September 30, 2008

The Power of Putting the Students at the Center of Learning

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As an instructor at a career-focused university, I thought I had experienced it all: great classes and bad classes, classes that ran smoothly and those that required firm management, classes that were a breeze and those that challenged my patience. Despite these experiences, I was unprepared for what became my best class, the one that most changed my outlook on teaching…


September 29, 2008

Instructional Design: Who’s Playing First in My Course?

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At a symposium about teaching projects on our campus, one group of faculty presented a set of projects they had done that involved giving students control over course design issues. The projects had grown out of a reading group that studied When Students Have Power by Ira Shor. The faculty presenters said that they let students design the syllabus and that the students typically created a rigorous course that was enhanced by the student ownership. I think I’m a student- and learning-centered teacher, but I’m also a teacher who has determined essentially all the course structure. So a few days before classes started, I decided NOT to spend my last few hours before the opening of the semester organizing, selecting, and deciding on syllabus issues, but to step (off a cliff?) into a world where students have power. Would chaos ensue if I gave students power in my general chemistry class?


September 27, 2008

Instructional Design: Six Strategies to Make Courses More Learner Centered Without Sacrificing Content

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Concerns about covering content are legitimate, but they often block a whole family of techniques that more effectively involve students and promote learning. “I know I should do more active learning, but I have all this content to cover . . .” We routinely favor involving students but we do so understanding that the content-coverage dilemma confronts faculty with difficult decisions.




September 24, 2008

Choosing Appropriate Distance Learning Tools

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Faculty need to consider learning objectives, learning styles, accessibility, cost, and available technical support when designing distance learning courses, says Laurie Hillstock, manager of distance learning at Clemson University.

Hillstock works with faculty to develop satellite, CD-ROM, and Web-based courses using a design model that is roughly 80 percent asynchronous and 20 synchronous. Within this model, instructors can…