Teaching with Tech Tip: Making Slides Quickly

Now that I’ve been back in the classroom for a little while, I’m starting to collect various tips and tricks for preparing my course materials. I teach Japanese to high schoolers in the upper mid-west, so I don’t really have my pick of ready-made curricular materials.  I generally make my own versions of activities even when I find that someone else has posted something useful. So I do a LOT of material creation!

Thus, I’m starting a new segment to my very sparse blog: Teaching with Tech Tips.  These are little tricks that I’ve found along the way to help me make materials faster and with fewer clicks.  As I come up with more of them, I’ll try to write about it quickly to share with the world.  I have no doubt that many other people have found these tricks, too.  But they were new to me, so they might also be new to others!

Continue reading Teaching with Tech Tip: Making Slides Quickly

Expanding faculty support with Academic Technology Student Assistants

**cross-posted on Carly’s blog**

I was in a conference session recently when the topic of using student workers to provide instructional support of faculty was raised as a tangent to how to engage faculty in technology training and instructional design. I was surprised to hear that many in the room felt that it was inappropriate to have students supporting faculty in the use of the LMS or other curricular technologies. This is completely counter to how we’ve been providing curricular and technical support at Carleton, so I thought I would write about how we do it and why.

 

Why have student workers supporting faculty?

The immediate reason is obvious: we can’t do it all alone! Most of us in the field of instructional technology have more than enough to do, learn and keep up with, so the chance to get a little help along the way is gold. This is especially true when you have big initiatives, such as switching your LMS or implementing a new tool. But if all I did was hire students to do the many boring or mundane tasks that I don’t want to or have time to do, there would be little else to write.

A big consideration when I’m hiring students is what the student is going to get out of working in the Academic Technology office. I want them to be excited about the work we are doing and learn as much as they can on the job. And I want them to be able to have several new skills they can add to their resume when they start to pursue internships or jobs after graduation. Hiring students in our office is as much for them as it is for us.

Because of this, I look for very specific things when hiring students. First, I look for students who are personable and comfortable talking with staff and or faculty. I look for some background in technology, but it’s not as important as the people skills.  Tech can be taught and changes so quickly anyway, it’s much harder to teach people skills. I also look for students who are excited to learn new technology or just learn new things in general. I have found that if I find students who fit this bill they are able to get a lot of working in our office.

The Hiring Process

One of the most important skills that our student workers need to have or develop is the ability to figure out the answer to a question. I also feel that understanding how a shared calendaring system works is just a basic life skill at this point. So in my job ad, I ask the students to email me a resume and make a 20-min appointment on my calendar. I also send them the Google help pages if they don’t know how to propose a meeting in Google. If a student can’t figure out how to propose a meeting time with documentation, they may not be well-suited to working in our office. So that usually only gives me a short list of students to interview.

During the interview, I ask them why they are interested in working Academic Technology and about their own academic or personal interests. I ask them to describe a time that they had to teach or tutor someone in something difficult, and then listen to how they describe the interaction.  Are they being derogatory or mean about the person they were teaching? Are they able to name some issues pertinent to training adults? Do they mention any particular teaching strategies that also work well when working with faculty?

Student Training

Once I hire a student, I try to make sure I spend a lot of time with them at a few points early in their work in our department. My primary job is to support the faculty in their use of the LMS. So we get some questions how to do this or that, or what module is the right one to use for their activity. So I make all first-term students learn how to edit a page in our LMS. Because I have a primary goal of making sure they know how to find answers when they don’t have them, I don’t actually train them. I give them a blank site, a sample syllabus, and then point them at the documentation.  I also make it clear to them why I am making them learn on their own. I want them to know that their goal should be to get better at finding answers.

Once they have the LMS down, I try to get them involved in a project. I rarely have one lined up for them from the get-go, but I usually don’t have much trouble coming up with something for them to do. If it happens to be related to their academic interests, that’s a double win.  But they know that they won’t always get to do that.

I also focus on making sure they have good customer service skills. I teach them how to answer the phone and invite the caller to ask their question. I tell them how to address people who just wander into our office. I also teach them how to write polite and informative responses in our ticketing system to faculty. These skills will be valuable to the students no matter what industry to go into, and I make sure they know that, as well.

Finally, I talk to them about boundaries. We don’t have graduate students at our institution, so we have undergraduate students who are potentially sitting down with faculty to help them use some technology.  There is an inherent power relationship there that does not work in the favor of the student. We are very small, the chances that this student either will or currently is in a class taught by that professor is quite high. And I know that all faculty have only the best intentions when working with students, but sometimes they end up unintentionally using that power position to get the student to do more than they should be doing. I have never met anyone who did this on purpose, but having a student there who you know can just do what you need done for you is so very tantalizing! After explaining this to the student, I tell them that if ever they are asked to do something that is outside of the work they should be doing then they can say “Carly won’t let me do that.” or “I have to check with my supervisor first.”  I essentially let them have me take the blame. Almost every student who has worked for me has come back to say that this was very important to them at some point. They all appreciate the feeling that I have their back, and that helps them to learn that boundaries are important.

The Results

The results have been amazing. I have had numerous years of excellent student workers who have been invaluable in helping our office to support the faculty.  They have taken on the bulks of answering or triaging technical how-to questions, and successfully escalate to professional staff as needed. Many of my students who came in with no particular interest in technology, have gone on to take CS courses because they were no longer as afraid of programming as they had been before working on our office.

Faculty have also reported that most of our students have been wonderful to work with. I have had faculty come to our offices and tell me that they don’t want to talk to me, but want to speak with one of my student workers about their question. And faculty who have gotten the help they need from our student workers are often repeat customers.

I have had student workers that have gone on to do amazing things! They work in high-security computing, are doing graduate research in labs, going to medical school, pursuing their PhD in Computer Science, and more. I have written letters of recommendation for so many of them and helped them get some of these positions, but mostly they have been successful because of how awesome they are to begin with.

Working with students is one of my favorite parts of my job. I love introducing them to new and creative uses of technology.  I love seeing them get excited about education + technology, and watched so many of them grow into confident people when they started out super shy. It’s been a wonderfully rewarding part of working at a small college.

I hope this post has been helpful. I’m happy to answer any questions about how I work with student workers any time!

2019 LACOL Language Instruction Jam

Carly wearing a red shirt and gold necklace, gesturing while giving a talk. Carly Born (with Chico Zimmerman and Clara Hardy) recently participated in LACOL’s 2019 Language Jam hosted at Bryn Mawr College. 26 faculty and technologists from across the consortium attended.

The weekend centered on the CHIANTI project: a repository-like site for assignments and materials for instructors to share and use in their own classes, and a resource for students to complete tutorials on specific content areas in which they need extra help. Additionally, Carly shared an update on the development of the Language Dashboard Report, which is a Moodle report plugin intended to give faculty granular information on student performance on language placement tests, and Language Lesson. For more information on the projects demonstrated or on the Language Jam overall, please feel free to contact Carly (cborn@carleton.edu)! 

 

Carly Born Presents at CALICO 2018!

Carly presents at the Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) 2018’s Technology Showcase on Language Lesson for Speaking Exercises on Thursday, May 31!

Abstract:

Language Lesson is a stand-alone tool designed to facilitate student recording exericses, such as elicited imitation tasks, scaffolded dialog practice or fluency exercises. This tool allows instructors to leave text or oral feedback for students at specific points in student recordings, providing contextualized corrective feedback on students’ speaking. In our current research we are investigating Natural Language Processing technology to faciliate evaluation of student recordings for placement or proficiency assessments. Language Lesson will be released as an open-source project in the Summer of 2018.

Carly’s Spring 2018 Update

This term I’m looking forward to more sunshine and outdoor running! But I’m also looking forward to the data collection phase for a few of my research projects. I’ve got quite a busy term ahead of me!

I’m working with Asuka Sango (Religion) on implementing some gamification techniques into her Zen Buddhism course. The goals of this project are to provide students with a positive reinforcement model for participation in good study behaviors and optional components in her course. While research suggests that gamification works well, it will be interesting to see what we can learn about the efficacy of gamification in a small humanities course.

I’m also stepping up my work with Language Lesson, a software that I designed as a practice tool for foreign language speaking exercises. This year I’m delving deep into the field of acoustic phonetics and digital signal processing to try to introduce intelligent features based on second language acquisition research. I will be presenting on the development of Language Lesson and the implementation of pitch graph display at the next CALICO conference in late May.

On this project, I’m collaborating with Andrew Wilson, who is helping to manage a team of student developers to realize this project. I’m excited that these students are getting some practice with software development and experience with tools used in industry.

Amongst all of this, I’m also traveling to Japan in April to participate in the International Kyudo Federation’s International Kyudo Seminar and Shinsa (rank examination). I’ll be learning, taking a rank examination and volunteering as an interpreter. It’s going to be an exhausting trip, but I appreciate the opportunity to visit Japan and make use of my language skills to help others learn.

Carly Born presents at ELI 2018!

Carly answers questions at a poster session; man in suit jacket with back to camera gestures at a series of visualizations on the poster.

Carly recently presented a poster at the Educause Learning Initiative’s Annual Meeting with Liz Evans, Director of the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning (LACOL), titled “Collaboration Towards a Diagnostic and Refresher Framework for Language Learning in the Liberal Arts.“.

Carly also wrote up one particularly interesting session. See the excerpt below and read the full post on her blog, The Space Between!

My favorite talk in this area was given by Joel Smith and Lauren Herckis from Carnegie Mellon University on their 2-year ethnographic study of the barriers and facilitators to implementing educational technologies. For this study, Lauren Herckis (an anthropologist) followed 4 projects implementing new technology in some way for 2 years, with the goal of identifying “the barriers and facilitators to implementing educational technologies and best practices in teaching.” (Smith and Herckis, 2018, Slide 3)

New in Moodle!

Carly has done her yearly recap of new Moodle features heading into the academic year. There’s lots of great info and new avenues for support. Also, learning strategy consultations with Carly (cborn@carleton.edu) are also available for when you are looking for advice on the best way to achieve your student learning goals. She can be reached via email, telephone or you can sign up for her office hours in Google Calendar.

Sign up for a Moodle Bootcamp!

We are offering 2 5-day long Moodle workshops this August! Each workshop runs 12:30-3:30p, and box lunches and snacks will be provided.

August 14-18:

Efficiency: essentially how to make the most of Moodle. Read more about the Moodle Efficiency bootcamp and sign-up!

August 21-25:

Research-backed uses: uses of Moodle that are supported by recent research, and discuss how they can be adapted for our face-to-face classes. Read more about the Research-backed Moodle uses bootcamp and sign-up!

New [un]workshop: Preparing for Learning to Happen During Class

roadside with the words "are you ready?" against blurry landscape background

About this [un]workshop:

Class time is precious and often we want to use it to hear from students, push content to them, and practice them in ways of thinking and doing. That’s a tall order! And even taller when students show up for any given class with varying levels of preparedness. In this session, we’ll showcase some instructional technologies that can–with minimal impact on instructor resources–that help students get ready for your class.

Dates + times:

April 27: 3-4p, Olin 141

May 17: 3-4p, Leighton 426