Creating Dynamic Slide Shows in PowerPoint and Keynote

Prof. Kyle Matthews (Languages and Literatures) proposes a session in which he’ll share some techniques for building dynamic and interesting PowerPoint/Keynote presentations, either for use in class or as standalone videos. His session will be geared toward the Humanities and Social Sciences, but could easily be adapted to Life and Physical Sciences by someone with more content knowledge in those areas.

Teaching with the SNCC Digital Gateway

The SNCC Digital Gateway is a new–soft-launched in December 2016 and still being completed–website about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Civil Rights Movement organization that grew out of the sit-in movement in Spring 1960.  The website is here:

The only national civil rights organization led by young people, SNCC activists became full-time organizers, working with community leaders to build grassroots organizations in the Deep South. SNCC focused on voter registration and on mounting a systemic challenge to the white supremacy entrenched in the country’s political, economic, and social structures. While there are a number of very good scholarly books on SNCC, their work and approach are still largely absent from textbooks and popular understanding of the movement. As one of the people on the editorial board for the SNCC Digital Gateway, I hope it will make teaching and learning about SNCC and the movement, especially the grassroots organizing parts of it, much more accessible to students and the public.

The website includes a wide range of historic materials (hosted in digital collections at repositories around the country); over 150 individual profiles;  more than 100 events pages; Inside SNCC pages that explore how the organization worked; an Our Voices section, which presents aspects of SNCC’s history from the eyes of the activists themselves; and a Map, which connects users to the people who worked–and the events that happened–in specific places. The site will also draw on an extensive collection of Civil Rights Movement speakers hosted by Geneseo over the years. While that aspect of the website is still in progress, the recordings are available here:

I propose a session aimed at developing lesson plans or strategies for using the website as a teaching tool, for history courses and others, including topics and fields such as social movements, leadership, gender, public history, music, culture, geography, and more. In addition to lesson plans for teaching, I am interested in develop materials aimed at a more general audience, including young activists, and would also be interested in brainstorming and developing resources that go beyond formal teaching.


Session Proposal: Self-Directed or Self-Constructed Majors

Dean of Academic Planning and Advising Celia Easton proposes a session on self-directed or self-constructed majors. A choice at many other colleges and universities (including SUNY schools, e.g., Binghamton), self-directed majors allow students to construct their own course of (interdisciplinary) study. Most colleges require students to research, propose, and defend their individually defined majors. Students choose an advisor from within a discipline, but work with many faculty across the college. Self-directed majors are usually larger than traditional majors because students need more foundational courses to be prepared for upper-level work in more than one discipline. One famous self-directed major was (NY Times Crossword Editor) Will Shortz’s major in “Puzzles” at Oberlin. To study “Puzzles,” Will needed to take advanced courses in mathematics, economics, history, and languages and literature. Other self-directed majors are more thematic, such as Human Travel to Mars (engaging Physics, Math, Literature, and Philosophy); Environmentalism and Racism (engaging Sociology, Environmental Studies, Communication, and Geography).

Why does Geneseo need a self-directed major? This is an inviting opportunity for any motivated student, but there are two groups at either end of the “success” spectrum who would be especially well served by a self-directed major. One is the student like a new student I met last week with a 3.7 GPA in her first semester who is going to “study away” from Geneseo next year because she brought in so many college credits earned during HS (AP + community college), she must choose a major now — but she feels it’s too soon to narrow down her choices. She wants to “study everything” and is very interested in the intersectionality of the courses she is taking. At the other end of the spectrum is the student who makes progress toward a major in the School of Education or School of Business but fails to meet the GPA requirements. That student, in overall good standing, could still earn a degree at Geneseo, but has no traditional “cluster” of courses in a major to move into.

The literature on self-directed majors and examples from other colleges suggest that self-directed majors are well respected and not “an easy way out.” In some cases they can, indeed, be academic parachutes for students who must bail on an unsuccessful major. But in others they can present an opportunity for the kind of intellectual exploration that best exemplifies the values of the liberal arts.

Use this link (you must be signed into your Geneseo account) to access a Google Drive folder of examples from other colleges and other notes.

Build Something Together: A Part of a Science+Humanities Curriculum

Lytton Smith, Asst. Prof. of English/Creative Writing, proposes a session aimed at creating a curricular component – be it a lesson plan, an assignment, a one-off lab – that integrates specific science and humanities methodologies and knowledge. We can both draw on existing expertise, such as the way GIS is used in English and Geology, among other areas, and imagine new sites for such co-disciplinary work: what does historical objectivity share with biological objectivity or the creative in creative writing with the hypothetical in a hypothesis? The hope is to get beyond rhetorical overlaps to better implement the similarities within difference when it comes to STEM or STEAM plus Humanities.

Unconference updates

Session proposals are rolling in! Scroll down to read them, and check back here periodically for new ones. There’s still time for you to propose a session of your own.

As long as you’re here, why not register for the unconference? It’ll help us get a sense of how many people to expect. If you don’t get around to registering, though, you’re still welcome to join us!

Here are a couple of unconference updates. First, activities will begin at 9 a.m. on March 24 in Doty 302E. That’s when participants will decide which sessions will run, and when they’ll run. We may want to roll a couple of sessions together if there’s enough overlap.

Second, Matt Gold’s lunchtime keynote presentation (pizza will be provided) is titled “Open Teaching: The Promise and Perils of Networked Digital Pedagogy.”

See you on the 24th!

Session Proposal: Interactive Quantitative Analysis with Jupyter Notebooks

Kirk Anne, CIT, proposes a “share a skill” session on using Jupyter Notebooks from Project Jupyter, an open-source project that supports interactive data science and quantitative computing in several programming languages. Jupyter notebooks are meant to be collaborative, shareable, publishable, and reproducible. They allow users to “create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and explanatory text.” Using Jupyter notebooks, one can explore and analyze data in a number of ways. Learn how Jupyter could be used in a classroom setting to explore data and reveal information.

Session Proposal: Blended/Hybrid classes & labs: Using online time to improve in-class experience

Kirk Anne, CIT, proposes a discussion session on blended/hybrid approaches to teaching. Is it possible to use online resources to prepare students for a better in-class experience? Can we use pre-class online evaluations to streamline the in-class delivery of material and provide correction to misunderstandings of the material? Would it be possible to use online sessions to reconfigure in-class meetings for better scheduling?

Build Something Together Proposal: Breaking the Four Walls

Lytton Smith, Asst. Prof. of English/Creative Writing, proposes a session that would seek to bring together examples of practice from across Geneseo that involve not just “getting outside the classroom” but deliberately breaking the four walls, if you’ll excuse the pun, whether that involves engagement with the social lives of people, ecological excursions to sites, historical attempts to reconstruct space, or the identification and use of field sites.

The aim would be to create a living showcase of current practice, a hypothesis for possible future practice, and a wishlist of resources, including training. We would aim to cover ideas both large-scale – an entire semester in which the classroom is constantly departed from – and small-scale – a short assignment or class period activity transportable between courses. The aim is to help others adopt such practices within their classrooms by providing a range of models.