University of Memphis New Faculty Orientation — online teaching tips

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I was pleased to be part of a panel on effective teaching this morning for our new faculty at the University of Memphis. Here are the notes from what I shared this morning. There is so much to learn about effective online teaching, and this is just a brief list of some practical tips for instructors who are “thrown into the fire” and begin teaching just a few days from now.

  1. When designing a course, ensure alignment between objectives, instruction, and assessment.
    1. Write your assessment first.
    2. Then write measurable behavioral objectives.
    3. Then select the instructional strategies and activities.
  2. Get to know eCourseware
    1. Take courses, seek consultation with CITL, find colleague examples.
    2. Use eCourseware help docs and tutorials
    3. Learn these tools now: rubrics, dropbox, discussions, quizzes, and gradebook.
    4. Go “all or none” on the eCourseware internal email tool. I suggest “none”.
  3. Create a modular course syllabus, so you can modify individual parts over time.
    1. Create separate sections for major assignments, grading, contact info, about me, expectations, etc.
  4. Share a clear rubric for each assignment in advance.
  5. Send a clear introductory email before the course begins.
  6. Introduce yourself via video. Consider a phone call with each student. I give my mobile number to students. 
  7. Set expectations for how to contact you, level of access to you, and professional communication standards.
  8. Use and refer students to the UM help desk for technical support. (901) 678-8888.
  9. Have a frequently asked questions (FAQ) for your course.
  10. “Reply to all”, when appropriate, when a student emails you a question, so all can benefit.
  11. Consider connecting with students via LinkedIn.
  12. Give structure to online discussions.
    1. model what being a good participant looks like
    2. Provide an informal talk area.
    3. Include a “I have a question” forum. 
    4. Consider synchronous office hours that can be recorded (Google hangout, etc).
    5. Consider small groups for discussion. eCourseware handles this.
  13. Award “bonus points” for students finding dead links or errors in your course.
  14. Encourage students to write and show assignments publicly on the open web. 
    1.  is the University of Memphis wordpress installation.
  15. Require something in the first couple of days. quiz, email, etc.
  16. Keep your own log of each course–a journal about how it went, and what you should and did change or improve.
  17. Evaluate your course based on established rubrics or checklists.
    1. Course checklist from UM3D (ask Fair or Leonia).
    2. Quality Matters
    3. Online Consortium Scorecard
  18. Take an online course yourself.

About AECT Rountable Presentations

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Note: this is meant for my students, and for first-time presenters at a large convention like AECT.

The Setting

Roundtable presentation sessions at the AECT Convention are fairly informal opportunities to interact with attendees about your project. Roundtable presentations are generally just what they sound like. The setting is a very large open room like a banquet hall at the convention hotel. It is loud, and a bit chaotic. The room is filled with round tables that seat usually eight people. On each table will be a number. When you enter the room (ahead of time), find the person in charge. This person will tell you which numbered table is your table. Go to your table and wait for the session to begin. The roundtable session is usually one hour in duration. There are usually no other AECT sessions scheduled during the roundtable time, so that encourages all attendees to participate in the roundtable sessions.

Typically you will give your "presentation" three times–that is, 20 minutes for each time. A facilitator for the room will announce, every 20 minutes, that attendees can stand up and move to a different table. You as presenter stay at your table. So–you may end up with a full table or an empty table, depending on who is attending and who is interested in your topic. Note — I’m describing past conventions. Future conventions could be different in format, etc.

Usually the poster sessions are also in the same large room at the same time. So there may be people wandering around the perimeter of the room looking at the posters and talking with the poster creators.

There is a lot of “come and go” during the rountable session hour. Some attendees may drop in briefly, or just want to take one of your handouts and read it later. Often, attendees are there to support colleagues, or they may be presenting as well, and may need to be present at a particular table. Don’t take it personally if an attendee doesn’t stay with you the full 20 minutes.

How to Prepare and Present

The roundtable sessions are generally intended and arranged to be discussions. Since you will have usually no more than 20 minutes with a group, you should plan to talk for no more than 5 to 8 minutes or so about your project. Then plan to have a conversation with your attendees and encourage them to ask questions. You will repeat this three times during the hour. Bring or pour some water for yourself. Be prepared to speak loudly and clearly if you want to be heard.

Prepare good, concise answers to these questions. These can also be a guide for your handout.

  1. What is your project? That is, what problem or issue are you addressing?
  2. Why is it important or relevant?
  3. What did you discover?
  4. What does your discovery mean, and for whom, and in what context?
  5. What happens (or should happen) next?

If your project involves something that is visually interesting, you could try to show something on your laptop, but that is difficult to show effectively at a round table. Audio is likely to be ineffective. If your project includes some interesting visual(s), or crucial table or graph, make a large version of it to show and distribute to attendees. You could even create a small (say 18" by 18") poster to display on your table. You’ll need to bring all “props” with you, as all you get from AECT is a table and chairs.

Prepare a one page handout that is a summary of your project, with your contact information, to distribute to attendees. On that handout you should include any relevant links, including a link to the full paper that you have submitted to the AECT proceedings (more about that later). I suggest bringing about 25 copies of the one page summary. Create a short URL for the link to the summary, so you can write it on a business card if needed. Consider bringing a few copies of the full proceedings paper to distribute as well.

Follow Up

Some attendees will want more information, or may not be able to attend your full presentation. So be prepared with plenty of your business cards and your one-page summary with links so that an attendee can easily find you and your project online. If you have a spare moment, review the other roundtable session descriptions, and meet some of your fellow presenters. There are likely potential collaborators and future colleagues in the room that you will benefit from knowing, and vice versa.

Presentations by IDT faculty candidate Dr. Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw on April 26th

Posted Leave a commentPosted in higher education, program news

As Chair of the ICL Search Committee, I invite you to presentations by Dr. Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw, a candidate for a faculty position in Instructional Design and Technology within the Instruction and Curriculum Leadership Department in the College of Education.

Her research presentation and discussion is at 10:10 AM, and her teaching presentation and discussion is at 11:15 AM, on Tuesday, April 26th in Ball Hall 320.  

Here is the full interview schedule for her time in Memphis.

Here is a page about the candidate (brief biography and planned presentations). 

Her website with her CV and related work is at

IDT students are invited to stay for a complimentary lunch with the candidate at noon in Ball 320. 

We are very pleased with the high quality of applicants for the IDT faculty position. At this time we plan to bring three finalists for on-campus interviews from among the 68 applicants for the position.

College of Education dissertation announcements and archives blog

Posted Leave a commentPosted in higher education, program news, teaching
Dear IDT student,
You should follow this blog, to see announcements like below. Very handy to be able to read past abstracts (methodology, etc.) from all COE dissertations (including IDT). 
A few years ago I convinced our College of Ed. staff that a blog would be more effective for announcing defenses than our traditional practice of tacking up paper announcements on a bulletin board by the Dean’s Office.  They were initially resistant. Turns out the web is not a passing fad. In other words, if it isn’t on the web, it didn’t happen. 
Next logical step — broadcasting proposal defenses and final defenses via videoconference. I’m going to try to make this happen, but you should be demanding it (respectfully, of course). These are supposed to be public events — at least the presentation part. Unfortunately they are usually attended only by the student’s committee. A healthy department/college/faculty has broader participation in scholarly events than we currently have.

Dissertation Defense Announcement for Tracy McAllister

Major field of study: Instructional Design and Technology

Major Professors: Dr. Clif Mims and Dr. Carmen Weaver, co-chairs

Webcast about Presenting

Posted 1 CommentPosted in AECT, higher education, resource

Today I talked with the IDT GSA about conferences and organizations in our field, and about preparing for and giving professional presentations. Here is the recording of that webcast.

Here are some resources and links that I mentioned.

  1. My list of lists of professional organizations in IDT
  2. My list of lists of professional conferences in IDT
  3. I just added my Google calendar of IDT events to the conferences page. There you can see upcoming events and calls for proposals, and deadlines.
  4. Here is a notef about IDT students presenting at AECT Louisville in 2012, and here are the presentation titles and descriptions.
  5. Other organizations I mentioned for IDT students were: Educause, SITE, AERA, and ISTE. You can find links and descriptions here.

Here is the past year’s call for proposals from AECT. And here is the AECT guide I mentioned about creating better proposals.

About conference participation

How to be a good conference participant. Another similar article here.


Jennifer Maddrell mentioned her interview with me about the IDT program. She mentioned that it had been accessed by 1600 visitors so far, so that was good to hear.

Jennifer’s site: and here is her contact form.