2015 Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium

The 2015 Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium was held on Friday, October 30. We brought together faculty, staff and graduate students for a day of sharing, networking and celebration!

Event Flyer | ProgramPhotos | DP Article | Feedback Summary Videos on Scholarly Commons  | Event Videos 

Over 240 people from all 12 Penn schools registered for the event. We estimate morning panel attendance was around 150 people.


Ed Tech 2020: What will learning look like?


9:30 AM - Opening Remarks  and Faculty Panel

11 AM - Student Panel 

1 PM - Concurrent Sessions

3 PM - Lightning Round

Opening Remarks - 9:30 AM, Cohen G17

Stanton WorthamStanton Wortham 

Stanton Wortham, faculty director of the Online Learning Initiative and Judy and Howard Berkowitz Professor in the Graduate School of Education provided opening remarks. (Video | Slides)

Faculty Panel - 10 AM, Cohen G17

Our five faculty members presented for ten minutes each.

Jim English photoJim English 

Jim English, the John Welsh Centennial Professor of English, Director of the Penn Humanities Forum and Director of the newly-opened Price Lab for Digital Humanities shared ideas for making humanities education relevant and exciting to undergraduate students. (Video | Slides)

Pete Fader PhotoPete Fader 

Peter Fader, Frances and Pei-Yuan Chia Professor, Co-Director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative and  Professor of Marketing shared how he uses algorithm-based peer-grading and Panopto video capture to engage students during and outside of class time. (Video | Slides)


Joe Farrell photoJoe Farrell 

Joseph Farrell, Professor of Classical Studies, shared experiences and ideas about guiding students to co-create knowledge by using technology tools. (Video | Vergil website)


Philip Gressman PhotoPhilip Gressman 

Philip Gressman, Professor of Mathematics, described how he uses the LightBoard at SAS Online Learning to create videos to engage students outside class time. (Video | Slides)


Melanie Peron photoMélanie Péron 

Mélanie Péron, Lecturer in Foreign Languages and Coordinator of French 202, discussed a project where her students used graphic design, WordPress blogging and social media to develop a deeper connection with a city they explored through Penn Abroad. (Video | Slides)


Student Panel - 11 AM, Cohen G17

Our 2015 undergraduate student survey has closed after receiving 942 responses! We thank all the students who shared their ideas. You can browse our survey highlights and survey instrument.

Peter DecherneyPeter Decherney

Peter DecherneyProfessor of Cinema Studies and English, facilitated a panel discussion with four current students.


Rolanda Evelyn 

Rolanda Evelyn is a senior in the College majoring in Communication and double minoring in Consumer Psychology and Hispanic Studies. She is President of Penn Fashion Week and also a member of the 2015-2016 cohort in the Hoesley Digital Literacy Fellows Program. Photo by Cody Min. (Video | Slides)

Elliot Oblander 

Elliot is a Junior in Wharton and the College studying Statistics, Actuarial Science, and East Asian Area Studies. He is a teaching assistant for Statistics and BEPP courses and does research on applied statistics and customer analytics, and hopes to pursue a PhD in Statistics or Operations Research. (Video | Slides)

Jibreel Powell 

Jibreel Powell is a Senior in the College, majoring in Cognitive Science, with minors in French and Computer Science. He serves on the SAS Student Technology Advisory Board, and is a Teaching Assistant for CIS 110: Introduction to Computer Programming. (Video | Slides)


Laura Sorice 

Laura Sorice is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Political Science and minoring in Urban Studies and Italian Literature. She hopes to attend law school after graduation. Laura currently serves as the chair of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE). In the past, SCUE has addressed the changing landscape of educational practices at the university level, specifically considering the use of new technologies in the classroom. (Video | Slides)

Lunch - Noon, Van Pelt

Please join us for an informal lunch with our morning and afternoon speakers in the Weigle Information Commons, First Floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.

Concurrent Sessions - 1 PM, Van Pelt

The concurrent sessions cover a wide range of topics in these topic areas: Canvas, content and data visualization, assessment, new ways of reading, and collaboration.

Session 1 (1 to 1:30pm): Choose one

  • Preview of the New Canvas Interface with Joe Schaffner (Penn Libraries) - Goldstein Electronic Classroom (Rm 114): Joe Schaffner, Courseware Support Librarian at Penn Libraries, provided a preview of the new Canvas interface, which is scheduled to be released Summer 2016. Attendees learned how the new interface will affect their use of Canvas with suggestions for how to prepare for the change.
  • Infographics for Data Visualization with Alain Plante (Earth & Environmental Science, SAS) - Class of 1968 Seminar Room (Rm 124): Alain Plante, Undergraduate Chair and Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, discussed how he uses infographics not only as an effective means of data visualization, but also as an effective pedagogic tool for quantitative and critical thinking. He has used infographics as an assignment in an upper-level seminar course on the Anthropocene to get students thinking quantitatively about the degree to which humans have altered the Earth. Pedagogic objectives, examples and tools were demonstrated.
  • Simulations: Active Learning Tools and Alternative Reality Learning with Sarah Toms (Wharton Learning Lab) - 1 to 2 pm - Collaborative Classroom (Rm 113): Sarah Toms, IT Director of Wharton's Learning Lab, demonstrated three fun, innovative approaches used in Wharton School classrooms to enhance student learning, with an in depth look into Wharton's Idea Machine, the Customer Centricity simulation, and Wharton’s Looking Glass – a highly customizable platform for delivering Alternative Reality Learning.
  • Options for Computer-Based Exams & Quizzes: Canvas Quizzes, Respondus, and ExamSoft with John MacDermott (SAS Computing), Becky Moulder (Penn Libraries), and Juo-Hsien (Shirley) Yang (Penn Dental Medicine) - Meyerson Conference Center (Rm 223): Computer-based exams offer opportunities for automatic grading of some question types; question order or selection can be randomized; it can be easier to write (and read!) essays that are typed rather than hand-written.  However, new challenges are introduced, especially with respect to academic integrity.  Three ed tech specialist discussed options for conducting computer-based exams.  Becky Moulder, Courseware Instructional Designer at Penn Libraries, showed Canvas Quizzes. John MacDermott, Director Instructional Technology at SAS Computing, showed how the Respondus Lockdown Browser adds a layer of security to Canvas.  Juo-Hsien (Shirley) Yang, Instructional Designer at Penn Dental Medicine, presented on ExamSoft

Session 2 (1:40 to 2:10pm): Choose one

  • Canvas Features and Tools for "Bite-Sized" Learning with Becky Moulder (Penn Libraries) - Class of 1968 Seminar Room (Rm 124): What exactly is ‘bite-sized learning’ and how can it benefit the way students learn? In this session, you’ll learn how to break down information into small, manageable content that is easy to digest. Doing so can help maintain student attention and is thought to improve psychological engagement for modern-day learners. Becky Moulder, a Courseware Instructional Designer at Penn Libraries, presented ways you can incorporate bite-sized learning using the existing features and tools in Canvas.
  • Instagram for Digital Collections with David Comberg (Undergraduate Fine Arts, PennDesign) - Kislak Seminar Room 626 (6th Floor): Instagram is a popular photo-sharing app that encourages on-the-go photography and social networking with other users. In this session, David Comberg, a graphic designer and Senior Lecturer in the Undergraduate Fine Arts Program in the School of Design, discussed how his students are using Instagram in his freshman seminar, Writing on the City: Letterforms, Technology, and Philadelphia Culture. Students in the class are curating a digital collection of letterforms (#LetterformPhilly) found in the city in conjunction with study of handwriting, printing, typeface design, typography, and changing urban aesthetics.
  • Canvas Add-Ons (YellowDig, Kaltura, and Poll Everywhere) with Rob Ditto (Wharton), David Toccafondi (Penn Libraries), and Joe Schaffner (Penn Libraries) - Goldstein Electronic Classroom (Rm 114): Want to make your Canvas site exceptional? If so, come to the "Canvas Add-Ons" presentation to learn about several Canvas tool pilots. After briefly going over how Canvas pilots work, there were three mini-presentations from some of Penn's most knowledgeable ed tech staff: Rob Ditto, Technical Director at Wharton Computing and Instructional Technology, talked about YellowDig, a powerful communication tool that can transform your Canvas site into a vibrant space for discussion among students, TAs, and instructors; David Toccafondi, Coordinator of the Vitale Digital Media Lab at Penn Libraries, presented on Kaltura, an excellent media tool that increases a Canvas sites' potential for including innovative content presentation and assessment; and Joe Schaffner, Courseware Support Librarian at Penn Libraries, covered Poll Everywhere, a convenient polling tool that will be integrated into Canvas in the future. 
  • Reading Digitally with James Arrington and Erica Saldivar Garcia (Weingarten Learning Resources Center) - Meyerson Conference Center (Rm 223): Reading texts via digital and networked media presents many benefits, advantages, and possibilities for students, but many have also experienced challenges, confusion, and frustration. In this presentation, James Arrington and Erica Saldivar Garcia, learning instructors from the Weingarten Learning Resources Center, drew directly from student experiences to discuss the features of digitized texts, how students have engaged and would like to engage with Canvas, and implications of this information for reading, learning, and participation in classrooms using this technology.

Session 3 (2:20 to 2:50pm): Choose one

Lightning Round - 3 PM, Van Pelt


What is the Lightning Round?

The Lightning Round is a series of VERY short (two-minute) talks that  introduce colleagues to an instructional technology or tool that you have used to engage students and enhance your own pedagogical practices. We record the talks for the Penn Libraries YouTube Channel. We hope to avoid "info-mercial" style talks and to encourage sharing technology experiences that may not have worked as anticipated. (The term 'epic fail' came up often in our brainstorming sessions...)


Presenter(s) Tech Tool or Idea Materials Description Comment
Joe Schaffner, Penn Libraries Kaltura in Canvas Slides Media platform that integrates with Canvas assignments, quizzes, and more! It's convenient, effective, and multi-faceted. Highly recommended! (Blog)
Kara Moranski, Romance Languages Educreations digital whiteboard Slides, Screen Show App that easily records digital whiteboard presentations with voiceover.  Very helpful for introducing new content, active learning, and reviews.
Vickie Karasic and Samantha Kannegiser, Penn Libraries Scholarly Commons New Media Showcase Slides Scholarly Commons is a digital repository for Penn students and faculty It's a great way to showcase student work!
Victoria Singh Rodriguez, GSE Animoto Slides Create video-based lessons or presentations for the classroom! Worked well! It makes learning/ presenting rigorous, fun, creative. 
Alain Plante, Earth and Environmental Sciences Twitter Slides Using Twitter to explore science in social media. Use it successfully in several courses.
Julie McGurk, Center for Teaching and Learning Learning Catalytics Slides Interactive software for students to participate in class, which gives the instructor instant feedback on their understanding. More question types than clickers. I think it worked very well for me and my large intro STEM class.
Emily Steiner, English Tweeting Scholarship Slides Building scholarly community on Twitter by curating medieval texts and images. This project had a huge impact on my research
John MacDermott, SAS Computing Zoom web-conferencing   Zoom is an easy use system for holding online meetings Zoom is being used by dozens of people in SAS
Jay Treat, SAS Computing YellowDig Slides Yellowdig allows social curation of web resources. We're in pilot mode. It's promising.
Dr. Jacqueline Dougherty, Romance Languages Annotation Studio Slides Enhancing student engagement with literary texts and analytical skills. Annotation Studio is an excellent tool for promoting both individual and collaborative learning. 
Ed Dixon, Penn Language Center Canvas Tool: VoiceThread Slides Use VoiceThread for students to create and practice media presentations  Ideal for out-of-class assignments that prepare students for in-class activities
Veronica Brownstone and Sophie Degât, Romance Languages Videoconferencing with Zoom Slides Casual conversation with native Spanish speakers to encourage spontaneous expression in the target language.  Students build confidence by successfully establishing cross-cultural rapports through the use of a new language. 

Sponsors, Process and Organizing Team

Co-sponsored by CAMRA, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Graduate Student Center, the Online Learning Initiative, the Penn Language Center, SAS Computing and the Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL). We thank our Program Partners, our Faculty Advisory Group and our core organizing team:

  • Lillyrose Veneziano Broccia
  • Myrna Cohen
  • Peter Decherney
  • Kim Eke
  • Christina Frei
  • Teresa Gimenez
  • Vickie Karasic
  • Bruce Lenthall
  • Hong-Mei Li
  • John MacDermott
  • Becky Moulder
  • Maria Murphy
  • Lauren Owens
  • Kent Peterman
  • Ian Petrie
  • Kara Moranski
  • Joe Schaffner
  • Cathy Turner
  • Chris Vandergrift
  • Anu Vedantham
  • Chia-Wei Wu

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