DWFD Week Update

Yep, with less than two business days to go, we finally have the information we’ve been waiting for all summer. In case you didn’t get the email, I’m here to inform you that the Faculty Development Week 2010 website now has pertinent information!

I have my issues with the contents on site. Here are just a few:

Point number one.
An excerpt from the message from Chancellor Hyman reads, “I believe the City Colleges of Chicago can be the economic engine that prepares a skilled workforce for jobs in the 21st century.” Hmmm, here I thought we were preparing students to be critical thinkers and not worker bees.
Further down our Chancellor states, “One of my short-term goals is to re-build and upgrade CCC’s aging facilities, classrooms, labs and student gathering spaces to help restore pride and professionalism.” I got no problem with pride and professionalism, but can someone tell me why the focus is not on EDUCATION? IMHO, I believe this needs elaborating, which, according to the schedule, may happen August 10th during the Q&A session… maybe.

Point number two.
I see the break-out sessions for August 10th SEPARATE us back to individual colleges to report on assessment and self-study issues. So much for UNIFICATION. Maybe I’m a bit slow, so if someone can shed some light on this, I’d certainly appreciate it. Tanks!

Point number three.
August 11th, I’ll just copy-and-paste this one:
BREAK OUT SESSION D: Build A Low Cost Interactive Whiteboard Using Wii Remote
What happened to restoring “pride and professionalism”? Seriously? A Wii remote? In the classroom? Let’s just equate school with the living room and blur the gap between EDUCATION and ENTERTAINMENT. BTW, apparently the investment in technology doesn’t trickle down to the faculty. Nothin’ against the faculty member. I applaud him for making the best of his MacGyver skills.

Point number four.
August 12th. BREAK OUT SESSION G: Now is the Time to Think About Tenure!
Did C get feedback from faculty who had issues with the process? Is it streamlined? I feel for the poor souls who will attend yet feel oppressed to say anything meaningful or contradictory to the process. Better time would be spent if C took our non-tenures and showed them how to crochet a blanket. Think about it.
“Panelists who recently completed the Tenure process share their insights.” I gotta laugh at this one. Sharing of insight does not and has not equaled a change in the process. Please.

Point number five.
August 13th. BREAK OUT SESSION B: Syllabi Creation
Yep, better late than never. This one comes on the last day of FDW and then we’s got to come back the following week and assist with registration. Im trying my darndest to get my syllabi done NOW. Are we still tryin’ to STANDARDIZE our syllabi? Just give ’em Cecilia’s old powerpoint presentation and call it a day.

Don’t worry. By next week I will attend with an open mind and optimism. Thanks for reading.

5 thoughts on “DWFD Week Update

  1. Hi all,

    While I haven’t been involved in the planning of the DWFDW, I have been hearing about it quite frequently. It may not be clear yet, but administration has really been involved in the logistics of the event, not the content of the sessions. That has been coordinated by our fellow faculty members from each campus. Granted, administration has approved these sessions but would you expect them to turn someone down? I think it’s reasonable to assume that they would go along with almost anything in an effort to ensure that DWFDW is as relevant as possible.

    What’s disturbing about this is that I’m not sure who’s selecting the faculty who are on the task force. No offense to our colleagues, but I can think of a bunch of people who I think could present at DWFDW that would make the rest of us feel better about the event. In regards to the lack of focus on education in the chancellor’s letter, what about the last sentence of the third paragraph that says “your number one mission should always be to inspire, challenge and engage your students”?

    But I digress….let’s see what really happens next week. Right now we’re just jumping to conclusions. I too will be attending with an open mind. It’s the only way to do it without being bitter and angry about it.

  2. Re: Point number three

    I’m not sure what bothers you about the Wii remote project. Unfortunately the DWFD web site and PDF brochure omitted my abstract, save for a one sentence description of “outcomes”. For your information, here is the full description. Most important is the reference to Johnny Lee’s web site, where I learned how to do it:

    During this session you will learn about the Wiimote Whiteboard project developed by Johnny Chung Lee of Microsoft (johnnylee.net/projects/wii). The video game system Nintendo Wii includes a sophisticated remote control. This “Wiimote” has a high resolution infrared sensor. Free software for Mac and PC can communicate with the Wii remote using the Bluetooth protocol. A simple infrared pen is easy to make or relatively inexpensive to purchase online. The combination of a Wii remote, free software, Bluetooth connection, and a home-made infrared pen turns any projection screen into a portable whiteboard at very low cost. Participants will set up the system and try it.

    As you can see, I am not using video games or entertainment in the classroom at all. The low cost of this set-up is remarkable considering that Smartboards usually cost in the thousands of dollars. I recently helped a private elementary school set up this type of whiteboard, saving them thousands of dollars and making it possible to add whiteboards in several rooms.

    I also do not understand your comment about investment in technology. Wouldn’t you agree that any way to provide desirable technology at a lower cost would be worth investigating? This project only costs about $80-$100. That makes it affordable for every room in which we currently have a projector, even if the whiteboard will be used infrequently.

    There is a very reasonable and important question: just what do you need a whiteboard for? I will admit that is the real challenge, but I will have some interesting examples I use in my own classroom.

    Thanks for providing the discussion forum!


    Charlie Abrams

    • Hi Charlie,
      Thank you very much for reading my comments and for clarifying my points. I am humbled by your response.
      As I stated, I have nothing against faculty having to be creative in the classroom, this is one of our strengths. However, I do wonder why we have to go to these lengths when CCC is willing to spend money on sophisticated systems like the SmartBoards. My concern lies in the lack of communication between faculty and admin. If the Wii remote can save us thousands of dollars, why do we continue to invest/spend on other technology. Did you approach CCC with this cost-saving measure? If so, what did they say?
      Apparently, there was either no conversation or there was a conversation and they ignored the finer points of your presentation. This is my first concern.

      My second concern is this: Have you provided enough time in your presentation to discuss the pros and cons of both (Wii remote and SmartBoard) systems in terms of setup and ease of use? With the SmartBoard, I don’t have to be tech-savy. I just go into the classroom and power-up the electronics. Also, do you have data to support the efficacy of the Wii system?

      My final concern: Why do we need either technology? Does it in fact improve student learning? Do you have data to support your findings?

      Personally, if we could have an honest to goodness discussion about these matters, it would be of greater importance than knowing how to setup the system. I’m sure if faculty can see the importance and relevance of either technology, we’ll be running to a Radio Shack in a heartbeat.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for enlightening me on the presentation. I certainly appreciate your honesty. Thank you for this DWFD discussion.

  3. This is a brand new project to me, and presumably to CCC (I haven’t heard anyone else doing it). What you are seeing with my presentation is the first step – introducing this technology to faculty as a way of asking: “Is this useful and worth pursuing?” If the answer to that question is yes, then I will approach my own administration (TR) for funds to add this equipment to rooms that already have a projector. I don’t anticipate resistance to that idea at the local level.

    Therefore, your first concern, that there was no conversation or the finer points were ignored, is premature. There has been no conversation about using this because I’ve just discovered it and through good timing, found it would be useful to present at FDW.

    Regarding your second concern, I agree 45 minutes is not enough to discuss the pros/cons, but again this presentation is just the first step. Perhaps it will inspire others to be interested enough to delve further. However, even with my own SmartBoard, I have to be somewhat tech savvy to draw on images from a microscope or document camera, and there are occasional connectivity issues.

    I share your third concern. I can only provide examples of what I do, and report that students do respond favorably. However, getting convincing data proving that the SmartBoard is helpful is beyond my abilities, and I’m not really sure how to design a controlled experiment that definitively answers the question with such a small class. This is the case for many pedagogies (sp?). It is frustrating to be unable to use scientific methods to evaluate science teaching, but I’ve seen only one group able to do it convincingly – U. Arizona astronomy dept. with 100+ students in two sections taught by the same prof, using the same multiple choice exams but different teaching methods. But that’s another story.

    • Charlie, I heard very good things about your presentation from multiple people. Sounds like you’re onto something…nicely done.

      And I would suggest that, even though I understand you are NOT doing so with this initiative, that you not shy away if someone accuses you of introducing games into the classroom. I don’t really know what the Realist’s objections are to a little Edutainment–I actually suspect that s/he is not as negative about it as Point 3 makes it appear, but I think there’s a lot of good that can be done with gaming in the appropriate circumstances.

      The 2010 Horizon Report (see: http://wp.nmc.org/horizon2010/ ) even calls it a wave of the future(check out Chapter 10 on “Gesture Based Computing” which talks about doctors doing virtual surgeries using WII like tools and so on. I’m sure you’ll hear that objection here and there, but instead of denying that you’re playing games (or maybe in addition to that denial), there’s plenty out there to push back with.

      Anyway, congratulations. Sounds like it went well.

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