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Category: News and Announcements

Announcements, news, and updates from the Center for Transformative Teaching

See the EvCC lightboard in action

Last Thursday’s Opening Week session on “Cool things faculty are doing in the classroom,” facilitated by my colleague Peg, was great fun–and a good chance for me to find out more about some of the thoughtful and innovative work EvCC faculty are doing. I learned something from every presenter, and as a result my notebook is now brimming with new ideas for future workshops, conversations, and potential blog posts.

For now, though, I’ll mention just one of the cool things from the session: Joe Graber’s demonstration of the lightboard he and some of his EvCC engineering colleagues have constructed over the past year and are now using to create videos for their courses. What’s a lightboard, you ask? It’s essentially a transparent, edge-illuminated chalkboard you can use to create videos that show you and what you’re writing at the same time. If that’s hard to envision, take a look at this demonstration video that Joe has created to show off some of the lightboard’s uses and capabilities:

This is DIY educational technology at its best!

Joe will be hosting an informal demonstration at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19, in Whitehorse 109 if you want to stop by to take a quick look. Later this fall, we’ll also be offering a workshop on creating videos using the lightboard, combining a discussion of best practices in planning and structuring lightboard videos with an opportunity to visit the lightboard studio and give it a try yourself.

[Update 9/20/2017 — Joe an I will be facilitating a workshop on October 3, at noon, in Whitehorse 105. We’ll discuss recommendations for creating effective videos using the lightboard, then spend some time putting it through it’s paces. Light snacks will be provided, but bring your lunch — and your curiosity! For complete details, see our schedule of upcoming workshops.]

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New quarter, new stickers!

2017 eLearning Help Desk stickers displayed on a table. The sticker is a red hexagon with three cartoon superheros, accompanied by the text 'Help Desk Heroes'

You know it’s almost the beginning of the fall quarter when a new batch of eLearning Help Desk stickers arrives, fresh from the printers. Our Help Desk program is just one of the many ways we’re helping to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and support at the CTT.

If you want your very own 2017 edition sticker, stop by one of the eLearning Help Desk locations next week or drop by the Center for Transformative Teaching offices on the second floor of Gray Wolf Hall.

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Let’s jam: the accessibility session

Poster for Accessibility Jam, with orange and white text, displayed on a slight angle, on a purple background. Decorative accessibility icons appear at the bottom of the poster. Full text reads: 'Accessibility Jam. ELearning live in person and featuring performances by Text Alternatives, Closed Captions for Videos, Universal Design, Headings and Document Styles, Canvas Accessibility Tools. Thursday May 18, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Gray Wolf 268. Free entry, all ages. Come jam with us! Bring your syllabus or course materials for hands-on help with accessibility.'
Accessibility: just like cool jazz.

Here at EvCC, we’re hosting an Accessibility Jam on May 18 in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. What’s an Accessibility Jam, you ask? Much like the musical jam session from which it borrows its name, the Accessibility Jam is an informal and improvisational gathering that aims to raise awareness of how easy it can be to create accessible course materials, even if you don’t have a lot of time or experience with accessibility-related matters. It’s a drop-in affair, not a formal training session or workshop. That means anyone can stop by to ask a question, sit down with a colleague for some hands-on help with a document or video, or simply find out about some accessibility-related resources and tools. Whether you can spare five minutes or fifty, there’s bound to be some strain of accessibility you can riff on, in your own way and at your own pace, before being pulled back to the regular schedule of your day.

The Accessibility Jam has its origins in a common statement I’ve heard on numerous occasions. You may have heard it, too. It usually goes something like this:

“Accessibility sounds important, but I don’t know anything about making course materials accessible. Plus, it seems like a lot of work — I just don’t have the time to think about it.”

It’s easy to be critical of this view, but anyone familiar with the realities and time constraints of teaching should be able to sympathize. It’s true that making course materials fully accessible does take a lot of time, and it requires specific knowledge of common accessibility problems and solutions. Together those two factors — lack of time and lack of knowledge — can make the idea of an accessible class seem like a fantasy: something we’d all like to see, for sure, but not something that seems very achievable.

But what if we could replace this way of thinking with a different perspective, one that holds every single incremental step toward greater accessibility, no matter how small, is a change for the better that brings us closer to the goal of universal accessibility? This way of seeing course accessibility would mean that small slivers of time could be put to productive use  — which is exactly what we hope to promote at the Accessibility Jam.

Plus, it will be fun. It’s a chance to spend a few minutes with colleagues, working collectively on a shared endeavor, with something tangible to show at the end of it. So if you find yourself with even five minutes to spare on May 18, be sure to stop by the Accessibility Jam!

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Christening the Teaching & Tools Podcast

I was hired as a radio announcer when I was 15.  I had to wait two months until I turned 16 before I could start my training and go on air.  It was an incredible job, and a difficult position to give up nearly eight years later.  The debut of the Teaching & Tools Podcast feels like my triumphant return to the airwaves, even though the topical scope and technology have changed dramatically.  Differences aside, I’m happy to report the first episode of the Teaching & Tools podcast, Discussion Boards, is now available!

The first episode is a recap of a workshop offered on campus.  If you prefer reading to listening to me, check out the Discussion Boards transcript.  Either way, you can catch the essence of the workshop and its question and answer session.

Watch this space for future episodes.  I will be creating and posting an episode for each of the workshops from the winter/spring series.  I may even get fancy and add music and other creative embellishments.  It’s safe to say the radio bug has bit again…

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The Center for Transformative Teaching starts a blog

The web site of the Center for Transformative Teaching has for some time featured a directory of our favorite blogs on topics related to teaching and learning. Now we can add our very own to the list!

Sustaining thoughtful conversations about teaching and learning is central to the Center’s purpose, a critical part of our commitment to facilitating professional growth and to fostering a supportive, collaborative campus climate. These conversations take many forms–informal chats over coffee and cookies, individual consultations, workshops and seminars, or even conferences–and bring together faculty and staff participants from across the college.

We all lead busy lives, though, and time often seems to be so limited a resource that attending every event we want to seems nearly impossible. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard some variation on the lament, “I’d love to attend a workshop, but I just don’t have the time!” By helping us share thoughts and spread ideas about innovative teaching practices, we hope the blog will allow us to extend conversation to all interested members of the EvCC community–and beyond–for those times when you can’t be there to participate in person.

In the weeks and months ahead we’ll be featuring a broad range of teaching and learning topics, from brief CTT updates to in-depth explorations of particular pedagogical methods to the innovative efforts of EvCC faculty. And if you have ideas for topics you’d like us to write about here, let us know.

 

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