Faculty Tech Showcase Descriptions
We are still compiling complete descriptions for the 2016 Faculty Technology Showcase, but you can get an idea of the topics from the following list:
Bioinformatics Data Processing using Amazon Web Services Cloud Computing
Over the past year, Watzek Library Digital Initiatives has worked with Greta Binford and Biology senior Sophia Horigan to perform Bioinformatics data processing using Amazon Web Services cloud computing. Greta and/or Sophia will demonstrate how this works, and discuss pros and cons of this approach.
A Digital Guide to the Book of Hours
In 2014 Lewis & Clark acquired a sixteenth-century French Book of Hours. Often called the medieval bestseller, Books of Hours were guides to daily meditation and prayer eagerly sought by priests and laypeople alike. Frequently they were decorated and customized for their owner, and LC’s Book of Hours is no exception, including decorated borders, historiated initials, and four full-page illuminations. In Spring 2015, as part of Karen Gross’s ENG 281 course “From Scroll to Codex: Working with Medieval Manuscripts”), students spent five weeks studying closely LC’s manuscript for the first time. In order to collect their findings for future reference, students Emily Price (English ’18) and Sam Bussan (History ’18) created an Omeka site, under the mentorship of Associate Archivist Zach Selley. Omeka is an online web-publishing platform used for exhibitions and catalogs; this was a perfect tool for creating a digital archive. Emily and Sam diligently double-checked the class’s findings for accuracy and augmented some descriptions with further research; they then organized the information in a clear and accessible format to accompany high-resolution digital scans of our manuscript. The hope is that future classes can continue to add to our knowledge of LC’s unique Book of Hours as well as the other manuscript and incunabula fragments that we own; that the LC community can enjoy a resource for better understanding our collection; and that eventually we can make our findings public through such portals as ARTStor’s Open Shelf and Digital Scriptorium.
Using Video to Teach Animal Law Online
The Center for Animal Law Studies embarked on the first-ever online animal law JD class in 2015. We had interest from L&C Law students who were working at an externship over the summer but still wanted to take classes, and from non-L&C Law students who don’t have access to animal law at their home schools and can’t come to Portland for the summer.
CALS decided to have our first class be The Law & Ethics of Animal Testing, taught by adjunct professor Paul Locke. Professor Locke was comfortable lecturing to a camera and was willing to be our test subject for the first year. Our class was completely online, with a hybrid of asynchronous lectures and synchronous “LiveTalks.” The course took place over 2 weeks and students had access to the daily modules in Moodle.
There were quite a few challenges we experienced along the way, and we all learned just how much an online class is completely different than an in-person class. There was a lot of work for our CALS staff, our L&C IT staff, and Professor Locke for a year prior to launch, but it ultimately worked very well. We have now offered this online class twice and plan to offer it again in summer 2017.
Jessica Kleiss, Environmental Studies
Spatial Data Infrastructure
Watzek Library Digital Initiatives has set up a Spatial Data Infrastructure for Lewis & Clark. The system includes a catalog of nearly 40,000 maps, shapefiles, and related GIS data, and also provides networked storage for students to save custom GIS files. Jessica Kleiss will illustrate how she used the Spatial Data Infrastructure in her ENVS 220 course.
Going Paperless with Google Drive
For several years the vocal instructors have bemoaned the excessive use of paper used for final juries (exams). Before the Spring 2016 vocal juries, instructors abandoned paper forms in favor of moving to an entirely digital process. The challenge would be coming up with a quick and organized solution for completing, compiling, and returning student jury forms. We researched other schools approach and couldn’t find a system that suited our situation of wanting to be entirely paper free. In conjunction with IT, we developed a system utilizing Microsoft Word fillable forms and Google Drive desktop.
Students first fill out a Microsoft Office fillable form with information including their name, year in school, instructor, repertoire, and jury selections. Three laptops provided by IT are set up with Google Drive desktop, and each juror receives a laptop with access to the shared folder containing all completed student jury forms. During juries, each instructor completes the form on their laptop, saving their own copy to a folder designated for the student. Following completion of juries, students are given access to the Google Drive folder containing their three completed jury forms. While there were a few hiccups with file sync, overall the system was a success. We intend to continue using the digital jury forms with a bit of tweaking this semester. Feedback from students has been positive, the process is more efficient, and, on top of it all, no paper!
In addition, we are the only applied music area on campus that doesn’t use paper sign-ups for scheduling semester lessons, our monthly performance classes and jury sign-ups. For those, we use Google sheets which allows students and teachers to see and edit them without going to the music office. Not only is it more efficient, everyone benefits, including the forests!
Teaching with R
R is an open-source statistical programming language widely used by ecologists and practitioners in many fields to explore and analyze quantitative data. Programming in R requires users to learn the syntax of this programming language and develop fluency in ever more complicated commands to achieve analysis goals because use of R relies on command-line programming rather than a graphical interface with menus and checkboxes. The ability to design novel functions and customize combinations of commands to address any data analysis issue makes R a nimble and powerful tool. That it is open-source means that any of our students can have it on their own computers without need of an expensive license, and they can take advantage of the wide array of packages that are constantly being written and updated to expand R’s capabilities.
Students in Bio 141, Bio 223, and Bio 335, among other classes, have been learning to use R to work with data they collect in lab activities and independent research projects. Their use includes preliminary exploration and organization of data, statistical analyses to address biological hypotheses underlying their studies, and graphical presentation of their data to include in written and oral reports. Student projects vary widely, and they must adapt, write, and edit their own scripts to accomplish these goals. They install and make use of many R analysis packages that have been written for ecological analysis. Students use R in their lab projects in a way that mirrors the use of R by practicing ecologists. Along the way, students learn coding literacy, improve quantitative analysis skills, and critical engagement with data, including the complexity and uncertainty inherent in using data to address hypotheses. These skills are transferable to a wide number of roles in our increasingly data- and computer-driven world.
Visual Illusions and Perception
This is a video that I use in my cognition classes as an example of visual illusions related to a deep quandary in visual perception. How do we decide how far away things are and how large they are in a 3D world when our eyes only provide us with 2D information painted on our retinas? The answer is that we have a large number of depth cues based on our experience with the world that normally help us to disambiguate among limitless interpretations but sometimes can lead us into twisted illusions and misperceptions of reality. One of these depth cues is the use of shadows. This video illustrates several interesting illusions when the shadows lead us astray!
In cognitive science and Artificial intelligence, this moving from 2d inputs to 3d interpretation is called the inverse optics problem.
Monsters in the Googleplex or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Site
For my literature in translation seminar last spring (’16), I decided to move away from Moodle and try out Google Classroom, the tech behemoth’s entry into classroom management software. Over the years, Moodle had become a mere repository for assignments and resources, useful for my language classes but a bit stultifying for my literature classes. Last November, a student told me about Google Classroom, showed me how one of his classes was using it, and I figured I’d give it a try.
Given Google’s near-chokehold on all aspects of our emailing, doc-creating, and cloud-filing, it’s no surprise that the interface is intuitive and a quick study for our students. Its best feature is its ‘questions’ function, which allows you to pose (discussion or other types of) questions to the class (or students to pose questions themselves) and then it elegantly organizes responses. A nice bonus: before a student posts their own response, all classmates’ responses are hidden. When a student posts, other student responses becomes visible. This feature made informal (and formal) reading responses easy to administer and easy to access in class. Student assignments of all kinds, formal papers included, can be uploaded, and GC tells you on its dashboard how many have completed it and how many are “not done.” If you’re like me and Google Drive is a vast wasteland of unorganized files of semesters-past, GC provides an elegant way to organize all the files and papers you accumulate during a class semester. Its mobile app is outstanding as well, and it allowed me, many times, to upload or correct something from my phone. Students liked its novelty (i.e. it wasn’t Moodle), its intuitive design, and its functional contributions to our work in the class.
Google being Google, they make constant updates and improvements. It is nicely malleable and you can deck it out with photos and pictures. It still lacks (its biggest flaw) the ability to divide your class into groups, sending one group one assignment and another group a separate assignment. Lamenting this lack is a common pastime on the many GC message boards. Regardless, I have (for now, at least) assimilated to the Google Borg and plan to use it again this coming spring.