I Blackboard Migration Update
Blackboard replaces WebCT in all Homewood courses, starting Fall 2010
II 2010 Technology Fellowship Project Showcase – May 4, 2010
Learn about the new instructional resources that have been developed this year
III Blackboard 9 Feature Focus: Grade Center
What faculty need to know for Fall 2010
IV Faculty Spotlight: Bruce Barnett, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
A continuing series on teaching success stories on the Homewood campus
V Data Services at Hopkins
New data management resources for the classroom and for research
VI Online Newspapers Available through MSEL
Find current and historical newspaper articles online
VII Homewood Classroom Technology Updates
See what’s new @ JHU IT
VIII ISIS Integrates with Bookstore Vendors
Links to course books to be listed within the ISIS interface
IX SAP Upgrade in May
SAP systems offline starting 5/14/10 to facilitate upgrade - unavailable until the start of business 5/19/10
I Blackboard Migration UpdateHere are some important updates related to the approaching Blackboard migration:
- Reminder that no courses will be offered in WebCT after this coming summer term. All fall 2010 courses offered in Homewood full-time programs will be in Blackboard.
- Faculty will be able to login to WebCT from now until the end of the fall semester to retrieve course content. At the end of the fall semester, the WebCT server will be turned off. Licensing and hardware warranties will end at this point in time. We strongly recommend that you begin downloading any files that you need from all WebCT courses as soon as possible. Workshop dates and instructions designed to help you with this process have been posted to the CER website - http://bb.cer.jhu.edu/
- If you are teaching in the fall and currently have a course in WebCT, you will be contacted before the end of the spring semester via email about if you would like the content from that course automatically migrated into Blackboard, or if you would prefer to make a fresh start with an empty Blackboard course shell. Your prompt response to this email will help ensure a smooth transition to the new system. Whatever choice you make, the CER is prepared to assist faculty with the migration process over the summer.
- There is no longer a need to request course sites. Blackboard course sites will be created automatically each semester for every course. Instructors will determine what content is copied, if any, to new courses from semester to semester. If you don’t plan to use a course site that has been created, there is no need to do anything; course sites will remain hidden from students until the instructors choose to activate them. Fall 2010 sites are expected to be available in July.
- Blackboard 9 sandbox sites will soon be set up for any faculty who would like to try out the new environment. Login instructions will be posted to http://bb.cer.jhu.edu/.
II 2010 Technology Fellowship Project Showcase – May 4, 2010The 2010 Technology Fellowship Project Showcase will be held on Tuesday, May 4th, 1-3 pm, on Q-Level of the MSE Library. The event is an electronic poster session. Faculty-student teams will demonstrate projects that they have developed to enhance undergraduate instruction. This year’s projects include: The Cognitive Science of Aesthetics, Discovering Baltimore Neighborhoods, The Scholar’s Bookshelf, Performance Practice of 20th Century Electroacoustic Music, Animations & Real-Time Graphs for Chemistry, Biomedical Instrumentation Online Simulator, and Digital Videos for Tutor Training, to name a few. Resources were developed for many disciplines, including Biomedical Engineering, Computer Music, Biology, Chemistry, History, Film & Media Studies, English/Expository Writing, Cognitive Science, Sociology, and German & Romance Language & Literatures. Faculty who attend will receive a free 1GB mini-flash drive. Students are also welcome, they will receive gift certificates to Café Q. Descriptions of current and past projects are available online: http://www.cer.jhu.edu/techfellows.html For more information, contact Cheryl Wagner at email@example.com or 410-516-7181.
III Blackboard 9 Feature Focus: Grade CenterBlackboard’s Grade Center offers numerous features to facilitate course administration and help faculty to respond to student requests for letters of recommendation years after courses have concluded. The grade center is organized in a spreadsheet format similar to that of Microsoft Excel. Grades are easily added and edited by clicking inside of a cell and typing in the grade value. Grades can also be downloaded and uploaded to and from the grade center via a spreadsheet file. Columns are another feature of the grade center. As in WebCT, columns are automatically created for all Assignments and Tests developed through Blackboard assignment and test tools. Columns are also automatically created for graded blogs, journals, and discussion board forums and threads. The Grade History function monitors all grade center changes, allowing instructors to keep track of any additions or edits made. Some of the advanced features of the grade center include creating calculated columns, such as average, total, and weighted columns, and dropping the highest and lowest grades. Instructors can easily select which columns to include in the calculations and assign a particular percentage weight to them. There is no longer a calculation editor that must be set up first, as there was in WebCT. If an instructor chooses to display grades to students, there is an option to include statistics (average and median) within the display. New features of the grade center include Grading Schemas and Smart Views. Grading Schemas are customized grading scales that instructors create and apply to grade center items. Instructors can create multiple grading schemas to reflect their different grading needs throughout the course. For example, some assignments might be pass/fail, while others are based on more traditional numeric grading scales. Smart Views are focused views of the grade center based on specific criteria chosen by the instructor. For example, if an instructor wanted to quickly view only those students who received a 75% or above on a certain test/assignment, a Smart View could be created to display this information. There are many other features of the grade center that are not mentioned here. Training sessions will be offered at the CER this summer for instructors who would like to explore this tool in greater detail.
IV Faculty Spotlight: Bruce Barnett, Professor, Department of Physics and AstronomyCER: What are you teaching here at Hopkins?
BB: I teach Physics 101 in the Spring and 102 in the Fall. The courses are titled General Physics for Physical Science Majors, but premeds and bioscience majors can take them. The courses meet all the requirements of medical schools and engineering programs.
CER: What are your strategies for engaging or connecting with the students in your course?
BB: It’s easy to have a barrier between a speaker and an audience, and it’s important to break down that barrier. There are lots of ways to overcome that. I keep eye contact with students and walk up the aisles. This changes the relationship between the students and instructor. I don’t like to write on the blackboard; it’s hard to address students while writing. So I use transparencies. That said, I don’t want to use a laser pointer to read my notes to the students. These aren’t completed notes, but detailed outlines of the concepts I’m discussing. All of my notes are posted on the website before class so students can download them. I encourage students to bring copies to the class and add their own notes. I don’t want them to spend a lot of time taking notes in class; I want them to stay focused on the conversation. When students are copying notes, they are usually not keeping up with the instructor. We also do a lot of demonstrations in the class. I use volunteers (or choose victims if they are reluctant to volunteer). For example, I ask one or two students to create a circuit with resistors in series, as I continue talking. When the students say they are done, I test it in front of the class and troubleshoot it with them. Finally, I use the Classroom Performance System (CPS), or what we call clickers, to get some interaction between students and me. I try to get as much discussion as possible in a large lecture hall.
CER: How do you encourage student collaboration?
BB: The CPS questions encourage discussion. There is a lot of conversation and murmuring when I ask a question. Outside of lecture, I suggest they work together. They can work together on the physics concepts underlying the homework, but they can’t copy each others’ homework. This is facilitated through an online application called WebAssign. This application lets me pick questions from the textbook, but WebAssign creates individual problems. The concepts are the same, but specific numbers change. For example, one student may get a question that states Tiger Woods hits a golf ball at 45 degrees, where another student sees the ball was hit at 30 degrees. This prevents students from copying the homework directly from each other. While we encourage students to think about the physics concepts together, WebAssign can also help them learn. WebAssign grades the answers immediately and communicates the score to students. Students can try the questions they got wrong again and submit their homework up to 5 times before the system locks them out. When students come to me for help, I encourage them to study with others. I also share this story. When I was an undergraduate, a friend and I would go study in the library. At times during the night, I would take a piece of paper and write down a physics problem for him to solve. I would crumple it up and throw it on his desk. He then had to do it. He might have to put down his Economics book, but it was fun. Sitting with a Physics book by yourself is not fun. At least, I didn’t think it was fun when I did it. It’s much more fun to work with someone else. I also encourage students to write a Physics exam and give it to their friends. Writing an exam is hard. You have to really understand the concepts to be able to write an exam. I have students pass their name and contact information to four other students on the first day of class. This ensures they all have someone they can contact when they have questions. TAs hold weekly conferences in a lab with laptops. They spend a few minutes asking students if they have questions or share class-related news. Then students work in pairs to solve problems loaded on the laptops. The hope is that students are working together with the TAs answering questions as needed. This is different from traditional small group sections where the TA solves problems for students and not all the students are engaged at once.
CER: What are some of the challenges you have encountered in teaching this course?
BB: The most unpleasant thing is giving grades. Students sometimes don’t think exams are fair. I work hard to make exam questions clear so students don’t waste time trying to understand the question. I work very hard to structure exams so the difficulty doesn’t vary from year to year. We post the answers – not the process – on the website within 24 hours. If a student doesn’t think a question was graded fairly, I give him or her the chance to solve the problem in my office on the blackboard within one week of the exam. If he or she solves it perfectly – no mistakes – we then discuss the grading. You don’t want to argue about the grading of a question with a student who doesn’t understand how to do the problem. It’s also important to break down the sense of competition between students. I tell them I don’t give grades, I let students earn their grades. It’s important to make expectations clear from the beginning – right up front. I have a 1,000 point system and show the students how many points they need to earn – or not lose – for each letter grade. Therefore, everyone has the ability to do well. I don’t grade on a curve in the class. A curve means you are competing against someone else. I tell students you are not competing against the other students in the class. We are competing against those kids at Harvard, and we are better than them. Another challenge is keeping the class engaged. You can talk, but that doesn’t mean you are teaching. Both sides need to work together for students to learn.
CER: How do you know when you’re successful? How do you assess student learning?
BB: You can tell when it’s working or not. You can feel it in your stomach. It’s like conversation – sometimes it goes smoothly, sometimes it is a strain. I also use CPS to see if they are paying attention and see if they are getting the concepts. If 80% of students get the correct answer, I can move on. If 80% get it wrong, I’ve got their attention. You can hear the students groan. I then review that problem.
CER: What is your philosophy of teaching?
BB: I’m a physicist, not a philosopher. That said, I try to make physics interesting and relevant. I try to be engaging, personable, and address students as individuals, with as few artificial behaviors as possible. The Maryland Association of Higher Education named Prof. Barnett the Outstanding Faculty Member of 2007. Former students offered these comments on Bruce Barnett's approach to teaching: "I think what makes Dr. Barnett such a great teacher is his ability to find a way to relate to students. Sometimes this means starting class with a Youtube clip or video of an entertaining application for the physics concept we are learning that day. Other times, it means calling the quiet person in the back up to the front of the room to participate in a demonstration that requires them to put their inhibitions aside. His office door is always open, both literally and figuratively; he will patiently spend an hour working through a homework problem on a chalkboard and will even tell stories about his time as a Physics 1 student to make students more comfortable. He doesn't get frustrated by simple questions, but will gladly discuss concepts above and beyond the scope of the course." – Lindsey Warren "Rather than simply showing my classmates and me a list of physics equations and how to derive them, Professor Barnett entertains us with real-world examples of the concepts at hand. From calling on students to swing through the lecture hall like Tarzan to volunteering, himself, to climb into a harness and pull himself up a rope, Professor Barnett makes each class unique. I also appreciate the in-class CPS system that Professor Barnett uses, because it provides a real-time evaluation of my understanding of the material. I feel fortunate to have a professor like Dr. Barnett who strives to provide a challenging, stimulating, and enjoyable academic experience for each of his students." – Bryn Carroll
V Data Services at HopkinsLast August, the Sheridan Libraries hired a new librarian for Data Services and Government Information. Her name is Jennifer Darragh, and she is based in the Government Publications, Maps and Law (GPML) Department of the Eisenhower Library. She brings to the Sheridan Libraries 10 years of experience in assisting researchers needing access to both public- and restricted-use secondary data. Jennifer also serves as the official university representative to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), which maintains one of the largest archives of secondary numeric data in the world. GPML data services for faculty include the following: assistance in and resources for incorporating numeric data and statistical literacy exercises into undergraduate classes, library instruction classes and data workshops at the undergraduate and graduate level, identification of appropriate numeric data sources based on research needs, and consultation on the acquisition of restricted-use data. You can find contact information for Jen, as well as links to useful data and statistics resources on the Data & Statistics LibGuide: http://guides.library.jhu.edu/datastats And, in case you weren’t aware, the Libraries recently acquired a new module from LexisNexis called LexisNexis Statistical Datasets. It is a fantastic tool for undergraduates to learn how to create aggregate information easily, and to incorporate statistics into their research writing. It is also useful for faculty and graduate students who need access to statistics quickly and want the ability to customize the information they take away. To get to this module you must first go to LexisNexis Statistical Insight, and then use the drop-down box at the top to switch to LexisNexis Statistical Datasets.
VI Online Newspapers Available through MSELWith the wealth of news resources to which the libraries subscribe, researchers have no need to go to a newspaper’s homepage and be told to pay for an archived article. Access is free through the libraries. Whether you want to find newspaper coverage of a particular event, look up op-ed pieces, or conduct historical research, you can access news resources through the Sheridan Libraries’ News and Newspaper guide at http://guides.library.jhu.edu/news. Consult the guide for access to US, international, and historical papers. Content is updated daily, so it is not uncommon to find today’s news already indexed online. For aggregators (databases that include multiple titles), consult Lexis Nexis Academic and Access World News. Individual titles can be found via our ProQuest subscriptions, where we have The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Baltimore Sun. While current content is available in HTML only, our historical subscriptions have PDFs, allowing you to see illustrations, prominent headlines, and article placement, as well as ads and obituaries – a rich resource for historians. Questions about digital newspapers? Ask your liaison librarian (http://www.library.jhu.edu/departments/rsc/rslist.html) or stop at the Reference Office on M-Level.
VII Homewood Technology UpdatesClassroom Renovations in Place and in Planning The most significant change on the horizon is the re-opening of Gilman Hall. As part of the renovation process, over 30 classroom and seminar rooms have received comprehensive technology installations. A full list of classroom technology equipment and capabilities for the Gilman rooms included in the General Pool will be posted later this summer on the Classroom Technology website at http://www.jhu.edu/classrooms. At minimum all instructional rooms will contain an LCD projector with laptop VGA and HDMI input, a document camera, a VCR/DVD player, and an audio system. In addition to Gilman Hall, several other General Pool classrooms will be updated this summer to replace older projectors, projection screens, and control systems. Power Management/Energy Savings Starting with the Spring 2010 semester, the Homewood Desktop Computing Services group is working with JHU’s Sustainability Office to deploy a power management client to our 1000+ managed desktop PCs, including the academic computing labs and classrooms. While the overall effort is still underway, the goal is to include as many of our systems as possible in order to achieve the most energy savings. Mobile Computing Program The Hopkins Mobile Computing Program will have additional Apple and Dell models available for discounted personal purchase for all Hopkins affiliates (faculty, students, and staff). Additional information on the 2010 MCP models, including the new Apple iPad and Dell 2100 netbook can be found at http://it.jhu.edu/store and http://it.jhu.edu/desktop/mcp. One of the program goals for this year was to offer a broader range of models, including lower-priced models not previously available.
VIII ISIS Integrates with Bookstore Vendors
This Fall the ISIS website will begin including links to the three bookstore vendors serving Johns Hopkins University (Barnes & Noble, MBS Direct, and Matthews). Overlap exists in terms of which vendors tend to service which schools. However, the primary vendor of books for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Whiting School of Engineering, and Peabody Institute, is Barnes & Noble. Matthews will primarily service the Schools of Nursing, Medicine, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and MBS Direct will service the School of Advanced International Studies, the Carey Business School, and the School of Education. This improved ISIS functionality is one step towards meeting the forthcoming requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. Once the change is implemented, the interface will permit students to easily link to course materials for one or multiple courses from a variety of places within ISIS. The same links will be available to anyone browsing the publicly available class schedule. The depiction below shows how the revamped ISIS display, containing this new function, will appear to a typical KSAS undergraduate student.