Monday, September 14, 2009

Teaching without Walls: Life Beyond the Lecture

Wow, it felt great today to have an opportunity to share my experiences from my face-to-face art history teaching innovations at Sierra College with intrigued educators from around the country in Teaching without Walls: Life Beyond the Lecture! The ELI staff, Carie Page, Veronica Diaz and Malcolm Brown, were delightful and incredibly professional to work with. I was elated to learn that my webinar drew the largest crowd thus far from their amazing webinar lineup which was quite an honor. We had roughly 165 registrations as of last Friday.

As usual, there wasn't enough time to answer all the questions that surface in presentation room but I'm more than happy to continue the discussion about my teaching innovations here. For those of you who couldn't join us for Teaching Without Walls: Life Beyond the Lecture, I hope you'l keep you come back and visit my blog frequently, as I'll be sure to share the public archive when ELI makes it available.

I quickly reviewed the room's chat box before I left and recall there were a few questions about using VoiceThread that I could address here. First, there were concerns about FERPA and VoiceThread. This is a terrific question and, I think, anyone with student privacy concerns will be more inclined to consider using VoiceThread over many other web 2.0 tools because of the security options that are built into the tool. If you explore my An Educator's Guide to Using VoiceThread, you'll find an overview of how to create a VoiceThread with student privacy in mind. Essentially, you can have your students link out to a VT and participate in a discussion that will be web-based but will not be "found" through the VoiceThread search function, in their "browse" page (if you don't want it to be) and it won't come up in Google or other web searches. So, the only folks who will have access to the link are those you share the link with.

Secondly, I had some questions about my lectures. As I explained, I shared my lectures with my students in PDFs that I wrote out by hand actually before I recorded any of the podcasts. When I began teaching online, I generated all my lectures in text format. I started teaching online in 2003, before podcasting was popular. I was teaching at a community college with absolutely zero instructional design or multimedia support. So I developed all my lectures in writing with text-based lectures. The PDFs included images that my students would refer to as they would read. Then, after that foundation had been set, I began to record the lectures a few years after that. I used the written lectures as my "transcripts." I am a mac user and the fastest and easiest program I found was Profcast which allowed me to present my lectures on a whim (in my office in front of nobody). I would create a Keynote that held all my images and just click through the images as I read my "transcript" and then at the end click "publish" and it created an .mp4 file that I uploaded to iTunes U. Voila!

That's how things began to flow. It took a long time and, no I did not receive any extra incentive or support for my work and, yes, I do believe I should have. I certainly believe faculty need to be supported and encouraged for taking risks and, in fact, I think they should be applauded when for being innovators.

How does your institution foster innovation? Leave a comment, let us know. I believe we need to cultivate more centers of innovation in higher education to promote and encourage new ways of thinking about teaching and learning. Our students need to see innovation modeled in the classroom so they can become innovators themselves in the world. This is so important.

I hope you will take some time to listen to my student interview from last semester. If you do, you will hear the voices of Ashley, Kiley and Heather, three of my students from my spring 2009 Women in Art class at Sierra College. I hope their thoughts will reasonate with you, as they have with me.

I am available for further discussion and consultation about using VoiceThread or innovations in pedagogy in an online or face-to-face environment. Don't hesitate to contact me via my blog or email! I look forward to it!
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