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Thanks to Janice Florent for her annual post on instructional continuity and disaster preparedness.  Since we'll be nearing the height of hurricane season in a couple of weeks, her post is quite timely.  I would also ask that you keep in mind the practice of "transparency" and perhaps consider tweaking some of the instructions for assignments that you may have to post online in case of disaster, especially if you're currently teaching the course face-to-face.

Many Xavier faculty have already been introduced to "transparency" in CAT+ workshops, and several faculty already practice "transparency" as they build their assignments, but perhaps don't associate what they do with this current initiative.  To learn more about TILT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching) please visit the website:  https://www.unlv.edu/provost/teachingandlearning.  For now, I would just like to share the following handout which asks instructors questions about their assignments and the accompanying instructions in order to help make it as clear as possible for the students.  For purposes of transferring your course to an online environment in case of a disaster, this worksheet can help you better explain the assignments to students whose faces you can no longer see in a physical classroom, nor whose questions can be quickly answered for all to hear.  Remember also that students will have additional stress during the disaster, so further clarification of assignments would be most helpful.

DRAFT Checklist for Designing a Transparent Assignment

This checklist as well as examples of transparent assignments may be found at the previously mentioned URL.  Please also feel free to contact CAT+ for additional help and information.

by Karen Nichols

Michael Feldstein's recent blogpost on Carnegie Mellon's Simon Initiative caught my attention. He was a media fellow for this project and shared three short videos on Learning Science and its importance to educators. So I thought I'd share them here as well. Perhaps you have a few minutes in the summer to squeeze these in and hopefully they'll pique your interest enough to learn more.

"What is Learning Science from an Educator's Perspective?"

"How can Learning Science Improve Teaching?"

"What Learning Science Tells Us About How to Use Educational Technology"

by Karen Nichols

Blackboard is sponsoring a series of webinars around the world to mark the 6th annual recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 18, 2017. Please follow this link to register for any of the 8 free sessions.  Remember that accessibility features, especially in online and hybrid courses, help all students!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day--Be Part of the Discussion
Global Accessibility Awareness Day--Be Part of the Discussion

 

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by Karen Nichols

Campus has been quite lonely without the students, but they'll be back next Monday.  You'll see many of them plugged in, texting, posting on SnapChat and participating in various social media.  But do you talk to your students about their digital footprints?

digital footprint

Dawn McGuckin wrote an article for the December 5, 2016 issue of Faculty Focus--"Teaching Students about Their Digital Footprints."  She gives presentations around the country to educators so that they can in turn help their students realize the lasting effects of their social media posts and how their actions can impact their future, especially when they enter the job market or are applying to graduate school.

She gives several suggestions for having this conversation such as showing students examples of people who have been fired for what they posted on such sites as Facebook.  Of course, employers are suspicious of people who have no internet presence, so just staying away from social media may also be detrimental.

Having students Google themselves is another way for them to see that anyone can easily obtain information about them.  Once they see what can be found, they may be more open to your suggestions of setting strict privacy limits, or in some cases, completely deleting certain accounts with questionable photos or tweets.

In addition to talking to your students about the negative impact of their digital footprints, also offer them some positive ways that would make them attractive to future employers or graduate school programs.  For example, have your students set up a LinkedIn account in order to start making good connections now.  Dawn even has her students link to her so that she can be one of their first professional contacts.

Please share with us the results if you do have this conversation with your students.  And, have you Googled yourself lately?  You may just want to make sure nothing negative about you is out there for your students or others to see!

 

by Karen Nichols

James Lang's recent series in The Chronicle of Higher Education on the small changes that faculty can make to their teaching to improve learning in their courses has been compiled and can now be found on a single page of the Chronicle web site: http://chronicle.com/specialreport/Small-Changes-in-Teaching/44.

His tips include how to spend the first and last 5 minutes of class, how to help students connect your course content with the outside world, giving students some control over their learning plus several other tips.  If you like what you read on the Chronicle page, you may want to read James Lang's book:  Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning, was published by Jossey-Bass: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118944496,miniSiteCd-JBHIGHERED.html.

Finally, the series in the Chronicle ended with an essay, not included on the above page:
http://chronicle.com/article/Small-Changes-or-Big/236839/

Still can't get enough?  Then join the conversation on Twitter at @LangOnCourse or using the hashtag #SmallTeaching.

by Karen Nichols

Just a quick note about Global Accessibility Awareness Day.  CAT + has posted often on the topic of accessibility and the importance of design features in our courses that benefit ALL learners.  But I think this organization has really good intentions--"The purpose of GAAD is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities" so I thought I would share the web address with you.

In 2011 blogger John Devon posted on accessibility issues, especially in technology, and his blog sparked enough interest to create GAAD.

Take a look at their site, join in some of the activities and like them on Facebook if you appreciate their efforts.  Thank you, merci, gracias (their site is not only accessible, but is multi-lingual!).

various accessibility icons

by Karen Nichols

At last month's OLC Innovate Conference here in New Orleans, I attended many interesting sessions. I found the one on Brainfacts.org particularly useful and would like to share it with you.

The Brainfacts site is the brainchild of the Society for Neuroscience.  According to the presenter, Alissa Ortman, the original intent was to publish correct information in easy to understand language and dispel myths about their field.  The site, which now has numerous partners and contributors, is a safe, reliable resource for you to recommend to your students.  The contributors are all vetted and the information is presented using a variety of tools and platforms and written at about a tenth-grade level.  You can also sign up for their blog, or follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Information for Educators, the Press and Policymakers may be accessed from the top right of the homepage.  The information has been curated into 6 categories in a dropdown format which can be accessed from several different webpages.  They are:  About Neuroscience, Brain Basics, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving, Diseases & Disorders, Across the Lifespan, and In Society.

Here are a few links to give you a sample of the information and formats:

Video:  Why Does Food Make Your Mouth Water?

Podcast: Patient HM and His Missing Memories

Blog:  Zika:  10 Things to Know

I'm following Brainfacts.org on both Facebook and Twitter and I hope you'll find the information interesting and useful too.

coNeCte|BlogdaSociedadeBrasileiradeNeurociênciase

by Karen Nichols with contributions by Jeremy Tuman

Jeremy Tuman, our faculty-in-residence for service learning, recently collaborated with me on a presentation about adding service learning to online courses. I'd like to share our presentation with you and invite you to provide any feedback you may have. Thank you!

by Karen Nichols

Photos have become such an integral part of Twitter and now they can be accessible to the visually-impaired.  Earlier this week, Twitter added the capability of including descriptions of your photos (you may know the feature as alt text).  This is a great way to reach more people and this new feature serves as a reminder that we should always use "alt text" when we post photos.

Here's how to enable this feature on your Twitter account:

"Enable this feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings. The next time you add an image to a Tweet, each thumbnail in the composer will have an add description button. Tap it to add a description to the image. People who are visually impaired will have access to the description via their assistive technology (e.g., screen readers and braille displays). Descriptions can be up to 420 characters." https://blog.twitter.com/2016/accessible-images-for-everyone

So don't forget the alt text the next time you include an image in your tweet!

Two bluebirds conversing
Two bluebirds conversing

checklist

Our Educational Technology Community (ETC) had a special guest presentation this past Friday. Dr. Amanda Helm, Assistant Professor in the Division of Business, demonstrated to our virtual participants how she uses Self-Graded Checklists in Blackboard, along with the adaptive release feature, to help students "grade" their work before they submit it.

Dr. Helm posts a quiz she has developed based on the instructions and rubrics she gives to students for each assignment.  The students must complete this quiz before they are able to officially submit their assignment.  When the student answers the quiz questions, they receive automatic feedback in order to improve their work before submitting, as well as an estimation of the letter grade they can expect to receive.

A variety of quiz questions are asked, depending on the project.  They may be as simple as "How long is your single-spaced typed paper?" and "How many sources did you cite?" or more complex in nature, asking content questions which are dependent on the assignment.

To learn more, here is the guest link to the virtual presentation.  It's recommended that you choose to watch the mp4 version:

https://blackboard.xula.edu/webapps/bb-collaborate-BBLEARN/recording/launchGuest?uid=9769e94d-9f6c-4c37-a3a2-ada950fbbcdb

Dr. Helm reports that her students are submitting better quality work by taking this 5 minute assessment before they can officially post their assignments.  She also says that the students have told her that they make adjustments to their work after receiving the quiz results and that her students don't mind taking the 5 minute quiz before being able to submit their work.

Thank you Dr. Helm for sharing this great idea with us!