Author: Tami Strang

Tips for Student Success in an Online Course

Online learning may appeal to students for any number of reasons: the convenience of anytime, anywhere learning; the flexible and self-paced nature of many courses; and the asynchronous type of discussions that allow more time to reflect on an instructor or classmate’s question before responding. Though the appeal itself may be immediate, students may still need guidance toward making the most of the opportunities that an online course affords them. In FOCUS on College Success, Third Edition, Constance Staley describes the key behaviors that will help them thrive in the online learning environment. Though these eight strategies Read More…


Building Community Via Engaging Online Discussions

On its face, an asynchronous conversation conducted via a discussion board may not seem as personal or immediate as a conversation that takes place in a more traditional classroom. However, an online discussion can be just as spirited, enlightening, and engaging as one taking place in the face-to-face environment — if it is facilitated well. How can you, as an instructor, help students gain the full benefit of discussions in your online course? In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, contributors Erping Zhu and Matthew Kaplan offer the following tips:

    Create a
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Assignments in the Online Course: How Much is Too Much?

Guest Contributor: Robert Onorato. Given the seemingly unlimited, media-rich learning opportunities you can offer in an asynchronous online course, it may be tempting to craft a reading or resource list as extensive as your own time allows. But at what point will students reach the saturation point? In this article, Robert Onorato, instructor at Fordham University (NY) and a Senior Faculty Programs Consultant for Cengage Learning’s TeamUP, shares the experiences that have led him to his own conclusions regarding the answer to the question: “How much is too much?” I have been teaching college courses for twenty years and I Read More…


Selecting Media and Technology Delivery Channels

There are many technology tools and resources available — and more coming each day — that can fit into your workflow or teaching style. While it might be fun to try them all out, it’s likely not realistic with the time constraints you face when designing a course or creating course activities. What does make sense is looking at the ways that technology tools and the activities that make use of them can be delivered. In Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning, authors Michael G. Moore and Greg Kearsley emphasize that the challenge educators have Read More…


For Students: How to Make the Most of Group Work

Bad experiences with uncommitted teammates, conflict, and a lack of clear direction have led some students to view “group work” as a dirty term. However, it may be that these students simply haven’t been introduced to the steps involved in becoming an effective group. Thus, before you assign a group project, it may help to provide your class with guidelines that will lead them to success — rather than frustration or discord. What actions and behaviors lead to a successful group experience? In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, Svinicki and McKeachie offer students the following suggestions: Make sure that all Read More…


Designing Effective Group Assignments

Certainly, you could choose any number of ways to assign groups for group assignment: pull names out of a hat; have students select teammates; go by last name (a.k.a. the “potluck” method — all students A-L are in Group 1, M-S in Group 2, etc.). You could even have students count off in class to determine their group number. However, if you want to encourage maximum participation, collaboration, and achievement for a significant group assignment, you may opt for a method that increases the likelihood of student success and satisfaction. Though not an exact science, there are certainly steps you Read More…


The Value of Peer Learning

You’ve heard that student-centered learning and using groups in the classroom is an effective way to reach learners, and you’ve read some tips on encouraging meaningful interaction in online discussion, but let’s focus on the value that active learning in groups affords your students. In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, authors Svinicki and McKeachie outline why peer learning works. They point to a number of sources that underline the idea that, “an effective partner can act as a model of useful strategies as well as a teacher.” (Svinicki and McKeachie, 192) What they point out is that peer learning offers certain Read More…


Four Tips: Creating Prompts for Online Discussion Boards

Particularly for online courses, using discussion boards can be an effective way to encourage group or team interaction. You can encourage peer-to-peer interaction as students react or respond to a prompt and then interact with one another based on those responses, or assign a prompt for each student to read and respond to that you can evaluate personally. No matter the goal of your discussion board activity, you likely want to ensure that students’ responses are thoughtful, complete, and insightful. Read on for tips, courtesy of the TeamUP Professional Development Portal, that you can keep in mind as Read More…


Using Groups in the Classroom

Guest Contributor: Maggi Miller. Looking to increase student engagement in your course? Here, Maggi Miller, retired Professor and now Manager of Cengage Learning’s TeamUP Faculty Programs, discusses why—and how—group work leads to greater student success and satisfaction. ANNOUNCEMENT! Lecturing is not the most effective way to teach! “Student engagement” is the way to go, right? It’s supported by student satisfaction surveys and most conferences have sessions on active learning. But it’s not just a “hot” topic. The evidence is in: when the classroom is student-centered, the learning is more immediate, goes deeper and lasts longer. It’s a pedagogical trifecta! Students Read More…


Ten Great Apps for Students

Smartphones need not be the enemy of your course. There are a certainly a number of ways you can take advantage of this technology during class time— but smartphones can also be a student’s best friend outside the classroom (for reasons beyond text messages, viral videos, and multi-player word games, that is). Our colleagues at CengageBrain.com recently recommended ten apps students can use to help keep their school, work, and social lives in order. In addition to useful apps for scheduling, homework help, and budgeting, they mention a few apps that bring on the fun. Read More…