Recently in TWT Certificate Category

TWT Presentation for Aug 2011

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You may have seen this news already from my Twitter feed or the TWT Hub, but I am very excited that three TWT Certificate recipients were also awarded one of ten 2011 Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Awards.

We can't know what the TWT process contributed, but the nomnimations do mention the use of technology for one instructor David Agler (Philosophy):

Using technology in innovative ways in his classes, Agler has established a professional website to post not just lecture notes and the course syllabus, but also digital tutorials that he designed for students at their request. He also uses blogs for students to post ideas and reactions to the material, allowing him to cultivate philosophical conversation that filters back into the classroom in positive ways. "These innovations," a nominator said, "enhance the ways in which students can plug in and take ownership of the class."

This is exactly the reason why instructional designers get excited by technology - because of it's ability to improve teaching.

I also want to recognize Rachel Mennies (English) and Jason L. Weigle (Rural Sociology) who also won Martin Awards. Their use of technology was not mentioned, but their commitment to their students was cited, and that commitment is also a part of what makes a great portfolio as well.

TWT Presentation for Comp Lit

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Wisdom from Our Graduate Students

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One of the more interesting side projects I've been involved with Kim Winck has been interviewing some of the students who have gone through the TWT Certificate program. Of course, they've had some nice things to say about the program, but I've been impressed with some of the comments as well, so I thought I would share them.

Their comments was not always what I expect, but they are thoughtful. And that's just what we hope the portfolio process can do - help instructors really reflect on how and why they should use technology.

Benefits of Technology

Well, I think the benefits are about as limitless as the creativity of the person using the technology. I really see that as you're using it in a pedagogically sound way, that the technology can't hurt in the classroom, especially as people become more and more reliant on technology.

Jason Brooks, Comparative Literature

I use the Internet and videos to bring authentic materials right into the classroom from Spanish-speaking countries....As far as using a PowerPoint or something to organize d the classroom, that's also a benefit. It's very neat, instead of writing on the board. Everyone can read my writing.

Aroline Seibert, Spanish

The benefits definitely include just the ability to show things in an effective and quick way. A lot of the time in the classroom, you spend writing out ideas that can be displayed in a much quicker way. Certainly in math, three-dimensional graphics are beautiful when done on the computer, but when I get up to the board, they look terrible.

Serge Bailiff, Mathematics

Perils of Technology

A lot of the classrooms don't have technology enabled. So your hands are kind of tied there. So you have the option of bringing in your own material and projectors but that's also a lot of work.

Serge Bailiff, Mathematics

If an instructor is just using technology because they're being told by the dean or the department or the students say, "We want want more technology," I think it really quickly becomes a gimmick, and then it just doesn't work.

Jason Brooks, Comparative Literature

Some the cons may be that people rely on it too much. It can become a crutch. It can definitely fail at times when you're least expecting it.

Aroline Seibert, Spanish

About Learning the Technology

For the most part, I have found it to be a worthwhile experience. I've also wasted plenty of hours chasing down techniques that didn't pan out, but it's so nice to have them in place. And then, the next time you teach the course, it's so much easier.

Serge Bailiff, Mathematics

The key is just to say OK, how can I make, what I want to communicate...how can I communicate it better? And is there technology that would make that more effective? And then make sure that it actually works before you just decide to start using it. Because I think otherwise students get frustrated. You don't want to be the high-school teacher who can't figure out the VCR. You know what I mean?

Jason Brooks, Comparative Literature

Benefits of the Portfolio

Yes definitely I would recommend this for other graduate students. First of all, you can put it on your resume. [And] It was kind of neat to see once I completed it to see it up online and I could send the link to my parents, to my friends and they could all check out my Web site.

Aroline Seibert, Spanish

I found it to be really worthwhile writing out a teaching statement of statement of teaching philosophy and just looking at what other people had done helped me to get a few ideas of what I could try to do in the classroom. So, overall it was a great learning experience. A fair amount of work as well, but work that I probably should have been doing anyway. It was just a matter of putting it all together.

Serge Bailiff, Mathematics

Well I think that it actually was a really valuable thing for me to go through. Um I mean I sort of had all the ideas that I put down inthe portfolio already in my head, but just from the standpoint of organizing those ideas in my brain a little bit into a more cohesive, I think it helped work through some of those things and I think it also made me realize things I was doing well, the things that maybe I should really improve.

Now it's great because I can present this on a job interview. I can say I also have this certificate and if you'd like to see theportfolio, you know here's the Web site. And then it's way to sort of advertise myself that I'm up to date...I think it helps to have sort of some kind of formal recognition the way you do things, and this [certificate] does that. This says alright, this person uses technology in the classroom in a an effective way and Penn State approves.

Jason Brooks, Comparative Literature

Maxing out the TWT Certificate Experience

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For several years now, I have been administering the Teaching with Technology Certificate program for graduate student instructors. It's a great program which allows students to learn how to think about teaching and putting what they have learned into a portfolio. Ironically, the recent economy has been somewhat of a boon for the program since students can use the portfolio (and certification) not only to develop a reflective portfolio, but also to show future employers what they have learned in the classroom

I think most instructional designers would agree that building a teaching portfolio is a good idea for any grad student. It shows not only an instructor's technical skills and teaching philosophy but also provides a mechanism to demonstrate mini-teaches (like the great explanation of the blood-brain barrier I read in one portfolio).

But the great thing about this program is that it is giving ETS some unique outreach opportunities. First, it should hopefully generate business for our tools including Blogs at Penn State, podcasting/video tools supported by Media Commons, Web 2.0 tools like wikis and even (yes) ANGEL and Clickers. As these tools are used thoughtfully, we can only hope that the student experience improves and that students may even see how these tools can be adopted for their own uses.

What may be more valuable though is that these portfolios can give us a reflection of how our instructors teach and the tools they use. For instance, I've found out that many English instructors teaching rhetoric have found YouTube very useful for providing examples of good and bad rhetoric. Similarly, I can see some which tools are important to math instructors (especially the ones for graphs and equations.) As I talk with more graduate students, I learn what their working environment is like. It's amazing how much progress ITS makes in some areas and how little in others.

Finally I learn quite a bit about instructional design from the examples used. As much as I try to be instructional-tech savvy, I usually can't match the nuance of tool usage that an instructor skilled in content, pedagogy and technology brings. The best use of Flickr to group photos came from a classics instructor. I learned of SlideShare (the online way to share PowerPoint) from a comparative literature grad student. These are the kinds of example I can share with instructors and know that they were really used in the classroom

A final benefit to us and the instructors is that we maintain an archive of completed portfolios. Hopefully future TWT candidates are using these as inspiration, just as I am.

TWT Powerpoint Presentation for Spanish Department

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Here's some information on the Teaching with Technology Certificate I will give to the Spanish Dept tomorrow. The Blogs is a great way to store files you need to download somewhere else.

TWTSpan08.ppt