Georgetown edX MOOC “Quantum Mechanics for Everyone” Named #3 Best MOOCs of 2017 by Class Central

Each year, Class Central publishes a ranking of the best online courses of the year based on reviews from users. CNDLS is pleased to announce that the Georgetown edX course “Quantum Mechanics for Everyone” was named one of the top 3 best MOOCs of 2017. This self-paced course, taught by James Freericks (Physics), covers the fundamental notions of quantum mechanics at a level that is accessible to everyone. We would like to extend a very special congratulations to Freericks!! To read the full article from Class Central, please click here.

Georgetown’s partnership with edX is another way to expand the University’s outreach across the globe. To learn more and register for the “Quantum Mechanics for Everyone,” visit the edX course page.

Principles and Practices of Inclusive Pedagogy

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find a links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

During the 2017 “Principles and Practices of Inclusive Pedagogy” TLISI session, CNDLS staff members Joselyn Lewis, Michelle Ohnona, and James Olsen shared insights about ways to implement inclusive pedagogy practices in the classroom including definitions of inclusive pedagogy, their current inclusive pedagogy initiatives, and crowd-sourced resources and strategies for incorporating inclusive pedagogy in the classroom.

Setting the Stage
To begin the session, facilitators prompted the group to walk around the room, examining print-out slides featuring statistics about Georgetown students, their backgrounds, and the many identity groups of which they are a part. This exercise in empathy alluded to one of the central focuses of the session: the students’ experience, which inevitably permeates the boundaries of the classroom. In their book, “How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching” (Wiley-Bass, 2010), Susan Ambrose et. al describe this phenomenon:

“Even though some of us might wish to conceptualize our classrooms as culturally neutral or might choose to ignore the cultural dimensions, students cannot check their sociocultural identities at the door… Therefore, it is important that the pedagogical strategies we employ in the classroom reflect an understanding of social identity development so that we can anticipate the tensions that might occur in the classroom and be proactive about them.”

This discussion of the ways in which the student brings his or her multiple identities into the classroom serves as the basis of inclusive pedagogy, and kicked off the session.

Next, the group explored definitions for inclusive pedagogy. The session leaders admitted that definitions were something they struggled with—there are multiple ways to define how we create inclusive spaces in the classroom, or what those teaching strategies look like—but suggested “a” definition borrowed from Christine Hockings, a Professor of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the University of Wolverhampton. In her 2010 article, “Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: A synthesis of research” Hockings defines Inclusive Pedagogy as:

“the ways in which pedagogy, curricula, and assessment are designed to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant, and accessible to all. It embraces a view of the individual and individual difference as the source of diversity that can enrich the lives and learning of others.”

The argument for inclusive pedagogy, then, is to make difference an explicit part of the teaching and learning experience in the classroom.

Examining Yourself and What You Bring
Inclusive pedagogy, alongside exposing and celebrating difference in the classroom, embraces self-awareness. The session leaders prompted the group to consider individual identities, biases, and presuppositions that they may bring into the classroom as teachers. What were the barriers that their students faced in participating fully? How might student identities shape learning processes? What skills might be highlighted by using different teaching methods? Ohnona pointed out that self-awareness also comes with a degree of self-acceptance as a practitioner, but not an expert, saying that being a practitioner of Inclusive Pedagogy is not the same as earning a workshop credential or taking a course. In the words of Bell Hooks, “To educate as the practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn.” The first step to being an Inclusive Pedagogy practitioner is awareness of what one brings to the classroom as a teacher and a learner.

The Five Axes of Inclusive Pedagogy
Lewis, Ohnona, and Olsen then presented five axes of inclusive pedagogy, to generate strategies for incorporating this way of teaching into the classroom. The first was pedagogy: how do you ask students to engage with content? The second, content, addressed the materials used in the classroom. What theorists are given attention? Whose voices come forth in the syllabus? Third, the group discussed assessment, asking questions like, How do you assess ways of knowing? How can you diversify that assessment? The fourth axis, climate, asked members to consider what environment they create in the classroom— emotional, physical, intellectual— and how students were asked to engage with that space. Finally, the group addressed power: what are the power structures that exist in the classroom, and how can they be diversified?

The latter third of the session was dedicated to brainstorming strategies along these five axes of inclusive teaching and learning. In walking around to different notepads on the walls, participants jotted down ideas from their classroom experiences that provided inclusive and diverse methods of teaching. The session ended with a share-out of ideas and resources to make classrooms more responsive, attentive, and student-centered for the benefit of all.

At CNDLS, we are pleased to offer a series of Inclusive Pedagogy workshops throughout the year which can be found here. Additionally, we are happy to arrange a custom workshop for departments and offices on campus. Contact us to learn more about these opportunities. Our website includes a plethora of information about inclusive teaching and learning practices, as well.

Teach the Speech Teach-In: Teaching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”

Every year, Georgetown University honors the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through a series of events as part of the Let Freedom Ring! Initiative. As part of the annual initiative, faculty, staff, and students across campuses and schools read and reflect on one of Dr. King’s speeches during the Spring semester. This spring, Dr. King’s April 3, 1968 speech, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” is the project’s focus. In collaboration with the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service (CSJ), CNDLS hosted the “Teach the Speech Teach-In” on January 9, 2018 featuring keynote speaker Dr. Clarence E. Hardy III, Associate Professor of the History of American Christianity at Yale Divinity School.

Hardy emphasized the importance of providing context around the speech when introducing it in class. Modeling the use of available audio and video of Dr. King, Hardy played portions of several King speeches during his session. To highlight the differences between King’s first and last recorded speeches in public ministry, faculty and staff discussed differences in King’s language and focus topics after listening to the recordings. Hardy honed in on additional critical details to help put the speech in context, from the crowd turnout, weather, and King’s fatigue and travel delays that day, to his questions about the nonviolence movement overall and his desire to frame his life—and impending death—while he still had time at the pulpit.

Georgetown faculty members Marilyn McMorrow (Government), David Molk (Performing Arts), Ricardo Ortiz (English), and Mubbashir Rizvi (Anthropology) shared their insights and plans on Teaching the Speech in their courses. The faculty panelists reiterated the need for context around Dr. King and his speech. As Dr. King reflects on his place in time and (Western) human history in “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” faculty reflected on how to lead students to ask themselves why they are placed in this moment in time and what to do with their context in the spirit of cura personalis, or care of the whole person.

Drawing on similar topics, CNDLS staff Daviree Velázquez Philip and Graduate Associate Ijeoma Njaka led a workshop session after the panel discussion. Using resonant themes from “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” participants discussed connections between the speech and social justice at Georgetown in order to integrate the speech into their courses.

Throughout the teach-in, Hardy and the faculty panel reiterated important tips and takeaways for those interested in incorporating the speech into their classes, including the following:

  • Teach the speech throughout the semester, not just in January when the holiday falls. Find a time during the semester that works best for you to incorporate the speech around relevant topics and themes.
  • Provide context around the speech. As Hardy modeled, introducing students to teaching about the circumstances surrounding the speech—from the Memphis sanitation workers strike to the feelings racial terror—are critical to teaching the speech.
  • Tackle the veneration of Dr. King. As Hardy noted, Dr. King has a place in the American canon. Students and faculty might find themselves resistant to humanizing or critiquing Dr. King; however, this can be an edifying process for learners and educators alike.

To access more information about the Teach-In, including links to text and audio, visit the CSJ’s Teach the Speech site. For news about upcoming events honoring Dr. King throughout the semester, please visit Georgetown’s MLK 2018 Events page.

Sign Language Structure, Learning and Change MOOC Launches on edX

Where does American Sign Language (ASL) come from? How is grammar expressed in ASL? How do signed languages evolve and change over time? Georgetown University Medical Center Professor Ted Supalla explores these questions and many more in the edX course “Sign Language Structure, Learning, and Change.”

GUIX401 Sign Language Structure, Learning, and Change, supported by CNDLS’ Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning (ITEL), is the latest Georgetown-affiliated MOOC on edX. The multidisciplinary course is taught in American Sign Language (ASL) with English subtitles and voiceover. It is divided into three general themes: structure, learning, and change. These themes delve into topics such as the variation among signed languages, the role of movement and facial expressions in ASL, and how the knowledge of ASL grammar has been sustained through its history.

Each of the four modules include 9 subsections which delve into specific topics. Each subsection features video-based exercises for students to practice analyzing signs, optional additional resources for exploring topics further, and a quiz to test a student’s understanding and knowledge of the section. The course is self-paced, so students can dive in for an immersive experience or take their time digesting all of the rich content.

Georgetown’s partnership with edX is another way to expand the University’s outreach across the globe. We look forward to welcoming you to GeorgetownX: Sign Language Structure, Learning, and Change, which starts on February 15, 2018.

Register for the full version of the course here.

Engaging How Privilege & Dominance Impacts Us & Our Work

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find a links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

In the 2017 TLISI session, “Engaging How Privilege and Dominance Impacts Us and Our Work,” Daviree Velazquez Phillip (Center for Multicultural Equity and Access) and Bill Huff (Office of Residential Living) opened their session by asking attendees about their personal experiences  engaging in conversations about dominance and privilege in the classroom. One participant immediately responded with, “Not well!” The rest of the group laughed and snapped in agreement. Some said that they were unsure of how to define privilege or dominance in the first place. Others chimed in, saying attempts in the classroom had been awkward. Participants also discussed the difficulty of tackling these concepts outside of academia, in their personal and professional circumstances.

This session created the space to address concerns, including the complexities of identity, privilege, and dominance that frequently arise in academic, professional, and private spheres. It was personalized to the audience p and the systems they face on a day-to-day basis, with particular attention to privilege: the sometimes undeserved, unconscious, or inherited ability and entitlement to choose, hold power and resources, speak up, and control spaces. While Velazquez Phillip and Huff guided the session, everything from community-sourced definitions like this one to the session activities centered around the unique contexts and backgrounds of participants.

Strategies for Navigating Conversation

The session suggested that conversations around dominance and privilege must first center around context-awareness which is done by assessing the particular landscape. After discussing the wider landscape of Georgetown— its Jesuit heritage, status as a predominantly-white and wealthy institution (PWI), and the privilege-blindness that sometimes comes along with working in an elite institution— members discussed the demographics of the room. A few voiced unfamiliarity with practices around diversity and identity discussions, like asking for personal pronouns. As Huff put it, systems like dominance and privilege do not want individuals to be aware of such participation; a first step towards addressing problems of privilege and dominance is to make oneself aware.

The session participants noted that discomfort and uncertainty are all-too-frequent feelings that surface when having discussions about privilege. To work through the discomfort, Velazquez Phillip and Huff asked the participants to name what they needed out of their shared space. Among other points, participants suggested sticking to the personal; having a confidential space where information wouldn’t leave the room; and leaning into messiness without expecting perfection from each other. By creating an environment of mutual agreement and trust, the group created space for personal, growth-inducing conversations. This is a practice of establishing an environment is one faculty can utilize for having these types of conversations in the classroom.

Self-awareness is equally important to possess when tackling privilege in the classroom and beyond. Participants completed a Social Identity Profile worksheet adapted from an exercise by Central Michigan University, which asked for their membership in different social groups (gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, ability, etc.). The sheet asked participants to consider their self-awareness and memories with these identities, each identity’s perceived effects on self and others, and the identities that give them the most power and privilege in society. Members then moved into two concentric circles for share-outs, where Velazquez asked similar questions such as, “When have you experienced dominance?” and “When have you used your privilege to your advantage?” One partner listened while the other shared, and then the pair switched.

These dialogues ended the session, and underscored the value of trust and awareness in supporting personal conversations. An activity like this one be effective in cultivating a greater understanding of how to navigate conversations that address dominance and privilege.
For more information on addressing identity, privilege, and dominance, check out the programs hosted by the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access and CNDLS’ Doyle and Inclusive Pedagogy initiatives.

The Future of Higher Education: A Conversation with Dr. Cathy N. Davidson and Georgetown University Provost Robert M. Groves

This fall the Office of the President and the Designing the Future(s) of the University Initiative hosted Cathy N. Davidson, Ph.D., in conversation with Georgetown University Provost Robert M. Groves on the future of higher education and her new book, The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux. Davidson is the Founding Director of the Futures Initiative and Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), among many other roles. Her insights on the changing higher education landscape have sparked further conversations at Georgetown about the role of the university in addressing a complex, equitable future, and the crucial role excellent teaching plays in constructing that vision.

Davidson outlined the history of higher education and highlighted the ways in which familiar higher education practices (grading scales, academic departments, and the distribution of credits, just to name a few) remain largely reflective of the Industrial Revolution. And yet, she noted, the world underwent tremendous change with the emergence of the Digital Age and the invention of the internet in the late 20th century; new technologies have redefined and complexified the ways we relate to each other, to ideas, and the world. In her talk and recent book, Davidson suggests higher education institutions must now respond to these massive changes in order to prepare students for our interconnected world and the future of it.

Alongside this discussion of teaching to this “world in flux,” Davidson spoke about the roles universities must play in contributing to greater access and social mobility. Groves further examines this subject following the event in his blog post, “Taking Charge of Change.” Groves suggests that as we continue to value those best practices in higher education that endure across time, “we might [also] focus more consistent attention on how we can do our institution’s part at building a better, more equitable world.” His message, much like Davidson’s, is future-looking, rooted in a framework of best practices, equity, and care for students.

While addressing the current university culture and striving towards a more equitable world may seem daunting tasks, “[h]ow we teach,” Groves writes in his post, “is part of that solution.” Davidson and Groves suggest that good teaching practices in tandem with collaborative technologies can transform the university into the place it needs to be, both now and in the future.

Davidson shared her experiences reimagining an early massive open online course (MOOC) she taught as an interactive, global seminar as an example of technology’s strength—what she called “the human affordance of having global context in a very personal way.” Davidson also led the audience in an analog active learning exercise that engaged all audience members: she distributed notecards and asked the audience to list three things they would change were they to become “King of Georgetown” tomorrow. (The Future(s) Initiative collected the cards, and posted a few samples in their blog on the event.) These examples show that massive, institution-wide change can start at the individual level of teaching.

This approach to excellent teaching through best practices and collaborative technologies is one we hold close at CNDLS. It informs our focus on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research and best practices in teaching and learning, our commitment to faculty support, and our work on the [cutting edge] of technology-enhanced learning and online programs. As the new year and semester begin, we look forward to continuing this work and offering support to the Georgetown community.

Are you a faculty member looking for pedagogy or technology resources in the new semester? You can head to our Teaching Commons, check out our Mid-Semester Group Feedback sessions, or schedule a consultation for in-person feedback on your teaching. Our Inclusive Pedagogy page features resources and programs to support equity and inclusion in the classroom. Check out our Technology Enhanced Learning and Online Programs work for ideas on how to best create an interconnected, digitally-fluent classroom space. Or, stop by our offices in Car Barn 314 anytime to speak with a member of the CNDLS team.

You can watch Davidson and Groves’ full conversation here. Davidson’s new book, The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux, is currently in print.

Innovatively Using Technology to Enhance Online Learning, Face-to-Face Teaching, and to Infuse Georgetown Values Throughout the Curriculum

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find a links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

With more than one in four students taking at least one distance education course (2015 Survey of Online Learning) and the number increasing each year, it is no surprise that Georgetown has been paying close attention to this population of online learners. At CNDLS, we are proud to offer support in online course design and development. We have several instructional designers who are available to support any faculty member interested in learning more about online course or program design and development, and have also designed and developed several Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Additionally, leaders at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS) also have begun to offer degree programs in the online space.

In a panel session on May 25, 2017 titled  “Innovatively Using Technology to Enhance Online Learning, Face-to-Face Teaching, and to Infuse Georgetown Values Throughout the Curriculum,” Shenita Ray, Director of SCS’s Online Operations, and five SCS Faculty Directors discussed the benefits and challenges of offering online courses. Sharing their thoughts were Daniel Kelly (Sports Industry Management), Cylor Spaulding (Public Relations and Corporate Communications), Maria Trujillo (Systems Engineering and Technology Management), Glenn Williamson (Real Estate), and Wendy Zajack (Integrated Marketing Communications). The panel covered topics from the design and development of online courses to increasing teacher/student interaction in the online space. They also discussed how the deeply rooted Jesuit values of Georgetown University are incorporated in this space and shared personal experience about their roles as faculty directors and associate professors.

Those who make the transition from the classroom to the online space often wonder how they will remain engaged with students in the class. Panelists shared that all online courses at SCS include synchronous sessions at various points throughout the semester to allow instructors and students to meet each other and check-in about assignments. One example of how this has been implemented in a primarily online course is through the Sports Industry Management capstone course. In the capstone, students have a semester-long project and have instructor check-ins via synchronous sessions so that students can receive meaningful feedback to produce a better final project. The panel members all voiced that they hope to implement the synchronous sessions practice into their face-to-face courses as well.

One challenge often expressed by online course instructors is the amount of time required of instructors. Williamson noted that giving students feedback in the online space is more time consuming because instructors are responding to each individual student about their specific thoughts. However, panelists noted that the lack of commute to the classroom and ability to respond at times best suited for them makes responding to individual students manageable.

Not only do online classes change the way professors interact with their students, but, according to the panelists’ experiences, online courses change the way in which students interact with their professors. Zajack shared her observation that the online space “levels the playing field” in a way, because all students are required to respond in discussions and instructors are able to hear more from those who may have been more introverted in a face-to-face course.

For SCS instructors, it was important to keep in mind Georgetown’s Jesuit identity when conceptualizing online courses, and to incorporate the Jesuit values into the curriculum. Ray collaborated with Mary Novak (Associate Director for Ignatian Formation) to design a Jesuit-influenced framework and guidelines for Instructional Designers and instructors who are designing online courses to use in their design and development process to help reflect the Jesuit values. Panelists shared their experiences integrating these values into their online course design. The Integrated Marketing Communications program works to address cura personalis in their courses by meeting the individual needs of their students by offering more opportunities to get connected on campus and feel part of the larger Georgetown community. Ray believes there is more work to be done here, as instructors become more comfortable with online teaching and begin to really think about how Jesuit values can be incorporated into the online course environment.

The Faculty Directors echoed that in order to address the needs of all students, the development and revision of online courses is an ongoing and ever-changing. Just as in a face-to-face course, an instructor must continue to revise and improve their teaching each semester. This is an exciting time for instructors and learners at the School of Continuing Studies, as online courses provide a broader learning opportunity for students and instructors are able to reach more students. To learn more about SCS and the Summer 2018 online course offerings, visit their website.

Announcing the 2018 CNDLS TEL Colloquium

CNDLS is pleased to announce the 2018 CNDLS TEL Colloquium cohort.  The theme of this year’s Colloquium is Designing for Context: Approaches to Blended Learning. Fourteen faculty from 10 departments and five different schools (College, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, McDonough School of Business, School of Continuing Studies, and School of Medicine) will join the cohort. The Colloquium participants will begin meeting at the end of January to explore topics in technology-enhanced learning (TEL) while designing and implementing an individual TEL project. Congratulations to this impressive group of faculty!

2018 CNDLS TEL Colloquium Cohort: 

Spirited Conversations: When Faculty Learn Together

For the most part, teachers at colleges and universities work in parallel, engaged with their students but not necessarily with one another. And yet, as we keep discovering at CNDLS, amazing things happen when you create spaces where faculty can come together to grow.

 

We see this again and again in our work in the Engelhard Project; this project was launched in 2005 with a student focus, aiming to infuse issues of student well-being throughout the curriculum at Georgetown University, but it’s also had the effect of fostering connections among faculty and staff along the way. This year we received a gift to enable us to extend the impact of the Engelhard Project in a number of ways. Among those expansions, in fall 2017 we launched a vibrant new Faculty Conversation Series that creates opportunities for faculty to deeply engage with each other around their teaching. For the first conversation theme for fall 2017, we partnered with Georgetown’s Office of Mission and Ministry to pilot a Teaching to Mission faculty conversation series.

This first semester, the series focused on what it means to teach at Georgetown, and the ways in which Georgetown’s Jesuit values and mission motivate and energize our work, making their way into our classrooms and affecting our relationships with students and colleagues. Eight professors gathered with four facilitators for informal dinners to discuss James Martin’s book The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything as well as a few supplemental readings, all selected to draw out connections between participants’ teaching and Ignatian values and practices.

The value of these conversations quickly became self-evident. As Diana Owen (Communication, Culture, and Technology) reflected, “It was affirming to hear others speak about the power of the Spiritual Exercises”—a formal Jesuit process of self-exploration and contemplation—“to influence their lives, and especially their approach to teaching….The discussion has me thinking of ways of reawakening the virtues of the Exercises in my teaching.”

As the semester went on, these conversations ranged beyond teaching practices and engaging with students to participants thinking more broadly and holistically about themselves and their relationship to our Catholic and Jesuit university. Biology professor Anne Rosenwald noted that the “conversations were open, frank, and loving, so I felt very supported to say things that don’t normally get revealed in an academic, professional setting.” And community developed in the room itself. In the words of Sociology professor Sarah Stiles, “What a joy to look around the table and see so many spirited conversations among interesting colleagues!”

Going forward, we’ll be launching more such spirited conversations. In addition to teaching to mission, we hope to bring groups together around other new topics, such as mentorship and inclusive pedagogy. The Engelhard Project will continue to build connections and foster community not only among students but among their teachers, too.

Live from the Classroom: Reflections on Podcasts, Pedagogy, and Platforms

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find a links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

How can you incorporate podcasts into your classroom, and why should you?

In the TLISI “Live from the Classroom” session on May, 23, 2017,  Nikoo Yahyazadeh, a Multimedia Specialist at Georgetown University’s Gelardin New Media Center, discussed how teachers might begin to think about incorporating podcasts into their classrooms. One important take-away she stressed was the concept that professors should not feel limited by their own technical proficiencies when it comes to incorporating technology into the classroom. The Gelardin New Media Center can help faculty implement podcasts assignments and guide their students through the technical processes of creating podcasts

Yahyazadeh encouraged those who are thinking about creating podcasts to think critically about the media and why they want to work in that form, and also encouraged educators to consider the amount of planning time necessary for classroom integration. A podcast assignment can be time consuming for students and can take just as much effort to grade as a traditional essay. Implementing a podcast in one course may not be as successful or effective as implementing it every semester again and again and improving the process.

Faculty who are interested in implementing podcasts into their courses can follow the below helpful steps, and can reach out to Gelardin for additional support.

The first step is inspiration, which can also be the most stressful step. A good podcast for a classroom is one that connects to the learning goals and helps the class to understand the content of the course in a deeper and more engaging way, rather than just having the assignment be the equivalent of an audio book report. It is also important to consider the structure of the podcast and narrative presented. An effective  podcast builds upon itself every week not only requires a coherent narrative, but also demands the engagement of the listener from beginning to end. A more traditional radio show , however, allows for a listener to drop in and out of different episodes.

The second step is preparation. To develop the assignment, it is necessary for professors to develop a rubric for what they would like to see reflected in the final projects, and to consider such things as whether the students are allowed to use copyrighted material or whether they should work independently or with partners. A breakdown of deadlines is also helpful in keeping students stay on track (such as a timeline for a finalized script, interviews, and edits to the podcast) , and it is often helpful to incorporate time for peer feedback.

The last stage of launching a podcast is implementation. This is the exciting, hands-on part of the process, and the stage where it might be helpful to have students come into Gelardin for the initial equipment and software training and to learn about the process of using mics, set-ups, and programs like GarageBand. Gelardin can also offer follow-up lab time and follow-up one-on-one consultations.

No matter what form the final podcast may take, however, as a platform for scholarship and creating a dissemination of knowledge outside of academic formats, many professors at Georgetown have found podcasts useful in expanding the impact of a course outside of the classroom and helping their students to engage more fully with the course material.

Adam Rothman (History) spoke about his experience in implementing a podcast assignment in his undergraduate course, American Studies 272: Facing Georgetown’s History. Rothman explained that this class came out of a pre-existing curriculum in the American Studies department focusing on Georgetown’s history of slavery and spoke on the importance of the podcast to the learning goals of the course, which was socially engaged and aimed to produce knowledge that would benefit the public. He explained how he wanted students to produce knowledge that would actively advance the goals of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. He thought that the potential of the podcast to become public would encourage students to take their projects more seriously and commit more fully – as the stakes were raised and the students knew that people other than their professor might end up listening.

Rothman played clips of the various projects students had chosen, which included interviewing descendants, discussing the privileging of acceptance for descendants of slaves, an exploration of the history of families who had sued for their freedom in the 19th century, and another podcast based around a photograph.

Marcia Chatelain (History) discussed a podcast she created called “Office Hours: The Podcast,” which she developed after realizing there was a critical mass of students whose personal lives and individual struggles went virtually unknown by their professors. In this she saw a divide between access and quality of experience of students in universities, and hoped that a podcast could shed light on these students and help to form a model for other professors of ways to engage their students and get to know them while still maintaining professional boundaries.

On her podcast, Chatelain interviews one student a week around a general theme. She played a variety of clips from her show and then spoke about h the specific ways she approached recording difficult conversations with students, such as making sure they felt comfortable with the process by having them review the final edit before it was made public, and asking students to wait and think about it for a week before releasing the podcasts online.  She also noted that most students are very familiar with the notion of how things on the internet will last forever, and that many have already experienced things like trolling and cyberbullying and know what they are getting into. With that said, many of the students revealed very personal things on her podcast and so she remained constant and vigilant about students’ comfort. She often asked: have you spoken about these personal matters publicly before? Chatelain emphasized that the point of this podcast was to be a conversation between the student and the community, not an exposé.

Of course, despite their unique benefits, podcasts also pose challenges for faculty in terms of determining how to grade these nontraditional assignments and measure their outcomes. Panelists mentioned that it is possible to grade students holistically based on how dedicated they are to the podcast, independent of the quality of editing or even of writing (since many conversations on podcasts are extemporaneous), but that a more exact rubric, evaluating the podcast specifically for certain goals in terms of content, analysis, and editing (whether the podcast incorporated sound effects, for example), could also be used. Other complicating factors of Podcast use that should be taken into consideration are  students’ comfort with hearing their own voices, the possibility of a podcast to extend to a wider audience, who might be listening outside of the understood context of the class, and the appropriateness of the monetization of podcasts and use of ads. However, despite the technical, conceptual, and ideological considerations and imaginings that often accompany the creation of a podcast, all panelists agreed that the conversations they have inspired in their courses and for their students have been meaningful.