This fall, I have been challenging myself to include a few new technologies in my teaching, and to expand the use of others. As this year’s Borra Technology Fellow, I have the opportunity and the impetus to be more intentional about trying new things. I decided to focus on two areas within my online classes: social networking (I chose Twitter ) and building classroom community (I chose Jing Pro ).
I’ve been a little slow to incorporate social networking into my classes, mostly because I’ve been a little slow to incorporate them into my life! But knowing this is a regular part of our students’ lives, and teaching students (future librarians) who must provide services using social networking, I decided it was time to move forward. I added an assignment in my online class that includes posting Tweets, using a hashtag (#) specifically for our class. The hashtag in Twitter basically allows you to add a subject heading (in librarians’ lingo) to your Tweet. Then, everyone can search that hashtag and see others’ Tweets about things they are sharing relevant to our course. Here’s the Twitter information page on using hashtags. So far it’s going well… I’ll keep you posted!
I’m also trying to expand community in my online courses by being more visible (literally) in the online environment. (See Ken’s discussion of this in a post from last March, “They Really Need to See Me!” ) I’m experimenting with this using an easy, web-based program called Jing Pro. Last Spring Jodi Cressman and Ken Black did a Technology Bytes program on interactive feedback in the classroom, and Jodi reported on her use of Jing. I’m using the Pro version, which costs only $14.95. Jing Pro allows you capture your desktop, including your webcam (they can see you!), and your narration. It’s got a five minute limit, but that’s about our audience’s limit as well, so I think it’s fine. What I’m doing this semester is providing an ongoing series of short mini-lectures using these Jing Pro videos. I do a brief on-camera greeting and introduction, and the rest of the video I use to show documents or websites from my desktop as I continue to talk. Jing Pro gives you a variety of options for storage and dissemination; I’m using a cloud-based solution for now and will see how that goes. I give the students a URL to the website, where they can watch the video. So far, students seem to really like the increased sense of connection the videos provide.
Coming up at Dominican: iPad: Effective Use in the Classroom – See Ken’s email this week which announces our Dominican access to this webinar on Tuesday, October 4. This looks like it will be a very interesting presentation, and it will be fun to watch it together in the Springer Suite and then discuss. This year I’ll also be adding blog posts on my progress with our web conferencing system Blackboard Collaborate, the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference (October 2011), and on other technology related topics.