Posts Tagged ‘emporium’

Logging learning center attendance using MS-Exchange Calendars

  1. Over the years, I had to find a number of solutions for monitoring student attendance in the learning center, by repurposing existing infrastructure (there are dedicated solutions which, however, are often too costly for a departmental center, or not shared well). Here is another idea:
  2. We’ve used the existing campus-wide MS-Exchange infrastructure’s resource mailboxes for room booking and equipment circulation.
  3. We have creatively repurposed this infrastructure for managing the staffing of “offices” (center help desk and tutors). Here we needed to allow conflicts:
    1. multiple students staff the help desk.
    2. 1 tutor staffs the “office”- 1 additional student can book the tutor.
    3. Additionally, we set up a time clock system, based on an Excel Macro, to prevent cheating:
      1. Only the person logging in can sign up to the resource;
      2. while only the help desk can provide the time clock value.
  4. It looks like that a similar setup could be extended to support the common requirement that students, while taking a certain course, spend a certain amount of time per week working in the learning center:
    1. which has been traditionally handled using paper-based sign-in-sheets or, at best, spreadsheets.
    2. With digital input, the data could be basis for analytics and visualizations, taking advantage of existing tools like MS-Calendaranalytics.
    3. Such a system would, however, require creation of resource calendar per course section that need to monitor learning center attendance. However, this needs to be done only once and would be reusable, since data can be filtered by input time, as long as no entirely new courses/sections come online.
  5. But hasn’t mandatory weekly learning center attendance been made obsolete by ubiquitous computing and the web?
    1. Definitely in some of its more antiquated forms: I have worked at institutions where the computer-savvy students attended the learning center once at the beginning of the term to copy all the learning materials on the network share onto a thumb drive, and I would not want to force somebody to come to the learning center continuously for such a trivial purpose as accessing files on a not-web-accessible network share.
    2. However,  there seems to be a lot of unmined pedagogical value in learning center group work and blended instruction (under tutor supervision), like in a homework emporium (provided your program is big enough to have continuous tutor support and sufficient learner overlap).

Setting up tutor support for Hybrid Spanish in the LRC, from 1-on-1 to Emporium

  1. The LRC can answer the Hybrid Spanish need to move tutoring into the LRC in a variety of ways, depending on scale of need:
  2. immediately on a small scale, using its small group rooms:
    1. 1-2 seats next to the tutor (lrcroomcoed433d) plus space for 1-2 students to wait in line (lrcroomcoed433). Group room 2 is the one along the wall next to the door. Not more than 2 students will fit there – on the sofa – at a time, with the tutor sitting at the desk. Since there is no space, other students cannot crowd the space/hog the tutor, but will be forced to move.
    2. Other Hybrid Spanish students can line up in lrcroomcoed433 (what we made into the “iMacs Faculty” room for you), and work in the online textbook while they wait online even when the other tutors (which we are going to move in there for you, see room calendar) use up the iMacs next to the door.
    3. The group rooms are merely my personal “hack” to make the LRC fit the changing departmental needs better. Our renovation proposal asked for more standard facilities, but we could secure only a couple of man hours to move our existing furniture. The hacked group rooms are small (photo included here), not (unlike proposed) sound proof and that the area in front of the reception desk with 3 customer lines can get rather busy when assistants help students, faculty and tutors. The LRC help desk constantly has students and teachers asking for help and checking out equipment, media, and starting proctored quizzes, sometimes in lines.
    4. Whiteboard: the department has installed the whiteboard in lrcroomcoed434 last year. Hybrid Spanish can use it there, or if the department has the funds, they could buy another and install it in group room 2. In the group room, for 1 on 1 tutoring, Hybrid Spanish could use the computer instead. Would it help at all Hybrid Spanish if we installed a 2nd screen, keyboard and mouse on this computer?
    5. in person sign-in“: I’d be more than happy to help Hybrid Spanish look into how the LRC calendars could be used for students signing up for time slots with tutors, in a location easily readable and writable to all students – I have been meaning to do this for a long time for our tutors that are in only for a few hours per week. However, the need for setting up a restrictive sign-in could be alleviated by having a line where students at least can continue working on online Puntos at a a computer by themselves (=lrcroomcoed433), or, even better, can flexibly work on online Puntos , get help from a tutor, continue working on online Puntos, ask more help from a tutor.
  3. on a medium scale:
    1. If Hybrid Spanish need to accommodate more than 4-5 students – combined tutoring and lining up – at a time, I’d recommend using up the right half of the main classroom lrcroomcoed434 for this, even if not for a supervised/blended human/online homework session using the Sanako.
    2. Hybrid Spanish tutors could just move between the computers pedestrian-wise, manage the queue of students manually etc. At least Hybrid Spanish would have plenty of space to accommodate all students that show up, including the pile-ups we have experience.
  4. Large scale via “hybrid tutoring” using Sanako:
    1. On a larger scale (which we may encourage tutor-seeking students to create once they see we are able to scale this way), I could show Hybrid Spanish tutors how they could use the SANAKO to monitor and help students via screensharing, manage a queue of students “calling” for help (including the students seeing how they progress in the queue), send text messages and webpages to students, or fully remote control their computers to help or collaborate with them. Tutors can also form groups to address more than 1 student at a time, address all students present via the Sanako, or simply use the projector to demonstrate to them all. Or, as said, use the lrcroomcoed434 whiteboard (it is at the other end of the classroom from the teacher podium, we should change that, lots of teachers want to rather see their student’s faces when lecturing, they can see the students’ screen now through the Sanako).
    2. Hybrid Spanish students would not have to leave and with the SANAKO (or without, but not as easily) could queue up to ask questions, when they need to, or even be proactively monitored and helped by the tutors, I realize that our tutor are students also and that we do not want to overtax them. I do not know why Hybrid Spanish students hang around. However, the emporium at other universities was introduced as a go-to area for students that feel lost. The LRC would love to be that go-to area for language students here, provided we have the tools to help the students find their way – I think we have some, and would love to show Hybrid Spanish how Hybrid Spanish can take advantage of them. Of course everything that involves 1600 students per term needs to be carefully planned, especially with our limited seats in the LRC.
    3. When we last tried to share the classroom with Spanish tutoring, we had incidents with teachers no wanting the tutors there, while the tutors were unwilling to move. This is why the LRC set up the group rooms in the first place. In addition, the LRC online calendars now allows the teachers to book, or cancel booking, the room on the fly, and the tutors can see this calendar on the fly. Improved communication on sharing should allow for increase in actual usage of Lrcroomcoed434, without stepping on each other’s feet: they can be prepared to move back out to their group room, when the teacher moves in (and the SANAKO allows the tutors to also force the log out of their students form the lrcroomcoed434 computers for the class moving in). We would then not formally book the classroom for Hybrid Spanish, but rather still the group room, and rely on Hybrid Spanish students moving to the group room for the time slots that classes are scheduled in the classroom (easy enough to see in the LRC calendars, either from the calendar links on the LRC homepage, or by subscribing from NINERMAIL).

A classroom-management-system-based emporium to improve tutoring support for Hybrid Spanish students

  1. [T]o bridge the gap between students’ demand for introductory Spanish courses and adequately staffing”, UNC-Charlotte – using, among others, a UNC-Chapel Hill pilot as a model, which, however, served a different student population and was soon faded out again – introduced a hybrid model for 1st year Spanish:
  2. Weekly contact hours were cut in half (effectively doubling student numbers per teacher ) ,
  3. and attempted to be replaced by more extensive assignment of homework exercises/quizzes from the online textbook component
    1. for lack of own technical resources (p.54), not that the components were designed for a hybrid purpose – but always nice to see language teachers adopt technology for ROI in creative ways when they have to.
    2. for the same reason of incapability of “adequately staffing”, so that teachers do not have to operate the computers, only those activities from the  online components were chosen that could be automatically graded (while the continued reliance of online quizzes on right/wrong black/white schemes instead of at least considering editing distance (maybe reasonably also for foreign language diacritics), not to mention attempts on a truly semantic understanding of student input, makes one wonder if this subset of assignments could effectively and should be left to auto grading).
  4. and other, auxiliary syllabus guidelines, like:
    1. taking more advantage of the online textbook component for
      1. heavier formative testing
      2. outcome testing
    2. requiring “oral testing administered two or three times a semester” (p.46, 64)
    3. increased focus on taking advantage of contact hours by communicating, what is now often deemed flipped classroom pedagogy and used to be called homework preparation
  5. tutoring,  for students that could not handle the cut in face-to-face time with teacher (note, tutors were from the grad student teacher pool – not all teachers were grad students)
    1. face-to-face:
    2. online, during off-hours (weekends):
      1. seems a welcome extension, and a convenient time-saver
      2. however,  little adoption
      3. additionally, hindered by a technology change from Wimba to Centra.
    3. also hybrid? The LRC
      1. could be host to an emporium like Virginia Tech’s: computerized for access to online assignments, but under tutor guidance;
      2. could provide the Sanako classroom management and digital audio lab system for making this learning experience even ore efficient. The tutor on teacher station can monitor many students (simultaneously or automatically cycling through student stations at an interval of choice, while stopping interactively where desired) via screen sharing. Interact with any student computer via remote control, with the student over headphones, without disrupting,
      3. easily escalate presentation of tutor or model student screen and audio discussion of endemic problems to either student group as a whole or subset (meaningful as long as 2 or more students overlap in their assignment activity and have similar issues) via the Sanako – and of course also use the classroom projector.
  6. Hybrid Spanish clearly constitutes a radical program change, dictated by shortness of funds and requiring measures to efficiency and effectiveness of instruction, upholding of standards, and management of attrition.