BU has made the core set of Google Apps available to faculty and students for classroom use. Among the apps with the most educational promise are: Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), which allows easy commenting on student papers and collaboration work among students; Google Forms, which provides a quick way to solicit and tabulate student feedback; and Appointment Slots, an easy way to schedule office hours with students. All BU students have their email accounts through Google, so they are all able to use any of these tools without having to sign up for any additional services.
Because BU has a service agreement with Google, comments and grades on student papers can be provided in BU Google Apps without violating FERPA policy. (Commenting on student work through unsupported third-party services, like Dropbox, is usually illegal under FERPA.) To make sure you stay within FERPA guidelines, we highly recommend that you create a BU Google account to use Google Apps for educational purposes (rather than a personal Google/Gmail account). To create one, go to our account creation page and follow the instructions. You can log into this account by entering your BU email address as a username and not entering a password; Google will redirect you to the regular BU Kerberos login screen.
When you’re logged into a Google Account, you can access Google Drive via the Drive button in the black toolbar at the top of the screen. From Google Drive, the “Create” button will allow you to create forms. To use Appointment Slots, follow the instructions here: go to Google Calendar in your BU account, click on an empty space and click on Appointment Slots.
CEIT has now posted its list of Teaching Talks and Teaching Tech Talks scheduled throughout the Spring 2013 semester. The talks are scheduled on various dates and times to make it possible for faculty to explore some talks whatever their schedule. Some scheduled talks with an emphasis on new technologies include:
Databases for non-majors (Jan. 10)
The top 5 things faculty need to know about Blackboard Learn (Jan. 10)
Read & Write Gold (Feb. 6)
Flipped classroom and Echo360 (Feb. 13)
Collaboration tools in Blackboard Learn (Feb. 20)
iPad applications in the classroom (Feb. 25)
Google Apps in your classroom (Feb. 25)
Increasing instructional interactivity with clickers (Mar. 19)
Virtual student exchanges (Apr. 3)
High-tech cheating (Apr. 3)
How to use ePortfolios (Apr. 5)
Making grading easier and more transparent with rubrics in Blackboard Learn (Apr. 11)
Dimensions of online courses and student perceptions (Apr. 17)
In his course on investments, management professor Zvi Bodie uses student-created blogs. Students are grouped into teams, with each team creating a blog of its own. The blogs allow students to report quickly on current events in the world of finance, which the course teaches them to analyze. Student teams have made their blogs publicly available and some of them can be viewed here and here.
Prof. Bodie’s students use Google’s free blogging software, Blogger (which provides URLs in the blogspot.com domain). Similar (BU-supported) student blog functions will be available in the new Blackboard Learn system (aka Blackboard 9.1), available now to faculty wishing to use it in Spring 2012 courses.
Professors in several departments at BU (including Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering) often use the free social discussion tool Piazza in their courses. Piazza is free, and allows threaded discussions to happen in a user-friendly way. Students in these courses are encouraged to post their course-related questions on Piazza, significantly reducing emails that are directed to the course staff. Questions posted on Piazza are then answered by the course staff, or, in many cases, by other students. Questions posed in these courses have ranged from logistical issues (“Which lab are we doing this week?”) to conceptual issues from students grappling with the material (“I tried solving problem 3 this way, but it didn’t work – can someone point me in the right direction?”) The latter are particularly good at drawing multiple students into the discussion.
Piazza can help you keep on top of what’s going on in your course, while at the same time reducing the amount of time you spend responding to students over email. Piazza posts can be read on the web site, whose features make it easy to see which posts need an instructor’s attention. They can also be viewed and responded to through the Piazza app on your favorite mobile device. You can also choose to get updates from Piazza via email. BU IS&T does not offer support for Piazza, but it is an interesting option for professors who feel comfortable exploring free online teaching tools.
Today’s issue of BU Today features an article highlighting Read & Write GOLD, literacy software that helps students with reading, writing, research, and organization. The software is available to the BU community for free download via TechWeb. It is especially helpful for students with learning disabilities but can be useful for anyone, especially in language-learning classes. See the article for more about how BU got Read & Write GOLD and what it can do for students.
At the top of the e-Portfolios page in Digication, you’ll find a row of boxes labelled “Featured e-Portfolios”. These are portfolios we have selected as strong and effective examples of what ePortfolios can do. As well as the portfolio about portfolios, they have so far included a professional portfolio from a Sargent College student, an interdisciplinary portfolio from a CGS student, and portfolios for teaching purposes from SED’s Colby Young and the School of Public Health’s James Wolff.
Today, we’re adding a newly featured portfolio from Winnie Hsieh, created for a CAS Writing Program course. Many courses in the Writing Program use ePortfolios to allow students to view their writing over the course of the semester and reflect on it. Hsieh’s course section involved writing three papers and scaffolding the working process of writing each paper. In her illustrated portfolio you can find her reflecting on the process of becoming a successful writer.
In the 2012-13 academic year, BU has joined an exciting partnership with Boston College to pilot MediaKron, a new tool for maps and timelines. BC has been using MediaKron in its own courses for a few years, but this year it has chosen a few select institutions to pilot MediaKron for wider adoption, and BU is among them. BU faculty already using MediaKron in the fall pilot include International Relations professor Andrew Bacevich, in his Honors College course “War for the Greater Middle East,” and School of Theology professor Christopher Evans, who is using it now for a graduate course on American church history and will be using it in the spring for an undergraduate survey course on American religious history. In the spring they will be newly joined by Writing Program instructor Gwen Kordonowy, who will use it to map out student-created content for her writing course “Literature and Art of the Depression Era.”
Ever wondered about additional features in Word or PowerPoint but weren’t sure where to turn? Online training about Microsoft products is available to all BU faculty and staff. Learn more about this training at www.bu.edu/tech/training/online/microsoft/
Professors are often reluctant to introduce active learning in class for fear that they will not have time to cover the content. In his Introduction to Epidemiology class, Wayne LaMorte has used online technology to flip the classroom. His course website consists of learning modules, including video, for students to absorb content outside of class time, taking a “pre-quiz” to demonstrate they have retained the content. This process freed up classroom time to explore more complicated topics in greater detail: class time could be spent on discussion of controversies and problem-solving (both individual and team-based). After class, students would then take a more detailed “post-test”.
Students reacted with enthusiasm. 98% of the students “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the online modules were a significant aid to teaching. Their comments included: “Given that I had already taken more advanced epidemiology courses, my main engagement with the course was through the online modules. This provided an excellent way to accommodate people with different levels of experience who could learn at different speeds.” “Did not find I needed to use the textbook. The online modules were more than enough to understand the material.”
Prof. LaMorte developed the online modules using SoftChalk software. SoftChalk is currently being offered to School of Public Health faculty through the Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology. Faculty. Faculty at other schools may be able to take a similar approach using other available technologies such as Echo360, Digication and Blackboard.
Welcome back to BU! The fall semester is in full swing, and we are working in many ways to help you with technology in your teaching. We have partnered with the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching on their newly expanded list of Teaching Talks, which are now each paired with a Teaching Tech Talk. These seminars are excellent places to think about enhancing your teaching and the role can technology can play in the process. We will kick off the series on September 18. CEIT will present a Teaching Talk by Domenic Screnci at 10:30 on instructional design, followed by a Teaching Tech Talk at noon introducing new technologies and our educational technology team. This will be a great opportunity to discover new technologies you might not have known about, and think about how they can make your teaching more effective. You can register for this talk and others now. You can also see a complete list of our packed schedule of Teaching Talks and Teaching Tech Talks for the fall.