Should You Use WordPress?

WordPress is a publishing platform that provides flexibility for course materials, facilitates open teaching practice, and serves as a public platform for student work. The flexibility of WordPress is one of its strengths, but it also means that the learning curve may feel steep for those using it for the first time. Is it right for your course?

Introducing Blackboard Ally, a new accessibility tool

Blackboard Ally is a new accessibility tool coming to UAF Blackboard on October 6, 2018. It is integrated software that automatically scans your uploaded course files and materials, looking for common accessibility issues. It provides insight into the course’s level of accessibility and feedback on how the content can be improved for better quality and usability for everyone. It will also generate alternative formats on demand using machine learning algorithms. Read on in this Teaching Tip to familiarize yourself with Blackboard Ally.

Make your Google Docs accessible

If you use Google Docs in your online course or share them electronically with your face-to-face students make sure they are readable. Some students use a screen reader to assist them. Here are three tips with the needed steps to make your Google Docs more usable.

Apply Universal Design to your course

Universal Design is a collection of principles for making an experience inclusive for a range of users with consideration to age, ability, size and any other condition that causes them to be more or less successful interacting with the world. It is an approach to design that intentionally means to benefit many individuals and it can be applied to course design.

Clean up and refresh your course today

Welcome to the fall semester. Here are quick tips to clean up your course today. There is one amazing “Wow” item for Blackboard and a few very clear steps on cleaning up your WordPress shell. Feel free to stop into UAF eLearning during Open Lab to learn more.

Housekeeping efforts that return time dividends

The first day of fall semester is next week! This is the second in a series of four Teaching Tips that provide ideas on readying your course for opening day and highlights efforts which will save your class time and perhaps provide more opportunity for deeper learning.

Previous teaching can power current course modifications

The first day of fall semester is right around the corner. This is the first in a series of four Teaching Tips that provide ideas on readying your course for opening day and covers items that require a longer time for planning and communicating to your incoming roster of students.

Improve your course with help from a review rubric

As a new semester approaches you should be thinking about making some improvements to your course. There are many review rubric resources available that will help prompt you into making revisions that will better support your students. This week’s tip will share information about some of these helpful resources.

Ideas for customizing the lab experience

We tend to think that lab courses must march students through a well-rehearsed set of steps that include presentation of theoretical background and foundational concepts, safety considerations for the lab at hand, methods and procedures to be followed, measurement and...

Journaling for reflection and critical thinking

Reflective writing can help us carry ourselves through processes of change. Learning is a process of change and research shows that journal writing can support students across disciplines in connecting with and making meaning of their learning.

Simplify video with Kaltura MediaSpace Go

Student-created video is a great way to increase engagement and presentation skills. However, recording and upload options could be simpler. The mobile app Kaltura MediaSpace Go solves this by letting students and instructors upload, view and download video using their mobile devices.

Create mobile-friendly content

Instructors find that more students are using mobile devices to access course content. Following a few considerations for creating mobile-friendly content will not only benefit those who use their phone or tablet for reading, discussing and doing, but is good for universal design for all users.

Pick up Slack

There is no shortage of discussion platforms to choose from if you’re interested in implementing one in your class. Among the available platforms is Slack, a third party communication app that blends elements of chat, discussion board, and social media.

Integrating science, math into arts, humanities courses

Adding transdisciplinary activities in your course may help engage and motivate students to be more successful. Making content relevant to a variety of discipline areas encourages students to be well-rounded and open to new ideas, skills they can take to any classroom and to the workplace. This week’s tip continues the discussion in considering a STEAM curriculum.

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.

Read more.

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.