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Using ARC GIS Explorer to report Dissolved Oxygen concentrations in the Lafayette Reservoir
An interview with Steve Bachofer
Can you give a general overview of the project and what you hoped to accomplish?
My technology project was to gain some skill in generating an interactive map. This project was directly linked to an Environmental Chemistry lab. The lab objective was to record the dissolved oxygen as a function of depth at the Lafayette Reservoir and determine the lake’s thermocline. To effectively communicate this data, students were directed to make a map to convey this data.
What inspired you to use technology for this process and which technology ended up being the most useful to you and students?<
I have observed more interactive maps appearing on websites giving the public information at various regional parks. I have also heard conference presentations where individuals note that students are more vested in the laboratory experiment when the lab generated materials to inform the public. The mapping technology used was ARC GIS Explorer which was freely available. Students were able to access it in our labs and they could download their copies.
What was the assignment for students? What were some of the student reactions to the project?
The students were assigned to collect dissolved oxygen data from various locations on the Lafayette Reservoir. The EBMUD staff was supportive and provided us access to their paddle boats for free. The students were given instruction on the dissolved oxygen meters and the separate GPS data loggers. The student reactions were very positive since this lab allowed them to paddle around on the lake and collect their data as a team. The mapping portion was not considered onerous after having a data collection lab with an element of fun. The concept that lakes of sufficient depth exhibit a thermocline was successfully conveyed. The student data was simplified to make the mapped information easier for EBMUD to display to patrons (typically individuals who fish at the lake). It is known that the fish do spend more time in locations with adequate oxygen so the data is indeed applicable.
SALG on student reactions: Using a scale ranging from 1 strongly disagree, 3 neutral, and 5 strongly agree.
|Questions||Mean||Number of respondents|
|The data set was easily obtained.|
|You think that the data set obtained from the experiment was high quality.|
|The experimental site was too conducive to recreation so it therefore distracted students.|
|The experience of sampling in the field was educational.|
|The reported data will be used to make an impact on the community.|
What did you learn during the process?
This mapping tool worked in an acceptable fashion for a small project. I would need further training to more effectively use other features in the software and move the created mapped data into Goggle Earth maps. This aspect might be a future direction since I still am unclear how data in one mapping format (*.nmf) could be transformed into another format (*.klm). Geotagging of the information was acceptable however a more straightforward method would be helpful. A critical addition would be to have a formal ARC GIS Explorer account so that the results were more readily available to others. The resulting files from the free version software required some internet access and required photos to be stored in the same file folder as the resulting data file.
How may this information impact local communities?
EBMUD staff were pleased to have us collect this data and submit in a manner that they could plan to use. The fishing patrons are keenly interested in the dissolved oxygen content in the lake as a function of depth. The class measured the dissolved oxygen content at eleven different locations on one afternoon and estimated the depth of their probe so obtained multiple measurements at a location. This yielded a consistent thermocline for the lake on the date of the experiment which was 25 to 30 ft. Furthermore the data was displayed in a map where pop up data marker so some numerical results as an individual hovers the mouse icon over the data marker. Adding a few pictures that also appear in pop-up windows was only a limited success too. The class was invited back again since the reservoir staff don’t get this data collected by EBMUD water samplers except once per year.
Anything else you would like to add…
I need to go back to using this tool to improve some other labs or find a better mapping tool.
Enabling Google Consumer Apps
by Dennis Rice
Saint Mary’s College has an agreement with Google that provides the College with certain apps in the Google suite, such as G-mail, Calendar, Drive, Groups and Sites. Google makes it possible for the community members of Higher Ed institutions to use these applications and store email and documents, whether they contain confidential or private information or not, securely in the Google cloud. Google does this by protecting the data using industry accepted security measures, and by contractually accepting the same level of guardianship of this data as is required of the College by Federal law. However, these “Core” Google Apps for Education are not the complete suite of applications that Google offers. There are others, many of which offer great value as tools used in teaching and learning, such as Google+, Google Maps, Blogger and YouTube. Unfortunately, Google excludes all of these “Consumer” apps from the data protections that are afforded by the Google Apps for Education contract. Furthermore, the terms associated with the Education contract specifically put the responsibility for compliance with all laws that protect private and sensitive information, including FERPA, with the institution. In other words, in the event some piece of important confidential information was revealed to an unauthorized person via the use or abuse of these apps, the consequences would fall on the College and the individual user, but not on Google.
A few years ago, Google would not take responsibility for legal compliance with confidentiality laws for any of their applications, and their unwillingness to do so prevented many Higher Ed institutions, including Saint Mary’s, from utilizing their services. The risks were considered too great. In order to make these “Consumer” apps available to the community, we would have to agree to essentially the same terms that prevented our participation in the Google Education program a few years ago. However if the value of these applications to teaching and learning outweigh the level of risk, or if that risk can be reduced to an acceptable level by certain measures or precautions (controls), then it would be sensible to make them available to the community. IT Services is asking for help from interested faculty in the process of evaluating whether one or more of these “Consumer” applications can be made available to the College community, and if so, what the value of a particular app is as a teaching tool versus the risk of making that application available without the full confidentiality protections. The decision to make any or none of these apps available will ultimately lie with the Technology Planning and Policy Committee (TPPC), and all the information we gather and what actions we recommend will be made to that group at their December 2013 meeting. The implementation of any decision to offer these apps will be targeted for the beginning of the Spring Term. IT Services believes that some of these applications are valuable tools for teaching and learning and should be made available. Some, however, pose more risk than others, and it is around these apps that the discussion should focus.
One of the early steps we took in this evaluation was to look at what peer Higher Ed institutions who participate in the Google Apps for Education program are doing with the “Consumer” Apps. We looked for institutions that had specific Google Apps web pages, and found 30 good examples. Of those we found that 18, or roughly 2/3rds, do not offer any apps beyond the “Core” apps that have the contractual protections of confidential data. In this group are UC Berkeley, Fresno State, Reed College, Michigan State, Harvard, Yale and Vassar. Here are a few examples of these sites: http://huit.harvard.edu/services/web-collaboration/collaboration-services/google-apps-harvard, http://googleapps.msu.edu/. One university in this group, USC, recommended to their users who wished to use any Google apps beyond the Core offering that they should use their personal G-mail account. There are also institutions who do offer the “Consumer” Apps within their Google Apps for Education offering, but limit the number available and only one institution offered all the apps that are available. A few, such as Brown, Wellesley, Oregon State and RIT, offer a group of the “Consumer”Apps to their communities without any warning of the risks and responsibilities of using the apps (example: http://oregonstate.edu/main/online-services/google-apps-for-osu, http://google.ncsu.edu/); others permit access to a group of “Consumer” apps, but also post information about the risks and what precautions to take (example: http://googleapps.simmons.edu/core-and-consumer-apps); one, Brandeis (https://sites.google.com/a/brandeis.edu/googleapps/consumer-applications) permits access to the “Consumer” Apps, but only after an opt-in process where each user who wishes to use the apps agrees to a statement of their responsibility to protect confidential and private information. A record is made of that agreement.
This latter method is what is called a “control” that reduces risk. Both IT Services and College Counsel favor this approach if it is decided to make some of these “Consumer” Google apps available to the Saint Mary’s Community. We have been in touch with members of the Brandeis IT department, discovered how this process works, and we can implement such a control here.
In preparation for the discussion about the issues around making Google “Consumer” apps available to the College community, the TLT group went through the full palate of “Consumer” apps that Google offers us, and have come up with a list of possible apps that make sense to offer, and give them a rough rating as to risk and value. It should be noted that there are many in the suite that are targeted at groups other than education (such as advertising and marketing), and are not obviously very relevant to teaching and learning.
Preliminary list of low-risk Google Consumer Apps recommended by the TLT group to be opened to the SMC community:
Google Chrome Sync
Google in Your Language
Google Map Maker
Google Public Data
Consumer Apps that the group thinks should be turned on, but are higher risk or have other issues and further investigation is needed:
|Google Wallet||Very High||Low||No||2|
|You Tube||Med/ High||High||Yes||5|
- Risk can be lowered if it is limited to the SMC domain. We know it is possible for the blogger to enter a ACL.
- Information needed: Can all blogs be limited to the SMC domain
- Transaction information – user enters credit card info which may be saved – a user name/password breech can expose this information
- Information needed: Can these expansion charges be paid another way
- Risk can be lowered if it is limited to the SMC domain
- Information needed: Can the extent of this app and sharing etc. be limited to the SMC domain
- Risk can be lowered if it is limited to the SMC domain.
- Information needed: Can the extent of this app and sharing etc. be limited to the SMC domain
- Risk can be lowered if the viewing of any material uploaded is limited to the SMC domain. Otherwise, non-SMC accounts should be used for uploading.
- Information needed: Can videos uploaded within the SMC Google domain be restricted for viewing to members of the community only.
This summer IT Services is working hard behind the scenes to make sure all our campus systems are running well. Part of our necessary maintenance is upgrading our Learning Management System, Moodle to increase security and add functionality. We will be upgrading the entire SMC campus to Moodle 2 this coming February 2014, so please make sure to stop by one of our Fall and Jan Term training sessions in the Keck Lab (located in Sichel and the Department of Communications. A list of classes and course descriptions will be advertised after the first two weeks of class, Fall 2013.
We will be upgrading hosting a “Moodle 2” Faculty Tech Camp for the first two weeks of Jan Term, 2014. Be sure to mark your calendars if you would like to join us for any of the trainings . Please note, you are also welcome to request a Moodle 2 sandbox site in advance of the February 2014 transition to Moodle 2 in order to get a feel for the new system and see how your materials will look. If you are interested in a sandbox site, please let us know and we will be happy to accommodate you. In the meantime, here is a brief list of the main NEW features of Moodle 2. We hope you will find this update useful and more user-friendly than our current version, Moodle 1.9.
New Features in Moodle 2 for faculty:
- Docking tabs on the side of the page
New Features in Moodle 2 for students:
- How to upload a file to a post or within the assignments area of the course
- Advanced Discussion Forums
- “Files” vs. “Personal Files”
The first thing you will notice about the upgrade to Moodle 2 next February are the docking panels that host the “administration” and “settings” blocks. You can unhide the blocks so they appear to the left side of your screen, or you can keep them open in the docking area. Docking these blocks is convenient if you would like more space to view the content of your course.
The second major change is the way data is stored. You may recall that in Moodle 1.9 all files associated with a course are located in the “administration” block > “file”s area. When we upgrade to Moodle 2 and import your course materials to a new course site, you will see that the content transferred over are called “legacy files”. If you plan to do an “import” of the content from your previous class, you will see that the files from your previous course still appear, however, if you start building your Moodle 2 course site entirely from scratch, you will notice that your (resource) files no longer appear in the same area. Moodle 2 stores resource files behind the scenes. This makes navigating the system faster, and more, user-friendly. Moodle 2 also has a new, “personal files” area where you can upload any files you would like to have associated with a course but do not need in the main content area of your course site. This area is a great place to store handouts you will present during class or notes regarding student participation.
The last major change worthy of your attention at this time is the addition of “advanced forums.” Advanced forums have increased ability to mark posts, allowing instructors to signify posts they consider “substantive” The feature is especially welcome for members of hybrid courses or professional programs that rely on discussion outside of class as a feature to engage student’s with course content outside of class.
Apple TV lets you control your classroom
display wirelessly from your iPad, from
anywhere in the room.
Instead of being chained to the teacher station, you can move among the students, or sit with them if you want. This changes the power relationship between students and teachers. Since the professor can now mingle with the class, instead of staying at the front of the class, it puts her in the same power level as the students. It privileges students with equality with the professor, and acknowledges their own expertise. Instead of being separated by space and tables, students have a literally closer relationship with faculty — which is why they come to SMC in the first place.
You can give the iPad to a student so that they can lead part of the lesson. Since the student does the activity, both the individual student and all the others pay more attention. This facilitates more meaningful participation in the class. For example, in Michael Alocca’s class on Fibonacci numbers in nature, he had students trace both the right-hand and left hand on a pine cone. One student traced the white lines with a finger, and another did the purple ones. It changes the teaching mode from “Sage on the Stage” to “Guests at the same table”. The students take ownership of the discussion, and the professor guides the discussion, as in Seminar.
When you give an iPad to a student, two things happen. First, that student is very much engaged because she knows all the other students are watching her. Also, the other students know that you might give them the iPad next, so they stay on their toes
You have the option of going around to any student and taking a photo of their work and pushing that up to the board for all to see. This sort of immediate feedback is difficult to replicate in any other way. It has been difficult for student work to generate and indeed be the focus of a lesson until we have already seen it, marked it and photocopied it for the rest of the group. Now, it can become the lesson simply because you’ve seen good learning happening in the moment. This technique was used in one class so that students could share selections of poems with the class, and then discuss the selections.
Just as the ‘flipped classroom’ model allows less time to be spent on going over the mundane or repetitive aspects of learning and allowing instead for the focus to be ‘deeper learning’, Apple TV allows you to concentrate on soft skills such as collaboration and discussion whilst still being focused on specific learning tasks.
A final characteristic of this technology is the multitude of apps – many of them free or with free versions – available. Mobile apps are generally made to do one thing only, but they do it very well. TeacherPal is an easy way to keep grades on your iPad. Sock Puppets allows easy creation of social situations. Popplet is a mind mapper, useful for sentence structure, among other things. Skitch is a simple way to draw a diagram, for when a picture is worth a thousand words. GeoGebra allows you make a graph, add a slider for a variable change, and as you move the slider it changes the graph, making an easy to visualize the effects of changing inputs.
We are just starting to scratch the surface of the ways that this remote control can — and cannot — change the way we teach and learn. Will using educational technology like the iPad make students more marketable? Who knows?
In the past few months, Raina Leon has been working with the Faculty Technology Group to create a project proposal for the acquisition of 15 iPads for use with pre-service and in-service Single Subject (secondary) teachers through the Kalmanovitz School of Education. Here is Raina’s account of her experience using the iPad and Apple TV to facilitate teaching and learning at SMC.
Participants in my classes will be broken up into a few groups. In the Spring and Fall semesters, I will work primarily with pre-service teachers. Those teachers, after learning about iPad apps in their classes with me, will be able to check out the iPads for 2 week periods, but there is a catch: pre-service teachers in their first or second placements have to submit a series of 3-5 lesson plans to me first; 1 of which must include educational technology integration; they must to allow me to observe this lesson; and they must receive pre- and post-consultations on the effectiveness of the lessons.
All of these terms were built in to the curriculum to more actively support the professional development of teachers in the use of educational technology like the iPad, especially considering that the vast majority of secondary schools do not offer consistent training in this area to in-service teachers, let alone student-teachers
In the summer months and Jan Term, I will use the iPads with in-service teachers, particularly those in local Catholic schools, to support their ongoing professional development by doing targeted workshops in the use of apps that would immediately benefit them in the classroom. In my commitment to professional development, participating schools will also be able to schedule me for departmental and individual support for teachers over an academic year.
This semester I am using the iPads in my two classes: SSTE 254 Foundations of Literacy and SSTE 356 Teaching and Learning II. In those classes, we have used Apple TV to wirelessly project group and individual work, apps like Type PDF Free (to make modified texts in class, to write Cornell Notes on collective readings, to read common texts, to conduct Think Alouds), Virtual Dice (for vocabulary games for use in the secondary context), Skitch (to create vocabulary posters that can be emailed to students, printed out and posted in a classroom, or posted on a website), Google Drive (for typing flash fiction, peer review, creation of reading comprehension questions, sharing main ideas from a text) and Prezi (use of zooming presentations). One student even used Siri to type his essay in Google Drive, which led to a fruitful conversation on review of essays before submission, dictation, and accommodating students with learning challenges through the use of Siri.
The iPads are loaded only with free apps that have an educational purpose. In my opinion, teachers are too often called upon to spend their personal funds to supplement the educational materials available in the classroom. While there are many apps out there with incredible applications in the classroom, I am most interested right now in fostering the imagination of teachers of students without the added expense of purchasing the flashy tools. I am interested in closing the digital divide, not expanding it.
Some challenges: unfortunately, the main SMC-WiFi, as it is configured now, will not allow Apple TV usage. “SMC-Classroom” is an additional wifi signal that has been added to accommodate the use of Apple TV and must be activated in classrooms to make use of the Apple TV features. Philosophically, use of the Apple TV makes sense at Saint Mary’s. Rather than situate myself and only myself in the position of power at the front of the class, controller of all the knobs and cables, students can share their work with the class merely by mirroring their screens onto the Apple TV, which is connected to the projector as a laptop connection. I can act more of a facilitator of exchange rather than the owner of all knowledge in the classroom. The technology can facilitate a visual and dialectic dialogue … when it works.
What I am learning is that, in addition, to planning on how to tie the iPad in to what I do and imagining and executing even more complex tasks through the use of the technology, I also have to craft alternative activities for those “fried technology” moments. I am a stickler about time. My lessons are often planned to the minute, although I can easily do adjustments on the fly dependent on the needs of my students, but technology complicates things. While my lessons in the last few weeks have used technology throughout the class, I have determined that in the coming weeks I will plan “just in case” scenarios, which may require me to carry some of the handouts, extra pens, and paper to make sure that we continue with purpose. This is something that I advise in my professional development workshops with in-service teachers; I am learning to take my own advice to heart.
I am also learning that students, even those with fears about technology, will quickly adjust to maneuvering the iPad like a pro. The iPad is pretty intuitive. Though, in my two classes, the majority of my students had not used an iPad before the first evening of class, by the end, they had learned some gestures as well as how to operate the apps we were using. Some of them continue to be hesitant, but they are increasingly daring to discover and sometimes outside of the instructions and limits placed within the classroom. This model of structuring the professional development of pre-service teachers is very much in line with Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. It is my hope that the Single Subject Candidates will eventually reach independence with technology and grow into teacher-leaders in this area at their placement sites.
I do have to note how grateful I am for the individual and institutional support that I have received to make this happen. Across the college and in my home department, most especially with Michael Allocco (who has a similar lab and offered some initial encouragement and support), my SSTE colleagues, program chair David Krapf and Dean Metcalf-Turner, I have received such support and encouragement.
Just one of the many reasons why I am so happy to be a Gael.
The West/Southwest Regional Conference took place this February 22nd through 24th in Portland Oregon and highlighted the importance to higher education of engaging everyone effectively through IT. The keynote speaker was Mr. Cable Green of Creative Commons, who spoke of the need to move toward greater levels of openness within higher education and publishing. As Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons, Mr. Green advocates for the more specific copyright options offered through Creative Commons licensing to protect the intentions of authors, artists and musicians.
You can see the terms of these licensing options here: http://creativecommons.org/choose/
Mr. Green mentioned the importance of Open Courseware, Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources as education fees continue to rise and push out those on the edges of access to higher education. Mr. Green also discussed the dichotomy that exists between academics who conduct dissertation research as well research studies sponsored through government funding, versus the publishers who rake in big bucks by charging exorbitant fees for access to the published research via library database and journal subscriptions. Individual document download fees can run into the hundreds of dollars, making it cost prohibitive for even the scholars who’ve labored intensely (for free) in developing the research, to afford accessing the published result. The high fees charged by publishers seem completely out of order given the publishers lack of involvement or financial backing in the creation of the research, and the minimal cost of hosting digital files, but powerful lobbyists in the publishing industry are continuously working to make it even more difficult for individuals and libraries to avoid such fees. Creative Common’s is attempting to change this.
The recent denial of the proposed PIPA and SOPA bills were a direct result of such efforts. If passed, the U.S. Department of Justice could seek court orders requiring Internet providers such as Comcast to prevent its customers from accessing sites accused of hosting pirated materials. Both SOPA and PIPA have been dropped due to the ensuing public outrage and censorship protests from sites such as, Wikipedia, Google and Mozilla Firefox; One of the most significantly overt political efforts ever made by the tech industry with regards to copyright law. Generation Y and the tech stars born of this generation’s labor are growing increasingly disaffected in 2012, not to mention those freshly pressed millennial’s, with graduate degrees in tow, facing record unemployment. Where is the tipping point? Perhaps the 99% can teach corporate lobbyists to say, “Mīdān at-Taḥrīr” in English…? Perhaps corporations should be more invested in securing their own financial future by donating a small percentage of their proceeds to benefit education and scholarly research rather than exploiting the fruit of it’s labor for instant gratification.
Green says that if government agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities are paying to support scholarly research, academics and taxpayers should have access to the results for free.
Click here to listen to the full Educause presentation: “The Obviousness of Open Policy”
OER Commons and ISKME
The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) hosted it’s third annual education and technology conference, Big Ideas Fest this past December in Half Moon Bay. The conference is a unique three-day immersion with workshops in collaboration and design focused on producing solutions to the problems currently facing education. Conference participants included members from K-12, higher education, educational non-profits and start-up companies. The keynote speaker was Sugata Mitra whose research crosses between the fields of cognitive science, information science and educational technology.
Professor Mitra is most known for his research project entitled, “Hole in the Wall” where he dug a hole in the wall of a slum in New Delhi to record the actions of children as they played with a computer connected to the Internet. The children taught themselves to browse the Internet and to learn basic English with no prior training or exposure to the medium. His research has been replicated in England and other areas of Europe with the same result; children will self-organize and teach one another to solve problems without the structure of a classroom or master teacher. This basic instinct to problem-solve and peer-instruct was present within all socio-economic backgrounds tested.
Click here to learn more and check out the highlighted links:
Big Ideas Fest – Open Education Conference in Half Moon Bay
Sugata Mitra on Ted Talks – Child driven education/research
The Khan Academy – A fantastic Math resource
Education Eye – Educational innovations interactive map
Siftables – Siftable multimedia blocks
OER Commons -Open Educational Resources
Big Ideas Fest
Blackboard is Going Away
Heidimarie has been recognized as an outstanding on-line course creator. Specifically she has been awarded for providing an innovative course design with few resources. Heidimarie is currently moving the TESOL certificate program to GaelLearn/Moodle as an on-line certificate. She created an x-Box avatar of herself to create a greater sense of connection with students and has structured materials in a clear, straight-forward way that guides students through their learning process within the on-line format.