The CNDLS-NHS Mentoring Initiative is pleased to welcome Dr. Becky Wai-Ling Packard on Friday, November 30th from 10:30 am – 12 noon (light refreshments beginning at 10:00am) in the HSFC Herman Room as part of a continued effort to create opportunities for Georgetown’s faculty and staff to bolster the tools and skills necessary for successful and meaningful mentoring.
Becky Wai-Ling Packard is Professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Holyoke College, and her work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and Google. In 2005, she was recognized by the White House with the Presidential early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the nation’s highest honor for early career scientists and engineers. She has published dozens of articles, as well as a book “Successful STEM Mentoring Initiatives for Underrepresented Students: A Research-Based Guide for Faculty and Administrators” (Stylus).
Practical Strategies to Improve Daily Mentoring
In this interactive session, participants will learn more about research-based, practical strategies to improve our daily mentoring. Given very real time pressures for today’s educators, it is important to identify ways to bring greater intentionality to our interactions with students, whether in office hours, research environments, classrooms, and co-curricular spaces. Packard’s research has focused on first-generation, low-income, and historically underrepresented students in science and engineering fields, with the goal of understanding mentoring nuances and leveraging the power of mentoring when the approachability of mentors may be inhibited. The strategies in this session have wide applicability, serving to foster an inclusive, inviting environment for students across a wide variety of backgrounds and fields of study, and for those striving to mentor from all locations of the campus. Participants will also engage with realistic scenarios, and have the opportunity to share their collective knowledge with colleagues.
A translator of research into practice, and as a multi-racial, first-generation college graduate herself, Becky Wai-Ling Packard has visited more than 50 campuses to lead sessions with faculty, staff, and students. As a campus leader, she has served as an associate dean of faculty, founding director of teaching and learning, and director of leadership at Mount Holyoke. In Spring 2018, Packard served as a Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow-in-Residence at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to contribute to campus climate initiatives, and during the 2018-2019 school year, she is a faculty fellow at the University of Michigan sponsored by the National Center for Institutional Diversity in collaboration with the Colleges of Engineering and LSA.
What about the documents I share on Canvas? Do they need to be accessible, too?
Short answer, yes. You can always test your Word documents, PDF files, and any other resources you are uploading to Canvas using your computer’s built-in screen reader, checking their contrast, or using the Word accessibility checker. Remember to also make sure that your videos are captioned and can be played back at different speeds. Many 3rd-party services, such as 3Play, transcribe your videos for a fee and integrate with the caption functionality of popular video hosting providers such as YouTube and Vimeo (this is what CNDLS uses for it’s online courses).
One final, important reminder: it is always best to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to the accessibility of your online resources. Taking a bit more time up front in the development can save lots of time (and student stress!) later. You can learn more about web accessibility at Georgetown’s Web Accessibility page, and as always, if you have any specific questions or concerns, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Phillip Long as a CNDLS Senior Scholar. Previously the Chief Innovation Officer for Project 2021 & the Associate Vice Provost at the University of Texas, Austin, Long’s work in the learning sciences focuses on emerging technologies and our cognitive interactions with them. Over the next month, we invite you to follow along as we share a series of short blog posts highlighting Long and his thoughts on learning analytics.
How has the focus/conversation/community around learning analytics changed since you first engaged in the field of learning science?
Like most new fields, the first area of focus is mapping the contours of the domain. The early days concentrated on figuring out ways to actually collect learner data. What could be captured from existing digital learning tools and platforms? Work emphasized observational and descriptive studies. That’s quite reasonable as most emerging disciplines spend considerable effort building a common language and testing an agreed set of measurement methods before turning to the hard work of hypothesis testing and modeling.
Learning analytics, as a field, is a bit different from the the early days of the natural sciences, for example, because it has emerged in the context of related fields of statistics, data science, machine learning, education, and computer sciences. Time and effort went into understanding to what extent were these upstart professionals who were ‘doing learning analytics’ really doing something fundamentally different. Were they just capitalizing on the attention of the latest ed tech buzzword?
Learning analytics needed to have that introspection and external critique to refine its foundations and better place itself in the scholarly landscape. I think that’s been accomplished. While it needs to maintain the ongoing questioning of its role, it has transitioned to an emphasis on why it was founded in the first place, namely to provide useful insight for learners and teachers into improving the depth, quality, and efficacy of the learning process.
Listen as Long discusses his interest in the construction of the learning experience to best facilitate student-produced artifacts:
We are excited to introduce one of our newest CNDLS Senior Scholars, Dr. Bryan Alexander. As a Senior Scholar, Alexander teaches courses in Georgetown’s Master’s Program in Learning, Design, and Technology. We sat down with him to learn more about his work in higher education and with CNDLS, and his vision for strengthening the work of learning and design at Georgetown.
Dr. Alexander, please share a bit about your background working in higher education and your most recent research. Hello! My background: PhD in literature from the University of Michigan, faculty member at Centenary College of Louisiana, Director of Emerging Technology at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, and creator of both Bryan Alexander Consulting and the Future of Education Observatory.
Recent research: I’m focusing on the future of higher education. Topics therein include technology, demographics, macroeconomics, policy, and human creativity.
Would you mind elaborating on your areas of research? Sure! My literature work involved the Gothic and cyberculture, so naturally October is the greatest month of all. I also did work in multi-campus teaching and information literacy. In my futures work I explore how education may change under the impact of many trends and change drivers. What happens, for instance, as our population ages? How does face-to-face learning change with the availability of networked devices? What is the impact of escalating income and wealth inequality on colleges designed to build up a middle class? Overall, I think we’re seeing a golden age for learning, but a very challenging time for managing educational institutions.
You do a lot of futuring work. Can you share your perspective on the role of a teaching and learning center like CNDLS in the current—and future—landscape of higher education? Organizations like CNDLS have the excellent capacity to step back within an institution and examine how it functions, then develop creative approaches for how it can experiment and improve. This often involves collaboration with many similar organizations around the world. Unusually, CNDLS also teaches students, which is awesome.
We are excited to have you teaching in the Learning, Design, and Technology Master’s program. Can you share a bit about your course, Studies in Higher Education? Certainly. The class explores the many ways higher education can change. That necessitates a deep dive into the breadth of American higher education, including its geographic and institutional diversity, as well as the institutional mechanisms we use to structure and maintain campuses. This also requires looking into research across multiple domains, so we’ve read economics, organizational analysis, sociology, and more. I’ve also added some science fiction stories, partly for inspiration, and also because science fiction does a fine job of getting us thinking about the future.
Many of us are struggling to adapt to a news cycle that, these days, regularly delivers disturbing and even horrifying news. Many of our students are struggling, too. They may have personal connections or reactions to a variety of things being talked about in the media:
ongoing gun violence, and especially the recent attack against Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue and the recent attack against African-Americans in a supermarket in Kentucky;
the federal government seeking to officially define gender in a way that denies the existence of transgender people;
the fatalities and destruction caused by Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence;
the ongoing stories and revelations of the #MeToo movement, particularly surrounding the recent Supreme Court nomination process;
attacks on journalists;
the severity of the federal government’s policies toward immigrants;
the contentious upcoming elections;
and a lot more.
In other words, the stress you’re seeing on your students may be rooted in much more than midterms. The news may be leaving them distracted, anxious, upset, angry, eager to discuss the complexities of these issues, frightened, and/or even retraumatized, if the things they’re hearing about remind them of traumatic experiences they’ve had. And they’ll be carrying those things into the classroom.
At CNDLS we strongly believe in actualizing the University’s commitment to cura personalis, or care for the whole-student inside the classroom, because we know that students bring their whole selves—everything they’ve gone through, everything they’re experiencing—wherever they go. What that means is going to vary from course to course, but faculty will be much more prepared to thoughtfully and sensitively support students who enter those same classrooms if they have strategies for how to handle the intense emotions students may be experiencing, and perhaps the issues they’re wrestling with.
That’s why we’re hosting a workshop on how to have difficult discussions in the classroom on Monday, November 12th, from 10:00-11:30 am. This workshop will be in the Social Room of the Healey Family Student Center and all Georgetown faculty and staff are welcome. Please RSVP here if you’re planning to attend.
How do we build living and learning communities on our campus to help students benefit from diversity? How do we create structures to support underrepresented groups on campus without undermining them? How do we engage with race both pedagogically, as educators, and personally, as human beings? These are just some of the challenging questions that shaped the conversation between Dr. Beverly Tatum, President Emerita of Spelman College, and Dr. Heidi Elmendorf (Biology), Senior Advisor to the President for Equity in Education, during the 2018 Teaching, Learning, and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) keynote plenary held this past May.
Tatum is an authority, if not the authority, on the psychology of racism, the impact of race in the classroom, and strategies for creating inclusive campus environments. During the keynote, Tatum shared her reflections from “Race and Other Conversations” in celebration of her recently published 20th anniversary edition of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Her book argues that while Americans are reluctant to talk about race, we must begin to examine the psychological effects of racial identity development.
Engaging Students with Difference
As Tatum remarks in her book, we live in astonishingly homogeneous and hypersegregated communities. Beginning their conversation, Elmendorf indicated that by extension, at the heart of the dilemma of predominantly White institutions like Georgetown is the fact that for students arriving on campus from all over the country, Georgetown will likely be the most diverse community of which they will ever be a member. This means not only that students arrive having limited practice engaging with others who are different than themselves, but also that Georgetown is likely the last best opportunity for students to engage across lines of difference.
This dilemma underscores the importance of creating opportunities on campus for students to learn the skills of intergroup dialogue. One opportunity to do so is through A Different Dialogue, an initiative supported by CNDLS and Student Affairs that brings together undergraduate students to discuss promoting, fostering, and sustaining diversity on campus through dialogue.
Actualizing the “ABCs”
A campus community must be attuned to what Tatum calls the “ABCs.” As both a call to action and a conceptual framework, these “ABCs” necessitate campuses to Affirm identity, as all students want to see themselves reflected in the institution, Build community, and Cultivate leadership.
What do the “ABCs” look like in practice? How does an instructor build community for all students in a heterogeneous classroom? This question is especially applicable when thinking pragmatically about collaboration and group work in the lab setting, Elmendorf remarked of her own experience. The two speakers began to walk through the question of how to create heterogeneous groups for in-class work. Tatum shared a metacognitive strategy: “Tell people what you’re doing and why.” We know that diverse groups work more effectively and create better work, but grouping students across racial lines can be challenging. Tatum explained that in a class of, for example, 30 students, if three students are students of color, then the best strategy would be to cluster those three students together. The alternative strategy, isolating each minority student, risks what Dr. Rosabeth Moss Kanter deems “tokenizing.” This example hit home for Elmendorf, who remarked, “when you have a class of 200 students every fall, and you have underrepresented groups—dramatically underrepresented groups—those challenges are real.”
Later, the conversation shifted to unconscious bias. The challenge of group work resurfaced, this time in the context of what to do when women of color are subject to stereotyping, such as being perceived to be less competent. “Naming the problem,” Tatum shared, “makes it harder to engage with the activity because it becomes conscious. This is true for most forms of unconscious bias.” Ijeoma Njaka, a graduate student in the Master’s Program in Learning and Design and CNDLS Graduate Associate, asked how we move past perceived roles and into productive dialogue when White students are often deemed the “listeners” and Black students the “teachers.”
“There is a teacher and learner in every seat,” Tatum acknowledged. “You do have to push past the reluctance that White students often have to speak…Creating a space in the classroom where people can take risks—emotional and intellectual risks—is important, but that’s the challenge.” There are many different pedagogical strategies for pushing past performance anxieties that groups feel because they are worried about fulfilling a stereotype. For White students, this often comes in the form of a fear to speak honestly because, “we say racist things,” Tatum explained, nodding to Dr. Robin DiAngelo’s work on the concept of White Fragility. Teaching strategies such as pair sharing and free-writing are especially helpful in these scenarios, Tatum added.
Finding Support and Resources Through CNDLS
CNLDS is committed to supporting faculty who are tackling these difficult issues. We offer faculty many resources for implementing active learning strategies, including a set of online resources as part of our Teaching Commons, and in-person consultations with our staff. OnThe Teaching Commons, instructors can find additional resources related to teaching, including tools for designing courses, examples of implementation by faculty, and suggestions for further reading.
As part of CNDLS’s larger initiative on Inclusive Pedagogy, a student-centered approach to teaching that pays attention to the varied background, learning styles, and abilities of all the learners in front of you, CNDLS offers anInclusive Pedagogy Workshop Seriesand set ofInclusive Teaching Resources that help faculty scaffold difficult conversations around difference. We’re also always happy to meet with you in person during a one-on-one consultation. Reach out to us!
EdSurge recently namedSarah Chamberlain, CNDLS Graduate Associate and a student in the inaugural cohort of the Master’s Program in Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT), a Fall EdSurge Independent Fellow. As part of her Fellowship, Chamberlain will write articles for EdSurge that discuss her studies in the LDT program and her associateship work with CNDLS developing online courses and engaging in learning analytics.
The fall cohort of ten students get together once a week to discuss various topics in higher education—and challenges they’ve faced— and serve as contributors to the EdSurge Independent website. Chamberlain shares, “I think that it’s great that they are publishing student’s voices. Everyone is really excited about having the students involved. Everyone has been super welcoming so far.” With an initial interest in ed tech, more recently she’s engaged in discussions with students in her program about access to educational technology. “I recognize that I will be in a position of power to make decisions and I wonder how I can use that to make a positive influence on women and minorities. The political climate and living in D.C. also contributed to my change in direction. I just think, what can I do to change it?” She is most interested in writing on how educational technologies are being used, access and equity in higher education, and social justice-oriented pedagogies. To follow along with her and read some of her reflections throughout her Fellowship, visit EdSurge Independent’s webpage.
Before attending Georgetown University’s LDT program, Chamberlain received her B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and worked in the biotechnology field as a product manager. After completing a Design Media certificate through the University of California, San Diego, she went on to begin her work in eLearning. Her passion for multimedia art inspired her to pursue a career in instructional design. After completing her Master’s degree this spring , she hopes to find a position that allows her to combine her interests in learning, technology, design, and education.
All students should have equal access to educational opportunities, though students with disabilities often face additional challenges, particularly with the development of digital technologies that may not be user-friendly for this population of students.
On Thursday, October 25th from 12:00 – 1:00pm, online via Zoom, CNDLS is pleased to offer Designing Accessible Courses in Canvas, a webinar introducing fundamental principles and best practices to improve the accessibility of course materials in Canvas. CNDLS staff who specialize in learning design and online learning will share basic steps to ensure your Canvas course content is accessible, including creating accessible page structure, lists, hyperlinks and images. These practices benefit all students using the Canvas platform, especially those with vision, motor, or hearing impairments. This webinar will grant participants a deeper understanding of how to design with accessibility in mind.
We invite you to register for this webinar today. Can’t make it? The presentation portion of the webinar will be recorded and made available on the CNDLS website.
This will be the second installment of our Digital Learning Webinar Series, exploring the use of different technologies that enhance teaching and learning.
Mark your calendars for other upcoming webinars:
November 29: Engaging Students with Panopto
Feb 28: Tips and Tricks for Managing Canvas and Enhancing Your Course
March 28: Audio and Podcasting Projects: Getting Started with Tech and Assignment Design
April 25:Canvas and Learning Analytics
We hope that you will join us! In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us with any questions.
On Thursday September 27th, 2018, Learning Design Specialist Lee Skallerup Bessette and Instructional Technologist Randal Ellsworth kicked off our Digital Learning Webinar Series with “Teaching and Learning with Domains”. You can re-watch the complete session recording below. We also encourage you to utilize the resource document our presenters created to accompany this presentation. In this document, you’ll find helpful links and resources to help you navigate the world of Georgetown Domains. We will continue to update this living document with new tips and tricks, so we encourage you to save this as a helpful reference.
In this follow-up blog post, we address some of the questions we received during the live session in a little more concrete detail.
Who can use Georgetown Domains? Does my domain name have to have Georgetown in the web address?
Georgetown Domains is a service available for all students, faculty, and staff to use; all you need is your Georgetown NetID to set up your own domain on Georgetown Domains. This will get you a web address that looks like this: examplename.georgetown.domains. With that comes server space where you can host the content for your website. All of this is free.
If you want your own domain, without the georgetown.domains suffix, you can, but you would have to register and pay for the domain name and then have it mapped to your server space through Georgetown Domains. Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Our service provider, Reclaim Hosting, can help you with all of this.
Speaking of Reclaim Hosting, where is my data being stored? Is it secure?
So can I really do anything on my Georgetown Domain?
Not anything. You still need to follow the Georgetown Computer Systems Acceptable Use Policy. This includes not being able to post racist, homophobic, sexist, or other forms of hate speech. It also means that you can’t violate other people’s copyright by posting it on your site. We hope that Georgetown Domains can help facilitate these important conversations in your classrooms with students on what is and is not appropriate or acceptable to publish online.
But, besides those understandable and reasonable restrictions, you are in fact free to put what you want on your site. You can upload and share PDF documents you would like students to access (as long as you have copyright permission, of course!). You can post images, videos, sound files, datasets, animated gifs…if it can live online, it can live and be accessed on your domain.
There are currently no personal limits set up as to how much space you have on your domain. However, we strongly recommend that if you have very large files (like 4K full-length movies or hundreds of high-resolution images) that you wish to host on your domain to email us at email@example.com.
Can we talk about access? How can I limit access, so that only students can see certain pages? How can I make pages publicly available so the community can contribute?
It’s your domain, so you have complete control over who has access to it. Now, what kind of access depends on what you have installed on your domain. Applications like WordPress and Omeka allow for certain pages, or even the entire site, to be password protected, meaning only individuals with the password can see the pages or site.
The wonderful thing about WordPress is that the sites are highly customizable using things called Plugins. Using plugins, you can set up your website to do just about anything! Many of the plugins are free, but some of the more powerful ones are called premium plugins and you have to pay for them. There was a question during the webinar about creating a website where people could visit and enter in information that then transfers into a database. You could use something like the Participants Database plugin in order to achieve that aim with your website.
That’s just one plugin of the thousands that are available. It can be overwhelming, so we really encourage you to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, set up an appointment to speak with us, and we can help figure out the best way to make your vision for your website a reality!