Curriculum design and course instruction are Dr. Henley’s primary responsibilities in her position with the MSU Neuroscience Program. She teaches neuroscience to a broad range of students, from freshmen to graduate students to adult learners. She utilizes evidence-based practices to provide students with the most effective environment for learning. She wants students to be capable of applying their knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to solve future problems. Active engagement with the material through the use of course activities completed with formal cooperative learning groups is incorporated into each course, whether in person or online.
Along with instruction, Dr. Henley is creating two new, one-year, fully-online transcriptable graduate certificate programs: Medical Neuroscience and Neuroscience and the Law. Each program will consist of 12 credits and be designed to meet the needs of adult learners with responsibilities outside of the classroom.
This spelling and word recognition game is appropriate for 4-6 year olds. The game has 15 random questions chosen from a test bank of more than 50 words, so each time the game is played, it is slightly different.
Last week, as an add-on lunch event at the Making Learning Accessible conference, my FLC did a brown bag presentation on accessibility, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and our D2L training course for faculty. We easily had 100 people attend, which was amazing, and we were able to share our message with a number of MSU faculty that we had yet to reach. Additionally, since we piggy-backed on the conference, we had a number of non-MSU folks in the audience as well, and we received really great feedback and discussion points from both populations of attendees.
Today I participated in a Lunch and Learn event at the Center for Language Teaching Advancement on designing accessible course materials. It was run by Kate Sonka and Dustin Defelise. It was a very interesting group because members ranged from undergraduates with little knowledge or experience in accessibility to those, like me, that have spent a decent amount of time creating accessible content to others that have a detailed knowledge of the WCAG 2.0 standards. I love when discussions involve a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.
This morning Leigh Graves Wolf from the MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology organized a collaborative meeting with directors of online and hybrid Masters and Graduate Certificate programs at MSU. It was the first time this group had ever met in one location. The group varied from individuals that manage programs that have been successful for years to people like me who are in the process of creating new programs to those who have yet to start the process of program creation. Strengths and weakness were discussed, some solutions were found, partnerships were formed, resources were shared. Everyone agreed these meetings should continue in the future.
I spent the morning at the 33rd Annual MSU College of Education Technology Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was equity in STEM, Computer Science, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The first talk I attended was presented by Nate Stevenson from Kent State on designing accessible learning with UDL. We discussed the principles of UDL and about how to think about if content creates barriers to learning for your students. For example, for some students get overwhelmed by the simple length of an assignment. This hit close to home because I tend to combine multiple assignments into one in my online classes. I am now going to reevaluate this decision. He also mentioned the book Design and Deliver by Loui Lord Nelson, which is a book I’d like to check out.
In our most recent Colleges Online Workgroup, we examined standard 2 of the Quality Matters rubric – learning objectives. One of the discussion we had was the use of jargon in a learning objective – is it appropriate or not? Some feel jargon can confuse a student and may lead to misinterpretation of the objective, while others feel that using jargon in the right context is a necessary step toward becoming an expert in a field, and so by using it in a learning objective, we are modeling appropriate and effective use for students. QM suggests not using jargon, but I have come across some instances where jargon is the best word for a situation.
I have been a member of the Colleges Online Workgroup (or COW as we lovingly call it) for a couple years now. It’s a small group of faculty that meet once a month to discuss topics relevant to online teaching. This year, we are focusing on the Quality Matters rubric, teasing apart one standard per meeting. The group started off with faculty from the College of Natural Science and the College of Arts and Letters (the two facilitators’ colleges), but has grown to encompass a broader range of fields. The different backgrounds and viewpoints, combined with the collective interest in online teaching, makes for a fun and helpful group.
Michigan State provides a type of professional development for faculty and academic staff called Faculty Learning Communities (FLC). These are small groups that meet monthly and focus on specific topics like academic integrity or enriching the international student experience. Last spring, I joined the FLC on accessibility through creative innovation. We are dedicated to creating and revising accessible materials for the online learning environment. By examining and implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) standards, we focus on not only how to improve our own courses, but also how to help other faculty wrestling with these same issues.