By: Jeremy Haynes

Cooperative learning strategies are the backbone of the active learning classroom. If you’ve ever spent more than a minute on a university campus then you’ve no doubt noticed that there is a significant social element at play in undergraduate education. Developing a social intelligence is a critical part of the post-secondary experience…it’s also the only part of that experience that doesn’t come with a syllabus…not that students would look there.

Regardless of the size of your classroom or the number of students in it, there is literally no end to the benefits of integrating cooperative learning strategies into your pedagogy. Maybe you’re trying to stop floods of emails around assessment time (all with a variation of the question: “What was that thing I missed?”). Or, maybe you’re trying to build a classroom culture in a massive first-year survey course. In either case, cooperative learning provides students with the peer-based supports and logistical avenues necessary for active learning with a balance between the academic and the social. …


By: Tiffany Ford

Since the majority of students play video games at home, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 70% of teachers saw an increase in student engagement when using educational video games. Have you ever tried playing games in class? Since nearly 80% of learners said they would be more productive if their learning was like a game, maybe you should give it a try in your class!

If you are a professor thinking about adding gaming to your curriculum, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of gaming in the classroom is important. The information in this article should be able to help you with your decision. …


By: Jeremy Haynes

Alternative assessment is about as “alternative” in your average university or college classroom as alternative music: which is to say pretty mainstream. While alternative assessment was once a push-back against the old Greek and British ‘I teach, you learn’ lecture and testing styles that represent the foundations of the western education system, almost every faculty now employs a system of assessment that recognizes the ineffectiveness of such draconian methods.

“But, Jeremy!” you rebut, “universities and colleges still use exams and lectures as part of their teaching practice.” Well, right you are, hypothetical reader! …


By: Tiffany Ford

Today, there are seven billion people on the planet and 363 million of them fall into a demographic called digital native. Digital Native is a term used by Marc Prensky in 2001 that is being used to label the group of students born after the introduction of digital technology. These students have grown up being connected to the world, using touch-screens, and finding new ways to share the experiences they are having. …


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By: Monika Semma

Have you ever thought about the way you think? Are you a conscious learner? Could metacognition be the key to more confident learning and better thinking?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, metacognition has likely already become a part of your teaching repertoire. Learning to weave metacognitive practices into your syllabus can really enhance the learning experience for your students.

Metacognition in Plain English

Metacognition refers to a form of higher-order thinking, in which the thinker has active control over and awareness of their cognitive processes — in essence, it is the process of “thinking about thinking”. …


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“Teachers teach someone, something, in that order.” -Samuel M. Natale

By: Chris Merlo

“You’re working too hard,” a senior faculty member told me. I stopped venting about trying to teach difficult material to an unresponsive class and looked at him with incredulity. There are not a lot of industries in this world where a senior coworker will advise a junior not to work so hard, but higher education, I thought, is apparently one of them.

How am I supposed to give my students what they need without putting in the effort?

Turns out, my colleague’s advice about working too hard wasn’t meant to get me to do less in class–it was meant to motivate me to get my students to do more. …


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“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” -Arthur C. Clarke

By Emily Kroboth

The year is 2015, and technology has never been more personal. Nearly 2/3rds of Americans own a Smartphone, with access to social sharing sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. We use technology to work, connect with friends overseas, to look up restaurant reviews, and an abundance of other things. The Smartphone, tablet, laptop and Smartwatch have allowed us to synchronize and organize ourselves, optimizing productivity in both our work and personal lives.

So why is there so much fuss over incorporating technology into the classroom?

Speaking from the perspective of both a student and a digital native, it boggled my mind when on the first day of class, my professors sat students down and started discussing the ‘danger’ of technology in the classroom, and how it can not only affect our education, but can also distract our peers. Well professors, I would like to take a moment to wash away your fears. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t be worried about technology in the classroom, but instead be excited about it. …


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“The whole purpose of education is to turn windows into mirrors.” — Sydney J. Harris

By Ann Gagné

When striving for an active classroom educators often assume that the only option is a synchronous learning model. Synchronous learning happens when everyone in the classroom engages with course material simultaneously.

We live in exciting times for experimenting with pedagogical strategies and tools that actively engage students both in (and outside) our classrooms. We owe it to ourselves and our students to move away from the traditional ‘sage on the stage’ model, to a more dynamic model which fosters class discussion, critical thinking, and reinforces the importance of student responsibility in the educational experience. …


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By Karen Quevillon.

No doubt you’re familiar with the idea that people have different “learning styles.” Are you a visual learner? An aural learner? Will you understand this article better if you make a model of it out of Lego? There have been are over 70 different learning-style schemes proposed by theorists. The most popular are the VAK/VARK model based on type of sensory input, Kolb’s theory of experiential learning, and cognitive theories of learning such as the Grasha-Reichmann Learning Style Scale.

The main claim associated with learning styles is that by matching instructional style to individual learning styles people will learn better. In practice, post-secondary instructors can’t customize lessons on an individual basis. But they could engineer their active classrooms to engage different types of learners — offering a buffet from which students can take what they need. …


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By Jeremy Haynes

Active learning was supposed to make my life easier. I thought I had it all figured out. The opportunity was there, the chance to start from scratch. I did everything I thought I could do to increase the chances of success. Dynamic readings to keep student interest. Generally low levels of homework. Extensive use of popular media and academically current sources…It seemed like a home-run.

That is, until I remembered that the “active” part of “active learning” puts the onus for learning on the student…the same student who currently juggles a full course load, one if not two jobs (in some cases). …

About

Top Hat

Top Hat makes it easy for professors to activate classrooms and engage students. Transform your lecture into an interactive learning experience. www.tophat.com

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