Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When Whites Just Don't Get It

New York Times op-ed piece about Ferguson and the ongoing affects of race in the US.

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Is Your Student Prepared for Life?

New York Times op-ed piece on the need to provide career training to undergraduates, starting in the first year of college.

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Don't Email Me

A Salem College faculty member last semester took an uncompromising approach to curbing syllabus and inbox bloat: Why not ban most student emails?
“For years, student emails have been an assault on professors, sometimes with inappropriate informality, sometimes just simply not understanding that professors should not have to respond immediately,” Spring-Serenity Duvall, assistant professor of communications at Salem College, wrote in a blog post last week. “In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more. This is where I make my stand!”
Duvall’s frustration is shared by many in academe -- or anyone with an email account -- from faculty members beset by questions they have answered both in class and in writing to students inundated by university email blasts. This spring, when Duvall taught at the University of South Carolina at Aiken, she adopted a new email policy to cut down on emails from students telling her they would be late, or would miss class, or would have leave early, or any of the countless others that could be handled face-to-face. Instead of wasting class time on walking her students through an increasingly complicated flowchart diagram of when they could and could not email her, Duvall stopped the problem at its core: No emails -- unless you’re scheduling an in-person meeting.

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Young Minds in Critical Condition

Liberal learning depends on absorption in compelling work. It is a way to open ourselves to the various forms of life in which we might actively participate. When we learn to read or look or listen intensively, we are, at least temporarily, overcoming our own blindness by trying to understand an experience from another’s point of view. We are not just developing techniques of problem solving; we are learning to activate potential, and often to instigate new possibilities.

Yes, hard-nosed critical thinking is a useful tool, but it also may become a defense against the risky insight that absorption can offer. As students and as teachers we sometimes crave that protection; without it we risk changing who we are. We risk seeing a different way of living not as something alien, but as a possibility we might be able to explore, and even embrace.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) Fall Webinar Series

The National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) is pleased to announce that it will offer four free webinars on course redesign in the coming months. During fall 2014, we will incorporate our popular Getting Started on Course Redesign seminar into this webinar series, and we will also offer a number of discipline-based topics.

 Getting Started Webinar on September 16, 2014 at 1 pm EST

 Getting Started on Course Redesign is a webinar for those of you who are thinking about beginning a large-scale course redesign project. This two-hour-long webinar will provide participants the opportunity to learn about how redesign efforts have begun at both four- and two-year institutions. NCAT Redesign Scholar Michelle Miller from Northern Arizona University will describe how their redesign of Introductory Psychology got started and how they resolved problems that arose. NCAT vice president Carolyn Jarmon will give examples of what has been experienced by two-year institutions in a variety of academic disciplines as they began their redesigns. The agenda includes plenty of time for discussion to help you think about how to get started.

 Discipline-based Webinars: October, November and December of 2014 

 Each hour-long webinar will feature an NCAT Redesign Scholar, the project leader of a highly successful course redesign, describing the redesign project with a particular focus on its distinguishing characteristics. After a presentation, the lead faculty member will be available to answer questions and provide additional specifics about the redesign. The following topics and speakers are planned:
  • October 14, 2014 at 1 pm EST: Redesigning The Economic System at Buffalo State College presented by Bill Ganley, featuring the effective use of undergraduate learning assistants in an introductory economics course. 
  • November 11, 2014 at 1 pm EST: Redesigning Developmental Math at Manchester Community College (CT) presented by Marcia Jehnings, featuring the use of modularization in the Emporium Model, a proven approach to learning developmental mathematics.
     
  • December 9, 2014 at 1 pm EST: Redesigning Fundamentals of Biology at Salisbury University presented by Ron Gutberlet, featuring engagement of students individually and in groups.
You must register for each webinar, but there is no registration fee. Go to http://www.theNCAT.org/Webinars/2014Webinars.html to register for one or more of these webinars. 

 Videos of Prior Webinars

 Videos of the following prior webinars may be accessed at http://www.theNCAT.org/Webinars/Webinars.html.
  • Redesigning General Psychology at Frostburg State University
  • Redesigning Computing and Information Literacy at Arizona State University
  • Redesigning developmental math at Cleveland State Community College, Chattanooga State Community College and Northwest-Shoals Community College
  • Redesigning American History and European History at SUNY Potsdam
  • Redesigning Principles of Chemistry at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • Redesigning statistics at Niagara County Community College
  • Redesigning Developmental Reading at Northeast State Technical Community College
  • Getting Started on Course Redesign: examples of how redesign efforts began at both four- and two-year institutions.
  • Redesigning General Psychology at the University of New Mexico
  • Redesigning College Algebra at the University of Central Florida
If you have questions about this webinar series, please contact Carolyn Jarmon, NCAT vice president, at cjarmon@theNCAT.org. We look forward to seeing you online!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I'm Asking You Not to Use Laptops

I am far from alone in asking students not to use laptops (or phones) in class. Some of my colleagues, though, seem surprised that I don’t get pushback from students about this policy. I like to think it has something to do with my taking the time to explain my laptop policy for the class and then working hard to keep up my end of the contract.

Let me explain. On the first day of class, students and I spend the first 30-40 minutes learning something new about how language works (in order to set the tone for the class), and then we go over the syllabus. When we get to the laptop policy, I pause and say, “Let me tell you why I ask you generally not to use laptops in class.” And here’s the gist of what I say after that:

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Clients, not Customers

Chronicle piece about the benefits of approaching students as clients, with all the attendant problems. Comments are no doubt more intriguing than the actual article.

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