July 29, 2011

The Underbelly of Online Teaching

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No matter how much we embrace and enjoy online teaching, the human frailties of mistakes, disappointment, anger, frustration, and oversights will come calling each time we teach a class. And when any of these happen we can respond with an emotional and unchecked action—never good—or we can accept that these negatives will always be part of our online teaching efforts and learn how to deal with them in a sensible, appropriate manner. What follows are the most common of the negative issues one will find when teaching online.


July 28, 2011

Teaching with Style: A Unique Integration of the Personal and the Professional

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I keep one of my all-time favorite teaching books here at our place on the lake. It has a lovely title: Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach. It’s a collection of essays written by educators at all levels. In each essay, the writer introduces a favorite poem—one with significance for that teacher’s life and work. The essays and poems are wonderfully inspirational and motivating. It’s a great book for reading along side the lake.


July 27, 2011

The Four Questions Every Assessment Report Should Answer

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Of all the activities that go into educational assessment, ironically two of most rewarding also are two of the most overlooked: 1). sharing the results with stakeholders and 2). using the results to effect change.

After devoting so much time and energy to creating assessments, far too often what happens is someone takes the data that’s been gathered and compiles a dense, statistics-laden report that is difficult to find, read, or understand. Meanwhile everyone else turns their attention to more pressing matters; happy they finally got rid of that annoying pebble in their shoe.


July 26, 2011

Final Lesson: You Don’t Get an A for Just Showing Up

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Students’ expectations for top marks, whether they earned them or not, unfortunately can be coupled with foolish tendencies on the part of some teachers (this writer excepted of course) to play the role of the avuncular professor. The kindly avuncular professor is easily deluded to think that “encouraging” students with exaggerated praise and slight grade inflation will be helpful. It isn’t. How do I know? For me, the tell-tale sign is that often after handing in my grades, I feel a mild self-loathing. This is the feeling I get when I give grades that don’t truly reflect the totality of what I experience from students.


July 25, 2011

Hate Springs Eternal: Teaching in a Disharmonious Classroom

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A few weeks ago I did what professors all over the land did: I logged my students’ grades and handed them in. This capped the end of an academic year in which I have never been more reviled and hated. In fact, this semester I gave my students permission to hate me to the fullest, and I in turn allowed myself the drunken freedom of “hating” them as well.


July 22, 2011

Distance Education Administrators Face Unique Challenges

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Distance education administrators must constantly juggle concerns about academic integrity, technology, and student access, along with campus politics and their own learning curve. Fred Lokken is chairman of the Instructional Technology Council and associate dean for teaching technologies at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nev. As part of an ITC Conference panel, he and his colleagues considered some of the challenges that distance education administrators face



July 20, 2011

Revisiting Extra Credit Policies

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I remember being surprised when I read first read the results of a survey on extra credit published some years ago in Teaching of Psychology. Almost 20% of the 145 faculty (across disciplines) reported that they never offered extra credit and another 50% said they offered it only under exceptional circumstances. The two most common reasons for not giving extra credit were that it encouraged lax, irresponsible student attitudes and it was unfair to offer it to select students (say those doing poorly). I also think it is avoided because it means more work for faculty and most of us already have more of that than we can handle.


July 19, 2011

Dealing with Students Who Test Your Patience

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Difficult students are a potential problem for every faculty member. This is why it’s important to learn ways to deal with inappropriate or disruptive student behavior. In an email interview with The Teaching Professor, Brian Van Brunt, director of the Counseling and Testing at Western Kentucky University, and Perry Francis, professor of counseling at Eastern Michigan University, addressed some of the key issues involving these types of students.


July 18, 2011

Help Students Develop Lifelong Learning Skills with Web 2.0 Tools

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A University of Colorado at Denver student in Joni Dunlap’s learning design course has a question about embedding music into a slideshow presentation for an assignment he was working on. He tweets about it and immediately hears back from people in the community of practice who offer resources that help him quickly complete the task.