About this blog

Welcome to Techademia, a site where the Academic Computing Consultants at Vassar College write about technology and teaching.

This blog will be about our teaching and your teaching. We envision this site as a place where we hope to do a little teaching, about things that may be too new or obscure to have caught your notice. At the same time, these writings will  focus on teaching at the college level, while highlighting ways in which technology can enhance— or even revolutionize— that teaching.

Every faculty member that I’ve met at Vassar is wholly committed to his or her teaching. Many tell me that they’re really interested in one technology or another that might help their students to understand their course materials better. But they’re also really, really busy and can rarely find the time to take workshops or tinker around with new devices or programs.

We hope that his blog will provide a way for you to fit a little bit of this learning into your busy schedule. We aim to generate new postings each week, on various topics related to teaching with technology. Those topics will range from descriptions of very specific gadgets to discussions of pedagogical approaches. Some will be specific to Vassar, while others will be more generic.

The primary contributors will be the four members of Vassar’s Academic Computing Services (ACS) group. (If you’d like to know more about us, see the authors’ profiles, at the top of the page.) We may have occasional guest contributors as well, and we invite anyone in the Vassar community to comment on what they read.

Looking forward to some interesting discussions,

Steve

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Recent Posts

GIS Tools for Teaching and Research

by Baynard Bailey

Anthropology Professor April Beisaw is a very active user of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and other technologies in her research and in her classroom. ACS recently produced a video featuring Professor Beisaw employing mobile mapping devices in the field (devices she was able to purchase via the Frances D. Fergusson Technology Exploration Fund). Using the GPS mobile mapping device makes it easy to collect data that can then be imported/loaded into GIS to make nice maps. The video features April Beisaw using mobile mapping devices for field research.

Professor Beisaw continues to be a dynamic user and an advocate for using various GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technologies in her classroom. Last year she asked that QGIS be added to the base image for public computers on campus. I didn’t know about QGIS until April pointed it out to me. QGIS is a free and open source tool that empowers users to “create, edit, visualize, analyze and publish geospatial information”. It is also cross-platform, so that means you can use it on your Mac, Windows or Linux machine. (As an educator, I really appreciate it when software is free and cross platform!) Not too long ago, April gave a little demo in her office showing me and a couple Economics professors how to import maps into QGIS and how to get started creating your own customized maps. It seemed like a great tool for teaching and research, although there is a bit of a learning curve.

All of these maps were made with free QGIS:



I should also mention that Vassar has a GIS lab (using ArcGIS) in Ely Hall 114 and that GIS is available on the SciVis Lab machines. Vassar GIS users can also arrange a consultation with Stephanie LaRose, who is a GIS specialist that comes to campus a couple days a week. If faculty or students are interested in pursuing any of these technologies or resources and would like help, please contact Academic Computing Services by emailing acs@vassar.edu.

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