Skip to content

Debbie Harry using a rotary telephone.
"I'm in the phone booth; it's the one across the hall"

Thanks to Hurricane Ida, I'm getting to see what it's like for those students who have to, for a variety of reasons, do their schoolwork on a smartphone, and it's making me think about our reliance on education technology and the assumptions we make about our students. We need to think about how our use of technology might make learning even more difficult for some of our students.

We drove to Tallahassee to get away from the storm, returning on Tuesday, August 31, after ensuring that the roads were clear enough to get back to our house. We knew we wouldn't have power (or internet) when we got back, but we wanted to check on our house as soon as we could, since we live out in the country and have lots of pine trees in our yard. Our electricity came back on the following Tuesday, the same day Xavier reopened remotely, but our internet service is still out (the data cable is still lying in my front yard).

I am now on Day 18 without access to reliable high-speed internet service. At our house, we have our cell phones; however, since the storm, we have not been able to get more than one bar of signal.  Meanwhile, I still have work that needs to be done and requires access to the internet. Also thanks to Ida, we have very bad cellular service at our house -- one bar, at best -- and we are using way more data than we're supposed to.

A message from AT&T that we've gone over our data cap.
We went over our 9GB data cap for this cycle in just six days.

What all this means is that my highly connected life, in which I could work any time I needed to, has come to a grinding halt. I've repeatedly told colleagues and students that I will respond when I can, and that short text messages are actually the most reliable means of communication for me. I'm sure for some, I sound like I'm making excuses and trying to avoid work.

Responsive Pedagogy, Not Just Responsive Design

During the two weeks of asynchronous learning means everything is done in Brightspace, our LMS, which is fine, because I do everything in Brightspace anyway. After the past 18 months of remote teaching, I decided everything for my classes, even my face-to-face classes, would take full advantage of Brightspace. I don't even have a document called a syllabus anymore: instead, I have a number of pages in Brightspace that provide all that informatiom. Working in Brightspace when you have a full-sized monitor (or even two monitors) plus a high-speed internet connection is great. Working in Brightspace on a phone with an okay cellular signal is manageable, but barely so. The screens are slow to load, and sometimes they don't load at all. Uploading a PDF takes a very, very long time. Some screens, especially administrative screens with lots of settings, are hard to manage on a phone. And if you forget one little detail, you have to go through the whole laborious process again.

Some will ask why I don't just go somewhere with reliable wifi. I spent one Sunday in Hattiesburg at USM's library to do this -- and got a ton of work done, but that was a four-hour round-trip drive (although we were also able to load up on gas for the generator). The next day, I drove Baton Rouge, a three-hour round trip drive, and again got a ton of work done (that was Labor Day, by the way). Meanwhile, no one was cleaning up my yard or cleaning out my refrigerator or keeping an eye on my dogs who can't go outside because our fence is damaged. No one was talking to my insurance company about my car that got squashed by an oak tree.

Chart comparing digital byte units.
Wikipedia contributors. (2021, September 17). Byte. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:55, September 18, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byte

I'm privileged to be experiencing this during a major disaster, when compassion is more accessible. AT&T says they won't charge me for going over my data plan (although yesterday they started throttling our data rate to 128 kbps (yes, kilobytes)). Imagine doing this just because it's all you can afford to do. Imagine trying to do your work on your phone while sitting in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant because their wifi is better than your cell service. Imagine trying to look at PowerPoint slides full of small text on a 6-inch screen. Imagine having to cram all your work into one three-hour block of time because that's all you can afford to leave your house for.

All of us in academia try to balance our school work with our non-school responsibilities. It's a tough juggling act, and no one of us does it the same way.

I guess my point is that while I have always said I understood that some students might need to do their schoolwork on their phones. While I've always said I understood that some students are juggling multiple responsibilities that have nothing to do with school along with all their schoolwork, I've never understood just how difficult it is to do.

The advancements we've seen in educational technology over these past two decades have been really amazing. But #EdTech assumes a lot about the students (and the teachers). It assumes we have the personal infrastructure you use the technology, and for some reason, it also assumes that we that infrastructure allows for constant access to the technology. These are really bad assumptions to make. Demanding that students turn on their webcams during Zoom classes (What if they don't have a webcam? What if their internet connection isn't good enough to upload the video stream?) or expecting them to simply be able to do all of their work on a computer -- these are lousy assumptions.

Compassion means we need to make other assumptions, though. Compassion means we need to assume that our students are struggling as much (and probably more) than we are with COVID and Ida and Nicholas and parents and kids and bills and so forth. Before we automatically assume that our students can hop online and do whatever important work we want them to do, let's stop and think about why they might not be able to. Let's try to provide them with an education that is responsive to their needs rather than one responsive to just ours.

file folder with documents inside

Are you still sharing files via email? An article by Lauren Suggett suggests three reasons why you should stop sharing documents via email. Her reasons are:

  • Nothing is trackable
  • Accessibility is limited
  • Email inboxes can be black holes

As you may know, Xavier adopted G Suite (formerly Google Apps). This means everyone has an account that allows them to store files in their Google Drive. Instead of emailing files back and forth, you can share files in your Google Drive. For more information on Xavier’s adoption of G Suite and how to share files using Google Drive, read Bart Everson’s Drive Right In blog post.

Additionally, Google Apps can be integrated into Brightspace. ICYMI, read my Google Apps Integration blog post.

Image credit: image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay


The good people at D2L Brightspace are offering a webinar on the use of contemplative pedagogy in an online course. No cost. Details below.

From Mitchell Deleplanque of D2L Brightspace:

According to the Contemplative Pedagogy Network, students can form deeper relationships with their peers, their communities, and the world around them when they are encouraged to connect learning to their own values and sense of meaning.

Don’t miss out! Join us on December 10, 2019, for a webinar featuring Karen Nichols and Bart Everson from Xavier University of Louisiana. Our presenters will share how they are integrating contemplative exercises in their mentor-training program.

Participants will receive a link to exercises, resources, and a bibliography.

Registration Link

A conversation between Kayla Siddell (XULA Library) and Bart Everson (CAT+FD) on institutional repositories.

Kayla Siddell is the Scholarly Communications and Instruction Librarian in University Library at Xavier University of Louisiana where she manages the institutional repository, the Data Visualization Lab, and consults with faculty, staff and students on their research and use of library resources and services. Previously she served as the Data Curation Librarian at Indiana State University where she served as webmaster and managed the institutional repository, CONTENTdm and Omeka websites as well as running the digitization laboratory. Her research interest include alternative data, best practices for data curation and institutional repositories, scholarly communication and information literacy. Kayla is a an Alumni of East Tennessee State University where she studied psychology as well as the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she earned her Masters degree in Information Science.

Bart Everson is a media artist and faculty developer. His formative years were spent in Indiana and northern Sweden, and he has lived in New Orleans since 1999. He is co-creator of Rox, the first TV show on the internet. He helped found the Green Party of Louisiana as well as Friends of Lafitte Greenway, a nonprofit that has played a key role in constructing a multimodal transportation corridor through the heart of New Orleans. He is the author of Spinning in Place: A Secular Humanist Embraces the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year and has contributed to the collections Godless Paganism and Finding the Masculine in Goddess' Spiral. Since 2010, he has organized workshops and initiatives to promulgate contemplative practice and pedagogy on Xavier's campus. His recent work draws on integrative learning, activism, critical perspectives on technology, and Earth-based spiritual paths.

Links for this episode:

Transcript:

Coming soon!

Drive Logo

If you've been using Google Drive (and who isn't?) you may have been notified that the Google Drive application is going away. To clarify, the Google Drive service will continue, but the Google Drive desktop app (that little piece of software that syncs your local files with the cloud) is being discontinued.

Xavier users have reported that Google is urging them to switch to a new app, Drive File Stream. However, there is another app, also made my Google, which fills much the same function: Backup & Sync.

What to do?

Google is pushing Drive Stream as the solution for organizations, while marketing Backup & Sync to individuals. However, both currently work on Xavier campus. Fortunately, there is a handy comparison of the features offered by these two products, so you can make your own decision.

Compare Backup and Sync & Drive File Stream

Take your pick and make the switch. But don't delay! Support for the old app officially ended last month.

Sue Frantz
A conversation with Sue Frantz of Highline Community College on technology for teaching and learning.

I have a minor addiction to new technology. But not just any technology. I’m looking for technology (ideally, free) that either makes my job easier or makes it easier for my students to learn.

Links for this episode:

Three books Sue recently enjoyed reading:

...continue reading "Conversation #66: Sue Frantz on Technology for Teaching and Learning"

In an EdTech Magazine article, Meg Conlan reported that nowadays students are expecting to use technology in college. She referenced a McGraw-Hill Education Workforce Readiness Survey which shows that 52 percent of students surveyed believe that their use of technology during college classes and study sessions will help them secure a job.

Check out the McGraw-Hill Education infographic below for more technology-focused highlights from the Workforce Readiness Survey.

infographic

You can read Meg’s Technology Use Boosts Students’ Confidence in Their Job Prospects article here.

3

Drive Logo

In a big win for Xavier faculty, ITC recently "opened up" Google Drive for global collaboration.

What does this mean?

As you may know, Google Drive is a service for storing, syncing and sharing files. When Xavier adopted G Suite (formerly Google Apps), all Xavier users got an account allowing them store files in Google Drive. You can access your files at drive.google.com.

However, files stored in Google Drive could only be shared with other Xavier users — until now. Now you can share your files with colleagues at other institutions around the world. (Please note that the new policy applies only to faculty at this time.) We anticipate this will greatly aid in your efforts at scholarly collaboration.

What's the benefit?

Instead of emailing files back and forth, you can share a file in Google Drive. If you grant editing access to others, they can make changes; Google keeps the file in sync. You are less likely to run into the confusion that commonly arises when different versions of a document are edited by multiple contributors.

How to do it?

Sharing files with Google Drive is pretty easy, but not entirely goof-proof.

First, naturally enough, you have to have some files in Google Drive to share! I'm going to assume you already do; if that's not the case, a basic tutorial is available.

Second, navigate to the file you want to share in the Google Drive web interface. Remember, you can access your files at drive.google.com.

Finally, click the share icon for that file. (It looks like a little person with a plus sign next to their head.) You'll be prompted to enter the names or email addresses of the people you want to share with. (Names will generally only work for others in the Xavier system. For anyone outside Xavier, you'll need to use their email address.) You'll also want to specify the level of sharing. Do you want them to be able to view the file only, or to make comments, or to make edits? It's up to you.

But what about security?

Files uploaded to Google Drive are stored in the Cloud — on servers controlled by Google. You may have some concerns about what this means.

According to Google, your files are located in "secure data centers." There are some clear advantages. If your computer (or other device) is damaged or misplaced, you don't lose your data. You can get still get to your files once you get your hands on a new device.

Google also stipulates that "your files are private unless you share them."

When using Google Drive for collaboration, you'll want to observe the same common sense guidelines that you use when sharing information with anyone. If the data is sensitive, think twice before sharing it.

How can I learn more?

  • Learn more online.
  • Keep an eye out for ITC workshops.
  • CAT+FD has a workshop on collaborative authoring planned for Thursday, 16 March 2017; stay tuned!

1

by Bart Everson

Embrace Keyboard Shortcuts

Everyone know that I am a hug(e) advocate of keyboard shortcuts. They are easy to learn and will give your productivity a boost. If you really enjoy sitting in front of your computer, and want to spend more time doing that every day while getting less done, then by all means ignore them — but the rest of us will want to memorize our keyboard shortcuts.

Everyone also knows that I do not use PowerPoint, have never used it, and generally avoid Microsoft products as if I was afflicted with a life-threatening allergy.

So that's why you've never heard me talk about keyboard shortcuts for PowerPoint.

Fortunately Scott Schwertly, famed presentation expert, has compiled a list for you. These are keyboard shortcuts you can use when actually presenting with PowerPoint. Extremely handy, if you ever do that. Check it out.

Last week CAT's own Bart Everson gave an invited talk at Xavier's long-running series on Across the Curriculum Thinking.

Watch Social Media, Social Justice on Vimeo

(See our wiki for related resources and credits.)