Category: General Studies
A group of BU faculty and staff met with students in early May to hear their recommendations on uses of social media in the classroom. The students were all seniors, from COM and Sargent College (previously from CGS). We are summarizing their recommendations here for the wider BU community.
These students recommended not to force particular uses of social media in the class: let students use a closed course Facebook group as they see fit to build community, not grading them on it (or at most grading their participation pass-fail). They also recommended that faculty acknowledge and integrate ongoing current events into their classes, as a way of moving the focus off grades and into applied learning, and that Facebook and Twitter are appropriate platforms for this. For more informal discussions, they preferred closed course Facebook groups to Blackboard discussion forums.
There will likely be another meeting before the summer is out. If you’re interested in attending and have not already been invited to this group, please contact Amod Lele (he can be found via the BU Directory).
North America’s leading association for ePortfolios, AAEEBL (Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning) is holding its 2015 Northeast regional meeting right on the Boston University campus, through the College of General Studies, on March 12. Come and learn about different approaches to ePortfolios in education. If you would like the world to know about your ideas or experiences on ePortfolios, there is even room left for new presentations; the proposal deadline (listed as February 9 on the site) has been extended to February 28. You can find out more and register through the conference website. (There is a registration fee to attend.)
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.
To highlight the best work of their students, the College of General Studies – where all students produce an interdisciplinary ePortfolio as part of their program curriculum – recently introduced an ePortfolio Showcase. Out of over 1000 student ePortfolios, each team of faculty nominated a student that it thought produced the best porfolio. A peer mentor and the assistant dean for interdisciplinary learning selected the winners from among these: three freshmen (Kyle Cowper, Natalie Fritz and Nicole Jefferson) and a sophomore (Nahomi Velasquez). The winners received a $100 gift card from the BU Bookstore. Screenshots of the winners now scroll across the screen of the lobby at CGS, and Nahomi Velasquez’s winning portfolio is available for public viewing on the web.
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.
Across BU, many professors have adopted Digication ePortfolios to make student learning visible. With the help of a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation, the College of General Studies (CGS) has taken the further step of integrating ePortfolios across its entire curriculum, for both freshmen and sophomores. CGS provides students with a two-year interdisciplinary general-education core curriculum from which they may continue into any of BU’s other undergraduate programs. Students’ ePortfolios include work from each of their CGS classes in different academic disciplines. This makes it easier for them to integrate their learning and create the interdisciplinary reflections that put their work together across different fields.
CGS’s ePortfolio program also facilitates assessment at the program level. CGS uses ePortfolios to assess students according to a rubric, based on models developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The College assesses its students’ progress in seven areas: (1) written and oral communication, (2) analysis and documentation of sources, (3) awareness of historic and cultural contexts, (4) understanding of rhetorical and aesthetic conventions, (5) critical thinking and perspective-taking, (6) quantitative skills, and (7) integrative and applied learning. The portfolio-based assessment process provides both quantitative and qualitative data, offering richer and more nuanced pictures of student progress than standardized tests could.