Category Archives: Teaching

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Student-Centered Design Within an LMS

Last year, I started teaching large online courses for the first time. While teaching online still has a lot of limitations and challenges, I’ve enjoyed approaching it as a design problem, and I’ve been trying to improve my online course materials every semester. Updating material isn’t just a matter of refreshing content: I recommend using each new class as an opportunity to check your organization, clarity, and menu design. Here are a few of the strategies I follow when trying to take a stude…

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From the Archives: Preparing for the New Semester

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It’s that time again . . .  here are some tips from the ProfHacker archives.

Designing/Revising Your Syllabi

If you’ve only got a few minutes, check out 11 Fast Syllabus Hacks for useful updates to your course documents.

Konrad’s Citing Syllabi suggests some best practices for citing the work of other instructors whose syllabi you’ve consulted and for ensuring your own syllabus can be shared and remixed if that’s your intent.

Jason’s Creative Approaches to the Syllabus provides links to a numbe…

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CAST Figuration Seeks to Make Bootstrap More Accessible

Last summer I published a post about learning to use Bootstrap, “a free and open-source collection of tools for creating websites and web applications, [containing] HTML- and CSS-based design templates for typography, forms, buttons, navigation and other interface components, as well as optional JavaScript extensions” (Wikipedia entry on Bootstrap). Bootstrap is an extremely useful, free framework for web developers.

This summer, I was pleased to see the Center for Applied Special Technology (C…

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Does Your Teaching Encourage Epistemological Pluralism?

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I’m one of those women. The ones who studied science and gave up on ever being a member of that community. I studied computer science as an undergraduate, and even though I did well in my courses (I graduated with highest honors), I never felt that I was a “computer scientist” in the way that came naturally to many of my male colleagues. I have quite a few female friends who came out of this experience unharmed and went on to do PhDs in computer science. Not I. I shifted to education, found my …

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(Student) Blogging and the Fact of Other People

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[This is a guest post by Rebecca J. Hogue (@rjhogue), a multi-affiliated (aka adjunct/contingent) online lecturer (University of Massachusetts-Boston, Brock University) and avid blogger. She teaches Digital Citizenship and Instructional Design online. In addition, she works as a consultant helping to develop and produce self-published eBooks. Her research and innovation interests are in the areas of online collaboration, social media, and ePatient blogging.--JBJ]

With the push away from the LMS…

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Estimating Student Workload for Your Courses

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As the start of the fall term approaches, many ProfHacker readers are designing or revising course syllabi. Among the challenging decisions that instructors face in creating syllabi is the question of how much reading, writing, and other work to assign each week.

The federal definition of course credit hours assumes a minimum of “two hours of out-of-class student work per week for a semester hour.” According to this metric, a student should assume at least six hours of out-of-class work per wee…

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Opting for Renewable Assessments

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An aspect of higher education that likely drives faculty and students alike to frustration is assessments–whether homework, papers, or anything else–that are designed for the instructor’s eyes only. No matter how carefully the faculty member explains that students should write for an imagined audience of interested readers, the vast majority of the time the professor will be the only person who reads the work, and then the student will briefly look over the professor’s comments . . . and then,…

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Advice for Content-Independent Teaching

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I’m going to share here my personal view of what makes it possible to teach a course in a content-independent manner. These may not be the same as what and why other people do it, but it’s why and how I do it.

What Do I Mean by Content-Independent?

My students read for my course. So it’s not that there is zero content. But I mean that my courses (and also sometimes workshops) are not organized around a canonical body of content. I’m not just saying no textbook. I’m saying no assigned readings. …

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Smithsonian Learning Lab Allows for Interdisciplinary Research and Discovery

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A few weeks ago — Oh look, it was a month ago! Where did June go? — I attended THATCamp NoVa CC (Northern Virginia Community College). THATCamps are always wonderful for learning about new resources. One of those resources is the newly created Smithsonian Learning Lab, a platform to access and curate the millions of resources across all of the 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research institutes, and the National Zoo.

Having gotten the chance to play with it while at THATCamp, I have to say that it…

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Plain Language and Inclusive Document Design

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this month about making teaching documents of all kinds more accessible. Some of this is about a syllabus, but some of it is about rethinking some of our signs and documentation at work, as well as ways that we can make our edX courses more accessible to that highly varied audience. So I was delighted to discover an excellent new article on In the Library with the Lead Pipe by Jennifer Turner & Jessica Schomberg on “Inclusivity, Gestalt Principles, and Plain La…