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FOR THOSE WHO TEACH

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Healthy self-criticism and persistency – that’s what leads to perfection. But counting on yourself only may slow down the progress. In instructional development, a community of like-minded peers too often acts as a real driving force enabling faster improvements.

So, how does it all work in real life? Utah State University (USU) can serve as a good example of community power. The institution regularly holds the eLearnX event to encourage knowledge sharing among instructors and motivate them to speak out freely about all the failures and successes.

In our interview with Travis N. Thurston, PhD, Assistant Director in the Office of Empowering Teaching Excellence at USU, we’ve got to know more about the instructional development at USU, how blended courses have become part of their learning process, lessons learnt from a fast transition to distance learning, and what stands behind the architecture of engagement. Let’s cut to the chase.

Being a great educator requires much more than just engaging and teaching your students. Odds are, you’re juggling more than one group of students or several subjects at any given time. You may even spend your spare time on whatever additional requirements are placed on you by the administrators. Those little extras wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for the already-limited time that educators have to do their jobs properly.

Even if schools provide teachers with powerful tools to help them, juggling too many responsibilities means that teachers won’t have a good time using those tools. Whether it’s a tool for providing students with feedback or checking for plagiarism, the danger here is that it will add to the teachers’ burden instead of easing it.

This blog is a nice addition to the previous one featuring interactive learning activities, as here we dive into the real-life example of how a UK-based college is tackling the many challenges of remote learning with a bunch of effective digital tools.

Matt Beck, Advanced Quality Practitioner for Digital Skills at Heart of Worcestershire College, has been into cross college staff training and support for about 6 years. He gained a lot of practical knowledge and experience in the development of teaching, learning and assessment skills.

We’ve connected with Matt to find out how Heart of Worcestershire College has arranged the digital learning process and what applications and regular activities can streamline both teaching and learning online. Read on, this piece is chock-full of good advice!

The fall semester is around the corner, and educators everywhere are busy preparing for their teaching and learning activities in the coming months. In these moments, it’s normal to think about the strategies and tools to use to conduct engaging online classes. Here, we’ll go through some essential e-learning strategies and online student engagement tools that can help remove any barriers between an educator and a student. Let’s dive in.

Let’s face it—some things never change, like last-minute assignments and the growing anxiousness that gets even more intense with the amount of assignments students receive.

Writing assignments come in different forms and shapes, from lab work to a short argumentative essay. Why, then, do many students end up failing to complete them? It just contradicts plain logic—the more students get into the habit of writing, the better their writing skills should become. But often, that’s not the case.

Great teaching… Is it just a destination point no one can ever reach or a constant struggle to tailor pedagogy to the ever-changing times?

We’ve connected with Mr. José Antonio Bowen who’s been into examining teaching methods, faculty-student interaction, effective use of technology outside the classroom to get hold of what great teaching should be like.

Mr. José Antonio Bowen is juggling many roles, working as a scholar, educator, innovation consultant, and even musician. His book about A New 3Rs: Learning to Change through Relationships, Resilience and Reflection explores many practical opportunities for student engagement and disrupts our traditional perception of technology in higher education, which is a good point for any instructor to think about.

He favors the ability to change and shows how to benefit from it by his own example. As a former Goucher College President, Mr. José Antonio Bowen introduced video admissions for students, streamlined a process-focused curriculum letting students pursue their interests, and initiated a revitalization of the campus to better prepare students for the future jobs.

Let’s find out more about his take on the current state of higher education as well as some practical advice on the transformation needed.

What makes complex problems complex? Obviously, it’s their messy and unpredictable side. However, when we start examining it by posing the right questions and finding the answers – we’re already halfway there.

In this part-two conversation with Dr. Irene Glendinning we’re ruminating on who takes bigger responsibility in fighting academic dishonesty cases as well as the reasons pushing students to search for shortcuts.

Research and practice go hand in hand. One may give thousands of inspiring speeches on procedures for academic integrity, but some proposed solutions may be far from feasible.

Our interviewee, Dr. Irene Glendinning, has both theoretical and practical knowledge, having conducted a series of research projects into pedagogy and academic integrity in higher education. One of them, funded by the Erasmus, had been carried out throughout 2010-13 to learn effective institutional plagiarism policies and find ways to put them to good use.

Moving classes online at short notice is quite a challenging feat. But once the teaching & learning process has begun, maintaining student engagement remotely becomes the next big challenge.

While the tech side of the equation is essential for effective remote learning, we’d like to offer educators a different perspective on student engagement. Consider this: what if knowing how to get students’ attention means focusing on pedagogy, and not just fancy online learning tools?

As the University of California in Merced puts it, student engagement is crucial for ensuring your students understand what you’re teaching. From that perspective, we can see that the key to engagement lies closer to the pedagogical side of things rather than just the tech.

In this article, we’ll start by exploring some student engagement strategies.

What makes a successful scientist or academic? Research findings, contributions made, or a deep understanding of what’s being researched? It seems to be everything, and we know the type of person who can meet them.

For just under 20 years, Dr. Thomas Lancaster’s been studying academic integrity and how to nurture and preserve it. He’s been recognized for his strong commitment to inventing plagiarism detection methods as well as ways to avert the risks of contract cheating. His research led to him and Robert Clarke creating the first published material that emphasized the many dangers of contract cheating.

Dr. Thomas Lancaster completed a thesis, Effective and Efficient Plagiarism Detection, collaborated with international academic integrity councils, delivered multiple keynote presentations and webinars, and still initiates research and public activities with equal enthusiasm.

In our interview with Thomas, we ran through the most burning questions: how to ensure students feel educators’ support in the online environment, what may encourage and motivate them, how plagiarism detection has transformed, and a few more. Proceed to explore his observations.