Tag Archives: kalamazoo college

Fall Quarter is Convened and Digital Pedagogy

It is an evolving challenge to take the minutes to write this blog as Fall Quarter begins! I was encouraged to check out Convocation to get an impression of what learning and community means here at K and that definitely came through during the event. The words of President Wilson-Oyelaran stuck with me in particular. She made it clear that the singular goal of our college is not a laser focus on professional marketability or even the other extreme of learning simply for learning’s sake. Kalamazoo College is about “becoming fully at home in the world” and building “a passion for life that will not allow you to keep silent when you should speak; that will not allow you to be inactive when your action is needed.” Well said!

In addition to getting ready for Fall and making sure faculty have access and support for the resources they need, I’ve been spending some time this week reading and engaging conversations around the topic “digital pedagogy.” One provocative resource is the online journal Hybrid Pedagogy. Before digging in, this phrase struck me as another buzzword conjured by young educators or instructional designers do dismiss all that came before in pedagogy and most of what is happening now in classrooms. However, despite the present iconoclasm (End the LMS!), there are themes in digital pedagogy that I appreciate greatly. The definition offered by Hybrid Pedagogy references the conscientious use of digital technology as a pedagogical tool to utilize in teaching, not an end in itself. That’s a great sentiment that is easy to lose track of in the pursuit of fancy, shiny new tech to impress parents and prospective students.

Another sentiment, more complex and nuanced embedded within the philosophy of digital pedagogy, appears to be that the webspaces, communication platforms, software, and devices we encourage students to learn through should be implemented in a way that reflects the open, intersectional, creative, and non-hierarchical digital world that exists outside the “traditional” confines of the academy. This idea is big and subtlety controversial. Some instructors’ conceptions of the campus and the class are as contained bubbles in which learning is facilitated via a carefully organized set of stimuli through well-planned structures. The idea of throwing our learning environments out to enmesh digital spaces that threaten to wrest away control and introduce variables can be frightening. It’s also worth pursuing with caution keeping students’ best interests in mind. However, I think the impulse is firmly with a pedagogy that encourages active learning, play and making as a path to understanding, and freedom, choice, and chance as instructional principles. That is something I can get behind in educational technology.

It is Friday and this blog is getting far too heavy and philosophical. Everyone in Information Services has elaborately styled and ornamented offices. There are roller coasters, Star Wars toys, sports memorabilia, stuffed animals, and more. My young office is meek in this regard. However, these four are keeping me company atop my filing cabinet. This is my start.

EGO Gang

A Warm Welcome + a tip

I almost regret that it has taken me until my fourth week here at Kalamazoo College to start this blog because I’ve already had plenty of great experiences as I begin my position as Educational Technology Specialist. I’ve been overwhelmed by how welcoming and outgoing the campus population is. I’ve met and shaken hands with faculty, dining hall workers, administrators, grounds crews, librarians, and individuals of every role we play here on campus. Across the board, people have gone out of their way to welcome me and ask me about how my introduction to K has gone. To all of you, especially those who remember my name when I’m struggling with yours, thank you!

When someone meets me, they often ask about my background and what brought me here. I’m always proud to tell them that I grew up in SW Michigan and have been a full-time Kalamazoo resident for the past four years. The opportunity to continue my professional career at Kalamazoo College, with its history and reputation, in a city I admire is exciting. The local artistry, cuisine, values, personalities, and locations that make Kzoo so unforgettable blend seamlessly into the culture of the College. We strive to nurture active citizens who will live thoughtfully while engaging in intercultural understanding, an expansion of social justice, and a regard for community. It’s a very “Kalamazoo” sentiment.

I sincerely intend to use this page as one outlet for sharing tips and best practices around educational technology at Kalamazoo College. So often, I’ll come into contact with a new website, useful software, or technique in Moodle that I want to publicize to our faculty. No one, not even the most eager, understanding faculty member, wants a weekly barrage of emails from the educational technologist so I’ll spread the word about some of my discoveries in this blog. This can supplement the person-to-person collaboration that will be a major focus of my position.

As promised:
Moodle Tip
Multiple-choice and true-false questions are very popular in automated Moodle quizzes. However, building questions into an online quiz can be tedious. There are a number of techniques to speed up this process but my favorite is the “Aiken” method. In short, Aiken lets you create a simple question list with a text program for loading into Moodle.

An Aiken question format looks like this:

Does creating a quiz in Moodle have to be difficult?
A. No!
B. Yes
C. The struggle is real
D. All of the above

Simply type up a single document with multiple questions in this style, save in the proper encoding, and upload the file to Moodle.
Clear, full instructions from UMass are here:

You can store your uploaded questions to your Question Bank to use on any future quizzes. The questions can be edited once inside Moodle for more complexity and versatility, but the time consuming part is done!