Category Archives: Instruction

Apps to Teach Literacy Skills!

In a recent issue of the t|h|e journal (February 2014), there was an article about seven apps that teach literacy skills.   As mentioned in the article, these “visual and sonic aids can help student with language disorders improve their reading, writing, and speaking.”

Here are the apps:

Here’s the link to the full article.

Posted by Tom R.

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Citing Social Media!

As social media continues to grow as a “source” of information, knowing how to cite these sources will become increasingly more important.  Here is a graphic that shows the APA and MLA styles for citing some social media sites.

citing social media guide

Posted by Tom R.

Digital Learning Report Card — How does Oklahoma Fare?

It is said that education is our nation’s great equalizer. Ensuring the next generation of Americans has an equal opportunity to achieve success is a fundamental principle of our educational system. There are many who feel that digital learning has the potential to accomplish this important task.  Digital Learning Now! is one of those entities that espouse this philosophy.

Digital Learning Now! is a national campaign under ExcelinEd with the goal of advancing state policies that will create a high-quality digital learning environment to better equip all students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in this 21st-century economy. The policy framework stems from the belief that access to high-quality, customized learning experiences should be available to all students, unbounded by geography or artificial policy constraints.

Digital Learning Now! recently released the 2012 Digital Learning Report Card, which measures each of the nation’s 50 states against the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning as it relates to K-12 education.

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Highlights of the report indicate that states are:

  • Advancing student-centric reforms
  • Reducing barriers to blended learning
  • Encouraging the use of technology
  • Offering a more personalized college- and career-ready education

How does Oklahoma fare?  It doesn’t look good folks! Read on for more information: This work produced a consensus around the 10 elements of high quality digital learning that identified specific issue and polices states need to address in order to support emerging next general models of learning.

Where does Oklahoma stand, you may be wondering?  Well, the state’s overall score is a 69% — that’s a D+ when combining all ten digital learning element scores.

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One of the most encouraging findings from Digital Learning Now’s research is that more than 700 bills involving digital learning were considered in 2012, with over 150 signed into law.  Along with DLN, it is encouraging to know that leaders in nearly every state proposed or enacted policies to advance digital learning since the release of DLN’s first state report cards in 2011.  Examples from Oklahoma include SB 1816 signed on June 8, 2012 that created the statewide Virtual Charter School Board, and SB 169.  It establishes that a virtual education provider that offers full-time virtual education to students who are not residents of the school district with which the provider is contracted shall be considered a site within each school district and subject to the state’s accountability system.

To learn more, check out the report.  Also, check out the Digital Learning Now Report Card website which features an interactive map, a tool to compare state scores and downloadable state profiles for more details on where Oklahoma stands when it comes to providing high quality digital learning.

Posted by Pamela Louderback

Help in the Classroom!

Happy April!  Did you know that the Library of Congress is an excellent resource for help in finding materials for your classroom (primary sources, presentations, lesson plans, etc.)?   Why not check out the world’s largest library and see what they have to offer?  Here’s an infographic (courtesy of BestCollegesOnline.com) that outlines some of these resources.
Teaching With the Library of Congress

Posted by Tom R.

100 Websites Your Should Know and Use!

Back in 2007, Julie Wiedemann (the editor in charge at Taschen GmbH) gave a TED talk on the “100 websites you should know and use” (one of the most viewed TED blog posts ever).  Here is the updated version for 2013.  Enjoy!

http://blog.ted.com/2007/08/03/100_websites_yo/

The ones that are no longer functional have been “crossed out.”  But, because there are so many amazing resources available these days, please feel free to add your own ideas and/or compile your own list. Happy surfing!

Posted by Tom R.

Improving Self-Esteem for First-Time Online Adult Learners

As professors, we all have seen first-time students who are so nervous that they do not even know where to begin, let alone how to achieve their educational goals. Are you one of those lucky professors who works with adult students who are going back to school and are choosing to take online classes? You may find that not only do these students need help with writing an academic paper, and how to submit an assignment to a dropbox, but their self-esteem and support system are sometimes lacking.

You may wish to consider sharing the following advice in an email to your students. The result can create a more open dialogue as students learn that you care about them and will help them succeed, but also that it’s going to take hard work and ultimately they’re responsible for their learning. Adapt the following tips from Dr. Dawn Kaiser, faculty manager and online instructor for American Intercontinental University, to meet your needs and let the learning and self-esteem grow.

Dear Students:

You made the choice to get your degree and are taking classes online. Now what? It does not matter when you begin your journey, as any time you begin to reach your educational goals is the perfect time. You are looking at a long road ahead of you, and I will not lie, it will not be easy. Committing to your educational endeavor is like a lifestyle change that will take just that, a commitment, and it is a big one that will take a lot of work. However, believe me, as I am speaking from experience, when I say to you, it will be worth it!

I know you can do this and I have put my top four tips down on paper to help you get on a smart track in order to reach the finish line and walk across that stage at graduation to accept your degree.

1. Guard Against Self-Destructive Behaviors — You made the first step by applying to college, selecting a major, and getting signed up for that first class. Now, the real work begins. We all have the ability to choose our paths, to reach our goals, and build the life of our dreams. The challenge is in believing in yourself.

Next look at how your behavior, emotions, and thoughts are affecting your study habits. Are you procrastinating reading your assigned work, thinking you can just pull whatever information you need from the Internet, not starting your papers until the last minute, etc.? Examine your self-destructive behaviors. What can you do differently to be more positive and to gain the best experience out of each and every class?

2. Set Attainable Goals — What is your vision of your future? Look at next week, next month, your current class, and each class after right up to the end of your degree. Include goals for all the roles in your life. What is important in attaining those goals you have set? To make a permanent change in how you study, and balance school with the other roles in your life, you will need to set short-term goals — what is due this week? How much time do I need to set aside to complete this assignment? Then look at long-term goals, the class as a whole, and every class you need to take. Once you set your goals, continue to track them so you can see the progress you are making. Tracking your goals will keep you motivated as you check off each task you accomplish.

3. Set up a Support System — You are responsible for your own success, but we all get by with a little help from our friends and family. That is why it is important to build a healthy support system. Share your educational goals and how you are planning to accomplish them. Let others know how important this is to you to have their support. Enlist coworkers, as you never know you may find yourself a study-buddy. Do you have school-age children? Study with them. I actually spent an hour every evening with my son studying. It was a great bonding time between us, and he saw just how important learning was for the both of us. Lean on the people in your network when you feel discouraged or ready to give up due to a difficult subject, and celebrate with them when you reach your goals.

4. Ask Questions — This is your education, and you will get out of it what you put into it. Any time you find yourself struggling to figure out a specific problem, an assignment, or even just not sure what a term means, ASK. Your professors are there to help. If you do not ask, we will not know that you are struggling. We are part of your support system, and we want to see you succeed in the class just as much as you do.

Going back to school may not be easy, but with the right mindset, motivation, and support system you can do it. Believe in yourself, and your ability to learn, and you will succeed!

Posted by Pamela Louderback

“For what are you grateful today?”

Many labels have been applied to the current generation of college students, many of them disparaging: lazy, distracted, aimless, needy, greedy, and self-absorbed. Some of the emerging adults who populate college classrooms earn these labels with their classroom behaviors and mediocre performance. However, within most men and women who are 18-22 years old, there is a capacity for greater things.

What is your story of skillful teaching? Is it of teaching as an activity full of unexpected events, unlooked-for surprises, and unanticipated twists and turns that take place in a system that is often considered controllable and predictable? If so, you may wish to read on.

In The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools, Richard Paul and Linda Elder identify eight intellectual traits as essential to the development of the human mind. These traits are set against their opposites—those traits which impair the mind, eclipsing its potential for growth and discovery: intellectual humility vs. intellectual arrogance, intellectual courage vs. intellectual cowardice, empathy vs. close-mindedness, and so forth. According to Deborah Miller Fox, teacher of creative writing, composition, and literature at Anderson University, those first three are matters of both the mind and the heart. All are premised by the assumption that we are not in the world solely for our own benefit.

She teaches at a private Christian liberal arts university, so she enjoys a freedom to integrate her faith with her teaching, a freedom that many of her colleagues at secular institutions do not enjoy, no matter what religious faith they may practice. This freedom prompted her to address an attitude that she sees as an impediment for anyone who wishes to learn, whether that person is 18 or 80: entitlement. Many of her students, though certainly not all, come into college from a life of relative comfort and prosperity. Very few of them have even witnessed, let alone experienced, the kind of demeaning, debilitating poverty that starves the life and kills the spirit of millions of people around the world.

She has come to believe that prosperity is its own kind of impairment. In an effort to address the sense of entitlement that prosperity and comfort breed, she decided to call her students into a posture of humility. Inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book, 1000 Gifts, Ms. Fox started a list on the first day of the semester and invited all of the students in all of her classes to contribute expressions of gratitude to this list every time they meet. She arrived early enough to open the Word file and project it on the screen in the classroom, and then she started class sessions with this question, “For what are you grateful today?”

Ms. Fox explain, “on some days in some of those classes, I was met with silence. These students were not muted by hostility or belligerence; they simply had nothing to say. In other classes, and on other days, I had to cut them off after five minutes of listing their thanks so we could get to the business of the day. My purpose for this habit was to call my students into a posture of humility so that they could be teachable”. We cannot learn when we are crippled by arrogance.

The certainty that there is nothing for us to gain from our attention to someone else’s agenda debilitates the educational process. Scott Russell Sanders’ reminds us that to educate means “to lead out.” In The Force of Spirit, he identifies ten fundamental powers of story, insisting that “what stories at their best can do is lead our desires in new directions—away from greed, toward generosity, away from suspicion, toward sympathy . . . .” Fox further explains that “one purpose in putting this list of blessings in front of my students every week and inviting them to name the things for which they are grateful is to lead them away from arrogance and entitlement toward humility and gratitude. Though this posture is consistent with the tenets of my Christian faith, it is also consistent with the tenets of civil discourse and scholarly inquiry”. Saying “Thank you” requires a person to acknowledge his or her indebtedness. Your students may not be indebted to you, but they certainly are indebted to someone if they are sitting in a college classroom.

As students and teachers, we are part of a community that stretches far behind us and will stretch far beyond us into the future. In this context, indebtedness is a gift, not a burden.

So, as you prepare for your next class session, you may wish to consider incorporating this technique of understanding and responding to the emotions of learning.

Posted by Pamela Louderback

References:
Paul, R. and Elder, L. (2010). The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Dillon Beach: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press.

Sanders, S. R. (2000). The Force of Spirit. Boston: Beacon Press.

Voskamp, Ann. (2010). One Thousand Gifts. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.