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December 2012

I   New Innovative Instructor Blog
New teaching blog for Hopkins faculty and TAs

II   2nd Annual Gateway Science Initiative (GSI) Symposium on Excellence in Teaching & Learning in the Sciences
Save the date!

III   Faculty Spotlight: Judy Mitrani-Reiser, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, WSE
A continuing series on teaching excellence at Homewood

IV   Teaching Tips: Using Case Studies
Learn of the value case studies can provide in your teaching

V   Technology Fellowship Applications
Mark your calendars - 2013 application period coming up

VI   Upgrade to Blackboard Coming This Month
Service Packs 8 and 9 to be installed

VII   The Final Countdown
Help your students earn an 'easy A' this semester with subject-specific librarians and resources

VIII   Dell Provides Discounted Pricing for Hopkins Institutional & Personal Purchasing
Wide range of computer products available to the Hopkins community  


I   New Innovative Instructor Blog

After the Provost's Gateway Sciences Initiative Symposium on Teaching Excellence in January 2012, faculty expressed interest in having an online space where ideas about innovative teaching could be collected and archived. As a resource for those teaching in any discipline, The Innovative Instructor Blog will offer a variety of ideas about teaching excellence, instructional technology, and teaching as research. Innovative Instructor Screenshot The Innovative Instructor blog builds on a successful print series of the same name, which focuses on pedagogy, best practices, and technology. Blog posts cover topics such as active learning, assessment, use of case studies in instruction, classroom management, instructional design, how to engage students, grading and feedback, collaborative learning, leading discussions, hybrid instruction, and teaching methods. While initial posts are written by staff members in the Sheridan Libraries' Center for Educational Resources (CER); staff from other Johns Hopkins teaching and learning centers, faculty, post docs, and graduate and undergraduate students are invited to serve as guest editors. If you have a teaching-related topic that you would like to share, please contact Macie Hall at macie.hall@jhu.edu. Or contact her if you have an issue or subject you'd like to see covered in a future post. You can subscribe to the blog via email or RSS feed. See the blog's Subscribe page for more information.

II   2nd Annual Gateway Science Initiative (GSI) Symposium on Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Sciences

The Office of the Provost announces the 2nd Annual Symposium on Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Sciences, which will be held on Thursday, January 17, 2013, in Hodson Hall on the Homewood Campus. GSI Logo Building on the success of the first Symposium, which attracted over 400 attendees last year, the 2013 Gateway Science Initiative (GSI) Symposium will explore a wide variety of strategies for improving teaching and learning in the STEM disciplines. Join us for an exciting day of keynote presentations from:
  • Dr. Robin Wright (innovator in large course active learning in Biology from University of Minnesota)
  • Dr. Daphne Koller (Stanford University Computer Science professor and co-founder of Coursera)
  • President William Durden (President of Dickinson College and former Director of Center for Talented Youth at Hopkins)
The day will consist of these three keynote speakers’ presentations, reports from some of the 2011 GSI Grant recipients, and workshops focused on active learning techniques and assessment strategies. The 2nd Annual Symposium on Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Sciences is one component of the Provost’s Gateway Science Initiative (GSI). The purpose of the GSI is to enrich the quality of teaching and learning at JHU in courses that serve as entry points or provide critical introductory material for undergraduate or graduate study in the natural, behavioral, and medical sciences, in engineering, and in quantitative areas of study. Online registration will be available soon. For questions, please email us at Gateway.Sciences@jhu.edu.

III   Faculty Spotlight: Judy Mitrani-Reiser, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

Judy Mitrani-Reiser Headshot
CER: Krieger 309 is the new collaborative learning space. What are you teaching there?
JMR: I am teaching two classes: a graduate course, Structural Dynamics, and an undergraduate course, Civil Analysis. The latter is a numerical methods and introduction to programming course.
CER: Why did you want to teach in Krieger 309?
JMR: I attended a teaching workshop sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education that inspired me to use more active-learning strategies in my class. Krieger 309 provided a space to fully implement the ideas I have been developing over the last several years. I was excited about the modular tables and flexibility to transform the space. I feel like I have taught in every type of classroom at Homewood. My first year I taught in Hodson, which has traditional classrooms, using the CER's mobile laptop cart. It wasn't ideal, but it worked when I wasn't scheduled in a computer classroom. The next year I taught in Dunning 212 – the GIS teaching lab (http://www.cer.jhu.edu/e-news/enews05-11.html#6). It was the opposite of Hodson. There were lots of computers, but few whiteboards. I need both. The way I teach changes lecture by lecture. Sometimes I rely heavily on students completing computer-based assignments in groups, and other days we work on the whiteboards. In Krieger 309 I don't have to plan ahead to accommodate my in-class activities.
CER: What has been your students' response to the space and to your teaching strategies? Was there an adjustment for them?
JMR: I don't think there has been an adjustment for my undergraduates. I explained at the beginning of the semester why we were meeting in Krieger 309. They adapted well to the hands-on, group work. All of my students now have the opportunity to teach others. For example, most students haven't sat at a different table since the beginning of the semester. I asked one of the few students who switched why she did so. She said she was at a table full of smart people, but another table full of smart people were explaining things more and she wanted to sit with them. It's been interesting to see how they work together and how it extends beyond class. I let students work on homework assignments together if they write the names of their collaborators on their submission. In this class, those collaborators are not surprisingly table mates. When advising students in my major, however, I'm finding that those who sit at tables together are planning to take classes together in the coming semester. It's created little communities that extend beyond the classroom. I believe developing these relationships early in the program is important to help students succeed and persist through the engineering curriculum. Krieger 309 Panoramic Photo
CER: What about the grad student class?
JMR: I've found the grad students have been harder to engage in a non-traditional space. I think they've been indoctrinated to a certain type of classroom environment and teaching approach. A big part of my in-class activities requires students to solve problems and explain their approach to each other. I use a round robin approach (i.e., students take turns presenting), so they each get "board time." I found that they are hesitant to initiate working with classmates or at the whiteboards, but they embrace it once I encourage them to tackle the problem together.
CER: What has been the biggest surprise?
JMR: There's no front and back in the classroom. This absence of orientation turns expectations upside down for students because they can't hide. In my class, students know they won't be ignored by me. On top of this, the ample whiteboard walls allow me to capture the material for an entire presentation, which means I can reference earlier parts of the content actively. Also, the boards near the students' tables allows them board time "locally" (which is less intimidating than going up to the front of a large lecture hall). I tell them, "Don't use paper, use your whiteboard." I can monitor the whole class working this way and move around the room providing feedback.
Student Quote: The classroom provides a unique experience to learn because Professor Mitrani-Reiser's computer projection is close to our seats. The setup of the round tables, ample whiteboard space, and local projection capabilities encourage group collaboration which is essential in understanding program codes. -Stephen Wong

IV   Teaching Tips: Using Case Studies

Clipart Office Workers Recently we came across a link to a great online resource for case studies (also called case reports), the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS). From the NCCSTS website, "[Case studies] can be used not only to teach scientific concepts and content, but also process skills and critical thinking. And since many of the best cases are based on contemporary, and often contentious, science problems that students encounter in the news, the use of cases in the classroom makes science relevant." (http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/about/) If you want to know more about case studies and the value they can provide in your teaching, the Colorado State University Writing Guide to Case Studies is a good place to start.


V   Technology Fellowship Applications

The Technology Fellows Program is a mini-grant initiative that enables faculty to partner with technology-savvy students to develop 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. Clipart Money 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, scheduling update sessions, providing technical consultation, and helping teams prepare for a year-end showcase in which project results are shared with the community. A committee of faculty and technical professionals from the Johns Hopkins community reviews applications using the criteria listed in the application form found on our website at http://www.cer.jhu.edu/techfellows/. Applications will be accepted from February 18 – March 29; awards will be announced in early April 2013. Funding will be available from May 2013 through April 2014; projects should be completed by April 15, 2014. For more information, contact Cheryl Wagner at 410-516-7181 or cwagner@jhu.edu.

VI   Upgrade to Blackboard Coming This Month

On December 26th, 2012, Blackboard will be unavailable to all users from 8am-8pm as service packs 8 and 9 are installed on the servers. Several new features, enhancements, and bug fixes will be included in this upgrade. One of the more noticeable features will be changes to the user interface. In an effort to streamline the interface with an updated, cleaner look, Blackboard removed many of the editing icons from view and replaced them with 'rollover editing,' which causes the icons to appear only when the mouse hovers over certain areas of the screen: Blackboard Service Pack 9 Screenshot Other changes:
  • Automated re-grading – instructors will have greater flexibility in editing test questions during the open period of a test. It will now be possible to drop a question, give full credit, change point value, or change the correct answer. After updates are made, Blackboard will recalculate the score of all submitted assessments that included the updated question.
  • Negative scoring in assessments – instructors can now use negative point values for incorrect answers when grading multiple choice, multiple answer, and matching questions.
  • Task-based navigation – easily switch from one course to another without backing out to the main page using course-to-course navigation.
  • Additional options in Course Reports – activity reports such as 'Course Activity Overview' and 'Student Overview for Single Course' are now available to track student usage.
  • Percentage range added to rubrics – it will be possible to use percentage ranges in addition to existing point ranges when creating Blackboard rubrics.

VII   The Final Countdown

Clipart Money It's crunch time. As the semester draws to a close, papers, presentations and exams loom large over campus. But how do you tease the most effective output from students stretched so thin? That's where we come in! More than providing a 24/7 study space, we've got a full staff of librarians devoted to each subject area ready to help students narrow their research topics, locate peer-reviewed resources and navigate copyright and citation questions for a polished final product. For students in a hurry, we've got custom-tailored research guides that showcase subject-specific resources including books, articles and databases. Not on campus? Not a problem. We're always available to assist you and your students remotely by phone, email, text, chat and even Twitter!

VIII   Dell Provides Discounted Pricing for Hopkins Institutional & Personal Purchasing

A strategic contract supplier to Johns Hopkins for several years, Dell offers a wide range of computer products such as desktops (both modular and all-in-ones), laptops and ultrabooks, peripherals, other electronics, and accessories. For institutional purchases, Dell has implemented a Dedicated Onsite In-Warranty Hardware Repair Service for notebook and desktop systems specifically for Johns Hopkins. This service includes a team of Dell Certified Hardware Technicians and a Dell Parts Locker stocked with the most common types of equipment used across the Johns Hopkins enterprise. These technicians can repair in-warranty Dell client notebook and desktop systems from the Optiplex, Precision, Latitude, and Vostro product lines. Same-day service is available for units covered under ProSupport Mission Critical and ProSupport warranties; next business day support is available for units covered under basic warranties. To engage Dell’s support team, have your Dell service tag number handy and contact: Schon Hubeny, Dell Service Delivery Manager, (240) 328-0765, Schon_Hubeny@Dell.com. Schon can also assist with server and client support escalation cases that are already open. If you have a support call open, have received a Dell case number, and it is taking longer than expected for your case to be serviced, please contact Schon Hubeny at the phone/email above. Dell Logo The personal purchase program offers preferential pricing on Dell’s consumer systems, electronics, and accessories. For quick access to the Dell Premier sites for Johns Hopkins, use the following web links: Contact information for other members of our Dell team at Johns Hopkins: