Category: Case Studies
BU mechanical engineering professor Lorena Barba has used several new technologies to transform the classroom experience, integrating iTunes, digital inking, screen casting, and blogging. Her classes often “flip” the classroom – that is, they deliver course content outside of class and refocus in-classroom time on discussion and activity – and allow a blended learning experience, where discussion and activity also happens on the Internet as well as in class.
Using a USB connected graphical tablet and her laptop, Barba was able to annotate her Keynote & Powerpoint slides to derive, in real time, solutions to complex mathematical operations. Further, using a screen capture application and a simple microphone, she recorded the lectures which were then posted for download through iTunes. Lectures for Fluid Mechanics (ME303), Bio-aerial Locomotion (EK131/132), and Computation Fluid Dynamics (ME702) can be subscribed to and downloaded from Boston University’s iTunes U page via iTunes or the iTunes U mobile app. Barba’s innovative courses were recognized among the Top 30 iTunes U Engineering Courses by the Degree Central (2010). Some of her courses have student blogs that allow dialogue about the course materials, screencasts, and Skype interviews.
At the First Annual Instructional Innovation Conference, Barba presented a paper describing the technology and techniques used for Digital Inking and Lecture Screencasts, which can be watched via screencast on YouTube. More information about Barba can be found via her people site, her research group, and at the BU:ENG-Mechanical Engineering website.
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.