During the gray and cold of winter quarter, we could all use a boost of warmth and sunshine. Since we can’t control the sun, we’re bringing you some educational technology love and instructional inspiration instead. The Teaching & Learning Technologies team is always exploring new technologies and learning from instructors and students. We wanted to share some of the inspiring educational technology ideas and resources that we’re experimenting with and some that faculty have shared with us. Get a hot drink and read on!
New Approaches to Exams
Design your Own Exam
Assistant Professor of Instruction in Political Science and Sociology Jean Clipperton has had students “design your own exam.” Students write and submit exam questions to her that are then circulated as a review sheet. She says, “I use the best for the exam. Students have to also submit answers and justifications/explanations (these are not shared/circulated).” This technique helps the instructor get a better picture of what level of comprehension and synthesis students are at with materials before an exam. It also provides students with valuable review materials and brings them in as collaborators in their learning process. Best of all, it can reduce the number of questions you need to write for an exam.
“A Professor Asked His Students to Write Their Own Exam Questions. Here’s What He Found.”, from The Chronicle of Higher Education
“Student-Written Exams Increase Student Involvement“, from Faculty Focus
Often exams are viewed as an assessment of a single student’s knowledge at a particular point in time. Turning that idea on its head is the technique of collaborative exams, where the act of taking the exam is a team effort and is a continuation of the learning experience. Also sometimes referred to as a “two-stage exam,” students first complete and turn in an exam individually. Then, working in small groups, they answer the exam questions again, engaging in discussion and receiving immediate targeted feedback. On an episode of the Teach Better podcast, hosts Edward O’Neill and Doug McKee discuss with Teddy Svoronos, Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, the details of using two-stage/collaborative exams. Check out the podcast to hear their discussion on the whys and hows of collaborative exams. If you’d like to explore how you could build a two-stage exam in Canvas, set up a consultation with the TLT team.
“The Effects of Collaborative Testing“, from Faculty Focus
“Turn an exam into a learning experience with two-stage exams“, from Stanford University Teaching Commons
Brainstorming Tool That Supports Active Learning
Have you wanted to try an active learning activity like cumulative brainstorming or concept mapping, but your classroom space made participation by all your students difficult? Consider using Miro (previously RealtimeBoard). Miro is like a collaborative whiteboard, where multiple contributors can add ideas simultaneously, annotate each others’ work, add images, add video, and more. While the premium version has a cost, instructors can use it for free for a class by requesting an educator’s account. Miro can also support group projects and other collaboration outside of class time.
Sources of Instructional Inspiration
Where can you go when you’re in need of some great ideas or are struggling with an instructional problem? Jillana Enteen, Associate Professor of Instruction in Gender & Sexualities Studies, shared one of her sources of instructional inspiration: “Teachers Pay Teachers and other K-12 sites have been providing me with tools to spark alternative learning practices. High school teachers are thoughtful about pedagogy. So by perusing some of their class plans, I have sparked ideas that enrich my own classes and my delivery of my material. While the content is much different, glancing at these thoughtful deliveries keeps me thinking about best practices that engage the most students during precious biweekly 80-minute sessions.” For a higher ed focused source, Jean Clipperton subscribes to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Teaching Newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter directly here.
If you are a podcast listener, check out the Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast and the aforementioned Teach Better podcast. The Teaching in Higher Ed podcast covers a wide variety of topics, from meeting the needs of students to productivity and blurring of work/non-work time. The Teach Better podcast has a great breakdown of each hour-long episode (for example, this one on virtual reality and teaching) on its website, providing the timestamp of key points that came up. This highlights list also includes relevant citations and links mentioned in or related to the discussion.
Do you have any resources or favorite techniques you want to share with other Northwestern faculty? Let us know so that we can keep sharing instructional inspiration and educational technology love!