Fresno State DISCOVERe Summer Institute | Day 04 – Pathbrite

Authored by Jeremiah Alexander Henry

Fresno State DISCOVERe: Day 4 Reflection – Pathbrite

As an English teacher and rhetorician, I am always thinking about purpose, audience, and context, and I want my composition students to be thinking about these things too, particularly when they generate a portfolio at the end of our courses as a kind of culminating experience. When we were introduced to pathbrite and ePortfolios earlier in the week, my interest was initially piqued, thinking this could be a new opportunity for students to consider purpose, audience, and context. In today’s pathbrite breakout session, I’m further convinced that this will be a move in a positive direction, potentially redefining what portfolios look like in our university’s first year writing program.

Pathbrite LogoAs our world context changes—digital literacies becoming an intrinsic part of academic literacy and citizenship in general—it only makes sense that portfolios in our first year writing program should evolve to reflect those world context changes. But my sense is that pathbrite can allow us to do more than merely shift portfolios from one textual form to another (from print to digital media in this case). The element of public consumption—that added dimension of audience and purpose—will invite both students and faculty to orient these texts differently throughout the writing process, from annotating texts they read to editing texts for final publication. In the past, I have invited my students to consider both their real audience (their classmates and me) and their imagined, ideal audience (a broader college-educated audience, other interested public intellectuals, the authors they’re responding to in their writing, etc.). Pathbrite allows us to shift parts of the imagined, ideal audience toward the real audience. This will certainly effect the way both students and faculty think about student writing because their writing and the publication thereof more closely reflects real-world writing models.

Fresno State DISCOVERe Summer Institute | Day 03

Authored by Jeremiah Alexander Henry

DISCOVERe Day 3 Reflection

Purely from a social justice point of view, I am passionate about equal access to higher education; it seems like affordable learning solutions and open education resources are a big part of the conversation here. I am particularly interested in Intellus’ framework in curating free materials and presenting them to my students in a way that matches the weekly or modular structure of my courses. Too, having a single place for input/output of course materials seems pretty convenient. While the analytics for student engagement look cool, I do not think they will add anything above or beyond what I already do with incorporated formative assessment.

To paraphrase something I heard on the first day of the institute, students who do not speak in class will speak through their devices; this idea was running in my mental back channel during the breakout sessions this afternoon. Although not limited to this, one of the things that makes tablets so powerful is their multifunctionality and mobility. They are portal multimedia recording devices. I used to think that tablets excelled only at media consumption but not generation. Today I realized that through the integrated microphone(s), camera(s), attachable probeware, and (hopefully) keyboards, tablets have really come in to their own in terms of generating media and data. The tablet’s cameras and microphones along with accompanying editing and publishing software have inspired me to think of a new activity for my first year writing students (and any course for first-semester freshmen, for that matter).

Helping my students more fully integrate themselves with university life and culture is an area of my teaching I believe I could improve upon. To this end, one activity I would like my tablet students to do early on in the semester, perhaps within the first two weeks, is to explore campus and find a place that they believe would be a good place for them to study. I see this taking the shape of a visual and audio essay that also mimics a writing process—I might have them take still images and post that somewhere as an initial draft, maybe writing a paragraph about how or why they believe this place on campus will be good for their study time; once that has gone through a feedback loop, their next draft will be to create a more fully realized video. My underlying thinking for the value of this activity is threefold: they will be invited to explore the campus; they will have to learn some of the functions of their device, both hardware and software; and they will be re-introduced to a composition process that involves inquiry, exploration, drafting, feedback, revision, and publication.

Fresno State DISCOVERe Summer Institute | Day 1

Authored by Jeremiah Alexander Henry

DISCOVERe: Day 1 Reflection

My underlying framework for figuring out how I can “harness the power of mobile devices to redefine teaching . . . and create student-centered environments” so far is the extended ability to incorporate formative assessment. I am also thinking about project-based learning in general and considering how it might touch on the ARCS model for motivation.
With regard to formative assessment, I see DISCOVERe and mobile technology potentially offering new ways to engage in formative assessment. In the past after discussing a new concept in the classroom, I would ask my students to show me on their hands how well they’re understanding the new concept on a scale of 1 to 5—1 being “not at all” and 5 being “confident.” While I will still use formative assessment techniques like this, I believe that observing their written labor in real time through cloud-based word processing apps like Google Docs will offer new insights into how my students are processing new concepts and ideas. Furthermore, having these insights in real time may allow me to touch directly on the ARCS model, specifically on (C)onfidence, if I can give either praise or gentle corrections as they’re working.

In a different area of the ARCS model, I’m considering both (R)elevance and (S)atisfaction with project-based learning. I believe that if I can create a project that’s framed by a real-world concern that is particularly important to my students, they will be intrinsically interested through its relevance to their lives, and if they know that they will be publishing their labor for an audience to consume, there’s a great chance that they will feel a sense of (S)atisfaction. If my suspicions are correct, this framework should invite a great deal of motivation in my students which will lead them to take even more ownership of their own learning.