Academic Technology Blogs
These are the combined posts of the Academic Technology Staff Blog, where AT staff members post thoughts and ideas about educational technology, and the Learn@UW Madison Blog, where members of the Learn@UW Madison team post tips and ideas for using Learn@UW, our course management system.
UW System president Kevin Reilly recently announced his plan for the UW System schools to produce more graduates. A part of this plan promised to embrace new course delivery methods. While this is not limited to methods involving technology, we wanted to share some of the technologies we have been experimenting with here at Academic Technology. While some are not quite ready for wide release, we are hopeful that the following areas will meet the demands of this plan.
- Adobe Connect: This web-based tool allows instructors to hold live interactive web meetings, virtual classes, on-demand presentations, and to facilitate group collaboration. Connect is already available for instructor use.
- Course Management System (Learn@UW): usage of the CMS continues to climb as instructors blend face-to-face with online materials, as well as fully online teaching. The system will be upgraded at a yet-to-be-determined date, and will include a "course design accelerator" to help instructors plan and implement online course materials.
- Engage Grants: Applications are now open for the Digital Media Assignments award, which attempts to move some of the creation of course content into the hands of students. Find out more about how we can help you create assignments in which students demonstrate their learning of course content through the creation of multimedia learning objects using such formats as video, audio, still images and text.
- Collaborative group work: As a result of Engage grant-sponsored research in collaborative group work, a variety of resources are availble to help instructors with planning both the pedagogy and technology of having students work in groups.
- ePortfolio pilot: We are currently in the midst of a pilot of an ePortfolio system that is fully integrated into Learn@UW. The tool allows students to upload, gather, and reflect on objects from any of their courses or UW experience, and to then share them with instructors or the world. Watch a brief demo to find out more.
- Other exploratory projects: Along with other campus partners, our staff are exploring the integration of classroom technology with Apple's Podcast Producer to record and distribute lectures from general assignment classrooms. We are also working with partners to explore potential solutions for easy online personal publishing. Both are farther out on the horizon, but may offer great new ways for delivering course content to students and fostering interaction around those materials.
Are you experimenting with new course delivery methods? Let us know in the comments!
Adobe recently released a mobile iPhone application to support Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro. In this post I'll provide a brief overview of the application's major features highlighting a few resources to get you started.
- Immediate access to Adobe Connect meetings (hosted on PCs, Macs, and Linux)
- Real-time presenter webcam video from unlimited streams
- Screen sharing demonstrations (resizable via iPhone multi-touch)
- Slide shows (resizable via iPhone multi-touch)
- Attendee list (with roles and permissions)
- Send and receive text chats
First Monday, a peer reviewed web-based journal, recently published an article on "How today's college students use Wikipedia for course-related research." The major findings were:
Far more students, than not, used Wikipedia. Wikipedia was used in addition to a small set of other commonly used information resources at the beginning of the research process.
Reasons for using Wikipedia were diverse: Wikipedia provided students with a summary about a topic, the meaning of related terms, and also got students started on their research and offered a usable interface.
Respondents who were majoring in architecture, engineering, or the sciences were more likely to use Wikipedia than respondents in other majors.
Perhaps surprisingly, students use Wikipedia in a reasonable way--as an overview near the beginning of the research process. While an encyclopedia might be an obvious alternative, students likely turn to Wikipedia because of easy access, the breadth of topics, and for the recency of the information contained in articles (the authors call this the "4 'c's" of currency, coverage, comprehensibility, and convenience).
The author's conclusion that "today’s students appear to negotiate the accuracy of Wikipedia content, rather than assume it" should give instructors some encouragement that (most) students understand where a resource like this fits in the research process.
Books in the Age of the iPad, by Craig Mod, is perhaps the most beautiful and thoughtful post I've read in years. In it, Mod argues that the iPad is a universal container for rich media and what he calls "well-formed content"— I'll let you read the article (you should) to understand what he means. He notes that the iPad might minimize the production, distribution, and consumption of the printed book, saving significant resources. The iPad also "brings the excellent text readability of the iPhone/Kindle to a larger canvas. It combines the intimacy and comfort of reading on those devices with a canvas both large enough and versatile enough to allow for well considered layouts" — although it will also serve as a catchall basin for "disposable books" (those not really worthy of quality printing). He proposes the following for The Books We Make (i.e. those worthy of the traditional book format):
- The Books We Make embrace their physicality — working in concert with the content to illuminate the narrative.
- The Books We Make are confident in form and usage of material.
- The Books We Make exploit the advantages of print.
- The Books We Make are built to last
The article is, again, worth the read.