Integrating arts, humanities into the science classroom

UAF associate professor Mary Beth Leigh, with the help of colleagues around campus, integrates technical and creative writing into her Environmental Microbiology (BIOL 457/657) course. Once in their careers, her students typically need to be able to write about science for both technical and general audiences. Children’s books, original drawings and interactive images were just some of the outcomes.

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Integrating disciplines to help students succeed

Two recent studies from the National Association of Colleges and Employers and the National Academy of Sciences highlight the need to address a more integrative curricular approach to improve competencies desired by employers. In this Teaching Tip, we take a brief look at these two reports and invite faculty to join the discussion on how integration of scientific, technical and liberal arts fields can work to enhance post-graduation success.

Three ways to manage WordPress contributions

If you’ve ever used WordPress in your class as a space for student contribution, you’ve likely wondered if there is an optimal way to see what is being published and who is making contributions. This information is vital in an online course where post and comment activity often happens asynchronously. In this Teaching Tip, we’ll discuss strategies that allow you to track student engagement and interaction.

Three ways to set up your course more efficiently

Teaching online since 2011, Janene McMahan has learned some things along the way. In this tip she shares three ideas for making the best use of your time: set expectations, set up your workspace for good flow, and prep a layout once then replicate it.

Creating a communication plan for engaging students

The summer semester is short. Keeping students engaged and thinking about your course can be helped by creating a regular plan for communication at the beginning of the semester. In this Teaching Tip, we’ll discuss how to create a plan and provide considerations for using Blackboard Announcements to push your notifications out to students.

Students and learning in the “open”

Turning your course open with Open Education resources, practices, and pedagogy can have profound impacts on how students relate to the materials, to you, to their learning and their positioning relative to that learning. Ready to get started?

Finding and creating Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of media that is free and available for educators and students to use, reuse, repurpose, and sometimes modify for educational purposes. OER can help your students save money and can help you think about how you can teach outside typical textbook constraints. But how do you go about finding good OER? In this Teaching Tip, we will discuss methods for locating and evaluating resources.

Open Education Abecedarium

“Open Education” is a deceivingly simple name for a concept that covers a broad range of philosophies, pedagogies, activities and products, many of which are critical to the University of Alaska. In advance of a series of Teaching Tips exploring some of these ideas, here’s a necessarily incomplete A-Z of ideas that are part of Open Education.

Emerging trends in online STEM lab design

In the first four parts of our series on online STEM labs, we looked at why online faculty choose to develop an online lab course, the diversity of lab solutions faculty implemented to meet course objectives, how to engage online lab students, and special assessment considerations within the context of online STEM labs. In this fifth and final part of our series, we take a look at some cutting edge efforts to improve teaching and learning in terms of both technical solutions and pedagogical approaches.

Special assessment considerations with online labs

Do online STEM labs present unusually challenging circumstances for assessment? Yes, and no. In this fourth part of our five-part series discussing online STEM labs, we’re taking a look at the special assessment considerations inherent in online labs and how some faculty have tackled the challenge.

Engaging the online lab STEM student

Motivating students to take ownership of their learning can be challenging, especially for online students who are often juggling work, family and more. This week’s Teaching Tip shares four ways to better engage students in online STEM labs.

Taxonomy of online lab solutions

There are many choices to consider when selecting a particular approach to designing online labs. In this second part of our four-part series on online STEM lab courses, we’re going to take a look at four main categories of online lab experiences and consider their respective strengths and weaknesses. When making design decisions for your online labs, return to and refocus on your intended objectives before tackling the question of how to get there.

Developing online STEM lab courses

Online education has come a long way. The days of online courses that mirrored self-paced correspondence courses of old are thankfully behind us. Quality, instructor-led online courses regularly feature-rich interaction, hands-on active learning, and engaging media content. However, STEM lab courses are still often seen as particularly challenging to develop for online delivery. In this first of a four-part series addressing online STEM lab courses, we’re going to address the question of why one might want to explore online modalities.

Improve your online course with Quality Matters

Two online workshops are available in April and June to instructors with existing courses online. The training introduces a subset of the Quality Matters rubric standards which have the greatest impact on course design. Faculty decide and prioritize which sections of their course to improve.

Hello? Use phone calls to connect with students

We’re at a point in the semester when energy gets low. Students have gotten quiet on discussion boards, you’ve got grading to last you the rest of winter and winter isn’t near over yet. It can be hard to keep everyone engaged in your work together, but making a simple phone call could make a big difference.

Spark student communication with Flipgrid

In the experience of teaching online, we often miss the lively nature of a classroom discussion. The asynchronous nature of discussion boards don’t replicate this well. Flipgrid is a relatively new tool that solves part of this problem through structured video-based discussions.

Color code your Blackboard Grade Center

The Blackboard Grade Center can be a powerful tool to manage the grades in your course, and to stay on top of students that may need a little extra help. It can be especially useful in courses with a large number of students. Read this week’s Teaching Tip to learn more.

Five plugins to make your WordPress course site rock

If your course materials are offered on the WordPress community server, there are a few plugins that can help make you and your student’s experience better. In this Teaching Tip, we will recommend five plugins you can enable to help manage your course.

New Box View replaces Crocodoc for inline grading

As of this month when your students turn in programming code and graphics inside of Blackboard you can use the New Box View inline grading tool to view the code and add comments to the images. If you previously used Crocodoc to quickly view spreadsheets or papers inside of the Blackboard Grade Center, you’ll find the expanded list of supported file types a breath of fresh air!

Use infographics to build community and critical thinking

Use data from an introductory activity to create an infographic to share cohort information and build community in a course. This can show students how they might use infographics as a method to demonstrate critical thinking skills based on the results of their own research.

Students communicate strategies and pitfalls

During National Distance Learning Week UAF eLearning conversed with students via Facebook. Here’s a light read on student strategies to stay on task as well as a few shared challenges we all face. Read on; it might spark a small change to make in your course as a result.

Bring robust labs to online classes

As we discover, test and improve methods of online teaching, one category of courses, the science laboratory based class, has resisted many efforts to bring lab units to the online realm. But this need not be the case. There are several models, methods and ready made solutions available to instructors or departments who are contemplating this transition. In this Teaching Tip, we cover the range of options available.
Illustration: University of Munich Remotely Controlled Lab on Millikan’s Experiment web interface.

Pointers for teaching an open course

Teaching online courses that are publicly viewable can be a great way to potentially increase enrollment in your course or program, encourage students to perform at a higher level and share your expertise beyond the closed audience.

Go offline with Google Drive Stream

Google has released Drive Stream to help you more efficiently manage your Google Drive files offline. The new features make more intelligent use of space on your computer and help reduce the amount of file syncing over network connections.

Turn your videos into video quizzes

Creating a video for your course is a great way to engage students and clearly explain content. But how do you keep students watching, and how do you make sure they are grasping the concepts you’re explaining? Kaltura’s Video Quiz feature is a low-stakes and easy way to interactively enhance and further break down a video for student understanding.

Teaching as mentoring

How do you guide your students not only through course material, but through navigating the university, their professional ambitions, a balance between personal and academic lives? This is the work of the teacher-as-mentor.

To total or not to total – Blackboard Grade Center

Every teacher has goals to be effective and efficient. Knowing more about the tools and features in Blackboard’s Grade Center can help you reach your potential. This week’s tip concentrates on different kinds of Total columns you might use in your course to organize and compute final grades. There is a lot of capability and might be the perfect feature for you to implement in your course.