Library Gazette

Lib100 and Webex pilot

Thursday, October 21, 2010 7:26 pm

A recent scheduling conflict required me to be out of the office for my first two Lib100 classes this semester. Rather than canceling them I decided to partner with our Cisco Fellow, Gretchen Edwards, to hold the classes online using a system called WebEx.

WebEx is a real-time online collaboration tool that includes a suite of video conferencing, screen sharing, and polling features. The key features include multi-person audio discussion, chatting, personal video, polling, document sharing, application sharing, desktop sharing and distributed control. In our first two classes we only touched on a few of these features but wanted to take a moment to write up our initial experience.

What we did

Gretchen and I talked through a lot of options for approaching the first two classes. We discussed different interaction options (discussion time, polling, student sharing of video and PowerPoint) and decided to focus on a few simple interactions. In our first class we got folks oriented to the system and did a quick poll to find out how they have used information and the web up to this point. The second class involved listening to a news piece, a poll, a lecture and discussion time. We finished up each class with a Google poll to find out what they thought about each class.

The WebEx platform allowed us to share our video, chat with students and guide the class using a number of tools. The screen shot above shows video streaming with our PowerPoint slides on the left. In both the first and second classes Gretchen took a few minutes to introduce WebEx concepts (video streaming, chatting, muting/un-muting, document sharing) with the class.

The second class started out with students listening to a piece on NPR and answering a poll on what they thought about the piece. As I went through the lecture for the day I was able to use answers pulled from the poll on specific slides. Gretchen and I worked on getting audio to stream through WebEx but found that the best option was to have students listen to the piece on their own computer.

We finished each class with a survey asking students to reflect on what they learned and to ask any outstanding questions. The second time we asked some direct questions about what they thought about WebEx and asking what other classes they thought might work well on WebEx.

What we found

Not surprisingly, several students really liked the idea of attending class from their dorm room :). A few commented on technical issues and indicated that WebEx should be used sparingly (e.g. Lecture time only) but nobody in the class indicated that we should stop using it entirely. In contrast, some students advocated for either a blended or 100% online experience.

I found that having a structured power point document with speaker notes up on a separate device (see below) helped keep me on my talking points during the class. This can be difficult in WebEx as you do not see speaker notes when sharing ppt slides. I also found that it took about 2 hours of preparation to create the polls, setup the class in webEx and run through timing and interactions. Unlike a face-to-face class, keeping track of time and cues from the students takes a bit more effort.

Clearly organization was a big deal and having Gretchen there to handle all of the technical issues that students were having as well as participate in the class instruction time was really helpful. Most of the students had never taken an online class before so we needed to take time to make sure everyone was comfortable using the system. In both classes however we had all of the students successfully connect and interact.

So what did we learn? Here are a few tips:

1. Preparation! – It helped to do a short talk through video to share with Gretchen so that we would both be on the same page when class happened. I did this by creating a 4-5 minute screencast of a demo WebEx session and sharing it. While probably overkill, it made me feel better about what would happen during the class. Some other pre-class preparation that we did was pre-create poll questions, put the WebEx event on student’s Gmail calendars and identify one or two key ‘learning moments’ or interactions to focus on.

2. Have technical support – The first class required a lot of work. Tech support both for the instructors and the students is a good thing.

3. Be prepared to wait – You are in essence talking to yourself the entire time, ask students for queues and feedback (e.g. raised hand, verbal comments, chat comments) or use short polls to get interaction going. Getting everyone to talk is tough but breaking up a lecture with short interactions not only keeps it fun it helps you understand what students understand or do not understand. In our second class we showed students how to control their microphone muting and during discussion time the interaction felt very much like an in-person discussion would. As always, it took a good minute for someone to make the first comment though!

4. Have fun – WebEx is a new experience for everyone and there was a bit of excitement just in how things were happening. Building on that sense of fun and excitement is well worth the effort.

What’s next?

Gretchen and I are going to look at the student feedback forms from the first few weeks and I am going to chat with students about how many more sessions they would like to do online. While WebEx takes more prep than an in-person class (at least for now), from my experience it helps create just as good a classroom environment.

Teaching Teaching Wrap-Up

Friday, May 15, 2009 1:50 pm

Today was the final day of the teaching teaching spring class. We’ve been at it since January, and we’ve held 14 sessions. We’ve had 14 hours (less the minutes early I left for committee meetings) to devote some serious time to coming together as a group to talk about our teaching and hopefully learn a few tricks. I started today talking about the design for the course. Roz clearly played a large role, and everyone who participated helped shape the course either through conversations outside of the class or by their participation.

And while we’re talking about participants, we had a large percentage of the library staff attend at one point or another, and most people attended several (or all!). The “teaching teaching” participants were Roz Tedford, Bobbie Collins, Lauren Corbett, Carol Cramer, Ellen Daugman, Craig Fansler, Joy Gambill, Kevin Gilbertson, Derrik Hiatt, Kate Irwin-Smiler (from PCL), Julie James (from Carpenter), Sarah Jeong, Vicki Johnson, Steve Kelley, Mary Beth Lock, Leslie McCall, Carolyn McCallum, Kaeley McMahan, Erik Mitchell, Elizabeth Novicki, Mary Scanlon, Susan Smith, and Giz Womack.

We covered a lot of ground, too! We talked about what Instructional Design is, and the different models of ID that are practiced. We talked about taxonomies of teaching, educational psychology, multiple intelligences/learning styles, teaching styles, learning theory, problem based learning, active learning, classroom management, assessment, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. We’re planning a few summer workshops to bridge a few gaps, and we’re planning a fall program of facilitated practical talks on specific techniques. Keep an eye on your email to see when the next teaching classes will be!

I’ve really enjoyed this project, and it’s been a great semester. As I told the group this morning, having an enthusiastic group of participants made it much more fun (and made all of the planning much less burdensome and far more enjoyable). Clearly, this is an example of the culture of ZSR/WFU. The participants were focused on our mission: honing their teaching skills in order to better position themselves to help our students succeed. I can’t wait to see how this course shapes our instruction in the coming semesters. Thanks to everyone who participated! I really appreciate your enthusiasm and engagement!

If you’re interested in seeing what we were up to, you can see the course blog.

Teaching Teaching (or maybe it should have been Teaching Strategies… )

Friday, March 20, 2009 4:25 pm

It occured to me that with the passing of spring break we’ve crossed the halfway point with our Teaching Teaching class! For those who are interested in what we’ve been doing, you can read up on it with our blog. If you’re interested in coming, feel free to drop in any Friday at 9:00 in 476. You can attend as many or as few as you’d like, and we try to make it relevant to everyone, even if they’ve missed prior classes.

Here’s some of what we’ve covered:

Let Roz or me know if you have any questions!

Day 8: Case Study Ideas

Friday, March 20, 2009 3:36 pm

So we’ve done a lot lately! On day 6, Roz talked about teaching styles. Day 7 was a swap and share. Last week was spring break, which brings us to Day 8!

I’m about to post all the standard class posts, but wanted to give space for sharing the case study ideas you might have come up with when reading through the exercise and talking in pairs. So, if you had an idea… this is where to put it!


TLC Educational Technology Discussion Group

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 11:24 pm

This year I have been able to do a little more work with the Teaching and Learning Center as their library liaison. This has been fun for me, and a good chance to look for opportunities where the library and the TLC can work together on projects that help both organizations with our missions.

Today kicked off one of these projects, and one I’ve been looking forward to for a few semesters.

Every month, on the third Tuesday at 11:00 am, we’re holding an informal Educational Technology Discussion Group. This morning the TLC provided coffee, cookies, and chairs, and a group of 16 got together to discuss the use of educational technology. About half the group were teaching faculty, and the other half were ITGs.

This morning’s conversations focused on the uses of blogs and wikis to enhance out-of-class learning, multimedia projects, clickers, Sakai, and a number of other less widely-used tools. I was thrilled to hear that so many library hosted blogs and wikis have been positive experiences for the faculty in attendance, and glad to know that our willingness to go into classrooms to teach the nuts and bolts of these tools, along with multimedia and podcasting projects, has meant that faculty are more at ease using these tools in their classes.

We also talked about issues that I think of as intimately related to information literacy. The discussion touched on privacy issues, publishing in a Web 2.0 world, finding and creating information on the Internet, and information life skills (such as how to find information to teach oneself how to use a new technology). I tried to pipe up as much as was reasonable on these issues, because as far as I’m concerned, they’re all information literacy related.

Towards the end of the session we discussed how to get more faculty involved in doing these types of projects and joining the group. Two refrains I heard were to (1) help faculty realize that it really is easy to integrate these tools (2) help faculty realize that, if structured correctly, the use of some of these tools will actually save time in teaching/grading the course. These, to me, come down to instructional design issues, so now I’m mulling over how to make this case more effectively, and to a larger audience at the University.

I would love to see more library teachers there next time. I know we’re doing some amazing things with educational technologies in a number of our classes, and this would be a great venue to share ideas, get new ones, and let people know how the library can support this type of work. If you’re interested, here is the next meeting information:

Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Time: 11:00 A.M.
Location: Teaching and Learning Center, Room 330, ZSR Library

Another Successful LIB100 Semester

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 2:32 pm

Well, we are wrapping up another successful semester of LIB100 classes. We taught 10 classes this semester. That’s 137 students (24 Freshmen, 50 Sophomores 22 Juniors and 41 Seniors). A few classes branched out to use group projects for the final project, some of us even used Wikis! I taught EndNote Web to my classes and used our snazzy ‘clickers’ during many of my classes. The students seemed to really like them and whenever they came in and we were not using them, they always asked about them. I will be gathering up feedback from all instructors in a wrap-up meeting on Wednesday, May 31st at 1pm in room 476. Anyone else in the library is welcome to attend. This summer we are testing the waters with two LIB100 sections during Summer II (thanks Susan/Erik and Sharon/Vicki). If they don’t make it, we may not offer them again. I’ll be updating the template class this summer to include the options of group projects, wikis and clickers. A HUGE THANK YOU to all of the instructors who spend endless hours preparing for class and grading assignments and final projects. When you get comments like “I enjoyed every class and left every session with a wealth of new knowledge that I am really glad to have gained.” we know it was worth it! As always, anyone wanting to know more about the class, or who is interested in participating as an instructor, assistant or grader is welcome to come talk to me! Not everyone that works in our classes does the teaching – so if that is not your forte, but you still want to be involved, feel free to come discuss it.

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