TFs, working as PITFs, conducted live online office hours. Using the web conferencing software, they could talk and text chat, share a program or a view of their computer desktop, and illustrate concepts on a whiteboard.
The PITF team built on Skrtic’s article to transform it into a supported, digital reading environment that benefits the diversity of students in the course. Using BookBuilder, a free tool created by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), PITFs embedded the following features into the reading environment: a) A “TextHelp Toolbar” that offered students text-to-speech, highlighting features, and translation tools b) A multimedia glossary of key terms Links to resources that activated or supplied background knowledge c) Prompts for comprehension and reflection. The resource was available on the course iSite to all students in the class. The resource served two purposes: first, it modeled pedagogical concepts about implementing inclusive education and showed that this work could be done using tools that were freely available and easy to use. Secondly, it assisted students in better understanding the concepts in the article itself.
During the live class, Professor Murnane generated economic inputs based on responses from the students themselves, and then examined how the new data influenced the model in question. For instance, he asked students questions about the demand for private schooling. Each question changed an input: the cost of the private school, the quality of the public school alternative, etc. In one particular scenario, he asked students how much they'd be willing to pay to attend a private school. The PITF then used the response data to generate different demand curves (for private schooling) based on how the responses changed with each new piece of information. Students were able to see that demand curves shifted in the way that the theory predicted. This innovation helped students see that economic theory is generated based on real-world consumer behavior.
To address the challenge, a number of solutions were developed as part of the PITF project: a) A series of introductory videos designed for students who are new to common topics to MBE. Previously, this content had been taught in the first two weeks of class. This solution enabled Professor Rose to replace this content with topics more immediately relevant to education. b) Additional content that was curated and then offered to students on the iSite, enabling self-paced study and remediation. c) Additional assessments, including student self-checks, weekly anonymous feedback to the teaching team, and content quizzes that enabled the teaching team to understand what the student's greatest needs are. d) A glossary of terms for the course site.
The Q site is an iSite that covers the philosophy, theory, methods, and practice of qualitative research. The highly customized iSite includes video of faculty who teach qualitative methods, original content, and links to resources inside and beyond the Harvard community. This site builds connections across courses and contributes to a shared vision of what it means to do qualitative research at HGSE.
PITFs Jessica Scott and Christina Dobbs catalogued the video then digitized and edited specific video clips. Each video was coded so someone could search key terms and quickly identify sections of video with the desired content. The library was used by four courses in the Language and Literacy program. Individual clips were integrated into the course site and were used to show examples of practice and as the basis for various assignments.
Using Elluminate, the teaching team created a constructive back-channel conversation between students and TFs. Conversations took place in Elluminate's chat feature and were archived and posted to the course iSite after the session ended. Elluminate was also used in conjunction with Dragon Naturally Speaking to provide real-time captioning of Professor Hehir’s lectures.
Professor Tivnan integrated closed-question PowerPoint slides into his curriculum. These touchpoint moments were designed to gauge students' understanding while also providing the opportunity for everyone in the large class to"speak." With the help of clicker technology, each student could weigh in on the questions and Professor Tivnan could adjust his teaching based on the real-time response data.
With the help of a PITF, Professor Levinson created a web-based self-paced tutorial consisting of five lessons that students could walk through at their own pace. Each section included exemplars and hyperlinks to supplement materials tailored for the particular tutorial allowing students to “teach themselves.” Among these exemplars was a complete student paper that students were able to download and use as a model.