Category: College of Arts & Sciences
Fabula Maps is a new tool that allows the easy design of interactive maps. It has already been used by BU faculty in the Art History and Archaeology departments. It is free to explore, so please check out the tool and its gallery of sample maps.
Fabula allows the design of single-author public sites for free; collaborative and private sites require a paid subscription. For this reason, for student-generated map content, we continue to recommend the use of Boston College’s MediaKron tool, which the BU community can access entirely for free through our pilot partnership. (Please contact Amod Lele if you’re interested in MediaKron; you can find his email via Exchange or the BU Directory). If you’re looking to create a map as a reference for your students rather than having them create it with you, have a look at Fabula. To get started, try their first steps guide.
To increase exposure and practice in interpersonal skills, the Geddes Language Center adopted Dill, or “The Digital Language Lab” in the summer of 2014. Classes use Dill for various activities, such as paired conversations, listen and repeat exercises, interpersonal dialogues, oral presentations, and speaking exams all in the effort to increase oral proficiency.
For instructors, the software is very easy to use. As students log in, they appear as an icon on the instructor’s lab controller. Instructors can group students (in pairs, usually) for conversations simply by drawing a line between the students. To make sure students remain on task, instructors can monitor or converse with students by drawing a line between them. Activities can be recorded by the instructor initiating a recording task and assigning it to the class. For individual recordings, students have a recorder with a simple interface. All recordings are saved automatically, and instructors access them via a web interface.
In the Spring 2016 semester to date, 26 instructors representing a number of different foreign languages have brought their classes to the lab to use Dill. Students have reacted positively. Many students prefer being recorded in a booth with a noise isolating headset while speaking instead of having to perform in front of their peers. This allows them to consider their speech instead of possibly being self-conscious, and as a result they tend to generate more speech. Not being able to see the person they are speaking with also allows students to focus on what they’re saying and not their body language.
Registration for BU’s first four MOOCs (massive open online courses) opened on edx.org on 2/25. The four BU courses — Sabermetrics 101 (Andy Andres), War for the Greater Middle East (Andrew Bacevich), The Art of Poetry (Robert Pinsky) & Alien Worlds — join the ranks of those offered by a select group of universities on the Harvard & MIT-founded platform, and hope to appeal to tens of thousands learners around the globe by offering a taste of some of BU’s best.
Supported by BU’s Digital Learning Initiative, MOOCs are a part of a larger campus-wide effort to encourage and support innovative faculty-driven projects in digital learning. As the DLI team wrote in a recent article in InsideHigherEd, now is the time to ask bold questions about the value of residential and online learning, about regional and interdisciplinary pedagogical cooperation, and meaningful metrics about students’ opportunities, agency and resilience in the higher ed ecosystem. It is our hope that MOOCs can be both an active part of and catalyst for engaging with these queries and their complex answers.
Joseph Bizup, Director of BU’s CAS Writing Program, was recently featured in the monthly newsletter for Digication, the ePortfolio software BU uses. We’re including the text of the interview here, by kind permission of Digication:
Professor Joseph Bizup is currently Associate Professor in the Department of English at Boston University, and Assistant Dean and Director of the CAS Writing Program. His outstanding career encompasses distinguished scholarly contributions to literary criticism and rhetorical theory, as well as academic service positions, and writing program administration in some of the country’s most prestigious institutions: Yale University (97-99, 2001-2002), Columbia University (2002-2008), Boston University (2008-present).
Digication Learning Director: Professor Bizup, let’s start by talking a bit about your career’s trajectory. You started as a scholar of Victorian literature, but your research took you close to questions about technology, and the ways in which technology is relevant to human culture more generally. You discussed the often-invoked divide between technology and culture, and explained how the opposition can be dissolved. These questions are more than relevant in the present cultural and educational context. Could you tell our readers how you see the current interplay between technology and culture in general, and especially, what you consider to be the benefits of technology for humanistic education? More
We invite faculty who are interested in COMSOL Multiphysics to a local event and encourage them to share information on this potentially great learning experience with students.
COMSOL is used by to engineers, chemists, physicists, biologists, and anyone else interested in modeling and simulation of real-world multiphysics systems: simulations that involve multiple physical models or multiple simultaneous physical phenomena. More
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.
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.”