Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cal. State Univ. Course Redesign with Tech. - Day 2 Summary

Yesterday's program involved CSU faculty presenting on best practices in Course Redesign with Technology (CRT) and then a vendor faire and breakout sessions on various classroom technologies. Here are my biased impressions about the content, particularly related to the products the vendors offer, ridiculously distilled into a few points:

  1. Captioning technology can provide more than just monospace font family letters on a black background on your video (including interactive text transcripts, and a text search feature that graphically shows students the density of the search results as a function of temporal position within a video). I'm looking forward to using
  2. Faculty care a lot about academic dishonesty (i.e. cheating on online quizzes/exams), and the CSU system has contracts with two vendors (ProctorU and Proctorio) that use technology to administer and proctor online assessments
  3. Digital collaboration and feedback are ways for faculty to leverage technology to, presumably, improve student engagement and faculty efficiency. The former (demonstrated via Zoom yesterday) might involve videoconferencing for faculty office hours, to support students who can't be physically present during your scheduled office hours, for example. Zoom also has a shared whiteboard feature, and meetings can be recorded (e.g. for distributing to those who couldn't even attend remotely). The latter might involve enhanced ways to provide verbal (recorded) comments on student written work.

I have two mild concerns (just to play devil's advocate) related to these last two uses of technology:

  1. Isn't cheating really just collaboration? Identifying and/or preventing cheating perhaps should not be our focus; rather, maybe we should encourage it - this might give us an opportunity to control and appropriately channel the efforts some students go through to get good grades on tests.
  2. I regularly hear faculty use the phrase "meet the students where they're at." I think I appreciate where this sentiment is coming from, but I also wonder the extent to which we're pandering and exacerbating existing trends…we need to strike a balance between support and rigor.

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