Category: CTL

Backchannelling

by Mike Meyer, Director of William G. Jackson CTL

In larger classes, students may be reluctant to raise a hand and ask a question. To overcome this trepidation, some instructors are experimenting with “backchannelling,” which gives students a text-based alternative for posing questions.

Backchanneling can be done through Twitter or other popular social media, but these often require students to have accounts. Instructors who want to try this technique may find it much simpler to use the free website todaysmeet.com.

Todaysmeet allows an instructor to create a chat room that lasts for just one class or the whole semester. Once students have the URL for that room (todaysmeet.com/ROOMNAME), they can just point a browser on their phone, laptop or tablet to it and start asking questions. Instructors can check the site periodically during class, monitor the site on their own phone or laptop, or even designate an assistant to respond to questions or aggregate responses.

If you’d like to talk more about backchanneling 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.


Cartoons to Lighten the Classroom Mood

by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

As students’ stress levels rise, you may want to lighten the classroom mood a bit with a cartoon. Cartoons can be used as a warm-up at the beginning of class, as an “attention-clock reset” throughout class, to introduce a topic or even to drive home a particular point. Evidence suggests that getting students to laugh just before an exam can also raise performance, so some instructors include a cartoon just above the first question.

The Internet is full of cartoons, but two particularly good sources for Creative Commons-licensed cartoons include XKCD and Webdonuts. Both sites cover a wide selection of topics and are searchable and embeddable. XKCD, which provides a little edgier humor, is likely to be more popular with typical undergraduates.

If you’d like to talk more about how the attention clock resets or the use of cartoons, or if you would like to share teaching resources you’ve found, emailctl@mtu.edu or feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in Library 219.


Students Lacking Prerequisite Knowledge

by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

When students arrive in your class lacking prerequisite knowledge, it’s often difficult for them to succeed. With the wealth of video tutorials available, an instructor can really help these students by providing resources they can use independently to dust off content not used in a while or really learn topics that never were mastered.

One good source for videos like this is Khan Academy. Khan started with math, so the collection is best in that subject area but has been expanded to include all science fields, economics and finance, a good share of the arts and humanities and computing. Again, instructors can register, build a catalog of resources and track student progress if desired, but the strength of this resource is in the short, indexed, topic-oriented explanations of common content.

If you’d like to talk more about how you might make use of Khan Academy videos, or if would like to share teaching resources you’ve found, email ctl@mtu.edu. Also, stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in Van Pelt and Opie room 219.


Available Online Content for Flipped Classrooms

by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

Many instructors are working hard to “flip” their classroom by recording videos or building other content for online review and then using class time for interaction. It’s time consuming and very challenging to make professional online content, but good online sources already exist for some topics. Some even offer introductory online practice. One good source is the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) through Carnegie Mellon University.

Instructors can informally direct students to individual content modules or sign up for an instructor account, which allows students to sign in so their work can be tracked and reported. Topics include a growing list from a wide variety of fields, and access to most resources is free.

If you’d like to talk more about how you might make use of OLI, or if would like to share 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.


Interactive Graphs to Visualize Concepts and Relationships

by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

A picture may be worth 1,000 words. But, when it comes to teaching, an interactive graph may be worth 1,000 pictures.

This week’s teaching resource is the Wolfram Demonstrations Project .

Take a look at just a few categories, and I’m guessing you’ll find something that will be useful during the term.

Unless you already have Mathematica installed on your machine, you will be prompted to download and install a free “Computable Document Format” player as soon as you try to use an interactive. Once you do, you’ll have access to a library of almost 10,000 from virtually all STEM fields as well as business, social sciences, graphic design and even music.

These interactive graphs allow you to change one or more parameters and see immediately how other things change. (For instance, one interactive allows you to change the system temperature and watch the blackbody spectrum change.) I find using simulations like these allow both my students and me to powerfully visualize concepts and relationships between quantities.

If you’d like to talk more about how interactives might be used with students, or if you have favorite teaching resources of your own, stop by or contact theWilliam G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.


Goals for the First Day of Class

by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

Michigan Tech instructors need to make the most of every minute.   The good news is that a tremendous number of free teaching resources are available to us, so that –  increasingly – we don’t have to “reinvent the wheel.”  Each week of this fall semester, I’ll showcase one of my favorite online (free!) teaching resources, in hopes that you’ll find some things that increase learning and save you time.  If you have favorite resources, I encourage you to bring them to my attention so I can share them with the instructional community as well.

This week’s resource is Merlot Elixr’s “Goals for the First Day of Class”.

This “case story” is a series of short videos showcasing essential practices for the first day of class and a plethora of ideas to really get the semester started right.   Snippets from a wide variety of disciplines are included, but the general themes (Motivation, Framing, Expectations, Assessment, Climate, and Administration) are generically useful as you plan your first day.

If you’d like to talk more about your first day, or about any aspect of your teaching, feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, Suite 219!


End-of-Semester Grade Submission

The Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning will be conducting two Grade Submission workshops on Friday, April 25 from 10-11am and Tuesday, April 29 from 2-3pm.  Submitting grades via Banner Self Service and via Canvas and CourseTools will be covered. Instructors and instructional staff unable to attend either these workshops are always welcome to call or stop by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library for help with grade submission.  You can find out how about eLearning Walk-In hours, online help, and how to contact support on Canvas One Stop.

March and Early April

* Luncheon — Scientific Teaching (3/27)
* Luncheon — Assessment at Tech: Information Literacy (4/8)

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Lunch and Learn — Scientific Teaching: Mark Decker is a co-director and Teaching Associate Professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Last summer, he was a facilitator for the National Academies of Sciences Summer Institute (NANSI) for Undergraduate Biology Education.The Scientific Teaching approach, which can be applied in virtually all STEM disciplines, advocates several elements including active learning. Mark has been a key player in the design, implementation, and faculty development for new active learning, technology-rich classrooms that seat more than 100 students at the University of Minnesota. Mark’s presentation will focus on how this approach and space has changed his teaching and his students’ learning. Lunch will be provided to those who register by Monday, March 24. Join us for this event on Thursday, March 27 from noon to 1pm. Click here to register.

Lunch and Learn — Assessment at Tech/Information Literacy: Learn how faculty collaborate with librarians to integrate information literacy skills into their classes. This event is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning. Lunch will be provided to those who register by Thursday, April 3. Join us for this event on Tuesday, April 8 from noon-1pm. Click here to register.


February and Early March

The following events are scheduled for the upcoming weeks:
  • Coffee Chat — Everyday Examples in Engineering (2/18)
  • Coffee Chat — Assessment at Tech: Composition Revealed (2/20)
  • Coffee Chat — Scientific Teaching (3/4)

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Coffee Chat — ENGAGE: Gretchen Hein, Amber Kemppainen, and Nilufer Onder have received grants through two different branches of the National Science Foundation’s ENGAGE program. Gretchen and Amber have been working to create and implement “Everyday Examples in Engineering” (E3’s) in their instruction, and Nilufer has explored several ways to promote Faculty-Student Interaction (FSI). In this coffee chat, we’ll work through several E3’s and discuss how bringing your practical interests (and ducks!) into the classroom can provide motivation for and connection with your students. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Friday February 14. Join us for this event on Tuesday, February 18 from 3:30-4:30pm. Click here to register.

Coffee Chat – Assessment at Tech: Composition Revealed — This year, all degree programs are working on University Student Learning Goal #5: Communication. UN1015, Composition, is a required general education course taken by all Michigan Tech undergraduates. Join Dr. Karla Kitalong, Director of the Composition Program, for an overview of UN1015 Composition. What do students learn in the course? What kinds of papers do they write? How can disciplinary courses build on the foundational knowledge of UN1015? Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Tuesday February 18. Join us for this event on Thursday, February 20 from 3:30-4:30pm. Click here to register.

Coffee Chat – Scientific Teaching –Last summer, Mike Meyer (CTL), Brigitte Morin (Bio) and Nancy Auer (Bio) attended a week-long National Academics Institute at the University of Minnesota.  The workshop focused on teaching science in a way that is “more faithful to the true nature of science by capturing the process of discovery in the classroom.” (Handelsman et al., 2004) The method focuses on constructivism, active learning, and unique methods of assessment, and could be applied in almost any discipline.  In late March, Mark Decker, one of the institute leaders, will visit Michigan Tech for a general presentation.  This Coffee Chat will give preliminary exposure to the principles and methods.   Those that find the approach interesting will be invited to a reading group and special meeting with Mark during his visit. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Tuesday February 28. Join us for this event on Tuesday, March 4 from 3:30-4:30pm. Click here to register.


February

  • Guest Speaker Luncheon — Ethics & Compliance with Tim Mazur (2/17)
  • Coffee Chat — ENGAGE: E3 as a means to improving FSI (2/18)
  • Coffee Chat — Assessment at Tech: Composition Revealed (2/20)

Guest Speaker Luncheon — Ethics & Compliance: Tim Mazur is the Chief Operating Officer of the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association (ECOA), the world’s leading professional association for ethics and compliance officers. Tim will share his expertise with the campus at large in a luncheon session from noon-1pm Monday February 17. Tim’s more than 26 years of experience in business ethics includes serving as an officer at two Fortune 500 companies, implementing ethics/compliance programs, teaching business ethics at six universities, and delivering hundreds of speeches and training sessions. Lunch will be available for those who register by Wednesday, February 12, 2014. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from a true Ethics and Compliance Expert! Click here to register.

Coffee Chat — ENGAGE: Gretchen Hein, Amber Kemppainen, and Nilufer Onder have received grants through two different branches of the National Science Foundation’s ENGAGE program. Gretchen and Amber have been working to create and implement “Everyday Examples in Engineering” (E3’s) in their instruction, and Nilufer has explored several ways to promote Faculty-Student Interaction (FSI). In this coffee chat, we’ll work through several E3’s and discuss how bringing your practical interests (and ducks!) into the classroom can provide motivation for and connection with your students. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Friday February 14. Join us for this event on Tuesday, February 18 from 3:30-4:30pm. Click here to register.

Coffee Chat – Assessment at Tech: Composition Revealed — This year, all degree programs are working on University Student Learning Goal #5: Communication. UN1015, Composition, is a required general education course taken by all Michigan Tech undergraduates. Join Dr. Karla Kitalong, Director of the Composition Program, for an overview of UN1015 Composition. What do students learn in the course? What kinds of papers do they write? How can disciplinary courses build on the foundational knowledge of UN1015? Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Tuesday February 18. Join us for this event on Thursday, February 20 from 3:30-4:30pm. Click here to register.