Q: How do I identify the best technology for my course? What questions should I be asking?

A: Always start with your learning objectives or goals for your course. Consider which technologies or tools will best support or enhance those objectives or goals. What does the tool make possible for your large course that you perhaps wouldn’t be able to accomplish without it? Other questions to consider include those of accessibility, cost (to yourself and students), ease of use for you and your students (e.g., Is there a learning curve to use this tool? Are students being asked to navigate too many different technologies?), and whether there is university support for the tool in the event that you need help. Of course, you are also welcome to consult with CRLT or technology support services within your department if you have a goal but are unsure of which tool will best help you accomplish it. CRLT also has a database of examples of U-M faculty using instructional technology, if you’re looking for some ideas.


Q: What is the role of participation or attendance in relation to technology in a large class? Read more »


What are effective ways to get to know my students and create a positive learning environment from the very beginning of the term? How can I pique students' curiosity about the course material? How can I set student expectations for active engagement in class?

Students in a classroomThese are common questions as teachers prepare for the first days of class, an important time for setting the tone for what is to come in the term. CRLT links to many resources that can help faculty and GSIs think carefully about getting the most out of the first days. These include research on why classroom rapport is useful for student learning, and specific strategies for building relationships and communities in the early days and weeks of a course. Other resources provide suggestions for introducing course material and communicating expectations. Find more first days resources on this list, or click on the tags below for pages that include links to materials we use in our new teacher orientation programs. 

Other CRLT resources about inclusive teaching provide specific strategies for ensuring that you foster learning environments that include and enable all of your students from the very beginning of the term. Inclusive teaching can begin before you ever walk into a classroom, as emphasized by these pages on course design and syllabus design.

As always, CRLT consultants are also available to work one-on-one with instructors. We're here to help you get your classes off to a great start.


I am happy to welcome you to CRLT’s wonderful new website. This new site will still feature the enormous range of information and ideas that instructors are accustomed to finding at, but it has been reorganized to enable you to locate and navigate those resources more easily. We have added several exciting new elements, including this blog, which currently highlights our teaching orientations and strategies for the first days of class. Throughout the academic year, our blog will include regular faculty profiles that highlight some of the excellent and innovative teaching taking place all around us at U-M. To stay up-to-date with the latest from CRLT, you can follow us on Twitter (@UMich_CRLT) or subscribe to the blog.

We’d appreciate your feedback about what you like, what you miss, and what we can do to make the site even more user friendly.  Please let us know what you think by commenting below or sending an email to We hope you’ll return regularly to see what’s new, browse the site, and take full advantage of the Center’s offerings for supporting excellent teaching at U-M!  

Photo of Constance E. Cook


Constance E. Cook
Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

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Prepared by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

University of Michigan
February 2006