The Visual LAndscapes project was born out of an idea to further engage our students with the city in which they live, and to encourage students to think critically about the ways in which they understand and interpret the built environment. This project brought together students at Pomona College and Cal State LA in courses entitled Metro Tales and The Urban World, respectively. The concept was developed collaboratively by Kathryn Robinson (Instructor in the Department of Geosciences and Environment, Cal State LA) and Livi Yoshioka-Maxwell (Visiting Assistant Professor in Romance Languages and Literatures, Pomona College). The project involved a journey on Los Angeles public transportation to a shared destination, which students documented using social media in order to create photo-essays of their travel experiences:
The activity emphasized reciprocal learning between students and teachers from each institution as we exchanged ideas about the factors that shape our experience of public transportation, such as the demographics of our fellow travelers and the neighborhoods through which we pass along our journeys.
After some discussion the decision was to use Instagram as the student input method, since all the students had phones with cameras, and many already had Instagram accounts. To simplify the logins, the professors decided to have a single Instagram account shared among the class:
A creative Latin professor at Swarthmore College has been using technology to extend informal learning beyond the boundaries of Swarthmore. For the last three summers, Prof. William Turpin has hosted a free, public, online course on Medieval Latin translation. He has been assisted by colleagues Bruce Venarde (University of Pittsburgh), Carin Ruff (Hill Museum & Manuscript Library) and Jen Faulkner (East Longmeadow High School, MA), who helped him to facilitate the weekly sessions. According to Prof. Turpin:
The intention of this course is to replicate to the extent possible the experience of a student in (say) a college Latin class at the early intermediate level, minus the quizzes, tests, and continuing assessment, there is no mechanism for awarding credit or certificates of attendance. The most immediate model, in fact, may be an informal reading group devoted to a particular ancient or medieval text. The basic premise is that a small community of interested participants can both encourage and enhance what is essentially a private encounter with a text.
At Swarthmore College, Associate Provost and Professor of German and Film and Media Studies Sunka Simon and Associate Professor of French Carina Yervasi, collaborated with Ashesi University Professor Mikelle Antoine to create an interactive online course that examines questions of nationality, globalization, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality through the lens of global diasporic communities. Using a “globally-networked learning environment,” the course entitled Re-Envisioning Diasporas was the first synchronous, hybrid course taught between Swarthmore College and Ashesi University in Ghana. The classes worked in joint video-conferenced sessions twice a week to explore how displaced peoples worldwide address these challenging questions while living in a perpetual state of “elsewhere.”
What I’m discovering is that our model of learning is very different from the traditional model of distance learning. Our model is collaborative; it’s not student-professor online learning where the students are interacting with just the professor. [ … ] The students have to write and interact with each other. We’ve used writing, blogs, forums, Youtube, Skype and VoiceThread … I like that we’re using these technologies to connect in new ways.
LACOL was proud to co-sponsor Haverford’s Teaching with Technology Forum for Fall 2015 which was organized by Instructional & Information Technology Services (IITS). Eight Haverford College faculty members shared their approaches and experiments in using digital teaching and learning tools that help to increase student engagement with course material, their classmates, and faculty. Hiroyo Saito, Director of IITS’s Instructional Technology Services and her team work closely with faculty in planning this semi-annual event.
Kyoko Kurita, in Asian Languages and Literatures at Pomona College, has been using video conferencing technology as a regular part of her language and cultural education curriculum since 2004 in her advanced-level Japanese classes. She calls a video conference “90-minute study abroad,” and conducts one or two video conference each semester.
According to Professor Kurita:
A video conference is a 90-minute study-abroad. But it goes beyond that. Even as the ubiquity of the internet reinforces the global linguistic dominance of English, it enables us to learn from other ways of approaching life. Three million people are currently studying Japanese in educational institutions worldwide. So Japanese, also, can be a tool for international communication.”
When undergraduate biology students read scientific papers, they see a tightly woven story connecting a set of data. However, not evident—and just as important for young scientists to recognize—are the ideas behind the experimental design and the challenges, failures, and triumphs of the scientists running and writing about the experiments. At Williams College, Associate Professor of Biology Matt Carter and his students learn about this hidden world of biology research by engaging authors of the papers they read in classroom discussions using Skype videoconferencing.
After reading the research paper on their own, Topics in Neuroscience senior seminar students spent the first 45 minutes of the three hour long class time discussing the paper and generating a list of potential questions to ask the authors. Then, the authors joined the discussion by Skype using laptops and a room microphone. According to Carter:
This part of the discussion was not scripted or organized and became a free flowing conversation about science, experimental work, and personal engagement with the process. Students were able to ask spontaneous questions such as, “Which experiment in the paper was the most satisfying?” This question triggered a fascinating and lengthy answer about how difficult it was to carry out a key experiment and how tremendous they payoff was when it was achieved. Such insights are not contained published paper and would only emerge in this type of discussion session.
Alex La, Interim Head Coach for the Pomona-Pitzer Men’s Water Polo and Women’s Water Polo programs, is regularly capturing matches on video, tagging clips immediately as the game is live and after as well for more in depth tagging. With tagging live, Pomona has been able to show athletes immediately after matches what occurred during the game more intelligently by showing them clips of specific scenarios. Alex and the coaching staff can also use the equipment, through editing, to create movies of specific themes (offense, defense, power-plays etc.) to instruct team members, provide visual aids, and cite specific examples for the student-athletes to learn from and engage with.