curriculum development

Get Ready for the Solar Eclipse: An Astronomy Primer

Dr. Richard Gelderman of Western Kentucky University spoke with Heather Thompson of Cengage, sharing why more than astronomers are excited about this summer’s solar eclipse. Read on to get useful information about getting ready for August 21, 2017.
Heather Thompson: Generally, what can you tell me about the upcoming solar eclipse? Why are you so excited about it?
Richard Gelderman: What I can’t stress enough is that this eclipse goes beyond science. This is a HUMAN event, not just a science event. It applies to every subject area. You don’t need to care about science to appreciate the power Read More…


Top 3 Strategies for Collaborative Learning Beyond the Classroom

College students spend a lot of their time doing things other than classwork. Some of that is due to the competing interests at the college level, but some may be because assignments beyond the classroom aren’t as interesting or rewarding as they could be. In order to better engage your students outside of class, consider using cooperative learning strategies and adding group projects, peer review, and collaborative learning ideas to your syllabus.

What are students doing outside of class?

According to Edward Neal of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in his Read More…


5 Tips for Assigning the First Research Paper of the Year

Many college students dread the research paper: the time involved, researching topics and material, writing coherently, and being tempted by plagiarism. In your curriculum, when assigning the first paper of the course, it’s important to explain the goal of the paper, describe the research paper format, offer viable research paper topics, and provide an example of research paper technique that meets their requirements.

Place the research in the context of the course

Instructors know the value in the research paper, which teaches academic research, library navigation, organizational thought processes, and presentation. Teachers should be aware of the challenges students face in writing papers. Read More…


Prepare Your Classroom Style Guides: MLA 8th Edition is Here

In April 2016, the MLA released the 8th edition of their style guide. The updates to the MLA format move toward making it much easier for students writing their research papers to cite digital sources, like YouTube videos, which were cumbersome under the earlier rules. While the MLA citations for paper bibliographies have changed quite a bit, MLA in-text citations are roughly the same. Here are the changes you should be aware of as you get your students ready for this year’s research papers.

Digital publication has changed research and documentation.

The biggest reason for the changes to MLA format Read More…


Curriculum Development: Assigning Homework on the First Day

College instructors often debate the value (or harm) of assigning homework to college students on the first day of class. The general consensus is that it depends on the teacher and the subject matter. There is no right or wrong answer. Some teachers present an overview of the class syllabus, while others assign homework online due for the first day or assigned on the first day. In her book Curriculum in Context, 1st ed., Leigh Chiarelott said, “Many educators and parents argue that homework teaches students responsibility, time management skills, goal-setting strategies, and study skills, and these arguments are Read More…


In Defense of Learning Grammar Rules

Guest Contributors: Lawrence Barkley and Christine Sandoval, authors of Grammar and Usage, Naturally, 1st Edition Grammar rules have long been the bane of many students at all levels of education, teachers intoning “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition,” “Don’t begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction,” “Don’t split infinitives,” “Be sure pronouns and their antecedents agree in number,” “Don’t use passive voice,” and “Don’t begin a sentence with ‘There’.”

Grammar origins

But how many of the numerous grammar rules we learned, use, and teach are actually based on a syntactic logic? Not many. In fact, a number of grammar rules as Read More…


How to Orchestrate Group Projects in the College Classroom

Some college students dread group projects. Depending on others and working as a team can require more time investment from some students, and can challenge students who have different work strategies and study habits. But there are many benefits of group work, including developing the soft skills required for a student to become a team player. Working in groups is a necessary skill to develop for college students who will be entering the working world, and there are many benefits to orchestrating group projects in your curriculum.

Benefits of group work

Group work can be stressful, but ultimately valuable, for college Read More…


Fresh Concepts and Curriculum Ideas for Summer Classes

Summer classes can present challenges for instructors at all levels due to the compressed time period and students who may have trouble staying motivated over the summer months. Covering the required material faster can be difficult, but it’s certainly doable, especially with some fresh concepts and curriculum ideas to guide your lesson planning.

Defining the problem

No matter what level you teach, instructors most likely will be struggling with one if not all of these areas when establishing effective lesson planning for their summer classes—teaching methodology, student assignments, assessments and academic rigor. For professors Alicia R. Crowe, Eunsook Hyun, and Mark Kretovics, Read More…


OLC Innovate: Innovations in Blended and Online Learning

The Big Easy played host to the inaugural conference geared to education leaders, faculty, system administrators, and course designers in pursuit of quality online learning. Attendees were invited to challenge existing barriers to innovation and re-imagine the learning experience. Through diverse sessions, workshops, and labs, the conference fostered dialogue and networking around emerging ideas in instructional design, pedagogical innovation, mobile technology, accessibility, online learning and course delivery, adaptive learning, and many more.

Thinking beyond the course

In partnership with Learning Objects, Cengage Learning hosted the lively session: Thinking Beyond the Course in Curriculum Design. The hosts, Natalie Skadra, Director of Instructional Design Read More…


Beginning Language Learners and Authentic Materials

Guest Contributor: Karin Fajardo, co-author of Conectados.

When should beginning language learners use authentic materials? In my opinion, the answer is from day one. I know some may disagree, equating that practice with diving into water without knowing how to swim. However, one must approach the use of authentic materials with the same care as one who is entering the water for the first time. If provided with the proper tools and support, beginning language learners will not only be able to wade in the context of the authentic material but will soon want to dive deeper.

Read More…