Sunday, February 14, 2016

LiveCode Report from the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy at Virginia Tech

I just returned from attending the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy (CHEP) at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. This is the fourth year in a row I've attended. I think this is one of the best conferences about teaching I've ever attended. The venue is great, the sessions are high quality (and usually very practical), the people are interesting, helpful, and supportive, the cost is low ($25), and the food is great.

I did a LiveCode workshop on Tuesday and I also presented my current research project exploring how to adapt the Q methodology for instructional purposes (built with LiveCode). Some people also showed some interest in my video analysis tool, thanks to some shout-outs in sessions and on twitter by friends and colleagues, particularly David Carbonara and Sherry Clouser.

LiveCode Workshop at CHEP

I again presented my LiveCode workshop using the title "Introduction to Coding for Mere Mortals Using LiveCode." Although eight people had signed up, only three actually showed up. But that allowed me to give more personalized attention to them. My philosophy is that anybody can learn to code and I've designed my workshops for people who have never coded before. I think it went well. I used a "new and improved" Google workshop presentation. Besides helping to organize the workshop activities to keep me on task, I added many more links to good resources and videos.

We were able to complete two "LiveCode First Projects" in our three-hour workshop: Visit the USA; and Mad Libs. I like how both of these projects offer different programming experiences with LiveCode. The participants were very motivated up to the end. In fact, they were very interested in exploring some of the LiveCode Mini-Projects I've designed and wanted to try the hardest one of the bunch. So, we built the EZ Math Calculator.

A reminder to any of my UGA colleagues who might be reading this that I'll be offering two LiveCode events this semester. First, I'll be offering a short, 90 minute workshop about LiveCode for UGA's Center for Teaching and Learning on March 22, 2016 from 10:00-11:30 in Room 372 of the Miller Learning Center. Due to the short length of the session, this will likely need to be mostly demonstration, but I hope to have at least one hands-on activity. Second, I'll be conducting a short course on learning to program with LiveCode for the OLLI beginning February 23. This course will consist of four sessions (February 23, 25, March 1, 3) scheduled from 1:00-3:45 in Room 143 River's Crossing. I'm very excited by this because it will give me an extended period for teaching LiveCode. The pace will be very relaxed. I don't know OLLI's policy for others to attend, so check with them if you are interested.

Adapting the Q Methodology for Instructional Purposes

Most of the sessions at CHEP are given by higher education faculty and instructors who offer practical ideas and suggestions for teaching in higher education gained from actual experience in the classroom. However, there is also a smaller research track at the conference, within which I presented my Q sort work. Unlike the other sessions, research sessions feature two presentations within the 50-minute slot. So, I didn't have much time. But, this forced me to really get to the point. I also managed to do a live demonstration of my Q sort tool, so I think everyone got a good overview. Attendance was very minimal and in hindsight I think I should have come up with a sexier title. However, people seemed very intrigued by the technique and had many interesting suggestions and ideas on how to use it. One suggestion was to try a Q sort within the context of faculty teaching evaluations to help identify teaching strengths and weaknesses.

Getting Ready for Next Year

I will make the CHEP conference a priority in my yearly conference planning. Next year's conference dates are February 15-17, 2017. I'll be encouraging everyone to check it out, particularly doctoral students because of its friendly and supportive environment. Proposals are usually due around mid-September. The attendance was about 1,000 people this year, which is about the maximum that the conference venue can accommodate. There was some talk about perhaps having to limit registrations, so be sure to register early!

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