Spring 2009 Teaching with Technology Symposium Includes CI Seed Grant Presentations

By Barbara Weaver

The afternoon of May 5, 2009, Customer Relations and Learning Technologies and the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation hosted the Spring 2009 Teaching with Technology Symposium. More than 40 people attended the event. Since fall 2002, the symposium has provided an opportunity for faculty to present their innovative use of technology to enhance their teaching and their students' learning. This spring, we were pleased to expand the event to include presentations by faculty who received Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Seed Grant awards. 

Melanie Cooper (Engineering and Science Education and Chemistry) led participants through a hands-on demonstration of OrganicPad, a web-based application that is designed to work with tablet PCs. The tables were turned on faculty and staff who became the students while Nathan Grove (Cooper's post-doc), Sonia Underwood (Cooper's graduate student), Jason Winn (Cooper's undergraduate student) and Sam Bryfczyski (Roy Pargas's graduate student who developed the software under the direction of Cooper and Pargas) became the instructors, modeling the SCALE-UP teaching technique of coaching students while they work through a problem in teams. The "students" shared tablet PCs to ink their response to Cooper's question. They learned how to draw a water molecule and how to use OrganicPad in less than 30 minutes. The chemistry tool allows instructors to view (and project) each submission in class to take advantage of teachable moments that arise through a student mistake or different approach. The instructor can also assess students' digital ink submissions and track common errors.

Next Elisa Sparks (English), Jim Witte (Graduate School and Sociology), and Ken Weaver (School of Computing) jointly presented their work in the virtual world Second Life.

Sparks and Jan Holmevik (English) are collaborating with their students to create Woolf World in Second Life. The literature students in Sparks' class provide the research to discover specifications, even details such as the kind of flowers that are mentioned in a letter. Holmevik's visual communication students use that research to build the sites. They have created Fitzroy Square and the Omega Workshops, where Virginia Woolf's sister Vanessa Bell and other Bloomsbury artists sold their decorative art such as woodcuts, textiles, and furniture. Spring semester, students created Ashham, Woolf's country home in Sussex that was later demolished and that many Woolf scholars never had the opportunity to see in real life.

Witte showed the 24/7 recruitment fair on the Graduate School's island in Second Life. He explained that, once he learned how to build a box in Second Life, he was able to build many of the elements he needed to incorporate information from graduate program brochures that potential students need. He also encouraged everyone to visit the School of Computing booth where the Digital Production Arts Program has an excellent video they created to demonstrate the talent and skills they've developed through their academic work.

Weaver discussed how his creative inquiry students are assisting Larry Hodges, School of Computing director, in Second Life research by recreating psychological experiments virtually. Further, students and their parents who visit the School of Computing on campus can don a helmet that allows them to experience Second Life as virtual reality. On the School of Computing's island, they can board a helicopter for a tour of the island. The supplementary tour of the School of Computing's Second Life island is part of the school's tour for students they are recruiting. Weaver added that the value of Second Life is in the experience provided students. Using Second Life simply as a different format for delivering the same old lecture is not going to be successful.

Jeff Adelberg (Horticulture) then presented his "iBuddy" project (working title), which is a collaborative effort of Adelberg, his spring 2009 creative inquiry students, Pargas, and his graduate student Kyungsoo Im. The goal of the project is to develop a better way for students to complete plant material tours on campus, in the SC Botanical Garden, and other locations and to develop a personalized, full color plant id portfolio. Currently, Adelberg or one of his graduate teaching assistants take small sections of students on plant material tours. They must go during the regular class time regardless of weather, and makeup tours are not feasible even for students who must miss one of these outdoor labs for a legitimate reason. iBuddy involves Adelberg creating enhanced podcasts (MP4a files) that include photos of various landmarks and audio instructions to find the plant material and then photos of and audio about the plant material. Students can download the enhanced podcasts from iTunes U to take the weekly plant material tour when the weather and their schedule allows. Using an iPhone for the tour, students can take their own photo of the plant, record their own experience of the plant in text and/or audio, and submit the collected data to MessageGrid, which places a date and time stamp on the submission. Adelberg's fall plant material class will use MessageGrid to develop their plant material portfolios, while Adelberg continues to develop the enhanced podcasts for tours, facilitated through handheld devices by making use of GPS functions of pinning photos to maps.

Following a break for refreshments provided by i>Clicker, Cynthia Haynes (English) gave a brief overview of a new initiative that she and Holmevik are leading. The initiative is called Gaming Across the Curriculum. Many faculty use games, ranging from paper-based board games to complex computer games, for sound pedagogical reasons. We all learn through play and our students are no exception. Haynes and Homevik chose the convention of "Across the Curriculum" in recognition of the national visibility Clemson has received for Writing Across the Curriculum and Communication Across the Curriculum that led to Clemson's designation as Time Magazine's 2001 Public College of the Year. Plans call for workshops, opportunities to collaborate with other faculty across disciplines, scholarship, and more. Any interested faculty should contact Haynes.

Next, the recipients of CI Seed Grants presented. Faculty who attended CI Days at Clemson last May were encouraged to submit a CI project proposal for funding up to $5,000. Three projects were selected: Dan Warner and Marilyn Reba (both Mathematical Sciences), Betty Baldwin (Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management), and Lee Crandall (Public Health).

Warner and Reba explained their three-fold project. A creative inquiry team that works with Warner creates math solutions as vodcasts (video podcasts) that will be available for the general public via iTunes U. He discussed some of the initial challenges they experienced when learning the technology and some of the important lessons they learned, such as having a script to follow. Reba explained that she assigns the development of vodcasts to struggling students in her math classes. For example, students who don't do well on the first test, might be assigned one of the problems to solve correctly in a vodcast. She has the students post their vodcasts in MessageGrid where the entire class can access the solutions. Her students use LectureScribe, a software application developed by Brian Dean (School of Computing) that allows the user to record digital ink with synchronized audio. The third component of the project is to provide the vodcasts to math faculty and students at Tri-County Technical College.

Betty Baldwin explained her CI project to develop an Open Parks Grid. A recent workshop with representatives from Clemson and four national parks in the southeast region, as well as the director and representatives from the National Park Service (NPS) regional office, provided an opportunity to better define the Open Parks Grid and develop some next steps toward a pilot project with the NPS. The initial goal is to increase the availability of university research for park managers who have very little time to devote to acquiring new information. Long term goals include collaborating with additional Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management faculty to develop student-centered activities that will give students Open Parks Grid experience and access to the information and collaboration tools it offers.

Unfortunately, Lee Crandall was unable to present the day of the symposium, but his project to host a symposium to jumpstart an integrated South Carolina Environment and Human Health Grid is scheduled for June 25 at the Madren Center. He expects 30-50 people to attend with representatives from critical players such as the South Carolina Budget and Control Board Health Data group and the CDC.

The audience appreciated learning about the wide range of projects that faculty and their students are pursuing and we look forward to hearing from others at the end of fall semester. If you are interested in presenting your experience in using technology in teaching and learning - or research - please contact Barbara Weaver. The Fall 2009 Teaching with Technology Symposium is scheduled for Tuesday, December 15, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Note that we will return to our two hour format in December.

Barbara Weaver is Senior Consultant for Faculty Relations and Innovation for Clemson Computing and Information Technology.