Turns out you can build community in a Zoom classroom — from chronicle.com by Rachel Toor
A professor finds that personal essays are surprisingly effective in building relationships in a synchronous virtual classroom

Excerpt:

Over the course of the quarter, they got to know one another by reading those sandbox essays. The writing became more vulnerable, more authentic, and, frankly, a whole lot better. That was a function of learning tools and tricks from published writing, but also of getting more comfortable using their own voices.

Next fall I will continue to use the sandbox. The spring semester taught me other lessons, too, about how to help students adjust to one another in a synchronous classroom, and to a professor they’ve never met in person. Here are some other things I want to remember to do when we are once again online.

 

Colleges cut academic programs in the face of budget shortfalls due to Covid-19 — from cnbc.com by Jessica Dickler

Key points:

  • As colleges face extreme budget shortfalls, some institutions are cutting academic programs that were once central to a liberal arts education.
  • The University of Alaska system announced it will cut 39 academic departments in all, including sociology, creative writing, chemistry and environmental science.

 

Even before the global pandemic caused craters in the economy, some institutions were facing financial hardship after years of declines in state funding for higher education. A number of private schools had already made wrenching budget cuts, from curriculum changes to complete overhauls of their liberal arts programs.

 

From DSC:
A screenshot from the video (below) shows a new type of liberal arts program at Hiram College.

It could very well be that online-based learning turns out to save the liberal arts!!!!! How ironic is that!?!!

That is, many college presidents, provost, and faculty members — especially from smaller liberal arts types of schools — have disdained online-based learning for decades now. It was always viewed as “less than” in their minds…they didn’t want to go that route, as doing so would dilute their precious (and often overpriced) brands. (To be clear, this is not my view…but it was, and still is in many cases, their view.)

Anyway, it looks like more of these same folks will be losing their jobs in the next few years (if they haven’t already). At that point, we may see some of these same folks encounter a sudden paradigm shift. (A shift many of their colleagues have already gone through in prior years.) These same folks may come to appreciate that people will be willing to pay them for their knowledge — but only willing to do so at a much more affordable price…which will likely mean online.

Fewer people — especially when 47 million people in the U.S. alone have filed for unemployment over the last 14 weeks — can afford the cost of getting a degree. They are looking for inexpensive, convenient, efficient, effective means of reinventing themselves.

 

Huh…another potential irony here…it appears that colleges and universities are coming to know what many of us have known and experienced for years…and that is, the struggle to:

  • Reinvent oneself
  • Stay relevant
  • Survive
 

PhotoVoice -- using photography to tell one's story

Photo voice dot org

 

Why photography?

A photograph is the quickest and easiest way for somebody to document the realities of their circumstances. Most people are familiar with photography to some degree, and it can be picked up relatively quickly by all abilities and ages.

Photography also crosses cultural and linguistic barriers, with its power lying in its dual role as both a form of creative expression and a way to document facts.

It provides an accessible way to describe realities, communicate perspectives, and raise awareness of social and global issues to different audiences.

Its relatively low cost and ease of dissemination encourages sharing, facilitating dialogue and discussion, even for those who have never picked up a camera before.

 

Addendum on 6/25/20

 

33 Great Ways to Teach English with Technology –from englishpost.org

Excerpt:

How to Teach English with Technology is about language and second language teaching using the best educational technology resources for the ESL Classroom.

When technology integration in the classroom is seamless and thoughtful, students not only become more engaged, they begin to take more control over their own learning, too.

 

From DSC:
After reading the following item from Jeremy Caplan’s most recent e-newsletter entitled, “Tiny Stuff I Love“…

Alfred = Saves me time on copying and pasting
If you copy and paste stuff frequently, get a clipboard manager. I use Alfred throughout every workday. It keeps the last 100+ things I’ve copied in a neat list so I can paste anything I’ve used recently into a browser, document, or wherever else.

This is super-handy when I’m copying and pasting things repeatedly from one place to another. Sometimes I’m moving a bunch of stuff from a document into an email. Or putting several links or notes into a Zoom chat window.

Lots of tools do something similar. I also like the Copied App, $8 on the Mac App store. It has a companion iPhone app.

 

…I instantly thought of how useful this type of tool would be for teachers, professors, and perhaps trainers as well — especially when grading!

From this page (emphasis DSC):

What Does a Clipboard Manager Do?
The default clipboard in Windows works well, but it’s quite basic. The biggest limitation is that it can only hold one item at a time. If you copy a piece of text, forget to use it, then copy an image later, the text will be gone. Another hassle is that you can’t view what you’ve copied without pasting it.

For anyone who copies and pastes all the time, these are big problems. Thankfully, this is where clipboard managers come in. They greatly expand the functionality of your clipboard by remembering dozens of entries, allowing you to pin frequently used snippets for easy access, and much more.

 

Afred 4 for the Mac

Alfred is a clipboard manager for the Mac

 

Readers of this blog might also be interested in some of the other tools that Jeremy mentions, including:

  • Toby = Save and share my browser tabs

Toby -- save and load sets of browser tabs

 

Six Practical Approaches for Teaching Writing Online — from facultyfocus.com by Christian Aguiar and Albert Pearsall; with a shoutout to Bill Knapp from GRCC for posting this on Twitter

Six practical approaches for teaching writing online -- from faculty focus dot com

 
 

Top ten podcasts every teacher needs to hear — from wiley.com; with thanks to Emily Liebtag for her posting on Twitter for this resource

Excerpt:

Listening to podcasts is an easy way to dive into a topic that interests you and learn something new from others who share your passion for education.

We’re highlighting the following ten podcast episodes featuring Jossey-Bass authors that you can listen to whenever, wherever to help you master your craft or reignite your love of teaching.

So, take some time for yourself, grab your earbuds, and press play on these…

 
 

Microsoft debuts Ideas in Word, a grammar and style suggestions tool powered by AI — from venturebeat.com by Kyle Wiggers; with thanks to Mr. Jack Du Mez for his posting on this over on LinkedIn

Excerpt:

The first day of Microsoft’s Build developer conference is typically chock-full of news, and this year was no exception. During a keynote headlined by CEO Satya Nadella, the Seattle company took the wraps off a slew of updates to Microsoft 365, its lineup of productivity-focused, cloud-hosted software and subscription services. Among the highlights were a new AI-powered grammar and style checker in Word Online, dubbed Ideas in Word, and dynamic email messages in Outlook Mobile.

Ideas in Word builds on Editor, an AI-powered proofreader for Office 365 that was announced in July 2016 and replaced the Spelling & Grammar pane in Office 2016 later that year. Ideas in Words similarly taps natural language processing and machine learning to deliver intelligent, contextually aware suggestions that could improve a document’s readability. For instance, it’ll recommend ways to make phrases more concise, clear, and inclusive, and when it comes across a particularly tricky snippet, it’ll put forward synonyms and alternative phrasings.

 

Also see:

 

 

From DSC:
I just found out about this and I wanted to pass it along to you aspiring young writers/playwrights out there! If it’s too late for this year, put it on your radar for next year!


Worldwide Plays Festival Submission Deadline: February 1, 2019

Announcing the judges of the 10th Annual Writopia Lab Worldwide Plays Festival Competition, an exciting, immersive festival of plays written by young playwrights ages 5-19, turning a multi-roomed theater space in midtown Manhattan into The Neighborhood, where audiences will be lead from place to place, play to play, plunged into the wacky and provoking minds of children and teens.

The Judges are:

  • Gideon Glick (currently on Broadway in To Kill A Mockingbird),
  • Abe Koogler (Obie Award Winner for Manhattan Theatre Club’s Fulfillment Center),
  • Jordana Spiro (Netflix’ Ozark),
  • Madhuri Shekar (writer on upcoming HBO’s The Nevers),
  • Matthew Shapiro (Emmy Winning Co-Producer Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Named after David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants due to funding of earlier festivals, Writopia Lab’s Worldwide Plays Festival has produced hundreds of full productions of plays written by young playwrights over the past decade.

This year, we invite playwrights from 1st through 12th grade around the world to enter our competition. We will select winning plays in three age groups: Elementary School, Middle School and High School.

From hundreds of submissions from across the country, 36 will be selected for production and three will receive a cash prize as part of our festival in May of 2019 at TheaterLab, in the theater district of New York City. Prizes include $750 for best high school play, $500 for best middle school play, and $250 for best elementary school play.

Winners will be notified by March, 2019.

For more information about how to submit, please visit: https://www.writopialab.org/programs/specialty-programs/worldwide-plays-festival

This Year’s Theme:

The Neighborhood
“Life is so rich when you go off the logical path and embark on eccentric adventures,”

Steve Young, producer and writer of Bathrooms over Broadway, and former head writer at The Late Show with David Letterman.

In this spirit, we ask playwrights from all walks of life-from homeless shelters to townhouses-to embark on eccentric adventures in their own neighborhoods and share their discoveries with us on the stage. Plays take place in one of three locations: The Convenience Store or Bodega, The Community Center (Church, Mosque, Synagogue, Yoga Studio, etc.) or Outside Your Door. Most of our writers attend highly segregated school systems and find great comfort-and meaningful challenge-in working closely in workshops with peers from diverse backgrounds.

At showtime, actors playing a rich array of complex neighborhood characters (also written by young writers), lead groups of audiences from room to room, weaving together a multitude of plays by young playwrights–urban and suburban, gay and straight, binary and nonbinary, outside and in-celebrating a totality of experience around the corner, down the block, across the hall in your America.

Festival Performances:
Where: Theaterlab, 357 West 36th Street, 3rd floor
When: Wednesday May 1st, 2019 to Sunday May 5th, 2019

Media Contact:
Lance Laytner
Public Good Relations
(917)573-8960
lance@publicgoodrelations.com

 


Also per Inside VR & AR:


Google has teamed up with Boston-based Commonwealth Shakespeare Company to produce a VR version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Called “Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit,”  the Bard’s classic tale of murder and revenge was tailored specifically for virtual reality, with some scenes lengthened and the overall run time pared way down. Director Steven Maler told the New York Times the production is a way “to show people how exciting it can be to be in the space where it’s happening.” The viewer sees the action from the point of view of the ghost of Hamlet’s father. Hamlet 360 was filmed on a Yi Halo 360 camera and is posted on WGBH-Boston’s YouTube channel. — NYTIMES

 

 

Awesome study hacks: 5 ways to remember more of what you read — from academiccoachingwithpat.com by Pat LaDouceur; with thanks to Julia Reed for her Tweet on this

Excerpts:

  1. Annotate as you read
  2. Skim
  3. Rewrite key ideas in your own words
  4. Write a critique
  5. List your questions

 

Reorganizing information helps you learn it more effectively, which is why Rewriting makes the list as one of the top 5 reading study hacks. It forces you to stay active and involved with the text (from DSC: the word “engaged” comes to mind here), to consider arguments and synthesize information, and thus remember more of what you read.

 

 
 

From DSC:
I have often reflected on differentiation or what some call personalized learning and/or customized learning. How does a busy teacher, instructor, professor, or trainer achieve this, realistically?

It’s very difficult and time-consuming to do for sure. But it also requires a team of specialists to achieve such a holy grail of learning — as one person can’t know it all. That is, one educator doesn’t have the necessary time, skills, or knowledge to address so many different learning needs and levels!

  • Think of different cognitive capabilities — from students that have special learning needs and challenges to gifted students
  • Or learners that have different physical capabilities or restrictions
  • Or learners that have different backgrounds and/or levels of prior knowledge
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Educators  and trainers have so many things on their plates that it’s very difficult to come up with _X_ lesson plans/agendas/personalized approaches, etc.  On the other side of the table, how do students from a vast array of backgrounds and cognitive skill levels get the main points of a chapter or piece of text? How can they self-select the level of difficulty and/or start at a “basics” level and work one’s way up to harder/more detailed levels if they can cognitively handle that level of detail/complexity? Conversely, how do I as a learner get the boiled down version of a piece of text?

Well… just as with the flipped classroom approach, I’d like to suggest that we flip things a bit and enlist teams of specialists at the publishers to fulfill this need. Move things to the content creation end — not so much at the delivery end of things. Publishers’ teams could play a significant, hugely helpful role in providing customized learning to learners.

Some of the ways that this could happen:

Use an HTML like language when writing a textbook, such as:

<MainPoint> The text for the main point here. </MainPoint>

<SubPoint1>The text for the subpoint 1 here.</SubPoint1>

<DetailsSubPoint1>More detailed information for subpoint 1 here.</DetailsSubPoint1>

<SubPoint2>The text for the subpoint 2 here.</SubPoint2>

<DetailsSubPoint2>More detailed information for subpoint 2 here.</DetailsSubPoint2>

<SubPoint3>The text for the subpoint 3 here.</SubPoint3>

<DetailsSubPoint3>More detailed information for subpoint 3 here.</DetailsSubPoint1>

<SummaryOfMainPoints>A list of the main points that a learner should walk away with.</SummaryOfMainPoints>

<BasicsOfMainPoints>Here is a listing of the main points, but put in alternative words and more basic ways of expressing those main points. </BasicsOfMainPoints>

<Conclusion> The text for the concluding comments here.</Conclusion>

 

<BasicsOfMainPoints> could be called <AlternativeExplanations>
Bottom line: This tag would be to put things forth using very straightforward terms.

Another tag would be to address how this topic/chapter is relevant:
<RealWorldApplication>This short paragraph should illustrate real world examples

of this particular topic. Why does this topic matter? How is it relevant?</RealWorldApplication>

 

On the students’ end, they could use an app that works with such tags to allow a learner to quickly see/review the different layers. That is:

  • Show me just the main points
  • Then add on the sub points
  • Then fill in the details
    OR
  • Just give me the basics via an alternative ways of expressing these things. I won’t remember all the details. Put things using easy-to-understand wording/ideas.

 

It’s like the layers of a Microsoft HoloLens app of the human anatomy:

 

Or it’s like different layers of a chapter of a “textbook” — so a learner could quickly collapse/expand the text as needed:

 

This approach could be helpful at all kinds of learning levels. For example, it could be very helpful for law school students to obtain outlines for cases or for chapters of information. Similarly, it could be helpful for dental or medical school students to get the main points as well as detailed information.

Also, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) grows, the system could check a learner’s cloud-based learner profile to see their reading level or prior knowledge, any IEP’s on file, their learning preferences (audio, video, animations, etc.), etc. to further provide a personalized/customized learning experience. 

To recap:

  • “Textbooks” continue to be created by teams of specialists, but add specialists with knowledge of students with special needs as well as for gifted students. For example, a team could have experts within the field of Special Education to help create one of the overlays/or filters/lenses — i.e., to reword things. If the text was talking about how to hit a backhand or a forehand, the alternative text layer could be summed up to say that tennis is a sport…and that a sport is something people play. On the other end of the spectrum, the text could dive deeply into the various grips a person could use to hit a forehand or backhand.
  • This puts the power of offering differentiation at the point of content creation/development (differentiation could also be provided for at the delivery end, but again, time and expertise are likely not going to be there)
  • Publishers create “overlays” or various layers that can be turned on or off by the learners
  • Can see whole chapters or can see main ideas, topic sentences, and/or details. Like HTML tags for web pages.
  • Can instantly collapse chapters to main ideas/outlines.

 

 

This Android app lets you search for specific words in books & documents via augmented reality — from mobile-ar.reality.news by Tommy Palladino

Excerpt:

One of the neatest tricks available in Google Lens, an app that can identify and interpret real world information, is the ability to copy text from the app’s camera view and paste it into a digital document.

And while the computer vision assistance of Google Lens takes care of the copy and paste function in augmented reality, a new mobile app from Find It Software fulfills the find function directly on printed documents in real time.

 

 

 

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