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Social Pedagogies and CourseNetworking at Purdue University

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By in Distance Education, Student Technology Kit, Tools on .

Purdue is currently collaborating with CourseNetworking (CN) to explore the possibility of offering faculty an alternative learning management system (LMS) that requires little administration and allows first-time users to quickly create courses independently. This light-weight LMS uses a familiar interface and focuses on academic social networking.

Ali Jafari, , professor of computer and information technology at Purdue’s School of Engineering and Technology and director of the CyberLab, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and the founder of CN was quoted in a recent Purdue News article:

“The learning systems we have today were developed almost two decades ago,” Jafari says. “We need to invent the next generation. We need to learn a lesson from Facebook and Twitter that connecting people together and let them learn from each other is a more effective way to go.”1

A new social learning-based system focused on networking and collaboration that produces a highly interactive learning environment, CN has the potential to connect instructors and students from around the world based on shared interests and subject areas. The walls between classrooms are broken down enabling learners from different classes and schools to have dynamic discussions and freely share learning resources through: Posts, Polls, Events and more. CN transforms the traditional teacher-centered learning environment to a more engaging and effective student-centered learning environment. Students enjoy their learning experience by “following” and “colleaguing” other learners, by compiling learning resources on their own, and through a unique reward system, collecting Anar seeds, that many instructors use to incentivize the learning and engagement.

Randy Bass in his 2012 Educause article, Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education, discusses the pressures that are being felt in higher education due at least in part to the evidence that significant learning experiences are happening outside of the formal curriculum. He describes the pressures coming from two sides: 1) “data surrounding experiential learning, and 2) the informal learning and the participatory culture of the Internet.”2

Instructors can create tasks in CN that include “Smart Links”. These links allow the students to quickly access functionality such as: creating posts, responding to polls, and submitting assignments into a “Dropbox” area of the course for grading.

The course interface is familiar to the students. CN is designed to allow students to post multimedia easily and efficiently. Students frequently share resources found on the Internet. This informally appears to be quite motivating for the students. Their observed interactions frequently indicate their understanding of the content being learned and their ability to connect it to real life experiences, making the learning relevant.

To learn more about CN, visit http://www.thecn.com

Debbie Runshe, Educational Technologist

1Tally, S. (15 October 2013). “Purdue, Course networking to collaborate on next-generation edtech.” Purdue News.

2Bass, R. (2012, March/April). “Disrupting ourselves: The problem of learning in higher education.” EDUCAUSE Review. 47(2), 23-33. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/disrupting-ourselves-problem-learning-higher-education

Need To Learn Technology? The ITaP Student Trainers Can Help!

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By in Professional Development, Student Technology Kit, Training on .

Purdue University offers a lot of great software tools for faculty and students that can be used for course projects. The problem that may arise for faculty wanting students to create movies, graphics, or other deliverables for course projects may simply be that students are not familiar with tools needed to create those items.

This is where the ITaP Student Trainers can help!

The ITaP Student Training program offers free training on various software tools to students and faculty. During the time of a 50-minute course meeting, a Student Trainer can provide students with the basic knowledge of a software tool so those students can complete their assignment. For a 75-minute course, Student Trainers can provide not only a training session but also, on request of the course instructor, additional question and answer time for individual students in the course.

Each training session is a hands-on session, so training sessions held during class time may need to be held in a computer lab instead of the normal classroom. All students in the session will receive a handout, and any student missing class or needing additional instruction may schedule an individual help session with one of the Student Training staff.

Student Trainers currently provide training sessions on the following software tools:

Microsoft Office
(Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
Photoshop
InDesign Illustrator
Acrobat iMovie
GarageBand Windows Live Movie Maker
Audacity Gradient
Dreamweaver Adobe Connect

 

Additionally, other training sessions may be available on request. If you need a training session on a product not listed above, please contact the Student Trainers and request that session.

Student Trainers are also available to provide training sessions to recognized student organizations. Student organizations interested in providing professional development to its members as a whole, or who may need a few members trained in a technology to develop videos or materials to market their group may utilize the Student Trainers for this purpose. Additionally, Resident Assistants who would like to provide a program for their communities to develop new technical skills may also request a program from the Student Training staff.

Student Trainer sessions may be customized to meet the needs of attendees. For an audience that may know how to use Microsoft Word but may need some training on more advanced topics in Word, a training session can be developed to meet that need.

The ITaP Student Trainers are available throughout the fall and spring semesters, with limited availability in the summer. If you are interested in setting up a training session please fill out our training request form. For more information please email itaptrainers@purdue.edu and one of our training coordinators will answer any questions you may have.

Brett Creech
Educational Technologist

Digital Learning Badges at Purdue

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By in Mobile, Student Technology Kit on .

Studio by Purdue is proud to announce Passport, a digital badge learning platform developed here at Purdue University.

Passport allows instructors to create challenges that a student can complete to earn badges. Purdue’s Passport platform integrates with Mozilla Open Badges. Bill Watson, an assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction, was instrumental in the creation behind Passport.

“Typically in courses, we have a number of very broad learning goals, and grades are given out on student assignments tied to these broad goals,” Watson says. “But really, it is more a comparison of students rather than a focus on student learning and attainment of desired learning outcomes.”

Passport provides a framework allowing students to earn badges through uploads, sharing links, taking assessments, and through instructor approvals.

Students can show what they know by displaying their digital learning badges through Passport’s portfolio app or as a  Mozilla OpenBadge. By actively sharing badges, students can display the evidence tied to each challenge, giving a clearer picture of their learned skills and competencies to potential employers.

Purdue is accepting test pilot applications for a limited number of beta users so that instructors everywhere can explore digital badges for learning. Visit http://purdue.edu/studio to find out more.

Technology: What students know vs. what we want them to know

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By in Classroom, Course Redesign, General Education, Musings on Technology, Student Behavior, Student Technology Kit on .

One of the common technology disconnects we see is faculty expectations compared to student abilities. One of the possible reasons for this is the types of technologies student most commonly use compared with the types of technologies we want them to use.

Student Tech Use

First off, some students have significantly more computer experience than others. Some will have had home computers before they started to talk and others will have had limited access in schools. This gives a spectrum from no experience to constant experience…

 

Range from No Technology Use to Constant Use

Range from No Technology Use to Constant Use

In addition, however, we need to think about what students are doing when they use technology. The types of technologies students are frequently using are social networking, gaming, and ‘productivity’ tools (such as Word and email). And each student will have a different level of experience with each. So while one student may have focused on productivity and gaming, another might have focused on social networking.

 

Differering student expertise

Differering student expertise

So, graphing a class of students, you might end up with something like this:

Students will have various areas of expertise as well as different levels of use

Instructor Expectations

 The types of technologies we want them use could be grouped into productivity tools (perhaps expanded to include presentation and spreadsheet tools), subject-specific technologies (such as electronic medication administration), and instructional technologies (such as research databases, DoubleTake and Blackboard).

Students’ experiences in subject-area and instructional technologies are often pretty limited. So a typical student might look like this…

Student experience with subject and instructional technologies

Student experience with subject and instructional technologies

and a class might look more like this…

Class experience with subject and instructional technologies

Class experience with subject and instructional technologies

So what?

As instructors increase the amounts and types of technologies used for teaching, the students may need additional support. Programs we think of as intuitive may only be so because of our experience and background. For example, I don’t care what my kids say, I struggle with Facebook constantly. They don’t.

It might help us think through student technology learning needs if we think through their probable experiences and compare these with the technologies we are asking them to use.

This, of course, puts another burden on the instructor – as the main person associated with the technology, the instructor is probably students’ first contact.

If you are planning on using instructional technologies in class or in assignments, you might want to check your student’s readiness first. Attached is a simple and quick survey that might help you with this.

By thinking through what types of support students may need, when they might need it, and who is the most appropriate contact for the students, you can help them get support more quickly.

  • Many technologies have quick-start guides that you can provide students before they need them.
  • We also have student trainers who can provide basic instructions on many technologies your students might need to complete your assignments (http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/trainingnew/st/ or email itaptrainers@purdue.edu).
  • And if you are not sure who the contact should be, you can always start with the ITC Help Desk (x44000).

If you are interested in learning more specifically about instructional technologies, our team in IDC is ready to help. You can contact us by emailing itap@purdue.edu.

Pat Reid, Ed.D., Manager, Teaching and Learning Initiatives