Animal Minds: Exploring Animal Cognition, Emotions and Experience

Gay Bradshaw at sanctuary with dog.

Gay Bradshaw at sanctuary with dog.

Gay Bradshaw has recently designed and taught Animal Minds: Exploring animal cognition, emotions and experience, a new online course for Lesley University, focusing on the exciting new field of trans-species psychology. Trans-species psychology reflects science’s understanding that humans and animals have common capabilities to think, feel, dream, aspire, and experience consciousness. While neuroscientists knew that elephants, orcas, dogs, cats, parrots and all other vertebrates share with humans the same brain structures and processes, it was Gay’s discovery of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in free living elephants that galvanized the new field. Similar to humans subjected to violence, abuse, and war, elephants are vulnerable to the trauma caused by widespread poaching, culls, and shrinking habitats. Animal Minds uses trans-species psychology as a lens to explore animal minds and the effects of stress and trauma.

Gay collaborated with eLearning and Instructional Support to design her course. Various topics covered in the course are presented through voice-narrated video lectures, readings, and other visual and audio media. Course concepts are illustrated with a diversity of species, including elephants, great apes, orcas, parrots, reptiles, fish, and farmed animals. Also threaded throughout the course is a critical fieldwork component through which students experience, study and reflect on direct contact with animals in the field. Course learners connected with local organizations such as animal shelters and sanctuaries where they engaged in hands-on work with animals in need. In addition to study questions that explored course topics, students reflected on the course content in relation to their field experience in the Animal Accompaniment Blog. The blog also served as a virtual community space for ongoing sharing and conversation with classmates.

About Gay Bradshaw:
Gay holds doctorate degrees in ecology and psychology, and has published, taught and lectured widely in both the U.S. and internationally. She is the author of Pulitzer Prize-nominated Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach us about Humanity, an in-depth psychological portrait of elephants in captivity and in the wild. She is the Executive Director of The Kerulos Center, based in Oregon where she cares for The Tortoise and The Hare Sanctuary. Kerulos is a grassroots, collaborative, and non-profit organization which builds and maintains cross-disciplinary and international programs seeking to empower individuals and groups to create a world in which animals live in freedom and dignity.

For more information about the Animal Minds course or Gay Bradshaw, please contact elis@lesley.edu or John McCormick (jmccormi@lesley.edu)

Blackboard Mobile Maintenance – Saturday July 23

Blackboard will be migrating its mobile services to a new server this weekend. As a result there will be no access to Blackboard content via mobile apps during this time.

When: Saturday, July 23, 2016, 12:01am EDT to Sunday, July 24, 2:00am, EDT

Workaround: Use a desktop computer or the web browser on your phone (Safari, Chrome, Internet, etc) to access Blackboard.

Introducing CaptureSpace Lite

We are pleased to announce the addition of CaptureSpace Lite, a new tool from Kaltura Media. This recording and capture tool allows users to easily produce everything from a basic webcam recording to an edited screen recording with integrated audio, webcam video, live annotations, titles, and credits.

CaptureSpace Lite is a replacement for the soon to be discontinued Screen Recorder tool — a Java based tool that users had difficulty accessing due to web browser security settings. Unlike its predecessor, CaptureSpace Lite runs directly on your computer and is Java free, which makes launching and running the application a breeze. What really sets this tool apart, however, is its ease of use and wide range of recording options. The CaptureSpace Lite Desktop Recorder enables you to craft a media file using any combination of recording options, including screen capture, webcam, and/or audio. The tool also includes additional features such as the ability to pause while recording, incorporate annotations, edit out clips and add titles and credits.

CaptureSpace Lite’s wide range of features allows faculty and students the opportunity to easily incorporate different types of content into one video. For example, by combining voice with a screen recording and live annotations a user could produce a dynamic training video, a narrated presentation, a course overview, or provide detailed feedback on an assignment.

capturespace lite

For details on how to install and use the tool, visit our CaptureSpace Lite resource page. You can also email us at elis@lesley.edu to request a training session.

Faculty Spotlight: Martha McKenna

Martha McKenna is a professor at Lesley University and the Director of the Creativity Commons. As part of her work to support creative exploration in teaching and learning across the university, McKenna is currently heading up a two-year grant-funded project called the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project. This cross-division collaboration aims to support faculty across the university in recognizing, promoting and evaluating non-traditional visual and media literacies in their classroom practice. As the project heads into its second year, we caught up with McKenna to see what role academic technology has played in the Visual Literacy project so far, and how it might intersect with the project’s goals going forward.

[eLIS]: The faculty involved in the Visual Literacies project are a diverse group from across the university, all with busy schedules and other priorities. How have Lesley’s academic technology resources helped to facilitate the project despite these challenges and lay the foundation for an authentic group collaboration?

[McKenna]: Academic technology played a critical role in connecting faculty across the university in the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project.  Through myLesley, we were able to create a learning community where communication was centralized, and where all resources were made available and easily accessible. We have also been able to capture all of our faculty’s activity in the community’s Blogs. The eLIS staff helped us think through how best to utilize myLesley, and helped us to adapt the tools to suit our unique purposes.

[eLIS]: What do you see as the biggest challenges that lay ahead as the Visual Literacies project moves into its second year and scales up to reach more instructors and classrooms across the University? 

[McKenna]: We are excited to move forward with the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project across the undergraduate schools. Since the Project encourages faculty to integrate text and image more creatively in their teaching and learning environments, faculty will naturally be expanding their use of digital resources in the classroom, and many could require exposure and training to support this evolution in their practice. We will also be counting on myLesley to help us reach and coordinate the efforts of greater numbers of faculty across the undergraduate schools.

[eLIS]: With the success of the project so far in a select sample of face-to-face classrooms, do you see potential for this work to impact distance education and online instructional practices at Lesley University? 

[McKenna]: The Visual Literacy InFUSION Project provides an opportunity for all faculty to think about how digital resources can expand the engagement of students in learning and expressing what they know through text and images using new media. This transformation away from text-centered instruction can only expand the way we look at online learning resources and delivery of instruction. And since our approach has students become active agents in their own learning through project-based assignments, it is perfectly suited to create new possibilities in Lesley’s online learning environments.

The Emergence of Learning Analytics: Evidence-based Decision Making

Learning Analytics is a fast-growing field in education focused on the use of data to improve teaching and learning. Learning management systems are starting to include dashboard tools with visual data displays, products like ALEKS use adaptive learning technologies in concert with analytics tools to provide students with personalized learning experiences, and Columbia University has recently established a Master’s degree in Learning Analytics.

While definitions vary, the focus of Learning Analytics is usually data that instructors and students can use, particularly during instruction, to positively impact learning. Below is an example of a dashboard in the open source learning management system called “Desire2Learn” showing course data for one student:

LA-D2Ldashboard

A different example of data used in teaching is shown below. This table is from Kaltura, which is integrated with myLesley (Blackboard). It shows data related to views of a video in an online professional development seminar facilitated in May, 2016. Such information can allow instructors to know which students are viewing the media and how much they are viewing:

 

Kaltura Data

A final example from the open source LMS called “Sakai” shows the nature of student interaction in online discussions through a social network diagram. This data can be used early in a course to find out which students are less involved, which could be future group leaders, and the level of collaboration in the discussions. As a course is running, an instructor might want to use this data to refine or redirect discussion activities, and enhance the course’s interactivity. This kind of useful information is much harder to discern using the typical discussion tools in learning management systems.

LA-Sakai

We have no doubt that you will continue to hear more about Learning Analytics as the technology you use to support your teaching integrates data that is more visually accessible and actionable. Making use of this information in the right way can only enhance the learning experience you deliver – making it more targeted and responsive.

To find out more about Learning Analytics that are currently available to in myLesley, contact elis@lesley.edu.