Technology for Innovative Learning & Teaching Pilot Project Grants 2016


The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable (TLTR) congratulates the winners of Technology for Innovative Learning & Teaching Pilot Project Grants for 2016. These grants fund faculty who wish to pursue innovative and technologically-sophisticated teaching. All proposals are evaluated by the TLTR Grants Selection sub-committee, comprised of at least 3 faculty members, 1 instructional technology staff member, and the TLTR co-chairs.

This year’s projects include a focus on technology support for student research, flipping the classroom, and adaptive learning.  Abstracts of the projects are available on the 2016 Pilot Projects Webpage.   The winners for 2016 are: Continue reading

Higher Ed Highlights from SXSWEdu

In March, Austin hosted the fifth annual SXSWEdu, the education-focused sibling to SXSW’s larger Interactive, Music and Film festivals. SXSWEdu brings together researchers and practitioners to discuss innovative solutions to pressing issues facing higher education as well as K-12.

SXSWEduSt. Edward’s was well represented with faculty presenting in two sessions. Professors Corinne Weisgerber and Shannan Butler provoked one of the more spirited debates at the conference in their session “Disrupting the Disruption in Higher Education”. Continue reading

Enable Student Creative Work with Digital Scholarship Projects

Class blog for Contemporary World Issues, taught by Chris Micklethwait

Class blog for Contemporary World Issues, taught by Chris Micklethwait

We invite all faculty to join your colleagues for a tech snack on how to engage students with digital scholarship projects on Wednesday, November 5 from 3:30 – 4:30 in Library 141.  This tech snack will feature three innovation fellows discussing a variety of digital projects: Continue reading

How Are Faculty at St. Edward’s University Fostering Student Research?

Student presenting research in a poster sessionOn October 1, 2014, Dr. Richard Kopec, Professor School of Natural Sciences, Dr. Molly Minus, Associate Vice President, Dean and Director McNair Program, Sonia Briseno, Assistant Director McNair Program, Dr. Sara Henseler, Associate Professor, BSS, and Dr. Jason Rosenblum, Assistant Professor, School of Management and Business, presented at a Tech Snack on the topic “Fostering Student Research in the Classroom and Beyond.”

Dr. Richard Kopec

Dr. Kopec explained how the School of Natural sciences is fostering student research through the following initiatives:

  • The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) seeks to increase the number of students receiving associate or baccalaureate degrees in established or emerging fields within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
  • The Natural Sciences LLC  (also known as the CASAR Project: Community for Achievement in Science, Academic, and Research) was established by a grant from the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC, to give science majors at St. Edward’s University unique opportunities to begin establishing their credentials as experienced scientists. The participants participate in the Freshman Accelerated Research Methods (FARM) Workshop where they learn research tools and methodologies.
  • The Natural Sciences Learning Clusters  are open to all science and mathematics majors. Cluster members can participate in the pre-college research workshop. Participants will also be eligible for a research stipend, and housing stipend. The Natural Sciences Learning Clusters are provided by a grant from TG (the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation). During the Freshman Introduction to Research Experience (FIRE) weekend workshop, participants meet other science cluster members and several science faculty members and learn research tools and methodologies focused in their discipline.During the spring semester science seminar course, students learn about possible research projects and meet the supervising faculty. If there is a project that interests the student, he/she can apply to participate in a six-week research project with the faculty member/research project of their choice. Up to 15 students are supported for summer research during the first six-week summer session.

Dr. Molly Minus and Sonia Briseno

Dr. Molly Minus and Sonia Briseno explained the mission, vision, objectives, and accomplishments of the McNair Scholars Program at SEU:

In August 2003, St. Edward’s University received their first four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to begin the McNair Scholars Program This program prepares participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. The goal is to increase the attainment of PhD degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society. McNair scholars are undergraduate students interested in pursuing PhDs who are typically underrepresented in their fields of interest. A majority are low-income and first-generation college students. The program provides funding for faculty-directed research that includes a stipend for scholars. In addition, McNair scholars benefit from visits to graduate schools, academic counseling, course tutoring, professional conferences, preparation for GRE exams, and advice and assistance with the graduate school selection and application process.

The McNair program at SEU has produced more than 30 Master’s Degrees, three Ph.Ds and two Ph.D candidates.

Dr. Sara Henseler

Dr. Sara Henseler explained the different elements that she uses to foster student research in her Experimental Psychology and Research Methods class trough the development of longitudinal and correlational studies in her class. She also encourages students to conduct research, collect, and analyze data using online survey technologies like Qualtrics.

Dr. Jason Rosenblum

Dr. Jason Rosenblum shared with the audience his experience creating a digital capstone course that meets the student learning outcomes required, that builds on prior faculty expertise, and is manageable both as an instructor and by the students. He share that students bring a diverse array of research skills to their capstone experience, but their experience with digital research strategies are spotty. Be prepared to review basic strategies to conduct online research and schedule research support time with library staff.

Experiential Learning at Wild Basin

Wild Basin Biodiversity Project

Wild Basin Biodiversity Project

Join Instructional Technology staff and John Abbot, Director of the Wild Basin Creative Research Center on Thursday, March 20 at 11 am in the FRC (Faculty Resource Center, Premont 110) to explore experiential learning at Wild Basin.

How can you encourage student learning outside the classroom? How do you break down research tasks to make them accessible for students? How can you involve students in collaborative research projects? In this Tech Snack John Abbott, Director, Wild Basin Creative Research Center, will discuss how they are using the mobile app iNaturalist to involve students and the public in the documenting the flora and fauna at Wild Basin. Share your own ideas for crowdsourcing, collaborative student research projects, mobile learning, and place-based learning.

Student Researching and Crowdsourcing

The Wild Basin Creative Research Center offers a wealth of learning opportunities for students across the disciplines and encourages a variety of innovative pedagogical approaches.  For example, Wild Basin invites student research and creative works at many different levels.  While the Hook Fellowship offers $1,000 for more developed projects, even the casual visitor can contribute to the work at Wild Basin through the Wild Basin Biodiversity Project on the iNaturalist app.  Just use your phone to snap a photo of flora and/or fauna and upload your observation to the app.

This app allows Wild Basin staff to open up their research to the general public in an approach generally called crowdsourcing and more specifically termed citizen science.  Both phenomena break down tasks into smaller units, or microtasks, so that the labor can be divided between many different people.  Such microtasks often have reduced expertise requirements or represent skills that can be easily taught then repeated.  This approach lowers barriers for the general public to contribute to scientific knowledge.  The same approach offers an easy entry point for students in the sciences, as well as humanities and social sciences to contribute to scholarly knowledge production, as I’ve written elsewhere in Crowdsourcing, Undergraduates, and Digital Humanities Projects.

John Abbot, Director, Wild Basin Creative Research Center, is a veteran of citizen science projects.  Check out some of his other projects:

Mobile and Place-Based Learning

Wild Basin also offers a model for how to integrate mobile and place-based learning approaches into the curriculum.  One of the key advantages of any residential liberal arts colleges is its local environment.  St. Edward’s has a unique location and perspective from our hilltop overlooking Austin.  How can we take advantage of the special opportunities Austin affords us and our students?  One way is to encourage our students to expand their classroom, to learn from places in and around Austin. Mobile devices make that possible by connecting the classroom and the world off-campus.  Students can gather data, e.g., images, videos, sounds, geospatial data, survey responses, etc., with mobile devices, then use that data for project work in class.  Such practices give them both the opportunity for authentic, applied research and insights into local perspectives. Wild Basin is but one location in and around Austin that enables such experiential learning for our students.

Tech Snacks, sponsored by Instructional Technology, is an ongoing series intended to foster dialogue about the pedagogical use of a specific technology, software, or practice. Faculty members are encouraged to share their experience, ideas, curiosity, and questions. All Tech Snacks take place in the Faculty Resource Center (FRC) in Premont 110. Find out more: 

For more posts on tech snacks, see:



Reflections on a Text Analysis Assignment

In Spring 2013, I taught LAT312K: Intermediate Latin at the University of Texas-Austin.  This was the fourth and last required course in the Latin sequence at UT and focused on Vergil’sAeneid.

Word Cloud

Word Cloud of a Translation of Vergil’s Aeneid

The course functioned both as a cap to a student’s Latin experience (several of my students were graduating seniors finishing off their required courses) and a gateway into advanced study of Latin literature and culture for Classics majors.  One of my goals in the course was introducing students to a variety of approaches scholars take to the study of Latin literature in general and Vergil’s Aeneid in particular. This goal allowed me to include a digital humanities element in the course by having my students experiment with digital methodologies.  One such assignment focused on text analysis.  I include the assignment below, as well as my reflections on how this pedagogical experiment went.

Assignment Directions

Text Analysis

For most of this semester we have been focusing on a close reading of Latin.  Now we’re going to try distant reading.  You can find our more about this idea here:

Schulz, Kathryn. “The Mechanic Muse – What Is Distant Reading?” The New York Times, June 24, 2011, sec. Books / Sunday Book Review.

For this discussion you are going to play with distant reading Vergil’s Aeneid in English:

1. Read “What is Text Analysis?”:

2. Play with Text Analysis tools here:

a. Find out more about Voyant Tools using the TAPOR Portal ( by doing a search for Voyant.  Note that some tools have basis descriptions while others have reviews with more information on how to use them. Pick one tool to play with that you think might be useful in analyzing the Aeneid.  Please explain why you picked this tool.

b. Find a text of the Aeneid in English.

Try project Gutenberg:

Be sure to note who the translator is. (see the bibrec tab)

c. Try at least one Voyant tool and compare and contrast the experience of using it to doing a close reading of the text. How useful might this type of analysis be for analyzing the Aeneid? What challenges do you see with this methodology?


Kolb's Learning Cycle

Kolb’s Learning Cycle

This assignment was completed outside of class, with students sharing their results in an online discussion board.  Then, we followed our online discussion with an in-class discussion aimed at synthesizing findings and analysis from the online discussion and reflecting on the overall experience. This sequence was designed to follow Kolb’s learning cycle, with students trying out what they had learned about the Aeneid by experimenting with text analysis, leading to a concrete experience, then reflecting on that experience in the online discussion, and using the in-class discussion to draw conclusions from the learning experience.  In the in-class discussion I wanted my students  to come to the abstract concept of considering how digital tools might change interpretive practice.  Linking the online and in class discussions also follows principles of good blended learning design in laying out clear links between in and out of class activities.  In class discussion expanded online discussion rather than repeating it. Admittedly, I’m writing my own reflection many months later, but in my opinion I’d say this overall assignment was a partial success. Students were able to complete the assignment–both using the tools and writing the online discussion–but for the most part they did not fall in love with text analysis.  Still, our discussion in class did include reflection on issues of digital scholarship and revealed some insights into the text that they gained from the experience.

What Went Wrong or What I Would Change If I Did This Again

I was disappointed that these students didn’t fall in love with digital methodologies.  I think I fell prey to the fallacy that I often warn faculty members about–just because it is digital doesn’t mean students will like it.  The overall assignment needed better framing to explain why they might use text analysis.  I did try to give them some context for distant reading and chose a NY Times article on digital humanities rather than a more specialized digital humanities article because I wanted them to have an accessible text.  I think, however, that the article was more negative than I remembered and some students picked up on those negative parts, proclaiming how much they loved close reading and interpretation and how bad distance reading was.  (The next week I assigned an article that was a beautiful example of close reading and interpretation–some students criticized that reading because they felt the author pushed the interpretation too far.  Then I realized my students were good humanists trained to critique whatever they read.) If I did this assignment again, I would provide the general framing in class and assign only an informational article focused specifically on text analysis as a methodology, e.g., Geoffrey Rockwell’s “What is Text Analysis?”  While the debate on the limitations of distant reading is a good one for students to consider, it was also somewhat of a distraction when they hadn’t even tried any sort of computer-assisted text analysis.

I also framed this assignment very much as an experiment and let their own inclinations guide their choice of tool.  I wanted them to use the TAPOR portal so they would learn about it as a resource for the future.  I also wanted to introduce an element of play into the class.  Some of the students chose tools that were less successful than others, so for future assignments I might instead suggest that they choose from a pre-determined set of tools.  If this were a different class, I might also include this exercise in a sequence of assignments to scaffold engagement with computer-assisted text analysis.

I think my discussion prompt also unintentionally invites criticism more than a discussion of value.  In asking, “How useful might this type of analysis be . . .” and “What challenges . . . ” I set myself up for some negative answers.  Based on my past teaching experience, I know that students of the Classics can be very conservative when it comes to technology–after all the discipline of Classics does privilege old things.  From the point of view of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, even the codex is a new-fangled invention, not to mention the digital text.  While resources like the Perseus Project demonstrate the early engagement of Classics in humanities computing, in the undergraduate curriculum this project is often represented as a resource for texts (a tool for consumption) more than as a tool for analysis (a tool for “generative scholarship” to use Ed Ayers’ term).  In other words, undergraduate students of classics can be even more disinclined to think in terms of digital methodologies for scholarship.  Though my students mostly brought digital devices to class–laptops, tablets, smart phones–and used them to read our Latin text and take notes, they had not had much practice in using such tools for humanities research (which was, after all, the point of my assignment).  Overall, then, I would say I needed to provide more positive framing for this assignment–I misjudged how much I needed to “sell” digital scholarship to my students.  In the future I might also start from the tools for analysis built into  the Perseus Project, with which they were already familiar rather than Voyant Tools.  I had chosen Voyant because of the potential application outside of Classics, but a tool built for Classicists might have been an easier sell.

What Went Right

Despite my dissatisfaction with the results, I do think this assignment was valuable for a number of reasons.  First of all, it exposed my students to a methodology of digital scholarship that they might otherwise never have tried.  At least one student said that he liked it because it made more sense to him than close reading and interpretation.  This reaction demonstrates how quantitative approaches to the humanities can be a bridge to students trained in more quantitative disciplines like the sciences.

The most valuable tools for my students seemed to have been Voyant Cirrus andVoyant Links. Both of these confirmed themes that we had already discussed for the Aeneid.  Still, that experience validates the tools rather than offering the new insights I wanted students to gain.

A more interesting insight came from an unexpected place.  I was having students analyze translations of the Aeneid (an admittedly flawed approach–in a perfect world they would be analyzing the Latin texts), so some of these insights were based more on the translator than the work of Vergil.  I intentionally did not explain how to use stop words (common words like “the”, “and”, “of”, etc., that should be excluded from analysis) because I wanted to see if my students would figure out on their own that this is one challenge of doing text analysis.  Some of them did and used the the tool directions to discover how to exclude those words.  Other students didn’t use stop words and had some interesting grammatical insights.  Because prepositions hadn’t been excluded they noticed how prevalent the words “to”, “for”, “from”, and “by” are in translations of theAeneid.  As it happens, these prepositions can be used to translate the dative or ablatives cases from Latin.  While I had been drilling them on datives and ablatives for much of the semester, this exercise really drove home to them how important it was that they memorize the various uses of these grammatical cases.  Perhaps this insight also just confirms something they should have known already, but it gave them empirical evidence–they didn’t have to just take my word for it.  For this insight alone it might be worth it for students to do some text analysis of the Aeneid at the beginning of the semester rather than later.  They might also compare multiple translations of the Aeneid by using text analysis without having to read all of them–a truly distant reading–to get an initial look at what themes might emerge.

Learning Outcomes

I would definitely do such an assignment again if I were teaching the same class.  With some of the changes I suggested above, I hope it would be more successful.  And, whether my students love digital scholarship or not, I still think it is important to expose them to these new methodologies.  Even if they do not become professional digital humanists, as Stéfan Sinclair and Geoffrey Rockwell have argued,

From search engine indexing to sophisticated methods of literary analysis, the computer has become an indispensable tool in dealing with the massive influx of digitized textual data in our information age. Liberal arts students need to understand automated methods of text analysis because they underlie how we find, use, and share information today.

Finally, for humanists and scientists alike computer-assisted text analysis affords a different way to look at a text one that might yield insights not easily realized by traditional methods of close-reading.

More Resources and Sample Assignments for Text Analysis

I’ve covered text analysis in many workshops introducing digital humanities.  Here are some other resources, sample assignments, and ideas for using text analysis.

Stéfan Sinclair and Geoffrey Rockwell. “Teaching Computer-Assisted Text Analysis: Approaches to Learning New Methodologies.” Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics, ed. Brett Hirsch. Open Book Publishers, 2013, pp. 241-254.

Sample Assignments


Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Ideas for using Wordle

  • Use wordle on an assignment text to pull out key issues and themes. (by student in writing class)
  • Use wordle on a paper to make sure the right themes are emphasized. (by writing instructor)
  • Use wordle on text survey results to find hidden themes.

Help, My Capstone Paper Won’t Open!

How to Recover Corrupted Files in Word

error message for microsoft word: file corruptedIt’s that time of year when end of the semester projects are in full swing and it’s almost time to turn in that big final paper. This gives rise to a common end-of-the-semester situation at the IT HelpDesk – students needing to fix a Word file that will not open, with Word often displaying an error message that the file is “corrupted”.

Why is my file corrupted? What happened?

There are a number of different reasons why your file was damaged. If Word or your computer suddenly crashes, or there’s a power outage while you are working on a document, it might get damaged. Malware might have come into play. It could also be that the part of your drive where the document is saved has become damaged or unreadable, especially if you yank out your flash drive or external hard drive while your document is still open or while it’s trying to save.


  1. In Word, first try to recover a previous version of your file.

  2. If you cannot open your file, or any previous version of it, try opening the document on another computer with Word. All campus computer labs have Word installed on every PC and Mac. If the file will not open on any computer or displays an error message, the document is likely damaged.

  3. Before you start trying to recover your file, make a copy of your file and try to fix the copy. The original might get damaged more over time, or you may destroy the file in your efforts to save it.

  4. The Microsoft support site has articles with several methods for recovering your document in Word for Windows or Word for Mac. Try these techniques to see if it’s possible to recover your document. You might lose your document’s formatting styles, but at least you can recover the text.

2 Ways to Attempt Recovery if your Document Will Not Open

The following screencast shows two options for trying to recover a file that will not open in Word 2010. Remember to try these techniques on a copy of your file. The first option is using “Open and Repair,” and the second one to try is “Recover Text from Any File”.  Again, you may lose your formatting or see some extra Word formatting information, but you can always reformat your text once you recover it.

An Ounce of Prevention

Of course, this situation is only dire if you only have one copy of your document. If you keep backup copies of your documents, you can easily work off one of your backups. Consider the 3-2-1 Method of backup: you should have three copies of your files, two of which you can access locally (like on your hard drive and a USB drive) and a third located outside your home or office (like EdShare).