Our 2010 TLT Faculty Fellows have been announced! Please join me in welcoming Sam Richards, Ann Clements, Laura Guertin, and Richard Devon. In the coming days project descriptions and introductions will appear. It is going to be a great summer!
I presented this course to the students as a "green" course - the students turned in all their assignments on the blog as audio and video files embedded in Google Earth. The only paper students received on me was a copy of the syllabus. On Day 1, students were handed digital voice recorders (SONY ICD-UX200) and handheld video cameras (Kodak Zi8) and started recording right away. I was pleased at how excited the students were to having a course with a "different" format for assignments and the opportunity to spend time in the field. It was also nice for me to see the quality of multimedia products improve for each student as the weeks went on. The creativity in these files was also impressive - for example, several students would speak in different voice styles to portray different characters in their recordings. Ben Bean's campfire conversation and Centralia video were some of the highlights for me as an instructor.
Even the final exam was a series of audio recordings, completed at Ridley Creek State Park. How many opportunities do students get a chance to complete a final exam outdoors? And I will admit, this was the only other time I gave students something on paper - the questions for the final exam.
Will I do this course again? You bet. This class was the best teaching experience I've had in the 9+years I've been at Penn State. The students even told me I need to teach this course again, but they are suggesting the theme of "water" instead of "fire."
What will I do now that my half-semester course is over? I need to start planning for next semester, of course! But I need to be thoughtful about what the course goals will be and how the technology will help me get there. More audio recordings? Google Earth and/or spreadsheet mapper for a Choose Your Own Adventure? Things that make you go hmmmm.......
In the meantime, I'm still working with one of my undergraduate researchers on the wonderful project we're calling Teaching World Music with Geospatial Technology (http://tinyurl.com/googleearthmusic/). This project involves fellow TLT Fellow Ann Clements and her graduate student Teri Yerger. We've recently found out that we'll be presenting this project at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Conference in Hershey in April, and then who knows where else this may lead??? Fingers crossed, there will be an article in the next issue of Penn State Outreach about this cross-campus collaboration.
I plan on stopping by the TLT Fellows Office on my next visit to University Park. That office served as a "dream space" for me (I tell my students that each of them need to find their own "dream space," a space that serves as a source of inspiration, innovation, and high levels of work production). Hopefully, spending a little more time in the TLT Fellows Office will kick start the technology innovations going into the planning for my spring semester courses, too.
All kidding aside, this process has been a new one for me. Being at a campus, I haven't had the opportunity to work with a team. Matt Bodek (Brandywine's IDS) and Aaron Smith (the MC Campus Consultant) are wonderfully talented and have helped laid an excellent foundation to get me to where I am today with technology in/out of the classroom. Now, it's like I'm spending the summer working on a "group project" - which, for some people, sends a chill down their spine. For me, it's been just the opposite. Our meetings are filled with questions that send us on different tangents, which in this case is a good thing.
We've pretty much set out and accomplished my primary goal for the summer, figuring out how to design a "Choose Your Own Adventure" story in Google Earth. The challenge was to figure out how to create links within the pop-up windows to allow students/users to control the direction of the story. I think TK figured out how to accomplish this in the first two weeks. We then moved on to an idea suggested by Chris Stubbs. Is it possible to have students create a learning portfolio for a course all in Google Earth? It's a real exciting thought and a direction I never thought of.
Today, Chris Millet introduced the idea of integrating a blog with a Google Earth file to not only document learning in a geospatial context but increase collaboration among students. I have not used blogs for student collaboration in courses before, so I'm a little cautious but confident that this is something that be effective to enhance student learning. Time to put trust in my team to see how this pulls together.
But all this excitement and generation of "what if" and "did you think of" questions is also causing me to pause and revisit my objectives. What do I really want to do, and what do I really want to come out of the summer? The answer has always been there - my overarching goal is to increase the geographic literacy of my students by utilizing the geospatial tool Google Earth. And now, with my Dream Team, I have a plethora of new ideas and new technological approaches to make this happen.
See why they are driving me crazy? No "mindsparking" needed here!
But as exciting as it was to see the beginning of our first choose your own adventure story come to life, two other recent developments have been just as exciting over the past week.
Google Earth and Music Education
The first, is an update on the collaboration between Laura and fellow Fellow, Ann Clements who are looking to find out of Google Earth could be used to help in Music Education. With a little creativity and the addition of media elements, Google Earth could help bridge geography, culture, and music in new ways - helping students to develop a better local, national, or global perspective on the music they are learning about and how and why it sounds the way it sounds.
Where will it all lead to? At minimum some fresh ideas about music education. But the sky is certainly the limit and it is tremendously exciting to see two of our faculty fellows coming together from completely different disciplines to create something innovative. Stay tuned.
A Global Portfolio
The other interesting development from last week came from taking a step back from the specific goals of Laura's summer fellowship to consider Google Earth's place in her teaching.
Instead of using it for a specific assignment, why not use Google Earth (GE) as the hub of a student's portfolio for Laura's course?
Because of GE's flexibility in including media elements, there is no reason why the podcasts, the pictures, the presentations and papers - all of the artifacts students create during the course of a semester, couldn't be geo-tagged and mashed together to create a literal map of the work each student had done during the course of the semester. A geo-based ePortfolio if you will.
What better way to reinforce the spacial understanding so core to Laura's teaching and create an interesting archive of student work that they can be proud to share.
Its still just an idea - but its an exciting one that we look forward to exploring over the course of the summer.
I just read Chris Stubbs' post about the Google Earth powered choose your own adventure game project that Laura Guertin is working on this summer as a Faculty Fellow and was reminded of something I saw earlier this morning related to the upcoming World Cup. What I really like about the demonstration below is how it ties directly to the context of a widely popular current event and is not just a stand alone visualization. I think linking this kind of work to current topics is a really interesting approach and wonder how it might help spark some thinking in Laura's team.
You can explore all the World Cup venues in Google Earth by checking it out here.
Our goal for the summer is three-fold. First, we're looking to create several Google Earth based stories that Laura can take and immediately use in her teaching during the next academic year. Second, we're looking to build a resource library and a template/ tutorial that will make it easy for other students or faculty to create their own stories in Google Earth with minimal technical knowledge. And finally, we want to build a research agenda that will assess our efforts and advance Laura's scholarship. Did I mention we might go mobile with all this too?
We're about two weeks in from our first team meeting and the team has hit the ground running. Thanks to a bit of experimentation, we have the humble beginnings of an Google Earth based interactive story framework. TK has also discovered a potentially powerful and very simple way to use Google Spreadsheets to populate Earth that we'll be exploring over the next week.
Laura will be visiting University Park next week and we're hoping to use her time here to flesh out a solid prototype and begin to think critically about how we're ultimately going to assess the impact this tool could have. Stay tuned - some very cool things are cooking.
On Thursday night all of out TLT Faculty Fellows (current and past) got together with project team leads at Otto's for an evening of food and conversations. It was the kind of evening that has left me wanting more time with these brilliant people in settings like this. How we work to make sure we create informal time together is a big goal of mine for this year ... building these connections between all of our Fellows is the next step in my mind. I had an amazing time getting to hear each of them talk about their own projects and start to build links with each other.
Check out the Flickr photo set to see more from the evening.
I was sitting across from Ann Clements at the TLT Faculty Kickoff dinner. We don't have a music education department or faculty at the Brandywine campus, and I was fascinated to hear even just a little about her program and what her students do. I've been working with middle school and high school teachers for the past few years, and one of the tools I've been helping them use with their students is Google Earth. As my background is in the geosciences, the projects I've been working on are increasing Earth science content knowledge and geographic literacy through student use of and content creation in Google Earth.
But what about music education? Can Google Earth help someone teaching music? I had never thought of connecting these two disciplines before. My drive home from the dinner was filled with "what if".... What if an audio file is placed in a Google Earth pop-up window, and a student has to then find the geographic region where they might hear that style of music, then learn and write up something about that culture and musical style? For example, a student could listen to a clip of reggae, then in Google Earth be zoomed over to three areas pre-highlighted for them - let's say Bermuda, Cuba, and Jamaica. Pins could be on each of these countries, and the correct pin has more links and information for the student.
It's still a rough idea, but a great project for a student to work on. Who knew a dinner conversation could lead to a project that would enhance the cultural, geographic, and digital literacy of an undergraduate student researcher, while the student creates a "product" that could be used by an in-service teacher?
So thank you, Ann, for inspiring a new direction for me to get students to explore! (Although I bet Ann already does some cool things with Google Earth, too) I hope there are more opportunities for the TLT Fellows to get together soon. Who knows what other inspirations and creative directions may result from "the fantastic four!"