WAC Workshop: The Creative Classroom, 5/6, 1:00pm

The Writing Across the Curriculum program’s final workshop of the semester, Tuesday May 6, will focus on creative classroom activities that engage active learning and promote student engagement. This sounds like a great opportunity to learn about opening the classroom to creative possibilities!

webpage for 'The Creative Classroom' on the Faculty Commons site at City Tech

Download  The Creative Classroom poster

Check out the WAC OpenLab site

 

This Thursday, 11/21, 4-6:00pm: Fostering Conversation on the OpenLab

collage of comment bubbles You’ve saved the date–now let us know you can join us!

This Thursday afternoon, we’ll reconvene the group of us interested in Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab at an event focused on fostering conversation on (and with) the OpenLab. A few colleagues will briefly share some of their methods for generating and fostering conversation, and then we’ll continue our conversation by hearing from anyone who wants to share, ask questions, comment, etc. And we’ll have snacks, too! That’s where the RSVP comes it–it would be good to know how much snacking will take place. You can simply reply to this post letting us know if you can make it.

The details:

Fostering Conversation on the OpenLab

Thursday, November 21st

4:00-6:00 pm

Faculty Commons (N227)

Lively conversation plus snacks

 

image courtesy of Marc Wathieu

Save the Date!

This semester’s Open Pedagogy event will take place on Thursday, November 21st from 4:00-6:00 in the Faculty Commons. Our focus will be on generating conversation in online spaces. If you are interested in attending, let us know here.

We would also love to chat beyond this event, so some after-event conversation (perhaps at reBar–other venue suggestions welcome) is on the agenda as well!

 

New semester, new assignments!

Each semester, I want to begin with an introduction not only to the course, but also to the OpenLab, so that students have a sense of where they will be working. I ask them to choose an avatar, and to think carefully about how they represent them. In the past, I’ve incorporated into an assignment a question about an image that represents them, asking them to describe it and show how it depicts them, but also to think about how it might be misunderstood by someone else, how that image can be read differently than they intend.

What made this more effective this semester was starting one step back from there, asking students to look through the People section of the OpenLab and find an avatar that they wanted to think about. Then they had to write a comment about that avatar, how they understood what it represented. Only after writing could they look to see who the person was, what they study, etc. In staging the assignment this way, they had the opportunity to themselves misread someone’s avatar, which they could then apply to their own writing about how someone might misread their chosen visual representation.

I’d love to hear from others how you orient students to the OpenLab, if you incorporate it into assignments, and how you introduce the notion of thinking critically about how we represent ourselves online.

Developing an Open Digital Pedagogy Assignment

Welcome, colleagues from Computers and Writing 2013! Use the format below to share your assignment ideas as comments to this post. We’re glad to have you join our efforts on the OpenLab.

Our three cards were

Open Pedagogy Technique:
General Education Student Learning Outcome:
Game:

Our group developed a/an [formal/informal/ group/ classroom] assignment that asks students to [what they’ll do] and then [what else they’ll do] and [finally what else they’ll do] using [specific tools, materials, skills] so they can learn [course goal] while also developing [specific and or general skills]

Interested in Publishing your Educational Research?

 

There’s a workshop today on developing research questions and methodologies for publishing educational research, and I thought how useful this could be for this group. When we work on the OpenLab, we’re building on great projects that have come before us and continue to inspire us, such as other open sites at other CUNY colleges, or the inspiring work that Jim Groom talked about at the OpenLab’s launch. But as much as we’re in good company with those esteemed colleagues, we’re also innovating and experimenting in new ways, ones that others would benefit from learning about. It would be great to think about how the ways in which we adapt our courses for the OpenLab, and adopt open pedagogies, would become the foundation for research projects and publications. If you’re free at 1:00 on Thursday, Febrary 21st, please consider attending. And consider sharing your ideas here to get others engaged in the endeavor!Event promotion for 'Developing Research Questions & Methodologies'

“Ten Things the Years Have Taught Us In Ten Years”

A few of us from City Tech were invited to attend last month’s forum on instructional technology sponsored by City College’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. We heard from faculty and administrators at a number of campuses, but what stood out to me was George Otte‘s presentation. He shared some wisdom he’s earned through working as the University Director of Academic Technology and the other positions he holds at CUNY. My notes might not be quite as complete as his presentation–if anyone can update, complete, or correct this list, please do!

Ten Things the Years Have Taught Us In Ten Years

  1. Don’t wait until you’re ensured the necessary wherewithal. As Otte put it in other words, “If you build it, they will fund.”
  2. Put things in writing. As that is all I wrote down for this point, and it’s not clear what he was referring to specifically, I already wish I had followed that advice!
  3. Always focus on the why and not just the what. It’s important not to use the tools for the sake of the tools, but for the opportunities for learning, working, and sharing that the tools afford.
  4. A Corrollary: Be wary of trends for trends’ sake.
  5. A Caution: Don’t sit and wait for things to stabilize: they won’t.
  6. Principles before all other Ps (procedures, programs, even pilots). 
  7. People matter more than technology. 
  8. Ends matter more than means. For any project, there is a need to articulate goals and demonstrate usefulness.
  9. Expect change, because change is the expectation.
  10. Network, network, network. That is, make sure others know about what you’re doing, and also know what’s out there so you don’t reinvent the wheel.

As I listened and eagerly took notes during this presentation, the OpenLab was at the forefront of my thoughts. We certainly need to keep ideas such as #5 in mind–otherwise, we would just keep building and building without ever releasing to the City Tech community what we’ve developed–or #7–since the OpenLab is about building community and bringing the college together, using a virtual space where a physical one isn’t available. What I came to consider afterward was how these lessons apply to our classrooms, just on smaller scales. When we assign work that uses technology, is the technology the take-away? Will the core of that assignment work in ten years, even if the specific technology is replaced with something else? When we ask students to blog or tweet or shoot video, we’re encouraging them to develop skills that are current and transferrable, and we emphasize that each of these technologies is a medium for thinking and expressing course content. We need to ensure a balance between #4 and #5–that we don’t only look to trends, but that we don’t wait so long to determine what’s fleeting and what’s here to stay that we miss both. I’m curious to hear how others in this Open Pedagogy group consider any or all of these Ten Things, and hope we can engage fruitfully with each other via comments to this blog post, since those are the means we have (#8).

Open Pedagogy Kick-off event

The OpenLab Community Team invites you to come launch the Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab project. To kick off our project, our inaugural meeting will be a chance to meet each other face-to-face at an end-of-semester wine-and-cheese gathering. We can celebrate the semester about to close and brainstorm about next semester’s activities, including more exchanges on the Open Pedagogy site, as well as virtual and on-site discussions, workshops, and other programmed events.

When: Tuesday, 12/11, 4:00-6:00pm
Where: Faculty Commons, N227
Who: All Faculty and Staff interested in Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab
RSVP: openlab@citytech.cuny.edu, or reply here with a comment

If you haven’t already joined the Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab project, find out more about it on the project’s profile.

Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday!

Ditching textbooks, and faculty collaboration

On Friday, I attended a talk that was part of the CUNY Open Access event at the Graduate Center. Kristina Baumli from Temple University presented a project she’s involved in that provides faculty with a small stipend to ditch their textbooks in favor of materials openly available on the web, or through the college’s electronic library holdings. Also check out what the Chronicle had to say about this textbook-ditching project.

A number of us in the English Department have tried this kind of approach, with varying degrees of success. One big difference seems to be access to technology. All of Baumli’s students had access to the readings both inside and outside of class because she requires them to all have some kind of computer: a laptop, netbook, or tablet. The cost of these devices can be less than the cost of one course’s books, and can be used in all courses for the entire college career and beyond. When I used all electronic texts for my ENG 1101 courses, students often wouldn’t bring the materials to class. They didn’t have portable devices, or they didn’t have wireless access if they brought laptops, and they often couldn’t get to the printers in the computer labs on campus to even print the short readings. Some brought up the materials on their phones, but this didn’t allow for them to mark them up in a way that is productive in an English Composition class.

Difficulties aside, I love the idea of asking students to invest in resources that they can get a maximum benefit from–a netbook, let’s say, and free course readings rather than two textbooks, for example–but even more, I love the idea of building up from a series of readings to a framed textbook with students. Why not make the students contribute to the questions one might ask at the end of each reading? They can identify unfamiliar words or expressions, frame issues for class discussion, even participate in drafting essay questions for further exploration. The students’ writing, then, can be included as samples for future students to see exemplary work.

Baumli spoke convincingly about the collaborative effort from faculty. If one professor can create a couple of modules in a semester, perhaps, then think of the volume that could be created when several instructors teaching the same course each develop modules. It wasn’t clear to me how faculty at Temple would share these modules, but in addition to the variety of options available, we have a solution for that here at City Tech–the OpenLab. We could certainly create projects that would house resources for different courses: links to texts, or even full-text options where copyright permits, suggestions for questions, vocabulary, activities, assignments, rubrics, connections to other texts. This model seems very doable in my field, English. The biggest limitation I can see would be for texts that are not available electronically. What would it look like in other disciplines? What would the obstacles be for other fields?