Editor’s Picks

9 Proven Ways for Instructors to Address Online Student Retention

With accessibility to online education increasing, the retention of online students has become a concern of academic leaders in higher education (Allen & Seaman, 2015). As a result, many universities have launched initiatives to improve course completion, program completion, and student support services (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015). Although many causes for students withdrawing from an online course are beyond the realm of instructor control, retention and attrition can be reduced through various means. Continue reading

Games for Change 2014 Highlights: Why Not use Games in Education?

Note:  This is a highly interactive article! Please click on all of the hyperlinks. They either take you to the game mentioned OR to an article about the game’s use in education.

The Games for Change (G4C) Festival in New York City has come a long way over the past few years. When I started attending the conference in 2010, the emphasis on using games to educate was at the periphery, not because attendees didn’t believe in the potential of games in the learning space, but because the money simply wasn’t there to create commercial quality learning games. There also wasn’t universal support for the idea that learning could be fun. (“They are having too much fun to be learning.”)

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5 Things Successful Instructors Do When the Semester is Over

Checkered flagWith finals week coming to an end and grading about to be completed, it is only natural to make a mad dash for the door and enjoy a well-deserved break.  There is no question that we all need a break to relax and find inspiration, but before heading out, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you will have to return and teach the same or a similar course again. To save time in the future and perhaps “tweak” some elements of the course, consider the following five things successful instructors do when the semester is over.

1. Reflect on the Course

Reflection is not only an important aspect of student learning but also offers an opportunity for faculty to seek insights from past teaching experiences. At the end-of-the semester, when the memories are still fresh, take a few moments to reflect on the course (e.g., what went well, what did not?). It is helpful to write down a few notes to avoid forgetting important details over the break. As an alternative, one can also discuss the course with a colleague, a friend, or instructional support at the university.

2. Make a Plan

As an essential part of reflection, certain topics or issues emerge that one would like to address in future courses. Since there might be multiple options or solutions, it is good to brainstorm on potential actions one might undertake. Occasionally, this might require talking to others or finding additional information and resources. Then, it is time to select an option and make a plan! One recommended method is to identify required steps and develop a timeline (e.g., What are some steps that need to be done? By what time?). Depending on the number of topics, it might be necessary to prioritize.

3. Archive the Course

Many Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide the option to archive a course which could come in handy when teaching again. Instead of starting from scratch, one has a version that is already developed and potentially reusable. The archived course is also a good place to make any changes without impacting enrolled students. Additionally, many universities are now making teaching portfolios a critical component of degree programs or tenure requirements. Certain LMS allow to share the archived versions without revealing confidential student information.

4. Ask Students for Permission

Student artifacts are a powerful and helpful resource that can be used as a model for future students or as proof of student learning. To avoid any privacy or copyright concerns, the end-of-the-semester is a good time to ask students for their written permission for sharing those artifacts with outsiders.

5. Take Time Off

Although it might be tempting to continuously “tweak” a course, it is also important to relax and focus on other aspects of life. Taking time off generally helps to finds new inspiration and motivation for the next semester. It is completely fine to avoid thinking about teaching for some time to find time to read a book or explore places… as long as one remembers that the next semester is right around the corner.

Do you do anything at the end-of-the-semester that helps with your future teaching? Please share your tips with our community.

Introducing the ASU Instructional Designers [Infographic]

Illustration by Robert Killman
Illustration by Robert Kilman

About 40 staff members at Arizona State University have the words Instructional Design or Instructional Designer in their job title. Even though there are a lot of them about (and some have been at ASU for quite a long time), for many of us, the full range of what Instructional Designers do may be unknown. We asked a large group of ASU Instructional Designers and Technologists to tell us about the work they do and here is what we discovered.

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Writing Measurable Learning Objectives

When you begin creating a course, you want to design with the end in mind. The best way to approach this is to start by writing measurable, learning objectives. Effective learning objectives use action verbs to describe what you want your students to be able to do by the end of the course or unit. Aligning assessments with course expectations is much easier when you have written measurable objectives from the beginning.

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What Does the Excellent Online Instructor Look Like?

Graham et al. note the following seven lessons for online instruction: Instructors should provide clear guidelines for interaction with students; provide well-designed discussion assignments to promote cooperation among students; encourage students to present course projects to one another; provide prompt feedback of two types–information and acknowledgement; provide assignment deadlines; provide challenging tasks, sample cases, and praise for high-quality work to reinforce high expectations; and allow students to choose project topics.

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Why Students Cheat

When faculty are asked “why students cheat?” they often cite different reasons from what a student would say. In this video, I highlight why students cheat. We begin be looking at some of the research on why students cheat and then we look at a theory as to why students cheat in order to minimize academic dishonesty.

References

  1. Academic dishonesty
  2. Definitions of terms from the ASU Provost’s website
  3. Cyber-bullying
  4. Provost’s website on Academic Integrity