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Tis the season, for me at least, of haunted houses and scary movies. I like to engage in what psychologists have recently termed recreational fear. This is the fun of being scared. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Sarah Rose Cavanagh applies this research to the classroom. She argues that there are four pedagogical lessons we can learn from haunted houses.

  1. We never go into haunted houses alone. In times of anxiety and threat we tend to find safety in others. The same holds for the anxiety produced in learning environments. Creating collaboration opportunities with classmates and communal class environments can enhance learning.
  2. Pleasurable arousal happens when we are scared, but not too scared. Cavanagh calls this “pleasurable disquietude,” and it's the appropriately uncomfortable spaces in our classrooms and disciplines that allow students to progress to the next level in their learning.
  3. Fear and motivation have physiological similarities. As instructors we can harness student anxiety to move them forward and deepen their learning.
  4. Finally, we grow stronger by facing our fears. Students must confront challenges in the classroom in order to grow. So instructors need to provide appropriate challenges for them.

Cavanagh provides some nice examples of what this might look like in our classrooms. Teach well, and enjoy spooky season!

file folder with documents inside

Are you still sharing files via email? An article by Lauren Suggett suggests three reasons why you should stop sharing documents via email. Her reasons are:

  • Nothing is trackable
  • Accessibility is limited
  • Email inboxes can be black holes

As you may know, Xavier adopted G Suite (formerly Google Apps). This means everyone has an account that allows them to store files in their Google Drive. Instead of emailing files back and forth, you can share files in your Google Drive. For more information on Xavier’s adoption of G Suite and how to share files using Google Drive, read Bart Everson’s Drive Right In blog post.

Additionally, Google Apps can be integrated into Brightspace. ICYMI, read my Google Apps Integration blog post.

Image credit: image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

by Karen Nichols

I've been asked to share the following information about Global Collaboration Day:

Over the next couple of days, students, classrooms, teachers, administrators, parents and organizations will be either attending and/or hosting events online that are designed to showcase and promote global collaboration. We (Lucy Gray + Steve Hargadon, co-chairs of the Global Education Conference) are the calendar coordinators but not the direct conveners: that is, over 100 groups have designed and planned their own events which we have then organized into a directory and in special calendars to allow these events to be seen in any time zone in the world.

This is a huge worldwide experiment to demonstrate the power of globally-connected learning.

Examples of projects and events include: a teacher in Australia who will lead others in learning to dance Greek-style via Skype and Edmodo; African students and teachers answering questions through Whatsapp; and classrooms participating in a global virtual amazing race. There are professional development sessions for individual pre-service teachers, in-service educators, and other adults; as well as projects for entire classrooms to join in. We encourage you to browse the event directory or the calendar and choose a compelling event to attend!

Here are some tips to keep in mind as the next couple of days unfold:

Read directions and our website carefully to prepare.
If you have a question about a particular event or project, contact the host of that event directly. Their contact information is posted in each event listing.
Join our Remind texting and email group for event reminders.
If you need live help, we’ll do our best to be available. We will be in and out of this Blackboard Collaborate room as our own schedules allow.
Be patient! Things may not always go as well as intended! Learning to be flexible and adapting to situations online is a big part of becoming a global collaborator.

We appreciate the time and energy that our hosts have invested in this special day, and hope that our participants learn something new and become more

See you online,

Lucy and Steve

by Janice Florent

photomontage with globe in foreground

In a recent eLearning Industry article, Dr. Amy Thornton, Director of the Center of Online Learning at Columbus State University, listed multiple strategies to engage students online. Dr. Thornton wrote that it is important to allow students to engage with content in different ways to ensure learning transfer. The engagement strategies suggested by Dr. Thornton are:

Keep it interactive

Interaction keeps students at their computer and engaged in the content. Not being able to see your students means that you have to keep them on their toes throughout the session. A few ways you can do this are:

  • Feedback - invite students to share their comments about the content.
  • Polling - asking polling questions can initiate discussion.
  • Brainstorming - invite students to assist with brainstorming on how a particular topic can be applied or used in the “real world.”
  • Scavenger Hunt - send students on a virtual scavenger hunt to find something and come back with their findings to share with the class.
  • Graphics - use graphics to create visuals. Students could be allowed to use electronic whiteboard tools to mark up the graphics or identify parts of an image.

Use triggers

Variety is the spice of life. Providing different types of learning experiences can help engage different types of learners. This can also keep your students on their toes because they don’t know what is going to happen next. A few ways to accomplish this are:

  • Multimedia - use video and/or music clips to add something for your visual and auditory learners.
  • Polling - give students a chance to think about the content that was covered and apply it.
  • Electronic Whiteboard - get students involved by asking them to write on the electronic whiteboard.

Group work

Allowing your students to work in smaller groups can give them more opportunity to interact with each other and be part of the discussion. Managing this in an online environment can be challenging, but with some planning can add a lot of value to your session. Here are a few ways to approach group work:

  • Discussion - assign a topic and have the groups discuss and report back to the class.
  • Brainstorming - allow the class to break into groups to brainstorm ideas.
  • Project - allow time for groups to work on a group project together.
  • Case Studies - allow your students to practice their problem-solving skills.
  • Role-play - similar to case study; give students a scenario they must work through where each group member must take on a role.
  • Use authentic materials - use real materials that give students an inside look, for example, online museum exhibits, scientific simulations, and scanned manuscripts.

Give students a task

Giving students some of the responsibility in facilitating synchronous class sessions will keep them engaged and help them create their own learning experience. A few ways to do this are:

  • Give students the opportunity to facilitate an activity.
  • Appoint a note taker for each session.
  • Have students do presentations.
  • Appoint a student to lead the discussion.

For more information read Dr. Thornton’s article “Online Collaboration Strategies to Engage Your Learners.”

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay