video conference February 27

Expanding Learning Experiences with Virtual Guest Experts

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Much of our work as educators consists of designing and delivering experiences in which students can develop their understanding and application of concepts and skills in our disciplines. Given that we have only 16 weeks with our students, we need various ways for deepening and expanding these formative experiences in our field. Visiting experts can be a wonderful way of developing expertise, and leveraging online tools like Skype and Zoom can open up powerful possibilities for new collaboration and conversation.


low-stakes writing assignment February 24

Using Low-Stakes Writing Assignments to Achieve Learning Goals

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During my time as a teaching fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the importance of student learning goals and student learning objectives to quality course design and management. Learning goals, often broad in nature, are most commonly applied at the course level. Learning objectives are statements about measurable expectations and behaviors that can contribute to the achievement of the learning goals.


adult students in classroom February 22

When the Teacher Becomes the Student

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As a follow-up to last week’s post, here’s a final bit from my rummaging around old favorites in my personal library of teaching and learning resources.

The insights come from Roy Starling’s great piece in which he recounts his experiences of being released from his teaching responsibilities to take a full load of courses with a small group of undergraduates. It radically changed his teaching, as it did Marshall Gregory’s when he enrolled in an undergraduate acting class, and as it did mine when I took a non-major’s chemistry course with 20 first-semester students. Most faculty do not have time to take courses or they’re at institutions without programs that support these experiences. However, even short visits to a colleague’s class and experiencing it as a student (not a peer reviewer) yields insights about teaching and motivates change.


February 21

A Checklist for Better PowerPoint Presentations

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We've all sat through some pretty horrific PowerPoint presentations. Too much text. Tiny font. Confusing graphs. Dizzying slide transitions and effects. Cheesy clip art. Poor color combinations. The list goes on and on.

But don’t blame PowerPoint just because some slide shows are bad. Blame the presenter. When used appropriately, PowerPoint is an effective tool for increasing student attention and participation.

Here are a few basic guidelines for creating more effective presentation slides:

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small group discussion February 20

An Activity That Promotes Engagement with Required Readings, Even in Large Classes

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On the first day of class, I often say something like this to my students: “Nothing floats my boat more than great discussion. Nothing promotes great discussion like having completed the readings. And nothing promotes completing the readings like having points attached to it.”


female student at computer February 17

Getting Started with Blended Learning Videos

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“There’s just not enough time in class with students!” It’s a common faculty complaint, and when students are provided quality course materials they can use outside class, this blended learning approach gives faculty more time in class. A variety of materials can be developed for use outside class. In this article, we’d like to focus on creating video content that students use for a blended learning course.


February 15

NMC and ELI Release the NMC Horizon Report – 2017 Higher Ed Edition

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The New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) jointly released the NMC Horizon Report – 2017 Higher Education Edition at the 2017 ELI Annual Meeting. This 14th edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are placed directly in the context of their likely impact on the core missions of universities and colleges. The topics are summarized in the accompanying infographic.



library bookshelf February 14

Partially Annotated Bibliography on Critical Thinking

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Abrami, P. C., Bernard, R. M., Borokhovski, E., Wade, A., Surkes, M. A., Tamim, R., & Zhang, D. (2008). Instructional interventions affecting critical thinking skills and dispositions: A stage 1 meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 1102-1134.

To develop critical skills in students in a course, instructors must have the explicit goal of developing those skills as well as training in ways to do so. Critical thinking does not progress by accident.

Bloom, B., & Associates. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: David McKay.

Braun, N. M. (2004). Critical thinking in the business curriculum. Journal of Education for Business, 79(4), 232-236.

Nora Braun of Augsburg College points out that in the business world, making decisions is a daily occurrence. Discussions, debates, and guided questioning are some of the techniques that should be used in business courses to classify and evaluate the enormous quantity of available information.

Bookfield, S. D. (2012). Teaching for critical thinking: Tools and techniques to help students question their assumptions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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faculty development meeting February 13

Let’s Practice What We Teach: Flipping Faculty Development

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Faculty everywhere are flipping their classes, but can we flip faculty development? That’s the question I asked myself when I flipped the pre-conference workshop at the 2016 Teaching Professor Technology Conference. What I discovered is that we can “practice what we teach” and design faculty-centered learning experiences much the same way we design student-centered learning experiences.

In this article, I provide a few recommendations for flipping a faculty development workshop. For further inspiration, the article concludes with a showcase of the work created by the participants in my workshop last fall.