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February 2016

I   2016-2017 Technology Fellowship Applications Now Open
Faculty/student mini-grants available to develop digital course resources - apply now!

II   Faculty/Postdoc Spotlight: Anindya Roy, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
A continuing series on teaching excellence at Homewood

III   Hopkins Faculty Explore Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Sciences
GSI Symposium held January 11-12th, 2016

IV   Introducing Reveal! A new web application at Hopkins
A web application to show visual relationships of ideas and data

V   Teaching With Data
Library resources for teaching with data

VI   JHBox
Cloud-based file sharing and storage service for JHU faculty, staff, and students

VII   Faculty Workshop: Connecting Classroom to Community
Community-based pedagogies workshop introducing basic models and best practices

VIII   Change and Opportunity: News and notes on Classroom Technology
News and notes on classroom technology  


I   2016-2017 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 digital 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 to share project results 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 here: http://www.cer.jhu.edu/techfellows.html. Applications will be accepted from Monday, February 22nd – Friday, April 1st at midnight. Awards will be announced mid-April. Funding will be available from May 2016 through April 2017; projects must be completed by April 15, 2017. For more information, please contact Cheryl Wagner at cwagner@jhu.edu or 410-516-7181.


II   Faculty/Postdoc Spotlight: Anindya Roy, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

CER: Where were you before you came to Hopkins and what are your academic and research interests?
AR: I received a Ph.D. in 2011 from Rutgers University, did a postdoctoral fellowship at University of California Santa Barbara from 2011 to 2013, and then came to Hopkins. As a computational physicist, my research focus is on understanding materials important for energy harvesting, storage and management, using calculations based on quantum chemistry. Besides materials research, I am interested in teaching at the undergraduate level and understanding the pedagogical aspects of physics and engineering education. Aninda Roy Headshot
CER: What courses you have taught at Hopkins?
AR: I've taught two HEART - Hopkins Engineering Applications & Research Tutorials - courses. HEART is a program in Whiting School of Engineering that introduces undergraduates to engineering research in specific disciplines through small classes taught by advanced graduate students or postdoctoral fellows. The classes meet two hours a week for six weeks. In Fall 2014 I taught Stuff of Dreams: Advances in Materials Science that Shape the World, and in Fall 2015, I taught Molecules to Bridges, Batteries and Bones: Understanding Materials Properties through Computation.
CER: What were the challenges you faced in teaching these courses?
AR: The challenge of teaching these one credit, pass/fail courses with no requirement of the students beyond class attendance is getting the students engaged. For the first course, Stuff of Dreams, I had freshman, sophomores, and one junior. Not all were engineers. The students had a range of backgrounds, interests, ambitions. For a two hour class session, I didn't want to lecture; I wanted the classes to be discussion based. With no requirements to do assignments, I had to rely on intrinsic motivation to get students to do reading outside of class and participate in discussion. My first priority was getting them engaged by relating materials science, a very broad field, to their interests.
CER: What were your strategies or approaches for engaging with the students in your course?
AR: I wanted to use social media as a way to determine their interests. Before the course started, I polled the students using a Google survey to determine which social media platform they would be willing to use. Facebook and Twitter were among the choices that students rejected. Based on their responses, I decided to use a blog.
CER: What benefits does blogging offer?
AR: In general, blogging can be an effective way for students to respond to course readings or to work collaboratively in groups. Blogs can also be used to improve students' writing along with developing their critical and analytical thinking skills. In this case, I used blogs as a way to get to know my students and their interests, specifically those interests that intersect with materials science.
CER: Which blogging platform did you use and why?
AR: There are a number of options, including Blackboard, which offers both course and individual blogs. I used Blackboard for other course materials, but the blog tool didn't have some features I wanted, including the ability to make the blog available to the public, so that it would stand as a record and could be referred to after the course ended. WordPress offered a free, easy-to-use option.
CER: Describe how you implemented the blog in your class.
AR: I introduced the blog in the first class session, asking the students to spend up to an hour outside of class to identify an area of interest to them, then research and post to the blog two links to resources on their topic. The students were then asked to do enough background reading on their topic to give a five minute presentation in class at what I called a Wikipedia level. When the students presented in the second class, I used the links they had provided to teach them how to think critically about information on the web. Clipart of the word Blog There was a wide range of content collected, everything from Buzzfeed lists to high-level research articles in scholarly journals. I asked the class how they could evaluate the materials. What claims were being made? Were sources cited? Were those sources credible? It was a good way to educate the students about evaluating content for research purposes, something they need to know as they move forward in their education. In this course, I didn't ask the students to go through the exercise a second time to find better or more appropriate materials, but in a semester-long course, this could be a two-part exercise. For the second blog assignment, the students were asked to go through the posts made by their peers, read some of the articles, and comment on them. This helped the students get to know each other and discover where their interests in materials science aligned. They engaged by commenting on each other's posts. Because the students determined the topics for discussion in these first couple of weeks, it meant that I was teaching on my feet to some extent. If I didn't know the answer to a question, I would have the students do just-in-time research, using their laptops or other mobile devices right there in class to figure it out.
CER: What were the results?
AR: The blog worked very well as an icebreaker, getting students interested in the course content and engaged in discussions. Student interaction outside of class was another challenge for me, with the course running only six weeks. The blog allowed students to continue their work outside of class in a collaborative way. As researchers and instructors our work doesn't stop at 5:00 PM, neither should class discussion be confined to the time students spend in the classroom. When students are reading they can immediately post what they are thinking, and their peers can respond with comments. This was the case even with the limited use of blogging in my HEART class, but could be even more effective if used throughout a traditional course. I certainly will use a course blog in the future and have students write more extensively, perhaps in response to assigned readings. I like the idea of having them participate in peer review of classmates' posts. Students seem take pride in their writing, especially when it is open to the public and judged by their peers. Being able to give formative feedback to students for the first assignment was a valuable teaching strategy. I think the students benefited from gaining an understanding of how to evaluate content on the web.
CER: Do you have any advice to offer other faculty considering using blogs in the classroom?
AR: From my perspective there were no disadvantages to using a blog. WordPress was easy to set up and the students found it intuitive to use. That said, there is a need to think about how you set up a blog. It is important to organize the pages so that students are clear on where to post each assignment. You will want to consider what aspects of the blog to make public. On my blog only the assignments, posts, and my comments are visible to the public; to view and post comments, users have to be registered. This prevents spam comments, which can be a problem. The blog can be seen at https://h2stuffofdreams.wordpress.com/. This interview was originally published as part of the CER's Innovative Instructor series: http://www.cer.jhu.edu/ii/InnovInstruct-Ped_course-blog-as-ice-breaker.pdf.


III   Hopkins Faculty Explore Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Sciences

JHU Gateway Sciences Symposium Logo On January 11th and 12th the University held its fourth Symposium on Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Sciences. The event was part of a two-day symposium co-sponsored by the Science of Learning Institute and the Gateway Sciences Initiative. The first day highlighted cognitive learning research; the second day examined the practical application of techniques, programs, tools, and strategies that promote gateway science learning. The objective was to explore recent findings about how humans learn and pair those findings with the latest thinking on teaching strategies that work. 400 people attended over the course of the two days; approximately 80% from Johns Hopkins University with representation from all divisions and 20% from other universities, K-12 school systems, organizations, and companies. GSI's program included four guest speakers and three Johns Hopkins speakers. David Asai, Senior Director of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, argued persuasively for the impact of diversity and inclusion as essential to scientific excellence. He argued that while linear interventions (i.e., summer bridge activities, research experiences, remedial courses, and mentoring/advising programs) can be effective at times, they are not capable of scaling to support the exponential change needed to mobilize a diverse group of problem solvers prepared to address the difficult and complex problems of the 21st Century. He asked audience participants to consider this: "Rather than developing programs to 'fix the student' and measuring success by counting participants, how can we change the capacity of the institution to create an inclusive campus climate and leverage the strengths of diversity?" Faculty from Stanford, Michigan State, University of California - Davis and Johns Hopkins University completed the roster of speakers. Topics ranged from how to develop effective course objectives and active learning exercises to designing learning spaces and courses that foster collaboration and innovation to address real-world challenges. A digital poster session highlighted 10 second round GSI projects on instructional innovation, including Chemical Structure and Bonding with Laboratory: A New Course for Advanced Freshman, Tyrel McQueen and Jane Greco; Harnessing the Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories to Enhance the Freshman, Sophomore Science Experience, Bertrand Garcia-Moreno; and Whiting School Biomedical Design Studio, Robert Allen, Eileen Haase, Elizabeth Logsdon, Leslie Tung and Youseph Yazd. In addition, Teaching-as-Research Fellows, Susan Liao, Mariana Socal, and Erik Orberg of the Teaching Academy also presented their educational research projects. Steven Luck, Professor of Psychology at the University of California - Davis, provided an informative and inspiring conclusion to the day with his presentation of the methods, benefits, challenges, and assessment recommendations for how to transform a traditional large lecture course into a hybrid format. To view the video presentations from the GSI Symposium on January 12th, please click here: https://jh.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Sessions/List.aspx?folderID=2620d4c8-aca1-4dd6-ab6d-80efade64877


IV   Introducing Reveal! A new web application at Hopkins

Reveal Image Annotation Tool Logo Reveal is a web application for annotating images with rich multimedia content. Users can create a website where annotations link to images and audio and video resources to illustrate robust visual relationships. Developed at the Center for Educational Resources, Reveal is built for use in education, using modern web browsers adopted by most mobile devices. All content uploaded to Reveal is protected by JH authentication so that intellectual property protection is observed. As an added benefit, all audio and video files are converted to the proper format upon upload so that users don't have to worry about managing file types and formats. Reveal also has a convenient assessment tool built in so that questions can be posed to users, right in the application. Originally called the Interactive Map Tool and built in Flash, Reveal has been completely rewritten using HTML5 and Javascript. Reveal offers a more streamlined interface for intuitively creating image annotations without assuming any web development knowledge so that users can focus on the content. Sites have been created in a variety of courses in Biology, History of Science and Technology, Sociology, just to name a few. To request a site or to learn more, visit www.cer.jhu.edu/reveal. This application is available to Hopkins faculty who teach at the Homewood campus.


V   Teaching With Data

Teaching With Data Website Logo Developing statistical and quantitative literacy teaches students to understand the numbers thrown at them on a daily basis, whether they are from the New York Times, the Census Bureau, or a research article. In elementary and secondary school, students develop skills to understand mathematical principles, but in college they are expected to use those skills and principles of statistics to investigate how social and behavioral phenomena are measured and interpreted. Teaching with data can be a bit of a challenge depending on the approach. There is nothing wrong with faculty and graduate students using the datasets that they have collected. However, there are many high quality datasets that can be used for teaching. Some data repositories such as ICPSR have created tools to teach with, and collaborative endeavors such as the National Numeracy Network offer help to instructors who wish to develop a quantitative literacy curriculum. If you are interested in teaching with data, or would just like to explore some exercises to build your own skills, the Data and Statistics Guide has an entire tab devoted to Teaching with Data.


VI   JHBox

Box Cyan Logo JHBox is a free, secure cloud-based service available to all Johns Hopkins faculty, staff, and students. It allows users to collaborate and share information in a common web-accessible environment through any device—desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. With JHBox, you can easily upload content, organize files, share links to files, and manage file and folder permissions. Because JHBox meets all HIPAA compliance standards, this secure cloud platform is ideal for collaboration, external sharing, and mobile productivity. JHBox also allows divisions and departments to leverage ActiveDirectory (AD) groups for group collaboration. Each Johns Hopkins user account has an ample 50GB of document storage space, with the ability to increase as necessary. Access your JHBox account through the myJH portal (http://my.jhu.edu, Cloud Apps quicklink). Support materials are available here: http://www.it.jhu.edu/jhbox. For additional help and information, contact jhboxsupport@jhu.edu.


VII   Faculty Workshop: Connecting Classroom to Community

JHU Center for Social Concern In The Community Graphic On Friday, March 25th, from 12:00-2:00 pm, The Center for Social Concern and Center for Educational Resources will co-sponsor a faculty workshop that will provide an overview of community based classroom pedagogies and best practices. Dr. Joe Bandy, Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching and affiliated faculty in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University will provide information on topics including:

  • Benefits of Community-Engaged Teaching
  • Overview of Teaching Models
  • Community Partnership Development and Ethics
  • Navigating Issues of Privilege and Cultural Competency

The workshop will include small group discussions facilitated by JHU faculty and staff who have experience in academic-community partnerships. The workshop will be held in Charles Commons, Salon C. Lunch will be provided. To RSVP, please e-mail Gia Grier McGinnis, ggrier2@jhu.edu. For more information on the Center for Social Concern's efforts around Community Based Learning visit: http://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/socialconcern/community-based-learning/


VIII   Change and Opportunity: News and notes on Classroom Technology

Following the departures of longtime employees, Sean Stanley and Corey Banks, new staff members have joined the classroom support team at Homewood. Multimedia specialist Rob Copeland is responsible for the design and deployment of classroom presentation systems, as well as the instructor PCs and PC computer classrooms. He is available for consultations on departmental spaces as well. J.T. Bedford is a new multimedia technician, working with J.J. Braddock to provide professional support for classrooms and events. To provide more timely support, space on the ground floor of Gilman has been renovated to accommodate a staff presence. J.J. or J.T. will be based in Gilman 33A from 9 am until 4 pm every week day. During the December-January "break" two of the computer classrooms on our campus were completely updated. Krieger 108 and Shaffer 1 now have new Dell Optiplex 9030 All-In-Ones. We upgraded their processors, RAM and video cards to support the resource and graphic intensive applications used in our GIS and Engineering curricula. Three iMacs were added to Krieger 307, expanding its capacity to 20 for larger enrollments. These iMacs are equipped with NVIDIA graphics cards and can be used to teach GPU-based computing using CUDA. Panopto, our lecture capture software, released an updated version at the end of December, and new recorder software was installed on classroom instructor computers. An integrated camera was installed in Olin 305 to support Panopto video recording. Krieger 3rd Floor Typical Classroom Photo Future improvements are on the horizon. The Keyser Quad will become a construction site this summer to remediate water infiltration in Krieger Hall. This disruption will require five classrooms to be removed from active use until Fall 2017. These include the four lecture classrooms on the 3rd floor of Krieger, as well as the computer classroom in Krieger 108. The renovation of the Krieger classrooms enables us to replace aging hardware and to completely rethink the room uses and configurations and the technology that supports them. Exploration of the possibilities is beginning now. The itinerant GIS computer classroom, formerly in Dunning, will relocate again, this time to Shaffer 2. Power and connectivity will be installed over spring break, and the computers and furniture will be moved at the end of the spring semester to be ready in time for summer. Reminder of a service available to all Homewood faculty: if you would like to schedule individual or group training on any aspect of classroom technology, please contact KITCATS (kitcats@jhu.edu). Check out this video on using the new setups in the Gilman classrooms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFTJNudO0Fc&feature=youtu.be