Technology Boot Camp Improves Outcomes for Summer Reading Program Participants

The Saint Joseph’s University’s Summer Reading Program, under the direction of Dr. Mary DeKonty Applegate, is a summer graduate studies program in the Department of Teacher Education that provides children in grades K-9 with individualized assessment profiles, small group instruction and collaborative literacy learning focused on higher-level thinking.

The program’s literacy coaches and graduate students experienced increasing technology problems from 2011 to 2012 that were disruptive to the productivity of the program participants. Some of these difficulties were attributable to the diverse models of digital video cameras being implemented as the preferred Flip digital video cameras were discontinued and reaching end of life: unintentionally large file sizes, not sure how to download video from the newer cameras, difficulty deleting videos, etc. Additionally the participants had multimedia file-handling issues such as difficulty inserting large video files into PowerPoint and uploading video files to the university Blackboard server.

In response to this growing need for technology support, Duane Glover, Technical Support Specialist for the College of Arts & Sciences, implemented an intensive Technology Boot Camp for the literacy coaches and graduate students participating in the 2013 Summer Reading Program. Additionally, dedicated on-site technical support was made available for ongoing training and support for the duration of the program. The Technology Boot Camp and the subsequent support sessions covered:

  • Camera setup and use
  • Downloading video from cameras
  • Video file formats and conversion options
  • Resources for editing videos
  • Simple editing of videos (rotate, clip, etc)
  • Blackboard video uploads (supported by a Kaltura video hosting server)
  • PowerPoint (Inserting Audio/video objects)

Pre and post program surveys were provided to the attendees of the Technology Boot Camp to collect feedback to guide future training programs and provide a baseline to assess whether the training proved to be useful to the attendees. To view a report summarizing and highlighting the survey results click here.

With the successful outcomes that were obtained at this year’s Summer Reading Program, we would like to include technology training and direct support every year. We also successfully integrated 3 Apple iPad mini tablets into the program to replace the aging Flip video cameras and would like to add more iPads in the future. The iPads enabled the coaches, graduate students and children to engage in digital audio and video projects that enhanced their learning experience and demonstrated their understanding in many different ways. It is also important for prospective teachers to have sufficient time, support and resources to prepare for implementing the iPad into their curriculum.

Enhancing Teaching & Learning with Mobile Technology

The Academic Technology Leadership Committee sponsored their second annual Teaching and Learning Forum at the Cardinal Foley Campus Center on June 7th. The theme for this year’s Forum was “Building Learning Communities” and the faculty-led program committee prepared a full-day agenda of presentations and discussions. New for this year’s forum were poster sessions and discussions from several of our technology vendors such as Apple and Extron.

TPACK Diagram

Reproduced by permission of the publisher.
© 2012

Dr. Megan Raymond, a Development Executive with Apple, Inc. led one of the afternoon break-out sessions. Dr. Raymond discussed how mobile technologies such as Apple’s iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone mark a fundamental shift in the traditional classroom. She emphasized TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge), which is a framework to understand and describe the kinds of knowledge needed by an educator for effective pedagogical practice in a technology-enhanced learning environment. This framework is illustrated by a Venn diagram with three foci: Pedagogy, Content and 21st Century Technology. The convergence of these spheres, representing a masterful 21st century classroom focused on essential learning with the application of sound learning theory and efficient technological support, is the target of Apple’s mobile solutions for education.

Dr. Raymond highlighted a suite of apps that, while intended for the Apple iPad and iPhone demographic, are also indicative of the functional role of a tablet computing device in a modern teaching and learning ecosystem:

FaceTime — an Apple-developed video telephony application for supported mobile devices running iOS, as well as current Mac OS computers.

Evernote — a free productivity and information organization app that supports notes, photo capture, to-do lists, and voice reminders, across all of your devices.

Penultimate — supports natural, hand-written note-taking and sketching with integration with Evernote.

Explain Everything — a very flexible annotation and presentation tool that allows manipulation of a variety of presentation and document file formats.

GoodReader – a robust PDF reader with enhanced annotation and file format support.

Dragon Dictation — a voice recognition application supporting voice-to-text transcription in email, messaging and document creation applications and integration with popular social networking services.

ITunes U — a free service hosted by Apple for the distribution of audio and video podcasts and other course materials by educational institutions.

TurningPoint (A.K.A. Clicker) Integration with Blackboard

TurningPoint ResponseCardTurningPoint ResponseCards (A.K.A. Clickers) are one of the coolest and most interactive instructional technology items we have at SJU. The clickers work in conjunction with a USB receiver and the TurningPoint Anywhere v.3 instant polling application that is installed on most podium computers across the campus. There are 35 clickers in a set, and they pack into a convenient carrying case.

Instant polling adds significant interactivity to your lecture and can really help increase student engagement. Polling may be performed anonymously when surveying the audience generally, or the unique identification number of each response unit can be entered for each student in a managed Participant List integrated with your Blackboard course.

TurningPoint Anywhere provides two actions that are integrated with Blackboard:

  • Import a Participant List from your Blackboard course
  • Export session Grades to your Blackboard course

To Import a TurningPoint Participant List from Blackboard (Mac OS):

  1. Launch TurningPoint Anywhere
  2. From the Window menu, select LMS Integrations
  3. Enter the Server Address:
  4. Click Continue
  5. Enter your SJU Username and Password
  6. Select the option to Remember this information and click Continue (only your server address and user name will be remembered)
  7. Select Import Participant List and click Continue
  8. Select the appropriate Blackboard course and click Continue
  9. Specify the TurningPoint participant list file name and destination (the default location is your Documents/TurningPoint Anywhere/Participants folder) and click Save
  10. Click Done

After a session has been completed and saved, the grades can be exported to Blackboard. We’ll review those steps in the next post.

Lecture Capture

For hundreds of years, students have practiced lecture capture through the process of taking notes. Lecture capture has since evolved, first with audio cassettes, then television, and now through web streaming with rich media. This latest lecture capture technology is available at Saint Joseph’s University. Our technology can automatically capture both you and your computer screen and then make it available over the web as streaming video. The best part of the technology is that it is all “automatic”; you, the faculty member, simply have to lecture like your normally would. About an hour after your lecture, you will be emailed a link to the streaming video that you can then post to your Blackboard page or send out to your students via email. Give your students another opportunity to learn by contacting ITDL at x1770 to schedule the capture of your lecture today.

Some Tips to Improve Your Laptop’s Battery Life

  1. If you do not use your laptop for extended periods of time (a week or more), remove the battery pack from the laptop.
  2. Do not expose the battery to high heat or freezing temperatures. Do not leave your battery in your car in the summer. Hot batteries discharge very quickly, and cold ones can’t create as much power.
  3. Completely drain and recharge the battery once a month to maximize its capacity to hold a charge.
  4. Fully charge new battery packs before use. New pack needs to be fully charged and discharged (cycled) a few times before it can condition to full capacity.
  5. Leaving a battery in a laptop while using an electrical outlet for long periods of time will keep the battery in a constant state of charging up and that will reduce the life cycle of the battery.


Properly Connecting Your Electronic Devices to Power When Abroad

If you are traveling abroad for any reason, whether it be for a Study Tour, vacation, or visiting friends and family, it is a good idea to be prepared for the task of properly connecting your “American” electronic devices to the power outlets of other countries.  In many cases you will only need to purchase a power plug adapter (a.k.a. travel adapter), which is a device that simply allows you to “adapt” your 2-prong or 3-prong “American” plug into the plug type of other countries, since the power supplies of many electronic devices will accept a power input ranging from 100 Volts to 240 Volts.  The documentation that came with your electronic device and/or the power supply itself will say what input level the power supply can handle.  If the country you are traveling to has power outlets that provide 220V and the power supply of your electronic device DOES NOT accept a power input of 220V you will need to purchase a voltage converter (a.k.a. power converter).  A voltage converter is a device that converts 220V to 110V and vice versa.

Using Clickers to Engage Your Students

It is a well-known fact in Mathematics Education that active learning strategies have a considerable positive impact on student understanding of subject content. Clickers facilitate the implementation of some active learning strategies, such as student-student interactions and whole class discussions. This technology allows a student to respond, anonymously, to multiple choice or true-false questions. The software (Interwrite Response) records students’ responses and produces a bar graph of the recorded answers.  There is no learning curve for the students, since the clickers are intuitive. This technology provides timely and frequent feedback to students and instructors. In turn, this affects student engagement in active learning and positively changes students’ attendance and enthusiasm. These types of systems have been used for years by the SJU Biology faculty and recently began to gain popularity among the SJU Mathematics faculty.

MacBook and MacBook Pro Battery Update 1.2

Apple has recently discovered that some batteries used in its MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks may have battery performance issues. Affected batteries will have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Battery is not recognized causing an “X” to appear in the battery icon in the Finder menu bar.
  • Battery will not charge when computer is plugged into AC power.
  • Battery exhibits low charge capacity/runtime when using a fully charged battery
  • Battery pack is visibly deformed.

Apple is offering a software update that is designed to address these issues. If you are a MacBook or MacBook Pro user and your computer is exhibiting one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, please visit the following website to download the update: If your computer continues to exhibit one or more of the symptoms after installing the update, please contact the IT Help Desk.

Tablet pad

The Dean’s Office is currently sponsoring a tablet pad pilot program within the College or Arts and Sciences. A tablet pad is an electronic pad that you use with a special pen that allows you to “draw” on your computer screen. It is useful when you would like to “draw” on your PowerPoint slides to make a point clearer or if the classroom you are in has limited whiteboard/chalkboard space because the projector screen is covering it up. The accompanying software allows you to save your “drawings” so that you can upload them to your Blackboard course at a later time. The hardware/software work with both PCs and Macs. Since Apple does not yet offer a tablet computer with touch-screen, this is the next best thing for Mac users.

There are currently 4 faculty members piloting the tablet pad. If you are interested in piloting the tablet pad within your department, please express your interest to Anne Szewczyk.

Note: A tablet pad is the low-cost alternative to a tablet PC. Tablet pads are different from tablet PCs (which the Biology department is already using) in that tablet pads are external devices that plug into available USB ports on your computer. Also, when using a tablet PC you draw directly on the LCD screen, but when using a tablet pad you draw on the tablet pad and see what you are drawing on the screen.

Using Tablet PC in the Classroom

The Biology Department faculty have been using Tablet PCs   in their freshman core courses for over a year. Some also   have used  them in upper level biology elective courses. The   advantage of using Tablet PCs is to allow faculty to add   annotations to PowerPoint slides during class time. Using  the pen option permits written script to be added to figures   on slides, pointing out important structures or concepts to   students. Another of the Tablet PC options is a blank screen   (either black or white) to be projected, onto which the   instructor can write notes, draw illustrations, or work   problems without having to move from the screen to a   board, which is sometimes awkward and involves turning   lights onjtudor_tabletpc4 and off. There are several color options so that objects or script can be highlighted in different colors for emphasis. Any annotations added to PowerPoint slides can be saved as part of the presentation if so desired. Faculty in the Biology Department have found that using Tablet PCs is a significant pedagogical tool when used in lectures using PowerPoint.