Thoughts on Teaching #CDT450

I promised myself I’d write. I did, but just not enough … at least not here. I wrote and posted a lot over at the course site for CDT450: Disruptive Technologies, but that isn’t the kind of writing I planned to do along side the course in a more reflective mode. I think I only did that twice.

I want to try and capture my thoughts on the experience before it becomes even harder to grasp — in short it was an exceptional semester, with an exceptional group of students, that taught me an exceptional amount about how to be a better human, teacher, colleague, and leader. I say that without hesitation. I told my wife last night that in many ways teaching this semester made me much better at my job (that is a self reflection based on only my own data). If I unpack that thought a bit I would say that having to juggle the rigor of my day job with preparing a three hour class each week for 15 weeks pushed me in so many different ways. I had to find ways to say no to some things more effectively so I could focus on the most critical things happening around me. I had to learn new approaches to learning content to teach to brilliant and very challenging students — I’ve not taught alone since maybe 2005, so carrying this load by myself was simply the biggest challenge of the semester. I had to figure out how to take on a presidential project with potentially huge implications to the campus under very tight time constraints while still managing to run DoIT, meet the expectations of my vice presidential role, and craft an engaging learning experience. To say that I grew by leaps and bounds along with my students this semester would be an utter understatement.

The course, as I’ve shared before, is framed around three primary themes — community, identity, and design. This was based on the experiences I had co-teaching this course with my long time friend and colleague, Dr. Scott McDonald at Penn State. Going it alone made me rethink a lot of it as we were always able to lean on each others strengths, so this was a very different course in many ways. I won’t go into details, as it would be easy to track our week by week progression by again visiting the course site. I will say this, there were so many unexpected surprises along the way that I thought I would list the ones that stood out the most.

Week One

The first day of a college class is usually a very basic thing — hand out the syllabus, review the course outline, get to know the professor, and do some basic introductions. Not in this week one! Sure we did the basics, but after listening to an episode of the podcast, Reply All the day before class I redesigned what we would do the night before. The episode called, “The Writing on the Wall” is described by the show’s creators the following way, “Yik Yak is an app that allows users to communicate anonymously with anyone within a 10-mile radius. At Colgate University in upstate New York, the anonymity brought out a particularly vicious strain of racism that shook the school.” What that episode so magically (and tragically) did was mash all three of our themes into a very relevant and difficult story. While it effectively brought community, identity, and design into focus — all while introducing the concept of disruptive technologies — it also created the surprising undertone of “race” as an ongoing theme to be continually revisited. Class was over at 6 … we all headed out after 6:40.

Oh, and they got iPads that they had to write about.

Week Five

This was the first Synthesis week, where they got to take over the class and lead the discussion. I purposefully gave them very little instruction so they could be as creative in their overview of our first theme, community. There were only two teams, but the way they crafted their respective synthesis was truly quite amazing. The two teams unintentionally played off each other during their time creating a whole that was most certainly greater than its parts. We noted a theme emerge — we never end at 6.

I asked at the end of class if we had turned into a community … the quick first response from a student, “we did today.”

Week 6

This is the week we moved onto our second theme identity. I asked them to create videos with their iPads and post them to the course blog … some of them were quite amazing. This was a week that we ourselves were disrupted by a snow day as classes were cancelled. That didn’t stop us. Google Hangout to the rescue — can you believe all of the students showed up for this voluntary snow day virtual class. There is a lesson in this for campus — if the network is running, classes (in some shape or form) can go on.

Week 9

As we worked our way through the identity theme another spike in our conversations about race emerged. This time brought on by the Martese Johnson beating at UVA. During that week I posted a link to an interesting site designed and published by students at UVA that one of my students reacted to in their own blog post that I shared with my community on Facebook. Things got crazy from there …

Two Penn State colleagues joined class that day. One, Sam Richards, via Hangout as his 750 student Race Relations class filed into Thomas 100 on the PSU campus to talk about race in America. The other, Curt Marshall who drove from State College, PA to Stony Brook, NY to join class face to face. What an experience for the students. Sam is known to be one of America’s 101 most dangerous academics and a great instigator and communicator. Curt is the Multicultural Affairs and Recruitment Director for the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture and is one of the brightest and most articulate people I know. It was a humbling day and one that I don’t think any of us will forget.

Week 12

By this time we were fully engaged with our final theme, design. The students were working through their Design Challenge creations via the Human Centered Design approach we utilized. They were envisioning an app for the iPad that didn’t exist that was focused on improving the student experience. An evening or two before class I noticed that Stony Brook Alumni Association had highlighted a recent alum who was now an app developer, so I took the chance and sent him a direct message introducing him to our class. He got back to me a little bit later after reading the class blog and decided he would come to class and talk to the students about app design first hand. It was a killer experience for us all … I think Eric really enjoyed it. I wonder if he realizes how much he inspired the students that day?

Weeks 13-15

The last three weeks of class were so brilliant I can’t single any one out. We did paper prototyping to bring app ideas to life, shared so many incredibly insightful ideas, wrote some amazing reflections, read some killer articles, and I got to watch as the two teams put a bow on the entire semester with two unbelievable final synthesis presentations. They brought the three themes together through the lenses of technology, the iPad as a positive disruptive force in higher education, and emerged on the other side as a group that is much more critically tuned to the potential affordances of the technologies we typically take for granted every single day. Their final reflections were amazing and I can’t tell you what a profound experience teaching at Stony Brook was for me in the Spring of 2015. Two pull quotes from final student reflections touched me deeply …

I can say that this has been one of the most remarkable class experiences I’ve had and I am very sad to see it coming to an end.

I’m actually a lot sadder to be writing this post than I expected to be. This class is hands down the most memorable and stimulating class that I have ever taken.

I felt the same way.

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Reflection on Day One of #CDT450

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Yesterday was the first day of CDT450: Disruptive Technologies. I ended up with eight students in the class … not the 20 I was hoping for, but actually the number works out really well. It is a bit early to tell, but from the interaction the first evening this is a great group of students. There was real discussion right from the get go, so that is encouraging. I was uneasy walking in yesterday for lots of reasons, but I think the primary one is that I haven’t taught alone since 2005 — and that was a 100 level course that I had taught at least a half dozen times. This is a very different animal as I have only ever tried to tackle a course like this with a co-instructor. This course was the brain child of my friend and colleague, Dr. Scott McDonald and I. We always liked the pairing of an administrator and an academic. It created a real interesting dynamic for us and the students. Now it is just me and that is a bit daunting. The crazy thing is Scott is teaching the course this semester at Penn State with two of my other friends and colleagues so I get to follow along.

We ended up packing the three hours — we even went over by 10 minutes. You can take a look at what we did at the course blog, but what you can’t see is the engagement and interaction. I think the most interesting and complicated conversation came after listening to an episode of the podcast, Reply All from Gimlet Media. This episode dealt with the very real and very ugly racism that exploded at Colgate on Yik Yak. After listening to that podcast we had an incredible deep dive into looking at the story through the lens of our core themes — identity, community, and design.

listening

Listening to the students recognize how identity is shaped and created through the use of technology was fascinating … as was their ability to grasp the nuances of the Colgate community reaction. I think the one aspect that pulled it together was the realization Yik Yak by nature is implicitly designed to be an anonymous social network — intentionally stripping identity from an individual. Additionally it is built to only let you really engage with members of a local community because of its location based approach. A truly terrible story, but one that allowed the class to really get an early handle on the interplay of our three themes.

The students all got iPads as a part of the experience. They will be doing an “Occupy Technology” project in which I am asking them to use and reflect on the iPad as a tool within the learning eco-system this semester. I hope to use what I learn to better inform decisions going forward with the use and adoption of mobile devices for our campus. as always a big piece of the course is happening in the open on our course site, so follow along there or on Twitter with the hashtag #CDT450 … all in all, it was a very good start.

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Teaching (and Learning)

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In one week I will be teaching Disruptive Technologies for the first time at Stony Brook. My enrollment is lower than I had hoped and that has me a little concerned about how I will have to rethink my course design. I was reminded yesterday to embrace the lower than expected enrollment and to not wish for the alternative — too many students. I suppose that is true, but my design is predicated on teams and only having enough students for form two of them has made me question a few things. I think I have made the right kinds of changes so far to manage it. We’ll see.

Setting that aside I am extraordinarily excited to get back in the classroom for the first time since the Spring of 2012 when I co-taught Disruptive Technologies for Teaching and Learning with my very good friend and colleague, Dr. Scott McDonald at Penn State. Back then it was a graduate seminar that was a popular offering in our College of Education. If I’m honest, teaching it alone without Scott to lean on also has me nervous. In a lot of ways making myself nervous is part of the thrill of teaching in the first place. So again, we’ll see.

I get a lot strange looks when I tell people on campus that I am choosing to teach at all … most people tell me I am crazy. That is probably true given my time constraints, but when I look at the fact that my boss, President Stanley, is teaching this semester I think I can make time to make it work. When people ask me why I do it, the answers have been the same for years — I love it and I learn so much by doing it.

I learn how the tools we provide for faculty really work. I learn how our classrooms really support instruction. I learn where our administrative tools are falling short and exceeding expectations. I learn about how our students see the services we provide. I learn from the readings we do. I learn as we form into a learning community. I learn about all the things that I have long forgotten about how hard it really is to be a college student. I just learn.

An interesting twist this semester is that a member of my senior leadership team is taking the class as a student. When he told me I looked at him like he was crazy — I mean the guy finished his undergrad and has an MBA, so he clearly doesn’t need the credits. What he told me made me smile — he wants to learn. He wants to learn from what we do in class, but in so many other ways he wants to learn about what it feels like to be a students at Stony Brook and have to interact with all the systems our students have to interact with to be a student. His team builds the administrative information systems that support things like bursar functions, HR functions, registrar functions, and all the systems that really make a Unviersity work. He wants to know how his audiences feel … I liked that answer.

He and I just want to learn. And that is what I love about this whole thing — teaching to learn.

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A Year of SB You

It was about this time last year that we rolled out SB You on campus. I have tried to keep a bit of a pulse on the service and overall utilization. While I have been a little disappointed in how broadly the service has been adopted to support teaching and learning, I am very excited by both the numbers I do see and the potential I think a platform like this affords. I have been trying to track the number of sites and users throughout the year each month (admittedly I have missed a couple). The growth is impressive — especially since we have not focused a lot of energy on blogging at the course level or for broader portfolio use. And yes, some of the sites are demo spaces or have been abandoned, but the growth has been solid. Check it out … in a year we’ve gone from zero sites and users to 726 sites and 2,634 users! We always see a spike at the start of new semesters, so I expect these numbers to really grow in the next few weeks.

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I have found some really good examples of SB You sites by lots of people and it would be cool for us to expose those on a regular basis. I think bringing various examples to life would show how diverse a platform it really is. I love how Campus Recreation and Healthier U have really embraced SB You as a platform, for example. I also really enjoy search the whole service for various terms and see waht people all across Stony Brook think about a specific topic … here is a linked search for the word, “technology.” That is pretty cool and there are lots of ways terms and tag searches can be used to discover what people are talking about across the Stony Brook blogosphere on SB You.

I’d love to hear from users of SB You about what we could do to make the platform more useful and for ideas on how to better promote it. At the end of the day, I think platforms like this can and should power easy digital expression, broader acceptance of public scholarship, sites for clubs, organizations, and groups, and so much more.

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Accountability Mindset

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I really like this thinking …

At the core of Job’s mentality was the “accountability mindset” — meaning that processes were put in place so that everybody knew who was responsible for what. As Lachinsky described, Internal Applespeak even has a name for it, the “DRI,” or directly responsible individual. Often the DRI’s name will appear on an agenda for a meeting, so everybody knows who is responsible. “Any effective meeting at Apple will have an action list,” says a former employee. “Next to each action item will be the DRI.” A common phrase heard around Apple when someone is trying to learn the right contact on a project: “Who’s the DRI on that?”

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Published: E-Learning Solutions: Aligning Critical Development Factors, in Pushing the Digital Frontier

While working in the IST Solutions Institute at Penn State a small group of us collaborated to publish a chapter focusing on the approach we created to support the design, development, and delivery of eLearning materials. This chapter appeared in the book, Pushing the Digital Frontier edited by Nirmal Pal and Judith Ray. While it is focused on work done in the late 1990s it is still a relevant framework today.

Clark, S., Camplese, C., Camplese, K., & Thomas, J. (2001). E-Learning Solutions: Aligning Critical Development Factors. In Pushing the Digital Frontier (1st ed., Vol. 1, pp. 263-282). New York: Amacom.

Published: Designing a Mobile and Socially Networked Learning Assistant for a University-level Keyword Advertising Course

Another published outcome to a TLT Faculty Fellowship! I love that nearly all of the Fellowships I was involved with at PSU has yielded scholarship.

Abstract

An Internet-based learning assistant leveraging the social attribute features of mobile technology is designed and implemented to incorporate updating course content of an upper-level college technology advertising course in real-time. The mobile application offers an online collaborative environment utilizing the inherent social and location-independent features of mobile technology to improve the teaching and learning environment. The application was implemented in a university-level keyword advertising course and integrated with several course-related web tools, including an enterprise-level social network. Aspects of the effectiveness of the application were evaluated using a series of five hypotheses. The results supported three hypotheses testing the relationship between gender and application use, the variations among tool choices, and the identification of frequently used tools. The two hypotheses not supported were the preference of the mobile application and the use of the social network software as standalone services, as most students desired that the social network service be integrated with an existing, university-level, content management system. Research results indicate that the integration of a mobile application with an existing content management system would be beneficial for increased student engagement with course content, which the university has since implemented.

Murkherjee, P., Kozlek, B., Jansen, B., Gyorke, A., & Camplese, C. (2014). Designing a Mobile and Socially Networked Learning Assistant for a University-level Keyword Advertising Course. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(3), 351-373. Retrieved December 22, 2014, from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol10no3/Mukherjee_0914.pdf

[Digital] Expression

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By now many of you have seen the new Holiday advertisement from Apple, “The Song.” It follows in the wake of last year’s Apple Holiday ad that brought many people to tears (at least the ones who appreciate Apple). This year’s ad follows a similar, but perhaps less controversial path — a young woman discovers a recording made by her Grandmother for her Grandfather presumably before he is deployed for the war. The discovered recording is on a record — you remember those things, right? I could go on, but here it is …

I liked the ad instantly for a lot of reasons — I am an Apple fan and have been since the very early 80’s, so it is easy for me. But, the thing that I really liked was how much it leaned on the notion of digital expression. The last 10 years of my work has been focused on a couple of core concepts and one of them is the notion of digital expression as a new form of scholarship. This line of thinking actually came to life to me many years ago while working as a part of an Apple advisory board called, the Digital Campus. My assertion was that it wasn’t enough to just sell students technology tools, instead we need to combine the tools with new forms of pedagogy, physical spaces, and support to create an eco-system that can systematically support digital expression as a form of scholarship. Actually, if you’ve ever heard me give a talk, I typically wrap up with the following slide …

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Recently I watched the behind the scenes production of, “The Song” made by Apple. Take a look and notice the use of a specific type of technology enhanced creation space.

Last week I came across a story for the One Button Studio concept that we built at Penn State as a piece to our Media Commons initiative. Many of you have heard me talk about that studio and the ideas behind it. I am trying to get our first one built here at Stony Brook to advance our focus on digital expression as a form of scholarship. We have to see that the physical space is part of systematically supporting that notion — you need to craft a value chain of sorts. Faculty development, pedagogical awareness, instructional design support, and physical spaces that can enhance, inspire, and promote digital expression across multiple curricula.

I say this knowing full well that our students are creating more digital artifacts of their learning every single day. I also know that more and more of our faculty are interested in assigning new types of assignments that are pushing our students to have new skills to tell new kinds of stories. Connected to that are the skills we as technologists need to grow to help develop that eco-system. Just like in, “The Song” we need to pair the technology with inspiration, create forward facing spaces that promote this type of work, and deliver platforms that can easily promote the idea that digital expression is in fact an important part of the teaching and learning landscape in higher education.

Vía Cole W. Camplese http://ift.tt/13RP7H3