Sharon Guan

Summer Math Class with Khan Academy: A Case of “Manipulated” Learning

Teaching—when you think about it—is a process of manipulation.

Dr. Tom Angelo made this point when he was wrapping up his keynote presentation at the DePaul Faculty Teaching and Learning Conference in May 2017. Since then the idea of “teaching by manipulating” kept popping up in my mind like a little bud seeking its opportunity to break through the ground.

It seems to me the best place to sow the seed of manipulation is my home. As I once heard a conference speaker joke, “Do you know why psychologists have kids? No IRB!”

IRB stands for Institutional Review Board, a committee that reviews and approves (or disapproves) studies that use human subjects. It is a hoop that researchers must jump through—well, unless they are dealing with the human subjects that they’ve produced themselves.

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Lori Zalivansky

Personalized Learning: Thoughts from EdMedia 2017

I recently attended EdMedia in Washington DC. I was excited for this conference because this was the first conference that I was attending completely on my own. There’s this tendency when you go to a conference with someone—at least for me—to follow their itinerary rather than come up with your own, so this was a true test for me to see how I could experience a conference completely by myself.

One thing that was really great about this conference was how it wasn’t that large attendee wise. There was a decent amount of people from different areas of the education field but there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of people everywhere, which I felt was a true benefit as it was easier to meet people.

Since this was my first time attending EdMedia, I attended the Newcomer Welcome meeting and they had us do something similar to speed dating where we had 3 minutes to talk to a person and get to know them. This was a great ice breaker, especially for someone who is typically more reserved and has a hard time approaching people.

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Erin Kasprzak

Poll Everywhere: Students, Take Out Your Phones.

I know that classroom mobile phone policies can be a fraught subject. Student distraction is a real concern, and handheld technology gives students a tool that introduces a constant stream of outside input (social media, news alerts, games) that often seem far more interesting than the class material or activities. One way to combat this is to make the phones or devices part of the learning experience.

During the 2016–17 academic year, the Mobile Learning Initiative (MoLI) conducted a pilot of Poll Everywhere as a classroom response system. Poll Everywhere is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) clicker system used primarily to poll or quiz students in a face to face classroom. Poll Everywhere allows students to answer questions in class on their personal device (phone, tablet, or laptop) and visualizes their responses in real time. It’s an easy way to engage students, build more interaction into your teaching, and gauge student understanding. It’s also a great tool to use for “fun” in the classroom, from a quick icebreaker to a complex trivia competition.

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John Gieger

Harnessing the Power of Audio

The other day I was talking to a colleague about developing a new program and how he could best deliver content, especially lectures, to his students who would be scattered around the globe. Naturally, we talked about video and presentation best-practices, but he pointed out his sympathy for students who work full-time and still have to carve out a period to visually focus on a lecture.

The instructor also told me how he balanced a busy schedule and keeping up-to-date on things by listening to podcasts. They are perfect for commuting on transit systems, flying around the world, and doing chores around the apartment and he wondered about how he could create podcast-like content for his students.

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Alex Joppie

Be Careful of the Expectations You Set

At FITS, we have a number of strategies that we like to recommend to help keep students organized and on task:

  • Use the “Completion Tracking” feature in the D2L Content tool so students can check off items as they complete them.
  • Set due dates that will be pushed to the calendar tool and encourage students to subscribe to their calendar so that it syncs to whatever personal calendar they use.
  • Use use the News tool to send updates and, again, encourage students to subscribe so they get updates via email.

But there’s a danger in all these strategies. If you don’t fully commit to them they can backfire spectacularly, and rather than help keep students on task, only create confusion about what they’re supposed to do.

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Ashanti Morgan

#GlobalLearning17: Five Reasons Why You Should Attend!

DePaul University and the SUNY COIL Center have teamed up to offer the first-ever Global Learning Conference: Transcending Boundaries Through COIL. This don’t-miss event will be held October 30-31, 2017 in Chicago.

The Global Learning Conference illustrates best practices and innovation in collaborative online international learning (COIL). COIL is an approach to fostering 21st century student competencies through the development of multicultural learning environments that link university or college classes in different countries using online technologies. The conference invites faculty and lecturers, instructional technologists and designers, international education and study abroad managers, and anyone interested in the internationalization of higher education to attend and share knowledge with their peers in this growing field.

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Elisabeth Ramos-Torrescano

Instructional Designers as (Secret) Change Agents

Street signs decide on same old way or change choose new path and directionDo instructional designers secretly serve as change agents in higher education institutions? Change is a faint tremor that rarely erupts to alter the academic structure cemented in tradition and intricate policies.  However, instructional designers have a unique role that gives them access to the three primary stakeholders at a university:  faculty, administration, and students. Acting in a supportive, non-threatening role, instructional designers have the opportunity to create change without having to move the weighty levers of the academic machine. Taking a look at the five characteristics of change agents identified by George Couros, author of Innovative Mindset, provides a better understanding of why instructional designers may be the secret change agents in higher education institutions.

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Veronica Johnson

The Effects of Working in a Stressful Environment

Have you chosen a career that is causing your stress level to be extremely high? Do you enjoy going to work? Do you view it as a place where you can perform your daily duties without experiencing anxiety or depression? Do you ever find most of your conversation in life is centered on complaints about your place of employment?

I am quite sure if we were to hold a round table discussion of these questions, there would be a lot of “collaborative dialogue.” I have read countless articles about people feeling overworked and overwhelmed in the workplace. As a matter of fact about 3 years ago I was one of these individuals who went to work daily with a smile on my face while on the inside I felt like a wounded, helpless puppy. So the question I have for you is: Do you truly understand the effects of working in a stressful environment?

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Sarah Brown

Pay No Attention to the [Instructor] Behind the Curtain: How Including Your Face in Course Videos Impacts Student Engagement and Retention

During a recent research jaunt to update some FITS resources on online learning, I stumbled across an article about the value of including the instructor’s face in course videos. If you don’t have time for the entire piece, here’s my TL;DR:

Faculty often ask me “if it matters” to include their faces within course videos. My standard response is that they should try it in the introductory video. Start the video with your face on the screen, either in full-frame glory or in a small square in the corner (depending on the software you’re using), and then transition to the other typical intro video elements, like a tour of the course or syllabus. That way, you only have to think about being “on camera” for a minute or two.

But what faculty are really asking is this: does including my face in videos either (1) make students feel more engaged with the course materials, or (2) actually result in better learning?

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Jan Costenbader

Adaptive Learning using the Knewton Engine in MyMathLab Sprint Results

In my last post, I detailed a study in the summer of 2016 using the Knewton Adaptive Learning engine built into Pearson’s MyMathLab. This was a limited study with a trial of Knewton in 4 developmental math courses. The results of the trial were compared to sections of the same courses in which the adaptive engine was not used. In that limited study we found that students got better scores overall on the MyMathLab quizzes and that they spent less time on task.

The summer cohort of students isn’t reflective of regular semester classes (in DePaul’s First-Year Program we typically see entering freshmen, where this is the first university level course they have encountered), so we implemented the same trial in 4 courses with larger enrollments and traditional students during the winter 2016 quarter. Please see my previous blog post for information about the Knewton engine and the previous trial.

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