Category: Type of Post
The EdTech Blog now has a Facebook page as well as our Twitter feed. New posts are now automatically pushed to both these pages, so you can keep up with the blog via your preferred social media site. And you can still get our posts in your email inbox or on an RSS feed, as before. There are now lots of ways to keep up with educational technology at BU.
In addition, we now have Share This options at the bottom of every post, so if you’re excited about a particular new edtech development you can share it on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or by print or email.
Thought about assigning film as course material? It can be easier than ever now – Boston University Libraries offer more than 15,000 films online via the Kanopy streaming video service. Titles cover a wide gamut of educational, documentary, and old and newer Hollywood films. Over one hundred providers include the widely used Media Education Foundation, covering many disciplines, and the Criterion Collection, for film studies. Individual titles, such as Race – The Power of an Illusion, can be found using BU Libraries Search.
With your own account in Kanopy you can identify favorites and create short clips to embed in your Blackboard Learn or other course site. Explore available content and/or contact staff in Krasker Film/Video Services for assistance by email at email@example.com, by calling (617) 353-8112, or by visiting them in Mugar Library, basement level.
The BU Digital Learning Initiative has recently posted helpful guidelines about scripting videos for a MOOC (massive open online course). The guidelines may be of help for any use of prerecorded video in a teaching context, such as a “flipped” classroom. The infographic below identifies the multiple steps of the process.
The makers of Lucidchart have introduced a graphic-design app called Lucidpress. It allows easy, attractive design and layout of both print and online materials, easily shared through social media. since it is cloud-based, it works on Windows, Mac and other platforms. It is currently available to BU users free of charge through your BU Google accounts. Find out more through Lucidpress’s tour and use your BU Google account to sign up.
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.
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).
NVivo has released new versions of its Windows and Mac software, with features likely to be of interest to the BU community.
NVivo for Windows now allows you to import Qualtrics surveys as datasets and auto-code them, allowing a deep integration between BU’s data-collection and data-analysis tools. The NVivo help system has instructions to import from Qualtrics.
Both the Windows and Mac versions now support a new feature called Explore Diagrams, which automatically generates mind maps by showing you all the nodes whose coding is connected to any given node. Instructions for Mac and for Windows are available through the NVivo website.
Members of the BU community can download the upgraded version for free from within NVivo or from TechWeb.
As the academic year closes, it’s time to sharpen the saw, reconnect with colleagues, and network with our BU community and education vendors at the 11th Annual BUMC McCahan Education Day on May 25th. This year’s theme is Interactive Learning and we have a charismatic keynote speaker, Dr. Colin Montpetit visiting from the University of Ottawa. He will model our theme and speak about his experience transforming his teaching style from a ‘sage on the stage’ lecturer to an engaging facilitator. The day includes workshops, lunch, vendor networking time, a Medical Campus Deans’ Panel on Innovations in Teaching, a poster session, awards and oral presentations. Register for the entire day or just part of it. Check out this year’s Schedule of Events. The event will be held in the Hiebert Lounge on the 14th floor of the School of Medicine Instructional Building at 72 East Concord Street (just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the BUS stop on Albany Street) and it runs 8am-3:30pm. Registration is now open for BU faculty, staff, and students. We hope to see you there.
Do you currently use the discussion board tool in Blackboard? If so, you may be looking for ways to increase student engagement and participation inside your discussion forums. A common complaint about discussion boards is that unless they are graded or required by the instructor, students do not want to participate. The conversations between students are full of flattery and follow the leader, and often lack the depth that is found in the face-to-face classroom environment.
One possible solution is through the use of YouTube video postings to the discussion board in place of the traditional text responses. To set this up, students will need to create their own YouTube channel using a Google Account. Luckily, anyone can create a Gmail account or for added features, BU students and faculty are also able to set up Google Apps for Education accounts through BU: (http://www.bu.edu/tech/support/google/).
Once a YouTube channel is created, students can upload their video from either a smartphone or computer to their YouTube channel and copy the video’s Share URL into the Blackboard discussion board thread by clicking on the “Insert/Edit Embedded Media” button. Students who are concerned about posting personal information on YouTube have the option of saving videos as “unlisted.”
Not all scientists must also be expert computer programmers, but basic knowledge of programming fundamentals can be an important tool in your professional toolbox. The ability to automate repetitive tasks and to modify or create simple programs is a major boon in terms of research productivity and creativity. Here at BU, Research Computing Services (RCS) offers a regular series of scientific computing tutorials to help researchers get up and running. While these tutorials work well for many researchers, some may benefit from a more comprehensive approach. To meet this need, RCS is currently exploring offering Software Carpentry workshops.
Software Carpentry is a non-profit that supports teaching basic programming to early-career scientists through 2-day workshops. The goal of these workshops is to provide programming tools that are immediately useful, and an introduction to best-practices (or just good-enough practices) in scientific computing. For some researchers, a Software Carpentry workshop can be a “one stop shop” to learn enough programming to further their research. For others, it can be an entry point to a deeper study of scientific computing.
A typical workshop includes lessons on the Unix shell, programming in a popular scientific programming language (e.g. Python, R, or MATLAB), and version-control and collaboration using Git and Github. Instructors strive to make their teaching highly interactive, leaning heavily on live-coding and hands-on exercise as opposed to lecture. The lessons themselves are developed and improved by a large community of instructors. All of the lessons are shared on Github and anyone can suggest a modification. After thousands of revisions from hundreds of contributors, the lesson plans are highly polished and anticipate many common misunderstandings.
Back to BU, Research Computing Services recently hosted a Software Carpentry Instructor Training workshop, and anticipates hosting our first Software Carpentry workshop this coming summer. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in attending or hosting a workshop.