eLearning Community of Practice presents “Course organization and social presence” on Oct. 9th

UPDATE: “Course Organization and Social Presence” was a great session! Several engaging speakers challenged sixteen of S&T’s leading instructors to think about their course organization in both face-to-face and online/distance sections. The resulting small group conversation was a mixture of stimulating food for thought and lessons from practical teaching experience across several disciplines. Later, attendees discussed strategies for increasing instructor presence and student engagement through non-traditional means such as video syllabi. Near the end of the session, video creation and sharing was discussed, along with numerous tips for producing videos intended for use in the virtual classroom. 


On October 9th CERTI and EdTech will present “Course Organization and Social Presence” from 3:00PM to 4:30PM in Curtis Laws Wilson Library, Room 204. This eLearning Community of Practice / eFellows presentation will cover how instructors can set clear expectations as they redesign their courses for blended/online learning.

Objectives for this session include:

  • Create a plan for course organization
  • Identify instructor presence
  • Identify how instructor presence might be included in your course

All S&T instructors are welcome to attend!
Please RSVP with Diane Hagni at hagnid@mst.edu or by phone at (573) 341-7648



STEM Experiential Education at Missouri S&T

At Missouri S&T, the experiential experience is a top priority. That’s what drives students to a STEM school with an engineering focus in a small town in Rural Missouri that’s more than an hour…

Source: blog.sloanconsortium.org

Here’s a look at laboratory redesign projects going on at S&T. We’ve got several courses piloting now and others under development.

Part 2 – Using Google Docs to Build Student Engagement and Success by Involving Students in the Rubric-Creation Process

rubrics-cubeIn this blog post I’ll discuss how to set up a Google Doc, as well as relate some classroom best practices for this type of collaborative online exercise, including how to get students started, how to constructively guide the editing session, and how to ready the finished rubric for use. (NOTE: You will need to have a Google Apps for Education account in order to use Google Drive. Instructions for syncing your S&T account with Google Apps for Education can be found here.)

First things first – Getting your class onboard with the importance of rubrics

As an instructor, your students will tend to follow your lead. They might not always be paying attention to the material, but I promise that they are keenly aware of you and how you run your class. If you consistently use rubrics for grading, peer review, and formative development of assignments, your students will quickly realize that rubrics play an important role in determining their grades. After a short while, students who have been paying attention to how you teach will begin to expect a rubric to appear with each new assignment. This is exactly what you want to happen. Most people (students included!) are looking for an advantage; when students realize that they have the chance to develop an assignment rubric and directly affect the way their assignments are graded, you’ll have the student buy-in you need to make a collaborative rubric-building session a success.

Setting up the Google Doc for use

First you’ll want to set up a blank Google Doc that will become the rubric. To begin, navigate to http://drive.google.com. Click the Create button and select “Document” from the drop-down list. This will create a new, empty Google Doc. Next, to make a rubric, you’ll need a table. Click the Insert tool, select “Table” from the drop-down list, and define an appropriate sized table for your rubric. The intended dimensions of your rubric will, of course, dictate the table size. 5×5 is a common size, but the table can always be later expanded or contracted as needed.

At this point you have created a document, but before it is ready for use the document must be shared and have full editing permissions set for users. To share the document, click the Share button in the top right-hand corner of the workspace. This will open the “Sharing settings” dialog box. Under the “Who has access” option, select the Change button, and then select the option Anyone with the link. This setting will allow anyone with the link to access the document. To allow anyone with the link to edit the document, change the Access drop-down option from “Can view” to “Can edit.”

[Read more…]

Part 1 – Using Google Docs to Build Student Engagement and Success by Involving Students in the Rubric-Creation Process

rubrics-cubeThere is a wide consensus among educators that rubrics can be very useful tools. For instructors, rubrics often enable rapid student assessment and standards-based grading as well as reinforcing learning objectives and helping to standardize a course curriculum. For students, rubrics can be a useful tool for providing formative guidelines for assignments while—ideally—spurring reflection and self-assessment.

Rubrics can do wonderful things for students, but only if students actually look at the rubric, understand it, and use it. Many instructors have had the experience of passing out a rubric only to see students quietly file it away never to be seen or thought of again, or even worse, have seen their students throw away the rubrics en masse as they leave the classroom. Clearly, this is an ineffective use of a rubric. So how can instructors ensure that students both know about the rubric and that they will be more likely to use it when drafting an assignment?

One way to promote rubrics is to have students collaboratively build the rubric themselves.

People (yes, undergraduates are people too!) often do not value that which has been freely given; however, people tend to highly value what they have worked for. In my experience as an undergraduate-level technical writing instructor, students who were empowered to create an assignment rubric typically become much more interested in that document as a useful and advantageous tool.

Of course, as an instructor, you have to carefully guide this process in order to end up with a usable rubric that accurately reflects the effort and complexity surrounding the subject material. Having students develop their own assignment rubric is not often a day one activity; the first step is imparting a working body of knowledge. You will be asking students to descriptively evaluate what makes a “good” or “bad” assignment submission, and students must collectively possess the domain knowledge required to make these judgments. However, as students get to the point where they have a working knowledge of a subject and realize that they are able to determine their own assignment scores based on previously-agreed upon metrics, a rubric becomes a powerful tool for students to use when completing an assignment.

One particularly powerful tool for facilitating collaborative rubric-building is Google Docs. Google Docs is a multi-author online collaborative document space. In this environment, up to 50 people can simultaneously edit a document. As you might imagine, a live document with 25 editors can quickly become very chaotic. But, if this chaos is constructively controlled, the end result can be quite amazing; students typically draft along parallel lines of thought, build upon each other’s work, make corrections, and ultimately select the “best” version of work, all in real-time. The end result is often a very high-bandwidth human discussion about the classroom subject material wherein metrics for success and failure are critically engaged by students; you’ll also end up with a student-created rubric that (very likely!) closely parallels your own original rubric. The most key difference is that now students are full stakeholders in the rubric. They’ll know exactly what a rubric is, what it’s good for, and how to use it. After all, they created it.

In the next blog post I’ll discuss how to set up a Google Doc, as well as relate some classroom best practices for this type of collaborative online exercise including how to get students started,  how to constructively guide the editing session, and how to ready the finished rubric for use.

Instructure Canvas Product Demo

Representatives from Instructure Canvas visited on Wednesday, December 11th to demo their LMS to S&T faculty, staff, and students and the LMS review committee.  The demo is posted below in its entirety for anyone who was unable to attend.

View the Canvas demo at Missouri S&T

For further demos of the product, please visit http://www.instructure.com/higher-education

Don’t Cancel Your Class: Tools For Teaching on Snowy Days

2013-12-06 13_03_09-Live Video and ControlSo, you woke up this morning and thought, “Oh no! It’s Friday of dead week!  I can’t cancel class…but look at all that snow!” Am I right? EdTech can help with tools that take little or no advance planning.

Tool to use TODAY:

tegrity_vectorTegrity Lecture Capture: Have you noticed the “Tegrity Classes” button in every one of your Blackboard courses? The tool will only take a small download to use on your personal computer but it’s already set up correctly in most classrooms. Tegrity allows you to record your desktop and a webcam image as well if you would like. If you’re on your couch in your jammies, you can opt for a still shot instead.

Tools for the future:

If you need a little more robust tool for conversations with your students, Big Blue Button (available in January) and Adobe Connect (must be set up in advance by EdTech) are great for holding virtual classes or office hours.

bigbluebutton_vectorBig Blue Button: This is a virtual classroom that will be available in Blackboard for the spring semester. Be watching for details and announcements to help you learn more about Big Blue Button.

adobeconnect_vectorAdobe Connect: If you plan to use a virtual classroom regularly, EdTech can create an Adobe Connect room that will be dedicated to you for your classroom and office hour use. This room must be set up in advance but once it is available, you can use it on the fly by providing a link to your students through Blackboard.

So what is Twitter saying about my class?

If you are an avid Netflix user like me you may have watched the Netflix original series “House of Cards.”   There is a quote in one episode from a character that accurately encapsulates the power of social media: “Remember, these days, when you’re talking to one person, you’re talking to a thousand.” So with that quote in mind one can wonder, what is social media saying about my class? What about my university? Fortunately, there are emerging technology platforms that are taking these types of questions to task, and are providing valuable insight into what students and customers are saying on social media platforms.

One of these technology platforms Twitter Logois offered by SAP and their platform is based on their SAP HANA product.  SAP HANA is an in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system that is changing the ERP and “Big Data” landscape.  HANA forgoes the traditional hard drive for data storage and instead stores all of its data in RAM.  This allows for data to be accessed faster, and allows for data to be safely compressed by a factor of 10.  The speed and data storage increases provided by HANA make it a powerful tool for analyzing data of all kinds.  So with HANA and the help of some programming tools customer sentiment can be harvested from social media sources and then analyzed in near real time with business intelligence tools.

The results and insights from this type of analysis could be invaluable to an organization.  Instructors could re-evaluate the instruction methods, and universities could reshape their messaging campaigns to ensure that their target audiences are reached with a clear message.  The possibilities and benefits for this type of analysis in the future are immense as the importance of and dependency on social media increases across younger generations.

So hopefully in the near future if you wonder “What is Twitter saying about my class?” your answer will only be a few mouse clicks away.

A new tool for teaching circuitry

Teaching students how to build circuits is tricky business, especially when you want to provide a hands-on experience.  There are a number of ways to approach the problem, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.  You could, for example, pass around a box of wires and components and have the students twist, solder, or clip them all together…


You could show them how to use a breadboard and hope that mentally compiling and decompiling the circuit doesn’t overshadow the lesson the circuit’s meant to teach…


You could buy a kit with easy, snap-together components that can be quickly assembled and disassembled at the expense of scalability and authenticity…


All of the solutions have the same problem, though:  At the end of the lesson, the circuit is disassembled and lost forever.  Those wires need to be used again, the breadboard needs to be cleared for the next project, and those brightly-colored snapping components are too bulky expensive to keep your beautifully constructed XOR gate for future reference.  Just draw the diagram and build it again next time.

Wouldn’t it be so much better if the circuit diagrams students drew in their notebooks could be real circuits?

Clear some space in your pocket protector, because a new project on Kickstarter hopes to make this a reality.  Meet Circuit Scribe—a ballpoint pen that draws working traces.


Deliveries for project donors are expected to begin in June of 2014, and other buyers can expect a product shortly thereafter.

If you’d like to learn more or donate to the kickstarter, you can find the project at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/electroninks/circuit-scribe-draw-circuits-instantly.

LMS review committee reaches decision

After reviewing results from surveys and open forums, examining data on current LMS usage at Missouri S&T, and collecting input from faculty representing a range of use cases, the LMS committee reached a unanimous decision on October 30th:  Blackboard may not be adequately meeting the needs of Missouri S&T faculty and students, and should be evaluated against alternative learning management systems to determine the best fit for our campus.

The committee recommends that Blackboard and 2-3 additional LMS alternatives be evaluated in an actual course environment beginning as soon as January.

To read the full report, visit http://edtech.mst.edu/teach/projects/lmsreview/resources/

Calibrated Peer Review

Peer review is a very popular way for instructors to allow students to rate each others’ work. The students gain some significant benefits by engaging in peer review, such as improving their own ability to teach other students and provide other students with constructive feedback. Peer review is often a very good way to help students develop their higher-order thinking skills, according to Bloom’s taxonomy (analysis, evaluation, and synthesis). However, peer review is only as good as the students’ understanding of the material, even if the instructor provides a rubric against which to measure the student submissions.

On the other hand, calibrated peer review gives the instructor additional input into how each student will measure another student’s submissions. Calibrated Peer Review (or CPR) is a web-based application developed by the University of California, though the process itself does not necessarily have to be done through a web-based application (it’s an idea as much as it is a technology). There is a handy flow chart illustrating the process but it basically breaks down as follows:

  1. Students first write and submit an essay on a topic and in a format specified by the instructor.
  2. Training to evaluate comes next. Students assess three ‘calibration’ submissions against a detailed set of questions that address the criteria on which the assignment is based. Students individually evaluate each of these calibration submissions according to the questions specified by the rubric and then assign a holistic rating out of 10. Feedback at this stage is vital. If the evaluations are poorly done and don’t yet meet the instructor’s expectations, the students get a second try. The quality of the evaluations is taken into account in the next step evaluation of real submissions from other students.
  3. Once the deadline for calibration evaluations is passed, each student is given anonymous submissions by three other students. They use the same rubric to evaluate their peers’ work, this time providing comments to justify their evaluation and rating. Poor calibration performance in 2. decreases the impact of the grades they give to their peers’ work. After they’ve done all three they evaluate their own submission. [From the Overview Page]

CPR is available for purchase from their website for a fairly reasonable price ($5,000 for a Ph.D.-granting institution). If S&T were interested in this technology, we could certainly investigate to see if they have options for a pilot program or something.

Once CPR is available on a campus, the instructors can access either assignments that they have created or search for assignments from CPR’s database. However, since CPR is still a fairly new technology, the selection for a given topic is still somewhat limited. For instance, I was only able to find 3 assignments when searching their database for college freshman/sophomore English literature assignments. A few more (maybe a dozen) can be found for college freshman/sophomore English composition. As more instructors use this technology, the assignment database should grow by leaps and bounds. But one major road block may be the difficulty inherent in creating an assignment. The interface seems user-friendly enough, but it takes a great deal of thought and planning for each assignment that is created. The instructor needs to create well-developed learning objectives and write three sample submissions (one each of high-, medium-, and low-quality). And then the instructor has to create the rubric/questions the students will be using as their measuring stick for evaluating the other students.

For more information about Calibrated Peer Review, visit ELI’s 7 Things You Should Know About Calibrated Peer Review.