Professional Development

In the 'Educause SE' Category...

EDUCAUSE Southeast: A Quick Trip to Atlanta

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 8:36 pm

Atlanta Skyline
Atlanta Skyline from the 55th floor of the Westin Hotel

Those of us who aspire to be active professionals are regularly looking for conferences where we can submit proposals to present on the interesting projects we are involved with at ZSR Library and Wake Forest University. This was the case with the EDUCAUSE 2010 Southeast Regional Conference held June 2-4. Its theme was timely: “Higher Education IT in Today’s World: Making the Most of the Economic Reality.” Erik and I had spotted the call for proposals late last year and submitted one under the “Teaching and Learning” track about our use of social and mobile technologies in last year’s Social Stratification South Course. I give this background because it sets the scene for what follows. We received notification that our presentation had been selected as a “backup presentation.” Translation: we were wait listed in case someone else had to cancel (a much more common occurrence these days with the current economic landscape). Fast forward a couple months and we received word that, indeed, there was an opening in the schedule and we were in!

It’s close to the end of the fiscal year and by the time we knew we would be going, funding was tight. However, library administration (yea, Lynn) was supportive of the opportunity. So we examined the possibilities and decided to register for one day of the conference and just go down to Atlanta the night before. This meant that we had enough time to doing a little walking tour of the immediate downtown area Wednesday evening and catch a couple sessions Thursday morning before we gave our presentation, “#socstrat: leveraging social and mobile technologies in experiential courses.”

Susan and Erik at EDUCAUSE Southeast

Briefly, I’ll recap the two sessions I attended. The first one was “Social Media and Strategic Communications: forming a New partnership in a New Medium,” with the presenters hailing from University of Florida. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting as the presenters talked about the importance of having a strategic communications plan for social media including consistent branding, guidelines and policies. Although that seems to be counter to what social media stands for, it was understandable when you consider that UF has over 22,000 employees and they all could initiate social spaces that represent the institution. A strategic approach may be the best way to maintain effective branding (branding is everything about your institution).

The second session was a case study of the use of the Thayer Method to engage science students at Georgia Gwinnett College. In this method, students are responsible for their own learning, they prepare in advance for class so they already have questions ready for what they don’t understand. The instructor is the facilitator, the approach is problem-based and small class size is the model.

Our presentation was well attended with about 40 people in the audience. We found out later that a few attendees actually tweeted about our talk during the session. More surprising was the man who waited patiently to speak to me after the session to tell me that he had texted a mutual acquaintance (Tommy Jackson, previously with IS) during our talk and had discovered that Tommy had just sold my husband a pickup truck! Small world these days…..

Here is a slideshare version of our presentation:

Educause SE Wed. AM

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 8:27 am

This morning started with a session on student computer use in the classroom. They looked at tablets and laptop use by students at the Univ. or Vermont School of Business where they REQUIRE TABLETS of all their students – undergrad and grad. Their faculty struggle with needing the students to have computers in the class with the fact that computers are now fully-functional entertainment centers (sound familiar?) They revamped the class to use the tablets and installed activity monitoring software on the computers to track what the students ‘really’ do in class. They found that 20% of the time students were not doing class-related activities. The found that tablet users did less instant messaging but more gaming, email, web surfing than the laptop users. They also found that the more time a student spent instant messaging the worse grade they got in the class (shocking!). They also found that 50% of web browsing done in a class is unproductive. They also found that to some degree the tablet students did better on the course final grade. There are still some questions to be answered, but an interesting empirical look at classroom computer use.

Tuesday at Educause #2

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 7:02 pm

Finally able to write about the other sessions I attended today. One about the use of iPods in English Composition classes was particularly interesting. The professor (from Miami Dade Univ.) based his comp class around James Bond (great idea — no Cliff Notes for the books, great fodder for composition in comparing the books to the movies, and the students love it). He taught two sections and for one handed out iPods and created podcasts with supplemental material like a ‘Villians Gallery’ and other content for students to listen to and watch outside of class. For the other class, the same material was available on the web. The grades were significantly better in the one with the iPods. He found that his student athletes, especially, would listen to the material on the bus, on the treadmill and on the trainers tables. He thought the students who benefited the most were the ones who were at risk of falling through the cracks — those who needed just a bit more experience with the material to be successful.

In a different look at the same issue, however, was a professor at the poster session who surveyed his students about iPod use and found that they did not want ‘educational’ material encroaching on their ‘recreational’ device. They very clearly saw the dilineation between work space and play space and never the twain shall meet…..
This question about how far into student spaces we should venture before we start to get pushback was the topic of a discussion session I went to. Lots of discussion about how schools are using wikis, blogs and even Second Life but no consensus about how far we should take it. Anecdotally there is a lot of evidence that students don’t want grown-ups in their spaces, but also anecdotally you have some success stories about faculty using Facebook groups successfully in classes. I think the key is to know your students and your campus culture. The group did recognize that a lot of the social software technologies that we are experimenting with (RSS aggregators, Second Life, etc.) have yet to ‘catch on’ with undergrads, and there is some evidence that even Facebook is becoming less popular with college students as High School students are now allowed and employers and grad schools are now looking at profiles in hiring and admission processes.

The general session this afternoon was on disaster preparedness and recovery. Presented by people from Southern Miss. Univ. and LSU we got a first hand look at how disasters can affect all areas of a campus even when your campus is not the one hit. Southern Miss. was nearly completely wiped out by the storm, LSU just had all of the issues around being an evacuation point. They gave good advice – and sobering account of how Katrina affected so many. I know I’m going to go home and make an inventory of our house and store it online somewhere I can get to it even if the house is gone!

Tuesday AM at Educause

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 10:39 am

My first session this morning is about a faculty development program at Florida comunity College at Jacksonville. They put together teams of 4 faculty and gave them extensive pedagogy, tech training and interactive learning training. The faculty use these skills to create courses that can be taught face-to-face, blended or fully online. The faculty get 15 hours of pedagogy, 12 hours of Blackboard and 6 hours of multimedia training. In addition they get mentoring, beta testing for their courses and other support for developing the class. They also get financial compensation and rewards for participating in the program which has been a key to its success. This is a remarkable program and makes me wish we had a centralized faculty development office at WFU to develop these sorts of programs. Perhaps that will come out of the strategic plan.

Someone just stopped me in the hall and told me my postings from yesterday got big play in the Program Committee breakfast this morning. They gave us out the tag to use if blogging the conference and I did and they found it. Good thing I didn’t say mean things! It really is a well-run conference.

Educause Post 2

Monday, June 11, 2007 5:59 pm

The keynote speaker this afternoon on the technology at the Georgia Aquarium was fascinating. Can’t wait to go there to see it all first hand. I was hoping to get there this trip, but it will have to wait until November when I’m brining Erin down to meet up with a college friend and her daughter.

The second session of the afternoon was an interesting one from Georgia Gwinnett College, a brand new campus in the Univ. of GA system. They did a pilot with with two classes and gave them cell phones for data collection and to use as an audience response system. They did some cool things and learned a lot. They are now REQUIRING faculty to have cell phones (numbers published in the staff directory). They can use their own phones, or use a state provided one which is paid for, but they cannot use it for personal calls. They will be requiring cell phones with text messaging capabilities for all students starting next year. They plan to start providing grades and other information to students on them.

The reception was very nice tonight (who can fault a reception where you get a free glass of wine AND chocolate fondue??) and tomorrow will be filled with more sessions – another on podcasting, one on social software and a couple on Information Literacy.

Roz at EDUCAUSE SE Regional

Monday, June 11, 2007 10:52 am

For those who don’t know what Educause is, it is an organization dedicated to Technology in academic institutions. You always feel you are at a conference run by professionals, here, because they are really good at it. Their big annual conference in the Fall each year is akin to ALA in terms of size and number of vendors (but more men!) The conference I am at this week is their South East Regional and is much more concentrated and manageable than the big one.

This morning I went to a Pre-conference on Podcasting. I know several of our faculty are using Podcasting and I hoped this session would help me get ideas about how we can use it in LIB100 classes and in the library as a whole. I know the Tech Team has done some looking into this so perhaps we can all get together and brainstorm when I get back. I was hoping for more technological information in the session – software, etc. but it was more about the concept of podcasting. They gave us some great examples of schools that are using it like NC State’s Wolfcast and there are lots of things we could do in terms of general library content – using specific databases, tours, etc. that could easily be done in the podcast format.

Podcasting offers a lot of possibilities for increasing active learning time in classes by providing the lecture material for review before and after class. It also provides a way to be sure students who miss class because of illness or campus activities have access to the same content as those who come to class. I’d be interested in testing out some options for LIB100 this Fall. My mind is already scheming…..

As usual, you learn more at many conferences from the other attendees than you do from the presentations, but this was a worthwhile session. Now off to lunch and back for the General Session on Technology at the GA Aquarium. Should be interesting. More this evening!

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