Posts filed under 'Engagement'

The Educational Support Program: FutureReady at Mohawk

People often talk about the difference between college and university, mainly discussing the difference in hands-on learning. After years of student and work experience at the university level, I have had the opportunity as an Instructional Designer in the CTL to see firsthand what Mohawk is doing right. This doesn’t mean that universities aren’t doing great things because they are! It’s just exciting to see these principles executed in the college environment with a high degree of competency.

You Learn We Grow

You Learn We Grow

Authentic Learning Experiences
Authentic experience is dynamic and engages multiple senses as it “aims to demonstrate the knowledge and skill within a real setting and allow the learner to make connections between the school setting and the demands of the broader communities” (Mantei & Kervin, 2009, p. 4). The balance between applied theoretical and applied learning varies from program to program with some having significantly more ‘hands-on’ and other more ‘theory.’ While theory plays an integral role in student learning, the combination of theory and authentic learning experiences provides a unique opportunity for learning, understanding, and application.

The Educational Support Program
The Educational Support Program (ESP) here at Mohawk is a prime example of the perfect blending of theory and authentic learning. Years ago, the program was mainly theory based, as are a lot of institutional programs. For example, my undergraduate teaching and education program was mainly theory based with placements until the later years. While theory and in-class learning still play a critical role in student learning, in the ESP, the students are carefully and methodically scaffolded into community placements starting in semester one. Karen Falls, a professor for the ESP, shares that students in semester one are paired with CICE students (great co-blending of programs if I might add) to experience educational support in an authentic, yet secure environment. This provides instructors with the ability to able to pop in and out and provide guidance along the way. In the next three semesters, the students experience three different types of placements in the community. They must work in an elementary school classroom, a high-school classroom, and a specialized classroom, which all offer unique experiences to develop their ES skill-set.

A Rich Student Experience
This opportunity aligns well with Jonassen, Mayes, and McAleese (1992) learning continuum where students’ experience unique introductory, advanced and expert learning phases (as cited in Keppell et al., 2002, p. 2). The students in ESP experience introductory learning through classroom learning, advanced learning through first semester CICE preparatory placement, and expert learning through authentic community placements. Combined, the theory matched with the authentic learning opportunities provide for a rich student experience that equally prepares them for the workforce.

Here are Mohawk, we strive to be great and FutureReady. The ESP, and many other programs here, do just that as our graduates are ripe with experience when they leave the college doors.

Alp, A. (2013). How to successful integrate technology into the 21st century classroom – part 1: Web tools. Retrieved from

Keppell, M., Kan, K., Messer, L. B., & Bione, H. (2002). Proceedings from ASCILITE 2002: Authentic learning interactions: Myth or reality? Auckland: New Zealand.

Mantei, J. & Kervin, L. K. (2009). Proceedings from National Conference for Teachers of English and Literacy: “Authentic” learning experiences: what does this mean and where is the literacy learning? Hobart, Tasmania: Australia.

Lauren Soluk - Centre for Teaching and Learning

Add comment September 25th, 2014

Make the Most of The First Day of Class

Another September and a new academic year begins. A good time to revisit some ways to make that first class effective.
Incorporating the objectives listed in this article from  Carnegie Melon University are a sure way to start the class off on the right foot. 

The first class meeting should serve at least two basic purposes:
• To clarify all reasonable questions students might have relative to the course objectives, as well as your expectations for their performance in class. As students leave the first meeting, they should believe in your competence to teach the course, be able to predict the nature of your instruction, and know what you will require of them.
• To give you an understanding of who is taking your course and what their expectations are.
These two basic purposes expand into a set of eight concrete objectives:
1. Orchestrate positive first impressions
2. Introduce yourself effectively
3. Clarify learning objectives and expectations
4. Help students learn about each other
5. Set the tone for the course
6. Collect baseline data on students’ knowledge and motivation
7. Whet students’ appetite for course content
8. Inform students of course requirements

To read more about each of the eight concrete objectives, click here.

What are your strategies for that first day?

Add comment September 2nd, 2014

Cooperation, Coordination, Collaboration: Enabling Virtual Learners by Design. Pt 3

In the third of her blog posts on Enabling Virtual Learners by Design Jennifer Hofmann expands on the subject of collaboration in online learning, and how we can make online learning a collaborative experience.

“The Learning & Development community has realized that simply using technology to create training isn’t enough. Instead, we need to design virtual and blended programs that encourage participants to collaborate. That’s all well and good, but what is online collaboration really? Why is it important? How do we achieve it? “

In try to answer this question, she identifies a clear goal for online collaboration.

“When collaborating online, using asynchronous and synchronous online tools, participant groups should be able to get results (solve problems, create project plans, design projects, and so forth) that are better than the results they would have gotten working individually.
Participants can collaborate and help one another reach learning goals in a variety of ways, both synchronous and asynchronous. They provide feedback, answer questions, and work as a distributed group.”

Fundamentally, Hoffman states, we want participants to collaborate for two reasons:

    Collaboration to achieve participant engagement.

  • Using collaboration to encourage participants to learn is always necessary. When participants know that they’ll need to be able demonstrate what they’ve learned, they tend to stay more engaged. Interaction must include collaborative exercises that ask participants to do more than simply click on a poll answer or raise a hand.
    Collaboration to support learning outcomes.

  • Although all programs should offer some of level of collaboration in order to keep participants engaged, you also may need to create collaborative exercises that support the actual learning goals. This is necessary because online programs often focus on teaching people collaborative skills, such as project management, team building, problem solving and interpersonal skills. These skills are performed in a collaborative social context, so interactions and exercises need to be designed to support the ultimate collaborative goal.

Three Levels of Collaboration
Hoffman identifies three levels of collaboration: Cooperation, Coordination, and True Collaboration.

    Exercises that are cooperative in nature largely support individual learning goals, and participants tend to be concerned with the results of their personal assessments. If participants are asked to provide feedback or help someone else, they will–as long as it doesn’t affect their personal performance.
    Coordination occurs when participants start to work together as a group to achieve a common goal. They plan and assign tasks, create deadlines, and deliver a common product (presentation, report, set of answers, and so forth). Although individuals are still concerned with their own performance and assessment, they’re willing to work with a group when it supports their personal goals. If one group member starts to fall behind or fails to support the overall group effort, individuals within that group may decide to strike out on their own to ensure personal success.
    True collaboration
    When the success of the group is paramount and all individuals must contribute to that success, you have true collaboration. No group member can be left behind and everyone within the group will do whatever it takes to reach the common goal. This is a very altruistic form of interaction and strongly supports collaboration as a learning outcome.

Collaborative approaches are learner-centered and support the concept that learning is a process rather than an event. There is a hope that once participants become accustomed to collaborating, online, they may start to incorporate more collaborative techniques into their daily interactions. It’s conceivable that participants in online programs may continue to assist each other long after the initial learning experience; ultimately, creating a learning community.

The full blog post with examples of each can be found HERE.

Add comment August 26th, 2014

Making the Most of Professional Development Days

It’s springtime, and college faculty’s naturally turn to thoughts of… PD.
In her Faculty Focus Blog Maryellen Weimer discusses the effectiveness of PD activities and workshops and how we can do better.

The research we looked at then did not give workshops very high marks. If teachers changed, they did so right after the event, but soon reverted to their old ways of doing things
A lot of workshops (mine included) have a kind of revival service feel to them. The faculty who are there care deeply about teaching; those who need to be revived don’t usually show up. So, the audience isn’t all that difficult to convert. If you’ve got an idea they think might be good, especially if it addresses a problem that concerns them, they write it down or key it in, often nodding with gusto and then following up with questions on the details. Give them five or six concrete ideas and they become true believers, whole new teachers who leave the session determined to lead new and better lives in the classroom. But it’s the staying power of workshop experiences that give me pause.

She suggests faculty take time for reflection, to “interrogate their practices” and ask “How?” “What?” and “Why?” questions. For some, that can happen in an organized workshop, but…

there are some of us who just don’t learn very well in those kinds of settings. Give me a quiet space, some good articles, time to write, and a chance to share ideas with my best colleagues—I’ll opt for that almost every time.

So; how ever you want to do it; find some time to think, to question, and to rejuvenate.

Read the full article at:

Leslie Marshall ~ CTL

Add comment May 21st, 2014

Education Technology Strategies 2014: Summit in Toronto (March 4th & 5th)

A small, but mighty contingent of Mohawk educators - including support staff, administration, and faculty attended this fourth annual conference. From across the country, contributors to K-12 and post-secondary education met to:

Unlock technology to enrich and personalize learning. Reform your organization as part of a progressive ecosystem to nurture engaged students and catalyze innovation.

At this unique forum, obtain strategic insights from education leaders on how to improve student achievements with meaningful use of technology. Acquire cost-effective deployment solutions and incorporate sound pedagogical practices into your curriculum design and delivery.

Benefit from first-hand experience to implement blended, mobile, and BYOD initiatives at your institution and classes. Empower educators with practical tools and techniques to prepare your students for the 21st century knowledge economy.

Improve engagement, maximize learning outcomes and increase retention. Capitalize on emerging innovations to make a dramatic difference to the quality of your education. Adapt to the new paradigm and strive for excellence”

~ Source: Conference site

I thought I would start by adding my Glog or interactive poster that can act as a springboard to more conversation and community building. I am hopeful other attendees will add their takeaways and Mohawk’s community will pose questions and comments.

Here’s my GLOG!

Add comment March 10th, 2014

Are You ‘Present’ in Your Online Courses?

A paper from Inter American University of Puerto Rico highlights that an important factor in students’ satisfaction with online learning is the Social Presence of their teacher. Social Presence is defined as “the degree to which a person is perceived as a ‘real person’ in a mediated communication context” - the sense that there is someone there at the other end of the computer.
Social Presence promotes participation, integration and cohesion in the online community. It contributes to student motivation, and is associated with retention and completion rates in onlne courses.

How do we create a Social Presence in our courses and encourage students to be ‘there’ too?

Studies have focused on two types of indicators of Social Presence: Affective and Cohesive.

The Affective indictors of Social Presence include:

  • Conventional or unconventional expressions of
    emotion, including the use of repetitious punctuation,
    conspicuous capitalization, and emoticons.
  • Use of humor through teasing, use of irony,
    understatement, and sarcasm.
  • Self- disclosure evidenced in the inclusion of
    details of life outside the class or by expressing

Simple things like responses such as “good job!” “Success!” to discussions as well as more formal feedback; comments such as “you’ve made it to the end of Unit 1, now take a break before we start Unit 2″; or having a profile in the course that discloses something about your ‘real’ life (I usually find posting a photo of my dog works gets a positive response). These help create your Social Presence and encourage students to develop their own presence in response.

We’ll look at the Cohesive Indicators of Social Presence in a follow-up post, but in the meantime - what are methods do you use to create your Social Presence?

Add comment January 7th, 2014

How to Answer when a Student Asks “Did I Miss Anything?”

For a new year and a new term; a perfect answer to an age-old question.

Did I Miss Anything?

by Tom Wayman
From:   The Astonishing Weight of the Dead. Vancouver: Polestar, 1994.

                                                        Question frequently asked by
                                                        students after missing a class

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

        Everything. I gave an exam worth
        40 per cent of the grade for this term
        and assigned some reading due today
        on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
        worth 50 per cent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

        Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
        a shaft of light descended and an angel
        or other heavenly being appeared
        and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
        to attain divine wisdom in this life and
        the hereafter
        This is the last time the class will meet
        before we disperse to bring this good news to all people
       on earth

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

        Everything. Contained in this classroom
        is a microcosm of human existence
        assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
        This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

       but it was one place

        And you weren’t here

Add comment January 1st, 2014

Gearing Up: Fall 2013!

Welcome back for another great semester at Mohawk!

As you put the finishing touches on your courses for Fall 2013, here’s a reminder of a few, new, cool tools brought to you by your CTL.

VoiceThread: Conversations in the Cloud

This newly integrated tool can boost engagement in discussions by allowing students to contribute using a variety of media. You and your students can also use it to showcase course material in a different format. Check it out!


Although not new, it continues to improve its integration with eLearn@Mohawk. Build and share your rubrics and comment sets to make feedback and assessment more seamless. Your colleagues are already making great use of comment sets - Language Studies instructors created and shared their own unique set. Students will receive comprehensive and consistent feedback and assessment and instructors will shave time!

Video Capture

Click on the graphic for the full lowdown.


Respondus Lockdown Browser

This is a customized browser that increases the security of online testing in eLearn. You as an Instructor can choose to require students to use the LockDown Browser when taking your quizzes. When students use LockDown Browser during a quiz, they are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications until the quiz is submitted. Read more about it!

WISC Online Gamebuilder

Contact CTL to access this tool to change up your activities for diagnostic and formative assessment. There are a number of game templates to add more interest to quiz material. Here’s just one example:



This free tool is another great way to reinforce understanding of basic course concepts. Rather than a quiz on terminology, try Quizlet’s options. Your CTL has the paid version in case you want to use images and other affordances. Contact your Instructional Technologist. Here’s academic integrity terminology turned into a Scatter game: Play now!

Had issues loading large, homemade video to eLearn@Mohawk? We have the solution - Kaltura. The new Kaltura/eLearn integration allows you to easily upload large video files directly within eLearn to the Kaltura system, and easily publish and stream videos in eLearn courses.In addition, Kaltura allows you to easily create original recordings using your webcam, and integrate them in to your courses. Access the Info Sheet here.

There are many more interesting things afoot in CTL (Fennell A227). Make sure to check in with your eLearning contact for the latest and greatest teaching tools and learning support.

Add comment August 26th, 2013

It Was a Great Week to Be at Mohawk!

Wow - Mohawk was buzzing this past week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in everything, but CEDP and Apps for Health were very worthwhile. Kudos to Roberta Burke, Christy Taberner and their crews and to Valerie Mitanoff and Jenna Pettit for keeping the the communication flowing.

At CEDP, it was great to meet faculty from multiple colleges who were eager and/or willing to overcome fear to experiment with educational technology to meet students’ need for differentiated instruction as well as align to their institutions’ strategies. Their questions and concerns were similar to those at Mohawk. They were a good reminder to double check understanding on a top concern.

  • A colleague at a sister college had to undergo an audit from Access Copyright. A good reminder that Copyright Law and attribution | academic integrity apply in online learning environments. Before, you would submit your courseware through the Book Store | Media Services where adherence to copyright was confirmed. But with many course resources living in eLearn@Mohawk, there is no process. To assist, the new templates for eLearn@Mohawk added a Resources sub-heading on its Module Overview page. Tracking the resources you use in each module will help cover you if copyright questions arise. And why not model proper citing for students and populate the Resources section in APA format! Check out Mohawk’s updated Copyright policy and connect with your Library with any questions or concerns.

Apps for Health’s panel presentation on Gamification sparked some thinking - the very idea that ‘gamification’ may be ephemeral. The three panelists of game designers proposed as sound instructional design is better understood, the reference to gaming will fall away. Structured activities that engage, challenge, and assess progress define the current buzzword, gamification, and have always defined sound instructional design.

A great observation by Andrea Bielecki (Invivo and Spongelab) highlighted further merging or more holistic thinking. A few years ago, a company may have considered its marketing strategy and then how a web presence might be factored into the mix. Nowadays, strategies would include all media - a company wouldn’t dream of excluding online in its initial strategy and budgeting.

I wonder how far are we from experiencing all players in education, considering the online requirements in teaching and learning and planning accordingly from the start? Rather than designing and developing a course and then figuring out what to put online, considering that online learning and the use of educational technology is just now part of our learning ecology. With this realization, the necessary players - SMEs, technologists, and designers - can come to the table and be given the time to collaborate and build (education’s strategy and budget) the best teaching and learning experiences.

Add comment May 21st, 2013

Four Stages of Learning

We know from learning style theory that there is no one best way for students to learn. The “Four Stages of Learning a New Skill” initially developed by Noel Burch provides a model for learning. This model of moving from incompetence to competence helps us to identify the instructional supports required to assist someone with learning a new skill and building confidence.

1. Unconscious Incompetence – One doesn’t know what they don’t know.
Inability to see the usefulness or value of the skill is characteristic of the first stage of learning a new skill. The individual doesn’t know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. The individual must understand the value of the new skill before he/she will be able to move onto the next stage.

Teaching Strategy: One of the first principles of adult learning theory is to demonstrate the relevance of this skill in the real world. Build interest and understanding. You might use a case study, scenario or recent article that depicts why this skill is important in their field of study.

2. Conscious Incompetence – feels overwhelmed by learning the new skill and lacks confidence. Oh my, now they know what they don’t know.
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in overcoming the deficit. The individual may feel overwhelmed by the learning of the new skill.

Teaching Strategy: Connect new learning to something they already know. Build confidence. Make learning appealing: gaming strategies may make learning fun. Sequence the learning, break it down, and outline the steps or parts. Will you move from simple to complex or from unified picture to specific parts? Provide support: use study partners or collaborative learning projects, and discussion groups.

3. Conscious Competence – the new skill requires effort and concentration.

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill requires effort and concentration. There is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

Teaching Strategy: The skill may be learned incrementally. Provide opportunities for practice, reflection and continuous feedback. What worked well? What might I do differently next time? Give feedback to others.

4. Unconscious Competence – the new skill is done with ease - mastery!The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task.

Teaching Strategy: Provide opportunities to apply this learning in new situations, to teach others; present on a panel, make a poster, or create an occasion to apply learning in an authentic situation that would benefit others. Reward and celebrate excellence.

Add comment March 7th, 2013

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