When the Yale School of Medicine sought to use iPads to eliminate paper, after a botched experiment with flash drives, the goal was to take a big risk in order to have a big impact. The bold strategy paid off. With 84% of first year medical students saying that the iPad was their primary classroom tool, and 90% of students reporting that it was their primary tool for reading, adoption rates were better than the implementation team had expected. Now, not only has the program been recognized as a success, but the Yale Medical School is also now regularly contacted by other departments and programs, as well as other universities, for information on how to successfully deploy iPads in teaching. Joining us on Tuesday to talk about the history, implementation, and success of the program were Michael Scwartz, Gary Leydon, Judy Spark, and Mark Gentry, all from the team at the Yale School of Medicine responsible for the success of the iPad program.
Yale classes are already streamed around the world in high definition through the University’s revolutionary Open Yale Courses initiative. This program allows students to watch lectures and access certain class resources from anywhere at any time, but not for course credit. The idea that Yale credit cannot be earned through an online only program began to change in 2010, however, when Yale Summer Session Dean William Whobrey was approached by university officials about the possibility of introducing online courses for Yale credit in the summer of 2011. After a four course pilot, the experiment has been labeled a success and is expanding in the summer of 2012. To describe the ideas behind the Yale Summer Session Online courses, and the technology that powers the program, Dean William Whobrey and Richard Collins from the Yale Summer Session, and Lucas Swineford, from the Yale Broadcast and Media Center, came to TwTT to present on distance learning at Yale.
The first priority of program planners was to ensure that the courses offered online were held to the same high standards as their conventional
classroom counterparts. Besides putting each course through vetting by the Course of Study Committee, each class had to meet a strict set of criteria before students could be allowed to register. All online classes were versions of courses taught in previous years on the Yale campus in conventional classrooms, ensuring the existence of a comparative metric and effective subject material. To control for the possibility of an atypical student body, registration in the pilot was limited to current Yale undergraduates, and enrollment was capped at 25 students or fewer, creating a “seminar feel.” Despite the small class size, each course was also assigned a teaching fellow to maximize student access to material. Despite all these controls, Bill argues that what ultimately makes these classes unique is the outstanding teaching quality. All courses were taught by Yale ladder faculty, bringing students as close to a Yale campus experience as possible, regardless of their location in the world. Continue reading →
Like many academic library patrons in 2010, if Yale library users found a book available on Kindle through Amazon and wanted to get it from the library, they would have to find a print copy of the book in the Yale system and go to a library to pick it up. This changed in June of 2011 when Yale University Library became one of only a few academic libraries in the world to offer eBook lending through Overdrive. In order to explain how this came to pass, and to describe some of the challenges associated with integrating eBooks into the collection of a major reference library, Tod Gilman, librarian for literature in English, and Marsha Garman, acquisition librarian and interim head of library acquisitions, came to TwTT to talk about the development and implementation of the two year Overdrive pilot.
Patrons have wanted to borrow eBooks almost since their invention, but the lending of an intangible work poses many challenges, not least of which is the technical one. Without running afoul of copyright law, the library had to figure out a way to distribute electronic texts where readers had to return the books for use by others after the lending period, without keeping permanent copies for themselves. Initially this was set to be done through the lending of entire Kindles, but with ambiguous wording in the Amazon user agreement, as well as the physical difficulty of lending and collecting the reader, this approach was deemed infeasible. Instead, the Yale library turned to a service that has become popular in public libraries known as Overdrive.
Overdrive is an eBook lending service that allows libraries to purchase items from a catalog of over 650,000 electronic books and audiobooks and then distribute them using a web site branded for the individual university, but maintained by Overdrive. This creates an online digital library, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that behaves much like a conventional print library. Users search for and check out a title, which they can then download to their portable reader or audio device. Once they have checked out a title, it is theirs for a period of 7, 14, or 21 days and cannot be used by other readers at their institution unless the library has purchased multiple copies. If users finish an eBook early, then they can return it from the device they initially used to download it, freeing their account to borrow another book up to a limit of five at a time. Titles that are not returned before their deadline are automatically returned for use by another reader. Continue reading →
Since the 1970s, students at the Yale School of Management have gathered in conference rooms and ballrooms in groups as small as 15 students and as large as 240 students to test their financial prowess in a game that simulates the New York Stock Exchange. Although the original game was developed to be played with colored paper and a deck of playing cards, in today’s TwTT Professor Roger Ibbotsson and Instructional Technologist Sam Cohen presented a new web-based version of the game that could expand the market simulation to an audience limited only by server capacity.
Before Sam presented the updated version of the game, Professor Ibbotson took the audience back 30 years to invention of the simulator. At that time, there was a need to teach students the dynamics of a trading floor where most transactions were carried out in person. To this end a game was developed where four fictional companies, identified by color, are assigned a hidden value using playing cards drawn at random from a deck. Students are issued an equal number of shares from each company and $200 of simulated cash. They can then buy “peeks,” a glimpse of 3 of 10 cards that determine value, from which they form a notion of the value of a company. Shares are then exchanged as traders try to acquire shares of a company for less than those shares are worth. At the end of the game, companies are liquidated, and players are ranked by their final assets. To monitor progress up to this point, however, graduate students had to roam the room, listening to traders shouting sale prices and updating a blackboard, or more recently a projected spreadsheet, at the front of the room.
As electronic trading supplants floor trading, the Yale Stock Market Game’s playing cards, spreadsheets, and shouted trades began to appear dated. To bring the game into the age of electronic finance, Professor Ibbotson contacted the Yale Center for Media and Instructional Innovation (CMI2) to work together on the creation of an electronic version of the game. The outcome of that collaboration was a browser based, iPad friendly, backwards compatible web application written in Java 1.6. A persistent client server connection ensures that as soon as a transaction occurs between any two people, it can be seen by all players, and a tabbed interface makes research and market watching closer to a modern electronic trading platform where trades are directly between players than a physical trading floor or trade with a bank. Continue reading →
In the past few months, most students and some faculty members received invitations to leave behind the old central webmail and its infamous horde interface to transition to the new EliApps system which is based on the Google Apps for Education platform. More than an email system, however, EliApps offers an expanding suite of tools to students and faculty, and Loriann Seluga, Adam Bray, and Laura Tomas of the Yale Student Technology Collaborative (STC), along with Ken Panko of Yale’s Instructional Technology Group (ITG) came to TwTT this Tuesday to give Yale’s first public presentation on the educational applications of EliApps.
What is EliApps, and How do I get an account?
Rather than thinking of EliApps as any one application it is better to conceive of the platform as a modular collection of applications offered by Google that can be turned on or off individually for the Yale network. The core of the current package comprises five apps: Mail, Docs, Calendar, Sites, and Groups. The Maps, Books, and Bookmarks services have also been enabled, and more applications are being examined for deployment at Yale, particularly Google Moderator. Continue reading →
This week at TwTT, Thomas Beasley, a graduate student in Classics and the annotator of the digital edition of the graphic novel, Age of Bronze, joined us to talk about the iPad edition of the comic, called Age of Bronze: Seen. Distributed by Throwaway Horse, the electronic version features not only a story line informed by a comparative literary analysis and drawings based on the best available history, but also a reader’s guide built into the app that brings historical context and archaeological foundations into the narrative. Although some people are still skeptical of the graphic novel’s role in education, Thomas points out that comics are dynamic and have been embraced by Yale as a valid form of literature, and that the addition of the reader’s guide opens the path to exploring graphic novels as teaching tools in other disciplines as well.
Although the electronic format may seem natural, before Age of Bronze was on the iPad it was a meticulously researched print comic on the history of the Trojan War. The author, Eric Shanower, sought to go beyond the well-known end to the war, recounted in Homer’s Iliad, to create a graphic retelling of the whole ten year conflict. With such a vast undertaking, no single source was sufficient. Instead, Shanower drew upon centuries of literature to create the story line. The comic is informed as much by purported first person historical accounts as by 20th century opera, resulting in a narrative that is historically grounded, but fresh and relevant to contemporary audiences.
While the story line draws on many sources across time, the actual art of the comic is based on archaeology and material culture. Buildings and sites depicted in the work will mirror the best archaeological reconstructions available, and a close examination of any frame reveals details that are based on extensive research. Figurines, jewelry, instruments, weapons, frescoes, and altars depicted in the graphic novel are all based on historical finds. Where data was not available from Troy, Shanower drew on relics from the nearby Hittite culture – trying to keep speculative drawing to a minimum. Continue reading →
Panelists: W. Gardner Campbell, Dir., Professional Development and Innovative Initiatives, Shelli Fowler, Exec. Dir. of Graduate Development Programs and New Pedagogies, Jennifer Sparrow, Dir. of Emerging Technologies and New Ventures and Robert Stephens, Assoc. Prof. of History, Principal, Honors Residential College. http://blogs.is.vt.edu/hrcblogs/ Other examples of student blogging at VA Tech, http://www.univhonors.vt.edu/html/blogs.html – this is not the same as the residential blogging initiative, these blogs are running off Google’s blogspot.com. The take away here is that blogging is an easily accessible tool for students to create connections between real world experience and their academics.
A blogging initiative was started to provide students with a platform for making learning connections across disciplines. VA Tech is running WordPress blogs for about 300 students in the Honors residential college. Students are given a blog as incoming freshmen. It’s introduced into the residential college because it provides longevity. Students will live and study together (across disciplines) for 4 years. There is a faculty adviser who provides guidance but for the most part there are no specific requirements. No specific requirements proved to be the biggest hurdle for the students who wanted to know what the topic of the posts should be, how much they should blog, how often and what’s the grading requirements? The faculty member finally gave into the desperate pleas for structure and said they had to post at least 12 times, and he was reluctant to give that requirement. The 300 students posted between 3000 and 5000 posts. Students had a conceptual problem at first. Blogging was not a word processing, term paper grading arena, but a multimedia platform for ideas, civic discourse and connection with a larger community. This was an arena to aggregate the individual’s learning experience. Continue reading →
The annual ELI conference in Austin opened with a keynote address by Adrian Sannier from Pearson Publishing. It included this cheery quote from H.G. Wells, “Human history is more and more a desperate race between education and catastrophe.” Wells died in 1946 and as our speaker pointed out, we’ve been on the verge of a technological revolution for 50 years. So it would seem that while we’ve been preaching revolution we’ve been practicing status quo. The art of teaching in the classroom hasn’t change for quite some time but there are signs of the disruption of the status quo from the bottom up as we see more and more access to expert information for free. There is a democratization of information that decentralizes and leverages expertise at the scale of the individual rather than in a classroom setting. The revolution is taking place all around us but it still hasn’t taken place in the classroom. Faculty use LMS (learning management systems) but mainly for administrative purposes. This talk was a call (once again) for those of us in the technology field to drive innovation. Creative destruction has to happen at every level of the enterprise (ITS re-org anyone?). Are we still stuck because of the resistance to not challenging the status quo? As the discussion becomes more and more about the science of education and less about the art of education, it means that things are about to change. Some suggestions from our speaker include: community based research activity, new models of progress based collaboration and the discovery, and the creation and distribution of digital materials. Pearson Publishing has introduced Open Class (http://www.pearsonlearningsolutions.com/openclass/). What is OpenClass? Here’s the info from the web page: “OpenClass is a dynamic, scalable, fully cloud-based solution that stimulates social learning and the exchange of content, coursework, and ideas — all from one integrated platform. Of course it has all the LMS functionality needed to manage courses, but that’s just the beginning. OpenClass actually advances education by using social technology to encourage collaboration and communication for students, faculty, institutions, and administrators around the world. OpenClass also features an idea exchange that will make it easy to find and share the latest teaching approaches, educational content, and curriculum.” Continue reading →
More than half of the acquisitions budget of the Yale University Library System last year went to digital acquisitions – journals and books that exist only in cyberspace. While this statistic may be shocking, especially since many people still think of libraries as repositories for dusty volumes sitting on dark shelves, it is only part of the modernization of Yale’s libraries. In addition to expanding access to electronic resources, Yale has realized that students, staff, and faculty work differently than they did over 70 years ago, when Sterling Memorial Library was erected. Today’s patrons are more likely to need access to advanced computational tools, help with quantitative methods and database searching, and to work in groups on presentations and joint projects. With these new needs in mind, Yale’s librarians worked in conjunction with the university’s IT services to conceive of a space where patrons could not only access advanced reference and technology resources, but also have a single point of service for support. The product was the Center for Science and Social Science Information – the CSSSI.
As the CSSSI was planned, the needs of contemporary patrons were constantly in mind. ITS and the Library had to work together to ensure that the research needs typically associated with a library could be balanced with the information processing capabilities found in facilities like Yale’s Statistical Laboratory (StatLab). In order to reach this goal, the committee working on the CSSSI not only evaluated the present services offered at Yale by both ITS and the Library, but also traveled to other institutions to observe how they were approaching the issue and to evaluate services not yet offered here in New Haven. From this research, several key points emerged. Among them, it became clear that students and faculty were in need of a facility that provided interdisciplinary information, collaborative space and services, and help with different resources from a single point of service. Thus, the foremost goal of the CSSSI would be to serve as an intellectual and social hub for both students and faculty. The challenge then became to develop a space and collection that could fill this need. Continue reading →
On the third and final day of ELI, I managed to get my barbecue-stuffed self to three sessions, only two of which were worth the effort. The first one of the day was S. Craig Watkins from Texas speaking on “Beyond the Digital Divide: Reimagining Learning in a World of Social and Technological Change”. While the presentation had flaws, it was ultimately an engrossing examination of a new sense of the notion of a digital divide. Where a decade ago the term was used to discuss issues of access, primarily along economic lines, Watkins reframed the argument to look at issues of participation and mastery. I do wish he had included data on racial/ethnic groups other than white, African-American, and Latino in the presentation.
Session #2 for the day was another chance to see Gardner Campbell in action, this time in talking with a team from Virginia Tech on “Living, Learning, Cyberspace: A Program-Wide Blogging Initiative for Virginia Tech’s Honors Residential College”. In fact, one of the key strengths and weaknesses of the session was that the team included — gasp — a student. While the student was a self-described introvert and struggled having the majority of the session on her shoulders, it was also a rare opportunity to see a fledgling learn and to watch communities of practices replicating themselves before our eyes. As Lave and Wenger noted in their original work, “legitimate peripherality can be at the articulation of related communities,” and a conference such as ELI is a clear example of an that interstitial space.
Of the third session, the less I say the more charitable I will be. To be brief, I’ll just say that Catherine Casserly‘s talk on “Sharing and Protecting Ideas and Knowledge in the 21st Century” misjudged her audience substantially. Put another way, if her introduction to Creative Commons and their licensing offerings, as well as OERs, was new to the majority of the people there, I don’t think it’s a conference I’ll benefit from attending any further.
(There’s an archive of the tweets at The Archivist, in which I am ambivalently proud of featuring prominently. The links above and in previous posts to the sessions will take you to pages containing video if there is any.)