Creating lively discussions in an important active learning strategy.
This free Facilitator’s Guide has some great tips for conducting lively discussion (http://www.workshopexercises.com/DiscussionTips.htm)
A. Create an attitude for discussion
e.g. Before your session begins, strike up personal conversations with individuals. This forms a connection that will help support discussion later.
B. Twenty discussion tips
e.g. Set up your discussion question with a story, problem, challenge, definition, etc. Then lead naturally into the question. Don’t hit them cold turkey with a question.
C. Facilitator Response to stimulate participation
e.g. Deflect answers given to you to participants in the group.
D. Useful Discussion Bridges
e.g. “Can you think of a situation where this would not be true?”
E. Facilitator Movement to Encourage Discussion
e.g. If you ask a discussion question and you don’t get a response, move to another spot in the room and rephrase the question.
January 24th, 2013
This week, Tony Bates of Contact North, released the first report for 2013 on online learning.
The framework he used was 5 wishes for the future of online learning. See if his wishes align with your own.
WISH 1: FOCUS ON PEDAGOGY
According to Bates, online learning reached its tipping point in 2012. We are ripe for a shift from should we be teaching and learning online to how do we design and deliver learning experiences that are powerful, memorable, engaging, and inspiring.
WISH 2: SERVICE STANDARDS
While help-desks are expected to expedite technical issues in real time, academic time appears, at least in some cases, to be untouched by the fast culture of the internet. Commitment to provide and sustain support for students at all points of access - whether they are learning and engaging with college on campus or a county away.
WISH 3: STRONG FOCUS ON “GATEWAY” COURSES
This one may be the most disruptive, but also the farthest down the road; you may want to sit down. Access for all to common | gateway | foundational courses.
Imagine a North America-wide opportunity to secure the first two years of a university program (or all of the general education component of a college Certificate, Diploma or Associate Degree) at a cost of no more than $90 for each three credit course. Imagine taking these courses on demand, anywhere at any time and that they were transferable to any post-secondary institution in North America.
WISH 4: WIDESPREAD DEVELOPMENT OF E-APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS
Canada’s demography is such that we will experience significant labour shortages, especially in trades, as baby boomers retire and the economy continues to expand…In one sector alone - construction - some 260,000 new hires will be needed across Canada between 2013 and 2021. Some 300,000 positions remain vacant for three months or more in Canadian small businesses and enterprises because there is a lack of skilled individuals to fill them. Ontario is expected to face a shortage of 364,000 skilled workers by 2025.
Building hyflex learning and training that can service people in remote locations efficiently and effectively should be a priority moving forward.
WISH 5: ANALYTICS, DATA, AND EVIDENCE
Think BIG DATA. Developments in the past few years allow us to track patterns, interactivity, and mastery. The power at the institutional level is evident. However, this power has not translated to analyzing and informing on online learning.
Yet we cannot get an accurate and up-to-date snap shot of the current state of online learning in Canada. Provinces do not track online learning developments in any significant and consistent way and our estimates of the scale of activity, completion rates, student satisfaction and strategic impact of online learning are largely “guesswork.” In a world of complex and sophisticated analytics, simple and reliable data is not available for reasonable policy and strategic review and analysis.
Points to Ponder
We do not have access to a genie and a bottle. What could we do to make these wishes come true? Or should we be wishing for other things? As always, comments are encouraged.
Read Contact North’s full report.
January 18th, 2013
According to the IDEA Center, specialists in feedback design and administration, the purpose of feedback surveys is to encourage reflection with the intention of enhancing performance.
The faculty being rated should respond to a few basic questions:
1. What results were affirming?
2. What results were surprising?
3. What may have been of concern?
4. How will this information guide your professional development efforts?
Remember, you are looking for reliable feedback. Ignore the extremes. What is it the majority of the students telling you? Also, concentrate on items that you have the most control over. Most often you can’t control the room size or scheduling.
One teaching moment (a course, a term) doesn’t define your teaching presence. Ideally, you want to consider feedback gathered over time.
Most importantly, when you set your professional development goals, remember to continue to do what students tell you that you do well! Implement new strategies where you think it will have the most impact on student learning.
An enjoyable read, Phelps, P. (2012) Journey of Joy: Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation and Renewal, in which Dr. Patty Phelp’s a student of teaching for 35 years, likens her teaching experience to a journey of joy which has many surprises along the way.
The Centre for Teaching and Learning is here to support you with instructional design and delivery goals. Contact us for any assistance.
Shared by the Centre for Teaching and Learning
January 18th, 2013
Implementing the principles of universal design in online learning means anticipating the diversity of students that may enroll in your course and planning accordingly. These ten key elements will greatly enhance the accessibility and usability of your course for students with and without disabilities.
Click on the link for instructions for each step!
Source: http://ualr.edu/pace/tenstepsud/ Retrieved January 3, 2013
Table of Contents
Step 1: Develop content first, then design.
Step 2: Provide simple, consistent navigation.
Step 3: Include an accommodation statement.
Step 4: Choose CMS tools carefully.
Step 5: Model and teach good discussion board etiquette.
Step 6: Use color with care.
Step 7: Provide accessible document formats.
Step 8: Choose fonts carefully.
Step 9: Convert PowerPoint™ to accessible HTML.
Step 10: If it’s auditory make it visual; if it is visual make it auditory.
Some of these Steps (9, 10) might require some technical assistance. Be sure to contact your Instructional Technologist if you need assistance!
Brian Gould (Health Sciences)
Andrew Connery (Engineering and Business)
Jeffrey Rankine replacing Nadine Ogborne (Interdisciplinary Studies)
For students requiring adaptive technology, be sure to contact Accessible Learning Services. The case manager will be listed on the student’s Confidential Academic Accommodation Plan (CAAP).
January 11th, 2013
Welcome back and happy 2013!
On December 11th, The Centre for Teaching and Learning (A227) was at capacity and buzzing with excitement after Dr. Joe Kim’s talk and the opportunity to learn about important projects underway to assist faculty with its commitment to provide high-quality teaching and learning resources and experiences at Mohawk. Relive or experience it for the first time here.
Our next Inspiring Minds (Reading Week 2013 – stay tuned for specifics!) will delve more deeply into Dr. Kim’s reinforcement of CTL practices. This next build toward Mohawk’s community of practice will provide discussions, tips, and examples to put three, quick wins into play:
- “Implement repeated testing with feedback through eLearn@Mohawk
- Refresh current presentation materials to enhance learning – online or f2f
- Take advantage of high-quality online resources freely available or develop your own online learning content with tools like lecture capture”.
If you don’t want to wait for Inspiring Minds, as always, Mohawk provides resources, ideas, and assistance for you! Connect with your Centre for Teaching and Learning for your course “quick wins” today.
January 11th, 2013
By Maryellen Weimer
Faculty Focus, Dec 10, 2012
From “the newsletter devoted to the art and science of better teaching”
Figuring out final grades feels like closure. It’s the last time we think carefully about each student we’ve had in this set of classes. Some of them have done so well, and if they are students we’ve had in multiple courses, we feel such satisfaction as we watch what they are becoming. They make teaching worth the work. But then there are other students—the ones who failed because it just wasn’t the time in their lives to learn this content, the ones who didn’t have the skills they needed to make it, and the ones who passed the course but never connected with the content, the teacher, and sometimes, not even with their classmates. These are the students who some days make us wonder why we even bother.
With courses ending so definitively, it’s easy to think that whatever impact you or the course might have on students is over. But learning doesn’t always end when the course does. Some insights and understandings are iterative and cumulative. Students arrive at them after repeated exposure, as the evidence mounts and their skills and experiences deepen. Other intellectual development happens when students are finally ready to learn. Most of us can recall one of those serendipitous student encounters in the mall. “Dr. Weimer, Dr. Weimer, do you remember me?” Sometimes I want to say, “How could I forget? You have a prominent place on my failures list.” Occasionally, one of those students hands me a gift. “I didn’t learn much in your course, but I didn’t sell the book back and just recently I read it. And as I was reading it, I remembered all sorts of things you said in class.” Perhaps I can cross that student off my failures list.
Some students can be very hard to read. It isn’t always easy to determine what effect the course is having, or will have. Recently, while out shopping, I ran into a former student whom I didn’t recognize at all. “You don’t remember me, do you?” she asked. I looked more closely. “No, I don’t.” “I was in your speech class at Berks,” she explained. “Oh, that could be,” I said. “What’s your name?” She told me and that didn’t trigger any recollection. Then she said, “I learned three things in your course that I use pretty much every day.” She listed them off and I started smiling. She had a solid grasp of what I hoped every student would take from the course. When I got home and looked in my grade book, I discovered that what she’d learned was worth far more than the grade she’d earned in the class.
Because course endings give us a false sense of closure, we can end up feeling more discouraged about our teaching than we should. There really is no way to know how our content, our teaching and or the experiences in our classes have affected students or may affect them in the future. Students can be profoundly changed by a course and the teacher may never find out. I have a colleague who loves classical music. It’s not his academic area, but his knowledge is expansive. I once asked how he got interested in music. “Oh, I had a music teacher—that’s how it started. You know, I’d always intended to thank him, to tell him how his introduction to music has resulted in a lifetime of pleasure. But I got there too late. I had to say my thanks at his grave.”
Teaching is an act of faith, not something we always readily acknowledge. I like the Biblical definition: “faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not yet seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Sometimes we do see the evidence; students excel and we share their success. But many times there is no evidence. A student passes through the course without appearing to have been touched. But faith is a substance, it’s something tangible to hold onto in the absence of evidence. As the current courses end and the year concludes, the influence of both continues. In this season of peace, hope, joy and love, may your faith be renewed and strengthened. What you do for and with student does matter. It makes a difference and that makes it so worth doing.
Click here to link to FACULTY FOCUS
December 17th, 2012
by Maryellen Weimer, PhD
Published in Faculty Focus, November 28, 2012
At most colleges, courses are starting to wind down and that means it’s course evaluation time. It’s an activity not always eagerly anticipated by faculty, largely because of those ambiguous comments students write. Just what are they trying to say?
I think part of the reason for the vague feedback is that students don’t believe that the evaluations are taken all that seriously, not to mention they’re in the middle of the usual end-of-semester stress caused by having lots of big assignments due and final exams to face. It’s just not the best time to be asking for feedback and so students dash off a few comments which instructors are left to decipher.
In most end-of-course evaluations, students tend to comment about some of the same aspects of instruction. They frequently address issues of organization, whether students were treated fairly, and the challenging aspects of the course. Carol Lauer wondered if faculty and students defined some of these common terms similarly and so she asked a faculty and student cohort to say what they meant when they saw or used the term on course evaluations.
Would you be surprised to learn that faculty and students define the terms differently, or that students themselves don’t agree on definitions? Probably not, I’m thinking. Even so, some of the specifics are interesting. Take “not organized,” for example. Almost a third of the faculty think students use that term when the teacher changes or doesn’t follow the syllabus. Just over 11% of students said that’s what the term meant to them. Seventeen percent of the students equated it with the instructor not being prepared, 15% said they used it when the teacher had no apparent plan for the day and almost 13% equated it with getting student work graded and returned slowly.
“Not fair” refers to problematic grading according to almost 50% of the faculty surveyed, but to just over 2% of the students. To students “not fair” gets written on an evaluation when the teacher plays favorites and doesn’t treat all students the same way. Students and faculty are closer in their understanding of what “challenging” means when it’s applied to a course. It means hard work and lots of it.
The point here isn’t terribly profound but it merits a reminder, especially at the end of courses when teachers are tired. Many of the terms used to describe teaching on rating forms and in student comments are abstractions. “Organized” is something teachers are and deciding whether a teacher is or isn’t depends on what the teacher does. Various behaviors, actions and inaction can be what any given individual sees as the presence or absence organization.
There is good news here. If you’re interested in improving something like organization, if you define it behaviorally, you can change what you do, which is a lot easier than changing what you are. Organization has never been one of my strong suits and I didn’t make much progress trying to “be” organized. But when I started putting a skeleton outline on the board, when I stopped five minutes before the end of period and used the outline to summarize, when I began class working with students to create a list of points to remember from last class, I was seen by students as being more organized.
But it isn’t all good news. A collection of dashed off student comments collected at the end of the semester doesn’t easily translate into an action-based improvement agenda. What the student comments mean is probably not what you think they mean. Communication about the impact of teaching policies and practices on efforts to learn needs to be ongoing so there’s an opportunity for clarifying feedback, adjustments and then more feedback. We can and should make efforts to change the way our institutions collect student assessments, but, until that glacier melts, we need to take matters into our own hands and solicit a different kind of feedback and at different times during the course.
Reference: Lauer, C. (2012). A comparison of faculty and student perspectives on course evaluation terminology. To Improve the Academy, 31, 195-211.
November 28th, 2012
For various reasons in recent meetings, the topic of conversation has been our physical learning spaces. Even when the origin of the discussion was new technologies, comments usually reverted back to the basics. I thought this might be an opportunity to widen the discussion and consider how our learning spaces might be changing/need to change with the different needs and preferences of our students.
To spark your musings, you might consider some recent research, whose format is easily digested:
Changing course: Connecting campus design to a new kind of student
Thanks to the Library for Designing colleges for more than just connectivity
You might choose to comment on how you have been able to embrace some of the reports’ ideas or how we could adapt our spaces to adopt some of the recommendations.
November 9th, 2012
According to a recent study led by Concordia University, when it comes to pedagogy, students prefer an engaging lecture rather than a targeted tweet. 12 Quebec universities recently signed up to participate in the first cross-provincial study of perceptions of information and communication tool (ICT) integration and course effectiveness on PSE. The research gauged course structure preferences, perceptions of usefulness of teaching methods, and the level of technology knowledge of both students and instructors. The study found that students were more appreciative of the “old school” approach of lectures, and were less enthusiastic than instructors about using ICTs in classes. Instructors were more fluent with the use of e-mails than with social media, while the opposite was the case for students. “Our analysis showed that teachers think that their students feel more positive about their classroom learning experience if there are more interactive, discussion-oriented activities,” says one of the researchers. “In reality, engaging and stimulating lectures, regardless of how technologies are used, are what really predict students’ appreciation of a given university course.” The researchers hope these findings will have a broad impact, especially in terms of curriculum design and professional development. Concordia News Release
October 15th, 2012
Important Facts about College Students and Technology
2102 ECAR study highlights key areas of technology for colleges - (Educause Centre for Applied Research)
I found this data on the results of ECAR study on Undergraduate Trends in Use of Technology fascinating to our future role as educators!
The primary objectives of this study were to create a profile of undergraduate students’ ownership and use of technology for academics, to identify ways that technology helps them achieve their academic outcomes, and to assess their perceptions of how well institutions and instructors use technology to enhance the academic experience.
- 64% of students agreed that “technology elevates the level of teaching,
- 68% percent are satisfied with their professors’ use of technology.
Those numbers have increased dramatically over the last several years, pointing to the embracing of technology by professors.
Importance of Device to Academic Success
- 85% Laptop (+83% from 2004)
- 84% Printer
- 68% Thumb drive
Blended Learning Environment
- 70% of students learn best in a blended environment consisting of face-to-face learning and an online supplement.
The key is to focus on how online learning can best elevate your face-to-face teaching.
- Let the “learning” decide which educational technology is best.
- There are many options : online resources, discussion groups, quizzes, lecture capture, wiki, e-portfolio
- Need help, contact an instructional technologist in the Centre for Teaching and Learning.
Click to read the full report.
October 5th, 2012