Monday, November 19, 2007

How does TLC compare? Vanderbilt (with additional thoughts about mp3 services)

As opposed to Duke, Vanderbilt does not have anything that approaches TLC. They do have a Center for Teaching, which seems analogous to our Center for Teaching and Curriculum (CTC). They offer a program similar to TATTO called TAO. They offer workshops on teaching, working groups on different issues, a teaching certificate program, and a Future Faculty Preparation Program. Both of these last two seem useful to me as far as filling a potential gap that Emory has (a GSAS-wide initiative beyond TATTO to improve teaching and to assist students with professionalization).

What they don't have is much in the way of training on technology. They do have a page on the Center for Teaching's website that is dedicated to an overview of teaching technology. The page has a number of resources, such as articles and book reviews. Unfortunately, most of these are far out of date (publication dates of 2001 and 2000 abound). The most useful things on the page are links to a second series of pages on things like class management software, online writing, and podcasting. These, however, turn out to be little more than FAQs. While they have some useful information--particularly the one on clickers--there is nothing about further training.

Further searches for centers of instructional technology and the like have turned up nothing. One thing I did find, however, is VUmix: Vanderbilt's music services for the school community. They can get, for example, Napster accounts and download an unlimited amount of music for $2/month. I wonder how this would affect their iPod ratios on campus since Napster only works with players that can handle WMA with DRM (i.e., almost every brand except for Apple). You can, of course, stream the music on any computer. If you're feeling left out of the good times and low-cost music, then you might want to check out Ruckus. It's a free subscription for all college students. The music is supported by advertising and can only be streamed. If you want to take it with you (on mp3 player), then you can pay $20 for a whole semester of this privilege. Of course you, again, need to have an mp3 player that is PlaysForSure capable. iPods need not apply.

In any case, my verdict regarding Vanderbilt's TLC capabilities? They don't seem to have anything like this. Nor do they seem to have a center of any kind that offers training to students or faculty on technology. I've placed a call to their Center for Teaching to try to get more information, but the appropriate administrator hasn't returned my call. Look here for edits in case I get more.


JBJ said...

Clearly they're doing *something*: I spoke recently with an English professor there who was team-teaching a course with someone from their IT department.

He described a room that had three walls with smart whiteboards, and lots of other tricks, such that:
1. On one wall was the text of a novel they were annotating together;
2. On another wall was the comparable scene from a movie adaptation of the novel, which they were also annotating;
3. On a third wall was the comparable scene from the machima adaptation of the novel the class was collectively co-authoring.

They may call it something different, but there must be something organizing all that.

Brian said...

Sounds like an interesting class. This didn't happen to be Jay Clayton by chance? I especially like the idea of integrating machinima into a class. That's something that I hadn't thought of doing before.

So at a minimum there is an interest in technology and the humanities at Vanderbilt. I think that we could safely say that that is happening almost everywhere. What I'm wondering about is the extent of the instruction that the graduate students are receiving so they can incorporate such things in their teaching.

I still haven't received a call back. I've corresponded with Prof. Clayton before, so he might be a good person to speak with...

JBJ said...

He's the one . . . it did sound as though there was some sort of structured support, though we were talking about other things.

Jay said...

Thanks go out to jbj for describing the classroom where Matt Hall, director of ITS at Vanderbilt, and I teach our course on narrative and digital technology. I appreciate your accurate account of our discussion.

You can find out more about the course at our class blog:

And you can watch a YouTube video describing how we use the digital classroom at:

You may have located these sites already, but I thought I would post them in case you had not run across them.

As to the specific question about instruction that graduate students are receiving, I must say that we do not have a program like TLC in place at Vanderbilt. I am intrigued by the model of technology instruction for graduate students that you have created and am grateful for this blog discussion for bringing us up-to-speed on developments at Emory.

The English department at Vanderbilt has had a technology coordinator for training graduate students in the use of digital technologies in the past, but it is relying on the Center for Teaching and Learning at present. Matt Hall and I draw on the technical assistance available at Vanderbilt on an ad hoc basis, which is the pattern for many individual instructors on our campus.

A systematic approach to technology training for humanities graduate students and faculty would be a highly desirable addition to any university. I plan to keep a close eye on what you are doing in TLC as we consider instituting a program here.

Jay Clayton