March 22nd Provisions Session Summary: “Teaching Online”

To access the audio recording of the session, click here.

Our second Provisions session of the Spring Semester explored the theme of” Teaching Online.” Presenters shared previous experience with teaching courses online, and effective strategies for improving success for a diverse range of students. An audience of approximately 30 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Lily Shafer, Instructional DesignerSilvia Mejia, Department of World Languages and Cultures & Associate Professor of Spanish, and Daniel Nester, Associate Professor of English.

Lily Shafer, Instructional Designer, started off the session by emphazizing that the most important aspect of an online learning environment is the interactivity. There needs to be a balanced amount of teacher-student interaction. To be successful, online courses need a strong sense of instructor presence. Lily recommends that teachers should only give an opinion at the end of a discussion or to intervene to steer the discussion in a different direction. If a teacher intervenes early on, students will be less likely to challenge or have a different opinion on that particular concept. Lily also recommends that instructors deliver feedback as an accumulation of the whole class’ misconceptions and concepts that were understood well, in order to avoid singling out one student. A diverse set of online tools that are currently available for professors to access for their online courses are:

  • Discussion boards are a great, interactive tool on BlackBoard for:
    • Ice-breaker activities
    • Scavenger hunts
    • Debates
    • Peer evaluations
    • FAQ and Q&A pages
    • Creating an informal student community
  • Blogs are great online resources to share:
    • Research reports
    • Group projects
    • Writing assignments
    • Long-term status updates
  • Journals are great ways to maintain individual student-professor commnitcation because they allow students to:
    • Share private issues/problems
    • Reflect on their learning process
    • Express any concerns regarding the course work
    • Gain one-on-one feedback from the professor
  • Wiki’s are a useful tool for creating a collaborative space for students to share information, as well as giving students the opportunity to work together in a digital environment. Wiki’s can be used for many things, such as:
    • Group projects
    • A glossary of course terms
    • Peer evaluations
  • Voice threads are a great tool for building an online community
  • ZOOM– creates a face-face online conversation by including each student in the class using webcams

Second in line to present was Daniel Nester, Associate Professor of English, on “Building Online Community: Teaching Poetry In Performance Using WordPress, Facebook, Dropbox, and SoundCloud.” Dan teaches the English 218 course: Oral Interpretation of Literature. For this class, students are required to record their poetry performances and upload them to various media sites, such as SoundCloud, WordPress, Facebook, Dropbox, and YouTube. Dan also discussed how he uses many other “online features” for his course, such as video lectures, a teaching blog, a “secret” Facebook page only for his students, and GoogleDocs. Dan’s course teaching blog has a collection of course materials for his students to access, including the course syllabus and class tutorials.  In addition, his students are required to perform to a live audience at “Poetry Slams.” In preparation for live performances, students are in charge of publicity using a setup crew. The setup crews are in charge of creating flyers,  taking photos of the events, and creating Biographies of the performers. A final online tool that Dan uses for his course is Odyssey. Odyssey allows his students to freely write about their experiences in his class, experiences of their performances, and overall experience with the course material.

Lastly, Silvia Mejia, Department of World Languages and Cultures & Associate Professor of Spanish, shared her experience with teaching a hybrid class-Spanish 203: Memory and Culture. Silvia described that she was reluctant in the beginning to be teaching a hybrid course. However, now she believes that the hybrid format is very beneficial for her students, and it also produces much less stress for herself and her students. For her course, Silvia uses a “flipped classroom” approach, meaning that students are required to complete tutorials and practice at home, and class time is used for discussion and interactive activities. Silvia assigns her students tutorials on the content, which allow her students to watch as many times as needed. If she were to explain the same thing in class multiple times, it could be redundant for some and take too much class time. Having to learn the material at home allows students to learn at their own leisure and pace. This then leaves more class time for Silvia to clear up misconceptions and allows students to practice their communication skills with their peers. Silvia believes that the in class interaction of conversation and communication is the most valuable part of the hybrid course. Silvia shared the instructions for one assignment, in which her students must use the vocabulary (clothing, shopping and daily routines) that they have learned in a creative and meaningful way by producing a video. Silvia recommends for her students to use Wevideo, however they are free use another one if they prefer to do so.

Following the brief presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion and questions from the audience. Here are a few points and observations that arose from the discussion:

  • Blogs are a useful resource for expressing opinions, sharing introductions to research papers, and for competition in the workplace.
  • Grading online…should there be a grade assigned to all work?
    • Most thought yes, every assignment should count for a grade.
  • The majority of students are very comfortable with online learning, and at times are more knowledgable of additional online resources to use.
  • Do students need to be self-regulatory to be successful in an online class?
    • Yes, self-regulation is necessary for success.
  • Online assignments should have very clear and specific instructions.
    • For dissuasion posts, instructors should be specific on the dates of when posts are due, the times that the posts are due by, and the amount of posts required for the grade.

Please join us for our upcoming Tuesday, April 19th session on “Teaching Information Literacy in the Age of Google.” Provisions’ sessions are from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!! 🙂


Teaching With Technology II

Tom Rosenberger, Instructional Media Technology, discussed technology use in the classroom, how it is used, and how it can be improved. A student survey at Saint Rose showed that over 30 percent of the students who were surveyed believed their professors understand technology and integrate it into their classrooms. The survey also showed that close to 50 percent of students said their “professors believe that technology can be a useful tool and they encourage students to use it.” Another survey showed that the vast majority of Saint Rose Professors “want and believe” they can use different types of technology in their classes. These technologies include MP3 players, video conferencing, video cameras, and smartphones. Rosenberger further cemented the realization that technology is wanted in classrooms by stating that more than 2/3 of colleges in the United States consider online learning and tools to be just as effective – if not more effective – than regular classroom learning. Rosenberger referred to today’s college students as being a part of a participatory culture. A phrase which he described as meaning, “a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal membership whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices.” This type of culture is why it is so important that professors integrate technology into their classes. Several useful tips were given to those teachers who feel they are not capable if integrating technology. These tips were: follow the course goals, refer to colleagues or other educators for help, and consult with the media technology specialists on campus. So what are these educators to do when their students come calling for help? First they should make sure their students know who they are and what they are capable of helping them with. If the technology isn’t working make sure the students know it is the technology’s fault. Make sure to scaffold the projects to help students. And finally, teach the students to use technology to help themselves (use Google).

View Tom Rosenberger’s Prezi

Dr. Silvia Mejia, Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages Department and American Studies Program, discussed a technology project she used as final project for her Spanish 203 class.  The students were challenged to make a trailer for a fictitious movie. In their trailers the students were to speak Spanish.  Dr. Mejia gave the students a list of topics they must discuss in their videos. The purpose of this assignment is to further cement the vocabulary the students have learned throughout the class into the students’ minds. Dr. Mejia’s students even stated that they will never forget any of the lines from their trailers because of the amount of memorization, practice, and number of scene takes it took to make the videos. Basically the repetition the assignment called for allowed the students to be immersed in the Spanish language while filming the trailers. Dr. Mejia mentioned at the beginning of her presentation that immersion has been proven to be a more effective form of learning than memorization.

Trailer Guidelines

Dr. Jennifer Marlow, Assistant Professor of English, discussed Pecha Kucha, a presentation based assignment. Pecha Kucha is a Japanese term for “chitchat” or “20/20.” Dr. Marlow said that the purpose of this form of presentation is to “avoid death by PowerPoint.” So, what is Pecha Kucha? It is a PowerPoint presentation that has advanced slides (20 seconds per slide). Each slide contains only a single image or phrase. The text can be no smaller than 32 point font in order to keep the information per slide small. The images can be original or found and 20 seconds of video may also be used. The visuals can be used to further solidify a point or argument. This type of presentation allows for a closer look at materials. The combination of language and visual is meant to make the presentations more memorable and less over stimulating as many PowerPoint presentations can be.

Dr. Marlow’s Pecha Kucha Assignment

Pecha Kucha Evaluation

Fair Use of Online Video

Podcast of the February ProVisions Session on Teaching with Technology

The following YouTube video was part of Tom Rosenberger’s presentation and is mentioned in the poscast.

Teaching Summer Immersion

November 17, 2009-  This months session was Teaching Summer Immersion with presentations from Rick Thompson, Dean of School of Math and Science, Claudia Lingertat-Putnam, Department of Educational Psychology, and Carrie Hulligan from the Department of English. 

          Rick Thompson began the discussion by talking about a class he taught at McMurry University on how to become an astronomer in three weeks. Thompson talked about the “mayterm” courses that were provided to students. These classes were “outside the box” type of courses which created an opportunity for courses to involve travel and field work. Thompson continued by talking about the outline of the course which includes basic observational astronomy topics, computer software, instrumentation, and details of running an observatory. Thompson also talked about the difficulties faced due to this immersion course such as travel expenses, weather, range of backgrounds and abilities of the students, and lack of support. Finally, Thompson discussed the benefits this program has on students. 

          Next, Carrie Hulligan, an instructor from the English department, talked about her unique experience teaching therapeutic writing and literature during summer 2008 and 2009 online. Many of the challenges Hulligan faced was condensing information into a six week program without compromising the integrity of the class, as well as trying to get students involved and motivated online. One way to do so, Hulligan separated assignments into low and high stake assignments on blackboard, including a mini bio in order to create the dynamic seen in the traditional classroom. Overall, Hulligan’s main objective was to create a tone thats inspiring for students. 

          Finally, Claudia Lingertat-Putnam who teaches in the counseling department, talked about her experience teaching a hybrid course usually taught as a graduate course. Lingertat-Putnam saw the immersion format as an opportunity for something different with the intense material covered in the class and skill building. Challenges faced begun with the way summer immersion is marketed, because the class is offered during the summer Lingertat-Putnam found it difficult to get students serious and committed to the three week course. At the end of the presentation, Lingertat-Putnam talked about the syllabus for CSL 597: Counseling Bereaved Children, course outline, and assignments students are involved in during this program. 

Below you will find the materials each presenter shared during the session. To hear this session, as well as past Provision sessions, please visit the “Session Podcast” link.

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Teaching in Online Environments


February 17, 2009: This month Provisions explored the world of teaching online. Presenters included Karen McGrath, Professor and Graduate Coordinator, Robert Flint, Associate Professor of Psychology, and Cailin Brown, Assistant Professor of Communications.  

          Dr. McGrath provided an overview of the blogging tool available on Blackboard. Students are encouraged to engage in conversations, post comments, and respond to questions via his or her blog. McGrath’s students are also able to explore other blogging sites and acquire templates for their own use. Overall, the class is designed to give students the chance to see what blogging is all about. Dr. Flint demonstrated how with a few modifications an in class exercise can easily be converted into an on line exercise. Flint’s students were to experience, first hand, some of the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional experiences of a person who is actually addicted to a drug by using ice cubes. The exercise included “purchasing”  ice cubes through a discussion board on line. Finally, Dr. Brown spoke about her Online Journalism class and the role Blackboard plays. Students are able to post story ideas, provide feedback, comment, and upload multimedia into their blogs. Brown talks about how on line journalism is a 24/7 cycle and requires experimenting. 

          Many questions and concerns that were discussed during this session were how to incorporate Blackboard into other courses, how to use wiki and other blog tools, and finally how communicating effectively and appropriately online is an important part of becoming a “digital citizen.”  

          Below you will find the materials in which each presenter shared during the session, as well as links to other helpful and informative resources.

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