Recent Teaching Tips

Insights from UAF’s new online organic chemistry labs

Insights from UAF’s new online organic chemistry labs

This fall, UAF’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry debuted its asynchronous online organic chemistry series with labs. There’s a reason this has not been done before: It requires an enormous amount of planning. But we’re doing it, and with some of the wisdom shared here, you might think about taking your lab course completely online as well.

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Personalizing communication with your students

Personalizing communication with your students

Many students struggle with staying engaged in their online courses.  Others lose track of deadlines.  Some students feel that the lack of communication makes it hard for them to stay involved in their courses.  In some situations, students have been through online...

read more

Best Practices

Three ways to make your course more accessible

Everyone’s pinched for time and we need real solutions that are quick to implement with regard to accessibility. This tip provides a look at three areas you can improve in your course using simple ideas that are easy to execute.

Why you should use a mid-semester evaluation

Incorporating mid-semester evaluations into normal classroom routines is one way to improve student motivation and engagement in class, while simultaneously identifying ways to remove barriers and support student learning.

Insights from UAF’s new online organic chemistry labs

This fall, UAF’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry debuted its asynchronous online organic chemistry series with labs. There’s a reason this has not been done before: It requires an enormous amount of planning. But we’re doing it, and with some of the wisdom shared here, you might think about taking your lab course completely online as well.

Strategies for emotionally connecting with students

Emotionally connecting with students supports engagement and helps ensure high-quality teaching and learning outcomes. Here are some strategies to help students develop connections with the course content, the instructor and their peers.

Reflecting on 30 years of distance and online education

Heidi Olson managed paper-based correspondence courses in the ’80s, supported UAF’s first online offerings in the late ’90s, and has handled thousands of online courses since. She retired last week. Read her reflections on these changes over time and advice on giving students the best possible learning experience.

Is your course organized?

There is no one right way to organize a course, but there are some basic principles that will help students navigate and stay on path.

Address uncertainty in your syllabus

Recommended strategies and language to include in your syllabus to help address the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, try surveying students about their current routines and internet access.

Scheduling for success

Course schedules are tried-and-true tools that provide a bird’s-eye view of your course, and can effectively communicate to students your plan for the semester. A well-crafted course schedule clarifies structure, facilitates planning and explains pacing.

Keeping the door open

Now more than ever, you are an important tether between our students and campus. Here are some tips for keeping the door open to maintain a relationship with your students.

Blackboard

Setting up your course in Blackboard

You may not have used Blackboard much in the past, but with the uncertainty of how COVID-19 will affect in-person classes, Blackboard can be a reliable tool to help you prepare. Here are some steps to get started.

Make use of Blackboard Test Tool

In the UA Blackboard system, one of the most used tools is the Test Tool. It can be used to create quizzes, midterms, exams and pre- and post-assessments.Good and effective use of the Test Tool can be facilitated by carefully thinking about how to...

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.

Blackboard adds new features

New features have been updated in Blackboard Learn relating to assignment submissions. Teachers and students are now able to add attachments via drag and drop. There are also new features that allow tracking of quiz attempts and assignment submissions. Read this week’s Teaching Tip to learn how the new features are giving both students and instructors more power in Blackboard Learn.

Providing feedback in Blackboard two ways

Building a rubric can help you determine how–or if–an assignment aligns to your course objectives. Once built, you may use it to frame your feedback. Sharing the specifics with students prior to task assignment helps focus their efforts. Your students may not know about the wealth of information provided by clicking on the link, “View Rubric.’

Adapt your course for Blackboard Mobile Learn

More and more students are using mobile devices and an app called Blackboard Mobile Learn to access course content on the go. While students shouldn’t solely rely on smartphones to complete course requirements, there are steps instructors can take to make it a better experience, such as using common file types (like PDFs), keeping titles short and testing links on a variety of devices.

Build game badging options inside of Blackboard Learn

We all spend time playing games. According to vertoanalytics.com, we spend more than a billion hours per month playing mobile games and that doesn’t include games played on laptops, desktops or with game consoles.1 According to the entertainment software association, in 2015, 65% of US households had at least one person who played online games, three hours or more per week.

Building accessibility into online Blackboard courses

Blackboard provides built-in mechanisms to ensure online content adheres to accessibility standards for its static structure. Once content or third party elements like multimedia and links to resources are added, there are steps you take to maintain accessibility. As you begin adding course content in Blackboard, be mindful of what the end result may look like using a screen reader.

Emerging ideas

Where to find inspiration for course design

Course Showcase  We can learn a lot from each other.   You may be curious to see what other faculty are doing in their online class, like how they are organizing content and managing activities. Touring other courses can be a great way to get inspired about creating...

Fostering engagement in online discussion

Creating active discussions in a course can be challenging. In times of COVID-19, fostering that space for community exploration and making connections between content and the current world can become the anchor that keeps the momentum.

Open resources for accessibility

Accessibility is a topic appearing in mainstream conversation with increasing frequency. When it comes to making course materials inclusive and accessible, there are a variety of open tools available.

Pedagogy

How to get students to read your feedback

The type of assessments you give will direct the nature and method of feedback you provide students. Feedback provided through the semester can be essential for guiding student learning. However, if students miss seeing your feedback or if they don't understand what...

STEAMy ideas for your course

A recent trend in higher education involves integrating arts, humanities, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum now known as STEAM. Large research studies (1) show that integration can broaden the student experience within highly...

Let’s talk about digital literacy

More than ever, faculty are being tasked with fostering digital literacy in order for students to be successful in class and ready for the workforce. Digital literacy as an important component of higher education is something that has become critical in higher...

Facilitate active learning online

We learn better when we are involved in constructing our own knowledge. Some of us know this from experience -- it’s why we do research, why we collaborate, why we ask our kids questions when we read to them. But this is also a finding backed by decades of research on...

Invite students to publish

Are you interested in encouraging your students to create work to share with others? Adding your voice to the domain knowledge--which shapes our education--is a strong motivator. As teachers, writers, designers, and artists we long to create and share.  What is Open...

Examining hybrid designed course structures

This is the second in a two-part series of Teaching Tips based on Hybrid Pedagogy. While the first teaching tip provided some background and definitions, this tip focuses more on specific changes instructors can make to their classes to cultivate...

Explore hybrid course design

Asynchronous online and face-to-face are the most familiar modes of course delivery but you may want to consider a hybrid delivery model to meet student or program needs.

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.

Ideas for customizing the lab experience

We tend to think that lab courses must march students through a well-rehearsed set of steps. After the experiment is performed, and the data gathered and presented, students submit a lab report with an error analysis which provides an opportunity to explain why the results deviated from theoretical predictions. This gives you, the instructor plenty to assess. The real question is: Are you measuring what you want with your lab activity assessment?

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.

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.

Tools & How to

Personalizing communication with your students

Many students struggle with staying engaged in their online courses.  Others lose track of deadlines.  Some students feel that the lack of communication makes it hard for them to stay involved in their courses.  In some situations, students have been through online...

Fostering engagement in online discussion

Creating active discussions in a course can be challenging. In times of COVID-19, fostering that space for community exploration and making connections between content and the current world can become the anchor that keeps the momentum.

A Swiss Army knife for video

Kaltura MediaSpace provides a rich set of tools and features for staff, instructors and students to create video. Learn how to make the most out of what it offers.

Autocaptions are new in Kaltura

Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Ethical ramifications. IRB application. Supercontinent Pangaea.Sit in a few classes at UAF and these are terms you may hear. These are also terms that have been accurately transcribed by the new autocaptioning feature in Kaltura,...

Use Zoom videoconferencing in your courses

Many UAF instructors rely on Google Hangouts or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to facilitate synchronous sessions in their courses. There’s a new tool on the block: Zoom Meetings. Let’s run through what can be accomplished by meeting in Zoom, the new videoconferencing...

How to update due dates in Blackboard

You may have noticed the familiar Set Grade Center Due Dates tool has not been available recently. This handy tool has become incompatible with the current version of Blackboard. While we hope that it can return in the future, there is another way to edit...

Should you use Google Classroom?

The answer isn’t the same for all classes or for all faculty. Google Classroom lacks built-in integration with the Blackboard Grade Center but does integrate easily with other Google apps.