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November 2014

I   Teaching Academy Update
 Calling all faculty teaching mentors!

II   The Power of Prezi
Put some punch into your presentations

III   Faculty Spotlight: Yair Amir, Professor, Computer Science, Whiting School of Engineering
Dr. Yair Amir was the 2014 recipient of the Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award.

IV   Merging Sections in Blackboard
Information for instructors who want to combine multiple sections in Blackboard

V   Congratulations Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy Graduates!
Students recognized at certificate ceremony

VI   Preparation for University Teaching
A specialized spring 2015 course for graduate students

VII   Classroom Technology News and Notes
Panopto and Classroom Renovation Updates

VIII   On-Site Borrowing: One More Reason to Love BorrowDirect
Eligible JHU faculty, students, and staff now have on-site borrowing privileges at participating BorrowDirect libraries

IX   Lync Enterprise Voice
A software-based telephone that runs on computers and smart devices  


I   Teaching Academy Update

Teaching Academy students are requesting access to faculty mentors to help guide them through their first teaching assignments. Hand with words signifying mentor As the Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy begins its second year, additional faculty mentors are needed to guide participants through their first teaching assignments or to provide co-teaching opportunities. In the initial phases of the Teaching Academy, doctoral students and postdocs acquire an introduction to pedagogy and engage in hands-on resource development, after which they are ready to take on their initial teaching assignments. It is at this stage that they need faculty mentors to better understand what is required to be a successful instructor. Two flexible options are available:
  1. Offer consultation and guidance for a teaching assignment: help your mentee develop teaching goals and carry them out in a Hopkins course. In this option, a faculty mentor would agree to help a doctoral student or postdoc to develop teaching goals and learning objectives and align them with a teaching activity, determine active learning activities to offer in the course, and suggest appropriate methods of evaluation. The mentee should teach at least two classes or labs in a course or should teach a complete course through a departmental appointment, a Summer Session or Intersession appointment, or through a Teaching Fellowship. Mentors should observe mentees as they are teaching and provide constructive comments afterward.
  2. Offer a teaching apprenticeship in a course being taught by the faculty: invite a mentee to serve as co-teacher of one of your courses. Through this option, faculty mentors collaborate with mentees to plan course content and identify and implement assessment strategies. Apprentices should teach at least 6 hours of classes, labs, or units in the faculty member's course. For a more detailed description of the PFF TA Apprenticeship and the "Role of the Mentor", please click here.
Through either of these options, a "live" teaching opportunity for the student should be part of the student's mentorship with a minimum of 6 hours teaching a credit course. Students will enter their mentorships after they have been exposed to formal pedagogical theory and have engaged in hands-on development of sample teaching resources. In this sense, students will be more prepared to collaborate with faculty mentors than the typical TA or RA. It is our hope that faculty and students will find the mentor-mentee relationship of mutual benefit. Faculty who are interested in participating as teaching mentors are requested to co-develop a Mentor-Mentee Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to clarify mutual expectations. If you would like to become involved in this new program as a mentor or have any questions or concerns, please contact Program Manager, Kelly Clark at pff.teachingacademy@jhu.edu.

II   The Power of Prezi

Are you looking to spice up your presentations? Do you find PowerPoint and Keynote to be limiting? Maybe you should take a look at Prezi. Prezi Logo What is Prezi? It's a free, cloud-based, presentation tool that allows users to place content on an open canvas. Prezi uses a Zooming User Interface (ZUI) to enable navigation and display of content. ZUI is a term used in computing to describe a graphical environment wherein users can change the size of a viewing area by enlarging or reducing it, navigate by panning across a surface, and zoom in and out of content. The application offers a cloud-based environment with a limited number of templates or the choice of using a blank canvas that supports a number of themes. It has a basic, easy-to-use interface for creating content. Prezi takes a different approach to presentations. Instead of slides that advance in linear order, the Prezi canvas allows multiple approaches. Users can create a path to allow for a planned progression of the content or can zoom in to specific concepts as desired without a pre-programmed order. One of the great things about Prezi is the ability to zoom out to see the big picture ? the layout of the entire canvas. This kind of visualization can be very powerful. Images can be embedded, and the application supports video. Sound can be an important component and Prezi enables voice-over narrations and music as a background track or applied to specific path steps. Some viewers find the ZUI to be distracting, even motion-sickness inducing. Careful use of the ZUI by the creator can minimize this consequence and turn it into an effective tool. Prezi presentations are inherently dynamic and this feature can be used with great advantage to keep audiences awake and engaged. To get a better sense of what Prezi is and can do, take a look at some of the examples provided on the Prezi website.

III   Faculty Spotlight: Yair Amir, Professor, Computer Science, Whiting School of Engineering

Yair Amir PortraitCER: What are you teaching here at Hopkins?
YA: I normally teach courses based on my research: Distributed Systems, an upper level computer science course, and Advanced Distributed Systems and Programming, which is more of a research course for graduate students in which I admit advanced undergraduates who can work in a more unstructured learning environment. For the advanced course, I change the content every implementation to push the envelope. A third of the projects students submit are good and teach us something. Another third are excellent and may influence my labs' own work. Another third actually have an impact on the real world. Students create resources that, with extra effort after the course ends, are made available to the world.
CER: How do you plan for these authentic learning experiences?
YA: In the first month of the course, we brainstorm ideas. I suggest ideas based on my experience. My graduate students and colleagues in the field suggest ideas. The stress is that every year I feel like I am going to have a heart attack towards the end of the semester for fear that students won't produce anything. But in the last 2-3 weeks it all gels. Wow! The students do such an excellent job! The last semester was the first time I felt it was normal that they were still struggling towards the end, but as always they did excellent work. It also helps that I have a deep exposure to the field. One year I brought experts into the class to mentor student teams. For example, a group interested in DNS solutions I connected with the person who wrote the security for the DNS standard. The problem is that I found the student projects that year were really defined by the mentors. The students weren't as invested. They enjoyed it and learned something, I didn't have any projects that made a difference in the world. So now I bring mentors at the end to provide feedback on students' final presentations and that exchange is very educating and interesting.
CER: What else do you teach?
YA: I teach an intermediate programming course for students who know something about programming. The goal is that by the end of the course students will never struggle to program in the future, regardless of the language. At the time, we had brilliant conceptual students but they were not so good at reducing it to practice. They were very analytic and very algorithmic, but not good at implementing it as code. So I wanted to change how we teach basic programming skills.
CER: How did you do this?
YA: It requires time. There was no scalable way to do it precisely. It requires a lot of work from both me and the students. The class meets for 75 minutes three times per week. You could consider two of the sessions lecture and the third a tutorial, although the structure of the course is fluid. Every student gets a computer on his or her desk. In the lecture sessions I present programs for the first few weeks. We go through about 30 programs in 2 weeks and about 10 more in the coming weeks. This gives students a basic understanding of key concepts. However, in most classes, students are working on programming challenges. In addition to me, a TA and three undergraduate course assistants help out. As students work, the five of us walk around to help them. The exercises are very challenging so it's important that we make ourselves available to them. The course started with 30 students, then 60, then 90 students. All want to learn programming. Even students outside of computer science and engineering want to learn more than introductory concepts. They need more computational skills these days. This isn't just a Johns Hopkins phenomenon. It's happening everywhere.
CER: How have you handled the growth?
YA: We could host one section, but then we wouldn't be able to give students individual attention. We wouldn't know where every student is, so we divided the course into 3 sections. I tried to teach all 3 sections last Fall. I would run out of energy before the third class started. Plus I couldn't remember if I had discussed concepts with the current class or the previous classes. Last Spring, I taught two sections and an advanced graduate student taught a third group that I helped manage. This semester we have four sections. Joanne Selinski teaches two sections. Scott Smith teaches a section. And a graduate student teaches one section. We also needed a special classroom. As the number of sections increased, we couldn't keep using Shaffer 1 because of the demand from other courses. The Whiting School Dean, Vice Dean of Education, and Computer Science Department Chair asked me what I needed. In response, they built a new lab with a computer at every seat in Maryland Hall.
CER: How do you know when to help students or let them struggle?
YA: Experience. At first the exercises were too challenging. Over time, I have refined them and know when students need help. I also realized we needed more sections, not bigger classes, so we could help students individually.
CER: Do you let students work in groups?
YA: They work individually in the intermediate course because I want them to be self-sufficient in programming. It's the goal of the course. In the Distributed Systems courses they work in pairs. I want two pairs of eyes on the screen similar to an extreme programming format. It's so challenging. Having the redundancy allows them to catch each other's logic bugs. Groups are important in the upper courses. Some of my best friends are from group projects I worked on in classes. We try to engender this community. We see them working together outside of class. We also invite the students to come to my research lab to get help. There's usually somebody there. They can get answers almost any time of day. They can also email my research team. My whole lab team monitors the email address. It's all about personal connection. I try to facilitate that as best I can.
CER: Are your graduate students happy to do this?
YA: Yes. It's good for grad students as well. It improves their ability to articulate their ideas, give talks, present at conferences. It's a great benefit to mentoring students. My graduate students allow me to do what I do in my classes. Last year Amy Babay co-taught with me the Intermediate Programming courses, enabling me to offer three sections, and Jeff DallaTezza served as the TA. They won the teaching award as much as I did.
Course Evaluation Comments --The teacher and TAs genuinely cared about your work and improvement and someone was always willing to invest a lot of time and effort into helping you. --You WILL leave this course knowing how to program. Yair is an extremely passionate professor that really cares about his students. --Great assignments. I feel that I have a good handle on both C and C++ because of the beneficial projects. Also, the amount of people available to assist us in our work was amazing. The email service for questions was great for submitting questions because you knew someone would be able to get back you with great help. --The projects are a challenge, but very rewarding once completed. The number of course assistants allows for you to always get a quick response with any problems you are having. The small class size seemed very appropriate for the course, as it requires more personal interaction with professors and the TA/CA's than most other courses.

IV   Merging Sections in Blackboard

Blackboard Logo By default, a Blackboard course site is created for every section of a course. Instructors who have courses with multiple sections and who desire to use/maintain only one Blackboard course site, can request that their sections be merged. This procedure will aggregate all of the enrollments into the target section. To request a merge:
  • Send an email to blackboard@jhu.edu listing all of the sections you want merged. Make sure you identify the section you want all others to be merged into ? that is, identify the 'target' section (usually section 01).
  • Identify sections in the full Blackboard course id format, e.g., AS.123.456.01.FA13.
  • You will receive a confirmation email when the merge is complete, usually in 1-2 days.
  • Note: it is possible to merge any Blackboard course section, including 'AS' sections with 'EN' sections.
After a course is merged:
  • All students are added to the target section of the course. Instructors should make all other sections of the course 'unavailable' so that all students see and login only to the target section. (Instructors will still see the remaining sections, which can be ignored.)
  • Drops and adds are maintained by the Blackboard server. If a student adds the course after a section merge, he/she will automatically be added to the target section.
  • Students essentially lose their section identities once a course is merged; they are combined into one alphabetical list in the grade cBlackboard Smart View Screenshotenter.Blackboard Group Options Screenshot
    • There is a way to filter the grade center by section by setting up 'smart views,' so that instructors and TAs can grade by section. Click here for more information on smart views. Note: TAs will be able to see all sections of students, but they should click the appropriate smart view link for their respective sections:
    • Instructors and TAs can communicate to individual sections of students by creating a group for each section. Once groups are created, the Email tool can be used to send emails to individual groups (sections). Click here for more information on groups. Note: If you are interested in setting up groups AND creating smart views, set up the groups first, as there is an option in the group creation process to automatically create a smart view for each group:
  • Please note! Any submitted assignments or grades entered into individual sections prior to a course merge do not transfer to the merged course. Therefore, it is probably best to request a course merge before the semester is underway. Please contact cerweb@jhu.edu if you have more questions about merging sections.

V   Congratulations Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy Graduates!

PFFTA Certificate On October 29th, the first cohort of the Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy (PFFTA) was recognized in a celebration dinner at which they received certificates of completion. This new program serves doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows across Johns Hopkins University who are considering academic careers that will involve teaching. Through courses, workshops, and teaching experiences, participants acquired an overview of pedagogy, explored different educational models, acquired teaching and assessment skills, and worked with faculty teaching mentors in classrooms, online courses, or laboratory environments. The following students completed each of the three required phases, demonstrating their interest and commitment to becoming stellar future faculty. Congratulations! Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
Valentina Aquila Earth and Planetary Sciences
Lauren Boucher Chemical Biology
Linda Braun History
Bonnie Breining Cognitive Science
Kalina Mincheva Mathematics
John Ross Mathematics
Johannes Schade German and Romance Languages
School of Medicine
Heaseung Sophia Chung Biological Chemistry
Abby Geis Immunology
Tonya Gilbert Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology
Nesrin Hasan Physiology
Nathanael Kuo Biomedical Engineering
Stella Lee Human Genetics
Susan Liao Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology
Chang Liu Neuroscience
Andrew Long Biomedical Engineering
Daniel Marous Pharmacology
Elizabeth Mills Neuroscience
Khadijah Mitchell Education
School of Public Health
Jillian Emerson Legault International Health
James Gordy Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Peter Rebeiro Epidemiology
Sarah Short Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Whiting School of Engineering
Vasudha Srivastava Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

VI   Preparation for University Teaching

Preparation for University Teaching logo In spring semester, the credit course, "Preparation for University Teaching," will be offered. Open to all graduate students, this course incorporates peer-to-peer teaching experiences and video recording of practice teaching for critique. Course and lesson preparation, presentation skills, effective facilitation of discussion, and development of self-assessment techniques are emphasized. Course enrollment is open to graduate students of KSAS (360.781) and WSE (500.781) in any year of their graduate program. This course also fulfills the requirements for a Phase II activity in the new Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy. Spots are limited so please let your graduate students know about this opportunity! http://web.jhu.edu/registrar COURSE OBJECTIVES Students will be able to
  • Describe elements of their own learning/teaching styles and identify areas for ongoing improvement
  • Apply principles of learning/teaching within their disciplines to support active learning, critical reflection and self monitoring by their students
  • Understand the curriculum development process so that they can design lessons, units and curricula in their disciplines
  • Demonstrate increased skills, confidence, and enthusiasm for teaching and the facilitation of learning
  • Develop a teaching statement and an outline for their teaching dossier that will be used in their applications for positions in universities, colleges, and some business contexts.
The course will run on Wednesdays 1:30 – 2:50 PM from January 28 – April 29, 2015

VII   Classroom Technology News and Notes

There is much to report from the classroom technology arena, including an update on use of Panopto lecture capture, renovations to Mudd 26 and Remsen 1, introduction of new software, and the next planned round of classroom upgrades. During the 18-month pilot of Panopto, approximately 15,000 usage hours were consumed, including hours recorded and hours viewed. This led to the purchase of 10,000 usage hours for this academic year. As of October 22, that allotment had been surpassed, which suggests that this service is quite successful. An improved version will be launched in November, and we continue to provide input to the Panopto development team. If you have a problem, or there is a feature you would like, get in touch with Sean Stanley (sstanley@jhu.edu), and he will submit your request. Questions about integrating Panopto with Blackboard can be directed to Brian Cole (bcole@jhu.edu). Faculty are using Panopto in a variety of ways. Many are recording complete lectures, which are uploaded to their Blackboard course sites for review by their students. Others are recording student presentations. At least one is flipping his classroom, recording short learning modules for his students to use on their own. Panopto Unison is available to encode and allow secure access to third-party video content. Faculty are using Unison to upload film clips, enabling their students to view examples while maintaining compliance with copyright law. Finally, Panopto can be used for live web streaming, and it has been used this for several campus events, including the recent IDIES symposium. Clickshare logo Renovations to Mudd 26 were completed in late August just prior to the start of fall classes. Many of the startup problems and configuration requests that arose in the first weeks of the semester have been resolved. For example, faculty can now view the PC screen on the touch screen controller. Outstanding issues, including the ability to mute the projector without turning it off completely and the tracking feature of the integrated camera, will be addressed in the coming weeks. Remsen 1 now includes a Barco Clickshare. This allows faculty to connect a laptop to the projection system without a cable and without having to adjust either the resolution of their screens or the projector. The Clickshare requires a USB button, which can be checked out from KIT-CATS by emailing kitcats@jhu.edu. Apps are available as well to project from iOS or Android devices. Classroom updates continue. Next on the schedule is Olin 305, which will be upgraded over winter break. Barton 114 and 117 renovations are in the initial planning stages. Town meetings will be scheduled in the coming months to enable faculty to voice their priorities for classroom technology upgrades.

VIII   On-Site Borrowing: One More Reason to Love BorrowDirect

BorrowDirect Logo. Eligible JHU faculty, students, and staff now have onsite borrowing privileges at participating BorrowDirect libraries. Do you occasionally find yourself in a community where you'd like to use the research library? Under a new pilot agreement, JHU students, faculty, and staff have on-site borrowing privileges at the following BorrowDirect institutions: Brown University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. Be prepared to present your JHU ID and login to your BorrowDirect account. Once authenticated, you will be issued a library card. Borrowing privileges vary by institution, and the lending libraries' policies and loan periods apply. Before you visit, please review individual library polices. Borrowed items may be returned at either the lending library or JHU. For the most part, these same materials already are available through BorrowDirect, but this new agreement expands BorrowDirect to include in-person borrowing. If you have questions you can contact circmail@jhu.edu.

IX   Lync Enterprise Voice

Lync Logo In an effort to provide unified communications to Johns Hopkins, Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) is offering Lync Enterprise Voice integrated with Microsoft Exchange. Enterprise Voice is a software-based telephone that runs through Microsoft Lync 2013 clients on computers and smart devices. A software-based telephone uses the network to transmit calls rather than traditional phone lines and is an alternative to traditional PBX phones. The system delivers your voicemail messages (speech-to-text, .wav file) to your email Inbox. ETS is offering 2 Lync phone options that connect to your Exchange Calendar and Lync 2013 for presence statuses. Enterprise Voice also supports:
  • Lync certified headsets
  • Call device transfer – allows transfer of call from phone, desktop, or cell phone
  • Seamless telecommuting
  • Exchange calendar integration to set ring during office hours
  • Call Forwarding or Simultaneous ring to a traditional or mobile phone
For more information and to sign up for Lync Enterprise Voice, please visit: http://www.it.johnshopkins.edu/services/VidConfUniCom/voice/