Friday, April 24, 2015

2015-04-24 Instructional Technology Newsletter

Instructional Technology  News and Useful Tips.
April 24, 2015
Contents: Technology Committee News - LMS Planning; The American Dream Game; Make Your Own eBooks Using Google Slides; Online Writing Analysis

Upcoming Instructional Technology Events

Technology Committee
Thursday, April 30
11:30 - 12:30
Library 016
This Thursday we will continue to discuss plans to make the upcoming decision on the Elmhurst College Learning Management System.  In order to leave time for an orderly transition, if one is necessary, we need to make our decision by around February 1, 2016.  To achieve this, while including the opinions and desires of all faculty who are concerned, we need to start now.  We will discuss schedules, intermediate goals, and final goals.  Intermediate goals will include demonstrations and voluntary live trials in Fall 2015 of the candidate systems that appear viable.  Our primary demonstrations will be at the Faculty Technology Workshop on Reading Day.

If you have an interest in this, please stop by the committee meeting on Thursday, or send me a note at

Instructional Technology News

The American Dream Game

This is low-tech, but instructional tech nonetheless.  At the CST Lunchtime Seminar this past Thursday, Dr Moore (Psychology) presented The American Dream Game, a pedagogical tool to help the players learn about social justice, including topics such as stereotypes, discrimination, interpersonal conflict, and the intersection of social identities. In the game, groups of participants compete to try to be the first one to make it across the board game, achieving the American Dream (like the “game of Life.”) Participants take on an “character card,” which will include attributes such as sex, gender identity, race, country of origin, religion, economic class, and ability/disability status.  

Gameplay is simple, relying on a track on the board, a die and a stack of cards which have instructions that interact with your assigned identity to modify the straightforward results of the die throw.

As participating faculty discovered, through simple rules and almost casual play, the game inspired introspection and discussion.  If you think you might like to use the game in one of your classes, please contact Dr Moore or Dr Lawler-Sagarin.

Google Apps for Education (GAFE)

Make an eBook using Google Slides

You can make an eBook for use online or for printing out on paper.  The online version can be either a PDF or it can remain in its native slides format so you can embed the active version into an LMS.  All three of these options are available from a single source using Google Slides.  For a very brief example, please see this PDF, or this Slide show.


Analyzing Writing to Improve Student Papers

No one is born a good writer; it takes practice and correction.  If you are teaching a course in which the primary objective is not improved writing, but you still need your students to write cogent, understandable papers, you probably don’t want to spend too much time on writing style when assessing their assignments.  

Here are a couple of online tools that you or your students can use to make an automatic analysis against various standards of good writing.

The first is Hemingway, which produces an at-a-glance analysis of writing that you paste into the editing field.  The values produced are grade-level as a thumbnail indicator of readability and complexity, counts of sentence types, and uses of the passive voice.

For a more complex analysis, look at Analyze My Writing.  This site provides a much more detailed list of writing elements found in the work.  It also provides seven readability measures.  

The advantage of Hemingway is its simplicity.  With Hemingway, you can get a very quick feel for the clarity of the writing.  Analyze My Writing will help you understand where and why your writing may be wanting clarity.

These sorts of online tools can not come close to replacing the careful analysis and commenting from a writing coach, but for those of us with 30+ papers to read every week, having our students use these tools may just preserve a bit of our sanity.

1 comment:

  1. I’m not a fan of the color-coded interface. I like Hemingway’s features, I’ve been researching similar alternatives and randomly found Grammarly and INK. isn’t free, INK is. {I’ve only used INK a few times but the set-up seems less invasive and has some content optimization features.