Summer Workshop Series: Best Practices in Online Course Design

This 3-part series will be offered on the following days this summer:

  • May 17 – 19 (10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., in-person in 2030 Morrill Hall, or view on your own via Zoom)
  • June 20 – 22 (11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., in-person in 0013 Curtiss Hall, or view on your own via Zoom)
  • Jul. 25 – 27 (2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., in-person in 1304 Howe Hall or view on your own via Zoom)
  • Aug. 8 – 10 (10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., in-person in 2200 Marston Hall or view on your own via Zoom)
  • 3 consecutive Fridays: September 15, 22 and 29 (11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., in-person in 2030 Morrill Hall or TBA Zoom)

This series will explore best practices in online course design through the use of the Quality Matters (QM) rubric. Upon completion participants will be able to:

  • Locate CELT’s Quality Matters and online course design resources
  • Describe the Quality Matters standards and how QM can serve as a framework for course design
  • Develop an action plan that includes incremental steps for implementing Quality Matters rubric standards into their online course design

Series Facilitator: Darrin Jones, Program Coordinator, CELT and QM Coordinator

Session Descriptions

Part 1: Preparing Your Students to Learn

What do your students experience when they first interact with your course? This session will focus on developing your course introduction and aligning course and learning objectives with student assessment. Session objectives: recognize tools for introducing your course, create measurable learning objectives to guide your students’ learning, and evaluate different forms of course assessments.

Part 2: Delivering Content and Learning Activities Effectively

How do you know your students are learning? This session will help align your learning objectives with your course’s instructional content, activities and technologies as well as assess student learning and progress. Session objectives: list best practices for presenting instructional materials, apply learning activities that promote various types of interaction, and plan appropriate use of technology in your course.

Part 3: Providing Essential Learner-Centered Support

Is your course learner-centered when students access it? This session focuses on the need for clear support, accessibility and usability for all learners. Session objectives: implement essential learner support modules into your course, apply techniques to promote accessibility, and locate additional universal design for learning tools and resources to make your course accessible.

Register for one of the 3-part series offered this summer via the Learn@ISU website (http://learn.iastate.edu) or call CELT 515-294-5357


Rethinking Exams

A few weeks ago I read an interesting article titled Rethinking My Exams by Kevin Gannon, Professor of History and Director of the teaching center at Grand View University. One paragraph in particular stood out to me. Gannon wrote “Exams should challenge students and push them to demonstrate their learning. But assessment shouldn’t be weaponized (though, sadly, in some corners of academia, it is). Exams are just one tool in our assessment toolbox. And like a hammer, exams can build what we want when used well, but break things when used for the wrong purposes.”
He went on to describe how he designs exams now that map to student learning outcomes for the course, which in turn then determine the exam format as well as the specific questions he includes. As we move toward the end of the semester and start writing final exams, I hope this article provides a framework to rethink the exam structure and questions included on your final exam. And ultimately that it helps you design an assessment tool that provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning in your course.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Call For Proposals: Conference on Teaching Large Classes

2017 Conference on Teaching Large Classes

Thursday, July 20, 2017, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Do you already teach or are you new to teaching large classes? Do you have wisdom to share or are you in search of wisdom related to teaching large classes? If so, this conference is for you! The Conference on Teaching Large Classes is designed to be informative, empirical, social, and practical.

The Conference on Teaching Large Classes focuses on teaching and learning practices and research related to large classes – both face-to-face and online. The conference is a showcase for best practices in teaching and learning in large classes, as well as the research that provides evidence for the best practices. Ultimately, the conference provides knowledge and skills related to the teaching of large classes that participants will find immediately useful.

Proposals are sought for sessions focused on effective instructional practices and research aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning in large classes. Four types of conference sessions are offered: practice sessions, research sessions, conversation sessions, and poster sessions. Proposals must be submitted online by Monday, May 1, 2017.

For additional information, potential topics, and submission guidelines visit the Call For Proposals: Conference on Teaching Large Classes website

 


You’re invited: Demos for next learning management system (Inside Iowa State)

Education technology companies Instructure and Desire2Learn (D2L) have been selected to give on-campus presentations for Iowa State’s next learning management system (LMS) for would-be users. The visits are scheduled for next week. They include demonstrations by the vendors and shorter, scenario-based overviews presented by university staff. Registration is not needed for any of the sessions.

A review of Iowa State’s LMS, co-led by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and information technology, has been ongoing since October. The Instructure and D2L proposals were among three received in response to a March request for proposals.

Vendor demonstrations, 206 Durham Center

At least 45 minutes of each session will be devoted to questions from participants.

Instructure’s Canvas

  • April 17, 8-10 a.m., for instructional designers
  • April 17, 10 a.m.-noon, for faculty and students

Desire2Learn’s Brightspace

  • April 18, 8-10 a.m., for instructional designers
  • April 18, 10 a.m.-noon, for faculty and students

Product overviews

CELT and IT staff will present a scenario-based, 50-minute overview of the two LMS products. This session is for faculty, staff and students, and will be presented seven times in four locations:

April 19, 3558 Memorial Union

  • 10-11 a.m.
  • 11 a.m.-noon

April 19, 198 Parks Library

  • 2-3 p.m.
  • 3-4 p.m.

April 20, 198 Parks Library

  • 8:45-9:45 a.m.
  • 9:45-10:45 a.m.

April 20, 2403-04 Vet Med

  • Noon-1 p.m.

Re-posted from Inside Iowa State (2017, April 13)


April 17-18: On-Campus LMS Product Vendor Demonstrations & Product Overviews

Below is an excerpt from a April 6, 2017 Inside Iowa State article by Rob Schweers that updates the learning management system (LMS) process. The full Inside Iowa State web article is available at Vendors selected for learning management system demonstrations.

Education technology companies Canvas and Desire2Learn (D2L) have been selected to give on-campus presentations for Iowa State’s next learning management system (LMS).

A review of Iowa State’s LMS, co-led by CELT and IT, has been ongoing since October. The Canvas and D2L proposals were among three received in response to a March request for proposals.

The proposals were reviewed by staff in the Center of Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), information technology and procurement. Finalists were selected using a comprehensive rubric developed from input given to the LMS review committee from students, faculty and staff.

CELT and IT developed a comprehensive product evaluation process that includes product overviews and on-campus vendor presentations. In the coming weeks, these events will provide faculty, staff and students another opportunity to provide input on the future of Iowa State’s LMS and to compare the two.

Dates, times and locations of the on-campus vendor demonstrations and LMS product overview are available (see below). For information about the process, visit the LMS Review website.

On-Campus Vendor Demonstrations

Instructure Canvas

Desire 2 Learn

LMS Product Overviews

CELT and ITS staff will provide scenario-based overviews of the two LMS product vendors selected to give on-campus presentations: Desire 2 Learn and Instructure Canvas. Each overview presentation will feature both products. These overviews are for faculty, staff and students at Iowa State University.

Questions? If you have any questions about the LMS review process contact LMS Review Co-Leads via email lmsreview@iastate.edu.


Vendors selected for learning management system demonstrations (Inside Iowa State)

Education technology companies Canvas and Desire2Learn (D2L) have been selected to give on-campus presentations for Iowa State’s next learning management system (LMS).

A review of Iowa State’s LMS, co-led by CELT and IT, has been ongoing since October. The Canvas and D2L proposals were among three received in response to a March request for proposals.

The proposals were reviewed by staff in the Center of Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), information technology and procurement. Finalists were selected using a comprehensive rubric developed from input given to the LMS review committee from students, faculty and staff.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress the LMS review committee has made to date, and we appreciate the thoughtful input we have received from campus stakeholders,” said CELT director Ann Marie VanDerZanden. “I am confident this process will result in a new system that best meets the needs of students, faculty and staff.”

Next steps

CELT and IT developed a comprehensive product evaluation process that includes product overviews and on-campus vendor presentations. In the coming weeks, these events will provide faculty, staff and students another opportunity to provide input on the future of Iowa State’s LMS and to compare the two.

Look for announcements on the CELT website and in this publication for dates, times and locations of the product demonstrations and vendor presentations. More information on the LMS review background, process and timeline is online.

Re-posted from Inside Iowa State (2017, April 6)


Summer 2017 Offering for Team-Based Learning (TBL)

Holly Bender, Associate Director, CELT, has been offering her incredibly popular Team-Based Learning (TBL) series each semester (meeting once weekly for five consecutive weeks) for several years now. Inevitably there are a handful of faculty who are unable to participate because of conflicts with their teaching schedule. Holly will be offering the TBL series this summer if there is enough interest.  If you are interested in participating please fill out the survey below prior to April 24.

Help us to discover the best days/times by participating in CELT’s 2017 Team-Based Learning Summer Offering Qualtrics Survey.


An Update on the Learning Management System (LMS) Review

A review of ISU’s current learning management system (LMS), Blackboard Learn, has been ongoing since October 2016. The review process, co-led by CELT and ITS, is currently moving into the product demonstration and evaluation phase. This phase will provide yet another opportunity for ISU faculty, staff, and students to provide input on the future of the LMS at Iowa State. Please look for an announcement on the CELT website and in Inside Iowa State for dates, times and locations of the product demos lead by CELT staff, and the vendor presentations over the next two weeks.
For more information on the background, process and timeline, visit ISU’s Learning Management System website. We value your input on this campus wide initiative, and hope to see you at the upcoming presentations.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

ThinkSpace facilitates better learning and teaching (Inside Iowa State)

Holly Bender needed help.

Earlier in her career as a veterinary clinical pathologist at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Bender was tasked with teaching about 100 veterinary medicine students how to accurately analyze data on sick animals to make correct diagnoses. She needed to teach her students — who were used to only memorizing academic material up to this point — to truly think.

“I couldn’t clone myself to sit alongside 100 vet students and help them learn how to make a diagnosis, so my research team at Virginia Tech and I developed this tool,” said Bender, who today is professor of veterinary pathology and associate director for the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) here at Iowa State.

The tool, called Diagnostic Pathfinder, allowed Bender to break down the complexities of diagnosing an ailing animal into a six-stage process. Each stage built upon the previous step and, in the end, students were guided to a conclusion. Once students submitted their diagnoses, Bender’s expert opinion popped up alongside their analyses so they could immediately compare notes.

“We like the students to be able to go out on a little bit of a limb, to be able to put their story together, but not so far that they get lost,” Bender said. “We’re just building expertise over time.”

Fast forward to Iowa State

Bender came to Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002, and she brought Diagnostic Pathfinder and her research team with her. As faculty in other disciplines witnessed Bender’s teaching successes with the tool, they wanted to explore options for their students. That’s when ThinkSpace was born.

What is ThinkSpace

ThinkSpace is an active learning and problem-solving technology platform with a set of teaching tools designed to help students decipher complex problems they eventually will confront in the workplace. It’s open-source software (not owned by Iowa State or any other entity), designed and developed by a small technology company, Sixth Edge, in a unique partnership with faculty. Development is largely funded by grants. Funding by CELT and the office of the senior vice president and provost for hosting and technical support from Sixth Edge makes ThinkSpace available for free to all ISU faculty and students.

Pete Boysen, now retired from information technology, and other faculty across campus helped Bender transform her original diagnostic application into a “Swiss army knife of instructional tools,” as she puts it. Today, ThinkSpace offers tools for writing, editing, team-based learning, essay draft development with feedback from instructors and students, and a carry-forward function that allows students to develop concepts in multiple stages.

Ideas for new tools are tossed around almost daily. For example, Jay Newell, associate professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, devised a “mark-up” tool, which allows him to review and comment on his students’ assignments without ever touching a piece of paper. The students, who also have access to the tool, can see Newell’s feedback, make changes and submit revised drafts for further comment by him or their peers.

“The thing that all these tools have in common is this ability to take big, complex problems, give them to students in bite-size pieces, and have them work on those little pieces and, in turn, get focused, frequent feedback from faculty,” Bender said.

Tool development

Kajal Madeka, CELT’s ThinkSpace program coordinator and instructional designer, leads the ThinkSpace Teaching and Learning Community, a group of about 100 faculty members who use ThinkSpace tools in their classrooms. Madeka meets with the group each month to share applications of ThinkSpace tools in different disciplines, discuss tweaks for existing tools and ideas for new ones, though not every idea makes the cut.

“There has to be enough support for a tool and buy-in from other faculty who think it’s necessary,” Madeka said. “The tool has to be impactful for students across campus.”

If an idea is approved, faculty members from the learning community work through the Grants Hub to secure funding for the new tool.

“It’s very grassroots,” Bender said.

Benefits for faculty, too

ThinkSpace helps students solve complex problems, but there are advantages for faculty, too. Some ThinkSpace tools require faculty to load assignment answers into databases in advance, requiring them to work through problems from the students’ point of view.

“The fact that the faculty already have input the correct data ahead of time was intentional,” Madeka said. “They already think like experts, but when they work through the data, they realize that they need to scaffold the information more for students. It’s all about intensive, critical thinking, not only for the students but for the faculty members.”

A change for the better

Bender is well acquainted with the difficulties of teaching complex subject matter to large classes. She came up with a fix years ago, and now instructors across campus are benefitting from her work.

“I want to break faculty out of grading jail,” Bender said. “I feel like I’ve been totally set free. I see so many faculty who are dedicated and want to do the right thing, but they get totally burned out in the process. ThinkSpace takes all that away.”

Give it a try

Anyone from Iowa State can access ThinkSpace online at www.thinkspace.org. Select “Join ThinkSpace” and complete the registration information. Faculty should indicate they are an instructor, which will give them access to the tools already available. Madeka encourages instructors to first explore what ThinkSpace has to offer, and then consider how the tools may apply to their classes.

“If you really want to teach critical thinking, if you want to engage students in deeper, real learning, then you should try ThinkSpace,” Madeka said.

Instructors who need assistance exploring ThinkSpace or help with developing a course or assignment should contact Madeka at 294-5299.

Re-posted from Inside Iowa State (2017, April 6)


Demonstrating the Team-Based Learning (TBL) teaching approach in Math

In 2016, CELT visited with professor of mathematics Elgin Johnston and senior lecturer of mathematics Heather Bolles as they were using the Team-Based Learning (TBL) teaching approach in their MATH 166: Calculus II course. The course is held in an active learning classroom (213 MacKay Hall). View the Demonstration of the Team-Based Learning (TBL) teaching approach in Math 166: Calculus II YouTube video.

Math faculty examine numbers to improve student learning (Inside Iowa State)

Below is an excerpt from a March 23, 2017 Inside Iowa State article by Paula Van Brocklin that describes Johnston’s and Bolle’s successes. The full Inside Iowa State web article is available at Math faculty examine numbers to improve student learning,

On to calculus

Over the past few years, professor of mathematics Elgin Johnston and senior lecturer of mathematics Heather Bolles have transformed their calculus sections for greater student success using team-based learning (TBL).
What is TBL?

TBL is a form of active and small-group learning that can be implemented in a large classroom. It requires students to do assignments before class in order to inspire more engaging classroom discussions. During class, students work on significant team projects, applying calculus concepts. With support from a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant, Johnston and Bolles, with input from faculty in science and engineering, have spent years developing and refining their TBL materials.

Johnston and Bolles assign their students readings, videos and a quiz prior to class. When class convenes, students work in their assigned groups of five to seven individuals, and take the quiz again.

“They almost always do better after the team quiz,” Johnston said.

Greater student success

Bolles said one of the positive outcomes of TBL is that more students physically come to class.

“We’ve had significantly higher attendance rates,” Bolles said. “We had rates as low as 60 percent before the TBL implementation, and now we’re at 85 to 90 percent.”

Johnston attributes the increased participation to students feeling accountable to their teams.

“Some teams get very close by the end of the semester,” he said.

Like McNicholl, Johnston and Bolles measure students’ calculus knowledge at the beginning and end of the semester. What they’ve found is that the students in TBL sections score higher than students in non-TBL classes. In addition, TBL students earn higher scores, on average, on the departmental midterm and final exams.

“TBL lets students be actively engaged in the classroom, and their learning is better for it,” Johnston said.

Team-Based Learning at Iowa State

Iowa State has an active and vibrant group of faculty and graduate students involved in team-based learning. Each semester, CELT offers a team-based learning workshop to help teachers implement this flipped classroom method. CELT also supports an ongoing faculty learning community. After completing the TBL workshop, participants are invited to join the Team-Based Learning Community for additional support from others who are also using TBL in their courses.

To learn how you can get involved with TBL, visit CELT’s Team-Based Learning website.