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August 2008

I   TA Training Institute Offers Orientation for First-time Graduate Instructors First-time TAs get up to speed with program designed just for them

II   Laptop Encryption Deadline Reminder - October 1, 2008 PointSec data encryption now available to reduce theft and data security risks

III   Faculty Spotlight: Chris Falzone, Research Professor, Department of Chemistry A regular series on teaching success stories on the Homewood campus

IV   GPS Systems Find Their Way onto the Homewood Campus Garmin and Trimble GPS systems lead education in a new direction

V   CER Services Available to Faculty Check out the CER's cafeteria of services and resources to help with your teaching

VI   MediaSite Provides Lecture Recording Services for Homewood Faculty Capture your lectures AND the slides that accompany them for web access after class

VII   JHU Library Toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer Search the JHU Libraries instantly by using a convenient toolbar

VIII   JHU Wins Google's "International Build Your Campus in 3D" Competition Hopkins students among 8 teams honored by Google for modeling the campus in Sketchup


I   TA Training Institute Offers Orientation for First-time Graduate Instructors

Orientation Clipart The CER is offering a half-day TA orientation program on September 3, 2008, in the Glass Pavilion (of Levering Hall) and Hodson Hall. The event is open to all graduate students in KSAS or WSE with teaching assignments for fall 2008 and/or spring 2009. Faculty members, University deans and administrators, and experienced TAs will discuss resources and services available to TAs and cover common classroom challenges such as leading discussions/labs, assisting struggling students, and addressing academic dishonesty. For more information contact Richard Shingles at tati@jhu.edu

II   Laptop Encryption Deadline Reminder - October 1, 2008

JHU has acquired a site license for PointSec, a software tool for full disc data encryption. IT@JH recommends that all laptops that may contain sensitive information be encrypted - especially those used by administrative and clinical staff involved in human subjects research. Laptop Padlock Clipart For those faculty, staff, or graduate students who use laptops with sensitive data, encryption implementation should be completed by October 1, 2008. The PointSec software is available on the SPARS software system (https://spars.jhu.edu). Additional information is available at: http://it.jhu.edu/restricted/standsandguidelines/pointsecbrief.html

III   Faculty Spotlight: Chris Falzone, Research Professor, Department of Chemistry

Dr. Falzone PhotoCER: What are you teaching here at Hopkins and what are the levels of the courses?
CF: I teach one of the two sections of the Introduction to Organic Chemistry 1 (fall semester) and Organic Chemistry II (spring semester) each year. The format for the four credit course is three lectures and a conference each week. The conference is 80 minutes long and is taught by our departmental graduate TAs. These courses are typically taken by students in their sophomore year and are required for premed students, chemistry majors, and some engineers.
CER: What are your strategies for engaging the students in your course?
CF: These are large classes - last year I had 342 students in the fall and over 200 in the spring. Even with very large classes, learning students' names is key. Although the large classroom setting tends to create a wall between the students and the professor, I do what I can to break down that barrier. I tend to stop often during class and ask questions, or write questions on the board, and invite discussion. That way I can get a sense of whether or not students understand the material. I encourage students to come to my office hours, which allows me to get to know them better. I let my students know that I am accessible outside of the classroom.
CER: You came to Johns Hopkins from Penn State a year ago after teaching there for fifteen years. Can you tell us some of the challenges you encountered in teaching this core Chemistry course?
CF: Traditionally students think of "orgo" as a course with a lot of memorization of reactions. I see it as not about memorizing, but as understanding a series of foundation concepts that provide the building blocks for all of mechanistic/physical organic chemistry. Using this orientation, students develop critical thinking skills, which will be valuable to them when dealing with any discipline where there is a large body of information to be learned. Mastering organic chemistry requires memorizing only a few things. Once students understand that all reactions are variations of those fundamentals, they are in "mechanistic heaven" and can then extrapolate from their knowledge to find solutions to more advanced problems. Practice is critical and it is often difficult to get students to understand this. Keeping up with the material is also crucial and I have introduced more frequent testing to push students to stay on top of the course.
CER: Are there any technologies or collaborative methods you use to enhance student learning?
CF: I feel that organic chemistry is best learned with a pencil in hand by writing it out (i.e., formulas and diagramming reactions). In that way students understand the difference that variations will make and they learn the key mechanisms. That said, I am very interested in collaboration and team work and in using technology in my teaching. I plan to use clickers (classroom polling system) in my classes this year to better gauge whether the students understand the material as we move through the core concepts. I also am looking at the tablet PC to see how I might best use its capabilities. For a number of reasons I like using the blackboard, so the tablet may be more difficult for me to integrate into my teaching. In my office hours I usually have groups of students. I try to get them work together on the questions posed to promote collaborative learning. This is something I also want to implement in my conference sessions this coming year. I'd like to have my TAs structure these [conference] sessions around assigned problem sets, some of which the students will work in small groups. Practicing through problem solving is a key to success in organic chemistry and teaching or helping someone else is a great way to reinforce your own knowledge.
CER: How do you know when you're successful and how do you assess student learning?
CF: I don't think I ever give a great lecture, only at best a good one, because I know that there is always room for improvement. Student response tells me if I am on the right track. That's why I like to encourage feedback during each class. In an ideal world I would use the European one-on-one method of assessment because it is the best way to determine that a student truly understands the material. With over 300 students, though, we don't have that luxury and written exams become a necessary evil. I do believe that more frequent testing on smaller amounts of material is most effective.
CER: What is your philosophy of teaching?
CF: I believe that teaching is the most important thing you can do and one of the hardest. I'm here to give something to the next generation by teaching them how to think critically. Through teaching I can give something back, and I feel lucky to have the luxury of supporting intellectual endeavor and scholarly discourse. It is really great to be able to interact with bright young people. Essentially, my philosophy is that I want to teach students to teach themselves. [CER staff sought out student reactions - here's a sample. Parker Shelton, a student in Dr. Falzone's class last year was enthusiastic about the course. "Dr. Falzone was a dynamic teacher who engaged with students in an active way. He gave cool and effective demonstrations. And he was very open to questions in class, always making sure that students understood the material he presented."]

IV   GPS Systems Find Their Way onto the Homewood Campus

GPS Handheld Unit The Government Publications and Maps/Law department (GPML) of the MSE Library has purchased 10 mobile Global Positioning System (GPS) units, which will be available early in the fall semester for faculty and students to use for research and class work. Borrowing privileges last for 1 week. GPS units allow users to:
  • capture spatial context for field assignments (e.g., archaeology digs, river sampling, environmental incidents, movement of people, location of informal businesses)
  • map/large-scale measuring exercises (e.g., applied math, geography, structural engineering, sociology, business)
  • prevent students and faculty from getting lost in the field!
For more information on the soon-to-be-available GPS units contact Jim Gillispie in the GPML Office on A-level of the MSE Library at James.Gillispie@jhu.edu or 410-516-8360.

V   CER Services Available to Faculty

CER Logo Whether you are a faculty member new to Johns Hopkins or an established professor who has not yet explored our offerings, the Center for Educational Resources welcomes you to the fall 2008 semester. The CER provides pedagogical support and resources for both traditional and digitally supported teaching. Our location in the Garrett Room of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library allows us to work closely with Sheridan Libraries research services librarians and University IT staff. The CER staff have advanced academic degrees and experience in instructional settings, and, most importantly, they are flexible and willing to provide both individual consultations for faculty or small group presentations for departmental groups. Training opportunities:
  • course management system (WebCT) information, support and training
  • Bits and Bytes, an informal weekly brown bag lunch workshop series on emerging digital technologies
  • TA training and workshops
  • dedicated instruction to meet individual faculty or departmental needs
Instructional technology resource assistance:
  • Interactive Map Tool and Timeline Tool (CER developed course resources)
  • Turnitin plagiarism detection software
  • in-class voting student response (clicker) system
  • web conferencing and collaboration with Adobe Connect
Resources especially for faculty:
  • faculty multimedia lab with industry standard resources to record and distribute lecture materials, enhance presentations visually and aurally, and prepare materials for conferences and grant proposals
  • two mobile computer carts that can transform any classroom into an interactive learning space
  • Tablet PC Loaner Program that allows faculty to borrow a Tablet PC for an entire semester and explore its features at their own pace
Other services:
  • partnering with faculty to develop instructional assessment and educational outreach sections in grant proposals
  • reviewing instructional applications of Web-accessible resources to address individual faculty instructional or research objectives
Technology Fellowship Program: Faculty are invited to e-mail or call any of our staff to discuss priorities at a convenient meeting time. Staff bios and contact information are available online.

VI   MediaSite Provides Lecture Recording Services for Homewood Faculty

On a first come, first served basis, IT@JH Instructional Technologies group schedules use of a simple and effective system that captures, indexes, and packages video, audio, and PowerPoint slides. The Sonic Foundry's MediaSite lecture digital recording system (www.sonicfoundry.com/solutions/lectures.aspx ) allows faculty to record lectures for public or access-controlled viewing on the central IT@JH MediaSite server. Individual lecturers or entire courses can be recorded to create a web-accessible digital archive of the presentations. One Media Site system will be located in Hodson 213. Mobile units can be reserved for use in locations specified by faculty. Mediasite Screenshot Updates on the availability of the MediaSite lecture recording service will be provided through Today's Announcements, the CER website (www.cer.jhu.edu), and on the Instructional Technologies website at (www.jhu.edu/classrooms). For additional information about the Hodson unit, please contact Graham Bouton (IT@JH Homewood IT Manager), at graham@jhu.edu or 410-516-5565. For information about the mobile unit, please contact Steve Frantz (IT@JH Network Engineering) at srf@jhu.edu or (410) 516-4031.

VII   JHU Library Toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer

LibX is an internet toolbar that allows users to search the Johns Hopkins University Libraries without having to leave their page to go to the Sheridan University Libraries homepage. LibX has recently been updated to work with Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 7. Use LibX to search the Johns Hopkins University Libraries' catalog, Google Scholar, and Worldcat without leaving the page that inspired you. By configuring Google Scholar to look for JHU library resources (more information on Google Scholar configuration is located at http://libx.org/faq.html#QL9) you can easily access journal articles to which the JHU Libraries subscribe. MSE Library Toolbar IE FF With LibX, you can also highlight text on a web page and right click to search for that book, author, or keyword in the JHU Libraries' catalog or Google Scholar. LibX also includes search results from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, New York Times Book Reviews, Yahoo! Search, and more locations that will lead you to JHU Libraries' copies with one click. Learn more by downloading the JHU Libraries Toolbar for Firefox or Internet Explorer at: http://library.jhu.edu/services/beta/libx.html

VIII   JHU Wins Google's "International Build Your Campus in 3D" Competition

During the month of July, five Hopkins undergraduates were among the 8 winners of Google's "International Build your Campus in 3D Competition" (http://contest.sketchup.com/intl/en/08results.php). The students worked with the support of the Digital Media Center and Student Technology Services, and the technical guidance of CER staff member Reid Sczerba. Using Google Sketchup (http://sketchup.google.com/) to create 3D replicas of the buildings, and Google Earth (http://earth.google.com/) to geo-reference the buildings on the 3D earth, the students created a virtual JHU campus that can be explored by anyone. Despite the enormous task of modeling the 50 plus buildings on the Homewood campus, the team's submissions are among the best found in Google Earth. The Homewood model includes accurate architecture rendering, up-to-date textures that reflect the JHU Campus 3d Google Earthcurrent look of the campus, and aerial photos of the new Decker Quad. The virtual Hopkins campus can be viewed using Google Earth (http://earth.google.com/). Simplynavigate to the Homewood campus on the 3D earth and turn on the "3D Building" layer located in the Layers panel. Each model has building information and links to the Google 3D Warehouse (http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/), which is a repository for sharing Google Sketchup models. Thanks to the hard-working and talented Hopkins students, everyone can see the familiar Homewood campus from a whole new perspective.