Fairy Tale Beginnings in 3D

[This is a guest post from Visiting Instruction Librarian Gardner Treneman.]

Professor Valentine Balguerie’s French 273 – “Fairy Tale Beginnings” class was always about building imagery. Based on classic folk/fairy tales, the class was asked to read several and analyze the common elements found in them. Instead of the ten-page paper, Prof. Balguerie wanted her students to try something she thought would be more fun. This is where our conversation started.

I’d seen a project posted online from the artist Tom Burtonwood. He was looking at the newer wave of open source 3D printing – providing the ability for the masses to work in a new medium. His project website says,

Within this context of free cultural products I chose to publish Orihon the world’s first entirely 3D printable book. The subject matter for Orihon is derived from 3D scans made of sculptures and reliefs, found at the Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural in New York and The Field Museum in Chicago.

This immediately drew my attention, and since his focus was the openness of this new platform, he provided the files on one of the internet’s largest 3D file sharing sites, Thingiverse. The idea was wonderful, but the technology as progressed quite far in the six years since he created his plates and hinges. So I took the modular plate and created a new hinge that harnessed the abilities of our Ulitmaker 3, namely the ability to print in two materials. This new hinge was able to flex like a standard paper book but still had the modular aspect. These were printed ahead of time since the students didn’t need to edit them.

3D printed book hinge with four printed strips

 

When it came time for the students’ work they were shown both Thingiverse and Sketchfab: two repositories of opensource 3D models. The idea was for them to display the themes found in the fairy tales through visual objects, placed in the book’s pages. We had a class period in the Library Lab where they started learning and working in the free modeling software Tinkercad. Over the next few weeks I received all the individual students’ work, and began printing them when they came in. Nine students with four pages a piece added up to a lot of hours on our two printers!

3D book and the book Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo and a small round compact mirror
3D book showing themes from Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo
3D book and the book Twilight with a small blond doll in a purple dress
3D book showing themes from Twilight

In the end every student had their own, custom book that covered their specific fairy tale. This project built on a short paper (written in French) that explained what the themes were, and how they connected to today’s world. Professor Balguerie called this a success and is now planning a project to have her class produce “classic” books: printed on paper, bound with thread. We at the McGraw-Page Library are really looking forward to helping with that!

The 3D books created in “Fairy Tale Beginnings” class have been on display in the McGraw-Page Library vestibule since mid-January.

EDUCAUSE Study of Student Information & Technology

EDUCAUSE conducts annual research on undergraduate students and information technology. This year the research is based on survey responses from 130 higher education institutions in the U.S. and overseas, and from more than 64,000 students. The Study provides insights on student use and preferences of technology.  Of particular relevance to our campus, the research findings point to:

  • While desktops, laptops and smartphones are important to academic success, minority students and underprivileged students rate the devices significantly more important than their counterparts. “Instructor policies that ban or discourage mobile device use in the classroom may disproportionately affect students of color, students with disabilities, first-generation students, students who are independent, and students who come from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.”
  • A majority students prefer “blended” learning. They value learning environments that consist of face-to-face class instruction along with online learning options.
  • Students who self-identify as having a physical or learning disability rate their institution’s awareness of their needs for accessibility as poor. The Study encourages institutions to offer faculty training on universal design for learning, and inclusive instructional practices.

The full report and data can be found at https://library.educause.edu/resources/2018/10/2018-students-and-technology-research-study.

Infographics and Course Assignments

Infographics combines “information” and “graphics”; it allows using visual presentations to communicate simple or sophisticated concepts. TIMES magazine – based on the Pew Research Center data – has created this infographics to illustrate “Is College Worth it?”.  The design and use of text, images, colors and layout make the data-intensive presentation straightforward for public audience.

Infographic assignments offer an alternative to traditional writing assignments, and are gradually gaining attention in higher education.  Online Infographic tools provide hundreds of templates and theme categories, removing technology and design barriers for students. Students can focus on content and data selection in communicating concepts and viewpoints (EDUCAUSE, 2013).  This blog, hosted by College of William & Mary, details why and how to design such assignments.

At R-MC, we have obtained trial licenses for the tool Venngage. Currently two faculty members are testing to integrate it into courses. A future Library blog will share their experiences.  The free version requires creating user account and gives access to many design templates. It does not allow final work to be saved as PDF.

 

 

Student Final Projects

The R-MC Research Day is fast approaching. For course instructors who are finalizing the guidelines on student presentations, we at the Instructional Design & Technology are ready to work with you on the design and assessment of assignments. We also help students prepare effective presentations. We encourage faculty to contact Lily Zhang (zzhang@rmc.edu) for teaching a short session to the students about  technologies, including –

Students are welcome to stop by Instructional Design and Technology (or the Library Information desk). We will help you with the design and production. Here you can also borrow multimedia equipment and use software in the Library Media Pods.

For those who prefer self-paced video tutorials, Lynda.com offers well-designed training on techniques and tools. Simply check out a license by emailing zzhang@rmc.edu.

MakeSpace for Learning and Creativity

The Library MakerSpace is open to the R-MC community!

Library Makerspace Poster
Library Makerspace Poster

In addition to 3D design and printing, we have added the HTC VIVE Virtual Reality system, as well as tools and resources for prototyping and making projects. In this space, students can explore technologies for creative projects and class assignments. Faculty can collaborate with the Instructional Designer and Instruction Librarian on incorporating emerging technologies into teaching and scholarship.

Since 3D printing became available in the Library last summer, we have seen a variety of creative uses of 3D design and printing. Here are some examples:

  • Students created and had printed homunculus figures for the J-term course “Artificial Body/Germ Lit & Film”, taught by Professor Lauren Mossett.
  • Jake Hickman (Engineering Physics and Math double-major) designed a 3D part for his capstone project.
  • A 3D workshop offered by the library piqued Anna Crabill’s interests; she designed an “Easter Chick”.

As we continue to facilitate creative use of 3D technology, we are studying ways Virtual Reality enhances teaching and learning. By presenting real-world scenarios, VR holds great potentials for enhancing learning experiences. Students learn and use knowledge to interact with real-world applications. We would love to hear from faculty and students on what VR resources to get for our curriculum, and how to use VR in classroom teaching.

For now, please stop by and  check out the MakerSpace resources in the library!

Student experiencing Virtual Reality in the MakerSpace
Student experiencing Virtual Reality in the MakerSpace

Creating Accessible Course Materials

Accessibility is among the top key issues for 2018 in teaching and learning in higher education (Educause, 2018). It is important that course design and instructional materials are accessible by every student. Creating accessible course materials may take time. Fortunately, the systems we rely heavily on for teaching and learning have universal-design features built in. For instance, MS Word and PowerPoint have these tools:

  • Accessibility Checker – identifying potential issues and providing suggestions for fixing them
  • Alt Text – allowing the author to add Alternative Text for tables and visuals (images, shapes & videos)
  • Title and Heading Styles: allowing the author to ensure the screen reader will read the document content in a logical order

The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE) site offers “cheatsheets” on working with common computer programs to create accessible content.  The Canvas LMS Doc Team has created a resource page, covering easy-to-follow design principles and tools for making documents and videos accessible. Faculty and staff are welcome to contact the Instructional Design & Technology office for train and assistance.

Info-to-Go

 

The McGraw-Page Library hosted the first annual Info-to-Go session for faculty in December. It introduced new resources and services the Library developed and organized to facilitate teaching, learning and research. The slides in the file INFO to GO cover the resources and services.

Resources at Your Fingertips

Canvas Integration of Learning and Research Resources

The new “Library Resources” link in Canvas courses is specific to the subject. For instance, in HIST_100 course site, “Library Resources” points to resources for researching in the field of History. Within a Canvas site, the instructor and students can search databases, eBooks, catalog and Special Collections/Archives items … All at once!

Also integrated are textbook publishers’ online resources. When the link is activated by the instructor, students can access McGraw-Hill Connect and Cengage Mindlinks from within Canvas; the student’s grades from taking quizzes in the publisher’s site will be automatically “pushed” into the Canvas gradebook.

G-Suite
G-Suite is R-MC sponsored service you may use for saving and sharing instructional and professional materials. This Google cloud-based service, which includes most Google Apps except Gmail, offers the user unlimited storage space.  Tools such as Google Forms and YouTube are particularly useful. Google Forms allows one to easily create surveys and signup forms. YouTube generates closed-captioning for uploaded videos. Closed-captioning is important for instructional videos for ADA-compliance. To start using G-Suite, go to www.google.com, and use your R-MC email username and password to log in. Details of G-Suite is at the R-MC instranet (R-MC login required for access). Contact Lily Zhang for questions and assistance.

Accessibility of Course Documents

True or False?  “The library e-reserve and Canvas LMS make reading and learning materials more accessible to R-MC students.”

The answer: It depends. Documents and media materials posted on the systems may not be accessible to students with disabilities. For instance, PDF documents scanned as images pose a challenge to blind students. Voice-over PowerPoint slides without an accompanying transcript do not serve those with hearing impairment.

To assist the efforts to make course sites and e-reserve accessible, the Head of Instructional Design and Technology will begin to develop online tutorials and hold consultation sessions with faculty on accessibility techniques. More information will be available soon.  Meanwhile, please check out these resources:
University of Washington IT Accessibility Guidelines
Design guidelines published by the CanvasLMS.

R-MC Folios

Folios.rmc.edu is a platform for blogging, professional website publishing, and building e-Portfolios. It is currently offered to faculty and students of Randolph-Macon College, and is supported by Media & Instructional Support at the library.  Here are examples of how faculty and students use the tool –
https://folios.rmc.edu/racheledominguez (Professor Rachele Dominguez’s blogs)
https://fyec262.wordpress.com/student-projects (Student projects for Professor Evie Terrono’s FYE class)

Powered by WordPress, Folios.rmc.edu can also be used as a teaching and collaboration tool. It allows students to build web-presentations for class assignments with minimum technical difficulty. Contact Lily Zhang (zzhang@rmc.edu) if you are interested in using folios.rmc.edu, or visit https://folios.rmc.edu/lilyzhang/2016/12/01/websites-eportfolios.