Research Team Puts Engineers
Under the Microscope
To those outside the social sciences, the word ethnography mostly conjures up images of rugged anthropologists living as and among members of unknown tribes in remote locales. But a team of researchers from the College of Engineering has been busy with a very different kind of ethnographic field work, hitting the cube farms and conference rooms of area firms to study practicing engineers in their real-world environment. Think Lévi-Strauss meets Scott Adams.
The team has been using observation, interviews, and surveys to compose a holistic portrait of engineering professional practice. Their work comprises the other half of the NSF-funded How People Learn Engineering project introduced in the last issue of Teaching and Learning Insights. (Read more...)
College Transition to eCOW2: Be Ready
What do you want your students to learn? How will you know that they have learned what you want them to learn? These are two questions you'll be hearing often as you answer still another question: How can technology help your students learn? The eCOW2 course management system can be part of the answer. This new tool is ready for full-scale implementation. In fact, students in more than eighty courses used eCOW2 last semester. This article focuses on why you should act now to be ready for your next courses.
Why the rush? As of June 1, the edit features in the old eCOW no longer work. All content in the old eCOW site will remain available for you to import into the new eCOW2. "These zipped archives will remain available for years," writes Rob Kohlhepp here. You can import course materials from your old eCOW archive as well as from an existing eCOW2 course. "Only the Moodle-based new eCOW courses will be available for the Fall 2009 semester," Kohlhepp continues.
Why the change? The original eCOW (Engineering Courses on the Web) is nearly 15 years old. It is not secure and does not handle mathematical expressions well. The new eCOW2 is similar to Learn@UW but has several advantages. (Read more...)
Software Tools for Qualitative Analysis
This semester, TLI's coverage has highlighted work by the Engineering Education and Engineering Practice research teams for the NSF-funded How People Learn Engineering project. Although the teams use different methods to explore different questions in different settings, many of their research tasks--and, thus, their needs from the tools they use to aid their work--are the same.
Both groups face the challenge of organizing and analyzing vast quantities of data in the form of audio and video recordings, transcripts, field notes, and other documents and multi-media files. In what some researchers jokingly refer to as "the bad old days," all of the bookmarking, coding, cross-referencing, tabulation, and validation associated with the groups' research methods would have to have been performed by hand. This resource review introduces two software tools that automate many of these essential tasks for educational researchers. Meet Transana and NVivo. (Read more...)
Building a Teaching Community the
Web 2.0 Way
In a recent post to Teaching and Learning Excellence, "a collaborative meeting place for faculty and staff" at UW-Madison, Jim Rogers described Web 2.0 technology in general and a number of specific examples, including blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, etc. The follow-up comments posted after the article list some more examples and expound on the ways this technology has changed the way we interact with each other.
When you log in and read their profiles, you realize both of these commenters are members of DoIT's Academic Technology staff. As such, it's certainly unsurprising that they have opinions regarding the topic of the post. But it seems likely that their comments are also meant as a model for other users--a little priming of the site-participation pump. Unfortunately, no one's followed their lead just yet on this particular article.
This page seems to be a microcosm of the site as a whole: the useful content, clean site design, and Web 2.0 feature set are all in place. But in many cases, the conversation has yet to fully take off. (Read more...)