Category Archives: Teaching


Tips for Effective Online Learning – Community Edition

people working on laptop together

I am working on a project (outside my institution, targeting adult learners), and was asked to provide tips for effective online learning. I expected to find good, concise, accessible ones out there already. There are (well, I only looked at this, this, and this), but I felt they were missing something, so here are mine. For adults learning online, whether it’s for credit or for free, be(com)ing a self-directed learner is key (here’s a quick overview of heutagogy which centers around self-direc…


What We Learned from Co-Teaching

Mountain Prairie reflection

[This post is co-authored with my colleagues, Hoda Mostafa (@hodamost), Associate Director of the Center for Learning and Teaching, American University in Cairo and Sherif Osman (@the_sosman), senior officer, pedagogy and assessment at the Center for Learning and Teaching, American University in Cairo]

Co-teaching means sharing your students, sharing your resources and sharing the joys and challenges of each step of the learning. The authors of this article have co-taught courses and workshops …


What Does Facebook Think It Knows About You?


Audrey Watters shared this link to a ProPublica Series, Machine Bias, with a post on understanding Facebook and all that they know about us. I was particularly interested in the Chrome plugin that lets you know what Facebook thinks you like. They are inviting people to share their experiences, as well, to try and better understand what Facebook thinks it knows about us, its (proverbial) users.

I was particularly interested in how I could integrate this reading and exercise into my Introduction …


Translate Open Access Resources with Annotran

Life is Sharing

Here at ProfHacker, we’ve written here previously about the collaborative online annotation tool and about the Open Library of the Humanities, and we have long been proponents of Open Access resources. A few weeks ago, OLH co-founder Martin Eve introduced a new tool, called Annotran. It’s part of the mission of OLH to provide Open Access and accessible scholarly materials, but, as Eve points out:

However, the paywall barrier is only one dimension of closed access. If you are a monol…


Open Doors: A New Take on Teaching Observations


I’ve long been in favor of teachers visiting each other’s classrooms, and not just for the purpose of evaluation. For many of us in higher ed, what we do in the classroom is professional activity observed only by our students, and we seldom (or never) get to see how our colleagues go about the work of teaching. Sometimes we’ll be able to read others’ assignments, if they’re posted online or — as in my department — accidentally left in the photocopy machine. But actually watching and learning fr…


Making Visual Novels with Ren’Py

In this ongoing series of making games on the classroom, I’ve been taking a look at a number of user-friendly tools for making interactive content, including:

Every tool I’ve examined has different strengths, and ultimately choosing the right tool for your own project or a class assignment can determine its success. I’ve been looking for ways to change up my digital narrative & c…


How I Learned to Stop Resenting Blackboard and Start Using BB Grader


I’ve never been a fan of Blackboard, the monolithic learning management system that’s the standard at so many schools. I’ve always found it slow, poorly designed, and very awkward to use. Recently, however, my attitude changed (slightly) when a colleague introduced me to BB Grader, a free iPad app for Blackboard designed to make the grading process in Blackboard mobile-friendly.

As an English professor, most of what my students produce for me are essays. I long ago switched to a mostly paper-fr…


Do Your Students Take Good Notes?

Whether — and how — students take notes in class is an evergreen topic in discussions of teaching and learning. Unfortunately, I often find myself frustrated and annoyed when I’m explaining something in class and look out at a room full of students who are, admittedly, paying attention to what I’m saying but writing down not a single thing in their notes. Frustration and annoyance do not make for good pedagogy, though, and my off-the-cuff comments in response to this particular student behavior…


Discriminatory Design in Education and Educational Technology

Anti-homeless bench with armrests

Twice this week I have seen images of these benches. Public benches that have dividers or armrests. These are what Mike Caulfield called “hostile design” because they implicitly prevent homeless people from sleeping on these benches and therefore pass on a social message and enforce particular behavior. Ruha Benjamin in her ISTE 2016 keynote called it something I find more accurate: discriminatory design. Because we all recognize that the design is not hostile to everyone. It is only hostile to…


Haiku Deck Introduces “Classroom” Option

Back in June of 2013, I wrote a brief post about Haiku Deck, which at the time was simply a free iPad app for creating and showing presentations. In the last 3 years, Haiku Deck has evolved to include web-hosted presentations (and the ability to create presentation through a web-based interface). Unfortunately, if you want to be able to create more than 3 presentations you’ll now have to pay. The most affordable option is signing up for a “Pro” account for $10 a month (though teachers and stude…