Meeting Notes 2009-09-01

This meeting focused on brainstorming about the use of curricular technologies at Middlebury in terms of:

  • What we know about how faculty/students are using curricular technologies now
  • What we need to verify about their technology usage
  • What we don’t know about what faculty/students want or need in terms of curricular technologies now and/or in the future

The objective of this brainstorming effort was to determine what questions we need to ask faculty (and students?) about their technology needs.  It is hoped that many of the items we come up with, particularly those related to what we need to verify and what we don’t know could be used as the basis for survey questions and focus group discussions.

There was no consensus about what would constitute a good survey other than that it should give us information useful for determining alternative solutions to Segue.  Some of the questions the team had were the following:

  1. How many questions should the survey contain?
  2. Should questions be multiple choice or open-ended
  3. Should we have one survey to all faculty or different surveys for different groups of faculty (i.e. Segue users, WordPress users, course folder users)
  4. Are survey questions focused on learning technologies in general or questions specific to course site platforms
  5. Should survey questions seek to find out the proportion of faculty/students that use a particular technology (e.g. proportion of faculty who give feedback a) on paper b) via commenting tools c) via email)

Here is some things we think we already know about curricular technology use at Middlebury:

  • Students in class need to be able to post comments in a threaded discussion that is appended to a block of content (e.g. blog post)
  • faculty need to be able to evaluate/grade student work.  Some do this by with spreadsheets, some with desktop grading apps such as Gradekeeper…
  • faculty need to give feedback to students beyond simply a grade.  Some do this by writing comments on student’s assignments, others by using commenting features of apps like Word or Acrobat.  Still others use email.  Others via websites
  • Some faculty have students do peer review.  Some do this on paper.  Some do this on sites via discussion.  Others via inline comments on site
  • upload video/media to course site.  Web-based audio/video capture tools are needed
  • Many faculty require students to submit paper copies of assignments.  Some ask students to email papers, others use course folders, still others have students post papers to course site
  • many faculty currently make use of granular access control in Segue (i.e. portions of their sites are restricted to the class, other portions many be open to Midd users or public)
  • Many faculty require their students to create websites as part of their assignments.  Many use tools like Segue or WordPress for this.  Some of these student sites are public, other restricted to students in class, others restricted to the student and instructor
  • Some faculty, particularly in languages, but also in writing courses, require students to submit audio recording assignments.  Many do this in Segue.  USB mics, or headsets with mics or digital voice recorders or iPod recording accessories are used.  Some faculty give feedback via website
  • Many faculty copy course sites from previous semesters to reuse for current or upcoming semesters.  Some also copy sections and pages of sites and reuse in other sites.
  • Faculty combine namespaces from various sections of a course into one site so that all students from all sections will have access to the course site.  Some programs of study, particularly in the Language Schools use one site for many courses
  • Segue provides a number of site templates for creating sites.  These templates have sections and pages useful for courses, as well as other types of sites
  • Course website UI needs to be localized for various languages
  • Many programs of study use online exams including many Language Schools and departments.  Some courses have given mid-term and final exams online
  • Many faculty want to be able to blog
  • Some faculty want to have wikis

Some things we need to verify about curricular technology use and needs is the following:

  • Do students in class need to be able to see a list of discussion topics with the # of replies to each topic listed (i.e. forum)
  • Does grading this need to be integrated with course site platform or can it be separate?
  • Proportion of faculty who give feedback a) on paper b) via commenting tools c) via email.  Segue v1 allowed discussion posts to be restricted to the instructor and student who made post.  Is this important?
  • How many faculty want assignments a) printed b) email c) course folder d) upload to private section of course site e) upload for peer review
  • How important is granular access.  What percentage of faculty want it?
  • What kind of websites do faculty require students to create.
  • Do faculty [and students] want to use the same tools for teaching as they do for publishing their research. (learn once, use multiple ways) Corollary: Do faculty prefer general purpose or course-use-specific online spaces (Segue/Drupal/WordPress/etc versus Moodle/Blackboard/etc).
  • Do the current Segue site templates have sections and pages that are useful to faculty/students

Stuff we really don’t know about curricular technology needs are the following:

  • Would faculty be open to online discussion via IM?  Are faculty interested in voice-based online discussion (i.e. web-based audio/video recording widgets)
  • Are there grading apps/services that can interoperate with course site platforms.  Would rating tools fulfill some evaluation needs.  Would faculty be open to grading by students via peer review or rating services such as PollDaddy
  • Would Google Docs commenting tools be useful?
  • Do faculty WANT to go paperless?

We determined more research needs to be done for the following:

  • Do students in class need to be able to see a list of discussion topics with the # of replies to each topic listed (i.e. forum)
  • Are there grading apps/services that can interoperate with course site platforms.  Would rating tools fulfill some evaluation needs.  Would faculty be open to grading by students via peer review or rating services such as PollDaddy
  • Would Google Docs commenting tools be useful?

We felt the following could be the basis for one or more survey questions:

  • Does grading this need to be integrated with course site platform or can it be separate?
  • How many faculty want assignments a) printed b) email c) course folder d) upload to private section of course site e) upload for peer review
  • How important is granular access.  What percentage of faculty want it?
  • What kind of websites do you require students to build
  • Do faculty [and students] want to use the same tools for teaching as they do for publishing their research. (learn once, use multiple ways) Corollary: Do faculty prefer general purpose or course-use-specific online spaces (Segue/Drupal/WordPress/etc versus Moodle/Blackboard/etc).
  • Do the current Segue site templates have sections and pages that are useful to faculty/students
  • Do faculty WANT to go paperless?

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