November 28, 2012

Academic Partnerships and Instructure, Creator of Canvas, Form Strategic Partnership to Empower the Next Generation of Online Learning at Leading Universities

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Academic Partnerships, which offers comprehensive support to universities in the development and marketing of their superior online courses and degree programs, today announces a strategic partnership with Instructure, the company behind Canvas – a learning management system (LMS) used by 275 educational institutions. Through this strategic partnership, all of Academic Partnerships’ current and future university partners will be able to utilize the Canvas platform free of charge, in all of Canvas’ available languages, to help streamline the online delivery of high quality educational content.


November 28, 2012

End-of-Course Evaluations: Making Sense of Student Comments

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At most colleges, courses are starting to wind down and that means it’s course evaluation time. It’s an activity not always eagerly anticipated by faculty, largely because of those ambiguous comments students write. Just what are they trying to say?

I think part of the reason for the vague feedback is that students don’t believe that the evaluations are taken all that seriously, not to mention they’re in the middle of the usual end-of-semester stress caused by having lots of big assignments due and final exams to face. It’s just not the best time to be asking for feedback and so students dash off a few comments which instructors are left to decipher.


November 27, 2012

Test Prep: Getting Your Students to Examine Their Approach

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I was inspired by Maryellen Weimer’s article on “Teaching Metacognition to Improve Student Learning” and the accompanying article by Kimberly Tanner on “Promoting Student Metacognition.”

Tanner reflected on a comment I have heard many times: “…it’s my job to teach [your discipline or learning outcome goes here], not study strategies.” How often have we heard that our students don’t know how to learn? Regardless of whose fault it is, Weimer’s article shows how relatively easy it is to incorporate practical “meta-learning” strategies into our lesson plans. It’s a no-brainer if a teacher conducts a structured pre-test review class, and a post-test follow-up activity, where many of the issues on clarity, confusion, and preparedness will be brought into the light.


November 26, 2012

Get Visual: A Technique for Improving Student Writing

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One of the ongoing challenges for my composition students is the task of narrowing a broad, generalized topic into a more particular, focused topic for a short research essay. To help them develop this skill, I now prescribe a broad topic for everyone to use in the first research essay. Over several class sessions, we work collaboratively to explore the general topic, identify more particular subtopics, and develop research strategies to investigate these subtopics as possible subject matter.


November 19, 2012

Deep Learning vs. Surface Learning: Getting Students to Understand the Difference

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Sometimes our understanding of deep learning isn’t all that deep. Typically, it’s defined by what it is not. It’s not memorizing only to forget and it’s not reciting or regurgitating what really isn’t understood and can’t be applied. The essence of deep learning is understanding—true knowing. That’s a good start but it doesn’t do much to help students see the difference between deep and surface learning or to help persuade them that one is preferable to the other.


November 16, 2012

App Review: CloudOn

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Cloud users have a variety of options for accessing content as well as the option of using any number of apps to create content, e.g. documents, spreadsheets, and presentations just to name a few. Many of the available apps in the iTunes store and Google Play even mimic computer application programs that most of us use on a daily basis and CloudOn is one such app.


November 15, 2012

Six Ways to Get Your Online Students Participating in the Course

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Have you ever worried about the level of participation in your online courses? Perhaps you have difficulty encouraging students to interact with one another, or maybe you find student responses to be perfunctory. Surely there must be a way to encourage the kinds of participation that really supports learning.


November 14, 2012

Getting Answer-Oriented Students to Focus on the Questions

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Are your students too answer oriented? Are they pretty much convinced that there’s a right answer to every question asked in class? When preparing for exams, do they focus on memorizing answers, often without thinking about the questions?

To cultivate interest in questions, consider having students write exam questions. Could this be a way to help teachers generate new test questions? Don’t count on it. Writing good test questions — ones that make students think, ones that really ascertain whether they understand the material — is hard work. Given that many students are not particularly strong writers to begin with, they won’t write good test questions automatically. In fact, you probably shouldn’t try the strategy if you aren’t willing to devote some time to developing test writing skills.