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In This Issue

What's New?
ANGEL Gradebook

Resources for New Faculty
Feature: Social Computing

Q & A
Book Review

Teaching Tip


Previous Issues

May/June 2006

April 2006



Contact Me
Suzanne C. Shaffer, M.Ed.
Instructional Design/eLSS

Penn State York
ISTC 202







Volume 1 Issue 3 July/August 2006

Teaching and Learning at Penn State Yorkteacher at computer

Best Practices,  Teaching Tips,  Ideas,  Resources, What's NEW!

Thanks to all who were able to attend one or more of the summer professional development offerings!!

There were over 165 hours of professional development time logged by

  • 24 full & part-time faculty members
  • 11 staff members

Thanks for attending and as always, please continue to share your ideas and feedback with me!

Link to a Cartoon

  What's New?

1. ANGEL Gradebook is HERE!

Beginning in fall 2006, faculty members will have the opportunity to use the new ANGEL Gradebook instead of the grade report. The new features of the gradebook allow faculty to:

  • Calculate grades as points or percentages

  • Report individual, ongoing, and final grades to students throughout the semester

  • Report grades for all assignments, even those that aren't graded using ANGEL lesson tools

  • Award extra credit points

  • Assign different weights to assignment categories

  • Publish grades in an eLion compatible format

In the fall, you can still choose to use the old grade report or the new gradebook, but beginning in spring 2007, only the new gradebook will be available for use within ANGEL.

***NOTE: When you log into your fall courses and access the Gradebook tool, you will be given a one-time opportunity to choose either the current grade report tool or the new gradebook for your course. Once you choose, you cannot change options without contacting ANGEL Help.***

Workshops and supporting documentation on the new gradebook tool will be available in late summer/early fall 2006.

Thanks to those who shared their grading schemes with me this summer so that I could become familiar with the tool in advance.


2. Resources for New Faculty

There are teaching resources available for new faculty at on topics such as creating a learner-centered syllabus, lesson planning, using technology in instruction, assessment, fostering a positive classroom climate, and classroom management.

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Feature Article: Social Computing

Social Computing is a term gaining in popularity in both educational and corporate lexica. The 2006 Horizon Report, a research-based publication that seeks to identify, describe, and track emerging educational technologies, describes social computing as one of the key trends likely to be adopted widely on most college campuses within the next year.

In short, social computing is the use of technology to support interaction and collaboration among users. You are more than likely already using some sort of social computing tool or application in your classes. E-mail, discussion boards, chats, blogs, wikis, online meetings, and writing collaboration tools are all examples of social computing applications. In each, users are interacting with each other and/or collaborating to build new knowledge using a technological interface.

What's so important about the social computing trend? According to The 2006 Horizon Report, the following are the most important ways that social computing impacts groups (in corporate, educational, and personal settings):

  • the potential to connect people more easily at a distance around a common interest

  • the ability to contribute easily and across distances to a group workspace

  • the portability and cost effectiveness (often free) of the venue

  • the knowledge that is generated by workgroups regarding process, description, and manipulation of the new knowledge

Social computing use/tools are growing in both academic and non-academic settings. This article will briefly summarize social computing in both settings...

Finish the article HERE….

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Q & A

I imagine that if one person has a question or comment, others probably do as well, so I'll gather them as we go and share them here (with permission of course!)

Dr. Charles Gaston writes....

Too often, I fear, "technology" is used more for its own sake than for its effectiveness in education or communication... Using the very latest computer capabilities usually means that only those with the very latest computer capabilities are compatible. 

There are two really important points in this commentary that educators should keep in mind when developing learning activities:

1) Make sure that the technology you plan to use is integrated with and supports the attainment of your learning objectives. If it doesn't serve the learning, then it has no business being in the plan. The flip side of this coin is to take a look at your learning objectives. If technology can support or enhance what you are doing, then by all means, give it a go!

2) Keep the digital divide in mind. Make sure that when appropriate, you aren't excluding learners from planned activities because of the technology you plan to use. Offer alternatives when possible. As an example, think about professional video clips that are available on the web now. Often, providers furnish a variety of download choices depending on the user's connection speed. Test your product/process in different browsers, with different software versions, and at different connection speeds to iron out potential glitches. As Dr. Gaston points out, sometimes the simplest format is the best - it can reach the greatest number of users with the fewest potential problems.

Thanks, Dr. Gaston!

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Book Review - We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire

Are you looking for something a little bit different and very uplifting to read this summer? Two giants in the adult education world, Myles Horton (Highlander Research and Education Center) and Paulo Freire (champion of activist literacy education in Brazil) were brought together in  December of 1987 to discuss their ideas, lives, and work before a live audience of academics, community activists, students, and friends just two short years before Horton's death. The audio tapes of their conversations were transcribed verbatim and edited to provide a thematic framework while retaining the flow and feel of the original conversation.

The conversations offer a deeply meaningful and energizing glimpse into the lives and work of two men who came to many of the same conclusions about the nature and purpose of education while working in two completely different cultures and parts of the world at about the same time in history. If you are feeling a bit tired and overwhelmed by teaching, or if you just need a shot in the arm to get re-motivated, take a stab at this wonderful account of two dedicated intellectuals and educators who inspire by the dignity they afford those in their educational charge - their learners.

The book ends with a poem recited by Horton that epitomizes the educational philosophy held by these pedagogical greats that enabled them to touch and transform so many lives in the direst of situations:

MYLES: I'm going to read a short little poem here. You can figure out who wrote it. "Go to the people. Learn from them. Live with them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But the best of leaders, when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will say we have done it ourselves." Who wrote that? Who could have written it?

THIRD PARTY: You could have written it. Paulo could have written it.

MYLES: It's taken a long time for people to come to these ideas hasn't it? This was written in 604 B.C. by Lao Tzu. Isn't it wonderful? That's a translation of course, but the ideas are exactly what Paulo and I've been talking about. That's wonderful.

The book is wonderful! Step into their world and be refreshed!

Horton, M. & Freire, P.; Bell, B., Gaventa, J., & Peters, J. (Eds.). (1990). We make the road by walking: Conversations on education and social change. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.    

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Teaching Tip

I think we should talk with the students about all the implications of writing and reading.  We should make clear to them that it is irresponsible to suggest that reading is something easy. It is also bad not to make clear that reading is a kind of research. In this way, studying means finding something, and the act of finding something brings with it a certain taste, a certain moment of happiness that is creation and re-creation.  You see, we should challenge students to get this creative moment...

Paulo Freire (cited above, p. 37) 

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