Category Archives: Success Stories

Learning Space Design

Last week, I had the rare opportunity to facilitate a webinar on learning space design with Joan Lippincott, Henry Myerberg and Jeanne Narum. After the live WebEx webinar, I recorded my comments with a PowerPoint voiceover. Continue reading

Congrats to Video Contest Winners 2014!

We congratulate the winners of the 2014 Make a Point Video Contest!

  • First Prize: WE by MengXi Cissy Tan
  • Second Prize: The Most Astounding Fact by Kaitlyn Danielle Levesque
  • Third Prize: Iconography & Fantasy by Daniel Haun
  • Popular Choice Award: Upenn Happy Video by Aditya Narayan

View the winners online.

We thank our judging panel of faculty, staff, students and alumni, and the many faculty who encouraged their students to participate in our annual contest.

Online Voting Results:

  • Upenn Happy Video: 99
  • Live the Life You Want to Live: 57
  • The Most Astounding Fact: 53
  • Children of Hope: 37
  • WE: 36
  • Iconography and Fantasy: 25

Backyard Brains in the Classroom

This spring, BE 310, Bioengineering Lab II, took on a project to combine robotics and biology, using WIC’s iPads and cockroaches. Using a hardware set and an app from Backyard Brains, students in the class taught by David Meaney and Susan Margulies used their own muscles and brains to drive the muscles in cockroach legs.

When Sevile Mannickarottu first approached us with his idea, we were surprised to learn about this use for iPads. Fortunately, it was easy to install the free app on 12 of our iPads. Continue reading

Way to go Jean Lee!

Jean Lee C’09 is in the news this week. Her new film project The Tortoise and its Tail has been selected as the Indiewire Project of the Day. It’s in the running for Project of the Week via Indiegogo and you can vote (email confirmation needed) until May 23.

Jean has been chosen as one of the Penn Alumni You Should Know About and her film selected by the prestigious AFI Directing Workshop for Women, so lots of love heading her way recently! She has taken on a complex, controversial topic. As she describes it: “A short film about Daniel, a recovering sex offender, who breaks parole on Halloween to go on an adventure with his estranged daughter.”

Jean received won one of our Seltzer awards back in 2008 – the first year we made awards. I remember clearly when I first met Jean.

Continue reading

PLC 8th Annual Showcase and Teaching Award Program

grantshowcase2014_posterOn May 2, a couple of us from WIC attended the Penn Language Center’s 8th Annual Showcase and Teaching Award Program. Each year, language educators in SAS apply to the PLC for SAS Language Teaching Innovation Grants to enhance course content and, therefore, students’ language-learning experiences in the classroom. The results of these grants were showcased at Friday’s event, and a panel of judges chose two projects as this year’s winners.

Continue reading

Redesign One Sign at a Time

No one goes to the library to read—ugly signs that is. That’s why Lippincott’s own Business Librarian Melinda Roberts redesigned their food policy signs to be more visual. Congrats to Melinda! Her work was featured on the Librarian Design Share blog. Here are the old and redesigned signs:

Lippincott Library Old Food Policy SignLippincott Library New Food Policy Sign

Melinda doesn’t have a background in art but is surrounded by artists. She learned the basics of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign through WICshops. She’s taking on one sign at a time—including the redesign of Lippincott’s Research to Go poster.  She used a mix of serif and sanserif fonts, complementary colors, and design elements like rectangles and brackets to frame the content.

Lippincott Research to Go Poster

Here are Melinda’s tips for learning design programs, with a few design principles thrown in for good measure:

  1. Take a WICshop and get the basics. It’s so much easier to be shown how to do something the first time. You don’t have to remember it all.
  2. Google what you want to do. Somewhere out there is a person with a YouTube video about how to do it.
  3. Take advantage of your networks. If there’s something you don’t know, ask someone who does.
  4. Don’t use more than 3 fonts on any one piece (even though you really want to).
  5. Look for inspiration. Melinda says that she can’t necessarily create designs from her head, but she can look at what other people have done and build on it or adapt it.
  6. No one wants to read text. Use more graphics and fewer words.

Design WICshops are offered all the time—Find or request one soon!

Pressure Release

Rosie Frasso Class April 2014
Rosie Frasso and her students

“Any spare easels?” Samantha Barry‘s email brought me the news of a poster exhibit on the porch, the glass-walled space near the entrance to WIC that winds into our new Collaborative Classroom. A few days later, I spent a wonderful half-hour browsing Pressure, an exhibit created by social work and public health students in  Rosie Frasso‘s qualitative research course this semester (visual design by Laruen Hallden-Abberton).

As I walked around the exhibit, I noted comments about how your phone can trigger pressure points. Recent PennWIC posts about manatees and fishing have highlighted how your phone can help you cope with stress. In contrast, the Pressure exhibit includes descriptions of how a text message triggers stress, and how trying to relax can in itself feel like pressure. By capturing campus perspectives, and describing the many ways we experience pressure at Penn, this exhibit may help us all exhale, relax at least for a few moments and gain a better understanding of the graduate student experience.

When I visited Rosie’s class, SW781 Qualitative Research, the students described how they used different qualitative techniques during each step of the process.

Continue reading

WIC Annual Report 2012-2013

We’re happy to announce that the WIC annual report for 2012-2013 is available online in PDF format. We hope that you will share your reactions and comments with us! The report has been a true group effort. Special thanks go to Mindy Weinberg, Communications Manager for Programs and Services, for her advice on design and formatting.

This year, we went back to using Microsoft Word after trying InDesign in previous years. We like the simplicity of Word, but InDesign allows more formatting options. We will continue to test different programs for annual reports to come!

WIC Featured in Learning Spaces Collaboratory Webinar

pkalWIC and EC spaces will be highlighted in a Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LSC) webinar on January 21 focusing on the role of commons spaces in supporting learning communities. Resources for the webinar include a 5-page profile on WIC and EC spaces, which appeared in a larger LSC Guide published in fall 2013. Facilitators will draw on resources in the LSC Guide and lessons learned on several academic campuses.

The LSC is a national organization that focuses on research and practices that shape effective undergraduate learning environments. Members include academics, architects, and national leaders; the LSC Collaborating Partners often host workshops, seminars, and webinars. The LSC’s “Exploring Commons Spaces” webinar runs from 3:30-5pm EST on Tuesday, and you can register via a survey linked from the LSC website.

We are thrilled that WIC and EC continue to attract national attention. In January 2013, the Learning Spaces Toolkit featured us as model spaces, and  in December 2012, several articles in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Learning Spaces referenced our work.

Using iPads on the first day of class

Penn GSE graduate student Liming Zhong teaches Cantonese at the Penn Language Center. She shares her reflections after using WIC iPads with her students:

As a language teacher, I believe that practice is very important for language learning. However, the language that I am teaching, which is Cantonese, is not a written language but a spoken one. It’s very hard for learners to practice speaking skills on their own because they might not know whether they are saying it right. I find using iPads (and other mobile devices) can solve this problem and eventually increase learning efficiency. There are some good apps that provide users with daily new words, sample sentences, and some other useful expressions such as “How much is this?” and “Where is the restroom?” Learners can download these apps on their iPads or smart phones, listen to the recordings of the words and sentences, and even record themselves. This enables learners to get language input and produce output wherever and whenever.

With a strong belief in practice and technology, I reserved 16 iPads from the Weigle Information Commons and used them on the first day my class. It was fantastic! First of all, the iPads “wake my students up” and draw their attention quickly. At the beginning of the class, we were reviewing the syllabus and I could tell some students felt a little bit bored. However, when I took out the iPads, the students were really surprised and I heard them saying: “Wow!” Apparently, they felt really cool, having the iPads in a language classroom. Second, students had a hands-on experience with using the apps. After they tried all the fancy and interesting functions in the app, they then could decide whether to download it on their own mobile devices.

Overall, it was a great experience. The staff of the Weigle Information Commons are very supportive and helpful. I really appreciate their help and I plan to use this service again.