Faculty Experiences - Tim Groeling (2003)

Tim Groeling - photo 2003TIM GROELING

Communication Studies

Interview Topics

What matters most to you in your teaching?

How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?

How have your students responded to your use of technology?

What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?


Exercises & assignments
Group projects
Peer review
Research projects


Class web site
Digital archive
Discussion board
Final Cut Pro (software)
iMovie (software)
Internet resources
Keynote (software)
Multimedia projects
Online peer review
PowerPoint (software)

Using Learning Outside the Classroom

To teach, one must first get students' attention. I try to structure my classes so that students don't just memorize information. Instead, I want them to be excited, creative, and active in their course work, and constantly be thinking about how what they learn can be used outside the classroom.

One example of how I've used technology to accomplish this goal is the campaign commercial assignment for my political communication course. The project basically involves giving groups of students 120 minutes of footage of two political candidates, which must then be edited down into a positive and a negative political ad for that campaign using digital video editing software like Apple's iMovie and Final Cut Pro. UCLA's Instructional Multimedia Production Lab (IMPL) provided brief in-class training on iMovie, and also provided lab space and computers for students to complete their projects. I also constructed two video-editing stations in my office to supplement the IMPL's facilities.

The students were almost frighteningly engaged in the assignment and helped push the technological envelope as they fashioned their projects. For example, once they recognized that a portion of the final grade was determined by an on-line peer review system, students proposed and conducted online surveys of their peers to "market-test" their commercials' themes and gain more information about their fellow classmates. They were also very serious in their decisions regarding which background music, video special effects, custom graphics, and animation would maximize the persuasive impact of their ads. And of course, students used the Internet and online archival sources to research candidate voting records and issue positions.

In addition to the commercial project in my political communication class, I regularly use technology to assist with my teaching in all my courses. I use PowerPoint or Keynote in nearly all of my lectures, uploading the text of the slides prior to class so that students can print them out and bring them to class to help structure their own note-taking. I've also begun to incorporate video and animation in these lectures as well. [My animation showing the decline of the partisan press in the U.S. since the 1960s: www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/groeling/parties.mov ]

I rely heavily on my course web sites, administered through Social Science Computing's ClassWeb system. The ClassWeb site is a fast and easy way to disseminate timely information through links, articles, or targeted announcements to students. I tend to heavily use the private directory of my course web site, which puts course materials like my lecture outlines behind a password barrier. I also use ClassWeb's Homework Board function when I've assigned small, independent research projects on specific topics. For example, for my Computer Mediated Communication seminar, I have students do a "scavenger hunt" for specific information using Google's massive 20-year archive of Usenet posts , post their completed projects to the Homework Board (which hides the posts until I reveal them after the deadline), and then read each others' work prior to our in-class discussion of the assignment. I've also used ClassWeb's on-line discussion features, but only for limited purposes (see my research on the requirements for successful online class discussion: repositories.cdlib.org/commstudies/19990901 )

Finally, I've increasingly used web tools to help students work collaboratively on research projects. In my political communication course, I assigned students to code the content of randomly selected newspapers from the 1920s. By pooling the work of an entire class, students then got a much broader view than from their small sample. For my presidential communication class, I assigned students to use UCLA's News and Public Affairs Archive to individually view selected television news broadcasts from the 1980s. Again, students then used online forms (see www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/groeling/197R ) to pool their information into a dataset, which they in turn used to conduct original, independent research on presidential news during periods of foreign crises.

Oral Interview, April 23, 2003