Online discussions: typing on keyboard February 8

Three Simple Ways to Energize Online Discussions

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Online course discussions are routine in online and blended classes, and they are gaining popularity in face-to-face courses as well. Proponents of online discussions tout that their use can help with community- and relationship-building, can push students to go deeper with course content and demonstrate critical thinking, and can allow students to share their knowledge and previous experience with course-related concepts and ideas.

Although the use of online discussions is becoming more common, I frequently hear faculty express concerns and challenges they have with them: the time it takes to read and grade each post, keeping students interested and engaged with the forums, and wrestling with how much they as instructors should be participating.

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laptop, no teacher February 3

Instructor Presence: How to Keep from Going MIA in Your Online Course

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As an adjunct professor and one who works daily with faculty in helping them understand online education, I have noticed and heard of increasing numbers of professors going missing in action (MIA) while teaching their online course. This is particularly disturbing since engagement is the number one characteristic that faculty must strive for when teaching from a distance.



video assessment January 9

Making Learning Visible with Video Assessment

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In winter 2015, I was given the opportunity to design and teach my department’s first fully online course, in calculus. Some design challenges emerged in the process, not least of which was the question of assessing homework. In a face-to-face class, students either turn in handwritten solutions to online problems or present them orally in class. But how can you have students presenting work to each other when they don’t even meet?

My solution—the only solution that could really work—was to have students present work via recorded video and then put those videos in an accessible place for the rest of the class.

The process worked as follows:

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student blogging December 1, 2016

Sample To-Do Online Teaching Checklist

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Daily Priorities

  • Check “Questions for Instructor” thread; respond to questions
  • Check internal course email; respond to questions
  • Check phone messages; respond to students
  • Check dropbox; grade submissions and provide feedback
  • Participate in discussion thread; record grades and comment codes on separate sheet while participating

Weekly Tasks

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hand with mouse November 25, 2016

Lessons Learned from the World’s Best MOOC

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MOOCs are badly misunderstood within higher education. Reports focus on their low completion rates as a sign of failure, but to do so uses the wrong rubric. Students are not taking these classes to fulfill degree requirements, but simply for the knowledge they offer; they pick those topics within any course that appeal to them, like reading a newspaper. Judging a MOOC by completion rates is like judging the New York Times by how many people read every single article.

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October 14, 2016

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.


Beth Harger interviews Bridget Arend, University of Denver August 5, 2016

PA011: Interview with Dr. Bridget Arend (Part 1)

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On this episode, we interview Dr. Bridget Arend, director of university teaching at the Office of Teaching and Learning at the University of Denver. Our discussion is a follow up to her presentation at the Teaching Professor Conference in June, where she led a session titled “Best of All Worlds: Combining Discussion Formats for Deeper Inquiry.”