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Instructional Design


A Few Concerns about the Rush to Flip

I have some concerns about flipping courses. Maybe I’m just hung up on the name—flipping is what we do with pancakes. It’s a quick, fluid motion and looks easy to those of us waiting at the breakfast table. I’m not sure those connotations are good when associated with courses and that leads to what centers my concerns. I keep hearing what sounds to me like “flippant” attitudes about what’s involved.


Show the Learner Visible Signs of Their Learning

One of the strengths of gamification is that it provides visible milestones of the student’s mastery of content in real time (when it is well designed). Too often in an instructional setting, the learner doesn’t know whether or not he or she really understands or can apply the knowledge they are learning. There is often no visible sign of mastery of the content or application of the content.


Recent Seminars


Team-Based Learning: Strategies for Getting Started

Team-Based Learning is a uniquely powerful and increasingly popular form of small group learning. When properly designed, it can help ensure students leave your class with conceptual and procedural learning, confident in their understanding of course content, and ready to apply it in meaningful ways. It’s also a great teaching approach for the flipped classroom.

Online Seminar • Recorded on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Thinking of Collaborative Teaching? A Few Things to Consider

It used to be called team teaching, but that term is now used less often to describe the collaboration of colleagues when they jointly teach the same course. Multiple instructors may be involved in the course, each delivering a freestanding module; or two instructors may do the course together, each in class every day with all course activities and assignments integrated. And there are variations of each of these models.


How to Create Assessments for the Flipped Classroom

It seems like everyone is talking about the flipped classroom. But how do you use this new model to construct lessons and assessments that reinforce student learning?


Choosing and Using Textbooks

The July 2013 issue of Teaching of Psychology (40, 3) includes an “objective analysis” of the specifications and content coverage of 13 full-length introductory psychology textbooks. In six pages, teachers get a well-organized overview of introductory texts and a good feel for what those in the field consider important introductory course content. Scholarship like this makes a valuable contribution to the discipline.


Universal Design: Five Steps to Make Your Course Accessible

Course accessibility is about increasing learning for any and all students. It is about inclusion and equality. Ultimately, it is about student success. Participants of this seminar will not only learn about the value of universal design and the need to improve accessibility; but they will finish with actual tools and tactics they can employ immediately.

Online Seminar • Recorded on Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Designing Assignments that Accomplish Course Goals

I’m betting that many of you are in the midst of grading a large stack of papers, projects or other final assignments. Too often these end-of-course pieces of work don’t live up to our expectations or students’ potential. It’s easy for us (especially the elders among us) to bemoan the fact that students aren’t what they used to be. It’s better to use our discontent to consider whether our course assignments are effectively accomplishing our course goals.


Beyond Coverage: Backward Design for Disciplinary Thinking

How do we find time to teach students how to think when there is so much content they need to learn? The secret lies in backward design. Backward design is a powerful way to help you clarify your learning goals, bring your assignments and exams into alignment with these goals, and better use classroom activities to cultivate the student learning that you value most.

Online Seminar • Recorded on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Scaffolding Student Learning: Tips for Getting Started

Many of us who teach in higher education do not have a teaching background, nor do we have experience in curriculum development. We know our content areas and are experts in our fields, but structuring learning experiences for students may or may not be our strong suit. We’ve written a syllabus (or were handed one to use) and have developed some pretty impressive assessments, projects, and papers in order to evaluate our students’ progress through the content. Sometimes we discover that students either don’t perform well on the learning experiences we’ve designed or they experience a great deal of frustration with what they consider high stakes assignments. Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978) proposes that it’s important to determine the area (zone) between what a student can accomplish unaided and what that same student can accomplish with assistance.


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