Wednesday, October 24, 2012



Due to unforeseen circumstances, today's GTC meeting has been cancelled. We apologize for the late notice and any resulting inconvenience.

Please stay tuned for more info about next week's topic (as a reminder, if you haven't yet signed up to facilitate a workshop, please do so here.)

Sorry we won't get to see all of your shining faces this week - until next time,

Sarah and Donnelly

Monday, October 15, 2012

Multidisciplinary Teaching: Definitions and Applications

Hey GTCers!

To those of you who are joining us for the first time this quarter: welcome! And a warm welcome back to all our returning members as well.

During our first meeting this past Wednesday, we discussed both the main ideas of this quarter’s theme, “Multidisciplinary Teaching,” as well as some of the topics we think would be fruitful areas to further explore as we move through the quarter.

Some of the first questions we addressed were the most obvious: What is multidisciplinary teaching? Does this differ from interdisciplinary teaching? If so, how?

After consulting several dictionaries (and several smartphones), we determined that the difference is one of integration. Multidisciplinary teaching (MDT) involves a non-integrated mixture of disciplines. The methodologies of each discipline remain intact, offering students the opportunity to work in the ‘theoretical space’ of either parent discipline in order to explore the research questions that have been put to them. Interdisciplinary teaching (IDT), however, is teaching that crosses disciplines, blends methodologies, and creates altogether new theoretical spaces for academic exploration. Some great analogies were offered to help distinguish the two: MDT is a colloid, whereas IDT is a solution; MDT is a chorus, whereas IDT is a mashup; MDT is a margarita on the rocks, whereas IDT is a blended one!

There are already some excellent examples of MDT and IDT courses at UC Davis, with titles like “Singing about Science,” “The Physics of Music,” “Molecular Dynamics,” and many others. And some departments are, by their very nature, MDT or IDT disciplines. Ecology, Ethnomusicology, and the ‘Studies’ disciplines (Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Gender Studies, etc.) were offered as just a few examples. Many participants found themselves looking at their own disciplines in new ways, discovering MD/ID influences in almost every department.

These discoveries led us nicely into the brainstorming phase of the meeting. Among the topics offered for the quarter were:

Technological aids for MDT/IDT

Diversity in MDT/IDT

Designing and Structuring MDT/IDT Courses

MDT/IDT and the Traditional Track

Blancing Theory and Practice in the MD/ID Classroom

We were also able to brainstorm suggestions for possible guest speakers, including a Q&A with professors who currently teach MD/ID classes and a presentation by the Career Services Center on how to use MD/ID experience to enhance your career portfolio.

By the time we’d finished our brainstorming session, our meeting time had come to a close. But armed with a litany of topics to explore, we felt very excited about the weeks to come!

This next phase is where YOU come in. Now that workshop topics have been created, we need facilitators! If you intend to complete the certificate program, you are required to facilitate at least one workshop this quarter. But anyone who is interested may offer up their services, and you are of course more than welcome to present on a topic of interest not seen here.

Below you’ll find a link to a google spreadsheet with all of our meeting dates for the quarter - simply find a week that works for you, and insert your name along with your topic of interest. Is your topic already up there? No worries! Workshops by groups of two or three are encouraged.

Don’t know how to facilitate a workshop? No problem! Presenters can format workshops however they like - the more interactive, the better! For one example of how to structure your own presentation, come to our GTC meeting THIS Wednesday for a talk about tailoring your lessons to suit your audience, presented by Donnelly West (see the flyer, below). As always, our meetings take place from 12-1pm in room 2004 of the Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) building. Bring a lunch (or a friend) if you like, and come prepared for some insightful information on this critical and basic component of effective teaching!

We have an exciting quarter ahead of us, and we greatly look forward to all of the insights and explorations yet to come. Be sure to sign up for your workshop of choice, check out this week’s meeting flyer, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions. Thanks again for your interest in the GTC - we hope to see you there!

All the best,

Sarah and Donnelly
2012-2013 GTC Coordinators

Contact Information:
Sarah Messbauer:
Donnelly West:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Graduate Teaching Community Fall 2012 Workshop Series on Multidisciplinary Teaching

Beginning this Wednesday, October 10th, the UCD Graduate Teaching Community (GTC), a student-led organization dedicated to learning about and improving our teaching and pedagogical skills, will be hosting its weekly workshop series. The theme for this quarter is Multidisciplinary Teaching.
WHAT: Graduate Teaching Community (GTC) Welcome Meeting
WHERE: Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) 2004
WHEN: This Wednesday, October 10, from 12-1 pm (feel free to bring your lunch)
Workshop certificates are available for those who register, attend 7 of 9 meanings, and facilitate 1 meeting.
The GTC is a student-run group for graduate students and post-docs - brought to you by the Center for Excellence and Teaching and Learning (CETL). Through our workshop series, we attempt to share our experiences inside and outside the classroom to benefit both ourselves and our students. Whether you are teaching this quarter, next quarter, or planning to teach in the future, all are welcome to attend. Feel free to bring your lunch with you, and get ready for a productive, enriching and educational experience!

For additional information, visit the GTC website, our Facebook page, or contact this year's GTC coodinators: Sarah Messbauer and Donnelly West.

Please see the attached flyer. Hope to see you there!
~Sarah and Donnelly~

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Accessible Technology

After several weeks of exploring new technologies we can use in the classroom, this week we thought about how to make sure our course’s electronic environment is accessible to all of our students. In order to make our course materials accessible, they need to be available in multiple forms. Everything that is read must also be able to be heard. And everything that is listened to must also be able to be read. To achieve this we need to remember to make our documents accessible so they can be read by screen reading software like ClaroRead and Jaws, and we need to know how to add captions to instructional videos. The Center for Accessible Technologies in Shields Library has many resources to help you learn about electronic accessibility issues and test out your electronic course materials. Here is a link to a YouTube video introducing you to the C.A.T.
The important thing to remember when making your documents is to use the “styles” feature in word in order to make titles, headings, and body of the text be easily read in a logical order when using reading software. This takes some practice, but with time will make it easier for your documents to become accessible. Next “save as” a PDF, this will make it easier for reading software to read your document. It generally is made “accessible” when saved as a PDF, but you can check the accessibility by looking under the “advanced” tab for “accessibility.”
You should notice this video has captions! If you don’t see them, please click on the “cc” at the bottom of the video. To add captions to your own YouTube videos, upload a transcript file saved as a Plain Text document to the Captions page after you click on Enhancements. You can only do this to your own videos. You can download YouTube videos by replacing the “www.” in the link to the video with “save”. This will allow you to download the video, and then you could privately upload it back to YouTube to caption it. You can also use Amara at to add captions to videos if you have a link to the video.
Here are some recommended links regarding electronic accessibility:

Remember, you can’t do everything for everyone, but you can at least get started by making your documents accessible and adding captions to your videos!

Brought to you by Kim Pasene & Melody Schmid

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This week in GTC, we found ourselves getting a crash course in education-specific technologies. Just as many of us learned word processing, powerpoint, and other “innovative” software platforms at the high school level, students today are becoming familiar with dozens of new programs that can have practical applications in a college setting. By learning what kinds of programs our students are already familiar with, we can vastly accelerate the creation of learning environments that advance our educational and pedagogical objectives.

This workshop offered a general overview of the kinds of teaching technologies that correspond to different levels of the educational experience - those for use by teachers, by students, and by both. After discussing the interesting questions raised by a recent ARS Technica article on the subject with Susan, Sarah guided us through an introduction to instructional technology called 7 Wonders of the Web 2.0 World created by Jennifer Brinson, a high school history teacher and instructional coach for Discovery Education. Covering programs such as Prezzie, Voicethread, Jeopardy Labs, Animoto, Quizlet,, Collaborize Classroom, and Livebinders, the presentation also included links to even more technological resources, including 20 or so programs described in Web 2.0 Tools to Inspire.

After exploring two of these educational programs with Susan - Piazza virtual classroom and Leafsnap, a plant biology app for smartphones, we split up into groups and explored some of the technologies mentioned above. Going around the room, we briefly discussed what we’d learned about each program and gave our thoughts on if and how such programs might be used in a higher education classroom. By the end, more than a few heads were spinning from all the programs we’d be introduced to in such a short period of time - but as Susan and Sarah demonstrated, having a database of potential programs available for us to access at any time should make it easier for us to explore what intrigues us and, in doing so, open up endless new possibilities for future “tech-savvy” teaching!

Many thanks to Susan Bush and Sarah Messbauer for facilitating, and to Sarah Perrault for her insights during the planning process. Thanks as well go to Jennifer Brinson and RJ Stangherlin for sharing their wealth of knowledge about the many digital resources available for instructional use!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Helping students navigate their thoughts with concept mapping, Robert introduces GTC to VUE.

A difficult, yet essential, part of learning is making connections and describing relationships. Whether we are using this to map genetic interactions or describe the pathway of emotional development, the ability to ferret out how one thing affects another is an asset. Teachers have experimented with a variety of different techniques that encourage students to make connections and understand relationships. Outlines, if ______then ________ statements, descriptive essays, and song and dance have all served the purpose of getting students to draw connections. Many students are visual learners and as we move into the computer age, it is easier to share and create visual data. VUE, a concept mapping software, allows us to do just that. In simple language a concept map is a visual representation of related ideas, processes or objects that depicts how map components are related to one another. Asking students to draw, pen to paper, concept maps in a class can encourage them to learn a complex process, make connections that they didn’t see initially and explore uses for information.

As part of our exploration of technology, Robert introduced us to the virtual version of the pen and paper concept map: VUE. Once a concept map is created in this software it can perform all the same functions as a paper map, AND it can be easily shared and emailed, incorporated into a blog, manipulated by people in different places at different times, and quickly rearranged. VUE can color code things, suggest connections you may not have seen, and rearrange the focus of your map to allow you to think about the relationships around one important component. This tool can get both teachers and students VUEing the world as a connected network as opposed to binning topics into discrete categories. We had a great time experimenting with the tool while Robert gave us tips on how to enhance our concept maps. After playing for a bite, we used the maps we had created to examine the more quantitative side of the program. I never considered that the spider web of connections that I had on my screen could be transformed into an organized grid of 0s and 1s displaying the number of connections each node held. The potential for quantifying students understanding of the connectivity between concepts and topics is an exciting piece of this software. I hope to incorporate this as a tool in part of my teaching and as an activity for my students to encourage them to learn and make connections.

If you have more questions on VUE please contact Robert Lynch at :

Here are examples of two concept maps created by the members of GTC in VUE!