Revisiting the Distracted Mind

As both an online student and an instructional designer, I find myself thinking about attention spans often. Last year, I wrote a post here about harnessing the distracted mind, in which I offered tools and methods for staying focused, even when hilarious YouTube videos or brilliant longreads are just one browser tab away. What I’ve come to realize over the past…

Teaching Online: 5 Tips for Concise Writing

In my last post, I discussed the importance of writing clear, concise instructions . Our online students are busy professionals, so we owe it to them to be as straightforward and unambiguous with our language as possible.   Nonetheless, writing concisely can be a challenge. Even the most seasoned Instructional Designers wrestle with the balance of delivering succinct but comprehensive content.  …

How to Read a Map of Education Levels Across America

One of the guiding aspirations of online education is to reach across geographical (and cultural) boundaries. I love my field because I work to help make higher education more widely available to those who have limited access to it. The  Educational Attainment in America map, developed by Kyle Walker at TCU, is a fascinating way to look at that challenge. He developed it…

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Tips for Improving Paragraph Integrity

People often talk about personal integrity, but what about paragraph integrity? An essential part of clear prose, paragraph integrity means each sentence within a paragraph follows from the one that came before. Oftentimes a piece of writing is unclear because it lacks paragraph integrity. Happily, clear paragraphs follow certain rules that are easily discerned. In…

A Framework for Information Literacy

I recently wrote about how information fluency is hoped to  bolster our ability to recognize and defuse the phenomena known as fake news . It’s supposed to do so by providing the information fluent with the means to “respect the expertise that authority represents while remaining skeptical of the systems that have elevated that authority and the information created by it.” That quote is taken from the “Authority is Constructed and Contextual”…

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WEBINAR – Providing Effective Student Feedback

One of the keys to engaging online learners and facilitating critical thinking is providing students with timely, meaningful, and actionable feedback. Webinar: Providing Effective Student Feedback Good feedback is: Timely Instructional Consistent Good feedback also: Highlights a specific knowledge or skill Focuses on thinking (not writing mechanics) Moves a student’s work forward Provides a model…

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Writing Discussion Forum Prompts

Discussion forums are a hallmark of asynchronous online courses like those at UNE. Previous posts on this site have offered an excellent introduction to Best Practices for Discussion Board Facilitation , and an overview of current conversations around learning outcomes and instructional implications of online discussion forums. In this post, I aim to provide a closer look by offering practical tips for writing discussion forum prompts and instructor posts…

Looking at Student Privacy in 2017

For more reasons than I can count, the 2016 presidential election has amplified our country’s ongoing debate on web privacy. The topic can grow tiresome, but if we stop to consider that the issue goes far beyond someone’s email server, it becomes a little more interesting. Take student privacy, for example. We expect faculty and…