We're pleased to invite Xavier faculty to Tulane University's Sparking Success Conference on January 10-11 of next year. This prestigious event, hosted close to home, offers a unique platform for sharing your expertise and learning from fellow educators.
Why Attend or Present?
Inspiring Sessions: Explore innovative teaching methods and research findings from esteemed colleagues. Gain fresh insights to elevate your teaching strategies and academic pursuits.
Professional Networking: Connect with peers from diverse disciplines, fostering collaborations and expanding your professional network.
Local Impact: Contribute to the local educational landscape by sharing your knowledge or attending sessions that align with your interests.
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.
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.
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.
I find that attending a teaching conference is a great way to get inspiration and new ideas, especially at the beginning of a semester (and a new year and a new decade). And this year we have one right in our own backyard!
The Center for Engaged Learning & Teaching (CELT) at Tulane has a similar mission as CAT+FD, and we support each other when possible. Plus, registration is free!
According to conference chair, Mallory Monaco Caterine, the 2020 Sparking Success Faculty Development Conference is shaping up to be a great event--with already over 150 faculty from around the New Orleans area signed up to collaborate and learn together. The more, the merrier! I know it falls during our registration, but Jay Todd and I are presenting, and we'd love to see you there!
Writing in the Journal of Service Learning in Higher Education in January of 2018, Dr. T. Andrew Carswell of Gannon University, a Catholic university in Erie, Pennsylvania, describes a research project undertaken to discover the capacity of service-learning courses to change student attitudes about poverty. His premise is that we know through other research that Americans are as likely to attribute poverty to lack of effort among the poor as to circumstances beyond their control. Attitudes of attribution also affect views of social programs to address poverty.
Meanwhile service-learning courses have been shown through research to improve student outcomes for citizenship, empathy, compassion, and understanding of social problems. Students are more likely to exhibit greater "efficacy to make the world a better place" (Carswell). Though this type of goal makes sense for a course at a Catholic university such as Gannon, or Xavier, and many liberal arts schools do include such goals in their missions, traditional-classroom courses often bypass such goals in favor of more academically assessable outcomes.
Students in Dr. Carswell's upper-level capstone psychology class engaged in 30 hours of community service working alongside underprivileged people, while studying poverty in the classroom. One of the outcomes of the course was that students would have a more positive view of people living in poverty, and Dr. Carswell set out to measure whether this was achieved.
Students in the course chose from four community groups to work with, including an after-school program, a food bank, a group that worked with immigrants and refugees, and a group that worked with recently released criminal offenders. The option let students decide what type of work they wanted to do, and many worked with more than one group. Classroom contact hours were reduced, (perhaps a luxury of a senior capstone course) and writing assignments asked students to draw connections between scholarly articles on poverty and experiences at the sites. Attitudes were gauged using pre and post-course completion of what's called the Undergraduate Perceptions of Poverty Tacking Survey.
Dr. Carswell found that student attitudes improved toward social welfare programs, and toward their own willingness to take action to help those in poverty. Student belief that people in poverty have limited access to valuable resources also increased. However, there was no real change in student attitudes toward perceived differences between the poor and non-poor. Nor was there an increase in belief in rights to basic necessities. Dr. Carswell discusses several possible reasons for the non-change in perceptions of in-group/out-group differences, including research that suggests this type of intergroup contact best affects intergroup attitudes when the groups are of equal status and the contact is cooperative in nature.
This last point relates to the ongoing movement within service-learning to effect meaningful change and to avoid perpetuating a classist, "service"-based hierarchy. This broad goal may prove service-learning's most elusive. (See my interview with Dr. Randy Stoecker on this problem http://cat.xula.edu/food/conversation-63/.) And we should also keep in mind that Dr. Carswell's sample was 18 students in one class. Yet, his results are encouraging when we consider the degree to which misperceptions about the poor permeate our society and drive public policy. Dr. Carswell's students and many others who complete courses like these will go on to shape policy and help shift perceptions as they move into professional society.
Though there is much work to be done, examples like these affirm the vital work of service-learning and higher education.
Have you considered publishing work in the area of Pedagogical Scholarship or the Scholarship of Teaching? This is highly valued by the university if it reaches the stage of public dissemination. There are many topics we might have in mind to study, but just like any other scholarly endeavor, it must be planned out in advance, not just written up as an afterthought. There are things to consoder beforehand, especially if your discipline scholarship is very removed from the education and social science fields. Planning the project appropriately will help you avoid creating aspects that will significant affect, and even void, your data collection when tracing student learning and opinions. (IRB approval, anyone?)
If you missed the CAT+FD talk given by Megan Osterbur (Political Science) and Charles Gramlich (Psychology), they outlined the steps needed to be taken for successful scholarly teaching projects. The process begins with reflection and questions, then project design and data collection, and finally analysis and publication. The CAT+FD office is also uniquely qualified to help with this process, especially the project design and finding an appropriate journal as the new home for your brilliant work. The quote that Meg shared about this field really stuck with me and was so familiar when I think about my colleagues here at Xavier and what many of us do on a daily basis already.
“Scholarly teaching is what every one of us should be engaged in every day that we are in a classroom, in our office with students, tutoring, lecturing, conducting discussions, all the roles we play pedagogically. Our work as teachers should meet the highest scholarly standards of groundedness, of openness, of clarity and complexity. But it is only when we step back and reflect systematically on the teaching we have done, in a form that can be publicly reviewed and built upon by our peers, that we have moved from scholarly teaching to the scholarship of teaching.” (Shulman 2004, p. 166).
Please do not hesitate to contact the CAT+FD staff if you are thinking about advancing your scholarship in this field. Also, if you missed the presentation and believe this is a topic you would like to see offered again, please let us know in the comments below.
So, have you started working on yours? No? Really?
Unless you have superhuman time management abilities, odds are you have not. However, that doesn't mean that you can't do a few things now that will make that job easier next August (or next first week of September).
We at CAT+FD are NOT a Rank and Tenure advisory entity. We do not offer suggestions or advice and ALWAYS refer you to your department for the specific culture and model of success they have defined. And I will not breech that boundary here. I will, however, relay some of the points made by the Rank and Tenure committee last May in their open forum that relate to CAT+FD in general.
CAT workshops were mentioned specifically be name numerous times!! (huzzah!!!) In reference to seeing you progress and develop as an educator, the current committee feels that one of your best resources are the NUMEROUS CAT workshops put on by Elizabeth, Jay, Tiera, Bart, Janice, Karen, and the whole CAT+ staff. The R and T committee highly encouraged faculty to go to these and learn from them. You can always find upcoming events here: http://cat.xula.edu/events/ More than simply attending, it is important to really think about the workshop ideas and suggestions and, if you choose to incorporate them, reflect on if they were successful or not in your hands.
As the center formerly known as CAT is developing into its new identity as CAT+FD, I am personally very excited to take advantage of all of the programming that will now be geared towards scholarly development as well as balancing all faculty obligations with each other as well as with life.
So keep track of everything you attend this year and, as always, don't forget to sign in. If something strikes you as particularly interesting we here at CAT+FD are more than happy to continue the conversation with you to help you successfully translate that workshop topic to success in the classroom.
CAT+FD Faculty in Residence/First Year Faculty Mentor
In a past blog, Enhance your (online) classes with virtual tours, I provided an overview of ways to take your students on virtual tours along with some sample sites. Well, in order to help you find just what you're looking for, Google offers the Cultural Institute and the site has already been curated for you--Art Projects, Historic Moments, World Wonders. You can also search for works by artist, artwork, collections and gallery. Or just do a general search on a topic to see what you can find! At present, the home page is chock full of Asian art exhibits of various media and from a variety of countries and regions. A personal favorite from China is on Traditional Dress from the North. But there is also an exhibit from Ford's Theater in D.C. and one on The History of the Italian Resistance in WWII.
But what is particularly useful, is that you can create your own gallery and then send your students to it. You can tailor which parts of various museums they see as well as annotate the pieces. For example, the user Obraza has put together a collection of Greek sculpture from several different museums and provided information on each work. This collection has been made public for others to use as well. So, when searching for certain topics, you'll find not only collections from the museums themselves, but from individuals as well.
In order to assist galleries, museums and archives to put their content online, Google also has created Google Open Gallery. Here is a video showing how a comic strip gallery in Belgium used the tool:
I find this resource quite exciting and am already searching for exhibits for my French students this summer. Please share with us ways you are using Google Cultural Institute.
How can higher education best address global environmental challenges? How can we most meaningfully teach and research about environmental issues? How can we cultivate our inner lives through active engagement with environmental challenges?
This workshop explores the contribution of contemplative practices to scholarly inquiry and teaching in environmental studies. Through discussions with distinguished scholars, focused conversations among colleagues, artistic exercises, and regular contemplative practice (meditation, yoga, journaling, and nature walks), participants will investigate ways to deepen their teaching, research, and lives at this historic moment of environmental intensification.
Part workshop and part retreat, this 6-day summer institute provides an opportunity to step back from the frenetic pace of our lives, and cultivate our inner resources and nurture the resiliency we need as teachers committed to education on a fragile and wild planet.
Looking for a conference that is exciting, collegial and a great value? Consider submitting a proposal to the Research on Teaching and Learning Summit. Formerly known as The Georgia Conference on College & University Teaching, the Research on Teaching and Learning Summit has been renamed to underscore the commitment to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, with an emphasis on research and evidence. Now in its third decade, the Summit is designed to provide college and university faculty the opportunity to discuss and share experiences and innovative teaching techniques. It offers concurrent sessions on cutting-edge issues in pedagogy and higher education in a relaxed, congenial atmosphere. There are also opportunities for participants to network with fellow educators.
The deadline for proposals has been extended to December 12, 2014, and the conference will be held on February 20-21, 2015, at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA.