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February 2011

I   Spring Pilot Supports Collaborative Group Work
Collaboration software enables 6-8 users to share a single workspace

II   2011-2012 Technology Fellowship Applications
Faculty/student grant money available

III   Spring 2011 Bits and Bytes Workshops
Check out CER's spring semester weekly "news you can use" presentations

IV   Faculty Spotlight: Stefanie DeLuca, winner of the 2010 Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award
CER interviews an associate professor in Sociology

V   Blackboard Updates
See what's new this semester

VI   Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection – Treasure Trove of Primary Resources
Archival resources can spice up humanities and social sciences course assignments  


I   Spring Pilot Supports Collaborative Group Work

Do you plan to assign group projects to your students this spring?  (Or are you working with colleagues on joint reports or publications?) Hopkins is piloting a collaborative software product that makes it very easy for users to share files, formulas, data, animations, movies, URLs or any other information on a single shared screen. Image for TeamSpotTeamSpot allows users to work individually on their laptops and, simultaneously, together on a big screen, in a shared, drag & drop environment.  Anyone in the group can send to, and manipulate content on, the shared host desktop. Group members can work on the Host computer’s desktop as if it were an extension of their own desktops.  Multiple people can work on the big screen at the same time, each with a uniquely identified cursor. Since group work occurs on the host computer’s desktop, group members can use their laptops to work “off screen” in parallel with the main group. This can be useful when one person needs to research a point or access new data while the rest of the team continues working together. It’s easy to move digital content among team members – files, websites, and folders can be sent to, and opened on, any computer joined to TeamSpot.  Once a file is moved to the shared work surface, anyone can revise it.  TeamSpot is PC and Mac compatible. TeamSpot is available for general JHU access in several locations, each identified by appropriate signage.  (Directions for joining TeamSpot sessions are posted in each location.) 5 TeamSpot locations:
  • Eisenhower Library – M Level next to Periodicals
  • Eisenhower Library – A Level, Group Study Room
  • Krieger Computing Lab – two Collaboration Rooms
  • Digital Media Center
ClassSpot is the classroom version of the software.  Instructors control access of student computers to the shared environment for classes up to ~40 students.  ClassSpot is being tested in Maryland, Latrobe, Clarke, and Macaulay this spring.  Please contact Mike Reese (mreese@jhu.edu) if you are interested in testing either TeamSpot or ClassSpot in your building during the spring pilot.

II   2011-2012 Technology Fellowship Applications

The Technology Fellows Program is a mini-grant initiative that enables faculty to partner with technology savvy students to develop resources to enhance pedagogy, increase or improve access to course content, encourage active learning, promote critical thinking, or support Image for Tech Fellows Applications student collaboration. Full-time faculty and students are eligible to apply. Each faculty member receives $1,000 for project leadership and oversight; student fellows receive $4,000 for resource development and implementation. While faculty need not have specific technology expertise, they must understand how digital technologies could be employed to support their teaching objectives. Student applicants are encouraged to have programming or multimedia skills, or they must have a concrete (and feasible) plan for acquiring the skills required for their projects. Approximately 285 hours of work should be devoted to each project. The CER can help interested applicants to formulate project ideas and can help match faculty with student partners. Once fellowships are awarded, CER staff serve as liaisons to project teams, conducting update sessions, providing some technical consultation, and helping teams prepare for a year-end showcase where project results are shared with the community. A committee of faculty and technical professionals from the Johns Hopkins community reviews all applications using the criteria listed in the application form found on our website at http://www.cer.jhu.edu/techfellows/. Applications will be accepted from February 1 - March 31st with awards announced in early April 2011. Funding will be available from May 2011 through April 2012; projects must be completed by April 15, 2012. For more information, contact Cheryl Wagner at 410-516-7181 or cwagner@jhu.edu.

III   Spring 2011 Bits and Bytes Workshops

The Center for Educational Resources at Johns Hopkins presents a weekly workshop series, Bits and Bytes, on useful pedagogical and instructional technology information for faculty and instructors. Eachsession is led by a member of the JHU community who offers an introductory presentation on aImage for Bits and Bytespractical topic – e.g., how to get the most out of Blackboard, Flickr, YouTube, TeamSpot Collaboration Software, Blogs & Wikis, Mobile Devices, and more. At Bits and Bytes sessions, participants review a variety of tools that can enhance teaching and research. After each presentation, a question and answer period allows attendees to clarify any remaining issues aboutthe topic. These informal sessions are held every Thursday from 1:00 – 2:00 PM in the MSE Library’s Garrett Room. For more information on workshop details or to request a topic for a future Bits and Bytes series, please contact Cheryl Wagner at cwagner@jhu.edu or visit the CER's Events page.

IV   Stefanie DeLuca, winner of the 2010 Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award

CER: What do you teach at Hopkins? 
  • Qualitative Research Practicum for undergraduates
  • Research Design for graduate students
  • Education and Inequality:  Individual, Contextual, and Policy Perspectives
  • Becoming An Adult: Life Course Perspectives on School, Work and Family Transition
  • Space, Place, Poverty & Race:  Sociological Perspectives on Neighborhoods and Public Housing
Stefanie DeLucaCER: What strategies do you use to engage students in your course?
SD: I use different tricks for each class.  For my Becoming An Adult class, I get students to interview their parents and grandparents about common transition points (e.g., when did you finish school, get married, have children).  Students generate life calendars, but more importantly, the interview experience gives them a different perspective on adulthood while still being very personal.  This assignment lets me connect their school work with their parents.  Parents always ask “What are you doing in school?” This forces them to discuss their school work while generating interesting conversations at home. Some students learn that their parents didn’t even expect them! It also gives students a sense of social mobility.  They learn they have opportunities that were never available to their parents or that their opportunities are a direct function of their parents’ choices. It makes the class much more personal.  It also gets them thinking about what it means to become established or successful, as they reflect on historical and demographic trends for populations similar and different from themselves. 
CER: So one of your strategies is to personalize the course?
SD: For this course, yes, but for other courses, it’s the opposite.  For my Space, Place, Poverty and Race course, I push them in a different way. This course gets them out of their comfort zone to shake them up a bit.  I have had the students do field work in Baltimore neighborhoods.  The students learn about access to housing in communities that are often very different from where they grew up.  They study the geography of opportunity.  Many students don’t think about poor communities because they’ve never been exposed to them… and when they come to Hopkins, they are told not to go to those places. In addition to getting them off campus, I show students data and maps.  For example, I may display racial compositions of census blocks without streets, and ask students to find Homewood’s location.  Most students guess Homewood is in Mt. Vernon.  It helps students become aware of disparities across communities and obtain a visual sense of how space and resources are allocated across urban areas. In general, I vary my approach from semester to semester.  What I learned at Hopkins is you can come up with a good idea, but it may not be practical when you think about the work students need to balance across all their classes. I try to be aware of that. Another opportunity in this class arises from the different students it attracts:  white, middle class students from elsewhere; local African Americans; and maybe Latinos or Asians from less advantaged communities.  Students come from different perspectives and can get worked up. 
CER: How do you facilitate these seemingly difficult conversations?
SD: I address it directly.  Sometimes students say inappropriate things, and I try to capitalize on it by addressing the tension it creates.  I make sure students know from the beginning that this is a safe environment to discuss these topics.  I tell students we all have different political leanings, but if you feel your ideas being threatened, you can put your thoughts on the table.
CER: It sounds like crossfire.
SD: It’s misfire if students aren’t open and honest.  If the conversation stays too safe, critical thinking doesn’t come out of the discourse. We can’t really learn in that environment.
CER: What strategies do you use in your research design courses?
SD: I use “read alouds,” like the kind of thing you might do in first grade.  I assign students important articles for pedagogical reasons.  Years ago, I realize they skipped the methods section and tables in the middle of the article because they didn’t understand them.  In the last 30-60 minutes of class I may choose a student to read slowly through key paragraphs, stopping him to ask the class, “what does that mean?” Breaking it down piece by piece helps them understand how we conduct our craft.  My hope is they understand the cool aspects of our science. I want students to become critical consumers of information. Sometimes I pull a recent presidential speech, NY Times commentary, or blog entry that is relevant to our topic and somewhat controversial.  I give them 5 minutes to read it in class.  I then might ask, “How do you know you can believe this?  What is the author’s standard of evidence?” I also make students post 2-3 questions on the readings before class each week.  It helps me see what students struggled with so I can come prepared to answer their questions or facilitate a discussion.  I also pick main themes or respond to more provocative questions. Finally, I invite students to do research with me and get them involved at all levels: protocol design, data collection, and cleaning data.  I give them a lot of responsibility. I joke that I run this really inefficient non-profit company that makes sociology.  My students and I work together and try to figure something out about this world.
CER: How do you know when you’re successful? 
SD: You can feel it in a class.  The best class is where I’m just a facilitator.  Class becomes more of a forum than a lecture. Students bring additional material and go above and beyond my expectations. My classes are very writing intensive, and often I can also see the students’ writing improve over the semester. 
CER: You came to Hopkins straight from graduate school.  How did you learn to teach?
SD: I taught one class in grad school. I learned a lot from my mistakes.  We take for granted what students do or don’t know and then overwhelm them with information.  I realized that early in my career so I now make sure I know what I want students to learn. I have clear objectives for each class in my mind and then build the class up that way.  I try to be modest because I can get so excited about a topic that I give them too much – something I think many faculty tend to do.
CER: What is your philosophy of teaching?
SD: Good research makes you better teacher.  When you care about your own work, invest heavily in it, and focus on what matters, the students catch that and engage. Good teaching makes you an even more effective lever for social change. When you teach such motivated and bright undergraduates, you have a vehicle to shape the next generation of advocates, leaders, and scientists.   They leave your class with a different sensibility about the world and it carries with them forever. Stefanie DeLuca is an associate professor of Sociology, winner of the 2010 Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award, and member of the Library Advisory Council. Student Quotes Dr. Deluca really challenges you. She assigns difficult and lengthy readings, but the readings she chooses are so interesting that you don’t notice how much you’re reading. To ensure our understanding, she goes over the difficult parts and brings in new information so that class is not just a repeat of the homework. She also appreciates student curiosity.  She gave us the freedom to choose a topic for our final assignment that particularly interested us. She was there to help guide us individually with our projects the whole way.   -- Julia Garrison In a student body that is often criticized for its lack of connection to the world beyond our red-brick walls, Prof. DeLuca is constantly breaking down that barrier and exposing her students to life in sociology-rich Baltimore. However, the thing I appreciate most about Professor DeLuca is her sense of humor. Although she deals with some of the toughest issues facing society, she embraces the idea of not taking herself too seriously… something I know her students genuinely appreciate.   -- Molly Dillon

V   Blackboard Updates

ALERT: This is a reminder to check for any sensitive files that you may have uploaded (even inadvertently) to Blackboard (such as answer keys, student grades, etc.). An incident recently occurred in which students were mistakenly given access to files in a Blackboard course site that were meant to be kept private. Please check your course sites to make sure that any private or sensitive material is truly private. If you need assistance with this, please contact the Center for Educational Resources (CER) and a staff member will be happy to help you.
Between the Fall and Spring semesters, Blackboard was upgraded to version 9.1 Service Pack 3, the Blackboard Iconlatest stable release at the time. This version fixes several, but not all, of the issues that were discovered during the Fall semester. Updated areas include Grade Center, Discussions, Assignments, and Tool Links. For full details, please see: http://help.sset.jhu.edu/display/Bb/Blackboard+What+Is+New In addition to the version update, Blackboard Mobile was activated during the winter break. Free Apps are available for iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android, and Blackberry. Search for Blackboard Mobile in the respective App marketplaces. BB Mobile allows  all course content to be viewed, and enables participation in discussions and blogs from a variety of mobile devices. During this initial trial of BB Mobile, there are significant restrictions on network access. Apple iOS devices must be on Wi-Fi and all other devices must be on the Sprint network. Based on the popularity of the initial rollout, these restrictions may be removed in the future. Blackboard reminders for the Spring 2011 semester: For training or Blackboard usage questions, email cerweb@jhu.edu
Thursday, March 24th - Blackboard Reps on Campus Want to help make Blackboard better during Spring Break? If you will be on the Homewood campus the morning of Thursday, 3/24/11, plan to spend some time with representatives from Blackboard. The company wants to hear directly from JHU faculty - complaints, praise, feedback - any input will be welcome. Detailed times and locations will be posted in Blackboard and on the CER's Blackboard page shortly.

VI   Lester S Levy Sheet Music Collection – Treasure Trove of Primary Resources

Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music Screen Capture Looking for images to add special interest to your lectures on American cultural, social and political history?  Interested in how Americans expressed their opinions on presidential candidates, relationships between men and women, or celebrated the Alaska Gold Rush of 1890?  Look no further than the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music.  The collection contains over 30,000 pieces of popular American music from the early 1800s through the mid-twentieth century.   The covers and lyrics reveal how Americans viewed issues from temperance to immigration to tobacco use to politics to war.  They also illustrate popular entertainments, including dancing, musical comedy and minstrels. For information on how to use the collection and some examples of creative uses of the collection by Hopkins faculty, please contact Kelly Spring (kspring1@jhu.edu).