Thinking about thinking. It's not a new concept and can be linked to higher order thinking in which a person takes "active control over the cognitive processes engaged in [their] learning" (Livingston, 1997, para. 1). The process of thinking about one's own thinking is often called metacognition, although by definition, metacognition is "cognition about cognition."
A common concern in university courses is student motivation and engagement. There are many approaches to overcoming these issues, including Problem-Based Learning, Experiential Learning, and Service Learning. Game-Based Learning is also gaining popularity. Game-Based Learning incorporates elements of game design like mastering content or skills, overcoming challenges, earning points, and competing with others, into the learning process. Games are exciting, interesting, and motivating in ways that many courses are not.
For those who conduct live online sessions using Blackboard Collaborate, a new feature is now available that will allow recorded sessions to be easily converted into an MP3/MP4 archive. The converter is part of Blackboard Collaborate tool within any Blackboard course and is called the Recording Converter. You may have heard of an “MP3 Player,” the digital audio player that first appeared on the market in the early 2000s. A file saved as an MP3 format is an audio file only, where an MP4 format can include both audio and video content. When converting Blackboard Collaborate recorded sessions, MP4 will not only include audio, but also the whiteboard and application sharing.
Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center staff recently developed and offered for the very first time a teaching effectiveness institute for NIU faculty that took place completely online. The 2012 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, “Teaching in the Digital Classroom: Tools, Tips, and Strategies” was offered Friday, January 11, 2013. 57 faculty from across 26 academic departments participated in the 1-day online institute where they learned how to actively engage students in the learning process through the use of best practices and readily-available technologies.
Faculty who are currently using or thinking about using clickers in the classroom are in for a real treat. ITS has installed the latest version of the Turning Technologies TurningPoint software (Version 5.1.1f1) in Provost’s Office-sponsored smart classrooms the week before Spring 2013 classes started. This software upgrade does not impact the receivers or the clickers, but the new version does consolidate a number of familiar applications into one central user-friendly interface. Previous legacy versions contained several software components that had to be downloaded and installed separately. Those who use the TurningPoint software with Blackboard will be pleased to know that the Blackboard building block integration has also been updated, which provides several enhancements to current features enabling faculty to import and export class rosters and data from polling sessions within the TurningPoint software.
Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center has developed and collected many Blackboard-related resources on their Blackboard Support webpage including links to NIU Blackboard printable quick guides, faq, tutorials, the Blackboard User Guide and listing of upcoming webinars, as well as the Center’s own Blackboard workshops, many of which are hands-on. One resource that could prove quite helpful to faculty is the Teaching with Blackboard podcast. This podcast provides tips, ideas, suggestions, and best practices of teaching with the Blackboard learning management system. The goal of this podcast is to discuss the pedagogy of online teaching and learning and to share ideas and tips for how faculty can leverage the Blackboard learning management system to improve the teaching and learning experiences the offer for their students.
Preserving the integrity of student learning assessment is as much of a priority for online courses as it is for traditional face-to-face instruction. Although there is concern that academic dishonesty or ‘cheating’ might be more likely to happen in an online setting, studies comparing face-to-face and online settings have yielded mixed results (Grijalva, Nowell, Kerkvliet, 2006; Lanier, 2006; Stuber-McEwen, Wiseley, Hoggatt, 2009). Yet, a perception persists that challenges to preventing cheating are somewhat different in an online setting because faculty and students are physically separated from each other. This remoteness certainly makes it difficult to monitor various types of learning assessment activities.
The Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series (BITS) is a training initiative by Blackboard to share the top strategies and pedagogy for both increasing educator efficiency and improving learning outcomes. BITS is free to Blackboard’s clients (including NIU) and is easy for NIU faculty to participate. The program consists of weekly faculty training webinars that are taught by faculty and supported by Blackboard experts.
TA Connections is a newsletter for 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: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: (815) 753-2595, 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 email@example.com