Learning Communities as a High-Impact Practice
Learning communities are high-impact instructional practices that engage people to work together toward a common goal—students working with students, faculty working with faculty within the same discipline or from different disciplines, or students working with faculty. Learning communities can have a “high-impact” on student outcomes through the “integration of learning across courses” and disciplines (LEAP, n.d.). Although each learning community may take on a slightly different focus, they consist of a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in a learning endeavor toward a common goal during a prescribed period of time. The typical time period for a successful learning community in an academic setting is one semester.
Developing and Posting Recorded Lectures with Adobe Presenter
Adobe Presenter is a plug-in for PowerPoint that allows faculty to convert slide presentations, such as lectures or tutorials, into interactive videos that can be posted online. Adobe Presenter allows faculty to enrich their presentations by adding multimedia content such as text, images, audio, and video, as well as incorporating numerous interactions to better engage students. According to Paralejas, “My overall assessment of Adobe Presenter is that it is a very helpful and intuitive tool that online courses should continue to utilize to develop quality lecture/audio slideshow presentations.”
New Blackboard Observer Role Supports Student Success
This Spring, the Division of IT introduced the Observer role in Blackboard. This role is designed to allow academic counselors and other support staff to monitor the progress and performance of the students they work with.
New Online Program Development and Support Services Now Available
It’s now easier than ever before for faculty and staff interested in online teaching to receive support for developing and teaching new online courses online at NIU. The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and eLearning Services have joined forces to provide centralized support for online course design and development as part of the new Office of Online Program Development and Support (OPDS). The office is building communities of support and inquiry for faculty engaging in online instruction and interested in research in the field. Additionally, OPDS will engage online learners in a supportive community, reflecting best practices identified by research in the field.
Trends in Blackboard Tools Usage at NIU
Blackboard Learn, the course management system utilized by Northern Illinois University faculty, staff, teaching assistants, and students, continues to be an important platform for facilitating teaching at learning at NIU, with over 96% of students and 92% of teaching faculty using the system during Fall 2014. To gain even more insight into how NIU faculty and students are using Blackboard, the Division of Information Technology has implemented new custom reporting capabilities within Blackboard that extends the built-in statistics tracking features for tracking individual tool usage by course. As a result, we have an even better understanding of overall Blackboard adoption and tool use at NIU and will be able to track usage trends over time.
New Blackboard Features Coming in May
This year’s update to Blackboard is smaller than some years, but it still has a big impact on teaching and learning. The update (planned to occur over Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, 2015) will move NIU to the April 2014 Release of Blackboard. Read on to learn about what changes you can expect, including a completely redesigned portfolio system, SafeAssign integration with the Assignment tool, a new student preview mode, and anonymous and delegated grading.
New Clicker Device on Campus
In Spring 2015, Turning Technologies began selling a new student response system device, their “QT” model. This QT device replaces the previous NXT model that was sold the last few years. The full keyboard on the QT makes providing text-based answers easier, useful for those times when short answer or essay questions are preferred over multiple choice or true/false questions. This makes it easier to use short answer and essay questions for higher-stakes in-class quizzes and exams using clickers.
Spring 2015 Teaching Effectiveness Institute on Getting Credit for What You Do
Laurie Richlin, professor and chair of the Department of Medical Education, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine presented two, half-day workshops on getting credit for what you do. Upon check-in for both workshops, participants were presented with a copy of Dr. Richlin’s book, Blueprint for Learning: Creating College Courses to Facilitate, Assess, and Document Learning, which details much of what was presented during the institute. Getting Credit for What You Do: Designing an Evidence-Based Course, Dr. Richlin discussed ways faculty can demonstrate how well their teaching facilitates their students’ learning. Using a worksheet and through discussions, participants had the opportunity to document their teaching/learning decisions and results so that their colleagues and intelligent non-experts can understand what they are doing. Participants were lead through the evidence-based course design process, which allowed them to identify traditional activities and ideas they felt were appropriate for documentation.
Online Teaching Effectiveness Institute featured High Impact Practices and Portfolios
During the first day of the Spring 2015 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, faculty and staff participated in two one-half day professional development sessions offered in a fully online environment. 47 faculty from across 25 academic departments participated in the morning session High-Impact Practices: Fostering Student Engagement, Success, and Retention, which featured presentations from NIU faculty and staff who currently use high impact practices to support teaching and learning. Speakers representing a range of departments including Julia Spears, Stephanie Zobac and Michaela Holtz of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning; Denise Rode, First- and Second-Year Experience; Courtney Gallaher, Department of Geography/Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; and Alicia Schatteman, Non-profit Management School of Public Administration & The Center for NGO Leadership and Development shared examples and lessons learned while using high impact practices at NIU.
Spectrum is a newsletter for faculty published every fall and spring semester by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, Adams Hall 319, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois 60115. Phone: (815) 753-0595, Email: email@example.com, Web site: www.niu.edu/facdev. For more information about featured articles or upcoming faculty development programs, please contact the Center at (815) 753-0595 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: 03/26/2015