Tag: Disposable assignments (Page 1 of 3)

Digital Note-taking in the History Classroom

One of the projects I’ve been most excited about this semester revolves around an effort to teach history students how to take notes using an online database. The central point of my own digital history project, Situating Chemistry, is that we as historians should be sharing notes, both to accelerate historical research and to model our practices for students. For this course project, I have built a Drupal database specifically for upper level undergraduates to take notes on primary sources related to Spanish colonial history.

I posted a while back about the original conceptualization of this project. Now, we have an operating site:

Screenshot of Spanish Borderlands

The students in Raphael Folsom’s Spanish Borderlands course read primary sources on a weekly basis. Rather than taking notes on 3×5 index cards as we did when I was a kid, the students take the same type of note in the Drupal system. They fill out some basic bibliographic information about the source, write a short summary of the source, and then take a note about an interesting facet of the text.

Screenshot of the Add Note Card form.

Once the student has completed their note card, they can duplicate it and take a new note on the same source without having to reenter the bibliographic information.

There are several reasons why I like this project. The first is that it puts primary sources and note taking at the center of the course. Rather than focusing on lecture or textbooks, students are doing the practice of history.

Secondly, it teaches students how to take notes. Raphael can give formative feedback on the note cards themselves and share best practices. Class time can also be used to discuss the ontology of historical evidence and the epistemology of critical reading and constructing valuable notes.

Screen shot of the CardStack in Spanish Borderlands

Finally, when it comes time to draw on the notes, students can draw on the total Card Stack: the pool of notes for a given source, a set of sources, or even all the sources in the system. They cite each other as the originator of a thought about a source, emphasizing the communal construction of understanding about a historical event. They also cite the original source itself preserving the bibliographic practices at the center of traditional historical practice.

Developing skills is a key part of upper-division courses, but one that can be a bit opaque for history and other humanities courses. We have students read, but actually modeling note-taking and the synthesis of source material can be difficult. This project centers students in the making of a digital resource and the remolding of history into an open and collaborative practice.

Please note: For more information on some of the technical crafting of the site, please read Digital note-taking, part 2. Currently, the course site is behind a login wall to give the students some time to get comfortable, and give us, the designers, some time to work out the kinks. It will be made public later in the semester. 

How-to sign up for Wiki Edu Courses

Wikipedia Education Foundation is a fantastic program that helps integrate the writing of wikipedia articles into courses. Wiki Edu spun off from Wikipedia proper a couple of years ago, and they’ve done a ton of work in that time to put together training materials for students and teachers and organizational tools to help manage classes.

However, it can still be a little confusing as to how to get started in Wiki Edu. Below is a step by step process to help your students join your Wiki Edu Course and navigate back and forth with Wikipedia.

1. After an instructor has joined Wiki Edu and set up a course, she receives an email with a link for their course dashboard. The link that Wikipedia sends will have an enrollment code built in, so that your students can automatically join the course. If students navigate to the page without following the link, they will likely need the enrollment code which can be found at the end of the link. For example, here’s a link for the course dashboard for Remembering the Asian Pacific War:  https://dashboard.wikiedu.org/courses/OU/Remembering_the_Asian_Pacific_War_(Spring_2017)?enroll=xxxxxxx. You can see at the end of the link a bit of text that says “enroll=xxxxxxx.” Whatever comes after the “=” is the code for enrolling in the course.

2. Once a student reaches the course dashboard, she can log in to her account using the button at the top right:screen shot of the wiki edu dashboard for a course with the login link highlighted

3. After she logs in to Wiki Education Foundation, she should click on “join course” in the actions tab on the right hand side of the screen. If it asks for a passcode, she uses the enrollment code.

screen shot of the wiki edu dashboard for a course with the 'join course' button highlighted

4. The student should now be a member of the course. When you are in Wikipedia reading an article, you can return to the course by first clicking on your username at the top of the screen:

screen shot of the wikipedia page for an article with the user name highlighted

5. On your user page, you should have our course listed at the top of the page. Click this link to go to the Wikipedia page for our course.


6. From there you can return to the Wikipedia Education Foundation dashboard for the course.


For more information on Wikipedia assignments and the Wiki Edu program, you can check out my posts below or wikiedu.org


Instructional Role-Play with Canvas Conversations

In the second presentation of today’s afternoon session, I attended Laura Orsetti’s talk on role-playing using Canvas conversations.

For the “Advanced Physical Assessment” course at Frontier Nursing University, Laura designed an activity in which students complete an Objective Standardized Clinical Evaluation (OSCE) using a Canvas conversation. Prior to this redesign, students had interviewed an actress over a phone and had to evaluate her based on that limited interaction.

With Canvas conversation, the same actress can be seen with the built in video conferencing tool. The student can also be seen, so they are forced to work on their professionalism and bed-side manner in a more robust way than they had to over the phone. The recording of the video can then be evaluated by the instructor and reviewed with the student.

Some hospitals have also implemented a video conferencing tool for consultations with nurse practitioners.  This video conferencing assessment can thus also serve as skill development for students from Frontier when they move into the job market.

When we were evaluating Canvas at OU, one of the things that Keegan and I really liked was the intuitive integration of audio, video, and conferencing tools. Moving from a phone call to a video conference may seem like a small thing, but for the students in the nursing program at Frontier, the logistics have been streamlined and their evaluation enhanced with no real difficulty for anyone.

The role-playing utilized in this particular example also served as a nice demonstration of a situated, meaningful assessment. Rather than simply quizzing their students over OSCE, role-playing evaluates the students ability to perform in a real world situation. I think this type of role-playing is more common in professional degree programs, but I would love to see it replace the relatively uni-directional quiz-type assessments often used in Engineering courses or even the liberal arts.

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