2015 TLTR Pilot Projects

The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable (TLTR) congratulates the winners of Technology for Innovative Learning & Teaching Pilot Project Grants for 2015-2016. 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, 2 instructional technology staff members, and the CTE director. The winners for 2015 are:

Grabbing Panama by the Isthmus: Using Technology to Enhance the Study Abroad Experience for Evolution Students

Raelynn Deaton Haynes, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences (NSCI)

This project proposal is directed toward “Evolution in Panama”, a mini-abroad optional component to upper-level evolution (a required biology course). This proposal will fund technological and photography equipment that will greatly enhance the students’ experience while in-country. The model for the course is as follows: students take evolution spring 2015 on campus, and those who opted to participate in the study abroad component will travel to Panama May 15-May 31st 2015 with the professor (Dr. Deaton Haynes). Students will travel all around Panama (visiting 7 different regions of the country; see Appendix) to explore biological systems studied during the semester (e.g. túngara frogs and frog-eating bats to better understand natural selection; Fig. 1). The students also will gain historical and cultural experiences by visiting iconic sites such as the Panama Canal (Fig. 2) and Smithsonian Tropical Institute, and having an overnight village stay with an indigenous tribe in the remote Darién National Forest. Thus, all experiences need to be documented in a manner that can be shared readily with family, friends, and fellow classmates. Herein, I propose to use technological advances and high quality digital photography to further enhance the student experience while in Panama. Such advances include four ipads to make blogs and videos that document student experience, and using macro- and telephoto lenses to import into iNaturalist to help identify plants and animals to include in blogs. This technology will augment the in-country experience for St. Edward’s students on this journey across the Isthmus of Panama, an evolutionary pinnacle.

Inside and Outside: Exploring the Boundaries of Community

Rachael Neal, Assistant Professor, Sociology, Social Work, and Criminology (BSS)

This TLTR Proposal accompanies an Innovation Fellowship Application to support designing a course for the new Honors Program Living Learning Community (LLC). During the 2015-2016 academic year, I will join a team of four faculty members piloting the new Honors LLC system. All four LLC courses will explore the theme of ‘community’ from varying disciplinary perspectives. In my social science course, students will explore the ways in which historical socioeconomic circumstances have contributed to disparate life experiences for people in different demographic groups. They will examine the legacy of these historical events by conducting interviews with Austin residents from a variety of neighborhoods and cultural backgrounds. In doing so, they will learn about research ethics, as well as receive a basic introduction to coding and analyzing qualitative data based on initial reports produced using NVivo software. NVivo software is a common qualitative research tool; small numbers of faculty at St. Edward’s University have used it previously, and have found it to be useful. This project will examine whether NVivo can be used to generate pedagogical tools that will support training students in qualitative research methods. Throughout both semesters, I will collect data from surveys of students (as well as from their written work) in order to measure whether this project effectively meets my course learning objectives. In order to best provide students with an introduction to qualitative data collection and analysis, I am requesting support to attend a week of training through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Qualitative Research Summer Intensive (facilitated by ResearchTalk). This training will prepare me to guide students through interview, coding, and analysis procedures, as well as to analyze the data I will collect from my courses in order to assess student learning. In addition to funds for the training, I am requesting support for student research assistance, purchasing the qualitative software licenses for NVivo, and incidentals related to hosting a faculty training about conducting qualitative research with students.

3D Printing Pilot Project: Interdisciplinary Applications and Pedagogical Explorations.

Sara Parent-Ramos, Visiting Professor of Art, Visual Studies (HUM) and Michael Massey, Assistant Professor of Humanities, implemented by Kim Garza, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, Tammie Rubin, Assistant Professor, Sculpture, and Nick Enghart, Mac Lab Coordinator and AIL manager, School of Humanities.

The 3D printing pilot project would consist of the implementation of the following steps; Stage 1: Summer 2015: Purchasing Equipment Funds committed by individual departments would cover the majority of the cost of buying two 3D printers. The TLTR grant would augment these funds to procure necessary supplies for the printers (i.e., filament, etc.). Piloting Procedures – Staff from Information Technology Resources, Library Systems, myself and other faculty/Staff would work together to install the procured printers and work out logistical challenges. Information Technology Resources has kindly offered find space in Moody to locate the printers. This way the printers would be available to faculty from different disciplines as well being located close to technical assistance. ! Stage 2: Fall 2015Faculty and Staff Training/Exploration Interested faculty and staff would be invited to Faculty and Staff Training/Exploration sessions where they could brainstorm classroom applications, have software/hardware questions answered, exchange ideas and learn procedures. An “expert/ guest lecturer” would be invited to help the faculty/staff develop pedagogical applications and address concerns. Stage 3: Fall 2015: Classroom Implementation Faculty volunteers from diverse departments would utilize the 3D printers in their lesson plans. The volunteers who have already committed include myself and Professor Kim Garza. My classroom implementation would build on lesson plans developed for Sculpture and Clay I as part of a spring 2015 innovation grant. Professor Garza would assist Sylvia Villada in the use if the 3D printer for the Design Entrepreneurism class in Graphic design. Important Note – By necessity, not every faculty member, staff, and student would be able to use the printers in the pilot stage because of the limited number of printers and staff support. However, if the response is positive the pilot project could be expanded in future years.

Capturing Complexities in Classroom Teaching

Kris Sloan, Associate Professor of Education and Chair, Teacher Education (EDUC)

This proposal requests monies to purchase 6 Swivl Robotic Platform for Video to be used with 20 departmental iPads (http://www.swivl.com/store/). These robotic platforms will significantly enhance the ability of pre-service teachers and of professors to video the work of pre-service teachers and use the resulting video for structured video analysis course assignments, assignment that are central to departmental benchmarking efforts.

Incorporating Personal Health Devices Into Environmental Science and Global Studies Courses in Angers, France: Understanding the Influence of Culture and Environment on Human Health

Michael Wasserman, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science & Policy (BSS)

Many human activities are known to cause chronic stress in other species, but only recently have we begun to document how biodiversity influences our own stress levels and health. Research suggests that access to biodiversity and green space does have an important effect on human health, including benefits of microorganism exposure for the immune system and stress alleviation for keeping the endocrine stress response in a healthy state. For instance, the concept of Shinrin-yoku (i.e., forest bathing) in Japan has been shown to lower cortisol levels independent of physical activity. Further, this research indicates yet another important ecosystem service provided by biodiversity, improved human health, which further emphasizes the need to protect natural ecosystems. To demonstrate the relationship between human health and biodiversity to undergraduate students, during the fall study abroad semester in Angers, France, I will have my students build upon A Travis County Almanac to personally experience local biodiversity in France and document its effects on their health. To do this, I am requesting to purchase a Fitbit for every student so they can record data on various health parameters (e.g., heart rate, sleep patterns) across the semester and relate these data to their diets (CULF 3331), time interacting with nature (ENSP 2324), and overall perceived stress and health (GLST 2349). The students will not share this personal data on the blog, but rather will use it to evaluate how their interactions with the biodiversity, culture, and diet of France influence their overall health as compared to back home. There will be data analysis activities, but these will not be public assignments. Upon returning from France, the students will return their Fitbit devices to be used in my Environmental Science class during Spring 2016 and future Global Health, Human Diet, and Environmental Science classes.