54: Learning Collaboration Technologies (Google Jamboard) at Alma College w/ Anthony Collamati

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Anthony Collamati, Associate Professor of New Media Studies at Alma College discusses how collaborative learning technologies like Google’s new Jamboard can help salvage the best parts of the traditional liberal arts experience in a higher ed world that’s quickly migrating online.

It was kind of like the birthday cake,though at a party, in the sense that you know it really kind of became afocal point for the activity ind, the Ren and the ritual of learning you're, listening to enrolment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and Roman growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, Imeri,Colson AVP of marketing at helicks education, and were here today withAnthony Colemadi associated professor of New Media Studies at Alma College,Anthony welcomed to the show ir thanks for having me thanks for being here,super excited to talk with you today about how learning technologies canhelp savage the best parts of the traditional liberal arts experience ina highered world. That's quickly migrating online. Before we dign tothat appen. He can you geve the listeners a little bit betterunderstanding of both Alma College and your role. There so Alma college is asmall, liberal, Arat School, where Michigan is often we to talk about it,a as a mid. You turn your palm over and your point to the center of it and theryou'll find Alma. I am in the New Media Studies Program and the immedia studiesis an interdiscipiny program that popped up in order to better addressall these new opportunities that digital media was was bringing into theworkplace and modern life. So my background is 't filmmaking, but Iteach courses that range from an introduction to digital media tools, toa senior seminar where students complete a capstone course anthony withmore and more students, choosing the convenience of online learning. Howshould hired think about using technology to retain some of the bestthings about a traditional liberal art...

...education, such as the highcollaboration, the small class sizes, the high touch faculty? This has beenan enormous challenge for liberal art. Schools. You've got. You know theonline education in the past ten years is exploded and in schools like Alma.You know we have just over a thousand students. You know how do we think ofourselves weve built ourselves on this, this small classroom, small professorstudent ratio- you know how do we scale up into the online world, so thePMAVIEST model of post and response is usually what you think of en when youconsider online classes and it just didn't fit that that personal personinteraction the relationships that are built between professors and studentsin a traditional classroom. It's just was hard to find those in an onlinecourse in the traditional model and what was really exciting about this.This new course share format was that it brings in some of the classicclassic benefits of a Liberal Arts class. We think of a Liberal ArtsCollege and, and those at that kind of small sem in our room. It imports a lotof those benefits back into the classroom. Let's talk about this recentpilot program, you were a part of with googles jam board, their new remotecollaboration tool and how it matched up to your overall expectations yeah,so the Google Cor share. It was an interesting form at my, my provostapproached me and they said, but they were, they were trying out this newpilot program with a few other colleges around Michigan and they needed someoneto jump in and run a course, and I tend to be drawn to things that could fail.So I was immediately interested and they just wanted me to take acourse that ID done before was a media theory course. We take we kind of likethe greatest hits of the philosophy of technology and media, and we, it was aseminar course tit's. One of the only courses I do, that is in Cinoftraditional seminar format. A lot of my other courses involve a lot of toolsor equipment or specialized...

...applications, but this one as on asjust you know when you think about a classic seminar set up, we sit aroundand we talk about some really engaging and difficult text and I said sure,let's do it, and this was in. I think it was October and we were talkingabout the winter semester, so we was going to start in January and as partof it, I'm Macollege partered with Albian and Calvin College and togetherwith some representatives from the MCA, which is the Michigan College'salliances. We flew out together to Google and I got to meet the two otherprofessors. whould be doing this with me and we went to Google and a Googleheadquarters, which is fascinating trip in an of itself, but they set us down.They showed us the jamboard technology they talked to us through this meat.Software is what they call it, and it has already been used quite a bit inbusiness and corporate settings, but they were really interested in tryingto see how it would fit with education an what it might be able to do, and we got a kind of a brief overview ofthe jam board and how that works, and- and I can- I can talk a little bitabout that- and what a class would be set up would look like yeah. Please do,but then we got to my deads. We got really excited about it and a lot oftime. The trip was really great and getting us as three different collegesto talk together about what we wanted to do with their different classes, andwe were really excited and set to go and then in the two months, thivfollowed. That me think that was in November when we flew out and then inyou know, December in January, in those in those quick few months we googlecame out to throu tha, both of the the other colleges and Alma. We designateda room. Our Different Rit staffs had held some meetings where they sharedideas, and then we installed the hardware for in order to do this whend.What it looks like is this, so you almaalbien and Calvin all had a similarroom. You set up. Usually it can be a conference table, but you could also dojust a ring of a ring of chairs, but...

...the key pieces for this to work. Areyou have two screens two large high definition screens and in the inbetween them? Is a camera? That's no specialized mobile, not Ommobile, butmovable they can pan and tilt and zoom. It's provided by Google that sitsbetween them, then, usually on the end of the table, there would be a controlpanel, touchgreen control panel, that controls the TVs and there would beaudit microphones speakers that are spaced at aparticular distance depending on the length of the table so that everyonewho's sitting at the table or around the circle could be heard. And hereequally that that's all you need for the the meat itself, but the otherpiece that was really kind of critical to this was the jam board and the JamBoard the best way to think about. It is an interactive whiteboard and it wasthe this. This program was the first time it was used from k through higherEd, the first time in the world that it was used in those settings. That wasthe basic setup and as far as how we implemented it. Among the threecolleges we each designated a course I' already mentioned that media theory wasmy course. There was one in visual sociology from Calvin College and fromAlbiun there was environmental art and we would each school anrolled aboutfive to six students and we caped it at that, and then we take five or six fromeach of our our partner colleges, so the total enrollment would be anywherefrom about fifteen to eighteen and as faculty. What was your kind ofevaluation of this as this collaboration tool? How did youappreciate the remote collaboration benefits Ar provided? How did yourstudents appreciate that that engagement with with peerse from afar,so I mean er, I gotta- I got Ta admit that this was kind of an event. Youknow, and this was everyone was excited...

...about it. Everybody was, I mean thisfrom a students to as faculty the Administration and it we were allreally excited to see. If this would work and to be totally honest with you,I was skeptical yeah. I was very skeptical early on because I had taughtan online course before I had taught the post ing response setup of a of a college class, and I I'm notnothing against those, but it just didn't shit with why I was attracted toteaching originally, I loved, seeing you know when that student's face kindof lights up when they get it or you know being able to adjust. When I seewhich happens quite a bit in my classes, you know tha when their students andtheir eyes start to drift or or they take out their phones. You know tocatch up on what's happening in social media. You know O be able to respond tothat in real time, yeah to be able to see progress, see when people aremaking proress an different projects. Those are the things that I loved aboutteaching and online. The kind of traditional online format really didn'tallow those things what was great about this course Shair, and why I'm excitedabout it? Why that skepticisam fated is what this format does. It's kind of ifonline the what you think about F online courses if that it's kind oflike web one point: Oh, you know like the my space yeah that came out, and Isee this por share- has web to pointo for online education. It's online, it'seducation, but it's really different, because it's not that different fromwhat we usually do in the classroom. What I mean by that is, you are whetheryou're lecturing or leading a seminar, discussion or doing small groupactivities you are in real time face to face. You are doing the same thing youdo and you just extended through space and time by this technology. It'sreally just video conferencing, you know, and it doesn't require you toreboot or rethink or rewrite your entire syllabus there's some changesthat you need to make, but it's really just kind of extending some of theclassic classic techniques of of...

Pedagogi. You've mentioned how digitalcommunication and and digital collaboration is arguably moreubiquitous in today's business environment than learning how tonavigate a conference room table. So are these experiences? Not Simply, youknow, novel work arounds to better include the online learner, but are theactually hyperpractical preparation for the modern workforce as well.Absolutely that was a need to takeaway to it, and I didn't really think aboutit till the end of the course was that you know here we are sitting around andand doing these critical and creat trying to lead these critical andcreative discussions, and even though we're talking about aristotle andBernardst tegler people like this we're the way that the students are talkingto each other and the lessons in communication that they learned throughthat and it's a different skill set. It's similar to how we'd speak inperson, but, as you know, in probably rdoing these podcasts, you have totrain yourself a little bit differently to keep a conversation moving right,there's just an extra half. Second, you have to allow people if they want to tointerrupt O or add something. This conversation learning I saw students dothat throughout the course of the semester I saw them. soons I'd seenanother classes, maybe overshare a little bit. I saw them. You know cutthemselves off a little bit earlier in order to allow other people a chancewho were on these remote campuses to to participate. I saw them really actuallykind of being even more hospitable than they usually would to not that thestudents are inhospitable on day to day basis, but there really was an effortto reach out and make people who were coming in te remote campuses, really aneffort to make them feel like they were there in the classroom too, and theseare these are skills that will translate into the workplace and Ithink the students were talking about that themselves at the end of thesemester. So have any big question. You mentioned how you entered this pilotprogram a little bit sceptical post...

...pilot when attempting to make theonline classroom more like the traditional liberal arts classroom. Doyou think tools like jamboard are helpful steps in the right direction?Yeah! Absolutely I do. I think, the the opportunity there's a few things, theopportunity for students here at Alma. As I I mentioned, we are we're a smallcampus in the middle of the state. An it's a fairly rural part of the state.You know for us to be able to link up with colleges other small colleges, butsomeone that was in Grad rapids. You know more of a metropolitan area andaother that was Albiun, which is in a different part of the state. You knowthat the kind of diversity of perspective was something that it'shard to get in a traditional classroom. The otherbenefit is that in Libera art schools, some of the the departments like yourMi, your foreign language departments, you know, like our French major there,there aren't in a smalllier, ots college es, not a lot of French majors.You know when you've gote about thirteen hundred students o you're notgoing to have a a huge major in there, for we not going e able to offer a lotof courses. This is a way of doing advanced courses, doing specializedcourses and having a robust major, even when you don't have a large faculty ora large student population, filling your major on the campus. The other waythis connects with the liberal arts mission is that you know students are not passive in the classroom and Ithink in large part that's due to the I think, the presence of the JM Boarditself and I think, that's kind of a crucial tool. I thought it was. It wasjust a little bit of a kind of a fancy tool and overgron oline. I pad you know,and it wasn't really that important, but I do see it as not just ta kind ofadd on, but actually a crucial part of this and doing this right. What happenswith that jam board and against about the size of a normal? You know you'Rkind of a standard whiteboard. You might find n somebody's office yeah byputting that in the classroom. It says...

...that you walkd into a classroom- andyou see these two two big TVs and some speakers you're, going to think thatokay, I need to sit in this chair and watch the TV you know right. I am herekind of it's almost like a you know your family room or a theater wit. AJAM board does, is it says, like you know, this is you were here toparticipate and to produce and to create and to share, and it's really ait's a tool. I ended up falling, I in love with, for this type. Of course, itwe linked up the jam boards on the three different campuses, so you rideon one, and it appears on thegether anything that student on a remotecampus would add would show instantly on on the campus were on our homecampus. You could also, if you have a an android device, there's an APP thatyou could use, and you could also blink to the jamboard right on your AP, soyou could break up into small groups and and add to it remotely justn't. Itwasn't just one board. It can be small little boards connected to themainboard, but it was kind of like the birthday cake, though at a party, inthe sense that you know it really kind of became a focal point for theactivity and the rent and the Richal yeah of learning. So the fact that youknow these this format, making courses more diverse, you know allowing us tooffer more specialized courses and diversity of faculty to to bring thatinto a liberal, Aes College, and then also, you know the emphasis on activelearning. I think those allline really beautifully with the Liberal arxsmission Anthony. Finally, any next steps advice for other institutions whoare listening to this looking to continually adopt and evolve new toolsand technologies to improve the collaboration in their onlineclassrooms yeah. I think that there's still a lot of untested water here andI'm really curious about how this develops wwe're doing more courses nextsemester and I think we'll get some interesting. You know interesting newangles on on how to do this. Well, but a few things that people might consideras one I'm not sure how this is going to...

...scale into courses with morespecialized gear or hardware or tools, whether that is something like a youknow, I teach filmmaking classes as soon as you try to put gear in people'shands like how do you do that with two other remote locations? Right also- andI google, I believe, is aware of this: even there is a lot of limitations onbreaking into small groups, not if you're Lik, not if we were saying OkayAlma, you guys break into two groups and then Albian your group and Calvin.Your group. It works really well for that. But what I really wanted to dowas say: okay, Hey, let's get two students from Calvin to work with twostudents from Alma and to be able to kind of you know, use the technology tomake those groups a little bit private and easily. They could easilycommunicate with each other. That's not that's not there yet, and I think thatwould be very helpful to conintegrating the different student populationstudent bodies. So those are some challenges ahead and I think that it'sit quits a lot of pressure and there's a lot of responsibility. Th T thatfalls to administration. You can't sit back and just say well faculties. Youtake care of this because, as soon as you start to, if you think through it alittle bit, you know how do you do grades? How do you do shit springbreaks when three different colleges have three different spring breaks?These kind of little logistical questions, thet become big deals whenyou start running a class, so it really requires somebody at an administrativelevel to be be hands on with this, and also we were very lucky to havewonderful it staps. They were there and they had their eye on it because it wasa pilot program. Every you know they were, they were dedicated to it. Theywere watching it closely. They were checking in every almost ever everymeeting session. As soon as something happened they would, they would respondquickly. You know that part of that was because it was a pilot. How do youscale that that how d that kind of attention had you maintain it? Thoseare the challenges I see ahead as we explore the future potential of thisanthony thanks. So much for your time today, what's the best place forlisteners to connect with you, they have any followup questions. Sure youcan I'm on twitter at Aunt Cola, ant...

...colla and my email is Colamadi at Almadied. Edu Awesome. Best of luck with the continued testing andexperimentation, and thanks against so much for joining us today, Anphony Eric,thank you so much attracting today's new post, traditional learners meansadopting new enrolmant strategies. Keelics educations data drivenenterprise, wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges anduniversities thrive in this new education, landscape and Helex has justpublished the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook, with fiftypercent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's mostpressing enromant growth challenges download it today for free at helocs,Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enrolmentgrowth university from helics education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

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