Scholar Practitioners

The Scholar-Practitioner: Bridging the Gap between Research and Profession

Teaching teachers to teach is about as meta as it comes. But how do we best prepare professional educators to teach students who will likely work in jobs that haven’t yet been created? One answer to that question may very well lie in research. Research has long been a cornerstone of graduate education, but the rapidly changing 21st-century job market…

Read More

September 15, 2016 |

Webinar Series

The first week of your course - Webinar

We know that courses start for the instructor days before they start for the students and that those few days both before and after the beginning of a term can be spent wisely to make the next eight or sixteen weeks as efficient and enjoyable as possible. So, we put together this webinar detailing steps to take in the first…

Read More

August 29, 2016 |

orange key

Online Access for Students with Disabilities

Sixteen years ago, I met a blind professor who was an early adopter of what we now call the flipped classroom; students completed assignments online and class-time was reserved for collaborative projects and discussions. Early on in one of his flipped courses, he began receiving multiple emails from a student asking questions about everything from course content to his experiences…

Read More

August 4, 2016 |

Course Narrative

Tips for Strengthening Your Course Narrative

A good story generally contains the following elements: Protagonist: The hero (or anti-hero) of the narrative. Central premise: The argument or thesis of the story. Backstory: The context of the story. Conflict: The challenges faced by the protagonist. Narrative arc: The chronological movement of the story. Should any of these be missing, readers will find the story lacking, though they…

Read More

July 28, 2016 |

A Distracted Mind

Harnessing the Distracted Mind

We use the web for so many different things. We shop, read the news, watch movies, listen to music, talk with friends — often all at the same time. Some people call this multi-tasking. Others don’t call it anything — it’s just second nature that when we sit down with our computers or pull out our phones, we automatically become…

Read More

July 21, 2016 |

Group Projects

Group Projects: Insights with Mentor Commons

Group projects – online especially – have been an interest of mine for a long time. In a way, group projects are spaces for students to learn from each other, collaborate, and form relationships. If you have never heard about Sugata Mitra and his Hole-in-the-Wall project – old news, I know! – he takes it even further saying that kids…

Read More

July 7, 2016 |

Course Announcements

Using Course Announcements to Maximize Instructor Presence

Research shows that online students appreciate a strong instructor presence. Online instructors who leave regular digital footprints in their classes show that they are actively engaged and committed to supporting student success. In addition to discussion boards and assignment feedback, course announcements provide an excellent opportunity for instructors to maximize their online presence while also sharing important course information. Personalize…

Read More

June 30, 2016 |

Scaffolding for Learning

Scaffolding for Learning

Back in March, my colleague Olga wrote about authentic assessment. In her post, she noted “you scaffold the assignments (activities) and put together course materials necessary to help students do their best in achieving the desired result.” In this Vision post, we’ll take a look at how scaffolding and formative assessment can foster student success throughout your courses. Together, scaffolding and…

Read More

June 16, 2016 |

Blackboard Edit Mode

The Many Faces of An Online Course: Edit Mode

Regardless of the Learning Management System your institution uses, many of the recognizable names in this crowded field have various modes for authoring and viewing that can be turned on or off by a faculty or staff role to see, and edit, the course in different ways. The ability to put on a different set of eyes and view your course…

Read More

June 10, 2016 |

Writing Prompts

How to Write Compelling Final Project Prompts

Final projects make or break a course. A good final project incorporates everything the student has learned in the course. It lends structure and meaning to the assignments that precede it, and it offers the student a chance to demonstrate mastery of course material in a way that is authentic to the subject matter. In an introductory nutrition course, for…

Read More

May 19, 2016 |

Choosing Rubrics

For the Love of Rubrics

In past posts, we have discussed how to create rubrics, why we use rubrics at UNE, and how to use rubrics in Blackboard. This particular post will focus on the different types of rubrics one may encounter and what they look like. There are three main types of rubrics: holistic, analytic, and a love child of the two that we’ll…

Read More

May 11, 2016 |

Learning Questions

It’s all in How You Ask – Posing Questions to Engage Learners

A few months ago, my teenaged son came home from seeing a movie with a friend. I cheerfully asked, “How was the movie?” He responded, “Good.” I shook my head and sighed. “Let me rephrase,” I said. He rolled his eyes at me. “Tell me about the movie!” He smirked. “I already did. It was good.” I felt thwarted by…

Read More

April 22, 2016 |

Webinar Series

Webinar: How to Assure Quality in Your Online Course

Yesterday, the entire Instructional Design team in CGPS put on a (rather successful, by our estimation) webinar on assuring quality in online courses. We recorded the webinar for the faculty, administrators and staff who could not make it to the live broadcast. That recording is below: Watch this video on YouTube (Note: The first 26 minutes are of the webinar,…

Read More

April 15, 2016 |

Essential Questions

Why do it: Essential Questions for Learning

We have been talking on and off about essential questions with Chris. Just the other day, because I am facilitating an online course about online course development (yup, I am!), a participant in the course submitted a syllabus with an essential question in it, and this was such a joyous moment that I had to capitalize on it and spread…

Read More

March 24, 2016 |


Tips for Gamifying Your Course

Looking to heighten student interest and understanding? Then consider gamification. What’s gamification? Gamification entails using game design elements, game thinking, and game mechanics in non-game contexts to make learning more engaging. Gamification boasts many benefits (1). It not only fosters student engagement, but also increases retention. It engages people’s natural desire to explore and make meaningful decisions. It’s also a…

Read More

March 10, 2016 |

Program Assessment

Assessment: You have options beyond multiple choice and lit review

In backward design, you start any course or lesson with the goal in mind (=the outcome, hence “backward”), and then design an assessment (or a series of assessments) to allow students to demonstrate that they have mastered a certain concept or a skill – as determined by the outcome (or competency). Then, you scaffold the assignments (activities) and put together course materials…

Read More

March 3, 2016 |

Discussion Board

Discussion Board Best Practices - A Webinar with Susan Hyde

Happy to say our webinar on Discussion Board Best Practices went swimmingly, thanks in almost every respect to our one and only Susan Hyde. Her presentation is recorded below. Watch this video on YouTube Resources from the Slideshow (2016). Best Practices for Managing Online Discussions. Teaching Online. The University of Rhode Island. Retrieved from Infande, Al. (2013). A Dozen…

Read More

February 25, 2016 |

Online Lecture Engagement

Engagement and Interactivity in Online Lectures: Exploring TED-Ed

In the best circumstances, a lecture attended in person is an exercise in engagement and interactivity as well as instruction. Understandably, this too is what we strive for in online education, but we are presented with additional hurdles. The instruction being given is prerecorded, has already happened, and cannot be influenced in real time by ideas in the classroom. Students…

Read More

February 11, 2016 |

Webinar Series

Webinar: Designing Rubrics

In today’s webinar for faculty members, Designing Rubrics, Chris Malmberg and Sarah Cochran disucss the methods you can use for taking full advantage of the rubrics in your courses, both to grade students fairly and give them quality feedback.  There were many questions throughout, which we answered as best we could, but if you have more questions please write them…

Read More

January 28, 2016 |

magic, doves, sky, ring

The 12 Days of Course Development

What is Instructional Design? When Christine B. shared with us Aesthetic principles for instructional design, it was like walking in a magic forest with fairy tales hopping from tree branches. Could we have said it better ourselves? The instructional designer “sometimes acts in a role similar to that of the Greek chorus, commenting on the dramatic developments from a privileged…

Read More

December 17, 2015 |

whiteboard, dry erase

What Happens in Those Writing Support Appointments Anyway?

The paper you’re reading has lost you: the commas are out of control, the word choices are weird, and that last paragraph doesn’t seem to have a point. It can be hard to know if lack of time was the culprit or if the student has not yet mastered the writing skills needed to express their ideas at the graduate…

Read More

December 10, 2015 |

mac and paper

Benefits of Taking Notes by Hand

Do you take notes by hand? In distance education, many students type lecture notes on their computers, rather than writing on paper. After all, students use laptops to watch lectures, answer assessment questions, and participate in class discussions. It’s only natural to use the same device for taking notes, too, right? Not so fast. Last year, Pam A. Mueller and…

Read More

December 3, 2015 |

Depth of Knowledge

Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK)

In the world of curriculum development and student assessment, there are many models that inform our work. Each model supports the design of relevant, engaging, and rigorous learning experiences. While Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy has served as the “go to” framework since the 1950s, it’s Norman L. Webb’s Depth of Knowledge system that has caught the attention of K-12 educators since…

Read More

November 19, 2015 |

Reflective posture

Learning Styles: How we engage with the world

If you have been following this blog, just a few months ago, we wrote about common learning styles and what effect they have on learners and teaching methods and practices, and that to a large extent these are not well-evidenced in either science or practice, but for some reason have a wide acceptance. Today, we are tackling a different take on…

Read More

November 12, 2015 |