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Visual Learning for International Graduate Students at Claremont Graduate University

Students from all over the world are attracted to Claremont Graduate University, part of the Claremont University Consortium in Southern California, where the focus is on transdisciplinary doctoral programs that break down barriers and foster conversation to create a better world.

For most International students at CGU, English is a second – or third, fourth or fifth – language. Although all of these students have achieved the admission requirements for CGU, some require additional help with academic writing in English. The Academic Writing and Speaking Program serves the needs of these non-native English learners from countries around the globe including China, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Interactive Teaching for Visual Learners

PhD Student in Religion Richard Newton is an adjunct instructor for the CGU Academic Writing and Speaking Program. Understanding the challenges of his international students, Newton set out to create an interactive learning environment by incorporating multimedia technology options that would bridge the gap created by lecturing in an unfamiliar language.

At the beginning of 2011, he’d been researching interactive white boards, but the barrier of high price combined with a daunting installation procedure rendered that solution untouchable. Then, like so many forward-thinking educators, his interest was piqued by Apple’s iPad. Newton believed the iPad could certainly deliver applications that would support the rich tenants of interactive learning and shared conversation that are central to the CGU academic mission.

A quick Internet search for interactive teaching applications for the iPad turned up a blog post about Doceri, from SP Controls. This was the catalyst that Newton needed to order an iPad2 – he downloaded the free trial of Doceri even before his iPad arrived.

Implementing Doceri

Newton’s classroom is equipped with a projector which he connects to his laptop computer. After creating a wireless proxy connection between the computer and iPad, Newton was up and running with Doceri.

Analyzing student essays together in class is central to Newton’s Academic Writing Seminar. Using Doceri, Newton projects a graph of the essay and using the annotation feature, walks the students through the writing process. He can easily pull information from the essay into the charts and graphs he displays.

In his Comparative Religions class, Newton uses Doceri to explore religious imagery using Venn Diagrams. The ability to save and replay lessons is a big time saver for Newton as well.


Newton doesn’t classify himself as an early adopter, but his naturally curious mind is always looking for ways to enhance his teaching with new tools and technology.

“Rich media within my presentations must enhance, not distract from the lesson goal,” says Newton. “Using Doceri to incorporate video and Web-based content, I can bring information shared in our interactive conversations into the presentation on the fly.”


One Trackback

  1. By Teaching with the iPad | SOWING THE SEED on December 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    [...] Anyway, the folks behind the app decided to profile me and my use of Doceri. Click the link to check it out. Visual Learning for International Graduate Students at Claremont Graduate University. [...]

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