Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium 2013

The 2013 symposium explored ways through which courseware and online learning technologies can help us improve face-to-face time in the classroom. Guiding questions included:



  • How can technology change what happens in the classroom?
  • How can we best use our face-to-face time with students?
  • How can we support all learners during face-to-face time?
  • How can we ensure that students do what is needed out of class to be fully prepared during class?

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Program  |  Photos  |  Printable Flyer  |  Canvas Site

Blog posts

Faculty Panel Student Panel  |  Concurrent Workshops  |  Lightning RoundOpen Mic

Faculty Panel

Jane Dmochowski
Oceans Online

Christina Frei
Language Education

Paul Heiney
Flipping Physics

Frances O'Connell Rust
Web Portfolios

Jerry (Yoram) Wind

Student Panel  

Andrew Lamas

John Conway

Michelle Ho

Zack Levine

Matthew McMillan

Selena Oleck

Lauren Reeder

Eric Shapiro

Concurrent Workshops

Technology for Language Education   |   SAIL to Success   |  Video Production Options  |  Flipping Canvas Pages                   

Lightning Round

We held a large-group session in the Pavilion and enjoyed lightning-fast talks - just two minutes per topic, with timing enforced strictly with a loud gong! We included fourteen topics in our lightning round.

Open Mic

We welcomed participants to stand up on the spot and share their favorite technology in a two-minute open microphone format!

Program Details

Student Panel - 10 to 11 am 

Andrew T. Lamas, Faculty, Urban Studies, facilitated a panel discussion with several Penn undergraduates including:

John Michael Conway is a sophomore in the college, majoring in English with a concentration in Literary Theory and Cultural Studies. He works as a computer support technician for Penn Undergraduate Admissions, and plans to pursue a career in Education.
Michelle Ho is a senior studying bioengineering and anthropology. She is currently the chair of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education and has worked on projects looking at online learning and active learning at Penn.
Zack Levine is a junior in SAS and President of Dorm Room Diplomacy International, a nonprofit that uses videoconferences and other modern technologies to connect students in the West and Middle East. In addition, Zack works as a consultant for the Social Impact Consulting Group and sits on the SAS Dean's Advisory Board.
Matthew McMillan is a pre-health post-baccalaureate student at Penn. He works as a Harrison Surgical Scholar in the Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery.
Selena Oleck is a senior in LPS, majoring in Earth Sciences -- Geology, and currently TAs for Intro to Geology. She is also a sub-matriculate into the Masters of Science in Applied Geosciences and plans to pursue a career in the geosciences.
Lauren Reeder is a sophomore in the Management and Technology Program (SEAS and Wharton). She is currently involved with Emerald, a paperless exam service, and she created ZeitPlanner for class scheduling. She has coauthored a biophysics paper on the chirality of organic molecules published in the journal Surface Science.
Eric Shapiro is a junior in Wharton pursuing an individualized concentration in "Innovative Leadership in Education", which includes courses from the Urban Studies and Management departments. He is currently working on an independent study entitled "Pedagogical Models and MOOCs" under the guidance of Dr. Al Filreis.


Faculty Panel - 11 am to Noon

Oceans Online: Jane Dmochowski, Managing Director of VIPER and Lecturer in Earth and Environmental Sciences, described her experience successfully flipping her Oceanography course using Canvas. View Jane's presentation video and slides
Language Education: Christina Frei, Executive Director of Language Instruction for the School of Arts & Sciences, shared her personal experiences teaching German with structured online activities in Canvas. View Christina's presentation video
Flipping Physics: Paul Heiney, Professor of Physics, reflected on flipping his Physics 101 class. View Paul's presentation video and slides

Web Portfolios
: Frances O'Connell Rust, Visiting Professor and Director of Teacher Education at Penn GSE, shared her experiences guiding students to create online web portfolios using the free web design tool Weebly. View Frances's presentation slides
RRAVES: Jerry (Yoram) Wind, Lauder Professor, Academic Director, The Wharton Fellows Program, Director, SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management and Professor of Marketing, addressed the question: Can technology help enhance student engagement? View Jerry's presentation video and slides


Concurrent Workshops - 1 to 2pm

Flipping Canvas Pages - We modeled a flipped classroom instruction process to teach how to create pages hands-on in Canvas. Participants received homework to complete before the workshop (think online videos) and worked in pairs to create a syllabus and a page with embedded content. Presented by Catherine Odson, Courseware Support Librarian.
SAIL to Success - Bruce Lenthall, Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning facilitated a discussion on the new Structured, Active, In-class Learning Program (SAIL) program, which supports faculty in reimagining classes to emphasize the engagement of students through structured activities. In SAIL courses students to work with course materials and practices of the field during class time, while out-of-class work prepares students to take on those challenges. Related practices have proved successful at other schools, and, thanks in part to an AAU grant to reform STEM education, this approach is increasingly gaining prominence at Penn.
Technology for Language Education - Language classes at Penn are often small in size (less than 20 students) and meet up to five times a week. Interaction in- and outside of the classroom with other students and the professor requires careful sequencing of assignments. Participants joined us for a guided tour of how folks at the Penn Language Center, English Language Program (Katie Ryan, Programs Coordinator, and Susan Caesar, Language Specialist) and the Educational Linguistics Division (Lili Yu, graduate student) use tech tools to promote collaboration and streamline assessment. Each presenter shared a quick demonstration of a particular tool and discussed how it is used in context. For the Penn Language Center, Ed Dixon, Technology Director, will discuss Adobe Connect and Haewon Cho, Director, Korean Language Program, will discuss VoiceThreads. Other tools may include Skype, Google Hangouts, Canvas, blogs and wikis. View Katie Ryan and Susan Caesar's presentation and Lili Yu's presentation.
Video Production Options - Participants joined us for a discussion with demos of the choices available on campus for video production. We shared suggestions on when to go with the quick-and-simple webcam and when to invest in high production quality - and how to think through the tradeoffs in terms of time, convenience and cost. Presenters included Amy Bennett, Director of Course Operations, Open Learning, Jacqueline Candido, Director of Online Learning for SAS and Lindsey Martin, WIC Lab Consultant. View presentation slides.

Lightning Round - 2 to 3pm

(Two-minute presentations. View Lightning Round Videos.)
  1. Off Canvas...Off Campus: Desktop Video Conferencing: Presenters from MAGPI, Advanced Networking Group in ISC, shared tools for and examples of video conferencing from your desktop that enhance instruction.
  2. Innovative Classroom: Karrie Peterson, Penn Libraries, reported on a new space to support problem-based learning opening soon on the first floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.
  3. Storify Article Reviews: Alain Plante, Earth and Environmental Science, shared how his students used Storify to present social media representations of course content.
  4. Google Hangout: Melanie Peron, Penn Language Center, related how she connected her students to native French speakers in France using video-conferencing.
  5. CAMRA Penn: Matt Tarditi, GSE, discussed a new organization at Penn that focuses on multimedia projects to depict research results.
  6. Google Chromebooks in the Classroom: Ula Cutten, ELP, described a recent purchase of a class-set of 15 Chromebooks, and how they are used by students in their language classes.
  7. Learning Environments for Today's Tech-Savvy Student: Marcus Wright, GSE, shared ideas to consider when designing learning environments for today's students.
  8. Vitale: Lindsey Martin, Penn Libraries, gave an overview of equipment and services available at the Vitale Digital Media Lab in the Weigle Information Commons.
  9. Vitale 2: Mitch Fraas, Penn Libraries, introduced the services available in the Kislak Center's brand-new Vitale Special Collections Digital Media Lab.
  10. Omeka Pilot: Katie Rawson, Penn Libraries, presented explorations of a local Omeka server for hosting small collections.
  11. Kaltura Mediaspace: Doug Smullens, Penn Libraries, discussed a new server that allows a "private YouTube channel" for class and group use with Penn authentication.
  12. SpeedGrader: Joe Schaffner, Penn Libraries, explained how Canvas can make grading student work faster and more interactive.
  13. VIVO: John Mark Ockerbloom, Penn Libraries, presented VIVO, a new open-source web application that enables the discovery of research and scholarship across disciplines.
  14. Penn Box: Caitlin Shanley, Penn Libraries, described how Penn Box works for sharing videos, files, images and other content securely in class and work contexts.

View Lightning Round slides.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Penn Language Center, the Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL) and SAS Computing. Many thanks to our core organizing team:
  • Myrna Cohen
  • Peter Decherney
  • Bruce Lenthall
  • Vickie Marre Karasic
  • John MacDermott
  • Catherine Odson
  • Kent Peterman
  • Marilyn Puchalski
  • Caitlin Shanley
  • Anu Vedantham

Explore prior symposia.