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Sunday, August 26, 2012

CENGAGE Welcome Back to Campus Newsletter August 2012



Left Corner
Topic of the Week


Breaking the Ice – Introducing Our Newsletter

We're happy to send you Cengage Learning's Welcome Back to Campus newsletter. It is our pleasure to deliver the kind of content and resources you value as educators and librarians, and that we hope will be useful in your daily lives. In this inaugural edition, we're addressing some ideas that can help you prepare for a new season. We hope you'll find some suggestions that will prove helpful as you welcome students back to the classroom or library.
We want to promote an environment where you can share and find new ideas – with us and with each other – and we want you to be a part of our community. Click here to subscribe to this weekly newsletter to continue to receive content that is relevant to today's educators, researchers, and learners.

Breaking the Ice – in the Classroom

Building a community within your classroom is an ideal way to promote student interaction and engagement, but it's often easier said than done.
Read More.

Identifying — and Managing — Students' Expectations

When students enter your classroom or library for the first time, they bring with them their concerns about their future experiences, as well as their high hopes for positive outcomes.
Read More.

Steps for Maintaining a Healthy Attitude

Read eight tips to help students cultivate a healthy attitude and set them on a path toward positive personal achievement.
Read More.

Share Your Experiences

Have some valuable insights about teaching and leading in the classroom or library setting? Click here to continue the discussion and share your thoughts!



Friday, August 24, 2012

Faculty Focus: What Did We Learn about PowerPoint and Student Learning?

What Did We Learn about PowerPoint and Student Learning?

August 22, 2012

By: in Teaching Professor Blog

The recent post on PowerPoint use generated a healthy response. That’s encouraging, but blog exchanges can seem like conversations without conclusions. There is no summary, no distillation, and no set of next questions. And when there are many comments, I worry that those who respond first don’t return to read what follows and those who check in later don’t have time to read all the comments. So for my benefit and yours (hopefully), here’s how I would summarize our exchange on using PowerPoint.
One of the points made in the post was affirmed in the commentary. PowerPoint is a tool and that means how it affects learning depends on how it’s used. Tim H. said it clearly and succinctly, “Any statement you can make about PowerPoint, good or bad, can also be made about any other presentation method—chalkboard, overhead projector, etc. PowerPoint is only a tool.”
Most folks who commented use PowerPoint and they do for a number of different reasons. A Guest pointed out that it’s “crucial” in making information “accessible” for students with learning challenges or for whom English is not their first language. Jana M. elaborates in a different direction: “PowerPoint is excellent for the introverted, visual and to some degree auditory learner. However, the tactile, extroverted, verbal learners will quickly become bored and lose the desire to learn.” J. Hardy noted what is repeated in a number of comments, “PowerPoint is an effective tool for showcasing schematic models or diagrams or presenting pictures of key features. . . .” Laurel writes, “Lecturers can often forget to emphasize the ‘four most important points’ as they teach, and all of us learners want to know what those are and why. Creating a good PowerPoint reinforces that information for everyone.” LAB offers a particularly pithy summary. He/she uses PowerPoint “to show my students pictures of places and processes they’ve never encountered.”
Some commented that using PowerPoint benefits the teacher. I hadn’t thought of that before. Dave P. explains. “Preparing PowerPoint slides may be a useful exercise for faculty members because it forces them to think about, organize, and prioritize the material to be covered in a particular lesson.” Dave T said, “Some of the best teaching ideas come as one is preparing a PowerPoint presentation.” Follow-up question: How do we balance these teacher benefits against giving students the opportunity to learn how to organize material on their own? And how do we avoid Bernd S.’s concern that using slides can increase “presentation speed to unacceptable levels”?
A number of comments correctly noted that my post omitted discussing the many other PowerPoint enhancements beyond bulleted points and other forms of texts—enhancements like video clips, websites, blogs, polls, clickers, hot links and various forms of animation used by teachers. Dave L. writes “PowerPoint. . . used as more than a projector for ‘words’ or ‘organization’ promotes interest and should assist learning.” 45Doc70 notes that PowerPoint “gives faculty an incredible amount of creativity.”
Fewer comments decried the use of PowerPoint but those that did listed objections like these. Christopher H. wrote, “Intended or not, PowerPoint is an instrument of faculty control in the classroom. It inhibits interaction, squashes student creativity and inquisitiveness, interferes with faculty responsiveness, and reduces students to passive consumers of knowledge. . .” Keith D. has observed a “depressing number of professors who have no idea how to use such programs. I have seen slides with up to 75 to 100 words on them. . .hour and a half lectures with 50 or 60 slides.” Jana M notes that when there are too many slides “students sit back like they are watching a movie instead of taking notes and asking questions.” Joanne A. shared a comment from a student who loved PowerPoint “because he didn’t have to do anything.”
It was a good exchange with folks doing what I had hoped: revisiting their use of PowerPoint—what they do and why they do it. Thanks to all who contributed! It would be equally useful for students to revisit (or maybe visit for the first time) the role of PowerPoint in their efforts to learn. What does it contribute? When is it a crutch? What learning skills does it develop? It would be interesting for faculty to then ponder students’ perspectives.


Faculty Focus: Teaching Critical Thinking: Are We Clear?

November 30, 2011

Teaching Critical Thinking: Are We Clear?

I’ve been thinking about critical thinking. I just finished reading Stephen Brookfield’s new book on the topic, Teaching for Critical Thinking. (Side note: Stephen is a prolific author, writing on a variety of teaching-learning topics and his work has generated a number of classics including The Skillful Teacher, Discussion as a Way of Teaching, co-authored with Stephen Preskill, and Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. If you don’t know his work, by all means add it to your reading list). My recent journal reading contained a couple of interesting articles on critical thinking as well.
Critical thinking seems like such an abstract, even elusive, concept to me. I know, there are all sorts of concrete definitions for it, but the way it influences our pedagogical thinking and classroom practice is not very precise. Part of the problem may be all those different definitions. As the authors of one of the articles note, “critical thinking can include the thinker’s dispositions and orientations; a range of specific analytical, evaluative, and problem-solving skills, contextual influences; use of multiple perspectives; awareness of one’s own assumptions, capacities for metacognition; or a specific set of thinking processes or tasks.” (Stassen, Herrington, and Henderson, p. 127)
The second article points out that many political science faculty (I think this could be said of most faculty in general) offer pretty generic advice on assignments where students are expected to show evidence of critical thinking. “Most suggestions for critical thinking assignments offer vague advice: allow students to discuss matters, tell students they need to think critically, ask them to rewrite.” (Fitzgerald and Baird, p. 624) The article then proposes a variety of assignment designs that promote the development of critical thinking skills related to evidence assessment. Most of the designs are pretty discipline-specific, but I thought several points in the article were excellent. We aren’t as purposeful as we should be in designing assignments that promote critical thinking, however we define it, and if we have come up with creative activities and assignments that are effective (meaning we have assessed how well they work), we don’t share those much beyond a few favorite colleagues.
Brookfield offers something useful in his book that I hadn’t seen before—a list of times in a course when critical thinking (defined as “clarifying and checking assumptions by viewing material from different perspectives” p. 79) is particularly important.
  • When skills and knowledge have to be applied in the real world
  • When independent judgment is needed
  • When alternative interpretations and perspectives are possible
  • When actions and decisions need to be informed
  • When rapid judgments are called for
  • When students are encouraged to see themselves as knowledge generators
The various points made in these articles and by Brookfield reminded me of a metaphor offered by Tim van Gelder in a highly useful article that offers six cognitive science lessons for teaching critical thinking. His first lesson is that critical thinking is hard. “Humans are not naturally critical. Indeed, like ballet, critical thinking is a highly contrived activity … ballet is something people can only do well with many years of painful, expensive, dedicated training. Evolution did not intend us to walk on the ends of our toes, and whatever Aristotle might have said, we were not designed to be all that critical either.” (p. 42)
Despite being hard, critical thinking is terribly important. The political science authors wonder if it isn’t even so more today in “an information environment characterized by a fragmented media establishment, blurb-driven news coverage, and an increasingly polarized political system.” (p. 619) We can’t leave the development of critical thinking skills to chance, hoping students will pick them up by virtue of being around folks who are good thinkers and who assign them logically coherent things to read. We must be clear about what we mean by critical thinking and purposeful in the activities and assignments we use to promote its development.

Brookfield, S. D. Teaching for Critical Thinking. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
Fitzgerald, J. and Baird, V. A. (2011). Taking a step back: Teaching critical thinking by distinguishing appropriate type of evidence. PS, Political Science and Politics, (July), 619-624.
Stassen, M. L., Herrington, A., and Henderson, L. Defining Thinking in Higher Education. In Miller, J. E. and Groccia, J. E., eds. To Improve the Academy, 30. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
Van Gelder, T. (2005). Teaching critical thinking: Some lessons from cognitive science. College Teaching, 35 (1), 41-46.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

FREE Webinar: Reserve your space now: Discovering ways to navigate state e-learning mandates


Sponsored by:
E-Learning in the Age of Choice
Now that many students have the opportunity to take online courses, schools and districts are starting to offer more choices when it comes to providers and accessing virtual education. Some districts are adapting online courses so they can be accessed by smartphones. States are also making sure students have choices in how they use virtual education. Several states—including Florida, New Mexico, and Utah—have passed recent legislation requiring that districts allow students to choose their own online learning providers, whether that means state-run online schools, virtual charters, or private providers. This webinar will provide useful tips for school administrators and K-12 policymakers on how to navigate this choice-filled world of virtual options.
Cleon L. Franklin, director, Office of Instructional Technology, Academic Operations, Technology, and Innovation, Memphis city schools

Sue Winkler/strong>, online schools administrator, Davis school district, Utah
This webinar will be moderated by Michelle R. Davis, contributing writer, Education Week Digital Directions.
Register now for this free live webinar.

Webinar Date: Tuesday, August 28, 1 – 2 p.m. ET

Can't attend? All Education Week webinars are archived and accessible "on demand" for up to six months after the original live-streaming date.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Inside Higher Ed FREE WEBINAR – Results of the 2012 Survey of College & University Business Officers

Aug2012_businessOfficersSurvey_600x222 (1)

College and university business officers are still surprisingly upbeat about their institutions' financial health but they are taking steps to alter their business models, reflecting a more privatized and market-oriented approach than before. That's one way to interpret Inside Higher Ed's second Survey of College and University Business Officers, published last month and available by clicking here.

Join us Wednesday, August 29 at 2 p.m. Eastern for a free webinar reviewing the results of Inside Higher Ed's 2012 Survey of College and University Business Officers. Editor Doug Lederman will discuss the survey with R. Gavin Leach, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer at Northern Michigan University.

The 2012 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College & University Business Officers, the latest in our series of surveys of senior campus officials about key, time-sensitive issues in higher education, was conducted in collaboration with Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Project.

click to register 1

The Inside Higher Ed survey of business officers was made possible in part by the generous financial support of ARAMARK, Ellucian, Inceptia and TIAA-CREF. Your registration information will be shared with these companies.

I hope you can participate in this important discussion.

Kathlene Collins
Inside Higher Ed



USA TODAY: A cheat sheet to what makes today's college freshmen click
By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY

The class of 2016 grew up in cyberspace, a factor that has increasingly influenced how today's undergraduates approach the world, authors of two recent works say.

These cultural touchstones are part of a 100-item "Mindset List," released Tuesday by Beloit College, that describes what "normal" looks like for students born in 1994. Produced annually since 1998 as a cheat sheet to help faculty avoid making outdated references, the Mindset Lists have evolved into a catalog of generational change.

In a companion guide published for the first time this year, list creators Ron Nief and Tom McBride say members of the fall 2012 entering class are addicted to all things electronic and "think nothing of texting a friend whom they know is only a block away."

Nief and McBride stress that they're drawing a portrait of the incoming class, not judging it. Still, many of their observations parallel those in a book, to be published in September, that takes a starker view.

In Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student, authors Arthur Levine and Diane Dean conclude that today's undergraduates are electronically far more sophisticated than their parents or teachers, yet woefully unprepared for the real world. The authors characterize them as coddled, entitled and dependent.

"This is a generation with an average of 241 social media friends, but they have trouble communicating in person," says Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and author of two previous books about college students.

The book and this year's Mindset List note the impact of the worldwide recession. Today's freshmen have "entered college with questions about jobs, whether the college degree has value," Nief says. "Their attitude toward life in America and the future is different from those of just a few years before."

The Mindset List has drawn the attention not only of educators but of police departments, military services and employers. At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, this year's Mindset Lists will be featured in a leadership conference open to employees who span four generations.

"We want everybody to increase their awareness and understanding of what makes generations unique and different, so that we can better work together," says Gail Williams, who is coordinating the program.




Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Rock the Vote

Hey Rock the Vote friends,

Fasten your seatbelts, the #RTVRoadtrip bus is headed your way!

Rock the Vote's Road Trip 2012 will be making stops across the country this election season. Starting on August 28th, you'll be able to find us in:

2012 Road Trip
  • Tampa, FL
  • Orlando, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Durham, NC
  • Charlottesville, VA
  • Washington, DC
  • New Brunswick, NJ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • University Park, PA
And Midwest and
West Coast stops will
be announced soon!

Each city's event will feature awesome live music (and even some celebrities!), voter registration, election information, free stuff, and really rad interactive activations.

If you'd like to volunteer and help us register voters along the way then you can sign up to do so here. If you'd rather just show up and do your own thing then RSVP and find more details for your nearest event here. And as always - make sure you spread the #RTVRoadtrip love to your friends!

You don't want to miss the #RTVRoadtrip bus when it rolls through your city. Join us. #WeWill rock the vote this November!

See you soon,
Michelle and the Road Trip crew


Women in Academia: Tracking the Progress of Women in Academia

Women in Academia Report

 1. Augusta National’s First Women Members Both Have Ties to the Academic World
Stanford University professor Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, the financier who has donated many millions of dollars to universities in South Carolina are the first women members of the nation’s most famous private golf club.

 2. University Study Shows Successful Women Professionals More Likely to Be Sexually Harassed
The data showed that 58 percent of women supervisors in predominantly male workplaces experienced sexual harassment.


The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowships & Grants

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars welcomes outstanding and award winning scholars, practitioners, journalists and public intellectuals to take part in its non-partisan dialogue. Each year, the Center hosts around 160 scholars who conduct independent research on national and/or international issues addressing key public policy challenges. Through its scholars, the Center enriches crucial policy debates and provides a platform for scholars in the tradition of President Wilson to bring the worlds of policy and ideas together. The Center hosts scholars in residence through a variety of ways including its flagship international Fellowship Program, its Public Policy Scholar Program and through individual Center Scholar Programs.

Fellowships at the Wilson Center

Through an international competition, the Center offers 9-month residential fellowships. Fellows conduct research and write in their areas of interest, while interacting with policymakers in Washington and Wilson Center staff. The Center accepts non-advocacy, policy-relevant, fellowship proposals that address key challenges of past, present and future issues confronting the United States and the world.

Fellowship Application Due October 1

Complete Your Application Today!
Apply Now


Sunday, August 19, 2012

EduDemic: How Cash-Strapped Colleges Are Using Web 2.0 Tools To Attract International Students


Posted: 15 Aug 2012 11:30 AM PDT
It's no secret that teaching is hard. But most of the time you just hear about the broader problems like test scores and education reform. Often times, you don't get an intimate look from teachers and education administrators online where there is a digital 'paper trail' and jobs are on the line.

Posted: 15 Aug 2012 10:00 AM PDT
How does memory affect function in the classroom? What about emotions and learning? Curious how it all mixes together in this modern era? Here's a roundup of the top 10 ways emotions affect learning.

Posted: 15 Aug 2012 08:00 AM PDT
So you're a Google guru or a search siren... I bet you still don't know every last trick and tool in Google's array of services. But whether you're a newbie or expert, the following infographic may very well be worth printing out and posting in your office or teacher's lounge.

Posted: 15 Aug 2012 04:30 AM PDT
In a tight budget environment, institutions of higher education can potentially increase their revenues and enrich the educational experience by recruiting international students. However they are often constrained by the expense of setting up an active international office.