Monday, May 30, 2016

Designing Your Course

Though the summer is just upon us, many of you are considering how to design your courses for the fall semester.  This is what we like to call over-achieving.  No, but seriously, course design is an important process that requires the consideration of several steps and processes in order to create a successful learning experience for both you and your future students.

It may seem like a daunting task, but course design is actually a great way to include and play upon your own interests and be able to further connect with students through learning.

Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching offers a comprehensive list of things to consider while designing your courses to get you started.  If you are still struggling with some elements of the master plan you have in mind, consider contacting some of UWEC’s own instructional designers to help out.

Happy designing!

Written By: Jessica Moser

Monday, May 16, 2016

Happy Finals Week! Don't Forget to Breathe

Finals week.  One of the most stressful and simultaneously relieving weeks of the school year.  By this point, your tests have been prepared and are ready to be proctored, your end-of-semester evaluations have been distributed and filled out, and your grading brain is in full-blown working mode.  You’ve been preparing your students all semester to demonstrate what they’ve learned, and now the time has finally come for them to show you.

Even though this week is a marker of the end, full of spring sunshine and soon-to-be graduates smiling from ear-to-ear, you may still be experiencing a lingering feeling of panic joined with the feeling that perhaps setting up a cot in your office may not be such a bad idea after all.

That’s why I’m here to tell you to stop.  Take a deep breath.  And remember that you are doing great.  I’m not just saying that, you truly are doing great.  You are the instructor who worked with your students all semester long, reading this blog for tips and ideas on how to become better at what you are already doing.  You’re the professor who might have extended their office hours, offered review sessions, or provided students with studying tips in order to better prepare them for what lies ahead of them.  You are a professor who should be recognized and applauded for all that you do, especially during the hectic final hours of the semester.

So, keep on wading through those mixed emotions of “Ahhhhh!” and “Whoo hoo!” and above all, don’t forget to breathe.

Happy finals week, everyone!

Written By: Jessica Moser

Monday, May 9, 2016

Teaching Professor Tips App

Would you like to receive daily teaching tips straight to your smartphone or tablet?  Download the Teaching Professor Tips App, now available for free for both Apple and Android devices.  With this app, you’ll receive one new teaching tip each day.  You can specify the time of day that you’d like to receive your tip, and you’ll even be able to share your favorites on social media or through email.  Have your own tip that you’d like to share?  Send it in to their editor straight from the app!

Teaching Tips Screens shots

Tip topics include: assignment strategies, student engagement, classroom management, instructional vitality, and much more.

For more information, click here.

Written By: Jessica Moser

Monday, May 2, 2016

Using Online Writing Platforms

Online writing is becoming more and more prevalent as computers take hold of our pens and paper, making them seemingly disappear.  Whether spending time on social media, carefully crafting words of only 140 characters or less, or emailing home to let their parents know they are surviving and have even been to the grocery store this month, students are no doubt using online spaces to communicate and project their own thoughts and ideas.

With this established norm, it only makes sense to consider how best to utilize discussion boards, social media, and other online writing platforms to further extend the use of technology within your courses, as well as strengthen comprehension and conversation on topics with your students.

Before jumping headlong into cyberspace, consider the following elements that will no doubt be included in your course along with blogs, discussion boards, and the like.

First, structure your grading so that online writing is built in.  Adding online writing requirements into your grading structure not only stresses the participation in the format, but also the importance that it will contribute to the learning within your course.

Second, consider and acknowledge the time that will be spent on online writing within your course.  Just because online writing can be approached with a sense of ease and convenience doesn’t mean that it won’t add to the work load of your students.  Consider what other elements in your course to drop or modify in order to make time for the addition of an online component rather than simply tacking it on.

Third, build recognizable connections between online writing and other course content or activities.  Students respond well when they are able to make connections between the tasks they are asked to complete and other broader elements of the course.  Make it clear how they should treat this online space and that they should look at it as an extension to the course rather than a separate element.

Generally, I think you will find that the majority of students are comfortable with digital technologies, even with platforms that they haven’t used previously.  Therefore, feel free to ask students to consider the technology as a learning process in and of itself, as you work together in order to create a sustainable way to continue and strengthen learning conversations outside of the classroom.  Allowing students a way to access further discussion and information regarding class themes and concepts will allow them to be able to see how these aspects can fit into their everyday lives, even after graduating from your course or the university.

For a list of current online writing platforms with explanations, click here

Adapted from: Vanderbilt University
Written By: Jessica Moser