P4L Case Study ~ History





John Glen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
of History

Passionate about history, family, and flying heliocopters.

Dr. Glen has found technology enbles him to use images to help history come alive for his students. John found technology, particularly the 'confuser,' an annoyance in his life. Powerpoint (PPT) for sharing images was the door that opened new avenues for teaching. Discovery of Google for images beyond what he scanned from texts also brought added source materials to both John and his students.
Ethan Swartz
History Major
Wilmington, DE
Ethan's technical skills are superb. He has the intuitive sense that comes from growing up with technology. More importantly, he sees no limitations for Dr. Glen. Ethan's infectious attitude and grace have moved Dr. Glen farther than any of us imagined possible in one quarter.
Objective & Goals
  • The objective is to move Dr. Glen to independence in managing and utilizing technology for his courses and thereby changing his teaching through technology integration.
  • The goal is for Dr. Glen to be fluent in Blackboard components in order to conduct part of his classes as online distance education. These components include posting his course documents and resource links, as well as using the Discussion Board and Chat features. Access to his Powerpoint presentations as resources for papers and for review will be an added feature.
Background & Specific Problems

Slide Carousels Inhibiting: Dr. Glen's personal slide collection of historical images numbered in the thousands. He pulled slides for a given lecture from the plastic sleeves in the three-ring binders. The process was tedius. In class, it was cumbersome to go back eight or ten slides to illustrate a point in class discussions.

Tragedy to Triumph: We hired a student to scan the slides and put them into PowerPoint presentations. The scanned slides were saved to a CD as server space was at a premium. During the summer, his office was carpeted and, in moving his office furniture, the crew misplaced the CD. Very few of the original images remained. Delightfully, Dr. Glen saw in the tragedy as an opportunity to start over with a fresh approach. Learning from the first year's experience, he knew wanted about six to eight Powerpoint presentations for each ten-week course he taught. Notably, he did not want to be limited by his personal collection.

Basic Skills Limited: Dr. Glen knew the basics of email, but had no knowledge of mailboxes, address books, or attachments. Dr. Glen's interest in technology grew as he worked on his dissertation, but his knowledge of PPT was minimal. As we ran into space problems for his images, file management became an issue and he was at a loss to find and manage the files he needed.

Methods & Solutions

PowerPoint: Dr. Glen was our first P4L: I coordinated the student worker that scanned that huge collection of slides in fall of 2001. The student not only scanned the slides and created the PPTs, but also ran the presentations in class. It was a fruitful partnering as the student was enrolled in the class so, not only provided technical assistance, but also valuable feedback on what worked academically. The following quarter, the student continued to scan images and create PPTs, but Dr. Glen now ran the presenations. By spring quarter, he had created his own six-slide PPT for the first day of class covering his syllabus and course expectation. As he completes his second year, he has become fluent in PPT. Ethan has taught him some tips as well as how to find images with Google. A whole new world has opened up. The depth of the resources has added a dimension to his courses. One notable point is the ability to show graphically how images directly effect our perception of history.

Weekly Training: The results of his P4L student partnership were significantly different than those with his first student worker. His first student was an employee while the second was a partner. The first student did tasks - scanned slides and created PPTs. He had no responsibility for mentoring Dr. Glen. The weekly sessions with his P4L mentor over the ten-week period provided a ready avenue for answers to immediate questions. Since Ethan worked daily and was frequently in the History Department area, Dr. Glen had ready access to just-in-time-tech-training (JIT3). Dr. Glen reported that he often called Ethan at odd hours and Ethan always responded with grace that he would be right over. This lowered frustrating delays that held up progress. The training moved from PPT to initiating Dr. Glen in Blackboard. This first quarter was to give him an overview of the capabilities so that as he plans over the summer he is aware of the tools at his disposal.

Mentoring Training: Ethan needed little assistance on the tech side of mentoring. He took the ideas and moved Dr. Glen forward with ease. As with other mentors, the weekly sessions in MS Office basics brought to light areas of which he had little knowledge. At one point, he was feeling overwhelmed by the assignments from Dr. Glen. We talked over ways to step out of the student role and into the mentor role, ways to in some sense help direct the work to be done.

Results, Limitations, & Next Steps

Results: Dr. Glen is close to acheiving the objectives and goals we set out to accomplish. Half way through the quarter, he left a voicemail noting the improvement in his PPTs due to Ethan's ideas and teaching. In our final P4L meeting at the end of the quarter, he acknowledged that he felt that he has come along way and no longer considers technology confusing. Notably, he asked wonderful questions of the group about 'spoon feeding' the students versus making them do their own search for sources. This shows his comfort with evaluating the technology and its use in his classes.

He has absolute confidence that he can master Blackboard and sees its effectiveness for his teaching. He noted that both he and Dr. Batz have progressed to the same point - just along different paths.

Limitations: Dr. Glen finished his doctoral disseration during this process. It is hard to know the impact of the additional word processing and research on this project. At this point in his career he is dedicated to his subject and improved teaching. These are a positive influence on P4L. In his evaluation he noted that when Ethan became busy toward the end of the quarter, the meetings were cut to only one to two per week instead of five per week. Dr. Glen did note in the wrap-up meeting that whenever he needed help Ethan always came immediately and his assistance was execellent. However, he would like to stick to the original plan for the entire quarter in the fall.

Next Steps: Dr. Glen will have one of his fall quarter courses on Blackboard while he has JIT3 to support that effort. His final project will be the use of Blackboard for his course in Hawaii Winter Quarter. The first two weeks the students will be at home - scattered across the US. His classes and assignments will be online. They will continue to use Blackboard in Hawaii. That will be an interesting test of our server in St. Louis!