March 28, 2013

How to Handle Student Excuses

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“Grandpa’s heart exploded, but he’s fine now,” one student reported the morning after missing a scheduled exam. “I caught dyslexia from another student last semester,” responded another when his teacher asked him about all the spelling mistakes in his paper. And then there was the pet rabbit that swallowed a needle on the day of the big group presentation. Excuses like these are so preposterous that they can’t help but make us laugh, but dealing with them is no laughing matter.


March 27, 2013

Student Persistence in Online Courses: Understanding the Key Factors

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Who should be taking online courses? Are online courses equally appropriate for all students? Can any content be taught in an online format or do some kinds of material lend themselves to mastery in an electronic environment? Who should be teaching these courses? These are all good questions that institutions offering online courses—and instructors teaching them—should consider.


March 26, 2013

Why Doesn’t Teacher Feedback Improve Student Performance?

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Sometimes feedback leads to better performance, but not all the time and not as often as teachers would like, given the time and effort they devote to providing students feedback. It’s easy to blame students who seem interested only in the grade—do they even read the feedback? Most report that they do, but even those who pay attention to it don’t seem able to act on it—they make the same errors in subsequent assignments. Why is that?


March 25, 2013

Looking for ‘Flippable’ Moments in Your Class

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“How do you determine what can be flipped?”

With all of this discussion around flipped classrooms, more instructors are asking this question and wondering when and where flipped strategies are best integrated into the learning environment. Certainly, some topics lend themselves more easily to flipped strategies than others, but every lesson plan has the opportunity for at least one “flippable moment.” This is the moment during class when you stop talking at your students and “flip” the work to them instead. This is the moment when you allow your students to struggle, ask questions, solve problems, and do the “heavy lifting” required to learn the material.


March 21, 2013

Colleges Moving Slowly Toward State Authorization Compliance or Opting Out of States

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A growing number of colleges obtained the necessary approvals in states in which they serve distance students, but many have a long way to go. As an alternative to seeking approval, an increasing number of institutions no longer accept students from some states. These are the findings of a survey of nearly 200 colleges conducted jointly by three leading distance education organizations.


group work March 20, 2013

Five Things Students Can Learn through Group Work

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I often get questions about group work. Recently, the question was phrased like this: “Can students learn anything in groups?” And, like faculty sometimes do, this questioner proceeded with the answer. “I don’t think my students can. When they work in groups they have no interest in doing quality work. Whatever the first person says, they all agree with that and relax into a social conversation.”



March 18, 2013

Millennial Students and Middle-aged Faculty: A Learner-centered Approach toward Bridging the Gap

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The problem is my age. It relentlessly advances while the faces staring back at me in the classroom remain the same, fixed between late adolescence and early adulthood. In short, I grow old while my students do not. And the increasing gap between our ages causes me some concern, pedagogically speaking.


March 15, 2013

Seven Steps to Creating Screencast Videos for Online Learning

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When I first started teaching online, one of the most frustrating aspects was that I did not have access to an old-fashioned blackboard to give students a visual map of what I was teaching. I felt restricted by the text-based instruction of the discussion board and eventually began creating colorful flowcharts to teach essay structure, for example, or PowerPoint slides to explain the MLA style format.