Fall 2017 Teaching with Technology Forum Summary

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On Tuesday, December 19th, IITS held its Fall 2017 Teaching with Technology Forum, a bi-annual event to showcase different options for enhancing teaching through technology. About 30 guests came to KINSC H109 to hear eight different presentations about ways Haverford is now, or will soon, use technology across the curriculum.

Domain of One’s Own Initiative: Haverford Sites

Haverford SitesHiroyo Saito, director of instructional technology services, kicked off the Forum with information about the Haverford pilot for the Domain of One’s Own initiative called Haverford Sites. This pilot provides students, faculty, and staff with an opportunity to create their own domain name. (free subdomain name option with yourdomain.sites.haverford.edu or $12/year option for top-level domain name). She explained three main reasons for this initiative: 1). Promote web literary, 2) Create digital identity, and 3) Reclaim the data and content. She also described the three main differences between Moodle and Haverford Sites: 1) openness, 2) flexibility and 3) portability. She shared some examples for the use of Haverford Sites including e-portfolio, course sites, and blogs for students to reflect on course topics. She also shared a powerful syndication plugin for WordPress that allows the connections within Haverford and beyond.

Heather Curl, Bryn Mawr/Haverford education program and Chesick first-year director, followed up on Hiroyo’s presentation by sharing how her students create web portfolios to reflect on their own work and demonstrate growth over time. Heather has her education students create web portfolios that span several semesters. Students can then share those portfolios (or parts of those portfolios) with potential employers, and others, as they build their professional careers after Haverford. This type of practice lends itself well to the Haverford Sites initiative, since students would have more flexibility to present themselves in the way that they want. Heather also talked about how she plans to use Haverford Sites with the Chesicks Scholars students.

To learn more, or create your own Haverford Site, go to sites.haverford.edu and click on the “Getting Started” button. You’ll find documentation and an FAQ in the upper right corner.


Group digital annotation with Hypothes.is

hypothes.isAriana Huberman, associate professor of spanish, showed us how she and her students used the group annotation tool, Hypothes.is, to think about some of the texts in her Writing the Jewish Trajectories in Latin America course. With this tool, students can look at a common text online and annotate phrases within that text. Ariana used this tool by sharing a text in her class, and then having students use this tool during class to markup and annotate the text. Students could all see and comment upon annotations made by classmate.

Ariana found that this tool worked best when she had students annotate short works. For longer works, students spent much of class just reading the text. Ariana suggested that, for longer texts, it might work better to annotate as a homework assignment. However, she liked having students do this together during class time, especially for shorter texts.

Learn more about Hypothis.is and try it out yourself.

iPad Pros and Apple Pencils to present and create materials


ipadpro w pencilTheodore Brzinski, assistant professor of physics, shared how he uses an iPad Pro during class to improve on the traditional chalk talk. With the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, Ted used the Explain Everything app, a kind of electronic white board, much like he has used a standard blackboard. Through the app, he can add as many panels, or pages, as he needs. This is projected onto the classroom screen in a way that makes content clear–even for those in the back of the room. Unlike a chalkboard, that must be erased a few times during a lecture, Ted can always return to a previous Explain Everything page that he created earlier in the class. He can also create beautifully scripted TeX versions of parts of his lecture before class, as sometimes his hand writing can leave students unsure of what he wrote on complex physics formulas. As an added bonus, he records lectures using Panopto, to share lectures with students that are unable to attend in person.

Bret Mulligan, associate professor of classics, also worked with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil this past semester. However, he took a more collaborative approach. Through a Teaching with Technology grant, Bret got 10 iPad Pros and Apple Pencils for students to use during class time. He used the same Explain Everything app that Ted used, but in a multi-user mode. Bret would give all the students a prompt, and then they would write during class on their own devices. Meanwhile Bret can see and correct or question parts of each student’s response quietly, so students can correct mistakes before sharing works. Once the writing time is up, Bret can project all the responses so that everyone can see and compare each other’s work. Prior to using the iPad Pros, Bret had done something similar by having students write on chalk boards around the room. However, Bret found this system was more efficient and liked that he could quietly work with them one-on-one. The process was easy to implement and students loved it–more so than they liked the previous lower-tech process.

If you would like to learn more, or to try out Explain Everything or the classroom iPads, email hc-techlearn.


HaverAthens–Haverford’s own augmented reality game

HaverAthens screenshotAfter presenting on his collaborative iPad use, Bret Mulligan, did an additional presentation on a game he created for his Culture and Crisis in the Golden Age of Athens class. The Haverford campus is roughly half the size as the ancient city of Athens, with features mapped out in a similar way. When teaching this course in the past, Bret has given students maps of the campus and maps of ancient Athens. He then asked students to use those maps to walk Haverford’s campus and make notes about how various Athens landmarks compared what exists at Haverford now. He feels that, while students learned a little about ancient Athens through this exercise, it took a lot of student time and really ended up mostly making students more aware of the Haverford campus.

With the help of a Teaching with Technology grant and his Teaching Assistant, Hannah Weissmann, Bret modernized this activity into a iPhone/iPad app. In a way akin to the game Pokémon GO, students walk around the campus with their devices. The HaverAthens app responds in different ways, depending upon their location.

Students use the HaverAthens app to go through similar activities as those in the paper version of this exercise. However, in the app version, students play the character of Nikomachus, a visitor to Athens. Shortly after arriving in the city, Nikomachus happens upon Socrates making his daily rounds. Socrates then invites Nokomachus to join him. Together they explore important Athenian sites and interact with various people living in the city at that time.

To create the app, Bret used the ARIS programming platform, which makes it relatively easy to create this sort of map. It fits into a genre known as AR, or augmented reality. This is where your device recognizes something real, like a place or an object, and then enhances it. If you are interested in trying this out, please contact us.

For more information about HaverAthen’s see Bret’s course web page.

For more information about using AR, or it’s cousins VR (virtual reality) and MR (merged reality), see the Educause report, 7 Things You Should Know About AR/VR/MR.


Speech Synthesis and Recognition

Google Home and Amazon AlexaJane Chandlee, assistant professor of linguistics, talked about the Teaching with Technology grant she received for her upcoming Topics in Introductory Programming: Language and Computation class, which is cross-listed in both linguistics and computer science.

In her class, students will learn about programing text-to-speech and speech-to-text, two very different–although related–difficult programming challenges. They will learn the types of recognition and synthesis that computers now now do relatively well, and the types where computer technology is still evolving.

Through her grant, Jane will get devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. Using what they learned about speech recognition algorithms, student will try different ways to ask the devices devices to perform various tasks, predicting which ones the devices will and will not perform correctly. They can then learn about the science application of these language synthesis and recognition tools though experimentation and observation.


Using Jupyter Notebooks to make programming easier

Sample Jupyter NotebooksAndrea Lommen, professor of astronomy and physics, shared her experience using a relatively new platform, the Jupyter Notebook, in her Advanced Topics in Astrophysics: Gravitational Waves course. The Jupyter Notebook is an open-source web application that allows you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and narrative text. Because Jupyter Notebooks lets you mix code with explanatory text, it is a great tool for sharing scientific ideas and findings. Because of this, Jupyter Notebooks can be downloaded from respected sites, such as the LIGO Open Science Center.

Andrea worked with Joe Cammisa to create a Jupyter hub, a Jupyter server that she shared with her students. Each student had an account in which they created and submitted notebooks for the class. Andrea could then easily grade the notebooks, adding comments as appropriate.

Andrea is excited about this tool. It allowed students to obtain quick results from their programming attempts, with less effort than it took with other sorts of tools. She feels this encourages to learn programming and take advantage of its power.

Jupyter is useful in a wide range of disciplines. Andrea encourages others to try it out. Contact Andrea or Joe Cammisa if you are interested.

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