Teaching with Technology

This semester, we are pleased to welcome peer instruction guru Eric Mazur to campus, presenting two talks and a workshop on February 14.  Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. In 1990, he began developing Peer Instruction, an active learning method, and he is the author of Peer Instruction: A User's Manual (Prentice Hall, 1997), a book that explains how to teach large lecture classes interactively. In 2011, he founded Learning Catalytics, a company that uses data analytics to improve learning in the classroom. We hope to see you at one or more of the events below. 

Peer Instruction: Confessions of a Converted Lecturer

Friday, 2/14/2014 - 9:00am - 10:30am 

I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students' performance significantly. Register here.

Student Learning Analytics at Michigan: Catalyzing Learning Using Learning Catalytics

Friday, 2/14/2014 - 12:00pm - 1:15pm Read more »


Do you see the same student questions over and over on email? Would you like to extend student discussion beyond the classroom? If so, Piazza can help. Read on for an overview of Piazza's functions, recommendations for using it effectively, and videos on how to get started.

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Answering the same student questions over and over... An inbox full of student emails... Too little peer-to-peer interaction in your classroom... If these challenges sound familiar to you, you may want to check out the online discussion platform, Piazza.

A recent CRLT study of University of Michigan students and faculty (from Winter 2013) found that Piazza is a great tool for answering student questions, reducing email volume, facilitating student interaction between classes, and increasing the number of students participating in class discussion.
Available through CTools, Piazza can help you promote student engagement outside the classroom while keeping the workload manageable. Instead of emailing you with questions after class, students can post questions to Piazza, and other students or GSIs can answer them. As the instructor, you can also answer questions, endorse select student answers, provide feedback, edit student responses, and view reports of student participation. One key strength of Piazza is the ease of organizing questions: you can create tags or folders for each lecture of assignment, so students can easily find out if the question they have has already been answered. 
If you are a faculty member who is interested in learning more about Piazza or would like to try it out in your class, join the CRLT on September 23rd at 8:30am for Emerging Tech: Piazza, a workshop where you will get a hands-on guided tour of Piazza and learn about potential uses for it in your classroom. If you are a GSI and would like to learn more about Piazza, CRLT will be hosting Next Steps with IT on October 4th at 9am. This workshop will cover the use of multiple classroom tech tools including Piazza and M+Box.

If you are interested in adding to your technology toolkit or learning about great uses of technology in teaching at U-M, you have over 130 sessions to choose from at Enriching Scholarship during the week of May 6-10. Enriching Scholarship is an annual event that takes place across U-M's campus: a week of workshops, presentations, panels, and discussions on a wide range of technology topics sponsored by the Teaching and Technology Collaborative

Registration is open to all U-M students, staff, and faculty, but many events will be of particular interest to teachers. The week starts off with a teaching focus at the keynote event, featuring a poster fair and panel. From 9-10am on Monday morning, winners of the Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize and recipients of the Investigating Student Learning grant will present their innovative teaching projects. A continental breakfast will be served. After the poster fair, a panel of U-M faculty who have taught Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will address the question, "What have we learned from MOOCs?" They'll share their experience teaching thousands of students from around the world in the Coursera platform, and reflect on how those experiences can inform face-to-face teaching.  Read more »


A provocative essay in The Ann by U-M business professor Scott Moore analyzes the disruptive impact of internet technology on higher education and asks, "Will the Wolverines remain the leaders?" According to Moore, the traditional model of education is shifting, and students will have far more choices as to how (and where) they learn. He predicts a future where education is a partnership between .edu, .com, and .org, where credit hours are replaced by certificates earned via competency exams, and where an increasing number of educational experiences happen away from campus. To remain leaders and the best in such a future, the university and faculty must experiment with emerging educational methods and technologies, and adopt those that foster transformative educational experiences that are relevant for students, parents, and future employers. 

As Moore points out in his article, CRLT is partnering with faculty and administrators to develop creative approaches that will enable U-M to navigate this changing landscape. For example, an experiment with new educational technology now in progress at U-M focuses on incorporating Online Collaboration Tools (OCTs) in and out of classrooms. As the campus began widespread use of Google Apps for collaboration over the past year, CRLT gathered early adopters to share ideas about how to best use these tools for education. To help spread innovations far and wide, CRLT distributed an Occasional Paper on the topic and organized a Provost’s Seminar on Teaching last November, both of which featured U-M faculty who had successfully used blogs, wikis, and other tools to promote student reflection, to facilitate collaborative authorship, to improve student teamwork, and more. Scott Moore was one of the featured speakers at the Provost’s Seminar, where he described how his students’ blog posts reached an audience of over 40,000 readers--the kind of transformative experience that makes a U-M education relevant in a changing higher ed landscape.