college student on smartphone in class July 31

I’m in ‘Kahoots’ with Technology in the Classroom

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Teaching tool or distraction? One of the most vexing issues for faculty today is what to do about cell phones in the classroom. According to a study conducted by Dr. Jim Roberts, a marketing professor at Baylor University, college students spend between eight to ten hours daily on their cell phones. Regardless of whatever “no cell phone” policies we attempt to enforce in our classrooms, many of our students are sneakily checking Instagram or texting friends when they’re supposed to be engaged in solving matrices or analyzing Shakespeare.


close up of a computer mouse July 21

Using Screencasts for Formative and Summative Assessment

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As a new teacher, one of the resources I found most helpful in shaping my grading practices was Grant Wiggins’s advice on feedback and assessment. Meaningful feedback, he suggests, is much more than assigning a grade or even offering recommendations for improvement. Rather, meaningful feedback is descriptive, “play[ing] back” the student’s performance and connecting it to the learning outcomes of the course.


creating instructional video March 31

10 Tips for Creating Effective Instructional Videos

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Instructor presence is an important component of effective online teaching, and video can help make it happen. Instructional videos have become increasingly easy to create and can turn a good online class into an engaging learning experience. Video humanizes the online experience by letting students know their instructor as a real person, not an abstraction. Good quality webcams are available for less than $100, and there are numerous free and easy-to-use resources for creating and publishing video content so it can be streamed back into our courses.


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.


Laptop and books on desk of classroom. January 16

Extending the Shelf-Life of Your Instructional Videos: Six Common Pitfalls to Avoid

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When instructional video is produced thoughtfully and used to promote active engagement, it can improve student motivation, learning, and performance, make content more memorable, and bring highly visual material to life (Ljubojevic et al, 2014; Zhang et al, 2006; Hegeman, 2015; Hsin & Cigas, 2013; Merkt et al, 2011; Kay, 2012; Schwan & Riempp, 2014; Routt et al, 2015; Jarvis & Dickie, 2009).

Video has other benefits as well. It allows students to watch lectures at their own pace, rewinding and re-watching as needed. It lets instructors assign lectures as homework, opening up class time for interaction. And it can reduce the total time faculty need to spend preparing and delivering the same material for different semesters or audiences. Once you’ve recorded a video, you can–theoretically–use it again and again.


cartoon word bubble January 4

Creating Cartoons to Spark Engagement, Learning

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As instructors, we are constantly looking for new ways to capture our students’ attention and increase their participation in our classes, especially in the online modalities. We spend countless hours crafting weekly announcements for classes and then inevitably receive multiple emails from our students asking the very same questions that we so carefully and completely answered in those very same announcements! The question remains, how do we get them to read our posts?



student working on laptop November 11, 2016

Wikipedia Projects for Learning

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Most teachers consider Wikipedia the devil’s realm, a place where rumor and misinformation are spread. But in reality, studies have found that Wikipedia has an accuracy of a regular encyclopedia. Inaccurate information is quickly corrected by volunteer editors, and there are strict standards for entering content, including the rule that “everything must be cited.” Most important, Wikipedia is the place where many, if not most, people go to get initial information on a topic. This makes it probably the most important information source on the Internet, and because editing is public, it presents a wonderful opportunity for students to create articles as class assignments.


male college student with phone and laptop April 15, 2016

Audio Reflection Assignments Help Students Develop Metacognitive Skills

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From the bold honors student to the timid learner in the back row, reflection can help students become more aware of themselves as learners. But because we often rely on writing as the primary mode of metacognitive reflection, some students, especially those who struggle with college-level writing, may not experience the full cognitive benefits of reflection. For such students, the stress of writing can compromise their focus on reflection.


student studying in library March 11, 2016

Hands-On Assignment Awakens Student Creativity

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If you read the syllabus of an Introduction to Sociology course, you’ll notice we have ambitious goals for our students. We not only want our students to understand sociological theories, we want them to use these theories to meaningfully analyze their everyday experiences, interactions, and observations and draw greater meaning from them. How can we encourage this type of engagement in an introductory sociology class? I have realized that the key is by guiding students to think innovatively through a self-directed research project where the students are the drivers of their learning process.