Spring 2013

Vol. 7 Issue 2

Mobile Pilot for ANGEL App

This semester, Kristin Cole and Jennifer Nesbitt (both English) are participating in a pilot to test and provide feedback for the new Mobile app for ANGEL. Requests for participation went out in Fall 2012 and the pilot gets underway this semester. Stay tuned for details and reviews as the semester unfolds!

PSU Blog Tool CHANGE to WordPress

Penn State has adopted WordPress as the new official blog tool supported by the University. Access the tool at http://sites.psu.edu Look for a workshop this semester if you have an interest in using blogs in your classes.

The former PSU blog tool will eventually go away, so please be sure to export any blogs that you want to keep for future reference. To Export from the old blog tool, go to http://blogs.psu.edu, log in, go into the dashboard of the blog you want to export, and from the drop down of the Tools tab, select the Export option. The created .txt file can then be imported into the new blog tool. In my test, the export/import did not save images, so you’ll need to re-upload the images associated with your original blog.

Media Commons Updates

Noel Sloboda (English), Dianne Creagh (history), and Heidi Deren (German) will be traveling to Berks Campus this semester to participate in a Media Commons session on enlivening the course syllabus through video. It will be interesting to see what they come up with! I look forward to it.

Accessibility of Online Materials

Please don’t forget to consider the accessibility of your course materials, especially for any online materials you create. This includes PowerPoints, Word documents, pdf documents, websites, and video. The National Foundation for the Blind lawsuit started the University on a whirlwind of activity to get online materials up to legal standards.

What do faculty members need to know? PSU has set up a website full of information and resources at http://accessibility.psu.edu/. Getting the University into compliance with the outcomes of the lawsuit (and federal law) has taken the form of a phased process to build an institutional culture of awareness and compliance.

Phase one involved many hours of work by Adam Chlan, our PSY webmaster, who made sure that all official PSY web pages were compliant. Phase two on the university level was to make sure that all high-enrolled online courses (or courses with large amounts of online content)  – i.e. those courses more likely to have students with accessibility needs – converted their content to make sure it is accessible or that reasonable alternatives would be available.

My recommendation to our local faculty at this point in time would be two-fold: 1) get up to speed on the requirements of the lawsuit and existing federal law by visiting the University website (above) or attending a training session (see below); and 2) do an “audit” of your own course materials. How difficult would it be to “access” your course materials if a student with a disability wanted to take your course? My feeling is it is better to be proactive than reactive. Many changes are easy to do and can become part of your ordinary file management routine. As you create new materials, take into account some of the easy changes that can make your materials accessible to all students. Our local process has not changed and involves careful conversations with Cora Dzubak, the Director of the Nittany Success Center, regarding the needs of students with disabilities in our classes. Be aware of your responsibilities, and ask for help as needed.

Faculty members who are teaching online courses need to be especially vigilant and any planning about the development of online courses and programs should have as a planning component an understanding of this important aspect of responsibility.

Other resources for training:

I offered a general workshop last semester on making course materials accessible. The session was recorded and can be accessed at https://meeting.psu.edu/p8t91r9cc24/

There are upcoming workshops online (via Adobe Connect) on making Microsoft office documents accessible – http://accessibility.psu.edu/eventslist

Lecture Capture Pilot

Abul Hasan has applied for a spring pilot to test Panopto, a lecture capture software which would allow him to record lectures for student review after class. This first stage of the pilot would not be for actual in-class recordings, but rather, a test of the software from his office computer. Stay tuned. The product has great potential, but the costs have kept broad adoption limited. The pilot is a hopeful sign of possible University-level support.

Course in College Teaching Part II

There is still time to indicate your interest in joining the spring cohort! Stay tuned for the announcement regarding a planning meeting. In general, participants will have the opportunity to explore in-depth strategies, technologies, and/or design features within the framework of present or future courses. After the initial planning session, the cohort will meet periodically during the semester (and possibly extended through the summer as interest dictates) to share what’s happening. A conversation about obtaining IRB permissions including informed consent could be an additional topic for those wishing to present or publish results.

Yammer adopted as PSU Social Network

Yammer (http://yammer.psu.edu/)  is a secure, private social network that the University has adopted as a means to foster communication and collaboration. ITS Training Services offered an online session about using Yammer during the WinterFest – a recording of that session can be found at https://meeting.psu.edu/p15tsxp4308/. Groups (private and public) can be used in classes, in departments, and to facilitate work across campuses, all within the PSU Yammer system. External networks can also be created to connect people in and out of the PSU system.

2013 TLT Symposium: Theme – “Unlocking Our Potential and the Culture of Teaching and Learning”

Register at http://tlt.its.psu.edu/2012/11/05/2013-symposium-registration-open/. Find out about the event and the keynote speakers at http://tlt.its.psu.edu/2012/11/13/symposium-13-keynotes/

Don’t wait to register. Spaces fill up quickly!

My presentation proposal was accepted!! So I’ll be presenting the Stanford University dSchool activity (and in-class applications) that we as a campus completed during the summer and fall of 2012. Get in touch if you also used elements from the dSchool activity. I’ll include them (with credit to you) in the presentation!

Paired LL ED/PSYCH 100 Outcomes

During the Fall 2012 semester, I worked on a pilot project (special thanks to Mark Casteel (psychology), Kathleen Jansen (psychology), and Danielle Runkle (LL ED)) in which students enrolled in my section of LL ED 005 College Reading were also enrolled in a section of Psych 100. The purpose of the pairing was to provide concrete opportunities for learning the expectations, strategies, and skills of college level reading through connections to a real-time content course. My hope was that students would more easily see the relevance of the work we did together in the reading course and that the pairing would provide distinct moments to discuss and change behaviors and attitudes that would lead to a higher rate of academic success. GPAs for students in all sections will be tracked over two semesters. An IRB proposal was submitted and approved and student informed consent was gathered before the start of the project. A presentation proposal has been submitted for the spring Lilly Conference in Washington, DC. A presentation of the findings and recommendations will also be offered locally during the Spring 2013 semester.

What am I Working on? Building a New and Vital Skill Set: Data

Understanding the role of data in higher education is quickly becoming a requisite and valuable skill, especially for campus instructional designers, who are often asked to be resource people to campus committees and administrators. Being able to access data and use it meaningfully and ethically makes our input much more valuable and useful to campus constituents. From evaluating instructional strategies (including ed-tech integration), to understanding broader issues like classroom climate as it relates to retention, to using powerful analytics programs to track student success, to informing program assessment and accreditation processes – these skills enable instructional designers to develop appropriate workshops and interventions that can make a significant difference on their campuses. For me personally, what started as an interest in the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) has grown over time to a deeper appreciation of the role that data play in finding good answers and solutions to a variety of real campus issues. Along these lines, this year, I was able to provide assistance to our Enrollment Management Team, HDFS assessment teams, retention sub-committees, and faculty members interested in understanding the impact of classroom interventions, through discussions and resources about the use of data in more meaningful and productive ways. Also this year, I tried to start a data user’s interest group on campus, hoping that together, we could build a larger cadre of practitioners on campus who could access and use data in a variety of settings for decision-making within the classroom and beyond. While there are hurdles to making this learning community a reality, I have not given up hope.

In support of these goals and with the permission of my UP supervisors, I started the graduate Institutional Research certificate through World Campus a year ago as one way to build this needed skill set. This semester, I have also started a series of workshops offered through the Association for Institutional Research http://academy.airweb.org/OnlineCourses/Default.aspx. Each one in the sequence is very practical and can be used right away – For example in the first offering, some of the topics are: “Using data for program assessment or program evaluation,” “Retention and completion studies,” and “Use of data to evaluate student progress and success in developmental programs.” These are topics that we often wrestle with on campus, and as my skills grow, I hope to be a stronger resource for campus groups.
I see a definite connection between this new skill set and my role on campus, which has always been a role of service first and foremost – helping us deliver the best possible programs and instruction. Data at the service of this enterprise is a critical component and one that I would like to help expand on campus, through my ID role, creating workshops and support as needed on the campus. I feel that strengthening this skill set will be a value-added for the ID position. I look forward to sharing what I’m learning with any and all interested groups.

Spring 2013 Schedule of Workshops


Thank you!

Finally, thank you sincerely for your on-going interest and support. For me, making a difference and helping faculty members succeed in the teaching and learning enterprise is what makes this job meaningful and life-giving. Without the interest and support of faculty members, there is no reason for my presence on this campus. I wish you all a happy and successful spring semester, and stay tuned for the spring lineup of workshops!!


Get in touch!

Suzanne C. Shaffer, MEd., MSEd., Instructional Designer
Penn State York Campus 1031 Edgecomb Rd. York, PA 17403
ISTC 209
e:mail: scs15@psu.edu

Every day you  may make progress… Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.  You know you will never get to the end of the journey.  But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and the glory of the climb.

Sir Winston Churchill

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