I found a way to FLIP!!!

April 5, 2014

Found this website here: pdfescape and it allows you to upload an image and then annotate it. I may be doing it wrong, but I insert it into a word document and save that whole page as a PDF. Then upload it, with the image on it, to this pdfescape website.

Then, that tool (you have to create an account) allows you to do this (you have to click on “Kafhre” to see the awesomeness as it opens the PDF):


Do you see all those cool comments? And questions? I just made an annotated image!

This will allow me to flip my entire History of Western Art I class this fall. They will watch videos from the Khan Academy Smarthistory website (which is also incredibly cool and you can find it here). BUT! They will have several videos to watch for each class AND THEY WILL NOT KNOW WHICH IMAGE THEY WILL HAVE TO ANNOTATE! Thus, I quiz them on their reading/video watching.


Flip achieved!!!!


Forming “Teams” or “Discussion Groups” to Facilitate Learning

March 17, 2014

I often hear that faculty say that students don’t like group work. This is probably true. How many of us – as faculty – really relish writing by committee (whether for a grant or a departmental report) or producing work that is dependent on other contributions? Yet we all need to do that. And thus, working in groups and teams is a skill that students need to have. This post offers some ideas on how to structure group dynamics in class. Check it out. [from Professor eNewsletter]

Our Roles as Teachers – More Important Than Ever

March 9, 2014

I ran across this blog post on NPR’s newsfeed today. I can’t agree more. I’ve been thinking along these lines more or less for the past five years or so. Students can find information. It’s everywhere for them. I still remember conducting a research project in a little strip-mall store front library with a card catalog when I was a kid in junior high. Now, I check everything on the web! 

This blogger – read the post here – is saying that we are wasting precious class time when we lecture. There is so much information that we could assign students. The whole “but they don’t read” is a long-heard phrase. But maybe they don’t read because they know that they will just be told the same information by us when they come to class? Then, why bother? 

But what if we had them engage in the liberal arts, in the ideas presented in really interactive ways. Then the classroom would be a really lively place. We would be giving them an experience that no one else could and a way to interact with the material that they can’t get from the Internet. 

This makes teaching more challenging. And why I am glad to be teaching in this new Information Age! I am free!

This quotation from the article really grabbed me

“In an economy of such abundant information, the teacher who still insists upon distributing information via lecture is competing with primary sources and documents that would allow students to actively participate in ways far deeper than simply listening. If a student can download a PowerPoint, or take pictures of notes on the board, is it the most efficient use of class time to have them copy content line by line? The speed with which information can be accessed and shared seems to invalidate the pace of the everyday lecture.

But far from devaluing the role of the modern teacher, the new economy of information has freed teachers from their role as “font of knowledge” and allowed them to become chief analyzer, validity coach, research assistant, master differentiator, and creator of a shared learning experience.”

I believe college professors are more important than ever. Yet we need to adapt to the context of where our students are. There maybe some topics that only WE can adequately explain. But I’m willing to bet there is something out there – a link, a video, a blogpost, an article, a chapter – that sums it up just as well. 

For me, I’ll assign that. And then have them engage it in class. That’s my challenge. How about you?

Active Learning – Think about it

February 25, 2014

Yes, I am on sabbatical. So, No, I should not be posting to the CFE Blog.

But as many of you know, I have been advocating for years for faculty to incorporate more active learning activities in their classrooms at McDaniel. Tonight this posting from “Tomorrow’s Professor” came through my email. So I am linking it here.

And asking you to think about it.

Lecturing might be easier. Or at least more comfortable. For us. And maybe for students, too.

But studies show more learning happens when students engage with the material.

From this post:

“Active learning fully engages most students in a class instead of just the two or three who normally do all the talking; the class atmosphere is much livelier than the wax museum that traditional lectures usually resemble; and cognitive science and tons of classroom research have established that people learn far more through active practice and feedback than from simply watching and listening to lectures.”

So, read the posting from “Tomorrow’s Professor” here. And think about it.

Then try it in class.

Training for Teaching Online

November 24, 2013

Shout out to Janet Medina for noting this excellent article about faculty development programs designed to help support faculty to teach online courses. You can read the article from Inside Higher Ed here. I thought this was particularly relevant given the discussion of online education for undergraduates at McDaniel that was held last week.

Cultures and Learning

September 2, 2013

I found this segment on NPR to be very interesting. It’s about learning cultures east (China, Japan) versus west (U.S.), but it might be helpful as we think about “stress” and “challenge” with our current college students. Struggle can be *good* and I’m concerned about some of our college events that seem to indicate that if things are hard, or challenging, that it indicates that something is wrong. Some of the most important things I’ve ever learned were things that were hard to do – and when I struggled. Like learning the subjunctive in French. Or passing my ancient Greek language course. Or figuring out problems in my oil paintings when I had gotten stuck in a rut.

Struggle – and challenge – is not to be avoided. It sometimes brings about the deepest learning.

How can we teach our students that challenge and struggle can be good?

Online Teaching Survey

August 27, 2013

This article from Inside Higher Ed.com reveals some interesting information about online learning and faculty attitudes. I will be hosting a conversation about the role of online courses in our undergraduate program on October 22 at the meeting hour in the CFE. Details will be forthcoming, but I may ask participants to read this article. Perhaps you want to read it now.