Using Discord for Teaching, Learning, and Community

In the scramble to get classes and work online this spring, there wasn’t a lot of time for careful evaluation of online collaboration tools. We had to move our curricula and other work online as quickly as possible, so we used the tools that were quick, easy, and familiar. Our campus Zoom license gave us an easy excuse to use it as a replacement for face-to-face classes, meetings, and social events.

As the semester winds down, we have more time to consider what tools and techniques we might employ for the fall semester. Uncertainty looms over what forms our teaching, learning, and other work will take, but now is the time to explore alternatives. All of us, myself included, have experienced “Zoom fatigue” and wondered what other options exist.

Discord is a free online chat application that was originally designed with gamers in mind, but the more questions we see from faculty who are looking for Zoom alternatives, the more promising Discord seems for a variety of purposes. This article will merely scratch the surface of Discord’s capabilities, but there’s much more to this easy-to-use tool. I’ll share some resources for installing and setting up Discord and then touch on a few possible applications.

To get started with Discord, I recommend following their guide to using Discord for your classroom. Discord gives you the ability to create as many free servers as you like, with each server hosting up to 500 voice, chat, or video channels. You can organize these channels under categories, and there’s a full permissions suite to control access to these channels.

You and your students can chat via video and voice, just like Zoom, and text chat channels give you realtime or asynchronous ways to share files, thoughts, announcements, syllabi, or whatever else you can think of. You can make custom channels for breakout rooms or group work. You can share your screen, stream video to your students at high resolution, and give your class a place to connect whenever and from wherever. Your servers are always open, and only you and people you give access to can join. As the server administrator, you have full control over all your channels and server membership, so in the unlikely event someone joins your server uninvited, you’ll be able to remove them quickly and securely.

Using Discord is the best way to see the possibilities it offers, so if you’d like to know more, please contact your ACS liaison and we’ll arrange a demonstration for you.

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Supporting Scaled Responses for Digital Storytelling Assignments

Vassar, like many of its peers, is offering students the NRO option. 

I wanted to take some time to provide instructors and students an example of what student work might look like, exploring the range of scaled responses (from less time and energy to more time and energy).

Here’s a basic digital story: Ingredients include and image and a story. 

Basic Digital Story

Baynard mom dad mom-mom pop-pop

Here’s an example of a more complex narrative but build along the same lines, multiple pictures and more text:

Risa’s Bread

Here’s an example of. a podcast assignment, a bit of edited audio embedded in a WordPress page:

Interview with a Master iPhone Storyteller

A typical digital story consists of short series of images

You can use Wevideo (web based, iMovie or Davinci Resolve) – All free

https://youtu.be/hnnG9VgcHAw

 
Many students are currently eligible for temporary free access to the Adobe Suite, including access to Adobe Premiere. Here’s an example of a full and in depth response to the digital storytelling / video assignment.

Hopefully this helps us understand how scaled responses can be used in the NRO landscape for a digital storytelling assignment.

 

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Digital Storytelling on an iPhone – Interview with a Master – My Daughter Azalea Bailey

At Vassar, we are grappling with going from high touch to no touch.

Azalea playing duetSometimes the only production machine one has is a phone? What do you do then? 

I interviewed my daughter, who shared with us these tips:

This is an example of a podcast / interview assignment embedded into a WordPress post.

Recommended Apps:

Vidstitch available oniOS and Android
iMovie on iOS
Collagemaker (multiple versions of this, I’ll try and suss it out)
inShot
Voice Memos (iOS)
Stop Motion Studio (iOS) –
Google Photo for backing up
Instagram Layout

Apparently Azalea ripped through all the crappy free apps to make in order to curate this list. Thanks Azalea!

Let’s now find the examples….

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Risa’s Bread

I believe we can use story to help each other. This bread is great bread, easy to make, and very economical. My wife taught herself from online recipes and I have recently been trained by the master.

Prepare to be amazed! This recipe takes very little labor, is economical on ingredients and yields delicious amazing bread.

The Recipe

3 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon yeast, 3/4 tsp salt, + approximately 1 3/4 cups of waterMeasure and mix the dry ingredients, doesn’t have to be super mixed.Ad warm water and stir (hot water if you are in a hurry).

lumpy bread dough

Bread dough should be lumpy and a little sticky, not too wet. Cover and let rise three to four hours until whenever (can rise overnight).

Get some fresh airRisa taking a selfieEnjoy quality time in nature

Take some picturesThink about stuff, do some errands

via GIPHY


  1. Take out of the bowl and spin it and knead it (doesn’t need much)Cover and let rise 30 minutes.Pre-Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the pan and lid in the oven (empty). Pan heats for  30  minutes while the bread rises. Put the bread in the hot pan and bake for 30 minutes with the top on.Remove the top of the pan, bake for 15 more minutesRemove from the oven and let it cool. Reflect upon how much yeast you saved.
  2. bread machine recipe compared to Risa's bread

    Above: bread machine recipe, yields a small loaf, creates bread in an hour Below: Risa’s bread, much more yield for the cost, creates bread in 5-6 hours

  3. Gather your loved ones, slice and eat bread

Congratulations! You can make Risa’s Bread!

Risa jumping

 

Pedagogy: This is an example of using digital tools to tell the story of how to make bread. We are isolated but we are not alone. We are all in this together. Let’s make the best of it!

 

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Going Online in a Hurry – A person centered approach

Wow last week was a big change for the campus and the employees who work here! Nearly all employees are now remote work from home employees! All of our our faculty and students are having classes online!

And we did it! Huzzah! It was really an incredible feat and shoutouts and kudos all around! The fact that we made these pivots so quickly is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of our faculty, administrators and students.

Now that we have had a taste of the online experience, it’s time to take a collective step back and have a good think about our learning goals and how to make the most of a bad situation, keeping in mind the needs of our students.

People Missing in Action

Some students have not returned to class or checked in. They could be traveling, they could be sick or they could be taking care of the sick. What will their experience be when they find their way to the your course site? Please pace activities and instructions accordingly. Maybe create a check-in forum.

Grades

Many colleges, including Vassar, are offering an NRO option. The policy is humane, generous and provides great flexibility in grading and conducting learning activities for the rest of the semester. Students can scale their level of involvement to match their available bandwidth. Leverage this to provide a more relaxed learning environment for everyone. 

Pressure

Anyone who knows me, knows I adore the faculty. They rise to every challenge and constantly amaze and impress. That very quality can be a little intimidating to students. This April, we need to avoid falling into the usual “April Frenzy”. The usual intensity at this juncture will be intolerable for just about everybody.

easy buttons in a bin

So, in your quest to provide the best instruction, please be careful to not inadvertently ramp up the pressure. Faculty members are heroes to students. Please provide learning activities for your students that can be scaled to suit their available time and energy and send the message that any level of involvement is okay. Everything is okay!. Don’t worry, be happy! It’s a free pass to participate however you can. Reduce the pressure, reduce the anxiety, & reduce the stress load. Give yourself a break, too!

Sliding Scale of Engagement

Design learning activities to accommodate a range of involvement. Only have time for a sentence? That’s fine. Want to post an image and a paragraph or two? Super! Want to make a full-length film because your home and bored? Coolio! It’s all OK! Have fun! The situation is serious but their learning activities can include levity.

Zoom / Teaching Online in Real Time

Zoom is a powerful and fantastic tool. Bear in mind it is just one tool in the online teaching toolkit.If you don’t like zoom, please be assured though that you don’t have to hold zoom classes for all the same times that you used to teach in person. We are already hearing reports of zoom fatigue. Most online classes typically provide very little synchronous content. I earned my Master’s degree online, and the synchronous real time experience was the exception, not the norm.

The beauty of an online class is that the activities can be conducted to suit one’s schedule. Some of your students are in different time zones. Maybe there’s only one computer in a house of eight. Maybe their internet connection is poor. Please design your online plans accordingly. Zoom excels class for check-ins, office hours, consults and the like. Please assure your students that if they can’t make a zoom session, that it is okay. Missing a zoom session should not be the equivalent of cutting a class. Ask your students how they think zoom fits into class. Also, gauge your own comfort level. Use the technology in a way that best fits your teaching style, your needs and your students’ needs.

 

 

 

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Quick and Easy Guide to Remote Ensemble Recording

I was asked about remote recordings yesterday. I looked online and the articles I read made it sound really hard. My daughter and I took a walk together and as it turns out, Arlington’s music program had already completed a Virtual Wind Ensemble performance:

Here is my understanding of the steps:

1. Learn your part to tempo.
2. Get warmed up and in tune
3. Play and record the song to tempo, listening to a metronome in your headphones (make sure everyone is using the same tempo – it might be helpful to provide a guide recording or a midi file, as apparently metronomes can vary).
4. Allow a few seconds before you record and after you record to help in the editing process.
5. Look and sound your best. Make your best take possible. Use appropriate gestures and expression.
6. Share the file with as indicated by your instructor (at Vassar College, Moodle or Google Drive are your best bets).
7. Find someone to edit it (maybe start there before asking everyone to make videos).

I would pick something short for the first attempt at this.

Thanks to my daughter Azalea for sharing and being so active in music. Thanks to Mr. Gullien for his creativity in giving this assignment during these challenging times, and kudos to Ryan King for making the video.

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Technology Workshops Spring 2020

Intro to Zotero Groups for Creating Public Bibliographies

February 7, 2020 at 12:00 pm  (Electronic Classroom, Main Library)f

Letter Z in a hexagon - Zotero Logo

Zotero groups provide the opportunity for students and faculty to collaborate remotely to build custom bibliographies.These web-based bibliographies can be used in classroom instruction, community engagement activities, and much more. 

In this one hour workshop we will cover how to create a personal Zotero account, create a Zotero group, customize group privacy settings, add members to your group, and create collections of bibliographic content. Finally, we will touch upon publishing options to share your bibliographies with the world, including a demo of the implementation of the Zotero WordPress plugin. Led by Nicole Scalessa, Head of Digital Scholarship and Technology Services.

 

Intro to Audio Recording and Campus Resources

February 12, 2020 at 3:30 pm (Electronic Classroom, Main Library)

Chicago Hall Audio Recording in progressPlanning to record voice or music and you have never done it before? Interested in podcasting? Perhaps you have an interview you need to edit and share? We’ll review free and cross-platform tools and review resources for audio production. We’ll conclude by visiting the audio production facilities in the basement of Chicago Hall. Led by Baynard Bailey of Academic Computing Services.

 

Intro to Hypothesis: Annotate Online Resources in the Classroom (E Classroom)

February 19, 2020 3:30 pm (Electronic Classroom, Main Library)

hypothesis logo ('h' in a speech bubble)“Writing in the margins has always been an essential activity for students. Annotation helps in reading comprehension and in developing critical thinking about course materials. Hypothesis enables students to continue this essential activity with online readings.”

~ Source: https://web.hypothes.is/education/

Come learn how to digitally write in the margins of website content! You will create a personal Hypothesis account and test it on a variety of resources. We will also discuss new integrations recently released for use in Moodle that allow students to annotate web page content as well as PDFs in their course modules, without the need for a Hypothesis account. For more information on this new resource visit: https://web.hypothes.is/education/lms/

Led by Nicole Scalessa, Head of Digital Scholarship and Technology Services.

 

Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro

February 26, 2020 3:30 pm Sci Vis Lab, BLS 101

ArcGIS Pro Logo (map in a circle)ArcGIS Pro is ESRI’s next generation Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping and analysis software and successor to ArcGIS Desktop (the suite of desktop programs including ArcMap), which Vassar students and faculty use to teach, learn, and conduct research across several departments. While support for ArcGIS Desktop will continue for some time, more and more GIS professionals and organizations who use ArcGIS Desktop are transitioning to ArcGIS Pro. The purpose of this workshop is to familiarize students and faculty who currently use, or are interested, to use GIS software with ArcGIS Pro. Prior exposure to GIS software is recommended but not required. Led by Neil Curri, Academic GIS Computing Consultant and Adjunct Instructor at Vassar College.

 

Linux Part I

Feb 28, 2020 3:30 pm  Sci Vis Lab, BLS 101 

Linux PenguinLinux is an open-source operating system that can run on any computing device in the world! Come learn how to get started exploring the Linux world on your very own laptop, or use one of our computers. We’ll learn a brief history of Linux, look at the high-level structure of the operating system, talk about situations in which Linux would be a preferable OS, and start navigating the command line ourselves. We will go over common commands and how to navigate the file system, learn about permissions, shortcuts, and methods of installing software. Led by Chris Gahn of ACS.

Linux Part II

March 6, 2020 3:30 pm  Sci Vis Lab, BLS 101

Part II of the Intro to Linux Workshop will pick up where Part I left off. We will become more comfortable with navigating the command line, and introduce several new commands and programs. Finally, we will attempt to create our own Shell Script to perform some automated tasks. Led by Chris Gahn of ACS.

 

Intro to 3D Modelling 

Tinkercad logoMarch 25, 2020 3:30 pm Electronic Classroom, Main LibraryLearn the basics of 3D modelling for 3D printing, game design, and animation. Participants will engage in hands-on work in Tinkercad to create their own 3D objects. 3D models created in this class can be used in the Intro to 3D Printing course the following week. Led by Chad Fust of Academic Computing Services.

 

Screen Printing with the Vinyl Cutter Demonstration

March 27, 2020 10:00 am – 12:00 pm B19 Innovation Lab (Basement of College Center)

makerbot screen printingFamiliarize yourself with the vinyl cutter in the lab. Learn how to make a silk screen using cut vinyl. After this workshop, participants can make follow-up visits in order to create and print their own designs. Led by Amy Laughlin of Academic Computer Services.

Email amlaughlin@vassar.edu to RSVP 

 

Intro to 3D Printing  

April 3, 2020 10:00 am – 12:00 pm B19 Innovation Lab (Basement of College Center)

computer sending tinkercad job to 3d printerLearn the software and tools involved in 3D printing and see how 3D printers work. Participants will learn the workflows involved in sending print jobs to the 3D printers in the Innovation Lab. Bring your own 3D models from the Intro to 3D Modeling class or learn how to find 3D objects online. Led by Chad Fust of Academic Computing Services.

 

Intro to Video Editing with Final Cut Pro X

April 15, 2020 3:30 pm Electronic Classroom, Main Library

Final Cut Pro icon, desktop and cameraInterested in learning video editing or recording a narrated presentation? Come to this hands-on workshop where you will learn to use Apple’s powerful but easy to use video editing software. Led by Baynard Bailey of Academic Computing Services.

 

Intro to Laser Cutting 

April 17, 2020 10:00 am – 12:00 pm B19 Innovation Lab (Basement of College Center)

makerspace doorLearn the basics of using the laser cutter to engrave and cut a variety of materials. Participants will learn how to invent or adapt designs in order to print them on the laser cutter in the Innovation Lab. Find out how to safely operate the laser and choose safe and appropriate materials for a variety of projects. Led by Chad Fust of Academic Computing Services.

 

Intro to Machine Sewing: Standard Pillowcase 

April 24, 2020 10:00 – 12:00 B19 Innovation Lab (basement of College Center)

Sewing Machine at workCome learn the basics of sewing from cutting the fabric to threading the sewing machine, and ultimately going home with a standard size pillowcase. Due to the limited number of machines, materials, and space this class will be available to the first five registrants that contact nscalessa@vassar.edu; others will be waitlisted. If interest warrants, we will schedule another session. Enrollment is full but if you are interested in a workshop like this, please contact Nicole Scalessa, Head of Digital Scholarship and Technology Services.

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Technology Workshops Fall 2019

Technology Workshops Fall 2019

Moodle Basics 

Sept. 6, 2019 Library Electronic Classroom 10:00 am 

 moodle iconFor new or returning faculty: Learn or review the basic operations of Moodle, including adding content of different types; adding special activities such as assignments, discussion forums, and attendance tracking; emailing students; and managing enrollments. RSVP to moodle@vassar.edu. Friday Sept. 6 10am in the Library Classroom.

 

Faculty Open House in the Vassar Innovation Lab

Sept 6, 2019, Vassar Innovation Lab  2-5 pm

What if you could use a laser to cut through solid materials?makerspace door Or fly for miles without leaving the ground? What would you do with these powers? In our maker space, we have the tools to grant you these abilities, but we need your ideas to bring them to life. Come explore the world of maker technology, including laser cutters, 3D printers, drones, virtual reality, and more. Drop in any time after 2:00 on Friday, Sept. 6. (adjacent to the Old Bookstore). 

 

Save Today So History is Not Rewritten Tomorrow 

Sept. 25, 2019,  Library Electronic Classroom 3:30 pm

page not found by Image: Freepik.comAttendees will be encouraged to pick a theme and curate websites that are at risk and relevant to them personally. Student groups are welcome to come and save data that is important to your work. The goal of this workshop is to inform attendees in a very personal and hands-on way the fragility of data and the digital world as you know it. It will provide you with the tools to not only preserve but to also curate a moment in time. 

This workshop will provide an introduction to tools such as Archive-It and will use Google Sheets during the hands-on session. Contact Nicole H. Scalessa, Head of Digital Scholarship and Technology Services for more information, nscalessa@vassar.edu.

 

Into to Campus Audio Resources 

October 9, 2019 Library Electronic Classroom 3:30 pm

Chicago Hall Audio Recording in progressPlanning to record voice or music and you have never done it before? Interested in podcasting? Perhaps you have an interview you need to edit and share? We’ll review free and cross platform tools and review resources for audio production. We’ll conclude by visiting the audio production facilities in the basement of Chicago Hall. Led by Baynard Bailey of Academic Computing Services. Please rsvp to babailey@vassar.edu (suggested but not required).

 

Intro to Adobe Premiere

October 16, 2019 Library Electronic Classroom 3:30 pm

Interested in learning to edit video with a powerful and popular software suite? Come to this hands-on workshop where you will learn to use Adobe Premiere Pro. Led by Baynard Bailey of Academic Computing Services. Please rsvp to babailey@vassar.edu (suggested but not required).

Linux Penguin

 

Intro to Linux Part I

Nov. 1, 2019  Sci Vis Lab, Bridge Building 3:30 pm

Linux is an open-source operating system that can run on any computing device in the world! Come learn how to get started exploring the Linux world on your very own laptop, or use one of our computers. We’ll learn a brief history of Linux, look at the high-level structure of the operating system, talk about situations in which Linux would be a preferable OS, and start navigating the command line ourselves. We will go over common commands and how to navigate the file system, learn about permissions, shortcuts, and methods of installing software. Led by Chris Gahn of ACS. Please rsvp to chgahn@vassar.edu (suggested but not required)

Intro to Linux Part II

Nov. 8, 2019  Sci Vis Lab, Bridge Building 3:30 pm

Part II of the Intro to Linux Workshop will pick up where Part I left off. We will become more comfortable with navigating the command line, and introduce several new commands and programs. Finally, we will attempt to create our own Shell Script to perform some automated tasks. Led by Chris Gahn of ACS. Please rsvp to chgahn@vassar.edu (suggested but not required).”

 

Intro to Photographic Resources

Nov. 13, 2019 Library Electronic Classroom 3:30 pm

Need to put together your senior portfolio? Want to submit work to galleries or other exhibition calls for entry? Interested in stop-motion animation? Come to this workshop and learn about all the photographic and stop-motion filmmaking resources available to you on campus. Organized by DiSSCo, Led by Amy Laughlin of Academic Computing Services.  Please rsvp to amlaughlin@vassar.edu (suggested but not required).

Start Mapping with QGIS

Nov. 15, 2019 Sci Vis Lab Bridge Building 3:30

QGIS is a free and beginner-friendly way to start mapping with GIS (Geographic Information System). In this workshop we’ll learn how to find spatial data common to historical and social science research, and visualize it with QGIS mapping. No previous experience necessary. Taught by Carolyn Moritz, Digital Technologies Librarian.

 

 

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Announcing the Vassar Innovation Lab!

New in fall 2019, the Vassar Innovation Lab is a multidisciplinary maker space. It’s open to all students and has a variety of tools for creating and exploring. We will have tours and workshops to acquaint you with the various devices available, or you can just come to tinker and learn as you go.

Some of the tools available for you to use include:

  • Laser cutter/engraver: Create a digital design and send it to this device to have it cut or engrave on wood, acrylic, cardboard, paper, leather, or other materials!
  • 3D printers: Download one of the thousands of designs available online or design your own object to be created in plastic.
  • Sewing machine: Are you an avid seamstress/seamster, but had to leave your machine at home? Come use our Singer heavy duty sewing machine– you can even borrow it!
  • Vinyl cutter: Create a digital design and send it to this device to create signs, stickers, or t-shirt iron-ons. Customize your laptop, water bottle or coffee cup! We even have a heat press for transferring your vinyl cutting onto your t-shirt!
  • Cricut Maker®: An easy-to-use tool for making all kinds of crafts materials.
  • Virtual Reality: The Innovation lab has a special alcove devoted to experiencing cool virtual environments– put on some goggles and take a trip!
  • Come talk to us about the use of our drone for your aerial photography or video ideas!

Visit the lab in the basement of the College Center, or contact Amy Laughlin about projects you’d like to pursue.

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