Thursday, January 28, 2016

9 Ways to Make eLearning Stick

These events are based on the work of Robert Gagne, who researched and wrote about the conditions that lead to successful learning.

  1. Create an attention-grabbing introduction or provide a puzzle or problem.
  2. Inform learner about the objectives (of the lesson, week, module, course).
  3. Ask questions or guide students in remembering what they already know related to the objectives.
  4. Design each learning activity so that it EXPLICITLY advances one or more of those objectives--this and nothing more.
  5. Coach students in how to get to where they need to go, whether in how they think, study, navigate, or use software.
  6. Create opportunities for students to do spaced practice.
  7. Provide informative feedback on progress from other students, from automated Blackboard responses, or from you.
  8. Assess progress early and assess frequently--always EXPLICITLY aligned with the objectives.
  9. Introduce applications in real-world situations, scenarios, or problems.

Read more at Gagne's 9 Events of Instruction with sample applications to all courses.

Want more? Register for the CELT February 12, Flipping, Dipping, and Dunking workshop.

Teachers Teaching Teachers: PROMPTing quality reflections

by Pam Reese, Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders

While I was in my Ph.D. program, courses taught by my advisor always used opportunities to reflect. As an older person, I very much enjoyed these class. Two or three articles would be assigned to read and prepare to discuss. We were also asked to choose one to “reflect” on. I never asked what it meant, and threw myself into reflecting and writing about it. It was one of my favorite activities and I drew connections to past and current events.

When I came to IPFW, I wanted my students to benefit from the same type of activity. I would show a video clip, or assign an article to read and ask the students to turn in a “reflection”. They would look at me blankly, or ask what it was, or even ask for a rubric. This was a breakdown in my teaching. A rubric?  There is no grade for reflecting, no points off for poor reflecting. The grade is for participating in the process, which I believe is an essential component of critical thinking.

I came to realize that my undergraduate students needed some support in learning to think reflectively. My research on the “best” reflection questions led me to the 21st Century Learning Academy and their list of “The 40 Reflection Questions”. While written broadly and not specific to my field, it helped me to organize my thinking. The reflections questions were grouped under broad categories: backward-looking, inward-looking, outward-looking and forward-looking. This framework, I believe, could help my students.

For example, the reflection questions I plan to use in my class on phonological disorders are:

  • How much did you know about the PROMPT method before we started? What else would you like to know about the method? (backward-looking
  • What was especially satisfying to you about the minimal pairs method? What did you find frustrating about the method? (inward-looking)
  • How was your treatment plan different from the others presented? What grade would you give it and why? (outward-looking)
  • What do you need more help with? What is one thing you could improve on your assessment assignment? (forward-looking)

I plan to use specific reflections questions around each assigned reading or project in CSD 321 this semester. My students and I will let you know how it goes. 

The Power of Voice

by Jamie Drake, Continuing Lecturer in Spanish, Department of International Language and Cultural Studies

photo of jamie in front of a map
Have you ever thought about harnessing the power of your students’ voices? Have you ever had students in class that express themselves most effectively through the spoken word? If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, then a relatively new tool may be for you: VoiceThread.

VoiceThread is a web- and app-based technology that enables you and your students to communicate via the spoken word. As an instructor, you can create a thread consisting of a prompt or specific task instruction. The prompt can be an image, a PowerPoint file, or virtually anything else. In addition, you can leave an audio or video message to attach to the prompt before sharing it with your students, which you can do via URL, social media, email, or by embedding the thread in your personal web page. Once shared, the power of voice is unlocked!

The potential applications for VoiceThread are limited only by your imagination. As a Spanish instructor, I have used threads to enable students to “Describe Katy Perry as you see her in this photo” or answer “What do you like to do on the weekends?” in Spanish. The technology is so user friendly that students can deliver their spoken responses using a PC mic, webcam, or their phones, mobile and stationary.

In language courses, this tool empowers instructors and students alike to spend more time in the target language, enhancing listening and speaking. As powerful as this is for what I do, there is an even greater and expansive potential for VoiceThread. Built into each thread is the opportunity to give and receive feedback. When a student adds a message to a thread, you and all other students invited to the thread can consume that message and respond to it if desired, and therefore the creator of the message can receive timely and meaningful feedback. In history, imagine inviting students to respond to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, or in music, inviting students to respond to the question “Will the Beatles be thought of like Beethoven in 200 years, like Paul McCartney stated?” While specific applications in your discipline would have to be developed, VoiceThread technology can be utilized effectively by any instructor and in any field. It is that flexible.

VoiceThread is easy to get and it is free. Simply point your browser to or access your app store and sign up for a free account. The premium level, which carries an annual fee of $99, allows for the unlimited creation and downloading of threads.

This semester, I plan to use VoiceThread as a vehicle to deliver feedback to students on their writing and speaking in Spanish S112. It’s a new adventure, comparable to an audio feedback journal. How might you be able to use VoiceThread in your courses? Would you like to discuss it? I would love to have others on this journey with me.