Archives—October 2014


Concerned about a Student?

This week’s teaching resource is a little closer to home. In addition to academic concerns, students often share struggles and situations of a personal nature with their instructors. When this happens to me, I’m sometimes unsure of how to respond.

Our own Dean of Student’s Office has put together a valuable set of resources “to assist the Michigan Tech community in providing support to students who may face a variety of concerns during their college career.” These include discussions of situations as minor as roommate conflicts and as major as suicide or sexual assault. Each topic includes specific “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to help an instructor make an appropriate response, considering both the student’s best interest and legal issues (like mandatory reporting). The page is indexed to make it easy for busy instructors to find situation-appropriate advice quickly and to connect with other campus resources when more help is needed.

If you’d like to talk more about resources for this other dimension of teaching or share resources you’ve found, email ctl@mtu.edu or stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.


November

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning schedules events for faculty and instructional staff to provide opportunities to learn new instructional strategies and tools and meet faculty from other departments. 

Lunch and Learn — International Students: How Can We Help Them Succeed in the Classroom? (11/13): International students bring unique skills, perspectives, opportunities, and challenges to our classrooms and programs.  Prior to this blended seminar, you’ll watch video interviews with instructors and administrators who have experience working with international students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Then, you’ll select those facilitators you’d like to engage during a lunchtime discussion. This luncheon is scheduled for Thursday, November 13 from noon-1 p.m. Lunch will be provided to those who register by Monday, November 10.  Click here to register.

Coffee Chat — How Learning Works (11/18): Dr. Susan Ambrose of Northeastern University recently published a book entitled How Learning Works: 7 Research-based Principles for Smart Teaching.    During this coffee chat, we’ll discuss the 7 principles and how best to apply them to create a learner-centered classroom. Prior to the coffee chat, participants are asked to watch a 52-minute webinar, featuring Dr. Ambrose and recorded as part of WEPAN’s Engineering Inclusive Teaching Project, to inform the conversation. This coffee chat event This coffee chat is scheduled for Tuesday, November 18 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Thursday, November 14.  Click here to register.


Learning Object Repositories

by Mike Meyer, Director of William G. Jackson CTL

Many instructors at Michigan Tech are hard at work building videos, narrated PowerPoints, case studies, problem sets, worksheets and other course materials. Of course, there are hundreds of other institutions with hundreds of other instructors doing the same. The idea of a learning object repository (LOR) is to allow developers to share their creations for other instructor use and save development time. Virtually anyone can contribute learning objects to an LOR or (given permission) use another instructor’s materials.

There have been hundreds of LORs created by universities, private foundations and professional societies. Some require memberships, and some are completely open. As you can imagine, the biggest challenge lies in sorting and ranking contributed learning objects so the best ones can be quickly found in a search. Two organizations that have done this reasonably well with a large body of materials include Merlot and Hippocampus. Instructure (the creators of Canvas) are also planning their own LOR, called Canvas Commons, which will allow the sharing of materials specifically developed within Canvas (quizzes, assignments, etc.)

If you’d like to talk more about learning object repositories or share teaching resources you’ve found, email ctl@mtu.edu or stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.


Open-Source Textbooks as Supplemental Course Resources

by Mike Meyer, Director of William G. Jackson CTL

No matter which textbook I use, I always seem to hear from a subset of students that the book just doesn’t make sense to them.

The availability of peer-reviewed, open-source introductory textbooks for a variety of fields has provided an easy alternative for these students. Openstax College is one source of vetted, free and editable college-level texts. The physics text I’ve started using allows me to link to specific topics or sections for supplemental (or alternative) reading. Someone teaching an advanced course could also use these texts for review of foundational topics.

The open-source text movement is widespread, but still dispersed. A number of other sites like the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library have a broader collection that has been less vetted. Google searches may also turn up open-source texts by individuals who haven’t yet found a central distribution point. For texts that have, some companies have even begun building relatively low-cost online problem engines and other resources.

If you’d like to talk more about open-source textbooks share other teaching resources you’ve found, email ctl@mtu.edu or feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.


Using TED Talks in Your Teaching

by Mike Meyer, Director of William G. Jackson CTL

Many instructors enjoy using TED talks in their teaching. TED talks are videos of short (18 minutes or less), creative commons-attribution licensed presentations by passionate, charismatic speakers who are experts in their respective fields.

What you may not realize is that this list of talks has now grown to more than 1,800. Talks, which touch virtually every field imaginable, are nicely indexed by topic and organized into playlists, either of which can quickly lead you to valuable resources for your course. Asking students to watch and react to a TED talk can be an easy and effective way to introduce a topic, ignite a discussion, show an application or provide an additional viewpoint.

If you’d like to talk more about TED talks or to share other teaching resources you’ve found, email ctl@mtu.edu or feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.