TELR Expertise Grants Promote Novel Learning Experiences

Article by Sally Hritz
Originally published in a different format

Summer Project Proposals Accepted March 17- May 1

Technology Enhanced Learning and Research has introduced a new grant program to encourage faculty eLearning experimentation. The TELR Expertise Grants are awarded twice a year. The Winter Projects round was held last fall, resulting in the selection committee of Ohio State faculty and staff choosing two recipients from a pool of more than 20 applicants. They are faculty members Barbara Pappas and Kathryn Corl. Each can request as much as $10,000 funding for their ideas and take advantage of 20-100 hours of TELR staff expertise. Both projects are described below.

TELR seeks applicants whose projects will help learners visualize challenging concepts, provide novel opportunities for interaction through immersive environments, use technology in new ways to engage students, and/or explore the foundations or impact of digital scholarship on teaching, learning, research, or academic discourse.

TELR and Digital Union staff found that some applicants in the first round needed only a consultation that fell within the normal range of their assistance. They were also able to help some applicants define and develop their projects more fully, to help create a concrete deliverable suitable for proposal in a future grant period. The first two grant recipients and their projects are profiled below. Both have the same goal: to help students visualize subject matter in a way to make it easier to learn.

Kathryn Corl

Kathryn Corl, associate professor of Germanic languages and literature, is creating an online, semi-self-paced program to help students in a 200-level course gain better comprehension and understanding of a novel. “My goal,” she says, “is to give students an interactive interface that helps them notice targeted grammatical features in excerpts of connected discourse and then, through a series of guided steps, lead them to use the forms accurately in their own free narrations of the storyline.” For instance, she says that verbs in a passage may change color when students click on them, and grammar and vocabulary help become available for the structured exercises that follow. Previously, she had to use copied pages and highlighted passages to achieve the same end.

The second part of her project involves concept mapping software, using a product called CMap Tools, to provide a visual representation of students’ comprehension. For example, students can create a visual map of their understanding of a passage using bubbles and lines to explain who a character is, how she is related to others, what she does for a living, and other facts. “With the maps they’ve created, students will be able to compare their understanding with that of classmates and also collaborate on the creation of group knowledge maps,” she says. In addition to the visualization advantage, Corl hopes the use of collaborative tools might help to build a sense of community in the eventual online version of the course. TELR eLearning consultant Valerie Rake is assisting Corl with her grant project.

Barbara Pappas

Barbara Pappas, a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, teaches an introductory course for nonmajors, particularly arts and sciences students. The chemistry topics are wrapped within a contextual framework of significant social, political, economic, and ethical issues such as climate change. The course is currently taught face to face. Pappas, with her grant and the assistance of TELR eLearning consultant Rob Griffiths, is pulling together resources so the course can be used both online or in classroom settings. “I want to introduce the subject matter in varied ways, including short videos of perhaps five to eight minutes each encapsulating technological issues and the chemical principles imbedded within them,” she says. “With animations, lecture clips, Sympodium Smartboard content, and assessment tools, we can create more individualized learning and self-assessment for students.” The project also will generate the tools needed for students to work in small groups remotely using web-based real-time discussions, collaborative search engines and wikis to explore research projects.

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