Get New Ideas for Teaching with CIT’s “Visit a Classroom” Program

Would you like to get new ideas for teaching?  Want to meet other Duke faculty, see them teach, and discover discover what works in their classroom?

Beginning this Fall, the Duke Center for Instructional Technology is inaugurating our Visit a Classroom program just for Duke faculty.  Visit a Classroom is a structured way to talk with other faculty about teaching and reflect on new ideas you can try in your own class.

How does Visit a Classroom work?

  1. Sign up to participate.
  2. Meet and have lunch with two other faculty participants from other disciplines.
  3. During the semester, observe at least one class taught by each of the two other faculty participants.  Take notes and reflect on your own teaching.
  4. Meet for another lunch to discuss what you learned about your own teaching by observing the other classes and share stories and observations about teaching at Duke.

The Visit a Classroom program provides you with an opportunity to celebrate good teaching, see the classroom from the perspective of a student, and formulate plans and ideas to enhance your own teaching and classroom experience.

Applications for the Visit a Classroom program are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year.  It is available to any Duke faculty member or instructor teaching during the current semester.  Graduates students interested in classroom observations can sign up for a similar program offered by the Graduate School.

Flipping the Duke Political Science Graduate “Math Camp”

One of the problems faced by many Ph.D. and M.A. programs in the social sciences is how to prepare graduate students for the advanced mathematical and statistical concepts they will be using as part of their research and methods classes.  Many graduate programs, including Duke, have a “math camp” to give them the necessary background to apply math concepts in ways they will be using them in their work.

However, students come to graduate studies with varying background and levels of interest in math.  With only a short time available to get the students started – Duke’s math camp is only two weeks – how can faculty use this time most effectively?

David Siegel, a faculty member in Political Science, has prepared an online, self-paced video course that students can use before they arrive at Duke to ensure they understand basic concepts and the practical use of math in social science research so that the two week math camp can be used for more in-depth work and customized help for incoming graduate students.

Screenshot of video by Siegel

Siegel prepared the video course using a check-out recording kit and consulting from the CIT over the past few months.  Students can use a pdf syllabus containing links to over one hundred short videos that explain how to apply basic mathematical operations in Social Science, recognize and avoid pitfalls in applying mathematics and statistics in research work and attain the basic mathematical literacy required for published research.  The online video lectures are accompanied by a textbook and online video problem sessions. Students can use exercises at the end of each textbook chapter and additional online problem sets for practice.

The course is being used by incoming Political Science graduate students this summer for a “flipped” version of Duke’s “math camp” when they arrive in the Fall.  In addition to making the materials available online for use by other political science departments, Siegel is reaching out to faculty in other disciplines in which graduate math training is not uniform to adapt the online materials to include examples for those disciplines.

Siegel will assess student reactions to the videos and problems sets and the effectiveness of the “flipped” math camp this Fall.

Duke faculty interested in flipping their courses and exploring creative ways to solve student learning problems can contact the Center for Instructional Technology to talk about ideas and campus resources available for their instruction with a consultant.

2014 NMC Horizon report outlines teaching and learning trends

Each year, the New Media Consortium (NMC), in cooperation with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, produces a report summarizing the latest findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project that identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have an impact on teaching and learning.

The report looks at key trends that are impacting higher eduction, significant challenges and important developments in educational technology that could have a short-term and longer-term influence on the classroom.  The technology trends discussed in the report this year include flipped classrooms, learning analytics, 3d printing, and games and gamification.

The full report is available in pdf format at the NMC website.

Checking in on the Flipped Classroom Fellows

The Center for Instructional Technology’s Flipped Classroom Fellowship kicked off on October 11th with twelve faculty from a wide range of disciplines, from Chemistry and Physics to Public Policy, Literature and Romance Studies.  The Fellowship will continue through the end of this academic year.

So far, the Fellows have participated in several activities, including writing and sharing learning objectives for their course, exploring ideas on how to provide students with learning materials before class, class activities that can support goals for their course, and getting feedback on student learning.  A flipped class is more than just guided discussion or problem-solving sessions for the students – the Fellows are learning about structured activities that allow students to apply what they learn in class sessions.

Some examples of the flipped classroom structured activities we have looked at so far include:

think-pair-share – students in pairs consider a problem first individually, then as a pair, and then share their ideas with the class,

  • minute paper – students are given a prompt (what is the main point of X? what do you need more information about?, etc) to reflect and write about for  a brief period,
  • unfolding case study – students in small groups are given a case study that offers points for discussion and decisions, and then continues with new information for additional decisions,
  • gallery walk – students in groups post responses to an issue or problem around the room, then critique the work of other groups as they walk from one post to another; at the final post, each group reports on the work in front of them,
  • jigsaw – students learn in “expert groups” and then return to “home groups” to share their knowledge.

In addition to sharing ideas on activities, the Fellows are participating in Teaching Squares, observing each other’s classes as a means of self-reflection on their own teaching.

Updates from the Fellows will be posted to the CIT blog as the Fellowship progresses through April 2014.

If you are interested in flipping your classroom or using flipped classroom techniques, contact the CIT to speak with a consultant.


2013 International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning sessions online

In October, the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) held its thirteenth annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This three day event drew faculty and participants from around the globe to share their work in the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Sessions ranged from panels that looked at trends in evaluating student learning and teaching methods to presentations by faculty conducting studies of student learning and teaching approaches in their own classes.

ISSOTL has made some of the sessions available in streaming format online.  Videos of the plenary sessions and four concurrent sessions are now available at the ISSOTL 2013 website.

The Saturday plenary, “Changing Higher Education One Step at a Time”, included Duke faculty member Julie Reynolds.

The Friday plenary session “Visual Deaf Space Classroom Ecology: Lessons in Learning from Gallaudet University” featured a faculty member at Gallaudet discussing how they design spaces for student/faculty interaction at the university and the role of visual communication when working with students.  From the same session, a presentation on visual essays gives a look at alternatives to the traditional student paper that can be used for writing assignments.

The concurrent session “Beyond Coverage: Using Threshold Concepts and Decoding the Disciplines to Focus on the Most Essential Learning” looks at how faculty can concentrate on “core” concepts in a discipline to determine what is essential when teaching a course.


Faculty presentation, October 9 – “See you / see me: An interactive real-time online course”

Join us Wednesday, October 9 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm in Perkins 217 for a presentation by Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Statistical Sciences.

Çetinkaya-Rundel teaches using active methods, to encourage team-based and problem-focused learning. When she decided to teach an online version of her campus course in summer 2013, it was important to her to keep those active, engaging teaching methods front-and-center. In this presentation, she will describe how she adapted student-centric active learning pedagogies from the brick-and-mortar version of Statistics 101: Data Analysis and Statistical Reasoning to a real-time online format, to maintain high student engagement and course rigor.

The class was the first online course offered in the Department of Statistical Sciences, and thus was experimental, but was also a significant change in direction from the increasingly popular “massive open online courses” (MOOCs). The course was open only to Duke students and closely paralleled the content of the regular session Statistics 101 course of the same name. The most significant difference was that the summer course was conducted entirely online and required daily real-time participation by web conference. In this presentation, Dr. Çetinkaya-Rundel will explore the lessons learned from teaching this course, both for online teaching as well as improvements that can be brought back to the in-person class.

Registration is not required for this event. Light refreshments will be available beginning at 3:30 pm, the presentation begins at 4 pm.


Flipping the Classroom Fellowship begins

The Center for Instructional Technology will be working with a group of Duke faculty during the 2013-14 academic year on integrating active learning in the classroom.  Our Flipping the Classroom Faculty Fellowship brings together a diverse group of faculty to share faculty experiences using active learning techniques to achieve greater student learning, and to implement new techniques in their classes.

Participants in the program will be meeting about every three weeks during the academic year.  Activities will include discussion of and practice with active learning techniques, developing course outlines with learning objectives and assessments to guide activities, and visits to Duke classrooms to observe activities.  Faculty in the Fellowship will also develop assessments to determine if their goals of increasing student participation and learning are achieved.

During the next few months, we hope to have periodic updates from our Fellows about their classroom activities and what they are learning as they explore new ways of “flipping” their classes.

We are excited to work with the following faculty as we kick off the program.

  • Liz Turner, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Duke Global Health Institute


Teaching IDEAS: Flipping your classroom

The Duke Graduate School’s annual series of Teaching IDEAS workshops will be hosting a session on Flipping Your Classroom on Monday, September 16, from 12:00—1:30 in Perkins 217.  The presenter will be Barbi Honeycutt, Director of Graduate Professional Development and Teaching Programs, The Graduate School; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult and Higher Education; and founder of Flip It Consulting, LLC.

Most learning environments are structured around the person doing the talking. The energy and focus are directed towards the person at the front of the room. In this type of environment, the instructor starts planning by asking the question, “What am I going to talk about?” But in a flipped environment, this structure is reversed. The participants are the focus. In this type of environment, the instructor starts planning by asking the question, “What do the participants need to do?” This fundamental shift in the question changes the whole dynamic of the learning environment. In this session, the FLIP means to “Focus on your Learners by Involving them in the Process.”

You can preregister for the event at this site.   There will also be a Graduate School Teaching IDEAS workshop on Effective Use of Clickers on September 26th.

iPads for ethnographic field research

Guest post by Jonathan Dueck, Thompson Writing Program Lecturing Fellow.  Dueck is the 2011 winner of the Writing 20 Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing.

Ethnomusicologists produce a lot of what James Clifford slyly called “pre-texts”–fieldnotes, recordings, photographs, and a broader hodgepodge of notes that will someday constitute analysis, theory, et cetera. I spend a lot of time teaching students how to make and work with these pre-texts.

In my dissertation research, I eschewed the standard-issue small notepad and took my fieldnotes by jotting bits of text down on pieces of paper at hand in a given site (bulletins at a church service, napkins at the cafe, et cetera). Then, as soon as I could following the event, I sat down with my beloved bike-friendly Apple Newton and copied my jottings into its Notepad–writing them up into much more detailed descriptive text, and “tagging” them with codes, as I went. The Newton synced with my Mac, which presented me with a big, searchable database of text. This made it easy for me to find fieldnotes about particular people, places, or ideas, and to pull them together to construct narratives. I’ve offered this workflow–jottings on whatever’s at hand; write-up ASAP on a mobile device or laptop; code, search, and thread your narrative together at the computer–as one strategy for fieldnote writing for students for several years.

Last spring, I began thinking of the ways that contemporary mobile technology could be a part of teaching about ethnographic “pre-texts.” Contemporary mobile devices differ from those of the Palm (and, geeks unite, the Newton era) in that they are designed to be online all the time–so users could collaborate on (in-the-cloud) field texts in real time. And, second, contemporary devices are designed to capture and annotate audiovisual media–video, photos, sound recordings–so users can produce media-rich field texts. I applied for and received a grant for 12 iPads to be loaned to one section of Writing 20 this past fall, and designed a pair of “pre-text” assignments to be pursued with the iPad. I wrote “paper” versions of the assignments to be used in the section of my course that didn’t receive iPads.

In the first of the assignments, I had students use an iPhone / iPad application called Mental Note to take jottings on a football game. The application allowed students to freely mix audio recordings, photo / video clips, sketches, and text. I asked students to pay attention to the relationship between sound sources and the spatial arrangement of fans in the stadium, hoping they would notice groupings of fans and the characteristic sounds and actities they engaged in. I had the students who produced their jottings on the iPad post a PDF of them to WordPress, and I asked students who took paper notes to scan and post them to WordPress. We selected several students’ jottings (as posted on WordPress) for viewing and discussion. The iPad made it easier to post and share these pre-texts, but the jottings students produced with iPads were not better than those made on paper, and actually had less in the way of free-form annotations of jotted text and drawings of space–which were, it turned out, key to our group discussion of sound and fan groups. In sum, I saw few important benefits in this activity that I’d attribute to the use of the iPad.

In the second assignment, I asked students in both sections to use any mobile device they had–regular cell phones, smartphones, or iPads–to Tweet their jottings of another football game. I asked students to focus their jottings on the sounds that were produced and / or audible on the field of play, and on shifts in “momentum,” here defined narrowly as our perceptions of the ways players co-ordinated their activities in time and space. Before the game, I asked students to send me their Twitter usernames, and I subsequently “followed” each of their Twitter feeds. For the next class period, I printed out my Twitter feed’s contents for the time period of the game. My resulting feed presented the jottings each student had made, interspersed in real time (right down to the microsecond) with one another. In class, we read the resulting collected jottings and highlighted moments where our perceptions aligned with one another, and moments where they diverged. We then discussed our highlighted notes together. Not only did our excercise result in a rich discussion of perspective in ethnographic representation, we also produced a remarkable, realtime record of sound and (social senses of) momentum during a game–which would be near-impossible to produce without mobile technology. In the future, I’d like to tie this second pre-text assignment to a group writing assignment, in which students would collaboratively write up a field narrative using their collected jottings. We could then extend our in-class discussion to authorship and its relationship to collaboration in ethnographic writing.

I am sure the iPad (and similar devices) will become more and more paper-like and that they will see further use in ethnographic research and writing. But for my work in teaching ethnographic writing, the collaborative, social dimensions of these devices were more useful than their (admittedly lovely) media capabilities.

Explore 3D in teaching – DDI offers 3D camera checkout

This academic year, the Duke Digital Initiative has been exploring how 3D might be used at Duke in teaching and learning.  Sparked by the interest in 3D films and development of standards for high definition television, new consumer displays and cameras have been appearing in the marketplace, making 3D video easier to use and within reach for the average consumer.  (Even YouTube has put options in place to allow for 3D video viewing in different formats.)

Some experimentation has been done for the past decade with the use of 3D video and displays in several fields.  In medicine and biology, 3D has been used to clarify procedures or processes; in art or the sciences, 3D can help to show relationships between objects in space or highlight textures and surfaces of objects that are being studied.


Duke Today recently featured an article on the DDI 3D exploration.  As part of this effort, DDI is piloting checkout of a limited number of 3D cameras to faculty and students in Spring 2011.

3d-aiptek1The Aiptek 3D camera shoots video in “side by side” format, an emerging standard used on the web and on consumer high definition televisions.  Video shot with the camera can be edited in iMovie and then uploaded for viewing in 3D on YouTube.  In addition, video from the cameras can be edited in the MPS Labs and, using the 3D Stereo Toolbox Lite plugin for Final Cut Pro available on a dedicated workstation in MPS West, can be converted to a format that can be viewed using inexpensive red/blue glasses in 3D on any dvd player and display.  Red/blue 3D glasses are available in the MPS.

Several users have uploaded videos shot with the Aiptek 3D video camera to YouTube - this short piece is a tour of a park in Springfield, Missouri.  You can use the 3D menu at the bottom of the video to choose the format you wish to use to view it (side by side, red/blue glasses, etc.)

If you would like to reserve one of the Aiptek 3D cameras for a two-week checkout, you can fill out our online reservation form.  You can find out more about the camera and our 3D exploration at the DDI website or contact the DDI 3D exploration team for more information.