Practice object-based teaching

Though I’ve long practiced the technique of Object-Based Teaching (OBT) in face-to-face and online classrooms alike, I’d never really looked into the scholarship behind it until recently. I’d also not really considered the pedagogical principles behind it, nor whether my pedagogy needed any scrutiny and modification. It turns out that there were some aspects of my practice I needed to modify.

Looking back on five lessons learned

I can’t say that I’ve mastered the art of a balanced life, but I do have some tips for those new to teaching. These are some hard-won lessons I’ve gathered over the last two decades teaching at UAF.

Three courses embracing distance students

Nov. 5-9, 2018, is celebrated as National Distance Learning Week. UAF instructors employ a variety of ways to not only include non-local students but to actually use their differing locations to enhance a course. These three classes, in particular, are strengthened by students outside of Fairbanks:

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.

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.

Incorporating current, real-world issues into classroom learning

Integrating issues and authorities in the classroom is common in academia because of its ability to demonstrate theoretical and applicable knowledge. Often more interesting to students are breaking news topics, such as disasters, which can present difficulties including them into established lesson plans. However, in this Teaching Tip we’ll look at some solutions.

Instruction beyond the bounds of the semester

Without practice and application, students can rapidly forget course material between academic semesters. Instructors can counter this effect by pointing students to and creating their own, opportunities to engage with subject matter during the breaks.

Giving students choice

What happens when we put students in the director’s seat in terms of what, when, and how they learn and what might that look like in a course? There are many examples of democratizing the educational experience through a range of institutional and classroom levels and across the K-20 progression. There are likewise many opinions on this idea from steadfast proponents and those in opposition.  In this Teaching Tip, we’ll take a brief look at imparting more academic power to students — the benefits, practical considerations, and potential pitfalls.

Bring your expertise front and center

Let go of some of the how. How will the student generate the video? How will the student submit his or her paper? Focus on the what and the why. Grab your list of learning objectives and analyze course learning experiences and assessments to determine if they support students progressing toward course outcomes.

What, you think this is funny?

The best kind of joke is the one that forces students to rethink content in a new light and see it from a different perspective. But achieving this can be difficult. Wanzer illustrates the pitfalls in using humor to achieve this end.

How to blend the world into your classroom

When the world feels too big to shut out of your classroom, do you close the door or do you invite in what’s on the minds of so many? Integrating current events into your course is not only engaging for students, it teaches them to approach challenging conversations as learners and to defend their positions with evidence.

Shape student achievement with early contact

It is well known that rapid responsive communication with students can help eliminate the feeling of isolation in online classes. The question for instructors isn’t so much how often you should communicate with students, but how early and in what form? Using one of the tools provided to all University of Alaska faculty, this teaching tip offers the idea of very early, pre-semester email communication with students. The end goal is to positively shape expectations and achievement.

Help students make connections in your class

Last year I spent two days in a cold hotel conference room in Dallas practicing how to build connections between group members. Connecting individuals increases their chances of building community. Building community helps with success.

You’re not alone! And your students aren’t either

The physical space of a campus blends student support into the learning environment: on the first day of school, students taking face-to-face courses walk onto campus, stroll past the library, the Writing Center, and their advisor’s office on the way to your class. They greet their classmates who, a few weeks into the semester, are the ones they will ask when they’re confused about your instructions.

Anticipate the needs and challenges of your online students

Nearly everyone alive today has experience as a student in a traditional, brick and mortar classroom within a traditional classroom paradigm. How many of us have experience as fully online students? There are few basic ways that online instructors without such experience can bridge that gap and accommodate and empathize with the needs of students.

Teach them to do it badly

At the closing of SXSWEdu a few years ago, I watched one of the most memorable keynote addresses to educators that I have ever seen. Jeffrey Tambor quoted one of his favorite writers, Henry Miller, as saying “I did not learn to write, until my teacher told me to ‘do it badly.’”

Connecting with your field

You are an ambassador for your discipline. Imagine that you can put aside every external constraint when teaching your class: school and departmental requirements, considerations of technology, classroom seating, student prior knowledge and your own busy schedule. Forget. All. About. That.

Online education – part 2

Last week we discussed the gold standard of online learning experience design: Your course is complete prior to students ever sitting in their virtual seats. Your intended outcomes are firmly in your sights and you can now devote time during the semester to feedback, assessment, and mentoring. Your solid design and your consistent presence work together to achieve everyone’s educational dreams.

Online education part – 1

One of the most common questions I hear is, “how much time is it going to take to develop my online course?” This question reminds me of similar questions such as, “How long does it take to build a house?” and “How long does it take to make dinner?” The answers to these, of course, are, “it depends.”

Student resistance

You read an article, hear a story or see a show that inspires you to work a new type of assignment or exercise into your course. You decide on an idea. It sounds interesting and you think your students will respond well to it. You spend hours researching and outlining your new exercise. You anticipate its implementation with excitement and hope. The day comes. And then…