February 28, 2013

The Most Overlooked Items That Can Help Keep Online Students Engaged

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Student engagement is a popular topic and the overwhelming majority of the information on this topic is concentrated on the big issues of keeping students engaged, such as the importance of faculty presence in the classroom, adhering to deadlines and responding to students in a timely manner, and giving thorough feedback on assignments.


February 27, 2013

Crib Sheets Help Students Prioritize and Organize Course Content

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Most faculty are familiar with the strategy: students are allowed to bring into the exam a card or sheet of paper that they’ve prepared beforehand and that contains information they think might help them answer exam questions. I became convinced of the strategy’s value when my husband was an undergraduate. He and his engineering study buddies convened at our place the night before an exam to decide what they should put on the 4 x 6 note card they were allowed to take into a mechanical engineering course. They spent hours in heated discussion. They thought they were just figuring out what went on the card, but in fact they were sorting out, prioritizing, organizing, and integrating the content of the course. Their discussion accomplished that way more effectively than any review session I had conducted. Of course, being engineers, they decided on what they needed and then reduced the size so that when they got it on the card they needed a magnifying glass to read it.



February 25, 2013

Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom

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Almost 25 years have passed since Chickering and Gamson offered seven principles for good instructional practices in undergraduate education. While the state of undergraduate education has evolved to some degree over that time, I think the seven principles still have a place in today’s collegiate classroom. Originally written to communicate best practices for face-to-face instruction, the principles translate well to the online classroom and can help to provide guidance for those of us designing courses to be taught online.


February 22, 2013

App Review: Doceri Combines Screencasting, Desktop Control, and Interactive Whiteboard

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The Doceri interactive whiteboard and screencast recorder app, like the Splashtop app I reviewed earlier, is useful to anyone wishing to remotely control a projected image from a connected computer, make screen annotations on what is displayed (you can make the annotations on a displayed image or a whiteboard), and send your creation for others to see. The thing I liked the most about using Doceri is the ease with which recorded audio and screen annotations can be made and the ability to send/post the finished product to a LMS or similar system for students to access. This app can save you the expense associated with costly classroom whiteboards and the controls in the app are easy to navigate.


February 21, 2013

Student Presentations: Do They Benefit Those Who Listen?

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Almost everyone agrees that student presentations benefit the presenter in significant ways. By doing presentations, students learn how to speak in front a group, a broadly applicable professional skill. They learn how to prepare material for public presentation, and practice (especially with feedback) improves their speaking skills. But those of us who have students do presentations in class know there’s a downside—and that’s how the rest of the class responds to these presentations. When the teacher talks, students more or less have to pay attention, at least some of the time, but when their classmates present, they can be comatose. Not only does this make it more difficult for the presenter, it means the students listening are not likely having any sort of learning experience.


February 20, 2013

Improving Teaching One Class at a Time

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Can we reform teaching and learning throughout higher education one class at a time? I used to think so, but the pace of change has made me less optimistic. I just finished preparing an article for The Teaching Professor newsletter that reports the results of a survey of 744 full- and part-time faculty teaching at eight two-year technical colleges across Georgia. The researchers presented the respondents with a list of 18 instructional strategies and asked them to identify how often they used each one in their last 10 class sessions. Over 90% of the respondents said they lectured for four or more class sessions with more than 50% of those saying they lectured during all 10 class sessions.



February 18, 2013

NetClick Makes Classroom Interaction Easy

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With the use of mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops transforming the 21st century classroom, teachers and professors around the world are looking to streamline and revolutionize the way they present content and interact with students. To meet this demand for Education 2.0, Waterloo technology startup NetClick today announced the release of its new Cloud-based solution that helps educators transform their lessons and lectures into engaging, interactive classroom experiences in seconds and with use of existing class infrastructure. It is a unique, patent pending service, not available in any other Classroom Response System.


February 18, 2013

Peer-led Reading Groups Boost Engagement and Retention

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A legal historian by training, I have taught many general education courses that draw students from across majors and disciplines. It is not uncommon for the 21st century college student to become somewhat disengaged with the works of Plato or Kant, and this is especially the case when these readings are complex and/or students are outside their topical comfort zones. As a result, in-class discussion suffers, momentum and dialogue are hindered, and students may feel alienated from the course. This is exacerbated by varying levels of engagement with out-of-class readings, producing uneven student learning outcomes.