Spe c Classr ial oo Issue m

Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education

Vol. XI, Nº 3

A newsletter devoted to the support of teaching & learning at the University of Pittsburgh

March 2006

Keys To Conducting a Vital Class
n this issue of the Teaching Times, Lu-in Wang, Law; Kim Needy, Engineering; Edward Stricker, Neuroscience; and Melanie Dreyer-Lude, Theatre Arts (pictured here with her class), share strategies and techniques they employ to help students learn in the classroom. As a springboard for their articles, they considered “How Do They Conduct Class?” a chapter from Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do. This chapter presents seven challenges to the college instructor: 1. Create a natural critical learning environment 2. Get student attention and keep it 3. Start with students rather than the discipline 4. Seek commitments 5. Help students learn outside of class 6. Engage students in disciplinary thinking 7. Create diverse learning experiences Pointing out that Bain’s examples “collectively describe an environment in which students and teacher engage in a joint undertaking, recognizing and even relishing their mutual responsibility for and contributions to its success,” Wang elaborates on the concept of “hosting” her law classes. This involves “focusing on the students the way one ideally focuses on companions around the table: being attentive, responsive, spontaneous, and flexible.” Dreyer-Lude describes her classes as taking place in a collaborative environment


An introductory activity in an advanced acting class taught by Melanie Dreyer-Lude, Theatre Arts, uses a prop (string) to reinforce the ideas of ensemble and collaboration.

where “teamwork and resource sharing become a habitual part of the students’ process.” She believes that interactive learning promotes “the acquisition of new information and ideas without sacrificing an independent point of view.” Stricker emphasizes the importance of arousing student curiosity to capture student attention and keep it. He does this by selecting topics that illustrate basic principles of the field. He engages students

by asking questions to model scientific inquiry, sharing anecdotes that illustrate concepts in concrete ways, and encouraging students to generate their own questions. Needy explains how she uses classroom discussions to explore contemporary issues and real-world applications. Discussions, along with other varied activities, help students to appreciate the lifelong learning that is implicit in the field of engineering.

Inside This Issue

Help Students

Learn in the Classroom: Professorsʼ Strategies and Techniques


Foreign Language Your Own Content in Blackboard Summer Class for the First Time + CIDDEʼs New mCasts!

IT Updates:

Photos by Jason Blair, CIDDE

Dear Faculty,
Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education (CIDDE) Alumni Hall 4227 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15260 Phone: 412-624-6596 Fax: 412-624-7220 E-mail: dearment@cidde.pitt.edu Web: www.pitt.edu/~ciddeweb/teachingtimes Editorial Staff Editor: Carol DeArment Graphic Design & Illustrations: Alec A. Sarkas Copy Editor: Tim Kyle Photography: CIDDE, Photography & Electronic Imaging The TeachingTimes, a newsletter devoted to the support of teaching and learning, is distributed to every faculty member and teaching assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. It features interviews with faculty who share teaching experiences, strategies, and techniques that can be applied in classrooms across the University. The TeachingTimes welcomes letters and articles from faculty and staff about any topic affecting University teaching and learning. The TeachingTimes is published by the Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education (CIDDE), which provides a wide range of services to faculty in support of University teaching and learning. The central mission of CIDDE is to support excellence in University instruction. CIDDE also is responsible for maximizing the effective use of instructional technologies to meet the University’s academic goals and priorities. Diane Davis, Director djdavis@pitt.edu Joanne M. Nicoll, Associate Director for Instructional Design and Faculty Development nicoll@pitt.edu Nick Laudato, Associate Director, Instructional Technology laudato@pitt.edu CIDDE Photography & Electronic Imaging Services
provides full-service location and studio photography in digital and film formats as well as a full range of photo lab services. For further information, contact Jim Burke by telephone, 412-648-9870, or e-mail, jburke@pitt.edu.

Are you planning to develop a new course or revise an exi sting one? The Center for Instructional Dev elopment & Distance Educat ion (CIDDE) provides services to faculty in suppor t of University teaching and learning. Instructional Development services includ e assisting instructors as the y develop and revise courses, learning activities, course materials, and techni ques to assess student learning. A CIDDE instructio nal designer will work direct ly with you, according to your schedule, to help you create the basic component s of a new course or to reengineer an existing one, using current and effective teaching and learning strategies. In the past year alone, CIDDE provided these support services to over 100 faculty members. To get more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact me at 412-624-7372 or nicoll@pit t.edu. All the best, Joanne Nicoll Associate Director of Instru ctional Design and Faculty Development CIDDE

2005 Teaching Awards Omissions
The following School of Medicine teaching awards for 2005 were inadvertently omitted from the November 2005 issue of the Teaching Times:

School of Medicine
Donald S. Fraley Award
Stephen L. Phillips Peter F. Drain Mary E. Choifor

Sheldon Adler Award Award for Excellence in Clinical Precepting
Michael Wusylko Bruce I. Hyde Marc J. Schneiderman


Special Classroom Issue March 2006

Classroom Conversation: Key To Engaging Students
By Lu-in Wang, School of Law

“Hosting the class involves focusing on the students the way one ideally focuses on oneʼs companions around the table: being attentive, responsive, spontaneous, and flexible.”
one’s companions around the table: being attentive, responsive, spontaneous, and flexible. It means drawing each student into the discussion by eliciting questions and comments from a wide range of students, remembering and using the students’ contributions to further discussion, and adjusting the pace and focus of discussion to the cues from students’ words, facial expressions, and body language. It means recognizing and appreciating the various ways individual students can contribute to the conversation. It also entails some risk—not every student responds positively to the invitation to participate, and the opportunity for embarrassment (the teacher’s and the student’s) is always present. Some students make this conversation easy: They are engaged and eager to speak, and they provide focused comments and questions that naturally move discussion forward or help to illuminate points already made. But even those students who are more retiring or less focused can make positive contributions if the teacher is alert to opportunities to involve them and to channel and situate their comments. Sometimes nonverbal behavior— fidgeting, shifting in his seat, changing facial expressions—signals that a student is
Photo by Joseph Kapelewski, CIDDE

ain’s seven principles (see Page 1) collectively describe an environment in which students and teacher engage in a joint undertaking, recognizing and even relishing their mutual responsibility for and contributions to its success. Essential to that success is the teacher’s use of what Bain calls “good talk.” As Bain tells it, to use good talk is to approach communication both within and outside of the classroom as a “conversation” (which is not to suggest that it is not also a performance). Susan Wiltshire, a successful teacher cited by Bain, notes that it is “not unlike inviting students into exchanges around the dinner table” (p. 119). That comparison describes my classroom approach—I try to act not simply as the leader of the class, but also as its host. Hosting the class involves focusing on the students the way one ideally focuses on


struggling with the question of whether to raise his hand. I try to be attentive to those cues, and might even point them out when I call on that student. This usually pays off: the student says something valuable and is glad that he did. Even comments or questions that seem irrelevant can be helpful, for they provide an opportunity to step back from the particular point and remind the class of the overall themes of the course—for example, to explain how the question or comment is relevant to another topic and how that topic relates (or doesn’t) to the current discussion. Far less comfortable, but no less essential, is acknowledging and responding to a student whose comment, question, or nonverbal expression suggests boredom, confusion, frustration, or even anger. Engaging this student presents greater risk, both pedagogical and social, but often is worth the rewards. I have learned not to assume that I know what lies behind a student’s negative appearance, for appearances can be deceiving, and often the student welcomes an invitation into the discussion. Even when the student truly is confused, bored, frustrated, or angry, engaging her can be an opportunity for me to learn of a problem with the class that other, less expressive students share. It also can open constructive, substantive dialogue by raising objections to basic concepts, principles, or assumptions that no one else (including me) had thought to question.


Collaboration Fosters Learning Skills and Independent Thought
By Melanie Dreyer-Lude, Theater Arts


he collaborative environment that I nurture throughout the semester is an important component of the teaching dynamic in my classes. For example, in my directing courses, teamwork and resource sharing become a habitual part of the students’ process, and this behavior often continues once the semester is over and they work on outside projects together. As directors, I hope they’ve learned that they can be open to the acquisition of new information and ideas without sacrificing an independent point of view. One of my greatest obstacles in teaching directing to undergraduates is helping them to assimilate a practical skill set (learning to follow some rules about directing) while maintaining an independent point of view (having an artistic opinion). There are theatrical customs and audience expectations that create a set of standards by which we view theatrical production. But art fails to hold interest if it lacks a passionate point of view. I regularly wrestle with the tension between imparting a set of guidelines for execution while encouraging as much free thinking as possible. One of my strategies for dealing with this tension is to reverse the introduction of ideas in activities based on collabora-

tive teamwork. Rather than beginning the semester with a series of skill building exercises, I begin by having my students direct without telling them how to do it. During the first three days of class, they are asked to work as a team to stage a children’s story. Together we consider what the director’s job might be, but they must decide which steps to take. While they work together, they have the opportunity to recognize the value of various artistic opinions; they see multiple ways to solve a problem; they learn how to work in a team—how to support their colleagues and how to find compromise in moments of disagreement. Once the directors have begun to establish their own methods of problem solving, I begin to introduce skill sets. As we examine the individual components in the craft of directing, I encourage students to share their expertise with one another. Some are gifted at text analysis, while others easily work with abstraction and image association. Some understand how to think spatially and how to compose stage pictures. Each new skill we encounter offers an opportunity for the students to demonstrate existing expertise as well as to work together to learn something new. Student collaboration is also a core

“I regularly wrestle with the tension between imparting a set of guidelines for execution while encouraging as much free thinking as possible. One of my strategies for dealing with this tension is to reverse the introduction of ideas in activities based on collaborative teamwork.”
component of feedback and evaluation. When grading my directing students, I use the articulation of their ideas as the benchmark for their work. Do we see what she described? Has he been clear about telling his story? Are there moments where she is actually contradicting what she intended to say? This negotiation gives the students ownership over the grades they receive at the end of the semester. Few quibble with the marks I give them, having already recognized where they’ve succeeded and failed. All of the students in class must track one another’s goals and accept the various interpretations presented in order to offer useful feedback for final presentations. The task is not to contradict what they see but to identify each director’s successes and failures in communicating their ideas.


Photo by Jason Blair, CIDDE

Special Classroom Issue March 2006

Discussion and Contemporary Issues Promote Appreciation for Lifelong Learning
By Kim LaScola Needy, Industrial Engineering

Left to right: Kim LaScola Needy with Doug Rabeneck and Mandy Kaszycki, students, Engineering Management class


“…By carefully designing the course homework assignments, projects, in-class exercises, discussions, and case studies we not only provide an effective learning environment, but also convey the importance of lifelong learning…”
almost acts as our laboratory for exploration of the course material, and the students learn that engineering management can be applied in any number of settings. For example, in the fall 2005 semester, we discussed the engineering management and project management aspects associated with the rebuilding efforts to the U.S. Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina. This exercise also provokes the engineering students to consider the impact of engineering solutions in a societal context. In summary, by carefully designing the course homework assignments, projects, in-class exercises, discussions, and case studies we not only provide an effective learning environment, but also convey the importance of lifelong learning along with consideration of societal implications and contemporary issues critical for solving complex engineering problems. As educators, if we can provide our graduates with the foundation and tools for lifelong learning, then we can help to ensure that they will have bright and rewarding careers.

ngineering is a highly technical field with a rapid turnover of the body of knowledge. So in addition to seeking the students’ mastery of the course material, another primary objective is to instill in the students an appreciation for lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is emphasized throughout Engineering Management, a required course for industrial engineering seniors, covering modern engineering management theory as it applies to technical organizations. Because this course contains a significant amount of discussion, students are asked to make a commitment to attend class and participate in the discussion by sharing their related experiences. For example, during the discussion on planning, we study how organizations develop a vision, mission, objectives, goals, strategies, and projects to support their strategic plan. In class we examine the strategic plans of several organizations and then, for a homework assignment, the students select a company of interest and analyze its strategic plan. As an extension to this exercise, students are challenged to reflect upon how strategic

planning is critical for them personally. Specifically, students are asked to develop a personal mission statement and a fiveyear strategic plan. Their strategic plans must contain not only career-based, but also personal-based objectives and goals. This assignment requires students to ask themselves questions such as, “How will I maintain my technical skills and keep abreast of changing technology if I wish to advance in my career?” Assessment of this assignment examines the depth, breadth, and, specifically, attention to lifelong learning of each student’s plan. Lifelong learning is also discussed explicitly in one of the class sessions on achieving effectiveness as an engineer. A group, in-class exercise asks students to brainstorm how they will stay technically competent in engineering and the importance of active professional society involvement. Another approach used to show the importance of lifelong learning is incorporating contemporary issues into the classroom. Contemporary issues are introduced from the trade press such as the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and the local newspaper. From an engineering management perspective, the world

Photo by Jason Blair, CIDDE


Curiosity Drives Learning In and Out of Class
By Edward Stricker, Neuroscience

“I believe that questions drive learning. Therefore, in addition to describing the research questions that stimulated experiments, I encourage students to ask questions…”


have taught Introduction to Neuroscience for many years. As the title implies, the general goal of the course is to introduce students to the science of the nervous system. Because it is a prerequisite for all other courses in the neuroscience major, I must prepare students for more advanced courses. However, I tell them that the course is less oriented around the product than the process of neuroscience. By that I mean that I will be less interested in whether they learn numerous facts (although they certainly will do so) than whether they learn how to understand scientific information. When I was growing up in the Bronx, I thought that food came from stores, and I remember being surprised to learn about farms and orchards. I can

imagine that many students similarly still believe that scientific information comes from books. Instead, I want them to appreciate that it was obtained from experiments, that those experiments generated new theories, and that those theories were evaluated in subsequent experiments. This research-oriented course is fairly large (120 enrolled students) and is taught exclusively in a lecture format. In one semester I cannot provide a comprehensive introduction to the entire discipline of neuroscience; so, instead, I select topics that will illustrate its basic principles. I have found these topics to be of considerable interest to the students and, just as important, to me. Thus, I know a lot about this material, and I can speak about it knowledgeably and enthusiastically. There are many phenomena with explanations that can provide insights into the nervous system. Some can be presented as anecdotes. For example, when London was being firebombed during World War II, a wooden nursing
Photo by Jason Blair, CIDDE

home which housed patients who could not move was set afire. Patients with spinal damage perished, but patients with Parkinson’s disease fled to safety only to become akinetic (unable to move) again when they reached the streets. Few students have heard this story, and it makes them curious about the biological bases for the observed difference between the patients. More familiar phenomena can be presented as questions without elaborate anecdotes. For example, why do we get hungry? How can we see in color? I begin each class with a story or question of this sort, intended to capture the students’ attention and spark their curiosity, and then I describe the experimental evidence that allowed an understanding of the phenomenon. I believe that questions drive learning. Therefore, in addition to describing the research questions that stimulated experiments, I encourage students to ask questions both in and out of class (via electronic messages). I am pleased to say that I am bombarded with such questions every day, and I post the questions and my answers on the course Web page so that all students can participate in this virtual discussion. That is a hidden agenda of the course, to have students think at all times (not just while they are in my class), in all courses (not just in mine), and in all settings (not just in courses).


Special Classroom Issue March 2006

By Yadviga Semikolenova, CIDDE TA Services

lthough the initial responsibility of teaching assistants is to assist faculty, many graduate student teachers at the University of Pittsburgh subsequently have an opportunity to teach courses independently for the first time in the summer. We at CIDDE’s TA Services are available to assist with this process. In addition, helpful information is available from the Developing and Teaching a Course section of CIDDE’s Web site1 and from CIDDE’s TA Handbook.2 In this article I share general suggestions on how to plan a successful summer course, with an emphasis on how to develop a course from scratch. This first-time teaching usually involves one of three types of situations for a TA: 1. A class that she has previously instructed as a TA. 2. A class that she has no experience with but that is one of the core courses required by the department (e.g., an introductory course). 3. A new course that needs to be developed from scratch. Obviously, planning a course takes time, and condensing a course into six weeks during the summer presents unique challenges; therefore, begin your preparations as soon as possible. In my experience, it is useful to think about the following stages in developing a successful course: 1. Formulate the learning objectives, or outcomes, of the course and understand the characteristics of students who are most likely to take the class. 2. Select a textbook and/or reading materials targeted at the expected audience.


3. Develop a structure that helps to achieve the learning objectives. 4. Develop a syllabus. 5. Develop lesson plans. Obviously, when you are assigned to teach a course for which you have led recitations or labs, you are already familiar with the purpose and structure of the course, the learning materials, and the typical or average student who takes the course. On the other hand, when you are assigned to teach an unfamiliar course, identifying course objectives and the targeted audience is more challenging. If it is one of the basic classes offered each semester, you should discuss the goals and structure with professors and/or other graduate student instructors who have already taught the class. Ask to look at others’ syllabi and class materials, discuss the academic backgrounds of typical students, consider possible challenges, and ask for textbook suggestions. In developing a course from scratch, your first challenge is to identify the course objectives and the prior knowledge and skills of the students. To identify the objectives, or outcomes, of the class, first, think of what you want the students to be able to do, in terms of knowledge and skills, by the end of the course. If this class has been offered before, read its description, usually available through the department. Note prerequisites—this will help you to get an idea of the background of the students you will teach. Again, try to

discuss your ideas with professors and fellow graduate students. In addition, a Web search may provide ideas on how this class is taught in other schools and textbooks others have found to be useful. A word of caution: Do not pick the first textbook colleagues suggest! Shop around to get a comprehensive perspective of the options, keeping the level of the students in mind. Most publishers will ship a desk copy free of charge when you fill in a request form on their Web sites. Once you have identified the objectives, the targeted audience, and the textbook, the next step is to develop the course struc-

“Condensing a course into six weeks during the summer presents unique challenges; therefore, begin your preparations as soon as possible.”
ture. There are many possible organizational structures, and your decision will be determined by the discipline, subject matter, and learning objectives. Remember, summer courses are intense; therefore, it is important to break the course content into sequential concepts. Using the textbook and the course learning outcomes, list the topics you want to cover, aligning them with the course objectives. You may choose to closely follow the textbook, or supplement the course with additional readings if you think that some of the topics are not adequately covered in the textbook. Then, again based on learning objectives, think about how you are going to teach, or follow, that structure. Because of the intensity of summer courses—a reguSee ‘Teach Your Own Summer Class’ on Page 10

1 2

Developing and Teaching a Course: www.pitt.edu/~ciddeweb/FACULTY-DEVELOPMENT/FDS/fss2.html CIDDE’s TA Handbook: www.pitt.edu/~ciddeweb/FACULTY-DEVELOPMENT/TA_HANDBOOK/index.htm

Photo by Jason Blair, CIDDE

Preparing To Teach Your Own Summer Class for the First Time


Blackboard Allows Consistent Foreign Language Content
By Cindy Lu, CIDDE Instructional Technologist
Photo by Joseph Kapelewski, CIDDE

Figure 1: Pull-down menu of lanugages available

Figure 2: English and Dutch buttons

ultilanguage support in recent versions of Blackboard allows faculty to offer consistent online content in any of seven languages. In addition to English, the default language for menu buttons, Blackboard allows instructors to convert menu buttons to German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, or Spanish (see Figs. 1 and 2). East Asian and other languages will be supported in Blackboard 7, to be adopted by the University in the future. This tool is useful to faculty who enrich their online course content and who do not allow English to be written or spoken in their courses. Explaining the usefulness of this tool, teaching fellow Rob Mucklo, Hispanic Languages and Literatures, comments, “The proficiency of my Spanish 1 and 2 students in the language is somewhat limited, and even more so when it comes to technology. I translate the buttons for several reasons: (1) to provide further exposure to the language (2) to provide a real context for vocabulary (3) to use student knowledge of standard CourseWeb button arrangement and cognation of terms to aid in learning. “On my course evaluations students have commented that they like the way I speak to them entirely in Spanish and use Spanish wherever possible. They’ve also mentioned that they like having CourseWeb available to them for the course. I post all of the day’s activities,


handouts, and homework on CourseWeb (all in Spanish); so if they’re absent, they have it all at their fingertips.” Lina Insana, French and Italian Languages and Literatures, comments, “We in the Italian program have made a very strong commitment to maintaining the target language in all of our courses. This means that, when possible, instructors’ out of class interactions with our students take place in Italian, whether we’re at a departmentally sponsored event like the ‘Tavola Italiana’ (weekly conversation hour) or in more casual settings like the hallways of the Cathedral of Learning. “Recently, our instructional activities have begun to spill out of the classroom space in more and more interesting ways: not just into physical corridors, but into virtual spaces like CourseWeb, as well. It is important that this commitment to an Italianonly experience be exclusive and total, and details like the ability to change the language (or ‘Locale’) of our CourseWeb settings contribute to this goal. In this way, students entering a course’s CourseWeb site can feel that they are still in an Italian-only space. This function also makes for a smoother management of the course within traditional walls: if I know that my students know the Italian terms for ‘Syllabus’ and ‘Digital Drop Box,’ I can use them in the classroom to direct

my students’ usage of the CourseWeb site. Students have reacted very well to this standardization and appreciate the acquisition of new and important vocabulary in such a contextualized, practical way.” To change menu buttons to a language other than English, instructors should go to the Control Panel and select “Settings,” then “Set Locale.” (As with any Blackboard application, faculty can delete and add buttons to suit their content.) Instructors should be aware that when a “locale” is selected in Blackboard, the entire control panel text changes to the language of that locale. In addition to setting the locale, there are other ways to include nonEnglish content in CourseWeb. For example, text typed in any language in a Microsoft Word document can be cut and pasted into Blackboard. To use a particular language in Microsoft Word, instructors may select “Control Panel,” then “Regional and Language Options.” Click the icon that appears in the lower right side of the screen to activate text to be typed in the desired language. European language keyboards are similar to those of the United States, with the addition of certain characters and accents. On a U.S. keyboard, other characters can be inserted by clicking on “Start,” then “All Programs,” “Accessories,” “System Tools,” and “Character Map.”


Special Classroom Issue March 2006

CIDDEʼs New mCasts!

By Nick Laudato, CIDDE Associate Director

ears ago I was explaining a technology solution to a colleague. The solution addressed several different problems simultaneously; so I remarked that it “killed multiple birds with one stone.” She got a kick out of the expression, and I’ve found occasion to use it many times since. With our hectic work schedules, we’re delighted when we can solve more than one problem with a single effort. That is what we sought to achieve when we began what we are calling the mCasts. We use the term “mCast” to refer to a multiple multimedia Web cast. The essential idea was to record the many components of a presentation with one effort, and then make several varied forms of that presentation available over the Web. The one recording effort would be done using Mediasite technology, enabling the simultaneous recording of video, audio, and the presenter’s computer display, complete with any written annotations on the display. The inaugural mCast, available as “ITmCast000” on the site https://cidde-web.cidde.pitt.edu/mcast, explains the original concept. It’s called an “ITmCast” because it focuses on instructional technologies. We also plan to begin a “BbmCast” that will focus on the Blackboard course management system (CourseWeb). We are implementing the mCasts as live events. The ITmCast is broadcast live at noon every Thursday and the BbmCast is planned for noon Wednesdays. The live event can be viewed by following the appropriate link on the mCast


homepage, https://cidde-web.cidde.pitt. edu/mcast. The target length for each broadcast is about 15 minutes. The live broadcast includes the ability to send a question in the form of a text message to the presenter. The presenter will address any questions at the end of the broadcast. Of course, an archive of the broadcast will be available on Mediasite immediately after the event. The outputs from an mCast recording session include: • Audio Recordings: The presentation audio is available in the form of an mpeg fi le that can be downloaded and played on a computer or transferred to a portable playback device such as an iPod. The audio version will be available the day after the live presentation. • Video Recordings: The presentation video is available in several different formats, including the Apple-friendly MOV format, the Windows-friendly WMV format (both streaming and downloadable), and the popular Flash format (SWF). The MP4 version can play in iTunes or in Apple’s new portable ipod. The video version will be available two working days after the live presentation. • Video Recordings with Slides: A second video version is available in all the same formats. This version intersperses the images from the presenter’s computer display into the video, showing the PowerPoint slides with written annotations.

• Rich Media Recordings: The
Mediasite recording of the event is available both live and archived. The Mediasite version is also available in Flash format. Documents: The recordings are also available in transcribed form, both as plain text and as an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) document. Ironically, this nonmediated form will take the longest time to prepare and post.

mCast Output Types

See CIDDE’s New mCasts! Page 10

Photo by Jim Burke, CIDDE

CIDDE has initiated a new series of multimedia Web casts aimed at addressing several goals: to provide faculty with useful information about instructional technologies being deployed at Pitt; to gain direct experience using new multimedia technologies; and to serve as examples of such use.


Continued from previous page

CIDDEʼs New mCasts!
The audio (MP3 and M4A/B) and video (MP4) versions of the presentation are also available as “podcasts.” Podcasts are multimedia files that are distributed via subscription. To subscribe to a podcast, you first install a software package called an aggregator on your computer. CSSD recommends iTunes for both the PC and Macintosh platforms, available at the electronic software distribution site http://software.pitt.edu or directly from Apple at www.apple.com. Once the aggregator is installed, subscribing to a podcast is easy (see directions on the sidebar at https://cidde-web.cidde. pitt.edu/mcast). Once subscribed, new editions of the mCast will be automatically downloaded to your computer for
Continued from Page 7

playback in iTunes or for transfer to your portable mp3 player, if you have one. Dan Hummon’s presentation in ITmCast003, available at https://cidde-web. cidde.pitt.edu/mcast, explains podcasting in more detail. As is often the case with new technologies, the original approach was obsolete before we started publishing the results. For example, we began to make multiple simultaneous recordings of the presentation in order to optimize recording quality and reduce the amount of postproduction effort required to create all of the outputs listed above. We also began mixing the slides into a version of the video in real time. We expect our techniques to continually evolve and hope to soon offer

these services to the University community. With all due apologies to ornithologists and bird lovers, I think we are achieving our goal of killing multiple birds with one stone. The ITmCast series will help familiarize faculty with the many and varied instructional technologies available to them at the University, and the BbmCast series will provide a useful library of short Blackboard training modules on both general and special topics. At the same time, the CIDDE technical staff is gaining valuable insights into these emerging technologies and generating some useful examples for potential users. Hope you all tune in and let us know what you think.

Teach Your Own Summer Class
lar 15-week course is often taught in only six weeks—it is important to vary activities and provide ample time for practice and feedback. For example, you might employ class discussions, role plays, demonstrations, and group work. Once the structure is mapped, develop a tentative timeline for the class, using the academic calendar of the University available at www.pitt.edu/calendars.html. Keeping this calendar in mind, list the topics that will be covered in each class or week and identify in-class activities and readings for each topic. A timeline will help you to stay organized and on target for learning outcomes. An important consideration is how you will assess and evaluate the students’ progress based on the course learning objectives. Plan the number and frequency of homework assignments, quizzes, and exams and how each will be evaluated. Once you are satisfied with your structure, you may choose to make it available to your students as a part of the syllabus. Besides the tentative structure, your syllabus should contain a course description along with the objectives you have identified and how you plan to reach them; course prerequisites; textbook information; assignments and deadlines; exams; grading rubric; attendance and other policies (e.g., on plagiarism); as well as your office hours; location of your office; and your e-mail. Finally, remember the necessary administrative tasks that must be completed: You will need to order the textbook (ask your department secretary how to do it online, and try to do it early) as well as put materials on reserve in the library if you use supplementary readings. If you decide to use media (e.g., laptop or VCR) in the classroom, make arrangements with CIDDE’s Media Services at www.education.pitt.edu/technology/mediaservices.

The Faculty Development Resource Library at the Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education (CIDDE) provides University faculty and teaching assistants with a wealth of books, periodicals, and multimedia on a variety of subjects dealing with education and new strategies for teaching and learning, such as:

Problem-based Learning • Instructional Design • Faculty Evaluation & Development Active Learning • Teaching with Technology • Diversity in the Classroom & Curriculum
The library is located on the 6th floor of Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Avenue. To visit the library or borrow a book, please contact Michelle Lane, 412-383-9729 or lane@cidde.pitt.edu.


Special Classroom Issue March 2006

Summer Instructional Development Institute for Faculty
The annual Summer Instructional Development Institute (SIDI) provides University of Pittsburgh faculty with learning opportunities designed to promote effective teaching. Presented in collaboration with the Office of the Provost and the Provost’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence (ACIE), the following initiatives are planned for 2006.

Summer Institute: Part I

Beyond the Classroom: Fostering Long-term Retention and Transfer of Learning
Friday, May 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

What is involved in teaching for long-term retention and transfer of learning? Join faculty from various disciplines as they discuss and share effective ways to promote retention and transfer, and learn how to incorporate these activities into your courses. By the end of the program, you will have new ideas and possibilities to consider as you plan for your fall semester courses.

Summer Institute: Part II

Course Design

May 1 through August 15

This opportunity provides individual course development support for those who wish to develop or revise a course. A CIDDE instructional designer will work directly with you, according to your summer schedule, to help you meet your course design goals. CIDDE can help you to locate course-specific teaching materials and assist you in developing the most effective teaching activities, tests, projects, and assignments.

Summer Institute: Part III

Course Development Using Blackboard
Monday through Thursday, June 19–22, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This Summer Institute provides hands-on instruction in using Blackboard. This seminar helps you to learn and apply instructional design principles and knowledge of Bb authoring, communication, and management tools. You should expect to have a significant portion of your online course components complete by the end of this week of instruction.

To enroll or for more information, please contact Michelle Lane at lane@cidde.pitt.edu or 412-383-9729. 11

Faculty Book Discussions
Plan to Join Your Colleagues for Fall’s Faculty Book Discussions

The Art of Changing the Brain
By James E. Zull,
© 2002 Stylus Publishing LLC

Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning
James E. Zull invites teachers in higher education to accompany him in his exploration of what scientists can tell us about the brain and to discover how this knowledge can influence the practice of teaching. The Art of Changing the Brain is based on the premise that biology can enrich our understanding of the “good practices that cognitive science and education research have given us.” Zull’s approach is grounded in the challenges of creating effective opportunities for deep and lasting learning, and of dealing with students as unique learners. Author James E. Zull is a professor of biology and director of the University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education at Case Western Reserve University. “A necessary part of any collection of important literature on teaching and learning.”

—Michael Theall, National Teaching and Learning Forum

“This is the best book I have read about the brain and learning. His perspective forms the foundation for a teaching approach that can dramatically improve human learning.” —David A. Kolb, Dept. of Organizational Behavior, CWRU Dates will be announced in the fall. To enroll and receive a free copy of the book, contact Michelle Lane, Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education (CIDDE), lane@cidde.pitt.edu or phone 412-383-9729.
Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education

TeachingTimes University of Pittsburgh Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education 4227 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 Phone: 412-624-6596, Fax: 412-624-7220 Editorial staff: Carol DeArment, Editor; dearment@cidde.pitt.edu Alec A. Sarkas, Graphic Design & Illustrations; sarkas@cidde.pitt.edu