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Rock the first day!

January 8, 2016
Rock Concert

The Spring semester starts Tuesday at Notre Dame, and instructors are thinking about how they can get off on the right foot. Spending most of the time going through a syllabus is one of the worst ideas — another is excusing students early, as if you can’t think of anything to do.

Work on creating a first impression that reflects what students will be doing during the course. Technology figures into this in several ways; here are a few.

Ahead of time

  • Classroom technology – avoid surprises by making sure you know what is in the room and how to use it.
  • Welcome email – enthusiastically tell students a little about the course,  perhaps including a link to an appropriate video.
  • Online syllabus – posting it on a website means it’s always available. If you have to make changes, any new versions should indicate when they were updated.

During class

  • Presentation – use high-quality images to tell a story embodying a course concept that comes up early. PLEASE don’t fill slides with bullet points!
  • Survey – use Poll Everywhere or another response technology to get a sense of students’ prior knowledge or learn about their expectations for the course.
  • Concept map – ask students to create an image with Google Draw or Slides, illustrating how they (or an expert) would explain a topic or issue.

Here’s some more help – 20 ways to rock the first day!

Image credit: flickr photo by motumboe shared under a Creative Commons license.

Presentation Zen rubric

January 6, 2016

pzenThe other day a faculty member asked me if there were rubrics that follow the principles outlined in Garr Reynolds’ book, Presentation Zen. I love it when people ask great questions! After several years of conducting workshops based on Reynolds’ book I had never thought about a rubric. A web search produced some interesting attempts but nothing to my liking, so I drafted my own (only the mastery level is included and a few items are not strictly from the book).

This is something you might want to give students when you assign a presentation. You could also use it to find out how closely your own presentations follow the ideas presented in the book.

Don’t forget that Presentation Makeover Week is February 1-5!

Presentation Zen rubric

Click above to access the rubric as a Google Doc. You can then use the Google Drive File menu to save a copy or download it as a Word file. Please share your reactions and suggestions in the comments.

Learn more

Recording an elevator pitch – what? why?

December 15, 2015

ElevatorThe elevator door closes and standing next to you is a person who can change your life. There is only a short time to make a point with your captive audience before the door opens once more.

That’s the metaphor behind the elevator pitch, a short speech aimed at explaining or persuading. The idea is popular in higher education, where students may be asked to produce several varieties with different goals:
Learn how to make a pitch >>

Low stress image activities

December 8, 2015

Are you looking for a media-making activity that’s not a ridiculous technical challenge for college students? If you want students to concentrate on crafting a visual message and not spend a lot of time learning a new tool, then try asking them to add text to an image. Sounds pretty simple, right? Tony Vincent of Learning in Hand calls this kind of graphic an “Infopic.” In the video below he does a nice job of explaining how you can incorporate them into a class.

Watch the video and learn more >>

Instead of flipping – maximize!

November 18, 2015

be wise, digitize, maximize

That was the title of a five-minute “lightning talk” by Amanda Dills at the 2015 POD Conference. An Instructional Technologist at Oklahoma City University, Amanda started with the premise that face-to-face classroom time is the most valuable commodity instructors have, and our goal should be to make the best possible use of it. The heart of her talk was an original three-part strategy for moving class time usage away from content delivery toward active learning.

Be wise: carefully determine what kinds of activities are most worthy of class time. Amanda had us take a BuzzFeed-style quiz to help start that process.

Digitize: use technology to move other activities out of class. Amanda suggested a few ways to do this and provided a more detailed list of 40 Ways to Digitize Instruction.  For me, this strategy was the takeaway for the session — it’s much more comprehensive than replacing lecture with videos (what flipping boils down to for many folks).

Maximize: the ideal results will be more effective class time with students and more free time for you.

Learn more about Amanda’s technique by reading What is Maximizing? at her new blog.

[image created at Imgflip]

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