What I learned from 9 hours of online training (beyond the online training content)

Computer showing video conferencingOur Dean arranged for three days of Faculty of Science-specific workshops this week to help with preparing for our completely online Fall term courses. It’s great to have upper administration support for our teaching (also from CTL , OOL & ITS), and given the turnout and discussions that happened each day, there was clearly a lot of interest. We had the chance to discuss and learn about many tools, key considerations (pedagogical and technological), and express some worries/concerns that many of us have about our upcoming virtual term.
Additionally, we got to experience online learning from a student perspective in an intense way – we had three days of workshops, each with a three hour session in MS Teams or Adobe Collaborate Ultra. I had already some participant experience in the oCUBE Virtual UnConference, webinars, and online MSc defenses over the past few weeks, but this was particularly intense in terms of the amount of content covered, and the time spent in virtual meeting systems. So, in no particular order, here are things I learned (or had reinforced) this week:

Continue reading “What I learned from 9 hours of online training (beyond the online training content)”

Biology online/open-book exams, Part 2: time for reflection & discussion

In a previous post, I shared some tips on making online open-book tests. Those were mostly practical points, pulled together quickly after COVID-19 abruptly pushed us online. Originally, I anticipated writing a second post going more in depth about some of the challenges, practical and ethical, of online testing in large courses, particularly survey courses in biology (and other disciplines) that tend to be content-heavy. (It’s drafted, and a VERY LONG READ …) Instead, I’ll just mention my concerns at the broadest level … and why I’ll likely revisit the details later.

Continue reading “Biology online/open-book exams, Part 2: time for reflection & discussion”

Second Pandemic Book Club meeting: aligning video content with instructional goals

We had our first PBC meeting on May 4, and it was great to get to talk to different educators about the value of making educational videos (Section 1 in Karen Costa‘s “99 Tips for Creating Simple and Sustainable Educational Videos”) . We talked about the book, but we also discussed some other aspects of online teaching, and I so appreciated getting to hear different perspectives and advice!

I’m hoping to have another PBC meeting next week, discussing tips in Section 2 (“Aligning Video Content with Instructional Goals”) of Costa’s book.

UPDATE: We’ll meet Fri. May 15, 2-3 PM (ET) in Google Meet: https://meet.google.com/ezw-ordk-hhx

Physical copies* of the book still seem to be delayed in getting to Canadian buyers, though I think people can still participate even if their book hasn’t yet arrived. I’ll continue to update the Google Doc for sharing reading notes: Supplementary materials for Pandemic Book Club: Costa book.  If you are reading the book, and are willing to contribute to the document, just request edit access (click the button at the top of the page)!

Are you interested in hosting a PBC meeting on this book, or others? Sign up here!

* If you would like an eBook version of Costa’s book, it can be purchased for download from Amazon (Kindle), Stylus or Kobo (ePub). The Stylus price with the (current) 30% off promotion is about the same as the Kobo price and Amazon.ca Kindle prices, once the exchange rate, as of time of writing, is factored in.

Resources for 1st Pandemic Book Club meeting (May 4)

Our first Pandemic Book Club is coming up very soon! As it might be challenging to get a physical copy of the Costa book (at least, in Canada), and to allow a discussion about the book and tips therein, I’ve set up a Google Doc for sharing some reading notes, which might help facilitate discussion: Supplementary materials for Pandemic Book Club: Costa book

I haven’t added much yet, but hope to make some more notes over the next couple of days. If you ARE reading the book, and want to contribute to the document, just request edit access (at top of the page)!

Also …

Section One of the book (includes Tips 1-9) is available online as a sample chapter from the publisher website.

Karen Costa’s videos for selected tips: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLp1oNaMlolJNcLBT440n-R-4B_meQG4Ic

Before the meeting, I’m also encouraging people to think about (and maybe write down) your key goals for making/using online videos. See you Monday!

Biology online/open-book exams, Part 1: general tips/considerations & examples

With COVID-19 shifting us all online, and as someone who has taught online (fully and partially), I have had a number of colleagues approach me with questions and ask advice. Though I don’t consider myself an “expert”, on online teaching, I can (and want to) share what I do know, and my own experiences, and I’m going to try to do that here.
Continue reading “Biology online/open-book exams, Part 1: general tips/considerations & examples”

UPDATED: 1st Pandemic book club meeting: Costa’s “99 Tips for Creating & Sustaining Educational Videos”

Results from the Doodle poll for a book club day/time to start discussing the newly published (and incredibly timely) book: “99 Tips for Creating & Sustaining Educational Videos”: the most popular time was Mon. May 4, 2-3 PM (Eastern Time).

I’ve set up a Microsoft Teams meeting (and hope it will work for this). Teams is available for download on computer, phone, iPad: https://teams.microsoft.com/downloads . You can also  access it through a  browser: https://teams.microsoft.com/

Need the book?

It can be purchased:

– directly from Stylus, the publisher. The paperback and ePub versions are both on sale right now (along with other online ed books). Note that prices are in USD: https://styluspub.presswarehouse.com/landing/onlinelearning2020 (Outside the US, it will likely take some additional time to get the paperback.)

It’s a really new book, and Chapters/Indigo and Amazon don’t have the hard copy yet, but eBooks are available:

Kobo has the ePub format: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/99-tips-for-creating-simple-and-sustainable-educational-videos (If buying in Canada, this is a few $ cheaper than the Stylus ePub, given the current exchange rate).

The Kindle version is available:
In Canada – CDN$: https://www.amazon.ca/Creating-Simple-Sustainable-Educational-Videos-ebook/dp/B086VW87QH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=karen+costa&qid=1587391775&sr=8-1
US: https://www.amazon.com/Creating-Simple-Sustainable-Educational-Videos-ebook-dp-B086VW87QH/dp/B086VW87QH/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=

I’m looking forward to seeing/meeting other folks interested in this book (and making educational videos)!

Pandemic time higher ed book club

Cat with educational booksHaving bought a few higher education related books just before or after The Great Shift to Remote, I found myself seeking some motivation to actually dig into them. I thought a little social interaction (and accountability) might be helpful, and I floated out a tweet asking if others might be interested in discussing a couple of these: Karen Costa‘s “99 Tips for Creating Simple and Sustainable Educational Videos” (at the time of writing on sale with some other online learning books) and Kevin Gannon‘s “Radical Hope: a Teaching Manifesto”. I was thrilled to see how many people responded!

Continue reading “Pandemic time higher ed book club”

The Nucleophile – SciArt gift edition, Dec. 2017

Streptomyces watercolour (by artologica) & radiolarians print (by Nicole Edmonds)
Streptomyces watercolour (by artologica) and radiolarians print (by Nicole Edmonds) with some Giant Microbes

In “The Nucleophile”, I’ll share stuff I like.

As we’re getting scarily close to Christmas/Saturnalia, I thought it might be a good time to share some of my favourite science artists. I’ve purchased items from all of these artists (for myself, and in some cases, as gifts for other sciencey-folks … oh, and I’ve been the recipient of gifts made by some of them), and I’m sharing this because I am a fan of their work!

Continue reading “The Nucleophile – SciArt gift edition, Dec. 2017”

Beyond marshmallows – resisting Mr. Clown Box!

Kip and the Mischel book
Kip and the Mischel book

The first time I recall hearing about the “marshmallow test” was on an episode of “This American Life”, in 2012 (“Back to School”),  featuring Paul Tough, author of “How Children Succeed“.  It was an interesting episode, discussing challenges in the American school system, particularly with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. And the marshmallow test experiments prompt a vivid image – a small child is presented with the option of having a single marshmallow right away, or waiting for up to 20 minutes, and being given two marshmallows. Longitudinal studies on a cohort of young children who were participants in this research revealed that those who were able to show restraint and self-control performed better in a wide range of ways in later life: improved SAT scores, higher education levels, better ability to maintain close relationships, etc. (Oh, and there were some brain differences indicated by an experiment involving fMRI, for what that’s worth.)

While fascinating, the research was also a bit depressing to me. I picture myself as one of the kids who would have gobbled down the marshmallow right away. And much of what I have heard regarding the marshmallow test seems to have been focusing on the predictive nature of the experiments, revealing the capacity for self-regulation that impacts many aspects of our lives. And if you’re one of the kids who lacks that self-regulation? Doomed to a life of poor, impulsive choices, apparently.

Another podcast, Invisibilia, changed my perspective on this.  “The Personality Myth” episode explored the dynamic nature of personality. One of the experts interviewed was Walter Mischel, the psychologist who conducted the marshmallow test experiments. In the episode, he discussed something about the experiments that wasn’t usually mentioned when people described them – the fact that children could be taught strategies to help them resist the immediate temptation in favour of the delayed reward.

That’s much more uplifting than thinking that your destiny is set, and can be predicted by your ability as a preschooler to resist a treat.

Continue reading “Beyond marshmallows – resisting Mr. Clown Box!”