Learning Design Summer Camp 2014 brought together over 150 Penn State instructional designers, faculty, students, multimedia specialists, librarians, and others concerned with the teaching and learning process, representing 14 campuses, to discuss the “Think. Plan. Make.” phases of course design. The event, hosted by ITS Teaching and Learning with Technology, took place in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium at University Park July 17 and 18.

Camp attendees gathered in Foster Auditorium

Camp attendees gathered in Foster Auditorium

Peer-presented panel discussions, interactive gamelike activities, and concurrent breakout sessions brought into focus teaching and learning topics including what cognitive psychology shows about how learning works, student motivation and engagement, approaches to course design, learning analytics, technology tools, and the future of education technologies.

Videos of the full group sessions are now available on YouTube.

Among attendees were veteran participants in the annual event that began in 2008, as well as first-timers, some well-seasoned in the use of teaching technologies and some relatively inexperienced who wished to learn more about available tools.

As the event was about to begin, first-time Camp attendee Doris Malkmus, instruction and outreach archivist for the University Libraries Special Collections, commented on how she thought the topics to be discussed during the event would be beneficial to her work.

“My specialty is teaching with primary sources,” explained Malkmus. “I’ve been to some other workshops that included instruction with technology. I’m not an instruction technology designer by any means, but I do my own faculty research about teaching with primary sources, and it seems to me that there’s a lot of opportunity for Special Collections to digitize materials. We’re working really hard to digitize a lot of things, and that should have a role in the curriculum, but that means that faculty and instruction designers need to know how to incorporate primary sources to actually benefit the course objectives,” she said.

The student perspective on learning design was highly valued by Camp attendees, with several undergraduate and graduate students participating in the event’s panels and roundtable discussions, and several students registered to attend as well.

Attendee Cassidy Cheddar, undergraduate student in agricultural and extension education, said she learned of the event from her academic advisor. “Dr. [Daniel] Foster sent an email out to a lot of the kids in our major and it sounded interesting. I figured I could learn something, especially since I’m going into beginning my student teaching experience,” said Cheddar. “I’ll be preparing lessons and designing everything I’ll be teaching in the spring, so I really want to make that interesting and be able to help the students learn the best I can.”

At the end of the first day of sessions, attendees were given the opportunity to join one of three tours of local learning spaces, the Millennium Science Complex, the Morningstar Solar Home, and the downtown State College Make Space.

A representative of the Millennium Science Complex explains features of the facility to a Camp tour group.

A representative of the Millennium Science Complex explains features of the facility to a Camp tour group.

One participant in the tour of the Millennium Science Complex, Wenyi Ho, World Campus instructional designer, said, “The science complex is very impressive and I learned a lot of things about the material science and it made me very proud about what they are achieving over there, and proud to be a Penn Stater.”

As Learning Design Summer Camp was about to wrap up, first-time attendee Carmen Strand, World Campus instructional designer, commented, “I really didn’t know what to expect with the Summer Camp, but I did get several things out of the Camp that I’m going to be able to use right away, which I’m pretty pleased about.”

In particular, Strand noted one breakout session she took part in entitled Using Self-Knowledge and Purposeful Reflection to Encourage Positive Change in the College Years. “It was about when you’re trying to think about your learning, so you’re trying to process at a deeper level. There were some techniques for doing that. That in particular was pretty useful,” she said. “And I liked the Lightboard for the One Button Studio and quite a few other new technologies that I didn’t know about and that are available to be used for free,” she added.

Attendees in a breakout session with two informal discussions taking place outside the room

Attendees were able to take part in breakout sessions as well as informal discussions of Camp topics.

As the event came to a close at noon Friday, Learning Design Summer Camp 2014 chair Kate Miffitt, director of digital media, pedagogy and scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts,
remarked, “Camp was really successful, due in large part to the thoughtfulness of the team of organizers and the engagement of all the attendees.”

Camp chair Kate Miffitt watching Sherwyn Saul and three volunteers in Foster

Camp chair Kate Miffitt (left) looks on as TLT programmer Sherwyn Saul and volunteers demonstrate Arthur C. Clarke’s maxim that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” using cans of Sprite.

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