DESIGNING FOR LEARNING

GETTING READY FOR FIRST DAY OF CLASS

The first day of class can cause nervousness even for seasoned instructors. What you do on the first day of class will likely set the tone for the rest of the course. Do you feel prepared? How will you set the right expectations and to star to create an intentional, and supportive learning environment?

In the article First Impressions: Activities for the First Day of Classthe author discusses how students are never more attentive than during the first class and how she uses the first class to help them feel less intimidated and to set the tone for participation. Arriving early to take time to greet each student individually, as well as teaching the students a practical skill right awayas an icebreaker, are some of her approaches.

Another approach is to be very explicit and intentional about the learning environment you are hoping to create such as this instructor does when he cites a poem on the first day of class. While his approach may be less conventional, his intention of expressing first what he asks of himself before expressing what he hopes for from his students is a good example of modeling the behavior and the learning environment he’s hoping to foster.

Finally, while things such as policies, assessment and deadlines may not be up for discussion, how the students decide to learn together may vary depending on the group of students. As the instructor, you can be intentional about soliciting input from students on the kind of learning environment they hope to create for example by facilitating a discussion on ground rules, or by asking each student to state their gives (what do they bring to the class that they are willing to share in terms of skills, background, experience) and gets (i.e. what are they hoping to learn/get from the class) when they introduce themselves. Such approaches not only create buy in, but also sets the tone for taking active responsibility for learning.
Here are a few more articles and ideas to consider:

TEACHING WITH TECHNOLOGY & DESIGNING FOR LEARNING: GENERAL LINKS
  • This Online Lecture Tool Kit is an excellent place to start if you are thinking of creating videos for instructional purposes.
  • teachonline.ca is a resource for post-secondary educators in Ontario, but many of the links are equally applicable to online teaching anywhere. You can find information on technologies in online learning, as well as practical tools to help you integrate technology in teaching in a way that improves the learning experience for students.
  • Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning  is a free, open, online textbook from Tony Bates including specific guidelines as well as a more theoretical background. To download, click here. Check out Tony’s website too, for more resources.
  • The University of Michigan’s Center  for Research on Teaching & Learning has some good overviews of Getting Started, Choosing Your Technology, Flipping the Classroom and Examplesfrom faculty here
LIVE ONLINE TEACHING, LEARNING AND COLLABORATION (WEBEX OR OTHER)

Think collaboration, interaction, discussions and active learning! The live online or synchronous classroom does not need to be a traditional webinar lecture or presentation, perhaps interspersed with a couple of polls. Below are a few ideas to help you start thinking of making the live online classroom a space for deeper and richer learning experiences for everyone.

MICROLEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Microlearning is the trend of breaking content into small chunks of easily digestible or accessible information. For example a traditional one-hour lecture could be delivered instead as a series of 3-4 minute videos, which students can access when needed and which may be an easier format for the brain to process and retain.

MOODLE TIPS & TRICKS FOR LEARNING DESIGN