Jul 27

From the Chronicle of Higher Education: Finals or Grand Finale?

Wait! It’s the beginning of a new academic year, why are we talking about final examination time? If you are familiar with McTighe and Wggins Understanding by Design Framework (see our lending library for resources) you will remember that before you begin to design, develop or teach a course you identify “What should students know, understand, and be able to do? What is the ultimate transfer we seeks as a result of this unit?” But is the typical final examination a foregone conclusion? Could there be better ways to have students exit your course?

Anthony Crider thinks so. In Final Exams or Epic Finales he suggests that finales are “handcrafted.” Click the image below for an interesting read.

FinalsPerhaps a little less radical, Ball State University shares some tips about ending a course from their Office of Educational Excellence. Teaching Tip: Ending a Course. Here are a few of their suggestions:

  • Ask students to reflect, individually or in groups, on the insights they gained over the course of the semester
  • Share what knowledge you the instructor gained during the semester
  • Connect the learning with future applications

The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University also provides resources for faculty creating assignments, exams, and finals. They claim that there are advantages in pacing work throughout the semester rather than a high stakes final examination at the end. For one, students are more likely to work, read and engage throughout the semester rather than doing the work in a mad, end of the semester study binge. You can read more at their Center for Teaching and Learning.

Finally, in Crider’s Final Exams or Epic Finales (image above), he mentioned something that resonated with me. He talks about making his course “epic.” Having students really remember his course long after the course is done. He wants his students to think about his course and talk about it for months and years. Don’t we all want this? He feels that a creative ending will help. Thank you Professor Crider for giving us something at the start of the semester to consider and possibly set our sights a little higher than the typical marathon multiple choice final exam or essay, as we deliver our content.

Do you agree? We’d love to hear if you try something new and epic!

Jul 24

Fried Friday: Surprise Attention Stealer!

Sometimes we aren’t sure what our students are seeing, hearing or focusing on. Do your students even listen to video lectures/presentations that you post online? Do they notice the things that you are emphasizing or is their attention elsewhere?

Here is a humorous example from the news highlighting our own attention span. What captured YOUR attention in this clip? Could you focus on the news?

view youtubeOn a more serious note, here are a few articles related to student attention that you might be interested in reading:

Why Can’t Students Just Pay Attention? from May 4th 2015 Faculty Focus This article is good for online or face-to-face instructors. Five ways to engage students. A quick read that may be worth your time.

And from the DailyGenius, here are 27 Effective Ways to Get Students to Pay Attention and the infographic that accompanied the article. While some of these strategies seem particularly geared towards k12 students, many could apply to higher education face-to-face or synchronous classroom settings, or easily modified to reach an older population. See what you think and feel free to add any strategies that you use to engage your students.

27 Things to do with Students Not Paying Attention

Jul 21

Tech Tuesday — Let’s UNPLUG!!!!

Your Title III team reminds you that every year we’ve accumulated books for iTeach and our own UAS Sitka lending library. These books cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Understanding by Design
  • Peer Review
  • Flip Books for writing learning objectives
  • Assessment
  • Assessing Your Impact on Students
  • Teaching Online
  • Facilitating Groups
  • Web Tools
  • Hybrid Teaching
  • Software Tutorials and Manuals
  • Miscellaneous (“Teaching Naked” – really, Mary??)

For a list of our current titles, click the image below. After September 30th I believe the collection will live with the other equipment and items purchased by Title III, in the IDC. For now, contact Mary to check out a book and enjoy the read.

Click for book titles









Photo from iStock photo/blackred

Jul 20

Universal Design and Why YOU Should Care

Jane Bozarth just came out with a great article Nuts and Bolts: It’s Not Just About “Compliance”: Accessibility in eLearning which highlights why it is important that all faculty understand universal design and what it means to have your course materials accessible to ALL students. While UAS has an Office of Disability Services which can assist in finding solutions for students with certain disabilities, it is a faculty member’s responsibility to make certain that all course materials are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

For her complete article:

Bozarth Article In Ms. Bozarth’s resource section she references a great slide set offered by Jean Marrapodi at the 2015 eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions conference. Click the image below for an excellent presentation. Slide 26 gives you a link for a free book titled Universal Design for Learning.

Principles of Universal Design(Questions regarding students with disabilities and the resources UAS can offer should be directed to Chris Washko.)

Jul 17

Fried Friday– Size Matters!

Dwarf planet or no planet? Pluto is certainly on everyone’s mind as NASA’s New Horizon makes its historic flyby. Stephen Colbert and Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about this amazing feat and quarrel over whether Pluto should be considered a planet, or whether Earth should be demoted in the funny video clip below.

According to NASA’s Three-Billion-Mile Journey to Pluto Reaches Historic Encounter the spacecraft “threaded the needle through a 36-by-57 mile (60 by 90 kilometers) window in space — the equivalent of a commercial airliner arriving no more off target than the width of a tennis ball.”

Who says that science isn’t incredible, amazing and exciting!

Click on the image to view the talk.

Colbert and deGrasse Tyson

Jul 16

Blackboard World Live: FREE ADMISSION

BbWorld is a huge educational conference that brings together educators, administrators and technologists from around the world. Keynote speakers with Industry insights, and visionary thoughtfulness are the norm for BbWorld.

This year, BbWorld is offering FREE registration for BbWorld Live 2015 Online. Click the image to register and attend some exciting sessions from July 20-23rd. It’s the next best thing to being there!

Bb World Live

If you attend an interesting session, we’d love to hear from you. Share any insights or tricks that you picked up.

Jul 15

Sitka Campus Offers Smartboard Training In August- Sign Up NOW

Don’t miss out on this opportunity: Smartboard Training: August 24th

Smartboard Chariot GroupSitka’s Room 230 is outfitted with a Smartboard to assist faculty in better teaching to the needs of both face to face and distant students. Smartboards have so many great features that they may, at first glance, be intimidating. However, once you attend this training, you can become a Smartboard Master!

Chariot Group will provide training to both faculty and staff at an all day training on August 24th, 2015. The training will include Smartboard features that will support and enhance your work with students and with each other.  We are also outfitting a smaller classroom with the same technology to meet faculty’s requests for a cozier setting.  The training in August will address include:

  1. General troubleshooting
  2. Using the whiteboard in Blackboard Collaborate, Skype, Google Hangouts
  3. How to use the tools we have (Smart Meeting Pro and SMART Bridgit)
  4. How to set up meetings and invites, save and record
  5. Hardware of the board
  6. How to care for the board
  7. Tips on writing and working on the board
  8. Real working examples of why the tools can be used in a meeting to become more collaborative and productive
  9. All menus and examples are covered as well as demonstrated and if time permits, hands on usage of features
  10. How to disperse notes taken on the board, file formats, printing, formatting
  11. Best practices when shutting down the display
  12. Added features incorporated with the software that enable Word, Excel and PowerPoint to be used

Photo credit: http://www.chariotgroup.com Our training providers

Jul 14

Tech Tuesday: More Photo and Image Editing Tools

eLearning Industry has just compiled a nice alphabetized list of 30 free photo and image editing tools for educators. A few of these tools do more than just edit images and are available on both desktop, laptop, and mobile devices. Since it’s summer, we felt you might have time to play with some of these tools before the semester really gets busy.

At the bottom of the list you might enjoy some of their other compiled lists like Sticky Note Tools for Teachers, Citation Tools, Screen Capturing Tools etc. Grab your morning coffee and get comfortable, you might spend your entire morning exploring new educational technologies. Enjoy!

List of Free Photo and Image Editing Tools


List of Free Photo Image Editors

Jul 13

Reducing Cognitive Load in eLearning

Have you ever looked at a web page and your head hurts or your eyes cross? Or started an article but find that your mind just can’t plow through the information, diagrams and resources that may be linked to the article? Often the amount of effort that our brain requires to process information and retain it, the “cognitive load,” is more than we can digest. This seems to be particularly true in eLearning environments where we have a tendency to load a page simply because we can.

Ruby Spencer has some simple tips to reduce the cognitive load in eLearning. I think you’ll find these helpful if you are creating an article for publication, a lecture, PPT slides or materials for any presentation. 8 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in eLearning:

 8 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load

Jul 08

To Accommodate Learning Styles or NOT?

We all have different strengths and different weakness. Some of us prefer to read directions, others prefer to be told what to do. Some learn best from videos, others prefer to have detailed step-by-step written diagrams. We’ve all been told that good instructors pay attention to the different learning styles of their students and deliver content in multiple formats to accommodate and engage all types of learners.

If you are with me so far, then you might find Cathy Moore’s June 2015 blog post “How to respond to learning-style believers” to be really interesting. In this post she links to research that debunks learning styles. Not that we might not prefer one style of learning to another, but rather, that we can and will learn regardless of our learning preferences. It’s a good article so please take a minute to read it.

Cathy Moore on Learning Styles


Also you might enjoy the TED talk Learning Styles and the Importance of Critical Self-Reflection by Marshik linked to the image below.

TED TalkThanks Nicole for finding and sharing this interesting piece by Cathy Moore. As instructors it’s important to go beyond just our instincts and pay attention to the research. Please share with us your views or experience with learning styles.

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