CTLT Dialogues

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Seven Principles for Good Practice Game

Posted by ctlt on May 21, 2010

The Seventh Annual TNT Institute began Thursday morning in Dickinson Hall, on the Metro campus of FDU. After registration and welcome remarks by Catherine Kelley and Sandra Selick, we played a problem-solving game called “Seven Principles for Good Practice.” This activity was based on the article “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education,” by Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson, which appeared in the AAHE Bulletin in 1987.

The game consisted of a scoring sheet and the presentation of short video clips from a number of vintage (?) popular films. The activity asked participants to identify which principle for good practice in undergraduate education could best be discussed using that video clip as an example for discussion. In other words, the underlying task was to interpret how a particular video clip could be a good example of good practice, and thus lead to a better understanding of the seven principles.

Chickering and Gamson’s paper inspired a subsequent article by Chickering and Stephen Ehrmann, “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever,” which focused on integrating technology into the educational practices that the earlier research report presented. Chickering and Ehrmann point out that technology is not a substitute for good teaching; rather, it is a means to supplement or extend effective teaching practices.

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3D Modeling: Tied Up in Knots

Posted by ctlt on June 5, 2008

University College’s Ellen Campbell, Assistant Professor of Education, led a hands-on workshop on her constructivist approach to using 3D animation software, with commentary on issues for the assessment of such projects. Following constructivist theory, educators put their students in a quandary, a condition of doubt or uncertainty, and ask them to take a risk. This is what Ellen’s title refers to: you are supposed to be tied up in knots and to struggle with some mental messiness. She’s worked with students who are preparing to be math teachers, and her approach teaches both the importance of persistence, and the importance of creating constructivist environments, where students may struggle with mental messiness without jeopardy. Educators must avoid the environmental factors that cause discomfort, because when people encounter those, they avoid taking risks, and encouraging them to take such risks is the point of the constructivist approach.

Ellen spoke about issues surrounding the use of visual methods, and reminded participants that much of what we take in from our experience and make sense out of, comes to us visually. Another consideration, particularly in an educational context, is the problem of assessment. People are usually comfortable with assessing an essay. Is such assessment of visual products (images, 3D models, animations, and so on) as subjective as some may claim? Ellen noted that we should be able to assess elements of the visual products people create.

After all, there are rules to this game. Does an image have a Center of Interest? One main quality that you find yourself looking at? Are there secondary, supporting features, or supporting details, to give extra, added interest? How does the eye flow around the image? Does it have some kind of tension, some tension points that need resolution? And there are considerations of proportion, scale and directionality. Your attention should flow around and the picture elements should bring you back into the picture.

Ellen uses Carrara 3D modeling software in her classes. The software enables us to show and demonstrate knowledge. To share and examine it.

Her approach uses the concepts of Visual Literacy. Visual literacy studies the use of visual methods as a unique symbol system. That understanding supports an approach to assessing visual products in the same way we would assess an essay. We look to assess two main areas: syntax and semantics. Syntax is the form and structure of words (morphology), with words as symbol systems. Semantics in concerning with meaning. What actually happens? Semantic considerations have very broad application. Ellen also noted for educators that the New Jersey Board has four standards for literacy that deal with nonverbal standards.

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Blogging for Dollars

Posted by ctlt on May 22, 2008

The second presentation of the day was “Blogging for Dollars: An Engaging Student Activity,” presented by Jonathan Goodman, of FDU’s Silberman College. Jonathan teaches e-Business classes for the Entrepreneurial Studies program. His goal is to teach students how to use advertising and marketing tools available (particularly from Google) to make money online.

Jonathan discussed how the introduction of Web 2.0 resources has changed the Web from something of a passive medium for receiving information, into an interactive medium, through which each person’s “voice” may be heard. His particular interest for the day’s presentation was Web logging, the creation of blogs. There are several different types of blogs, either personal or corporate, and involving different media types (such as photologs, video blogs (or vlogs), sketchlogs, linklogs, tumblelogs, in addition to the traditional, more text-oriented blogs). Blogs differ from Web pages because they are easy to update, easy to syndicate (using RSS, for example) and easy for visitors to contribute by posting their own comments.

There are various blog software platforms available, and students can create their own blogs for free at sites such as Blogger or WordPress.

For his course, Jonathan assigns a project requiring his students to create their own individual blogs. They choose their own subjects, build their blogs, and install Google’s advertising application and Google’s analytical program. These tools enable students to add revenue-generating advertisements to their sites and to track the way visitors come to their sites and use what’s on their sites. Other tools that help bloggers market their blogs are AddThis, to make it easier for visitors to bookmark and share information on blogs, and Google Alerts, which automatically emails subscribers with information about the latest Google searches based on query words or topics that subscribers have identified as of interest to them.

Jonathan compared user records for the blogs of the top two performers in his class, in order to explain in more detail how he compared the degree to which their blogs were successful in attracting visitors and whether those visitors made return visits to the blogs.

Jonathan also discussed sites that support searching for blogs on topics of interest for users and showed us how to use them. The most prominent blog search engine is Technorati. Another favorite tool is the aggregator site Bloglines, which lets users subscribe to syndicated blogs.

Jonathan’s Powerpoint presentation is available here.

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