Ephemeral art


Adam Finkelstein:

An interesting post from Chris Buddle about a rogue artist in his class. What a wonderful way to start your class every week! Has this ever happened in your class?

Originally posted on Arthropod Ecology:

It’s a difficult time of year for many people: Instructors are looking at how many lectures are left before final exams, and starting to panic about how much material hasn’t yet been covered! We are planning field seasons, applying for research permits, juggling meetings, and starting to think about how the summer’s work-life balance will play out. As we approach the end of term, stress levels in the classroom are also building. Students are working madly on term papers, scrambling to get things organized for summer jobs or internships, and looking ahead to final exams.

It’s busy. Everyone is too busy. The days are too full and it’s not easy.

Then this happens:

A gift on the chalkboard A gift on the chalkboard

I teach with chalk, and in my lecture hall there’s a vertical sliding chalkboard. When I enter the room, the front, upper board is where I start the lecture and as…

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Making the Grade in myCourses


The Gradebook tool in myCourses has many powerful options to make managing your class easier. That said,  it can also be one of the more daunting aspects of myCourses. That’s understandable—grades are a high-stakes matter. Here are some tips to help you use the myCourses Gradebook, along with some tricks to ensure that you’ve done everything correctly. Continue reading Making the Grade in myCourses

The effects of Twitter on student engagement and learning


Adam Finkelstein:

A great summary of a recent article submitted by Lauren Soluk and Chris Buddle on the effects of Twitter on student engagement and learning. Thanks Chris for sharing your findings!

Originally posted on Arthropod Ecology:

There are lots of ‘feel good’ stories about using Twitter in teaching, and I’ve long been a supporting of using social media in undergraduate classes. But does it work…? What effects does Twitter have on learning?

An example of a student Tweet, used to promote their blog post. An example of a student Tweet, used to promote their blog post.

This was a question we decided to tackle in my field biology class, and recently, in a collaboration with Lauren Soluk (as part of her graduate work), we surveyed students about using Twitter in the classroom*. Here are the take-home messages from the work:

  • Students Tweeted over 200% more than what was required as part of the course work
  • Students used Twitter in many different ways, from informal communication, to promoting their own blogs, to asking questions of each other or of the course instructors and TA.
  • Students used Twitter to communicate with their instructor or TA 56% of the…

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Being a layperson in pharmacology


My identities in life are many – a staff member at McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services, a mother–daughter-sister-wife, a former waitress-house painter-birthday party animator, etc. However, thanks to Prof. Terry Hébert in Pharmacology, I can now add “lay person” to the list.  Last week, Prof. Hébert invited me and a group of other non-pharmacology types to read student papers and provide comments.
Continue reading Being a layperson in pharmacology

Formative – free student response / online formative assessment tool


Adam Finkelstein:

An interesting student response system designed to give a greater range of formative feedback to students on their learning. Of particular note is the ability for students to “show their work” as they work on a class problem. If anyone is interested in trying this tool, or has tried it already, please let us know.

Originally posted on ICT Across the Curriculum:

FormativeFormative is an online student response system / online formative assessment tool which is made by teachers from across the US and is free for teachers and students. The tool enables a range of responses including multiple choice, numeric, text, drawing and taking pictures. Assessments are shared with students via a quick link or access code and student responses are sent to the teacher in realtime so that early intervention and tracking of student responses can be undertaken.

This video provides a useful overview of the tool.

There is also a useful tutorial video which shows you how to upload and convert a .pdf into a digital formative assessment. This video helps to show you the potential of the tool for setting online assessments as homework or classwork. As student work is completed it can be monitored in realtime.

I really like the potential of this and hope to give…

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Student for a day (Part 3): operation dissection


Adam Finkelstein:

The third and final post in the “Student for a day” series by contributor Chris Buddle. Thank you Chris for your thoughtful reflections on the student experience!

Originally posted on Arthropod Ecology:

This is the third and final post about going back to the classroom: you can find the first post hereand the second one here.

We rushed from the lecture hall to the basement of the main teaching complex on campus. I walked down the hall towards the lab, that old familiar smell was in the air: it was the “face-muscle dissection day” in Comparative Anatomy. This took me immediately back to my undergraduate days at the University of Guelph.  There were just over a dozen students in the lab, and the ‘specimens’ (I shall NOT mention what they were!) were sitting on stainless steel lab tables, with the dissection gear at the ready. Scalpel? CHECK. Forceps? CHECK. Scissors? CHECK. It was operation: dissection. I was nervous…. then I was handed rubber gloves and a labcoat. I was WAY out of my element…

The instructor started with…

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