Develop Online Course Activities that Produce Results

Most recent decade has seen increased interest in conducting well-designed studies that provide actionable guidelines for the design of online activities, based on measurable change in student knowledge…

Blinkist-style book-club activity: manageable book-reading

What’s the best approach to get grad students to read complete books, without overwhelming them with work? Here I explore a solution inspired in one of my favorite phone apps, Blinkist, and merging it with an old-fashioned book-club idea…

Plan the Rhythm of Your Course Carefully

Create a calendar with a focus on rhythm for most of the course. Setting the rhythm is one of the most important factors – people are creatures of habit a repeating pattern will help students plan better, and – consequently – be successful.

Beyond Pandemicopticon: Remote Quizzes and Exams Now…

Cheating is a major concern when it comes to remote exams. Many people believe that throwing $$$ at the problem, is the way to go (cameras, cameras everywhere, and not a thing you’d like to see!). But is this the only option?

Helping students read (aka “Magic ink” activity)

Reading complex, information-packed content that includes many completely new concepts is challenging: students may be tempted to breeze-through the text too fast, half an hour before class for which it was assigned, or late at night, twenty minutes before the submission deadline…

Photo by Cameron Venti on Unsplash

See the Forest Discussion (aka “The One”)

This is possibly the easiest online discussion type or “template” to implement. It is indispensable in any new or redesigned online course. I call it “see the forest discussion,” but most people call similar activities “exit tickets.” The interesting part is that it isn’t really a “discussion” in the strict sense, but is worth considering, if you don’t use it.

How to build a 7-day jigsaw discussion

This is a really simple “template” for a week-long, time-sequenced online “jigsaw-type discussion,” and its potential effectiveness in promoting recall, and transfer of knowledge, is based on fairly basic, but solid, and well-established research evidence summarized at the end of this post.

Never, never, never of online discussions

Online discussions in some ways they are better than traditional face-to-face synchronous discussions. They are more equitable, giving everyone time to think, and leveling the playing field for intro- and extroverts (who are always guaranteed to win in face-to-face discussions!).

A wireless headset on yellow background.

Total Recall – Easy, Effective, Adaptable

In content-heavy courses, across all levels, lecture is still the main method of content delivery. The challenge is: once you have a reasonably good lecture (say, 30 mins. long). What do you do? How do you transform your video lecture into a productive and effective learning activity? There are a few options, but this one is probably the easiest and best of them all.

Radical Redesign

“When my colleagues decided to refresh graduate-level courses for online delivery, I proposed that we should consider a simple, yet innovative and radical instructional design principle: that all course activities should not only be built using sound, published evidence that supports their potential for effectiveness, but that such grounding in published research for each activity should also be clearly articulated and made available to students!”

Really Useful Books on TandL (No Edu-Junk Here!)

Every year hundreds of new T&L books are published, and 90% of them are not very useful (I call these edu-junk). Some are quite useful, but could have worked much better as an article or a blog post instead. Here is a very minimalist, curated super-short list of long-time favorites, and a few new acquaintances with a lot of promise (click the covers for link, or click “more info” for… more info!).