Good Learning Principles in Canvas

Teaching Effectively in Canvas

I’ve been asked how a course framework (e.g. a course site in a Learning Management System such as Canvas) can encourage better learning. This is an early/simplified attempt at explaining and identifying what those indicators might be, and how they can increase learning. This is work inspired in part by Gee’s identification of 13 principles of good learning in good games. General Principles of Learning We are sensing and social animals. Embodied: we learn most powerfully through direct interaction with our environment, through Continue reading

Engagement & Gamification Takeaways

maze

I was recently asked to briefly summarize “takeaways” for gamification and student engagement. This was not easy for me, as there is so much on these topics, and so many nuances that defy summary. As a student of Squire, Gee, Steinkuehler, Halverson, etc, it is perhaps no surprise that I used Gee’s 13 principles as a base. I am sure there are things I’ve missed. Gamification: Players (learners) are not alike: Some like to accumulate points, but some play to socialize, some to explore, Continue reading

Google Forms as a Student Response System

I led a workshop Wednesday, March 30 from 2-4:30 on how to do this and get other types of formative feedback. Details here. I’ve been figuring out how to use Google Forms as an alternative to costly student response systems (SRS, aka “clickers”). I presented on it at EDUCAUSE Connect in 2014 using Google Sites as a (clumsy) prototype that I had session participants access quickly with their devices at bit.ly/mobileconnect. But I haven’t had the time to dig into it Continue reading

Communications Strategy — The Active Teaching Lab

While image is NOT everything, the presentation of a program is important in conveying what it’s really about. That’s why, in our communication plan, as in our sessions, we aim to be clear, playful, and branded. Clear We aim to make the language used in communications concise and clear, actively limiting unnecessary sentences and words. Because we understand the power of the visual, we will communicate with graphics as much and often as possible. Playful We know that learning is more Continue reading

The Active Teaching Lab

Active Teaching Lab banner

I’ve been very lucky to be given the go ahead to turn this pilot into a program! We’re doing fun stuff again this semester! Sponsored by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW Teaching Academy, the Active Teaching Lab provides a safe space and refreshments for structured explorations of the cool teaching tools and techniques that your peers are using to engage students and teach more effectively. If you missed an event, each session page has a link to a video of the Continue reading

Designed [Learning] Experiences

legoland

This article, “Why Schools And Hospitals Should Be More Like Theme Parks” speaks to the call for the design of what Ellsworth calls processual paths through pedagogically charged learning environments (Ellsworth, 2005). While this author focuses on physically-designed space, I recommend reading as if it were describing a semester’s course schedule, or even an hour of class time. For example, this excerpt: THE ANATOMY OF A MAGICAL EXPERIENCE So what does a well-designed environment look like? Varied rhythms are key—you Continue reading

A Game Design Framework for Course Design

Who is the Course Designer? Jamie attends a class that her instructor has spent months creating. Her instructor, let’s call him Dr. X, has slaved to make sure that all the content he wants to cover fits in the course. He has active learning activities peppered throughout the semester. He has chosen the best readings for each of the topics. He has weekly quizzes written to keep students accountable, and tests designed not just to assess but to teach. He Continue reading

Blending Active Learning with Twitter

As some of you know, I have been using Twitter the past 2 years in my CP125 (and have had several instructor consultations. Twitter shows some promise for blended and active learning (constructive) to crowd-source (student-source?) content application and knowledge construction. WHO TWEETS? Although not everyone has a Twitter account, all of my Fall 2013 Freshmen students had a Twitter account, and 18 of 24 of my Fall 2014 Freshmen students had one. Everyone had Facebook, but using it for Continue reading

An Active/Interactive Learning Story

The Wisconsin Experience seminar class I teach has provided a fantastic opportunity for me to try out a bunch of teaching strategies. Although I love to talk, one of the big experiments is structuring activities where students construct their own knowledge, and do so socially — through interactions and co-construction of their knowledge with their peers (See Chi, 2009 for definitions).  The physical layout of Sterling’s Collaborative Learning Classroom helps tremendously. It’s almost impossible to just lecture in this space. The activity represented here was an exploration of the Continue reading

Teaching for Graduate Student Instructors

Pedagogical Treatments for Graduate Student Instructors  (GSIs) I’ve been thinking about his for some time. Thought I should write something up on it. Overview I propose that someone create small programs to improve the teaching of GSIs — in conjunction (and collaboratively) with various entities on campus to identify and target needs, to avoid programming in areas that do overlap, and to capitalize on lines of communication to potential participants. Benefits: This proposal addresses a problem that has not been adequately Continue reading

Connect Wisconsin MOOC!

I’d like to see a Connect Wisconsin! MOOC that leverages the already-EI-funded mobile research tool with a campaign of quests led by UW-Madison student researchers (essentially undergraduate course leaders), where some quests are seeded, and some are solicited and chosen by popular vote (Reddit-style), and then citizens across the state use our new mobile research platform to collect data and document the issues (and potential solutions). Results are tagged, geo-coded, and given peer feedback. Essentially, this would be an exercise in sharing with Continue reading

Backwards Design isn’t enough

Learning through real-world inquiry

The idea of “Backwards Design” is hot at our university right now, and for all the good it does (getting instructors to think about content transfer in terms of Learning Objectives is a wonderful step forward!), it still often falls short and over-emphasizes the evidence of understanding part — “students will demonstrate understanding of content through [Activity X or Test Y].” In other words: “I know I’ve succeeded in transferring the content I need to transfer because students will demonstrate that they have that Continue reading

OK, Blended Learning — How about Blended Teaching?

I’m a conscientious teacher. I work pretty hard to ensure that learning activities are driven foremost by learning goals, and I work pretty hard to avoid “easy-for-me; crappy-for-student” learning activities, where they spit back content in multiple choice tests. But there’s no denying that I get really tired doing it this way. And there’s no denying that I mess up from time to time. And sometimes I really long for the simplicity and clarity that quantitative, multiple-choice assessment offers in spades. Continue reading