Creativity (and why it’s important)


This post is part of the Aspirations to Action series created as a follow-up to the Teaching What’s Important Symposium.

As an aspiring urban planning scholar, I’m frequently exposed to discussions about the importance of creativity to cities. I should preface this by stressing just how multifaceted the field of urban planning is… There are so many ways to approach things in urban planning. It’s both a blessing and a curse really… but that is a story for another day and time.

Right. So. Creativity. Continue reading Creativity (and why it’s important)

Instructors branch out by offering students social media as an alternative to traditional assignments and assessment


This post, featuring Casey McCormick, a PhD candidate and course lecturer in Cultural Studies, and Dr. Nathalie Cooke, a professor in the English Department and Associate Dean, McGill Library, Archives & Rare Collections, is the latest installment in our ongoing series about assessment tools for large classes. On October 17, 2016, Casey and Prof. Cooke were the guest speakers at a session entitled Critical Analysis and Student Engagement: Social Media Strategies. This post provides a summary of the session and access their presentation slides, which include hyperlinks to their assignment details and assessment rubrics.

Continue reading Instructors branch out by offering students social media as an alternative to traditional assignments and assessment

myCourses Webinar Series Now Available on Video@McGill


Did you know Teaching and Learning Services has its own Video@McGill Channel? If you missed the monthly myCourses Webinar Series presented by myself and Justin Fletcher last year, you can now view the webinars on the Teaching and Learning Services’ video channel. During the webinars, we review various tools within myCourses, such as online quizzes, rubrics, and online discussions. We explore more in-depth the functionality of these, and other features, as well as go beyond myCourses to discuss the larger learning technology ecosystem at McGill. Continue reading myCourses Webinar Series Now Available on Video@McGill

Linking Theory to Practice – A little more action, please


This post is part of the Aspirations to Action series created as a follow-up to the Teaching What’s Important Symposium.

Linking theory to practice is an important learning aspiration. Let’s be honest: how many times have you heard the one about the undergrad who steps out of his/her cap and gown into the real world to realize a split second later that they know so much but know so little. You’ve heard it, right? (Perhaps even experienced that feeling yourself). It is the shared responsibility of lecturers and instructors to try to mitigate that moment — to work together so students are prepared for life after graduation, equipped with enough theory to understand the world, and enough practical experience to challenge that same understanding. So how do we create opportunities that inspire students to seek out links between theory and practice? Here are some ideas already put into practice by McGill professors…. Continue reading Linking Theory to Practice – A little more action, please

Communication Skills – Talk the Walk


This post is part of the Aspirations to Action series created as a follow-up to the Teaching What’s Important Symposium.

Whatever the end goal may be – whether it is to inform or raise awareness, establish trust or get support – communication is as important a skill as any. Learning how to address an audience, to inspire, to engage, and to hit a nerve will also help students organize their ideas and think about how these ideas could affect the world. And sometimes it is just good to know how to best explain debt financing to a botanist… It’s not enough to know the material; knowing how to adapt your message to a particular audience is also important. So what are some of the ways to make sure that our students develop such communication skills? Here are a few McGill examples…. Continue reading Communication Skills – Talk the Walk

Teamwork – The Beauty of the Sport


This post is part of the Aspirations to Action series created as a follow-up to the Teaching What’s Important Symposium.

Learning how to work together is indeed the beauty of any sport. However, teaching students how to manage group expectations, capabilities and skills so as to produce fruitful results can be challenging. A valuable management skill that cuts across all fields, teamwork is an art that is taught in different ways, and in combination with other skills (research skills, thinking about how theory and knowledge applies to practice, communication skills). Continue reading Teamwork – The Beauty of the Sport

Teaching in an Active Learning Classroom: Pros and Cons


Professor Chris Buddle provides some very thoughtful reflections in his blog post on the benefits and challenges of teaching in one of McGill’s Active Learning Classrooms. Do you have any thoughts to add? Post them in the comments below.

Arthropod Ecology

Earlier this term I wrote about my excitement with teaching in an active learning classroom: as a quick refresher, my course had just over 80 students, and is an introductory ecology class. The course has a strong focus on quantitative approaches to population and community ecology, from equations to modelling. I gave up doing traditional PowerPoint slides for this class a long time ago, but until this term, I was still teaching in a theatre-style lecture hall. With continuing to push the “active learning” agenda, it was great to have an opportunity to teach in a classroom specifically designed for active learning!

The Active Learning classroom The Active Learning classroom So, here are some perspectives and thoughts about teaching in an active learning classroom now that term is over.

Pros:

1. I found the tables (with rolling chairs!) were especially great when I did in-class quizzes, especially with group-based problems…

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Discussing what matters in higher education.