Group Work!

Keep Reading!!! – I know…, all you have to do is say “group work” and you’ll see every student’s eyes glaze over, and you’ll hear a lot of moaning.  There are many reasons for this (and this is the short list):

  • Floundering – Students think the work develops too slow, and they don’t know their role
  • Dominating Students – The student who takes over and makes all the decisions
  • Reluctant Students – Students who don’t do anything and make everyone else work harder
  • Tangents – So many side conversations that nothing gets done
  • Feuds – Conflicts in the group

But group work is important.  It’s how we work in the “real world.”  Giving your students the skills to navigate the pitfalls of group work will make them better students, and better citizens once they graduate.

To start to break down the barriers, we first need to recognize the five stages of group work, which are:

  1. Forming,
  2. Storming,
  3. Norming,
  4. Performing, and
  5. Adjourning.



Once a student knows that these steps are a normal part of group work, they can move forward through the process, while working through the difficult first steps.  As a teacher, you will be moderating these teams of students, and helping them navigate the process, which might include:

  • Setting clear goals. Why are they working together? What are they expected to accomplish?
  • Ways to break down the task into smaller units
  • Ways to allocate responsibility for different aspects of the work
  • Ways to allocate organizational responsibility
  • A sample time line with suggested check points for stages of work to be completed

When looking for information ranging from “why to use a team project,” to “wrapping the team project up,” (and everything in between), a good resource to reference is the Faculty Guide from the University of Minnesota.  This guide will give you information on every aspect of group work including tips for success and how to assess the project.

Picture of a group around a table

Click on the picture above, or this link to access the Faculty Guide to Team Projects:

Thank you for looking at another Faculty Learning Corner post.  Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you again next Friday!


VoiceThread at UAS

Exciting news!!!  VoiceThread is now available within Blackboard at UAS.  It shows up within your course by clicking on “Build Content” and then clicking on “VoiceThread UAS.”

If you are not familiar with VoiceThread (VT) it is an asynchronous communication tool.  It makes instructor to student, and student to student discussions easy.  Within VT you can create presentations, upload images or documents, and then comment on them.

Watch this to see more:

Click on the picture below to watch a video (less than 5 minutes long) showing how easy VT is to use:

Stay tuned for more information on VoiceThread training sessions.  And thank you to the Sitka Title III team for making this possible!

Happy VoiceThreading!!

Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2018

I thought it would be appropriate to wrap up the week of Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a post on native knowledge.

The Alaska Native Knowledge Network (ANKN) is to serve as a resource for compiling and exchanging information related to Alaska Native knowledge systems and ways of knowing.  I wanted to share with you their website to explore and learn.

ANKN Website Screenshot

Click on this link or the picture above to enter:

Also, I wanted to share this video that shows the importance of Tlingit language and its vital connection to the way of life.

This video was a collaboration between the University of Alaska Southeast Alaska Native Languages & Studies program and the Sealaska Heritage Institute.  (If it is not visible when the video starts, scroll over the video and Click on the “CC” at the bottom of the screen for a translation.)  

Gunalcheesh/ Haw’aa!

Top Tools for Learning 2018

Logos for Top 100 Education ToolsAre you looking for new tools to use in your courses?  Do you want to know what tools are being used by others this year?

If so, you will want to see the 2018 Top Tools for Learning!  This is a list that has been compiled annually since 2007 and this year is based on responses from 2,951 voters in 52 countries.

According to the website, this year’s list does not just identify the popularity of tools for learning, but it also shows trends in current learning behavior.

Here is a link to the 2018 list:
(or click the picture above)

Because only 23% of the votes came from education/academia the top 200 list is biased towards personal and workplace tools, so the “top 100 tools in Education” (EDU 100) list may be more relevant.

To get to the “EDU 100,” after you open the link, change the setting for the number of entries to 100, and then click the EDU 100 tab to sort and see the Educational Tools listing.  


If you want to sort it down more, you can click on the tabs to group by Description or by Category.

Have fun checking this out, and I’ll see you next week!!

Why Students Forget—and What You Can Do About It

“Our brains are wired to forget, but there are research-backed strategies you can use to make your teaching stick.”

Picture of brain neuons

Here is a link to an Edutopia article to help you with student success.  It touches on cognitive learning and how the brain works, and then moves to strategies to help you create content that is memorable to students.  (Click on the picture or the link below – it will open in a new tab).

In the article you will read how quickly information is forgotten—”roughly 56 percent in one hour, 66 percent after a day, and 75 percent after six days.”   😯

The teacher strategies included in the article are from some of the latest research on this topic.  Make sure to click on the links in the article to find out even more.

And just to keep this fun, the following is for those trying to remember what they learned in College without these strategies….


Assessment Toolkit

As a university, we all know the importance of assessment.  In education we use assessment to appraise knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs.  Sometimes it is done directly, and sometimes indirectly.  We use it to look at individual learners, or to evaluate our courses or appraise entire academic programs.  We assess with measurable learning outcomes, which leads us to evidence of learning.

To help you with knowing more about assessment, and in conjunction with the Sitka Title III group, we have put together an “Assessment Toolkit.”

Click on the picture above to open the Assessment Toolkit (or click on this link –, and then spend some time browsing.  There is a lot of information here, so you’ll probably want to look at the site in multiple sessions.

We hope that the information contained in this toolkit will help answer any questions you might have about assessment, and maybe give you a few ideas on making assessment better in your courses.  Take your time, and come back often!!

Also, thank you for subscribing to the FLC!!  See you next week!

Instructional Alignment

Welcome back to the 2018-2019 school year!!  Logo for 5 minute university

To get the year started I wanted to share a quick “5 minute” lesson on instructional alignment.

This is from the 5 Minute University (5MU) which is a collaboration between the schools or colleges of pharmacy, health sciences, and medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Northeastern University, the University of Arkansas Medical System, Palm Beach Atlantic University and Pacific University.

The lessons are all under 5 minutes, and I’ll show you more of these as we go through the school year.  Think of them as 5 minute doses of Professional Development!!

Here is this weeks Instructional Alignment “lesson.”

And since we are on the subject…. This is an important time at UAS because of it being an accreditation year.  Remember to block out April 24, 25, and 26, 2019 for the accreditation visit and also to take a look at your current student learning outcomes to make sure that they align with your courses.

Here is a link that will take you to the UAS Student Learning Outcomes:

Thank you for subscribing to the Faculty Learning Corner!!  I’ll see you next week for another episode!


End of Semester & Graduation

Below is Steven Levitan’s commencement address at the University of Wisconsin in 2017.  In it, this Emmy-winning creator of the  show “Modern Family” imparts wisdom, stories of his college days at Wisconsin, and plenty of humor.

In this 20 minute video, Steven passes on five pieces of wisdom to the graduating class (You will have to watch to get the explanation of each point):

  1. Roll the dice in your 20’s
  2. Succeed or fail on your own terms
  3. It’s hard to fail ten times in a row
  4. Be calm in a crisis
  5. It’s hard to live up to your potential when you don’t like what you do

Well, you made it through another school year!  Have a great summer and thanks for subscribing the the FLC!  (Faculty Learning Corner).  I will see you in the Fall!!!

Late Work from Students?

Do you accept late work from your students?

Here is a very recent Facebook Post from a former professor of mine:

“Cue that point in the semester where students who neglected to hand in assignments for the past 13.5 weeks want to know what they can do in the next 10 days to get an A. 🙄”

So what do you think?  Should a student turn in all assignments on time, teaching them a valuable lesson of deadlines?  Or should they be able to turn assignments in late so they can show mastery in the subject?

Is work rushed and not as polished if hard deadlines are kept?  Are students complacent if they don’t have deadlines?

I want to know what you think.  Please take part in this poll, and in the comment section, let me know why you gave your answer (and give an example if you have one).

I’m looking forward to seeing your response!

Want to do some Computer Coding?

Have you ever thought how great it would be if your skill set included computer coding?  For adults, the process of learning these skills usually takes time, access, and money.  Google has eliminated these barriers with a new app called Grasshopper!  This is a beginning coding program where you can learn to do computer coding in a fun way using an interactive app.  You work at your own pace, it can be done on your smartphone, and it’s free!!

You will learn beginning coding, using JavaScript programming language, with this app.  When you are done you will “graduate” with fundamental skills that will enable you to move forward in your “coding adventure.”

Here’s what to expect when you download the app:

  • The Fundamentals – How code works, calling functions, variables, strings, for loops, arrays, conditionals, operators, objects, and how all these things work together.
  • Animations I – Drawing shapes using the popular D3 library, defining functions, callback functions, and animations.
  • Animations II – Creating more complex functions using D3 and the topics from The Fundamentals course.

The app is free and is available for Android and iOS –

Have fun learning to code!!