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!

Demystifying project communications for students (part 2)

kermit the frog looks at screen of Mac laptop

**crossposted from Celeste’s blog**

This post expands on my previous post about some of the basics of project communications, with the idea that these can be helpful references for students who are new to doing project/community/client work. In this post, I want to talk a bit more about time (which makes my historian heart happy!) and managing expectations.

The obvious: people are busy. People lead complex lives. It’s incredibly rare that anyone has huge swaths of time dedicated to one thing and one thing only. And scope creep is all too common.

The idea of “working hours” is fraught and complicated: technology affords us the ability to respond quickly, at all hours, to issues as they pop up. And lots of folks find there are certain times of day when they’re more productive (night owls, early birds…why are these all bird related?)–which is great. But it becomes a problem when these start to create implicit expectations about responding on demand or at any time of day. The responsibilities people have in their lives outside of their academic or professional selves are present and important, so finding ways to be open and realistic about communication is key. Here are some ways to do the best you can to keep project work contained on a personal level, and work with others toward solid practices:

  1. Think about how you work, how you manage tasks, and meet deadlines. Write down when you think your most productive hours are and what is realistic for you in terms of being able to turn around responses.
    1. Example: I know that I’m best from 10-2 for generative work (writing, coding). I check emails 3 times a day (9a, noon, 4p) for ideally 30mins. I respond in those windows of time and try my hardest to avoid checking email outside of those times (I fail at this all the time, but I strive toward this goal daily).
  2. At the outset of a project, ask how the group prefers issues and notes to be communicated.
  3. Discuss with your collaborators what the expectations are for responding to emails, issues, messages, etc.  
  4. Do what you can to triage and manage incoming and outgoing communications. A couple examples:
    1. I use Boomerang (Gmail, Outlook, Android): I schedule the emails I write at 11p to send to collaborators the following morning at 9am when I know they’re at work or in their productive hours.
    2. Manage your notifications: for example, I’ve turned off push notifications for email because email is a huge distraction for me, but I’ve turned on push notifications for Slack because I know those are usually more time-sensitive messages.

The hardest part of all this is sticking to the boundaries set. But, setting and maintaining those boundaries helps deter burnout and unfair encroachment on collaborators’ time, while managing the expectations of all involved. Just because it can be done right away by you, does not mean that it needs to or should. Busy is not a virtue in itself.

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

I Just Know…

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A recent Science Post satirical article titled, “I just know” replaces systematic reviews at the top of the evidence pyramid, is a pretty funny read with a darker side.

pyramid of evidence, from bottom to top: editorials, expert opinion; case series, case reports; case-control studies; cohort studies; randomised controlled trials; systematic reviews; While the article focuses on medical science (“There is no science backing up my claim that the homeopathic pill cured their cold, but in my gut I just know it did.”) it got me thinking about the teaching and learning work we do here at Carleton and our levels of evidence.

What evidence–beyond “I just know”–do we accept for what we have done in Carleton courses or for what we hoped to have done? If evidence more robust than “I just know” was available for our teaching and learning endeavors, would we want to gather it? What if it was easily available? Any instructional technology we use at Carleton can help with the collection of evidence. And with thoughtful design, that collection of evidence can be “easy” while still being meaningful.

The AT [un]workshop series this term will focus on ways we can plan for and collect evidence. For example, there are four opportune moments in courses to collect evidence of student learning (or teaching!): at the beginning of the course, day to day, before/after key assignments or exams, and the end of the course. For the [un]workshop series this Spring Term we’ll focus on the day to day opportunities and specifically, the instructional technologies you may already be using that can make that evidence collection easier than you might think.

Here’s the list of [un]workshops for Spring term.

We build in time at [un]workshops for discussion but you’re also always welcome to just track us down to talk about T&L evidence or any topic that we can help with.

New [un]workshop: Extending learning outside class time (and knowing that learning happens)

laptop on table top with notebook, pens, marker nearby

About the [un]workshop:

Assigning work for students to do outside of class so they come prepared to engage inside class can be a great pedagogical move. If all students don’t do the work though, this strategy can really backfire. In this session, we’ll look at some ways you can track which students have done what work, and even get a sense of the quality of their interaction with the content.

Join Janet, Dann, and Carly for a fun hour!

Dates+times

April 18: 3-4p, Laird 211 and WCC 027

May 2: 3-4p, Olin 141 and Atheneum

New [un]workshop: Making the case that learning is happening (for everyone) in your classroom

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What the [un]workshop is about:

High Impact Practices suggest that much learning occurs outside the formal classroom. This likely isn’t the case for your classroom but how can you know? Grades are some measure of learning that has happened in class, but is there evidence for learning as it happens and for all students? In this session, we’ll showcase some instructional technologies that can make this case for you and your students.

Join Janet and Carly for a fun hour of talking about instructional technologies

Dates+Times:

  • April 13, 3-4p, WCC 236 and Atheneum
  • May 9, 3-4 p, AGH Meeting Room

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Demystifying communications for student workers

person types in collaborative Google Doc at conference table

My colleagues Sarah Calhoun, Austin Mason, and I are collaborating on creating 4 new undergraduate internship positions related to front end/back-end development for digital humanities and digital scholarship projects, accessibility and inclusive design, and digital ethics. The DHAs and AT student workers are fabulous, but their job roles are written so that they wear several hats: tech support, triaging reported problems with campus-supported technologies, in-class support, etc. At Carleton, internships are distinguished from student worker positions by their additional expectations of mentorship, professionalization opportunities, and engagement with relevant fields.

Since we’re envisioning these internships as project-oriented, I thought it useful to start to think through some of our expectations for communication both during the internship, but also during projects. It’s likely that the interns will be able to see projects through from start-to-finish, but it’s also likely that they’ll come into a project in-process to contribute to a specific aspect. And in the interest of being explicit about expectations and minimizing the perils of tacit knowledge, I wanted to outline a few preliminary draft guidelines I’ve come up with so far:

Tl;dr: be generous and respectful, always.

  • Communicate information generously: it is better to include too many people than too few. Unless directed otherwise, share information, documents, code, etc. with the entire team and all the internship supervisors. If you are emailing someone on behalf of a small group, include all of the group members names in the closing signature and cc everyone.
  • Address collaborators respectfully and thoughtfully. This includes things like asking for preferred pronouns, and using appropriate titles and names. When interacting with a faculty or staff member for the first time, listen for how they refer to themselves and use what they said. If you’re emailing someone for the first time, use their formal title (Dr., Prof.) if applicable. Which leads us to…
    • Email etiquette: generally, this rundown by Laura Portwood-Stacer covers a lot. In addition, try to keep your emails shorter rather than longer. 4-5 sentences max and try to include all relevant info upfront.
  • Credit your collaborators: be generous and acknowledge contributions from your collaborators. This can be everything from help talking through an idea to a recommendation about where to find a code snippet to a comment someone made in a meeting that stuck with you. This kind of work and support often goes underappreciated–everyone (hopefully) knows it’s important but it’s often forgotten or left unmentioned in favor of a finished product.
  • When dealing with collaborators and “clients,” be sure to show up to all meetings on time, do any follow-up work promptly, and be highly responsive and polite over email. Loop in all relevant people.
  • When things come up at the last minute (because they will!): sometimes you will need to call in a favor from a collaborator to help you get work done rapidly. When this happens, make sure to acknowledge that this is a favor you are asking, give them an easy out, and thank them profusely if they are able to help you.

This is a general outline that will live in some other form TBD. But for now, I’d appreciate and comments/feedback/additions you think would help demystify project communications for students working on collaborative projects!

**huge thanks to Sarah Calhoun for her insights and suggestions!

**cross-posted on Celeste’s site.

New [un]workshop: Promoting Critical Thinking with Design-Rich Assignments

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What the unWorkshop is about:

Communicating arguments effectively through a visual medium has its own particular set of opportunities, challenges, and logics–and students often lack exposure and practice in these areas. In this session, we’ll showcase different approaches to design-rich assignments including tips for scaffolding, timing, and assessing student work.

Join Doug and Celeste for a fun hour of talking through visual arguments, possible assignments and assessments!

Dates+Times:

Tuesday, April 4 in CMC 328

Wednesday, May 24 in the Atheneum