Tag Archives: pedagogy

Using Animation to Explain

Some course concepts can be trickier for students to understand than others. These “muddy points” are often the areas where technology provides us with some tools that can approach the content from a different angle, and make a concept more visible. In this story, Vickie Backus, Senior Associate in Science Instruction in Biology, explains the iterative process she used to create and then fine tune an animation to help her students better understand the concept of how natural selection can lead to evolution.Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 9.23.55 AM

Vickie is a member of our flipped classroom community of practice and will be presenting additional information about this process at a meeting on Tuesday April 5th. We know this is a ways off, but you can sign up here to reserve a spot and receive an email reminder prior to her session.

Our next meeting will be on March 15th at 12 where we will discuss student considerations for flipped classrooms with ADA Coordinator Jodi Litchfield and Director of Learning Services, Yonna McShane. Additional details can be found here.

Using Timelines to Help Create Context for Learning

Think back to the most confusing learning experience of your life. Did you feel like you understood the context of what you were learning? When Assistant Professor of Physics Michael Durst began teaching PHYS 0301: Intermediate Electromagnetism he envisioned an assignment where “students would explore more deeply the history of electricity and magnetism” as well as the “chronology of…experiments which led to our current understanding of electricity and magnetism.”

Through a discussion with Academic Technology staff in the library, Michael decided that the JS Timeline plugin for WordPress would allow a means for students to place people, discoveries and real-world applications of electromagnetism in the context of time.

In this article Professor Durst describes his process of creating and revising the assignment as well as how it has become a collaborative class resource among multiple cohorts of students.

Sample Timeline Entry

Sample Timeline Entry

How Questions Guide Learning

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Professor Glen Ernstrom leading a session in CTLR about POGIL

As Assistant Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Glen Ernstrom read articles about the effectiveness of active learning activities in the sciences he began to consider how he could integrate some of this teaching methodology into his classroom.

In this article Glen explains how he uses process-oriented guided inquiry lessons to help students work through some of the more difficult concepts in his class. Using methods to encourage metacognitive understanding Glen guides students through activities that allow them to work

“…in groups and compare[ing] the results of their work in class, they can measure themselves with their peers and see how well they are in doing. They get immediate feedback on their understanding.”

Glen was kind enough to share links to supporting research and resources to help others learn more about POGIL and how they can try it out in their own classes as well. To read the full article and view resource links please visit the Teaching at Middlebury site here.

LMS Evaluation Updates

The Curricular Technology Team in collaboration with Shel Sax and academic liaisons has organized a number of learning management system (LMS) training workshops, see:
Segue from Segue > LMS Pilot Training Sessions

CTLR LMS Roundtable discussion

The first workshop in the 6th annual CTLR Pedagogy Series was a discussion of LMS platforms lead by Mary Ellen Bertolini, Jason Mittell and Louisa Burnham.  Online discussion, assignments and grading were all hot topics.

Sakai Overview and Training

Yesterday, Scott Siddall from Longsight, an open source service provider, lead a day long training session in Sakai.  A number of faculty have agreed to pilot Sakai this spring and attended the afternoon session to get an overview of the platform and hands-on training.  There will be more training sessions next week.  Here are dates:

  • 10 – 11:30 am, Tuesday, Jan 18th, Library 105 – Shel Sax
  • 2 – 3:30 pm, Thursday, Jan 20th, Library 105 – Shel Sax

Moodle Overview and Training

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll lead a workshop on Moodle, providing an overview of this LMS platform and then hands-on training for faculty who have agreed to pilot it.  Here is schedule:

  • 2 – 3:30 pm, Thursday, January 13, Library 105 – Alex Chapin
  • 2 – 3:30 pm, Friday, January 14, Library 105 – Alex Chapin

While all of these training sessions are primarily for pilot participants, other faculty and staff are encouraged to attend at least the first part of these sessions where we’ll give an overview of the platforms and their distinguishing characteristics.

New Teaching with Technology Case Studies

Carrie Macfarlane has recently added two new posts to the Teaching with Technology blog on case studies she has done with faculty in the Biology department.  The first is on an evolution simulation model developed by Matt Landis for his course on “Ecology and Evolution” (BIOL0140).  The other is on the use of wireless projection by Chris Watters in his class on “Human Nutrition from an Evolutionary Perspective” (BIOL0222).