Category Archives: engagement

Teaching Naked – a presentation by Dr. Jose Bowen

This post was originally written by Reta Chaffee (Granite State College) who with her colleagues, attended this presentation.

On October 17, 2013,  Dr. José Bowen presented his workshop,  Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning, at Keene State College.  Dr. Bowen is Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.  He is also a musician, scholar and author.

He started the workshop with an overview of what Clayton Christensen describes as disruptive innovation, when a  seemingly “unattractive or inconsequential to industry” innovation eventually redefines the industry.  Think about film cameras, online banking or even the post office.   In the case of education, the disruption is the fact that “knowledge” is no longer confined to libraries and universities.  Knowledge and information can now be found online any time you want it.    And more particularly, knowledge via courses can be free in the case of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as modeled at some of the most prestigious universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford.   (See WIRED article about the next generation of MOOCs.)

So the challenge then is to find the value proposition for coming to class?   What is it that students cannot get on the Web that they can get in the classroom?  They can get lectures from highly qualified experts around the world.  They can find the content for most anything.  The premise of Dr. Bowen’s workshop is that it is the faculty interaction and the ability to change the student’s mind is what makes the difference.  While he advocates for getting the technology out of the classrooms (i.e. Teaching Naked), he does not advocate for dismissing technology as a tool.  In fact, he provides many examples of how you can use technology to deliver the content and communications outside of the classroom which allow for deeper, richer conversations and interactions when you are together with the students in the classroom.  One of his examples is having students watch a video prior to class and write a reaction, for example “What did you really like/dislike about ___.”  When the students get to class, he has them exchange index cards and write a rebuttal.   GSC instructor, Gail Poitrast, tried this in her own course and noted, “I asked students to watch a math video, take notes, and come to class with math questions on 3 separate index cards to share with others.  The students were engaged, and it exceeded my expectations.”    She also pointed out that it works out if it is well-planned which speaks to another point made by Dr. Bowen.   Course design is now more important given that content is so readily available online.   Instructors need to think more about how to engage the students with strategic learning activities.

In the end, he suggests that the answer to MOOCs are MBCs…or Massively Better Classrooms.   To learn more about Jose Bowen and Teaching Naked, you can watch the 17 minute TedX video or visit his website   Teaching Naked.

Anatomy of Academic Technology Support

When faculty think of our Academic Technology unit I suspect their mind races right to questions about how to solve a technology conundrum. Sure, that’s part of it but faculty can really benefit from our expertise and our broad experience.  We’ve worked with, collaborated with, completed projects for, and listened and learned from hundreds of faculty who have brought us unique instructional challenges. Some of those challenges are easily resolved but the tough ones are disguised as “solvable with technology”. The hard problems always have to do with the faculty perception that their design isn’t the problem; it’s the technology that’s not letting them get the result they want. It’s easy to understand why this happens since they’ve taught using the same or similar methodology multiple times and it’s been pretty successful. If technology would just let them do “X” then everything would be perfect.

When we work with faculty we’ll start with a standard question: “what are you trying to do”? It’s a simple question but it supports a conversation about the strategies and the motivation behind the design approach. This is where the collaboration begins. The benefit to faculty is it encourages them to talk through the process with an unbiased and non-judgmental person. We ask questions. They explain. We offer suggestions. Remember, we’ve worked with hundreds of faculty and have a lot of experience with good ideas and can spot a poor idea a mile away.

Here’s the thing: faculty tend to get stuck doing the same things the same way. In fact, many may have the experience building courses, but basically it’s the same course a hundred times rather than a hundred different courses.

So my message to faculty is this: the AT unit can help solve technology problems but we’re also adept at addressing instructional challenges that have nothing to do with tech and everything to do with design.

Drop by and visit us in our new location at Cheshire House. We would love to talk with you about your courses.

1 on 1 Feedback

What is the most powerful teaching tool there is? Probably one on one feedback about a student’s performance.  A new iPad video tool, Coach’s Eye, can help you do that.

Coach’s Eye, as the name suggests, was developed for critiquing a physical performance like swimming, track and tennis. It does that “swimmingly”… but it has the potential to give one on one feedback to any student performance:

  • Dance
  • Conducting
  • Theater performance
  • Student teaching
  • Nurse-patient interactions
  • Student presentations

It works like this: With your iPad you make a video of a student performance. You can then re-run the video while you do an audio commentary, stopping the film and commenting, drawing on the film. It’s your own Beli-strator.

The review of the video could be done in many ways:

  • By the student themselves
  • By the student first and then the teacher
  • By the student and teacher together
  • By the teacher alone and sharing the resulting video with a student

Each method would result in the kind of feedback that a student would hear and value. It’s a powerful tool that would not only engage students but result in real learning.

Here is a sample from the Coach’s Eye website:  swing

Notice that there is nothing professional about the video-taking. It’s all in the expertise of the commentator.

After watching that video I feel like I could take a swing and do better!

Right now, all the examples on the Coach’s Eye website are physical education.  But I can see that changing as teachers discover this tool and flood the pages with examples in many disciplines.  How could you use this in your discipline?