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May 2011

I   2011 Technology Fellowship Showcase and 2011-2012 Award Winners
Faculty/student collaboration to support pedagogical development

II   Blackboard 9 Focus: Updates
What faculty need to know for Summer and Fall 2011

III   Faculty Spotlight: Stan Becker, Professor, Department Of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, School of Public Health
A continuing series on teaching success stories on the Homewood campus

IV   Student Virtual Desktop Service Debuts
New remote-access service for Homewood students in Summer 2011

V   Catalyst: A New, More Intuitive Library Catalog Interface
User-friendly searching through an open-source-developed platform

VI   Geospatial Sciences Teaching Classroom and Course
New technology teaching lab coming to Homewood campus

VII   Call for Faculty Authors: Innovative Instructor Articles
Help promote best practices for university teaching  


I   2011 Technology Fellowship Showcase and 2011-2012 Award Winners

The 2010-11 Technology Fellowship winners will demonstrate new instructional technology resources on Tuesday, May 10th, from 1:00 – 3:00, on Q-level in the MSE Library. Check out the great educational resources that have been developed by faculty-student teams this year. The Showcase will feature special give-aways for all attendees, including flash drives for JHU faculty.
2011 Tech Fellows Banner
This year's projects were created by departments ranging from Public Health Studies, English, and Writing Seminars to Chemistry and Biomolecular Engineering. These projects will aid many students in these areas by providing new resources for study and learning, including the following: animated material for Organic Chemistry labs; digitized audio recordings of writers reading their work for students in the Writing Seminars; instructional videos for tutors in the Expository Writing Program; lab-on-a-chip simulations for Biomolecular Engineering students; and an interactive, data-filled world map for Public Health students. After a very competitive round of applications, winners for the 2011-2012 Technology Fellowship grants were selected this month. The following seven teams from 3 schools will be creating resources that will be showcased next spring:
  • McGregor Boyle, fellows Griffin Cohen and Evan Combs from the Peabody School's Computer Music Department
  • Eileen Haase, fellows Robert Kim, Alex Liu, and Deng Pan from the Whiting School's Biomedical Engineering Department
  • Sanjeev Khudanpur and fellow Xiaoxu Kng from the Whiting School's Center for Language and Speech Processing
  • Mieka Smart and fellow Jacqueline Ferguson from the Krieger School's Public Health Studies Program
  • Bernadette Wegenstein and fellow Johannes Schade from the Krieger School's German and Romance Language & Literatures, and also the Film and Media Studies program
  • Susan Weiss and fellow Jeff Zeiders from the Peabody School's Musicology Department
  • Alessandro Zannirato and fellow Janet Gomez from the Krieger School's German and Romance Language & Literatures Department
For more information on the Technology Fellowship program and the upcoming Showcase on May 10, contact cerweb@jhu.edu.

II   Blackboard 9 Focus: Updates

Faculty should be aware of three important updates to Blackboard 9 for the upcoming Spring 2011 grading period and the Summer and Fall 2011 semesters: Importing Grades Starting with the Spring 2011 semester, it will be possible to import your final course grades directly from Blackboard into ISIS. To use this feature, first create a specific ‘final letter grade' column in the grade center of your Blackboard course. Then , login to ISIS, where there will be a Blackboard link in the ‘Grade Import' area, which will allow you to upload the final grades. The rest of the process is very similar to the method used when importing from Excel, except that ISIS communicates directly with Blackboard to save time. This feature will be available as soon as the grade entry period opens in ISIS. Please see the ISIS Grade Import Tutorial for more details about this process.
Blackboard-ISIS Import Scrennshot
Course Shells Summer 2011 Blackboard course shells are available now. A reminder that 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 formally make them available: see the tutorial on making a course available at this link. To move information into a summer course, see the Course Copy tutorial. Server Maintenance Please note: the Blackboard server will be taken offline on Tuesday, May 24th for installation of required updates. It will be back online the following day.

III   Faculty Spotlight: Interview with Stan Becker, Professor, Department Of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, School of Public Health

Stan BeckerCER: What are you teaching here at Hopkins?
SB: I teach two graduate-level courses in the School of Public Health: "Couples and Reproductive Health" and "Methods and Measures in Demography." I admit undergraduate students into those courses as well if they are really interested. I also teach an undergraduate course for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, a 200-level sociology course called "Population, Health and Development." I am getting ready to help teach a third graduate-level course this summer called "Population Dynamics in Health," which will be similar in content to the undergraduate sociology course, but it has 250 students and six faculty giving lectures.
CER: What are your strategies or approaches for engaging or connecting with the students in your course?
SB: Different approaches can be used to engage students, depending on the size of the class. In smaller classes, I typically ask a true/false question and have the students explain why they felt it was true or false. This motivates everyone to learn the material and also gives me quick feedback on whether I have imparted the material sufficiently well or not. It is important to be careful in responding to a student's wrong answer so as to not offend them for trying to answer. If I call on a student who gets the wrong answer and then ask another student the same question who gets it right, it is important not to forget about the first student's perspective while explaining the correct answer. At the beginning of the undergraduate class, "Population, Health and Development," students choose a debate topic and we have teams of three prepare the debate for later in the semester. Debate questions include: 1) Is population decline in Europe a problem – yes or no? 2) Does the value of a life depend on age – yes or no? 3) Should states issue driver's licenses to undocumented migrants – yes or no? 4) Assisted suicide, with appropriate safeguards against abuse, should be legal for the terminally ill who want it – yes or no? Debates help give depth to the class experience. To increase sensitivity to the debate sides among the whole class, we have an individualized written vote before the debate and then another afterwards. These voting sheets also provide a way to take attendance for the course because it is enrolls over 60 students. Debates align with my conflict theory of learning described below.
CER: Do you use technology in your courses?
SB: Last year my TA, Nazish Zafar, applied and won a Technology Fellowship grant to bring a visual component to the Population Resource Bureau (PRB) statistics we use in "Population, Health and Development." In previous years, viewing the raw numerical values for each country was not an effective way to extract meaning from the data. Absent from the course was a way for the students to compare how the country's data relate to other countries and regions spatially and culturally in the world. To synchronize all of the statistical and spatial data, Nazish created choropleth maps (i.e., countries shaded in a range of colors that correspond to indicator values) for the pn statistics using ArcGIS , a software program that performs advanced spatial analysis, models operational processes, and visualizes results on professional-quality maps. The maps were then made available to the students through ArcGIS Explorer. Using ArcGIS Explorer, students were able to visually compare regional data to other regions by zooming on the map and turning on/off different variables (e.g., mortality rates, topography, etc.) to refine their analyses. For the final project, student groups presented countries in their region and showed demographic indicators such as life expectancy, fertility, population growth rate and infant mortality. They presented the data to the class in a spatial context to the neighboring regions and used associated supplemental materials, such as images and YouTube videos, to bring a real life quality to the data they were presenting.
CER: How do you know when you're successful? How do you assess student learning?
SB: For the new project in the "Population, Health, and Development" course, I added additional questions to the course evaluations. This gives me a sense for how the students felt about the final project so we can consider how to make it better next year. I take the course evaluations seriously, but not too seriously because course evaluations from students don't necessarily equate with how much they learned. I teach a difficult course, and sometimes students rate it negatively because of the level and amount of work I give. I remember having a student complain during the course about the high amount of work involved, but that person wrote a very kind letter five years later expressing great appreciation for all that had been learned from me. I find this to be typical in that while they may work hard during the course, they appreciate it later. Just as long as they learn the material in the end, I feel that I have been successful.
CER: What is your philosophy of teaching?
SB: I believe in the conflict theory of learning, which I first experienced when I was an undergrad. I use this approach during debates and discussions. Sometimes I ask a student for his/her position on a particular subject and look for someone with an opposite position. For instance, one of the debates for the undergraduate class is: "Abortion and contraceptives should be available to minors without parental consent – yes or no?" There is no right answer, but the inherent tension in the topic prompts classmates to consider other points of view during the debate. This approach could be used for most any subject when there are conflicting views, and I find it is beneficial to the participants and the rest of the class witnessing the debate.

IV   Student Virtual Desktop Service Debuts

JHU Virtual Desktop Logo Starting this summer, IT@JH Academic Technologies will be offering Homewood students the ability to remotely access most applications now available in the Krieger Lab (HACLAB) from any laptop, desktop, table or smart phone with Internet connectivity, including Macintosh and Windows computers and iPads. This service will be available 24/7, and will focus on providing "anytime/anywhere" access to many of the course and academic program-specific applications currently available only in the campus computer labs. (This service will supplement, and not replace, the existing student computer lab resources.) Faculty and instructors who are using course-specific or specialized applications in upcoming semesters (Summer and/or Fall 2011) are encouraged to contact us in advance at HWVIRTLAB@JHU.EDU to determine which applications may be candidates for inclusion in the virtual desktop service.

V   Catalyst: A New, More Intuitive Library Catalog Interface

Catalyst (https://catalyst.library.jhu.edu) is a new interface for the JHU catalog, designed to make searching simpler and smarter. It centers on a clean, uncluttered first screen with a simple keyword search box that searches all fields (title, author, subject, call numbers, etc). Search results are returned with the most relevant items at the top of the list; they can also be sorted by year (newest to oldest), author, or title. Catalyst's more intuitive interface permits users to refine their searches using suggested limits that ensure accuracy without requiring knowledge of the Library of Congress subject headings. Search results screens show the terms that were used and allow users to easily remove specific criteria. Furthermore, the user-friendly date slider permits users to refine results to a particular span of years. Catalyst is designed to save time for busy scholars, providing citation suggestions in MLA or APA style for results. The system will even email or text-message book information to users, so that they can find books while in the stacks or save the book information in their texts or emails for later use. Electronic books and other non-print materials are much easier to find in Catalyst. Users can also use the system for account management: its capabilities include renewing materials, requesting materials, updating personal information, accessing saved searches, or adding titles to a "bookmarked" list. MSEL Catalyst Screenshot Catalyst is an open-source project and was developed at Johns Hopkins by programmers and librarians from across the university in collaboration with several other major research libraries. During this trial period, user input is critical. Please let the developers know what you think via the feedback button on Catalyst's main page. For a quick tour of new capabilities, check out the JHU Catalyst video on YouTube . The library is eager to know your opinions about Catalyst. Please consider entering them on the screen that comes up when you click Feedback on the Catalyst site or consider volunteering to participate in a focus group by contacting any of the staff in the Research Consulting Office on the main floor (M Level) of the Eisenhower Library.

VI   Geospatial Sciences Teaching Classroom and Course

A new, 25-seat Geospatial Sciences pooled teaching classroom will open in Dunning Hall in Fall 2011. The facility, which features instructor and student computer workstations equipped with an array of software tools for analysis of spatial data, will enhance several existing courses for undergraduate and graduate students, including "Remote Sensing of Environment" and "Numerical Methods." GIS Example Map This classroom will also make possible a new course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), founded on the cross-disciplinary practical course, "Introduction to GIS," which will be taught for the first time this coming academic year. The course will provide a broad introduction to the principles and practice of GIS and related tools of geospatial analysis. Topics will include: the history of GIS, GIS data structures, data acquisition and merging, database management, spatial analysis, and GIS applications. In addition, students will get hands-on experience working with GIS software. Anticipated software applications that will be loaded onto each workstation in the classroom include: ERDAS Imagine, ENVI, SPSS, Matlab, ARCInfo, and R. Faronics Insight will serve as the classroom management software package. Instructors will be able to display any workstation's screen on their large teaching screen, to facilitate classroom discussion and collaboration. Faculty who anticipate a need for this classroom's capabilities in their courses this coming fall should request the Registrar's office to include their course(s) on the priority list.



VII   Call for Faculty Authors: Innovative Instructor Articles

CER Innovative Instructor Sample The Innovative Instructor is a series of short articles about effective pedagogical strategies, effective instructional technologies, and best practices for university teaching. The articles are written by JHU faculty, TAs, or instructional technology staff. The Center for Educational Resources (CER) has published 15 articles to date, five in each of the three categories: Pedagogy, Technology, and Best Practice. Printed articles are available to the JHU community in stands next to Café Q and at the CER, located on Q-level of the MSE Library. PDFs of each article are also posted on the Innovative Instructor page of the CER website. The CER encourages faculty to submit ideas for articles at cerweb@jhu.edu. CER staff will provide to authors appropriate templates to facilitate the content composition, editing, and graphics support during the article creation process.