Teaching Tips

You can find all of our Teaching Tips here. Use the links below to scroll by category, browse the recent Tips on the sidebar, or just look at all of them at once by going here

Recent

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...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

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.

read more

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...

read more

Reflecting on your teaching

With all the logistics that go into wrapping up the semester, it’s hard to think about almost anything else -- painful to think about the whole semester that you’re just trying to move beyond. But of course, as teachers we know that there’s great value in reflection:...

read more

Best Practices

How course design can help students succeed

You may or may not know about all of the challenges your students are facing. The pedagogical framework of Universal Design for Learning can help accommodate these needs and provide more flexibility while maintaining academic rigor.

Reflecting on your teaching

With all the logistics that go into wrapping up the semester, it’s hard to think about almost anything else -- painful to think about the whole semester that you’re just trying to move beyond. But of course, as teachers we know that there’s great value in reflection:...

Designing effective online labs

A strong laboratory component is at the heart of any science program, but it is also one of the most challenging features to do effectively at a distance. As more science courses in higher education are being redesigned to move online, there is growing interest in...

How UAF instructors are improving accessibility

What does it mean for an online course to be accessible? How do you begin to make it accessible? Many UAF instructors have already gone through the journey of addressing accessibility in their courses. Here, several of them share their experiences on the challenges and benefits.

Sharing the responsibility of accessibility

If you are teaching an online course at UAF, you have a clear support structure to provide reasonable accommodations for students. Here, UAF eCampus and UAF Disability Services detail available resources and the responsibilities that are shared with instructors.

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.

Our journey with Quality Matters

UAF’s Master of Education in Special Education program became the first online special education program in the nation to earn the Quality Matters’ Online Program Design Certification. Here’s how they did it and how you can earn Quality Matters certifications for your course or program.

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:

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.

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.

Blackboard

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.

Blackboard provides student performance analysis tools

The Blackboard Grade Center offers options for reviewing student performance on your tests and exams and can be a useful mechanism for evaluating the effectiveness of your test questions. A poorly worded question doesn’t mean your students aren’t mastering the content. Look for Attempts Statistics, Download Results, Item Analysis and Column Statistics as options in the column header for your test.

Blackboard – time to reconsider

This time of year we’re all spending a lot of time in Blackboard, yet seldom does one hear its praises sung within our hallowed halls. It may not be the shiniest tool in our toolbox, and some might even say its menus and structures are less than an inspiring home for the learning and cognitive transformations we expect it to facilitate.

Blackboard hints & tricks

If you’re a longtime Windows user, you might be wishing for a visual folder structure view of your course. You may be more familiar with a “tree” structure where you see folders with a “+” sign indicating something in the folder. When you click on the folder icon that is right above the course name, a new window will open that allows you to navigate quickly to a nested tree structure where titles are links. This option is also available for students.

Going mobile

The Blackboard Learn application for iOS has been available for quite a while. The application is very student friendly and is a great option for accessing course material and posting to the discussion board using a mobile device. The Blackboard Grader application is now available (iOS iPad only) and should prove to be a great advantage for instructors.

Emerging ideas

Try inclusive class agendas

An agenda creates transparency and welcomes inclusion in the classroom. If these are qualities you strive for in your teaching, consider these principles for creating open, inclusive class agendas.

Get students in the lab early

The early immersion approach gets students involved in the research process as early as possible. Students are able to conceptualize, design, conduct and disseminate research faster when included from the beginning.

What does innovation in the classroom actually mean?

We tend to think of innovation as the creation of something brand new that completely revolutionizes the way we do or think of something but it can also be thought of as putting ideas into practice. When we think of innovation in these terms, it is easy to see how stepping back, re-thinking and trying something new can lead to discovery.

Animate your course banner

The GIF format is ideal for creating animated images and they are commonly used to propagate memes, grab attention, succinctly explain a step-by-step process and otherwise communicate visual information quickly. We see them in news articles, our social media feeds and even in instruction. Is a GIF an element you would consider incorporating into the banner image of your online course?

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.

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.

Pedagogy

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 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.

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.

Get students to give feedback beyond “good job”

Let’s not be satisfied with the “feedback sandwich approach” in course discussion. Providing guidance and setting expectations for what good discussion feedback looks like can help move students beyond giving comments that do not prompt further discussion, build on an argument or rethink one’s own stance.

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.

Create “microlearning” for reinforced learning

Social media is full of short bursts of content pushed out to viewers to be accessed when and where the viewer has time. You can do the same thing with “microLearning:” simple, short and concise learning opportunities that reinforce learning.

Tools & How to

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.

Grade efficiently with Gradescope

Gradescope is a grading tool that can save instructors time. UAF instructors are already using it in their courses, including Professor of Mathematics Gordon Williams. Learn how to take advantage of this resource and how he is using it to streamline the grading process in his courses.

Make your videos interactive with PlayPosit

Adding interactivity has the potential to allow students to better understand your video content. PlayPosit is a tool that allows instructors and students to add quizzes, polls, discussions and extra information to an existing video.

Accurate video captions in minutes

UAF eCampus, in collaboration with OIT, is excited to announce the launch of a new auto-captioning service in Kaltura. It is faster and more accurate than Kaltura’s previous service and makes it easy to edit your captions once they’ve been created. Captions and searchable transcripts have big benefits for all your students, so if you use video content in your course, now is a great time to learn how it works.

Rebuilding your course

As faculty, at some point you’ll have to rebuild and refresh your existing course or rebuild and rebrand one you inherit. If you’ve found yourself in this situation for the upcoming semester, read on. I’m right there with you and these are the steps I’ve taken:

How to advertise your course

Teaching a new class next semester and want to attract students or need to boost enrollment? This is the perfect time to start marketing your course! This practical Teaching Tip will give you some pointers on how to get the word out about your upcoming course.

Use streaming video with Kanopy

The UAF Rasmuson Library has made 20,000 films available through Kanopy, a deep well of curated, high-quality content. It has a friendly interface with a watchlist and recommendations to help instructors find films that align with course content.

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.