The Teaching Hub: Week One Spring 2017

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Welcome to a new semester of The Teaching Hub! This weekly blog post is here to dole out tips, ideas, and important information about teaching at Fleming College in measurable, timely chunks throughout the semester. We hope you enjoy it enough to check in every week, and maybe even get involved in sharing your ideas. This week we’re looking backward at last week’s Teaching & Learning Day, and forward to all the teaching & development about to happen over the next couple of months. Let’s do it!

Gerald-G-Fast-Food-Drinks-FF-Menu-8-300px Engaging Teaching

Although the Spring Teaching and Learning Day (T&L Day) was last week, we hope you are still energized from all the learning, eating, sharing, and laughing that we did together!!

At the close of the day, Katrina Van Osch-Saxon and Brian Saxon shared their expertise with us as they demonstrated the “Water Boil” challenge that is part of the Loggersports competition. You can check out their demonstration by watching this video:

We felt that their demonstration was a great way to wrap up the day,  as did faculty member and new fan of the Water Boil challenge, Nick Stone, who had this to say:

The water boil loggersports activity at the end of the Fleming College Spring Teaching and Learning day was more than just a bit of fun; it actually showcased the power of good instruction through demonstration. The water boil demonstration was thoughtfully planned and even included some lovely husband-and-wife banter, which made the task seem less intimidating and more fun. The demonstration itself provided enough information that the small groups were able to carry out the majority of the task without any difficulty. It also allowed the instructors to spend more time helping the participants refine the skills they were exposed to, which involved the instructors coaching teams with technique tips and safety concepts. 

You can also access all of the information, presentations, and resources from T&L Day on our website!

 

aurium-Laptop-in-Line-Art-300px Learning Technology

D2L Thing of the Week

 Faculty D2L Level One: The D2L Apprentice.welcome

Do you want any or all of these three things to happen for only 20 minutes of your time?

  1. Positive feedback that will make you feel a good feeling.
  2. A shiny (digital) badge that you will cherish forever.
  3. A bit of D2L know-how and the chance to see it from a student’s perspective.

Okay! You can self-register for Faculty D2L Level One here, in the Help & Information Widget (yellow header, right-hand side, scroll ⇓).

Non-D2L Thing of the Week

Collaborative Note-Taking. Click on this tweet for the whole sordid tale.

Those sneaky students! Collaborating together right under our noses! Creating notes from each class for the benefit of everyone! BRILLIANT! We have created a Co-Curricular Record position for students to take a leadership role in this task. If you would be so kind as to share this idea with your students, please do! Please have interested students contact us directly if they want to do it, at LDSTeam@flemingcollege.ca

johnny-automatic-file-cabnet-drawers-300px College Departments

Gone in 60 Seconds, College Department Edition

Would you like to know more about some of the other departments the College has, via videos with low production value? But not so much that you wouldn’t be willing to spend more than a minute doing so? Well, you’re in luck! Check out the Gone in 60 Seconds Videos, where we have posted 60-second videos of various college departments telling you what they do for faculty. Each week in this section of the Teaching Hub, we will delve a little deeper into one of the various departments and what they are willing to do for faculty.

Catalina Race Track flickr photo by Blue Mountains Local Studies shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Ruler-300px Policies & Procedures

Class Absence Procedure

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Artistic vision via Sarah Beirness

…and if you’re not sure which one of Steve’s absences would have been approved, then check out the Class Absence Operating Procedure 2-205, stat!

Transmission-tower-by-Rones-300px Services for Students

Next week there will be a bunch of students showing up here at the college. They are a very important part of the college experience. Maybe they are even our raison d’être. They are so important to us here that many events and supports have been put in place to make sure they have a great start. These events can be categorized in your mind as Student Orientation. And what are the details of these events, you may ask? Well, here they are, we may answer.

carrito-de-la-compra-300pxProfessional Development

Interested in accessibility? Want to learn about the latest in adaptive technologies, A.O.D.A. standards, inclusive design, and more? Check out the 2017 Accessibility Conference: Becoming a Catalyst for Inclusion, hosted by the University of Guelph on May 30th and 31st, with a one day pre-conference option on May 29th.

If you’re interested in going, fill out the application here. 1-2 people will be sponsored to attend. The only price is your contribution to the deliverables of A.O.D.A. for Academics Working Group work. 

Chattering-teeth-300px Chatter

This section is for following up on discussions that previous posts may have generated. As an example, Matt Ryan was one of the attendees of the Creative Commons Global Summit that we previewed in a Winter 2017 PD section. He wrote this lovely little reflection on his experience. Thanks for sharing, Matt!

1488160614-300px More Information

Looking for more information? Visit the LDS Team website, give us a call at extension 1216, follow us on Twitter @FlemingLDS, or send us an email: LDSTeam@flemingcollege.ca

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The Teaching Hub: Best of Fall 2016 Edition

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Thanks for the fun idea, Lonnie! This issue of The Teaching Hub includes the ‘best of’ for each category from Fall 2016, as voted on by people who don’t know any better. Ties were broken via sumo wrestling. Included are runners-up (The Penultimates) and then winners (The Ultimates) and a few Side Awards for good measure. Please direct any disbelief/discontentment at the results to @pancakes_lonnie.

teac hing icon  Engaging Teaching

The Engaging Teaching category is used to give teachers some new or used ideas for engaging learning activities as well as to give faculty a chance to share what they are doing/thinking about in their teaching. The runner up & the winner for this category both come from faculty sharing what they do. It seems the Academy of Teaching Hub Voters thought that was pretty awesome. Congrats to Amanda and George!

Runner up: Amanda Mushynski’s ‘Here comes the Blog’ from Week 12

blobbbbbOnce in a while, the world is kind enough to give us worthy sequels like The Dark Knight, The Empire Strikes Back, and Hamlet 2. Today is another one of those days. We are proud to debut a second edition to Speakers Corner! You may have seen the original, by George Fogarasi, released back in 2016. Well, the sequel is coming to you from Amanda Mushynski of the PharmTech program and she is going to take you on an adventure into the world of Open Learning Communities through blogging. We’ve already read and enjoyed the article immensely ourselves, so we’re going to go watch Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, but go ahead and check it out to see if the exciting things PharmTech are doing could work for you (and even see some of the great work the students are doing). Check out Here Comes the BLOG!


Winner: George Fogarasi’s Digital Dance from Week 10

This week’s special episode of Engaging Teaching has a guest speaker! And by speaker, wespeaskers corner.gif mean that our guest speaker has written an article for us using digital tools that include a keyboard and a Word document. So it’s almost like he is speaking to us through the written word, like a writer! Anyway, our guest speaker this week is none other than George Fogarasi! George imparts concepts, skills, and ideas to students in a number of General Arts and Science courses. If you ever get the chance to have a chat with him, try not to let his enthusiasm and passion about just about anything rub off on you. I dare you! We asked George to speak to us, through writing down words, about Digital Pedagogy. He came back to us with a Digital Dance. Check it out, it’s great.

tech icon  Learning Technology

The Learning Technology section is used to tell you about digital tools, old and new, and some ways that you may be able to use them in your teaching.


Runner up: Faculty D2L Level 2 from Week 3

We’ve heard your feedback, and are proud to announce Faculty D2L Level Two is NOW available…

d2llevel2In this mastery-level course you will:

  1. Spend time thinking and learning about new ways to create and present content in your course pages;
  2. Learn and try out the new Virtual Classroom tool and other communication tools; and
  3. Learn about rubrics, and badges, and awards… oh my!

You can self-register for Level TWO on D2L, in the Help and Information Widget (yellow-header, right-hand side, scroll ⇓).

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Winner: Twitter Blog Combo Package from Week 12 (in Course Outline Format)

Course Title: The Twitter-Blog Learning Community Combo Package

Course Hours: 0.02    Pre-requisite: The ‘Here Comes The BLOG‘ article on Open Learning Communities Amanda Mushynski wrote that we just told you about in the previous section.

Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Consider using some of the ideas that Amanda has used to build learning community.

Learning Resources: To be honest, this fake course outline is the learning resource itself.

Assessment Summary: Learning Community Development Plan (100%). Please email it to alana.callan@flemingcollege.ca for feedback within the hour (no less than 50 pages)

Learning Plan: So just like, read the article and think about it and let it take you down any road you wish. You can contact Amanda or us if you’d like to try something and need some help!

Course Fee: $5 cash money discreetly slipped under the door of C1203.8


polci icon Policies & Procedures

The Policy & Procedures section is the timeliest of sections, as we try to pick the most pertinent college policy or procedure for that week to share to you. Because really, how much policy and or procedure can you really take at one time? Small doses are best.


Runner Up: Copyright from week 9

In honour of the Library, we have foregone the written word to provide you with a video interview about copyright policy. Turn up your volume because the camera-person who shot this video is a hack. And turn on the closed captioning. That helps.

See the Library’s dandy copyright libguide site by clicking those colourful words from earlier in this sentence that say ‘copyright libguide’. Marcia is at extension 1356 or copyright@flemingcollege.ca


Winner: Attribution from week 10

We’re playing fast and loose with the concept of a policy this week, because it is not a policy as much as it’s a suggested cool thing to do. It does involve procedure, so there’s that! This week we want to talk about attribution. Now first, let’s get trivial details like an explanation out of the way: By attribution, we mean that when you’re looking for (Creative Commons properly licensed) photos and stuff to add to your course pages (and other online spaces), you should be cool about it and give attribution. As in tell us where you got the picture so the artist gets some cred and feels good about themselves for contributing to a greater world.

hackeysackHere’s an example: At our Fall Teaching & Learning Day, we wanted to sort people into groups of four for an active learning activity. We Photoshopped famous active learner Judith Limkilde into various scenes. From there we created simple puzzles and gave everyone one piece so people could find each other and put it together to form a group. All images were found through Creative Commons Search and then used this flickr CC attribution helper tool (which saves this all from being a huge pain in the behind) to add attribution to the images, as you can see here. Now everyone is happy! Judith gets to do all these great activities, and the original photographers get the credit they deserve.


dept icon  College Departments

The College Department of the Week section is used for two things:

  1. To let faculty know what various college departments can do for them &
  2. To make up a fake battle-of-the-week that never really happened to determine the winners.

Side Award: best fake department of the week contest-The Battle of the Ska Bands from Week 5

This week, we held a battle of the ska bands for the glory of being the Teaching Hub Department of the Week. The Library’s house band, The Mighty Mighty Bosstomes, led by David Luinstra, brought down the house with their rendition of “Bad in Plaid.”


Runner up Department of The Week: IT Service Desk from Week 4

Winner of The Department of The Week Cage Match is the IT Service Desk! Check out this documentary directed by Alana Callan and starring Rick Robinson. Rick tells Alana how they are truly here for everyone.

and check out their website here.


Winner: Academic Operations and the Course Outline Due Date from week 12

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Sutherland Campus, Grid Version

In this week’s department of the week contest, we actually figured out how to send people into The Grid to have one of those Light-Cycle battles like in Tron. To date, Academic Operations is the only department to have made it back out. We’re sure the others are okay… While we wait and hope for the others to return from their digital nightmares, Academic Operations wanted us to give you a Pop Quiz! Here we go!

 

What do these 3 important events have in common?

  • 1901 – Walt Disney was born
  • 1933 – United States ends Prohibition with the ratification of the 21st Amendment
  • 2016 – Winter course outlines are due at Fleming College

Ding ding ding! These things all happen on December 5th! That’s right folks, your course outlines for the winter semester are due on December 5th. If you have questions about your course outlines, check out the How-to Guides and the FAQ from Academic Operations. Also, please if you know how to do a Human Grid Extraction, let us know.


student service icon  Services for Students

The Services for Students section is all about trickle-down. We let you know about something the students might want to know about, and hope that you in turn let them know about it. It’s a reverse pyramid scheme, or something.


Runner up: Text to Speech from Week 5

listen to this video while you read along to this week’s Services for Students section

Do you want to listen to, instead of read, your Microsoft Word documents? Of course you do (or you at least want to try it out)! It’s fun, easy, and free!

  1. Create a word document. We recommend putting funny phrases into it to practice and make yourself laugh. Or use an actual document. You pick. Check out this how-to video or the Accessibility Centre tip sheets to learn more about making a Word document accessible to screen readers.
  2. Add Speak to your Word quick access toolbar. Here are step-by-step instructions. Then highlight the words you want to read and get ready to listen to all the funny stuff you wrote in the Word document.
  3. Spread the word that text-to-speech software is the coolest! Share it with your students, your colleagues, your neighbours, and especially your barista.

Disclaimer: We know the Microsoft reader voice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea at first, but hey, it might just grow on you. Do you have other tech you use for text-to-speech? Share please!


Winner: Student Life Tab from Week 6

According to Google, a portal is “a doorway, gate, or entrance, especially a large and elaborate one.”  Fleming College originally wanted to call its portal The Especially Large and Elaborate Entrance, but it just didn’t quite stick. This week in the Services for Students section, we want to highlight how the portal has recently become more especially awesome and grand.

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Student Services has put together a snazzy new Student Life tab in the portal to help students (and faculty and staff!) find the right resources when they need them.

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pretty slick looking, eh?

Clicking on the pretty icons gives you a list of available resources, and there’s even a link for staff-only resources, including the CCR. Now, to give credence to the CCR, we need to be clear that it is not the doo-doo-doo looking out your backdoor kind of CCR, but the Co-Curricular Record kind of CCR. Both CCRs are awesome. Check out Fleming’s CCR in the Student Life Portal while listening to the other CCR, linked below from their verified Youtube account.


pdicon Professional Development

The Professional Development section is to share with you things you can do to develop in a professional way. These opportunities can be big or small or even kind of medium sized.


Runner Up: Top Ten Conferences from Week 8

This post was from week 8 was moved to our department site to keep forever and ever. Check out the Top Ten Conferences we thought you might be interested in!

Number 10

 


Winner: UDL comes alive from Week 10

michael_jackson UDL Comes Alive

This zombie-reminiscent headline might seem like it belongs back in our “Spooky” edition, but it’s really just the title of the Universal Design for Learning presentations held at George Brown College during week 8. Several faculty members attended the Introduction to UDL session, while members of our very own LDS Team attended the UDL Presenters’ Academy, both hosted by CAST. Participants learned about how to address the learner variability in every classroom, and how to support students to become expert learners. Stay tuned for more from those who participated in the sessions…
For now, here’s Mary’s first attempt at a Storify (with thanks to Alana for the inspiration!), including some tweets (#UDLComesAlive) from that day: https://storify.com/maryoverholt/getting-started


communicate icon Chatter

The Chatter section is normally used to beg you, the reader, to get involved by commenting or sharing some teachy-type stuff with us. This week, we’re using it for more silly awards.


Side Award: Best Edition.

In week 5 we started to give some flavour to the editions.

Runner Up: The Bike is Upside Down Edition

Through the magic of Photoshop, we flipped the bike around and called it a day on naming that week’s post.

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Winner: The Pumpkin Spice Edition

If they can have Pumpkin Spiced Mini-Wheats (which were kind of gross, btw) we can have a Pumpkin-Spiced blog post.

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Side Award: Best beg for help

We unabashedly begged for your involvement in the Hub. Our favorite was the time we devoted a whole edition to begging in the Call for Help Edition in which we asked for help with Open Faculty Development Textbook Project


Side Award: Best comment

We love it when people comment on our posts, especially when the comment shares new ideas and insights. However, in the spirit of it being the end of the semester and brains are running out of thinking energy, here is the comment to which we have awarded the Best Comment Award:

What do we win – what do we win – is it chocolate???

Comment by ‘A’ left on November 28th


Side Award: Best heckle by Lonnie

Oh Lonnie, thorn in our side and wind beneath our wings. Here is our favorite Lonnie comment:


Side Award: Best Award

This right here ‘best award’ award is awarded the ‘best award’ award.

info icon More Information

This section is used to let you know how to get in touch with us and stuff. We did it well in week 11 and really knocked it out of the park in week 2.


Runner Up: Week 11

Looking for more information? Visit the LDS Team website, give us a call at extension 1216, follow us on Twitter @FlemingLDS or send us an email: LDSTeam@flemingcollege.ca!


Winner: Week 2

Looking for more information? Visit the LDS Team website, give us a call at extension 1216, follow us on Twitter @FlemingLDS or send us an email: LDSTeam@flemingcollege.ca!

 

See you next year!

Introducing the Fleming Course Share Registry

 

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Would you like to share what you do in D2L with your Fleming colleagues? Do you want to see what others are doing to get some great ideas?

OPEN
image credit: flickr.com/mag3737/

Let’s open D2L up a little bit so that we can see what can be done and riff off of each other’s ideas. Seeing each other’s good work can be inspiring and motivating. Working in a lonely silo is maybe not so much.

Sign up for the Fleming Course Share Registry to allow access to your courses. The more you share, the more will be shared to you. Once you are granted access, you will be able to see how other teachers have presented material, as well as learning activities and assessments. You may see some innovative ideas that you could use with your courses. You will not see any student information in your colleague’s courses. You will be enrolled in the role of ‘Sharing Buddy’ 🙂

Course Share Registry List: See the list of which courses you may have access to if you’d like

Fill out the form at the bottom of this page to add your courses to the list and/or request access to one of the courses.

The more you give the more you get!

 

Chickens, Canoes, and Curriculum: Aligning & Building Curriculum 2016

A group of Fleming faculty and staff attended the Aligning & Building Curriculum (ABC) Institute 2016 at Elmhirst Resort in May. We enjoyed the great location, food, and networking with colleagues from other institutions across the province. Oh, and we also learned about curriculum. Here’s the link to the ABC Resources, so you too can access information on learning outcomes, curriculum mapping, and Quality Assurance. Here are a few highlights of the programme.

Jodie Boudreau facilitated a very well received concurrent session on Universal Design for Learning, and brought the group outside to learn while taking advantage of the beautiful location and weather:

Flip Charts

Evening walks around the property revealed the source of some of the delicious food provided by Elmhirst:

Chickens

The weather cooperated long enough for us to take advantage of Elmhirst’s canoes (and we didn’t tip!):

Canoing

And participants, including Chris Cole, demonstrated their learning in creative ways during the Showcase on the final day:

Chris Cole

If you are interested in learning more about ABC, please get in touch with the people who attended this year’s programme: Chris Cole, Casey van den Heuvel, Eva Rees, Amanda Rochon, Jodie Boudreau, and Mary Overholt.  If you’re interested in attending ABC next year, talk with your Chair/Supervisor/Manager, or an LDSTeam member to learn more!

Mary (on behalf of, and with additions from, the ABC 2016 crew)

Badges? We have your badges…

Interested in awarding badges for achievement or advancement for your students? We have yer stinkin’ badges!

treasure-of-sierra-madre-badges
Yes we have them now!

With our recent upgrade to D2L, we received a number of upgrades to current tools, and were able to integrate D2L (Brightspace) Badges/Awards tool into your current and future course pages.
What are Badges? Well, they are what you remember them to be: an artifact of achievement that you can show or share to indicate a proficiency in a certain skill or knowledge. Students can decide to share them on their D2L profile, or through social media. They can take them with them (download them), showcase them on their portfolio, and add them to their digital identity. Check out this short video from D2L on the awards tool.

Badges in D2L – How to Create Them
1. From the Assessments tab on the navigation bar in D2L, select the “Awards” option.

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2. Click on “Course Awards,” and then “Add Award to Course” to begin.

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Here are the current badge images available to use:

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Want to learn more about how to use badges with your learners? Please contact the LDS Team at LDSTeam@flemingcollege.ca or by calling extension 1216.

Alana

Retreat and Reflect

Copy of IMAG0609On May 3rd, we hosted the Academic Division Retreat. We chose the theme ‘Re-framing’, as in re-framing your thinking, your perspective, even your synapses! What we provided were some sessions, workshops and spaces that tried to open people to new ways of looking at things. We tried to do that through workshops on culture and community and also by transforming the lower cafeteria in to a hands-on ‘Makerspace’ where attendees could get engaged in creating things. If you want to see some pics from the day, click here

After the day we send out a request for feedback that we could add to this blog post. Here are some snippets.  Thank you for the feedback!

  • Thanks, it was a fantastic event!
  • Always enjoy being part of these events. Top marks to the LDS team! Especially Terry (Editor’s Note: That last part was added by Terry himself)
  • I always attend Divisional retreats, they are a great opportunity to exchange between the academic and service areas and find new ways to collaborate.
  • Like, like, like. More like these events please. More interactivity, more fun, more playing, more silliness, more Hufflepuff, more, more, more!
  • I’m loving the direction of these days… they just keep getting better!
  • Literally everything I attended worked well for me. I was impressed by the diversity of options available, and the sessions really spoke to my current interests and needs.
  • Having a choice between the three streams and then the individual sessions. I was able to tailor the day to my needs.
  • I participated in the “two-eyed seeing” session and the experiential learning aspect of the session was very powerful. I would like some ideas on how to incorporate experiential learning into my curriculum
  • Sometimes, the self introduction part of individual sessions takes time away from delivering the “take home tools” that we as teachers can use.
  • I think we need focus on curriculum design and redesign
  • Perhaps just a bit more time so that there is at least 45 minutes dedicated to Makerspace (it could be towards the end for the keeners like me :))
  • I liked the “craft” aspect of some of the activities. I get thoroughly sick of doing everything on the computer, so creating something on paper stimulated both my manual and creative dexterity.
  • I liked that it was “go at your own pace”. We could pick and choose which stations appealed to us, and could spend more time at those that “sparked” an interest. I also like the variety of options available. The “dress up in the free market” was my favourite 😉
  • I found the brain centre fantastic! I made some huge leaps in my understanding of accommodation while trying to push around a backwards bike! I was disappointed that I did not get to make a chair!
  • I really enjoyed. It was a fun, informal way to explore new concepts and meet new people. I prefer this format to standard lecture-style sessions. I know budget is an issue, but I would love to see more tech to play with and learn about.
  • I attended “Creating Accessible Documents” and “Teaching & Learning Community of Practice”. I really liked both options. The most beneficial part of the sessions was coming away with new options and contacts for support. As well, both sessions provided valuable resources.
  • I liked having a practical project and seeing/using some of the college facilities (wood shop) that I haven’t used before.
  • Just found it very confusing initially. then I understood it after hanging around for a bit. But I think whoever is at the table they should have a small demo set up at special times first. That would make things easier and more understood, and open for questions.
  • Loved the backwards bike and demonstration of neuropathways – applied learning!

Moving forward, we certainly want to improve these events so we have taken this feedback and will work it in to the next event (Location, time, details, everything TBA!). Please comment below if you have any further suggestions for us.

Thanks for reading!

Terry

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Planning to Reflect… Preflection?

Next Tuesday, May the 3rd, we will be getting together for another Academic Retreat at the Sutherland Campus. The theme for the day is re-framing your perspective and will be focused on 3 streams:

  1. Academic Council Updates
  2. Culture and Community
  3. Teaching and Learning With Engagement

The first two streams will be delivered through workshops and seminars at specific times and places. See session info here. The 3rd stream is taking the Wild West approach of a ‘Makerspace’. We will transform the cafeteria area into a place with many different, mostly DIY areas for creating things. This will hopefully do two things: put you back into the mindset of a student for a short period, and give you ideas and experience creating things for your courses. The point is to produce stuff during the time we have together. Hopefully stuff we can use!

Some of the things we are hoping will be created: contributions to our community of practice assignment bank, videos, GIFs, images, blog posts, games, chairs, flexible learning spaces, accessible documents, comics. You will also have the opportunity to retrain your brain! That rhymes so it’s good! And everything will be tweeted. We plan to be the Peterborough Twitter trend of the day. We will all be a part of history.

With that in mind, there is one thing we would really like to produce on that day with your help: Our next blog post. And we want that post to be a reflection on the day. So please, if you’re willing, come to the table that says Bloggy Bloggy Bloggy Blog (like the image below) and write a short paragraph reflecting on one of your retreat experiences (from any stream). We will collect those quotes/reflections into our next blog post so that we can all learn from each other. See you there!

Terry

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Wanna Get Engaged?

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We all have different things that float our boats, and in learning it’s no different.  The variability in learning is HUGE! Every learner’s ideal learning environment has different elements in it.  You might like to learn outside, I might like inside.  You might like reading from paper, I might like reading from a screen. You might like to listen, I might like to read.  You might like face to face, I might like online. You might like teams, I might like individual. You get the idea.

Sometimes learning preferences aren’t preferences at all – they’re necessities.  For example, if I can’t see, having text in an accessible electronic format isn’t my preference, it’s my requirement! I would need a document that interacts with my navigation and text to speech technology so I access the information (BTW – accessible electronic texts benefit all learners, not just those with sensory disabilities… more on that another time.)  So accessible electronic options aren’t just a nice to have, they’re a requirement for learning environments.

These environmental preferences and needs are incredibly varied and so are our brains.  Every brain is unique and ever-changing (Cue: Your Fantastic Elastic Brain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch3kbXBah5Y ).  We each have varying strengths in cognitive processes such as memory, attention, language, processing speed, and spatial reasoning. We each have different capacities for this at different times.  For example, my memory is generally quite good, but if I’m tired, my memory does not operate at the same capacity. We see and experience this variability every day in our learning environments.

As we all know, the variables I mention here are just the tip of the iceberg. With so many varying variables (see what I did there?), how can we design learning spaces that engage everyone?

Help is on the way!

The Universal Design for Learning framework is a learning design framework that is based on neuroscience research about the immense variability in how the human brain learns. From this research, CAST (the pioneers of UDL) have created a framework with 3 broad principles and each principle has guidelines and checkpoints.  All this is to help educators design learning experiences that work for the widest range of learners.

CAST is focusing more and more of their work and research on learning engagement, purpose and motivation because it plays a critical part in learning and learning design.  Such cool stuff.

CAST has put together the Top 10 UDL Tips for Designing an Engaging Learning Environment. These tips are a quick and dirty overview of designing for engagement.

  1. Create clear, specific goals
  2. Minimize distractions
  3. Present flexible assessment options
  4. Provide frequent, formative feedback
  5. Incorporate authentic and relevant examples
  6. Ensure resources and supports meet the demands of the task
  7. Increase opportunities for collaboration
  8. Share examples and non-examples
  9. Offer time for active reflection on learning and engagement
  10. Support risk taking

Your learning design probably includes many of these elements already. Way to go, you! Knowing that these design choices will improve engagement provides even more incentive to expand these options and celebrate what you’re already doing for your learners.

For the full text of these tips with more information, resources and suggestions, go to this link 

Engagement isn’t just a happy coincidence; engagement can be designed.

For more about designing engaging learning environments, come to our Academic Retreat on May 3rd! More information here.

What are some ways you design for engagement? What tips would you add to this list?

P.S. Want more in depth info about designing engaging learning environments? Check out this free webinar from CAST is about learner variability with a focus on designing for engagement.

The 9 x 9 x 25 Challenge

… But really, we’ll take 1 x 25

(aka Blogging About Blogging… and Getting Others to Blog: The Meta-Blog Post)

You, as a faithful reader and supporter of our LDS Team blog, know that we (ahem, @greeneterry) have set a goal to produce one blog post each week, taking turns to do so. Thus far, we’ve tackled professional learning (a topic you’ll be hearing much more from us about in the coming weeks and months), classroom management, game-based learning, and proactive communication with students. Those of you who were at our Week 8 Academic Division Retreat will have recognized some of the “humblebrag” stories shared there as well. Now, we would like to keep that conversation going, and provide all Fleming faculty and staff members with an opportunity to share with colleagues, while simultaneously relieving us of our weekly guilt-trip from Terry about who’s writing the blog post!joinus-black

Teaching & eLearning Support at Yavapai College challenged their faculty members to create 9 pieces of writing with 25 sentences or more each week for 9 weeks – the 9 x 9 x 25 Challenge. They wanted to “give faculty a playful space to share and learn and to see what colleagues are doing in classes… and push teachers to be reflective practitioners in the field of education” (We Triple Dog Dare You). Their challenge included a final blog about their blogging experience (a blog about a blog; how meta!). In it the professors reflected on how their attitudes toward teaching and learning changed, grew, were inspired by, and/or reflected in their blog posts. Some were surprised to find they had “whined” through many of their posts. Some were inspired by the writing and work of their colleagues. Mostly, they wrote about how challenging it was to produce 9 25-sentence pieces of writing in a week!

So while we share the short- and long-term goals of the 9 x 9 x 25 challenge, we would never put that much pressure on you, our already busy faculty members! Let’s face it, if we struggle to get one post done per week, and there are 5 of us, how could we expect 9 posts from anyone else in one week?

So, here’s the Fleming version of the challenge: Share something with us. We will, in turn, share it via our blog with our many and varied readers (444 hits to far, thank you very much!).

It can be about

  • successes in the classroom,
  • challenges you’ve faced/are facing/would like help with,
  • a new tool/idea/piece of technology you’re using,
  • the professional learning you’re engaged in (including participating in our Communities of Practice on D2L)

The possibilities are endless. But the blog post is not. We’d be happy with 25 sentences, or more, or less. Pose a question, link to some resources, use the self-referential links we on the LDS Team are so fond of. There are lots of ways to get to 25, or 12, or 40 sentences. And we’ll even provide editorial help.

Who knows; just might start a conversation with colleagues, or inspire your own blog, or even motivate you to facilitate a session at our next Academic Division Retreat (taking place on Tuesday, May 3rd – mark your calendars, more information to come soon)!

(Note: Now this blog post is exactly 25 sentences in length!)

Email us at LDSTeam@flemingcollege.ca if you’d like to participate. That sentence doesn’t count in the total. Or that one. Or that and this one.joinus-black

Proactive Communication with Students (Or: How I Learned To Avoid Unnecessary Appeals)

Fleming has recently adopted a revised Academic Appeal Policy and Procedures, which places emphasis on specified grounds for appeal, and the use of restorative practice. The LDS Team had the opportunity to plan and implement training sessions for Appeal Panel members and, more recently at our Academic Retreat, for all members of the Academic Division. While this may not sound like an exciting topic (Editor’s Note: Zzzzzzzzz), these training sessions actually opened up some interesting conversations among colleagues, specifically related to how we can avoid unnecessary appeals through things like proactive communication with students. (Editor’s Note: I’m awake!)

No faculty member wants to be faced with an appeal, to have their student feel like they’ve been treated unfairly, or to have their course or assessment called into question. So what can we, as faculty, do to prevent these uncomfortable situations from happening? Here’s what’s come out of our conversation so far: As we know, the first day of class is an important opportunity to set expectations for our students. What happens during that first class can (and should) set the tone for the remainder of the course. So make sure that you include a conversation with your students (you probably do already) that goes beyond learning their names and favourite colours (Two Truths & a Lie, anyone?)(Editor’s Note: I’m 6 feet tall, favorite colour is green and I have 4 bikes). Introduce (briefly) the idea of restorative practice, and emphasize that you would far rather hear from students throughout the semester than wait to get an appeal form after the semester ends.

Things to address:

  • How and when can students best get in touch with you: during office hours (whether in person or online), by email, at the end of class?;
  • Your openness to proactive communication and feedback from students; and
  • What they should do if they require accommodations.

Conversations with students, especially about grades and constructive feedback, are not always easy. Faculty Focus addresses the “I Deserve a Better Grade on This” Conversation, asking faculty to come to these difficult conversations with an understanding that “whether you’re the teacher or the student, these aren’t easy conversations. It’s not in either party’s interest to back down. But that need to defend a position should not become an obstacle that compromises what both parties can learn from these conversations.”

We all get busy (Editor’s note: Phrasing!) throughout the semester, but wherever possible, try to communicate proactively with students who are struggling. Send an I-haven’t-seen-you-in-two-weeks email to someone who’s MIA; as the official Withdraw date approaches, try to let students know of their progress in the course (in addition to the D2L Gradebook; students sometimes struggle to understand how the gradebook is set up).

And when issues do arise, keep records of your communication with students. Ideally, after you have a conversation with a student, send a follow-up email to confirm what was decided (let’s face it, it will help you to remember, too!). Keep your sent emails (Outlook will do that for you!), as well as any supporting documentation provided by a student. That way, if a student does decide to appeal, you’ll be prepared. But hopefully, given your proactive communication, they never will!