online courses computer screen December 1

Using Padlet to Encourage Student Collaboration

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Online faculty generally default to their learning management system’s discussion form to facilitate student collaboration or sharing. But Padlet provides an alternate format that can be much better for many purposes. The LMS forum is designed for linear, text-based discussions around a pre-established theme. This is good if a faculty member wants to corral discussion and keep it on track, but it is not so good for facilitating a more free-form, creative discussion that branches out into many areas. Padlet also provides a much more visually appealing, and thus inviting, system for facilitating content sharing among students.

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man on a ipad November 29

Using VoiceThread to Support Close Reading from a Distance

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Faculty know that the increased think-time provided by asynchronous online discussion allows for deeper and more active deliberation by students than is possible in face-to-face courses. But this advantage is often lost as online discussions revert to personal opinions and anecdotes. One method for keeping a discussion on track is to organize it around close reading and analysis of course texts.

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Male Student in online chat November 22

Improve Learning with Student Interviews

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Interviews are a powerful yet underutilized learning device in higher education. There are thousands of experts available who would be more than willing to add interesting material to your courses. While it is not very practical to fly those people in to speak in a face-to-face course, video recording systems make it easy to add interviews to an online course.

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October 14

PA021: Leveraging Technology to Maximize Teaching Effectiveness, An Interview with Dr. Jean Mandernach

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On this episode, we sat down with Dr. Jean Mandernach at the Teaching Professor Technology Conference and discussed leveraging technology to maximize teaching effectiveness. We also discussed her presentation, One Size Doesn’t Fit All, and Pedagogy First, a tool to help instructors select the most appropriate instructional technology for their class.


September 23

PA018: Using Media in Our Classes

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Technology can be a distraction if it is not used properly says Assistant Professor Jeff Hammond of Metropolitan State University in Denver. We met with Professor Hammond to discuss his presentation, “Instructional Design Strategies for Informational Media Presentations,” which he will lead at the upcoming Teaching Professor Technology Conference in Atlanta, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. In our conversation, he brings up some interesting questions about the use of media and technology.


video in higher ed July 14

Survey Highlights Growth of Video in Higher Ed, Optimism over OER

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An annual survey on video in higher education found that more than half of the institutions who responded now use a video solution integrated into their Learning Management System. The figure is up 6% from 46% last year. In addition, three quarters of students in higher education use video in their assignments, up 4% on last year’s figure of 71%.


male college student with phone and laptop April 15

Audio Reflection Assignments Help Students Develop Metacognitive Skills

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From the bold honors student to the timid learner in the back row, reflection can help students become more aware of themselves as learners. But because we often rely on writing as the primary mode of metacognitive reflection, some students, especially those who struggle with college-level writing, may not experience the full cognitive benefits of reflection. For such students, the stress of writing can compromise their focus on reflection.



male student with phone November 5, 2015

Reconsidering Assumptions About Students and Technology

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Early in the semester, I assigned my first-year students a blog post as a low-stakes “read and respond” writing assignment. Written by psychiatrist Samantha Boardman, the article “Stop This Habit Today!” focused on the habit of beginning and ending our days with technology. As you can probably tell from the title, Dr. Boardman is opposed to this habit, particularly when it interferes with things like sleep and real-world interaction.


students at computer October 2, 2015

Taking the Tech Out of Technology

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Discussion boards. Google documents. YouTube videos. TED Talks. Khan Academy. These are just a few of the many resources some of us have used in our ever-growing arsenal of techie tools. We want to stay on the cutting edge. The Sloan Consortium (now Online Learning Consortium) predicts this trend toward an increased usage of technology will continue into the foreseeable future. So we continue to hone our skills, taking advantage of an ever-increasing array of technological options. We attend conferences, exchange ideas with colleagues, read up on the latest innovations—all in the interest of keeping our teaching on the technology edge. But I sometimes worry that we may have gone over the edge.