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Join Our Team:
We’re Hiring an Instructional Technologist

instructional technology

Trinity College is hiring an instructional technologist this fall. (It’s a replacement position*, not an expansion of the group.)

While the ad speaks for itself to some extent, I did want to highlight some other reasons why this is a good moment to join us.

The college has made significant investments recently in the educational technology group, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future:

  • We’re now a Domain of One’s Own campus, with a pilot currently underway and a more formal rollout slated for the spring.
  • With the help of a donor and some of our own money, we’ve been investigating emerging technologies such as 3D printing (available to the campus for free), virtual reality machines, and drones. One of the instructional technologists has been leading a working group to get a policy approved for the campus, and has helped kick-start a student drone club.
  • The college has just added a digital scholarship coordinator, Christina Boyles, and is building a Digital Scholarship Studio, which will come online in January. This will add two learning spaces, a recording studio, an imaging room, and a couple of meeting rooms to the usable space of the library.
  • Educational Technology is housed in a newly-redesigned space that supports collaborative student work as well as innovative technological pedagogy.
  • We’re doing a lot of cool projects–we were part of the #prmapathon for Puerto Rico a couple of weeks back, and are launching a physical computing working group this fall. We support a portfolio program that we expect to grow over the next couple of years.
  • We develop courses for edX, and have some more very exciting courses in the pipeline.
  • Instructional technologists have freedom to teach, both in the form of workshops but also in Trinity’s J-Term program (one instructional technologist, Cheryl Cape, is team-teaching a course on modeling financial data in our Bloomberg lab; the other, Dave Tatem, is team-teaching a course on drones and mapping) and interdisciplinary courses in research methods.
  • I take professional development seriously as a manager, and send people to conferences and help them make presentations and publish articles.

Over the past couple of years, we have laid the groundwork for some major developments in educational technology and digital scholarship, and they are starting to bear fruit. We welcome applications for the position, ideally before Thanksgiving; in the meantime, if I can provide any helpful information about Trinity or about our group, please don’t hesitate to be in touch!

*The person who’s leaving is going to an instructional design job at a startup in Brooklyn.

Photo “OG Instructional Technology” by Flickr user Tom Woodward / Creative Commons licensed BY-NC-2.0

Mapathon for Puerto Rico: THIS FRIDAY (9/29) from 2pm-5pm

Screenshot of OpenStreetMap

Please join us this Friday (9/29) from 2pm-5pm in the Blume Lab (LITC 119) for a mapathon for Puerto Rico for hurricane relief.

Come help with relief efforts on the ground in Puerto Rico by contributing your time to open-source mapping.

Following the recent hurricane, people around the world are using the OpenStreetMap platform to give their time to hurricane relief efforts. The Red Cross in Puerto Rico has identified two tasks we can help with that would contribute to their efforts. During the mapathon, we will teach people how to help with these efforts through mapping, and we will map together. We’ll be participating with people at several other schools, including Columbia University’s Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities & Columbia University Libraries.

No prior experience with mapping or with open source efforts is necessary. No knowledge of local terrain in Puerto Rico is necessary. Come at any time during the afternoon. (We’ll have light snacks.)

If you have any questions, please contact Christina Boyles (christina.boyles@trincoll.edu) or Jason B. Jones (jason.jones@trincoll.edu).

Here is a printable version of the flyer:

Download (PDF, 335KB)

We will be editing in OpenStreetMap, a project that aims to make geographic data freely accessible. Christina has pulled together a handout of how to edit in OpenStreetMap, which you can consult here:

Download (PDF, 720KB)

ToW: Make Everything More Accessible with SensusAccess

Tip of the Week Keeping up with reading is a critical part of college success, and so making sure course materials are available in a variety of accessible formats is important. For example, some faculty and students with low vision use screen readers to navigate the web and read documents. Others need documents in Braille. Anyone can require accommodations at different points–for example, students with concussion often can’t look at a screen, but need to be able to keep up with coursework.

To respond to this need, Trinity has subscribed to a software service called SensusAccess, which converts files from less accessible formats into more accessible ones. To take only the handiest example: SensusAccess can take a PDF document, even a basic one made by a copy machine, and turn it into an MP3, an e-book, a plain text file, or even just a PDF with semantic tags that allow a screen reader to better describe the content. It can also take a batch of text and give you an accessible version, or convert a web page.

SensusAccess is available to anyone with a Trinity email address. Just go to the main SensusAccess page, identify the kind of material you want to convert, and follow the on-screen instructions. After you’re done, you’ll get an email indicating the file is ready. One of the great things about the service is that it’s self-contained, so anyone can request a file be converted at any time–there’s no need to wait for business hours.

If you have any questions about working with SensusAccess, please don’t hesitate to contact anyone in Educational Technology!

Looking back at #Domains17

Trinity Ed Tech folks at #Domains17

#Domains17

This week, most of the educational technology group went to Oklahoma City for the Domains 2017 conference, jointly hosted by Reclaim Hosting and the University of Oklahoma.

We went because we are quite close to setting up a pilot instance of Trinity Domains, a Domain of One’s Own project (see also: A Domain of One’s Own in a Post-Ownership Society) that will give faculty, students, and staff the digital infrastructure to stake out their digital identity and develop new, exciting forms of scholarship. Since setup is imminent, the conference seemed like a good way to see what other schools were doing, and to make connections for when we inevitably need help.

We’re launching the project because we want to be able to support as much open, web-based teaching, learning, and scholarship as possible, in as many forms as possible, and we want to make it as easy as possible for people to experiment online.

I don’t think any of us at Trinity were well-positioned to do a proper “review” of #Domains17, as we don’t yet have access to the Domain of One’s Own setup, and so don’t have fingertip knowledge of what’s easy, what’s hard, or anything like that.

In lieu of that review, then, here’re a few thoughts:

  • #Domains17 was a great short-conference experience, at an interesting venue and with lots of very friendly, collaboration-minded people. Lauren Brumfield, Adam Croom, Jim Groom, and everyone associated with the conference deserve a lot of credit. 13/10, would attend another event.
  • Martha Burtis’s keynote, “Neither Locked Out Nor Locked In,” is a really great starting point for thinking tangibly about some of the reasons one might want to pursue a Domains project.
  • It also primed me with a thought that held up very well throughout the conference: Her entire section on “WordPress as Symbol and Choice” decries the fact that WordPress often becomes the default way to inhabit a domain of one’s own, which is . . . problematic. Students and faculty need to be free to have domains with different technology options, even if we all have to stretch a bit in terms of what we support, and what people have to support on their own a little bit.
  • Once you’d heard that talk from Martha, it was hard not to realize that the conference schedule was quite WordPress focused. There were more examples of “here’s how to do a cool thing in WordPress” than there were examples of “here’s a successful instructional use of Domains.” This is neither good nor bad as such, but it was just interesting to see the lay of the land. Since we have two multisite WordPress installations on campus, the temptation to default to WordPress will be something to both resist and work with.
  • Switching gears a little: On a personal note it was neat to see Jon Udell talk about annotation. It’s probably not the thing he’d pick to be known for, but I’ve shown his screencast on Wikipedia & the heavy metal umlaut to thousands of people over the years.

There will be more thoughts on this over the summer—and I’d certainly invite Amy and Dave and Sue to chime in with their impressions—as we get started. Certainly it’s the case that I jotted down a ton of things to look into as soon as we’re up and running, which I hope to be able to report on soon!

Photo with all four of us by Tom Woodward, shared under a Creative Commons-BY-SA-2.0 license

Summer Virtual Reading Group

medieval marginalia
As discussed at SITT this year, we’d like to use Hypothes.is this summer as a way to collaboratively read a few essays about digital pedagogy and research.

To play along, make sure you have an account with hypothes.is, and, ideally, install the extension for Chrome. (You don’t have to use Chrome–you can also annotate things using the website.) The explanatory video is pretty good:

Once you’ve signed up, go here to join the Trinity Ed Tech group: https://hypothes.is/groups/pDxZ7oAr/trinity-ed-tech.

Then, let’s start reading! We’ll start with Wired.com’s overview of the A Domain of One’s Own movement, which we’re piloting here at Trinity beginning this fall. For the best effectiveness, try to post comments to the Hypothes.is group before June 9.

Our second reading will be Natalie Houston’s essay on Text Analysis–we’ll try to comment on that between June 10 and June 23.

We’ll determine subsequent readings later in the summer.

Photo “2 chickens, a duck, and a priest?” by Flicker user Aria Nadii / Creative Commons licensed BY-NC-ND-2.0

Join Our Growing Digital Scholarship Team at Trinity!

screenshot of a story map

Why Work on Digital Scholarship at Trinity?

A week or so ago, Trinity College posted a job opening for a digital scholarship coordinator, a position designed to build on recent momentum in digital humanities and other forms of born-digital scholarship. We anticipate that the successful candidate will work with faculty interested in conceptualizing new methods or modes of research, as well as with students looking to build digital research skills for a thesis or other forms of scholarship. The digital scholarship coordinator will work closely with the educational technology group and the library in support of all this work.

The digital scholarship coordinator posting speaks for itself, but I did want to highlight a few things that might make this post even more attractive than I think it already is:

  • We’re currently beginning to design a digital scholarship studio in the library, which the successful candidate will have significant input in finalizing and implementing.
  • We are seriously evaluating partnering with Reclaim Hosting’s Domain of One’s Own program to ensure that our students and faculty have the digital infrastructure to develop exciting new projects. I am not a gambler by nature, but there is every possibility that we’ll have reached an agreement by the time interviews for this position start.
  • Staff support for digital scholarship projects is already quite sophisticated–we have expertise in WordPress, GIS, timelines, 3D printing, and more.

We’ve been building toward being able to make this move for several years now, and it’s a very exciting development in Information Services that we’re able to go forward.

The most compelling reaason to come to Trinity as the digital scholarship coordinator is that we have terrific faculty who are already doing exciting work in this field. While this blog post can’t begin to do justice to the rich environment you’ll find here, let me just briefly mention a few we’ve either supported or are in development:

  • Jack Dougherty (Educational Studies) draws on digital history and data visualization tools to reveal the relationship between schooling and housing over time. Examples include On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs (currently hosted at TrInFo Cafe’s PressBooks; under contract with Amherst College Press); Data Visualization for All, Web Writing(U of Michigan P, 2015), and Writing History in the Digital Age(U of Michigan P, 2013). You can see his course syllabuses on our WordPress site.
  • Jack Gieseking (American Studies) uses digital methods and analytics to visualize and make public hitherto invisible lgbtq histories and geographies. All of his work is online at http://jgieseking.org/cv, but let me specifically call attention to two ongoing projects, The Queer Public Archives and the Trans Tumblr Project, as well as his course on Data-Driven Cultures.
  • Alden Gordon (Fine Arts) has worked with his students to develop art+Hartford: A website that catalogs public art in the Hartford area, with photographs and scholarly entries for each item. The site is designed for mobile devices, and includes customizable walking tours of the area’s public art. Alden is also working on a digital mapping project illustrating travel in the 18thC.
  • Seth Markle (History/International Studies) is working with the Hartford Public Library’s Hartford History Center to develop a digital archive about the history of hip hop in Hartford.
  • A variety of faculty have developed assignments that build on mapping or other forms of digital storytelling that aren’t currently publicly available. Cheryl Greenberg (History) had students crowdsource a story map (pictured above) showing how the civil rights movement unfolded in a small Mississippi town. Zayde Antrim (History/International Studies) has students working concretely with maps. Beth Notar (Anthropology) and Molly Helt (Psychology/Neuroscience) have students produce digital artifacts during the semester. This list is very partial!

When it comes to teaching, the resourcefulness of the faculty is even more apparent, using tools such as hypothes.is, Zotero, Gelphi, QGIS, Google Docs, WordPress, and much else besides to accomplish myriad pedagogical goals. Some faculty also have student-driven research projects that could potentially become more open and public, but could use help making that happen. We have a dedicated, innovative faculty, and are poised to take further steps in the realm of digital scholarship and pedagogy.

If you have questions about the position, please feel free to get in touch! Again, the full job listing is here: https://trincoll.peopleadmin.com/postings/1308.

TOW: New Features in Moodle

 

Tip of the Week

As is usually the case, we’ve updated Moodle over the summer, and are now offering Moodle 3.0. In addition to a variety of behind-the-scenes updates, there are a few new features that may be relevant to your fall courses:

  • There are four new question types for quizzes, two involving text, and two involving images. The text types are: select missing word (multiple-choice fill-in-the-blank) and drag-and-drop into text (same, but with a drag-and-drop interface rather than selecting from a list). The image types are: drag-and-drop onto an image, which lets students drag text or small images onto larger images, and drag-and-drop markers, which lets students add text markers to predefined locations.
  • If you use the Workshops feature, showcased during SITT, it now lets you see at-a-glance who has/has not participated.
  • You can optionally set your course to display the dates you uploaded files or other resources, which may help students focus on new material.
  • There are also some simplifications to the course editing process.
  • The text editor features improved handling of tables.

If you’d prefer these features recapped in an Australian-accented jaunty video, well, that’s also available:

As always, if you have questions about anything involving Moodle, please get in touch with your instructional technologist!

How to Access Office365/OneDrive and Why You Might Want To

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week is a series wherein a member of the educational technology group describes a resource that’s available to the Trinity community, how to use it, and why.

Trinity College has a campus agreement with Microsoft, which allows anyone on campus (faculty, students, staff) to do two things: first, you can download and install Microsoft Office on up to 5 computers you control. And second, you can access Office365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Microsoft Office, as well as OneDrive, which gives you one terabyte of storage. You can find instructions for downloading Office and for accessing OneDrive on the Information Services website; in this post, I want to briefly explain why you might want to take advantage of OneDrive and Office365.

The two biggest reasons to take advantage of Office365 are the one terabyte of cloud-based storage it gives you, as well as the ability to access all the smartphone/tablet versions of Office. A third reason is that you can access, edit, and share your files from any device with a web browser and an internet connection.

Accessing Office365/OneDrive For the First Time

Go to portal.office.com, and enter your username@trincoll.edu:

screenshot of portal.office.com

(Obviously, use your own username!) The password field is greyed out, which is fine: just hit “tab” or “enter/return”. The branding will change, and it’ll look like this:

screenshot of portal.office.com

Now you can enter your password. Do so, click “sign in,” and you’ll be brought to this screen:

screenshot of Microsoft OneDrive in a web browser

I’ve pixelated my files to avoid distractions; you shouldn’t have any files listed yet. To add files to OneDrive, you can click the upload button in the middle of the top menu, or you can just drag-and-drop files from your desktop.

Also, note the two orange arrows. The one on the top left points to the Office365 apps: Browser-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and more. That menu looks like this:

screenshot of O365 apps

We’ll revisit these apps in another week. (My basic take is that they are better at formatting and other specialized features than, for example, Google Docs, but they are less good at real-time collaboration. Although they’re not terrible at it! They might be particularly useful if you frequently prepare documents or slideshows on one platform, but view them on another. If you make the file in Office 365, they will look the same everywhere.)

You could use OneDrive like this, and it will work reasonably well. However, the power of OneDrive comes into focus if you click the link marked out on the bottom left: “Get the OneDrive Apps.” You’ll see a screen like this:

OneDrive downloads screenshots

Your browser will autodetect what kind of device you’re accessing the site from, and it will suggest the correct one–in this case, it’s the Mac version. Click “Download” and follow the rest of the instructions, and you’ll see a brand-new folder appear in your directory:

screenshot of OneDrive as a folder

(On a Mac, it’ll say “OneDriveBusiness”; I believe on a PC it’ll just say OneDrive. Microsoft’s internal branding issues are beside the point.)

This folder looks like any other folder, but in fact anything stored within it automatically syncs to Microsoft’s cloud servers, and is available on any machine if you log in to OneDrive. Also, if you have OneDrive installed on more than one device (for example, your office computer, your home computer, and a smartphone or tablet), these folders will always be in sync. (If you’ve used Dropbox or Google Drive, it’s pretty similar.)

If you are uploading many files at once, or bigger files, uploading them via the folder is the safest way to do it.

Important note: Files shared with you via OneDrive will not automatically be synced to your computer. Everything else will be. This is a bit annoying, but there it is.

We will have more on working with OneDrive in future weeks; in the interval, you can learn more by checking out Lynda.com’s series of videos on “Up and Running with OneDrive” (Details for accessing Lynda.com are available here: http://www.trincoll.edu/LITC/its/Pages/Lynda.asp.)

Accessing Office365/OneDrive from a Smartphone or Tablet

One of the real benefits of knowing how to access Office365 is that you are then able to use the Microsoft Office apps for smartphones and tablets (iOS, Android, or Windows). They have a pretty decent range of features for writing and commenting–for example, I have copyedited a colleague’s book chapter on an iPad with Word, using track changes and comments.

For whichever smartphone or tablet ecosystem you have, go to its app store and find the Microsoft apps. (Alternatively, you can access the portal.office.com page from your web browser, and click on the “Get OneDrive Apps” as described above.)  Download and install the (free) apps, and then log in using the username@trincoll.edu method from above. Everything will sync up, and you should be all set!

(The mobile apps will even let you edit documents that are shared with you, as long the document was *specifically* shared with you–that is, it’s not something you just accessed via a link.)

In a future post, we’ll look more closely at working with files from the mobile apps.

Educational Technology can help you work out workflows for integrating Office365 or OneDrive into your classroom, but the Help Desk (x2100) is the place to get help with set up and configuration.

Introducing a new series: the Educational Technology Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week

This is just a quick note to say that we’re rolling out a new feature of the Educational Technology blog: a tip of the week post, scheduled for Monday mornings, that will spotlight a resource that’s either available to the Trinity community or that’s freely available. Many of these will be tied to the academic calendar, but others will be “timeless.”

The first in the series, up later this morning, will be a look at Office365 and OneDrive, which aim to help people collaborate and share documents safely and easily.

Thanks to Sue Denning for the neat graphic, and Amy Harrell for wrangling the schedule. Posts will be by everyone in our group.

Spring Institute for Teaching & Technology Agenda

What Spring May Bring

 

The exact sequence is still subject to slight revision, as are some titles. The location will the 1823 Room of the Library, and there will be food in the morning and for lunch.

Schedule

9.00    Coffee / treats

9.30    Important changes for Fall 2016: Windows 10, Office 365, Moodle 3  (Sue Denning, Jason Jones)

 

10      Writing Workshops in Moodle (Aidali Aponte-Aviles)

10.30  Visualizing Historical Stories and Collections (Cheryl Cape, Rick Ring, Nancy Smith, Amy Harrell)

11.15 Teaching Through Technology: Victorian Studies & Digital Humanities (Joanna Swafford, SUNY-New Paltz)

12.15  [Get lunches before the discussion starts]

12.30 Josh Kim, Dartmouth & Inside Higher Ed, will lead a conversation on liberal arts colleges and technological change

 

Photo “What Spring May Bring” by Flickr user Henk Sigjers / Creative Commons licensed  BY-NC-2.0