget

My article on the Flipped classroom in Legal Education was published by EdTech Magazine and received so many comments that I wanted to talk about the major aspects that prevent people from making Flipped Classes.

Cost and time.

If you’re new to making flipped classroom videos or don’t have the support from your administration, you may find that you have to choose between quality, cost, and time. The old Project Management adage is that each project takes Time, Quality, and Cost, but the paradigm states that you can only truly focus on two of these values.

I recommend focusing on the Quality of Content:

Low Production Value-

Use a Webcam and headset with a lecture capture system to record your lessons. Your school  may already have access to Web conferencing or lecture capture systems such as Panopto, Wimba, ATT Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, or any Web conferencing system that records.

Focus on Content-

Spend your time working through your lectures and creating visual graphs and illustration of the ideas you plan to present during your recording. Remember, if the content is worthwhile, your students will be willing to watch it. Remember to leave all dates and times out of the script so that you can reuse the videos for future classes, doing so will save you valuable time in the future.

Audio-

Make sure your voice is being recorded clearly. Mute all telephones in your office. Turn off or mute all other applications that may make noise through your computer speakers, and hang a sign on your door stating that recording is in progress.Testing the audio and minimizing interruptions will reduce recording time.

No Post-Production-

Save time and cut costs by eliminating post-production. As long as the content is clear and can be understood by your audience, don’t worry about editing. Your learners will understand that the message is what’s important, not the quality of the video.

Once you find the value in flipped classes and are comfortable with this teaching pedagogy, you can spend more time and money creating professional videos. But I recommend that you take a low-cost approach to create flipped classrooms in order to mitigate the risk. You can also convince your administration to fund future high value video production projects if they see a pilot flipped class has succeeded.

Start somewhere- start with a low budget and great content!

To Err is Human… to Keep at EdTech is Divine.

One of the challenges I have as an Educational Technologist is encouraging people to use technology during lectures and presentations, despite their fears.

The major fear is looking incompetent in front of an audience. This can occur when technology breaks or the presenter does not know how to work the tool. So instead of learning how to use EdTech properly, they opt out of the tool altogether.

There’s a few points I would like to make to help appease the fear that paralyzes the presenter and limits the use of technology:

Technology has its hiccups for everyone, even the most skilled technologist.

Internet connections are poor, flash drives get lost, files are corrupted, speakers don’t work, the list can go on…  but, it’s Okay! Since we’ve all been there, people in your audience will understand and not judge.

How you handle the hiccup is what defines us. If the EdTech fails or does not work, apologize for the delay and continue on with your presentation sans technology. It’s comparable to a child getting hurt, sometimes, the reaction of others after a fall is what makes a young child cry. Don’t overreact with groans and complaints, don’t panic. Pick yourself up, dust off, and start your presentation. Your audience won’t even remember the technical glitches if you don’t let it affect your overall presentation.

In today’s Internet driven world, current students and audience members expect presentations with audio/visual components. By neglecting this feature, you may lose out on that “star appeal” that attracts people to your audience or classes.

I once had a professor say to me, “if you teach the way you were taught, you will be frozen in time.”

Intrigue your audience, add a “cool” element to your presentation. Remember, technology is great when it enhances a presentation, not detracts from the content.

If you’re still afraid to add EdTech components to your presentation be proactive:

  • Learn! Have your Educational Technologist or Instructional Technologist show you easy ways to enhance your presentation
  • Practice, practice, practice, preferably in the room you will be presenting
  • Early and Often– Setup for your presentations with plenty of time to get through any glitches and know that the more you use EdTech, the more comfortable you will be using the tools
  • Buddy System- Invite someone along to the presentation that can help you setup or troubleshoot problems
  • Be Prepared- Bring back-ups of your digital work. If the tech still fails, be prepared with cue cards and hand-outs to switch to a low-tech presentation

How Students Use Tech Outside of Class

ComputerThis article was published by EdTech Magazine on August 27, 2013.

Technology has made it easy for students to use their computers and mobile devices to continue learning outside of traditional classrooms.

The ability to take notes electronically during class results in the conservation of valuable study time. In addition, many students find they are able to use digital notes more effectively than handwritten notes by conducting keyword searches to locate specific information quickly.

Today’s college students are also able to annotate and share notes with study-group participants by using cloud-based tools such as Evernote and Google Drive. Undergraduates at Ithaca College in New York use Google Drive to create, edit, and share course outlines. These powerful tools enhance collaboration by allowing students to access their notes from any device, add comments and track changes.

Google Drive and Evernote are also ideal for collaboration on group projects. MBA students at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., use Google Drive to collaborate on projects and presentations. The students can contribute to the same document without compiling or emailing different versions back and forth. For students concerned about equal contribution of work on a project, Google Drive shows revision updates made by each contributor.

For research, students are using free tools such as Wikipedia, Twitter and Facebook. While Wikipedia is typically not allowed as an official source, it is frequently used to find other resources, since the site tracks footnotes and bibliographies. Students can look up a topic using Wikipedia and then refer to an article’s cited works for additional source material.

Social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, are used to poll communities and connect with experts. Social media is used to share ideas, articles and other resources. These networks are also used to hold relevant and meaningful conversations across time and geography. Ithaca College’s course on professional development uses social media to host guest speakers who are unable to travel to campus. Instead, the guest speakers are asked to check the course’s Facebook and Twitter pages during a given week and then respond to students’ questions. These tools are beneficial because discussion can be continued outside of class, thereby opening up a broader learning environment.

Students are also using web-based conferencing tools, such as Google Hangouts, to interview experts about their work. Students in the Master of Arts in Learning Technologies program at Pepperdine University in California collaborate synchronously, or in real time, using Google Hangouts and Google Documents. The students are able to share their dissertation research and provide valuable feedback to one another in real time. Some students, such as those attending Pepperdine University School of Law, are even using this technology to interview for jobs or to work remotely while in school. Web-based conferencing is also a key tool used by students to hold team meetings for group projects. Stevens Institute of Technology management students also use web-based conferencing to present their final projects online and in real time to their instructor and peers.

Today’s learners are actively seeking content and tutorials on topics of interest.

Students and non-student learners alike access valuable online content from Khan Academy, TED, YouTube and blogs; they watch and read tutorials created by others; and they learn how to complete specific tasks, such as computing mathematical equations, writing computer-programming languages or using a feature in a software application, all without the guidance of an instructor.

Technology enables learning to take place outside of the classroom and the library. Students use technology to meet, collaborate and create content virtually. In many cases, technology helps students research subjects, share ideas and learn specific skills. Technology also helps students make valuable networking connections with others in their field of study.

KISS Keep it Simple (& Meaningful), Stupid! Getting Faculty to Use Tech

As part of my duties as Manager of Instructional Technology at Pepperdine University School of Law, I must encourage the use of Educational Technology by faculty. This is a common task of any Educational Technologist.

One of the challenges is convincing Law Faculty to use technology when their traditional classroom pedagogy is based on the Socratic Method  or “inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas.” Logically, you don’t need technology to have a discussion.

Another challenge is that when faced with something new, there is a learning curve to become comfortable in using the tool or technology. As an instructor, I know first-hand that it can be difficult to attempt something new in front of your students, there’s an inherent fear of  seeming incompetent in the face of your students.

However students and learners, are increasingly in want of “innovative and stimulating” classes that utilize digital media and audio-visual learning aids to enhance instruction.

To bridge this gap of overcoming fears of incompetence and providing students with the technological-supported classes they desire, Educational Technologists, must help faculty feel comfortable with using Ed Tech. It’s also important that faculty are semi-autonomous in their use of Ed Tech so that they can proceed with instructing without the need of an IT support person present at the start of class.

Simple and meaningful user interface design is one of the first steps to getting EdTech used effectively in the classroom.

The School of Law recently completed an Educational Technology Update construction project to many of its classrooms. This project included the installation of computers, projection screens, touch screen monitors, and document cameras, among other instructional tools.

Screen3To encourage the use of these instructional tools, the Information Services team set out to create an easy to use control panel. The control panel is a 4″ touch panel that sits on the top of each lectern near the computer monitor and auxiliary ports. It controls the start up and display of all of the instructional tools available in the classroom.

It was important that the User Interface Design of this control panel was simple, easy to understand, and contained all of, but not more than, the features necessary to run a tech-enabled class session.

The approach used to decide on the final design was as follows:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Gather Feedback
  4. Redesign
  5. Implement

Research- I contacted several different professional schools and law schools in the nation and asked if they could share pictures of their control panel user-interface. Several other Ed Tech professionals also gave valuable insight into what they would do differently if they could re-design their control panels.

Design- After some deliberation with my Information Services colleagues, I developed 3 different iterations of the design with a flow-chart of the actions.

Feedback- Two design options were brought to the faculty (the end-users) for feedback and discussion. I made sure that the faculty represented a variety of skill-levels from the minimal-tech user to the experienced-power user. The designs were simple mock-ups on paper, that indicated the flow of the features. I walked each faculty member through the “pushing” of buttons, showing them what each action led to by flipping the paper mock-ups in order of the design flow.

Receiving input from the end-users is a strategic way of getting user buy-in. Many of the faculty I spoke to were very excited and grateful that their input was effectively utilized in the final design.

Redesign- I took the notes, comments, and feedback from the faculty on the initial design and created a final design. Instances in which  faculty opinions conflicted I made a judgement call based on what I thought the majority of the faculty would want.

Implementing- I met with the technology vendor and worked through the final design. I had to be very specific and firm with our needs so that the design on paper was properly translated to the actual control panel.

The result was fantastic! The control panel does exactly what they need it to do with very few “clicks”, therefore, the goal of creating simple and meaningful design was accomplished. Many faculty that used to rely on Information Services to start their class technology have become autonomous. It’s been several weeks since the system was implemented and we’ve seen an increase of faculty using educational technology in their classes.

For any Educational Technologist implementing a new system, don’t forget to KISS. Keep It Simple, (stupid)!

Double Vision? Dual-Source Display

imagesPepperdine University School of Law (Malibu, CA) spent several months planning and designing a classroom upgrade, fondly called the educational technology update (or ETU).

To summarize the updates, Pepperdine University added a classroom PC, BluRay Player, VGA and HDMI connection for laptops, built-in speakers, document camera, and lecture capture system to each room. These sources are all controlled by a touch control panel.

Each classroom was equipped with two or more projection display screens. One major decision faced by the School of Law Information Services team during the planning phase was whether or not dual-source projection should be used.

The norm for classrooms across the nation is the use of single-source display. This display setup is when there are two screens in a classroom, but the same content is shown on each. For example, a PC with a PowerPoint presentation running is displayed on both of the screens simultaneously.

Alternatively, dual-source projection allows for two unique sources to be shown at the same time. For instance, a DVD can be played in the DVD player on the left display screen, while the PC with a PowerPoint presentation running is displayed on the right screen.

The benefit of this dual-source projection?

Instructors and presenters don’t lose valuable lecture time switching between sources. Setting up the sources before the lesson so that they are ready to go, results in an easy flow of content. Instructors and presenters can speak about the content on the left screen and then seamlessly flow to the content on the right screen. Otherwise, the instructor would need to stop mid-lesson to disable the source that is currently showing on the screens and enable the second source. For those instructors that are not technological confident, this switching of content mid-lesson could prove to be anxious, cumbersome, and time-consuming.

Another benefit to the dual-source projection is that instructors still have the option to display a single source on both projection screens. Displaying a single-source on both screens is recommended for those instructors who are using only one piece of content, such as a video, to aid in their lecture. Using both projection screens with the same source displayed will increase the sight-lines of the classroom.

The decision of Pepperdine University School of Law to use dual-source projection has so far been beneficial. There has been increase usage of the educational technology this Fall 2013 term compared to past semesters. In addition, the development of an easy-to-use control interface has resulted in instructors being autonomous in their course setup, relying less on support from the Information Services Department.

Distraction or Opportunity? Embracing Tech in the Classroom

ComputerAn abridged version of this article was published by EdTech Magazine on July 25, 2013.

It’s common for students to bring laptops, tablets, and smart phones to class. But what happens when they’re turned on? From the viewpoint of the lectern, it’s hard to tell if students are using their mobile electronics for educational goals or browsing the Internet. And are their actions distracting their peers?

As a Manager of Instructional Technology, I’ve had the opportunity to observe several lecture hall courses ranging from 40-100 students. Sitting in the back of the classroom gave me a great view of the students’ computer screens. I was pleasantly surprised to find in a class of 100 students only one student was on a Web page other than the course Learning Management System, the downloaded lecture notes, or a Word Document. Pretty impressive.

These observations support the hypothesis that students are using computers in the classroom to aid in their instruction. How does it aid in their instruction? Professional students use the opportunity to make additions and annotations to downloaded class lecture slides or transcribe the lecture using word processing programs.

Yes, it’s more difficult to call your students’ attention away from the computers in order to get them to participate openly in discussion. Technology is not a distraction in the classroom, but if you want dynamic discussion and interaction with students, do just that, interact with your students and encourage discussion, don’t lecture “at” them. Minimal interaction during lectures results in students’
“hiding” behind their computer screens. They’ll shut the computer screens and contribute worthy discussions if the lesson is dynamic.

Alternatively, technology can be used as a teaching advantage. Students who are introverted may find it easier to participate in class if they can do so via technology. Incorporate tools such as polling technology and back-channel blogs to have students participate with the computers they are already using. These tools can allow for anonymous participation and contribution to the class without students’ feeling cornered or in the spotlight. Ideas can be free flowing with the disinhibition associated with anonymous contributions. Conducting lessons with anonymous participation means we need to rethink traditional participation grades.

In addition, using these online technologies to encourage participation can be beneficial in interacting with all students, not just the select few that raise their hands and speak up in the limited class time. Every student can contribute by answering polling questions and typing their responses into a class website. These tools can also be beneficial because the class discussion can be continued outside of class, thus opening up a broader learning environment.

It’s not just about how students are using computers in the classroom, but how the use of computers during class impact students outside of class. Students prefer to take notes electronically so that they don’t waste valuable study time transcribing hand-written notebooks to a digital notebook. Digital notes results in better use of students’ study time. Students are able to do keyword searches for documents and topics to locate specific information quickly, collaborate and share notes with their study groups, and prepare written work quicker by copy and pasting direct quotes from their pre-typed notes.

Students are going to use laptops and mobile devices in the classroom. Embrace the technology and work with your Educational Technologist or Instructional Designer to determine the best tools and methodologies to enhance your course with technology and support the course objectives.

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