Teaching and learning support professionals, particularly those who must perform miracles as a “Department of One,” can have one of the most challenging jobs on campus. They not only support the course design, content delivery strategies, technology integration, and training/orientation for faculty and students in online learning programs (asynchronous and synchronous formats), but they also support all other teaching/learning needs for classroom, blended, and any other teaching environment. This professional may be an instructional designer, an educational technologist, or very often, a designated faculty member with some or all of these skills.
It’s important at the beginning of a course for students and their instructor to find out about each other. This exchange of information helps to create classroom climates of respect and fosters a spirit of exchange that can encourage students to ask questions, make comments, and otherwise participate in dialogue throughout the course.
Faculty who regularly use group work are always on the lookout for new and better ways of handling those behaviors that compromise group effectiveness—group members who don’t carry their weight and the negative attitudes students frequently bring with them to group work.
Recently, I encountered a snag in my teaching. Unlike past difficulties connected to particular classroom challenges, this one was more pervasive. For several months I contemplated the cause of this “bigger” dilemma. Upon reflection it became evident that my off-balance feeling was linked to the pietas of teaching.
Last week, while teaching Dante’s Inferno, I moderated a lively two-day class discussion about medieval and modern values and religion. How did Dante define virtue? How do we define it? For Dante, why was lust not as terrible a sin as theft of property? Why did his age consider gluttony a moral failing rather than a self-destructive behavior that one can take to Jenny Craig?
Online instruction invariably requires more time for logistics than does face-to-face instruction due to interaction needs, extraneous cognitive load (mental effort needed to attend to non-content-related course elements), and poor self regulation by students.
Troll through university websites and you’re likely to see mission statements with such lofty phrases as “instill a passion for lifelong learning” or “a commitment to student-centered education.” But what do these things really mean and, more importantly, how do you know you’re doing them?