Posts filed under 'Teaching and Learning'

Untangling the Web of Teacher-Student Communication

In a recent article in Faculty Focus Jennifer Waldeck discusses research into important aspects of Student-Teacher communication. In particular, she focuses on communication for clarity and communication to build positive relationships.

Communication for Clarity
It seems obvious that teachers need to communicate clearly with students, not just about content but about expectations and learning objectives.

This includes strategically, clearly, and logically organizing material; communicating expectations; explaining concepts; giving examples and feedback; asking questions; and responding to students’ inquiries.

But, is there such a thing as too much clarity? Waldeck comments that two 2015 meta-analyses of the teacher clarity literature concluded that clarity accounts for just a moderate amount of student learning. She also suggests that a degree of strategic ambiguity encourages peer discussion and critical thinking.

In contrast, teachers who unnecessarily repeat points and provide lengthy explanations of simple ideas might annoy students.

Communication to Build Positive Relationships
A second set of communication behaviours relate to building relationships with students. Waldeck points out that research indicates that effective teachers use immediacy behaviors.

They smile, make eye contact, move around the room, avoid standing behind podiums, gesture, call students by name, use personal examples, allow some off-task conversation and small talk, are appropriately funny, and encourage students to talk with them and one another. Further, good teachers confirm students. In many ways, we tell students we value them, their ideas, and their contributions.

As previously discussed in the blog equivalent behaviors are essential in online courses.
While some teachers are resistant to becoming too friendly with their students, and losing students’ respect, Waldeck comments that there are numerous studies that in order to maximize cognitive learning-

we must motivate them, make them feel good about themselves and their abilities, promote their enjoyment of the learning process, and create positive attitudes about our class and the subject matter. The idea that students’ positive feelings and emotions about learning are nice, but an unnecessary aspect of the educational process, has been dispelled by a significant amount of research.

This raises the challenge of: to what degree should teachers maintain appropriate distance as opposed to developing positive, affirmative relationships?

Waldeck concludes:

The role of communication in learning is complex. Research gives us insight into the art and science of effective instructional communication. To become great teachers, we must become great communicators who are aware and adaptive to students and situations. And, we should always question our assumptions about how to best teach our content and socially interact with students.

You can also participate in research into faculty communication with students conducted by the Faculty Communication Research Centre of Chapman University.

Add comment May 20th, 2016

What is Storify?

Last week I shared a Storify summary of CEDP Phase 2. You maybe be wondering “What is Storify?” and even “How can it be used in education?”. This post will look at those questions.

What is Storify?
Storify is a web-based ‘curation tool’ that can be used to gather together items from the web; such as social media posts, tweets and blog posts; and create thematic collections of storyboards on a topic. Bidget Gelms describes it like this in Inside HigherEd.

Storify allows users to search various places around the web and incorporate anything they find into a Storify story. It’s almost like one-stop shopping with all of the internet at your disposal.

Indeed Karl Hodge says Storify is the future of online content.

Content makers, the truth is, everyone can do what you do now. And the thing about everyone — they’re everywhere…
…But none of these audio snippets or status updates or vintage filtered images can ever tell the entire story. It still takes a journalist or author to do that.
Storify enables us to dip into the chaos and craft narrative from multiple, secondary sources, to make sense of the social.
It also enables participants in the news get their story out, direct.

One of Storify’s greatest strengths is its ability to manage attribution of all those clips, snippets and tweets automatically.

How can it be used in edication?
Gelms identifies several ways Storify can be used in teaching and learning:

Beginning stages of a project
At the start of a project students can use Storify to quickly collect a large variety of information on a topic, share whqt they’ve found and begin to discuss and explore ideas.
Research Log
As projects develop students can organize the information they collect and annotate it directly in Storify. Students can focus on synthesising their thoughts on the topic and showing how their ideas are developing without getting bogged down with referencing and citing.
Informal Writing
While it’s great for gathering and sorting information, it can also be used to support reading responses and reflection. As their story develops, students can think about their audience and how their work relates to their viewers.
Presentation tool
For both teachers and students Storify is great presentation tool. If you have a number of youtube videos you want to show in class – just put them all in a single Storify to manage them all in one place.

Here are some examples of education-related Storifys.

Storify free version does have some limitations, but there’s a lot that can be done with it. Try it out and see it fits for your courses.

Add comment May 13th, 2016

Rubrics as Teaching Tools

We are all familiar with rubrics as an evaluation tool, used for summative assessment and to give a grade, but rubrics can also be a teaching tool for feedback and peer learning.
In a recent Faculty Focus article “Rubrics: An Undervalued Teaching Tool Stephanie Almagno outlined five ways rubrics can be used as teaching tools.

1. A Rubric for Thinking (Invention Activity)
When an assignment is given, students use the rubric to stimulate initial ideas and to brain-storm way to approach the assignment

2. A Rubric for Peer Feedback (Drafting Activity)
For first drafts, have students give peer feedback on the each others work, using the rubric to keep them focused.

3. A Rubric for Teacher Feedback (Revision Activity)
For longer more complex assignments, use rubrics to give feedback on work in progress. Scores don’t need to be given. use stars, or emoticons (happy, meh, frowny faces) to indicate “this is good, this need work”

4. A Rubric for Mini-Lessons (Data Indicate a Teachable Moment)
Use the rubric to give feedback to the class as a whole. After marking, scan the rubrics for those criteria done badly or particularly well, and prepare a “mini -lesson” to review the weakest areas.

5. A Rubric for Making Grades Visible (Student Investment in Grading)
When submitting assignments, have students submit a self-assessed rubric for their project. This encourages them to think like how it will be marked and combats the idea that grades are arbitrary. It allows them to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses, and how they can improve.

These ideas all, of course, make two basic assumptions about using rubrics. That rubrics are provided to the students at the same time as the project is assigned; and that rubrics are applied consistently throughout the assessment.

1 comment April 29th, 2016

CTL Workshops Feb 22 to Feb 26 - Register now!

Looking for help in designing authentic assignments, developing new courses or a new approach to creative thinking?
We’re here to help. Check out up-coming workshops from CTL and register now at the CTL Calendar

Tuesday Feb 23rd Room A227 – 10m – 12pm
Design Thinking REGISTER

Not everyone can make decisions for the system they exist within”, however, Design Thinking can engage more people, more often, more efficiently. This human-centred, creative process is based on iterative sequences of prototyping, testing and refinement. Participants will experience the DT method through interactive exercises.

Wednesday Feb 24th Room A227 – 2pm – 4pm
Course design – From Finish to Start REGISTER

How do you create a course with learning outcomes, learning activities and assessments that align? Using the principles of backwards design and constructive alignment this workshop will explore the stages course development.

Thursday Feb 25th Room A227 – 10am – 12pm
Authentic Assessment REGISTER

Assessing your assessments. Do your assessments reflect what will be expected of students in the workplace? Do they reliably measure what students can do? This workshop will explore evaluation strategies that support meaningful learning and reliable assessment of students’ abilities

Add comment February 18th, 2016

Group Assessment Workshop

CTL presents workshops on Group Assessment

Thursday January 21st 2pm;
Wednesday February 10th 10am.

Collaboration and communication are essential skills for graduates. This workshop will explore how can you create and assess group assignments that encourage and measure group-working skills.

Register now at the CTL Calendar

Add comment January 19th, 2016

New Online Faculty PD offerings

Six new online modules for professional development are now available as Open Offerings on eLearn.
These multimedia interactive learning modules were developed as part of the College Educators Development Program, and we are pleased to now make them to all faculty.

The Modules are:

  • Creating a Positive Learning Environment
  • Integrating Technology
  • Introduction to Assessment
  • Lesson Planning and Active Learning
  • Outcomes-Based Education
  • The Teaching Professional

The modules have been designed to allow you to enter and exit the modules as needed to provide “just-in-time” development. Readings, tutorial videos, reflections and hands on activities will help you build the skills needed to help you and your students be more successful. Each module takes 5-6 hours to complete.

Here is a clip from the introduction video of the “Outcomes-Based Education” module.

To enroll in the modules, go to “Open Offerings” in the eLearn Navbar, select ‘CEDP Modules’ and you’re enrolled. Just select the module you want to start with.

Add comment November 4th, 2015

MTCU Proposals for Online Course Development

Third time may be the charm. Once again, the Ministry has put out a call for proposals. Want to collaborate on designing a new online course for province-wide delivery? Inspired to develop an online module to be shared across the province? There is one week left to submit a proposal.

Worry not - you don’t have to go it alone! There will be opportunities to collaborate on the course or module development. Please consult the information previously circulated (and included here for your convenience) to know how to frame your exciting offering. If you have questions or concerns with the initial proposal to your Associate Dean or Manager, feel free to contact Dan McKerrall.

Good luck!

Here is the previously circulate information:

Call for Proposals

Submission Form

Sample Proposal

1 comment October 16th, 2015

Successful Semester Start: Part 1

You CTL is collaborating to share quick tips and information that will jumpstart a successful semester start. Whether it’s a few truths to put you in the proper frame of mind compliments of Beloit College’s annual Mindset List, a short article to share, or a course checklist, these should be posts of interest to new and seasoned instructors. Enjoy!

Beloit College’s Mindset List
We have edited the longer list down to our favourite fifteen, but you can access the list in its entirety here.

New Mohawk students arrive from work, high school, university, and beyond. We remain open to all their experiences and perspectives. However, the majority of students still come from high school directly and the list may assist.

Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997.

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa.

Since they have been on the planet:

1. Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.

2. Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.”

3. They have never licked a postage stamp.

4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.

6. Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.

7. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.

9. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.

10. Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.

14. Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.

17. If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”

18. They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.

27. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online.

30. Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.

43. Humans have always had implanted radio frequency ID chips—slightly larger than a grain of rice.

44. TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks.

Add comment August 30th, 2015

GIFT Conference Online


Did you miss the GIFT conference in February? Would like to see the sessions you attended again? Maybe there were sessions you really wanted to attend happening at the same time?

The GIFT Conference is now Online.

Videos and notes from the conference are now available in a GIFT eLearn course available for self-registration.

To register for the GIFT eLearn course: click on “Self Registration” in the navbar; click on “GIFT (Great Ideas for Teaching)” in the list of courses; then click on the “Register“ button.
The GIFT course will appear in you “Employee” Tab under “My Courses”.

Add comment March 24th, 2015

Horizon Report 2015 - New Media Consortium (Post 1 of ?)

You may have noticed that CTL was a buzz last week. The latest NMC report for higher education hit the wires. (Lauren was particularly ecstatic and will no doubt be adding her thoughts to this blog and tweeting up a storm.) This collaboration between the New Media Consortium and ELI (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) forecasts the trends and challenges in a variety of educational settings. Of particular note is its three dimensions - LEADERSHIP, POLICY, and PRACTICE - and the detailing of impact and implications from each perspective.

There is so much to discuss! I will limit this first post to two projects on which I am currently involved. These projects address assessment and open educational resources.

Learning Outcomes Assessment

“We are just beginning to understand which data is useful for advancing learning” (New Media Consortium, p. 12). Not that long ago, the Office of the (former) VPA collected data on all Mohawk courses. This first step tracked the presence of basic information for course set-up. With basic course information covered, our next challenge is how to begin to mine data that is useful for advancing learning. From the focus on the LMS and online content over four years ago, we have recommended an adaptation of USC-Chico’s rubric for online instruction. As with most rubrics, it deals with qualitative data, which is time-consuming and labour-intensive to code, analyze, and report. Mohawk’s online learning environments are developing to complement our rich f2f learning environments. As we grow eLearn from a repository of information (uploaded docs and presentations) into a learning environment optimizing eLearn’s powerful space and tools e.g. Discussions, Quizzes, Dropbox, Rubrics the world of quantitative data opens. Insights is eLearn’s built-in tool to harness data.

D2L | Brightspace’s analytics tool, Insights, has numerous benefits:

  • once competencies are mapped, students see their achievement of course and program learning outcomes - allowing them to take more responsibility for learning and for learning to be more transparent
  • instructors, Student Success Advisors, Counsellors, and administration can query for students falling behind and implement intervention strategies early in the semester
  • meaningful data is at-the-ready for outside accreditation - PQAPA or a program’s external standards.

Mohawk is currently in a partnership with McMaster, University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, and D2L to improve their Competencies tool and ultimately Insights. We are in year two of a five-year commitment and just beginning to map activities to learning outcomes to vocational standards. Stay tuned for more information on this exciting project and its possibilities.

Open Educational Resources

The cohesive movement gained momentum at the turn of the century (2000) and defined open educational resources (OER) as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others“(Hewlett Foundation, n.d.). In a recent survey of over 2 000 faculty, only 5% were very aware of OERs, but over 75% expected or would consider using them in the future (NMC, 2015). This hints at an approaching tipping point.

There are great examples of faculty implementing OERs in their course development. Beyond the cost savings for students (free instead of fee-based textbooks) they are participating in a tenet of education - SHARING. Sharing openly and freely is the surest way for knowledge to spread and wisdom to grow.

With Open Education Week approaching (March 9-15) why not commit 30 minutes to learning more about OERs or exploring one of the many OER respositories to see how your students could be enriched - both in their minds and wallets. The granddaddy of repositories is MERLOT ( Beyond being the oldest (established 1997) and the largest (six figures), it also includes a peer review function and great filters to find appropriate resources and activities for your course curation.

Your CTL and Library have teamed up to provide information sessions on OERs to grow awareness. Consult the CTL PD calendar. If you can`t make a session or can`t wait, talk with your Librarian, or shoot Peggy French an email to learn more about using OERs in your courses or for your own professional development.

I`ll leave with a short intro to Creative Commons. I am hopeful it will inspire!

Add comment February 17th, 2015

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