Utilize the Website and Web Tools

Jump down to: Using the Website to Prepare for the Workshop | Using the Website During the Workshop | Using the Workshop to Enhance the Website 

One of the hallmarks of the On the Cutting Edge program has been the close integration of workshops and websites. This integration has three parts:

  1. using the website to prepare workshop participants for the workshop,
  2. using web tools to facilitate collaboration, discussion, and idea-sharing during the workshop, and
  3. using the workshop to generate new materials for the website.

Our goal is to raise the quality of discussion at the workshop while producing resources that allow the broader community to reap the benefits of the workshop. In support of this goal, every workshop Cutting Edge workshop participant is required to create at least one page for the website. Further, web tools such as participant workspaces have advanced and enhanced the ability to record discussions and for provide an opportunity for participants to collaborate with one another to create materials in real-time during the workshop.

Using the Website to Prepare for the Workshop

The website can be used to prepare participants by providing access to background information, introducing them to the work of other participants, and helping them articulate their thinking about a particular topic or teaching activity. Cutting Edge workshops have used the website to:

  • Introduce an unfamiliar topic or build common understanding of a topic
  • Share thoughts about central aspects of the workshop topic
    • Participants in the Teaching About the Early Earth workshops were asked to identify an important question in teaching about this topic that they or their colleagues had difficulty answering or teaching and to begin to answer the question. The workshop presenters and participants then worked to provide answers and teaching ideas. 
      Call for questions | Answers
    • Participants in the Metacognition workshop were asked to write a short essay on metacognition to introduce their work and thinking on the topic of metacognition to other participants. 
      Call for Essays | Resulting Essays
    • Participants in workshops addressing teaching a particular topic or theme are frequently asked to share teaching activities or to describe courses that they teach. Examples from the 2013 Teaching Oceanography workshop:
    • Participants in the Affective Domain workshop were asked to write a short essay portraying a case study from their own teaching where the affective domain was relevant. Each essay describes the situation, actions the teacher took or solutions that were applied, and an analysis of how the affective domain played a role. 
      Call for Essays | Essay Collection

In each of these cases, the assignment serves a dual purpose of focusing participants thinking about central aspects of the workshop.

  • Prepare for exchange of ideas about specific teaching activities or courses.
    • Increasingly, workshops involve a chance for participants to exchange critiques of one another's activities. The website can be used to facilitate preparation for this exchange. Pre-workshop preparation for activity/course review
    • On the Cutting Edge has also made an effort to review the activities in the collections using a standardized rubric. You may find this rubric (Microsoft Word 37kB Aug22 12) useful to guide your participants in their review of each others' activities. Note, however, that participants may submit ideas for activities they wish to develop further, whereas this rubric is written more for activities in their final draft form.

Using the Website Tools to Enhance Collaborative Work During the Workshop

Various web tools are available in the SERC CMS that can enhance discussion, facilitate real-time collaborations, and can keep a record of discussion and work done in small and large group sessions.

  • Workspaces can be used in a variety of ways, including facilitating guided discussion, enhancing real-time note taking, facilitating collaborative materials development, as a mechanism to synthesize workshop sessions, and more. Learn more about workspaces and how they can be used.
  • Discussion boards can be a way to engage participants and the broader community in discussion, as a place to ask and answer questions, or to get recommendations and advice from your colleagues. For example, see the Mineralogy-Petrology-Geochemistry discussion board.
  • Twitter feeds are a quick way to spread ideas among other participants and the broader community. Consider creating a common hashtag and sharing it with your participants.
  • Utilize the workshop program page to post speaker presentations and related links. This page can serve as your one-stop-shop at the workshop to access workspace pages, discussion boards, and to find presentations and resources mentioned at the workshop. For example, see program pages for the Early Career 2014 workshop, the 2014 Introductory Courses workshop, and the 2008 Metacognition workshop.

Using the Workshop to Enhance the Website

Before the Workshop 

The key to building the website content through the workshop is consider how writing products can be used to enhance learning prior to and during the workshop. For example

  • Describing activities and courses in advance of the workshop simultaneously causes participants to think through the alignment of their goals, methods and assessments, introduces their work to one another, and creates a collection of activities and courses for the larger community.
  • Similarly essays, focused questions, and other writing assignments can simultaneously focus participants thinking and produce a collection describing current thinking on a topic.

At the Workshop

As mentioned in the website tools section, during the workshop, small group sessions can be designed to complete a web-based 'worksheet' or to create a specific product. If well designed to fit the objective of the session and the time available, these products simultaneously focus the groups discussion enabling a 'fast start' and produce a web-product that effectively summarizes their work. Examples:

Whole group or small group discussions can be managed to produce a list of conclusions that all participants agree to prior to the end of the session. In this way a publishable synthesis is created during the workshop. Examples: 

After the Workshop

After the workshop, workshop discussions, syntheses, and products can be pulled out and edited to become web pages. They can also inform your workshop final report and contribute to presentations and publications related to the workshop. Using workspaces and web pages with clear, concise instructions with carefully-constructed scaffolding helps immensely in transferring materials produced at the workshop to the website and/or reports/publications.