P4L Case Study ~ Sociology





Roger Batz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
of Sociology

Passionate about teaching, students, and cultural awareness.

Dr. Batz had always been a creative educator in both his classroom methods and assignments. However, computer technology baffled him. What sparked his to interest in exploring technology was his waste of paper in copying resource materials for his students.
Fanella Watson
Sociology Major
Tallahassee, FL
Ella was one of five applicants for this position. She never saw herself as a "tech person," but had a strong desire to learn the technology and to help Dr. Batz grow. She was also interested in a gaining more experience in the field.
Objective & Goals
  • The objective is to move Batz to independence in managing and utilizing technology for his courses and thereby changing his teaching through technology integration.
  • The goal is for Batz to be comfortable using online materials as resources for his courses, be capable in using the classroom technology, and to be fluent in Blackboard components. These include posting his course documents and resource links, as well as using the Discussion Board and Chat features.
Background & Specific Problems

Souces Dated and Limited: For Batz, Sociology courses are better served through current materials than through text books. Batz belongs to 12+ environmental and cultural organizations and used their publications as resources in his courses. Back issues and copies of articles were key components of his teaching. Thus, many of his sources were dated. This instructionist approach meant that students did little daily research on their own. Batz was unfamiliar with the online Library resources, including the college online card catalogue. Thus he could not verify his students' sources nor was he aware of the deth of their research. He was unaware of the richness and relevance of online sources and thought the internet was just a conglomeration of superficial materials.

Material Incongruent: This did not match his classroom style. Batz effectively combines small group analysis, larger discussion groups, student presentations, and authentic audio and video materials, frequently using several of these in one class period. Original sources are brought in with a speakerphone, allowing students to interact with an authority in the field of study. The classroom he uses most frequently was recently remodelled with a ceiling-mounted projector and a multimedia podium, including a wireless remote. Nevertheless, he continued to bring in a TV/VCR on a cart from down the hall.

Basic Skills Limited: Batz knew the basics of email, but had no knowledge of mailboxes, address books, or attachments. Though he used Word, he used the spacebar to align text and had no knowledge of how to set margins and tabs. His file management skills were limited.

Methods & Solutions

FrontPage Trial
Fall, 2002 ~ When Batz opted to switch from making paper copies of articles for his students to web-based resources, his teaching methods began to shift as well.
The unit secretary joined me in developing his first site. We began with a FrontPage site that collected the resources in a way that dovetailed with his course, Environmental and Social Change. We also put his syllabus and other course related materials on the site. The success encouraged us all to continue and the roots of P4L were established. A student did all of the in-class manipulation of that first site for him. This is documented, including audio clips and artifacts, in a web report on Community of Practice.

Winter, 2003 ~ Batz was now convinced of the value of the web for serious data mining. His respect for the depth and breadth of the content increased significantly. His second site, for Native American Cultures, increased his effectiveness and he began to do a little of the 'driving' during class. Batz agreed eagerly to pilot the Partnership for Learning (P4L) for Spring, 2003. We sent applications out to all Sociology majors that were sophomores or juniors - about 25 in all. After reviewing together the applications for demonstrated technical skills and training experience, we also looked at the students'performance in the field. We agreed his comfort with the student was also a critical factor. Not only had she been an excellent student, but she also had helped set up the network for her family's home office. She learned by exploring and then taught others. Batz opted for Ella.

Partnership Established
Spring, 2003 ~ For the first three weeks Ella and I met for an hour a week and to get her started in FrontPage. While I did the initial layout, mimicking his previous courses, she added the design, inserted documents from Dr. Batz, and began gathering web sites. After three weeks, she was ready to publish and manage the web site on her own. The site for his current course, Indigenous Cultures, is more extensive than the previous sites. His improved understanding of how to incorporate these resources in his teaching came through Ella's mentoring and her vision of what to include. [Note: Ella had this course last year.]

Scope of the Partnership: In order to keep in mind the goals for the year-long partnership, Br. Batz and Ella worked together on the criteria below. By adding this formalized structure, I hoped to maintain the vision that the project was a vehicle (the spark) to get to the goal and not the goal itself.

Meetings: Dr. Batz and Ella worked together on planning their first ten weeks together. They agreed to meet together two hours each week. As the quarter progressed, Ella found one short meeting and one longer meeting were more productive.
Goal: Their scope document notes their desire to 'enable [Dr. Batz] to use the tech as a teacher, in the classroom, and for the course; enable hime to probllem solve technology with independence and initiative." They did not note a goal for Ella.
Project: They agreed that Ella was to design and maintain the web page for the course Indigenous Cultures. They also planned to have Dr. Batz become comfortable with both Blackboard and PowerPoint. They also wanted to work on his ability to deal with the mechanics of the equipment in the classroom.

Skills: Dr. Batz listed these skills:
--------* log on to any computer on campus successfully
--------* conduct searches on the web successfully
--------* use academic databases on Principia's library web site successfully
--------* use and understand technological lingo successfully
Tasks: Ella listed the following:
--------* creating and updating course web sites
--------* teaching Blackboard andPowerPoint
--------* helping with mechanics and hardware

Weekly Tech Training
Fall, 2002 and Winter, 2003 ~ The trainer met with Dr. Batz for half an hour a week. He began learning about the web with his eyes closed. He found the browser screen too confusing to look at. The trainer was patient and he persisted in his desire to learn. Though the trainer went prepared with an agreed-on agenda, she frequently dropped that to resolve more immediate issues. This individualized just-in-time-tech-training (JIT3) met with some success. However, this once-a-week training resulted in slow progress. This procedure continued both Fall and Winter Quarters.

Spring, 2003 ~ With the launching of P4L, Ella began working with Dr. Batz. Ella met with Dr. Batz twice a week as a tech coach. Once a week they worked with the classroom technology - logging on, managing the projector, VCR, and DVD. They practice navigating the web and how to use it in class. She took him to different classrooms so that he is not dependent on the technology in one room.

Results, Limitations, & Next Steps


Batz - I receive excited voicemail messages from him weekly about little triumphs and big successes. The empowerment Ella has given him has ignited an excitement in his course materials and his teaching methods. The day we searched the Boston Globe web site and found a favorite review of the book Batz used as a text for the last third of the course, he began to open his eyes to the potential of the web for his courses. He was hooked!

Ella - I evidenced increased confidence in her technology skills and in her patience. Her initiative and creative approach to the web site, to teaching Batz, and in assessing progress were significant.

  • While Ella began with some technology skills as noted above, FrontPage was completely new to her. Her change in her self-perception came about six weeks into the program. I received this voicemail message from her with notable excitement in her voice: "I never saw myself as a tech person and here I am designing web pages!" Our weekly tech training sessions have broadened and deepened her skills and confidence.
  • Mentoring a faculty member was also a new experience. Ella needed to stretch her patience. She learned to work for small victories. She became inventive in helping Dr. Batz toward independence. Learning to manage the technology in any classroom was her way to help him gain confidence. Her initial disillusionment about his ignorance of the College Library resources led her to renewed determination and she took this on as an additional challenge.
  • Ella took the initiative to survey the class for an evaluation of her web site ~ both its design and content. The survey was pointed out some areas for improvement next quarter - notably in how Batz uses the web pages. In general, the students found the design and navigation good, but did not use them as extensively as we had hoped. The Cycle Two Data section covers this in greater depth.

Limitations: Fall, 2003 Batz will be on sabbatical. He plans to come in once a week to meet with Ella. His immediate goal will be PowerPoint for a two-week adult class he is teaching. It is unlikely that we will be able to accomplish much with Blackboard.

Next Steps: Batz increasingly assigns PowerPoint for his students as final projects. He sees the value of using these for the students as effective teaching tools for their class presentations. He is eager to learn this application and utilize himself.