Spring 2013 CEIT Teaching Talk Series

The following Teaching Talks were offered in Spring 2013.

Thursday, January 10

Providing Students with Computational Tools for Working with Data: Dave Sullivan, CAS Computer Science, 12:00-1:15 pm

Relational databases and other collections of data are increasingly prevalent across a wide range of professions and disciplines. However, most courses on databases and data mining are designed for computer science majors and students who wish to familiarize themselves with these topics must first take several prerequisite courses. This talk presents the design and implementation of a course for non-majors (CAS CS 105) that covers the basics of databases and data mining while also offering an introduction to programming and data visualization. By teaching a variety of computational methods for processing collections of data, the course provides students with tools they can use in their fields of study and future professions. The course has been well received by students from a variety of majors and survey results suggest that many of them have found the material to be useful in subsequent academic and professional endeavors. The talk will also include a discussion of lessons learned in developing a new course from scratch and in gearing technical material to non-majors.

Teaching Talk – David Sullivan

Top Five Things Faculty Need to Know about Blackboard Learn (Teaching Tech Talk): Kacie Cleary, IS&T, 1:30-2:45 pm

Going through an LMS migration can be a challenge for anyone, especially the people who use it most often: faculty. Moreover, it can be frustrating having to learn yet another new system. This session will focus on the most important things you need to know to get you started with Blackboard Learn. This talk is designed to be a starting point that can help launch you into the new system.

Friday, January 18

Remix the Understanding: Being a Dean of Students in this Digital Age: Kenneth Elmore, Dean of Students, 12:00-1:15 pm

You know that copyright is all around us. A look at a day in the life with Kenneth Elmore, Dean of Students, as he dances with creating and the laws of intellectual property. Get ready, we start at 5 a.m. and go late. No legal advice here, but a discussion about daily issue-spotting in relation to communicating, making new works, and copyright.

When Doing It Right Means Getting It Wrong: The Perils and Promise of Group Work: Meredith Knight, SED, Allison Lamanna, CAS Chemistry, Lynetta Mier, CAS Chemistry, 1:30-2:45 pm

Working with peers can be a powerful way of encouraging students to actively engage with the course material. However, students tend to be reluctant to work in groups. We designed and tested a few simple, easily implementable strategies to encourage students to work together during Chemistry discussion sections in both Chemistry 101 and Chemistry 171. We measured the effectiveness of the strategies through student self report, student quiz grades, and observations and feedback from Learning Assistants and Teaching Fellows. These strategies are purposefully simple and do not require special classrooms or multimedia. During the talk we will demonstrate and share these strategies and the supporting evidence, and encourage discussion among participants of their own strategies for encouraging group work.

Tuesday, January 22

Understanding and Handling Conflict in the Classroom: Bill Kahn, SMG, 12:30-1:45 pm

The focus of this interactive session is on conflict in the classroom.  Conflict between students can occur at any time, as they engage in heated discussions that trigger strong feelings.  Conflict can emerge as well with faculty, as students question the course, its content, or its conduct.  In this session we will learn how to make sense of, frame, and usefully handle conflict, turning it from uncomfortable distraction to opportunity for collective learning.

Managing Conflict in the Classroom

Wednesday, January 30

Daily Routines, Name Acquisition, Minute Papers and Facebook – Tools for Creating Discussion in a Large Lecture Class: Andrew West, CAS Astronomy, 10:30-11:45 am

As the instructor of the large introductory Astronomy class, “Alien Worlds,” one of my goals is to engage my students by encouraging them take an active role in their learning, participate in class discussions and stimulate lifelong curiosity.  With 230+ students, these goals can present a challenge.  My Teaching Talk will cover a variety of tools that I use in my classroom (and beyond) that establish routines, stimulate student confidence and participation, and utilize social media to motivate student learning and immerse them in the process of science.

Getting the Most Out of the Faculty Link: Jeffrey von Munkwitz-Smith, Assistant Vice President & University Registrar, 12:00-1:15 pm

This session will provide a description of the information and tools that are available via the Faculty Link. This session will also be an opportunity to make suggestions to the University Registrar on ways to improve services to faculty, academic departments, and students.

Monday, February 4

Learning with Laughter: Humor in the Classroom: Gregory Williams, CAS History of Art & Architecture, 10:30-11:45 am

One key component of pedagogy that resists interpretation is the role of laughter in the learning process. This lack of attention is not surprising, as humor is a notoriously slippery subject. What does seem clear is that linguistic play, whether it takes the form of Socratic irony or everyday joke-telling, can help to keep students alert and connected to the topic at hand. In this session we will discuss different pedagogical strategies that employ the comic mode, but we will also ask whether concrete strategies are even possible when it comes to the subtle prompting of laughter.

Wednesday, February 6

Read & Write Gold: Universal Design Comes to Boston University (Teaching Tech Talk): Lorraine Norwich, Office of Disability Services, 10:30-11:45 am

Read and Write Gold is Universal designed software by Texthelp Inc. that helps students to read, write, self-edit and tools for study skills, research and organization.  It is available to all students at Boston University who have a user name and Kerberos password.

BU Today article:


Introduction to Turnitin: Plagiarism Prevention at Boston University (Teaching Tech Talk): Shawn Lowney, Turnitin, 12:00-1:30 pm

Please check back for a detailed description.

Wednesday, February 13

Everybody’s Flippin’ — An Update on the Flipped Classroom: Lorena Barba, ENG, 12:00-1:15 pm

A big driver for the flipped classroom has been the availability of online videos and the growth of broadband Internet. It is important not to conflate videos with a flipped class, however. The idea of flipping the classroom is simply to move the transfer of content to the asynchronous “home work” and use class time for embedding knowledge through problem-solving (the old homework) and engaging activities. The effectiveness of interactive engagement, compared with passive-student lecture methods, is now supported by plenty of evidence. So how do you flip? Pre-classroom videos are now easy to produce or re-use from a variety of sources (You Tube, MIT OCW, Khan Academy, etc.), so they have become a popular flip aid. The bigger question is, what you do in class? We will discuss examples and stories, which I will bring from my own experience, blogs and publications


My essay about flipping my first class, on spring 2012


“Flip teaching” wiki entry


Wired magazine feature on Salman Khan


The Flipped Class Manifest


Blog Post by Lorena Barba listing resources discussed in this session


Echo360: A Teacher’s Perspective (Teaching Tech Talk): Deborah Vaughan, MED, 1:30-2:45 pm

Technology has changed the way our students want to learn and is beginning to change the way our faculty teach. Blended learning, which combines traditional lecture and online instruction, is one way we have responded in this evolving era in education.

Boston University has licensed Echo360, which is a lecture and personal digital media capture system that faculty can use to create blended learning experiences. In this session, we will discuss the implementation of this tool in the classrooms of our Medical School:  lecture capture in traditional lecture-based classes. In addition, you will learn how you can create and publish an instructional video using Echo360 Personal Capture software on your own computer, in your own space, in your own time. Echo360 tools include Discussions and a dashboard that reveals, for each video, viewing statistics and a Usage Heat Map that graphically illustrates the students’ viewing patterns.

Thursday, February 14

Making History: New Paths in Freshman History Instruction: Phil Habekern, Sarah Phillips, James Johnson (CAS History), 9:00-10:15 am

BU’s History Department offered a new model for teaching freshman in the fall of 2012 with “Making History: Conflict and Community in Boston’s Past.”  Developed by a committee of faculty and graduate students led by Professor Sarah Philips, the class was designed to engage students in the kinds of work done by practicing historians.  Students studied Boston’s history through three decisive moments spanning a 300-year period, with a number of trips outside the classroom to Boston’s neighborhoods, libraries, and museums.

The semester’s culminating project was a public lecture and exhibit at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where students presented their research on letters, artifacts, and early printed works dealing with King Philip’s War, which pitted Puritan settlers against Native Americans (1675-78).  This event drew over 100 people from the BU community and the general public.

The CEIT talk will describe what went into the planning and execution of this course, with special emphasis on the new ways its students came to think about history.  We will discuss the differing responses to a set of questions asked at the start and close of the course, and we will describe how we believe the new approaches pioneered in the course contributed to a deeper understanding of the past.  Remarks will be offered by Professor James Johnson, who taught the course, Professor Phil Haberkern, who assessed students’ experiences in the course, and Professor Sarah Phillips, who chaired the committee that designed the course.

Assessing Course and Program Performance: Janelle Heineke, SMG & CEIT, 10:30-11:45 am – This session will be rescheduled.

The assessment of program performance is increasingly becoming a requirement for program accreditation. This session will focus on assessing learning across students in a course or program of study (rather than assessing individual performance), which can assure internal and external constituents that the course or program meets its goals.

Wednesday, February 20

Collaboration Tools in Blackboard Learn: Using Blogs, Journals and Wikis to Increase Student Collaboration (Teaching Tech Talk): Kacie Cleary, IS&T, 12:00-1:15 pm

Student collaboration in the classroom has not only become a common trend in higher education but also an accepted teaching strategy for many educators. Blackboard has embraced this trend and now offers their instructors blogs, journals and wikis that they can incorporate into their online courses. Come learn how your colleagues have utilized these tools in their classrooms and learn how you can use them too.

Interdisciplinary Team-Teaching and the “Thought Experiment” Assignment: Carrie Preston (English & WGS) and Karen Warkentin (Biology & WGS), CAS, 1:30-2:45 pm

Team-teaching can create a dynamic learning environment that breaks down disciplinary bounds and disrupts the habits of professors and students alike. But, how do teaching teams begin to create a curriculum when they use different languages to talk about the same topics? Using their experiences creating the new team-taught and fully interdisciplinary introductory course for the minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Preston and Warkentin explore the benefits and pitfalls of team-teaching and offer practical advice for writing a syllabus, organizing responsibilities, determining grading practices, and designing assignments, among other tasks.

Preston and Warkentin will focus on one particularly successful lecture and assignment sequence, the “Thought experiment in the social implications of reproductive biology.” This two-part assignment first asks students to consider biological diversity by researching and writing a description of a species that differs substantially from humans in its mode of reproduction. Then, in the tradition of the science fiction thought experiment, students use their research as the basis for writing fictional narrative exploring the social and cultural implications of a non-human form of reproductive biology for an advanced society of intelligent beings. Fulfilling the goal of integrating disciplinary approaches, the assignment combines library research, the synthesis of multiple sources of scientific information, literary analysis, cultural studies, and creative writing.

Monday, February 25

iPad Applications in the Classroom: Barry Bloom, SHA, 10:30-11:45 am

Students may think iPads and tablets are really cool, but how can faculty effectively use them in the classroom?   The purpose of this Teaching Talk is to share how the iPad 2 has been integrated into the SHA curriculum through a highly interactive workshop session.  Various course materials that have been developed for use with two self-contained carts, each containing 30 iPad 2s and a MacBook controller will be shared and discussed.   These include in-class iPad use for 1) interactive individual and team discovery learning, 2) interactive “Numbers” spreadsheets used to explain and clarify quantitative concepts, 3) incorporating Qualtrics surveys into class sessions, and 4) using iPads as “clickers.”

Google Apps in Your Classroom (Teaching Tech Talk): Amod Lele, IS&T, 12:00-1:15 pm

You might have heard of Google Docs (now Google Drive), or used it yourself, but have you thought about what it could do to enhance your teaching? And that’s only the beginning. Now that BU students all have BU Google accounts, there are many ways to use Google Apps to enhance your students’ learning experience. From quick custom student evaluations to peer collaboration, come hear about and discuss ways that Google Apps might benefit your students.

Tuesday, March 19

Increasing Instructional Interactivity with Clickers (Teaching Tech Talk): Jeff Mihok, Turning Technologies, 12:30-1:45 pm

Are you currently using clickers in your classroom?  Are you hoping to learn more about how this technology can complement your pedagogical objectives?  During this session, Jay Carpenter, Account Manager at Turning Technologies, will provide an in-depth overview of the student response technology supported at Boston University.  This session will include a comprehensive look into clicker functionality, in-class polling capabilities, and data management through Blackboard.  Faculty testimonials will also be included during the discussion.

Thursday, March 28

Highly Effective Case Teaching (in Any Course!): Eddie Riedl, SMG, 1:30-2:45 pm

Learn how to effectively integrate cases to facilitate classroom learning in any type of course, from the concept-driven to the technical.  The discussion will include curriculum design, class preparation, classroom delivery, and student assessment.

Wednesday, April 3

Virtual Student Exchanges: Kip Becker, MET, 12:00-1:15 pm

The online classroom can be a value-added way of offering virtual international experiences by 1) organizing students from different universities in a course, 2) having students take online courses at a foreign university to share in both the instructor and student experience and 3) by having foreign instructors teach, offering a different perspective and cultural experience.  The department of Administrative Sciences has found innovative ways to use the online course experience to provide exciting cross-cultural exchanges to individuals who would not be able to take advantage of more traditional exchange programs.  Kip Becker, Department Chair and department faculty, will discuss the different options, the challenges, learning curve and difficulties encountered at both a faculty and program level.

High Tech Cheating: Kabrina Chang, SMG, 1:30-2:45 pm

Gone are the days of looking over a classmate’s shoulder to see answers to an exam question.  Today, students are using more sophisticated methods of cheating, including technology such as cell phones.  Kabrina Chang from the School of Management’s Academic Conduct Committee will share her experiences on the changing nature of cheating and how faculty can discourage cheating in their classes.

Friday, April 5

How to Use ePortfolios (Teaching Tech Talk): Amod Lele, IS&T, 10:30-11:45 am

This talk will get you into the nuts and bolts of how to create your own ePortfolio and how to create Digication courses for students to share their ePortfolios with you and with each other.

*Please note: this session will be held at 111 Cummington Street, room B27

Monday, April 8

The Arts in Non-Arts Courses: Ty Furman (Managing Director, BU Arts Initiative), Karen Jacobs (SAR), Jack McCarthy (SMG), William Marx, Anthony Wallace, and Carrie Preston (CAS), 12:00-1:00 pm

Please join Karen Jacobs, Jack McCarthy, William Marx, Anthony Wallace, and Carrie Prestion and BU Arts Initiative Staff for lunch and conversation on using the arts to teach non-arts disciplines.

Thursday, April 11

Engaging the Reluctant Learner: Shoumita Dasgupta, Karen Symes, Angela Jackson, MED, 10:30-11:45 am

In the University setting, our adult learners may come to the classroom intrinsically motivated to learn or may arrive less eager to engage in the class activities. These reluctant learners may not be willing or ready to learn what we plan to teach for a variety of reasons. In this session, we will discuss the underlying reasons students may not be willing to engage with the class material and we will explore frameworks for understanding personal motivation (or lack thereof). The major focus of this teaching talk will be to apply these concepts to the understanding of a set of cases of reluctant learners and to suggest intervention strategies to reach out to these reluctant learners.

Teaching Talk – Reluctant Learner

Monday, April 22

Making Grading Easier and More Transparent with Rubrics in Blackboard Learn (Teaching Tech Talk): Kacie Cleary, IS&T, 10:30-11:45 am

“Professor, can you explain why you gave me a B? I deserved an A!” Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many instructors have faced this challenge themselves when it comes to grading. Thankfully, you can alleviate some of these complaints by incorporating rubrics into your class and setting specific criteria for your students’ work. This Teaching Tech Talk will demonstrate how to use rubrics and explore how Blackboard can make your grading easier.

Learning Styles Assessments in the Classroom: How Faculty Can Recognize Learning Styles Tendencies in Order to Encourage Multiple Modalities of Learning Through Varied Teaching Strategies: Kathryn Spilios, CAS Biology, Cecilia Lalama, Educational Resource Center, Michael Grant, CAS Psychology, 12:00-1:15 pm

The purpose of this talk is to introduce you to several learning styles and how they can play a role in your teaching and your students’ learning. We will discuss various learning style assessment tools, what faculty can do to recognize these learning styles tendencies in their students and how faculty can utilize teaching strategies in order to encourage multiple modalities of learning. Further, we will discuss what faculty can do to encourage productive group work based on their students’ individual tendencies and strengths. We will also discuss how the Educational Resource Center (ERC) can facilitate this endeavor.

Tuesday, April 23 – Please note that this session will be rescheduled for the Fall 2013 semester.

Teaching Quantitative Reasoning to Math-Phobes: Eric Kolaczyk, CAS

A substantial portion of students reach college having long been convinced that they are “not a math person.”  But increasingly, to operate as an informed citizen it is necessary to be able to reason effectively in a quantitative fashion.  I will talk about the experience of a group of BU faculty that has attempted to team teach non-trivial aspects of quantitative reasoning to this audience for the past five years in the course MA/CS109.  Examples will be drawn primarily from the statistics portion of the course in which I am most directly involved.

Monday, April 29

Teaching Writing in the Sciences:  Effectively Incorporating Writing Instruction into Existing Courses: Binyomin Abrams, CAS Chemistry, 1:30-2:45 pm

The value of good communication and writing skills in the sciences is widely accepted, yet incorporating writing instruction into existing classes has traditionally posed significant challenges.  Such instruction may be seen as neither necessary nor feasible. Particularly in introductory classes, instructors may see writing instruction as distracting and potentially interfering with the content of the course. In addition, instructors may feel ill-equipped to teach skills in which they have no pedagogical training.

In this talk you will hear about a model of writing instruction that is easy to implement, effective, and will not add significant burden to your students.  After three years of development, we’ve refined a model that has been shown to be effective, scalable, and that can be implemented with only modest adjustments to typical courses.

Friday, May 3

Blackboard Boot Camp – visit http://www.bu.edu/ceit/events/blackboard\-boot\-camp/ for more information and to apply.