According to Ontario’s famous groundhog meteorologists, spring will be
coming early this year! In the wintery meantime, CUOL sends you our love
for Valentine’s Day later this month.
In this Issue: pdf copy
Last fall we featured professor Bruce Tsuji and his plans to make it possible for
distance students to ask questions – and get answers – during a live broadcast
CUOL class. Now with the first semester down, we catch up with Tsuji to see
how the experiment went, and what he’s got planned next.
Unless you’re at a group therapy session and everyone is taking turns sharing their feelings, it’s rare that in a group – especially a large group – each and every person is going to be putting in their two cents. In classrooms, 100 per cent participation is practically unheard of. Predictably, this pattern extends to Bruce Tsuji’s groundbreaking new push to engage distance students.
Since September he has been using the online, anonymous polling site polleverwhere.com to solicit questions from his students in realtime, during his PSYC 1001 (and now 1002 in winter semester) class. The online software also allows him to take surveys and show the anonymous responses come in on the big screen.
Out of the 700 or so students (both in-class and distance), about 100 have been using the technology, estimates Tsuji. For one class in late January, he tallied 91 questions received throughout the class.
“Overall, it went well,” Tsuji says, though he admits he was surprised that more students have not taken advantage.
“I think the fact that they have the option at all is one thing that makes them feel a little bit more in touch with the class, and with the course. It’s not something I can take to the bank, but I do think it’s a positive result.”
And from the bits and pieces of informal feedback that students have given him so far, that theory seems to hold true. One student from the western United States met Tsuji during his online office hours and confessed that while he hadn’t yet used the service to text in a question, he enjoyed having the option available.
Even the in-class students seem to be using it. Polleverywhere.com doesn’t disclose the location of each text it receives, but Tsuji says that just from reading some of them he gets the sense that they originated from within the physical lecture hall. Which isn’t a bad thing.
“To put up your hand in a classroom with 299 other people is a little intimidating,” Tsuji says. Especially in a first year class when most students are just emerging from their shell.
Of course not every participant is going to take it seriously – there have been some students who have taken liberties with the anonymous nature of the exercise – but Tsuji says that for every student that does find value in it, everything is made worthwhile.
Tsuji hopes to gather more thorough data before the end of the semester on how people – both in-class and not – feel about the use of this system.
As more and more classes integrate an online component, he maintains that this strategy has real potential.
“People need to feel a part of a learning community,” he says. “ We’ve obviously got the technology to push PowerPoint presentations out to a few thousand people, but I don’t think we’ve really wrapped our heads around how to make those thousands of people feel like they’re a part of something. And I think that’s a crucial ingredient to any kind of effective learning experience.”
Bruce Tsuji teaches PSYC 1001 & 1002 Sample Lecture: http://tinyurl.com/8u5gfqh
This month’s feature:
Do you appreciate the conveniences of technology but still prefer that satisfying feel of writing on paper? Then you might be interested to learn about the Sky pen. As one online reviewer described it: “calling the new Livescribe Sky a pen is like calling your iPhone 5 a phone.”
What this so-called pen does is wirelessly send all your handwritten notes to your Evernote account (p.s., you need an Evernote account), with accompanying audio recording. Say you want to re-hear what the prof said at one particular point in class, and your notes aren’t quite up to snuff. You could simply tap on that part of your notes and your device would replay the audio from that exact spot. Very useful. Not to mention your notes and audio are then synced and available on any device you have downloaded the free Evernote app.
There is also a bunch of add-ons you could get, such as special headphones which allow you to record audio from a phone conversation, or partner software which can turn your handwriting to text.
There are downsides, however. The biggest one being price. The sky pen is available at most major tech stores such as Staples and Best Buy, but the 2GB version will set you back about $170. In addition, it only works when you’re writing on livescribe’s special micro-dot paper. They’ve got a wide variety of journals/notebooks on offer that are comparable in price to regular paper products, or you can also just print off the pages yourself using a color laser printer, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
They’ve also got the refurbished pens of the last model (the Echo, which doesn’t have wi-fi and transfers notes/audio via USB to desktop software rather than Evernote), on offer starting at $70, if you’re really interested but can’t bring yourself to spend the admittedly outrageous price for a pen.
Another possible downside is the pen’s bulkiness. The part you hold isn’t too much different from a permanent marker but for people with small hands, it might get tiresome to write with for extended periods of time.
The gist of the matter is that the sky pen is an incredible gadget that is swifter and sleeker than the competition, and could revolutionize how you take notes and sketch. But it is a lot of money, and it would probably only be worth it if you’re a hard-core paper loyalist who would use it almost daily.
Tales from the Field
This Ukrainian-born CUOL student finds that his online courses give him the freedom to pursue his other passions, such as being among the best judo wrestlers in the country.
When Emin Sheykhislyamov came to Carleton, he was initially skeptical of CUOL. He and his family had just moved to Canada from the Ukraine a year before, and it was his experience that if you weren’t in class, you didn’t get the grades.
It was 2009 – his first year – and he was getting registration help from the university. The assistant helped him compile a pretty workable schedule, he says, but there was one problem: one of his classes conflicted with his chemistry tutorial.
“She said, ‘you’ll have to take a VOD,’” Emin remembers. “I wasn’t sure how it would work.”
Luckily, Emin didn’t find there was much of a difference from being in class. He enjoyed being able to get perfect notes every time, and he would download the lectures onto his iPod and watch them during the long commute from his home in Gatineau. Then, come weekend, he’d watch them again – this time while taking notes. He reckons the built-in review drastically reduced his study time. His marks didn’t degrade like he’d suspected; in fact they were actually higher in a number of his online courses.
He quickly realized the importance of staying up to date with the weekly lectures. But Emin was used to self-discipline. He was one of the top Judo wrestlers in the country, having just won the Junior Canadian Judo Championships the previous summer.
With an average of three hours a day of training, “I knew that I didn’t have time to spare.”
Skipping ahead to present day, Emin’s training schedule isn’t quite as rigorous as it used to be but he is still very involved in the sport. He moved with his family to Toronto last May so they could open a judo club where he says there was more of a market. He spends his time coaching for his dad (who spent years competing on the former USSR National Judo team) and training with the high performance Ontario team, while also finishing up his three-year biology degree at Carleton via distance. His is onto his tenth CUOL course.
Since moving from the Ukraine, Emin says he has found Canada to be “better in every measurable way.” Happily, CUOL has been a part of that good experience.
Where do you watch YOUR lectures? At a coffeshop? On the couch? In bed? No matter where it is, we want to know. Send in a picture of you in your “CUOL habitat” with a 50-word description of you and your special class viewing spot, and if we publish it in our newsletter, we’ll send you a free CUOL memorabilia (a toque, a USB and a pen)!
Campus Connection – Modern U
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. So said Confucius. Well the guys who created “Modern U” saw beauty in Carleton, and they wanted to share it. Modern U is an award-winning website that originally accompanied Adrian Gollner’s 2003 outdoor art installation exploring the modern architecture of Carleton University. Designed by Patrick Côté, the site “explores the social aspiration and utopian ideals inherent in the late modern architecture of Carleton University.”
Once inside the interactive website, viewers can wend their way through Carleton’s various hot spots, exploring history and the meaning behind the architects’ methods. From the main quad to the Unicentre, a few select spots have been singled out and analyzed, as well as illustrated with old photographs and original blueprints. =
While it would be nice if the pictures were a little bigger, Modern U is a nice interactive that delves beneath Carleton’s concrete skin to the heart beating beneath it. Check it out
on CUAG’s web site here:
CUOL around the world!
From Australia to Saudi Arabia, Carleton’s distance students are tuning in to their classes through CUOL. Check out all the countries they come from!
→DID YOU KNOW?
CUOL IS NOW ON FACEBOOK! CHECK US OUT, AND 'LIKE' US TO GET UPDATES ON CONTESTS, NEW COURSE AVAIL ABILITIES, AND LINKS TO EACH MONTH'S NEWSLETTER.
→DID YOU KNOW?
CUOL OFFERS AN EXAM INVIGILATION SERVICE TO POST SECONDARY AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. THIS YEAR MORE THAN 1200 STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS HAVE TAKEN EXAMS AT CUOL.
→WANT TO GET THE VOD SERVICE?
REGISTRATION IN CARLETON CENTRAL HAS CLOSED, BUT YOU CAN STILL SIGN UP FOR VOD THROUGH THE CUOL WEBSITE IN ORDER TO WATCH YOUR LECTURES ONLINE AT YOUR CONVENIENCE. GO TO HTTPS://VOD.CUOL.CA/REGISTRATION AND SIGN IN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE.
Maria Brocklehurst | Patrick Lyons | Nestor Querido