Sarah Robbins, the Director of Emerging Technologies at Media Sauce, Digital Pedagogy Consultant at the Indiana Writing project
This session was a lot different from many presentations I’ve seen. She had a computer set up to project in case she needed to run a demo, and the talk was largely a Q&A session. To establish herself, she explained her doctoral and consulting work. She went on to call herself an Uber Geek… and then the tech that she mentioned qualifying herself she progressed to list several of my favorite social networks. She uses Blackboard for registration and grades, and that’s about it. (Yay!)
So here are the answers from the questions:
- Typical format of her classes involve a group blog, chat tools depending on the materials and subject. She might add tech as there is interest or preference within the group.
- She uses facebook as a way to push out announcements rather than an email. That’s it. Maybe three to six times a semester. She referenced a new term “the creepy tree house,” where students know the place is fun and don’t believe faculty are cool if they’re there. Now that there is a chat feature, you can see that this would be a good space for office hours (just let the students approach you and not the other way around!)
- Uses Twitter, but not requiring SMS at this point… she doesn’t pay the student’s bills.
- When asked about SMS language degradation: she says that as an English teacher, part of her job is to teach them to understand the right way to use language in the correct setting… different for papers, email, and SMS for example. She doesn’t know what language will look like in 20 years, so this skill is most important. This type of technology is perfect for having these discussions, and this conversation is more important than ever.
- When asked about her dislike of CMS she recommended Angel. Very extendable and adaptable and she says they really understand where technology is going. Recommends looking for the type of tools that students might use on their own. Shows them learning can happen anywhere. Helps them learn to be lifelong learners.
- Used VoiceThread to show how she’s teaching composition. There’s no writing, She wants to understand and grade their process more so than the final project. Can use a project like this to teach them how to change someone’s mind. Also uses SecondLife since the avatar is a walking, talking rhetorical construct.
- As a rhetoric teacher, she can do a lot with web 2.0 avatars and profiles. Why do people choose the information they choose to represent themselves? Students do analyses of their own avatars.
- I become more and more grateful for my interpersonal communication degree as I pay more and more attention to online culture. This stuff wasn’t happening when I was working on my BA, but I did do one paper on gender identity in MUDs and MOOs. This area is a really exciting area of study!
- A librarian (yay!) mentioned her teaching tends to be a one-shot session and asked about how to incorporate technology with such limited time. Robbins didn’t have much of a tech answer but did mention a “crazy” librarian at Notre Dame who dresses as a pirate to introduce the idea of plagiarism. Recommended focusing on tools that students can latch on to out of class and focus on making their life easier. She specifically mentioned Zotero. Thought that if we could sell the idea that we’re saving them time they might want to spend more time in the library or getting help from librarians. She mentioned a librarian at Ball State who SELLS it. Here are 5 reasons you need the library. 4/5 are technology driven. 5/5 are about making their lives better. Recommended a gateway experience of ease to encourage users to come back later.
- Audience member summed it up well: Blackboard is about teaching. Web 2.0 tools are about learning. Not incompatible, good teacher can make any work. But in general these two ideas are opposed. The administrators that are making decisions aren’t in the trenches, and they don’t see that the contemporary CMS systems aren’t meeting the needs.
- Some places are requiring 24/7 instructors. Robbins said this is a personal preference. She’s on all the time, so she doesn’t mind if they contact her all the time. We have to decide what our rules will be. We didn’t really have to do that before. Recommended distributed technology: some technologies for some spheres of her life, some for others, logs into each according to who she wants to be available to. Realize that students have to make the same decision about us.
- It’s not about the tools, it’s the strategy. When students graduate they need some level of technoliteracy. They need to be able to say “we have a problem, here’s the tool to solve it.” It’s not about having the tool for the sake of the tool.
This was the most refreshing hour I’ve spent doing anything in a while. Robbins echoed my thoughts and concerns in so many areas, and I’m excited to realize there are more of us.