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.

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Brief Description: 

The online discussion is a familiar form of online writing for most students and instructors. Often, the instructor posts a question or prompt, and students respond either to the initial prompt, or to the posts of their classmates. The technologies available today offer many options for encouraging, organizing, and moderating online discussions. 

Tips for Using Online Discussion Tools

Preparation

  • Define clear goals and objectives for the online discussion.
  • Organize the online conference clearly by category and topic ahead of time.
  • Provide detailed instructions for students, including student roles and responsibilities.
  • Establish rules for appropriate and inappropriate behaviors before starting discussions.
  • Require students to log in for a certain number of times each week.
  • Establish clear expectations and standards for assessing student performance in the online discussion.
  • Distinguish between two types of conferences: a) formal and b) informal ones.
  • Create an outline of different types of activities for the online conferencing/discussion.
  • Make online discussion/conferencing an integral part of the course. (Do not separate what is happening in the conference from what is happening in the face-to-face class meetings.)
  • Establish a clear starting and ending time for each discussion topic.
  • Direct students to technology training classes, online tutorials, and any other assistance when necessary.

Facilitation Read more »

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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.
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Brief Description: 

Almost any college course will involve some form of testing and grading. Technologies like online testing and gradebooks can make testing and grading more effective and more efficient for instructors and for students. Some tools designed to be used for surveys are included in this category because they can be effectively used for online testing as well.

Tips for Using Testing and Grading Tools

  • Align practice with your course goals Online quizzes should reflect the important understandings and skills you want students to derive from your course, rather than trivia questions designed only to show they did (or at least skimmed) the readings.
  • Make an investment in question banks that you can reuse over time. Many instructors note that students save copies of the online quiz questions for later studying. Often, these study resources are shared a within study groups and among friends. If this is a concern for you, consider creating multiple versions of a question that test the same basic idea, so that a student is unlikely to encounter a questions he/she has seen before. This is a time-intensive task, but question pools can often be re-used from one year to the next, and even shared among instructors.
  • Clearly communicate to students what resources (if any) they can use while taking an online quiz. Are the quizzes open book? open note? open to all resources on the net?
  • Provide accommodations or alternatives for students with disabilities CTools has simple options to extend time for individual students who need it, for example. If screen readers or other assistive technology do not adequately render your quiz content (e.g. images), another option may be necessary.
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