Recording Students

(cross-posted at

This semester I’m trying two approaches in my teaching that both involve recording students. One has students using screencasting to turn in their homework and the other has students making pencasts of their group work.

Screencasting Homework

I’ve been teaching fully online classes for six years now. In the past my homework collection method has involved students scanning their homework and posting it to my Learning Management System (homebuilt using PHP/MySQL). This works pretty well but it was hard to ensure students were doing their own work. In my in-class courses I solve this problem with daily quizzes based on a randomly selected problem from the assigned set but I couldn’t find an easy way to do this online. One option would be to do timed quizzes in Blackboard or something but students don’t have nice pen mice like I have and so they could only type their answers without the ability to easily write equations and draw figures. This year I decided to do things a little differently.

At the beginning of the week I provide the students with screencast solutions to six problems from the chapter. I make myself available until Friday morning to answer questions in the discussion board and in my online office hours about the concepts of the chapter and the posted problems. Then on Friday morning I post a single homework problem that is due Monday. The students need to solve it, scan it, and then do a screencast of their solution to turn in.

Here are some of the benefits of this method:

  • I only have to grade one problem per student per week.
  • I can hear the students thought process about the problem.
  • Even if they work together or cheat somehow they still need to put it in their own words.


It’s been very interesting to see how a screencast often gets a different grade than the plain scanned document would have. It goes both ways. Sometimes I see a paper that seems technically correct but I hear them describe certain aspects incorrectly. I’ve also heard a student say all the right things while what they have written isn’t technically correct.

I’ve gotten some good feedback from the students doing this (who happen to be teachers working on their physics teaching license) so I think I’ll continue the practice. I’ve also branched out to in-class students, offering this method as a way to make up for missed in-class quizzes.


Group work pencasts

My newest toy this semester is a LiveScribe smartpen (actually eight of them). These pens are incredible! They record both what you write on the page and the audio happening at the same time. When you go back and click on a word it’ll queue up the audio from that moment. You can also post “pencasts” that work the same way only on a web page so that students can access them. Even since I got my first one I’ve found plenty of ways to use it in my work. I originally wanted one to help me take better notes in one-on-one meetings with students where, in the past, I’ve found that I sometimes lose track of promises made by both parties. I certainly use them for that but I’ve also used my pen at campus-wide speakers, doctors appointments, department meetings, and yes classes. What I want to write about here, though, is how I use them in class.

Here’s a breakdown of my hour-long general physics class periods:

  • 10 minutes for a quiz on a randomly selected problem from the previous class period.
  • 10 minutes to recap the material for the day (often prompted by a randomly selected summary posted by one of my students).
  • 15 minutes to answer all the questions posted by my students on the material for the day.
  • 20 minutes for groups to work on the problems assigned (one of which will be randomly selected for the quiz next time).
  • 5 minutes for the groups to record a pencast of a roadmap (not a solution!) for the problem they worked on.


After class I post all the pencasts so that all the students have at least a sense of how to do all the problems when studying for the quiz. A typical day’s daily outline will then have links to all the pencasts along with links to screencasts I’ve posted on the material and any resources I’ve found useful.

The students seem to have fun with these pens. They’ve made several suggestions for how best to use them including hitting the record button when I come around to their group as they’re still trying to understand the problems. I now have eight pens in total and I look forward to finding more ways for students to use them in the future.



Advising Webinar Invitation:

Hamline undergraduate advisors: please join the the Center for Academic Services for the following Webinar on Thursday, November 18, 1:00-2:30 p.m. in Drew Conference Room:

Academic Advising for Student Retention and Persistence: Tips and Tools for Advising as a Teaching and Learning Process. Per NACADA’s description, the tips and tools presented in this webcast will be useful to new advisors, institutions who have recently made a change to their advising model, and anyone interested in considering fresh new ideas for approaching advising services. For more information, visit

Please R.S.V.P. to the CAS via email:; or phone: 651-523-2912. Dessert will be served!

International Conference on Arts and Humanities: Submit a Proposal Today

The Conference will be held at the Orlando, FL Hilton at Walt Disney World from Sunday, November 14th through Tuesday, November 16th.

This interdisciplinary conference draws together faculty members, research scientists, and professionals from the humanities, and provide them with the opportunity to interact with colleagues from the same field and from other, related fields. Cross-disciplinary submissions are particularly encouraged as is participation by international scholars. The disciplines represented will include:

  • Anthropology; Cultural Studies:
  • Area Studies (e.g. Africa, Asia, Europe, America)
  • Archeology
  • Art & Art History
  • Communication, Journalism and Media Studies
  • English
  • Folklore
  • Geography
  • History
  • Languages
  • Literature
  • Linguistics
  • Music; Drama
  • Philosophy
  • Race, Gender, Ethnicity
  • Religion, Theology
  • Sociology
  • Other areas of Arts and Humanities
  • Cross-disciplinary

Participants are welcome to submit a paper proposal to present either a 30-minute presentation, or to jointly present a 90-minute colloquium session. We try to organize parallel sessions into tracks through the conference that reflect different perspectives or disciplines. The type of papers presented include: research articles and theoretical articles, as well as papers prepared by practitioners that deal with application, best practices, and case studies.

This is a presenter’s conference, and we strongly encourage people to attend the various sessions throughout the three-day meeting. The conference registration fee includes a plated lunch each day of the conference, as well as an opening night reception, providing attendees an opportunity to meet and get to know each other. Student registration rates are $300, and faculty registration rates are $375.

To submit a proposal, simply fill out this interactive form or go to the conference website.

Get Research Savy with Help from the Bush Library Team

The Center for Teaching and Learning CTL is announcing a series of new workshops created by the Bush library staff for the new academic year.  Every second Tuesday of the month, a reference professional will offer a workshop that promotes research and access to electronic resources at Hamline University. Check out the topics that will be covered and RSVP your interest directly to the presenter. In addition, several of these workshops will now be offered at a distance using Elluminate Live, Hamline’s synchronous teaching platform. Please express your interest in a workshop held in Elluminate Live to the presenter. Workshop listings will remain posted on the CTL Workshop calendar, so be sure to bookmark this page.

Bush Library presents:

October: Online Ordering in Three Easy Steps

Bush Library’s Online Ordering Form or “what happened to the yellow book order cards”?  Online ordering is 3 easy steps! Upon request, this workshop can also be facilitated at a distance via Elluminate Live! Please express your interest in a distance held workshop to Barb Brokopp.

Please RSVP directly to Barb Brokopp at and use “ Online Ordering Workshop” in the subject line.

November: RefWorks

Start using the bibliographic management system, RefWorks. In particular, we will show how to use the software within the article databases CLICnet and Google Scholar.  Attention will also be given to organizing your citations and formatting them into a bibliography.

Please RSVP directly to Kristofer Scheid at and use “RefWorks Workshop” in the subject line.

December: e-books

Librarian Amy Sheehan will demonstrate accessing Bush Library’s ebooks collections, and discuss options for faculty wishing to expand those collections or link to them.

Please RSVP directly to Amy Sheehan at and use “e-books Workshop” in the subject line.

January: Blackboard Linking

Learn how to create links to articles and books in databases. Place these links into Blackboard to provide your students with one-click access to scholarly content.

Please RSVP directly to Kate Borowske at and use “Blackboard Linking Workshop ” in the subject line.

February: Not Your Everyday Databases

Learn about several of the more specialized databases in our collection, including–but not limited to: LexisNexis, Academic Universe, Literature Resource Center, and Ethnic Newswatch.

Please RSVP directly to Kate Borowske at and use “Database Workshop” in the subject line.

March: Advances Database Features

Want to get more out of your favorite databases? This session will introduce advanced features including saving searches, journal alerts and search alerts via email and RSS feeds.

Please RSVP directly to Kimberly Feilmeyer at and put “Advanced Database Workshop” in the subject line.

April: Free Video Resources

Several free video websites provide front row seats to history for your students.  The C-SPAN Video Library, the Minnesota Video Vault, and include videos as varied as Anita Hill’s testimony, live coverage of Jesse Ventura’s Inaugural Ball, and eyewitness interviews from the Roswell Reports.

Please RSVP directly to Kate Borowske at and use “Video Resources Workshop” in the subject line.

Interested in using clickers this semester?

Turning Technologies is extending a promotion to any Hamline faculty placing an order for student response devices (clickers) through the university bookstore.  Please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning if you are a Hamline faculty member ordering clickers at the Hamline bookstore and you will receive a TurningPoint instructor kit containing both a clicker and a receiver. Owning your own TurningPoint receiver and clicker will allow you to present clicker presentations off campus at your convenience.

The GRE General Test is Changing. Find out What You Need to Know.

Faculty and advisors of Hamline students will be interested to know that the GRE General Test has undergone a revision and is to be launched in the month of August 2011. The revised test is designed to enhance the content and delivery of the GRW General Test in several significant ways.

  • The Verbal Reasoning section features a deeper assessment of reading comprehension skills
  • The Quantitative Reasoning section emphasizes data interpretation and real-life scenarios
  • The Analytical Writing section includes tasks that require more focused responses

To help advise Hamline students who are considering a graduate degree, faculty and advisors want to be aware of these changes and point students to the new support materials, study guides now available to help prepare test takers for the new GRE.

For more information visit the ETS/GREwebsite for the most updated information and study materials: