Rubrics (Misfire on first post this morning, sorry)

Do you use rubrics? Maryellen Weimer explores both the advantages and disadvantages of using rubrics in Exploring the Advantages of Rubrics, Faculty Focus, September 2015. She clearly states that research shows that rubrics:

  • Have value when used to determine what criteria make papers, projects and performances excellent
  • Improve a student’s own product after the student uses a rubric to peer review someone else’s paper/project

Click the image to read Dr. Weimer’s post at the Teaching Professor.

Click for article

Gareth Bramley shares The importance of rubrics in higher education advances, (The Higher Education Academy, July 2015). His post points out the benefits of using properly constructed rubrics as well as some of the pitfalls.

The Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning provide their faculty with many resources on rubrics. You might find some of these to be informative and useful: Rubrics

Another interesting website invites instructors to share their rubrics at Rubric Samples for Higher Education. While there don’t seem to be too many examples there yet, the University of West Florida Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment has collected many examples of Rubrics. Example of Rubrics

Finally, Blackboard makes using rubrics pretty simple for instructors. You can see many of Blackboard’s helpful resources at Help Results for rubrics.

Please share with us your experiences using rubrics.

Fried Friday: Best Rx for LIFE!

We’re so lucky to live in Alaska, it makes this prescription an easy fill! Life getting you down? Too much to do? Check out this Rx before you despair. No i-devices necessary for this remedy.

click for videoHave a great weekend!

UAS Blackboard Collaborate Fall 2015

CollaborateUAS faculty have the option to adopt the new Blackboard Collaborate version this fall (all classes will be using it this Spring). The new version requires a one time installation of a “Launcher” program by both faculty and students – most people will be able to install it even without administrative privileges – a few might need help from IT if their computers or locations have extra security precautions.  The use of the “Launcher” program will bypass the Java version and security setting difficulties as well as allow Mac OS users with newer OS to once again upload PowerPoints! Plus more!

To see how to make the switch visit and watch the video

  • Make the switch well in advance of your class day and let your students know they should visit the new Webmeeting link and click Join Room to install the Launcher program.
  • If you switch but your student has an instructor still using the old version – no problem
  • Can you use both the old and new in your class? – not really. You should stop using the old when you switch to the new. Hide the old WebMeeting link.  Leave the Webmeeting Archives link visible if there are already recordings there.

The FAQ on the IDC Webmeeting site will continue to be updated to document new features (some are still being tested).

More About Drawing Stick Figures

It looks like our Faculty Challenge #5 might been too difficult or you didn’t quite buy the premise that stick figure drawings could enhance your courses. I’ve a couple of articles to help persuade you that a) it might be worth your time and b) you HAVE the requisite talent, even if you, like me, “can’t draw”!

Priyanka Pereira wrote in 2013 that gender neutrality, race neautrality, ease of changing color and background are only a few of the reasons that she now prefers using 3D humanoid vectors instead of photos of humans in eLearing courses. She explains in her blog post: Top 10 Reasons to Use 3D Humanoid Vectors Instead of Photographs.

Regardless of whether you are drawing on a chalkboard, whiteboard, or electronic whiteboard, here are some articles that might help:

Say It with Stick Figures: Your Crude Drawings are More Effective Than PowerPoint stickman bullet July 2014

How to Draw a Stick Figure (School of YouTube) 2014 Youtube showing you how to draw stick figures

How to Make a Stick Man in PowerPoint 2015 eHow step-by-step

stickman bulletHow to Draw a Stick Figure: a Complex Guide  2015 Starting from the basics, a line and a circie, a guide to sitck figures

Tutorial Draw and Teach with Stick Figures  2010 Slideshare with good examples of drawing figures

stickman bulletAnatomy of a Stick Figure 2010 tutorial on creating stick figures

Little Known Ways to Create Your Own Graphics Using PowerPoint (old post from 2007 but still useful)





Capturing Your Student’s FULL Attention

Back in June of 2014 Saga Briggs wrote The Science of Attention: How To Capture and Hold the Attention of Easily Distracted Students. In this article she describes the findings of research which indicates that university students do best when their attention is captured by periods of active learning. She then gives the reader 15 Tricks for Capturing Your Student’s Attention. I’ll highlight just 5:

  1. Change the level and tone of your voice
  2. Make a startling statement or give a quote
  3. Write a challenging question on the board
  4. Involve students in lectures
  5. Introduce change and surprise

She explains each of her 15 tricks– take a minute and click oAttention Spann her link above.

This research ties into an article posted by Faculty Focus this past week, authored by Illysa Izenberg. It was called: The Eight-Minute Lecture Keeps Students Engaged. Izenberg describes why she has chosen to do short 8 minute lecture bursts and how she prepares her students for these mini-lectures.

Her technique for segmenting lectures works regardless of whether your lecture is live or delivered online. In Ms. Izenberg’s article she gives an example of how she uses this technique in a module on global business.

If you weren’t already convinced, check out this graphic by the Statistic Brain Research Institute. They claim in their “About Us” page that “they love numbers, their purity, and what they represent.”



Finally, this all ties together with our post inviting, no, challenging YOU to create some stick figures that you could use throughout your course. These figures could add interest and help to maintain your student’s attention. So don’t forget to read and give it a try. We’re hoping you’ll make an attempt and submit a drawing, stick figure, comic, for Faculty Challenge #5. Send us your example of drawn figures (refer back to FLC posts from August 31 and Sept 02) by Wednesday, September 9th! We know you are busy, but if the research is correct, your low-fidelity drawings might just be the presentation enhancement your students need to “click” and retain your content’s message.

Fried Friday: Summer’s End– Having Trouble Staying Awake?

It’s the end of summer, at least that’s what Labor Day, the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, and school busses on the road everywhere always says to me. Lots of people, you, your students and perhaps your colleagues, may be finding it difficult without triple doses of coffee, to stay awake.

Here are some great tips from the American Chemical Society. Hope they help and thank you Susan for sharing the link. Of course, a chemistry instructor would find this one!

Click for YouTube


Discussion Board Improves Exam Scores: Success Shared by KPC Faculty

I always think we learn best from our colleagues and I recently heard from Susan Mircovich, Assistant Professor of Chemistry for Kenai Peninsula College of something that she did which was very successful. I asked Susan to write it up for me so I could share it with all of the faculty reading the FLC. Susan writes:

Susan MircovichHere’s an idea for a discussion board forum that I recently tried and discovered was very successful. I put up this prompt after Exam #1:

How to study for your Chem 105 Exams–Extra Credit

Did not do as well as you would have liked on your last exam? Help out your classmates by sharing what you will do differently for Exam 2 and the Final Exam. IF you did great on the last exam, tell everyone how you did it!  10 points Extra Credit for a meaningful and helpful post. DUE Sunday July 5th midnight.

Did it work? Well, 20 out of 24 students posted to this forum. Exam 2 grades improved! The 10 extra credit points out of a total of 1000 points for the course were well worth it! I followed up by individually emailing and congratulating students who improved their exam grades on the next exam.

Thank you Susan for this great idea. You let the students reflect on what worked or didn’t work and you showed them you were paying attention when you followed up with a congratulatory email. Nice job!

If you have a tip for colleagues that has helped you in the past, please email us so that we can celebrate your success and share the strategy.

Be sure to read yesterday’s Faculty Challenge post and get your submissions sent in soon!!


Faculty Challenge #5: Show Us Your Drawn Characters!

On Monday’s post we shared information that simple, hand-drawn characters can add a lot to your eLearning class. Today we challenge you to give it a try! Read through Monday’s tutorials if you need some extra help with the creation process. Create a few hand-drawn figures that you might use to:

  • Introduce a topic or a module
  • Place on your announcement page
  • Show “congratulations” or “well-done”
  • Show “are you confused?”

Kathi's stick figuresWe want to see your characters, but we also want to know HOW you will use them in your class. Please share with us by sending your characters along with a brief explanation of where you might use them (in assignments, in announcements, or perhaps your start here etc.) to Kathi.

We’ll post your submissions on our Faculty Challenge Google Site and we’ll vote on our favorites next week.By the way, the Faculty Challenge Google Site still has our first 4 challenge examples- banners, sense of presence, polls and surveys and word clouds. If you are looking for inspiration, see what your colleagues created last year!

Deadline for characters (hand drawn, Pixton-drawn or Powtoon-drawn or other) submissions: Wednesday, September 9th.

We are pretty sure yours will look better than mine!  Get drawing!

Tech Tuesday – Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor

monitorsUsing a second monitor increases productivity, makes cutting and pasting easier, allows for side-by-side comparison, and more! Many of us may have two monitors in the office but what about at home? If you already own an iPad this may be an inexpensive solution to a second screen. Below are two apps that allow you to use your iPad as a second monitor.

Duet Display ($18.99)

Air Display 3 ($16.99)

You can never have too many monitors!



Characters, cartoons or photos?

Last Tuesday’s post by Ariculate’s Tom Kuhlman A Three-Step Process to Create Hand Drawn Custom Characters got me thinking. For college students is it best to illustrate a course with photographs of people or with custom drawn characters, or cartoon figures? Does it matter?

Research tells us that it can make a difference! And, believe it or not, graphics that are less realistic, or have low-fidelity, can actually improve learning. Connie Malamed in Realistic Graphics and Learning: What’s most effective? simplifies the research by pointing out that simple, low fidelity graphics:

Permit quick scanning: we can extract the message rapidly without having to search all of the details of a realistic scene.

Eliminate misunderstandings: choosing the correct image, correct nationality, correct racial or cultural image, can be difficult. Often a stick drawing or cartoon can eliminate the worries that you are including all groups or deliberately depicting one group and not another. Misunderstandings can be avoided keeping things simple.

Reduce distraction: with less information to overload our working memory, the simpler the graphic, the more the brain can concentrate on the essential information.

Robin Bartoletti uses Prezi to encapsulate these ideas in 4 Rules for Using Graphics in eLearning. Most of these authors agree that research has shown that experts and more advanced learners benefit the most from realism and detailed photographs.

Click for Tom's postOK, then this brings us back to Kuhlman’s post on how to easily create your own hand-drawn custom characters! Back in October 2009 we created a post about two tools Pixton and Powtoons that we think are easy to use and clearly create simple representations of people. Kuhlman brings this simplicity into even simpler terms with his hand-drawn images, created no less in PowerPoint! As always, his post is clear, easy to follow and simple to execute. Give it a try!