Wednesday, September 20, 2017

CPU #4: The Real World

The problem: I often talk about techniques and "real-world" practices in class, but we don't often have (i.e. I don't often make) time to go into details.
Yes, and…

Clips Power Use (CPU) #4:

Use a video to let students access the hidden world! I've spent the last week (or so) in class describing an experimental technique in genetics, but I can't (unfortunately) invite all 75 of my students in my lab to participate in, or even watch, this type of experiment. So, I used a video to bring the experiment to them! I used my phone to record video of me performing the experiment, then edited out the "fluff." I edited the resulting video segments into my photo library, and then imported into Apple's Clips app. I added Posters and animated icons, and had a great and fulfilling time doing it all!
As always, a key benefit of creating videos is not only having an engaging element to share with students, but I can use this video in the future. For example, when I bring students into my research group on campus, I'll ask them to watch this before we proceed with training in how to perform this technique!
As I've suggested before, I branded this new series of videos with an intro bumper that I can use in every video I create - and the video and audio will be exactly the same.
Have fun with your videos!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

CPU #3: Jigsaw + Clips = Engagement

Classroom issues opportunities
1) There is only one of me (instructor)
2) There are about 75 of them (students) - which can equate to disengagement

Classroom resources
1) A large, auditorium-style classroom
2) We all have mobile, internet-enabled devices

Approach
In our campus' 1:1 tablet program (platform agnostic: we have Apple, Windows, and Android devices) that is pretty steadily moving toward a BYOD (bring your own device) program, we faculty have been making a significant push toward ensuring that we focus on the pedagogy, leveraging mobile technology when appropriate. We often refer to the SAMR model, and hope not simply to Substitute electronic processes for paper processes, but to hit the Redefinition end of the course augmentation with technology spectrum. Here, one hopes to leverage technology to do something that one could only do with that technology.

This past weekend, I was struck with the idea that I should do something physically active in my class. Not just "active learning" in the sense that students are talking with each other and participating in applying knowledge to problems during class. In my 75-minute class, I realized that I needed students actually up and moving about! So, I tried Modifying the jigsaw approach. In a jigsaw exercise, small groups of students are formed. Then, each student is tasked with becoming an "expert" in one of a few topics necessary to solve a bigger problem. The students must then come together, after that initial learning experience, and share their new knowledge with each other. Then, the group works to solve the problem. This amplifies my reach, and engages the students, especially in large class sections. It helps them by allowing them to interact with each other, and to leverage each other as resources to help understand sometimes complex concepts.

I've heard a lot about jigsaws before, but I've never run a jigsaw in a class before. So, of course, I thought I'd take two steps at once. I'd use Clips to create the content that would provide each group member their own tidbit of expertise.

Preparation
So, in a couple of hours, I developed some graphics to use as part of those videos, and I created three Clips that introduced three related topics relevant to DNA fingerprinting and the genetic differences between ethnic groups. This is the material that individual group members will access to become content experts. Here is one of those clips:
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Note that I followed my previous advice and used Posters as transition elements: to summarize points and to inform the viewer of what topic is coming up next. I also used the animated icons to highlight specific elements of the video.
The next question I considered was: how to execute the jigsaw. I settled on the following pre-class set-up:
1) upload the three content Clips to YouTube
2) generate a QR code for each Clip
3) print those QR codes on paper and physically post them in different parts of my classroom

Execution
Then, during class, I had students:
1) form groups of 3
2) each member used a QR code scanner app on their mobile device to watch a different Clip:
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3) each group member had a set period of time to watch the Clip by him/herself:
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4) additional time was allocated for the members to share the main points of their Clips with their other group members:
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5) the groups were presented with questions, requiring application of the Clips content to solve

Benefits and Outcomes
I liked this approach, because it was an easy way to deliver content to different sets of students. More importantly, my objective was realized! Students were up and moving about, for a couple of reasons.
1) they had to get up to get to the printouts of the QR codes they needed to scan to access the Clips
2) you might have noticed: many students had headphones with them, and used them to listen to the audio associated with the Clips. However, I had told the students that they could also leave the classroom to watch the videos, in case it got too loud in our classroom. Most of the students exercised this option!
The enthusiasm of the students for this approach was outstanding! Without instruction, students then rearranged desks (the ones that were not fixed to the floor, anyway) to share information with each other:
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and even adopted new technologies (e.g. paper) to share information with each other:
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Final Reflections
As the photos and videos above reveal, many students were very engaged with the material and with each other during this exercise, which took about 40 minutes (a few minutes to form groups, 10 minutes to scan QR codes and watch the videos, 10 minutes to share knowledge with each other, and about 20 minutes to solve the problem(s)). That felt absolutely fantastic on its own!

After the jigsaw, when we came together as a class to discuss the group answers to the questions that were posed, it seemed to me that the students were better prepared than normal, and asked more questions (and more poignant questions) than usual!

One key reason to use Clips for a jigsaw: live captioning! As I mentioned above, having students watch (and listen to) videos in class could be a complete and abject failure, especially if students don't leave the classroom and/or don't have headphones. But, with the live captions, it was very easy for me to create those expert-creating Clips, and students can read the captions when they can't hear the audio because of environmental noise!

I will definitely use this approach again: a jigsaw exercise improves student engagement. Although using Clips to disseminate content to different group members is, by the SAMR model, mainly Substitution (perhaps Augmentation), now all of my students can access all of the videos (not just the one they watched) for study resources. I can use the same Clips in future semesters, too! Jigsaw + Clips is a win-win.

As a result of a comment on an earlier version of this post elsewhere, I also came to realize that one could also flip the jigsaw when using short videos to produce "content expert" students. If you have stable student groups, or form groups the class session prior to the jigsaw exercise, then assign those Clips videos to watch before class. Then, during class, you can jump right into the peer instruction and problem-solving!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Clips Power Use (CPU) #2: Higher Ed ≠ Starched & Stuff

As I've bemoaned in prior posts, as a college prof, I was worried that I wouldn't find a place for Clips - being aimed at social media production and its attendant glitz like emojis and *gasp* Disney-themed Posters - in my courses.

Fortunately, time (as usual) solved that dilemma. In fact, it was last week's #ADEchat (thanks for hosting, Jon Smith @theipodteacher!) that brought me around. Thanks to Jon, I was forced outside of my comfort zone, where we know no real learning takes place. He tasked us, during the Twitter chat, to create a #clipmercial (a short video) to advertise our class to our students.

Now, I already felt out of place, because many of the chat prompts didn't seem to apply to me. For example: introduce students to your classroom. First, I didn't have pictures of my classroom on hand to use in a Clip. Second, unlike many of my fellow ADEs, who are in K-12, I don't have a classroom - certainly not one that I decorate. I have a lecture hall that I use for fifty minutes, three days a week, which is much less inspiring. Yes, and…so I felt it reasonable to give myself a little leeway in creating a #clipmercial that didn't quite meet the "requirements."

Here it is:


After hastily (and with some technical difficulty) posting my clipmercial on Twitter soon after the #ADEchat ended, I realized that there is certainly value for Clips in higher ed. I've written about this already, and will continue to do so. But for now, here's the spin on short videos in education: they're great for teachers to make themselves human (and hopefully approachable) to their students. Although I didn't use any of the Disney Posters, I did use several animated icons, some humorous photos, and incorporated a potentially recognizable TV commercial for a fast-food chain that has the meats.

We can (should!) use Clips to introduce ourselves and to show our students we're not stiff academics! Many students have an impression, accurate or not, of faculty being out-of-touch brainiacs. Most (all?) of us have a lighter side - I challenge you to create a short video to show it off!