Monday, December 10, 2012

Pulling it all together!

Good Evening!

As we approach the end of a quarter --- and the end of another year --- now is an excellent time for you to "pull everything together" for your students to really help them see how the course material you have covered over the course of the quarter works together, builds upon one another, and relates to the students' futures.  While these are the connections we definitely want our students to be able to be making, offering some guidance or a little push in that direction can make a world of difference in reaching that goal.

There are a number of ways you can do this with and for your students:
  • In the discussion boards ask questions where you directly reference a current concept and ask students to discuss how it relates to at least one other concept from the course;
  • Ask questions in the discussion boards about how the course information will benefit each student in his/her direct future - whether personally or professionally;
  • Offer a recap email or announcement showing a progression of the course concepts;
  • Create - or better yet, have students create - a mind map of the various course concepts and post for all students to review;
  • Create - or once again, have students create - flash cards for students to study key terms from as they study for a final exam, but instead of just the term definition, also include a reference to a connected term.
These are just a few ideas, the options truly are endless, but the key is to get your students thinking about how the course concepts work students see the big picture of the course as it relates to their programs, to their professions, to their lives.  Definitely require the students' participation in the process, but as the instructor, you can start that journey by guiding students along the right path.

Good luck with the last couple of units and I'll be blogging again come winter!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, December 3, 2012

Academic Customer Service

Our esteemed Dean of Faculty shared with us a great article on academic customer service earlier today.  I'd like to extend on that discussion as it is such an important topic.  Here is another article that I believe offers additional insight and perspective into the importance of embracing this concept and academic customer service approach in our daily teaching.

As the author of the article identifies, this is a quandary for many - but does it really need to be or are we merely looking at the "customer service" entity from too much of a business perspective rather than an educational collaboration?  

"Education should be approached as a collaborative engagement between people in which we each bring  to the table different skills and needs. Students bring insights and perspectives that teachers need to embrace if they are to keep learning. Educators bring deep expertise in their fields that can stimulate student interest and engagement – the basis of learning."

Mr. Hampson's post focuses on the approach he and his colleagues in management took to address customer service needs of students outside of the academic realm so as to make things simple and easy elsewhere- that way, if there were academic customer service issues within the academic realm they may not be as prevalent.  But as Mr. Hampson stated, "It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s certainly better than treating students like crap in the name of academic standards." 

I challenge each of us to take this even further, though, and bring it into the academic realm so that the last statement of "in the name of academic standards" isn't even a thought; rather, let's embrace the educational collaboration perspective...serving our students serves their education, and we are in the business of education. 

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist