Mobile devices have revolutionized the way people work and play, and are now doing the same for how we teach and learn. Two weeks ago at TwTT we heard about the Yale School of Medicine’s remarkable initiative to eliminate paper in the classroom by issuing iPads to all students. Last week, Julie Newman described how the unique form factor and interface of the iPad can enrich assignments and improve participation. Now, in this week’s TwTT the series on mobile technology concludes with a panel of students from the Wires Crossed internship, here to talk to us about how they incorporate mobile technology into their daily lives.
Emmanuel Quartey, Architecture ’12, set the tone of the panel when, while clutching his iPad, he said “I shudder to think what I would have accomplished at Yale if I had owned this device my freshman year.” While some of the students felt more strongly about the importance of mobile technology, all of them agreed that the iPads and smartphones they were issued through the internship had dramatic effects on their studies.
So what is Wires Crossed? Originally “my mobile year,” this internship program initially sought to peer into the life of mobile technology use by students, but quickly morphed into a report on the pulse of technology on campus. Behind the scenes, 5 students, Austin Berhadt, ’12; Salvador Fernandez, ’13; Henry Furman, ’14; Emmanuel Quartey, ’12; and Sara Stalla, ’13, were issued iPads and smartphones and asked to report back regularly on when they were using the devices and how. This report came in the form of a Tumblr based blog and a Twitter feed, both of which picked up more interest from undergraduates than had been expected.
In last week’s session, we learned from the Yale School of Medicine that iPads can be used to completely replace paper in a professional program. This week, Julie Newman, Director of the Office of Sustainability and lecturer in Forestry and Environmental Science, came to TwTT to describe her experience using iPads to replace paper and enhance teaching in her undergraduate seminar titled “Sustainability: From Theory to Practice in Institutions.”
The initiative started when the CLC set up a pilot program to loan out 20 iPad2s to a seminar that would integrate them most effectively into its structure. The library would loan the devices, and ITS’s Instructional Technology Group would provide technical and teaching support. After a successful spring 2011 project in the digital humanities, Julie Newman’s class won the fall semester challenge, both for its ambitious goal of eliminating paper use in the classroom and for its use of iPad optimized assignments and projects.
Julie described to the audience how her class goals were uniquely suited to the iPad. First she wanted to go paperless, both to lessen the seminar’s carbon footprint and to enhance text with media integration and instant research. She also wanted to go mobile with the class, leaving the seminar room to visit local sites while students could continue to watch the presentation or take notes. These would be accomplished without the social barrier of a laptop screen. Finally, she asserted that she wanted to start a conversation on not only about technology as a teaching tool but also the role of technology in sustainability.
When the Stanford School of Medicine decided to incorporate mobile technology into the curriculum while reducing the use of paper in the classroom, students were issued iPads to access electronic versions of their course materials. Within a semester there was a general revolt, and paper was reinstated as the primary teaching tool.
When the Yale School of Medicine sought to use iPads to eliminate paper, after a botched experiment with flash drives, the goal was to take a big risk in order to have a big impact. The bold strategy paid off. With 84% of first year medical students saying that the iPad was their primary classroom tool, and 90% of students reporting that it was their primary tool for reading, adoption rates were better than the implementation team had expected. Now, not only has the program been recognized as a success, but the Yale Medical School is also now regularly contacted by other departments and programs, as well as other universities, for information on how to successfully deploy iPads in teaching. Joining us on Tuesday to talk about the history, implementation, and success of the program were Michael Scwartz, Gary Leydon, Judy Spark, and Mark Gentry, all from the team at the Yale School of Medicine responsible for the success of the iPad program.
Yale classes are already streamed around the world in high definition through the University’s revolutionary Open Yale Courses initiative. This program allows students to watch lectures and access certain class resources from anywhere at any time, but not for course credit. The idea that Yale credit cannot be earned through an online only program began to change in 2010, however, when Yale Summer Session Dean William Whobrey was approached by university officials about the possibility of introducing online courses for Yale credit in the summer of 2011. After a four course pilot, the experiment has been labeled a success and is expanding in the summer of 2012. To describe the ideas behind the Yale Summer Session Online courses, and the technology that powers the program, Dean William Whobrey and Richard Collins from the Yale Summer Session, and Lucas Swineford, from the Yale Broadcast and Media Center, came to TwTT to present on distance learning at Yale.
The first priority of program planners was to ensure that the courses offered online were held to the same high standards as their conventional
classroom counterparts. Besides putting each course through vetting by the Course of Study Committee, each class had to meet a strict set of criteria before students could be allowed to register. All online classes were versions of courses taught in previous years on the Yale campus in conventional classrooms, ensuring the existence of a comparative metric and effective subject material. To control for the possibility of an atypical student body, registration in the pilot was limited to current Yale undergraduates, and enrollment was capped at 25 students or fewer, creating a “seminar feel.” Despite the small class size, each course was also assigned a teaching fellow to maximize student access to material. Despite all these controls, Bill argues that what ultimately makes these classes unique is the outstanding teaching quality. All courses were taught by Yale ladder faculty, bringing students as close to a Yale campus experience as possible, regardless of their location in the world.
Like many academic library patrons in 2010, if Yale library users found a book available on Kindle through Amazon and wanted to get it from the library, they would have to find a print copy of the book in the Yale system and go to a library to pick it up. This changed in June of 2011 when Yale University Library became one of only a few academic libraries in the world to offer eBook lending through Overdrive. In order to explain how this came to pass, and to describe some of the challenges associated with integrating eBooks into the collection of a major reference library, Tod Gilman, librarian for literature in English, and Marsha Garman, acquisition librarian and interim head of library acquisitions, came to TwTT to talk about the development and implementation of the two year Overdrive pilot.
Patrons have wanted to borrow eBooks almost since their invention, but the lending of an intangible work poses many challenges, not least of which is the technical one. Without running afoul of copyright law, the library had to figure out a way to distribute electronic texts where readers had to return the books for use by others after the lending period, without keeping permanent copies for themselves. Initially this was set to be done through the lending of entire Kindles, but with ambiguous wording in the Amazon user agreement, as well as the physical difficulty of lending and collecting the reader, this approach was deemed infeasible. Instead, the Yale library turned to a service that has become popular in public libraries known as Overdrive.
Overdrive is an eBook lending service that allows libraries to purchase items from a catalog of over 650,000 electronic books and audiobooks and then distribute them using a web site branded for the individual university, but maintained by Overdrive. This creates an online digital library, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that behaves much like a conventional print library. Users search for and check out a title, which they can then download to their portable reader or audio device. Once they have checked out a title, it is theirs for a period of 7, 14, or 21 days and cannot be used by other readers at their institution unless the library has purchased multiple copies. If users finish an eBook early, then they can return it from the device they initially used to download it, freeing their account to borrow another book up to a limit of five at a time. Titles that are not returned before their deadline are automatically returned for use by another reader.
Since the 1970s, students at the Yale School of Management have gathered in conference rooms and ballrooms in groups as small as 15 students and as large as 240 students to test their financial prowess in a game that simulates the New York Stock Exchange. Although the original game was developed to be played with colored paper and a deck of playing cards, in today’s TwTT Professor Roger Ibbotsson and Instructional Technologist Sam Cohen presented a new web-based version of the game that could expand the market simulation to an audience limited only by server capacity.
Before Sam presented the updated version of the game, Professor Ibbotson took the audience back 30 years to invention of the simulator. At that time, there was a need to teach students the dynamics of a trading floor where most transactions were carried out in person. To this end a game was developed where four fictional companies, identified by color, are assigned a hidden value using playing cards drawn at random from a deck. Students are issued an equal number of shares from each company and $200 of simulated cash. They can then buy “peeks,” a glimpse of 3 of 10 cards that determine value, from which they form a notion of the value of a company. Shares are then exchanged as traders try to acquire shares of a company for less than those shares are worth. At the end of the game, companies are liquidated, and players are ranked by their final assets. To monitor progress up to this point, however, graduate students had to roam the room, listening to traders shouting sale prices and updating a blackboard, or more recently a projected spreadsheet, at the front of the room.
As electronic trading supplants floor trading, the Yale Stock Market Game’s playing cards, spreadsheets, and shouted trades began to appear dated. To bring the game into the age of electronic finance, Professor Ibbotson contacted the Yale Center for Media and Instructional Innovation (CMI2) to work together on the creation of an electronic version of the game. The outcome of that collaboration was a browser based, iPad friendly, backwards compatible web application written in Java 1.6. A persistent client server connection ensures that as soon as a transaction occurs between any two people, it can be seen by all players, and a tabbed interface makes research and market watching closer to a modern electronic trading platform where trades are directly between players than a physical trading floor or trade with a bank.
In the past few months, most students and some faculty members received invitations to leave behind the old central webmail and its infamous horde interface to transition to the new EliApps system which is based on the Google Apps for Education platform. More than an email system, however, EliApps offers an expanding suite of tools to students and faculty, and Loriann Seluga, Adam Bray, and Laura Tomas of the Yale Student Technology Collaborative (STC), along with Ken Panko of Yale’s Instructional Technology Group (ITG) came to TwTT this Tuesday to give Yale’s first public presentation on the educational applications of EliApps.
What is EliApps, and How do I get an account?
Rather than thinking of EliApps as any one application it is better to conceive of the platform as a modular collection of applications offered by Google that can be turned on or off individually for the Yale network. The core of the current package comprises five apps: Mail, Docs, Calendar, Sites, and Groups. The Maps, Books, and Bookmarks services have also been enabled, and more applications are being examined for deployment at Yale, particularly Google Moderator.
This week at TwTT, Thomas Beasley, a graduate student in Classics and the annotator of the digital edition of the graphic novel, Age of Bronze, joined us to talk about the iPad edition of the comic, called Age of Bronze: Seen. Distributed by Throwaway Horse, the electronic version features not only a story line informed by a comparative literary analysis and drawings based on the best available history, but also a reader’s guide built into the app that brings historical context and archaeological foundations into the narrative. Although some people are still skeptical of the graphic novel’s role in education, Thomas points out that comics are dynamic and have been embraced by Yale as a valid form of literature, and that the addition of the reader’s guide opens the path to exploring graphic novels as teaching tools in other disciplines as well.
Although the electronic format may seem natural, before Age of Bronze was on the iPad it was a meticulously researched print comic on the history of the Trojan War. The author, Eric Shanower, sought to go beyond the well-known end to the war, recounted in Homer’s Iliad, to create a graphic retelling of the whole ten year conflict. With such a vast undertaking, no single source was sufficient. Instead, Shanower drew upon centuries of literature to create the story line. The comic is informed as much by purported first person historical accounts as by 20th century opera, resulting in a narrative that is historically grounded, but fresh and relevant to contemporary audiences.
While the story line draws on many sources across time, the actual art of the comic is based on archaeology and material culture. Buildings and sites depicted in the work will mirror the best archaeological reconstructions available, and a close examination of any frame reveals details that are based on extensive research. Figurines, jewelry, instruments, weapons, frescoes, and altars depicted in the graphic novel are all based on historical finds. Where data was not available from Troy, Shanower drew on relics from the nearby Hittite culture – trying to keep speculative drawing to a minimum.
More than half of the acquisitions budget of the Yale University Library System last year went to digital acquisitions – journals and books that exist only in cyberspace. While this statistic may be shocking, especially since many people still think of libraries as repositories for dusty volumes sitting on dark shelves, it is only part of the modernization of Yale’s libraries. In addition to expanding access to electronic resources, Yale has realized that students, staff, and faculty work differently than they did over 70 years ago, when Sterling Memorial Library was erected. Today’s patrons are more likely to need access to advanced computational tools, help with quantitative methods and database searching, and to work in groups on presentations and joint projects. With these new needs in mind, Yale’s librarians worked in conjunction with the university’s IT services to conceive of a space where patrons could not only access advanced reference and technology resources, but also have a single point of service for support. The product was the Center for Science and Social Science Information – the CSSSI.
As the CSSSI was planned, the needs of contemporary patrons were constantly in mind. ITS and the Library had to work together to ensure that the research needs typically associated with a library could be balanced with the information processing capabilities found in facilities like Yale’s Statistical Laboratory (StatLab). In order to reach this goal, the committee working on the CSSSI not only evaluated the present services offered at Yale by both ITS and the Library, but also traveled to other institutions to observe how they were approaching the issue and to evaluate services not yet offered here in New Haven. From this research, several key points emerged. Among them, it became clear that students and faculty were in need of a facility that provided interdisciplinary information, collaborative space and services, and help with different resources from a single point of service. Thus, the foremost goal of the CSSSI would be to serve as an intellectual and social hub for both students and faculty. The challenge then became to develop a space and collection that could fill this need.
Erin Scott, head of the Bass Media Equipment Checkout Service (BMEC) started off this spring’s Teaching with Technology Tuesdays (TwTT) series with a talk on digital media resources at Yale. Although art and filmstudents have access to the Digital Media Center for the Arts, and instructors can get help with media in teaching from the instructional technology group (ITG), the expanding media services of Bass Library offer all students access to both the equipment and training they need to complete basic digital projects.
What’s Digital Media and Why Use it?
While initially the BMEC lent some film based equipment, those items have been phased out. Why? Erin points out that it is the versatility and durability of digital media equipment that makes it desirable. With few or no moving parts and card or hard disk based storage systems, digital equipment can store massive amounts of data reliably. A student can then use one multi-function device or multiple specialized devices to combine photos, graphics, audio, and video, to engage in “digital storytelling,” the term for the use of digital media to convey ideas and messages in organized story form.