Engagement and Motivation

Playing to Learn: Tales from the Trenches

Guest Contributor: Jeannie Novak, Lead Author & Series Editor, Game Development Essentials. In 2003, while speaking at the University of Southern California’s Teaching, Learning & Technology conference, I noticed more than a few visibly uncomfortable educators in the audience. I had recently completed my Master’s thesis on using massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) as online distance learning applications, and I was providing a summary of my findings. The notion of any game posing as a learning management system (LMS) was difficult enough for most to parse—especially at the time—but those who weren’t well versed in the workings of Read More…


Active Learning: A Foundation for the Classroom

Guest Contributor: Dr. Jennifer Hurd. Active learning is a teaching strategy used in many classrooms today. In active learning, the student constructs learning — often in collaboration with other students. The teacher becomes a facilitator of learning rather than a giver of knowledge. Active learning is a student-centered approach. Let me share some personal background on my experience with active learning. Before I learned about active learning, I was a lecturer. I walked in the door talking and walked out talking. Then I met a man named John Parker. He conducted a workshop on active learning and showed many activities that could be used in class regardless of content. I Read More…


Learning from Fellow Students: Creating a Study Group

Do you encourage students to form study groups to learn from one another outside of class? What have you seen work best in these peer learning circles to facilitate progress? Share with us in the comments section below. We’ve written about the benefits of peer-to-peer learning before, but learning from fellow students can extend beyond course assignments–the benefits of working with peers certainly does. In On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life, Skip Downing describes how starting a study group can encourage students to be more invested in course content by interacting more Read More…


Engaging Today’s Changing Learners

In this video, author Jeff Butterfield talks about the changing demographic of today’s learners, and what that means to the teaching and learning experience. He also gives his advice for engaging your learners by changing the way you may be used to doing things and by always asking yourself: Are there are new ways that I could be reaching my students? How have you seen the student demographic in your classroom shift over the years? Share your thoughts on how your students have changed (or not!) in the comments section below.  [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsou8iTDWLQ?wmode=Opaque] Jeff Butterfield holds a Ph.D. from the University Read More…


Incorporating Engaging User Experiences into Library and Research Tools

An Interview with Derek Poppink, Director of User Experience, Cengage Learning. Derek Poppink has been helping to design great experiences for users of Gale library and research products for the past three-and-a-half years. He leads a team of user experience (UX) specialists charged with paying attention to the unique requirements of online library solutions. Jeanne Heston had an opportunity to speak with Derek recently about his design philosophy and the research methods that are critical to his team’s innovation and design processes. Jeanne Heston (JH): What was it that inspired you to get into this field in the first Read More…


Addressing the Challenges of Military Transition: Beginning or Returning to College

Guest Contributor: Andrea J. Burr, DP1 First Class Petty Officer.  What particular needs, attitudes, and expectations do former military personnel bring to the college classroom? How can an instructor address those issues, preferences, and challenges within his or her course?

Given her military experience, as well as her work as an instructor and mentor to ex-military personnel, Andrea Burr is uniquely qualified to answer such questions. Below, she shares her insights into the mindset that they bring to the classroom, and she also offers her strategies for helping these students make the most of class time.
Has your classroom played Read More…


Collaborative Learning: Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom (Part 2 of 2)

Guest Contributor:  Kristopher M. Carilli, Account Executive, ConnectYard.

Part Two of a Two-Part Series. Read Part One, Collaborative Learning: Leveraging Social Learning Sites, here.

The development and expansion of a new class of sites, Social Learning Sites (SLS), has enabled learners and their instructors to realize the benefits of the social web in academia. SLS provide the ability to expand one’s network by rapidly creating contacts to people, as with traditional social networking sites (SNS). In addition, SLS follow best practices for encouraging improved student learning outcomes and persistence to graduation. Decades of research on undergraduate learning has distilled several key Read More…


Collaborative Learning: Leveraging Social Learning Sites (Part 1 of 2)

Guest Contributor: Kristopher M. Carilli, Account Executive, ConnectYard. Part One of a Two-Part Series. For the past two decades a transformation has been occurring in teaching and learning circles. There has been a transition from the traditional lecture centered model of instruction to one that emphasizes student discussions and active engagement with curriculum content. The term “collaborative learning” has been coined to describe strategies that support the latter model, including learning communities, virtual learning communities, and social learning sites (SLS). The rapid advance of information technology and the growing popularity of social networking sites have provided additional opportunities to Read More…


Personal Learning Environments: A Way to Engage Students in Self-Regulated Learning

Guest Contributor: Nada Dabbagh, George Mason University. Many of today’s learners are likely to be familiar with, and facile with, today’s technologies. However, it can take some effort and skill to help them use and manage online resources to their fullest advantage within the educational setting. Today, Nada Dabbagh discusses how Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) can help your students learn to best manage their learning spaces and thus take greater charge of their own learning opportunities. Dabbagh, who serves as the professor and director of the Division of Learning Technologies in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason Read More…


Learning Through Visuals

Contributor: Dr. Haig Kouyoudjian. A large body of research indicates that visual cues help us to better retrieve and remember information. The research outcomes on visual learning make complete sense when you consider that our brain is mainly an image processor (much of our sensory cortex is devoted to vision), not a word processor. In fact, the part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images. Words are abstract and rather difficult for the brain to retain, whereas visuals are concrete and, as such, more easily remembered. To Read More…