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Engaging A New Generation Of Students

Not another essay! Essays are the most common way for teachers to test if their students understand the concepts that they have been learning. With essays being the most common assignment, you could imagine how dull and boring it can get for students. Luckily with new technology and the use of Online Learning, teachers are starting to explore different ways of engaging with students.


By: algogenius

Take for instance, Linda Watts from the University of Washington who taught a course titled “The Beholding ‘I’: Social Observation as Contemplative Practice in the Helping Professions,” she was hesitant to teach this course via an Online Learning Institute at UW Bothell because she believed that the content relied heavily on face-to-face interactions. Watts was featured on the UW website under the Center For Teaching and Learning, for a short essay that she wrote, titled Mindfulness in Higher Education, in which she explains her experience teaching a course using online learning.

Online Learning, in its elimination of the face-to-face interactions, requires a different approach than a regular lecture based approach. How do you engage with students online and increase participation?

In her short essay, Watts explains how she used the Online Learning as an opportunity to try new things. In her efforts to “engage class members in exploring and contributing to the literary and journalistic documentary tradition of social observation”, Watts designed her assignments around promoting skills for helping professionals. Watts lists some of the assignments and skills in her short essay: dispositions associated with mindful practice, acuity of vision as relevant to mindful practice, relational abilities associated with the helping professions, familiarity of techniques associated with mindful practice, awareness of methods for self care in the helping professions. She lists photography, meditation, and guided visualization as possible assignments- don’t they sound better than writing an essay?

With Online Learning, the pathway through education is opening up and providing students more opportunities to challenge themselves and expand their thinking while gaining important skills. Looking to Watts as an example, it is also offering teachers the opportunity to explore other more engaging teaching methods. This sounds exactly like what going to school is supposed to be; we’re working collaboratively to learn critical information and we’re actually enjoying it.

So what do we say as students? Stop relying on only essays and explore creative ways to engage us in exploring and actively contributing in your course by using something that we know so well – technology.  What are you waiting for?

Solutions and Techniques For All Professors’ Common Problems

If you are a professor, then today is your lucky day. Thanks to Rick Reis and his well informing blog post, there are now a simple list of solutions towards those common difficulties that every professor has to face. We all know that teaching a class can be difficult, but teaching a class with students causing distractions is noted to be the most difficult and stressful. Find out what simple techniques you can apply, to fix this issue as well as others that you may have in your class.

One of the biggest problems for a professor is dealing with disruptive students. How one may go about handling it the best way possible can definitely be questionable. What normally comes to one’s mind when dealing with a disruptive student is to acknowledge their actions in front of the whole class. The danger of this common and decision is that it may draw other students into the situation who will then escalate the disruption. “The golden rule of dealing with disruptive behavior is never to do anything that will make the situation worse.” But what about other situations?

Picture is from: http://pixgood.com/college-professor-stereotype.html

Some other disruptive behavior that you may be familiar with: Students holding side conversations, using mobile phones or MP3 players can be quite off-putting for you and for other students. If you are a professor who does not prefer the direct approach, these solutions are often successful for these types of problems:

  • Stop talking in mid-sentence and look in a non-aggressive way at the student making the noise. Peer pressure may quiet them.
  • Make direct eye contact with the student/s so that they know you can see them.
  • Direct a question to the area in which the noisy students are sitting.  This focuses attention on that area of the class.
  • Try physically moving to the part of the room where the students are and continue to lead the class whilst standing next to them.

What about dealing with inattentive students, early leavers, dealing with domineering students, and even rambling students? These too, are included in the blog and contain multiple ways of dealing with these issues. The blog also presents a section specifically aimed at the professors. In it there is a list habits that are good for professors to have and simple guidelines to keep in mind.

The amount of time it takes to read this blog is nothing when you compare it to how much time it will save you in class. Learn the best steps to take in certain situations, to get the best out of your students and yourself. This blog is intended for professors everywhere, so take this time to be a step ahead and make the education you provide worth something to remember.

What You Need to Know About Yik Yak, an App Causing Trouble on Campuses

A new mobile app is sweeping college campuses but not for good reasons.

The app is known as Yik Yak, an anonymous virtual bulletin board which gives you the ability to post your thoughts for others to read.  But postings from college students aren’t what you’d expect.

Postings range from inappropriate comments regarding sex, racism, sexism, and escalate to threats of violence as well as public safety threats. In a few instances college buildings were actually closed or campuses put on high alert due to anonymous threats made on this app. A sophomore was actually arrested in connection with a post about a possible campus shooting.

This app also opens up a new avenue for cyber-bullying—bullies are taking advantage of the anonymity that comes with using this app to attack people.

That being said, “Not all colleges are treating Yik Yak as a threat. Mr. Buffington reported that several had contacted his company to express interest in harnessing the app to learn more about what their students really think.”

For more information please read:


Teaching with Google Glass

In an article on Campus Technology, they take a look at a professors who are finding an interesting use for Google Glass.

After having discussions with similar “digital explorers,” Robert Hernandez, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California, decided to create a course that centers on having students design applications for wearable devices. He is hoping that the class will reexamine the shape of an article and how you tell a story.

At Northeastern University, associate professors Rupal Patel and Stephen S. Intille co-teach a course that has students create apps that will “help people make behavioral changes” using Google Glasses donated by Google. One group of students created a prototype app that is designed to promote social development among people with autism.

William J. Ward, a professor of social media at Syracuse University, has his students create apps for Google Glass using social media to determine which of their ideas is getting the most social conversation.

Hernandez notes that it’s not possible to know if Google Glass will be the next big thing, or if it will just be an interesting concept that never takes off. Nonetheless, he is certain change is coming.

What Makes an Online Instructional Video Compelling?

In an article published on Educause they take a look at findings from Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education (SCE) on what makes an online instructional video compelling.

In order to gain insight into what videos received the most views, SCE used analytics provided by Kaltura, an open-source video platform. SCE also interviewed students to gather information that the analytics couldn’t provide.

Here are some of the findings from the study:

  • Videos with high view counts usually had a direct connection with course assignments.
  • The average view time was four minutes. So when producing longer-format lecture content the SCE production team breaks it up into shorter content segments.
  •  Students related faculty presence in the video as a key factor in their engagement and described humor and wit positively.
  • Audio/visual elements were repeatedly described by students, as useful aspects of online course videos.
  • Students had mixed feelings about production value with some preferring higher production value, while others found it distracting.
  • Students reported that their viewing habits mirrored that of sitting in a class lecture. Most of the students interviewed said that they took notes as they watched the videos.