Tips to Engage Critical Thinkers & Writers – Transform Your Course Now!

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workshop_series_for_success

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is pleased to share a series of workshops designed to provide faculty, teaching assistants, and instructional staff tips to effectively engage students in critical thinking and writing assignments in their courses. The workshops include hands-on activities and strategies you can immediately apply in your course. Tips focus on providing effective feedback to students, managing the workload, avoiding plagiarism and more. Participants will learn and practice ways to engage students in the learning process. You may select individual workshops that meet your needs or attend all 5 in the series.

The workshops were first offered during the fall 2016 semester. Feedback from participants overwhelmingly indicated that the sessions will benefit both instructors and students.

Comments include:

I learned –

  • the value of using papers to motivate students
  • prioritizing feedback is key for both instructors and students
  • strategies for managing instructor workload by identifying trends in writing and commenting on trends rather than in-line editing
  • ways to add components to the classroom environment to require direct engagement
  • possible responses to plagiarism

Dr. Brad Peters from the Department of English will lead each workshop.

The Engage Students workshop series is sponsored by Writing Across the Curriculum and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. Register Here

To share ideas for new workshop topics or if you would be interested in presenting at one of our Institutes, please contact Yvonne Johnson, Multimodal Teaching Coordinator at yjohnson@niu.edu, 815-753-2690 or Janet Giesen, Instructional Design Coordinator at giesen@niu.edu, 815-753-1085. We look forward to hearing from you!

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 in Blackboard Open Lab on Thursday, December 8, 2016, from 11:00 – 1:00 pm in Adams Hall Room 323.

 

    • 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.

2015-2016 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 2015-16 academic year. This latest report is available at go.niu.edu/facdevreport15-16. Below are a few highlights.

During 2015-2016, 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 seventeenth full academic year of operation for the center since we were reorganized in August 1998. Some of our significant accomplishments this year include:

  • Offering 164 programs for 1,945 participants, which totaled 6,052 hours of professional development
  • Conducting 1,310 consultations with 468 unique faculty, instructors, staff, and graduate teaching assistants from 92 academic and support units
  • Serving on 17 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 4 individual and department recognitions

Activities Quick Glance

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

Sincerely,

Jason Rhode, Ph.D.
Director

Congratulations to 2015-2016 Graduate Teaching Certificate Recipients

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graduate teaching certificateThe Graduate Teaching Certificate recognizes graduate teaching assistants (GA/RA/TAs) for their participation in the development programs offered by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. The certificate acknowledges these individuals’ commitment to effective teaching and can enhance their academic credentials.To qualify for this recognition, a graduate teaching assistant must have attended the full-day TA Orientation and at least five (5) programs of shorter duration offered by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. You can learn more about the certificate at facdev.niu.edu/tacert.

In the 2015-2016 academic year, 10 individuals earned the certificate:

  • Catherine Ausland, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Steven Chun, Department of Geography
  • Brienne Durfey, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Autumn James, Department of Geography
  • Adam Lotito, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Rachel Martiniak, Department of Anthropology
  • Jay Osvatic, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Jennifer Volintine, Department of Anthropology
  • Xiaoying Zhong, Department of Anthropology
  • Yang Zhou, School of Music

It is easy to apply for the Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center Graduate Teaching Certificate! The application form is available online at facdev.niu.edu/tacertapp. If you have forgotten which workshops you have attended, or how many you have attended, you can review your workshop history at facdev.niu.edu/myprograms. Log in with both your A-ID and Z-ID to see all of your programs (if you have used different IDs at different times).

New for 2016-2017, we are offering to provide a recommendation on recipients’ LinkedIn Profiles, to validate the recognition. This was highly valued by TAs who responded to our recent campus-wide survey.

Certificates are sent to the teaching assistants’ department to acknowledge their commitment to effective teaching and present the certificates to them. If TAs need a few more workshops to qualify for the certificate, they are encouraged to check the current schedule of TA programs on the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center website.

IBM Academic Initiative 2016

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IMB Lego Logo

The IBM Academic Initiative has made access even easier for faculty and students to take advantage of the resources IBM is making available at no-charge for Academic purposes. The session will introduce faculty and new access for students to the IBM Academic Initiative 2.0 OnTheHub site (ibm.onthehub.com) for accessing resources.  The IBM cloud, software, courseware and other resources provide will be highlighted. Join us on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. in Altgeld Hall 315 for this discussion and walk thru of the industry resources available.

Some highlights of the content that will be covered:

  • IBM Bluemix
  • Case Management
  • Cloud and Big Data
  • Cognitive Computing
  • DevOps Services
  • Enterprise Computing
  • Internet of Things
  • Watson Analytics
  • Watson Services on Bluemix

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Valinda Scarbro Kennedy, the Worldwide High Touch Program Manager for IBM University Relations. You can reach her at vscarbro@us.ibm.com or 630-747-8807.

Photo by Alice Bartlett licensed under Creative Commons

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