ETLC’s Coffee & Pi Conversation by ETLC

ETLC (EdTech Leadership Council) meets twice each month on Thursdays at 2pm. We work on a number of tasks. We review the new course shells developed by faculty members who are part of the Online Teaching Initiative. We also judge the students’ ePortfolio competition, and we advocate for our departments’’ technology needs, at the Tech Fee meetings. Sometimes we also sit around and chat. Today we’re talking about the use of technology to enhance the user experience in the classroom. Highlights from our discussion follow:

Sandy Figueroa: Kate Wolfe stated that Sandy likes to try out new technologies on her colleagues and students. Kate is so right. At this moment, I’m experimenting with the new Blackboard Collaborate. Since my teaching methodology is both online and collaborative, I want to “meet” with students and have them “meet” in the new, improved Blackboard Collaborate. So, tonight, I will commandeer a faculty member to collaborate with me on Blackboard Collaborate and see what happens. I will also pilot Blackboard Collaborate with one team in the office technology class to see the students’ reactions and if they interact more than they will in class.

Carlos Guevara: Having a technology that just works, and is simple and reliable is not the norm in the academic technology world. Sometimes many features and options only confuse and discourage users to adopt a new technology, especially in education.  Blackboard collaborate, a web conferencing tool, promises to provide a better user experience. Its latest version has put a lot of emphasis on simplifying the interface and minimizing the choices. My initial exploration and experience with the tool has been positive and foresee see an increase in usage by faculty and students.

Catherine Lewis: Sometimes technology can be as simple as a new writing utensil. I designed these bookmarks in Adobe InDesign, but they could have been made in MS Word or any number of programs. Then, I sent them to duplicating and they printed them on cardstock paper. They encourage  students them to use their textbooks to find answers to their questions independently.

Kate Lyons: Have you seen my pinbox? A few months ago at ComicCon there was a kickstarter campaign to back the creation of a kit for people to make pinball machines out of cardboard and some rubber bands. I’ve been thinking about gamification for a while now, so I quickly backed the project, which was successful and eventually launched the site-  https://www.pinbox3000.com/. A few months later my kit arrived in the mail, and my 7-year old daughter assembled it, following the instructions in a YouTube video the

company created. After the 2016 election a group of librarians formed a committee to increase awareness on campus about media literacy and “fake news” and so I was inspired by this group to work with one of our library tech tutors (a graduate from our digital design program) to decorate the pinbox with banned books, ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and a quotation from Fahrenheit 451. We turned it into a Maker/Gamified/activist/outreach tool, to spread awareness about libraries and information literacy.

Iber Poma: I like the new features of Panopto, the lecture-capture software. Now, quizzing is fully integrated in Panopto. You can create questions at any point in the recording when talking about a certain topic or discussing something important in your recording. It’s a really user-friendly application, and we have trainings about how to use it. I wish our faculty members would all come to a training.

Wilfredo Rodríguez: Nods NO. Here’s an example of a complex system that is not user-friendly. The Hostos CMS works but in terms of user-experience, people tend to be afraid of it without digging into the program itself. It’s not really hard once you dig in, but people tend to be scared right off the bat.

Lisa Tappeiner: Do we use more familiar or user-friendly methods to deliver information, like video, or do we insist upon print to build students’ skills as college-level readers?  How important is the container when the essential thing is for students to understand the content?  Is using digital educational technology in a tech-centered world giving in to the pressure to keep up with the latest trends or is it necessary to a 21st century education? According to OED online, the original meaning of the Latin word technologia is “treatise on the liberal arts.”

Kate Wolfe: I use the old fashioned-technology- talking. Talking was the first “technology”. Language is a tool so we can call it technology. I use Google Forms to teach my students to create a survey and interpret basic stats from their surveys. This tool can also be used for assessment of special events like the Diversity Seminar Series. I also use the Nearpod software to deliver the survey links to large groups. Technology can really enhance all of our activities if used properly. It should not overwhelm the content. I feel our students need to learn as much about technology while here at Hostos as they can. Modeling using technology in our classrooms helps students engage in observational learning and take some skills to other classes. By using technology we can show that we are not afraid to try new things and make mistakes, which are essential to learning. Theme: Active Learning & Student Centered Pedagogy.

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