NIU launches conference on engaged learning, teaching, scholarship

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NIU is more than familiar with the amazing stories students tell about their engaged learning experiences with faculty.

Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day

The ninth annual Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day and the fifth annual Community Engagement Showcase are planned Wednesday, April 18.

However, this spring will introduce a new event that uncovers and recognizes the faculty perspective of collaborations with students and community partners. The first Engaged Learning, Teaching and Scholarship Conference is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 6.

Several faculty and staff will present on best practices in engaged learning, teaching and scholarship in the Holmes Student Center. All are welcome to attend; registration is open online.

 

Renique Kersh

“Engaging students and the local, regional, national and global community is critical to NIU’s mission,” says Renique Kersh, associate vice provost for Engaged Learning and director of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning.

“We want to celebrate the tremendous efforts by faculty and staff across the campus to create and support opportunities that lead to significant learning and community and economic impact,” Kersh adds. “We hope to inspire potential collaboration, to engage in thoughtful discussions about the future of engaged learning at NIU and to learn from one another.”

Kersh says “engaged learning” comes in many forms:

  • Undergraduate research;
  • Service-learning;
  • Project- or problem-based learning;
  • Innovative practices;
  • Practical ways that community engagement, reciprocity and mutual benefits are obtained through strategic partnerships that result in positive economic or social benefits; and
  • Engaged research, scholarship, creativity and artistry, in addition to engaged learning, teaching and community partnerships.

“At the crux, engaged learning as a practice puts the learner at the center,” she says. “It involves intentionality, application of knowledge and active participation.”

For students, she adds, “the results are significant learning, the ability to think more deeply and understand complex materials, and to better understand and embrace the ways that they connect with the world around them.”

Lisa Freeman, acting president of NIU, will deliver the opening remarks as well as the keynote address: “Bringing NIU’s Mission to Life through Engagement.”

Concurrent “Best Practice” sessions begin at 9:15 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A plenary session is scheduled from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m., and a poster session will begin at 11:45 a.m.

Participants will close the day with a discussion on “The Future of Engaged Learning at NIU.”

“We hope to learn more about the ways that faculty interpret and implement engaged learning at NIU,” Kersh says. “Engaged learning represents pedagogy, practice and scholarship that is high-impact and has long-term benefits that extend beyond the classroom and the brick-and-mortar.”

Co-sponsors of the Engaged Learning, Teaching and Scholarship Conference are the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning; the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development; the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center; the College of Business Experiential Learning Center; and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For more information, call (815) 753-8154 or email rkersh@niu.edu.

Story reposted from NIU Today, January 17, 2018

Faculty Development recognized with Effective Practice Award

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Jason Rhode, director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, being presented with the award.
Jason Rhode, director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, being presented with the award.

The NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center was recently selected as a recipient of an Online Learning Consortium Effective Practice Award. The center’s Designing Personalized Online Teaching Professional Development Through Self-Assessment practice was recognized for its focus on the OLC’s five pillars of quality in online education: access, learning effectiveness, faculty satisfaction, student satisfaction and scale.

The Effective Practice Awards were established in 2002 to encourage members to share techniques, strategies, and practices to help make quality online education accessible and affordable for anyone, anywhere, at any time. Effective practice submissions are peer-reviewed by a selection committee of online education experts.

Jason Rhode, director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, said, “We are proud of our work in supporting faculty who teach online and we felt now was the time to share our practice with the greater online community.” Rhode accepted the award, on behalf of all the center staff, at the OLC Accelerate conference in November 2017.

At NIU, the center developed an Online Teaching Readiness Self-Assessment for faculty who are developing or teaching courses in new online programs. The self-assessment instrument provides an opportunity for faculty to reflect on their readiness to develop or teach online courses. “We recognized that NIU faculty have a broad range of experience with online teaching,” said Stephanie Richter, assistant director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. “A one-size-fits-all approach was not going to work.” Following the completion of the self-assessment, a personalized framework is sent to each faculty member who completes the self-assessment, based on their individual results.

The personalized frameworks are customized to the individual and contain suggestions for professional development and resources that support faculty in their development to deliver successful and engaging online courses. Richter said, “The personalized framework is just the start of a rich discussion with individual faculty about their development in online teaching.”

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center has administered the self-assessment to over 140 faculty from four colleges at NIU. The response from faculty has been very positive. One commented, “Because of this . . . I was able to be confident that my online course was following best practices and that what I planned was ‘do-able’.”

Story reposted from NIU Today, January 8, 2018

End of Semester Reminders in Blackboard

closeup of woman's hands using a laptopAs the semester draws to a close, there are some final tasks you can take care of in Blackboard, to make your courses end successfully and prepare yourself for the next semester.

    • Calculate final grades: If you have been recording grades in the Blackboard Grade Center, you can use it to calculate the final grades for your students. Remember to check that you have entered zeroes for any missing assignments or tests, so that the calculations are accurate. If you are using a Weighted Total, make sure that your categories are assigned correctly – you can do so quickly by going to Manage > Column Organization. Consider attending the Calculating Final Grades with the Blackboard Grade Center workshop on Friday, December 8, 2017, from 10:00 – 11:30 am; please register in advance for the workshop! We will also be holding an Open Lab for any who need help Calculating and Submitting Final Grades as well, on Thursday, December 14, from 11:00 – 1:00 pm in Adams Hall Room 323. Our staff will be on hand to assist you with the process.

 

    • Automatically assign letter grades in Blackboard: The Blackboard Grade Center uses a default grading schema to assign letters grades, with pluses and minuses. You can verify that the schema matches yours, and modify it if necessary, by going to Manage > Grading Schemas. To automatically assign letter grades, edit the Total or Weighted Total column (or create a new Calculated Column), and set Letter as the Primary Display option. You can use a Score or Percentage as a secondary display, which you will be able to see in the same column of the Grade Center.

 

    • Submit grades automatically from Blackboard to MyNIU: The Grade Submission tool can automatically submit your grades from Blackboard to MyNIU, so that you don’t need to enter grades in MyNIU with the drop down menus. This is particularly useful for large classes or when you have used a Master Course to combine sections. In Blackboard, you need a column of letter grades (either assigned automatically, or typed into a column with Text as the Primary Display). That column should be set as the External Grade column (there will be a green checkmark next to the column name). Use the Grade Submission tool in the Control Panel, under Course Tools, to send the grades to MyNIU. Once the submission is complete, you can log in to MyNIU to enter last attendance dates (for any F’s, U’s, or I’s), approve grades, and post them. The Grade Submission tool is available until the night before grades are due; after that you may only enter grades manually in MyNIU. Review the Quick Guide on submitting grades for more information.

 

    • Export the grades for safekeeping: While Blackboard is backed up regularly, it is a good idea to download your Grade Center as an Excel file for you to keep on your office computer. To do so, go to the Grade Center and click Work Offline > Download. Watch this video on How to Download Grades from the Grade Center to see how to do it.

 

  • Request your course(s) for next semester: Get a head start on developing your spring semester Blackboard courses now! You can request your spring semester courses now, so that you can develop them over the break. You can review how to do it in these tutorials: Request a Course or Request a Master Course (for combining two or more sections).

As always, you can contact the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center using our Ask a Question form for individualized assistance.

Center Staff Discuss Online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education with Visitors from Tianjin University

posted in: Best Practices, News | 0

meeting with visitorsStaff from the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center met with six faculty members and administrators from the Tianjin University in Beijing, China to discuss online teaching and learning. Some of the topics covered included: online program decisions, online teaching skills and time commitments, and design models. “It is always an honor to share ideas and best practices with colleagues from across the globe,” said Jason Rhode, the director of the center.

To reinforce the concepts, the staff demonstrated some sample works of closed-captioned presentations, audio-enhanced lectures, and methods for creating a welcoming and interactive course. The Chinese delegation also received resources on development timelines, support models and quality assurance guidelines. The delegation included faculty and administrators from multiple colleges and they were interested in a broad spectrum of the organizational support necessary to fully support online teaching and learning initiatives.

 

“Your talk was important to understand the full picture. I learned a great deal meeting with you and your staff. You have a professional team there.” ~Visitor from Beijing Delegation

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is grateful to have the opportunity to engage in conversations with other higher education professionals on a variety of teaching and teaching with technology topics. To find out more about what the center does, read about it in the 2016-2017 Annual Report.

2016-2017 Annual Report Now Available

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The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is pleased to announce the completion of our annual report for the 2016-17 academic year. This latest report is available at go.niu.edu/facdevreport16-17. Below are a few highlights.

During 2016-2017, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center contributed to the university’s mission …to promote excellence and engagement in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creativity and artistry, and outreach and service by collaborating with various academic and support units to meet the ongoing and emerging needs of NIU faculty, staff, administrators, and graduate teaching assistants in their teaching, technology integration, professional development, and related needs. This was the eighteenth full academic year of operation for the center since we were reorganized in August 1998. Some of our significant accomplishments this year include:

  • Offering 176 programs for 1,807 participants, which totaled 4,725 hours of professional development
  • Conducting 1,569 consultations with 590 unique faculty, instructors, staff, and graduate teaching assistants from 92 academic and support units
  • Serving on 22 committees, councils, and organizations within NIU and the broader Faculty Development community
  • Recognized 4 recipients of Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, issued 10 Graduate Teaching Certificates, and was honored with 9 individual and department recognitions

Activities at a Glance

Feel free to explore and learn more about our activities and accomplishments from the past year.

Sincerely,

Jason Rhode, Ph.D.
Director

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