Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tim McGee

link to the screencast

Tim McGee: The title of my presentation would lead you to believe that educators are not yet prepared for multi-literacy, and that it might be a big enough job that you can't just do it in one swipe.

I myself am an intellectual bureaucrat right now; I direct a couple of graduate programs, so I'm not actually working as a teacher. But I spent about 20 years of my life defining myself as a "techno-retirition", so I've specifically engaged in trying to use technologies to try and improve the communication skills of what were usually first year college students.

What I want to do is look at a group of educators who have, up until, now been charged with the communication skills of students. The group I'm going to look at is English secondary education teachers. I'm doing that for a couple of reasons, including this is the group that is last responsible for them before they go into college or go into the workplace, and also because English secondary education teachers, their curriculum represents the response of the university to what is the perceived need for communication skills in colleges or in the workplace.

This is the abstract that I've produced to present here. Here's another version of it, slightly larger. What I want to do is just focus on a couple of parts of it, including the definition of literacy that I hope will be relatively non-controversial; that this is what literacy used to be.

The next thing is the idea that with advent of digital computers, they create multi-literacy demands. Now this one could potentially be a little more controversial, because it might look like I somehow believe in technological determinism and it turns out that I don't.

What I want to do is talk about the way technologies demand illiteracies; they don't determine them. Many people, when they talk about technology, they think, "OK, it's not just the computers, it was also the book." And some people I think don't go back far enough and realize it was also the alphabet.

The alphabet is a technology, and it's a technology that is radically different from the idiographic characters of Chinese language. Each has costs, each has benefits, each has affordances, which is one of the words that Gunther Crest uses; he's a member of the New London Group. What happens is the cost benefits and affordances of each of these technologies has implications in terms of the illiteracies that they demand.

My parents, who were excellent readers, writers, they had excellent penmanship, they were educated through college, would be illiterate in today's world because of the fact they have no understanding whatsoever about computer technologies. And part of my claim is that the digitally literate students of today, who are digitally literate in mono-model communication are going to become illiterate in the next generation if they do not become literate in multimedia illiteracies.

Later in my abstract it says, "Teachers at every level find themselves ill-prepared to teach even the decoding of multimedia and multi-model text, much less their encoding or production." And I carefully chose two words there that were intended to not raise the hackles of English faculty, who when I talk about consumption and production get all out of shape. So decoding and encoding are a couple of other terms for those. But the situation exists where people who are charged with teaching people to be literate, reading and writing, are not as well prepared to have them read and write multimedia/multi-model text as they had been for print literacy.

So, the way I'm going to go about it is to take into consideration state standards, teacher education programs and current theories of multi-literacy and multi-model discourse. This presentation suggests short and long term action plans.

Wait a minute? Where's the problem? Where's the gap? If we were using what's called the ISD model, the Instructional Systems Design Model, it says, first you find an identifiable or a measurable gap. What's the performance gap?

Well it turns out that approach isn't going to work here. Because in order to have that gap we would have to say, "Here is how the students are performing on some test, and their performance on their test is not good enough. Therefore we need to remediate the teachers and give the teachers multi-model instruction to help these students perform." But the students aren't being tested on that.

So we do not have at our disposal one of the usual methods for determining, "We have a problem, and we have to fix it." So in effect what we have here is a problem with the problem. One of the questions is, is it really a problem, or am I just another snake oil salesman who has come along with a patented solution to a problem of my invention, because I have something I want to sell you?

One of the issues has to do with standards. My question is, "Do standards really matter?" This is a graphic that came from "Improving the Quality of Literacy Education in New Jersey's Middle Grades: Report of the New Jersey Task Force on Middle Grade Literacy Education"; there's the URL where I got it from. The claim here is that state standards do matter and they matter in a couple of ways. They don't matter just in terms of "We're going to hold the students to these standards", but standards determine what is the curriculum that the college students who are going to learn to teach, then gets informed by.

So in effect, standards if you look at the second one, "Clear expectation for students and schools; motivation to work hard", the next one over "Professional development improved teaching; higher levels of learning". So the notion that what your state standards are, what they say and do, impact the teacher education curriculum, impacts what happens in the classroom, and then eventually you get the performance in the classroom that is or is not meeting those standards.

One of the questions is why did I choose New Jersey rather than Pennsylvania. We're here in Pennsylvania, I work in Pennsylvania, I happen to live in New Jersey. I chose New Jersey for the reason, even though I'm a proud native Pennsylvanian; I've spent some time comparing the language arts for Pennsylvania versus New Jersey. New Jersey is much more ready for the 21st Century than Pennsylvania if you take the state standards as a representation of what we're asking people to do in the classroom.

So there's Pennsylvania, there's New Jersey. One of the differences is Pennsylvania standards cover reading, writing, speaking and listening. The New Jersey standards: reading, writing, speaking, listening and viewing.

The inclusion of viewing in the language arts standards is in my estimation, huge. If all they did was just add the word, that's not much. But if you look at what the standards say, there will be standards in there. So viewing now doesn't just belong in the art curriculum; it's in the language arts curriculum.

Here is the cover for the academic standards for reading, writing, speaking and listening, and I would be hard pressed to describe an image that more clearly recommended that this is from a state Department of Education.

Here is the cover for the New Jersey Standards. Now, to me that's different, and then the question is, what does it signify? What it signifies, and the fact that images are open to much broader interpretation, is just one of the knotty problems that arise when we talk about what it is that the language arts teachers are doing in their classrooms. But if you go, as I have gone in detail, you will find that just as there is a difference in the covers, there's a difference in the standards. Through every grade you're going to have much more specific mention that the language arts teachers should be engaging New Jersey students in multimedia and multi-model literacy.

One of the recent standards matters is, if you look in the highlighted red portion, "Those who teach and administrate or teacher maintaining programs need to familiarize themselves with the standards for language arts literacy in this framework, which provides examples of excellent teaching and learning. Faculty should be sure that their pre-service programs promote both content and methodology that are consonant with the new standards."

Now that's all well and good; New Jersey may be doing better than Pennsylvania. There's another thing going on which has to do with standardized testing. New Jersey just sort of revised its standards. Why did it revise its standards? Why was the language arts core curriculum standards changed? The driving force was required testing in language arts each year in grades three through eight by 2005-2006. Are those standardized tests asking them to engage in the production of multimedia documents? Absolutely not!

So it's like, we have one step forward we have two steps back. Even though the standards were thinking toward the future, the imposition of "No Child Left Behind" upon it means that what is actually happening in the classroom is again preparing people to take the tests that aren't testing multimedia literacy. So it's not like everything in New Jersey is just wonderful.

This is an image of the web page from the College of New Jersey. So just like I chose New Jersey rather than Pennsylvania -- because I think Pennsylvania would actually be allowing me to get in a real strong-man argument, New Jersey is ahead of Pennsylvania I chose the College of New Jersey because it is a particularly highly regarded public college in New Jersey.

I know from having taught there for a while and the fact that my wife works as a middle school teacher in New Jersey, the graduates of the College of New Jersey are especially valued; these people are considered the gold standard in the state of New Jersey. So you graduate from English Secondary Education College of New Jersey and go on the job market and you get jobs like that.

This is the text of what it says the English Secondary Education students will take, in addition to their English requirement. Their English requirement, like many, is a literature requirement. You have lots and lots of literature courses. Yes, there's one course in structured history of the English language, etc., but here are their requirements for English Secondary Education. Nowhere in there is anything that specifically says multimedia/multi-model discourse. There is one course in there that's called "EED400: Teaching Writing". That's a course I taught while I was at the College of New Jersey. That was the one opportunity where you could get into the curriculum something that was other than writing words only and only in rows, and even there, there was only a tiny space for it.

There's this question of, what is multimedia literacy? What is media literacy? I took this one from a conference that's up at Yukon every year; it's coming up soon and is called the "Media Literacy Conference". There are a lot of definitions around, and one of the things I find is, just as traditional literacy often privileged reading over writing, the definitions of visual literacy and media literacy often privilege that over that. So the first one, which is a really nice one from PBS and is a wonderful collection for teachers of things to use in their classroom, it's really to teach your kids how to read images.

The one in the middle I like a lot better because it says, "The ability to transform thought and information into images, including thinking and communication. Visual communication takes place when people are able to construct meaning from the visual image." So that is much better, because it's not just reading, it's reading and writing. Interestingly that comes from the National Standards Essay up there, it's for South Africa. So South Africa I think is ahead of us when it comes to "let's have this literacy be a two way street."

The one from the New Media Literacy actually is nice because it says, "To not only become more careful and critical consumers of media messages, but to also become creative producers of media to more effectively communicate their thinking, ideas and priority.

Laura Blankenship

Link to screencast

Laura Blankenship: I'm going to talk a little bit today about my -- I don't know if you want to call it an experiment an experiment that turned into a PhD thesis, about using a class blog in our freshman seminar classes that we teach in Bryn Mawr. A side story, if you want to hear it, is that I actually co-taught this class with my husband, and we're still married. So, it worked out all right.

Actually, to test my own multi-literacy, this is a lot of numbers. So, it's numeric literacy for me. I'm an English person by training, so I was challenged to come up with a numeric way of quantifying what happened in the classroom. So, that's what you're going to see most of today, if I can get the slides to cooperate. Here we go.

The goal in the class when we started out -- the topic of the class was blogging -- so that was sort of obvious, that we wanted them to understand blogging. I put that last, though. Mostly, we wanted to create a collaborative learning environment. We also follow what we call an emergent pedagogy, where we talk about student-centered learning. We let them guide the class a whole lot.

We didn't have a syllabus to start off with. We had the first day planned, and that was it. And then after that, we just kind of went with whatever happened in class and then we determined what was going to happen in the next class. So, we kind of just followed whatever they needed to know. Whatever they wanted to do, we did, within certain guidelines.

We also wanted them to become more aware of audience. That's a big issue in writing pedagogy. Most students have been trained to write for tests and to write for their teachers. And then, once they graduate from college, they're supposed to be able to write for real audiences in some way, even if it's in a business environment. And they have no idea how to do that most of the time.

And then we wanted to focus on writing as a conversation. That's blogging. We wanted them to gain an appreciation of all the different perspectives that are out there. Learn how to incorporate those and then deal with them, because they're going to be bombarded by them at some point.

So, the basic set-up of the class was it's a freshman seminar, so it's all freshmen. It's Bryn Mawr College, so it's also all women, which was really nice. There were two sections. I taught one section and my husband taught the other section. We had 30 students total, and they all blogged in the same place. We didn't create separate blogs for each section, because we were all reading the same material. We thought 30 students would be a nice collection, so that if we didn't get an audience from the outside, that at least would be enough to create some sort of collaboration.

We had no set assignments or topics in terms of what they could write about. We had no set requirements for how they contributed to the blog. We let that evolve out of the class.The only real requirement we had was that they had to derive their papers from their blog posts. We said, "You can write about whatever you want, but when it comes to developing your papers, it has to come from something you've written on the blog." And then they created a final portfolio out of all of those formal papers.

That created a sense of revision in the class. They wrote a blog post, they had to revise it into something a little bit more formal, and then they had to revise it again in a portfolio, although many of them revised much more than that because they just wanted to. Bryn Mawr students tend to be over-achievers, so revision became a big issue for some of them. They wrote five or six different versions.

Here's just some numbers from the blog. We wrote about 500 blog posts all together. And they wrote about 1,250 comments. That does not include comments they received from people not in the class. It's about 265,000 total words, about 700 pages. So, we wrote a giant novel, basically. About 9,000 words per student; that's about 23 pages. And that was just on the blog; that doesn't include their formal papers, their portfolios, their revisions, anything we might have done in class.

By October -- we did a really detailed analysis of what kind of traffic we were getting in October -- we got about 250-300 visits a day, and half of them were coming from outside of Bryn Mawr College.

We advertised our blog very heavily on campus. We put little table tents in the campus center, and the students all came up with the slogans that they put on all the table tents and on posters around campus. We let them to do all the advertising. A lot of them put the URL in their IM; you know, the little away messages and things like that. So, they really got into that. Here are the real numbers.

After all the blogging was over, I started looking at trying to figure out, OK, what do I want to find out what happened, and how do I figure out what happened. So, I looked at all this information and all the posts that they made, all the comments that they made, all the comments that they received and all the links that they made. I tried to figure out what was going on. And I'm just going to talk about two of these. They're all pretty highly correlated with each other.

So, typically, someone who was posting a lot was also commenting a lot and was also making a lot of links. The two highest ones were comments received and posts. So, someone who posts a lot also received a lot of comments; and then, comments made, and links, which doesn't make sense to me.

If you made a lot of comments you were also apparently making a lot of links in your posts, so you just want to look at those two a little bit more closely. So, I started looking at those two correlations and trying to figure out--what does this mean? Obviously if you make a lot of posts you're probably going to receive a lot more comments because there's just more content for someone to comment on. But when you look at and compare the top, very top, cream-of-the-crop, the top five people in the class, compared to people further down the scale, people who only made, say, nine posts over the course of the whole semester, these people received four comments per post as opposed to a lot of the people at the bottom of the scale who weren't receiving any.

So there is something about what they were writing that drew people in to comment. The biggest thing that I saw was that a lot of these people, when they received a comment, they would comment back. So they really followed that process of turning their writing into a conversation.

If someone made a comment that they disagreed with they would write back and say, "You know what? I think you're wrong." If you look at some of the longer comment threads--there was one person in this group who received something like 32 comments on a single post--and it really was a back-and-forth between her, students in the class, and people outside our class trying to comment on this, and trying to figure out what's going on. So they created that conversation, and they really tried to figure out how to deal with all those different viewpoints.

Now the comments made and linked--those with more links were more widely read and interested in adding to the conversation; that's my theory about why they made more links. So when they were making comments on other people's posts they had more information, they were armed with a lot more information to make those comments. They were able to present another viewpoint, whereas some of the people who weren't linking, they didn't really have those other viewpoints. They couldn't go into a conversation, a blog post, and say, "You know what? I think this is wrong because of 'x'." They didn't really have that information.

Some of the students told me that they actually realized that as they made more comments, they got more comments in return and that they really liked that kind of self-promotion. They wanted this whole blog project thing to work and they knew in order for it to work they had to be commenting on other people's work. So those are some of the reasons.

But the biggest thing that I found was that the linking was the key factor and that, in fact, if you linked more, you got a better grade in the class, or actually on the portfolio; so that seemed to be just the hugest thing, which we kept trying to tell people, "You have to link! You have to link!" mostly because we wanted to drive traffic to the blog, but we also wanted them to incorporate outside sources.

So here are just a few of the reasons why I think most of the people who linked got better grades. I mean, they were obviously exploring a wider range of topics; they had more models to work with, so they were reading more widely. They were gaining an audience awareness, they just had generally more practice in writing and integrating those sources and they got more feedback on that writing. I think they learned a lot more about their writing, so when it came time to put their portfolio together they had some feedback to base that on besides just me, which I think is important, because I don't know everything. I wish I did!

Here are just some quotes; I'll let you read them. I asked them, when they started writing on the blog, "Who do you think you are writing for?" Most of them said something along the lines of, "Well, I'm writing for the professor." or, "I'm writing to myself." They didn't really think--they had no concept--of anything else outside the classroom. And then, this happened totally outside of a formal interview, somebody said, "Well nothing really happened until we got an audience, and then once we got an audience it was great." This other student really took that whole idea of audience and once she got her first outside comment she really wanted to write more posts that would get more outside comments, so she was actively trying to find things to write about that she thought would appeal to not just Bryn Mawr students, but people outside of Bryn Mawr.

Then when they finally realized that other people were going to read this, they had lots of interesting things to say. They figured out that there are other people out there; that they have other ideas that might be different from my ideas, and I have to figure out what to do with that.

This is my favorite quote from all of my interviews--they all wrote self-evaluations which were really interesting, and this was really the whole point of the whole class, so I'm just going to read it out-loud even though I know you can read it yourself--"Bloggers not only passively read the news, but also write posts, make comments, and create links; they get actively involved. This vigorous participation makes the web look like a real web, a chain of connected sites. The absence of involvement makes the web look like a set of unrelated dots; you can only see the dots, you cannot see the whole picture unless the dots are connected." And that was really the point of the whole class, we wanted them to connect the dots, connect to each other, and connect to that outside world.

That's it!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Jean-Claude Bradley PAETC07

link to screencast

Man: All right. I'd like to talk to you about research and teaching the blogs and wikis. Because a lot of you are involved with the teaching aspect, and we did actually discuss a lot of the teaching in the workshop yesterday, I'll be focusing on more of the research. But as I go through this, look at some applications in some of the other kinds of teaching environments where you can see that this could apply.

A big picture here is we're doing science - we're doing chemistry - and if you're not in the sciences, or you're not running a research lab, maybe you're not aware of what's going on right now. There is a transition of communication, which used to be human-to-human communication, towards a world where it's going to be machines talking to each other.

Where we are right now is somewhere in-between: people talking to each other, people talking to machines, and what that means, basically, is machines reading scientific information and doing something with it. We don't have to discuss in detail here what that is, but that's sort of the concept.

There are things like the robot scientists, that actually can form hypotheses and do reactions and test them, so this is the world that we're going to. But the question is, how is it going to happen? For this particular talk, we're going to move over here to using the blogs and wikis in answering that question.

We're trying to do science; we're trying to do science that is useful, that is relevant, and we're going to find that out by actually looking at what people are saying is important. That's how this particular project, UsefulChem, started.

We looked for phrases like "what is needed now," "what is missing is," and found that basically malaria was one of the things that was most often cited. So we did a project on malaria. We're trying to do the entire project completely transparently, using blogs and wikis. What I'll discuss is the evolution of that, and how we used each technology to meet our objective.

One of the things that we came across are other groups that are actually producing information that other people can use. Find-a-Drug is an organization that had actually tested some molecules to see whether or not they have a good chance of inhibiting one of the enzymes for the malaria parasite.

They gave us their collection of molecules, which we set out to make, because we're a synthetic organic chemistry lab. So this is one of the components that's coming together to make this project happen.

As far as the chemistry is concerned, this is not really the right place to discuss it, but the planning of the synthesis and discussing the pros and cons was all done through a blog, and that was done openly. If you're doing chemistry, you're basically having to deal with molecules.

So one of the ways that we started to use blogs is by actually having one post per molecule, where we would put information about the molecule - for example, a link to its commercial availability, a link to some of the spectroscopic properties of the molecule. And you'll see this little "SMILES" here; this is a way of representing molecules that is often used today to search in databases.

Remember I was telling you about the automation part, machines interacting with it? I think that using social software is a good way to bridge the gap that exists right now between machines and humans.

A second blog that we started - and again, we did all of this not as a big planned strategy, but basically we just created what we needed to, to reach the objectives that we had, or to overcome some of the problems. Initially, I thought that it would be good if we had an experiment blog, where every experiment was a separate post and we could link specific molecules that we used back to the molecules blog.

In fact, that was kind of interesting because we got comments from people; a few comments from people around the world. This particular comment is about this reaction that actually is not even finished yet, and he's talking about how maybe the concentration isn't good, maybe we should use a different concentration.

Normally, if you're not familiar with science publishing, this really never happens. Normally you do all your work, you completely get it done, then you submit it to a publisher, and then it goes through the peer-review process, and much, much later down the road do people even know that you've done it. So by posting our experiments directly to the web the same day that the experiment is done, we can get feedback. That's what we're trying to achieve here.

Now, that worked for a little while, but then it became obvious that the blog format, as we discussed yesterday in the workshop quite extensively, that because the blog format is really strictly chronological, it's very good for discussing time-sensitive issues, but it's not very good for organizing.

So I created this UsefulChem wiki to basically link to specific blog posts. We still use the blog for new items, but we use the wiki to organize that information. That actually worked out pretty well.

One of the very next things that we could do on the wiki, in terms of organizations, is actually talking about our failures, which is not something that is often discussed. It's pretty hard to publish things that failed, in journals. It is possible, but normally you do it in the context of a larger project, and it's not something you want to dwell upon.

We do want to dwell upon it, because the wiki is actually our laboratory notebook. Everything that is done in my lab is actually recorded, so we have to address the issues. If this didn't work, what's the reason it didn't work, or maybe there's a mistake that happened.

This a page on the UsefulChem wiki where we tried to make this compound, and it turns out that there were errors in the peer-reviewed literature that led us astray. There were issues like that, that we're actually able to document and say, "We were doing this based on this report; turns out that that wasn't actually accurate, so this is what we're finding."

And then finally, experiment 25 is when we had the whole thing working completely. This is something that any chemist can use to make the compound that we're trying to make here.

Woman in audience: What level are the students that you're working with?

Man: The students in the lab ranged from graduate to undergraduate students. This is university level.

Now, the experiments I was telling you about, where every post is a separate experiment, the problem with that is that there's no history tracking in the typical blog. So a student would write something, but then they would get a comment, and then when they would fix it there was no trace that it was ever made differently. There was no trace of how it was actually fixed.

So we found that actually having a wiki page as an actual experiment is an extremely effective way of tracking who does what, when. You can also track what we knew at a certain time. So if we're talking about precedents, I think wikis are actually far superior devices than blogs.

For example, as I was just saying, in terms of who does what, there's a "History" button, and it tells you who has done what. This is my grad student, and I can click on this to see exactly what he contributed at this specific point in time, and I can keep going back, over and over. Even though you're not doing research necessarily in chemistry, you are doing research in other areas, and this is really a good way to track and to communicate with your students.

This is an example of what it actually looks like. If you're not familiar with the wiki interface, I use Wikispaces for a number of reasons that we discussed yesterday. One of them is that it has a really nice way of representing what got changed. The red is the text that got deleted, and the green is the text that got added.

In this particular example, I had put y millimeters, z percent yield, because the student had not put the percent yield. Instead of me calculating it and putting it, I will typically ask a question or say, "Something's missing here."

So that's a good way for me to interact with my students, more as a mentor than a fact-checker. It takes a little bit longer for the information to get accurate, but I think it's worth it, because that's really my job as a teacher: to teach them how to learn and how to tell if things are right or not.

Again, a very important thing: if we're talking about science, it's a really big deal for you to say that you are the first to do something, or that you knew something at this particular point in time. And there again, the blog is not a particularly good way to do that, because on Blogger, for example, you can change the date to any date if you want to. It's pretty difficult to find out if this post actually occurred at this time.

But if you use a third-party wiki like Wikispaces, you can see exactly the date and time of that entry. So you can link not only to the wiki page, but you can link to the specific version of that page. And you can do that pretty much on any wiki, I think, and that's an excellent way of resolving debates, which are bound to happen.

So, I was showing you a specific page, you can tell the difference. In the wiki you can actually click on a button that shows you all the changes that are recent. So in this case, on a day-to-day basis, that is how my students and me interact. We check on the recent changes button. I'll see that experiment 25 got updated. I'll see what they did, and I'll respond. That's a pretty good way to interact when you don't have a lot of time to meet face-to-face every day.

The other thing that I think is very very important in terms of finding out about your audience and finding out how your work is being received. Normally when you publish something in a typically paper peer-reviewed journal, what happens is that you'll know who has cited you, but you won't know who has actually read and why they've read you.

And when they cite you you don't know if it's good or bad. They may actually be citing you because you did something stupid, and that's the reason you get a high citation.

The advantage to using social software is that you can put things like Sitemeter, which tracks how many visitors you have a day but also the keywords they are using or the websites they are using to make it to your site. So on this particular day, I can see that I got one referral from another chemistry blog site, and I can see that someone searched on Google for the chemistry of protease inhibitors, which is actually an HIV issue that we discussed at one point.

So this is something that I look at every day to see what's the impact that we are having? How are people finding our materials? Sometimes it's surprising to see - you'll see people looking for a boiling point. You would never just publish a boiling point. But because we are recording everything we do, we record it. And that's useful.

So even though it is not a complete thought, it is something that can be used by other chemists. And they do use Google. You do see people looking for boiling points on Google. So it's definitely a vehicle that I think is going to be used more and more.

[unintelligible question]

The question is about Sitemeter. It is actually a third party. And the free version lets you view the last 100 entries. You can pay like $6.95 a month if you want to get up to 4000. But all the tools I have shown so far are 100% free.

I was talking a little about the automation part. So, again, we don't have chemists in this room, but basically Ng is a way of representing a molecule that is considered to be a very good way because it is a unique way of representing a molecule. And so we have agents for example that will read our blog and will then calculate the Ngs for the compounds and publish them on another page. Every day that happens.

So if you go on Google and you search for the Ng, it will pull up our wiki pages, it's going to pull up our blog pages, wherever that particular string happens to have occurred. That's what's exciting in terms of chemistry. You can do something as a human being.

And then without even your knowledge, you can have these autonomous agents start processing, figuring out if this has been published before, if anybody has done this before. So this is pretty exciting. You can do all kinds of things by producing 3D structures that you can rotate.

There is a thing, if you are familiar with RSS, you know if you subscribe to a blog you are doing it with a blog reader. There is something called CMLRSS which is chemical markup language. The reader of course has to be able to understand chemistry, so bloglines wouldn't do it, for example.

It can actually read the text as a molecule. Then it can do things with it. That is something that is relatively new and it's going to be used more and more. Again making that human-machine bridge. If you do use bloglines, it will still work but it will just ignore the CML.

One of the things by going through this project which has been really interesting is that it is a completely bottom-up approach. There are other people around the world that are interested in doing science in an open and transparent way. We kind of meet each other naturally because there are their blogs and wikis out there.

So the organization is trying to coordinate scientists interacting with each other. One of their biggest projects is on malaria. It is actually a commercial enterprise, where they actually looked up information for us in exchange for having a link. So it's not just people who are doing it without profit. There is every motive out there; there are ways for people to interact to get things done.

The other thing that is very useful about actually having the work completely publicly available is that you can have collaborations. For example, with Beth at Lehigh Carbon Community College. She teaches English, and we have been able to do a little collaboration where her students can look at our malaria blog and be able to look at the humanities components of malaria, for example, or of the issues.

So that is something that you can only really do if you do operate transparently because it is already there. You don't have to do anything special. You don't have to add accounts. You don't have to control it. If you see some patterns here that are useful you can certainly contact me and we can show you how to do this.

I was telling you that the blog wasn't that great for recording experiments, but it is really good for recording your milestones. The main UsefulChem blog - basically, if something interesting happens that a good portion of the population can understand, I will put it.

That doesn't mean that 100% of the people will understand all of the posts. Some of them you do have to be a chemist. But some if it you can probaly figure out what's going on roughly. We are trying to make compounds, if we are having a lot of trouble, I will explain why we are having trouble. If we've made it, I'll be happy and give you a post that we made it.

So you might not even know what we've done, but at least you can see roughly where the project is going. So that is where the blog fits in really nicely. And then of course, the wiki has really evolved to be a very good laboratory notebook.

You can do raw data on here and there are other people that have other ways of communicating their raw data. That's a whole other issue. So you have other blogs like Daily which actually do publish some of their failed experiments. Not all, so it's not an actual notebook. But there is some of that going on.

You have people discussing vendor reliability. That's not something that you usually read about in the journal work. But is extremely important as a chemist to know not to order from a particular vendor.

There is open webware - I don't know if you have heard about this. This is a pretty big initiative from MIT to basically do science using wikis. But here people are pretty selective about what they will actually share. There is an example here for intragroup communication.

So that this is public, there is a diagram here and a little explanation. But you really have to be in the group to understand what this means because there are a lot of things that have not been explained here. We try to do it so that our wiki pages are very complete.

If you are a chemist and you happen to fall on that page, you can absolutely understand 100% of everything that got done. You can look up the raw data to see if it really does support the claims that we are making. You can link out to understand our motivations. So there are these components that are flying around but I think it really becomes powerful when you integrated everything.

Another blog here our research where it discusses hypotheses. She doesn't really put raw data up. But she likes to talk about "I think this is going to happen," and she gets from good feedback from her colleagues that way.

And I would say probably the greatest collaborations that we have been having lately are really from the automation part. There are people from around the world that are coding for chemistry, and we are contributing to that and we are using all of this open source stuff that is going on and these are some of our collaborators. I think that over time, this can spill over to the actual chemical research, but right now it is mainly the coders who are collaborating.

And this called, in general, "open source science." There is an article over the summer in Chemical & Engineering News which is the flagship journal for chemists. These are my two students here. This is actually really important, because the fact that open source science appears in the C&E News means that it is moving towards the mainsteam.

It means that people who are not just freaks on the border are thinking about there is something to this, there is a reason for doing it. And it can be something that is very useful. I think that that's very important.

Mike Zarro

link to screencast

Mike Zarro: Hi, everyone, I'm Mike Zarro. I am on the other side -- the flip side -- of the coin from most of you, where I'm using your products. And I'd just like to thank you for everything you're doing. I'm going to try to not be negative here. Obviously there are some issues in online education and digital technologies that we all know about. And we've heard some themes already today.

What I would just like to say is to keep doing what you're doing, please. I know we're pretty early on in the game. We can see there's some opportunities here for improvement, but also, let's not lose sight of the fact that just having online education can bring someone like myself in who maybe wouldn't have thought to go back to school after eight or nine years out from undergrad, to take that leap back into graduate education.

Whether or not I would have, I don't know, but having online education as a possibility really helped me make that decision and brought my dreams of more education to fruition. So, I'd just like to thank you all.

We heard a couple of themes already. One was the design, which we'll get into, which we brought up as a question earlier. But also the discussion boards, where the graduate students really... That's kind of where I live right now. So, we're going to see a bit of that. Unfortunately, maybe they're getting a little worse for the wear over the past couple of years.

I'm here at Drexel. I'm in the Library School, just a few blocks away. I don't know if there's anybody here from the Library School. One person? OK, great, great.

So, we're the high-techie people, supposedly. I don't know how many over there actually knew about this conference today. So, there are some issues there, maybe, to look into, outside of technology but actually with the people behind the technology.

And it's really funny, how -- even in online education -- digital education mimics what you have in real life. I still have issues with financial aid. I still have to track down my advisor and all that good stuff, a lot of it online. Luckily, I can get down here in person, so I have that opportunity. But I'm just wondering if somebody was totally online, and if you need to get in touch with financial aid, there could be some real issues there.

Baby steps, definitely, right now, but we're getting there. You can see that I've been doing development for quite a while, and e-learning. So, I kind of know the behind-the-scenes world. So, it can be doubly frustrating for me, because I can see the potential there. But we're not quite to that point yet.

Here are some successes. I'm able to interact with people from around the globe. One of my favorite professors is from Pittsburgh. There's no chance -- if this was a traditional environment -- that I would have the opportunity to have an adjunct professor from Pittsburgh travel to Philadelphia every day to teach me.

So, things like that, that's a success story that we can see in online education. So, all the frustrations we're going to get to in a minute, I'll just couch them right now.

You know, geographic barriers: I was able to travel when I was in school. And, actually, I was interrupted by John Waters in a coffee shop up in Provincetown one summer, while I was trying to do my online discussion board postings. So, it's kind of neat that you can pull all of these thing in and kind of do what you want as a person, as a professional -- which I was -- and still get your education. So, there are some real kinds of neat things you can do. I can be in Seattle today if I wanted to and still do my work.

Am I hip? I'll leave that for you to decide. I'm glad I don't have a clicker for that question today.

Woman: Can I just ask, does that mean the on-line things don't get graded?

Mike: Oh, no, they get graded. I'm sorry. What this means -- this slide -- is the career professional. You know, I'm older than some of my professors, and I have more technical skills than maybe some of them, and there's a lot of web work being done in the library field right now. So, do I want to be graded by somebody who potentially I have a better skill set than they do right now? So, that's kind of where that was coming from.

Blackboard, I think, 64% of the people are Blackboard. I feel your pain. But, it's not all about Blackboard. I had expected to fire up Blackboard on a daily basis, or every other day or so. And that was it. That was going to replace the building. On Blackboard, I could go there and see everything. The reality is, I spend maybe 60-70% of my time in Blackboard. But I'm also branching out to other places.

So, we have Blackboard here, going to the Drexel site. This is where I got a little fancy with PowerPoint. Sorry.

We see here, even the computing services, with the thumbs up. That's important. I need to know if I can't email a professor, if the service is down, or if it's something that I'm doing. Am I going to be responsible if my paper isn't turned in on time.

I use the U Penn Library, Banner -- that's the IST Library School website -- our library and then Web Now. All of these things come in. And this is just what I thought of off the top of my head. We can add Word, we can add PowerPoint, any number of other applications as well.

I do have the opportunity to collaborate with my classmates and professors. Again, you can see people from around the world, especially the Delaware Valley and the East Coast, it seems to be skewed that way. And I haven't been able to figure out, is it Delawareans or Delawareans or people from Delaware? Any help there?

We particularly used WebX, which is not sponsored by Drexel in any way. There is a Blackboard collaboration tool which I have used with some success. Luckily, as most of the professionals in the online group, somebody has access to WebX through their profession, through their career. We can come and piggyback on that a little bit. Is that an unfair advantage for certain groups over others? I don't know. I think it probably is. But we're all out there trying to make it. So, we'll grab WebX if we can, Yahoo! Groups as well. Not as successful as maybe it could have been, partially because we're students and we don't have time to really investigate like some professors do, what actually works and doesn't. So, we just grabbed Yahoo! Groups and it didn't really work out. So, then we moved onto something else.

How much of our time is being wasted by this? I don't know. I feel like it's too much. I feel like there's a lot of frustration there because we're going outside of Blackboard. I don't know if there's any Blackboard...

Woman: Why don't any of the faculty members use it?

Mike: I've seen that turned on. I've seen that maybe not turned on. Maybe that's me not seeing it or my group not seeing it or the professor didn't enable that function. In the one case for the group where it wasn't turned on -- I'm relatively new to Blackboard as a student -- and I didn't' even know there would be that option.

Nobody knew this existed. It was the first class we took. Later I did see it and I wondered why it wasn't turned on in the first class. There was no opportunity to see what Blackboard fully had to offer. Maybe it's out there somewhere. I could have read the documentation.

Woman: But it sounds like the faculty weren't getting trained in it. The faculty...

Mike: Correct, yeah.

Woman: So that he or she could facilitate more as a teacher.

Mike: Yeah. And again, that mimics real life or classroom education, where maybe a professor is able to use all the tools in the classroom and maybe not. You know, it's really surprising how much it does mimic that.

I used my cell phone and got walloped with a $160 bill because I guess my plan isn't as good as some others. So there are some hidden costs there maybe. Sunday night, with the discussion boards, it's required most classes, if it's not required, nobody posted, it's a ghost town. Most classes it's required, at least one posting. Some professors don't have a required number.

So maybe you post once and the professor doesn't like that and maybe gives you a slightly lower grade than you thought you should get. Others say you have to post and also respond to somebody. So I try and post early on in the week and do some responses later.

Luckily, I'm not working right now, so I can do this all week and be one of those annoying kids in class, the teacher's pet. When I was working, Sunday and Sunday nights especially, that's almost like when the class meets. And that's when everybody posts on the blackboard, and you really start to see the thread develop at that time.

It's a little unfortunate that it happens that late in the class. But realistically, for a professional to do the reading and really digest the materials through the course of the week, Sunday night is when this is going to happen. Even now I reserve Sundays to be a classroom day, I would consider. Which is especially frustrating when email or the server goes down on Sunday, and who knows if their sysadmins, I'm sure they're working on it, there's probably not the same coverage we would get during the workweek. It's kind of interesting. Sunday night is the classroom sessions.

Here's my discussion experience. When I come in to blackboard, I've already chosen my class and I see this announcement, which there's never really anything there, so it's kind of fun. This is all framed space in 2007, so that's kind of fun too. Now I'm in the discussion board, we can see this search feature at the top, which I've never been able to get it to work, I don't know how this works.

I think everyone's probably upgraded their blackboard installations, as well. I think I'm a good computer user. I've been online for many years. I can't get the search to do what I wanted to do, and I've given up trying essentially. Which is really frustrating because there is an opportunity for me that is pasted, and it takes up a significant amount of real estate.

And now I scroll through and find week six or seven we're in now, and now we have our postings. Everything is great, and I want to see what I'm going to do next and I look here to posts websites to a discussion board. And that's the amount of this real estate of the screen and I want to use right now. I don't have the option to do anything else. What would you consider that? 20% of the screen, if that? And there's no text there, it's essentially useless at this point.

[inaudible question]

Below here, the highlighted part is where I would type in or read somebody's posting. The rest of the screen shows the thread or search for it.

[inaudible question]

There's a discussion going on, about how to address this because there are a lot of people in the same boat. And this word blackboard.com, we don't have a direct sysadmin here that I know of, who can fix this, or do anything with it, blackboard hosts it for us. Again I can still learn, obviously, I enjoy it enough to stop working to go full time. This is something where every day, I have to scroll again. The repetitive nature starts to wear you out.

You brought up a design point, this is an opportunity lost really. I'm taking a web design class right now and if I did this, the professor would give me F. That's just space lost. So again, an opportunity lost. It's particularly galling at Drexel in the Information Sciences to see this. But, blackboard enabled me to get in the online education to start, so I am kind of conflicted. I know behind the scenes, how impossible it is to make of this stuff work. It better work perfectly every time for me, as a student. But as the webmaster before me, I know how hard it is, so I can see both sides.

So outside of blackboard, were talking about multimedia resources, iTunes, podcasting and all this great stuff. So far in my classes, I haven't really had experience with that. I think I've used QuickTime once and one time, real time chat with a professor. And I think we use a phone conferencing thing. UC Berkeley does some things, youtube, wikiversity is out there. There are some other opportunities for professors to post. Within blackboard..a as part of a school or maybe on their own, people could have some opportunities to do multimedia that work.

Now whether or not that would actually prove my education, I don't know. It might be cool. I might love it. And I might think I'm the hottest thing going, because my professor is online in QuickTime window. But I'm learning really well right now, I'm getting the material. So maybe this would just be a distraction, I don't know. So when you're thinking about podcasting, that sort of thing. What we have now is pretty good.

[inaudible question]

One thing would be, if I posted something that was particularly interesting and I went away for a bit. I wouldn't have an opportunity to respond and nobody's ever going to go back to week five now. But again, if you're in a classroom and your three hours are up, maybe you continue it later and maybe you don't.

Here we are with some final thoughts. We can see the numbers, if this is correct, I'm surprised that I read this, there are more online students than actual on-campus students. We can see the growth here. Maybe some of the issues I've brought up, any school that is growing as quickly is going to have, some sort of issues serving their students. That's just the way the nature of the beast is here.

Generally, I feel when I was only online, I can take classes in person as well. I felt like a student, I felt part of the school. IST has done a great job with that. There are some opportunities you don't have as an online student. There are one or two classes I think, that offered where you really need to be in person. You need to have those books that are falling apart, raining dust and mold all over you, you need to have that experience in person. I think there are a couple fellowships or some sort of scholarship study, you wouldn't have an opportunity to get if you are online only.

And then of course the networking and kind of schmoozing with your classmates and professors. You don't have as great an opportunity but you still do get to know some people online.

[inaudible question]

We can see obviously, online education is extremely popular right now. And I expect this trend to continue going up. And hopefully more evangelists will be out there like us sharing are good stories, and not complain too much. So keep doing what you're doing and I thank you for it. Can I answer any questions?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dan King

Link to Screencast

Dan King: Kind of end up being a feed for this session.

This talk is not exactly what my abstract had.

Well normally when you submit an abstract that's relatively close to the talk you expect it to be pretty similar.

But as I was working through just that information from the environmental chemistry course, which is the focus of the abstract. It didn't seem like it was telling enough of the story and I started to look at some of the results from using the same two technologies in a different course and comparing the results from those two courses and that actually seems more interesting.

So, what I'm going to focus on here is looking at technological use inside the classroom and outside the classroom and the relative effectiveness of each.

So, I'm going to focus on two different courses, the first one is chemistry in the environment, an environmental chemistry course, that's the one that's actually mentioned in the abstract. So I'll be talking about data from two different years. This course is taught in the fall, enrolment this past fall was 40 students. The previous fall was 25 students.

The student population for that course are upper level under-graduates and first year graduate students, the primary population the course is designed for environmental science and environmental engineering students. It's required for those two majors. It also has a bunch of other majors and part of that accounts for the fifteen student jump come 2005 to 2006.

Suddenly we're starting to get a bunch of other students, chem majors, some bio majors, civil engineering, chemical engineering, some random students, [inaudible]

The other course I'm going to talk about, a very different course, physical chemistry, junior level class, enrolment about 34 students. I'm only going to give data from that class from one year because that's actually talking their winter term, so I'll do that data from last year, the next year is meeting right now, and in fact I'm missing class right now.

The student population in that class, all under-graduates, chemistry and chemical engineering students. One more comment about the environmental chemistry, the graduate and the under-graduate course actually meet together so they have slightly different requirements, it's a different course number but they do actually meet in the same class room for financial reasons.

Most of the graduate students are working full time so they're students, they're working at a company and they're coming back and getting their masters. So, their chemistry is somewhat suspect, at least they haven't had it for twenty years.

So, discussing two primary technological tools, the first one is in-class and that's the personal response devices or clickers. We'll come to those in just a second. The way I use them in class each student gets assigned a specific clicker, you'll notice on the back there is a number, and so when the students come in there is a list and they find their name on the list and they know what clicker to take.

My clicker questions are integrated throughout the lecture and as the students submit their response it is recorded on my computer and I have those data to work with at different times. I use the same way in both the physical chemistry and the environmental chemistry class.

Outside of class, the technological tool I'll address here is the use of a discussion board on the course management system. We use web-ct so the discussion board is accessible to web-ct which is where the course home page resides.

I encourage them to post anything of interest on the discussion board, it generally slips to just to a discussion of the weekly homework problems. Every once in a while a student will get brave and post some random comment and there will be a little bit of discussion about that. Realistically, the most part is "I'm having a problem, I don't understand how to do number four. Can someone help me out?"

So there are two primary clicker types, IR and RF, InfraRed versus Radio-Frequency. One big difference is the cost, IR are much cheaper, but the RF ones work much better for larger classes.

The IRs require a line of sight, so they work like your TV remote. So each receiver, which receives the signal, can only handle about thirty to eighty clickers per receiver depending on which brand that you purchase. The RF ones, radio-frequency, work more like your garage door opener, you don't need line of sight, and most of those on the market can handle up to a thousand per receiver. When you start submitting your results those all come to a little receiver that is plugged into a USB port on my computer. So, very portable.

Lots of different brands, some publishers have specific preferences that they bundle with textbooks. My choice is turning technologies, I chose that for several different reasons.

So, first question, "Have you ever used clickers in the classroom?"

What you need to do here is just press the number associated with the answer. Either one or two you don't have to click go or login. Just hit the number and it should record. What you see here is I can track how many students are responding, and if I wanted to look at who specifically has responded I can do it that way as well. I can pull up a little grid, so if anyone were to change their answer their box would change color.

So, if anyone wants to change their answer, you can change it back. If I use the grid in class, the first time I do this the colors just go back and forth as students love to play with the colors. Usually after the first few times they tire of that then they just go back to answering the questions.

So, once I'm convinced that everyone, or at least most people have submitted their answer, then I usually have a little ball drop that tells them they've go ten seconds left to submit their response. Then what shows up is a graph, totally anonymous to the other students, none of you now know what four or so of you have used clickers in the classroom, so it gives an anonymity to the students.

I know who has responded what, the devices are recorded, each clicker is assigned to a specific student, so if I want to go back and look at a specific student I can get that information.

So, clicker logistics, where do you get the clickers? Two primary ways, one, you can have the students to purchase them, a lot of textbook companies will bundle them with the textbook, or you can purchase a set for your self. That's what I did, I purchased my own set. The physics department here has purchased the same ones but they bundled it with their system.

So, I purchased it for my own for a couple of different reason, one, because I had the money to do it, and another reason was that I teach one lecture out of a multi-lecture course, all with common-grading. The other lecturers are not using the clickers. I do not feel comfortable asking my students to pay and extra fee to buy just because they happened to sign up for my lecture section.

It's a common course, it's not a separate course, common grading, common exams, everything else. The only thing that would have been different was that they happened to have a free spot in their schedule at eleven o'clock, so I didn't feel right asking them to spend extra money. So what I do is distribute and collect the clickers every day in each class, obviously if the students have their own they can just bring it.

Some of the other things you'll need are a computer and a projector. You need a computer to collect the responses and you need a projector if you want to display it immediately. If you don't want to display it immediately you could just have a computer that collects the data and just write the relevant responses on an overhead. If you wanted to combine that technology you'd have a computer that just collects the data, and then you wouldn't need a projector for that. Then you just look at the screen and then I could have just written on the transcribe screen 79 percent no, 21 percent yes.

In the physical chemistry course I usually have about two questions per 50-minute lecture. In the environmental chemistry course about four quicker questions per three hour lecture although it's really more of a three hour class, I don't actually lecture straight through, they have group activities in the middle, but that's a whole different topic.

So there are, I don't just do these for random purposes or specific learning objectives associated with using the clickers. One of the learning objectives is to test prior knowledge. So I will ask a question at the beginning of class. For example, I may put a question like this for my physical chemistry class. The correct answer here was actually number four. This is information the student should have had from their freshman chemistry class, so I'm really getting a feeling for what do they remember.

So, not only does it tell me that OK two-thirds of my students actually remember some of their general chemistry, but depending on what other options I give them, I can get some additional information. The fact that nobody chose number three means that I don't have to review the fact that to get this answer you don't just add up the numbers in front of each chemical. So that's important information for me, and I can use that as well.

Another learning objective is to test student learning, student understanding of the concept that I've just introduced, so for example, I may ask a question like this, this actually comes from the environmental chemistry class. So this is a question that I ask at the beginning, the correct answer is number two. Only about half of the students knew the answer, and a wide range of responses that I present the lesson, and in the theory at the end of the lesson, if I've done an effective job then everyone should know the answer. I feel lucky here actually most of the students actually got the correct answer at the end.

So, in addition to giving me some information, and often times you will find that this is a very humbling experience, you think you've explained something so eloquently and then you put it back up and you get that first distribution where you get only 50 percent got it right, even though you'll ask if there are any questions, and they say no, yes we understand you perfectly.

But also, this lets the ten percent of students who got it wrong know that they are not up to speed with the rest of their classmates. So the hope is that not only is it information for me, but it's information for the students. Sometimes when they all get it wrong hopefully that's a wakeup call for the students, oh I don't understand that as well as I thought it did.

Man 1: Do they know that you've been tracking individual things?

Dan: I don't mention it explicitly, but if they ask I tell them that I do collect that information although I've never used it and I never, you know it never gets displayed to anyone, but so I don't make a specific announcement, but if they ask, I do tell them.

OK, so we can one of the ways that I've used the clicker is as an assessment tool. Are the students retaining the information? So, here's some exam results from the environmental chemistry class. These are five questions from the mid-term exam. You can see the corresponding percent of how many students got that question right during class.

And then the corresponding question from the mid-term almost all the questions they did significantly better. Number three, they actually did a little bit worse although statistically I'm not sure if that's any different. Number five, I didn't ask a corresponding question in class and it turns out I didn't need to because they all pretty much knew that information. If we looked at the final we pretty much see similar results. So again, not always to 100 percent. So, number two, they didn't do well in class, they did better on the exam but still not perfect. But it does give me a measure of student learning. So it's not only a tool for getting students engaged in the classroom, but I can use it as an assessment tool.

Man 2: Is that the same exact question?

Dan: Sometimes it's the same exact question, and sometimes it's just similar content. In physical chemistry class, I think with this with one actually with physical chemistry, it was the exact same question.

And here you know they really remember those questions, but I'm still not sure what happened with number three [laughing]. So, they got in class, and they lost it for the exam. It's an outlier. So, but you know the clickers won't solve all your problems, but they give you a way to measure your effectiveness. The one thing that I wanted to look at was that could I come up with a correlation between students using the clickers in class, in the classroom, and how they did on the final grade. So what we see here is the y-axis shows the percent of clicker question students answered during the class. Not whether they got it right or wrong, just how many-what percent of students, or what fraction of questions did they answer over the course of the term. As you can see for the physical chemistry class, the reasonable correlation pretty much no correlation with the environmental chemistry since. So, whatever was affecting their final grade, it was not whether or not they used the clickers in the classroom.

Woman 1: I'm curious why just did response rather that success of answer.

Dan: Oh, it's just a matter of you know, time to work out work through the data, so that is an eventual goal to look through that. But some preliminary results I've done a little bit with the physical chemistry class, and I've seen, it's a similar correlation, but not necessarily a huge one.

Woman 1: You'd actually have a Cordeau correlation right? That they learn from the clickers, but cause otherwise it would be pre-knowledge. They already knew it so now they know.

Dan: Right, well I guess it depends on how you set up the correlation. Is it, you know how many students improved, so you can plot it in many different ways. So, it's not always just questions right, it's how many students got it wrong versus how many got it right on the exam. So you can set up little tables to look at that. At our end of term surveys I put some questions on our course evaluations asking students what they thought. So, these were all questions on the end of term evaluations. Clickers, you know maybe more likely in class, more likely to participate, maybe more focused on the lecture helped to improve my understanding, or made attending class more fun. Generally we saw that while physical chemistry students seemed to feel they got more out of using the clickers than the environmental chemistry students which sort of matches with the positive correlation we saw with students actually responding in physical chemistry versus environmental chemistry.

Man 3: Now that more likely to attend class I mean did you compare with the measured. Cause you know right?

Dan: I have not gone back and looked specifically at, well there's now way for me... I can only do percentages and that's a tough thing to measure because more likely to attend class, you know, how do you actually measure whether their likeliness to attend class. So the one thing that I have done is for both these classes, there's a small component of using the clickers in their grade. So, a small part of their participation grade comes from answering seventy-five percent of the questions. Whether they get it right or wrong, it just, if they answer 75 percent of the questions they get a small percentage of their grade.

Woman 2: Did you find out from students how they felt about these new [inaudible]

Dan: In general, those responses are actually a pretty good measure of older students versus younger students because the environmental chemistry class is two-thirds to three-quarters to graduate students. Ok, We're going to talk next about the discussion board, so please answer.


Dan: Ok, so one of the nice things about using the clickers is, because I have this information, I see that 94 percent of you have used some type of course management system. I can now skip these slides.


Dan: Because those were slides to just show you my course website looks like, but since you all use those, you don't need to see that. So the only thing I'm going to show of those slides are the slides that just show you the listing of one week's discussion topics. What you can see, that there are several where there are only a single posting and several have multiple responses. What I'm going to do is look at the average number of postings, the average number of threads, and postings per thread in each class.

Dan: So, for the physical chemistry class, the students are required to post three times over the course of the term, a very minimal posting requirement. The first year that I did it, I did not require anything, and no one posted. It was a desert. So I figured, let me just do something to at least get them started and then hopefully it'll take off, and it turned out for the physical chemistry, it did not really take off at all, so you can see... Average postings per week 11. There are 34 students in the class. So average threads per week 5. Average postings per thread 2. So pretty much, one person posted a question, another person posted an answer, and that was it. So not really much of an extended thing. Average posting per student 3. Course requirement 3.


Dan: However, despite the fact that they spent very little time and did the minimum required to post, they read everybody's post. 104 readings. Now, this isn't broken down, so some of that 104 are people re-reading the same post over and over again. I haven't gone through that would be extremely time intensive for me to look at each student, how many time they read.

Man 1: What's the total number of postings?

Dan: That's not a number I have.


For the environmental chemistry student, similar requirement: basically three postings for the undergraduate, which mirrors, the physical chemistry, five postings for the graduate student, part of the differentiation between the two courses. So, a lot more postings for the environmental chemistry students. The two numbers here are just 2005 versus 2006. You see similar results between the two years. And actually, keep in mind that the average number of postings per week - 34. There's actually 10 fewer students in 2005 than there were in the P. Chem. Class. A lot more different threads, where a thread is each different topic. The threads going for 5, questions in initial posting and four responses. If you look at the results on a student level, average postings per students, we're up to 10. If you break that down, all the undergraduates are still sticking with their required minimum, but the graduate students generally much higher than their minimum, so graduate students really seem to appreciate this technological tool.

Woman 1: Were your undergraduates [inaudible]

Dan: Oh yeah. It was a common discussion board, so they were all reading each others. So again, students reading a lot more than they're posting. So they're not just going in, posting and then getting... So even though the undergraduates are only posting their minimum required, they're also still generally reading and trying to get some information. They're just doing their little amount of initial intellectual thought required. The requirement for the postings was that it had to actually be a complete thought. They couldn't just post, "I agree with so-and-so."

I looked at the correlation between number of postings to the discussion board and the course grade. You see somewhat of a weaker correlation with the physical chemistry, which you would expect since they're not doing it as much, but its still somewhat of an indication of the students that are actively engaged in the material. A little bit better correlation for the environmental chemistry students than we saw for the clicker responses, but still not a great correlation.

I also looked at a correlation between students clicking in class and posting of those students engaged. There's absolutely no correlation in the environmental chemistry, and an in-between correlation between the two, as you might expect.

One way that I use to assess how the students felt about these two technological tools was an online survey known as the SALG Students Assessment Learning Games so it's a survey designed to ask the students to identify the effectiveness of various course aspects on their learning. It's online, its customizable, you can change the questions. It's very accessible, very easy to use. All the questions are set up on a Likert scale, five choices from 'strongly disagree' you know, 'no help' to 'a lot of help', number five.

So I had a list of six different course components for the environmental chemistry class these are the six. I really just want to focus on the two in red: the clickers and the discussion board. What you can see is that the environmental chemistry students thought that the discussion board was really effective. The percentages of the number of percent of students that either four or five they either thought it was helpful or very helpful. And clickers, not as helpful. Not a big surprise. We kind of saw that in the data.

The physical chemistry students same list of six topics. But they really liked the clickers, as we saw from the course evaluation, they did not think the discussion board helped them much at all. Despite the fact that they were reading a lot, they weren't posting and they thought, "Eh, helped a little but not very much."

Student comments: Some of them thought... I'll kind of let you scan through there. "Thought the clickers were beneficial." "Discussion board great." "Discussion board really helpful." This one I really like, "Clickers helped give confidence in class." That's one of the things we hoped to see. Surely that's not the case for all students, but it is one of the hopes of using the clickers, that students who ordinarily wouldn't raise their hand and participate in class, as they start to click and get questions right, then maybe they start to get a little bit more confident. And I do see that to some degree, anecdotally.

So in summary, both clickers and discussion board increased student engagement. Clickers primary used as an assessment tool for student learning, not necessarily a good predictor for student grades, although somewhat of a correlation in physical chemistry class.

Here the clickers were more helpful for student learning in physical chemistry class, as opposed to the discussion board. However, the discussion board seemed to be more effective for the environmental chemistry students. And I think that was in large part due to the fact that you had part-time students, and for the environmental chemistry students, since most of those students are off-campus, the only interaction they had with other students was through the discussion board.

The undergraduates can generally just meet up with each other at any time. They don't need that technological tool to interact.

And that's it.


Dan: Any questions? Yeah.

Woman 1: Just by the names, I would assume that the physical chemists might be more introverted than the environmental chemists. Do you think that might be true?

Dan: I would expect that maybe for the environmental science component of the environmental chemistry class, and some of the environmental policy students that are there. Not necessarily the case for the environmental engineering students in that class, the chemical engineering students in that class. Some of the chemistry students and the chemical engineering were actually in both classes.

So maybe, on an average, slightly more so. But because the environmental chemistry class is so mixed, I don't know that it's specifically...

Woman 1: So, not enough to account for the difference between the discussion boards, which I would think extroverts would like more, and the clickers, which I would think introverts would like more.

Dan: Yeah. I would say probably not a big enough population difference to have spawned that.

Man 2: Are you going to change the way you teach based on the data?

Dan: To some degree, yes. I would say one thing that I can take from this is, if I really want to use the clickers in the environmental chemistry class, then I need to do a better job of that. Because obviously they don't feel that they're getting much effectiveness out of it.

Certainly, on a day to day basis, I do a lot of real time adjusting, just as I did here. I was able to skip those slides. So one of the things that I do is, if I ask a question at the beginning and I'm trying to assess their prior knowledge, then I will sometimes put some slides that I might need. So sometimes I'll ask a question where I'm hoping that they have some prior knowledge before I discuss the next topic. And if they don't have that, then I know I need to review this topic before I go on to the next topic. Otherwise they're going to be lost and I'm just talking to myself for an hour.

Woman 2: Where I work, some people use these for attendance in large classes. And it actually made me start wondering. Your physical chemistry students were all undergrads, right?

Dan: Mm-hm.

Woman 2: Where there was a higher correlation between using the clickers and getting a good grade. Could it possibly have represented students who were actually in class more?

Dan: Oh, absolutely.

Woman 2: OK. I was wondering if attendance was required, or not necessarily.

Dan: Well, the requirement is implicit, not explicit. So they get a small participation grade for answering 75 percent of the questions.

Woman 2: OK. So in fact, it might represent students who are better prepared there.

Dan: Right. Although let me give you one caveat to that.

Woman 2: OK.

Dan: I also used these in my general chemistry class. We have a regular general chemistry sequence, and then we have a trailer sequence for the students that have failed one, or had to take a prep temp course, or transferred in. They're in there for a variety of different reasons. So in the general chemistry, we have multiple sections, so I can't require attendance, because the other lecturers have no way of recording that. So there's no attendance requirement at all for the lectures. Students attend if they want to.

In the trailer course, there's just one lecture. So last year we put, five percent of their course grade is attendance, and you get those points if you answer 75 percent of the questions. You don't have to get them right. You just have to be there and buzz in. So the thought was, oh, I'm going to get all these students in class, and they're going to be engaged, and they're going to do much better. It didn't quite work out that way.

One of the problems that I had was, I had students that were in the class to get their five points. And those were students that actually became somewhat of a disruptive influence, because they didn't want to be there. And ordinarily they wouldn't have been there, and I would have just had the students in class who were paying attention and wanted to be there. So I ended up bringing in some students who shouldn't really have been in the class, and it created a more difficult lecture environment.

And there's also a concern that the information that I get, which is really valuable about do the students understand the information. To some degree that's skewed if you have a bunch of students who are just randomly buzzing in every time they see a question come up, and then going back to their conversation. Because I could think that most of the class doesn't understand what I've just explained, when actually the students that are paying attention do understand. And it was just students that were randomly pressing buttons that skewed, that just pressed number five.

Woman 2: That sounds like a horrible story.

Dan: Well, it's one of the realities of it. So I guess one of the take out messages is that clickers will not solve your problems. They are a tool, as anything else is, and they can solve some aspects and help you do some things better. But just having the clickers is not going to turn your classroom into a wonderful, happy place.

Woman 2: Right. But it just sounds like the students who don't want to come to class and might just come to class for the points, won't really bother to understand the questions and might not even bother to read the exercises. These don't sound like very successful students.

Dan: No, they're not. And you can't make them successful just because you've put a piece of technology in their hands.

Man 3: Have you thought of using the data you collect for mid-semester? Just to see if there are specific students that are always getting questions wrong?

Dan: In my dream world, yes. I have enough time that I can go through the data and I can identify the students that are struggling and call them into my office and say, listen, I noticed that you're struggling, and you're getting all the clicker questions... Right, I wish there was some way I could do that. But this term, I'm teaching two of the general chemistry lecture sections. I have close to 400 students in my class. For me to wade through all of those numbers. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time.

But also, with the 10 week term, it gets very difficult to get that done. But that is my dream to eventually get to the point where I can do that.

Man 3: Do you think that's a shortcoming of the client software? Because I've noticed that the Turning Point software generates really impressive statistics for a single class. It doesn't really seem to have any way to aggregate [inaudible].

Dan: There actually is a way to generate report summaries, where I think you can actually combine them. I have not. Because when I go to generate my reports, I see those options, and I just haven't had a chance to play with it. But I think that that actually is built in, where you can get kind of get some of that aggregate information.

Man 3: The newest generation of their software creates much better reports. [inaudible] I guess you can just go onto Turning and download it.

Dan: Yeah, you can always get the software for free. One of the reasons I went with Turning technology is that their software, in addition to being able to integrate right into PowerPoint, we saw that those data and graphs showed right up. And when I save this file, it's in that file. And in addition to this, this software can use other companies' clickers. So I thought it was a very powerful software tool.


Man 4: Do you want these back?

Dan: Yes, I do want those back. [laughs]

Man 4: I thought that you might.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pritchard and Gall on iTunesU

Link to presentation and podcast

Russ Pritchard: As I've already said, my name is Russ Pritchard, and I'm an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at Philadelphia University. Brian and I today are going to talk a little bit about our implementation of iTunes University, but we have more of a two-pronged attack. I will talk more about the pedagogical aspects, or the aspects we've tried to approach from the cognitive sciences, and why we believe iTunes University fulfills the mission at Philadelphia University.

Brian Gall: And my name is Brian Gall, Instructional Technology Specialist with Philadelphia University. This is one of my charges as the instructional technology specialist, along with Blackboard and faculty development. I'll present the technical aspects of anything from doing your first podcast, all the way to the trials and tribulations of implementing iTunes University.

Russ: As we began a few years ago to decide what technologies we wanted to implement, we decided that we did not want to implement technology for the sake of technology. That is, we want to have a well-thought-out strategy of what we picked and what we implemented, and why we thought it would help us toward performance with respect to the cognitive sciences.

I teach an introductory course called Introduction to Instructional Technology. I've been teaching it now for about six years, and each semester, I ask the group, after the first class, go home, back to your institution, high school or whatever, and take a very quick survey of the uses of instructional technology that you see, and report back on it next week. And every year, I tabulate the data, and I'm not surprised, but they are, at the uses of technology.

Most people are still performing very much the way they once did, say, 25 years ago. Literally, sometimes, dittos. Some people don't know what dittos are, but they are still using those in some cases. But in all the cases, what we found out, is that when they are using technology, it is really at a lower level. And when I ask, "why are you using technology in this fashion?" they really don't know. They're not quite sure why we're implementing a technology that we are.

Brian: In the past, as Russ said, over the past 25 years, technology has definitely blossomed to the point where we can't keep up, in many ways. Schools are still trying to play catch-up, so we have a phrase called "learning from technology." Which basically means we have a lot of tools available to us, our administrators at the K-12 level, and even somewhat our administrators at the university level, is that we've given you all these tools--use them.

So, in the past, we have traditional use of static PowerPoint, just like you're seeing today, so we've really embraced 21st century technology with this. But, the fact is, a lot of the lessons that I see, and I've seen about eight or nine lessons since I started at Philadelphia University, every single professor uses static PowerPoint as his or her only method of technology in the classroom. This is interesting to me.

We use Blackboard to store documents. Most of use know that Blackboard, or any content management system, is more than just a document repository. But our use of Blackboard, and at many other schools, is just to store documents so you don't have to make copies.

Administrative uses. Word to type up business letters, syllabi, and so on. Excel, possibly to keep grades, possibly to keep a department project. But are they teaching with Excel? Are they using it in the classroom? And then, Outlook. Sure, emailing colleagues, and emailing students as well. But using it purely as a flat communications tool.

And then, teaching uses. Electronic grading. Most of our teachers have at least gone on to Excel, or something like Blackboard or GradeQuick or something like that, to keep grades electronically. And hopefully, possibly, grades on the web, as well, in the K-12 area. And, audio and video, we're still showing those videos from the 1980s and 90s, but now, the question is, can we put it on iTunes University so we don't have to show it in class anymore? That's a question I get, and we'll explain that a little bit further.

But basically, what this means is, we're teaching the way we've always taught, but we're just doing it more efficiently. We're not doing it more effectively. We have a lot of money invested in technology, but is it changing the way we're teaching?

Russ: So, when we spoke about this a few years ago, we said we were going to make a conscious decision to move away from teaching from technology to teaching with technology. So, we had to step back and say, what does it mean to teach with instead of from. So we came up with about five guiding principles.

The first one said that when you use technology, does it give you authentic and varied evaluation? Now, evaluation is of course a big topic unto itself, but it says, the professor looks at what they do and evaluates. We're saying, is it authentic, because you're only evaluation from one person. Can we have the peers do it? Can we have other schools do it? Or can we even have people from other countries do it?

We then said, in addition to that, can we have varied practice and assessment? And I think the only study I've ever read that said, absolutely, positively, we know it works, is TOT or time on task. And time on task is a fancy way of saying the amount of practice you give them. But it's not just the amount of practice, it's how varied the practice is. So, we said that, if you're going to implement technology, can you have more practice, more timely practice, and can it be more effective?

Making learning active is a big buzz phrase. But we said, what does active mean? What do you want the student to do to make it active? So we said it must be: investigate, discover, apply, or solve. So when you implement the technology, does it make it active by doing one of those four things?

This idea about making learning active--once again, I tell my teaching classes every year, at the end of the night, if you're more tired than the students, you're doing something wrong. And that begat student-centered responsibility. It says, can we take what I call the locus of responsibility--who's responsible for learning?--and can we push it back on the student? That's what we say about active learning.

This is the one where I'm getting, really, the most resistance. So, when I give them the monkey, they give me the monkey back. They want--I paid my money, therefore, I want you to teach me. But we're constantly pushing for them, saying, you learn yourself, help yourself, guide yourself, collaborate, ultimately, since you were a part of this.

And, our last strategy then said, we form collaboration. We think that the social constructivist model is the way to go, especially at the graduate level. So they learn by collaboration. Certainly, there are lectures. Certainly there are discussions, but they're going to learn by collaboration. So, does the technology we implement help us to collaborate?

Brian: And I'll pay you back on that. Especially at the graduate level, but, coming from a high school environment for the past eight years, this is really K-12 now that they're working together. I taught in a block situation, we had 82-minute classes. Our principal said, day one, every year, if you don't have more than five activities in that class, you're doing something wrong. You're not teaching.

Russ: Yeah.

Brian: So, it even goes all the way up from K-12 to undergraduate, to graduate, with collaboration, and getting people to work together.

Russ: This idea about collaboration, we're talking about, for example, the discussion board. We have a lot of discussions, but a lot of times, it becomes what I call a barfly conversation. Ain't it awful? I've done this. I want to have a discussion, but I want to be informed. I want the technology to say, where do I get information from? Then we'll have discussion, but only after that happens.

The question then becomes, if we decide upon it how then do we teach it of course to the faculty? How do we get them on board?

How do we get the knowledge inside their brains? The issue became what I would call, working on the work of Everett Rogers, how do you get them to adopt the new technology? And so those of you familiar with the management of change know about the work of Everett Rogers, and he said, you got to get the adoption rate up. Because we don't have forever to get them to use the technology or whatever, we'll run out of time.

So, we then decide to use six things that are kind of expounded upon by Rogers, when we go through the training session, one of the first issues we come up with is relative advantage.

So were explaining a technology, we say, here's what you're doing now, here's what you want to move on to possibly. And then decide, why is it better than what we did before?

If the technology advantage is this big, they're not going to do it. It's not worth their time. There's got to be and you've got to teach them the relative advantage to the way we were doing it before. And we'll talk about iTunes in just a few minutes, and we'll say why is it better than Blackboard? And we'll talk about that.

It's got to be compatible with what they currently use, if it's too radically different, it's not that it won't work, they may not adopt it as quickly. It's got to be simple. Everybody here is obviously somewhat technological savvy, and so when we see a new technology we like it, we use it even if we think it doesn't work because we like it. What I like to say is that sometimes we work with, if you'll forgive the phrase, Luddites, which is what I was at one time. They've got to see that it's not that hard to learn. The other day we showed some teachers Movie, they said, this is easy, even I can do it.

They have to be able to try it before they buy it. So in the training sessions we set up, or even within their classroom, is there a way we can say lets give it a trial run, maybe not in training, but in your classroom can someone be there to help you?

Can they see it work? They've got to be able to see the relative advantage, or how they're going to be able to teach better.

And finally, one of my favorites once again is, what we call the channel of communication, who's telling them about it? When they make the decision to adopt or not adopt, we call the persuasion stage, they don't like mass media information, they like information from people they are working with. So we have these small sessions, kind of like what we're doing now, we have a group called TLTR, and it's in that group we discuss it together and say, does it work or doesn't it? If we decide it does, and we get that information from their local channels, they're more likely to adopt.

Brian: And even a big thing like that, faculty involvement from day one, as we all know probably from our positions, is definitely a key. One of the things that I was told when I first started, if you don't get the faculty behind you, don't bother suggesting something new. So it's interesting how you can pull a group of people together, try and get them turned on, but those six things are exactly what, the faculty are not going to listen unless those six things are met with the technology that you are implementing. So one of our solutions with learning web technology, of course, is our installation of iTunes University.

ITunes University is a product that came out from Apple a little over a year ago, in principle. And basically it provides us a place where we can store 500 GB of audio, video and enhanced files. During our session yesterday we were talking about, what if we lower 500 GB? There's nothing from Apple they said they're going to charge, but nobody knows how much. So it's interesting from a big school environment, if you have a lot, like Temple has, like we talked about yesterday, well over a terabyte of information already. So that could be an interesting dynamic.

But the reason they are giving this to Universities free is, and the sales person told me, they hope we buy more products. But yet they also understand the needs of our millennial learners, and seeing how we can present more information to them in an easier way.

So how does it meet our goal?

Russ: So we decide then to try the iTunes University, we look back at its able to do and say how would it fit into either one, or a combination of those five cognitive principles. And we said it gives us authentic demonstration. Meaning that the students can do a pod-cast, an enhanced pod-cast, PDF files, they take it from their place of work and their the ones that build the site, and therefore becomes more authentic.

Now again I'm saying authentic because it comes from real life, true situations were they have to be working.

They also get varied evaluation. And there's a lot of discussion about this role beginning in just a couple of minutes. When it goes into iTunes University, it's open for everyone to see it. So other classes will look at it, of the same section, other schools will look at it within Philadelphia University, and indeed the whole University will look at it. They have an idea then of what other people are doing and they can kind of benchmark themselves against it.

You can do that in Blackboard, but it's not easy, so the relative advantage here that iTunes provides is much greater. It can be active, and so when the information becomes authentic, I can then say to my graduate students, I want you to go into iTunes University and discover this. It's authentic, I know it's up there, it makes it more accurate.

I like the idea of becoming student centered, where students in the classes are then asked to build the content, build and manage the content. Those of us who are working with blackboard know, it is really course centered, and it's really built around what the teacher wants to put up there. This once again shifts the burden back to the student to organize the content, which I like.

And finally, because it's up there for all to see, it's informed collaboration. It forces them to work together, even if it wasn't something that they might have tried before.

Brian: Going back to the student-centered responsibility.

[clears throat]

Excuse me. Faculty can create content and put it up there. They way we've approached this from almost day one, is to come up with activities that teachers can use in their classroom to get students to produce the content. So again, it's one of those things, pod-casting out one more thing from the professor during the day. We put a spin on that by saying let students populate the content, let students share the information, and actually show the professor what they learned in their class.

Of course the faculty perspective is there as well, they can put up things as they see fit. So just a quick demonstration of our installation of iTunes University, I'll show four different examples. One audio, one enhanced, and two vi-casting examples. And I apologize, I didn't bring my speakers with me, but you'll get the idea.

So this is our site, and even before this, what Apple does, we'll get into this a little bit later, but they present us a white store-front, and that's what it is, its an iTunes store. They give us all the code, all the examples and those kind of things. And then depending on who you have on your staff, you need somebody to design the back-end of it. Luckily for us we had an expert programmer that took their code that didn't work and implemented it in for our system. So we were able to do that. I know from looking at the message boards, a lot of universities signed on to the system over six months ago, but are not live as of today. So it's an interesting dynamic that we'll talk about.

And then our PR department designed the actual interface to take advantage of the branding mechanism that you see.

One example that I wanted to show you, our foreign language department up until about three months ago, all of their practice material that went along with their text books, was on a website, that website was only accessible in the learning lab, learning language lab which had six computers. And it was also accessible in the library. But in the library you needed to checkout headphones, and we had four sets of headphones, depending on whether the students brought them or not.

At most ten students at a time could listen to material. They logged onto the website, they found their lesson let's say a Spanish one, lesson five they received 25 links. They would click on a link for the first one, it would download, it would play, they would listen to it. Then they would have to go back to the website, click on another link, download it, listen to it. A lot of steps for them to do.

So the advantage of learning the foreign language material on iTunes, is the fact that a Spanish one student can come in and log on to their course, and they can see all of their lessons, there's five lessons in their text book. And let's say that on lesson one, they can get individual songs, or they can subscribe. And that's really the difference between podcasting and MP3. It's not the fact that you have to have an iPod, because we all know that you don't. I mean, you need some kind of music source, you need iTunes or Windows Media player, Real Player, or WinAmp or something that plays music on your computer.

If they subscribe they're going to get this first song. And once that's downloaded they'll have a link to Spanish one. Then they can check off each song, download them all automatically, and have them on their computer at one time.

A disadvantage of course is that if you click subscribe, you don't get all of them at once, you only get the most recent what they call episode.

But if I put new content under lesson one tomorrow, let's say I'm a teacher and I have a project where my students have to give a one minute presentation on cultures in Spain. They can record that, they can upload it. If I log on as a professor, I'll get all of those presentations automatically. So that's the advantage of anything subscription based, not just iTunes university, but just anything that's a subscription.

And you'll see that you have all the songs here. But if you click on one, you can play it. And we actually made these enhanced by integrating some of the images from the textbook. I had two graduate students working on putting images from the textbook, we have right to do, through the usage from the textbook of different lessons and what they're talking about.

So an audio podcast that was on a website turn into an enhanced podcast instantly. An example of an enhanced podcast and this is actually a project one of our business faculty did, it was a project where students had to collect five images from the Internet, and had to give a two to three minute discussion about either, artificial intelligence, robotics, gaming theory, e-commerce, or something "the future of technology" related.

I'll quickly get this one. You can preview all of these, but unfortunately, with enhanced NVIDIA you won't see images as you preview, you'll only hear the audio. So you ought to download something.

And they use "Garage Band" to produce this, "Garage Band" is the only software that we know of currently that produces enhanced podcasts. And enhanced means audio, video, PowerPoint, JPG, GIF and even PDF documents can be distributed through enhanced podcasts.

And finally, our occupational therapy department has a capstone program where the seniors had to sit down one on one with the patients, a clinician type interview. And they basically asked wrap-up questions in their time with the patient. Previously in the project, they recorded the interviews on their own, they brought in a VHS tape, or a DVD, depending on whether the put it on DVD or not. They took a class to look at all the video tapes, then the next class they peer-reviewed and critiqued and analyzed what the interview style was and what the answering style was. So they could do better interviews in the future. So it's a three process, and additional time outside.

Because of podcasting and iTunes university, we reduced this to no outside time, and only two classes. The professor brought all the students in for a class and videotaped their interviews. The between that day and the next class, they had to log-on to iTunes university, and view five different videos. They had their own presentation style, and then the presentation style for other interviewers. That second class they got together and had a really high-level discussion about how to improve their interviewing techniques.

So where before the third class was just basic technique, they didn't go into anything high-level about how to interview. This enabled them to do higher level type skills.

You'll notice how I am switching around in my library. If you subscribe to a course, it will go in your podcast area. If you get a song or get a movie, it will go into either music or movies. So that's just the way iTunes looks at it.

Man 1: Once you've downloaded the content, will it organize it by the course?

Brian: If you subscribe you have. Here's "Alta 342 lesson one". The thing that's frustrating me right now is the use of tabs. If you use another tab, you have to subscribe to each tab. But if you put everything in one tab, it's too much. Do you know what I mean?

Let me go back to Spanish. By the way, that video was about 400 megabytes for about five minutes, and with iMovie we reduced it to, I believe it was, 24 meg. It looks crystal clear in the iPod.

The different tabs.

Man 1: Oh, I see.

Brian: Yeah, right. We decided to do the tabs because of the amount of content; the Spanish three and four course has 600 files. So just because of the level of content we had to do it in tabs. But it's frustrating too; it takes a little bit away from the user views, being able to do that.

Woman 1: I don't know if I will need 600 files for my course.

Brian: Sure, right. Oh absolutely. But I think that like for early occupational therapy, this is all they're doing in there currently; they can subscribe and get everything.

The thing we talked about also with this is that this is an automatic scaffold in your reading material. The professor is going to pick the five best interviews, no actually, the students pick the best five, and they are going to leave them up there for the next year.

The forty students doing interviews next year are going to be able to see these, and they are going to be able to see what the good techniques are. So year after year after year the skills of your students are just going to increase, hopefully automatically, that may not happen.

Woman 1: Now you said this is student centered, and students can load stuff, this looks to me kind of traditional, you know lesson one, this is what you're supposed to listen to for class...

Brian: Right.

Woman 1: How would students create it? Can they create tabs, you know, are they encouraged to record themselves doing the Spanish lessons? What's the student centered part of that?

Brian: Right, when the faculty representative, when somebody on the faculty asks for a class I ask them a couple questions. Number one, what their course number is, all that administrative stuff. But I'll ask them if they want drop-box access or full editing access. Drop-box access means students can upload their own material, they can upload MP3s, m4as for enhanced, or m4vs for a garage band, for video, for iMovie, and that content will be given to the professor so they can evaluate it. In the interface, they'll be able to listen to the content, approve, or deny. If they give them full editing access, they can just upload content.

So I'm encouraging people to pick one of those two. They say, so why would I want that? And I say, I want your students to be able to contribute to this course And that's how we're approaching our training, by doing that. You don't have to do that, you can keep it completely closed off, for faculty centered. We didn't believe in that when we set this up, but it's a great question.

Man 2: [inaudible question]

Brian: Our particular installation is not publicly accessible. Much to my chagrin. You have to have a Philadelphia University user name and password. I'm hoping within six months I'm able to convince our IT and our administration to. UC Berkley was one of the first schools on iTunes University, they want a public collaboration of iTunes University sites. And they're trying to organize something, I like that, which we'd love to be a part of we're doing a project, hopefully, Russ's department's doing a project with India, be great to share information with them. Currently we don't have that ability.

Man 2: The thing about sharing information is you're putting your knowledge, you're testing your knowledge, and you're vetting what you've done with a wider population. You're going to get feedback that's probably sometimes wrong, and maybe unprofessional, I don't know, but the point is they're going to look at it; they're going to give you ideas. This is good, this is not so good. And that's what we're looking for.

Russ: It is my impression that in terms of the iTunes you service and the contract they are offering these institutions, it is possible to implement your particular iTunes U so that you have both a public area and a private course based areas as well.

Brian: Correct.

Russ: So it's just how your units have implemented, other schools have implemented a more open space versus closed private space.

Brian: Right, there's four levels, one completely open, UC Berkley was completely open, they now have a private side, they actually have a separate installation. You can have public and private within the same. You can have all private, and you can have it to a point were if I'm registered in L342, Spanish 1, only those students see that content, you have to have a full LDAP authentication model, which we don't have.

If you have Blackboard Enterprise, it works seamlessly. Because it just dumps the data from our version of data to Enterprise into the system. We don't have that ability. So we would like that public and private side, if a professor wants to make it private, OK, fine I'll let you do it, but we want the public side too on the same.

Man 1: This had never occurred to me, is there a way to get your data back? Like, say somebody uploaded something and then they loose it, which...

Brian: That's a good question.

Woman 1: Maybe Apple looses it? or...

Brian: Is that what you're saying? Because this is hosted at Apple.

Man 1: No, that's what I mean, since you have no physical control, I guess my question is, if a student, or even a faculty member, uploads something important and then they inadvertently wipe the disk...

Man 3: Where's the backup?

Man 1:...yeah...

Brian: In Cupertino, California. I guess we could travel out there to hound them to do it.

Woman 1: No, in fact I talked to the IT people and said, we're totally responsible for backing it up.

Brian: It's in the contract.

Woman 1: Yeah, they would help us, but obviously since the server is in California, they provide those so you can connect to it so that you could make a backup.

Brian: Right. And you can take it one step further, if you decide to move away from this after two years, eventually, they said by the end of the year, they're going to have a way that you can download all of your course material, directly. It will be a function within the administration section. They promised by the end of the year.

Woman 2: I think I remember this coming out about a year ago, that they were giving this away free to everybody, but that they would encourage you to strongly suggest the student use iPod Nano MP3 players. Can you get around that? Can you use any MP3 player? Because all of those...

Brian: The video, they can use Zune if they have it, I know SanDisk has a video MP3 player. You do need at least a video player to see the enhanced or the video. But we've kept the word iPod out of all, unless we've done raffles as part of PR, we've kept iPod completely out of the terminology. They encourage it of course.

Man 3: But iTunes, you can't, because everybody has to use it then.