Archives for January 2016

Small Changes in Teaching: The First 5 Minutes of Class

Four quick ways to shift students’ attention from life’s distractions to your course content.


One of the more challenging aspects to teaching is to start each class in the right way. This means getting students to put aside the conversations that they might be having with friends in the class, or through texting, getting them to focus on what you want and not the homework or test that is due for another class, or even sleep.  How do you get them engaged in your class from the beginning? This article gives some tips that you can use to help you make the first five minutes of class work for you to engage students.  Not only can these tips help them focus on what you want to discuss, it can also help them with putting topics together from one class session to another.  

A Lecture From the Lectured

We’re tired of sitting silently in the dark, listening to you read the PowerPoint aloud.


Note: This essay was written by a group of students taught by Catherine Prendergast, a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Too often we speak of what we think students want. This article reminds us that it’s okay to ask students for their feedback outside of end of course evaluations. They can give us great feedback on what they value in teaching and learning. And even though it has been much maligned, the lecture can be a great tool in teaching and learning.  It’s how the lecture is delivered that is important.

What is Authentic Assessment? (Authentic Assessment Toolbox)

Let me clarify the attributes by elaborating on each in the context of traditional and authentic assessments: Selecting a Response to Performing a Task: On traditional assessments, students are typically given several choices (e.g., a,b,c or d;…


With the start of a new semester, it seems like we really focus on how are we assessing student learning.  Authentic Assessment seems to be a buzz word that everyone likes to claim that they are involved in but do we really know what it means.  The author of this website explains what it is and how it might compare to other forms of assessment that we are used to using.

Instructors: FS15 Blackboard Courses to be Set to “Unavailable”

Blackboard courses from last semester, FS15, will be made “unavailable” on January 20th at the end of the day.

Don’t worry, the courses aren’t gone, they’re just hidden from the default student view. If you want to preserve student access to that course, you’ll have to go in and make it available again. Here is a link to help you:

If you have any problems or questions please contact EdTech at

Reminder to Instructors: You Must Make Your Course “Available” for Students to See It.

Blackboard courses are set to “Unavailable” by default; the instructor must make them “Available” in order for students to see and access the course from the Blackboard homepage. To set course availability using the control panel, navigate to Customization→Properties and set the course availability to “Yes.”

Here is a short visual tutorial of the required steps:

Avoid Using Microsoft Internet Explorer to Access Blackboard

S&T Educational Technology recommends NOT using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as your internet browser when accessing Blackboard.

As of Jan 12, 2016, Microsoft themselves are discontinuing support for all previous versions of Internet Explorer.



You had a good run, IE, but it’s time to retire.