Monthly Archives: March 2016

Classroom Blogging

Why should you use a class blog? Or have your students blog?

These are good questions, considering the constraints all of us have on our time and energy. Using a new (to you) piece of technology always has a learning curve, even if you’re smart (you are) and the technology is pretty simple (it is). The time investment in learning the technology is real. More importantly, there’s an investment in learning how the practice of blogging or other digital pedagogical tools best fits into your course. Figuring out the technology is one thing. Figuring out how to effectively use the tools to promote learning is another, more difficult thing. But I think it’s worth it.

Before I get into my argument about why it’s worth it, I want to put something to rest first. You SHOULD NOT incorporate blogs or other digital tools into your teaching because they are “cool” or “to meet the students in their own medium” because they are “digital natives.” I think those are poor reasons because they are not really pedagogical reasons. I will try to put a post together to address this further, but in general I think that, while considering the perspective of our students is vital, assuming students are savvy producers or consumers of digital tools is likely to create problems.

I think incorporating digital tools, like blogging, into your teaching is worth it for a number of reasons. Students need guidance and practice in navigating digital spaces with critical sensibilities and creative savvy. The most important reason, however, is that these sorts of tools are good for increasing student voice and connecting them to larger communities.

Digital tools, particularly the social ones, enable to students to express themselves publicly. It’s very easy for students to be passive “consumers” of course content given forth by the teacher. Even students who want to take a more active role may feel intimidated, believing that what they’d like to contribute, or the questions they would like to ask, will be seen as dumb or silly by the instructor or their peers. This gets in the way of learning and inhibits the growth of an active, curious mindset which is key to learning in college and beyond.

Digital tools such as blogging are a way to give the students a voice, to let them speak their minds, ask questions, and display what they are learning (or trying to learn). Many tools are highly customizable, allowing students to express themselves in a variety of ways and the instructor to tailor the tool to better suit the class. Blogging encourages reflection, done in the students’ own voice, which encourages deeper learning. It’s also a handy way for the instructor to see how students are (or are not) processing the material.

While this sort of work can be done in a variety of ways — from public web domains to private journals in an LMS — I also think there’s value in having students do at least some of it publicly. While there are legitimate concerns about student privacy that need to be thought through at the course-level (don’t grade publicly!), encouraging students to make some of their writing public serves a variety of educational purposes. It helps students develop a positive digital footprint, helping to craft their digital identity in a positive, learner-centered way. Social, digital material is “out there” for an audience bigger than the teacher. This can be intimidating, but it also gives a degree of authenticity to the work. It can take what is traditionally “school” and make it into something bigger, with a broader potential impact. Thus, it can provide help to and create connections with others. It’s an easy way to share one’s learning, one’s story, in a way that others can appreciate. You never know who might read your post and be provoked, changed, challenged, or helped by what you have written. The group blog at I’m First is a good example, as first-generation college students share their stories of navigating higher education in order to be helpful to others.

There’s much more to be said and shared here, especially on the specific ways one could go about incorporating digital tools for creating and sharing within a course. But I’ll end by saying the best uses of these tools are ones that serve particular pedagogical needs and bolster the idea that students are an integral part of the learning process.

 

Workshop: Digital Presence (3/28, 1-3 pm)

Workshop on Digital Presence 3/28 at @utarlington! See podcast & flyer for details.

Pre-workshop digital dialogue on the blog space: To think about before the workshop:

What is digital presence? Why does it matter? How can it be done? What are you doing or what do you want to do with enhancing your own digital presence (e.g., through blogging, social media, Twitter, etc.)? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Listen to our 1-minute podcast about the workshop topic! https://audioboom.com/boos/4316198-digital-presence-for-academic-productivity-and-student-engagement

This interactive session on March 28 (1-3 pm) at the LINK Lab focuses on Digital Presence for Academic Productivity and Student Engagement.
Join us for a roundtable discussion how digital platforms can enhance faculty productivity and promote student engagement.

1-2 pm: A roundtable of faculty and staff from the LINK Lab and Library will discuss tools faculty can use to collaborate and promote their research.

2-3 pm: Faculty and stuff will discuss how your students can use blogging and other digital platforms to showcase their learning.

In both, you will learn more about the university’s Domain of One’s Own initative, which provides customizable web space for faculty, staff, and students.

RSVP here: https://uta.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_diNryKPKtHLo31b

Location: Nedderman Hall, 246

Digital Presence flyer

Welcome from the director!

Welcome, everyone, to the CTLE Faculty Development Blog. I am Nakia Pope, the CTLE Director.

While we are just at the beginning stages of this digital space, I hope Faculty Development Dialogue will become THE space for faculty, staff, and graduate students to visit for faculty development resources. We will be working hard to bring you the latest events, news, links, and tips for all aspects of faculty development. We also intend to post reflections on what it means to be a faculty member, with all that entails, at UTA and beyond! Most of all, I hope this becomes a community. There are lots of wonderful, hard-working faculty here at UTA; we have lots that we can share with one another that may be helpful. I I invite all of you to comment, share, and sign up to be a guest blogger. Many hands, as they say, make light work — or, in this case, an awesome faculty development blog!

If you have an idea or wish to contribute, simply comment here. You can also email us at ctle@uta.edu. This is still a work in progress, so any suggestions are welcome.

Let’s go!

Inaugural Post: Top Ten Teaching Tips for Teaching Large Classes!

Our first blog post to launch the UTA Faculty Development Dialogue Blog is on teaching large classes! As class sizes increase and faculty are teaching more students, it is vital to share ideas on “what works” when facilitating learning in larger classes.

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Image source: NASA http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/index.html

“Top Ten Teaching Tips for Teaching Large Classes”

by Peggy Semingson, Ph.D., (peggys@uta.edu), Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, The University of Texas at Arlington

New Profile Pic with Dexter on Patio
The blogger and her dog.

Free e-book-Success with Teaching Large Online Courses
https://uta.box.com/s/kbagh2n22znm756ox6lboutnsk5l9gqp

1. Course design and syllabus. Before the course begins, make sure there is no ambiguity in the course syllabus. This includes typos or inconsistencies. It’s worth the extra time spent proofreading!

2. Keep the class active and interactive. There are many ways to do this in both low-tech (“Turn and talk”) and high-tech (social media; blogging; webinar, etc.) ways. Resource: http://teaching.uncc.edu/learning-resources/articles-books/best-practice/large-classes/large-class-handbook 

3. Consider using Just-in-Time teaching such as warm-ups, exit tickets (digital or paper) and short puzzle-like applications. Resource: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/just-in-time-teaching-jitt/

4. Create or locate short videos for explaining tricky concepts so students can review them multiple times (video; audio, screencast are all good options).

5. Use lots of visuals when sending communications via email, Blackboard, etc. Don’t fear redundancy in sending multiple messages. Resource: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/distance-learning/teaching-large-classes-online/

6. Online large classes: Create a FAQ page (Frequently Asked Questions) where you put the questions and answers for what students typically ask. Resource: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/distance-learning/teaching-large-classes-online/

7. Create tutorials for the concepts and processes that students often stumble on or are more novice at. Consider sharing these resources across courses. Example tools: Office Mix (PowerPoint add-on),  YouTube video, or a screencast.

8. Create a course orientation module that includes things like how to be a successful student, how to manage time, an overview of basic course concepts, an overview of the textbooks, etc.

9. Consider making an interactive syllabus or a visual course syllabus. This visual syllabus is shared courtesy of Jenny Roye from the College of Nursing and Health Innovations at UT Arlington. Example: http://roye.populr.me/nurs-4431–nursing-care-of-children-and-adolescents

10. Consider having a question-and-answer board on Blackboard where students can post questions.

Dialogue: What are your ideas for teaching large online classes?