The most exciting thing about teaching is how it evolves all the time. New ideas and projects pop up all the time. I created this page to keep track of developments not yet ready to be integrated into other portions of this portfolio.
Google Docs + Video Conferencing
I’ve done Skype advising for a long time with PhD candidates living remotely and I’m beginning to bring this type of ‘virtual’ office hours into my work with undergraduates. Right now, I’m finding that a two-device approach works best, usually with the video conference on the student’s phone (FaceTime being by far the most stable and reliable app) and then Google docs on their laptop/tablet/desktop. The advantages of Google docs (besides being free) is the stability and live edit function. There is no difficulty if two or more editors are viewing and working on the document simultaneously. It’s like the world’s best chat program. This is how I’m working with my Kurz Undergraduate Research Assistant on my current book project, Striking History. I’ve also been using the same approach for collaboration on the upcoming conference, ‘The Cost of Freedom’.
I think this has a great potential for wider application for BC students in general given challenges of their making specific office hours. It is far easier to step away from a job for a 10 minute video chat than it is to commute to campus.
I also wonder about google docs as a submission format for papers. The difficulty is integration with the plagiarism deterrent software in BlackBoard, at least for Gen Ed courses. I may first try rolling out its use in advanced major classes.
‘JUMBO’ TBL Learning Community PLUS technology enhanced and place-based learning
I’m really excited to have recruited Malka in Art History as a partner in creating a first-year learning community for Fall 2017. Sara Crosby has been amazingly supportive in bringing us together and advocating for our necessary resources. (We three also used google docs to co-author the initial proposal!) The idea is that a fully integrated teaching partnership necessary for an LC is really too time consuming for a small cohort or for a ‘one off’ link. I wanted a partner who was interested in Team Based Learning, but flexible about its application and also excited about the use of technology in and out of the classroom, especially blogging. Malka is a specialist in Modern NYC Architecture and has done lots with WordPress blogs and tablets in the classroom. We’ve both done LCs and used TBL. Next Fall we’re marrying all together for 125 students! And the course is on a FRIDAY, all day, meaning we can do off-campus learning experiences and extended lesson plans with no worries about conflicts with other classes. Fingers crossed the student tech fee funds tablets for each of our teams! The syllabus is still in the works but we’ve been brain-storming possible unifying themes:
History in the Present Tense: Why what we teach is relevant now? How the literature and art and architecture we’re studying crafts our perceptions of the past? Why these thing were produced in the first place to interpret the past?
Creative Power: How do creative endeavors influence our thinking? Why do people pay to have them created? How is it different when the state or religion gets involved? Why does this power sometimes endure and why not in other cases?
Graduate Course Design
I’m using google docs in my graduate course this semester and loving the possibility of having a live evolving syllabus. I used dropbox in the past, but this is far more interactive without the publicity/formality of course website. I’m also having my students take more responsibility for the creation of the seminar meetings later in the semester. If feels like a good way to step out the research process behind a term paper and also teach them how to being effective teachers themselves, thinking about class design in a low-stakes supportive environment. Here’s the current version of our shared syllabus.
This is half an idea. I keep finding myself wanting to connect students, faculty and alums who don’t know each other, but could find positive overlaps in their work. I want something more than an email to help connect them. If they were friends, I’d invite them to the same dinner party. I want to design the academic version of this. I’ve used departmental parties in this way before, but more and more my work is taking me out of the department and overlapping with students campus wide.