UP-UPDATED: CASTpods: listen, if you like

UPDATED: March 31, 2016  May 3, 2016

In an active attempt to hybridize CAST content, Kamran and I decided to take a two-prong delivery approach for CASTivities this spring: we’ve kept traditional meetings, but we have actively sought to CAST (pun, absolutely and totally, intended) a wider net.

I have been working to diversify and digitize content via podcasts or what Kamran coined: CASTpods. Currently, we’re housing the CASTpods on Sound Cloud. You can take a listen there, which 0ver 150 almost 275 300 400 of you have.  Here’s a rundown of the first six current nine fourteen for the spring 2016 semester. Due to space constraints, some of the earlier CASTpods have been archived on Dropbox.

CASTpod #1 (archived)
In the inaugural CASTpod, Kristin and Kamran talk about the preliminary questionnaire results; bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress; and what historical figure Kristin identifies with and how Kamran would choose to die.

CASTpod #2 (archived)
In the second CASTpod of the spring 2016 semester, Kristin talks about the spaces where we learn with faculty member Elisabeth Heard Greer. Elisabeth also serves as the academic online coordinator for the English department. From Malcolm X’s car sitting on a platform at the newly opened MXC to Foucault, Elisabeth and Kristin chat about the physical and virtual places where we teach and our students learn.

CASTpod #3 (archived)
For the third CASTpod of the spring 2016 semester, Kristin talks about math education with faculty member Chris Sabino. As an impetus for our discussion, we reference Conrad Wolfram’s TED Talk: “Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers.” Chris waxes mathematical about why we teach students math, numeracy, the value of math education, and the conceptual and practical realities of math education.

CASTpod #4 (archived)
The fourth CASTpod of the semester is a conversation between Kristin Bivens and Youth Work scholar and teacher Michael Heathfield.  Mike is a youth work and assessment scholar who has an impressive publication and speaking record on both accounts. In our discussion, one that emotionally and intellectually engaged me as a Chicagoan, teacher, and scholar, we discuss the role of violence, social justice, and a staggering 47% statistic that you need to listen to Mike speak about.  There are changes underfoot and Mike most eloquently shows the impact of those changes on our students while suggesting privileging the recruitment of a certain kind of student at CCC.

CASTpod #5 (archived)
For the fifth CASTpod of the semester, assessment gurus Carrie Nepstad and Erica McCormack join me for a conversation about the Assessment Committee’s integral role at HW. At the end of the discussion, I draw the conclusion regarding apt disciplinary positioning that makes Child Development (CD) faculty the leaders in assessment. At the end of our CASTpod, we share worries about our CD colleagues, as well as wonder about the HLC’s next visit.

CASTpod #6 (archived)
One CASTpod just wasn’t enough for talking assessment with Carrie Nepstad. So, Carrie joins me again this week for CASTpod #6 to discuss “Closing the Loop”–the Assessment Committee’s effort to take what we learn via assessment to improve our teaching and our students’ learning. Want to get involved? Check out the Assessment Committee’s page: www.ccc.edu/colleges/washington…ges/Assessment.aspx

CASTpod #7
Frank Wang, in the 7th CASTpod of the semester, discusses his National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Numeracy Infusion Course for Higher Education (NICHE) during his recent visit from La Guardia Community College (CUNY) to Harold Washington College (CCC) with Kristin. Dr. Wang defines numeracy as the “contextualized use of numbers and data in a manner that requires critical thinking.” Further, he explains how NICHE is similar to Writing Across the Curriculum programs on many higher education campuses, while explaining the importance of quantitative reasoning across curriculum in community colleges.

CASTpod #8
The mid-term and CASTpod 8 are here. And in keeping with being in the middle of things, in this week’s CASTpod Kristin talk about embodiment, quantitative data in context, and post-humanism. She calls on our colleagues to be aware of how you use technology in the classroom and she suggests the potential repercussions that go hand-in-hand with technology–disembodied decision making.

CASTpod #9
For the 9th CASTpod of the spring 2016 semester, Kristin interviews esteemed colleague Jen Asimow from Applied Sciences. In the interview, Jen offers practical, expert, and preliminary advice for thinking about re-designing courses using universal backward design principles. During the conversation, Kristin queries where should someone begin if they’re interested in re-vamping an inherited course? Or designing a new one? Spoiler alert: start with SPAS and SLOs. Teaser: you’re going to have to listen to Jen explain how and why.

CASTpod #10
Joining me for the first CASTpod post-spring break is Associate Dean of Instruction Cindy Cerrentano and co-chair of the department of English, Speech, Theater, and Journalism Sarah Liston. In a longer CASTpod, Cindy, Sarah, and Kristin discuss some data regarding high risk courses at HW, the importance of contextualizing these (and all) statistics, and connections between success, learning, and embodiment.

Kristin begins by asking a tough question: aren’t we always going to have high risk courses? If you accept the premise of that question, you’ll enjoy the dialogue that ensued.

Want to know more? You can read an article Cindy mentions: “On the path to Graduation, Life Intervenes” (chronicle.com/article/On-the-Pat…-Graduation/235603; and an article Kristin refers to “The Home that Me Doesn’t Exist Anymore” (www.buzzfeed.com/sandersjasmine19…nQVNEay)(written for Buzzfeed by an HW student, Jasmine Sanders).

CASTpod #11
If you’ve been at HW long enough, you know that my guest for CASTpod 11 has worn many hats: faculty member, department chair, dean of instruction, vice president, and primary HLC self-study author, Dr. John Hader. Hader has superbly served many roles in his more than 20 years at HW. In this week’s CASTpod, I pick Hader’s brain about his experience writing the self-study report from the last HLC visit nearly (gasp!) ten years ago.

We discuss what he learned, how he managed it, and expertise according to Barbara Oakley. Oakley uses neuroscience to explain experts as “mak[ing] complex decisions rapidly, shut[ing] down their conscious system and rely[ing] on their well-trained intuition and deeply engrained repertoire of [learned] chunks [of knowledge].” Experts wear many hats, and in our conversation, Hader explores some of his.
CASTpod #12

Did you know there are many spaces where students can work with a tutor? In this week’s podcast—the twelfth of the spring 2016 semester—BriAnne Nichols sat down with me to discuss the work the office of academic support does.

Teaching face-to-face? There are tutoring opportunities for your students. Teaching online? There are tutoring opportunities for your students. Teaching hybrid? There are tutoring opportunities for your students.

See the trend? There are numerous opportunities for you to work with academic support to further enhance your students’ learning. You can listen to BriAnne explain how you can get involved and what we currently offer. (And don’t worry, I think she’ll present more during FDW.)

CASTpod #13
Thinking about teaching without a textbook? In the #13 CASTpod of the spring semester, Math Department’s Jeff Swigart eloquently explains his choices to seek out alternatives to textbooks for the math courses he instructs using Open Education Resources (OER). When asked about the essential question faculty should consider before choosing an OER, he responded: evaluate the text before you choose it.

Whatever your position on OERs versus traditional textbooks from for-profit publishers, OER’s are current alternatives for faculty and students to deliver content in traditional classroom spaces. Further, an important and pivotal question for teachers and teaching: do we use technology to close or open learning opportunities?

CASTpod #14
Whether you can believe it or not, it’s almost the end of the 2016 spring semester. Looking forward, in a solo CASTpod #14, Kristin talks about the soon-to-be-in if not-already-in-your-inbox Faculty Development Week (FDW) proposal request for presentations.

The theme of FDW 2016 is Creating Connections Across Divides. FDW will be held at HWC from Tuesday, August 16 to Friday, August 19 (9am to 3pm each day).

Please submit your proposal by May 20.

To submit, follow the Google Form link in the CCC email announcement.

Compensation for Presenting: Part time faculty are paid $25 per 1 hour of presentation (a maximum of $100). This is in addition to any compensation administration offers for attendance. For example, if a PT faculty member presents two, 2-hour sessions they will be paid $100.

Full time faculty are comped 1 hour of registration duties for each hour of FDW presentation. Presenting does not count as additional attendance for required FDW time. For example, if an FT faculty member with standard registration duties provides two one-hour presentations, they will only be required to complete 28 registration hours.

As always, we invite a wide variety of useful and/or stimulating breakaway sessions from faculty, including both full-time and part-time. To help you frame (but not limit) your proposal submission, you might find it helpful to consider Creating Connections Across Divides–the FDW 2016 theme.

Some suggestions for sessions might include, but are not limited to:

+ Discipline Exhibitions: Past sessions like the Cadaver Lab Tour, Architecture Walk, and Creative Writing Workshops provide a sample of all the amazing activities and inquiries going on throughout the rest of our building. Our community is filled with experts from a wide variety of disciplines. It is often a pleasure to learn something from our colleagues’ expertise, and these experiences can often have unexpected benefits in our own classrooms. We are interested both in reprisals of past sessions and new ideas.

+Semester Preparation: Sessions that help faculty setup their Blackboard sites, re-design a syllabus, or think of a new plan for assignments and tests are useful to many faculty. We are interested in presenters who wish to provide a tutorial on different design strategies, lead a workshop, or facilitate a showcase of completed syllabi, Blackboard sites, or assignments.

+Science of Teaching: If you have been doing research on the science of teaching, it may be useful for our community for you to disseminate and share what you’ve learned.

+Technologies in Pedagogy: As technology changes, faculty will find more applications for various programs and devices within the classroom. If you have something you would like to share, we would be happy to put you on the program.

+Seminar Discussions: Are you interested in hosting a seminar discussion around a particular pedagogical question or topic? This year, we are encouraging proposals for open-ended seminar discussions in the hopes of fostering more exchanges of ideas and perspectives between faculty.

+Support System Tutorials: Everybody loves filling out travel reimbursement forms, but sometimes a tutorial on our various support systems can be useful. If you feel comfortable and experienced with a particular set of support systems, we encourage you to share your knowledge.

Again, these are merely suggestions, and we will be happy to consider proposals that fall outside the above topics and within or outside the FDW theme: Creating Connections Across Divides.

See you at FDW 2016!

 

Thanks for continuing to listen listening!

I have had the most worthwhile experiences talking with our colleagues about different topics. The discussions in CASTpods #4 and #5 haunt me still.

Have a listen, and look for a mid-term end of the semester survey about CAST in a few weeks in your inbox over spring break around finals week, as well as our new CAST space on the HWC/CCC webpage: http://www.ccc.edu/colleges/washington/departments/Pages/CAST.aspx.

On Twitter? Follow us there, too: @CASThwc

Think, Know, Prove: Degrees of Difference (@ Harold Washington)

Think, Know, Prove is an occasional Friday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

As promised, long ago, I have school by school installments of the degrees awarded. Unfortunately, my numbers do NOT include the remarkable 2015 numbers, as I have not been able to acquire a school-by-school breakout of those yet, but even still, the trends are still relevant. Here’s the picture for Harold Washington (click on the picture to make it bigger):

Degrees--HW 2014

As you can see, the total degrees for Harold tripled (!) from 2008 to 2014, with increases across the board. Almost a quarter of that growth, however, is due to a spike in AGS degrees. I do not have any accounting of how many of those 332 AGS degrees granted in 2014 were retroactive (probably not many since CS9 was not yet operational) and I’m also guessing that few of them were reverse-transfer degrees, since many of those articulation agreements (and, again, the software) were not in place either in 2014, which means that, likely, most of those were degrees actually granted to students finishing in 2014, a year that saw us grant more AA degrees in 2014 than we gave out degrees of ANY sort in 2008, which is an undeniable positive, double the AS degrees over the same period (again, a positive), and a year in which nearly 4 in 10 of the degrees were AGS, up from 1 in 10.

So, what do you think, what do you know, what can you prove?

 

Random Readings

This piece on Thoreau is laugh out loud funny and completely made me rethink, and want to reread, a book I’ve loved.

Lots of people die in October and November. This is a Q and A with someone who knows it from the inside.

And, finally, “A Public Assembly Facilities Manager Considers Jurassic World.” Simply awesome. Reminds me of my high school physics teacher’s assignment to analyze a Road Runner cartoon for affinity to and violations of natural laws for an exam.

 

 

“I miss Cecilia Lopez because she really encouraged and supported professional development”

This statement was recently made to me by a colleague bemoaning the perceived lack of support for professional development. I was startled by this statement and then thought back to my own attendance at conferences when Cecelia was VP. I am sure that our current VP and President are very supportive of our attending conferences and other Professional Development events. But, it is true, I attended more conferences back then. However, I don’t think the fault is with local admin but with the process to get funding for those conferences. The process seems to change weekly (although probably only yearly) and the instructions on the updated changes seem to be incomplete.

For instance, now the process is all online. Scan in the documents and off it goes. But it isn’t really. First you have to get your Union person to sign off on it. They are not in the computerized work flow system. You have to fill out the old form for them and then, and here’s where I’m not sure because it is so unbelievably and unnecessarily complicated when all they need to do is add the union person into the work flow process. And if you would advise me to attend the FDW workshop on this topic, I did..twice. I have the powerpoint. It is wrong.  Anyway, I’ve not yet successfully negotiated the current process so I can’t really speak to it. I know this is a personal failing but I do wish the process was a bit more..transparent? I also know many of my colleagues are more tenacious than I and have succeeded in getting their professional development funded.  Well done!

Conspiracy theorist  would say that this process has been complicated to reduce faculty travel/convention attendance so that District/Union can keep the allocated money. Pollyannas might say this is the best that can be done for such a large community college system. Realists and …the “Realist” might say that the bulky checks and balance system imposed on City Colleges because of misallocation of funds by prior administrations is necessary.  I don’t know what is truth. If Chao Lu or the Business Department or those who have successfully negotiated the process would like to hold a workshop for those, like me, who are organizationally challenged, I would attend. I would attend, take notes and follow the directions. I would have little hope for success but I would try.

CAST Events

Shared by request:

 

Colleagues,
 
Start the new school year off right with some new technology tips for your teaching toolkit. CAST is proud to sponsor two exciting events this month for faculty members!
 
iPad Training: Friday 9/12, 9am-4pm
Learn new ways to use the iPad to improve your teaching experience (for a full list of topics, see attachment). Attendees will receive a stipend of $25 per hour for the 6-hour workshop and must attend the full day. Attendance is strictly limited to 20 faculty members, so sign up today! RSVP here: RSVP for iPad Training 9/12. For more information, contact Kevin Smith, Larnell Dunkley, or Chao Lu.
 
Blackboard Conference: Friday 9/26, 9am-3:30pm
Learn new techniques and share ideas with colleagues! Workshops will be graded by difficulty level to provide a comprehensive experience for all users. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by Mon 9/8 using this link: RSVP for Blackboard Conference 9/26. For more information, contact Megan Ritt or Andrew Cutcher. (We also need presenters! Sign up via the RSVP link).
 
Thanks for reading! See you at the CAST kick-off meeting next Thursday 9/11, 3:30-4:30pm, room 1046.
 
Best,
 
Andrew Cutcher and Megan Ritt
CAST Coordinators

 

Singling Out Jenny McCarthy: What Autism, CPS, and Ethos Have in Common

A few weeks back, I was aimlessly reading FB post updates, and I noticed Jenny McCarthy (an actress and comedian) was being skewered, once again, in the media and on Twitter, for her views on vaccinations and immunizations and the autism-vaccination hypothesis. You may recall, years ago, McCarthy using her son as evidence for the validation of this hypothesis. People listened to Jenny McCarthy, which was odd to me.

I remember watching the MTV show, Singled Out. The Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick, (and current host of Talking Dead) and McCarthy co-hosted the show. It was a dating game, and while I wasn’t interested in dating at the time, I was interested in anything MTV. I remember McCarthy and Hardwick being funny, and in retrospect, I probably didn’t really understand the humor on the show, but they were funny: they were comedians.

Around the same time, a British physician, Andrew Wakefield et al. (1998), misanalyzed data from an Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) study and misreported findings that included a supposed link of MMR vaccines to autism. His study was reported in The Lancet, and eventually, after severe outcry from the medical community because of a lack of rigor in the analysis among other problems, the article was retracted. The message was clear: Wakefield (and the other authors) were out of line and off the mark: there was no link between MMR and autism. (For a more thorough account, read the Harvard Health article.)

The difference, I think, between McCarthy’s anecdotes and Wakefield’s bad science (and that’s an understatement) is that the audience in Wakefield’s case new better: they knew that in order to continue to build knowledge, they would need to be critical, and they were. So, what is it with celebrities? McCarthy is a comedian and actress, but why was she given so much press, and why did so many people believe her anecdotes? What made McCarthy a better source of information than Wakefield?

I don’t think the answer is simple, but I do think it is ingrained in the culture where we reside here in the U.S. We don’t mind getting advice from celebrities, on the whole, and I think we encounter this each and every day in the classroom. For some reason, our society and our culture of celebrity have merged and confused popularity and fame with ethos (credibility) and value. In fact, in class, when we explicitly discuss logic and reasoning, I show a clip of an interview Matt Lauer conducted with Tom Cruise (2007).

In the video, Cruise discusses Ritalin and post-partum depression with the enthusiasm and the expertise of a professional. But, he’s not an expert; he’s an actor. I usually remark that if Cruise wants to discuss what it’s like to dance around in his underwear while filming Risky Business or being Suri’s dad, he’s more than qualified to do so–he has that expertise and ethos; however, if I want to know about post-partum depression, I’m probably going to talk to an expert (and definitely not Tom Cruise). Discussing an appeal to a false authority (which is what I try to exemplify by showing the clip), is a good reminder for me to beware of where I get my information.

Recently, Adriana Tapanes-Inojosa shared a Sun-Times letter to the editor, “Under Emanuel, principals have no voice.” I read the article, and as an educated reader, I know I intrinsically look for clues to evaluate the credibility (and ethos) of the author. The author is a principal who provides his credentials, including his experience as a teacher and his experience as a principal. While I can’t speak to the experience of being an educator or principal in the CPS system, I can speak to the issue of appealing to false authorities, like Jenny McCarthy and Tom Cruise.

And Troy LaRaviere is an authority. He has the experience, which isn’t anecdotal–he is a professional educator. I encourage you to consider the underlying issues LaRaviere is pointing out, implicitly, in the article: a lack of appreciation and value for those who are in the classroom and a de-valuing or undervaluing of experience and expertise. I am not suggesting to merely accept credentials at face value (remember Wakefield?).

I am strongly suggesting maintaining a critical and thoughtful framework. And I am strongly suggesting valuing the expertise and experiences of educators after they successfully navigate your critical and thoughtful framework.

(NB: The most succinct response to an attempt to de-value or undervalue expertise was on Fox News. You can see it here.)

 

 

 

Cross Talk: Physics (again!)

Cross Talk is a regular feature, highlighting three to seven items on some discipline taught at the college. We should all know more about what our colleagues know, teach, and love. Lifelong learning, blah, blah, blah, and all that jazz.

Yes, yes…I’ve missed many of these, and yes, yes, I did Physics earlier, I know. But big things are afoot in the weird world of physics:

~Watch as Stanford physicist Andrei Linde learns about the discovery of supporting evidence for his Cosmic Inflation Theory. I still can’t say that that I remember a time that science made me cry, but my allergies sure did start acting up while I watched (and if you want to know a little more about what was said, some explanation is here):

~Two more explanations of the findings: one in Slate for Humanities majors and one in Wired for those not terrified of sciencey words.The upshot is that they managed to “detect a signal from the beginning of time.”

~Good chance they found “Dark Matter”, too.

~A great piece explaining a famous quantum physics experiment and the very weird findings (a.k.a., Bell’s Theorem).

~This one is probably my favorite out of these. It is a reminder that often Physics is fantastic (as in “fantasy”): “This move beyond the visible has become a fundamental part of science’s narrative. But it’s a more complicated shift than we often appreciate. Making sense of what is unseen—of what lies “beyond the light”—has a much longer history in human experience. Before science had the means to explore that realm, we had to make do with stories that became enshrined in myth and folklore. Those stories aren’t banished as science advances; they are simply reinvented. Scientists working at the forefront of the invisible will always be confronted with gaps in knowledge, understanding, and experimental capability. In the face of those limits, they draw unconsciously on the imagery of the old stories. This is a necessary part of science, and these stories can sometimes suggest genuinely productive scientific ideas. But the danger is that we will start to believe them at face value, mistaking them for theories.”

~Care for an example? How about this: “Life is a Braid in Spacetime.

~On particle smashing (for regular people).

~Probably the universe is just a simulation. Likely a hologram. Maybe some computer from the future trying to figure out how it came to be and running a Monte Carlo experiment. That would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

~Science is always moving on from ideas and theories, too, as shown by this list of “science ideas ready for retirement,” as chosen by prominent scientists.

~Feynman is still the best, though. Watch this guy talk about Physics for six minutes and try to stay uninterested.There’s a whole series of them. This one was particularly fun to watch.

~And if that freaks you out, there’s always the physics of the curve ball to consider. Oh, and take heart–there aren’t any black holes after all.