In foreign language courses at CDL, we encourage students to interact with visual content in order to immerse them in the language by providing context and meaning to their learning experiences.
The traditional ‘flash card’ approach to teaching and learning foreign language relies primarily on memorization and subsequent translation. Through the use of visual and dynamic content (shown above), instructors and students can rely on ostensive learning. That is, students are able to manipulate and change visual images in order to learn, define and translate any given vocabulary word or phrase.
The use of visual tools can augment the curriculum of any language course by offering students a chance to interact with the language, and derive meaning through the provision of familiar context.
Above is an Everglades National Park virtual tour. We recommend selecting the full screen feature (found on the tool bar) for the best experience.
Students in the Plant Ecology course must participate in ‘virtual field trips’ to better understand the ecology of several national parks. Previously these exercises would entail visiting a park’s website and providing written labs focused on unique aspects of the park, followed by a class discussion about the findings.
Plant Ecology has undergone an upgrade that includes a redesign of the field trips, which now harness the most current web technology. Students are presented with an interactive visual collage that is integrated within the course. The collage presents students with open questions and a learning space in which to explore aspects of the park though audio, text presentations, hyperlinks, slide shows, video, and live web cams. These immersive presentations bring the national parks to life. Students can listen to the tour guide present information on the Florida panther while watching a video or a slide show of the park.
Through the use of interactive maps, students gain a better understanding of the Francophone world as part of their work in the foreign language course, French 2. This highly interactive learning activity provides a geographic and demographic view of French language and culture throughout the world.
Students select to explore various regions that are highlighted on the map in order to identify historically and culturally significant events, places and people, and examine how they influence and represent the evolution and use of the French language.
Developing new and innovative ways to teach foreign language, CDL is incorporating VoiceThread into various courses, including Spanish for the World of Business. VoiceThread is a digital medium for housing, displaying and distributing nearly any type of media (images, documents and videos). VoiceThread allows students taking the Spanish course to collect media files, display them, and comment on them in 5 different ways - by using a microphone, a telephone, using written text, an audio file, or recording a video with a web cam. Students can create and share their media with anyone, anywhere.
Additionally, VoiceThread hosts group conversations, allowing students to practice their Spanish by sharing their thoughts on their media collections – in this case, their most loved and most hated foods.
Students taking this course also use VoiceThread to market a product of their choice, in Spanish. The product can be food, computer software, services, a store, etc. Students write their own advertisement and present it to the class, while the instructor and other students will record and share their own comments, in Spanish.
A photo of a lego car built by a student in the Invention by Design course, as part of an online lab.
Laboratory experiments are often considered the defining characteristic of science courses. Engaging CDL students in active scientific experimentation as part of their distance learning coursework not only fosters scientific cognition, but provides evidence for the effectiveness of the design and delivery of online science courses that include a lab component.
Exploring how experimentation can be integrated with content in distance learning courses for non-science majors, a research team comprised of CDL faculty and instructional design staff is currently analyzing selected activities from three online science courses that have been developed by an interdisciplinary team at the center.
Each of these courses - Invention by Design , Contemporary Environmental Issues, and Energy: the Issues and the Science - are designed to promote scientific literacy and provide students with direct, hands-on experiences with science, all while using an online delivery platform.
Future Genesis is the Second Life avatar name of the machine driven cyborg designed to serve as a station tour guide in a futuristic transformation station that provide students with a unique experience in changing avatar identity prior to sending them on a journey of scientific discovery through Second Life worlds.
This immersive simulation is the Second Life component of an interdisciplinary science course titled the Future of Being Human.Throughout this course, students discuss biological enhancements, advances in neuroscience, medical breakthroughs, technological change and exponential computing. They use scientific experimentation to analyze how the experience of virtuality is changing human beings and their environments and assess implications of science and technology policies related to technological advances. Finally, they participate in a simulation of virtuality reflecting Vittorio Gallese’s theory of embodied simulation.
The immersive learning activity provides students with the opportunity to experience transformation, transport to various worlds, and explore future, past and imagined worlds in their new form. Students use scientific methodology within a framework of biological advances, artificial life, and emerging technologies, and write a 500-word scientific report based on their experiences. To do this, students enter the transformation station, transform their avatar, and receive a heads-up display (HUD) to guide them through exploration and discovery using the scientific method.
The machine driven avatar Future Genesis was developed as a solution to provide students with 24/7 assistance in introducing the student to the transformation station and providing hands-on instructions on how to operate the station, transform avatars, and receive the heads-up display.
NUR 403 “Healthcare Policy and Delivery Systems” uses a blog activity to enable students to share posts and experience online publishing using a blog. The students prepare and post a comment addressing 3 of the 5 health policy topics. The activity is intended to familiarize students with the concept of sharing information publicly and electronically, as well as preparing well thought out and well prepared statements on current issues. In addition, the students experience just-in-time alerts in their e-mail and can start to consider how this method of sharing information can be used in other venues of health care leadership, education, and advocacy. https://commons.esc.edu/nur403-1
The Dual Wiki Support System offers a flexible activity that adapts to student interests and needs, provides unique assignments, and encourages collaboration. It also provides a place for students to reflect on their own work. It operates by using two wikis in conjunction: in the first wiki, students determine topics of research that they will work on together in the second wiki. Each wiki has an area where students can share and expound upon their research strategies.
Introduction to College Studies uses this tool for an activity in which students determine the five areas of college study habits where they need the most improvement. Students then address each issue. The first wiki offers a space where each student proposes the five areas in which he or she needs to improve. The class then works together and decides which five areas most affect the group as a whole. In the second wiki the students create a post for each of the five agreed areas from the first wiki. Collectively students develop strategies to overcome these problem areas. In the comment sections, students reflect and explain their decisions in a class-wide discussion.
At CDL, one of our primary curricular goals is to encourage active learning in every course we offer. Often, we achieve this goal by providing students with guided explorations of the many resources available on the web today. Under the instruction of faculty, students are supported in their search for content that fits their style of learning and enhances their experience in the course. The Curriculum & Instructional Design group collaborates with faculty to create and provide exploratory opportunities like these.
Flipbooks are a great way to provide students with a variety of content related to the course – as well as the option to explore it at their own pace. Multiple presentation styles (timelines, lists or maps) are not only visually-rich, but allow students to choose the method of presentation that works best for their own style of learning.
Below is an example of a Flipbook currently being used in the Caribbean History and Culture course at CDL.
Instructor(L) with student at the Victorian bedroom that leads to the transformation station.
Things have changed dramatically since the economist Edward Castranova wrote his seminal work Synthetic Worlds in 2005, which made predictions on the emergence of virtual worlds based on a rising real economy in virtual games. Many higher education institutions, particularly those involved in online learning, have discovered the great potential that virtual environments, such as Second Life, bring to their programs.
In The Future of Being Human, we use Second Life to create an embodied transformation in which students can experience a transformation of their virtual selves, transport to various worlds and explore future, past and imagined worlds. For this activity, the College has created a replica of one it’s beautiful Victorian buildings (28 Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs , NY ). The virtual building houses a “transformation station” which will transform students into differently-abled avatars (from human to animal to cyborg). An interactive transportation HUD (heads up display) will transport students to different locations to conduct experiments using the scientific method as they explore various worlds and their technologies.
As with any experiement, students approach this activity using the scientific method. They are required to develop two hypotheses before they start the experiment about: the world(s) they expect to see and the technologies they chose to use; and their experience as an avatar in Second Life. Then, they participate in the activity making observations based on these two hypotheses.