Build skills for a wireless world at ECIT workshops

“Living Successfully in a Wireless World” is the theme for spring semester offerings from the Emory Center for Interactive Teaching (ECIT).

Following that theme, ECIT is featuring a series on exploring hybrid learning and ways to use online learning tools.

The latest session is “Hybrid Learning” on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 1:30 p.m. in the ECIT classroom 217. There will be hands-on demonstrations of strategies for leveraging social media tools like Twitter, Google Docs, and public blogs to create hybrid classrooms.

Participants can offer and discuss ideas for integrating mass collaboration in a course they are currently teaching or plan to teach.

Hybrid learning, explains ECIT Coordinator Chris Fearrington,”is based around blending traditional face-to-face courses with technology to enhance the student learning environment and outcomes. For example, utilizing a blog or discussion board to extend the classroom discussion beyond the physical walls, or having students watch short pre-recorded lectures before arriving to class, enabling the instructor to maximize class time.”

The hybrid learning series is being facilitated by Georgia State University professors Pete Rorabaugh and Robin Wharton, both of whom “have a good bit of background in digital pedagogy,” Fearrington says.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, ECIT hosts “WordPress: Blogs and Webpages for Learning.” This session will focus on using Scholarblogs, the Emory-supported WordPress platform for research and teaching.

“With the WordPress session, we will have an overview of the process and some examples from faculty who are using it. The main purpose will be to show the pedagogical value and how faculty can use blogs,” Fearrington says, “plus we’ll discuss best practices for using WordPress.”

Students and instructors will talk about their experiences of what works and what doesn’t in “Myths of Online Learning” on Monday, March 18. The session explores the top common myths about what online learning is and what technologies support this type of learning environment.

The free sessions are limited to 25 participants. Visit the ECIT Events Calendar to register.

In addition to these offerings, Fearrington says ECIT will feature additional sessions this semester in conjunction with the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence.

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Digital tools break open the bars of traditional dissertation methods

Sarita Alami

Emory Ph.D candidate Sarita Alami

Emory Ph.D. candidate Sarita Alami is at the forefront of digital scholarship. And she’s been getting attention for her pioneering use of technology for her dissertation.

Digital tools are giving graduate students the option of doing digital dissertations with interactive online platforms where they can incorporate video, audio, animation, interactive maps and more.

Alami, a fifth-year doctoral student in Emory College’s history department, is looking at the rise and fall of prison newspapers in the United States from 1912 to 1980. To do this, she is examining thousands of inmate-journalists’ reports and commentaries written between those years.

While Alami does the traditional work of reading scholarly archives and analyzing newspapers in prison archives, she has also moved her work into a more digital arena.

She is using a digital microfiche scanner, recently acquired by Emory, with algorithmic software that processes large amounts of text and returns useful keywords. Alami is also processing her data using an open-source-software tool kit called Mallet. With Mallet, she can classify prisoners’ writings by topic and correlate their conversations with political events and uprisings because she wants to show how inmates, in their own words, discussed prison conditions and national and international politics.

Alami says a big component of her dissertation will be a searchable online repository of prison periodicals, explanatory texts, and other exhibits and data for scholars and other visitors to use.

And she is documenting her research experience and introducing others to new digital tools in her website dedicated to the topic and work of her dissertation.

There will still be a book-length document, heavy with text but “I hope to show people how doing history can be very modern, interesting, and cutting-edge,” Alami says in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Ancillary to her digital doctoral work is Alami’s interest in social media as a gift to the historical record.

“While prison history and digital history might seem like a strange combination, I like to think that my project is a good example of how we can use digital tools to give voices to the historically underrepresented—in this case, institutionalized people,” she says.

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Winter 2013 Academic Exchange Supplementary Interactive Edition Now Available

The Winter 2013 supplementary electronic edition of the Academic Exchange, enhanced with multimedia and interactive content, is now available on the Apple iBookstore. This edition contains four essays from the Fall 2012 print issue that now include videos, interactive maps, and more.

In a feature on teaching with the iPad, view interviews with Donna Troka, adjunct assistant professor in the ILA, and her students in her course From Archives to iPads: Investigating the Discourse of Sexuality at Emory, as well as materials they have unearthed in the Emory archives. Also see short videos produced by students in lecturer and journalist-in-residence Sissel McCarthy’s Advanced News Writing and Reporting course.

In a feature based on two essays about the many ways libraries on campus are being re-imagined and re-invented as digital and collaborative spaces, experience 3-D visualization tours of Samothrace, the sanctuary of the great gods, and ancient Rome as documented in Pirro Ligoria’s 1561 map. Also examine Atlanta maps from 1878 and 1928, and take a video tour of the newly renovated Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library.

Click here to download this free e-publication to your iPad.

(Currently this book can only be viewed on an iPad using iBooks 2 or later. iOS 5 or later is required.)

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Emory’s digital pioneers propel online courses

Online Learning

Illustration by Stephane Jorisch.

Standing before a “green screen” backdrop in a studio deep within Woodruff Library, Kimberley Sessions Hagen gazes into a camera to begin her lecture, imagining the faces of students she will likely never meet.

But never have her words had the power to carry so far. To date, more than 10,000 students from around the world have signed up to take her free, online class.

Hagen is among three Emory educators — digital pioneers, really — who will be teaching the University’s first MOOCs (massive open online courses) this semester. They include:

  • “Introduction to Digital Sound Design,” taught by Steve Everett, professor of music and director of the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE).
  • “Immigration and U.S. Citizenship,” taught by Polly Price, professor of law and associated faculty for the Department of History.
  • “AIDS,” taught by Kimberley (Kimbi) Hagen, assistant director of Emory’s Center for AIDS Research, assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health, and adjunct faculty in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the School of Medicine.

Drawing upon a talented pool of Emory scientists — many are international leaders in their fields — Hagen has assembled a schedule rich with guest speakers to examine wide-ranging aspects of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and around the world.

Liberal arts meets the digital age

The educational experiment is being coordinated through Coursera, a U.S.-based online education company that has partnered with 33 universities to bring free, not-for-credit courses to a worldwide audience.

It’s among a fast-growing realm of web-based learning options designed to expand online educational opportunities, easing the liberal arts into the digital age.

Last semester, Emory also joined a consortium of leading universities to help launch Semester Online, where students will pay to take for-credit undergraduate courses in a virtual classroom environment led by some of the nation’s top educators. Pilot classes begin in the fall.

Emory’s Coursera classes were developed with the help of the CFDE and the Emory Center for Interactive Teaching.

They work like this: Students sign up for classes through Coursera’s website, view weekly lectures online, complete assignments, and participate in discussions through online blogs.

Tests are typically machine-graded multiple-choice quizzes or peer-reviewed essays. Students who successfully complete class assignments will receive a certificate signed by the instructor, but no formal college credit.

Growing the virtual classroom

At Emory, the initial demand has been strong — nearly 30,000 students have signed up to take Everett’s free online digital sound course, which launches Jan. 28.

And while Hagen admits that it’s been an adjustment to lecture before a camera, she sees an opportunity to take Emory’s expertise in the realm of HIV/AIDS research, education and care to a worldwide audience.

“With Internet access, we can raise Emory’s profile internationally and expose students all over the world to new information, new ways of thinking, and help people generate insights about HIV they may not have thought of before,” she says. “It’s remarkable.”

Though the class doesn’t officially launch until Feb. 28, she’s already received emails from students in India, Africa, Italy and Central America who have enrolled.

“When I look at the camera, I imagine the faces of the people who’ve emailed me, and I talk to them. I’ve bonded with them — they are real to me,” Hagen adds.

Hagen began taping class lectures in December, and praises Lee Clontz, a web and social media technologist with the Office of Information Technology and his production team for coordinating the technological end of things.

Clontz, who is currently enrolled in a Coursera calculus class himself, says it has been exciting to witness a new educational model take shape. “Coursera is helping us, we’re helping them,” he says. “I hope what comes out of it will be both useful to the world and compelling. It’s been quite a ride already.”

-Kimber Williams

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Emory helps launch for-credit online education program


Emory joins a consortium of 10 top universities to offer Semester Online, featuring for-credit online classes. Emory Photo/Video.

Emory has joined a consortium of leading American universities to launch Semester Online, a new online education program that will offer rigorous, for-credit undergraduate courses taught by some of the nation’s top educators.

The innovative partnership was announced during a Nov. 15 online press conference intended to simulate the interactive virtual classroom environment that Semester Online students will experience.

Consortium members include:

  • Brandeis University,
  • Duke University,
  • Emory University,
  • Northwestern University,
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
  • University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester,
  • Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University, and
  • Washington University in St. Louis.

“All of the members of the Semester Online consortium are as committed as Emory University is to providing students with a rich, high-quality academic experience online,” says Lynn Zimmerman, senior vice provost for undergraduate and continuing education, who notes that the consortium is expected to grow.

Enrollment and course information should be available by spring 2013, with pilot classes scheduled to begin next fall.

The cost of online classes is anticipated to be comparable to what students now pay; admission will be available to any academically qualified student attending consortium schools, as well as those at other top universities across the country.

Not only does the program expand opportunities for Emory students to pursue unique course offerings with some of the nation’s top professors, Zimmerman says it will provide unprecedented flexibility in helping to manage their personal and academic lives, with the ability to engage in internships and work experiences, travel or manage personal commitments while pursuing academic goals.

In addition, the partnership will create new collaborative opportunities among faculty at participating universities and help broaden and enrich the diversity of classroom discourse.

Courses will be presented in a live, real-time classroom environment, limited to sections of about 15-20 students at a time and taught by professors at the nation’s top-tier universities. Ultimately, the program could serve a worldwide audience.

While online learning has created new opportunities for today’s universities, Semester Online stands apart — unlike Coursera, for example, the program is for credit, charges tuition, has a selective admissions process, and provides classes taught live in a small group setting, Zimmerman says.

“The changes that are happening in higher education utilizing technology and developing platforms for online learning are changing incredibly quickly. We thought it was the right opportunity to be part of an experiment with other really great schools … to be part of an important wave of reform in higher education,” she adds.

“It’s exciting to be at the forefront of this  — there isn’t anything quite like it  — and I know that Emory students are very excited about the possibilities.”

In launching Semester Online, the first-of-its-kind consortium has partnered with 2U Inc., a company that partners with leading universities to deliver graduate and undergraduate for-credit coursework online.

“The model of online education that 2U has created and utilized for faculty and graduate education fits the quality of Emory education and represents, in my mind, the first time that online education has had that quality associated with it,” Zimmerman notes.

-Kimber Williams

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iPads take teaching and learning in new directions at Emory

A two-year-long effort to partner with instructors who use iPads in their classrooms has given the Emory Center for Interactive Teaching (ECIT) some real-life perspective on how the tablets are being used as a teaching tool.

The partnership encompassed a variety of uses for the mobile, flexible device in several University classes in the humanities and social sciences.

An October session on “iPads as Part of Teaching at Emory,” ECIT unveiled some results of the collaboration in a survey the center conducted.

Instructors report they use iPads for:

• archival research and blogs
• note-taking in meetings
• Skyping into classes
• holding virtual office hours
• sharing photos
• videotaping student presentations

From the student perspective, more than half of the students surveyed said they were studying in places they otherwise didn’t due to the mobility and capabilities of the iPad.

Almost 50 percent of students used the iPad for different classes as well as the one to which it had been assigned.

Asked if they would use a personal iPad for academic purposes, 75 percent of the student respondents said they would.

The conclusion: The mobility that the iPad provides has the potential to increase the amount of time a student spends with class materials. The iPad’s mobility also can expand locations where students study and learn.

ECIT Director Wayne Morse says the ECIT survey also asked: “How would you rate using an iPad differently than having a laptop?”

“What we found is users still complain about weight and the battery life (of laptops). iPads’ battery power lasts for days, normally, and the lightness and portability breaks down its difference from a laptop.”

Donna Troka, who is teaching a fall semester class on “Archives to iPads: Investigating the Discourse of Sexuality at Emory,” says that the iPad’s “flat surface makes it open, so it’s more of a sharing experience among the students. It encourages collaboration.”

The ECIT assessment confirmed that the portability leads to increased engagement on the part of students.

Morse notes that apps available for the iPad are changing the device’s development. For more information on using apps in teaching, Morse recommends consulting Best practices: appslab@emory

Chris Fearrington, ECIT coordinator, says they were surprised to find that the iPad is not widely owned by students. “We found, at most, one to two students in a class would have their own iPad,” he says.

Fearrington adds that he was “shocked” to find that over the two-year partnership, there were as few incidents of damage or problems with the iPads. “We’ve had one $150 incident,” he notes..

Morse pointed out a consideration for using iPad in the classroom: “Most of this [using apps and working with the device] is dependent on the network. So we hope the network stays with us.”

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Follow ECIT news in the E-Gazette

ECIT's E-Gazette






Emory’s Center for Interactive Teaching (ECIT) has launched the E-Gazette newsletter. In addition to useful resources and highlights of technologies available at ECIT, the E-Gazette lists workshops, news and recommended reading that foster discussions around teaching, technology and learning, as well as examples of technology’s use at Emory University.

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Get iPad teaching tips and more at ECIT workshops

Learn about new technologies and how others at Emory are using these tools for teaching and research. Emory’s Center for Interactive Teaching (ECIT) offers fall workshops, free to Emory faculty, staff and students, including:

  • Engaging Students Through Visual Technologies, Nov. 15, 1 p.m.
  • Digital Storytelling: Leverage Technology to Engage, Dec. 6, 10 a.m.
  • iPads as Part of Teaching at Emory, Oct. 19, 10 a.m.
  • Introduction to Adobe Illustrator, Nov. 9, 2 p.m.

All workshops are held in ECIT classrooms in Woodruff Library. For details or to register, visit

“Most of the sessions cover new methods to integrate technology into the curriculum, with a focus on best practices. The sessions will also aim to highlight examples of how faculty at Emory are using these tools,” says Chris Fearrington, ECIT coordinator.

Also coming up this fall is a Technology, Pedagogy and Curriculum (TPC) workshop for graduate students, which will focus on how to incorporate emerging technologies and social networking tools into their teaching.

ECIT — a teaching center with a focus on instructional technology — provides expertise, training and support for creating technology-enhanced materials. ECIT’s resources are available free of charge to all members of the Emory community.

Learn more at

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The Academic Exchange now available as interactive iBook

The Academic Exchange and Faculty Services of University Technology Services have collaborated to produce the first supplementary iBook edition of the Academic Exchange, enhanced with multimedia and interactive content. This edition contains two articles from the Spring 2012 issue that now include videos, 3D animation and more.

This is the first Emory-produced iBook, notes editor Allison Adams.

In the feature based on Howard Kushner’s essay on handedness and brain laterality, read and experience how left-handedness has been understood and explained over human history and its associations with both disorders and talents. In the feature based on David Nugent’s essay on the Master’s in Development Program and the future of the liberal arts, view several videos that examine the meaning and impact of the program on approaches to understanding and addressing global problems of poverty and conflict.

Also watch for future iBook editions of the AE throughout the year.

Download the free iBook. Note: Currently this book may only be viewed using iBooks 2 on an iPad. iOS 5 is required

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New resource: Online Learning at Emory

Learn more about related resources and technologies available to Emory faculty at Online Learning at Emory. The Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE) has launched this new web resource to provide general information about online learning.

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Emory Coursera.

Get involved. Join an Academic Learning Community on Online Interactive Education at Emory. Open to all members of the Emory community, the seminar will meet four times this fall to discuss Emory’s agreement with Coursera and related topics.

The Academic Learning Community is a “starting conversation for all interested faculty to come together who want to learn more about online learning,” says CFDE Director Steve Everett and professor of music, who will teach one of Emory’s three initial Coursera offerings this spring.

The new web page also collects and compiles general information about online learning, including:

• Information about online, distance or blended for-credit courses of study currently offered at Emory;

• Hybrid learning technology available at Emory; and

• Other third-party online learning providers and resources used in higher education.

-Kim Urquhart

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