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September 2012

I   Blackboard Updates
Reminders and timely updates for Fall 2012

II   CER Services Available to Faculty
Check out the CER's list of services and resources to help with your teaching

III   Faculty Spotlight: Michael Harrower, Assistant Professor, Dept of Near Eastern Studies
A continuing series on teaching excellence at Homewood

IV   Teaching Tips: Classroom Assessment
Innovative Assessment Ideas

V   Sheridan Library Updates
BLC, Workshops, and Website

VI   Classroom Technology
What's new or upgraded this fall?

VII   The Phoenix Project
Meeting Researchers' High Performance Computing Needs  

 

I   Blackboard Updates

  • Course Sites: Fall 2012 Blackboard course shells are available now. There is no need to request Blackboard course shells - all full time AS/EN courses have a course site by default in Blackboard. For courses to be seen by students, instructors must make them available. Go here to learn how: http://help.sset.jhu.edu/download/attachments/10485887/Making_a_Blackboard_Course_Available.pdf.
  • Training: Blackboard training sessions are available at the CER for new and experienced users. Individual consultations or small group sessions can be scheduled at your convenience. Contact cerweb@jhu.edu for details.
  • Course Copy: Course material is not automatically copied over from semester to semester. If you want to reuse material from a Blackboard course taught in a previous semester, you'll need to use the Course Copy feature. Course Copy allows you to select the parts of a course you would like to copy; it then copies those parts to the new course shell. For the Course Copy feature to work properly, 1) you must be an instructor in both courses, and 2) the course to be copied into must be an existing course. Please see the Course Copy tutorial for more details: http://help.sset.jhu.edu/download/attachments/10485887/Course_Copy.pdf
  • GradeMark: Last spring, the Blackboard Faculty User Group meeting featured GradeMark, a paperless grading system that can easily integrate with Blackboard. Recently, GradeMark introduced a new feature that makes it possible for instructors to leave a voice comment on a student assignment. In the 'General Comments' mark-up area, instructors can now record a personal message up to three minutes in length. Please see the GradeMark tutorial for more information: http://help.sset.jhu.edu/download/attachments/10485887/GradeMark.pdf
Grademark Screenshot
 

II   CER Services Available to Faculty

CER Logo Whether you are a faculty member new to Johns Hopkins or an established professor who has not yet explored our offerings, the Center for Educational Resources welcomes you to the fall 2012 semester. The CER provides pedagogical support and resources for both traditional and digitally supported teaching. Our location in the Garrett Room of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library allows us to work closely with Sheridan Libraries research services librarians and University IT staff. The CER staff have advanced academic degrees and experience in instructional settings, and, most importantly, they are flexible and willing to provide both individual consultations for faculty or small group presentations for departmental groups. Training opportunities: Instructional technology resource assistance: Resources especially for faculty:
  • faculty multimedia lab and equipment loans - industry standard resources to record and distribute lecture materials, enhance presentations visually and aurally, and prepare materials for conferences and grant proposals
  • mobile computer cart - laptop set can transform any classroom into an interactive learning space
Other services:
  • partnering with faculty to develop instructional assessment and educational outreach sections in grant proposals
  • reviewing instructional applications of Web-accessible resources to address individual faculty instructional or research objectives
Technology Fellowship Program:
  • annual mini-grant program to help faculty address course-specific student learning objectives
  • over 100 projects from 31 departments have been completed to date
Faculty are invited to e-mail or call any of our staff to discuss priorities at a convenient meeting time. Staff bios and contact information are available online.
 

III   Faculty Spotlight: Michael Harrower, Assistant Professor, Department of Near Eastern Studies

CER: What are you teaching here at Hopkins? MH:
  • World Prehistory – an introductory archaeology course
  • Archaeological Method and Theory – a more advanced undergraduate course with some grad students
  • GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in Archaeology – an overview of GIS computer mapping in archaeology
  • Space Archaeology – an introduction to the application of satellite imagery, GIS, and advanced GPS in archaeology
  • Archaeology of Arabia – a course concentrating on ancient civilizations of Yemen and Oman
CER: What are your strategies or approaches for engaging or connecting with the students in your course? MH: The unique strategy I use for computer mapping in my courses is a combination of providing conceptual background to mapping and cartography with hands-on use of computers and archaeological datasets. I try to get students to do basic analytical work and think about archaeological problems as problems in ancient physical and human geography. They get a sense of the big picture: what is GIS, what does satellite imagery consist of, and how it can be analyzed in a lab. Though the applications are archaeological, the technological skills are applicable to any type of computer mapping or advanced GIS and satellite imagery analysis and research. CER: Can you give us an example of how you do this? Michael Harrower Photo MH: We put together a new lab in Dunning Hall for teaching computer mapping. Among others, it was designed for and is used by faculty including, Benjamin Zaitchik in Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) and Judith Mitrani-Reiser in Civil Engineering. It allows us to do presentations with different types of software and gives students the opportunity to do hands-on work. I split my class into lecture and lab components. It's important to learn concepts, but not focus solely on learning specific software. The interface always changes so I don't want them learning simply how to follow a recipe and how to click buttons. I want them to learn the underlying concepts of cartography and the technological sophistication of multispectral satellite imagery, differential GPS and how they play out in practice. CER: Can you give an example of this? MH: Two of the most recognized applications of GIS are Google Earth and Google Maps. Google Maps helps you find the quickest way to get somewhere using something called least-cost path modeling. This has similar applications in archaeology. We look at ancient trade routes and trade networks documented in ancient texts and compare them with the most time or energy efficient ways to move through rugged mountainous landscapes. For instance for northern Ethiopia/Eritrea ancient texts recount how it was a 5 day journey between the ancient port city of Adulis on the Red Sea coast to the capital city of Aksum more than 150 km inland. We look at textual descriptions and use computer mapping to compare the energetically most efficient route. In this case ancient texts strikingly correspond to what computer mapping analyses indicate. I also teach viewshed analysis. We model terrain and look at visibility across landscapes. Archaeologists do this to look at the visibility of monuments and settlements. Like modern populations, ancient peoples often built fortifications or monuments so they were visible to, or could overlook and survail, people passing through an area. I had a student in my class, Gabriela Morillo, evaluate Pliny the Younger's ancient reports regarding the 79 AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and destruction of the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. She analyzed a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and produced viewsheds to determine what would have been visible from different areas. CER: Do you pick the projects or do students? MH: I offer suggestions and guidance, but ultimately students pick their projects like Gabriela's Mt. Vesuvius visibility project. Another student, Michael Gao, conducted a hydrological analysis for the ancient city of Copan in Honduras. He analyzed waterflow across the landscape and how it affected the city.
GIs Student on Upper Quad
CER: These courses sound very interdisciplinary. What types of students sign up for your courses? MH: There's a large demand not just in archaeology, but other fields as well. My class consists of Archaeology majors, Near Eastern Studies majors, Engineering majors, Earth and Planetary Science majors, and students from all sorts of other disciplines that want to learn GIS. GIS and satellite imagery is a very rapidly burgeoning field in terms of employment opportunities. I've had students take my courses and then go on to work with government agencies and private contractors in archaeology but also in other fields. If one can get students interested in the technologies through an intriguing topic, ultimately they are learning skills that are widely applicable. CER: How do you know when you're successful? MH: I know I'm successful when they are teaching me things that I didn't already know. They are taking it to a level where they are pushing the boundaries of research. I've had students working on projects that use cutting-edge technology that comes from engineering and space sciences and applying it to archaeology. This summer I came across a very recent publication by someone doing very similar work to Michaels' project on Honduras last spring. I forwarded it to him so he would recognize the relevance and quality of his own work and as you might imagine he was quite pleased. CER: What is your philosophy of teaching? MH: Lots of students have double majors that connect with archaeology in one way or another. There are so many disciplines that archaeologists interact with – chemistry, physics, art history, and engineering, just to name a few– so we can draw on students' knowledge in different disciplines and help them apply it to archaeological problems. With such an interdisciplinary course, I try to have students teach each other and teach me as we grapple with the potential of mapping and satellite technologies. Ultimately only very few students are going to go on to become archaeologists but I find this type of interactivity helps students in engage with the content and can be a very constructive part of broad educational experiences in technologies, research, and report writing. Student Quote Seeing the connection between our in-class projects and current professional research not only made me smile, but also reminded me that each lesson from Professor Harrower's GIS course had a practical application to the field--and that is something I love seeing in my courses. -Michael Gao
 

IV   Teaching Tips: Classroom Assessment

Increasing emphasis is being placed on assessment, and many faculty are looking for evaluation practices that extend beyond giving a mid-term and final exam. In particular the concept of non-graded classroom assessment is gaining traction. In their book Classroom Assessment Techniques, Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross (Jossey-Bass, 1993) stress the importance of student evaluation that is "learner-centered, teacher-directed, mutually beneficial, formative, context-specific, ongoing, and firmly rooted in good practice." While the authors describe in detail numerous techniques for ascertaining in a timely manner whether or not students are learning what is being taught, here are several quick and easy to implement methods: Classroom Stock Photo The Minute Paper: At an appropriate break, ask students to answer on paper a specific question pertaining to what has just been taught. After a minute or two, collect the papers for review after class, or, to promote class interaction, ask students to pair off and discuss their responses. After a few minutes, call on a few students to report their answers and results of discussion. If papers are turned in, there is value to both the anonymous and the signed approach. Grading, however, is not the point; this is a way to gather information about the effectiveness of teaching and learning. In Class Survey: Think of this as a short, non-graded pop quiz. Pass out a prepared set of questions, or have students provide answers on their own paper to questions on a PowerPoint/Keynote slide. Focus on a few key concepts. Again, the idea is to assess whether students understand what is being taught. Exit Ticket: Select one of the following items and near the end of class ask your students to write on a sheet of paper 1) a question they have that didn't get answered, 2) a concept or problem that they didn't understand, 3) a bullet list of the major points covered in class, or 4) a specific question to access their learning. Students must hand in the paper to exit class. Allow anonymous response so that students will answer honestly. If you do this regularly, you may want to put the exit ticket question on your final PowerPoint/Keynote slide. Using classroom polling devices (a.k.a. clickers) can be an excellent means of obtaining evidence of student learning. See http://www.cer.jhu.edu/clickers.html for information about the in-class voting system used at JHU. Faculty who are interested in learning more should contact Brian Cole. Faculty at the JHU School of Nursing have been piloting an online application called Course Canary. A free account is available that offers two online surveys and two exit ticket surveys. See: https://coursecanary.com/.
 

V   Sheridan Library Updates: BLC, Workshops, and Website

BLC Exterior ABC's of the BLC The Brody Learning Commons opens for business After much anticipation, the Brody Learning Commons has finally opened. The new library facility, which connects on all levels to the MSE Library, features flexible group and individual study areas, interactive media rooms, a 100-seat quiet reading room, and a new 75-seat cafe. The Commons increases the library's seating capacity by a third—adding more than 500 new seats—and is completely wireless-enabled. Swing by to explore for yourself, or ask your liaison librarian for a private tour. Fall Workshops Roundup Help students spring into fall with our instructional workshops After a long summer, it can sometimes take students extra time to get their brains back in gear. Don't let them fall behind—send them to one of the library's instructional workshops. Our mission is to promote academic success, and we offer one-hour classes on everything from "Citation & Organizational Tools" and "Copyright & Fair Use" to "Making the Best of Google." For dates and registration information, stay tuned to the library blog. Library Website Facelift Streamlined website launches in anticipation of academic year Not only did we get a new building, we completely overhauled our website as well. The new space is much flatter and allows users to quickly get to their destination, be it catalog record, database, or subject guide. We encourage your comments and suggestions—simply click the red "Feedback" link at the top of the page. If there is something you cannot find, please let your liaison librarian know, and they will be happy to investigate for you.

MSEL New Website

 

 

 

 

VI   Classroom Technology : Fall Upgrades

Approximately 1/3 of the general pool classrooms received updates during the summer. All classrooms in Hodson Hall are being updated to fully digital AV systems, which will ensure compatibility with new laptops as VGA support is phased out in favor of digital (HDMI or Displayport) output support. Classrooms in Shaffer, Maryland, Krieger, Ames, Latrobe, Barton and Dunning also received new LCD projectors, which will enable higher display resolutions and brighter image output. Academic Technology Facilities Logo Starting this semester, the Academic Technologies group has implemented a phone-based "help" system for on-demand support for faculty teaching in the general pool classrooms. Updated Help/FAQ signs have been posted in all supported classrooms, with the "help line" phone number (410-516-6699) prominently displayed along with the standard support hours of 8am-8pm Monday-Friday. When calling for assistance from a supported classroom, an Academic Technologies staff member will answer the call and confirm that a technician is being dispatched to the classroom unless the issue can be quickly resolved over the phone. Wall phones have been installed in several classrooms that have poor cell phone reception, and we will continue to monitor feedback from faculty to determine if other phone locations are needed. The goal of this change is to provide real-time confirmation that the support request has been received, and assurance that a technician is available to provide assistance when needed.
 

VII   The Phoenix Project: Meeting Researchers' High Performance Computing Needs

Phoenix HPC Project Logo Work has begun on the Phoenix Project at Hopkins to provide a flexible, collaborative HPC environment by harnessing the power of decommissioned servers to create a shared compute cluster environment. The project provides a workload management system for specialized compute-intensive jobs. Through the resulting Shared Compute Cluster (SCC), users submit their serial or parallel jobs, the SCC places them into a queue, chooses when and where to run the jobs based on agreed upon priority rules of a community-designed policy, and informs users when jobs are completed. The goal is to provide HPC resources for our research community at no charge. However, to ensure we design a solution that has true value, the Phoenix Project team must understand the user needs and develop the environment accordingly. The team is soliciting feedback from faculty on their computational jobs, whether they require very fast short-term compute resources or long-term resources as measured in weeks, months, and years. The team invites faculty to help unlock the potential of a shared compute cluster to meet Hopkins computational needs. Please contact phoenixscc@johnshopkins.edu to find out how you can provide the feedback that shapes the project.