Friday, January 27, 2012

Bain's View of Teaching

As we come up for a breath of fresh air after a frenzy of start-of-the-semester events, we can now concentrate on the main task at hand: Teaching!

There are several different ways of thinking about teaching. One approach looks almost entirely at the actions and behaviors of the instructor. In this approach, instruction is viewed as something that is provided to students. This approach is often characterized in ways that assume that learning cannot take place unless some type of teaching has happened.

In a study conducted by Bain (2004), he suggested highly effective instructors in higher education “thought of teaching as anything they might do to help and encourage students to learn” (p. 49). Bain points out that these instructors paid attention to creating an environment for learning. They also found teaching to be “an important and serious intellectual (or artistic) act” (p. 49).

Bain considered four questions in characterizing this view of teaching. From these questions, we can see a complex and rich approach to considering teaching.
  1. What should my students be able to do intellectually, physically or emotionally as a result of their learning?
  2. How can I best help and encourage them to develop those abilities and the habits of the heart and mind to use them.
  3. How can my students and I best understand the nature, quality, and progress of their learning?
  4. How can I evaluate my efforts to foster that learning? (p. 49)
 Great questions to consider as we continue in the sememster! Define, in your own terms, what students should know or be able to do as a result of your teaching. Define your actions to help students achieve those goals. Think carefully about what feedback students need to understand how they are progressing. Consider how you will know if your efforts are successful.


Bain, K, (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why Course Announcements are Important

Announcements can be used in a variety of ways to push important information to students in a single course. Announcements are one way for you to communicate to everyone in the course. In online and hybrid courses, announcements are the equivalent of standing at the podium and giving general information to the class.
Announcements are an important communication tool because they allow you to “write once so many can read.” This allows you to provide general information from a single location with the assurance that all students are receiving the information. 

  1. Use Announcements primarily for time-sensitive information (emergencies) and to talk to the entire class (general information).
  2. Develop a routine to post general information Announcements.
  3. Query your class about options such as pushing Announcement via email. This is a good feature for certain students and an annoyance for others.
  4. Learn how to “pin” an Announcement to the top of the Announcements page to control the order in which Announcements appear to students.
  5. Don’t use Announcements as your only communication tool in a course.
Announcements, along with email and/or discussion board responses, will support the importance of interaction in online learning and teaching.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TWU Online Instructor's Tip of the Week

Can you believe the semester begins in less than a week? Not only are faculty/instructors arriving back from winter break, but many are making last minute adjustments to their online course shells.  Here is a quote to remember while you prepare for the upcoming semester.

“Studies show that a person who is interrupted takes 50 percent longer to accomplish a task. Not only that, he or she makes up to 50 percent more errors” (87).

Remember to manage your time wisely and stay focus on the outcome.

Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

TWU's Distance Education Resource Spotlight: TWU ID

TWU ID is an online teaching and learning resource written and edited by the instructional design team and housed on PBWorks wiki workspace.  TWU ID is not intended to be an exhaustive resource or a replacement for help pages written or distributed by ITS, ISS, Help Desk, etc.  The instructional design team maintains this resource to provide faculty and students access to resources designed and developed from a pedagogical rather than a technical perspective.