Using zoom for instructions

Technical setup

Pedagogical strategies

  • Build interaction by using virtual breakout rooms and polling
  • Student presentations
  • Classroom management – rules to learning and engaging in zoom

Avida-ED Active Lens Workshop

The 2nd annual Avida-ED Active LENS Workshop will be held at Michigan State University June 9-11, 2016 in East Lansing, MI. The purpose of this workshop is to train instructors in the use of the Avida-ED software package, developed to help students learn about evolution and the nature of science, so that workshop participants can both implement classroom interventions using this software and also train other educators. Teams of two will learn to use Avida-ED and how to best incorporate it into courses that they teach. Travel and expenses related to the workshop will be covered for the 20 workshop participants as part of an NSF-funded IUSE grant.

Avida is a digital evolution software platform used to study evolutionary processes, and harness evolution to solve engineering problems. Avida-ED is a free, user-friendly version of Avida developed specifically for educational purposes, with a graphical user interface and visualizations that allow the user to observe evolution in action. (See http://avida-ed.msu.edu/ for avida-ED-logomore information and to download a copy of the software.) Organisms within this software (Avidians) are self-replicating computer programs, competing for computational resources supplied by the environment. Their replication is imperfect, resulting in mutations in some of their offspring, which may alter the ability of those organisms to make use of their environmental resources. Populations studied over the course of generations therefore display all of the elements necessary for evolution by natural selection: variation, inheritance, selection, and time. Avida-ED thus provides not a simulation of evolution, but an actual instance of it.

Avida-ED has been developed for undergraduates and advanced placement high school students to learn about the nature of science and evolution in particular. Users have significant control of the environment, and are able to change parameters such as the world size, the mutation rate, and what resources are available. Individual organisms can be saved in a virtual freezer, analyzed individually to watch how they perform tasks and replicate themselves, and used to start new evolutionary runs. Because digital organisms grow and divide much faster than even the fastest microbes, Avida-ED allows users to test evolutionary hypotheses over the course of hours or minutes. By generating hypotheses, collecting data, and analyzing results, users gain experience not just with concepts in evolution, but with the nature and practice of science as a whole.

Workshop participants will join a growing community of educators using digital evolution to let their students directly observe evolutionary processes through inquiry-based exercises that advance reform-oriented active learning. Participants will develop new lesson plans and will help collect assessment data from their classroom implementations. They will help disseminate materials and train other science educators; financial support is available for this. At least one member of each pair will attend a 1-day follow up meeting at MSU in early summer 2017 to report on their experience.

The team application form for the Active LENS Workshop must be completed online on the following page: http://avida-ed.beacon-center.org/. Applications should be submitted no later than March 7, 2016. If you have any questions or difficulties with the application, contact Michael Wiser (mwiser@msu.edu).

More Biology Travel Funds

BiologyNSF-funded REIL-Biology<http://rcn.ableweb.org/> is accepting applications now for workshops held immediately preceding the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) National Conference<http://rcn.ableweb.org/reil-biology-workshop-cur/> and the Genetic Society of America Allied Genetics Conference (GSA TAGC)<http://rcn.ableweb.org/reil-biology-workshop-tagc/>, both to be held in Florida this summer.

A team of faculty would propose a project to develop a module or course that incorporates research into the lab course.  This project can take advantage of local expertise among your faculty, collaborations with neighboring institutions, or adaptation of nationally-vetted course-based undergraduate research modules.  At the day-long workshop, the faculty team will work specifically on that module, preparing it for future implementation and assessment at your institution.  At the following associated national conference, they will also present their projects to a larger conference audience.

Accepted teams can receive funding to travel to the workshop and attend the conference.

Please see the website for more information/registration

Spotlight On Teaching Excellence

Preface – this is a new series to highlight examples of innovation that our faculty are already doing right here at Highlands. As we continue to strive for improvement, we should recognize what is already working well. As you spot examples of highly successful teaching and innovative, or just plain cool instructional techniques, nominate your colleagues (or yourself!) to be featured here and recognized by your peers.

This story begins with a routine classroom observation. Dr. Deacon, Social Work, asked me to observe his class. He said he was trying out some new technology and wanted my feedback. From that casual request, I was not prepared for the experience. The class I observed was a 400-level statistics course, challenging content to teach in itself, but made more challenging considering he was teaching in a computer lab and using zoom. Some students were at a center table with mobile devices, or just paper and pen, some students were at the computers, often with their backs to him and some students were participating via zoom. Students were watching the course content projected in the room, or the desktop computers, or through zoom while Dr. Deacon managed to keep everyone on the same page. Talk about maximum flexibility for students to access the content and stay involved!

What impressed me most was the level of engagement of the students. Dr. Deacon started class by reviewing previous concepts, engaging students by asking them to relate those concepts to their personal research projects, then introduced a new statistics concept which students were then asked to apply to their research through discussion – good techniques for any face-to-face class, but the level of engagement from all, including those at a distance, was truly impressive. I watched as students searched online for additional examples, clicked through additional content provided in the D2L course, turned around from their computers to enter the class discussion and back again.

But the real kicker came later. Dr. Deacon told me that when he first started several years ago, he did not even know how to upload a document into D2L. He struggled, got more training through EOS, struggled with computer limitations, got help from IT, and persevered, developing over several years into the cutting edge instructor he is today. It is Dr. Deacon’s progress towards innovative teaching that is truly inspiring. For those of us who are still at the beginning stages of integrating technology into our classrooms, of developing course content within D2L, and who may be considering how best to reach our distance students, stories like Dr. Deacon’s transformation from tech neophyte to tech guru give us hope and inspiration. It is possible to become tech savvy instructors, even if that vision seems far from where we are right now.

Dr. Israel, Dean of Social Work, recognizes Dr. Deacon’s contribution to the success of their students and his leadership among his peers:Excellence

[Dr. Deacon] discovered that using online technology would aid in expanding distance options for the Social Work program. And so he went about getting himself as fully prepared as he could, not having had any experience with this technology before. He nailed it, and students were appreciative. Course evaluations and personal comments from students indicated that he and we are proud of him and proud of our students. I have asked him to help train a professor who is offering online classes from Farmington in indigenous issues in association with our new Indigenous Knowledge Center. This is a major step forward for us in testing the technology. We will be paying close attention to examine how students learn with online courses. Dr. Deacon’s service in this regard is absolutely vitally important.

We hope you can join us to hear directly from Dr. Deacon, who will be presenting on February 29th, 2016 from 12:00-1:00 pm about his experiences, struggles, and success in transforming his classroom. **Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to dmarrs@nmhu.edu if attending.

Classroom Management

Startup Stock Photos

Why policies don’t change student behavior

Classroom management is a common topic at Highlands. This recent article from Faculty Focus discusses why official policies are not effective in changing student behavior. Read here

In November, we will conduct a co-sponsored presentation by CTE, student success and student services to discuss official policies, early alert, and strategies you can try in the classroom to address these issues.

External Grant Opportunities For Individual Faculty

moneyNEA Foundation Student Achievement grant DUE Feb 1

The NEA Foundation provides grants to improve the academic achievement of students in U.S. public schools and public higher education institutions in any subject area(s). The proposed work should engage students in critical thinking and problem solving that deepen their knowledge of standards-based subject matter. The work should also improve students’ habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection.

NEA foundation Learning and Leadership Grant Due Feb 1

All professional development must improve practice, curriculum, and student achievement. “One-shot” professional growth experiences, such as attending a national conference or engaging a professional speaker, are discouraged. Decisions regarding the content of the professional growth activities must be based upon an assessment of student work undertaken with colleagues, and must be integrated into the institutional planning process.