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Fall 2009

Teaching First-Year Students

Teaching First-Year Students

With anticipation each fall, teaching assistants look forward to a new year on campus: new courses to teach, new teaching strategies to try, and a whole new group of students. In addition to the returning students teaching assistants have not met before, many of the new faces TAs see each new semester are college freshmen, otherwise known as first-year students. Although first-year students differ in age, experiences, traditions and backgrounds, the majority of them are between 18 and 22 years old.

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Faculty Development is Now on Facebook

Faculty Development is Now on Facebook

Are you a Facebook user?  If so, you can now receive notices of new Faculty Development programs and resources as well as connect with Faculty Development staff on Facebook. 

In September 2009 Facebook has grown to 300 million users across the world, in essence becoming the largest social network on the web. It was at 250 million only in July of 2009. Such rapid and continued growth has had immense implications for its users. There’s an ever increasing number of people and organizations Facebook users can follow and a plethora of applications they can have installed on their accounts to stay in touch with current friends, finds new ones, follow the news and keep up with professional development.

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Blackboard Grade Center

Timesaving Tips Using the Blackboard Grade Center

Beginning with Blackboard 8.0, the former Gradebook has been rebuilt and includes many new features for managing student grades and feedback. Here are a few timesaving tips for using the newest features in the Blackboard Grade Center.

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Accessing Blackboard Courses on Facebook and Mobile Devices

Accessing Blackboard Courses on Facebook and Mobile Devices

Over the last few years student use of various social networking sites and mobile technologies has grown exponentially. Realizing that students spend countless hours on Facebook, many organizations and educational institutions have started to seek ways of creating their own presence on social networks in an attempt to make relevant educational information more readily available to students in the environment they are already familiar with.

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Self and Peer Assessment

Self and Peer Assessment

Sometimes, students need more than just their teaching assistants’ feedback. Students benefit from learning to assess their own work and from evaluating the work of their peers.

There are many benefits to self and peer assessment. The most obvious benefit to self assessment is that it encourages autonomy and independence in students (Boud, 1995). It forces students to think critically about their work rather than relying upon external feedback, which builds the students’ skills in self-monitoring and self-correction (Exemplars, 2004). Both of these are essential skills to have in the workplace (Boud, 1995).

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Wimba Pronto

Promoting Student-to-Student and Student-to-Instructor Interaction with Wimba Pronto

Wimba Pronto is an instant messaging application that allows audio and text conferencing. It is integrated into Blackboard and is automatically populated with a list of courses a user is enrolled in.

Some of the features of Wimba Pronto include:

  • voice conferencing
  • text messaging
  • group chat

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Mobile Learning

Mobile Learning Trends in Higher Education

While online instruction has been an increasingly common component of the university environment for several years, a recent innovation has been making its presence felt in higher education. Advances in computer and communication technologies resulted in the development of portable digital devices that change pedagogical possibilities.  Cell phones, personal digital assistants, netbooks, iPods, digital still and video cameras, MP3 players, GPS, and portable e-books enhance establishing and participating in online communities of learners. The pedagogical application of these devices has lead to the development of Mobile Learning a rapidly expanding area of instruction. 

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iTunes

Program Archives Podcast Now Available in iTunes

Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center has been offering online faculty development programs now for nearly a year.  Not only can faculty/staff or TAs from any institution participate in these online workshops, but archives are made available for on-demand viewing online.

With the recent upgrade of the Wimba Classroom collaboration tool that powers these online workshops, archives are now also available in podcast form and available for download from iTunes for viewing offline on a computer or a mobile media player, such as an iPod Touch or iPhone.

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Health Crisis

Teaching During a Health Crisis

The H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) is expected to make a comeback to the United States this school year and officials say that college campuses could be impacted. It’s prudent for teaching assistants to be proactive by considering how their teaching may be affected by an illness outbreak and exploring steps to continue teaching during such a situation. Here are a few suggestions as well as questions to consider when preparing for teaching during a health crisis recommended by a number of institutions. As these are simply recommendations, implement the suggestions that are applicable for your discipline and course as allowed by your college and department policies.

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TA Connections is a newsletter for graduate teaching assistants 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: tadev@niu.edu, Fax: (815) 753-2595, Web site: http://www.niu.edu/facdev. For more information about featured articles or upcoming graduate teaching assistant development programs, please contact the Center at (815) 753-0595 or tadev@niu.edu

Last Updated: 10/01/2015

Faculty Development and
Instructional Design Center

Adams Hall, Room 319 Location on a map
(815) 753-0595
facdev@niu.edu

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