You DO Have Time For This! Incorporating Video into Your Classes

By Maria Thiaw, M.F.A., Professor, English and Communication

Every new technology has its benefits and its pitfalls, and throughout history, as new inventions have emerged, traditional industries have shown reluctance before coming to acceptance. Teaching, an ancient art, is no different. All of the new bells and whistles coming our way from CPC’s CTE can be overwhelming and under a challenging course load, learning new technologies can seem impossible. That being said, today’s students have been raised on multimedia and in order to lasso them long enough to get our points across, we need a 21st-century approach. This is why I was an early adopter of all that the CTE has to offer.  In the process of using the CTE to create videos through Screencast-O-Matic and the One Button Studio, I have learned a few things that have made using technology in the classroom easier.

First, you have to approach this with an open mind and understand that it is a process. Look at your schedule for places where you can squeeze in some practice time. Come in on a Monday or use one free hour during each day to learn how to use the programs. The biggest time commitment is in the beginning when you are learning. I found that it took a couple of days of practice, but they are very user-friendly and Kim and Judith were there to help. Once I mastered them, things went much faster. Now that I know how to use the programs, I find that I need about 2 – 3 hours to prepare a PowerPoint video for a class. 1 hour to prep it, 1 hour or less to record it and 1 hour to edit it. This is why it’s best to learn and plan over break, have a script ready, and plan time throughout each week to build your inventory of lessons. Notice the word I am repeating here is PLAN.

Secondly, you must edit your expectations. Don’t expect to have an entire class, let alone 4, completed over a two-week break. This isn’t a week long project; it’s a term-long project. It might take longer than that to feel like your class is perfect. Take your time and get through each lesson. Eventually, the class will be where you want it to be and you’ll be proud of it.

Lastly, don’t worry! You don’t need 44 hours of video, even if it is an online class. It is best to use a variety of teaching methods. Attention spans are short these days so think about keeping your videos less than ten minutes. If you are lecturing for an hour, you can break it up into five or six segments, which helps to promote student focus.

Now that I can handle Screencast-O-Matic, I can create and edit short videos at home.  Even under our intense schedule, with some planning and patience we can work some of these technologies into our pedagogy.

Take-Aways from Lilly Conference on Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

By Melissa Wehler, PhD, Dean of Humanities and Sciences

On June 5, 2017, I had the pleasure of representing Central Penn College at the Lilly Conference on Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning in Bethesda, Maryland. My presentation, co-written and co-presented with Judith Dutill, Instructional Designer at Millersville University, was entitled “Pause Procedure and Reflecting Learning in the Online Classroom” and was presented to a crowd of more than thirty educators from institutions of higher education around the country.

The session reviewed methods and techniques that online teaching faculty can use to engage their online students. First, we discussed the challenges faced by online teaching faculty in designing effective instruction for the online modality and promoted the use of microlectures and pause procedure techniques. Next, we defined the elements of a microlecture and discussed the relevant research on the considerations faculty should make before endeavoring to develop their own microlecture. Finally, we discussed methods for incorporating pause procedure into video lectures and introduced some technical tools to assist with this implementation. Specifically, we reviewed some of the software techniques being used at Central Penn, including Play Posit, Voice Thread, and Office Mix.

In addition to my own session, I attended sessions on:

  • What Lies Beneath: Rethinking Major Issues in Teaching and Learning
  • Radically Inclusive Classrooms: Promoting and Protesting a Diverse Learning Environment
  • #InteractiveLearning: Technology Tools to Engage and Support All Learners
  • Advising Online: An Orientation Module to Support Faculty Student Interactions
  • Improving Academic Integrity: Evidenced-Based Strategies

 

While there were many take-aways from the conference, here are a few that resonated with me:

Teaching-oriented versus learning-oriented. During the opening session, Todd Zakrajsek made an excellent point about this issue by asking: “does your lesson change if there are no students in the room?”  The question addresses the fundamental difference between teaching and learning.  If you can deliver the same presentation, run through the same information, and provide the same talking points to a room of thirty as you can to an empty room, you are probably teaching-oriented.  If your lesson plan so thoroughly addresses, integrates, and engages students that you could not possibly proceed, then you are probably learning oriented.

Understand and respect cognitive load.  There comes a point where students (and frankly, us as well) reach a point where we cannot take in any more information.  Rather than continue past this point-of-no-return, find ways to break up the material.  Incorporate reflective breaks to give students a chance to work with the information.  Think about the ways to manage the class so that there is some thinking and some doing.  Understand that no matter how brilliant the lesson, students can only retain so much.

Ends over means.  The role of lecture in the classroom was a hot topic this year, but overall, the sessions I attended seemed to reiterate the same point: engaged students are better than disengaged students no matter the method.  Sometimes, lecturing is necessary; sometimes, it’s not.  The key is that you know your own strengths and weaknesses as an educator, play to those strengths, and engage your students.

About the Author

13240559_10101056173646389_348591978591550789_nDr. Melissa Wehler serves as the Dean of Humanities and Sciences and Professor of English at Central Penn College.  Her academic writing has been published in several essay collections where she discusses topics including the gothic, feminism, performance, and culture.  She enjoys teaching classes about writing, literature, culture, and film and has won two teaching awards for her student-centered approach.

Wehler Publishes Article on Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Dr. Melissa WehlerOn June 5, 2017, Dr. Melissa Wehler, Dean of Humanities and Sciences and CTE@CPC blog contributor, published an article entitled “Students’ Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Five Ways to Break the Cycle” in Faculty Focus, an online teaching newsletter. Faculty Focus is published by Magna Commons and reaches an international audience of higher education professionals.  The article provides educators with practical tips on how to help students break negative self-fulfilling prophecies in the classroom, including providing opportunities for metacognition, flipping roles, creating check-in points, building in moments for dialogue, and pointing it out.

Wehler’s other publications include book chapters in various edited collections, including “”The Haunted Hero: The Performance of Trauma in Jessica Jones” in Jessica Jones Anthology (McFarland, 2017, forthcoming), ‘Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky’: Neil Gaiman’s Extraordinarily Ordinary Coraline,’” in A Quest of Her Own: The Female Hero in Modern Fantasy (McFarland, 2014) and “The Haunted Transatlantic Libertine: Edmund Kean’s American Tour” in Transnational Gothic: Literary and Social Exchanges in the Long Nineteenth Century (Ashgate Publishing, 2013) where she discusses topics including the gothic, feminism, performance, and culture. She also will be co-editing a collection about CW’s adaptation of Supergirl (McFarland, 2018, forthcoming). She enjoys teaching classes about writing, literature, culture, and film and has won two teaching awards for her student-centered approach.

Prep for Your Courses Using Library Resources!

By Emily Reed, Instruction and Reference Librarian; Adjunct Faculty

Whether you are building a course from scratch or using a preexisting course shell, supplying your students with supportive learning materials will enhance your students’ academic success. There are many ways that adding specific articles and/or videos to your course content can help engage your students and learn more effectively. Articles, ebooks, and/or educational videos:

  • Make for good discussion board questions
  • Encourage students to read higher quality materials than they may be currently comfortable with
  • Get students used to the interacting with a large research database
  • Instill the value of using the library’s online resources for research
  • Provide a variety of content delivery modes

Did you know that it’s never been easier to link to journal articles, ebooks, and digital films provided by our Charles “T.” Jones Leadership Library to your course in Blackboard? You can access all of the following resources at this link. (If you are using this link off campus, you will be prompted to enter your Blackboard username and password to authenticate your account.)

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Building an Inclusive Classroom: A Starting Place

By Dr. Melissa Wehler, Dean of Humanities and Sciences

In recent years, conversations about diversity in the college classroom have necessarily focused on the inclusive learning space.  For many in higher education, inclusivity is the natural progression for colleges who are working towards practical applications of diversity initiatives, some of which have come under criticism for being well-intentioned but not concrete.  The rise of campus ‘safe spaces’—itself not without critique— has extended into the classroom, prompting further discussions about the definition, role, and best practices of inclusivity in higher education.

Inclusivity, in its academic methodology, means building a classroom (and campus) environment wherein faculty members and students share in the creation of a learning space in a way that respects all of the constituents, their lived experiences, and learning needs.  The constituents of the classroom (and again, we can extend to this to the campus) are encouraged to engage in constructive, challenging dialogue and to support others who are sharing their lived experiences.

The role of the faculty in an inclusive classroom is to act as a model for the types of behavior, engagement, and collaboration required of the space.  Faculty members should be transparent about their processes and policies and establish guidelines for engagement.  The course content, moreover, should reflect a variety of experiences and perspectives and mirror those of the students in the course.  The challenge for the faculty member is not to shy away from academic rigor in such environments, but rather to communicate the parameters of that rigor.

Throughout this series, when talking about inclusivity in the classroom, I will use the word ‘build’ rather than ‘create.’ Inclusivity is a creative process, certainly, but to use the word ‘create’ elides the work—by students, faculty members, and the even the institution—it takes to establish an inclusive learning space.  It also suggests that such learning spaces are mysteriously self-generating and that some students, faculty, courses ‘have it’ and that others ‘don’t.’ The idea of ‘creating,’ moreover, implies that students and faculty members are somehow inherently inclusive, which ignores the realities of different lived experiences.

‘Building,’ on the other hand, accounts for the time and effort of students and faculty, connotes the necessary collaborative efforts, and forefronts the conversation of inclusivity as one that requires deep engagement.  Students and faculty members must confront privileges and assumptions, they must learn (but not co-opt) the lived experiences of others, and they must work collaboratively towards a shared, mutual goal.

Throughout this series, we will be working on ‘building’ a definition of the inclusive classroom, its elements, and its practices.  The other parts of the series will cover the following:

  • Reflecting on privileges.
  • Questioning your assumptions.
  • Knowing your students.
  • Challenging the status quo.
  • Collaborating in the classroom.

As we continue with this series, we hope that you will ‘build’ along with us in the comments.  Please share your thoughts, fears, and hopes about inclusivity in the classroom as well as your own experiences and best practices.

References

Bart, M. (2012). Strategies for creating a more inclusive classroom. Faculty focus. http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/strategies-for-creating-a-more-inclusive-classroom/ Retrieved: 2/10/17

Busteed, B. (2016). Inclusivity means opinions count. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2016/12/06/colleges-must-move-simply-asking-peoples-opinions-making-them-count-essay Retrieved: 2/10/17

Hammond, R. (2016). Setting the Tone for Inclusion on Campus Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president, Trinity College. The chronicle of higher education. http://www.chronicle.com/article/Video-Setting-the-Tone-for/238304 Retrieved: 2/1/17

Turner, S. (2016). Dear higher education – This is why your diversity initiatives are failing. Advancing diversity. http://www.advancingdiversity.com/dear-higher-education-this-is-why-your-diversity-initiatives-are-failing/ Retrieved: 2/10/17

Zhang, Y. and K. Mansouri. (2016). Point/Counterpoint: Do safe spaces belong on college campuses? USA Today College. http://college.usatoday.com/2016/11/22/viewpoint-point-counterpoint-do-safe-spaces-belong-on-college-campuses/ Retrieved: 2/1/17

Melissa Wehler, Ph.D. serves as the Dean of Humanities and Sciences and Professor of English at Central Penn College.  Her academic writing has been published in several essay collections including Demons of the Body and Mind,  Transnational Gothic,  and A Quest of Her Own: Essays on the Female Hero in Modern Fantasy where she discusses topics including the gothic, feminism, performance, and culture.  She enjoys teaching classes about writing, literature, culture, and film and has won two teaching awards for her student-centered approach.