Lecture and Official Opening for SASAH’s Digital “Educating Imaginations”

“Educating Imaginations: The SASAH Digital Lecture Series”
Thursday, 13 March, 2014

7:00-9:00 pm
Central Library
Stevenson & Hunt A&B
251 Dundas Street
London, Ontario

The School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities (SASAH) at Western University officially inaugurates it new online lecture series, “Educating Imaginations.” During this launch event, we’ll be introducing and demonstrating this new public resource for the Humanities.

A centerpiece of the evening will be a live presentation by Dr. Kelly Olson of the Department of Classical Studies on “Sex and Shoes.”


“Developing a ‘Live’ Distance Studies Course”

This from the Faculty of Social Science at Western University:

Come and learn about how Tony and Livia designed a distance studies version of an introductory statistics course which simulated a live lecture as closely as possible.

Tony Vernon and Livia Veselka
Date: January 31st 
Time: Noon (Bring A Lunch!) 
Place: SSC 9420


Developing a "Live" Distance Learning Course

Tony Vernon has been a member of the Department of Psychology at Western since 1982 and has taught an introductory statistics course at least once a year since then. Livia Veselka is a PhD student in the Personality and Measurement area of the Department of Psychology who has been a teaching assistant for a number of different statistics courses. Tony and Livia have both received multiple teaching awards.


Making TIES@Western: There’s Still Lots of Time to Submit!

Making TIES@Western

The window for submissions to “Making TIES@Western,” the symposium for Technology in Education at Western University, closes on 25 January, but there’s still lots of time to send in a proposal for a session, paper, or poster presentation!

Submissions can be sent to:  ties.proposals@uwo.ca

CFP for “Technology in Education Symposium” (TIES@Western)

Western UniversityJust sent out tonight was the Call for Proposals for the “Technology in Education Symposium” (or “TIES@Western”), which will be run on 8 March, 2013. The intent of the symposium is to showcase some of the most innovative uses of different kinds of instructional technology at Western University; it is a cross-faculty and interdisciplinary event that will afford teachers and graduate students at Western an opportunity to learn from each other, exchange ideas, and create new connections (and maybe even collaborations!)

Expect to see more information on TIES@Western soon. In the meantime, the CFP is reposted below:

The Technology in Education Symposium (TIES) is an exciting one-day, university-wide event scheduled for March 8, 2013, which will showcase and explore the uses of technology in teaching graduate, undergraduate, and continuing studies students across all disciplines at Western and its affiliates.

This symposium will focus on quality of education as it relates to instructional technology and elearning. While the sessions offered will address the opportunities and challenges of using instructional technology, the focus is less upon tools than upon innovative teaching principles and practices.

Participants will hear and see how instructors and others employ technology to engage students and enrich learning, and to connect with others from across the campus who are exploring the potential of instructional technology and online education.

We are seeking proposals for panels, roundtables, papers, and posters on a wide range of possible subjects. Panels should be designed for 3 or 4 papers. Paper presentations should be 15-20 minutes each.

Please submit a proposal to ties.proposals@uwo.ca with the following information:

• Name of presenter(s):
• Email address(es) of presenter(s):
• Your Department or Unit:
• Your university (Western, King’s, Huron, Brescia, etc.):
• Title of presentation:
• The type of presentation (paper, poster, roundtable, panel discussion, etc.):
• (Max) 250 word abstract:
• Technology requirements (projector, SMARTboard, etc.):

Deadline for proposals: January 25, 2013 (vetting completed by February 1).

If you have further questions please email ties.proposals@uwo.ca.

IDI in Digital Humanities at Western Speakers Series

Speakers Series PosterWord on a terrific and exciting new lecture series from Western’s IDI in Digital Humanities! Many thanks to Élika Ortega for passing this on!

The University of Western Ontario and the IDI in Digital Humanities are proud to announce the upcoming Digital Humanities Speaker Series. These lectures will introduce new students & faculty to the use of digital tools for teaching and research. At the same time, they will challenge those already involved with DH to think about topics such as interdisciplinarity, information seeking and the future of humanities research. Please join us to learn about any (or all!) of the following:

Lee Skallerup Bessette
Morehead State University
“Intimacy, Community, and Collectivity: Interdisciplinarity and Digital Humanities”
October 11th
Lawson Hall, Room 2270C, 3:00pm

Stephann Makri
University College London
“Coming Across Information Serendipitously: An Empirical Study”
October 25th
Lawson Hall, Room 2270C, 3:00pm

Brian Greenspan
Carleton University
“The Digital Humanities and Other Utopias”
November 15th
Lawson Hall, Room 1127, 3:00pm

Christine McWebb
University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus
“Developing New Approaches to Teaching and Research: The Example of the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus for Digital Media”
November 22nd
Lawson Hall, Room 2270C, 3:00pm

John Fink
McMaster University
“Getting to Day 1: The Turbulent Pre-History of a Digital Humanities Centre”
November 29th
Lawson Hall, Room 2270C, 3:00pm

Can I Hear a Third Option, Please? Diane Rasmussen Neal on Change in the Classroom

Last week’s edition of The Western News (for September 20, 2012) featured a story that, while not specifically “about” the digital humanities at Western, is certainly relevant to it and its concerns. Diane Rasmussen Neal’s “Evolve or die: Modern Classrooms Need to Change with Times” addresses the changing technological landscape inhabited by our students, and implies (more explicitly in the title, in fact, than in the text of the article itself) that we run the risk of losing connection with our classes if we fail to take up the challenges posed by new modes of communication and learning:

So, with all these online modalities present in their lives, how can professors increase student engagement and learning success? Is it unrealistic to expect them to listen to our linear lectures twice a week when Facebook photos are beckoning?

Social Media for Academics: A Practical GuideRasmussen Neal’s response, and that of Robert Foster, co-author with her of an article on the subject in her new edited collection, Social Media for Academics: A Practical Guide (Woodhead Publishing), is to turn to the very social media that threatens to usurp student attention, and to employ it in our own arsenal of pedagogical tools.  This,  she suggests, means using “today’s technological tools such as Facebook, Twitter and smartphones” in teaching, to the exclusion even of the Learning Management Systems (LMS) supplied by our institutions (in the case of Western, Sakai), which she characterizes as “technologically dated, cumbersome, expensive, time-consuming and generally frustrating.”

In the place of this latter, she specifically recommends Edmodo (edmodo.com) a tool used widely in online teaching:

The site appears similar in design and function to Facebook, but also includes many of the traditional online classroom tools that we have grown to expect from WebCT-like applications. It’s free, secure, does not require ITS administration and students find it easier – and more fun – to use than traditional, university-sanctioned tools.

The implied focus of much of this article is upon online courses, but not to the exclusion of on-site teaching. As Foster, in the book article he co-wrote with Rasmussen Neal, puts it: “a strong argument can be made that professors delivering programmes in a regular classroom setting would benefit themselves and their students by making use of several of the social media tools that are already available.”

I would tend to agree. I’ve been using Facebook for one of my classes, a large first year course, since 2007, and have found that it is not merely a good way to engage and communicate with students, but that it also helps build a sense of “community” in a course that was otherwise too large to really allow for that sort of connection between students. This year, in the same course (which is now, by design, much smaller), I will additionally be using student blogs for the first time: my hope is that this will enable another kind of student “conversation” online, as students follow each other’s blogs.

Rasmussen Neal teaches in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western: it is perhaps unsurprising that she is such a strong advocate of pedagogical technologies. And given a student body that is probably, by virtue of the nature of that faculty, more open to technology and social media than many, it seems likely that such approaches would succeed admirably.

Are they translatable, or adaptable, to the setting of a more traditional “humanities” classroom? Experience at other institutions would seem to suggest that they can be: the related notions of “hybrid pedagogy” (mixing traditional and digital teaching methodologies) and the “flipped classroom” (in which much lecture material is delivered online, and “lecture” hours devoted instead to in-class group work) have become very popular in humanities courses elsewhere in recent years.

As Rasmussen Neal’s title intimates, however, there is still resistance to such ideas. I have colleagues who refuse to allow laptops into their classrooms at all, so strong is their faith in, and adherence to, a more traditional lecture, or lecture-discussion format. Are they wrong? It seems to me that the real key lies not in a stubborn advocacy of one approach over another, be it traditional or digital, but rather in an ability to adapt to particular courses, kinds of students, and classroom contexts.

There should, perhaps, be a third way, the way of using whatever modality — traditional or new — seems best suited to the very particular circumstances within which we, as teachers, will continue to find ourselves. One size, as we have all surely discovered over our time as pedagogues, seldom fits all.

The Preliminaries Project at Western Arts and Humanities’ CulturePlex Lab

CulturePlex Laboratory at Western University

In a new blog posting, David Brown of the CulturePlex Lab at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Western University introduces the “Preliminaries Project,” a project to  “study the complex social networks involved in the production of Early Modern Spanish literature.”

In particular, the “Preliminaries Project”  will focus its attention upon “literature published in the European Spanish Empire and its American colonies during the 17th century, a period characterized by an increasingly complex globalized structure that allowed for a comparatively rapid exchange of ideas, goods, and cultural objects between Asia, the Americas, and Europe.”

Using the CulturePlex Lab’s own “Sylva” graph database tool to store and manage the information gleaned from a broad and comprehensive survey of the literature, the project will run this data through “visualization and statistical/metric analysis” employing “built-in algorithms and Python based scripting.”

A full discussion of the project and its aims can be found on the project blog, and will be supplemented and expanded by future postings on the project.