Much has been written about the course syllabus. It’s an important tool for classroom management, for setting the tone, for outlining expectations, and for meeting department and university requirements. It’s an essential document in a higher education course, but do your students read it? And if they do read it, do they see the real purpose of the course beyond the attendance policy and exam dates? Here’s one strategy that will not only encourage your students to read the syllabus, but it will also allow you to stimulate discussion, create curiosity, and assess students’ knowledge on the first day of class.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Communicating in an online environment, especially within the confines of an institution’s learning management system (LMS) and an academic budget, often poses a challenge to even the most well-intentioned instructors. Many times we find ourselves constrained not by our imaginations or abilities but by the technological tools we have at our disposal. Given the systems in which we work, how do we select the best technological tool—the best medium—to communicate a message? One framework for answering these questions is through the lens of Media Richness Theory (MRT).
Let’s see a show of hands by those who work at institutions that have developed a comprehensive risk management plan related to service learning and civic engagement. Keep your hand up if you can quickly locate a copy of that plan. And keep your hand up still if you’ve attended a formal training session regarding the risk management plan. Anyone?
Idea Sketch, as the name implies, is a way to capture ideas and organize them in some hierarchical manner — such as in a concept map or flow chart. Idea Sketch is a no frills app, rather intuitive, and best of all it is free! There is an upgrade option for $3.99 but if all I am going to get are a few more shapes, colors, and fonts, I am not sure that I would opt for a paid version. The free version, which works on the iPhone and iPad, includes a check spell option when typing but the app does not include a way to spell check the entire work when completed.
How many times have you provided feedback in the margins of students’ papers, only to find that you’re providing the very same feedback on the next set of papers? As a new faculty member, I was left dumbfounded by this experience. I couldn’t understand why my students continuously made the same errors and why my feedback did not improve their papers. I was also surprised by the number of students who requested meetings to discuss why they felt their papers warranted a higher grade. My colleagues assured me that I wasn’t alone in these experiences, but I knew there had to be alternatives to this unproductive cycle.
The article that proposes these active-learning strategies is written for faculty who teach large-enrollment biology courses. But large courses share many similarities, and strategies often work well with a variety of content. Even so, most strategies need to be adapted so that they fit well with the instructor’s style, the learning needs of the students, and the configuration of course content.
I have always enjoyed watching YouTube videos and when I noticed that some of the videos dealt with serious literary topics and had re-enactments of Shakespeare plays, I began to wonder if I could not incorporate them into my literature classes. Instead of students just reading a text version of Othello, why not have them also watch a live performance of Othello to get them more motivated to learn literature?
We know from the literature, and more directly from conversations with colleagues, that most college teachers are concerned, annoyed, frustrated, and occasionally angered by the way students behave in the classroom. But are these behaviors of concern to other students in the classroom?
A review of the research on active learning compiled for physiology faculty contains five “key findings” that author Joel Michael maintains ought “to be incorporated [into] our thinking as we make decisions about teaching physiology [I would say, name your discipline] at any educational level.” (p. 160) Here’s the list, along with a brief discussion of each.
Digital Natives are all around us. They populate our college courses and use the newest mobile technologies to communicate, collaborate, create and share information on social media sites. There is, however, often a disconnection on their path to learning. Quite often we find Digital Native students taught by Digital Immigrant professors (Prensky, 2001) who fear, dismiss or are unaware of the potential learning power of Web 2.0 technologies.