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February 2015

I   CER Announces the Narrative / Visualization Grants - the NV Initiative
 Help your students build narrative and visualization skills for 21st century careers

II   TAR @ Hopkins (Teaching-as-Research)
Need help with the assessment of your course? Interested in working with a graduate student to design and implement an assessment plan?

III   2015-2016 Technology Fellowship Applications Now Open
Faculty/student mini-grants available to develop course resources - apply now

IV   Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments (TILE)
Faculty are invited to take advantage of a new classroom resource

V   Blackboard Updates
New features added in December

VI   Faculty Spotlight: Stewart Hendry, Professor, Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine
A continuing series on teaching excellence at Homewood

VII   Interim Reports for Faculty are now Online via Starfish
Calling all faculty - Interim Reports now fully online

VIII   Classroom Technology News and Notes
Faculty input needed as Gilman classroom technology refresh is planned

IX   New Year, New Look for Research Guides
Check out tips and resources by subject area or browse our “how-to” guides  


I   CER Announces the Narrative / Visualization Grants - the NV Initiative

NV grants logo.The Center for Educational Resources (CER) announces a program of grants for faculty who wish to support their undergraduate students' development of narrative and visual communication skills in support of scholarly activities. The focus of "deliverables" will be on courses offered to undergraduate students in the Whiting School of Engineering and the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences. To facilitate implementation, the grants will provide funding for graduate students to work with faculty to develop and teach narrative or visualization modules appropriate for the discipline. Please see the CER NV Grants page and the NV Grants RFP for more information. Deadline for submission is Monday, March 2, 2015 at 5:00 PM EST. CER staff are available to provide feedback on proposals before submission and to offer assistance in identifying qualified graduate students to work on projects. Questions may be directed to Macie Hall at macie.hall@jhu.edu, 410-516-6165, or Reid Sczerba at reid@jhu.edu, 410-516-5198.

II   TAR @ Hopkins (Teaching-as-Research)

Johns Hopkins University is a member of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL). CIRTL's mission is to enhance excellence in undergraduate STEM education through the development of a national faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse learners as part of successful and varied professional careers. One of CIRTL's core concepts is the importance of applying scientific principles to instruction through Teaching-as-Research or TAR. Teaching-as-research is the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods by instructors to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and student learning outcomes. Through a CIRTL grant to foster this approach to instruction, Johns Hopkins has developed TAR@Hopkins, an initiative to support teaching-as-research projects. The TAR fellowship program, open to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, comprises three parts: (1) a half-day assessment workshop, "Introduction to Assessment and TAR," (2) three one-hour planning and design workshops, and (3) a teaching practicum and learning community. TAR fellowships carry a stipend of $1,250, which is awarded upon submission of a final report and presentation. The following table provides an overview of TAR@Hopkins program: TAR@Hopkins overveiw *NOTE: The TAR@Hopkins program described above will formally open for applications on April 1, 2015 to support projects planned for the 2015 fall semester. However, if you are interested in working with a graduate student to conduct a TAR project in the spring or summer of 2015, please email pff.teachingacademy@jhu.edu. The Center for Educational Resources instructional design experts and faculty partners are available for one-on-one consultations to support you in formulating and conducting TAR projects with your graduate students. A final report and presentation are required for the TAR Fellow to receive the $1,250 stipend. A TAR Fellowship fulfills the Phase III activity requirement of the Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy. Application Do you have a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow whom you would like to support for an assessment component of your course? Please share this opportunity with them and have them complete this brief application and email it to PFFTA Program Manager, pff.teachingacademy@jhu.edu.

III   2015-2016 Technology Fellowship Applications Now Open

Logo for Technology Fellowship Program.The Technology Fellows Program is a mini-grant initiative that enables faculty to partner with technology savvy students to develop resources that enhance pedagogy, increase or facilitate access to course content, encourage active learning, promote critical thinking, or support 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.html. Applications will be accepted from February 9 - March 31 at midnight; awards will be announced mid-April. Funding will be available from May 2015 through April 2016; projects must be completed by April 15, 2016. For questions or to obtain more information, please contact Cheryl Wagner at cwagner@jhu.edu or 410-516-7181.

IV   Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments (TILE)

TILE logo.Do you wish you had the tools to create a classroom environment that encourages students to listen to and support diverse perspectives? Do you seek better ways of connecting with students from visible and non-visible minority backgrounds? Maybe you already do this and want to share what you do! Do you not have any time to spare? The Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments, or TILE, is created with you in mind. Funded by the Diversity Innovation Grant (DIG) of the Diversity Leadership Council (DLC), TILE will be a repository of examples and best practices used by instructors to spark classroom conversations that foster diversity and inclusion. All faculty are welcome and encouraged to participate. To find out more and register for the first information luncheon, please visit: http://guides.library.jhu.edu/TILE

V   Blackboard Updates

On December 27th, 2014, several updates were installed on JHU Blackboard servers. New features andBlackboard logo. enhancements included in this upgrade include:
  • Student Preview – A student preview option has been added that allows instructors to view and access their course sites as students. Previously, an instructor had to create a guest student account and login as that guest to get an accurate idea of what their students were experiencing. Now instructors can simply click the student preview button to view content, submit assignments, take tests, create blog and discussion posts, create journal and wiki entries, and view student tools such as My Grades. Settings can be adjusted to keep or discard any grade center data generated while previewing the site as a student. The student preview button is located in the upper right corner of a course site, just to the left of the Edit Mode button.
    Blackboard screen shot.
  • Anonymous Grading in Assignments– It is now possible to anonymously grade assignments submitted electronically through Blackboard's assignment tool. If anonymous grading is selected, the assignment column in the grade center (where assignment submissions are retrieved and scores are normally displayed) remains grayed out during the grading period. Instructors retrieve assignment submissions from the 'Needs Grading' area of the grade center, which hides students' names. Instructors then decide when to display the scores, either on a specific date and/or when all of the assignments are graded.
  • Delegated Grading of Assignments – Instructors can assign specific users in a course to grade particular sets of student assignment submissions. For example, in large classes, assignments can be divided up among teaching assistants. A different example might be that the instructor and teaching assistant both grade all assignments to prevent potential bias. Once all of the grades and feedback are entered by all of the graders, the instructor determines the final grades, or ‘reconciles' the grades.
  • Improvements to Portfolio Tool - The portfolio tool is designed to organize a collection of student work samples, various artifacts, and evidence of skills gained throughout a student's academic career. Recent improvements include: the ability to import artifacts directly from Blackboard courses, easier editing capabilities, and more intuitive navigation.

VI   Faculty Spotlight: Stewart Hendry, Professor, Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine

CER: What are you teaching here at Hopkins? Stewart Hendry.
SH: I teach at all levels. I teach a 100-level Introduction to Neuroscience course along with several advanced courses on the nervous system. One of my courses is two semesters long. The Nervous Systems I and II is a required course for neuro majors and it is also taken by some cognitive science majors and by some students majoring in cellular and molecular biology. The two semesters of the Nervous System are team taught with Professor Haiqing Zhao of the biology department. Every Spring I am part of the faculty in a course on basic neuroscience taught to first-year medical students and BME graduate students.
CER: What teaching strategies do you employ in your course?
SH: At first I thought if I made clear PowerPoints, students would do well. Some did, but others continued to struggle, so I looked for other ways to improve the transfer of knowledge. My next approach was to write lecture notes to explain the concepts in the textbook we used, to make those concepts more accessible to students. Scientific textbooks often use English words, but don't read like they are written in English. That worked and continues to work but, still, some students struggled. Next I added figures and figure legends to my notes, but again, some students struggled. So I posted content online to make it easier for students to access information. Then I decided to make a series of short videos that explained complicated topics or challenging concepts that students struggle with in the class. The videos have really had the biggest impact on the largest number of students.
CER: What was the inspiration for making the videos?
SH: Harry Goldberg in the School of Medicine challenged me for years to use video as a teaching tool. One day I saw a former student in my lab viewing a Kahn Academy video. I knew then I had seen the future of education. I asked her, "How does he create these videos?" She showed me Kahn's own list of what he used to make his videos. And so I ordered a writing tablet for my computer, a microphone, and the software - Camtasia and SketchBookExpress. With this set up, I can put an image in a specified frame on my computer monitor and use the writing tablet to annotate as I talk about it – lots of arrows and some words written out, just about anything that helps drive home the point. Sometimes I just draw on the tablet; were I a better artist, by which I mean if I had any artistic talent at all, that would be my approach for most videos. But desire does not match skill in this case, so I use figures from books, review articles and the web as a basis for most recordings. While I'm drawing, I record what I say and then encode the package in an mp4 format. Then I upload it to Panopto (Johns Hopkins' video streaming service and lecture capture system). My videos are available in five minutes or so, and from there, I press one button to make them available on Blackboard. Right now there are links to about 480 videos. The two programs I use are Camtasia and SketchBookExpress, but I understand Panopto has its own recording program that is available without cost. Since using Panopto's recording program skips one of the steps I have to take for every video – Panopto takes my mp4 files and converts them to a format they use – I would use their recording program if I were to start right now.
CER: So has this latest innovation with video addressed the needs of those students who struggled?
SH: There is no one magic bullet - this is hard-won wisdom I have gained from my own failure to elevate every student's game. A single solution will not work for everyone. The students' struggles and their commitment to learn motivate me to do what it takes to improve the way I teach the subject. Some students worship PowerPoint, others like lecture course notes, and many like the videos. The cocktail of resources allows them a choice in how they study. That said, the videos have generally had the most impact, or at least they have had the biggest audience – altogether, they have been watched over 10,000 times.
CER: How do you structure these videos?
SH: I've been at it long enough that the way I write is the way I talk on the videos, and the way I talk on the videos is the way I lecture in class. But there are things I can say in a video that I can't cover in [a single] lecture. Many of the videos I create bring together elements that are present in two or three lectures. That approach helps students see the connections between a topic introduced in lecture 1 and a second topic that shows up in lectures 2 and 3. One good example is a supplemental video on calcium signaling that cuts across three or four lectures that Dr. Zhao and I give in Nervous System II. It starts with calcium entry, moves through the several ways an increase in calcium concentration inside a neuron changes the way it behaves and then finishes up with the several ways a cell removes calcium.
CER: How do you choose the topics for the videos you produce?
SH: I notice when multiple students have misconceptions on the quizzes or exams. If I give a quiz on Tuesday and students are clearly struggling with a concept, then I make a video that day to address their misconceptions well before the exam the following week. I also listen to Dr. Zhao and to myself when we are lecturing. It is easy to tell when we have covered something too quickly because confusion, bordering on panic, creeps over the students' faces. I make a mental note during lecture that is something to fix with a pithy little video. Students also make suggestions. I encourage students to suggest topics for videos. And when they come to office hours, I drag out a notebook to write down what did not make sense and how I might go about making it clearer. When a student comes in with questions, I open it up. Whenever someone says, "I was confused by..." I write that topic down. I return to the PowerPoint and lecture notes and edit them, and I often make a video about the subject, because if someone is confused, it means I haven't done my job properly. The subject is hard enough and the exams are hard enough without any confusion on anyone's part. If there is confusion, I need to address it. Let me add, the whole process of making the videos is an up-front cost in time that reaps huge dividends in time saved. One example - perhaps the best - is the subject of stretch receptors in muscles and how they continue to work even as we contract a muscle. That contraction should make the stretch receptors insensitive, but it doesn't. Now, why not? I explain why not in the lecture, the PowerPoint and in the notes, but every year, until recently, I would have dozens of students come into my office to ask me about the whole thing; and every year I would spend ten minutes each, with a series of students, on the subject. That would happen over and over again. Something close to 50 students would ask me about it, so if you do the math you can see it was a big chunk of time. Three years ago I made a 15-minute video on the subject and since then I have had to answer a question about muscle stretch receptors exactly four times. So instead of saving me hundreds of dollars, fifteen minutes save me hundreds of minutes. In these courses we are constantly trimming content based on the latest research that comes out between one year and the next. Several years ago, a colleague in the neuroscience department downtown conducted an experiment that changed our understanding of how our brain encodes memory. I was just about to lecture on this topic when Dr. Zhao pointed out the publication, so we turned it into a teachable moment. "Here's what I told last year's class. Here are the data that came out last month that tells us the old view is just not the case." I was able to give the students the opportunity to learn from the latest research findings and what it means about our understanding of the brain by using a beautifully designed experiment.
CER: Creating over 480 videos is an impressive feat. With over 10,000 views, students clearly use the videos. How much time does it take you to make each video?
SH: I have the process down so it doesn't take much time. Most videos are 5-10 minutes long. It takes me 15 minutes to make a 10 minute video. I take five minutes to prepare an outline or go search for a useful illustration. And then off I go [recording it]. Again, the reason it can be so efficient is a simple matter of answering the same questions, year after year, to a long series of exceptionally bright young people. They were rehearsals for the videos. Now, to be sure, I sometimes start a video and wind up saying something that is jargon, or convoluted, or simply wrong. The delete button takes care of that and I am free to start over.
CER: What is your philosophy of teaching?
SH: Respect. These are not little children we are teaching; these are extraordinary young people. I figure if I understand the subject well enough, I'll be able to explain it so these exceptional students will get it. I do not pull punches and as a result we discuss things in class that are not discussed in any other college. A former student who is now a plastic surgeon shared with me an experience she had at Columbia medical school. In her physiology class they were discussing a topic that her lab partner didn't understand. She explained it, and he asked how she knew it. She shared she was a neuroscience major. He said, "Me too. At MIT." That's the idea, then: to give our students the kind of education they can get nowhere else. In the end, I keep looking for the magic bullet, the tide that raises all boats. It is a worthy goal that no one fails and everyone gets out of a course what he or she puts into it. I want everyone to have what he or she needs to succeed, and while I'm still working at that, I won't compromise on rigor of the course material. Even the exam questions should be challenging enough that students are still learning while they are completing them. My colleagues and I root for the students to do well in a course; we go so far as to tell them they and we are in this together. That is true even when we write and grade exams. And so when Dr. Zhao and I write a difficult question and the students' answers are consistently right, it makes us so very happy.

VII   Interim Reports for Faculty are now Online via Starfish

During the 2013.2014 academic year, several faculty members across campus tested a new software called Starfish. This software allows faculty members to do their interim course progress reports online, providing academic advisors with instant access to students' progress mid-semester. Starfish logo.This year, we are transitioning away from the paper process entirely and asking all faculty to complete the interim reports, now called progress surveys, online via Starfish. Starfish is accessible via Blackboard (http://blackboard.jhu.edu) and is an excellent step forward to providing better academic tracking and intervention for students in need. You do not need to be using Blackboard in your course to access Starfish through Blackboard to complete the interim report. More information is available at the Starfish help site: http://help.sset.jhu.edu/display/SF/Starfish+Home In addition, drop-in Starfish trainings in the CER conference room are scheduled for: Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 from 3:00pm-4:00pm Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 from 9:00am-10:00am Wednesday, March 4, 2015 from 12:00pm-1:00pm Thursday, March 12, 2015 from 3:00pm-4:00pm Friday, March 20, 2015 from 12:00pm-1:00pm For more information on Starfish, please feel free to email Emily Calderone, at emily.calderone@jhu.edu. We look forward to this initiative providing easier access for faculty and better transparency across offices.

VIII   Classroom Technology News and Notes

ClickShare set up.January's intersession saw updates to two large lecture rooms on campus, Remsen 101 and Olin 305. Remsen 101 was updated in the same way as Remsen 1 had been last summer. This included a new projector, speakers and control system. Olin 305 also has a new projector and screen, as well as speakers and control system. After consulting with faculty, we replaced the podium with a presentation desk, similar to the one in Mudd 26. While both rooms have instructor computers, we have installed Barco ClickShares in each to simplify connectivity for laptops. A lecture capture camera will be added to Olin 305 later this semester. At the end of this semester the renovated Gilman Hall will have been open for five academic years. This means that it is time for a technology refresh for the Gilman classrooms. First, we are replacing projectors in most general pool classrooms, as well as many departmental rooms, with brighter, higher resolution projectors. The new Epsons have a brightness of 6000 lumens and a native resolution of 1920x1200. In addition, we are planning to replace the aging Mac laptops that were installed in 2011. The laptops were chosen at the time due to space limitations in the rooms. We propose to replace them with small PCs with wall-mounted monitors. The goal is to improve reliability and manageability of the classroom computers while maintaining functionality. To make informed decisions about the technology in Gilman, we need to hear from you. Two town hall meetings are scheduled in March to discuss the Gilman updates. These will be from noon until 2 pm on Wednesday, March 4 and Friday, March 13, in the Hodson Board of Trustees Room. Please come and share your thoughts. Finally, the IT department would like to note the continued success of the Panopto lecture capture system. Since the start of the fall semester there have been over 1100 hours of recorded material, and over 120,000 views. An upgrade to the Panopto Recorder was deployed this winter, as was a new Panopto Blackboard building block. We have begun testing the Remote Recorder functionality for scheduled recordings, as well. If you are interested in the new features, or you would like to be part of a Remote Recorder test, please contact Sean Stanley (sstanle3@jhu.edu). For questions related to Panopto/Blackboard integration, please contact Brian Cole (bcole@jhu.edu).

IX  New Year, New Look for Research Guides

If you're a frequent user of Research Guides, you probably noticed a whole new look recently. If you've never used the guides before, now is the time to check them out! As before, you can still access guides from the library homepage by scrolling through the box in the lower right corner. You can access the guides directly at guides.library.jhu.edu to quickly scan all guides, or browse the guides by subject.
New look for library research guides.
The guides can be helpful to both you and your students - they can be tailored to a discipline, subject area, or even your class. Most of the guides are focused in subject areas, but the newly improved guides also contain "how-to" information to help you and your students, such as guides on Scholarly Metrics and Science and Medical Writing. If you can't find a guide that works for you and your students, contact your librarian. See a quick overview of the new system in this video.