Centennial Symposium Session Descriptions

Chelsea Green - Mammoth Projects: How to Avoid Extinction While Working on Open Resources

How is a mammoth project different from a big project and why is it useful to make the distinction? These questions arose during the development of the in-progress, open resource entitled Sight-Reading for Guitar: The Keep Going Method, which is being created in collaboration with specialists from AUC's Center for Learning and Teaching and the REBUS Foundation. Now that the team is safely beyond the halfway point, some new insights have emerged. Mammoth projects entail learning and experimenting with technologies; acquiring new skills; imagining how applied technologies may impact learning; directing a team of specialists; cultivating motivation; managing variable timelines, and making difficult decisions resulting from informed debate. Suffice it to say, mammoth projects lumber on, extending the ideal timeframe, draining the team's motivation and threatening the project's extinction. This short talk is aimed at educators and pedagogical specialists who are either involved in or considering taking on a mammoth project. Each of the pitfalls listed above will be explored in hopes of conveying insights meant to propel other mammoth projects toward continued success.

Rania Samir - Experiential Courses: A Way to Sustainable Learning

Learning by doing has proven to be one of the most effective ways to test students understanding of concepts and ability to apply them. When students work on existing company challenges, they are better able to visualize real-life problems and make decisions on how to deal with them. Digital marketing attempts to apply experiential learning by equipping students with the tools needed to create and manage an online business. 

Gretchen McCullough - Digital Timeline for History Class

Gretchen McCullough will discuss how she used the digital timeline in a Core WWII History course to motivate students to research topics they were interested in;  for example, Mengeles' scientific experiments in Auschwitz. Students, then, presented the material to the class in a contemporary way in order to inform and engage other students. She will also discuss how this project was inspired by Nadine Aboulmagd and the concrete support she offered in preparing the curriculum. 

Mustafa Toprak - Getting Them to Talk Reasonably and Respectfully: A Short Note on Leading Class Discussions

One of the primary goals of constructivist classes is to minimize teacher-talk while encouraging reasonable, disciplined, and relevant student-talk. Achieving this goal entails generation of high-order thinking questions both by students and the teacher and moderation of a rich whole-class discussion. This short talk will cover experiences and some tips on creating and leading such a class discussion.

Fady Morcos - Designing Opportunities for Productive Failure

Recently, everyone is talking about fixed vs. growth mindset. A growth mindset is the view that intelligence and abilities can be developed with effort. While a fixed mindset is a conviction that they are fixed traits with little room for improvement. Research has shown that students with a fixed mindset will tend to avoid challenges, while those with a growth mindset will embrace them, in due course developing grit, a significant predictor of perseverance and success. At the heart of the growth  mindset paradigm is the notion of productive failure. Research has shown that moments of struggle (cognitive demand) provide opportunities for deeper learning. Those same moments have the potential to physically alter our brain, strengthening neural pathways and building our intelligence. To build grit in students, we must make them feel comfortable to take risks, make mistakes and fail, at least in early attempts. Our assessment and grading practices should match our philosophy of productive failure. We have to intentionally design for those moments of struggle into our course structure. This interactive short talk will showcase opportunities for productive struggle in Scientific Thinking, along with student feedback and reflection on challenging formative assessment episodes that follow productive struggle philosophy.

Dalia Rifaat - Students Creating Healthy Recipes with Videos

This talk will be about how I have applied an innovative digital tool (Animoto - video maker) in my course Chem 1003 - Chemistry and Society (a science core-curriculum course). The main theme for my assignment was planning and preparing a home- cooked healthy recipe, in which the students prepare the food themselves and record it, including adding nutritional facts about the recipe. The students were able to add text to their videos such as a list of food ingredients and step by step set instructions. They also added sound effects and adjusted the time of the video display. This tool proved to be very innovative for the students and I was able to track their performance and creativity. Finally, I let them add a commentary part to their recipe, in which they discussed why their recipe is a healthy one by referring to the concepts I have explained in the course. This session will include the challenges and lessons learned for the following iterations of the project.

Robert Mcintyre - Twitter as a Pedagogical Tool: The Good, The Bad, and The Ineffective

Today’s undergraduates are digital natives and highly fluent in the use of digital platforms and emerging technologies. It is reasonable to consider instructional modalities that incorporate hybrid and online platforms. This seminar looks at the use of Twitter and other social media platforms as instructional devices to promote critical thinking and self-directed inquiry. Social media platforms, when used responsibly, can support a culture of critical engagement between students and their peers. We will discuss best practices and the positive aspects of social media, as well as potential pitfalls for instructors.

Andreas Kakarougas - Blended Learning in a Flipped Biology Class for Non-Science Majors

This research project assessed and compared the effectiveness of instructional techniques in an introductory Biology class for non-science majors. A portion of the course adopted a blended learning format, using online material from MIT and delivered in a flipped classroom. The effectiveness of this approach was compared to another section of the course that was delivered using traditional lecturing. 

Susanne Rizzo - Course Redesign for Blended Learning: Reflections from a Classroom Action Research

The Academic English for Graduates Program (AEG) of the ELI is exploring ways to modify its Academic Reading Module Course (ENGL 311) for more effective teaching and learning experience. Previous feedback from students and instructors of the course indicated that course meeting time should be increased to twice a week in order to better meet the learning outcomes for the course, allowing for more guided practice with feedback and processing of information. In this panel discussion, the presenter will share her experience and results from a classroom action research project with CLT on redesigning this course for a blending learning format using a flipped classroom approach.

Bahia Shehab - Designing the First Arabic Graphic Design MOOC

An Introduction to graphic design was released on the Edraak platform in 2016 with a content designed to be educational but highly engaging. The talk will showcase the process for designing an engaging online course and the solutions developed to bypass technical limitations on online teaching platforms. It will also highlight the challenges faced in the process and present ideas for possible solutions for a better online teaching and learning environment. Since its release on Edraak, an introduction to graphic design has had over 50,000 learners enroll and has been recommended as one of the best-developed content on the platform.

Alec Couros - "Reimagining Education in the Digital Age"

The digital age and concomitant proliferation of technologies have brought with them both challenges and opportunities for our institutions. Online access to courses and content has created new possibilities for digital learning, and social networking tools connect us to new and once impossible global audiences; indeed, the pedagogical possibilities of digital tools and social learning seem limitless. However, with these new opportunities come new complexities, as we address emerging issues in areas such as citizenship, literacy, and identity. In this presentation, Couros will describe ways in which we might navigate both the affordances and challenges of the technologies and networks available to us in order to reimagine teaching and learning and to design course experiences that are responsive to students emerging needs. As well, Couros will discuss ways that we might support students in becoming lifelong learners who are able to leverage their own networks in order to take advantage of the abundance of knowledge and information available to them in our connected world.

Catherine Cronin - "Teaching in an Age of Complexity: Considering Open, Participatory and Equitable Pedagogies"

We and our students, as networked individuals, teach and learn and love and live in an increasingly open, networked, and participatory culture. Boundaries are blurring between physical and digital learning environments, formal and informal learning, educators and learners. We also live in a world of increasing inequality. This is the context within which higher education operates. A key question for us as educators is surely this: How can we equip ourselves and also prepare our students to address these challenges, while at the same time seeking to ensure our own and our students' wellbeing, in both physical and digital spaces. Digital education is not the explicit focus of this keynote, namely because ‘the digital’ can no longer be considered a separate realm; it is integrated into our students lives and learning practices, formal and informal, whether we as individuals teach online or not. Cronin will explore how open, participatory and equitable pedagogies can be used and adapted --in on-campus, digital, and blended learning environments-- to foster active, equitable and agentic learning, and to support the wellbeing of both learners and teachers.

Higher education institutions across the world are investing in undergraduate inquiry-based learning and research experiences that generate, what the council on undergraduate research defines as "original intellectual or creative contributions to the discipline."  AUC is no exception.  The new institutional strategic goals commit to quality education and high-impact research. This event brings together seasoned faculty members from different disciplines in a conversation on engaging undergraduate students in hands-on research and innovation, presentation, and scholarly publication experiences. Key issues focus on teaching/mentoring approaches, opportunities, challenges, benefits and outcomes. The institutional role in supporting and forwarding this mission is also discussed.

This panel will engage faculty and students in a campus conversation around various approaches to grading, providing feedback on student work and building frameworks for innovative strategies for assessing student performance. Faculty and students teams will share their experiences and approaches in an interactive format with audience interaction. 

Alec Couros - Developing Critical Literacies: What Students Need to Know in a “Fake News” World

In recent years, we have witnessed massive advances in technology that have fundamentally transformed the ways in which we live, learn, and interact. For institutions, the global connections and tremendous knowledge we now have at our fingertips offer incredible opportunities for learning, but the rapid pace of information (and misinformation) also presents a new and complex set of challenges for educators: in particular, fact and fiction can be difficult to distinguish in our “post-truth” era, and fake news and misinformation spread rapidly and with ease. Consequently, education - and digital/information literacy education in particular - plays a more urgent and important role than ever before. In this presentation, participants will be provided with an in-depth look at our complex digital world and the “fake news” phenomenon, and they will be introduced to a variety of tools, resources, and strategies for helping students to become critically literate learners and citizens.

Catherine Cronin and Maha Bali - Transforming Learning Environments via Student Partnership

This workshop will introduce the evolving concept of student partnership (as used in the higher education sector) as a part of collaborative efforts to create effective, inclusive, and potentially transformative learning environments. Using contributions from students and faculty, participants will collaboratively explore potential ways in which students as partners approach can help improve the learning environment and student engagement with learning.