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Drawn Together: Integrating Words with Visuals While Annotating Textbooks and Articles for Strengthening Competencies in Computer Networking Technology

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Computing and Information Technology Division Technical Session 6

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Computing and Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Vigyan Jackson Chandra Eastern Kentucky University

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Vigyan (Vigs) J. Chandra, Ph.D., serves as professor and coordinator of the Cyber Systems Technology related programs offered within the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology (AET) at Eastern Kentucky University. He received his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Kentucky in Electrical Engineering, and holds certifications in several computer/networking areas. He teaches courses on computer systems and applications, networking, communication systems, along with digital, analog, and machine-control electronics. He is the recipient of the 2013 Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence at Eastern and has been nominated multiple times for the Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year Award. His professional interests include implementing active teaching and learning strategies, metacognition, integrating open-source software/hardware with online control, and deploying electrical and telecom technologies in community-based organizations. He is always seeking opportunities for collaborating on teaching, scholarly, and service projects, especially those aimed at improving students' critical/creative and communication skills.

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Computer electronics and networking technology textbooks and technical documentation abound with jargon, specialized symbols, complicated procedures, mathematical maneuvers, along with numerically dense charts and tables. These can make the text difficult for a student to navigate effectively, often making it a task reserved during the exams if that. Annotating documents can be instrumental in providing students with both a broader and more in-depth grasp of the content. It has the potential to make it both actionable and enjoyable, even when it is challenging to do so. Additionally, annotating technical diagrams in the text, whether these be network topologies, wiring diagrams, circuits, flowcharts, can provide the reader with a multi-faceted view beyond the one that was initially present, including a personal perspective. It allows the student to participate actively in the content creation process alongside the author. Annotating textbooks and articles related to computer networking topics requires careful reading of the content. Doing so allows students with the time needed to build and strengthen learning connections with new and complex topics as they consider the information in multiple ways. At the same time, it increases their flexibility about the annotation process, as they have full control over the process. By repeatedly practicing this, it builds endurance and muscle memory about the annotation process itself. The act of close observation, requiring noting both what is being said and possibly being left unsaid by the author, sharpens one’s thinking. It also makes memorization of, and associations between topics more readily possible. The technical note-making process is also resulting in the transfer of learning across the curriculum. Students in computer networking classes have commented on how this deliberate annotation process is making them read textbooks and articles in other courses more purposefully, often with pencil, colored highlighters, or stylus in hand. The presentation includes information about free and open-source software that allows annotations of electronic documents.

Chandra, V. J. (2020, June), Drawn Together: Integrating Words with Visuals While Annotating Textbooks and Articles for Strengthening Competencies in Computer Networking Technology Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34481

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