Using Research to Bring Interactive Learning Strategies into General Education Mega-Courses

Fabulous article on University of Arizona’s Ed Prather’s experiences with his large lecture Astronomy class for non-majors. Focus is student centered/student interaction AND student ambassadors. “With this work we see the progression of participants in the Ambassador Program from high-achieving non-science majors taking a GE course, to peer-teaching assistants within the course, to astronomy education researchers evaluating the success of the course.”

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Using Wikis

ASU’s College of Public Programs’ Steven Crawford discusses the use of student wikis in his “Social Media for Social Good” course.

The wiki assignment focused on the UN Millennial Development Goals with student groups creating a wiki page for their chosen goal. The wiki format allowed the student groups to collaboratively create and edit their page asynchronously, discuss the creation and content of the page in a discussion board associated with the wiki, track changes to the page, and to embed multimedia files. Student reception to the assignment was positive and the quality of the work very good!

Teaching with Portal 2

I’ve been hoping for this day for some time — the intersection of gaming and education into the mainstream. At last year’s Games for Change conference, Valve’s Gabe Newell announced that he would put his considerable resources into working with educators to bring physics to students via Portal and Portal 2. Well, the site is READY and it debuted TODAY at this year’s Games for Change conference!

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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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Using GradeMark with Rubrics

Arizona State University Nursing instructor Patricia Harris discusses her use of rubrics and the GradeMark* functionality within Turnitin.  Nursing faculty are finding that their use of these two tools:

  • encourage transparent scoring guidelines;
  • promote consistent scoring among faculty;
  • emphasize writing;
  • provide evidence of student critical thinking growth; and
  • support a foundation for continuous improvement in grading.

GradeMark saves instructors time and provides richer feedback to students by enabling editorial highlights, custom comments, and QuickMark editing marks directly on student papers.

Video Responses in Online Classes

Dr. Nancy Jurik discusses how she uses video responses in her online classes to keep students motivated. Every Friday morning, Dr. Jurik creates a webcam video to supplement her readings, narrated PowerPoint lectures, videos, websites, etc. Her goals are to bring herself to life for her students and grab their attention to keep them engaged in the course content. She looks at the Discussion Boards to determine what concepts resonate with the students and what topics need additional commentary and then crafts her weekly video responses. She then uploads the videos, grabs the embed code and pastes it into her course for the students to view.


Using blogs in online classes as a learning tool

Dr. Sher Ratnabalasuriar shares her experiences using blogs in her online classes as a learning tool. She wanted an alternative to the traditional discussion boards that would encourage students to engage more, become more mindful about their writing, and to increase student engagement with course materials and with each other. Dr. Ratnabalasuriar has successfully used free blog services such as WordPress, Tumbler, and Blogger with her large and small classes.